Category Archives: School

Leadership Reflection

I spend a lot of time writing papers for school. Some of them wouldn’t be interesting to share on my blog, but I believe that some are. This week I had to write a quick reflection on a moment in our lives that began developing our leadership skills. This is what I shared:

   As we discussed in class last week, we were supposed to pick a time in our lives that had an impact on us and helped develop our leadership qualities. As I thought back over my life, I remembered small but significant experiences that made a difference in my life. This is the first meaningful one I can remember.

     I was young, probably eight years old. I went to McDonalds with my dad to get a Happy Meal. This didn’t happen very often and so I was extremely excited! I remember watching my dad leave the car to run in to get the food. On the way in, he smiled at a lady and talked to her for a minute. I wondered who the woman was because I didn’t recognize her. After I waited in the car for what seemed like forever, I saw my dad emerging from the beautiful doors with the golden “M.” I could hardly contain my excitement!

     When he jumped into the car, I asked him who the woman was. He told me that he didn’t know. I asked him why he was talking to her if he didn’t know who she was. He said,  “Janae, I don’t know who she was but she’ll spend all day trying to figure out who I am.Did you see how happy she was to have have someone say hi to her? You don’t need to know someone to smile and say ‘hello’ and she will have a better day because someone took the time to talk to her.”

     It was a simple message that hit me to the core, even at such a young age. This wasn’t the only time I remember my dad doing this. He talked to strangers everywhere he went, always. Sometimes, as I got a little older, I remember feeling embarrassed that he would do such a thing. He looked silly, from my perspective, and sometimes I had to hide my face while he had seemingly meaningless conversations.

     As I got even older, I remember my dad being a principal at a junior high and then a high school. On special occasions I’d get the chance to go to work with him. It was always so fun to watch him pull out a big wad of keys for the building, and I loved that he could get us access to any room in the high school. We would swim, go ice skating, “help” in his office and even sometimes go to dances. He walked faster than I could ever keep up with, and so I learned to run/walk beside him. But everywhere we went and no matter who we saw, he always waved hi and smiled. He took particular interest in each person, even if they looked very uncomfortable. And because of this, he was loved.

     Everyone spoke highly of my dad because he took the time to invest in them, if only for a moment. He genuinely cared for the general well-being of people, and I could feel it. As I grew, he’d remind me of this simple truth, that if I would say hi and smile, I would always have friends. And he was right. I have always had friends from all sorts of backgrounds. I genuinely love people and I appreciate their journeys. They don’t have to be like me for me to love them. Some people would say this is unsafe or naive, but I’ve chosen to live this way instead of inside a hard outer shell of safety. Maybe this is where my “Woo” comes from on the very top five “Strengths Finder” test. I’m sure I was born with a tendency to be this way, but watching my dad understand the implications of human nature really helped me to further develop this skill.

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Back to School

Next week I go back to school after twenty-two years.

This is a huge step for me. I wish I could say that I went to college the first time and finished, but I didn’t. I did, however, have a grand time living with roommates, dating my boyfriend, and skipping class to do who knows what. You could say that I still learned a lot during this time in my life, it just wasn’t anything that helped me finish my degree.

Now I have children going to college with me! I took my first class last January. I decided to hit it head on, and I began with the one subject that has given me grief my entire lift – MATH. I’ve never liked math and I knew that if I could prove to myself that I could overcome this obstacle, I could do anything. I took the class with Whitney, Kinley and Ethan. The timing was pretty crazy, as Ethan and Kinley were married the week after our finals. This class moved very quickly because it started on a junior high level and worked all the way through college algebra in one semester. I only cried three times in math lab, but I finished.

During summer semester I decided to take two block classes. This was also a miserable decision because the classes moved very fast, and it was summer! My kids wanted and needed my attention, but I knew I couldn’t get into my program this fall if I didn’t plow through and finish my Psychology class (a class I had dropped once 20 years ago) and my Health class (a class I dropped three times 20 years ago). So I did it. My grades weren’t perfect. My grades have never been perfect, but I finished with an A- in Health and a B+ in Psychology. I enjoyed both classes and I wish they wouldn’t have gone so fast. I also believe I would have enjoyed the lectures and interaction with other students, if I had the class at the university.

But it was all worth it! I finally get to start into my program next week! I’ve decided to get a degree in Integrated Studies with emphasis in Psychology and Leadership. I believe this will help me to build the Parent Advocacy Council and give me more knowledge to help run our companies. I’ve wanted to learn Spanish for a long time because we have roughly 1,500 employees that speak Spanish! My goal is to stand at the Christmas party this year and speak to them in their native language. I want to do this to show them appreciation for who they are and what they bring to our organization.

Cross your fingers and toes for me, I’m sure there will be more tears! Some tears will be because I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and other tears will be because I’ll be sitting in Statistics for the next nine months.

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Last week I went to the Thanksgiving Point Gala. It was lots of fun and we came home with some pretty great stuff. This picture is of myself with Jeanette Bennett (Owner of UV Magazine and Mike Washburn, CEO of Thanksgiving Point).

I was asked to dress to look like I was attending the Grammy’s in the 40’s. First I went to Hale Center Theater to rent an outfit, but as they pulled several options for me, I realized I had the same thing in my closet and it would actually fit me right. So I went hope and pulled out one of my formal gowns that I recently bought, and watched a YouTube tutorial on how to do my hair in pin-curls. It all came together and we had a great night! People often confuse Jeanette and myself because we do look quite similar, and we attend a lot of the same events. Jeanette joked that we are the “Sequin Sisters”, because we rarely see each other in anything other than formal gowns.

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I feel like since I stopped blogging consistently for several years now, I’ve lost huge chunks of my life. I know they still happened and I have glimpses of memory, but it’s hardly the same as being able to look back and read my thoughts. I want to change this.

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Ugh.

32432131 - funny grandma's studio portarit with a tie on her forehead, showing thumbs up

After twenty years, seven kids, three dogs, two hamsters, two cats, five suburbans, infinity-times-infinity dirty diapers, two grand daughters, an unfathomable amount of dirty dishes, dirty clothes, scraped knees, and shuttling little humans to a myriad of lessons – I’m officially walking back into college, today.

Yes, you heard me….I can barely breathe as I say it. It won’t look the same as it did when I was seventeen and I walked up to my parents’ room the night before I drove away with my cousin, in her little blue car. It was packed to the rim with a few pillows, a few bags of clothing, a clock for the wall, and some other “necessities”. I wasn’t sure exactly sure what my goals were at Utah Valley Community College, but I did know that I was ready to face the big world, and of course, enjoy the time of my life! I had barely any clue what I’d study when I began class, but I remember penciling in the bubble next to “Sociology”and handing it to the busy woman behind the desk.

Little did I know the chain of events that would soon take place, but that is the beauty of naïvety and youth; marching straight into fire, without realizing it. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s exactly how we should be, at least once in our lifetime; absolutely positive we know everything!

I can’t help but reflect back to the day I sat across the desk from my high school counselor, and listened to him read from my  permanent record before graduation.

“I’m genuinely concerned for Janae’s future and her ability to navigate life in the adult world.” He read.

The jovial man looked up slowly from the manuscript to carefully gauge my reaction. Much to his bewilderment, he watched me bust into a gut splitting laughter… and then realize he was being completely serious.

How could any human forecast my demise when I was eleven years old? I remember being ordered to “Stand in the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes” or watch him roll his eyes when I shot a rubber band at Jason, the boy I had a crush on. But from my perspective, it all seems pretty common pre-teen craziness. It’s a good thing he wasn’t my teacher when I jumped out the class window on a beautiful Spring day in Junior High, so I could be out in the fresh air, or seen the time I switched my best friend seats in French class and swore we were the other person, for no less than fifteen minutes, until we were sent to the principles office. Or the time I mummified a cabbage patch doll with Amber, while studying the Egyptians, and decided to put the little bags of flour into the tail pipes of the teachers cars – only to have to sneak back out to retrieve them with a ruler because a smart boy told us, “That could kill someone”. Or the time I shoved a two-inch needle in a boy’s bum when he wouldn’t let my friend out of a rolled up chain link fence, because he’d caught her in kissing tag. Or the time I was laying out on the bleachers in my underwear during high school hours – or a million other random acts of teenager-ish things I did.

But he didn’t see me and I wasn’t caught, so how in the world could Mr. Kartchiner know that I would be a menace to society? No, I’m sure he really was way off-base. Because somehow, someway, after leaving my college experience over two decades ago, I’ve been accepted into the Utah Valley University, Utah Women Leadership Project with Dr. Madsen, in the Woodbury School of Business.

It’s highly possible they’ve picked my name on accident, but I’m going to run with it!

I will look a bit different walking into college tomorrow. I’ve gained a few pounds, a few grey hairs, and a few experiences that have prepared me with a different perspective from before. Life has prepared me to walk with confidence in being an older woman with many days under my belt and a lot of voice to share. My heart beats strong and my eyes are open. I’ve learned that I can be edified from anyone I spend time with, and that everyone has a background that can add to creation and collaboration. I’ve practiced being a little nicer to myself, and I now know that I don’t know it all – and I shouldn’t.

I will share my voice and listen to the other fifteen women in the program, and it will be beautiful. And if they order me to stand it the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes, I’ll be ready for it because I’ve already mastered that class.

Wish me luck.

Ugh.

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