FWB – Sparkle Science

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Let me paint you a picture of a young and enthusiastic Jessie, sophomore year biology class. . .

I LOVED Gwen Stefani of No Doubt fame and even dedicated 20 minutes of my mornings to creating elaborate bindi patterns in between and over my eyebrows to wear sometimes to school or friend’s band’s shows.  If my dad didn’t insist that glitter was really just tiny pieces of shrapnel I would have rocked glitter makeup daily.  Anything that had a surface I could alter was permanently colored/glittered/stickered/covered in whatever was totally “me” at the time.

Now. . . imagine I’m in biology class where I really dig learning about science and how things work (not so much the dissections, I tried to get out of those based on being vegetarian and not wanting to for moral reasons but NOPE – I HAD to) when we start learning about the cell.  How freaking cool!  This tiny microscopic thing is made up of all these other tiny microscopic things that all work together to perform specific functions and support life and stuff!  Awesome!  Of course came the assignment of creating our own three-dimensional cells to present in class and I was stoked.  Science + crafts = homework I was actually excited about.

So my dad and I hit up a Michael’s where I load up on all kinds of pink, red, and purple craft foam as well as glitter of all colors and various other supplies needed to make the most epic cell my teacher, Mr. Shelley, had ever seen.  I spent 2 whole nights working on that cell – getting the Golgi apparatus perfect and squiggly, making sure the mitochondrion looked super. . . mitochondrion-ish, and basically just focusing my attention on earning the highest grade this amount of glitter could get me.

The due date came and I must say, my cell was at least in the top 3 – I had everything labeled correctly, mine was very creative, and you could tell I spent more than just 10 minutes on the damn thing.  I was pretty proud of that beautifully made sparkle cell.

I went to bed that night excited to see my hard work pay off the next day when I would collect my A and get to take home my scientific piece of art to perhaps convince my parents to display on our mantle piece (it would have looked dazzling next to our family photo).  Alas, the next day would not be so kind.  I arrived in biology class and ran to the back where our cells were all displayed.  I easily found mine – it kind of looked like a disco ball from a distance – and found that I had received a C.  For a minute I thought maybe Mr. Shelley just graded everyone harshly and my sparkle cell was no different.  NOPE!  I looked around and saw that other cells – some with half of their parts mislabeled or not even labeled at all had gotten A’s and B’s.  I was confused so I asked Mr. Shelley straight away if there was a mistake and he said to me, which I won’t ever forget, “No mistake.  This was a biology assignment.  Not an arts and crafts project.”  It didn’t matter that I had gotten everything correct or that it looked exactly like a cell (just with more glitter admittedly) – it only mattered that my personal sparkly interpretation was not up to his “scientific standards”.

I sat in class and fumed for about half of the time he was lecturing.  I stopped paying attention.  Who was this guy to say that my hard work deserved a lower grade than anyone else’s?  Why did the use of glitter negate the actual scientific accuracy of my model?  Then the anger was replaced with confusion and embarrassment.  Maybe it was stupid to have thought I should use glitter in biology class.  Did I even really know what I was doing in this class?

If I could go back I would tell my 15 year old self not to let that jerk of a glitter-hating teacher tell me my awesome cell was anything less than amazing.  When I was 9 or 10 I wanted to be a marine biologist and unfortunately, I let that year in biology class with Mr. Shelley convince me not to pursue learning any hard sciences.  I shut down that desire because I felt like there wasn’t a place for my interpretation of it.

Now. . . on to the modern-day news. . . late last year Carnegie Science Center offered “Science with a Sparkle” STEM learning opportunities for Girl Scouts – umm. . . AWESOME!!!  Do you know how quickly I would have signed up for that??  If you had told me when I was little that I could be a chemist and make plastics I likely would have said “ok” but if you told me I could be a chemist and make nail polish I would have asked you where to sign up.  It’s cliche, I know, but I suppose I was a gender-conforming sellout as a kid.  I do have to say, the bad thing about Carnegie’s pretty rad offering for the Girl Scout’s is that while they offered them that one opportunity they were offering a long list of STEM opportunities for the Boy Scouts.  I know, total bummer that they couldn’t have just listed ALL of the STEM opportunities for BOTH the GS and BS, but not everyone is perfectly aware of their biases.

The New York Times published this great defense against the attack on Sparkle Science because really, if it sparks interest in science for girls (or boys) why do you care what it’s called or the focus of the material??  Yes, one could see it as gender stereotyping but if you get your head out of your butt for two minutes you could see that some girls like sparkles – so why would you want to leave them out?

Providing something called “Science with a Sparkle” is a small step toward getting girls interested in STEM education.  Of course, an even bigger step is to not exclude them from all the other STEM education opportunities (duh) but by trying to appeal to something traditionally geared toward young girls, they are at least opening the door to STEM in a different way.

It’s not perfect yet, but with more encouragement, greater opportunities, and perhaps different approaches I believe we can see the amount of women in the STEM fields grow exponentially within the next generation.

Let’s DO THIS!

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FWB – The Sea of Self-Discovery

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Here I am, drowning in the sea of self-discovery.  My tired arms are desperately flailing to find THAT ONE life preserver that’s just screaming for me to dedicate my life to grasping it.

I NEED to help people.  I have been altruistic since childhood when I would gladly give up my “things” to children who wanted to share them.  I rummaged through my parents’ box of my old school things and found a stack of notes sent home from preschool, one after the other informing them that I had been bitten again that day.  Apparently if a kid needed to let out anger I was a willing target, repeatedly.  Some may see that as a pushover but I would retort that they were perhaps just not as willing to “take one for the team” as I was.  (ok, maybe I was a little bit of a pushover/ninny)

My major and I found each other in college when I suddenly decided to take 3 psychology courses in one semester just because – having never taken one before.  I fell in love with the subject – the human mind is a fascinating thing that I could dedicate my life to learning about.  I also felt this incredible enveloping sense of comfort when we studied disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar because inside I was screaming “OHMYGOD!  They’re talking about ME!!!”  But then there came the inevitable “psychology student syndrome” that every undergrad psych student experiences and I started to wonder if I would become a serial killer because yeah, sometimes I had dissociation, or maybe I was OCD because yeah, sometimes I have rituals and can’t stand disorder.  But there it was, psychology, a field where I could understand people and help them understand AND help themselves.  I was in love.

I graduated college with the BA in psych and double minors in women’s studies and sociology (overachiever!  and truly I would have loved to have double majored in women’s studies but alas that was not available at the time) and set out into the world to help people.  I started right out the gate working with juveniles on probation for substance abuse performing their intake evaluations as well as running group counseling for them.  I loved it for a while.  I was young enough to relate to these kids and try to reason with them rather than yell at them.  Then I met the horrible parents who could care less about their kids.  Some of the kids didn’t give any shits about my help and continued down the path of self-destruction.  One kid ended up collapsing his lung from an overdose.  I think my boss saw what the job was doing to my soul and he suggested that I try working on a preventative program.  He gave me complete free reign to create my own program to teach at the local EBD school (emotional behavioral disorder).  IT WAS AWESOME.  Holy crap.  I carefully crafted a six week program covering how the brain develops (because it’s important for teenagers to know that their frontal lobes which are responsible for reason are not fully developed until early-mid 20’s), nicotine addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, peer pressure, and how it’s awesome to be yourself and say no to those things.  I had so much fun going to that school once a week and teaching 3 classrooms of about 10 kids each.  I’m pretty sure only half of them listened but it felt amazing to even be trying to make a positive impact.

Since that job I have only had one other psych-related position – working at a residential facility for girls who had been removed from several other facilities due to misbehavior (meaning this place was almost the last resort before prison).  This one was tough.  I got bit.  I had to physically restrain girls.  I got to teach art therapy (yay!) only to have some of the girls throw their crayons at me (sad).  I got yelled at and called some very nasty things.  Yet again I saw parents that were worse than SCUM.  It was heart breaking.  There were a couple of girls that I connected with and happily saw them successfully leave the facility – but it wasn’t enough to make me feel like I made a difference.  Soul.  Crushed.

Fast forward today where I’m an office administrator not-so-sneakily trying to stack more HR responsibilities onto my plate because that’s what makes my soul feel more whole.  Yes, I mostly punch calculator buttons and stare at Excel sheets, but today I got to work on making up our employee review process including using SMART goals both given to the employee and that the employee makes for themselves that they truly want to accomplish.  My hope is to help our employees feel valued here and feel like they have a purpose – as well as educate their managers on how to give them SMART goals.  I’m pretty nerdily excited.

Now, do I want to be a paper pusher for the rest of my life?  Or the rest of my 30’s?  No way!  But this is paying my bills while I cook up my master scheme and continue to flail through the ocean of options that is realizing my purpose in life. . .

keepin it real – Jessie

FWB – The Crushing Weight of Possibilities

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Is it possible to feel like everything’s impossible because there are just too many possibilities?

I am feeling majorly weighed down by the wealth of options and directions that my multitude of passions is pushing me.

I’ve been burying myself in random life/business coach advice, internet articles, TED talks, and lists upon lists of my topmost goals.  SO MANY THINGS!

I have been overwhelmed with. . . with EVERYTHING.  I have no idea where to start.  It’s like being so ready to run a marathon – hydrated, excited, trained, and mentally prepared – then you get to the starting line and there’s 30 different race paths to choose from, each one leads to a finish line but which is the RIGHT finish line?

Sigh. . . pardon me while I dig myself deeper into the rabbit hole of self help paraphernalia.

FWB – Resource Brokerage

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

At a recent Ringling ABWA meeting I was talking with our awesome speaker, Gayle Dehann-Garland, and she said something that I thought was GENIUS!  She mentioned all these connections that she’s been making between her business associates and friends as well as fellow ABWA members and joked that maybe her business card title should read Resource Broker.

I think that’s an awesome thing to call yourself.  What could be more useful than someone who can connect you to any given resource you’re needing?  Of course there’s the internet or asking a few friends, but what if there was one reliable source of information?  Like a matchmaker of sorts.

I hope to use the website I’m making as a way to connect women to the invaluable resource that is fellow women – help the inexperienced by giving them interviews with women experienced in the field they want to enter. I’m actually really excited about this and can’t way to see what kind of meaningful connections I can help create!

FWB – Cart Before the Horse

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

There’s no one way to do something.  Each person has their own ways and signature moves that affect how their results unfold.  I myself don’t think that I’ve quite nailed a process down so my endeavors tend to be all over the place.  For example, my absolute urgency to create business cards for a business I didn’t even fully understand before the National Women’s Leadership Conference so that I would have SOMETHING to show for myself.  I called myself a Creative Consultant for lack of a better explanation as to what I can do for people.

After I had the cards printed I tried to figure out what it was that I wanted to do.  I decided that I would be a business coach-consultant.  Then I did research and discovered that those two professions were seen as mutually exclusive.  Ok, fine, I’ll just be a coach then, whatever.  That’s when the boo and I have a serious heart to heart where he points out that most people who are coaching have already succeeded in their own business before claiming they can help others.  Whatever!

Seriously though, it was a swift kick in the pants and ended up with me admitting it wouldn’t work.  Letting go of that delusion opened me up to starting the brainstorming process all over again with a fresh slate.  I tried to explain what I wanted to do – connect women experienced in whatever given occupational field to another woman/teen/girl contemplating going into that same field.  I definitely do not have all the answers myself therefore I can’t provide them.  However, if I connect these women, they can exchange their own personal answers in a sort of mentorship.

Turning the wheels a few more times I came up with a website where I can post interviews that  I conduct with those women in all occupations that I KNOW have great stories and advice to share.  I can link my blog to the site in case anyone wants to read all these sporadic posts.  I would love to eventually have a forum on the website where “mentees” can find mentors and connect on a one-on-one level.

I think that had I stuck to my original idea of being an inexperienced business coach this whole other idea would have taken a much longer time to formulate.  Looking back, I’m not sure what I would make my beautifully printed cards say but I am definitely a little bummed that they say Creative Consultant. . .  You really shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, friends, because crossing out your title on a business card and scribbling one in just doesn’t look professional.

FWB – Unconventional Brainstorming

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Although I decided NOT to pursue the masters degree in entrepreneurship from USF I DID learn a few tricks from one of the courses I completed.

A little bit of creative brainstorming that seemed unconventional at first ended up getting a lot gears turning in my own and my classmates’ heads.

Pick a business that you think is good and use 5 words to describe it.  Once you have those 5 words, come up with the antonym of each to create a list of 5 bad things that the business is NOT.

Once you have those 5 “bad” words, you must create a new successful business idea that they would describe.

Another exercise my professor had us do was in groups and each group had to come up with the worst, most unprofitable business that we could think of.  I came up with shoes for fish – because, how could that be a good business?  Another group came up with reusable condoms (which causes that kind of knee-jerk reaction of “eww!”).  The groups then had to switch ideas and make their new “bad” business idea into a good one.  My group got the reusable condom and turns out, that’s really not a bad idea!  We came up with different options and ways to make it safe and profitable then presented that to the class.  The group that got my idea, shoes for fish, interpreted it in a way where they created pills/water additives that you could use to change the tail and fins of a fish in a tank to different colors.  How cool is that??

So you see, when you think in unconventional ways it can help you see the options that aren’t obvious at first glance.

Take a stab at this practice yourself!

FWB – How Will You Measure Your Life?

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

On a recommendation from a peer, I watched the TED Talk by Clayton Christensen which you can check out here.  It was a little tough for me to follow at times but I did get some nuggets of wisdom that I’ll share with you!

We as humans are always in the pursuit of achievement.  We will do what results in the most immediate evidence of achievement rather than work on that more long-term intangible goal way off in the distance.  As soon as he explained this tendency I realized that I am in fact doing it right now – I’m writing a blog post (which I can hit that Publish button and see immediate results!) instead of working on my website (which I hate and won’t actually be up and running for a while. . . probably because I keep procrastinating like this. . . crap. . .).  What I got from Clay’s speach was that I should work on the harder intangible things that will result in greater success further in the future.  Ugh.  FINE!  I’ll work on my website!

A few other points were made in the video but I’m too tired to formulate thoughts on them right now so I’m off to bed!