Monday, February 25, 2019

The Current State on Snow

It’s official. I’m done with winter. Let’s be honest, I was done with winter before it started. Snow CAN be lovely from inside a living room in a robe and pajamas. But really, this winter has too much snow. Not enough light getting through to my seasonally affected system. Not enough snow days. I have however, learned some things and developed some strategies. 

1.) The shovel makes a difference. 

The large grey shovel pictured below is excellent for essentially plowing snow off a sidewalk or driveway. I have learned that, as a short, muscle deficient individual, it is not excellent for lifting snow above a berm that has formed along said driveways and sidewalks. But. As my neighbor Tyler says enthusiastically “that thing can move snow!”

The red shovel is my neighbors. It’s relatively light and is a great snow pusher. You can tell the pushers because they don’t have a deep scoopy bucket. 

The clear shovel is a lifter. It’s light weight and has been excellent for shoveling pushed snow up and over berms to keep the snow piles from creeping onto our driveway. 

2.) Have neighbors who are the best. It’s fantastic to have the co-op we have going in that we sort of take turns clearing all the driveway and sidewalk. We leave all the shovels on the front porch so that whichever residents are shoveling can have access to the optimal shovel. 

 Having great neighbors  means you’re never shoveling as deep of snow, and you’ve already got all the gear on anyway. Also their adorable sister black labs come out and say hi every time. 

3.) Beware the plows, who, when clearing out streets so kindly block your driveway with snow and slush that promptly turns to solid. Ice. 

4.) When you grill, make venn diagrams in the snow with the hot lid. 

5.) Don’t forget to shovel a space for the canine. His body is small and legs are short.  He is best suited for summer. He is not well suited for snow. 

6.) Remember the days when this trail has no ice and fluttering green leaves. 

Anyway, this California transplant is using the happy lamp, has programmed light switches, is gym-ing mostly regularly, tanning, and avoiding driving. Rico is stir crazy. The kids are going nuts and the sickness is going around. I might be in survival mode. Pray for me. It’s snowing as I write. More snow predicted for tomorrow. 

But summers here are looooovely.  Sigh. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Let’s Start a Conversation: Menstrual Cups

As trainer Natalie says: “We have these fantastic bodies and we have no idea how to use them.”
As I’ve been discovering this year, she’s absolutely right. So. Meet My New Series: Let’s Start a Conversation. 

Today we’re talking menstrual cups. 
I posted videos on my Instagram account (@MyThirdThings) sharing information I have and shared three different products: Diva CupLena Cup, and Lunette. I was pleased and surprised by how many views I got, people learned something new, and great conversations were started. By request I have “highlighted” them on my Instagram feed.

Relevant comments I thought I’d share:
“I like the taco fold because the aggressive pop open let’s me know it’s in place.” -Tanya B.
“My cup experiences have left intense pressure on my bladder, Thinx underwear is a good alternative.” -Becca H. @Beccawith_the_goodhair (If anyone has good information regarding this I’d love to pass it on.)
“Love Lena! Wouldn’t use anything else!” -Devinne S. @mondaymorningmedia
“Tell everyone the discoloration is normal. It [the cup] can still be clean and discolored. I thought I was cleaning mine wrong.” -A
“Toxic shock syndrome is not exclusive to menstruation....”    (I’m not an expert but am learning more and gathering information. Men can get it too. Gauze in open wounds. It’s caused by bacteria with a long name.) -A&J

More resources:
If you’re 18 or older, Oh Joy has an informational comic with useful diagrams sharing about using XO Flo Cup that I find informative.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Joy and Sadness

You all. My friends are great. You check in on me. You ask me how I’m doing. I’m so blessed by all of you. 
I love to tell you about the things I’m doing. The blessings in my life. New accomplishments or leaves in turning over. 

It’s interesting. I am in a good place. I’m being intentionally proactive in regards to my seasonal affective disorder. I’m making good foood choices (you know other than the frequent Ben and Jerry’s), I’m going to the gym and working with a trainer, I have a “solar” alarm clock and other lights that are programmed to support my daily schedule and activities, I open windows wide on sunny days and click on the happy lamp on grey days. I tan for heat and light therapy. I meet regularly with my counselor and touch bases with my doctor and take my prescribed medication.  

On some days though I’m particularly aware of the less friendly or hard feelings that lurk just around the corner, or just outside that realm of happy, happy positive vibes. It’s like in the show Legion. The guy with the glowing eyes. I’m aware of  how, if I’m not careful or proactive enough it might mean that I encounter the dark and hard. Maybe, I’m afraid of the hard feelings in the same way I’m afraid of the the creepy guy with glowing eyes. We seem to co-exist though, in a relatively peaceful manner. “You stay over there” I seem to tell it, “and I’ll stay over here.”

Though, I watched the movie Inside Out this last week. Spoiler alert. (And really, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now.)  So, I’ve seen the movie many times, but this time I became hyper cognizant of the way Joy is pushing joy and happiness onto Riley. She tells Sadness to “stay over there” within the constrains of the circle drawn on the ground. I became aware of how empty that felt. I kept thinking about how that’s such a bad idea because those feelings are going to grow and become harder to deal with if she doesn’t pull them out now. 

Then, at the end when Joy realizes how important it is to let sadness drive, how when Sadness drives that’s how people know to help. I cried big, alligator, tears. 

I very much believe that the words, intentions and actions we put into the world are the seeds we put into the world to come to fruition. When I speak using positive language about myself and others, I will feel positive and therefore my experience will be positive.  How do we pursue a balance in this. A balance in speaking positivity, kindness, and joy while giving appropriate homage to sadness, anger, and fear?  

I suspect the process, like any worthwhile process, is one that will require a significant amount of ongoing, prayerful and meditative consideration. I look forward to the conversations I hope this initiates with all of you, my people, my tribe, my community. 

Monday, February 11, 2019


I’ve found that as I’ve aged I’ve cultivated a fine sense of particularity that some people mistake for crazy.
The good news is, I’m not the only one who has this going on. This whole conversation was sparked because my sister is thinking about getting some mugs. (She’s currently using the teacups that go with the china she inherited. Which is a whole different story in and of itself.)
This got me thinking of my mugs. What I have, which ones I use, and why. 

From left to right:
Fiesta Dinnerware Tea Cup- I have them because they’re darling. They come in every color. Someday I might even have a tea party and we shall drink tea out of them poured from my Fiesta Dinnerware tea pot. Tea cups are too small for daily use because it’s not enough caffeine in a morning and there’s not enough room for a tea bags worth or water. 
Fiesta Bistro Late Mug- I purchased and returned this mug before committing to it. It’s 12 oz. I actually really like how the flare at the top fits into my hands. It’s for at home, chair sitting tea sipping. 
Starbucks Reusable Plastic Cup- Another 12 ouncer. For days you need a lid. Like at work. When you’d like to keep people from mouth breathing or sneeze spraying onto your beverage. It is to be used in the moments when you intend to drink the carried beverage promptly and or are counting on the warmth from the beverage to heat your hands. The one pictured is a favorite of mine from Valentine’s Day last year, and prompted lots of pontifications. The interest in this style of cup started because they only cost $2 and this sort of negates the fear of losing a fancy to go cup. Also I have many of them which delays the need to do dishes. :)

Fiesta Dinnerware Java Mug- comes in their traditional dining set. They’re not quite perfect for tea (only 8 oz I think) but would be good if you drink coffee. Here’s the thing, coffee drinkers and tea drinkers have different mug specifications. Coffee drinkers can constantly pour out of a warm pot, or give themselves a warm up. With tea you only got one shot, do not miss your chance, this opportunity comes once in a morning...
So these mugs live in my cabinet because if I’m hosting fall knit night I must have enough for everyone. And these look great. Or what if we’re doing something holiday-ish and hot chocolate is being consumed. I know. What are the odds. But they’re there, however slight. 

Last is my Tervis with a magnetic lid that comes entirely apart for optimal dishwasher cleaning. It was gifted to my by Bobby a couple years ago and is still going strong. It’s ALSO 12 ounces though this cup keeps things hot and so the liquid inside will not be drinkable for 30 minutes to an hour and will maintain drinkable temperature for about 3 hours. This is the cup that holds the second cup of tea on a teacher training day, or road trip day. This mug is labeled with my first name, last name and phone number to increase the odds of having it returned to me should I set it down and walk away. Don’t laugh it works 

Now that you’ve heard all that impeccable reasoning just TRY to find the crazy in that. Well. Maybe don’t. But seriously...don’t you have favorite mugs? Which ones are yours? And why?

Sunday, February 10, 2019


Life has happened to me in a hard way. It was big. Good things happened too. In a big, good way. 
So here I am. 
I've been used to having an internet presence. I have friends all over the country.... and world for that matter, who I know through social media. I've missed you!
I knit. I've had labels with my name that I stitched onto a project as a finishing touch. Ya'll I spent a lot of years cultivating an identity associated with a name I no longer use. 

In my social, internet, crafting world I felt stagnant. 

I had started the process of rebranding or re-iodentifying if you will, but got stuck on some technicalities and could. not. move. forward. I had such a sense of who I was, but it was from an internal perspective. Have you ever spent so much time with yourself that you couldn't see you as a whole from the outside? I've kind of gotten to that point. 
So I was getting a bikini wax, (I love starting with that, it's an amusingly great hook) and Ruthie was talking about working with a graphic designer to do some business rebranding. I'd been thinking about pursuing this path and this just kind of fell in my lap. She started talking about Devinne of Monday Morning Media and how she has a passion for working with women and their businesses. Ruthie talked about how she loved collaborating with Devinne because Devinne is the kind of person who "gets you" and wants things to be "just right." 

I called Devinne of Monday Morning Media that night. We met the next morning. She's a fantastic like minded person and creator. Additionally, it was such a relief to hand over all these things about me, my process, what I create, and why I create. I knew I could hand it over to her and that she would take all of that to find a way to represent me! I left with such a sense of relief! And that night? That night I picked up my knitting. 

She took time to process and create. It was so hard to be patient but good things take time.
Devinne put together three inspiration boards as a starting point. 

I loved parts of all of them, but the one with the black lupine design really spoke to me the most. There were small teaks to be made, and then it was just right! The logo, the font, the icons. I felt like they represented me so well!

The only thing I still felt a little funny on were the colors. Which I very much identified as a me thing. How do I describe my colors? How do I define my colors? I love all the colors, which ones are ME? How could I convey that or communicate it to someone else? I spent that Friday night on PInterest. I scoured the boards for an image or color palate that spoke to me. I grabbed pictures from the interwebs and created my own photo inspiration board. I liked it. I didn't LOVE it. I wast at peace with it. Nowhere could I find a picture with ALL of my colors in it. 
The next morning (Saturday) I woke up inspired. I would take my own pictures. Thankfully, the light was on my side! I took photos of my favorite colored things. Quilt, knitting, glass, Fiestaware. I played with them, made some colors show more than others. I was back in m element! It had been SO. LONG. Since I'd felt inspired to just take pictures of things that made me happy so I could share them! (I paced myself sharing them on Instagram BTW. You're welcome for not bombarding you.) I was in my creative element playing with color, texture, and light. I was amazed at what a self seeking journey it was and how the process activated and inspired feelings and emotion. I was still trying to push the fuchsia but man, I did not have it hardly anywhere. 

I think that's when it hit me...why am I trying to push something I don't have in my life? How is that representative of me? 
So I compiled all the photos without the fuchsia and wow, was I at peace. That was it!

Sunday began the journey of finding the precise colors and shades. I put the inspiration board through several photo color palate finders. They all came back with different ideas. I pulled the pieces that spoke to me. I think I tried four variations of my green, three variations of blue and what felt like five purples. Then. I had it.

I took the digital file over to the print shop across the street to have them print it on 11x17 card-stock so I could tape it on my wall and just LOOK at it. It's so centering.

I ordered my knitting labels and my contact card (so I don't have to write my name and number on whatever receipt I have in my purse when I'm trying to give another knitter my numbah.) Both parts of my process that had been in my life before. I felt like the processes have been restored under the ownership of my name, my identity. Yes, these are material things. Yes, I know there's more to life than that, and that's probably a big reason I've waited so long to pick this process back up. But since I got my labels I've finished four WIPs (work in progress). That's huge! Celebrate with me! 

Lastly, I must ask. Are you a person who processes in images and color? How do you describe this to the people in your life who see numbers, names and words? How do you invite them to your table when you're trying to work through something hard, even if they don't speak "the language?" And more importantly, how do you as an image/color person meet them at their table when they're experiencing something hard?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Why Third Things

There was not a shortage of books in my house growing up. I was blessed to have grown up being read to on the regular. Some books were read more than others. One of such books was “Miss Rumphius” story and pictures by Barbara Cooney. I’m sure we had it for the lovely story as well as the beautiful artwork. Many people simply call it “The Lupine Lady.” I was once in a bookstore and overheard two women asking for “The Lupine Lady.” Being the over involved person I am, I intervened for the confused sales person and  helped the women locate the book. I’ve recorded a video of myself reading the book and you can view it here.

In the story Alice tells her Uncle that “I too will travel the world, and I too will grow old and live by the sea.” Her uncle says “that is all very well little Alice, but there is a third thing you must must do something to  make the world more beautiful.” No spoilers here but read to the end people. It gets even better. 
When I social media (yep, it’s a verb now), it’s my hope that I’m sharing all of “My Third Things.” As my friend Sara pointed out, I have many things that make the (my) world beautiful. I try to embrace things that make my world more beautiful whether that is teaching, cooking, knitting, sewing...maybe even thinking. 

When I told my dad my idea, I was driving home from somewhere. He started reciting the book to me. My heart swelled so big. 

This book holds memories and hopes. 

I’m not a plant expert by any means but everywhere I have lived I have found a familiar lupine plant friend in one variety or another. The discovery has typically been accompanied by a gleeful cry of “luuuuupines!” They can be noted by their cone shaped flower and their leaf pattern. 

One day, several years ago, I was walking, telling my sister all about the beautiful lupines in bloom and remembering the story. That afternoon, or maybe the next I heard my doorbell ring. There on my porch was a lovely little bouquet of lupines, accompanied by the most adorable giggles coming from around the corner. Melt my heart. 

Or the surprise lupines for my birthday from Raechel, even though both of us have memorable speeches burned into our brains about leaving flowers on the plant for longer enjoyment.

Lastly, my name Jessie Harper, is not necessarily unique or original. (Though I love my naming story. I’ll tell it to you sometime.) There are many Jessie Harper usernames taken up across the inter webs. I recently noticed that my name has three E’s. And that a capital E backwards is a three. So, once again the theme of thirds and threes shows up in my online persona which you may sometimes see as J3SSI3HARP3R. Three threes for three E’s and my third things, as Jessie Harper. 

Wrap all that up in a nice bow. It makes me happy. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wide Legged Pants

These pants require a story. Every time I wear them and someone notices them, I want to tell the story. (For the record the cart is the feature of the photo because it had JUST been delivered to my classroom to store science notebooks and I was SO excited I asked my kids to help me record the moment.

When I was in second grade, I had a teacher, Mrs. Reed, who wore the flowiest wide leg pants. They were swishy and lovely and I knew, that when I got “grown up” I would wear wide leg swishy pants. 
Now yall, I am a rule follower (as long as I know why I’m following the rule) and I know that my short stature-ness just does not get quite so visually flattered by the wide leg flowy pant look. But. A couple...okay a few...okay now that I count many years ago I finally made myself these wide leg pants. And sometimes. It’s hard for me to put together my “look.” 

People seem to either love the wide leg pants or really strongly dislike them. My sister, bless her heart, is in the dislike category. She’s not the only one, and I’m grateful I have people who I know will tell me their thoughts without hurt feelings intended. 
But dear ones. This week I had a student ask me when I was going to wear my pretty pants with the big bow again. Wow did my heart swell. Middle school students can be hard but wowsers when they notice or care about things it is such. A big. Deal. 
So I wore them again today, and got way more compliments than on standard workaday pants.  And I always get so proud when I can show people how my giant phone fits in the giant pockets. And the student was visibly cheered when she noted that I wore them and I said “just for her”. All because she said something.
Someone wise (Carrie) once told me that there’s a difference between style and fashion. Fashion consists of the latest trends but style is all our own. What we like, what fits, what makes us happy. We curate our style to be as unique as us. When I wear my wide legged pants, or wear the same dress in different colors for four days, and Danskos with hand knit socks I am not only identifying myself as me, but I am also identifying myself as a kindred spirit to others. So now rather than feeling pressure at finding the most acceptable outfit, I will try to focus on choosing how I shall identify myself as kindred today. 
Lastly, let this be a lesson for all of us. When you appreciate someone’s scarf, tell them! When you notice their hair is a beautiful shade of grey coiled into delicate curls, tell them! When someone has a radiant smile let them know that it brightened your day. Who doesn’t feel brighter and bigger after receiving a compliment. Has anyone ever received a compliment and thought “Ugh, I wish they hadn’t said that.” I have never. Think how joy can spread exponentially with a daily increase of compliments. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Sticker Paralysis

One of many things I've enjoyed about Instagram is how through it, I've been introduced to many artists I enjoy greatly! Case in point: Meet The Paintbox Letters. It was SO. HARD. to pick just one. I wanted to put all her work everywhere. SO. I ordered stickers. All the stickers. 
But then. I got sticker paralysis. Where would I put them to get maximum enjoyment? What if I put them in the wrong place? What if they get destroooooooyed? They lived on my fridge for quite some time. During that time I had many sticker discussions with the individuals who frequent my place of work. I began to notice that certain kids ALWAYS brought their water bottles and I often enjoyed noticing their stickers. Finally I realized if they had one of the stickers on their waterbottles I could enjoy the stickers exponentially. On my water bottle. On their water bottles. All the water bottles!See below.

These are mine. The 30 oz bottle is going to feature Harry Potter stickers. You should see the stuff she's been adding to her Etsy shop. My twenty something oz water bottle shall feature women and the at-at. Because I like them.

I thought I might make the 12 oz bottle super hero themed because I have a wolverine sticker. And I really like her aqua man sticker. But in my brain wolverine doesn't really fit the superhero mold truly. So then I thought I'll just call the theme "abs." If you didn't laugh at that you're missing something from your life. Text me. I'll explain it to you.