7 Life Lessons to Get Through Hard Times

When we face significant life events we can gain beautifully formed diamonds of knowledge about what it means to live life and achieve goals.  These diamonds are extremely valuable and I feel honored that Michelle Kephart allowed me to share her story with you. 

7 Life Lessons to get through hard times Michelle Kephart


I would love to learn more about you.  Where did you grow up?  How would you describe your childhood? 

Michelle Kephart c5 quadriplegic spinal cord injury story - goals and life lessons learned-004I grew up in an Air Force family, so we moved a few times. I was born in Southern California, went to elementary school in Maryland (just outside of Washington, D.C.), attended junior high and high school in Clovis, NM, and then finished high school and undergrad in Colorado. I lived in Colorado the longest and claim it as my home state. 

Most of my time growing up was spent playing with my best friend, Koke, who was a wonderfully sweet and loving black lab. Because of her, animals have always been a big part of my life.  

Can you take us back to the time period of the accident.  What were you doing in your life at the time?  What were your plans that day?  Can you describe what transpired shortly after you fell?  Is there anything you would want people to know specifically related to that day in your life? 

At the time of the accident, I was in grad school at the University of Iowa Collage of Nursing in Iowa City. My good friend, David, was on a road trip from Virginia to California with his friend Devon. They stopped in Iowa City for the night and I decided to join them for the rest of their trip.  It was a an awesome trip!  We had so much fun climbing trees, climbing mountains, visiting friends, and enjoying all of the different landscapes we traveled through.

When we arrived in California we met with David's friends for a round of disc golf. I decided to climb a tree at the disc golf course and that's when my life changed.

The branches of the tree broke beneath me and I broke my neck (C-5 Spinal Cord Injury -quadriplegic). The people with me were outstanding!  They didn't move me, they called 911 right away, and they helped me stay calm while we waited for the ambulance.

While I was waiting on the ground under the tree, my mind started drifting to a dark frightening place where I thought about my future.  I started to panic and I made a strong final decision to only focus on right now. 

I needed to get through that moment, and there was no reason to think about anything else.  Besides, I had no information to base the future on, so why should I waste my energy thinking about it!

The next few weeks are a blur, but I really want the people present to know that it was completely an accident.  No one is at fault.

What was it like to go back to school, especially since the rehab team encouraged you to take a year off?

7 Life Lessons to get through hard times Michelle Kephart You get to decide what is possible for YOUGoing back to school was the hardest thing I had done at that point. It was more difficult emotionally than being in the hospital.  At the hospital, I was asked:

"What are your goals for this hour? For today? For this week?"

Then we worked on those goals.

At school, I said "I want to graduate from nursing school." Some of the faculty said, "Okay, get to work!"

Other faculty said, "Wait! Are you capable of graduating? Can you become a nurse? Will anyone want to hire you?"

Those questions were a bigger problem than my paralysis.

The most remarkable part is that those questions have no value.

There is only one way to respond – “I don’t know”.  Nobody will ever know the answer until success is attempted.

I had to fight for months just for the chance to continue school. At first the school allowed me to take 2 courses; one was online and the other met once a week.  When I passed both with flying colors, I found myself facing more road blocks.

Rather than letting me try with the possibility of failing – which is the opportunity given to every other student – they made me prove myself before allowing me to continue my course work.

People are faced with these disabling meaningless questions every day.

It’s normal to consider them when you are first formulating a goal.

But, once you’re ready to pursue your goal those questions are not worthwhile.

No one else gets to decide what's possible for you.

No one else knows just how much you are capable of.

Maybe you don't even know what you're capable of, but the only way to find out is to try.

Michelle Kephart c5 quadriplegic spinal cord injury story - goals and life lessons learned- gradutating from nursing school-001

Can you describe a current typical "day in the life of Michelle"?  

On work days, my caregiver comes to my apartment around 5:30 AM.  She helps me dress and get ready for the day.  The paratransit bus, a wheelchair accessible door-to-door Michelle Kephart c5 quadriplegic spinal cord injury story - goals and life lessons learned-national mobility awareness month 01service picks me up at 7:30 AM.  Rides on this bus need to be scheduled a couple of days in advance. 

Sometimes they take me directly to my nursing job at the clinic and sometimes we pick up and drop off other people along the way.  I'm usually fortunate to have the same driver each morning who gets me to the clinic by 8:00, but there is never any arrival time guarantee and depending on the day I sometimes get to the clinic at 9:00.   

I teach Medical Assisting classes twice a week from 2 PM - 6 PM. The school is about 2 miles from the clinic.  Before I got my beautiful service dog, Rumba, I use to ride my Michelle Kephart c5 quadriplegic spinal cord injury story - goals and life lessons learned-national mobility awareness monthwheelchair to school.  It was a 30 minute commute and I could leave the clinic when I was ready to leave.  Due to our unpredictable weather, I decided to start using the paratransit for this commute so that I didn't risk subjecting Rumba to the intense storms and heat we often have in Georgia.  The paratransit bus is commonly late by 1-2 hours, so I schedule to be at school extra early.  I've lost a few work hours to this, but that's better than being late to class. 

Then the bus takes me home after work.  The timing is unpredictable.  Sometimes I leave work early, and sometimes I wait outside up to 2 hours after the buildings close, depending on when the bus can pick me up.  Each day is unpredictable, but it is better than being stuck at home without a ride. 

I try not to use the paratransit bus on my days off because anything outside of a normal routine can sometimes leave me stranded somewhere without a ride.  If I decide to go somewhere on my days off, then I'll use the regular city bus.  I drive my wheelchair 1 mile to the bus stop.  The city bus is guaranteed to take 1-2 hours no matter where I go, but I don't have to schedule the ride in advance.

Is there anything else that you want readers of this blog post to know?

People are generally awesome.  It can be difficult to ask for help, but I've found that most people enjoy the opportunity to help.

In addition, I feel like I'm complaining in some of my answers above so I want you to know that I'm generally not a complainer.  I have a great life.  Researchers have made a lot of progress recently for spinal cord injuries, but I'm not sitting around waiting for a cure. If a cure is found, I'll be ecstatic. But if it isn't, then I'll still be happy knowing that my life was fulfilling and I didn't waste any time.

I have to find different ways to do things, but I'm still living my life and following my dreams.


Thank you Michelle for sharing your story!  Your story not only increases mobility awareness (National Mobility Awareness Month), but gives everyone an opportunity to connect, learn from you, and demonstrate love.  Here are some of the diamonds in her story…

7 Life Lessons to Get Through Hard Times

  1. When you start to panic when considering what lies ahead in your future. PAUSE. Make a decision to only focus on right now.  Just get through the moment you are in. 
  2. When life gets overwhelming – ask yourself – What are your goals for this hour? For today? For this week?
  3. When you first formulate a goal it is normal to consider difficult questions like “Will this succeed or fail?” “Am I capable of this?” – BUT – once you decide to pursue your goal these questions are meaningless. You will never know the answers to any of these questions until you attempt success.
  4. You get to decide what is possible for you.  
  5. No one knows how much you are capable of… YOU don’t even know what you are capable of.  The only way to find out is to try.
  6. Give people an opportunity to help you… ask for help.
  7. Significant life events may challenge you to find different ways to do things, but always continue living your life and following your dreams no matter what.

Michelle Kephart 7 Life Lessons to get through hard times Mobility Awareness MonthRight now is National Mobility Awareness Month and until May 9, 2014 we can demonstrate through our votes… support not only for Michelle but for everyone facing a disability.  Please share this message to bring hope and love to others.  Thank you!

If you came here from Pinterest please repin this article to share it with others, or share it on:

Facebook

Twitter

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Michelle and all her family and friends would really appreciate it!

One more tip about voting.  You can click on the LOGIN button and just sign in with Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.  That way you don’t need a password, you don’t have to signup, and it is quick and easy.  :)  Thank you again for voting!

spinal cord injury

(Bottom right - Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ LOGIN – click & vote)

In addition to her two jobs mentioned above, Michelle volunteers as a board member of the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities.  She believes that the unique and insightful experiences of people with disabilities are invaluable to healthcare professions. She is eager to inspire people to pursue careers in healthcare and is equally excited about guiding the design of more accessible academic programs and work environments.

The boundaries of Michelle’s world have not been imposed by an injury but rather by a bus map.  Having a van would not only allow her to see the results of her hard work in person, it would also allow her to expand her health programs to incorporate even more of the community she cares so much about.

Please VOTE for Michelle.  Update as of 5-5-2014, we are only 2,300 votes away from 20,000+.  Thank you for sharing!!!

 


If you have read this far – THANK YOU! 

The blog post should end here, but I still feel a tug in my heart to say a little more.  I have been praying for Michelle since I learned about her accident in 2008, but I never reached out to her.  Only recently did I follow through on this pull within my heart to get to know Michelle.  I am soooo glad that I did! 

It is beautiful to see our life stories interweaving with other people.  We recently moved to Madison, WI and joined a life group through Blackhawk church.  For the past 3 months the group members have been sharing their own life stories.   As I have been listening to other people’s lives I have really had to embrace the following Comparison is the thief of joythoughts as I am entrusted with the gift of someone else’s story…

  • Comparison – “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”.  No matter what kind of comparison we are making, we can miss learning life lessons if we rank our struggles as either harder or easier than someone else’s. 
  • Increased Awareness or Knowledge – This is a great thing to gain from any life story.  For example, with Michelle’s story there is so much I don’t know about being a C-5 quadriplegic.  But it is great if we can go beyond awareness because there is so much more to learn from other people. 
  • Connection – We are meant to live in community and go through life together.  This is where being vulnerable and sharing your story and embracing other’s life stories gets really beautiful!  Connection can look like asking for help, offering random acts of kindness to others as you go about your day, or discovering ways you can serve the people around you. 
  • Openness and Love – These are the most important and critical tools to really embrace someone else’s life story.  It is evident from Michelle’s caring bridge page and her story above… that LOVE is what pulled her through many tough parts of her journey.  Openness and love allow Michelle to continue being the beautiful, capable person that she is… and it is the same gift that we can give everyday to ourselves or anyone sharing their life story. 

One final note… Since we go through life together… I want to mention 3 blog posts that planted seeds of inspiration. 

Jon Acuff - It took me 13 years to learn this blogging lesson,

Matt Ham - Completely Broken – The Amazing Story of Coach Gary Weller,

Benny Lewis - 29 life lessons learned in travelling the world for 8 years straight.

A BIG THANK YOU to my life group members (you know who you are!) and to Michelle for helping me learn more about life through your eyes. 

Be Vulnerable.  Share your story.  Embrace other people’s stories!

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Don’t Let Cover Letters Stress You Out!

* Use Grammarly for proofreading because… it’s hard for a Manger to play an important roll in your organization.*  Sponsored Grammarly Advertisement.  


Just say the words “cover letter” and you strike fear in the hearts of millions.  {I just did}

Dont let cover letters stress you out hacking the cover letter judi fox blog

The first thing people do when faced with job searching is focus on their resume.  We spend hours and hours fine tuning that document only to be faced with writing a cover letter. 

The following list takes cover letter advice and turns it inside out to see how it works in real life.  What I want to do is demystify cover letters and reduce your stress.  

1.  Cover Letter – Let’s Define it… cover letter definition hacking the cover letter and tips to reduce stress judi fox blog

It is either an email, online job application, LinkedIn message, letter, or any form of communication to tell someone why you are contacting them and attaching your resume.  Maybe if we called it “Contact Email” it would feel less stressful from the start. 

But honestly, this definition didn’t alleviate that much cover letter stress. 

2.  Write a great opening sentence.  Seriously? 

All of a sudden there is tremendous pressure to write the most amazing first sentence on the planet.  How do we get past this stressful road block?

We can start by acknowledging that almost 80% of all jobs are filled through networking. 

Therefore, if you are optimizing your job search, the majority of your cover letters are being sent to either direct or slightly indirect contacts (i.e. someone knows someone you know).  That means people receiving your letter will probably look at your resume.  All you need to do is not mess up the letter.  

You don’t need a super catchy opening sentence!  {Gasp}  Yes, I am going against lots of advice out there, but your opening sentence for these types of contacts just needs to be professional, informative, sometimes personal, and to the point. 

Make sure your letter mentions the person you know in common and adheres to all grammar rules because you never know if they will forward your email directly to their Human Resources Department. 

Modify the following sentences to fit your personal situation and experience: 


I am currently considering new career opportunities and I wanted to contact you to see if your company has any potential positions that would fit my IT administration experience.  


Recently I have been searching for a new career opportunity and I wanted to send you my resume in case you think of anyone who might be interested in my skills and safety management experience. 


Recently I met / talked with Deborah Wilkerson, Director of Marketing, and she suggested that I reach out to you because she thought my skills and abilities would be of interest to XYZ International Corporation.


3.  Mention Job or Company Content Demonstrating your Research.     

This can kill cover letter momentum in a heart beat.  How do you summarize a company in less than a page?  Start by following these tips:

- Mention the job you are applying for in the cover letter

- Briefly discuss how your skills and experience will bring value or be a good fit based on the company’s mission statement or values

- If something about the company caught your eye when you did your initial research to determine if this was the right position to apply for…. then mention it.  But beyond that don’t worry. 

4.  Keep your Paragraphs and Sentences Short and Succinct.

If the pressure isn’t already loosening up maybe this will help.  Keep your cover letter short!  Focus on making it easy to read and avoid large blocks of overwhelming text. 

This might not reduce the stress for people that have a lot to say.  But remember that hiring managers do not have a lot of time to sift through paragraphs describing 10 different ways you are amazing.  Focus on never repeating anything and sticking to 3 – 4 paragraphs with 3 – 4 sentences each! 

5.  Avoid overusing the word “I” and limit filler words.

Reduce the stress even more and just write initially from your gut.  Just get something down on paper.  After you finish the first draft, take a break and then re-visit the text later.  Return to your text with a goal to remove words like:

  • I
  • On
  • In
  • To
  • Of
  • And
  • For
  • As

6.   The first sentence should not start with “I”

Avoid starting the cover letter with the word “I”.  In general, cover letters should be  focused on the company and what you can do for them.  Try starting with:

  • Recently, I was alerted to the Business Consulting position available in your Montgomery, AL office…
  • With over 10 years experience in the marketing profession, I have proven skills and a performance track record that can immediately benefit your company as a marketing manager. 
  • Thank you for recently connecting with me…
  • Your companies recent award for excellence in consulting is extremely impressive and I was thrilled to see a Senior EHS Manager opportunity available in the Dallas, TX office.       
  • My name is Susan Brown and I am contacting you regarding XYZ company’s marketing manager job posting… 
  • Recently, I have been researching opportunities within the environmental management profession and…
  • As an Information Technology professional with over 10 years experience, I have learned that the best way to achieve success is to motivate employees with well-defined expectations and empowerment.  These leadership skills, coupled with excellent time management, will bring immediate benefit to your companies IT Department. 

Remember to be specific describing either the position, company, or how your experience fits the available opportunity.   

7.  Address the letter to someone! 

Do everything you can to avoid writing “To Whom it May Concern:” because it might not concern that many people what the cover letter says after that.  Try to find a name to address the letter to through the company online directory, internet search, LinkedIn, or by calling the main company phone number and saying:

I am interested in applying for a position I saw available on the company website and I wanted to make sure I address my cover letter to the correct person.  Would you be able to give me the name and spelling of the Environmental Department Manager? 

(If you know the department you are applying to you can ask for that department manager OR ask for the HR manager who receives and processes resumes.)

As a last resort, you can try “Dear Hiring Manager”. 

An About.com article shows survey results demonstrating that employers prefer: 

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To whom it may concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

This tip probably didn’t reduce your stress very much, but at least you can improve your chances by just nixing the “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir / Madam”.

8.  Proofread. 

People will not be impressed if there are misspellings or grammar mistakes in your cover letter.  But even when you are networking it is important to keep in mind that professionals put their credibility on the line when they pass along a resume. 

Most individuals can’t forward resumes or messages when the emails contain "i", "dont", or anything misspelled.  The reputation of the person you are contacting is on the line when they recommend a candidate for consideration within their own company.  Proofreading can be stressful, but websites like Grammarly help to alleviate that stress.    

The worlds best grammar checker grammarly cover letter tips and ideas


9.  Be Thankful and Continue Networking!

Remember to be thankful in your job search communications and continue networking!   

You never know when someone will be unable to offer you a position, but they can instead offer you some networking connections.  Here are several sentences you can consider using:


In addition, if you know of anyone that might be interested in my skills and [insert] experience I would greatly appreciate any networking contact information you can send to me. 


Thank you so much for reviewing my qualifications and passing my resume on to your management team. 


I appreciate you taking the time to review my resume.  Please let me know if I can answer any questions about my career search.  Thank you in advance for potentially forwarding my resume to any of your networking contacts that might be interested in my skills and experience. 


Hopefully theses tips helped reduce your Cover Letter stress!   

Please contact me at judiwfox@gmail.com if you are interested in finding out how we can work together on your cover letters and job search communications.   

Thank you!

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Life Lately: Focus Friday

I am a thief.  I am about to steal someone else’s idea.  Hopefully, she will feel flattered.  I ran across Alli’s blog recently and liked her writing style and the content she shares.

Life Lately Ferguson Finds Alli

Her blog (without her knowing) made me realize that I have been afraid of posting too many things about my personal life, not because I want to keep everything private, but I have been afraid that someone will think I am…. bragging, complaining, Random acts of kindness wave at people and brighten their dayoversharing, and delusional that anyone cares what I am up to in life and therefore wasting my time writing blog posts.  Basically, I don’t like the idea of wasting time. 

It also helps when people named anonymous make insightful comments alluding to this fact.  {insert sarcasm and a Flashback Friday image from a year ago}.  This comment was written on a random acts of kindness blog post where I showed my son waving at people walking by our house.   

Flashback friday judi fox blog environmental consulting and resume remodeling2

After this comment was posted, I had the most amazing friends and family rally around me and made sure I knew that my blog posts were not a waste of time.  

Therefore, I am going to start forging ahead with “Life Lately” updates.  It only took me a year to come around full circle and consider blogging more openly again.  I appreciate Alli inspiring me based on her “Life Lately” posts.  And hopefully if just one person learns something from reading mine (and hers too) then I will feel confident that I haven’t wasted my time or your time! 

To start things off, I really needed to see this { focus } image today.  I wish I could remember where I found it, but I love it’s simplicity and how much I need to really focus and finish up some projects.  Hope you are able to find your own focus today!

FOCUS Judi Fox Blog Life Lately environmental consulting and resume remodeling 2

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Resume Visual Inspiration - Strong Action Verbs


What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I really enjoy editing resume’s.  I just love crafting sentences to capture someone’s strengths.

As I was searching for the right action verbs recently, I came across this list of strong action verbs for resume writing.  It is great how they organized the verbs into categories.  But what I really wanted was to be visually inspired by action verbs.  Which led me to http://www.wordle.net/

Hope you enjoy the strong action verb inspiration image for your own Resume Remodel.   

image
    strong action verb list for resumes and cover letters

The original list is at:  http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/action-verbs.pdf

You can see these strong action verbs in "action" on Jessica's Before and After Resume Remodel.


Don't hesitate to contact me at judiwfox@gmail.com if you would be interested in having me review, edit, and remodel your resume.  Thank you!



As a side note, wordle is really easy to use and they offer many color choices.  I really wanted to use my own colors for this project so I found an image on Pinterest and captured the HTML color codes with Instant Eyedropper.

  Capture web color codes with instant eyedropper pinterest images
A3BDBA

B0BFBA

5C6366

B4A98B

DEDAB5


Image color inspiration credit goes to Design Seeds

She shares amazing images with beautiful colors.

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Be My Valentine - Banner


We finally have a fireplace with a mantel, which means now we can put up special celebration banners for each occasion.  Happy New Years, Merry Christmas, etc...  and for Valentine’s Day, I went with “Be My Valentine”.  Hopefully Chris will accept!

Be my valentine first photo judi fox blog valentines day banner
To make a holiday banner like this some people use a cricut.  But I still think it’s a bug that chirps and keeps me up at night when I am camping.   Valentines Day Banner Celebrations
I just made a PowerPoint Template (Free Banner Template HerePDF and PowerPoint Versions), printed the letters and the banner outline template, punched the letters out with a 3.5 inch scallop punch, used a sharpie to make dots in each of the scallops, cut out the first banner piece and traced that onto the colored paper I wanted to use for my banner.  To assemble the banner together, I punched holes in the top of each banner piece, used a scrapbook adhesive runner to attach the printed letters, and used ribbon to string them all together.  Voila! 

Be my valentine judi fox blog valentines day banner 2Be my valentine judi fox blog valentines day banner 4

One last thing that I did was plan ahead.  I cut out matching banner pieces and attached them on the back.  This way I am ready for “Happy Mother’s Day”, “Happy Father’s Day”, and “Happy Snow Day”.

Be my valentine judi fox blog valentines day banner 3

Here is where I found some inspiration for my banner.  Amy at The Happy Scraps Blog shares her beautiful Happy Birthday {Banner} here with lots of great photos. 

The Happy Scraps Blog Happy Birthday Banner

She does have a cricut, which probably keeps her up at night for another reason – the ability to make a million cool projects.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Cardboard Toy Car Wash, ATM, Gas Station, & Helipad

If you can’t tell… I went a little overboard on this box.  Utilizing every single side to create the ultimate cardboard car wash.  I just couldn’t stop myself.  This thing is hopefully super sturdy and can take what ever the little guy dishes out. Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank

Where to even begin explaining this creation.  It started with an empty Internet Modem Box.  I cut openings on both ends and left one flap intact for the entrance to the car wash. 

Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank 2

Then I cut the bottom up so it would lay flat (i.e. none of the flaps were overlapping).  To make it really sturdy, I glued a piece of white board down on the top and bottom, sandwiching the cardboard base on the very bottom in between.  I then glued one long piece of white poster board around the entire box.  The box could have been painted white, but I am just not that into painting things; therefore, I use lots of glue and white paper. 

Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank 7

In this picture you can also see the bottom with the flaps no longer overlapping.  This was before I glued the bottom white board down.

The car wash “water” is made from blue felt, hot glued on the inside of the box and cut up into strips.  I thought about using toilet paper tubes for the exit, but I had to draw the line somewhere for how crazy this cardboard box was getting.

Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank 5

The rest of the outer decorations are either drawn with sharpie or I glued on printed images from the internet.  I picked Chase because we drive by that bank frequently and Valero was the perfect pick because I found a good gas pump image that fit the side of the box.  It might also help that I just talked to someone who works at Valero the other day.  :)

Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank 20

Oh… one more thing.  The gas pump on the side is made from a shoe lace that Chris had in his book bag (not sure why) and a piece of blue drinking straw for hanging up the pump.  I tied a ribbon through the drinking draw and hot glued it down (on the inside).  I also tied knots in the shoe lace to keep it in place.  Since I couldn’t find a Valero sign on the internet with the words car wash.  I just used PowerPoint and the handy little tool – instant eye dropper – to add the words “car wash” to the sign.  Voila, a working gas pump and a sign advertising the car wash.  If I was really thinking ahead, I would have made the sign say… “car wash, ATM, & helipad”.    Cardboard Toy Car Wash, Helicopter Pad, ATM, and Gas Station Pump Valero, Chase Bank 112

I hope this helps inspire someone else.  But of course, no pressure to go overboard. :)

Lots of Love – Judi

PS – I found lots of inspiration on Pinterest, but this blog post from Little Paper Dog – Cardboard Car Wash – was the kicker.  This blog post really got me started thinking about making a car wash.  You can follow her easy directions to make a car wash out of a cereal box.  Pretty cool!

Little Paper Dog All things lovely cardboard car wash DIY Tutorial apartment therapy

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Cardboard Red Barn with Silo

Another cardboard project!  We have tons of boxes from our recent move so I am on a roll with cardboard creations.  I was able to complete this little red barn with a silo project in just a couple hours because it didn’t involve any painting.    Cardboard Red Barn and Silo Judi Fox Blog

I used one small cardboard box, a cardboard tube we had laying around, one piece each of white and grey cardstock 12x12, one strip of felt for the roof, a glue gun, a piece of white thick board for the barn floor, and a black and red sharpie marker.  All of the white you see on the barn is white cardstock cut into shapes that I wanted with a box cutter knife, glued onto the red sharpie colored box, and then outlined with a black sharpie marker. 

Cardboard Red Barn with Silo materials to make 8

Here is where I got most of my inspiration.  Joyfully Weary made a great looking “Little Red Cardboard Barn” that has great step by step instructions (involves painting).  For my red barn I just colored the whole box with a red sharpie and the inside of the roof I colored black.  I only did that because I didn’t cut the roof to exactly match the sides of the box – not on purpose :).   

joyfully weary little red cardboard barn

Here are a few more pictures. 

Cardboard Red Barn with Silo 5Cardboard Red Barn with Silo 7Cardboard Red Barn with Silo 4Cardboard Red Barn with Silo 3

I left the top of the silo open and put the left over black felt on the inside so that when the little guy reaches his hand inside he doesn’t end up with a paper cut.  Now he can put things down inside of the silo.  The bottom is also open so he can then lift the whole unit up and what ever is in the silo will fall out. 

For the barn floor, I cut off one set of the cardboard box closing flaps.  It helps the barn sit more even on the ground.  I then cut a piece of thick cardstock and glued it to the two bottom flaps that were left.  And voila…. a little red barn and silo. 

Hope this helps inspire someone else.  Lots of Love – Judi

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Cardboard Train Tunnel & Mountain Bridge

Recently, I have been working on a train track play mat made out of cardboard.  We have tons of cardboard boxes from our recent international move and I was just dying to start on a project making something fun for Isaac. 

Hopefully, our son who is turning 2 very soon will love it.  I wanted to wait and share this project when it was officially finished, but I just saw a linkup event that brings you one new recycled material idea per month for 2014.  Since the cardboard linkup is happening now and ends in less than 3 days…  I thought I would share the cardboard train bridge that we made.  

Cardboard train tunnel track and bridge

We looked for cardboard bridge inspiration online and got lots of ideas, but Chris had a flash of inspiration one night and helped me create this tunnel / bridge out of cardboard.

His idea was to cut the same shape over and over out of cardboard, glue them side by side together, and voila here is our cardboard bridge tunnel.  The goals for our bridge was to create a gentle slope so the magnetic connections on the trains would not come undone, a on and off ramp to the bridge that merges almost seamlessly with the cardboard mat (used a large piece of black poster board), super strong bridge that wouldn’t buckle or bend, and a tunnel that is big enough for different sized trains to fit through.

Cardboard train tunnel bridge Tracks for thomas - Step 1

Here you can see Chris cutting out each slice of cardboard.  He just traced the same shape over and over again and cut it out again and again until we got the width that we wanted.

Cardboard train tunnel bridge Tracks for thomas - Step 2

Next we glued them all together using “Tough as Nails” glue.  I am sure you can use different glue it is just the glue that we had available to us.  The final steps were to glue a black piece of poster board inside the tunnel.  We used sand in a plastic baggie to help hold it in place against the cardboard while the glue was drying.  I then drew bricks and road signs on the side.  (In hindsight I would have made one sign German, 6,9 cm, and the other side US, 2.75 in., but alas I had already completed the drawings when I thought of that.)  It is still cool that we are mixing international signs in our cardboard train track. 

We still have a little more work to do, lay down the foam tracks, draw the railroad ties, and draw / create the scenery and landscape. 

Cardboard train tunnel bridge Tracks for thomas - Side image drawingCardboard train tunnel bridge Tracks for thomas - Side image drawing 2Cardboard train tunnel bridge Tracks for thomas - back of tunnel with mountains

Hope this helps inspire someone else.  Lots of Love – Judi

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An Open Letter to Tom Wheeler

An Open Letter to Tom Wheeler FCC Chairman Net Neutrality

Dear Tom Wheeler – FCC Chairman,

This has probably been a busy and tough week for you.  There has been a major outpouring of concern over net neutrality. 

The competition you mentioned supporting is based on a beautifully crafted message from ISP providers.  They have had time and money on their side to convince you that this is what is best for the American public.  I just hope that We The People have a strong enough voice to compete with the ISP providers. 

I pray that you truly hear what the public wants and that you change your mind about what competition looks like on the internet. 

The internet currently represents the 21st centuries equivalent industrial revolution.

We are making great strides in knowledge sharing and that has far reaching positive implications for technology, medical, and financial advances. For people to innovate and grow they need freedom to build off of each others creativity.

Creating "fast" lanes for companies that can pay and "slow" lanes for everyone else cuts down that creativity. We can't predict the next innovative idea and know who to make fast and slow. It will mean limiting our access to information and knowledge sharing. It will slow our ability to share creative ideas, innovate, and solve problems.

I believe in competition, but the internet is meant to be a common highway that we should all have the freedom to use as service for the American public.  The internet in itself is a naturally competitive environment.  The internet thrives on the fact that it is a free and open creative space to share your dream, passion, or cause. 

The freedom for everyone to utilize the internet at the same speed and without major funding is what actually creates competition online.  Right now we can actually go up against major companies and have our voices heard if our cause resonates with the public. 

Because of the internet’s neutrality someone can start a blog or a website that champions a cause.  That one individual, without major funding, can create and share something that ripples out like a wave across the internet and touches peoples lives throughout the world.     

But with tiered internet cable type packages we will be encouraged and directed towards websites that are sponsored by major companies who have enough money to “pay to play” with the major ISP providers.  

A tiered internet or sponsored data plans will slow down worthy causes and innovative ideas that don’t have enough money to pay to drive on the internet highway.  It will force more and more people to go in search of “internet funding” just so they can get their message out there.  The internet needs to be a neutral space so everyone has the right to drive on the common highway at the same speed. 

This decision must be weighing heavy on your mind and with so many voices to hear it has to feel a bit overwhelming and exhausting.  I will be praying for you and your family during this time. I pray that God gives you moments of peace and clarity in your thoughts to hear and process the many voices clamoring for your attention. 

Sincerely,  Judi Fox


What can you DO to support the internet?

Submit emails to FCC Chairman – Tom Wheeler.

http://www.fcc.gov/leadership/tom-wheeler-mail

AND sign this petition! 

http://cms.fightforthefuture.org/tellfcc/

Tell the FCC to protect the internet net neutrality

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We still wish you a Merry Christmas!

We really wanted to get our Christmas cards out to everyone this year. 

Turns out we have addressed, stamped, and written notes in some…. but not all!

Basically, it is a hodgepodge collection of halfway finished cards. 

But we are still pressing forward!!! 

Hopefully people will still enjoy receiving a Christmas card from the Fox family well into February.  But just in case we don’t get a card out to everyone on our list, we wanted to share our Christmas letter and timeline.  Chris created a timeline where the string of Christmas lights shine on the event highlighted that month – I thought that was super creative!  I am not sure I would have thought of that.  I added my touch with the cranberry image and utilized instant eyedropper to match the color shining from the string of Christmas lights because I am detail oriented like that and appreciate things matching.  I kept thinking that color orange couldn’t be coming from that color light bulb – so they just had to match!  I hope everyone we know had a Merry Christmas and is off to a great start for 2014!  Lots of Love from the Fox Family!  XO

Merry Christmas Fox FamilyFox Family 2013 year in review timeline

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