Mindfulness & Simplifying Internet Usage

TED Talk: “A Year Offline, What I Have Learned” by Paul Miller was intriguing. As we focus on Mindfulness this week, I feel that this TED Talk was the perfect start. I often think about what life would be like without the internet for me. I use the internet at work, home, for school, and some social media. As Miller said, “The internet was defeating me” so he took a year off from it. In that time he was excited to read books, become emotionally connected in conversations, and enjoy real life. What he learned is that boredom was lingering constantly. He used his time constructively sometimes by engaging in real conversations & connecting with people but also used a lot of his boredom time playing video games. He also learned on his year off that he missed a lot of the photos and videos of his nieces and nephews that were posted on the internet. So ultimately, taking a year off did not fix the issues he was having. The moral of his story is: You need to find the balance between the internet and life outside of the internet. Know that you have power over the internet and we’re in charge of our own lives. We are the ones who get to dictate what we do with our time.

In a personal connection, I struggle with this often. I have Facebook for the sole reason of seeing my cousins, nieces, nephews, and family conversations. We live in many different states & it keeps me in-tune with their lives as well as with what’s going on in my life. The reason I have Twitter is to develop a PLN that I will use in my professional life. I don’t put anything personal on Twitter. Other than that, I don’t participate in social media. I choose not to because I am a young mother raising a daughter and I am passionate about that. I want to play with her, teach her patty-cake, how to say new words, blow bubbles, and play outside. I found this quote that I feel is applicable to why I choose to balance my internet access, “If I could give you one thing in life it would be to see yourself through my eyes so you could know how special you are and how much you mean to me.” This is for my daughter. I don’t want her to know her mom as always connected to a computer or my phone. I want to be actively involved in her life & to make a difference in her world so she can grow up and make a difference in this world.

In the article, “Simplifying the Internet” I was thinking, “Halleluiah! This is what I’m saying! People think I’m crazy but this is support for me.” In the article it says, “Simplifying is about making choices — just put out your best, and cut back on the noise” (Babauta). This is a great tip for how to simplify your exposure and connection to the ever-fast-paced world on the internet. I love the email simplify list. I honestly look at my work email and go, “Ahh, 350 saved from the last 3 months…Do I really need them? But what if I need to reference them someday?” Seriously, I’m not going to need them. Deleting immediately. As for my personal email, I only check that when I rent textbooks or order from an online site to see my tracking number. I never check it & don’t care for another inbox to maintain.

In all honesty, this is the BEST resource for me right now. Just over a month left in this semester, 7 weeks left in the work schedule before summer & the sun is shining: perfect timing to do some spring cleaning in the world of internet access & email inboxes.

And to sum up the positivity of simplifying and letting go of our infatuation with the internet, the kids who did the 3 day challenge at Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco called, “What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect From Tech for Three Days” by Katrina Schwartz most said they felt a “sense of freedom” “relief” but others saw their phone as their security (like a grown up security blanket). Although it was short-lived some students really embraced the challenge & grew from the experience. “It was almost a wakeup call for how dependent we are on technology,” Namara said.

This is the week I have been waiting for. I knew that all of these great resources were useful but like anything else in life: moderation is best.


Digital Activism-Getting Your Voice Heard

In an exploration through the module links this week I learned a whole lot about activism online and through social media sites. First of all, I had to laugh because of this statement, “Take DoSomething.org, a non-profit specifically created to empower a generation who wants to, well, do something. The majority of its 2.5 million members are between the ages of 13 and 25– the rest are lovingly referred to as “old people” on the site” (Manrodt). I guess I am referred to as “old” now. I am still in my 20s but this just gave a good chuckle. And frankly, it is accurate of me. I am not a digital activist. I prefer the outdoors & am not up-to-date on all of the social media sites today. However, I do feel that people past 25 do have experiences that could be assets to an activist group.

I felt like the site The 6 Activist Functions of Technology is a must read for everyone trying to be a part of the digital activist movement or those trying to understand it.

Teen activism has become so huge…actually bigger than I knew it was. I liked this excerpt, “And since many activists lack access to traditional outlets like network television, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become powerful forums for first-hand accounts and live reports of situations around the world. As Jim Loughran, head of media and communications for human rights group Front Line Defenders, explains, “Social media enables us to maintain a support and contact base in almost every country in the world. It no longer matters whether you are based in Dublin or Doha. We’re connected by a community of interest, not geography” (Manrodt). The New Face of Teen Activism gave me a teen’s perspective on why they choose that format for expressing their opinion & raising awareness for the causes they feel so passionately about.

In the article, My Kids, A Cause and Our Classroom I saw how teaching digital activism can be so powerful for students. It provided an explanation as to why teaching digital literacy in the classroom is so essential. Students need to be educated so they are able to handle themselves professionally online. In order to speak out about an issue they must be well-rounded and knowledgeable about the subject at hand. This article provided inspiration & keys to successfully incorporating that into the classroom.

And last, after looking through all of the finalists for the Best in Teen Activism in Social Media- The Shorty Awards, I was astonished to see that all but one provided support for teens suffering from depression, anxiety, bullying, and self-hurting. I’m glad these groups are there to help those in need but it’s quite sad that most teen struggle with these issues. Maybe I am naive and oblivious but I didn’t suffer from those things growing up. I also didn’t have an outlet like this so I feel that these lines of support are becoming vital in the happiness of teens suffering from big issues in life. Even when someone can’t be there in person, these outstanding teens are being activists and providing emotional support to those who need it the most.

So to sum this week up, I have learned valuable lessons in pursuit of becoming an educator. I have learned that teens are facing bigger issues & they want to help others but they need direction, education, and practice in a controlled setting so they can effectively help others through digital activism.

Independent Learning: Back to Sewing

This week has been crazy busy to say the least. I had to travel for work, my days were crammed & the warm, spring weather didn’t help my motivation to stay inside and work on homework. So I’m running behind this week. I’m trying to crunch 3 classes into a weekend. You could say that I had scheduling issues… but I do have good news! In my moments of responsibility this week I chose to work on my independent learning project. As you may have known, I took some time off of my original plan of sewing to pursue some life-organizing strategies. I’m happy to announce that I am still meal planning & it is going very well! I’ve also learned that vacuuming my home during my lunch hour quickly twice a week makes the whole cleaning process on the weekend a lot easier…and it alleviates my OCD tendencies for a spotless home during the week so I can (hopefully) focus on the other activities going on in life.

So this week I got to take a trip to the Knothole fabric store. This little store is amazing & has a great variety. I found these four fabrics. I chose a light blue minky for a friend of mine who just had a baby. On the far left is a navy blue flannel for burp cloths. The big pink material is a minky & my daughter just wouldn’t let go so of course, she wins, and I’m making her a big, nice blanket. She is a blankie baby & she is spoiled so…there you go…she gets what she wants most of the time. And lastly, I got a yard of this soft camo fabric. I don’t have a plan for it but it was soft & I figured I could come up with something creative & maybe mix it with another fabric for one of my bigger projects for the end of this course.


So my project this week is going to be to complete the burp cloths out of this navy blue material.


And if I finish the burp cloths I am going to start working on the minky blanket.


So this week I measured & pinned the blue material. I am working to take my time to ensure it is square & perfect. It’s okay for me and my family if things aren’t perfectly square but when I am giving my projects as a gift I am trying to be a perfectionist. In conclusion, I am going to schedule my time more efficiently this coming week & will be able to show progress next weekend.

Google First Timer

Go Google Yourself! (Kind of sounds like an insult if you use a firm voice saying it.)

This is something that I haven’t ever done & was surprisingly satisfied with the fact that when I typed in “Brittany Lenz” into the search engine, it didn’t pull up a profile picture of me & I wasn’t even in the top 5 of the Google search results.

However, I was #6 on the list for a LinkedIn profile which I don’t have. It has my current position & location even. This scares me. I clicked on the link & it was unavailable. Good! But still something that I need to look into.

When I clicked on the “Brittany Lenz Profiles” for Facebook I wasn’t on the top 5 either! Cha-ching! This may seem crazy to some but having an online anonymity is pretty alright with me. I want to have a positive digital footprint but living my life & not publishing it all online is great with me. I am in my 20s but am not fully into all of the digital age apps & social media sites. I have always thought of myself as a little bit old school. I still use sticky-notes, a desk calendar for work, use the phone to call my mom, and am perfectly happy when my cell phone dies.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the world of online resources & learning but I am adamant that I don’t want to be obsessed with it. I am also raising a child & I don’t want her to be stuck in front of the television, iPad, or know how to use a smartphone by age 2. I think using our hands, feet, and mind the old fashioned way is just as valuable today as knowing how to maneuver social media sites. I think it’s important to teach the younger generation how to be a responsible digital citizen since they will be using this their entire life & need to be mature about it. This is why I am choosing to use social media responsibly & am striving to create a beneficial PLN.

I hope that future employers see that I am striving to create an educational personal learning network (thank you Professor Ellington) by using Twitter as a resource to my learning as well as my blog. My Facebook is personal but I don’t put rants on there or anything I wouldn’t be proud of. Most of it is of my daughter to share with my huge family. At our last family reunion there was 98 members and that was only one side of my family so sending a text message to all of them would be impossible but posting it on Facebook gives shares these pictures with everyone. Also, I manage my friend list on there often. If I don’t feel comfortable sharing my photos with them I simply “unfriend” them. I hate that term—unfriend—I don’t mean it personally I just am not close enough with them to share my personal pictures & posts. No offense.

But all in all, I didn’t see too much on my Google search & that made me a happy girl!

Digital Citizenship: The Big Picture


Photo CC- Thomas Galvez

The big picture is this: Get it together, people! Lives can either be lifted up or crushed through digital usage. It’s our personal responsibility to use technology carefully & respectfully.

Ted Talk by Juan Enriquez entitled, “Your online life, permanent as a tattoo” talks about how our digital footprint will be a tattoo & will outlive us. It’s scary to think that as a teenager I was uneducated about the internet & the usage & the footprint that I was leaving. I stupidly put things on there that are not the best. That permanent inscription has the possibility to create a terrible tattoo. Now I need to fight to fix that ugly scar. It’s quite frightening to think of it as a tattoo—every blemish that was posted it out there somewhere.

I felt down after watching the TED talk but then I watched George Couros “140 Characters of Kindness” video on YouTube & realized that when I create a positive “footprint” I will have a network of supporters that are there for me at all moments of the day. But I have to be willing to share life with my PLN (this is the kicker). If I open up & embrace the digital age in a responsible manner it can be extremely beneficial in more aspects of life than just the professional side. I am still hesitant of the online life because I like my life outside of the digital world & am not much of a “sharer.”

But as a professional & as I learned in “Living Our Lives Online” it is important to be a role model for someone. My positive impression in the digital world could be what someone needs. And as a future teacher, I want to be inspirational, motivating, and intellectually creative and to share that knowledge.

It’s my job to be ethical & to set an example—a positive example. And ultimately let others see how to live that way online.

I then went on to watch the YouTube video titled, “What is Digital Citizenship?” and found out that there are great sites for teaching this subject matter in the classroom. Teaching digital citizenship should be required in the public educational system. Students need to be prepared for the world outside of the classroom. It is my responsibility as a future educator in the 21st century to be up-to-date on digital citizenship so I can positively influence my students on how to create a digital footprint that won’t come back and bite them on the back side.

Lastly, I finished my research with this article that stuck with me. It’s called, “7 Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying” and I highly suggest it for all parents & teachers. We are called to be positive role models for our children/students. I know that I need to take an active role in the young lives that I influence in order to direct them to positive online interactions.

It’s honestly a tall order to fill but I feel personally responsible for teaching my daughter & my future classroom students how to become a digital citizen & how to use technology ethically & responsibly.

ds106 daily create challenges 2/28-3/5

Last week of DS106 Daily Create Challenges

Saturday, Feb. 28th: Take a picture of a unique heel elevating “shoe” with an everyday object.

Well, now that I have baby girl toys bursting the seams of my home I thought that would be appropriate…especially since I about break my neck stepping on them on a regular basis. Here is my new, fashionable Lego heel (it’s all the rage at mommy & me meetings J)

ds 2-28

Sunday, March 1st: I opted out of doing the scary movie trailer. I honestly am deathly afraid of scary movies. I can’t even watch the previews so my little chicken pants self couldn’t do this one. Sorry.

Monday, March 2nd: Set the timer for 5 minutes and write a story about an article of clothing that is really about something else. I chose not to do this one…I started 3 stories but just couldn’t finish any of them. My creativity was like bad wi-fi….it was interrupted, slow, and I swear the reboot button was pushed on my brain 100 times.

Tuesday, March 3rd: Star Trek face-palm appreciation photo.

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Wednesday, March 4th: Create a book cover from the days of yore for ds106. Okay, this is a little bit elementary but it’s really all I had that day.

ds 3-4

Thursday, March 5th: Tell of a time when limits helped me be my most creative.

This usually happens when I least expect it or am annoyed at the situation. For example, when I go to a doctor’s appointment I expect to get there, get in, & get on my way but that’s not usually the case. After I get through my moments of frustration (a child’s tantrum inside) I usually let my mind run free with imaginative thoughts. It’s a time when I’m forced to sit there, quiet, and by myself. These constraints are enough for me to let my creativity flow after I come to terms with the fact that I have to sit and wait. I express creativity differently every time; whether it is just thoughts, on paper, or on my smart phone.

So this concludes my month doing the daily create challenges. They have been so good & I plan on doing them regularly still but just won’t post my weekly recaps. But I look forward to seeing how others interpret the daily challenges. It has been good for me to let my creativity flow each day; some days are not so good & others make me laugh at my creativity.

Meal Planning & Getting back on the Sewing Wagon

Independent learning this week

This week has been productive in many ways. First, I did my second meal planning month. I also found 6 new recipes to add to my meal plan & learned a lot from my first trial month.

I learned that… you can consume too much pasta in a month

… you can’t have rolls & a warm veggie with all meals…even if you try.

… things don’t go according to schedule some days so be prepared & flexible.

… the hubby & child are much happier with a mom who has a “game plan” for meals

…eating at 5:30 p.m. is good for everyone!

This week I found some great recipes on bettycrocker.com .

I’ve incorporated French bread pizzas, chicken and scalloped potatoes, lasagna stuffed bell peppers, pepperoni stuffed chicken breasts, chicken carbonara with bacon, and cheddar bacon chicken tenders.

I made the pepperoni stuffed chicken breasts this week but didn’t take a picture but they were really good! And it was a good change of pace from what I made last month.

Here is my meal planning for the next few weeks. I only went a few weeks out because I plan on grocery shopping on the 14th.

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So now that my meal planning & organizing is a little more under control I feel more prepared to give my time back to sewing. i was hopeful it would  only take a few weeks to get my stuff together & I’m excited to get back into sewing. So this week I went to Pinterest to look at tips, tricks, and easy sewing projects to get back into the swing of things. I found this article about the supplies I need to make sewing easier. I have some things but need more if I want to enjoy it without constant hiccups along the way.

I also found a site that gave instructions on how to sew hooded towels–which I love for my little one. So that’s on my list for this week! Check out the article here.

And the last of my Pinterest research this week was focused on sewing with minky fabric. My little one LOVES minky & actually won’t hardly use a blanket that isn’t minky. Spoiled much you think?! Definitely! This article it so helpful.

When sewing with minky I found that I was so frustrated because it stretched, moved, and i couldn’t ever get a straight line. I thought it was that I was an amateur but I guess it’s hard for everyone…and that makes me a little relieved. But it said to pin A LOT! And it also said that you can’t dry minky or heat it because it will shrink. Who knew! New news to me! I put all of my little one’s blankets in the dryer..whoops. Learned something new today.

So I’m hopeful that next week I will have projects to show all of you!