And the Backers are…

A BIG thank you goes out to all those who supported the Be Nice. Guide to Farting and Pooping Kickstarter fundraiser!

Below are the names of the fifty-two supporters that pledged funds to help me reach (and exceed!) my $300 goal.


M. Eliot Payne
Heather Carroll
Oren Krimchansky
Shawn Stanley
John Iovine
Sarah Gable
Greg Beck
Sarah Elizabeth Hemm
Catie Riley
Peter C. Harris
Gail Vachon
Lindsey Bathke
Liz Noonan
Denise Winiski
Mark Bieraugel
Angie Hadley
Ben Hunold
Marie Bannister
Yaminay Chaudhri
Meaghan O’Connell
Apt Blue
Samantha Patterson
Meagan Haberman-Ducey
Andrea Miller Bard
Jennifer Noland
Jonathan Beer
Jas Mowgood
Jennifer Beaven
Richard Nolan Jr
Liz Lerner
Rosaura Johnson
Alexandra Davis
Suzanne Boatenreiter
Heather Middleton
Faythe Levine
Matt Barrett
Linda Baxter
Gabe Gentry

Fully Funded!

Today is a very happy day! I am pleased to share that the Kickstarter fundraiser for the printing and distribution of the Be Nice. Guide to Farting and Pooping brochure was SUCCESSFUL!

Thanks to the generous support of 52 Backers – and a number of people who spread the word – the project received $543! The original goal was beat by almost 15o bucks! I am so thrilled, so elated, I cannot begin to express it! THANK YOU!

What this means is that the project will be available to many more people and the extra funds will go to more printing and/or a few other ideas I have currently shaping in my mind. Your enjoyment and support of this project is a blessing, and something that gives me joy on a daily basis. Thank you for letting the work be a part of your life!


Be Nice featured on podcast

Hi everybody! The always-awesome duo of Jamie and Bridget over at Mr X Stitch and the Stitching N Junk podcast were kind enough to feature the Be Nice. project and a little something about the Kickstarter fundraiser on their podcast! I am super-thrilled with how it turned out! Please give it a listen (click HERE) and also check out their excellent website full of stitching goodness!

PS–I hope you’re enjoying the sweet work of the fabulous 7th graders from Brooklyn. Lots more to come!


For Muse: Crushes

"The Kiss" by Francesco Hayez (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

I had to give this one a lot of thought after a reader asked me to write on it: how to talk to crushes. And this is for a few reasons: first, I talk all the time. So my attentions to a particular crush wouldn’t seem much different from any other day I bet. Second, this isn’t exactly a “be nice” thing, but if put in the right perspective it can be. Being confident in yourself is part of being “nice” to yourself. So I think it fits. Third, I’ve been with the same fella for 6 years now.  So, I’ve been out of commission awhile. Now, remember: this is just my opinion. Always trust your judgment first. I’m definitely not an expert. But here goes!

I’ll tell you how it worked out when I talked to my biggest crush EVER: my husband. I met him at an art opening of a show we were both in. He walked off the elevator and it was immediate: I had to talk to this guy. So without thinking I walked right over to him, put out my hand, and said, “Hi! I’m Jen. Who are you?” with a huge smile on my face. Now the key to doing this was no thinking. If I thought about it, I would get insecure and I would not say a word. And getting insecure is exactly what happened that evening.

We had a blast walking around, talking about the art work. I don’t even remember what we said, I just remember making sure I was being cool and not sounding like a moron. Things were going great! It was me and him alone virtually the whole time we viewed two entire floors of work. But then came, as we stood around digesting the show, this little, short-haired, petite cute girl. I was always intimidated by those girls. Here I was, 5′ 10″, at the time I was a size 18, and naturally next to a 5′ 5″ skinny blonde with stylish clothes and that mysterious “cool” vibe, I figured I was defeated by default. I thought, “Oh, she’s pretty, she’s probably his girl friend.” So while he made conversation with her I wondered off, insecure and angry with myself for being such a chicken. He left the party and I was devastated.

But then I got brave again, and found his email on our college directory (slightly stalker-ish, but hey, it worked!). I emailed him with the “Hey, that was fun and I liked getting to know you. Would love to talk about art again. Want to hang out?” And he wrote back, “Yeah! Here’s my number, here’s when I’m free.” (PS–it was fate because he NEVER checked that email, but just happened to that weekend.) So, we hung out. And my insecurity prevailed again because I assumed he might just want to be friends even though we spent 3 hours just swinging on swings at a park talking, plus dinner, plus seeing some art. I should’ve known he was into me when he called each day he said he would (he called every other day), when he picked me up and we went out to dinner. So I told him, “I like you,” on our second date. He was shy, and said nothing! UG!  Again, thrown into tumult. What was going on?!!

My friend Michele suggested some “game” type strategies. They didn’t work. Jake wasn’t into “games.” He was oblivious. And playing games wasn’t like me either. So finally, I took some of my own advice. Be blunt. Be reckless. When I don’t think, and speak, it works best for me (with him at least!), so I said, “Look, I like you. And I don’t know if you like me because you haven’t said so. And it’s fine if you don’t like me that way, but I just want to know. Because if I don’t stop liking you this way soon, I won’t be able to be friends with you and I really like to talk to you so I’d like to be at least friends. So do you like me or not?”

And he said “Yes.” The rest, as they say, is history.

My suggestions are these:

  1. Always be yourself, from the start. Be true to your feelings, your intuition, who you ARE. Your love interest will either like you or they won’t. It’s nothing you can change. If you change who you are, eventually the relationship will fail because you aren’t being you. So just be you from the start because that pain is probably less than the pain of being in a relationship that feels like a lie. Want another argument about being the true you? It’s unfair to assume someone won’t be into you the way you want them to be. Give your crush his/her due credit and give them the privilege of knowing the real you. You are awesome, and it’s just a matter of finding some other person whose “awesome” jives with your “awesome.”
  2. Just treat them like you might when you want to make a new friend–at first. It might take the pressure off. Then after a few tries at talking, you can tell them you “like” them. They’ll know you by then and probably have an idea of if they “like” you too.
  3. Talking to crushes comes in waves of pure mindless bravery and bouts of crushing insecurity (if you’re anything like me). The important thing is to always try to defeat the insecurities  and go for what you want, even if it scares you. Worst case: s/he won’t “like” you. And what you get out of that is knowing that you care enough for yourself to go after what you want. That is something pretty special. Best case: s/he is into you. That would be sweet.
  4. When in doubt, just talk. Could be about anything. Don’t know what to say? Make a comment about something you are into. They might pick up on it. Still short on words? Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. Give them a chance, and they might take it. And then you can respond with a story, or another question. It’ll get the ball rolling.
  5. There may never be a day when you feel ready to talk to your crush. Or maybe you just need to build confidence for a while and then you will go for it. You know you best, so trust your instincts and believe in your qualities and go for it when the time is right. If you know that you are a good person worth befriending, that will come across to your crush, and that is a very attractive trait to have.

I hope this gets you thinking. I’m sorry I’m a little out of date on the whole crush thing. Just remember to be safe, make smart decisions, and to be good to yourself. Those are most important.

I’m going to keep you all updated on my Kickstarter project with every post until its deadline in March. This is my first update!

KICKSTARTER FUNDS RAISED: $59! Thanks to those who gave! We’re nearly 20% of the goal! Only 78  more days left to support the Be Nice. Guide to Farting and Pooping! Find out more by clicking HERE.

Help distribute Be Nice!

Hi all! I would like to share my new project with you. Up to this point, the Be Nice. project has depended on the reach of my personal connections and your willingness to generously spread the word. The print-runs of the pamphlets and postcards have all been self-funded–and due to my financial limitations, their reach has also been stunted. I would like to change that and get the new Guide to Farting and Pooping into the hands of as many people as possible! After all, who doesn’t love (or need) to talk about poo? No one, right?! To this end I have created a Kickstarter project. For those of you unfamiliar to Kickstarter, here’s the gist:

Kickstarter is a platform for creative projects to be “backed” by people all over the world. Ideas that may never have come to fruition otherwise are successfully achieved due to this website. People can pledge any amount of dollars to the project, and for that gift they are given a reward. The pledges are only dispensed to the project owner if the project achieves its funding goal within the allotted time frame. If it doesn’t reach its goal, no money is delivered. Basically, it’s all or nothing.

I have chosen a duration of 90 days to raise $300. That 300 bucks will cover 2/3 the cost to print 1000 pamphlets and the mailing and distribution of the rewards. I would love your support in any form, whether it be emailing this post to your friends, donating your Facebook status and Twitter updates with a link to the page, or even a little pledge! Simply by sharing this project with your friends, you are making it more successful regardless of the outcome of the Kickstarter project!

Click HERE to go to the Kickstarter page. There you can find social widgets and links that you can post to your blogs, websites, and social networks to promote the page. You can also see a video of me talking about the project and read more about why I’m doing it and what the rewards are!

Thank you so very much for your support, your comments, and your emails! They mean a great deal to me.

Write snail mail

USPS Truck

source: wikimedia commons

I had a pen pal from age 13 to age 18. We had known each other for 2 weeks at a summer camp in Iowa City, Iowa, and then proceeded to write one another for the next 5 years. I can’t say that the letters were anything special–no written words of wisdom that belied our ages, no hinting at secret longing or love, no exchanges of teenage angst. He wrote about his band and drew me pictures; I wrote about what I was reading or drawing that week.  I looked forward to getting his letters, neatly folded in halves three times, always on notebook paper. I wrote my letters on girlie stationary that I was given to me for Christmases and birthdays, and folded them in the clever ways that junior high school girls bothered to learn back then.  Every time I got another letter or sent one out, as silly and pointless as they seemed, it gave me excitement and made me anxious for the next exchange.

Today on Facebook my friend Joe posted a link to his Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is a website that helps people fund their ideas. It’s pretty simple: make a goal, set a deadline and an amount to be raised, and then determine the “rewards” you will give people for pledging their monetary sponsorship to your idea. Seeing Joe’s idea got me incredibly excited… there always something enthralling about the hand-written word when used creatively. (At the end of this post I will link to a few projects that are interesting in this regard.) Joe’s project is called, “Let There Be Letters!“(click the name to link to his page) and in his words:

HERE’S THE GOAL: To help fund the proliferation of letters. To be rewarded by receiving one or two (consider your options, because there are plenty). To help Let There Be Letters send letters to other people, too. To connect with people, to add a touch of strangeness to certain lives.

HERE’S THE REASON: Because handwritten letters touch us differently than other forms of communication. Because the style is dying. Because you want to hear from us. Because we like to write. Because it is good to hear the sincerity of strangers. Because honest endeavors for the public good ought not to go ignored. Because we’re silly, and serious about it.

This is not just the funding for the project, this is the project.

What a wonderful idea.

I just received a letter in the mail from my grandma yesterday. I love her handwriting, the way she phrases her sentences, the way she hyphenates words that might not need hyphenation, and the way she signs her name with a heart-shaped balloon at the end to symbolize my grandpa who passed 9 months ago. There is so much you can learn about someone by a hand-written note, and so much you can learn about yourself. My sister was plagued with letter-writing perfectionism for years. So much so that she rarely accomplished the task of mailing the letter. After a decade or so, I finally convinced her: “Just write! Off the top of your head! Don’t practice, just write it!” Never mind the scribbled-out words, the imperfect grammar, just write! Let your energy be conveyed through the words freshly and without rehearsal!

So I encourage you to write a letter this week–to your sibling, your parents, your friend, or to your partner. It can be fun, silly, confessional, or loving. It can be a picture, a card, a postcard, or a wordy message. No matter the effort, think of how much it will make someone’s day to get something other than a bill or junk mail; how refreshing to receive a letter–not a message–in their mail box rather than their inbox!

A few links:

Joe’s Project Let There Be Letters!

60 Days: A Personal Journal Project

Post Secret There is at least 1 book published out there with the same name, for the same project. Pretty interesting read.

Have a great day! Let me know how the letter writing goes!