Ending Up Helping :: January 4th :: The Dick & Jane Project

A typical day in my high school English class:

“Alright guys, here’s what I need from you. Please write…”

{insert guttural groan of disgust}

“…would you just hear me out before you start groaning at me?? Please write 2 paragraphs about {insert awesome free writing prompt here}.

“Miss A…how many sentences is that?”

“5-8 sentences per paragraph, so 10-16 sentences total.”

“Ohmigod Miss A, that’s just doin’ too much!”

 …and these are 11th and 12th graders complaining about writing TWO paragraph. TWO! Paragraphs! Not two pages. Ugh. Because of student responses like this, I am consistently looking for ways to get students excited about writing.

Enter in…

 The Dick & Jane Project

It’s a simple and badass idea. Teenagers write lyrics and local, professional musicians write the music. Created by Ben Shinabery, Cory Roth and Andy Gallagher, the organization aims to show middle school kids that they have a voice and what they say matters.

 “The Dick & Jane Project provides students with the support they deserve and the confidence they need. We view their writing as legitimate works of art, regarding their lyrics with the same esteem that they hold for their favorite recording artists.”

Whether the individual student is a struggling or advanced writer, there is a place for them in the program. Emerging writers are able to focus on expressing themselves without the obstacles of proper grammar, punctuation or spelling (although these things are important elsewhere 😉 ). Proficient and advanced writers can challenge themselves to express themselves in a way beyond simple, structured sentences and paragraphs.

“In either case, transforming their words into professional recordings allows the students to hear their writing through a medium that was previously unattainable: the radio. When they hear their songs and see the reaction from the community, they realize their true potential and are inspired to want to write more.”

The members of The Dick & Jane Project start by helping students to understand that no matter their writing level, they can be a successful songwriter. After a prewriting sessions, students and musicians work together to brainstorm ideas, the musicians provide feedback on the kids’ lyrics and the students give the musicians ideas towards what the song should sound like.

 “At the end of the workshop, the songs are professionally recorded and mastered before they are made available to the public via: radio airtime on WCBE 90.5 (with more stations coming soon), a CD, and digital downloads for iTunes via Bandcamp. Additionally, the participating bands play a live performance of the songs for the students and community.”

After researching The Dick & Jane Project, I have been truly inspired. This is an amazing project  with the ultimate end goal of helping kids realize their potential as writers. Many students don’t know that what they have to say matters. Whether it’s because they’re not heard at home or not excelling is school and thus looked over (this is a whole other troubling issue), becoming a professionally recorded songwriter can be an imperative outlet for any student.

I promised to focus on the organization in my post, and I think I’ve done that…but I have to mention the involvement of my kinda sorta cousin Andy Dodson (our parents were legit BFFs growing up – basically siblings. And if they WERE siblings, we’d be cousins). Andy is a founding member and I’m on the governance committee of The Dick & Jane Project. Whether it is this group, playing in local band, owning a Columbus recording studio, working behind the scenes at Independents’ Day or doing good for some other local CBus organization, Andy doesn’t have enough hands for everything he is involved in. In all honestly, it is partly his passion that inspired me to get more involved myself! Finding out that The Dick & Jane Project was yet another philanthropy he was involved in did not come as a surprise.

Wanna contribute to the The Dick & Jane Project??

“An easy and effective way for someone to participate with the project is to listen to the songs, become inspired by them, and share them with family and friends. Every song we release can be listened to for free anytime on our song page. Buying music is the most straightforward way to donate to the project.  100% of the proceeds from CD sales go toward facilitating future workshops.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  You get to listen to awesome, catchy, and impactful music.  In return, we’ll facilitate the production of more awesome, catchy, and impactful music. Giving to The Dick & Jane Project is an empowering way to give back to the community by supporting young writers in their quest to inspire the world through their personal expression. We offer unique incentives for individual and group donations, from listening to a professionally recorded song you helped fund to getting to watch, in real time, a song get created.”

Well, that’s pretty bangarang, being able to see a live performance of one of the songs created my the kids and musicians! Although they do not have volunteer opportunities listed, they do say that you can email them with your interest and they will find a place for you! Are you in the education field?? Contact The Dick & Jane Project to come to your building and go through their workshops with your students! Although the project mainly focuses on middle schoolers, I will definitely be looking into the possibility of these folks coming to Downtown High School.

As one of the students says at the end of their informational video,

 “Music can touch people’s hearts. A lot of people will not admit to that or not say so, but music can have a large impact on the behavior of people – and that’s important.”

 From the mouths of babes, folks.


All information was obtained from www.thedickandjaneproject.org

Find D & J on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dick-and-Jane-Project/181523561881904


And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!


BFF Spotlight: Amee BellWanzo

You probably feel like I’m a bad girlfriend. On again and off again, very unreliable! Well, I apologize! Don’t give up on me now! I know, I know, I keep saying “I’M BAAAACK!!” and then I disappear from the blogosphere for another month and you move on to a younger, hotter blogger with bigger boobs. Well, jerks, life is crazy and, unfortunately, blogging keeps getting pushed to the side. To give you an idea of what has been keeping me from you, here’s a portion of my “Ugh….I have so much shit to do!” List:

  • Finish masters (CHECK!)
    • This included 86 (EIGHTY-FREAKING-SIX!!!) pages of writing over the past 3 months.
  • Grade student essays
    • Each of my seniors is writing 14 “chapters” about their life for a scrapbook project. 14 chapters, at ~2 pages each, times ~50 kids = a lifetime of grading.
    • Also. Please try to imagine the quality of the majority of these essays. I’ve definitely shot myself in the foot over this one.
  • Workout
    • So I’m running the half marathon on May 4th. 13.1 beautiful miles. (Yeah, it’s not so beautiful once you hit mile 8.) Training for this means running. A lot of running. I can run about 6 miles in an hour. So, as you can imagine, this takes a lot of time!
    • Hot Yoga, to stretch my running muscles and calm my brain, twice a week.
    • Other training exercises like biking and weightlifting.
  • Bible Study
    • One night a week, I meet up with folks from my church and remind myself the real reason why and how I’m able to do anything in my life.
  • Alternative Fashion Mob (AFM)
    • I can’t say no to Amee BellWanzo. Plus, the AFM is pretty damn cool and I’d be a fool not to be involved from the beginning.
    • I am now the Mob’s website manager and social media mistress. This job not only requires time on the computer, but there are badass social events, fundraisers and planning meetings involved.
  • Work.
    • Yeah, I still have to do that everyday.
    • (at least until I meet and marry a prince.)
  • Social life
    • I’d go crazy if it weren’t for my friends! I need to spend time with them to keep myself grounded. Plus, they’re each remarkable in their own ways, and I don’t want to miss out on their badassery.
    • Also, I’m a catch! So every once in awhile, I go out with a gentleman caller!

So there. Now you have an idea of the things (some awesome and some required) keeping me from you. It’s certainly not because I don’t want to write anymore! In fact, once such gentleman caller described art as “something you have to do and it pains you not to do it.” In which case, this blog has become my art. It truly has tormented me not being able to create more hours in the day or function on less sleep in order to write. It really feels cathartic to be back here writing.

Anyways! Back to the topic at hand!

Am I the only one, or do you have a best friend (or 6) that has become more like a sibling than a friend? Growing up as an only child, many of my closest friends became more like siblings to me. We saw each other everyday, spent hours of time together, loved the hell out of each other, and engaged in the nastiest of fights. As I have grown up, the fighting part has subsided, thank goodness!

One such of these friends is Amee BellWanzo. I met her about 5 years ago through a mutual friend. I didn’t know much about her, but because we had mutual friends, we both kept showing up at the same places at the same time. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but one thing led to another and I was addicted to her.

Amee’s love of life is contagious. It didn’t take me long to discover why I wanted her in my life and after you read this, you’re gonna be Facebook stalking and requesting her friendship in no time.

This was the first night I met Amee in August 2008. Some things never change.

This was the first night I met Amee in August 2008.
Some things never change.

First of all, and most badass, Amee is a breast cancer survivor. (We actually just had a party celebrating her 5-year anniversary of being cancer free! She is now out of “The Danger Zone” for remission, so of course the party was Top Gun themed!) My mom passed away from cancer 2 years ago, so Amee’s survival is all the more important to me. I already lost one of the most important people in my life to the cancer bitch, I won’t let it happen again. Not on my watch!

We've got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and...Evel Knievel!

We’ve got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and…Evel Knievel!

Amee ridin' right out of the Danger Zone!

Amee ridin’ right out of the Danger Zone!

Because Amee knows firsthand what it’s like to live with and survive cancer, she has created an organization focused on supporting people going through cancer: Columbus Rocks the Cure. For the past 4 summers, Amee has organized a large handful of local CBus bands who all come together for one night to raise money to support cancer fighters. The bands play for free and local companies donate their wares and gift cards as raffle items. All of the money raised (yeah. 100-freaking-percent) goes towards buying wigs (girl can’t have no cheap weave!) and gas cards (some patients drive upwards of 100 miles each week to get to a hospital for their treatments) for current cancer patients. This is an amazing and fun event my friends and I look forward to every year.

Sometimes, you just need an F-Bomb

Sometimes, you just need an F-Bomb

Columbus Rocks the Cure 2012 Bands: Black Eyed Betty, Millur Boyette, Fresh Wreckage & The Girls

Columbus Rocks the Cure 2012 Bands: Black Eyed Betty, Millur Boyette, Fresh Wreckage & The Girls

Last year, Amee added a fashion twist to Columbus Rocks the Cure and we now have Columbus Rocks the Cure Rock & Roll Fashion Show! This is a night of music and fashion mixed together! Four bands shred it while models strut their stuff rocking designs created by local artists inspired by the music. And once again, 100% of the profits “support local cancer warriors, right here, right now in the Columbus area.”

This year’s show is Saturday, May 11th, 8pm at Ace of Cups! Click here to buy tickets!

Columbus Rocks the Cure Rock & Roll Fashion Show

Columbus Rocks the Cure Rock & Roll Fashion Show

So I mentioned that Amee organizes Columbus Rocks the Cure and Columbus Rocks the Cure Rock & Roll Fashion Show, where a bunch of awesome bands play. Well, one of said bands is Black Eyed Betty; lead singer, Amee BellWanzo! RIGHT?!? She’s a legit rockstar! Black Eyed Betty (BEB or Betty) is a punk metal/hard rock band fronted by Amee, flanked by twins Kevin and Keith (bass & guitar), and backed by T-Bart on drums. Betty can be found just about every weekend playing somewhere in CBus, from a local bar, to Columbus Rocks the Cure to ComFest to for the first time ever this year, Red, White & Boom (Columbus’ 4th of July Extravaganza)! Their music is catchy, well-written and super fun to dance and jump around to. I was privileged enough to travel with them on a 4-stop mini tour this past summer and act as roadie/groupie/merch girl. I was definitely living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle vicariously through Betty!

Amee rockin' with Betty!

Amee rockin’ with Betty!

We had A LOT of down time/photo ops in the car.

We had A LOT of down time/photo ops in the car.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Amee has recently ganged up with a horde of Columbus fashion advocates (designers, stylists, fanatics, etc.) to create the Alternative Fashion Mob (AFM).

The AFM “believes that fashion is for everyone. It should be accessible to all people, regardless of age, shape, sex or economic status. Our celebration of Columbus fashion invites all members of our community – especially the fashion-forward, creatively focused, and community-minded – to participate and embrace as we showcase, nurture, and enjoy our local design talent. You’ll see us around Columbus at events, fundraisers, pop-up boutiques, and at the mother of all fashion fests, Alternative Fashion Week. A portion of all money raised will be donated to worthwhile charities, while the remainder will be used to fund the Columbus Fashion Incubator. The goal of the Incubator is to (eventually) provide retail and studio space, marketing and business resources, opportunities, and connections for up-and-coming local designers.”

The AFM has already hosted a handful of events around the city to help raise funds for our Alternative Fashion Week in June. Wait…I just said “our.” Yup. I have joined the horde and become an AFMobster. My duties include maintaining our social networks and updating the AFM website. I am so proud to be working alongside people who are overflowing with passion for what they do. Just like Amee’s joy for life, their passion is contagious. After my first AFM meeting, I was ready to quit my job and become a fulltime mobster. I have always liked fashion and tried to exude my own style, but that was about as involved as I got with the art form. I am now proud to be associated with a passionate group of people looking to shake things up a bit around this city.


Click here for a glimpse of upcoming AFM events!

Beyond being involved in a million organizations, Amee is, simply put, one of my best friends. She has been my accomplice on summers full of misadventures (an excerpt from this past summer: “We walked half a mile in the wrong direction towards the Jazz & Ribs Fest. We waited in line for 30 minutes for ribs and then bailed. We ordered a family size bucket of fried veggies and ate 10% of it. A homeless woman asked us for money, and when we said we had no cash but offered her our veggies, she turned her nose up at them, and I said, ‘Beggars can’t be choosers!’ We went to the wrong house for Olde Towne East Roving and yet were welcomed into the party, as strangers, for a drink. At the gay bar, we were mistaken for either sisters or lovers.”). She has patiently listened to me prattle on about a special guy one day and bemoan the end of the relationship the next. Sure, she will tell me when I’m being especially bitchy, but she’s also the first person to applaud my accomplishments. I know that whether we are sitting on the couch judging Project Runway, dancing at the local gay bar, or boozin’ it up with cowboys, my life is better with her in it. My relationship with Amee has most certainly developed from acquaintance, to follower, to sidekick and has found solid ground at sister. I mean, her husband Chris once said that I am the younger, taller version of Amee…and she taught me how to sneak a flask into just about anywhere. If that’s not the mark of an amazing big sister (I promised I wouldn’t call her “older.”), I’m truly not sure what is.


"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."  ~Oprah Winfrey

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~Oprah Winfrey


I’m about to head to the gym for a run! I’ve got a pretty solid workout mix assembled, but as I am training to run Cap City Half maraton in May (13.1 miles), I can always use new tunes in my playlist! Any suggestions??


Also! I got money for new running shoes for my birthday, so today I will be headed out to get my first new pair of workout shoes in over TWO YEARS!!! SO EXCITED! Especially since workout shoes are so darn cute these days!!

run happ!

run happy!


…has come to an end. My birthday season has been well celebrated and thoroughly documented! It has been a true reminder of the many blessings and plethora of beautiful people I have in my life.

Last nights’ Closing Ceremony was a 90-minute hot yoga class, in which I got to pick ALL the music! Needless to say, my mix was a little erratic, but mostly filled with poppy, upbeat, and for the most part – 90s!, tunes. Have you ever played a song that you LOOOOVE for someone, and as soon as it starts playing, you rethink everything you ever liked about that song??

listening to music

Well, that was not the case. I rocked out to 90 minutes of some of my favorite songs and had a blast doing it! And I’m pretty sure that everyone there had a good time as well! If they didn’t like the music, They should have at least gotten a kick out of how excited I was!

I have included my playlist below in case you want to get your own JanuAshley Jam on! RAWK!

  1. Go For It! – Hot Sundae (Saved by the Bell)
  2. Autobiography – Ashlee Simpson
  3. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  4. Somebody That I Used To Know (KDrew Remix) — KDrew
  5. Stronger – Glee Cast
  6. Where’s The Love – Hanson
  7. The King Is Dead But The Queen is Alive – P!nk
  8. Fairytale – Sara Bareilles
  9. If I Could Turn Back Time — Cher (This led to an all out, queer sing-along!! Faaaabulous!)
  10. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  11. Tearin’ Up My Heart – ‘N Sync
  12. Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys (Did a little Warrior 2 surfing!)
  13. (You Drive Me) Crazy – Britney Spears
  14. Come on Over – Christina Aguilera
  15. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
  16. Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid (Ohhh….my….Our trainer, Alexander, came up with a brilliant yoga parody on the spot. He has a gift, I tell ya!)
  17. Sparkling Diamonds – Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge
  18. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
  19. Beauty and the BEAT! – Parody by Todrick Hall (If you haven’t seen this video, WATCH IT NOW!)
  20. Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffett
  21. Glamorous (Feat. Ludacris) — Fergie
  22. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child (Apparently Alexander loathes this song, so we got extra obliques…sorry guys!)
  23. Tubthumping — Chumbawumba
  24. Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel
  25. Orange Colored Sky – Natalie Cole
  26. One Day — Matisyahu
  27. Because – Beatles cover from Across the Universe movie
  28. Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson (Most unproductive savasana EVER, but awesome nonetheless!)

Nip, Tuck, Cut & Color

As you may have noticed, Ending Up Here is getting a wee bit of a facelift! No worries though, she’s still the same beautiful woman she always has been on the inside! We’re just working to make her outsides as fabulous as her insides! So if you notice a few changes over the next few days or weeks, fret not! All the content is the same, just tweaking the look of everything! I’m a visual artsist at heart (look what a 4-year college degree in photography got me!), so I’ve become a perfectionist about all this jazz!



Music SpeaksI know that I have posted this image in previous blogs, but it’s new here and still something I feel passionately about. As an English teacher and artist (my college degree is in commercial photography), I feel that this sentiment speaks to both my passions. I believe that sometimes words aren’t enough. I think we have all been in situations where words may have even ruined the moment. And then there are times where words are a beautiful, sometimes even poetic expression of our souls.

Today was one of those days where the two came together harmoniously (pun intended. I am an English teacher, after all 😉 )

A co-worker and friend of mine brought me Part 1 of his 3 Part breakup mix. Part 1 is labeled “The Angry Period,” and although I am truly not angry about my recent breakup (no one did anything “wrong,” we are just better matched as friends), I have gotten a kick out of hearing a slew of songs and lyrics I’ve never heard before! I am including the Part 1 discography below.

One of the times I can remember feeling as though a song was singing my heart’s words was this past spring when I had just been staff reduced from my job at East High School. I was searching for another job in the district. One of my formal principals called Columbus Downtown High School and told the principal there that he should make sure to interview me because I would be perfect for the opening there. Long story short, I got the gig. I was driving home from school the day I got the offer and Defying Gravity from the Wicked soundtrack came on my iPod. The part at then end of the song, when Elphaba is “flying high…defying gravity”…man! I just belted it at the top of my long, music full blast in my Honda. Ok, I probably looked ridiculous driving down 315, but at that moment, the music just GOT me! Nothing was going to bring me down. No matter what, I would, have, and will, always rise above life’s struggles and defy some freaking gravity.

What about you folks?? What songs speak to your souls??

Breakup Mix vol.1 “The Angry Period”

1. Ben FOlds Five – Song for the DUmped

2. Hugo – 99 Problems

3. Glen Hansard – Lies

4. Elizabeth + the Catapult – Mama’s Boy

5. Ludo – Love Me Dead

6. Lilly Allen – GWB (F#*k You Very Much) This is a fabulous song and I had heard it before and LOVE it!!

7. Rilo Kiley – Love’s a Game

8. Death Cab for Cutie – Face that launched 1000 Sh!ts

9. Audra Mae + the Almighty Sound – Ne’er Do Wells

10. Von Bondies – Earthquake

11. Jemima Pearl – I Hate People

12. Hannah Georgas – Mama’s Boy

13. Churchill – Change

14. Tilly + the Wall – Pot Kettle Black

15. New Politics – Yeah Yeah Yeah

16. Anya Marina – Clean and Sober

17. Elizabeth + the Catapult – Go Away My Lover

18. Reel Big Fish – I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore

I will keep you updated as the other 2 parts come in!