This week’s #RealLifeWonderWoman uses her powers of voice and presence to lift up and create stronger connections in families. She’s a Licensed, Certified Presenter for The 10 Greatest Gifts Project, a nonprofit committed to building priceless qualities and values, like honesty, responsibility and self-confidence into every family in the world.
Meet Colleen Upton!
Colleen has lived in Littleton, CO for the past 20 years, but she was born and raised in Arizona. She attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and has a dual bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. Colleen taught elementary school for 5 years, and has been a preschool teacher in Littleton for the past 8 years. She has been married to Mark for 20 years, and they have 3 children: Brooke (16), Nathan (14) and Corey (12).
KR: Please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
CU: Being with people is what energizes me and brings me joy…I’m your classic extrovert! Spending time with my husband, kids, friends, co-workers, students, neighbors, and family members feeds my soul. Although, the older I get, the more I need my “alone time.” I find great joy in helping people, encouraging them, and being available to listen. I’m passionate about children and families, and my dream is that I will leave a lasting legacy to everyone around me. I strive to touch the lives of everyone I encounter.
My primary goal in life right now is to keep a connection with my 3 kids. They’re ages 16, 14 and 12. I know these are crucial years (wait, aren’t ALL of the years crucial?!), and I don’t want to let my relationships with them slip through my fingers.
It’s a delicate balance with these teens:
● Ask a few questions, but not too many.
● Invite them to hang out with me, but not if I’m watching a lame movie.
● Be available to talk, just in case they want to share what’s going on in those pretty little heads.
● Give them things, but not too many things.
● Allow them some freedom on their phones, but have healthy restrictions.
● Trust them to make good decisions, but give them grace and forgiveness when they don’t.
● If you bring them a Starbucks drink, they’ll love you at least for the next 5 minutes…when they’re done guzzling down a $6 drink that was meant to be sipped and savored.
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
CU: Like I mentioned before, the older I get, the more I’m learning about myself. In recent years, I’ve realized that I’m more intuitive and relational than the Average Joe. This enables me to connect with all types of people. We learn from each other and create friendships that could have easily been passed by. I don’t want to waste any opportunity to have an impact on someone, or them to have an impact on me.
Another super power I possess (inherited from my dad’s side of the family) is seemingly endless energy. I’ve always been able to keep a higher energy level than most people I know. This trait, although helpful in many ways, has the ability to drive people around us crazy. Did I mention that one of my kids was blessed with this superhuman trait as well? Yeah…
KR: Let’s not forget to introduce the furry, 4-legged members of Colleen’s family. Meet Aspen and April.
KR: Colleen, would you please tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
CU: My mom died 12 years ago, but her influence lives on. She taught me how to love other people, especially children. She was a pediatric physical therapist for school districts in rural Arizona. Many of her “patients” had special needs, and this is what she loved most about them. She helped them achieve emotional and physical strength to face the challenges life would bring them. She advocated for them, and made a difference not only in each child’s life, but in their families’ lives as well.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
CU: I would want to be able to see into the future. Sometimes it drives me crazy to not know what’s coming. I’m not an inherently patient person, however I have learned a LOT of patience since becoming a mom! Sometimes (ok, a lot of times) my inborn lack of patience creeps up and prevents me from enjoying the moment. The place I am right now. The age my kids are. The stages they’re going through. The stages I’M going through. Life truly is a journey, and deep down I know it’s not necessary to know how it all ends. We were put on this earth at a specific time for a specific reason. God has a plan for each of us, and I don’t want to miss His calling for me.
KR: What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
CU: I enjoy gardening, reading, home improvement projects, spending time with friends and family, going on walks and eating ice cream. Going on walks is what gives me permission to binge on ice cream!
KR: I’m a big fan of ice cream, too! One last question…knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
CU: I’d tell myself it’s going to be ok. Whatever it is, however it is, whomever it is, it’s going to be just fine. When has God ever left you out to dry? I think I need to tell this to my 44 year-old self too sometimes.