Friday, April 19, 2013

Find out how helping an admirable teacher means free travel for YOU with the @HiltonHHonors Teacher Treks Campaign!

Who was your favorite teacher? Mine was my High School English Teacher, I was in two different English Classes, AP (Advanced Placement) English and I also took more Creative Classes with my favorite teacher Mr. McKinnon. He was just plain awesome, his classes were fun, insightful and he had a fun way of relaying everything and making it more interesting and memorable. For that one period it was like school actually turned off, and you had so much fun you didn't realize you were actually learning!

His classes inspired me to take Creative Writing Classes in College and the foundations that he instilled in me as a student helped me to even begin writing for a local Newspaper as well as the Campus Newspaper in my freshman year in College. Eventually I even made the front page of the Local Paper on many occasions, attended Press Junkets as a film critic, and in Senior year landed an internship as a newswriter for my local cable news channel.

Before I started teaching Special Education, I spent time working for a major Airline (one of the few that have actually survived the fallout), and ironically while working for an Airline I ended up traveling way less than after I was working there, but it is when the travel bug hit me and it hit me hard.

I remember when 'reward programs' had their start and I joined them for every major airline and when hotels launched their own rewards programs I joined those too! One of the first hotel related reward programs that I joined was the Hilton HHonors Program, and it is still one of my favorite reward programs to this day. 

The Hilton HHonors Program is a loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide's 10 distinct hotel brands which include: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites and Hilton Grand Vacations. 

Some of my personal favorite properties in the program include the The Roosevelt New Orleans which is a Waldorf Astoria Hotel (I stayed there last year for The Niche Mommy Conference), and Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara!

I just found out about an amazing Travel Grant Competition called Hilton HHonors Teacher Treks, which is a program that will fund 15 teachers to travel and gain first hand experience that will help them to enrich the subject they teach, which will allow them to enhance their curriculum and inspire students to explore the world! (I wish programs like this existed when I was teaching!)

A panel of judges that includes K-12 teachers and other education experts have narrowed down the finalists to 30 amazing teachers, and now YOU get the chance to help them select the 15 winning teachers! While I'm sure you'd love to see them all win, (I know I would), I do know first hand just how difficult and demanding teaching is, but only 15 teachers can win this AWESOME prize, and that's where YOU come in, for helping out with this big decision, all who vote will be entered for a chance to win a Hilton HHonors Gift Card valued at $250. There will be TEN winners! You can cast one vote per day which helps to increase your chances to win. And of course will also help the teacher you are voting for!

Prize Structure:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 15 winners will receive a grant valued at $6,000 to travel to a destination of their choice and in addition to the trip, each winning teacher's school will get a $2,500 grant to use for cultural activities or enhancements.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Runners-up: 15 runners-up will receive a $2,500 Grant for their school to use for cultural activities or enhancements.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - One winner from all submissions will receive a cultural excursion for their classroom valued at $1,500

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Voters: TEN random winners who vote in the Teacher Treks competition will receive one Hilton HHonors Gift Card valued at $250

NOTE: If you live in Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina or Washington congrats you have a teacher who made the finals, so show them some love!

So what are you waiting for Butterfly? Go VOTE Now! Do something nice for a deserving teacher and in turn something fun for YOU too!

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FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are 100% my own. I like to share about products and services that I feel will be beneficial to my readers! And as a former Special Education Teacher, I love any company that gives back to teachers for all the hard work they do!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Like Free Gift Giveaways? Looking for Creative Solutions to Refresh Your Space? Then by all means Read on!


You know how much Ascending Butterfly loves Empowerment and Life Improvement, and when something combines BOTH + Free Giveaways it's a total win/win in my book! The folks at Family Circle and Ikea are presenting 'Ikea Life Improvement Store Seminars' in two of their locations this weekend with Celebrity Designer Stephen Saint-Onge! Stephen will provide Creative Tips and Techniques on how to refresh and update your kitchen, plus event attendees will receive FREE Gift Giveaways! (I think this qualifies as awesomesauce + amazeballs combined). I don't know about you butterfly, but my kitchen definitely needs some help! Whether you have a super spacious kitchen and need a few how-to's or a super cramped space and can't figure out how to organize it, this event will certainly get you inspired and motivated!

Here is the skinny/Event Details:

Date: Saturday, April 20th

Time: 1:00 pm

Place: IKEA Paramus, 100 IKEA Drive, Paramus, New Jersey

and the Second Seminar:

Date: Sunday, April 21st

Time: 1:00 pm

Place: IKEA Elizabeth, 1000 IKEA Drive, Elizabeth, New Jersey

About Stephen:

Designer, Photographer, and Dad Stephen Saint-Onge, (known as "Designer Dad"), Author of Book 'No Place Like Home: Tips & Techniques for real family-friendly home design', is the Contributing Home Editor for Family Circle Magazine and He firmly believes that "good design has the power to change lives."

If you want to order the book and have it shipped straight to you so you don't have to carry anything extra that day order it here:

He has become to the 'go-to' expert on home and family-focused lifestyle in magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Cottage Living, House Beautiful, Elle Decor and has appeared on television programs such as Oprah, The View, The Today Show, The Early Show, TLC and CNN.

And this weekend you get the power of his expertise to help you to refresh your own space!

And before you say 'but Butterfly, I don't live in New Jersey', if you are anywhere Tri-State Central, check this out:

FREE BUSES: There is Free Shuttle Bus Service from Manhattan to and from the IKEA in Elizabeth New Jersey on Saturdays and Sundays! The Shuttles operate ouf of the Port Authority Terminal located in New York City at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street. (You can take an MTA train to Times Square and walk to Port Authority).

Buses will depart from Gate #5 on the lower concourse near Academy Bus Line and the bus Departures are on the half hour with service available on Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 am - 2:30 pm. Return trips are also on the half hour with service available from noon to 6:00 pm!

Get Social:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Follow @Ikea_Usa on Twitter
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Follow @FamilyCircle on Twitter
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Like IKEA USA on Facebook
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Like Family Circle Magazine on Facebook

My Take:

What a great way to get your home ready for Spring at either one of these super fun events! My kitchen is small and pretty cramped, and since I can't change spaces right now, any help in getting mine to look less cluttered would be super helpful to me!

Any NYC based bloggers going and interested in meeting up? Let me know!

Any Butterflies that do attend, please come back here and share what you learn!

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FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are 100% my own and I like to share about improvement and empowerment information that I feel will be beneficial to my readers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ann (@AnnRichardsPlay) starring @HollandTaylor is a one woman tour de force!

Ann, Ann Richards, Holland Taylor, VIVIAN BEAUMONT THEATER, Lincoln Center,

Last week I got to see the new Broadway Musical,  Kinky Boots still in previews. which I reviewed HERE, and I also got the chance to see a one woman show called Ann that is currently running at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.


ANN is a no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary governor of Texas. This inspiring and hilarious new play brings us face to face with a complex, colorful and captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed. Written and performed by Emmy® Award winner Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men"), ANN takes a revealing look at the impassioned woman who enriched the lives of her followers, friends and family.

After playing throughout Texas to sold-out audiences, ANN went on to win critical acclaim both in Chicago and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. And now this extraordinary play comes to Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in a production directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein (resident director of War Horse).

En Espanol:

ANN es un retrato sin tapujos de Ann Richards, el legendario gobernador de Texas. Esta nueva obra inspiradora y divertida nos trae cara a cara con un personaje complejo, colorido y fascinante más grande que el estado de la cual ella aclamado. Escrita e interpretada por el ganador del Premio Emmy ® Holland Taylor (de la serie de television "Two and a Half Men"), ANN toma una mirada reveladora a la mujer apasionada que enriquece la vida de sus seguidores, amigos y familiares.

Después de jugar a lo largo de Texas para el público agotado, ANN se encendió para ganar elogios de la crítica en Chicago y en el Kennedy Center en Washington, DC. Y ahora esta extraordinaria obra viene a Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater en una producción había dirigida por Benjamin Endsley Klein (director residente de caballo de guerra).


Holland Taylor stars as Ann Richards and she is also the Playwright! I'm sure those who know Holland's backstory and credits, including her portrayal of Denise Cavanaugh on the long running Soap Opera, The Edge of Night where she played a character who killed herself, just to frame her husband, aren't surprised she could pull off the role of Ann Richards. I'm sure her role as Evelyn Harper in CBS's Two and a Half Men helped her to prepare, Holland certainly knows a thing or two about 'tough broads'.

She began researching, writing and producing a one-woman play about the late Texas Governor Ann Richards in 2009.  The two-act play, which was originally titled Money, Marbles and Chalk, was first work-shopped in May 2010 at The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas. It was later re-named Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards and opened in Chicago November 16, 2011, being billed as a "pre-Broadway" engagement.

The Real Ann Richards:

Texas Governor Ann Richards in 1992 - Photo Credit: @Wikimedia Commons

The Texas Governer Ann Richards (who was born Dorothy Ann Willis), attended Baylor University on a Debate scholarship and after earning her bachelor's degree she married her High School Sweetheart David Richards and moved to Austin where she pursued her teaching certificate from the University of Texas. She taught Social Studies and History. She campaigned for Texas liberals and progressives, and by the 1970's she was an accomplished Political Worker. She worked to elect Liberal Democrat Sarah Weddington and presented training sessions throughout the state on campaign techniques for women candidates and managers. She became the Travis County Commissioner, followed by Texas State Treasurer and then Richards famously became the 45th Governor of Texas.

My Take:

It takes an incredible amount of energy to pull off a one-woman/one-man show, I had amazing seats, and from my vantage point I was truly amazed to see the way Holland Taylor maintains such a powerful and strong energy throughout the entire performance.

This is an incredible labor of love and it shows in every scene. Whether you liked Ann Richards views as a politician or not, she was a pioneer and an amazingly strong woman who overcame incredible odds to succeed and to also help shatter that Glass Ceiling so that the women coming after her trying to build a Political Career had less hurdles to overcome. What Holland Taylor does is give us a very even-handed look into her life not just the politician, but the woman, the wife, the mother, the grand-mother, it's intimate, personal and holds nothing back. It would take a very strong woman to pull off that role and Holland Taylor succeeds on every level!

This play is raw and powerful and sometimes quite intense, but I can tell you as a Life Coach this is a goldmine of treasure, Ann Richards let NOTHING stop her, not even her own demons. She overcomes the obstacles, the odds and the naysayers and made change not just in her community but the world at large, she leaves an incredible legacy with the Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders, and whether your aspirations and goals are leading you toward a political career or a career in any field for that matter, just know that any effort you put your energy, passion and dedication to, WILL lead you to success!

I could relate to Ann on so many levels, many career counselors and school guidance counselors tried to urge me toward debate teams, law and later possibly politics, so learning about her career accomplishments were of great interest to me, but despite my academic advisors who were urging me toward Law/Politics and my original wishes toward Medicine, the universe ended up always pushing me into something that had to with writing, so Holland Taylor being the playwright for this in addition to the star has also given me powerful inspiration and incentive to pursue new facets of my writing! (Although I will say after watching Ann, I spent my birthday week away by the Beach briefly entertaining the notion that I should run for my local City Council seat, who knows, this play may have planted a more powerful seed in me than I know!)

Get Social:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Get the latest updates by following @AnnRichardsPlay via Twitter

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - You can also check out the latest news on their Facebook page (and you can press the video trailer above to go straight to the YouTube page).

Ascending Butterfly poses by the Ann signage!

Guess what else I have in common with Governor Ann Richards? If you guessed the same middle name, you get a gold star!

Joke: There was a terrier, Great Dane and a want to find out why the entire audience laughs out loud at this joke? Then go see Ann! :-)

Favorite Quotes: 'When You Rest, You Rust!" + "Trust that your wings will catch the wind"

After leaving the performance I had to catch this shot:

Lincoln Center Fountain at night! Check out the sign for Ann in the upper right hand  of the shot!

I definitely say 'Ticket' butterflies (Do NOT Miss this one!), and when you see it, please come back here and share your thoughts! 

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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, no monetary compensation has been received by Ascending Butterfly, we were provided only with our seats for editorial consideration. All Opinions are always 100% my own. Special thanks to Culture Mom Media, I LOVED THIS SHOW!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Motivation: Weekly Moment of Gratitude + Giveaway Winner + Moment of Silence for #Boston

What I am grateful for:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Got My Tablet! -  I wanted to thank all the butterflies who took the time to vote for me in the Autism Speaks/AT&T Voting Contest, not only is my bi-lingual Autism App being designed and was presented at Hackathon in San Francisco, California, but I got my new Pantech Tablet and I've been playing with it, and it's AWESOME! You all know how much I love new tech toys (once I have had a chance to really check out all it can do, I'll post a full review). But as a former Special Education Teacher the fact that my Bi-lingual Autism App will be designed means the world to me. It's a resource I wish I would have had in the classroom! When I designed the App for the contest entry, there was a real life student who was in my class who was my inspiration for the App.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Birthday Month Continues! - After the year I had last year I have decided that this year, ALL month is my birthday month! I can't contain the joy of NOT being in a hospital bed for my birthday like I was last year, and I want to celebrate my life all month this year to make up for lost time last year! Cherish your health butterflies, sometimes you can take care of it, and still have it snatched from you, appreciate each moment butterfly!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - A Moment of Silence Please! - Boston is a favorite City of mine (I live in the City most people really want to be in, but Boston and San Fran have a very special place in my heart), I took a moment of silence and spent time in prayer today for the people of Boston after the two bombings they experienced during the Boston Marathon today. Please butterflies, join me in a moment of prayer and send as many good vibes as you can to the people of Boston, there were many injured and I know how devastating it can be to survive a major bombing in your City. Today 9/11 flooded my memory and brought deja vu tears to my eyes as I watched the news all day following what happened during the Boston Marathon. My thoughts are with the City that has brought me nothing but positive memories. In fact this week I was actually talking about visiting there again. I tell you, sometimes monkey wrenches are thrown in our plans, and we get angry or stressed about it, but sometimes even delays are blessings in disguise. I can only be grateful that circumstances kept me from going to Boston, and my thoughts are with everyone there. I know a lot of New York City Based Fitness Bloggers who run that Marathon, and I hope everyone is OK!

Sorry it's been so long since my last Gratitude Post Butterflies, it's not that I haven't had things to be grateful for, quite the contrary in fact, but I have been taking more time away from blogging and social media and giving myself some much needed 'Me' time! I have been keeping my own daily list of things I am grateful for and taking time to acknowledge my blessings daily. A bit of concentrated focus on what you do have, instead of on what you lack or need, can make a huge shift in your life!

What are YOU most grateful for today Butterfly?

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What are you grateful for today? I'd love for you to write in and share what you are grateful for this week. The more you say it, the more you speak it, and the more you live in gratitude, the more you will find reasons to be grateful for, and the more reasons that the universe will send you to be grateful for. So join me on this journey of gratitude and inspiration. And you can post here daily (even though my list will be posted weekly).

Remember, attitude really does determine altitude.

It is OK to *Re-Tweet* the link to this post and You can find me on Twitter here (@Tracy_Iglesias) Twitter love: re*tweet by copying and pasting the following into your update field at Twitter:

OK to RT: @Tracy_Iglesias This Week's 'Moment of Gratitude' and Active Giveaways!  -

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Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Join me in congratulating Dawn S. who is Ascending Butterfly's We Take the Cake Giveaway Winner! Dawn was entry #341, and a delicious treat is on it's way! (We closed with 1,094 overall entries, and after all the dis-qualified entries were eliminated before drawing a winner, we ended with 840, just a very gentle reminder to follow mandatory entry instructions very carefully!)

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Our Featured Monthly Handbag in the Spotlight is back this week, and this month you win the bag of YOUR choice! (Although I have a strong feeling you are going to love the one I choose to feature so much you may want to pick that one!)

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Gratitude Journal Reco:

For those of you who are interested in keeping a gratitude journal this year, here is my recommendation and where to purchase it:

Make this Your Best Day ever, Bless and Be Blessed!

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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own. Journal Recommendation uses an Amazon Affiliate Link. Questions about our Disclosure? Please visit:

Friday, April 12, 2013

{Theatre Review} If Kinky Boots The Musical @KinkyBootsBway doesn't make you want to sing and dance in the aisle, check your pulse! #KinkyBootsBway

Playbill for Kinky Boots The Musical on Broadway
Playbill for Kinky Boots The Musical on Broadway

Last week during a week I can only nickname 'Birthday Madness', I got to see the new Broadway Musical,  Kinky Boots still in previews. I brought along Mama Butterfly who had already seen the movie version (I have not yet seen the movie), but I made her promise NOT to tell me anything about it!

Kinky Boots The Musical Sign at The Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Kinky Boots The Musical Sign at The Al Hirschfeld Theatre


From Grammy® Award-winning pop icon CYNDI LAUPER and four-time Tony Award® winner HARVEY FIERSTEIN comes the exhilarating new musical KINKY BOOTS, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner JERRY MITCHELL.

Kinky Boots The Musical Signage in front of The Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Charlie Price (Tony nominee Stark Sands) has suddenly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola (Billy Porter). A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

Featuring a sensational new score, knockout dancing and a spectacularly uplifting story, KINKY BOOTS is the must-see new musical that proves that sometimes, the best way to fit in is to stand out!

Kinky Boots The Musical Signage of Cyndi Lauper in front of The Al Hirschfeld Theatre

En Espanol:

Charlie Price repentinamente ha heredado la fábrica de calzado de su padre, que está al borde de la quiebra. Tratando de cumplir con el legado de su padre y salvar su negocio familiar, Charlie encuentra inspiración en forma de Lola (Billy Porter). Un fabuloso actor que necesitan unos stilettos robustos, Lola resulta ser la única persona que puede ayudar a Charlie a convertirse en el hombre que ha destinado a ser. Mientras trabajan para apagar la fábrica de alrededor, este improbable par los hallazgos que tienen más en común que siempre soñado posible... y descubre que cuando cambias de parecer acerca de alguien, puede cambiar el mundo entero.



Stark Sands plays Charlie Price in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Billie Porter plays Simon/Lola in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Billie Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Annaleigh Ashford plays Lauren in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Celina Carvajal plays Nicola in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Daniel Stewart Sherman plays Don in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Marcus Neville plays George in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre
Sebastian Hedges Thomas plays Young Charlie in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre
Marquise Neal plays Young Lola in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Eugene Barry-Hill plays Simon Sr. in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

Stephen Berger plays Mr. Price in Kinky Boots The Musical at The Hirschfeld Theatre

My Take:

The way I open this post is exactly how I feel about Kinky Boots The Musical, if this play doesn't make you want to jump out of your seat and start singing and dancing, you may need to have your pulse checked! There really is no other way to describe it, but you leave the theatre feeling uplifted, happy and with a smile on your face!

It's incredibly well cast, and they all work so well playing off of each other, that it is hard to pick a personal favorite among this amazing cast!

I love the way The Musical takes time to give you backstory for the characters and truly carries the stories through, like seeing both young Charlie and young Simon, and how they relate to their Fathers and then how those foundations from their youth carry through to the way they are as young men, and how the relationship with Simon and his father Simon Sr. evolves overtime. It's a beautiful story of what would normally seem an unlikely friendship. While it claims to celebrate what makes us unique and different, it is actually a celebration of the things that unite us all, wanting to live up to our parents expectations, yet also wanting to chart our own course and dance to beat of our own drummer, looking for a love that allows us to be who we are without trying to change us, and that the most amazing ideas sometimes come from the most bizarre series of coincidences and circumstances!


Butterflies you just have to see it to find out why I'm highlighting this graphic!

The Theatre has been a strong part of my life since I was a child, and I will say my very first two plays set the bar super high, but this has to be the standout for me for 2013 so far, there is just nothing bad to say about it, well cast, strong storyline, an incredible musical score (Cyndi Lauper NAILED it!), and it's just a great paced, high energy, FUN time on Broadway that you will certainly kick yourself if you miss it! (Kick yourself with a high heeled kinky boot for missing it in fact!)

Get Social:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Get the latest updates by following @KinkyBootsBway via Twitter and be sure to use the hashtag #KinkyBootsBway

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - You can also check out the latest news on their Facebook page (and you can press the video trailer above to go straight to the YouTube page).

Here is me and Mama Butterfly and I'm holding up my tickets high:

Had to ham it up with Cyndi Lauper in the middle! (What is your favorite Cyndi song of all time? For me it's an even tie between Girls Just Wan't to Have Fun and Time after Time!)

I definitely say 'Ticket' butterflies (Do NOT Miss this one!), and when you see it, please come back here and share your thoughts! And remember when all else fails:

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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, no monetary compensation has been received by Ascending Butterfly, we were provided only with our seats for editorial consideration. All Opinions are always 100% my own. I LOVED THIS SHOW!