Victoree Takes A Lap!



51tlCigbjwL._SX295_BO1,204,203,200_My 62nd birthday was this past week and usually, I have an annual personal retreat. That’s when I take a long, hard look at my life and plan the steps for any course corrections and adjustments to honor the past year’s learning on the journey. It’s also a celebration of survival. You can say it’s a “Victoree lap”. This year I am extending this blessed time because it is a major  “passage”/transition point in my life. I have decided to retire early and to complete the career shape shift I have been working on for the past 5 years or so. So, let me bust just one more myth today, namely:

People stop growing after adolescence.


Even if we somehow missed Gail Sheehy’s “Passages” and “Menopause…”, we should understand this today more than ever because of dealing with the effects of the boom generation’s now heading into retirement. Growth, development and change continue throughout an entire lifetime. Adulthood itself has several stages. Our generally longer lifespan has spawned an entire new industry centered upon the other stages of adulthood. (hint–it’s not all about nursing homes and cemeteries). Here’s the thing: many places in society are unprepared to use the knowledge and did not heed certain warnings/predictions that were clearly and unmistakably written in bold letters across the sky. We are going to take a little side trip to explore this subject in the next series of thoughts.

As we dismiss New Professionals summer camp we prepare for the reopening of the academic year. Harvest time is just ahead and we must see what is ready to be gathered in.  At last, if you are a “moon child” and celebrating your birthday with me, a very blessed and happy birthday to you too!


Industrial Myth #2: Personal Worth = Net Worth

Saint Daddy

SD (Saint Daddy)

Today, Father’s Day, is a great time to do some myth-busting about a subject we make first contact with through men we love: our fathers, uncles, brothers and husbands. Where did they get their bankrupt ideas from? Who else but their grandfathers, great uncles and brothers-in-laws. Bad ideas about money (and good ones as well) often pass through the generational lines. Today, let’s toss out this one for good:

Penny you have; penny you’re worth.

Now, my immigrant dad grew up poor in Panama. From his young perspective, a person’s worth as a person is tied tightly to and is not distinguishable from their net worth. It infected his thinking about money and the rich. Therefore, to have money was a righteous goal. In my dad’s old neighborhood in Panama, people treated kids who dumpster-dove for dinner as if they were garbage on two legs. The children of the wealthy and socially well-connected to the colonial powers, by contrast, were perceived to be  somehow made of better stuff and were treated as if they were.

Here’s the truth: Money is just a piece of paper or a scrap of metal unless human beings assign them worth. Let the Confederate dollar after the American Civil War prove it.

People, in contrast, have intrinsic worth simply because they are human.

So, whether you’ve got a wad that would choke a horse or a little ball of lint rolling in your pocket right now, you, human being, are worthy of taking up skin, air and space on earth.

Personal worth ≠ net worth.

To all our dads, uncles, brothers and husbands, a happy and blessed father’s day!



Your Time In the Spotlight; Your Day In The Sun

Your time in the spotlight

Your time in the spotlight

I know. I know. This is very strange place for the Gypsy Lady. Usually I don’t talk about telling personal stories, but as it turns out, a personal story told well is a valuable skill. In interviews we have to answer the comment, “so, tell me about yourself”. Everything after that, depending upon the tides’ pull on the flood of words, is received well or not. I used to be annoyed about this, but since then I have discovered the essence of the power of personal stories. After all, I really do believe that we are the stories we tell ourselves.

Our own personal story–the story told to the self–sinks down into the being and becomes part of that being as if it were food or drink. It flows out of our tears and our sweat. It has a sour or a sweet back taste every time we tell it. It is a basic, wild thing that must be sculpted like a lump of clay or house broken like a puppy.

Because I am learning how to become a public speaker/author, I took on the task of giving the first version of my keynote speech with great bravado. Guess I found out? How draining the act of standing on a stage pouring out ideas, feelings, and conclusions is! Why is this? It is a cave; it is an ocean. Whatever, it is deep, wide, and undiscovered. Here I am inviting you to step off the well trodden path with me and to feel into this tiny, winding, curious way through some very high grass called “personal story”.



Would you believe....?

Would you believe….?

The question is, “Why on earth don’t you settle down and get a job like a normal person?” Or, is it, “Why the **** (choose your own bad word) do you go from-job-to-job so much? Then there is the ever-refreshing, “Why can’t you keep a job?”

I just brought all this up (UGH) as the possible thinking behind the one question that scares applicants the most:”Why did you leave your last job?” Of course it must be answered. The potential employer does has a right to know, so, “Non of your beez-wax!”, although flipping like an Olympic diver on the tip of the tongue, is never the right answer. Oh, yes, there are “right answers” and none of them are:

  • My last boss was a jerk
  • It was a conspiracy against me
  • I lied on my resume
  • I stole millions from the company

Some people–some we even elected to positions of power–can really say that they bad-mouthed the boss, were the object of bullying, lied about having an MBA or stole #Big-Bucks from consumers, friends, family, and shareholders. Regardless whether or not they made the news for what they did, there is a way of handling it on the resume. If the immortals of imfamy can, so can all of us lesser lights. Of course, if there was an “incarceration event” (prison) it is better for the applicant to be candid about it then NOT GET TOO DETAILED. We humans become the stories we tell ourselves. Negative stories make for negative outcomes in interviews. Someone who has spent a substantial amount of time out of the workforce caring for a relative can actually tell that story provided it is short, to the point and told in a positive way. A military wife is not required to hide a lifetime of making multitudes of “homes on the base” in support of a spouse’s career in the armed forces.

The norm is that workers, especially younger ones, seldom stay at one job for more than 2-3 years. There is an unspoken rule, though. Frequent job change might be expected these days, but  the “hopping” has to suggest a thoughtfully planned array.

Resume, Resume, Wherefore Art Thou, Resume?

Wherefore art thou, resume?

Wherefore art thou, resume?

Is it possible to add one more word on the blasted heaths about resumes?

Why, of course! Over the years resumes have morphed from roughly hacked tombstones into personal epics. Here’s what I mean: many folk take their names, contact information and data about all the jobs held, slap them on a nice piece of paper in crisply starched, latest fashionable language and call it a resume. Beware of unscrupulous resume writing professionals who do this too (and charge tall lettuce for it!). Feh! Boring,uninteresting, ineffective and just like all the thousands of others recruiters take a 5-second blink at. Having a resume that looks like all the others in the pile on a recruiter’s desk is the fastest way for it to get crumpled into a wastebasket ball.

Consider that the resume is only one move in the job mating dance. The dance is a series of steps calculated to move the seeker closer to the goal–the interview. That is exactly why a resume should be the most wonderful crown of feathers or the sweetest song or something that makes the dancer different and gets positive attention. Look at this: the very hottest place to “do your dance” these days is on a YouTube video. Some headdress!

The 21st century twist on the basic job search mating dance is the addition of social media to the marketing mix. That’s right: marketing mix. “Resume” can be interpreted, “sales brochure” because a job search is at its core a well thought out and executed marketing campaign. That makes the job seeker not only the product maker but the Project Manager as well.  So, today’s effective, hard-hitting job search campaign will include an updated resume, a clean Facebook view, a Twitter feed and a fully optimized LinkedIn profile. Add to that a website/online portfolio for artists and writers. Next time, how about a closer look at the challenges the “new job search” present and how to handle them?

A Celtic New Year’s Kindling: School


Shoes31The year blesses us with so many opportunities for “do overs” and “undo’s”.  The end of October is a great time to take all the old, dry sticks of “used-to-be” and burn them, so to speak. What a good time to talk about the effect of what happens before we go into our careers.  For most of us, that means  enduring schooling. So, today, let’s light a bonfire and use all the broken script, bad files and soul malware for kindling. Let’s talk about what school is good for and what it’s just not.


12 years (o mas) of learning how to stand and walk down a narrow space, without touching either wall,  in a straight line.

Walk in line (no talking!) to the bathroom at exactly the same time every day;

Walk in line to the gym and back; to the cafeteria and back; to the library and back; to the bus and off the bus home.

You can tell who went to school in the USA: they all stand in line when anything is being passed out.

It’s beyond belief. At the end of those 12 years of obediently standing in line, the educated man or woman is suddenly expected to know how to live life and make the multiplicity of decisions adults must make, like–

  • Determine what to do to make a living
  • Find and keep a job
  • Decide who to marry, to get married, go to graduate school or join the army
  • Vote the party that wants to pump more money into an antiquated, basically dysfunctional system
  • Vote the party that wants to dump the system and go back to the time when it was all up to every individual to educate their own kids their own way

The argument about exactly what school is supposed to do in society changes every generation. Believe me. I was a teacher once and I made it my business to study the history of the profession. The joke “easter egg” I stumbled upon in my independent study is the circular movement of change: about every 30 years or so, somebody comes up with an idea to “fix” the educational system. In response, every generation of education experts goes into an “educational reform movement of the day” tizzy and begins worrying weary teachers with articles and long-winded training seminars on the “new method”.

Gradually, the “new thing” falls out of fashion under the stern examination of another group of researchers–usually from another field–and schools allow the “new thing” to slowly collapse under administrative paperwork until it goes away and another “reform” takes its place. It like the nightmare of platform shoes. This is my opinion, of course, but I have seen it, student and teacher, happen so many times.  Look at this: Math never made sense to me until I got out of school. Back in the 6th grade, when everybody was supposed to “strengthen our weaknesses”, I was assigned into an experimental remedial math program (the only thing I learned was how to sleep with my eyes open). Wonder of wonders, I was actually learning to do math very well in the program that allowed me to learn at my pace in a self-guided system until…suddenly the program just stopped.

Clearly, there are things school is great at doing, but things it definitely is not!

Happy and Blessed Celtic New Year.


A View Of October From The Window Of Memory

Blood Moon

Blood Moon

We welcome October, the fire of Samhain, the final steps in the circle dance of the year and the end of its bright half.

October means the school year is already at least 30 days old. Ah, yes the thrill is gone and so is the scintillating smell of new shoes. The virgin pages of new notebooks have ink blots and the spines of new textbooks are now well broken in. The ground swiftly covering with scattered leaves and the sun becoming gradually disinterested in the earth summons the muses of October. Some people think of this month as a time of shadows. True, it is a time of shadows, but those shadows, remember, are nothing more than the dark outlines of objects standing between the light and the one observing it; a disturbance in vision; an eclipse. As I said, October is nothing to be afraid of regardless of what the popular media says. Gaze out the window in October. Dare to look into the face of the future. In fact, it is time to take a backward glance. Let’s open the gates to a little mischief. Let’s pause and talk about school and the third grade teacher, “the bearded lady”.

A few years ago, while I was being treated for sciatica, my chiropractic therapist said, “A few of us are getting together in a class action to sue our high school. We graduated and started working and found out nothing we learned in school had anything to do with life, so we’re suing the school system for malpractice”. I have no idea how far the suit this idea got, but, it started me thinking about my teaching career. Let me venture to suggest that she was absolutely correct and more disturbing, school is having progressively less to do with life and that begs an answer to the question, “why?”

This is the month I am deliberately choosing to celebrate my last day of work at one school which fell upon a Friday, October 13th. many years ago.  Why not gather around for a tale or two from the gypsy lady about education and work?. Please feel free to chime in with your observations and if there be any, your horror stories.

After all, it is October.

Yes, I Am An Old Lady. Get Over It.


Date: Today

To: Anybody with a bee in the bonnet about working with “Baby Boomers” on any project anywhere:

From: Bold, Brassy 40+ Worker

Don’t whisper. I can hear you very well. Don’t expect me to hurry anywhere, to drop everything to answer phones, to care about what happens to Justin Bieber, or join the rest of the gang at the local watering hole after work. I would rather pass on doing all the things younger people with more energy, more tolerance for nonsense and no family obligations do.

Yes, I know. All the articles advising 40+ professionals sing the same song: go to the gym; get fit; lose weight; drop the 30-year-old hairstyle; get a suit whose pants do not have elastic in the waistband and ax the flip phone with the big buttons that looks like the one you gave mum last Christmas.

I am so tired of the pointing and tittering behind well-manicured hands; so weary of fighting to keep up with the latest fad and fashion. I may not seem be on the bleeding edge of the trend, but never, ever be lulled into believing that somehow it has slipped under my radar. My brain is as sharp as it ever was. I can trend in my sleep and dreamed about it coming at least 5 years ago. I was a part of the original concept, was in the planning of it yesterday that made it work like magic today and am now reveling in how my concept baby developed. Therefore, I have earned my right to walk at a dignified pace and do not have to barrel down the halls like a bob-sled on foot.

You have always suspected it. Let me put an end to the speculation. Caught you ogling my cane.

Yes, I am an old lady. Get over it.


The VP falls asleep in congress

Now, the man pictured above was caught on camera enduring another obviously impossibly long meeting. This man is fully employed…and he is tired. If this highly paid executive can get weary at work, what about the hundreds of thousands of people who are not working? I say let us get off our friends’, relations and our own backs and face the reality that looking for work is hard work and job seekers have a right to be tired. Think about this:

The very day a once-employed person becomes unemployed, BOOM! That former-worker immediately becomes the project manager of the biggest project in a lifetime: getting another job.  Immediately, everything is her direct responsibility.

After becoming an unlicensed mental health worker in order to slow the slip-n-slide into situational depression, the role of marketing executive immediately demands attention. The newly unemployed worker has to find and run a skills assessment, compare the results with what the market requires and upgrade where necessary. Upgrading skills calls for locating an educational agency, enrolling in coursework and financing it. That’s not all–

  • An employment goal has to be determined and that means becoming a researcher.
  • A timetable has to be created and steps toward the target plotted, so that means becoming a career strategist.
  • A marketing campaign has to be created and put into action including writing a resume (you’re a technical writer, now), creating an elevator speech, and practicing interviewing. That is public speaking–something many people would rather have a double wisdom tooth extraction than do. It can also include an occasional smattering of stagecraft.
  • All the while, the budget for this project is rapidly blowing up because being out of work becomes increasingly more expensive (figure out the gross loss of income and multiply by the time without a job). The CFO (Chief Financial Officer You) is never happy. That is the one who demands getting up at 3:00am to cry,worry and bargain with God.
  • Then, there is the administrative role. Somebody–guess who–has to write, answer and monitor emails; keep the appointment calendar; always answer the phone professionally; create business cards; on and on.

Plus, remember while all this is going on in one ring, the other two in this crazy circus are going on at full tilt–the spouse; the kids; homework; housework; managing chronic conditions (yours and other people’s); managing a household and relationships and more. Nobody does all these jobs like a rock star, but we cross our fingers, go to job clubs that coach job search skills and hope to get good enough at it to get that next job. Meanwhile, so much attention is given to acquiring job search skills that the skills actually used to perform the job act like muscles when they are not regularly used–they atrophy if not exercised. Why are job seekers so tired? So frustrated when the search drags on? Take a good guess!

The Last Word From Victoree–NOT!


I thought I was going to at last close this blog and develop the next idea, but I thought better of it. Both ideas can live side by side!

Here it is–

The new blog will be called, “Fruitivity”, which will explore life in the “third age” of life, that time when many of us of the “Boomer” generation will “retire”. Frankly, I think “retirement” is a wasteful idea since people were actually created to be productive their entire lives. I am not suggesting a little tweak. I am proposing a revolution.


Watch for FRUITIVITY.WORDPRESS.COM coming in September.

All the best,