Your Story Is You

The personal story forms

The personal story forms

Your story is you. The tale you tell yourself about yourself–fact AND fiction–becomes more and more you every time you tell it. The brain scarfs it up, converts it into chemical and electrical signals, and BANG! The story becomes organic memory which acts like a software driver. It is as much you as the meal just digested is right now. The Story is in every cell in every system of the body…and…and…and…


Sure! Hair follicles naturally ditch hundreds of hairs every month. We now know from brain research that intelligence is not a set thing: people become more intelligent as they live. We know that human beings learn, grow and change throughout their entire lifespan. We know that a brain used regularly is a brain that stays alive. We already understand that the intention of human muscle is movement. Muscles, unlike machines that become less with use, become better and stronger with use. So it is with our brains. The richer our thought life; the more learning we do; the richer the branching (growth) of the nervous system in our brains becomes.

When we switch to a new personal story, the old, original story fades. The old story grows weak, become less real and eventually will be shed for lack of retelling. The new story replaces it and grows stronger upon the conscious decision to stamp it over the old one through retelling it at every opportunity. I have discovered two methods of stamping out and displacing old, worn-out stories: positive affirmations and vivid visualizations. Look at this from Mind Valley, a favorite website of mine, on the subject of creative visualization. Registration will enable you to enjoy more of its personal growth content should you want to explore more.

The stories we create and accept as real about ourselves are reinforced by retelling and the brain automatically makes sure it sticks.


On Writing For a Life

Pieter Claeszoon - Still Life with a Skull and...

Pieter Claeszoon – Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writers are very special entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, writers learn late that there is a business side of their art because of a belief that art has nothing to do with business. In order to exist art has everything to do with business.

This is how I learned: I never pursued art. Art chased me and Art has always loved me.

Believe me, I ran from writing for a living for years. Earlier in life, I was angry and envious of people who had abilities to excel in math and science. These people were all but worshiped in school as I was growing up. As a result of testing in the sixth grade, I was tracked into the non-academic track, relegated to remedial classes in math and told I would never be much more than a housewife.

In my strengths analysis (associated with the SAT’s) it was found that I had drama timing sense. I had spatial intelligence so that I could identify the three-dimensional outcomes of flattened shapes. I had color sense and a profound love for words. I had musical intelligence and,most pervasive of all, a deep need for periodic silence and solitude. Back then, introversion was something to be treated as a social malady and my talent mix does not usually lead to engineering.

In this culture, a creative child  is admired as a curiosity like two-headed cat, but the common thinking is that we would shrug off this “unreality” and somehow “grow out of it”. An adult with intentions of becoming a professional artist is judged to be weird at best and immature at worst. Career experts often recommend them to “have a plan B” or “get a real job”. Some parents even threaten not to support children who declare art majors and urge them to switch to accounting because of the fear that the arts have negative career potential after graduation.

To my brothers and sisters in whatever art loves them:

What the gypsy lady says is simple: discover the original factory installation talent and gift package as early as possible, then unashamedly work it to the hilt. The one thing I have found out in my short lifetime is that nothing develops well if not given all it needs for growth. Flowers never bloom when starved of light, good soil and proper nourishment. The plants may grow, but their development may be stunted and ugly. So it is with potential musicians. singers, dancers, painters, sculptors and writers. Regardless of whether or not you will ever make it to Broadway, get rich, and seem totally useless to an ugly, money obsessed culture like ours today, take your native strengths seriously, develop them passionately and avoid frustration and regret later.

I stopped running away from words at last. I turned around and embraced them and here I am speaking to you today.

Non-Profit Organizations: Busineses For The Greater Good

Somewhere, sometime, somebody in response to seeing a crying need said, “Somebody ought to do something about that…” and BLAM! a non-profit organization begins its existence in the mind of a founder.

Non profits are organized for the good of mankind. Some of them are cultural icons like Boys Town  or the Salvation Army, which even enjoyed a background role in the musical  “Guys and Dolls“. Some are quite controversial like The League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood. Still others are friendly fellowships or community service organizations . There are many categories of non-profits, so, any potential founder needs to do some research to be able to register correctly  on the IRS website . Additionally  registration with the state where you will be doing business and following their guidelines with regard to associated fees is necessary.

Generally, the classification number for a non-profit or charitable institution is in the language of the Internal Revenue Service (good old IRS), a “501(c)”:

  • 501(c)3 – Education, religious, literary, or charitable
  • 501(c)4 – Social Welfare
  • 501(c)5 – Labor Union
  • 501(c)6 – Business/Trade Association
  • 501(c)7 – Social Club
  • 501(c)9 – Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations

This is by no means a definitive list. Non-profit organizations, often also called charitable corporations are a serious economic niche for career hunters or re-careering professionals whose personal Divine Mandate involves helping to alleviate suffering among people, animals, or the earth. For example, Angel tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, addresses the need of the children of incarcerated parents. The National Science Foundation works with young people too–education in science and technology.

The first and most important question that must be answered is, what specifically is the need I want to address among what population? Is it pain? disease? ignorance? homelessness? hunger?

What kid of suffering do you want to help put an end to?

Hocus-Pocus! The Re-Careering, Re-Branding, And Remaking-The-Self Ceildah

Shape-shifting. As I took a step back from a recent conversation about re-careering, it occurred to me that shape shifting is what it was all about. Called by any other name, whether re-branding, remaking the self, re-imaging or re-careering it is an attempt to make some kind of change in an area of life and some changes are more challenging than others. Taking a position slightly higher than the one previously held or a taking a position which is a lateral move is not a difficult dance; just a two-step or a dos-y-dos at best.

Moving to a different position within the same career field or into an associated field (uses the same skill sets differently ) is a more energetic swing about. Ex: education to social work in learning pathologies. A little added education might complete this kind of move: a few steps facing backwards, then facing forward again, going in a similar direction.

The last kind of move–from one field into an entirely different field–is the hardest move of all to pull off. This demands a shape shift and that is in the realm of myth and magic! We have discussed in the earliest pages of this blog that potential employers do not like to deal with career virgins or career changers. They like the tried and true–preferring that some other slob works the bugs out before the new employee lands in their companies. As I understand from a seminar I recently attended, among the things potential employers are not too thrilled about doing are taking a gamble that the new employee “egg” they are agreeing to sit on is a creature with wings (flight risk. Will be gone at first good opportunity) or that they will have to take the time to train a new sorcerer (brand-spanking new to the field at bottom of learning curve ).

The reality of a career shape shift is that it will take time. It means gaining both the skills and the  3-5 years of experience many jobs state in their descriptions as required. Until these essential element are in place, the new career might not be directly assessable. As for job-hunting, forget about the job boards completely and lean hard upon networking into an unconventional entry portal. You actually have to have an advocate (an ally in networkers’ terms) who is willing to use an influential relationship with a powerful friend on your behalf.

That said, it is time to go on to the necessity of plotting a course of making small steps toward the new career. Making these small steps takes time. We very well are talking about a few years here so it will also require some hard-headed planning. At times, it might even look rather cold-blooded. Nice. The new shape is reptilian–a flying dragon perhaps.  How does the gypsy woman know? She is actually doing it! For the not-so-young anymore this is something that has to be dealt with on the front end with some real soul-searching and reality checking. It means finding creative ways to have a positive cash flow for an extended period. It means always being on the lookout for opportunities to make a leap ahead in the process. It means keeping watch over the judicious use of energy as well with frequent restoration points so that the process will not cause physical and emotional burn out.

Hey! This is not only a dance, career changing is alchemy!

Victoree’s 2012 in review

I was amazed at the information gathered about Victoree’s Blog in the past year. Maybe we should talk some more in 2013…what do you think?

Happy New Year,


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Preparing For the Interview:Before The Paint and Powder

The Secretary of State has bad days too.

It says, “I do things at the last minute. I don’t plan, I just live…”

Determining what is appropriate for interview makeup brings out a broad stripe of ambiguity about women. The general consensus: Take it easy. Not too much, but don’t come in bare faced either (that’s country!) Recruiters’ blogs and advice articles I have read  quote research  that gives a thumbs up for a lady to wear natural toned makeup applied with a light hand for that touch of professional sophistication for the interview. It says, “I respect myself. I’m together”. Remember our discussion about the “precious moments” before an applicant emerges from the car and how those moments may not be so private? Another bad thing  the corporate parking lot  lookout could catch an applicant doing in the car is applying makeup. It has the tang of disorganization and non-readiness. It says, “I do things at the last minute. I don’t plan, I just live…”

In the single numbered days of my life in a new state, I did the second worst thing: apply makeup in the ladies’ room just before the interview.

Attention to health, rest and  nutrition matters…

After a restless night , I stumbled sleep deprived, and raccoon-eyed into an interview at a temporary service agency in the state my family had just moved to having no professional contacts, no social ties and not a clue about looking for work at the tail end of the 20th century.

After the interview, the image I caught in the ladies’ room mirror appalled me. How on earth had I let myself get into this state? and…how is this outdated shade of lipstick still in my purse? Sure enough, the impression I left with the hiring associate at that agency was not a positive one and relations with that outfit went unhappily ever after. Fixing the personal self-esteem damage that experience did to my morale  took scrubbing, bleach and therapy.

The fact that my old address was still on my woefully dated  resume was bad enough, but that is a discussion for another day.  The spotlight (or that horrible light in the bathroom) is on the fact that  I was caught plain faced and tired looking when I should have been well rested, energetic, and prepared. I should have rescheduled that interview. Attention to health, rest and  nutrition matters even before the first stroke of foundation goes on and no amount of make up can cover its lack .

Preparing For The Interview: Indy-Goth-Grunge-Punk Style

rock and roll musician, George Michael

Ready to rock, but at the interview, not.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. True enough. When it comes to hair, makeup and physical adornments at interviews, there seems to be a theme running through much of the literature on the shelves and online: WATCH IT. There is a definite prejudice towards contemporary styled, neat hair, and  clean, hairless faces. For many of us that translates into these kinds of admonitions:

Keep the haircut conservative.

Keep the pink coiffed, bed head, and emo-black hair for the weekend–and don’t have any pictures of it on Facebook. Some ethnic hairstyles in the eyes of some executives still denote a rebellious attitude, so it pays to understand the corporate culture before showing up in dreads or twists. The grunge-y stubble that looks so great on George Michael might not be a good idea at the interview. Beards, van-dykes and other facial hair styles should be neatly trimmed. Women should not wear beards. Generally, arts industry professionals have much more leeway to express personal style in comparison with, say, bankers or Wall Street stock traders.

Keep jewelry near the face conservative.

Many interview advice comments I have heard from recruiters are along the line of small, non-pendulous earrings for women and no earrings for men. A woman with more than one piercing in her ears should decide which two to wear a small stud in. Generally, ear jewelry should not make noise or be a distraction. Believe it or not, large hoop earrings still have a negative connotation.

Hands should look neat and cared for; conservatively adorned.

Clean and clear. A man’s hands should be clean with neatly trimmed nails–all of them. Having a longer nail on the pinky finger used to mean a certain social status, but it does not translate well at the interview today. Likewise, a woman’s hands should be clean with neatly trimmed nails. Trade the robin’s egg blues and safety orange for closer to natural tones for the interview. For men and women, dial down the finger bling. That means Diamond Jim should wear one or two rings on each hand instead of the usual fistful. The same goes for Sophisticated Lady. One or two rings will do. Neither should be sporting noisy wrist wear.

I put on the single strand of pearls (good fakes that do not show wear) and ear studs with my suit. My artsy stone pendants  and talismans stay at home when interviewing for the corporate office. Never a sell-out in any sense, it is merely one more classic move in “the game” of getting the job.

Preparing For the Interview: The Sweet Smell of Excess?

Shalimar fragrance and Prince Machabelli bottles

My mother’s perfume

I love perfume. So did my mom. It must be genetic.

As a child, my merchant seaman father would come home with gifts of fragrance from around the world and I used to love rummaging through mom’s dressing table testing for treasures of scent. There in that alchemist’s collection of  mysterious bottles  lived the captured souls of romance  with names like “My Sin”, “Tabu” and my favorite, “Shalimar“. To this day whenever I can find it, I enjoy daubing on a little of the classic Avon fragrances. Perfume is the most affordable of luxuries and the essence of womanliness.

Most times, job loss  means shedding things to save money, so there is a sad, gradual loss or downgrade of items like hairdresser appointments, salon shampoo, new clothes, new shoes,  makeup, and finally perfume. If I am rendering the research correctly, the human sense of smell is the most powerfully evocative of  all the senses. One whiff of warm granny apples with cinnamon and suddenly there is a desire to run up the front steps of the “old house” two at a time. Caught downwind from “Old Spice“, tears well up as it conjures warm memories because that was “his” scent.

On an emotional level, I get it. One never knows what dreams or nightmares will be called forth in an interviewer by an applicant’s wearing a certain scent. Know, however, that scent is part of  image strategy. Beware. The choice of scent must be contemporary, tasteful, complementary to business wear/hairstyles and light. Wearing some scents that were popular a generation ago actually say, “frumpy and old-timer-ish”;carries peppermints in the bottom of her hand bag. Scent could give your age away in that case.

a 21st century perfume

Dangerous drink, intoxicating perfume?

Then again, interviews  held in tiny, ventless inner  rooms dictate that neither recruiter nor applicant wear highly scented cosmetic products to avoid triggering allergies or the gag reflex. I have stopped thinking that the often given advice against wearing my incense woods-heavy signature  fragrance in interviews as another shameful loss of freedom in the USA and started thinking of it as a courtesy; like graciously not sharing  information too intimate for that venue. It might just be best to keep this emotionally loaded potion bottled up on the dresser until the ink on the new-hire papers is dry.

Gleanings on wearing scent in an interview or at work

Preparing For The Interview

A bride greets the queen

Ready to meet the queen

In thinking about the reasoning behind preparing well for the interview, I have to pass by part of the tale of Cinderella…

If you remember, Cinderella lived in a household headed by her widowed stepmother and shared the place with two step sisters. The king and queen of the realm where this little family lived had a prince who stubbornly remained unmarried which exasperated his royal parents. Invitations went out to all the eligible ladies in the kingdom to a ball where the prince would find and select a suitable bride (the royal couple hoped!). When the invitations arrived at Cinderella’s house, all the ladies began preparing for the ball.

In another narrative from the Bible, a certain king exiled his queen when she embarrassed him by refusing to appear at a party one day. To cure his equally embarrassing lack of a queen, this king decided to have eligible ladies brought to the palace for a contest to choose from them a new queen. The contestants were prepared to meet the king with beauty treatments given over an entire year.

Again, a prospective bride will starve herself into a smaller size, take up residence in the spa and spend thousands to make sure she looks her best on her wedding day.

Queen Esther

One year to prepare for one night

How important is it and how serious a matter is it to consciously prepare for an interview? I am not saying it compares to the extreme conditions of contests to be a king’s bride or a fairy tale princess or even a wedding day, but preparing for the interview is no less a matter of deliberate preparation. Many people miss this point and show up at one of the most important events in life in almost laughable conditions. So, the first rule of the “corporate mating ritual”, or, the interview is, PREPARE.

Do You Really Want To Know What My Real Weaknesses Are?

cropped from "The Scream" - Edward Munch


In a word, no…

especially if the weakness is one that will  in any way negatively impact the company or the potential employee’s ability to do the job being interviewed for. Again, there are some things an applicant should never admit in an interview. Re-read that last sentence. I did not say, lie in an interview. I said, never present any weakness in an interview that will speak of the lack of an ability essential to performing the job. Why set up for failure? Interviewers ask applicants about their weaknesses to tease out several things, according to the headhunters and human capital experts I have met in my travels. When they ask this abominable question interviewers really want to know:

  • Are you humble or do you take yourself more seriously than  you ought?
  • How well do you understand yourself? Are you self-aware?
  • Are you honest? Can you admit making mistakes and able to own up to it?
  • Can you really do this job or is your resume a crock?
  • Are your intentions honorable or is this just  a “one night stand’?

The next few posts will be a casual but serious discussion of the interview including dealing with the mystery of what to tell potential employers about things like Swiss cheese resumes, a stretch in the slammer, family care issues, and other “red flags” that give applicants and recruiters alike nightmares.

In one article I read entitled, “How To Answer the Question, What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”, featured below,I found one intriguing statement: “The questions you hear in an interview will reveal a lot about the mindset of the organization…”  It immediately sets up questions in my mind:

  • Exactly what kind of weaknesses pose the biggest threat to that company?
  • How is my kind of weakness going to bless or curse the company?
  • Is there already a full complement of my kind of nut in the tree?
  • is one of those nuts going to end up being my supervisor?
baby boy in exasperated tears

They hired my brother!

This suggests to me that if job seekers empower themselves they can take the body of questions corporations ask in interviews together and read them like tea leaves to find things out about the company what should be known before saying yes to a potentially toxic or abusive work relationship.