One Light Dims In The Season Of Light


 

220px-john_glenn_portraitThere seems to be one idea embedded in this season for several celebrations that happen in the winter: light overcoming the darkness. Generally, human beings would rather not be in the dark. It’s scary and often cold. Anyone who would bring light to anything anywhere will have to purposefully chose to vacate the safety of the communal fire and brave the darkness. Seeing the naked face of  the unknown; the darkness is an accepted occupational hazard for pioneers. In the times John Glenn lived, there was a critical mass of the brave. It was a season that required a convergence of strength, but conquering entrenched cultural darkness  certainly can be lonely. Winter nights so long, dark and cold can get so depressing that just a single flicker of light brings a sense of relief and hope.Few faith systems celebrate the darkness. Rituals to drive darkness away abound. Today we celebrate the life of one who went beyond the protective, warm atmosphere of earth into the dark and cold of space. John Glenn’s travels are done. This pioneer in space and government on earth relocated from the gathering dark and cold of winter in humanity to the “Bosom of Abraham”, a place of bright light and warmth. Earth out.

God speed, John Glenn.

How America Will Stay Free


tugofwarIt’s almost the end of academic marking period #1. It’s also the autumnal equinox. Blessed season! You know me; I work in cycles and as with any harvest season, it’s time to harvest a few thoughts about school as a place to learn in the 21st century. To back up a bit…

In the early years of common schooling, the challenge was to efficiently assimilate the flood of new Americans that washed ashore just before the industrial revolution. The American revolution’s Liberty Tree evidenced its bedrock-deep, widespread root system by bearing the fruit of a society based on essential morality and goodness.

The point of schooling back then was to develop a population that would accept as the norm cooperation with (obedience to) a just and benevolent (paternalistic) government, industry, thrift, kindness and all those virtues thought to characterize a “good citizen” of a republic. Contrast that with post revolutionary thinking about a society headed by a monarchy (prince-priest) with the wind of an outrageously wealthy aristocracy supporting it.  John Adams put it, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”. Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters”. We get educated, then, to remain good and therefore remain free.

As the nation’s social “tasks”/issues came and went, school reforms movements have followed suit. School became the orange rag knotted over the mud-hole pulled back and forth by various thought systems and interest groups.  When I was doing the work for the masters in education, teaching children to read using “phonics” was a cardinal sin. Phonics was the way the “backwards religious right” taught kids to read. As a child growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s, phonics was touted as the best way (right and only way) to teach children to read. I informed a professor I would not be in class one session so that I could attended a Christian women’s conference on the very day everyone else chose their subject for a paper. The next session, I got my subject: the only one left–phonics. There was a noticiable chill towards me in that class for weeks. It’s not nice to be branded the “class evangelical Christian”.

As a result of the “tug of war” school became more and more insular to the place where school today is another planet. It “protected itself” from threat as any organism would by adjusting externally through “education fad-of-the year” antics, but dragged its feet internally. So, the classroom walked 20 years behind business and society.

That is one of the reasons new graduates complain about their “lack of readiness”to join industry as employees and their employers complain about the”lack of quality applicants” as if it were a “quality control” issue. New grads simply have not been living on the same planet as their employers.

However, school is now poised to enter a revolution itself as it lets go of the industrial model…

Happy Labor Day, from Victoree


Rosie The Riviter Honor Labor poster

Rosie says…

It’s the last party of the summer. It’s the holiday before we hang up our bathing suits and face the fact that last fall’s clothes don’t fit. After the heartburn from the hot dogs is long gone, we launch into the matter of school–beginning with, “what is school for?”

trinity-knot-clipart-1Whether we in this society state it clearly enough, consider that an active, successful producer in the workforce is the end product of schooling. We go to school to go to work and expect to work darned hard, too. Here’s a twist on that from the founder of Mindvalley,  Vishen Lakhiani. Over the years, industry has uncoupled itself from any responsibility for training and the task floated to education to basically prepare new entrants to the workforce. So, education and industry work hand in hand (or they used to). Instead, Industry and Education became like long-married people who grow apart over the years. This is why companies grumble when they discover they have acquired new hires who do not “come up to spec”. They feel somehow that they have been “cheated” and the schools have “failed” because the product they were promised never shows up. The relationship of school and industry is essentially a provider-consumer relationship. Then, we as a society hope that the schools we release our precious youth to, these educational expert partners we support with our taxes will somehow accomplish this:

  •  turn out good, patriotic citizens
  • caring, concerned parents
  • generally moral people

Yes, I said, “turn out”, because, let me repeat, the unspoken social contract school has with industry is that school will do the workforce preparation and industry will provide the employment. Religious institutions have the job of providing the moral piece. However, something has happened to “the triple knot” of home, school and business.

Whether you will be returning to school, college or work, remember on Labor Day (before the heartburn after that hamburger) that an honest day’s labor is an honorable thing to be celebrated. Work is not a curse. It is a blessing.

Happy Labor Day, from Victoree

 

 

 

The Big Myth: The American Dream


american_dream_v_american_myth

Finally, campers, we come to one last item, a fixture of our national mythology embedded in our identification of ourselves as “the land of opportunity”:anybody from anywhere on earth can  come to the USA and go from rags to riches; the sky’s the limit for those who work hard and persevere. Unlike in some countries, commonly held ideas are the glue that holds us together as a nation.

Each succeeding generation expects to fare better financially and socially than the parent generation. It may have been true for a while for some. However, as a member of the first generation of Americans who did not rise higher than their parents, I can say that the American Dream (as pictured above) is just that–a dream. It surprised and angered me at first. I felt like I had somehow been duped; bamboozled; cheated. Somebody lied. I was a nice kid; quiet, docile and feminine; never gave my parents an hour of trouble; got good grades and stayed out of jail. Success should have just walked up and kissed me on the lips.

Bull.

Future professionals, take the Myth of The American Dream with a tablespoon of salt. Pass it right through the system ASAP. In order to move on to the reality, I found it necessary  to examine deeply held beliefs about success, career, and everything else in life under strong, unfiltered light. Are you in that place on your path of self-development? Refuse to simply parrot the so-called “truths” as touted by the culture. Understand exactly what school is really set up to do. Forgive your parents, friends, relations, enemies and mentors for passing on all their off-base advice. Forgive yourself for misguided movements in unproductive paths. Just as you were born largely unfinished (could we stand on our own hours after birth?; are humans grown in a year?), upon graduation from High School and College, your education is largely unfinished. Who is responsible for completing your life learning?

YOU.

GO EDUCATE YOUR SOUL FOR LIFE.

Get some pool time in before first semester begins. Have a great summer.sun

Victoree Takes A Lap!


Happy_Birthday_Cakes_02

 

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.

Bull.

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!

Happy Memorial Day, from Victoree


memorialday

Remembering all them who died; fighting for they who remain alive…

It’s the official beginning of summer. It’s the smell of Angus beef and fresh charcoal; the roar of Rolling Thunder bearing down on Washington, DC. On Memorial Day years rewind to those hopeful summers when we just-graduated, just married and just got a new job. Although broader brimmed hats and forgiving canvas flats are preferred now, Memorial Day still summons the shades of other times when promises were sealed with a pinky swear. I remember the classmates who never became fathers and grandfathers:

On the 30th of May

We honor those today

Who gave their best

And stood the test

In lands far away.

It is a day dedicated to memory. As you remember on this day may those memories–bitter or sweet–be sign posts of more meaningful, hopeful, positive tomorrows.

Memorial Day Blessings,

Victoree

Lenten Season Greetings, from Victoree


1st fire festival

St. Brighid

 

Wow! Yesterday was the snowiest Mardi Gras I have ever seen, but that is now 364 days away. Oh, well; we’ll look forward to next year! Time moves on.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the beginning of the 40 days before Resurrection Day (Easter). Many in the Christian world are fasting and taking on new disciplines for this season. May the ritual assume new depth and the practice actually make profound life changes.

As we continue to welcome Imbolc, we also notice Spring and all the celebrations that come in the “Light Half” of the year with her, waiting in the wings for their time on stage. Come, wheel! Begin the dance!

May this blessed season of hope and new life inspire a bringing together of all winter’s musings into a single, shining seed.

Let’s see what springs up!

St. Brighid cross on paperVictoree

 

The School-To-Workforce Jump: A Dance With No Steps


 

under the sheepskin is the green back

Diploma not equivalent to good job

When I was growing up in a much-altered Victorian which stood a street over from the University then just beginning to occupy my neighborhood, I remember my dad stressing out over the seasonal basement flooding. He bought a device out of a mail order catalogue. After setting it up, Dad explained that the excess water was supposed to “jump” from one level to another, draining it from the basement into the street above. The water never moved. My mom was not impressed. I began to investigate how siphons work. I figure my dad must have had a “gap” either in understanding or in application.

New grads have a similar “gap”in understanding and in application.  Every year, schools spit out hundreds of young people who know the state bird of every state in the union, but are totally lacking in essential knowledge about how to navigate in the workplace generally and about their “dream”/ target job specifically. School thinks (hopes) that “any intelligent new grad” will “pick it up”. Yeah. Right. What really happens is the entire decade of the 20’s gets wasted stumbling through coffee shop barista, grocery store clerk, pizza delivery, and fast food restaurants. Many businesses take advantage of the “gap”, filling their low-paying jobs with new entrants to the workforce. Many do learn the essential lessons of the workplace through these entry level revolving door jobs, but many others do not. The ones who learn become successful in professional life. The ones who do not end up being terminated over and over again or getting trapped in low-wage jobs for years.

I clearly remember writing my first “dream job” in a space on my SAT test: architect…the perfect mating of my love for history, art and design. I thought that the “right people” would magically see that desire and help me get there.

Wrong answer!

With no guidance, I meandered on several professional paths until I “found myself” many, many years later. School today is still asking questions about its purpose in society. Is it to ensure a basically literate/numerate citizenry? Socialization? Prepare youth for their future jobs? Discover and groom future leaders? Keep certain people “in their place”? Definitions and answers change every generation. Can this generation find a better way to introduce new people to the workforce than the wasteful way we do it now?

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.

School.

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.

Victoree

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


Memorandum

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.