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




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.

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”.


When you talk to yourself, what do you say?

guess what I know that you don't?

self important dragon

The other thing non-employed people do a lot of besides reading is thinking.

I’m developing this idea. Tell me what you think. You see: we all talk to ourselves all the time. The question is, when you talk to yourself, what do you say?

I have come to the conclusion that you are the stories you tell yourself. Everybody has an endless media loop running  in the head. Embedded on it are the beliefs and attitudes that form the “attitude drivers”–what makes for the habitual  response patterns to life. These “attitude drivers”  include ideas about self, the world and how we fit in the grand scheme of things. You start building it very young and create it throughout life. It’s like your “emotional root file”. I call this “internal tape” with all the attitude drivers on it  your “existential story”. Your existential story can be positive or negative; it can work for you or against you. The task is to be aware of what that story is, to understand how it develops and to learn how to make it work  for your good.

Let me tell you one way to find out what your existential story is. Think way back to when you were a kid. What was your favorite book, story or fairy tale? My top two favorites were Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I identified with the dispossessed heiress, reduced by circumstances to servitude, who dreamed of regaining her fortune and getting vengeance on her abusers. I identified with the princess given beauty and talent at birth, but because of a curse was rendered impotent. The only way she would become  effective again was to get a kiss–affirmation–from “the prince”… “Mr. Right” or some job title. There she was: talented, beautiful, and asleep; waiting for a century; waiting for that kiss.

I dreamed of singing with the Metropolitan Opera once upon a time, but I hugged that dream in silence all to myself so nobody ever knew about that desire.  I never looked for opportunities. I had no understanding of how dream careers really come true. I never observed anybody in my lower middle-class neighborhood actively striving for anything. I thought it “just came” after you graduated. The Prince would come looking for the girl whose foot fit that glass slipper. Nobody in school ever suggested that successful people worked hard to get  success; that it wasn’t just “luck” bestowed like a magical gift at birth. As did  many pre-feminist girls of my generation, I thought the only way I would have any meaning in my life was to attach myself to “the prince”. I put my life on hold, comforting myself with saying, “some day” I would be “discovered”. I told myself, “some day, my prince will come”. Years went by. The prince never showed up. I ended up being bitterly disappointed. “None of my dreams ever come true” was written into my existential story.  It took years of thinking, praying, working and therapy to come to the place I am today. My existential story still has vestiges of the ancient tale, but I’m proud to say, it has drastically changed.

Now, look at your general approach to the  job search. Maybe the tape you play in your head sounds like, “I never win” or, “nothing good ever happens to me”; “I’m a looser”. Are you too waiting for a “prince” to rescue you from evil outside forces? Are you full of barely concealed resentment, just waiting for the first opportunity to  “get what is rightfully yours”; to be avenged and regain your lost status and fortune? Are you waiting in ladylike, righteous silence, hoping  someone will “discover” your brilliance? If you want to go to the Met, are you taking singing lessons? Are you looking at Julliard’s student catalog and filling out your student loan papers? Is your existential story–the story you tell yourself about you–a story of victory or of defeat?

Listen to you talking to yourself in the coming week. You may be surprised at what you hear.