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




Industrial Myth 1: Career Fail Is Bad Luck


Good morning, campers!

Today we will start our talk about Industrial Mythology. These are the tales we tell ourselves about working, originally dutifully passed down from generation to generation. Oh, the injustices laid at the door of Fortuna! (an image of the Roman goddess of luck, Fortuna, appears for you)  As if life was a thing that simply happens to people!

Here’s the truth: If you let life blow you around like a piece of driftwood, it will do just that. Yes, you will end up on some beach somewhere.

As a kid, I believed that somehow the winds of Fortune would magically blow me toward my “dream job”.  I believed in the myth of the “career ladder”. Just “start somewhere” and climb up from the bottom. This belief was the driver. All I did was unquestioningly follow lock-step grade to grade winning A after A and B after B. I was an excellent student. I got to the honor society, but I was totally unprepared for life after high school graduation (so, I went to college). By becoming life’s flotsam I handed my fate gift wrapped to the winds. Then, I complained to myself and commiserated with everybody who would listen about how “Life didn’t turn out the way I imagined it” and how all my teachers lied to me about “how things should be”.

The emotional reward was a seething sense of resentment against school which goaded my sense of “righteousness” into high gear. Feeling superior. Nothing like it in the world…The amazing thing is how many people in 2016, in the early 21st century still hang on to this tattered old medieval belief that a human being’s life is in somebody/something else’s control. This is straight out of that basic “crap-app” package that the “social factory”(the culture) installs into maturing mental operating systems (you).By merely “drifting” through life with fingers crossed you are handing your powers to decide what happens to you to Fortune’s tides. Next time, we’ll talk about how to “hack” Luck and make that driftwood into a surfboard.


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.

A Sense Of Purpose



“Purpose” is a hot button word these days. Human resource professionals to philosophers are abuzz with it. It’s eel slippery and everything is tied to it. It’s one of those concepts that the closer it is examined, the clearer it is. Then, it becomes clear as ice and disappears into everything. We study and obsess on the subject until it suddenly means nothing. Funny thing: when a strong sense of purpose is in place, everything else falls into order.

In my ministry to the weekly job club in my neighborhood, the number one prayer request is for Heavenly direction. We humans want to have confidence in the “rightness” of our decisions. We want to know for sure that our paths are straight to “the target”. Unfortunately, life is nothing like our left-brained imagination and will not cooperate with any of our straight-to-target plans. Who is brave enough to tell the truth about the real, crooked-as-a-dog’s-hind-leg paths we take to get to “where we are born to be” in life? This is the very reason so many methods to locate life purpose crop up every day–everything from drawing to channeling. The prophets mumble.

We get annoyed to distraction with the “trial and error” methods of discovering, pinning down and hog-tying that one thing we enjoy and do best that the world needs so much people will pay good money to have the service performed.  Remarkably, our perception of “purpose” and that “one thing” are as closely bound together as mace is to nutmeg.

Many look at “sense of purpose” as something that drops down on us from above. Others see it as something that is deeply buried and must be unearthed. Whether we catch it in a bucket or wrestle it out with a shovel, purpose is the keystone of life’s arch.


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!


stack of books with apple on top

Hey! The apple is dinner!

When the job seeker cracks the skull against the brick wall of non-progress too many times, the Job Gypsy suggests that it just might be time to consider a line not found in the palm of the hand unless there is a book –or an e-reader–in it: the life-long learning line.

Traditional school might not be the best alternative for some midlife students, but there are alternatives. There are always alternatives, it is said. As younger students prepare to get back on the school track in the coming months, our discussion will turn toward ways for job seekers to upgrade their skill sets too.

A Memorial Day Tribute – From Victoree

art: Vietnam War Memorial

The American wailing wall

A few conflicting stories exist about the origins of what we in the USA now celebrate as “Memorial Day”, the 30th of May. In my meandering search I have noticed that the overlapping part of the “Venn diagram” among the stories is that the 30th of May was once called,  “Decoration Day” a commemoration of the (un)Civil War. It was a time to lay flowers on the graves of the fallen of both the Union and the Confederacy.

Perhaps the idea of a commemoration of the most destructive war this nation has ever seen arose concurrently in both the former combatants territories and slowly pushed up into the national ego as part of the national mourning process. As more tomorrows became history it seemed so “right” to mourn all the losses from all the wars America has ever fought at this time, so the day was renamed, “Memorial Day”. Now, we can freely mourn all our losses: my great grandmother’s war, the Civil War; my grandmother’s war, WWI; my mother’s war, WWII; my war, Vietnam; my daughter’s war, Afghanistan. Somehow, the morrigan sorrow manages to scrape her bony finger across the face of every generation.

black feather with broken rib

A gift from the crow

I consign it to legend; something lost in our country’s misty, schizophrenic memory. Every election year the “Land of The Free and the Home of the Brave” rolls over in her sleep and the nightmares about the Civil War come back. She has generally forgotten what the commemoration was originally about, but hangs on to the “celebration” part. So, over the years, Memorial Day has become simply the party that kicks off the summer.

So, while cleaning the grill, skewering the kabobs and marinating the steaks,please consider that Memorial Day is about remembering. It might be a good day to mourn any/all kinds of loss including personal ones. I do not suggest anyone lay flowers at a former job’s doorstep even though that would be crazy-cool and maybe some much needed closure would happen. Maybe buying a personal bouquet would help speed the healing of an emotional wound.

Tribute In Light Memorial

Tribute In Light

Personally, I bought a very small, but significant gift for myself with the last paycheck of each job I lost. On Memorial Day, I look at the gifts and remember. Remarkably, one by one, year by year, I find the original outrage and pain suffered in those jobs has given way to peace and forgiveness.

May Memorial Day fill you with peace.


The Longer Job Search: Merry Christmas from Victoree

Merry Christmas
Image via Wikipedia

The candle of the year burns down toward the midwinter mark (Solstice of winter–December 22 this year), but before it is at last snuffed out– some final observations. Non-employment, the winter of a career cycle (it may be early winter,midwinter, or winter’s end for you), is the time for examining the seed collected from the past harvest, so, it is now appropriate to pause in the job search for a seasonal reassessment:

Has the vision of the new career changed some way over the year?

Is the vision moving toward a new direction or a new target?

Have targets been discarded? Why?

Things happen during a year. All the best job search books emphasize the virtue of “focus”, but over a year focus becomes harder to keep. Life happens during a year. Personal growth, though often ignored in a long  search for work, continues like a plant continues to grow in the darkness striving toward the hope in a pin of light. Then, an illness; a life event; a happening positive or negative of significance snatches the spotlight from the time-attention greedy job search. Personal growth becomes primary and the job search secondary.

How to keep focus while “snow blind” –when old, familiar career markers disappear– becomes the question in a longer-than-one-year search. Keeping focus in a longer search gets harder for the same reasons keeping your arm upraised gets harder. It’s a human thing. It becomes a strain to sustain interest on one subject over time especially a concentration upon something as stressful as a job search. Knowing the reason for the longer time frame does not help. When I was in grad school, I threw out idea after idea searching for something I could stomach researching for a year.

The imminent danger becomes boredom. I have a hunch that this is what really happens to people whose search for work is unsuccessful for a year. Not, “I give up”, but, “I’m bored; I’m tired of it; I want to take my life off hold;life is passing by and I resent it; it’s time out of my life spent doing this I will never get back”. It is not a sudden “I quit”, but a slow, fading away like footprints in the snow on a windy night or muscles quivering to get out of a position they can no longer hold.

Dream winter dreams; plan, research and visualize this holiday. I will be.

Have the happiest of holidays and I will see you in the new year,


Botanical illustration of yellow pumpkin with fruit leaf and flower

The Job Hunter’s Winter Harvest

Botanical illustration of yellow pumpkin with fruit leaf and flower

"When the frost is on the pumpkin..."

Daylight Savings Time ended with no protest tinged with a little sadness in my town. It must be that Election Day is Tuesday, among other things. Being just plain tired of a long job search is another.

Somehow, it becomes harder to keep up the wild energy job hunting requires at this time of year. People really tire of job hunting; of coming out into the cold to hear some waxy-faced interiewer ask endless questions. It becomes harder to pay attention. Spirit and body sag like the last of the brown leaves clinging to the trees. Quite frankly, I vote for spiced apple cider and clicking on the “Martha Stewart” icon on my tool bar as I make lists for holiday cooking, gift giving, and seasonal prep because this time of year calls strongly to me as a homekeeper.

James Whitcomb Riley at a Riley Day celebratio...

Image via Wikipedia

There is a “memorization project” poem often brought home after mid-terms on a dirty, illegible homework assignment page as the year shuffles grudgingly toward winter  called, “When the Frost is On The Pumpkin” by James Whitcomb Riley. I bring this up because of a remarkable story about how this very poem saved the author his job.

All the experts I have been reading on line are saying there should be no “vacation” taking from job hunting during the holidays. All those get-togethers, cookie bakings, and holiday parties are opportunities to not look for a job, but to network. This is a great time to meet new people especially if the search has “petered out” or the trail has “gone cold”. More about that next time. But, for now…

Take a look at a recitation of the poem by Kent Risley on You Tube in all of “the Hoosier poet” dialect beauty here:

Here is the text of the poem to help your kid out. I found it at

“When the Frost is on the Punkin”

James Whitcomb Riley. 1853-1916

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder‘s in the shock,

And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,

And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,

And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;

O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,

With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,

As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here-

Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,

And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;

But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days

Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock-

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

vintage engraving of pumpkin and leaf