Keep doing what you gotta do

I wasn’t there, but my husband was watering the plants in the backyard. He heard a funny noise and thought something was wrong with the hose. He looked around and saw a swarm of bees.
Hundreds of bees had come to our backyard.

Apparently, this is something that happens. Bees will get a new queen, and each hive can only have one queen. A contingent of bees will break of and look for a new home.

It is officially called a swarm. The bees were swarming.

We didn’t want to get stung. And we didn’t want the dog to get stung. The dog wanted to investigate and see what all this activity was about. We knew what the activity was about, so we restrained the dog and didn’t let her bother the bees.

When bees go looking for a new home, they send out scouts to find a spot. The scouts come back and perform a dance describing their choice of a new home. The more excited the dance the more excited the scout is about the new spot.

These bees are so organized, and they all know what they are doing. Some kind of instinct, a program kicks in and they begin to perform new tasks.

These bees have to only know the hive they are from. They were larvae there, and they did their bee work their whole lives.

Then, one day, something happens. A trigger is pulled and everything changes.

Even though they haven’t done it before, even if inside the bee is freaking out, they still know exactly what to do.

I watched these bees gather in a two foot long pile on a branch of my Nandina bush. I’d never seen bees do that before. Some single bees broke off to fly on an errand, so the pile was wriggling a little bit. The bees clung together in this new environment.

It was strange and eerie. They did not sting me, but I still had small phantom itches and pricks on my skin as I watched them.

All of the bees had a role to play. How did they know?

It made me think of intuition, and striking out into the unknown. Those bees didn’t know what they were doing, they didn’t know what was going to happen for sure.

Maybe some of them believed the enthusiastic scout bee, maybe they were convinced by her dance showing how great the new spot would be.

Maybe some of them didn’t buy it at all.

Still, when the time came they flew away. And when they flew, they protected the queen.
At night, when it was cold, that long swarm shortened up. They huddled much more tightly, because they were out in the open air at night. It was cold, and they wanted to protect the queen and be warm.

I went and looked at them in the early morning. They were very very still, none of the single bees flying away.

The bees were sleeping.

It’s not easy to move to a new place. How different are bees and people? Someone may come up with a story about how great a new place is, and then some people will break off and go to live there.

Nobody knows really what it will be like once you get there.

The bees stayed on our bush for a little less than a day. I wanted them to live, but not in our bush. Maybe they figured it out. In any case, they flew away in a swarm while I was napping. My husband and daughter saw it.

They left behind some hexagons. That’s what bees do. They make combs. I can imagine that some of the bees were deciding if this particular branch was going to be the final home, and others of the bees didn’t care, they were bees. Bees make combs.

So leaves and berries were holding wax, because these bees were not uncertain.

Wherever they were, no matter what they were bees and bees do what bees do.

I like to think that is a reason to trust the unknown. I may not know what is happening out there, when I’m moving into an area I don’t know.

That’s no reason to do nothing. I still gotta do what I know I gotta do. I’m inspired by my bee visitors. The bee scout danced her dance to find a new home. The worker bees worked and made wax combs, even if both of those were ignored in the end.

Wasting effort wasn’t a problem. The bigger problem would be giving up and doing nothing.

Generations at work

My dad tells me that when he was in community college his professor the students was a rare and special because they were attending college: less than 5% of people had the advantage of a college education.

Except it wasn’t true anymore, and hadn’t been true since the 1940s. After World War II, the U.S. created the GI bill to pay for returning soldiers to go to college. My dad’s out-of-step professor had already been teaching these veterans for decades and hadn’t quite noticed that the world around him had changed.

When I graduated from high school, I assumed I’d be going to college. I’d held several entry-level jobs, and I knew I needed a leg up to do something better. I fixed my class schedule so I could work as many shifts at my job as I could. It took a long time, but I never had to take a loan for my education.

Which makes me part of a bygone era. Millennials didn’t have the option of debt-free education. Education costs skyrocketed, and jobs for inexperienced young people had almost disappeared. Then again, loans were easier and easier get. The result is the best educated generation in America.

This Whitehouse report shows 47% of Millennials have a college degree. Jobs were scarce and loans were easy, so people borrowed more money and had fewer jobs. My Gen X friends stacked roommates up in tiny cheap apartments, or couch surfed around in their 20s. The next set of 20 year olds lived at home with their parents in greater numbers and for longer. The parents of Millennials generally supported the focus on education to the exclusion of job experience.

That doesn’t last forever, though. The time would come, and is now at hand, when students would become professionals.

And the classroom is different from a job.

Our educational system is based on science method. Even the non-scientific fields use this basic foundation.

Thomas Kuhn, in one of my favorite life altering books, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, says this:

“science…is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like”

Put another way science is based on accepted forms of knowledge and the mutual agreement that some answers are right and some are wrong. Everyone agrees those are the rules.

It’s their paradigm. And universities are incentivized to help their students succeed. Professors have office hours and they craft their curriculum with assignments that are achievable. Successful students mean a successful university.

Jobs have a different paradigm.

Some bosses make time for you. Many do not. And even the good ones have other people above them in the organization chart that they have to appease.

My experience as a professional has shown me again and again that businesses consider human resources chess pieces to play how they will. Growing, reducing, staffing up or reorganizing down, that’s just business.

Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you.

So how is that going to fit into the worldview of Millennials? As adult children raised in an age of helicopter parenting and over-education, how are they going to fit in with the heartless corporate environment of the job market?

Highly educated and ambitious Millennials have a new sort of world to conquer when it comes to business.

It’s a new century–not even that new anymore. The twenty-somethings are all plugged into a new paradigm. The rest of us know it’s new, but maybe the Millennials don’t because it’s the air they breathe.

The talk at the water cooler is that Millennials in the workplace seem needy and require more feedback. Managers have little patience for it.

Then again. Would it be so bad to change the corporate culture of America to be more focused on the individual worker?

No doubt there will be some uncomfortable adjustments. Tapping the shoulder of an intimidating boss was more than I was willing to do when I started my career. I hadn’t had a history of positive responses to my suggestions.

Millenials have, so perhaps they can be emboldened to raise the issues to negotiate a better work environment. That same White House report show that Millennials are more interested in creative work environments than previous generations. Creativity, flexibility and room for friends and family.

This is an age of entreprenuerial efforts as well. If this generation is burdened with debt, they are also compensated with the widened horizons of the digital age. From the get-go, they know they are not stuck.

New entrants into the job market, with aspirations to start careers, are carrying a lot of freight. Debt and the oppressive climate of the Great Recession are non-trivial.

There are still way more reasons to be hopeful than grim.

We haven’t begun to tap the potential of collaborative problem-solving the digital age presents us with. And businesses need the Millennials more than the Millennials need those jobs. The future always seems to sneak up on us when we are doing something else, and the highly-educated, tech-savvy Millennials are the present and the future.

I better go get my shades.

Boss of Me

I was raise to respect authority. There was a strong message that authority is God’s way of talking to us, and that if I were to listen to what the people in charge of me I would be following God’s will.

I believed it, like you do when you’re a kid. I maybe believed it more than other kids might have. I had friends who would sneak and do what suited them, but I was convinced that I would be better off somehow—happier or more blessed—by staying obedient.

Then of course there was the hellfire.

But I believed in the carrot, not the stick. It was about loving God to stay inside the confines of what I was told to do.

I did break free, I did learn to disbelieve in the direct line of continuity of God through human authority figures.

In principle.

In reality, I still give in to this temptation in a thousand ways.

“I’m just obeying orders.”

“Well, he probably knows something I don’t”

“He’s the boss.”

It’s easy to cower and stay put. Mice are very good at that, and look how well they’re doing.

I guess.

One place I am not at all willing to cower and delay about is for my daughter. If I see she needs something and someone else disagrees, then we disagree.

When she was three, I made a mistake of taking someone else’s advice. She was getting ready to do her preschool Christmas carol show, and I was fawning and fussing over her outfit. She was crying because she was nervous.

She was so little! Her teacher shooed me out, telling me she would stop crying as soon as I left.

My baby girl got up on stage and Full on Sobbed her way through the performance. The Show Must Go On, even though she was overcome.

I was past overcome. I should never have listened to that teacher! I knew what my daughter needed, and it really WAS me.

If I can know it for my daughter, I can know it for me too. There’s always somebody ready to tell me that they have a better way.

One Weird Tip

5 Things to Never Do Again

The voices of “I know better than you” are proliferating.

I wasn’t put on this earth to be like anybody else. I’d kind of like to believe that all my dreams would come true if I just followed one weird tip. Or that I could lay down the burden of uncertainty and responsibility by handing over my life to someone else.

It feels easy to give up like that.

But it’s not what I want. And even if I make a mess of it and make other people uncomfortable, I am the one who does me the best.

I can do me.

Like a boss.

daylight savings monday

When the british isles were becoming industrialized, the factories had to take people who had been serfs and fit them into the time schedule of a factory.

You might thing that people would come late all the time. But these people had been plugged into the rythm of the season. They went to work when the sun woke up.

So, yes, in the winter they were late. BUt in the summer they were early.

Yes, this is a post about daylight savings.

It’s pretty common to human history to alter our natural impulses for some perceived benefit.

People have fasted to get wisdom, which is a very big alteration of the natural order.

Tattoos are experiencing a resurgence. That’s a body modification.

We all get persuaded that it’s a great idea.

It’s natural in another way. It seems to be a human trait, to strive for something greater, something over the horizon, that is better.

So we endure discomfort, pain and misery to see if it will lead to something better.

Some people say it will. Maybe thinking makes it so.

5 annoying tips

I had listened to one webinar too many, it seems.This one was giving advice on how to shorten the content to grab your audience’s attention.

Attention span and competition are inversely proportionate it seems.

I am thinking about Anna Akhmatova.

She was a Russian poet, oppressed by the Soviets. Her works were hand-copied, and passed between eager readers. Eventually to save the life of her son, she was forced to write a poem in praise of the Soviets.

I want to weep when I compare this to the shrinking world of words.

How did the dias of literary royalty get filled with Oprah’s book club authors?

Elizabeth Gilbert, that champion of the international yoga pants brigade, is passed around now?

what is left?


there are webinars on those too.

I think i hate everything right now.



Take the Road

I had this idea for a project, a thing to do. I was all excited about it, and I wanted to try adding video and a whole ebook on the side.
I started, and it was even better than I thought. I organized my idea, and had such a big epiphany while doing THAT I veered off and played with the epiphany for a good long while.

Man, this was good stuff!

Then I reached an impasse with the epiphany, and wanted to take it further. I was brainstorming about what the right medium I could use.

And I remembered my original idea. It seemed small and unimportant now. Hadn’t I outgrown it?

But then again…

Just starting the project idea led to an awesome epiphany.

When it comes to creativity…

When it comes to ideas…

When it comes to art..

There is nothing like getting my hands in the mud, up to the elbows in all the chaos.

I’ve talked before about the lure of the road not taken. The moment the choice is made, all other choices are excluded.

While I am deciding to do something, I could do anything!

Once I make my choice, then I am doing only that thing.

Of course, if I never take a step, all the anything I could be doing amounts to a big pile of nothing.

The lure of being able to do anything is strong. The only thing that is stronger is the fear of doing nothing.

No doubt whatsoever that in a world where all possibilities exist I could find something better to do with my time than the thing that is right in front of me. That’s why it takes courage to create, and something even greater to complete the creation.


I had to give Veronica some help with the ten’s place this weekend.

I don’t think the common core way of presenting the ten’s place works at all.

I asked her, “Veronica, you know about the ten’s place, right?”

I’d seen her homework. Ten’s place was all over.

Her reply “Mommy, that doens’t have anything to do with addition or subtraction. It’ s only lines of blocks.”

OH boy.

So, I went over how to carry the one, and then a couple days later, how to borrow.

She was Very Sure that all this was unecessary. She absolutely knew how to figure out 20-13.

Then she did. She got it right. and the next few problems I gave her.

She was sure I was an idiot and making her life unnecessarily hard.

So I gave her

22- 13

That she couldn’t  figure out. And she saw the power of borrowing the ten.

The concept was never the problem. The neccessity was.

I remembered arguing with my mom in a similar  way.

She and I are alike, quite a bit. I don’t think my mom had as much of a stubborness with teachers as I did.

But I can see exactly what she’s arguing against. I think I’ll need to make sure to double down on the extra lessons at home.

she likes math.she was shocked to learn that i use math at work.

I should see what she makes of binary.

Marketing and coffee hour

Cross posted on YO ROCKO

“Coffee is for closers.”

In the famous line from Glenngarry Glen Ross, Alex Baldwin encapsulates the cutthroat world of sales. These desperate salesmen will do anything for leads, to get a sale. All the emotional manipulation and fact fudging is fair game when trying to get that sale.

Salespeople are not trusted, not those kinds of salespeople. But everywhere I turn I see advertisements on how to do the RIGHT kind of sales and marketing.

I have something to market and sell. I have my blog, and last year I published by fourth book. I’m so proud of it! The Russian American School of Tomorrow  is beautiful and brilliant, and I want to get it in front of readers.

But not like THAT, not with bait-and-switch slimy methods. There has to be a better way.

I found this free course online from Hubspot, an online marketing company, called “Inbound Certification.”

I didn’t even know what it meant, but I wanted to learn more about marketing and it was free. I have to say, it was really useful. Not hard, and it shed some light on the spam emails I keep getting. These “free ebook” offers and, “sign up for my mailing list of free tips on X” have a strategy in mind.

There is a revolution well underway, to leave behind that hard sell “Coffee is for closers!” culture. “Inbound Sales” means people come to you, because you draw them into your sphere by providing some value (a free guide, perhaps) or some service that the potential customer wants.

Inbound sales requires that the sales and marketing team know the life and story of the customers as they come looking for what the team is offering. They call it the “buyer’s journey”, and the goal is to provide the right sort of message, service and value at the different moments in the journey.

Each step matters, and it is expected that some customers—no, RELATIONSHIPS– will slip away and that a certain percentage will become paying customers.

Retaining customers is just as important as getting new ones, so the team pays attention to delighting the buyers even after they “close.”

This is all fascinating as I work to expand my audience and create relationships on social media and in real life for my messages.

Coffee is not just for closers.

All through these classes, I couldn’t help but think…Service and value and church words.

Relationships are the whole point when it comes to a worshipping community.

And when it comes to coffee, at church the coffee is always for everybody.

I look at how things have changed in the last decade, and some people have not kept up.

I still get offers for a free weekend in Vegas if I come listen to a presentation about a fabulous time share opportunity. It’s like a time capsule.

And for church–

I would like for the church to understand the value we have. Of COURSE we have inbound relationships all the time.

This way of understanding the journey–and what message and service is required at different steps along the way–is Christianity’s specialty. It’s okay to remember that, and not get buried under the committees and session meetings.

In this post-Christendom world, did the wider world just co-opt what we’ve had all along?

Foul Mood Revisited


I already talked about how comfort is getting scarcer. My home is under attack, AKA being remodelled. It makes me think about the 3rd amendment in the Bill of Rights. That refers to not letting soldiers take over the residences of citizens willy-nilly.

I definitely feel under attack. I know it’s my own fault, because I paid this army of electricians, carpenters and contractors to invade and demolish my house.

I still don’t have to like it.

Every surface and object I see I see, inside and out, seems to need a series of tasks performed with or to it. It needs to be moved, then cleaned under, around, and near it. Then it needs to be put back, and in every case the place it needs to be located needs it’s own bullet point of tasks completed in order to be properly dealt with.

It’s exhausting, and I can’t even find a way to make a cup of tea.

I went outside to take out the trash, and was weaving my way between empty boxes and half-ful paint cans when I saw it. I gasped.



That, my friends, is a hyacinth. It’s a sturdy little bulb that I planted nearly ten years ago and left to its own devices.

Every year since those hyacinths have popped up and sprouted when the weather turns warm. They are beautiful and smell so sweet. One stalk can fill my house with an intoxicating scent.

For the last ten years I have lived on their bounty, reaping sweetness and beauty again and again from the smallest effort of planting the bulb.

When I found that blossom behind a stack of open boxes I remembered. Yes, some things in life require so much effort to get the reward. Every surface in my house is requiring effort right now.

And there are still things that are straight up gifts. The sky in the morning. The hyacinth that does not forget to blossom even when I have forgotten it.

Blessings and miracles happen whether I am grumpy or not. And since I am in such a foul mood, it is particularly sweet.