Is Free Education the Ticket to Happiness?

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I sure didn’t. I was trying to be the best right then and there: the best student, the best class president, the best safety patrol. I was happy chasing rainbows and there were certainly lots to chase. This was the late 60’s in northern California. I had lots of choices and I explored a lot. I did have a tendency to look to art and medicine but I was involved with school politics, sports, and of course, the three R’s. I signed myself up for summer school and loved to choose English, Math, P.E. and Arts for my summer companions. Learning was fun and I enjoyed it.

My parents never boxed me into anything. I could have been whatever I wanted to be and it was up to me.

What if everyone had that opportunity? What if everyone could get a free education in what area called to them?

I started working early to have some spending money. It was good experience. I did sales and office work. I tried babysitting but that was not my cup of tea. I worked my way through school, then got a super job and dropped school but later went back with lots of experience under my belt. I was fortunate that school was affordable. I continue to accrue experience through work and continue to educate myself. Now I also get to give back to share, mentor, and teach.

If everyone had a free education at every point in their life, I think that we would see more happy people from primary to advanced level education. We would experience the joy of learning. I think that if I wanted to be a carpenter, I could go to trade school and become the best carpenter I could be because the school would allow me to apprentice with the best tradesmen who were waiting to pass on their hard and long-earned skills to someone who loved the craft not just someone who couldn’t get any other type of job.

I think that if later in my life I wanted to become an engineer or an industrial designer, a writer, or an inventor, I should be able to go and pursue that education and become the best in the field that I could be.

Dawn by the pond

Lilibeth André, Dawn by the Pond, oil, 16×20. Sold.

What if I was suddenly retired after building widgets all my life? I think I may want to explore photography and be the best or perhaps I may want to be a lab tech or a chef. I should be able to go to school and become the best I could be. Even if I just wanted to be a fisherman out on the lake. I would be a happy fisherman.

What if I was gifted and talented in science or technology? I should be able to get the best guidance counseling and optimize my learning to the best of my abilities throughout my lifetime so that I would be able to contribute to science and advance research and progress.

What ever I chose to do, I should be able to go back to school and hone my skills or acquire new ones through continuing education, if that is what I wanted to do.

Why? Because it would make me happy to pursue my calling, to gain the skills that would allow me to maximize my career when I wanted to do so. And in this pleasure for learning I would gladly give back through mentoring, teaching, or in practicing my skills and knowledge for the betterment of my community.

Free education would let me explore learning for fun and pleasure. It would open the door to giving back, self-fulfillment, and happiness.

Also read: the Future of Work-An Artist’s Perspective. Why we shouldn’t worry about robots and automation.

About The Lady Of The Turquoise Pendant

Tamal breakfast

Snow capped Popocatepetl

It was in the early 90’s that I wrote my version of the Aztec legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, the two volcanoes found in central Mexico. I did it to share part of my culture with my children. It was a story I grew up with. My version was a short story. I found that each version was a little different so I felt comfortable telling my own as I learned it over the years. The main format was that of a tragedy a la Romeo and Juliet but in an Aztec version.

While tinkering with the first version of the story I procrastinated getting it done until one day. My husband invited me to a tasty taco joint in Stafford, Texas and lo and behold, pinned to the wall was an illustration of a glorious Aztec warrior with a beautiful sleeping maiden in his arms. The caption had the legend written in about 8 lines. I took that as a sign that I should finish my story.

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant, by Lilibeth André

In 1999, I decided to turn the story into a novel and work on the manuscript began.  I finished it in 2002 and sent it out to a few publishing houses that I thought might be interested in the subject matter but I began to collect rejection letters. It was not something they were looking for at the time.

Time went on and every time Popocatepetl, a semi-dormant volcano, spewed steam and ash I took it as a sign that I needed to do something with the book. I began to have a strong feeling that I needed to share the book with more kids, not just my own. I felt that by sharing this story built on the background of research I conducted about the Aztec culture to believably place my story in a space and time, I could help Hispanic and Latino kids better understand where they came from and be proud of their rich culture.

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24x18

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24×18

So my mission became to use the book as a tool to generate curiosity about a native American culture we don’t read about in school. We may learn about the pyramids in Egypt but we don’t learn about what was one of the strongest cultures in the Americas.

My kids are grown now. I published The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant with my own illustrations and use it to help me share with Hispanics and non-Hispanics about the love I have for my culture and the things we have learned from the Aztecs. And maybe, the book can be a spark to generate curiosity to learn more about the Aztec contribution to the world through urbanism, agriculture, engineering, astronomy, calendars, culinary richness and so much more.

More about The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant:

Book Award

eBook Launch

Latina Book Club Interview



It’s Not Just About Walking, You Have To Talk Too

Ever since I remember, my modus operandi (MO) has been to give people the benefit of the doubt. At times, it has presented me as naive or gullible but allowing people to be as great as they want to be has always been a right I respect.

To enable this right, I have perhaps given more than I should have to facilitate their success. This has taken me on the path to learn a new lesson, the truth of: Walk the Talk.

I learned that I am a person that walks the walk.

How did I learn this? I learned this by realizing that there are people that talk the talk and they do it extremely well.

I see this a lot in the political and professional world. The talkers and the walkers are not always the same and this lends to an ease of disengaging with the ethics of walking the talk. However, my closest experience with talking the talk was when I suddenly came into a parenting role of an older child at a time when it was prime that I learn this lesson. The child was an expert at talking the talk. This led me to learn to define boundaries. I was open to the talk but I wanted to see results so I established my new truth. I said, “Don’t tell me, JUST DO IT!”

My point was and still is that a great amount of energy (if not cost)  is expelled telling about it and Just Do It, as we grew to know later, is always the final proof.

I have learned that walking the walk is a sin of humility but sure gets things done. It provides personal pleasure and great rewards in achievement, personal achievement. However, if our work is to be shared at any given point in time, then the talking part is key to facilitate how we or others leverage our walk.

Lilibeth Andre Walks the Talk

Lilibeth Andre Walks the Talk

About eight years ago I realized that I can set the walk, and talk the walk for others but was still haunted by the humility handicap of thinking that my walk would set me free. I realized that if I wanted to share the walk I was walking I needed to learn to talk too.

By talking, others become aware of your walk. Even though you may have a lifetime of walking the walk, that’s just the world we live in.

Another benefit of talking the walk is that you can find others who are of the same journey and follow an amazing path, and you can become enriched with sharing your walk and learning from theirs because, as we advance in our way, reinventing the wheel is not something we care to do much of so often.

So here I am as I learn more about talking my walk without sacrificing the time I prefer to walk my walk.

And you, what is your approach? Do you walk your talk?






My Year-end Recap

Lilibeth Andre, Yellow Frida, Oil, 16x12

Lilibeth Andre, Yellow Frida, Oil, 16×12

The 2013 year began for me with wonderful opportunities to share my creativity, and the momentum continued through the fall.

I applied my new art technique and created three portraits of Frida Kahlo for the 8th Annual Frida Festival 2013, at the East End Studio Gallery.

The Guiton St. Artists celebrated our open studios with a three-day festival in April. The closing event included live music by Jimmy Dan, and new art by me and my fellow artist neighbors to share with our growing amazing followers of classical and impressionist art. We so appreciate your support.

Lilibeth Andre, Twin Sisters Morning, oil, 12x16

Lilibeth Andre, Twin Sisters Morning, oil, 12×16

In June, I rejoined my artist friend Myrna Salaun and we returned to the First Saturday Arts Market in the Heights. The Market celebrates 10 years in 2014, and Myrna and I started way back then. Mitch Cohen has been a wonderful organizer and friend.

I was proud to be included in Second Nature, an exhibition of student works, part of Darra Keeton’s retrospective, In My Nature – Art and Science, at Rice University. The exhibition ran from May to September.

Lilibeth Andre, La Coleta, oil, 16x12

Lilibeth Andre, La Coleta, oil, 16×12

Fechas Patrias: A Celebration of Mexican Independence was a solo art exhibition at Talento Bilingue de Houston, in Houston’s East End. The show compiled a progressive trajectory of works over the last eight years to candidly present my artistic evolution beginning with works in colored pencil and including my most recent pieces from the Mexico Series.

In October I held my first workshop for writers to share my publishing experience. The concept for this workshop came from the questions I received during my summer book tour as an Author in the Stores for Kroger.

In the fall we celebrated our 7th Guiton St. Artists Fall Open Studios, and my 7th Anniversary in my studio. Live music was by Jeff Taebel, Janet Z, and recordings by Filip Blachnio. Original works were by my fellow artist neighbors and myself.

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant

The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant, by Lilibeth André

I celebrated my 7th year volunteering for Houston Via Colori with another 10×10 street painting. And although due to excruciating health circumstances I was not able to return the second day, I enjoyed the fantastic opportunity the Center for Hearing and Speech provides me as a local artist to share my work with thousands of visitors.

El Dia de la Cultura Salvadoreña offered me an opportunity to share my book as a presenter among an impressive program of Latino writers.

I was interviewed by the Latina Book Club, and I had the exciting opportunity to share The Lady of The Turquoise Pendant as a speaker for professional groups, and K-12 students sharing about the Aztecs, writing, art, and innovation.  

Tall boot shopping

Tall boot shopping

The year came to a close giving me the long-awaited opportunity to meet my goal to obtain certification as a Natural Health Professional, and completing my Naturopathic Doctor studies. I look forward to sharing this knowledge with you in the future as well.

I hope your Holidays are Merry and that you can capture your dreams in 2014.

With much appreciation, peace and love.

You can learn more about my work at

What Came First, People or Business?

Each element of our society has essential value and deserves the respect of being sustainable. In this manner, each individual will contribute positively knowing they are a valued element of the whole. They will be more susceptible and able to contribute to the overall outcome, and their own perveyance.

People are the most valuable asset. Without people we have no need for products or services.

In a recent Forbes article by Laura Shin, “Why McDonald’s Employee Budget Has Everyone Up In Arms”, Shin points out that the budgeting tool became a detonator to the open acknowledgement that minimum wage does not support a person. It was right there on the internet!

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10x8, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10×8, watercolor

This inability to make ends meet has been a long-known fact to anyone living on minimum wage or even without it. For example, one who has been in a position to know what it’s like to pay the bills with less money than is required can easily spot the fallacy of an attempt to support ones standard needs. In fact, the budgeting tool is clear to demonstrate that minimum wage doesn’t even support basic needs. And that is the whole point.

When we remove the ability people have to support themselves we take on a tremendous responsibility we are not well prepared to support. And when we bring someone on board requiring full-time (or more) attention from their life, we need to be able to give them what it takes to provide high quality attention.

What does high quality attention from an employee look like?

If I want to capture my employee’s high quality full attention, as a society, I want to be able to give him what he needs to be able to deliver that. Starting with the ability to have the peace of mind to be able to focus and providing the skills, knowledge and training that will allow him to maintain that optimum performance.

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11x8.5, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11×8.5, watercolor

What provides peace of mind? Not having to worry about borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. This compromise is never more prevalent than for a working parent. In order to work, one must allow for care of the kids. Minimum wage does not provide the means to afford care for our children that merits their value as the investment in our future–yours and mine–because we don’t know what that child will be able to achieve and we want him to be the most balanced and prepared he can be. Does that include allowing the parent(s) to be more involved in their life? Does that mean providing the time they will need to do that? Does it mean that their work and school schedules will mirror each other? Does it mean valuing parenting years to raise the pay of one working parent?

The high quality comes in the education and training. An education system that provides ongoing knowledge and training to meet the needs of the workers and the employers. The guarantee that it will be affordable because we recognize the value of an education and its relationship to the quality of life of all of us. If we don’t invest in providing top education and training to our children, what will our future look like if those who become our leaders and service providers are less prepared that we were when we started? Will we be providing the enrichment that the arts offers to expand creativity and innovation as well as our appreciation for our own culture and that of others?

This minimum wage awareness focuses on those who work for others but what about those who work for themselves? Are we providing the liberties and environment that fosters sustainability by someone who sets out to support themselves or provide a product or service to others? We must not clip the wings of people or take away their independence. We must honor people’s essential value and deserved respect to be sustainable.

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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.