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.

A Competitive Edge

When I was in fourth grade, I was in an elite group of students. Louis Vela, Michael Tibitts (the Boy Scout), Egghead (sorry Egghead, I forgot your name), and myself. We were a special group of independent students blended into a class. We were always challenging each other competitively and we were tops in every subject, even in music. That’s probably why we also joined the choir.

"Courtyard Bananas", Lilibeth Andre, oil, 16x12

“Courtyard Bananas”, Lilibeth Andre, oil, 16×12

To challenge myself at lunch, I joined kitchen duty in the cafeteria. I don’t recall why since I didn’t know anyone in the kitchen but when they asked, I volunteered. There were even moms who volunteered so to volunteer seemed like an interesting idea. I could leave class a few minutes early and work during lunch break. How much hopscotch, tetherball, and four-square can you have before just mingling around. Kitchen duty seemed fun and privileged.

Kitchen duty offered me all kinds of different learning opportunities. That’s how I first learned about Tom Jones’ effect on the ladies. I had never heard that type of conversation from my mom when talking about Tom Jones. I learned pretty cool efficiency tips when handling the operational side of the kitchen as well as health requirements for using hair nets and gloves.

There were other things that I learned through kitchen duty.

I became friends with Andrea. Andrea was a black girl with a fun sense of humor but her unique characteristic was that she was blind. Andrea was in another class so even though I had seen  her at school, we never had the opportunity to get to know each other. She would come in for lunch and stay way after everyone ran off to the playground so we could talk while I was wiping down tables with the clean-up crew.

Around the time I got to know Andrea I was also a big fan of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. I liked their can-do attitude.

"Crepe Myrtles in Glass", Lilibeth Andre, oil, 16x12

“Crepe Myrtles in Glass”, Lilibeth Andre, oil, 16×12

That’s how I came up with other ways to challenge myself. I learned to lip read and what I’ll call body-read. I was able to distinguish people from very far away, just by their body language. I used to impress my friends with that. Lip reading was fun too. I used to use it when driving in the car with my parents eaves-dropping on conversations in adjacent cars at traffic stops or anywhere I went. But the most daring challenge to me was to ask myself if I could walk to school with my eyes closed, just as if I were blind.

I planned my trip to where I only needed to cross one street to get to school. Once there I could open my eyes. I figured if Andrea could do it, so could I. Of course, I had no idea how Andrea got to school but I figured it was a challenge worth taking, and no, I did not tell my mother.

At the time I was also training myself to be as quiet as a Native American hunter walking in the woods and leaving no mark, making no sound. I was also training myself to dress in the dark, faster and faster every time, in case I were ever to become a fireman so learning to be blind was not off by much. I never had an incident and I did gain the development of a higher tuning of my senses and sensibilities. And it probably gave me a competitive edge against Louis, Michael, and Egghead.



Interview with Lenna Groudan

Here is an interview with Lenna Groudan. Lenna is one of our guest speakers. She’ll be presenting at the Natural Health & Wellness Workshop, on March 7. Her session is called, “Natural Beauty”. She will talk about natural cosmetics and provide a hands-on experience. If you want to join us for this session, register and choose the March 7 session.

Lenna Groudan presents, "Natural Beauty", on March 7.

Lenna Groudan presents, “Natural Beauty”, on March 7.

LA: Why are natural practices important to you?

LG: I was born and raised in Venezuela. My exposure to a holistic approach to health and natural healing started at an early age. I grew up very close to my maternal grandmother “Abuelita” who lived her life following a very holistic and spiritual approach. I went back to my holistic roots after having issues conceiving and trying traditional medicine without success. I did three months of acupuncture and was able to get pregnant naturally. I always tell my kids that they are miracle babies.

I have a great passion for living healthy, for learning and for helping people. Following my passions, I took my passion for more natural healing to the next level by keeping not only the body but also the mind and the soul in balance – as a whole. I decided to make this pursuit my calling. Since then, I have taken many classes and have received a number of certificates in order to learn more about how to help myself, my family, my friends and my clients reestablish and retain their overall health and well-being through a more natural/holistic approach.

Living a healthy life is very important to me and my family and using natural/holistic modalities is our preferred approach to achieve this.

LA: Why did you choose your practice(s) and what is your focus?

LG: The last few years I have learned and worked with different holistic natural pursuits until I realized that creating and making our own bath and body products with my kids and husband was so much fun that I needed to share it with the world. Teaching my kids about healthy living and creating awareness at such an early age to make healthy choices for their bodies is one part of my focus. The other part is to help educate moms and kids by making natural, organic, fun products to create that awareness as well. Listening to my 6 years old talking about healthy food and products is just a confirmation of this focus and effort.

Living a healthy life is not only about eating healthy food and exercising but also putting healthy products in… and on your body. If you do not put it in your mouth, do not put it on your skin. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, therefore, anything you put on it gets into your bloodstream very quickly… for good or bad. More and more, we see people with skin issues that can be relieved with natural products, if they know about these natural choices. We want to be knowledgeable and mindful of the choices we make.

LA: What can people expect from your workshop?

LG: My workshops are educational, dynamic, and most of all…fun. Time goes fast when you are having fun learning how and why to make your own body products with just natural, organic ingredients. Most of the ingredients we use are eatable, very surprising.

LA: How should people prepare for your workshop?

LG: Come ready to have fun and to learn more about how to use natural, organic ingredients to make your bath and body products. I encourage attendees to think about what health issues they, or their families may be having that could be related to, or relieved by their skincare regimen. Please also think about any questions you may have regarding specific ingredients they should look for or avoid.


Join us on March 7, for Lenna’s session.

Life-long Learning, an Ongoing Adventure

I am completing a Chemistry of Man course. I’m hurrying to finish because the next course is as exciting as a wrapped present in front of me, it is on Bach Flower Remedies. I am just over the half-way mark of a natural healing program I’ve been working on for about two years now.

Natural healing was a path that called me when I was in college. I began to practice what I call my prescribed new life-style plan to regain my health. I didn’t understand everything specifically so I began to study enough to understand what I was doing and why. After I got married I was excited when my husband, who was a traditionally meat-eating kind of guy said he’d like to join my natural ways. It was a fun and exciting time because we used to just have a blast in everything we did, especially in the kitchen. So good eating, healthy shopping and natural living and healing practices gave us an intuitive health maintenance program that worked.

It seemed natural that I would be drawn to enroll in a formal program that taught many of the things I learned on my own in a more thorough manner and in a self-study program I could pick up in my free-time.

I’ve always been interested in life-long learning, personal development and self-study. I’m disciplined enough that I can stick with something and get it done. Five years ago I took a basic course in German. It was fun to see that my instincts would kick in to respond in French. I learned French as a teenager but never practiced it much after that so I was surprised to see that the language was still stored in the back of my mind, so I got the French course after that. And as I always enjoy a good challenge, I decided that afterwards I would take a course in Mandarin. Then my Chinese friends started including me in their conversations. I would catch a few words now and then. Last year I opted for a course in Greek in preparation for my first visit to the islands. What I also learned is that languages are meant to be spoken or you lose your practice so practice is important.

Recreational learning has always been important to me and How-to books have been on my nightstand or in my carry-all bag as since my school days.

I have taken enough art training to have years of knowledge stored up and ready for practice so I focus on letting it out as much as I can now. I also have an extensive library of books and tapes for many a rainy day, and I do take a class or workshop every now and then just to keep it all current and exciting. It is fun to learn in a social setting as well–what I call a classroom.

I hope I continue to be curious about things enough to learn about new things. For now, it’s time to get back to my book.




More On Sustainability

The second thing that comes to mind when thinking about sustainability is immersion.

The point of immersion is education. Education is considered one of the most important aspects to implement a better understanding of sustainability. Education can be at different levels. Most believe that it should take place at school. The impressionable age can allow young students to adopt the understanding of sustainability and then take it home to further the education. There is also a need to educate service providers and business in order to begin to develop products and processes that adopt a wholistic understanding of sustainability from the raw materials to the processes, packaging, distribution, and waste. The complete life-cycle.

There is a cost to educate. Then, after the education, one would expect a conversion period that may begin through adption of one practice, and perhaps another would follow.

Immersion is different. Immersion creates a fully integrated environment that immediately modifies the actions and activities of everyone within the environment. An example could be a school.

The infrastructure is fully utilized and energy independent. It is off the grid for energy consumption but can supply others when necessary from its storage cells. The building is oriented to best adopt the natural features of its surroundings. It is not conditioned to create an artificial environment but fits into the natural environment it belongs to. It collects water, filters waste, generates alternative energy and reuses all materials to reduce waste to a minimum.

The design of the building creates for practical, integrated, and social learning. There are indoor and outdoor class environments. Learning progress is monitored and measured electronically so teachers can focus on those students who need it most while recognizing those who are striving as well. There is more engagement because learning takes place continously, without limitations, and it is a celebration.

The facility serves and engages the community as a learning and teaching site. It has 24/7 functionality. It includes a community garden that supplies fresh crops for its students, teachers, and neighbors giving opportuinites to learn self-sustaining practices of nutrition, gardening and kitchen duties.

Sustainability is not taught in this facility. It is practiced through immersion.



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