Back to school is in the air, and even those of us beyond school age are feeling some kind of anticipation and expectation. We can put some of the blame on the media and advertising that seem to begin their “back to school” campaigns the day that school gets out in June. Add to this for me the many years in the education system as a teacher, an educator and a Mom. Most of all the feelings come from the memories of all those years as a student. I am sure that this is the case for many people.
I remember clearly those last days of summer vacation. There was a rush to enjoy those last days, to work hard at being lazy; to try to do those silly fun things that you said you were going to do in the summer. There was a bit of sadness as the evenings and mornings got cooler and the chances for going to “camp”, the beach or just to play diminished. My healthy, happy-go-lucky, playful little summer self was headed for change. School, routine and fall were on their way.
What a mixture of feelings that brought! I liked school, but…!
Anticipation and expectation: What class or classes would I be in? Who would be the teacher? What will I learn? Can I work hard and do really, really well this year? Can’t wait to see all of the kids again…but will they like me? Who will I play with? I promise to be on time every day.
Anticipation, expectation … and fear! It was a lot to handle and it really threw me off balance. Those first few weeks of September were really hard.
Years later, as an educator and parent, I remembered those feelings and tried to alleviate some of them for my students and my children. I realize that going through changes and feelings like this are necessary and help to build flexible and ambitious adults. I also realize that when children and students are supported, listened to and accepted during this time of change they learn more than just being flexible and ambitious. They learn how to be healthy and happy with themselves and where they are moving to in their life.

For me, I decided to use this ingrained feeling of anticipation and expectation. I take this time to stock up on books, pens, paints, office and school supplies (great prices at this time of year!) I rearrange/organize my desk, office space, work areas. I consider which creative ideas I am ready to pursue (and which ones from the past that I choose to finish or give up!) I listen to my inner voice and get ideas for classes and workshops to give as an educator and guide, and to take for my personal benefit. It is the beginning of the New Year for my education that never stops, my blossoming creativity, and above all my ever-opening intuition.
©Linda Zeppa

Commit to the Cubicle

Cubical LifeThis past weekend, I saw a friend whose son was graduating from college.   As we laughed about the empty nest he was about to experience our conversation circled back to our work and now the newly found job of his son.  I asked him how his son was handling the transition from college life to the nine-to-five world of work.  He said his son hated it.  He then laughed and commented on how his son is now a younger version of himself.  How he dressed and had to get up every day and go to work.  He then said something I’ll probably never forget.  He said, “Yeah, he’s just not ready to “commit to the cubicle”.  What!?!  His son is a gifted athlete and snowboarder.  I mean practically an Olympic level instructor type.  He spent every second of his free time on Mt. Baker between classes while at Western Washington University studying for his degree and has also appeared in a few snowboard promotional video commercials.  So you can imagine my heart sinking when I heard his father say this.   Especially with me on the heels of finishing my soon to be published book “The Art of Working for Yourself”.

All I could imagine was a scene from National Geographic in my head as they chased down this young lion that was about to be tagged and released for observation.  First, the lion struggles after it’s been hit by the tranquilizer dart.  Then they pet him to keep him calm, so he won’t wake up and eat them alive as they slip the transmitter collar around his little neck. Before the lion realizes what hit him, he wakes up and realizes that he’s got this thing now wrapped around his neck.   I know this is a bit dramatic, but I had to ask myself the question… “Did this happen to me?  Did I get tagged and “commit to the cubicle?”  When did I give in and what type of tranquilizer dart did they use on me?

Knowing what I know now, I think back to when I was younger and wiser and believed I could do anything.  I couldn’t quite remember how I fell for the Jedi mind trick and committed to the cubicle.  I’m sure it happened slowly at the guidance of our beloved media, teachers, friends and family; somehow I was trained away from my true essence.  As for my friend’s son, my lament for him is that most of us who “commit to the cubical” never leave it and we will begin to look at the cubicle as the best thing we will ever accomplish. Our wants and desires will take a back seat to day to day existence.  Sure there will be promotions and awards that reinforce our role as the cog in the wheel.  But, I wonder whose greater good this is serving?  Does committing to the cubicle mean we are not working for ourselves?

I believe the way we live and work is about to undergo a radical shift and it will be those who can’t and won’t commit to the cubicle who will show us the way.  They will live and work in a way that is more fulfilling to who they are and how they live (even when they work for someone else).  I’ll leave you to answer this for yourself.  Can you “commit to the cubicle” and still embrace the “Art of Working for Yourself”?  If so, how do you do it?  If not, then why not?

Read Gerald’s blog @ The Twelfth Power

Scary…out of comfort zone…

My philosophy as an educator and parent has always been this: “Don’t be a sage on the stage. Be a guide on the side.”

So now as a writer, author, and educator with my own business, I am in a quandary. My book “The Red Glass Ball” is published and ready to be out there. The hardest part is getting it out there – marketing. How do I get it out there without being full of myself or seeming like I am full of myself? I am a person who does not like to be on the stage. I hang back and think that if someone needs/wants me, they will find me. I can put myself out there in small doses. But with a book published, the knowledge that what I do can help others, and the need to manifest, I have to put myself out there. Eeeewwwwwww! Scary! Totally out of my comfort zone.

Is it possible to be a guide on the stage and a sage on the side? Stay tuned…

The actual hand-held book The Red Glass Ball: Touching Lives Through History is available now in select book stores in the Seattle area and on Amazon. It will be available elsewhere and in other formats soon.



There is so much in the news these days about Education. It came up three times this week in conversations with different people. I take that as a sign that I need to write and put my thoughts out there on this.
Our school systems over the last several years have become places to develop academically. Children are tested, taught skills, retested, re-taught, assessed. They are constantly being judged and measured on skill levels that are set out by academic programs. It has become the basis of their success (and failure) in education.
There is so much more to a child (and any person for that matter) than his/her academic/intellectual makeup. Education and development of a person goes well beyond Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. There are the physical, the social, the mental, the spiritual parts that exist as well. And these parts are not separate. They blend together, in different ways and degrees of importance to make a person, each area affecting how and where we are in any of the other areas. They exist and are melded together in each individual, each child of any age.
The “spiritual” part that I mention above does not mean religious. By spiritual I mean the core, the inner essence and natural being of each person. Each is different; each is unique; each is on his/her own life path.
Education for me is developing on this life path. It is unique to each individual and it never stops. It is important in childhood because children are dependant on others to assist them and guide them. They have needs that must be met as they grow and develop, especially in the physical area. At the same time, all other areas must be honored as well.
Somewhere along the way, formal education has become unbalanced. I am not saying that intellectual development is not important. I am saying that it should not have the highest priority that it has garnered in our society today. Children spend a huge portion of their waking hours in school, with the main focus being their academic development. Some physical development is allowed (phys ed and recess) and some social is there by nature of being in groups. But there needs to be more,
I can sit here and blame and judge. I can lay fault on “No Child’s Behind Left”, our technological society, financial demands on people, the changing idea of family and so on and so on. The fact is that somewhere along the way our school systems have fallen into a commercial form, where assessment and accountability and cost have taken over. The easiest area to look for these is the academic area, so that is the area that has taken attention and importance. It is difficult to assess physical, emotional, social and spiritual on paper. It is difficult to allow for the unique ways of each individual spirit.
For me, the ultimate goal of education is to assist in developing a healthy happy grown individual, manifesting and continuing to develop on their own. They are valued and value themselves as individuals and are able to happily function in society and move forward on their life path. This path and the process sre different for each; the final assessment lies in each individual. This is not something that our school systems can do alone; it is not something that a parent, teacher, mentor can do alone. And it is something that each unique individual must have input into, no matter what his or her age.
We need a huge change. We need to stop thinking of education in terms of dollars and cents, money spent, budget cuts and costs, and how our children are doing on tests. We need to see it as development of our most precious resource, our children and ultimately, each one of us.
Linda Z

Learning from children…MLK…acceptance

In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday, I want to share a story…an experience that I had many years ago that l think about every year at this time.
I was teaching Junior Kindergarten, a classroom of 24 four year olds. The class consisted of one black child, one of mixed race, several of Vietnamese and Chinese heritage and the rest white. The program allowed for long periods of play (which is children’s work) and choice.
Deryk (the only black child) and Amy were sitting across from each other at the craft/writing table. Amy was busy “writing” on a piece of paper. Deryk was cutting a piece of paper into a pile of strips. Amy looked up at Deryk and studied him for a few minutes. Then out of her mouth popped “Look at your eyes!”
I stifled my laughter as Deryk’s eyes did all kinds of funny things as he tried to see them!
“Whaaat?” he asked curiously. “I can’t see them.”
“They’re brown,” Amy stated emphatically. “You are brown like a potato all over.”
“Yeah,” said Deryk, getting back to his cutting.
“So what color are my eyes?” asked Amy.
Deryk looked closely at her. A big grin crossed his face. “Hey they’re brown too!”
Several minute of giggling followed. Then Amy grabbed her paper and pencil and got up. “Let’s go see if the other kids have brown eyes.” And off they went, carefully looking into the eyes of their classmates.
I was distracted for a few minutes with a minor emergency in the room. When I returned to Amy and Deryk they were in the building center with several other children. Amy’s paper and pencil were on the floor forgotten. “Amy,” I said, showing her the paper with little squiggly marks on it. “How did it go?”
“Lots-a brown eyes Mrs. Z,” she reported as she kept on building.
I held up the paper again. “Do you want to finish this or put it in your cubby?”
“Nah,” she answered. “It’s not important anymore. Me and Deryk are busy.”
I was amazed and continue to be amazed at the understanding of children. There is so much for us to learn from them. In that classroom there was a natural acceptance of everyone and everything.
Except from two mothers! One asked that I not allow her son to play in the house anymore and especially not wearing the apron. (“After all, we don’t want him to turn out to be that sort of boy, do we?”) The other mother asked that I keep her daughter away from the sandbox. (“It really dirties her dresses. Besides, it’s not the type of training that a little girl needs anyway.”) You can imagine what I had to say about that…although I was very diplomatic in those days! Just had to add this last paragraph in honor of Betty White’s birthday. Sure is lots to celebrate this week!


I have to make a comment in regards to the current protestors in Olympia at the Capitol Building supporting the tax increase because they don’t want to give up their health care insurance and money for school programs.

#1 Gregoire and her cabinet continue to lie to the public in regards to the revenue tax increase.  It seems that there are plenty of gripes from our state leaders that the tax revenues are down and we have to make cuts to education, yet it has been said they have more money than they expected?   I do believe that sales tax revenues are down since I am a business owner and gee, I am not taking on as much business as I use, hence, I am not collecting as much sales tax, duh!  I have to say my other bills (ie electric, gas, phone, etc) continue to rise, so do the taxes we pay on those bills, right?

I have heard this same argument for as long as I have been a registered voter, a long time and I have never heard that we had all this extra money to put into the schools.  I have always heard if we don’t raise taxes, education will suffer and the public buys into this crap. Raising taxes isn’t the answer, if it were, it would have been solved years ago. 

The truth is that our government at all levels spends more than they collect and they are the worst when it comes to managing the public’s tax money they collect.   They spend millions on introducing hundreds of new bills that serves nobody that I know.  I don’t think a bill ever gets removed.

I wish I could go to my customers and say gee, I have to charge you more and provide you less because I was such a poor manager of your money that I can only paint three sides of your house for the same price since I spent the rest of your money on my salary so I could spend more of your money on things I want.

What happened to every tax increase over the past couple of decades that were suppose to go to Education?   Thank goodness for citizens who recognize the importance of educating our youth. Because of them, voters approved 39.7 percent of property taxes through school levies and bonds. Other voter approved increases include levy lid lifts for fire districts and other junior taxing districts, and funding for emergency medical services.  This was up 1.1 percent from 38.6 percent of property taxes due in 2010.

Let’s take a look at where the revenues from property taxes goes :
• K-12 schools receive 54.9 percent of property taxes – $5.0 billion – through the state school levy and voter-approved local levies and bonds.

• Counties receive 16.2 percent or $1.5 billion of the total.
• Cities get 13.2 percent or $1.2 billion.

What has this special session cost us tax payers?  The results are suppose to be for budget cuts that should have been cut years ago when Gregoire promised in her 2004 campaign.  “Gregoire highlighted parts of her sweeping promises, saying she is the only candidate with comprehensive plans for health care, business growth and education. “I have a goal, I have a vision, and I have a track record of getting things done,” she said. Seattle PI

On education, she wasn’t able to offer any specific plan for ensuring funding to reduce school class sizes, although she supported spending increases already approved by voters. “Gregoire said she would vote against a measure on November’s ballot to boost the state sales tax to fund educational improvements and Gregoire’s comment in her 2004 campaign was that the sales tax puts its heaviest burden on the poor.  Seattle PI.

I might just get my sign and head down to Olympia myself since Gregorie’s promise in 2008 was again not to increase taxes, promised to reduce the state budget and increase jobs.   She lied to the public again to get re-elected.  The only saving grace in all of this is that Gregoire says she isn’t planning to run for a third term, (I hope it’s true) yet this could be just another lie.