Category Archives: Series

Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

27 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

Part one of “Rethinking Education” is a starting point meant to show you just some of what’s available online in terms of free educational opportunities.

This follow-up focuses on the planning and action phase, and one very important factor to consider is this: you need a new approach to getting and continuing your education, wherever you decide to take it.

  • You need a degree to get to the next level in your organization, but you’re already working full-time.
  • You need a degree, but you’re not sure which one would really help.
  • You have a degree, and it’s not paying off the way you thought it would, so you want to get another one.

A) Rethinking Education

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Einstein

Rethinking in this context is not to rehash, but to look at the issue from another level. Assuming you’ve gone through basic elementary schooling, however long ago, you have to understand that the way you learned things then is different from the way you’re expected to do things now. The old systems can’t handle the demands of the emergent new reality. You can’t exclusive rely on old methods of learning when you’re expected to adapt to the changes facing you now.

Many brick-and-mortar schools are accused of inflating the employment rate of their graduates to attract more students. Online schools, on the other hand, still have to battle the image of being diploma mills, studying “online” not being seen as serious as “actually going to college.” Education is in a slow state of flux, and while it’s changing, we still have to figure out what we want to learn while the old rules are breaking down. Continue reading Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education)

20 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

We’re all going through some really hard times right now. What with the current economy and the job market being flooded, it’s hit and-and-miss-miss-miss when you send out resumes or answer want ads. People are expected to do more work for longer hours at whatever pay they can negotiate for, and nobody can help it, it is what it is.

An article in the New York Times states that an M.A is the new bachelor’s degree. Ph.D’s, M.A’s and B.A holders are competing fiercely over available positions and job openings, and even when you get a foot in the door, you can be turned down for being over-qualified for one job and yet not be qualified enough at another.

What do you do?
For those who can still afford to, one tactic is to go back to school –or stay in school longer — to A) Wait out the flooded job market while getting their degrees or B) Train in another field and get more marketable skills

First Issue: Student loans…

Which lead to the second issue: Little to no money to spare.
If you’re already burdened with any kind of financial obligation, the thought of adding more to it is unthinkable. The phrase “buried in debt” is only the tip of the iceberg.

Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options. Here are some articles to get you thinking about how to approach the issue. They all have numerous links to schools and universities that offer on-line courses, many for free.

Note from the source: “OEDb currently contains reviews of 1,024 programs from 83 accredited online colleges. […] our database only lists accredited online colleges so that you can be sure that these degrees will be respected by potential employers. Our database allows you to sort reviews by program, college, or degree level.”

A side-issue: Little to no time
Many reputable schools and universities have their own version of free online courses (YMMV, of course, check the LifeHacker link). But, as always, TANSTAAFL. In everything you do, you get what you put in. You want an education, and whether it’s free or as cheap as you can get it, you still have to make the time to actually study. No excuses.

You can also get college credits for what you already know. CLEP accreditation ( CLEP stands for College-level Examination Program) is one way of getting accreditation for skills and talents you’re already practicing. Fluent in a second language? Already working? Looking to shift fields? You would be one of many who choose to leverage life experience into educational advancement.

What I hope you take away with from this article is this: You are more than the circumstances in your life and you don’t have to let them define you.

If you’re unsure — you can’t, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the time, etc — then take the time to sit down and think, really think, about the choices you still can make to better yourself, if not change your situation (yet, anyway).

You’re not powerless.

Or worthless.

Assess your situation, see what needs to be done to make it better, and take a good look at the activities that are pulling you down.

Still here?

So, you want to go back to school. What do you want to walk away with? Do you want to save money? Increase your hire-ability by a skills-upgrade? You want to follow your passion?

If all you want is to save money you don’t have to have go back to school to do it. You can just polish your skill-set in the areas of your life where you can save a buck. For example , TooTiredTeacher has a few easy recipes up on YouTube, and she’s just one of many, many people who freely share cooking lessons. Taper off the take-out, learn to cook, and you can save money.

You can also look into acquiring more handy skills like changing the washer in a faucet, or fixing leaks. Check this out: Types of Skills Everyone Should Know (Popular Mechanics).


Passion is great, but it’s not a guarantee you can pay the bills. Cal Newport has quite a few things to say about passion at his blog, StudyHacks. says it best: Formal education is not sustainable for a lifetime, but lifetime learning is essential for surviving today’s volatile job market and tomorrow’s long period of “retirement.”

Go visit the links, read on a bit about how other people are dealing with the situation, and in part two we’ll discuss what practical steps you can take to get the learning you’re after.

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Save Money, Spend Time

28 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

It’s very easy to take advantage of all the many conveniences that modern technology and services offer. Drive-through’s and delivery services, fast food, concierge services, convenience stores, on-line banking and shopping …you don’t even have to leave your house. And if you’re going on vacation, you can even get house-sitting services, and pet-sitters for your fanged, feathered or furry darlings.

Now, if you’re the type who thinks nothing of using services like these because you’re on a level of financial security where you can afford not to think about it, that’s cool.

But if you’re burdened by a nagging feeling that you’re working to pay for the life you have yet to live — being so busy working you have no time to spare to enjoy the life you’re working for — then you need to take some time to think about what you’re doing.

A few hours of study and preparation can save you money, time and stressing out.

It’s in the research and preparation. Old sayings bear this out: “A stitch in time saves nine,” and “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost,” or the more modern “Prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance.”

In other words, thinking things through works. Paying attention pays off.
Continue reading Save Money, Spend Time

How’s Your Schedule 2: Reducing Stress

15 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

Logically and realistically speaking, there are certain essential principles that we need to build our schedules on. Being aware of these principles would make it easier for you to put yourself in the right mind-frame to make a good schedule, one that factors in the essential parts of your days, your weeks, and your months.

(As an aside, we’re not really wired for long-term focus right out of the gate. That kind of focus takes discipline and some training — and sometimes a singular obsession.

The usual way we deal is to break things down in a logical progression of stages, and attend to each stage before going onto the next. You focus on the work-related snafu front of you, and don’t think of the potluck party next Saturday, for example.)

Think of your schedule not just as something that keeps your time and your activities in sync, but also as a sort of “coming soon” announcer’s service, a time-radar which pings you on what you can expect in the next few weeks, or next few months.

Doing so helps ease what’s “coming soon” and helps you not to stress about next year — the mind can only project that far for so long without going a little wonky in fear, anxiety or hype. So, back to principles: Continue reading How’s Your Schedule 2: Reducing Stress

How’s Your Schedule?

02 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

When someone asks you this, you:

a) Refer to your handy Crackberry, Google Calendar, or old-school pen-and-planner.
b) Burst into tears and run out of the room.
c) Say nothing, but a muscle starts to tic right under your eye.
d) Say you’re overloaded —pleasedon’taskmeforanyfavorsrightnowpleaseohplease.
e) “It’s fine, I’m on top of things.” (And then you get hit by lightning.)

Schedules came out of the need to coordinate resources and manpower in the industrial age.

During that time, the obsession with efficiency and productivity led scientists to analyze motion studies, breaking down each step a brick-layer took, for example, to see how it could be done faster, better. Time-tables showed how much work and how long each stage of the production line took.

Today that obsession has contributed heavily to an always-on, better-faster-more-NOW culture with a short attention span and a bottomless appetite. Continue reading How’s Your Schedule?

Starting Small and Growing Slow In The New Year 2

26 January 2011, by A. Cedilla

Continuing from part one, here’s another method to help you. One useful tool to give you a boost is PITA ( and no, it doesn’t stand for Pain in The A$$, although if that helps you remember, hey, go for it.)

PITA stands for Plan, Implement, Test and Adjust. These are basic principles that we were introduced to in all our science classes and experiments in school — remember tossing around words like thesis, hypothesis, variables, analysis and conclusions, and then having to cite the reference material you used? Death by boredom. (And too bad everything evaporated at graduation.)

Now that you’re an adult, maybe you can appreciate what you learned (and lost) from those classes. The teachers weren’t exposing you to these things to make your life harder, they were showing you a way to think systematically, logically and strategically.

There’s definitely a great advantage in training yourself into doing so, rather than being stuck in the habit of doing things on-the-fly, or flying by the seat of your pants.

That being said, let’s break it down, then. Continue reading Starting Small and Growing Slow In The New Year 2

Starting Small and Growing Slow In The New Year

21 January 2011, by A. Cedilla

We’re well into the first month of a new year, long enough for the holiday-glitter to fade, and for everyone to return to their regularly scheduled programming. But even after having settled in, it’s not uncommon to still have some parts of the old year taking the front-stage in your inner musings. After all, it’s a new year, right?

What’s more satisfying than to plan how to make this year better than last year, eh?

And how better than to do so by replaying the best and worst of 2010 in your mental movie-house?


Today’s article is about taking the pictures out from your mental reel and translating them into a workable plan with real-life accomplishments, and purposefully, consciously make this a better year for you.

Looking back from today’s perspective, were you satisfied with your last 12 months? Think about the year you just had. How was it? What stood out? What happened that you wish didn’t stand out? Shake it apart and see how it breaks down.

You can’t go forward with purpose if you don’t know where you want to go. If you want to move away from something you don’t want anymore, or towards something you want more of, you have to know what these things are.

In the same vein, if you can’t remember a lot of good or bad points, well, what do you want to do to make this year more memorable?
Continue reading Starting Small and Growing Slow In The New Year

Protecting Yourself On-line

23 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here’s a little compilation of useful articles from an excellent resource,, to give you a few helpful suggestions on more secure browsing and internet use.

Whether you’re doing business or buying stuff, you can check out the following articles for safety tips on account security and credit card protection.

Your kids need to keep safe as well, and here are a few suggested sites you can visit for more information on how to do so: Continue reading Protecting Yourself On-line

How To Manage Your Stress 2

21 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Continuing from part 1:

No matter where it comes from, stress generally can come from the feeling that you’re being controlled ( when you suffer the lack of personal choice, or feel that you’re a puppet), or feeling out of control (as in having run out, being pushed past your limits; having no power to change the situation, or that you don’t having a handle on things — and reacting by flying off the handle).

However you perceive it, you feel at the mercy of things outside you, and the way you handle things internally decides how stressful the situation is.

Notice what happened there? Outside events influence your internal state. To manage your stressors and your stress, you need to be able to change that kind of viewpoint around, and take the focus from outside influence to inner decisions. This is a shift in locus and focus.

Side note: You might find our two-part special on Focus and Planning ( part one and part two) helpful reading.

Internal locus is, in this sense, being centered.

What’s outside you is quite literally outside your control, but not always out of your influence, so it’s up to you to decide how things can go, using what influence you do possess, and then not get too attached to the results.

Attachment is also a source of stress — the emotional over-investment can drag you under if the results aren’t exactly what you wanted or expected. Continue reading How To Manage Your Stress 2

How To Manage Your Stress

19 April 2010, by A. Cedilla


Inescapable, ever-present and all too often overwhelming, it is a major cause of billions of man-hours lost to a host of illnesses, lowered productivity, mental fatigue (and even more serious conditions), and just plain more stress.

There are hundreds of web sites and tens of thousands of web pages out there detailing the many ways in which stress is created, how it manifests in us physically, emotionally and psychologically, and how you can deal with it– but reduced to simplest terms the bulk of the advice comes down to one thing.

The feeling of having control.

Not too much control, of course –that in itself is another source of stress– but a realistic and honest understanding of the things you can affect, and the changes you can put into effect. A human control, not one based just on technological know-how and mastery, or only strongly rooted in intellectual understanding, but one managed from the heart.


Think of the popular Serenity Prayer, well-known from various 12-Step programs (most notably Al-Anon).

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things that I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.

Happily enough, there’s another version available, one which is slightly altered from what many think of as the original, and the alterations themselves make a very telling difference. Continue reading How To Manage Your Stress