The May, 2015 edition of Sibyl Magazine features a thread in my life’s tapestry — From GED to PhD.


I left home/school when I was 15. That personal choice meant getting a GED instead of graduating with my class. I went on to earn my PhD. And while I’m Ph.inisheD with brick-and-mortar academia, I’ll never be done learning.

What’s your most recent learning?


89 thoughts on “Ph.inisheD

  1. I had no idea you went from GED to Ph.D., Laurie! What an accomplishment!

    My dad started, but never finished college when he was young. When he was much older, he went back to college, and then went all the way through to get his Ph.D.
    I think if one gives up on learning, one has given up on life. I learn new things every day. As far as working on a particular course of study, I’m starting on some food history, diet, and nutrition research for a possible new project.

    • I agree with you, Merril, that learning has to be a life long journey and I admire your Dad for taking on all that study later in life. While it’s one thing to enjoy a bit of research, studying and working as a parent, is a huge undertaking!! LIke the sound of the food history. I’m working on a food project myself…teaching my kids how to cook, which has been on my blog. We lost a bit of momentum since my health improved and I need to re-engage them. Thanks for the reminder xx Rowena

      • You and your kids will have lots of fun cooking together. I started cooking when I was a little girl, and I cooked and baked with my kids. We all tend to cook without recipes, and/or adapt recipes. I might also be working on a project related to that. 🙂

      • My daughter used to make these mixtures without using a recipe…a few of them actually worked out. If you look under my categories, there’s a heading teaching the kids how to cook. There’s a gorgeous photo of my son with his hands caked in pizza dough. Hilarious. I don’t know if you have Masterchef kids over there but they really lacked credibility. Weren’t like kids. We have the whole bomb going off in the kitchen and things thrown in out of sequence. That’s cooking with kids!!

  2. I got my IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Teaching certificate last October and I am constantly learning through teaching. That’s the best bit!!! 🙂

  3. Thank you Laurie for sharing yourself and all your beauty and possibility with us! I am learning each day – love, trust, release, choice, joy, beauty, forgiveness – we are children of God.

  4. Laurie,

    I am encouraged to read this because we are unschooling (educating but not in the traditional sense) our two sons at home. The boys can read and understand the mathematics of money. They are highly proficient with computers and the internet and have learned how to learn whatever they are wanting to know. The boys have different talents and interests and so are given the freedom to pursue those. They view their daily “recreations” and “creative freedom” as their “work”. They have the perspective that someday their “hobbies” may provide them with revenue.

    So knowing that you took this path is encouraging for me because someday they could each challenge the GED test to see if they have achieved enough proficiency for that or discover whatever their personal “gaps” may be and go on to address them. Your experience also means that they could go on to obtain “higher education” degrees and they may do that online and not at a brick and mortar school as that whole possibility now seems to be developing rapidly.

    I have not for a single instance regretted our decision regarding our son’s education. They are both thriving and have NOT been squashed by unfeeling educators (and by no means am I labeling all or even most teachers that way !!). They are not being way-laid by peers with no interest in learning anything but mischief – as both my husband and I experienced within the public school system.

    My boys are developing their strength of character and values first within the embrace of their family and when they are older, it is our hope that they will be ahead in their personal development compared to their father and I. I’ve some college level credits but no degree. My husband did not pursue any advanced education but is highly interested in many, many things – primarily political and environmental. He is adept at using tools and machinery. I hope our boys eventually pick up a bit of that from my husband, although at the moment, they show little interest. I was very happy yesterday when the youngest checked out my husband’s window repair on our home and asked questions.

    Fondly !!

    • Deb — I respect and admire your passion and approach regarding your sons’ education. My hat is off to you and your husband as you continue to nurture and cultivate two human beings who value the planet and those who inhabit it.

  5. Being a life-long learner makes you ageless, inspiring us all.

    My most recent learning? I’m about to learn Scrivener, an app which is designed to help me organize my files for memoir writing.

    Another recent learning . . . that the writer of this post follows up on her promises, reminding me of a deadline for recycling folders no longer using. You’re da bomb, Laurie!

    • Marian — Now that I know you’re going to dive into Scrivener, it’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts. I’ve done quite a bit of online reading about the app and see that many writers LOVE it, while others — not so much. Please keep me posted! 🙂

  6. I was so excited and absolutely thrilled Laurie to see you featured on the cover of the magazine! I am still beaming for you. Congratulations! My next project is to learn how to video with my new camera. I have skimmed the manual for an overview but need to sit down and really figure it out and then experiment – the best part of learning for me. All the best of today to to you and Len as he gets used to living with a super star 😉

    • Terrill — Like you, the best part of learning for me is experimenting: hands-on, trying, doing. I can hardly wait to see some of your video work with your new camera. Woohoo! 🙂

  7. Laurie,
    Once again you show up authentic and a powerful example of how choices can change our self and our world.

    I was just reading a piece from Rob Brezsny’s Pronoia is the antidote for Paranoia in which he states research, “Neuroscientists have turned up evidence that suggests you love this
    aspect of the universe’s behavior. They say that you are literally addicted
    to learning. At the moment when you grasp a lesson you’ve been
    grappling with, your brain experiences a rush of a natural opium-like
    chemical, boosting your pleasure levels. You crave this experience. You
    thrive on it.”

    Now that I am on my own again rediscovering who I am in the world I have the opportunity to learn, uncover, to experiment in those realms. Every moment is on of Learning…

    Blessing to you!

  8. I am learning that there is so much more to life than simply that we can see, or touch. Also, that a life lived with constraints is not neccessarily a life less lived. Being tolerant is not always enough.

    And congratulations on your achievements! You are a lovely lady, inside and out! 😊

    • Ali — yes, Yes, and YES again! 🙂

      And when it comes to “tolerance,” my experience has taught me that it falls short of acceptance. I’d much rather be truly accepted than merely tolerated.

      • You are so right, Laurie… there is such a world of difference between the two.

    • Carol — Thank you! It boils down to terrier-like tenacity. One of the bloggers I follow — Janet Givens — recently said:

      “Ah tenacity. That’s the socially acceptable form of stubbornness, yes?”

  9. What a lovely cover. Congratulations! I couldn’t be prouder of you.
    My world is alive with the possibilities to learn.
    My most recent (notable) opportunity was during a writing festival. I gained so much from the observations and lessons of other authors. I’ve shared what I learnt on my blog.

    • Leanne — Thank you, Len took the photo.

      I the way you live — “My world is alive with possibilities to learn” — and share what you learn. I’m heading over to your blog now 🙂

  10. Congratulations Laurie. I learn many somethings every day – from walking in my neighbourhood, from gardening, from my writing students and from sitting at the computer and writing my fiction. The learning-from list is endless. Maybe daily experience can sum it up best.

  11. Congratulations Laurie …smart as well as gorgeous you lucky lady . I think life is about learning every moment of our lives and there is always something new just around the corner. I just thought I let you know we moved into our 3/4 house last Sat . It’s still 3/4 done but we don’t care it’s cosy and WE feel WHOLE living here .

  12. I too claim learning as my vocation, Laurie. And one of the reasons I keep coming back here is that you have been my teacher. I love your word play, energy, and presence on the page, Cover Girl!

    • Shirley — Thank you so much! That’s one of the very reasons I visit your blog every time you post. I dip my cup in your well and come back refreshed every single time! 🙂

  13. Love learning and even when I say I won’t do anything formal, you never know. Apart from trying to increase my understanding and knowledge of the world (and myself) through mindfulness, just this morning I started an online course to learn German. Wish me luck!

  14. I wonder Laurie if you have created a new term – “inishe” (sounds like “initiate” – without the “eight”) – for the process of completing a PhD?

    Well done you!

    I started uni in 1973 with the intention of earning a PhD, and 3 years later dropped out, and went fishing. Two years on the then director of the Fisheries Management Division of the Ministry and Agriculture and Fisheries said to me at a public meeting “What the F*#k would you know Howard, you’re just a F*#king drop-out! Sit the F down and shut the F up!” He didn’t like my questions.
    He liked them even less the following year after I completed a BSc completing two years of study in 1, and gaining my skippers ticket and engineers ticket at the same time; but he couldn’t use that excuse for ignoring them.

    I have had an uneasy relationship with formal academia – I tend to find things that hold my attention that are outside the scope of the institutional courses.

    It is really hard to describe my most recent learning.
    It has to do with the levels of acceptance of diversity and tolerance that are required to attain freedom and security with stability. It’s kind of the opposite of traditional knowledge in a sense, as it has all sorts of fuzzy and uncertain boundaries in many different dimensions, and there is a kernel of confidence within that extreme fuzziness that has extremely high confidence (0.999999999+) – the sort of thing one doesn’t spend a lot of time re-examining once one has established the confidence limits with confidence ;).

    Well done for sticking with it enough to complete – that aint easy – I wasn’t prepared to do it 40 years ago. Have been reconsidering recently, but not quite ready for it yet.

    • Ted —

      When reading stories like the one you shared about the then-director of the Fisheries Management Division of the Ministry and and Agriculture and Fisheries, I have to say the evil little imp that sits on one of my shoulders rubs her hands together gleefully at the idea of karma!

      You, my friend, could TEACH any PhD level courses! From my perspective, I think your time is much better invested with the humanity-wide thoughts you have relating to acceptance, freedom, security, and stability.

      As a complete and total side note… quite by accident I’ve been learning (a very little bit) about THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE (the Fi ratio). What interests me me most, is that the symbol for it is rather similar to the inlaid Koru (spiral) design on the Toki pendant I purchased from New Zealand. I think the Māori people know/knew a lot more than they’re given credit for!

      • Hi Laurie,
        The Fibonacci sequence is a simple sequence of compound growth always involving the last two steps in the sequence. It is one of the simplest possible sequences of compound growth, and as such is seem in many places in living systems, in the unfolding of a fern (koru), in the shells of molluscs, and many other places.
        The Maori were (are) keen observers of nature.

      • Yeah – I guess it’s all a matter of perspectives.
        I’ve gotten my head used to considering sequences that open new and infinitely evolving sequences at every step – the dimensionality of those things really twists the brain. And one can learn techniques which allow limited exploration, at least enough to get a bit of a feel for general themes.
        Did you ever watch Dr Who – the TARDIS – infinite large rooms within a small box, each one bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside, and everyone containing doors to other rooms with other doors – some math sequences are like that. Benoit Mandelbrot is appropriately famous for his explorations of some such sets of sequences.

      • Ted — Len is a Dr. Who fan. I’ll have to see if he’s got the particular episode — The Tardis — that you refer to. I think he’d be particularly delighted it I got “hooked” 🙂

      • Hi Laurie

        The TARDIS is the name of the police phone box that the Dr uses to travel through time and space – it is an acronym (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).

        I’ve been a Dr Who fan for 50 years – and the TARDIS has been there the entire time.

      • Ted — See, that goes to show you just how little I know. Len, on the other hand, would have known that in a heartbeat! By the way, he’s out flying right now (a little 1965, Cessna
        182H). I’m sitting here on our front porch with Willa enjoying listening to the afternoon – birds, squirrels, and breeze.

    • HeavenHappens — GED is the abbreviation for “General Education Diploma.” It’s what a person can sit and test for if they don’t finish high school with their classmates. However, they must wait until two years AFTER their classmates graduate. Why? Because lots of people would “drop out” early and go that route, rather than staying in high school the full four years.

  15. Laurie, this is the article I asked you about last year, where you said all would be revealed as to why you left school at 15. I know that frustrated learners the world over will appreciate your wisdom and who knows how many people this article will help! Congratulations on your multiple learning achievements, and also on the stunning front cover photo on Sibyl magazine, which I have downloaded. 🙂

  16. Congratulations of making the cover! I received my BA the same year my daughter received hers. A couple of years ago I went back for some post-graduate writing classes. One should never stop learning!

  17. Congratulations, Laurie! That is absolutely phenomenal! And the magazine! Lovely! I didn’t go to college straight out of high school. At 30 years old I took the plunge, received a B.A. in Sociology, and with night school classes (and bleary eyes the next workday!) I obtained a Certificate in Human Resource Management. Way to go on the learning, Laurie!!! Cher xo

    • Cher — My hat is off to YOU! With a certificate in Human Resource Management, you have a wide brushstroke of areas to choose from: talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, and compensation management. Woohoo! 🙂

      • Well thank you so much, Laurie! Thank you for listing these interesting areas of HR! There is a lot to choose from! Yeay!! Woohoo!!! Cher xo

  18. Well done Laurie! Congratulations! Life long learners become very wise by time 🙂 I’ve gone back to university many times over the years after earning my degrees, latest took a Leadership Certificate at Cornell a couple of years ago just for fun…after a career in leadership jobs 🙂

  19. Dennis and I went into Atlanta today and I took him to see the Civil War Cyclorama, supposedly the World’s largest oil painting and presented with a diorama. It is 4 stories tall and is viewed from a revolving platform. The painting itself is longer than I can remember, actually 4 football fields and is in a circular shape, like a silo. It was a learning experience all the way around (pun intended!).

  20. My most recent learning is learning to drive. Lack of money, fear and epilepsy (controlled by drugs these days) meant I didn’t do it when normal people do. Still learning but feeling confident now.

  21. I was in special ed all thru school, failed at college. But determination took over. I got my degree, almost failed at my first masters but I had a teacher who didn’t give up and helped me learn to read. And I did go on to get my PhD. I think more than anything I proved to myself I wasn’t the “slow” kid so many thought I was. I didn’t learn slowly, just differently.

    Congrats on you accomplishment. I know how hard it is, and how much work. You really have accomplished much.

    And I too continue my learning. I’m always taking a class or two, or four… Because what you don’t use you will loose.

  22. Laurie, wow! I read your story and was intrigued by how much we have in common. I did almost all of my formal education before I was diagnosed and treated for hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and as you would know, have a very strong interest in the applications of neuroplasticity and how we can change and develop ourselves so far beyond what we ever thought possible.
    I don’t know if you have ever looked into sensory processing disorder (SPD) but it’s quite an interesting area looking at how you process sensory information and how this can get out of kilter. Here’s a link:
    xx Rowena

      • Yes, I was quite intrigued reading your story and found it very interesting. Have you read Dr NOrman Doidge’s book: “THe Brain which Changes Itself?” and his new book: “THe Brain’s Way of Healing”? They’re both fabulous!! Happy Mother’s Day!

  23. Surgery Wednesday morning 5:30 am arrival at hospital. I have been learning all I can about what to expect and my part of the recovery and healing process. What a cocktail of narcotics ahead of me It will be nice to have some pain freedom after this long 9 weeks of severe pain, and am hoping I can get free of the drugs fairly soon Maybe it is because I am at the peak of my creativity but I do not like the feeling of being marginalized because I fell down and am heavy. Wow am I getting it from all sides these days.
    Maybe a little ignorance is bliss?
    I am working at getting 6 book reviews ahead in order to take a mini vacation for healing I may not write often but will still try to tweet from my phone. I am hoping my couple of tweeting folks will not forget my reviews
    I just know I am going to be pain free, strong, and able to drive soon 🙂

  24. Laurie, you are a true inspiration to all who know you. This latest focus is a glorious validation of your life’s accomplishments and a proof parcel of your ability to move mountains. It seems insufficient to offer you ‘congratulations’ though I extend them ecstatically. Seeing you on the cover of SYBIL, sent a shiver down my spine, though I know as far as you are concerned this is only the beginning. The best to you (and Len) always, this is quite the momentous occasion!! Let the celebration continue!!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Sam — Your enthusiastic reply made me smile! I know you had a wonderful time on your recent multi-day “field trip.” Hopefully knee repair is scheduled for the very near future 🙂

  25. Laurie such a great achievement! For me I love learning and aim to do so everyday. My last formal learning experience was iPEC coaching which I loved!

  26. Dear Laurie, I’m a little late to the party but I had to stop by and congratulate you on your cover girl debut! And I can tell there’s a powerful story behind that beautiful smile. Brava!

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