Meredith Oliver


It’s Time To Alt (Part 2 of 2)

January 21, 2020

green lightbulbs alt

Welcome back to our Reframe Blog Series! Today’s blog is Part 2 of “It’s Time To ALT.” So if you haven’t read Part 1, jump here first! If you’re all caught up, then dive right in!


Now that you have your nice, long list of facts I want you to pick one to focus on. Choose the one that feels most useful. Moving forward you will view or frame the situation through the lens of this one exact fact. And, when you feel yourself slipping back into victim mode or blaming others for your current situation, review the list of facts you wrote down about the situation and focus on one from the list.

Easier said than done, right?

Let me share with you a personal example where my “ALT” skills were put to the test! My son, Brady, is diagnosed with ADHD. With medication and therapy, he thrives at school and in life. He gave me permission to share his story with the hopes that it will help someone else.

In North Carolina, public school students Grade 3 – 8 take a standardized test called the EOG (end of grade). Standardized tests are really tough for Brady. It’s hard for him to sit that long and remain focused. Despite that, his third-grade EOG scores were good so I didn’t think twice about opening his fourth-grade EOG test results in front of him. We were excited to see very respectable scores in the middle range of his peer’s scores. But when we scanned down the test results we were very surprised to see under, “On Track for College and Career Readiness” the word “NO” in capital letters.

Excuse me. What?

A student finishing fourth grade, scoring in the middle range is not “on track for career and college readiness?”

Upon seeing those words, Brady looked at me and asked, “I’m not going to college?”


I had about a nanosecond to reframe this piece of paper into something useful as opposed to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So while I wanted to be angry and storm the gates of the public school district offices and demand they make changes to their system, none of those actions would have served my son.

So instead, I asked him a series of questions to help him make a list of facts about the situation.

“Does Wake County Public Schools (WCPS) decide if Brady Oliver goes to college?” He answered, no.

“Can a piece of paper accurately predict if a 10-year-old is going to college?” He laughed and then answered, no of course not.

“Is the EOG a college entrance exam?” No, nope, not at all.

The FACT is WCPS is not a college admissions entity. The FACT is if I was really honest with myself I had known for some time that the school wasn’t a good fit for him but I was afraid of the cost and commitment of a private school.

This incident propelled me forward from being stuck in a less than stellar school situation to seek out a better option. In his first semester at Bethesda Christian Academy (BCA), the FACT is Brady was named the Super Reader of the Week. The FACT is we’ve made the private school payment every month even though I didn’t know where I would find the money to do so. The FACT is Brady has been A/B Honor Roll every single semester in his two years at BCA.

Lastly, the most useful FACT of all, is that Wake County Public Schools is not the enemy. In fact, they did us a favor. That piece of paper prompted us to seek a better solution for Brady. For that, I will always be grateful. By focusing on WCPS doing us a favor – a very useful and true fact about the situation – we transformed ourselves from victims of a bad public school testing practice to problem solvers in charge of our own destiny.


Now I will ask you the same question I asked my son all those years ago. Who decides your future? Who decides if you will stay stuck in your opinions viewing a situation the same way as you always have or if you learn to find an alternate frame based on the facts of the situation?

If you remember, in the previous blog I mentioned that I placed first-runner-up nine consecutive times in local preliminary pageants to the Miss Florida Pageant. I could frame that series of events as a travesty of justice, a vast conspiracy to block me from my dreams. OR, I could (and did) choose to focus on the fact being named first-runner up nine times in a row means I earned nine times the college scholarship dollars than if I had won a title at the very first pageant that season. And believe me – I needed every one of those scholarship dollars to earn my degree!

Stay tuned for the final step in our next blog—how to DEL or “Delete the Frame Not Serving You” for good!

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