Learning For Life

Accomplishing More – By Advocating More

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

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It’s funny, but recently when someone brought up the topic of advocacy, I wasn’t sure what they meant. And after they explained it’s speaking up for a cause, idea, or even a group of people, my first thought was how I could never do that as I don’t have the expertise or the confidence to advocate for anything. But then, once I got over my emotional reaction to the term “advocate” (emotional reactions are my default setting), I realized as long as it was something I believed in, that given some practice, especially in terms of how best to communicate, even I could become an advocate.

And that’s saying a lot as I’ve always been one to avoid conflict. But after watching Black for years, I now realize that it’s just a mindset, and although I may not take things as far as she will, I know I can share my experiences, my passions, my beliefs. Which is very different than trying to “prove” something. Yet, it can still have a huge impact.

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I admit that at times I am a frustrated wanna-be attorney and love building a case supporting my passions. (Some people have even suggested I become a lobbyist, which is a specific type of advocate.) And, although being able to recite facts and figures may be useful and even powerful, it will rarely be as compelling an “argument” as a heartfelt, real-life story. But, my “soapboxes” are things I have seen first-hand (that does not mean I will not also do some research in order to be better prepared), and I try to look at it from the perspective of others. (I will not get into the difference between empathy and sympathy.)

Initially, advocacy may not come easily, but as with most things, preparation and practice is the key. As are communication skills. All of which help you build confidence. Whether you are advocating for others or yourself. But, self-advocacy is a separate conversation for another day.


  • What does advocacy mean to you? Do you think you could be an advocate? If so, for what? And why?
  • Think about something that someone changed your mind about. How did they do it?
  • What are you passionate about? Why? What can you do to make a difference?
  • What is the difference between a lobbyist and an advocate?
Design by Sawyer Pennington

People have told us they’re using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created “Conversation Starters”.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, especially since last year was the first since Mom passed away, and the dining room table seemed incomplete. Which may partially explain why we ended up sitting around the kitchen table and island instead. And that was wonderful – so relaxed, easy, and fun – but I still couldn’t help but think of her not being with us. It’s funny because, over the years, even as life changed, such as the girls growing up and going off to college, I’ve always taken for granted that Thanksgiving would somehow always remain the same, cooking the same dishes, with all the preparation beginning days in advance.

So, I'm not sure that I truly stopped and appreciated each Thanksgiving Day as I was so focused on everything I needed to get done. This year, though, I plan to take a moment to stop and think about some of the things I'm thankful for, and to start appreciating the day itself. To try to "be present", so to speak, in the present.

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I know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but what you just described is gratitude. Gratitude is "deeper" than thankfulness, and the best way I can describe it is … think about when you might write a thank you note – someone gives you something or does something for you. It is a fleeting event. Now think about if you were to write someone a note or letter of appreciation.

You have repeatedly told me that mere mortals often need reminders, so what if this Thanksgiving you start a "gratitude habit"? Make a daily appointment with yourself to find a few quiet moments and write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as sunlight on your face or the crunch of an apple. You are probably rolling your eyes right now, but it will only take a few minutes and can change your life. Or, at least, how you look at it.


  • If you look back, what or who would you appreciate (or appreciate more) that you didn’t at the time?
  • If you begin to appreciate the value of appreciation (pun intended), what might you want to be mindful of going forward?
  • Do you think a "gratitude habit" might be useful? Would you be willing to "test-drive" (Black's words) one for a month and see if your opinion changes? Explain your answers.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

No one likes to feel out of control, unprepared, and scared. But as Red will tell you, life can change in an instant (whether it’s a crisis impacting many or one that seems very personal). She’ll also tell you that when everything seems so negative, it’s difficult to have a positive mindset (or even a non-emotional perspective) …

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In some ways, it seems like decades ago that my husband got fired, in other ways it seems like yesterday. I felt then so many of the same emotions that people are going through today due to the coronavirus. I was so scared. And unprepared. At the time, I thought he'd work for the company where he had been for years until he retired, and by then we'd have a second home and would live happily ever after. I never thought anything would change that plan. Everything was perfect, until my life, literally overnight, became a living nightmare.

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Yes, and as I told you at the time … you needed to calm down. I said that a lot. Still do. Anyway, I remember telling you to take a deep breath … and that you would get through it. And, you did. Although you constantly questioned whether you had the ability to do so.

  • Your life can change in an instant. Can you be prepared? How can you plan for the unknown?
  • What are other unplanned life events?

It’s hot and humid, and we’re all tired and cranky. But if there are kids involved (and even if there aren’t) and you’re looking for something to get you through what’s left of the summer before school starts, check out my list below. (The funny thing is, even though it’s a few years old, it still applies. I guess some things never change.) And who knows, some of them just might have you feeling like a kid again, too.

When I suggested to Black that we have a checklist or menu of items to amuse or, at least, occupy kids over the summer (something that almost every parent with kids home on summer break searches for every year), I thought my work was already done as I'd pull out the list I created years ago for my daughters. Except that I forgot it had been on a computer that no longer exists, and although a copy might be somewhere in a stack of filing, I'd have to start over. Which turned out to be a good thing …

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