Dear Data Geek, where is my sister, and what have you done to her?

For as long as I can remember, including her entire adult life, my sister has always seemed allergic to numbers. She was a straight-A student, so did well in math, but only because she worked at it. However, she was never comfortable with numbers or mathematical concepts. I, on the other hand, thought math was fun. Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy as growing up our mother would joke that the reason I excelled in math was because I substituted dollars for apples and oranges when doing word problems.

Fast forward to when my sister was 40+ years old and her husband was fired. She was panicked because she did not know the first thing about personal finance and was certain it would take an M.B.A. (she has a theater arts degree) to understand it. I sarcastically asked her if she could add and subtract, and when she acknowledged she could, I let her know she was more than qualified. However, it was my "light bulb moment" because the resulting conversation made me realize it was the financial terminology that was creating the problem, along with the fact she was creating roadblocks in her mind that did not need to exist.

Fast forward … Today, my sister's youngest daughter plays volleyball and loves the statistics – whether hers, her teammates, or the team and where they stand in terms of the competition. Is she a math wizard? Probably no more so than her mother, but her attitude toward numbers and statistics is very different. She loves them because they intrigue her and have a purpose. So much so that, much to her mother's amazement, she voluntarily took a statistics course. Which is something I would have done (actually, I did take mathematical statistics as an elective in college).

So, imagine my surprise when my sister started analyzing the statistics provided by MailChimp on last week's email newsletter – letting me know open rates and click rates, and even comparing them to previous email campaigns. We only started using MailChimp a few months ago (shortly after we launched our new website), creating newsletters to provide our followers with food-for-thought (we have nothing to sell – as we have not even put our bestselling book on the site … yet).

I know that if I had asked my sister to "analyze data" she would have freaked out (that is her default setting), but because the numbers had a purpose and were clearly presented, her curiosity prompted her to review them. Which, besides giving information on our email campaign, provided proof that …

When something is relevant, we seem to ignore the mental roadblocks that we might otherwise have built.
Photo by Epiximages on iStock


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I appreciate that bullet points may not be the typical approach to Mother’s Day, but it seems appropriate to me …
  • Be sensitive to those people whose mothers may no longer be with us, especially given how many have been lost to COVID
  • If you have lost a mother, remember they are always with you – in your heart and in your memories
  • Remember Mother’s Day also includes all those “unofficial moms” and “mother figures” who are like second (or replacement) moms
  • And, last but not least, If you’re a mom, try to enjoy the day by doing something for yourself, as today may be the one day you can get away with it


red head red head assets.rebelmouse.io

This year I write about Mother’s Day with a heavy heart and still much raw emotion, as our mom passed in December. My pragmatic side (yes, that’s usually Black’s area although she did sound somewhat warm and fuzzy above) knows that she had been 94 and led a full life, but that really doesn’t make it any less sad or fill the emptiness. But I find myself, when I least expect it and triggered by the most unexpected things, finding comfort in wonderful memories. And although Black’s first bullet point hits too close to home for me, I’ll try my best to focus on the other bullets.

Wishing all moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

At speaking engagements, Black will often ask, “Who likes math?” followed by, “Who likes money?” As you can imagine, a lot more hands go up in the air for the second question than the first. But imagine if she asked if money made them laugh. It’s probably safe to say no one would say, “Yes.” Although they’d be wrong because people laugh (and learn) at basic, but potentially life-changing, stories about Red and how, when it came to money, she was clueless and intimidated.

It could be the story of Red putting her theater degree to good use as she freaked out about vocabulary. Especially since she was a straight-A student and avid reader who prided herself on her vocabulary. (If words set her off, Black could only imagine the “scene” that would have occurred if she had asked Red this handful of questions.) But Red’s financial crisis did prompt the ever-pragmatic Black to envision the power of a sitcom with entertaining money episodes because … Money IS A Laughing Matter!

Want to read other columns? Here’s a list.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash


red head red head assets.rebelmouse.io

I had no idea that April was “Second Chance Month” until you sent me the official proclamation. I find it interesting that in the midst of juggling our usual million and one Red & Black things, your interest in criminal justice, which I know you consider a “passion project”, is as strong as ever, maybe even stronger.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

It is not intentional, sometimes “passion projects” find you. And, when you least expect it.


red head red head assets.rebelmouse.io

Or where you least expect it! Only you would take a “field trip” to a men’s prison.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I will not get on my soapbox about how our education system contributes to the criminal justice problem. I will never forget a friend of mine who was formerly incarcerated telling me, “Rehabilitating people makes the assumption they were habilitated in the first place.”


red head red head assets.rebelmouse.io

When you stop and think about that statement, it’s pretty powerful! But I have to smile as once upon a time you, and I, used words like “offenders” and “prisoners” until we learned how our choice of words could be dehumanizing.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Says the woman who once believed in the idea of “lock ’em up and throw away the key”.
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