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


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Sometimes I really question whether we're sisters. I know you love research, but some of us, myself included, find studies and statistics boring. And tedious.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Ah, but at least you can read and understand them; you just do not want to. Huge difference.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Good point. Although I do struggle with statistics as, unlike you, I've never been comfortable with numbers.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Is this going to be one of those philosophical conversations, or do you have something specific in mind? And, FYI, having skill with numbers and mathematics is called numeracy.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Whatever. Although I'm guessing numeracy falls under the umbrella of literacy. And, yes, I'll admit that, until recently, I thought "literacy" just meant the ability to read and write.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Most people do, which is understandable since it is the dictionary definition. I will not quote statistics on how many people do not have those basic skills, but even if you do, it does not mean you know how to apply them to ask questions, get information, and make informed decisions. That is functional literacy.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Even though I was a straight-A student with a college degree, that's one of the first things you had to teach me when I had my "crisis". So, why do I feel like I'm about to become a poster child for illiteracy?!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


I hate the word "illiteracy" as it has a negative connotation of being ignorant or uneducated when, in reality, it probably is never having been exposed to the subject matter and/or recognizing its importance.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Like me when it came to money. I was 40+ years old and not only didn't know how to budget, I never even thought about why it was important. But it wasn't until we were asked to develop and teach a personal finance course at KIPP Houston High School that we learned it's called "financial literacy." At the time, I thought it was the education world using an impressive-sounding phrase instead of being more straightforward.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Terminology aside, financial literacy is about making informed financial decisions. Regardless of your financial situation, as I have proven. Remember, early in my career, I almost declared bankruptcy because I did not apply what I learned in business school and the corporate world to my finances.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



That story always seems to resonate with so many people, myself included. Especially if we're looking for a reason, or at least an excuse, for not knowing what we should know. I used to think, "Ignorance is bliss." Until you made me understand that what I don't know can hurt me. And my family.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



It is even more far-reaching as there is a ripple effect on communities and cities, and so on. Before reading Houston's Adult Literacy Blueprint, the joint initiative between the Mayor's Office of Adult Literacy (when created in 2019, the only office of its kind in the nation) and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, I never realized the impact of literacy – including financial, digital, and health literacy.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



I admit that when you sent me the Executive Summary, I only looked at the quotes and sentences that "pop out" from the rest of the text. But, even so, I was truly shocked to learn that one in three adults in Houston lacks the necessary skills to fully participate in the workplace and society! And when I saw the "What is functional literacy?" diagram, I not only didn't even know what digital and health literacy meant, I was almost too embarrassed to ask.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Hence the purpose of the Blueprint. It is a strategic plan to ensure more adults acquire the literacy skills they need to succeed in the workplace and in life, but also is a document to raise awareness of the issues.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



Be honest. Besides people like you, how many will read the summary, let alone the full report?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


For organizations or companies addressing the problem, it is a valuable document. If you are looking for employees or are interested in breaking the cycle of poverty, it will be of interest. Or, maybe you merely need documentation to satisfy people who want "proof" or supporting backup about the importance of literacy.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


But isn't it important for all of us to understand the importance of literacy since it impacts all of us?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Yes. But, as you said, it is unlikely people will read the studies. Good news is September is Adult & Family Literacy Month, and that should help increase awareness. So, how did you find out more about digital literacy? And, I am talking about the concept, not you personally, as I know that in an ideal world, you would never have to deal with technology, whether your computer or your cell phone. Although you have become more tech-savvy than you realize.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Until we met with Jackie Aguilera from the Mayor's Office of Adult Literacy, I never thought about how you need basic digital skills (such as emails and other communication tools, using the internet, and even the ability to get on a Zoom call) not only to be able to get a job and move up the ladder but now, thanks to the pandemic, to attend online classes.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Plus, using the internet means you need the ability to find and understand information, especially to make sure it is accurate and credible. Unfortunately, so many people repeat whatever they find, thinking it must be true.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



That's a topic onto itself. But let's face it, not everyone's as critical as you.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



You say that like it is a bad thing.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Cute. But lately, there's no shortage of conflicting information, whether on the internet or in the media. And it's confusing. For example, the COVID-19 vaccines. Which brings up health literacy. Again, I didn't know what it meant until Jackie explained it could be something as basic as the instructions on a prescription or the nutritional information on food packages, but it's all part of understanding general health information and services to be able to make smart decisions.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Even I find health issues confusing. Too many moving parts to our body and, like a car, so many things that affect its performance.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



Of source, a car analogy! Well, it turns out that I'm health literate and I didn't even know it. Who knew that all those years asking questions about the girls' health issues – ranging from routine ailments like colds and stomach aches to sports injuries and reading challenges – to the more complicated and long-term issues that first daddy and now mommy faced – were all part of my "training" in being health literate?!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Yes, but remember when it specifically came to health insurance, you initially needed plenty of help deciphering it. Until you realized it followed the same formula as everything else … ask questions, get information, make informed decisions.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



The funny thing is that, at first, when it was financial matters, I didn't think I could do it. But once I tried, I realized I could. Which then gave me the confidence – and motivation – to tackle other topics. Now we just need to tell more people about the power of literacy and how it can be a blueprint for life.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



We just did.

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

Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

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


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

No, it is merely a fact.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Maybe a fist bump?
Keep Reading ...Show less
Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.