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I was thinking about that keynote presentation we did for the Florida Prosperity Partnerships' Annual Conference years ago, and how much fun it was to tailor our presentation to the conference theme, The Wizard of Oz.


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What made you think of that? I know they play all the old classics over the holidays. Was the movie on last weekend?


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No, I was wearing the UGG slippers you got me (I love them!) and putting away the new sneakers you just gave me. It reminded me how with you it's always about the shoes. That got me thinking about how you used Dorothy's ruby slippers, and your stiletto heels, to make a point (no pun intended).


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That although we were the keynote speakers, we were not the experts? I merely pointed out the obvious – that the audience was the "boots on the ground".


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Yes, exactly. At the event, it was all the community organizations helping people with financial stability. But now, with everything going on due to the pandemic, "boots on the ground" applies to so many people … healthcare workers, first-responders, community organizations, teachers, parents, the list goes on-and-on.

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Make sure to include scientists and businesses. But, what is your point?


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We all get so wrapped up in our day-to-day life, and the changes that we're having to make, that we sometimes forget there are so many people working to help us all. Including many who are behind-the-scenes, so never are even noticed.


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"We are all in this together" is not just a slogan.


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I know. Unfortunately, the more people say it, the more it just becomes white noise. At that presentation, I could see the difference it made when you acknowledged they were the "boots on the ground". It wasn't that they wanted to be thanked, although we did that, too. They just really appreciated not being taken for granted.


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I call it as I see it.


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Well, although I always make a point to thank the workers at the grocery store, I'm going to make more of an effort to remember to thank all people who are making a difference for being the "boots on the ground". It's the least I can do. Actually, it's the least we can all do.


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Maybe it would be easier to remember if you just remembered … "It is all about the shoes."

So, when Black mentions Redhead Appreciation Day, I know it’s related to Red & Black and not her being “nice” and giving me a day off (or telling me that she appreciates me). And when she asks, “What is it like to be a redhead, Red?” part of me wants to reply, “What’s it like not to be a redhead?” because, for my entire life, I’ve been “Red.” (There’s a story there, but I’ll get to it later.) The honest answer is, well, I never thought about it, until now …

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Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


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I have a confession to make, which I’m sure will make you roll your eyes.


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Interesting caveat and probably true.


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Every time we meet with Jackie (Aguilera) from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy and hear what she’s doing in the world of adult education, I feel like I’m back in school and having to take copious notes.


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I am more than happy to send you “homework assignments” as I come across relevant articles and research.


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Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to taking notes. But that does explain why you’re so knowledgeable about literacy.


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But, reading information is very different from being at the forefront of literacy innovation. And, if we had never met Jackie, I never would have realized how literacy is more than the dictionary definition, and encompasses more than just reading and writing.
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Photo by Lynda Sanchez on Unsplash

As Black knows, going to the movies is my escape (and even sends me research about it), but she also knows that it’s all about the popcorn. So, it should come as no surprise that’s how I like to celebrate my birthday. And even though she’s not one to “celebrate” birthdays, she does indulge (or maybe the word is “tolerate”) people who do, and whenever my birthday falls on a workday, she gives me “permission” to escape to the movies.

Which is what I’m doing today on my milestone birthday, and although the “rerun” part of this post (below the line) was from last November, some things never change. Except … this year, as I’ll be waiting for the movie to start (and waiting to start eating my popcorn as I refuse to eat even a single kernel beforehand), I know I’ll be wondering, “How did I get to be 60 years old?!”

It's a running joke in my family that the only reason I go to the movies is for the popcorn. And while that isn't 100% true, it's probably close as I can't remember a time when popcorn wasn't an essential part of the experience. (I'll admit I couldn't believe it when I recently read that South Korea's banning movie popcorn in the theater!)

I can still remember seeing "Young Frankenstein" when it was first released (in 1974) at the Massapequa movie theater, which was literally at one end of an old strip shopping center. It bore no resemblance to the multiplex cinemas of today, and the concession stand offerings were very limited. It was dark and a bit dingy, and the seats were old and uncomfortable. But I didn't care because the popcorn made up for it. And while I sat through multiple showings of the movie (hey, it's still one of my favorites), I was grateful that my dad had given me enough money to get multiple popcorns as in those days, there was no such thing as the big bucket, let alone free refills.

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