Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Interesting caveat and probably true.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

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


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

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.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


But that alone is such a critical part of all of our lives and can make the difference between struggling and success. Although I never stopped to think about any of that before we met Jackie.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


The funny thing is we first met her because of financial literacy.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Yes, and I remember wondering why you decided we should go to a Houston Money Week meeting. And while our book was approved as a financial literacy textbook by the (Texas) State Board of Education, I still didn’t think we were qualified to talk about the topic.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


But, we did go. And, we met Jackie.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


That’s something I’ll never forget. I remember I let you do the talking when “newbies” had to introduce themselves, or I’d have talked their ears off. After the meeting, this confident but very approachable woman came striding across the room, extended her hand to me, and introduced herself. At the time, she was Literacy Coordinator at EastSide University.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


All I remember was her energy, commitment, and passion for financial literacy. Not usually a topic discussed with such enthusiasm.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


There’s an understatement. And not only did it take me by surprise, but I hate to admit it, it was contagious. Especially once we started working with her.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Another confession?

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Maybe. Looking back, I still shake my head in amazement at the incredibly creative ways she made personal finance, typically such a “boring” topic, come alive. And how she used outside-the-box approaches to making learning relevant.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


And, fun. I still cannot believe she was able to turn something as basic as one of our bookmarks into an hour-long interactive class – using it to not only get conversation going, but to introduce critical life skills.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I can’t believe how she incorporates our animated “teasers” into her literacy presentations. Using them to make a point in a light-hearted and fun way. Even if it points out how I was a poster child for not being “literate” when it comes to an assortment of life topics.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I dislike the term “literacy” because it makes people feel like they are “illiterate” when they do not know something. In reality, they may never have been exposed to the information or given an opportunity to learn it.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I can tell you first-hand that initially I felt stupid, until you pointed out I was merely sheltered. But that’s given me so much more empathy when I think of other people in the same position I once was.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Which is why she had us do an assortment of “Conversation Starters” for various literacy topics that she uses – ranging from where this all started – financial literacy – to digital literacy, health literacy, and even news literacy and environmental literacy. To make the topics accessible in a non-threatening way.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

All I know is that she made me realize that literacy impacts every aspect of our lives. And it has an amazing ripple effect as it then lets us share our knowledge with our families.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

You forgot to mention that Jackie made us aware of National Literacy Month, although I am not sure it highlights the full extent of the concept of literacy. But, anything that raises awareness is important.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I know it’s changed my life in many ways. And not only in terms of Red & Black, although being able to help her, albeit in a small way, help give people the desire, the confidence, the motivation, to learn is something I’ll always be grateful to Jackie for.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Since we are strolling down memory lane, I cannot believe you did not mention how working with Jackie all these years has led to a deep respect for her and the friendship that has developed.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

So, are you going to confess that you can be warm and fuzzy?


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Never. I was merely stating facts.
Photo by Walter Bibikow on Alamy

The show “I Love Lucy” is truly iconic. And while it’s natural to focus on Lucy, we shouldn’t overlook her partner on the show and in business – Desi Arnaz. Taking top billing in the name of their company, Desilu Productions, Desi Arnaz is recognized as one of the most innovative TV producers, and the first Hispanic to star on prime-time TV. And what better time to celebrate these remarkable achievements than during Hispanic Heritage Month?


I Love Lucy. For many of us, myself included, those three words bring back memories of favorite episodes of the “I Love Lucy” show. And, although I would be hard-pressed to pick my favorites, some may reminisce that the show, which ran from 1951 – 1957, was from a simpler time and is dated. I would argue that the comic timing, the gags, and the chemistry of the characters have stood the test of time.

Maybe it is because they took frustrating situations in everyday life and then pushed them to the extreme – and made them hilarious along the way. For example, your young child wants a superhero at their birthday party. Reasonable. But for Lucy, after unsuccessfully trying to book Superman (Chris Reeves), she dons the costume in “ Lucy and Superman.” A classic.

Keep Reading ...Show less

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 …

Keep Reading ...Show less
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.

Keep Reading ...Show less