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


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I can't believe that Sawyer's graduated from high school and will be off to college in a few months. It's so bittersweet. Especially as it seems like only yesterday you were bringing me dinner in the hospital the day she was born – it was wedding soup from my favorite Italian restaurant.


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Well, since that has now become one of her favorite restaurants, that is where we should go to celebrate the start of her exciting new journey.


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Exciting is an understatement. As soon as she finished her Zoom session with the orientation team at Belmont University, she came downstairs and talked a mile a minute about all the incredible course offerings, and before I knew it, she opened her laptop and was going through everything with me.


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When she showed it to me, I was impressed by the range of courses available, and it made me want to go back to college. But, I was most impressed by her enthusiasm and commitment to opening herself up to opportunities that she might not have previously considered.


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I know! For years, starting when we taught at KIPP Houston High School, you've told students that college was a step-along-the-way, not a destination. And the perfect opportunity to try new things.


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I also said, "Homework never ends; it just is called 'research' when you get older."


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Yes, although they didn't like hearing that. Most people think that once you walk across the stage to get your diploma, you're done. But I found out the hard way that learning never ends. And it wasn't until I was 40+ years old!


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And, unlike when you were in school and wanted to learn, you initially resisted learning anything new. You created mental roadblocks and were your own worst enemy.


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Fine. I didn't think I could "do" personal finance until you made me try. And although I may not like doing it, it was truly a life lesson. And not just for me, but for Natasha and Sawyer, as I was able to share what I learned with them.


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You may not have proactively wanted to become a lifelong learner, but sometimes you have no choice. For example, when you resigned yourself to get over your resistance to technology. And, FYI, "learning to adapt" is a great skill to have.


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I'm not sure I'd call it a skill so much as the fear of you giving me grief for not "getting over it". Like a few weeks ago, when I was on my iPad and "fell off" of our Zoom business meeting. I just wanted to let you continue and update me later rather than figure out how to rejoin the meeting on my computer, but I knew that wasn't an option.


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You figured it out, and quicker than I expected. Zoom meetings are an excellent example of how the pandemic has forced people to learn new things. Research shows that people who are adaptable, who are willing to learn new things, who embrace change are ultimately the most successful.


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I don't know if you're talking personally, or in the workplace, or both, but I've never thought of "being adaptable" as a skill. But it makes sense since none of us knows what the future will look like. After all, if someone had told me when Natasha was born that one day, I'd be on a video "phone call" with her on another continent using a computer I could hold in my hand, I'd have thought they were crazy – not only about the technology but about my ability to use the technology.


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Exactly. School can only teach you what is known at the time. After that, you are on your own. Although I find it ironic that educators stress the need to develop lifelong learners, yet the education "system" still does things the way they have always been done. Sounds like, "Do as I say – not what I do." Regardless, I believe a critical part of learning comes from trying new things, taking chances, and even failing, as long as you learn from your mistakes.


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As a mom, letting your children "fail" goes against your instincts to protect them, although conceptually, I understand that sometimes that's the only way to learn. Plus, as much as I'd like to tell them what to do, if I do, they'll never learn to make their own decisions. I know I'll miss Sawyer a lot when she goes off to college, just as I did when Natasha moved abroad. But I also know that she'll be learning more than what's taught in the classroom as she'll be learning how to live away from home.


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Yes, there are many things to be learned from living life … they are called "life lessons" for a reason. But, like learning anything else new, you need to be open to the concept.


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Easier said than done! Unlike you, who approaches everything with a positive mindset and a love of learning, us "mere mortals" find that learning new things isn't always easy and can be uncomfortable.


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That is where you have to find the right motivation – whether it is to improve aspects of your personal life, advance your career, or just make life more interesting without necessarily having a specific objective.


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That's how Sawyer's approaching her academic "life" at college – open to learning new things and going in new directions. Unfortunately, that's something that often gets lost or put to the side once we leave school. Unless we're forced into it.


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Whether proactive or reactive, it does not change the fact that you are never too young or too old to be a lifelong learner.

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

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

Quick! Define literacy (without Google or Siri's help). Ok, finished? We bet that you may have stopped at the ability to read and write. Which, technically, isn't wrong. It just isn't completely right, either. Which is what Red found out when she discovered, much to her surprise, that it includes such critical areas as financial, digital, and health literacy.

Red even admitted to Black that she didn't understand all those terms, although she had another concern … was Black going to use her as a poster child for her lack of literacy skills in this month's column, "RED & BLACK … A Blueprint For Life?!"

P.S. – This month's column is in honor of September being Adult & Family Literacy Month.

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Underlying photo by mphillips007 on iStock


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I can't believe how quickly the year's flying by. And that tomorrow's already the fall equinox.


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I cannot believe that you know that but did not know when Rosh Hashanah fell this year.


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I got the dates mixed up. And I'll admit I had to look up the fall equinox date because it also varies slightly from year to year.


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Technically, the equinox is not a day, but rather an exact moment – when the Sun crosses the Equator.


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Picky, picky, picky. But if I remember correctly, although science class was decades ago, on the equinox, we have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime.


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Not exactly, but close enough. But, why are we even talking about this?
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Initially, I just chalked this up to being "old" and accepting the fact I remember telephones before they were "smart" (and will admit they can make me feel "less-than-smart"). I am old enough to remember rotary dial phones (see the image above) where you had to place a finger in the hole associated with the number, then rotate the dial round to the end-stop and let the dial return under its own power. I will not go into the science behind it, but it was extremely reliable – although very hard on your manicure.

But, this is not about the history of telephones or the associated technology that has improved to the point computers that once required a large, air-conditioned room can now fit in your back pocket or handbag. This is not about us all (regardless of age) needing to be digitally literate. It is not about the fact the older we are, the larger the screen size we prefer, although we might claim it is a function of what we are used to versus admitting to declining vision as we age.

Rather, this is about a recent experience that first made me feel old. Then roll my eyes. And then open my eyes to an opportunity.

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