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


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


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.

Photo by Rabbitti for iStock

It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I think you are exaggerating.
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

Keep Reading ...Show less