Learning For Life

A Bad Past Or A Better Future? Your Choice.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Mom's almost 94 years old, so I appreciate that she travels down "memory lane" and reminisces. But what I don't appreciate, or understand, is why she insists on focusing on negative memories and wishing things were different. What makes it worse is how she remembers things, or let's just say her "versions" of what happened, which makes me wonder if we're even talking about the same event.

As you know, I love history, and there's so much we can learn from the past , including how to try to avoid repeating mistakes so you can make "today" better. That applies to people, too. But, with her, I feel like it's only "lip service" when she's said that she wanted to clear the air about past events in the hope we could improve things going forward. Because whenever I've tried to "sort through" things, it seems all she wants to do is prove how she's right and I'm wrong. Then and now.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

You bring up two different but intertwined issues.

First, why people remember things differently. We are a story-telling society, so think about our memories … are they not just stories from the past? Influenced by how we reacted to the "facts" and our memories of the "facts"? If you and I experience the same event, I bet you will remember how you felt, whereas I will have a more pragmatic memory.

Second, what is the objective of looking back? Mom has always dwelled in the past, but her "stories" always defend her actions rather than look at what she might have been able to do differently. Or, even acknowledge how she may have contributed to the situation. Stating the objective as "learning from mistakes" only works when that is what you are willing to do.

Want an extreme, and very serious, example? Look at January 6. Some people want to examine exactly what happened and why to prevent it from happening again, while others are using it for political purposes. And many (most?) are not even being honest about their motives.


  • Do you know people who seem to prefer to dwell in the past? Why do you think they do?
  • Why do you think some people are more interested in "defending the past" than "learning from the past"?
  • Do you think recognizing that different people remember things differently makes addressing issues easier or more difficult? Why?

People have told us they’re using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created “Conversation Starters”.

Do you feel like January and New Year resolutions are a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day”? Many people are like Red, beginning the new year with old goals that always seem to end the same way … a year later, you feel like you didn’t make much, if any, progress. So, why even bother making resolutions? Well, Black looks at things differently (it’s a good thing that never changes), which might make all the difference …

Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

I love the holidays but definitely have mixed feelings about the start of a new year. On one hand, it's like a clean slate, a fresh beginning, where you can try to do things better – whether specific things like dieting, exercise, keeping the piles of paper from accumulating or "big picture" things like trying to spend more time with friends and family, and being smarter about money. But on the other hand, I hate feeling pressure to have a list of goals and resolutions, especially since I know it'll be an overly ambitious list and I'll soon "slide back" into old habits. And then I'll feel like a failure.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

If it makes you feel any better, I suspect you are not alone in your approach. Many people have lists of New Year's resolutions that are too long and too ambitious. Which means you are setting yourself up for failure, not success. What would happen if you took your list and picked a few that you think are the most important, or would have the biggest impact on your life? Then set realistic year-end goals and work backward which will let you stay focused on where you are going. Then if you "slide back" it is a temporary situation not a total failure.
  • Try to think back to your most important goal pre-COVID. Why was this your #1 goal and is it still important to you?
  • If you could only have two or three things on your New Year's resolution list, what would they be and why?
  • Do you look at New Year's resolutions as what you want to start doing on January 1 or what you'd like to have accomplished by December 31?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

It’s that time of year. Yes, it’s fun and festive, and filled with traditions. Including Red lamenting that it’s full of stress and seemingly endless “to-do” lists. Black can’t help but point out that in addition to rereading her checklist on how to survive and thrive during the holidays, she should also reread this short “Conversation Starter” (and talk about it with her daughters) about how to put the “happy” in Happy Holidays!

Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

I can't believe how quickly the holidays are flying by. On one hand, all I want to do is enjoy them as I love this time of year. But I can't because there always seems so much to do. And I'm afraid that if I don't do everything on my holiday "to-do" list, I'll disappoint people, including me. You don't have this problem as you don't have kids and you live alone, plus others aren't looking to you to make the holidays festive and memorable.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

You seem to start with your "to-do" list, whereas I think about the significance of the holiday and what will make it meaningful and memorable. Yes, it is a more pragmatic approach, but it makes the planning so much easier. You know that I dislike the over-commercialization of holidays, but it does provide a reminder that it is important to let others know how much you appreciate them.


  • What's most important to you during the holidays? Why?
  • Describe your "perfect" (yet realistic) holiday celebration. What it would take to make it come true?
  • If you celebrate with others, have you ever discussed what's important to them?

P.S. – Since this is being posted in the midst of the December holiday season (what Red refers to as the "silly season"), you might be interested in these recent posts:

    Events in our lives (both personally and in the world around us) may change from year to year, but amidst the joy and festiveness of the holidays, there’s always a certain amount of stress and challenges to get everything done. This year’s no different, and I’m sure Black would suggest (sarcastically, of course) I might want to reread my tried-and-true holiday survival list …

    It's official! The holiday "silly season" (as I call it) is now underway and before I know it, it will be New Year's Day and I'll be looking back and asking, "Where did December go?!" This year's holiday goals …

    Keep Reading ...Show less