Words & Banter

A Summer Rerun?

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

What does summer mean for you?* Longer, hotter days? Perhaps a summer vacation? Or the hope of one, now that the coronavirus is making more things possible. Does it mean more outdoor sports or "summer reads" (maybe the books you deem not serious enough, but a great escape anyway), or a time to chill (pun intended) and just enjoy the season? Or maybe even the "sounds" of summer, like neighborhood kids, ice cream trucks, or Beach Boy songs.

Red's thoughts about summer might bring back wonderful childhood memories for you or even new ideas for this summer. For Black, summer is more of a temperature event than anything else. But it wasn't always that way. Although as hard as it is to imagine Black spitting watermelon seeds, could that be the highlight of this summer? At least, for Red. Of course, if last summer was anything to go by, anything is possible.

It's probably safe to say that we're all hoping to enjoy a more "normal" summer. But, of course, Red & Black have very different perspectives of a "normal" summer. Curious? Then check out this month's column, RED & BLACK … A Summer Rerun?

* We'd love to know "What does summer mean to you?" Email Red (she's the "nice" sister) and you never know, you might be featured in an upcoming post!

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

When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.

Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.

Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,

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Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,

Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.

Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.

September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)

So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.

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For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)

But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.

When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.

But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)

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