Learning For Life

Yes, This IS All About Me

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".

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I never really thought about self-advocacy until Black brought it up in a conversation about “advocacy,” and, even then, I wasn’t sure what she meant. But after she explained it’s speaking up for yourself and your needs, my first thought was how that might be OK for others; for me, it totally goes against my nature. Black might be able to toot her own horn, but I’m definitely more reserved. (There’s an understatement!) Until I realized that I was creating roadblocks in my mind that didn’t need to be there. OK, maybe I’d need some practice, including how best to communicate my message, but even I could potentially become a self-advocate.

In fact, I realized my daughters were already self-advocates. For example, my older daughter, Natasha, has learning challenges (Black calls them “DIFF-abilities”, meaning she has different abilities) and in high school learned to self-advocate by asking for accommodations. While my younger daughter, Sawyer, was a good student so in high school was put on a college prep track; until she self-advocated to be allowed to take some CTE (career and technical education) classes. I was merely in attendance at these meetings yet saw the power of recognizing your strengths and/or weaknesses and respectfully stating what you need and why.

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Red’s other default setting is thinking she cannot do something until she tries it and realizes she can. It is similar to when she thought she could not “do” personal finance until she was forced to, and lo-and-behold, she could. As with any skill – with practice and preparation (think of it as building your case), it becomes easier.

I will admit that I never stopped to think about the importance and power of self-advocacy, as my entire life I have always been a self-advocate, although it was only recently that I learned there was a (nice) term to describe assertively speaking up for yourself. Since I have always focused on where I wanted to be in the future and worked backward, I would identify what I needed to get there. In the workplace, I kept a file where I accumulated examples of my skills and strengths and would look at any potential “shortcomings” as opportunities to learn something new. And, if I needed help from others, respectfully communicated that need to the appropriate people.


  • What does self-advocacy mean to you? Do you think you could be a self-advocate? If so, for what? And why?
  • Why should you learn to advocate for yourself?
  • What are the potential benefits of advocating for yourself? What are the possible risks?
  • List three of your successes/accomplishments (in the workplace or your personal life). What strengths or skills do they demonstrate?

Design by Sawyer Pennington

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 headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, especially since last year was the first since Mom passed away, and the dining room table seemed incomplete. Which may partially explain why we ended up sitting around the kitchen table and island instead. And that was wonderful – so relaxed, easy, and fun – but I still couldn’t help but think of her not being with us. It’s funny because, over the years, even as life changed, such as the girls growing up and going off to college, I’ve always taken for granted that Thanksgiving would somehow always remain the same, cooking the same dishes, with all the preparation beginning days in advance.

So, I'm not sure that I truly stopped and appreciated each Thanksgiving Day as I was so focused on everything I needed to get done. This year, though, I plan to take a moment to stop and think about some of the things I'm thankful for, and to start appreciating the day itself. To try to "be present", so to speak, in the present.

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I know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but what you just described is gratitude. Gratitude is "deeper" than thankfulness, and the best way I can describe it is … think about when you might write a thank you note – someone gives you something or does something for you. It is a fleeting event. Now think about if you were to write someone a note or letter of appreciation.

You have repeatedly told me that mere mortals often need reminders, so what if this Thanksgiving you start a "gratitude habit"? Make a daily appointment with yourself to find a few quiet moments and write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as sunlight on your face or the crunch of an apple. You are probably rolling your eyes right now, but it will only take a few minutes and can change your life. Or, at least, how you look at it.


  • If you look back, what or who would you appreciate (or appreciate more) that you didn’t at the time?
  • If you begin to appreciate the value of appreciation (pun intended), what might you want to be mindful of going forward?
  • Do you think a "gratitude habit" might be useful? Would you be willing to "test-drive" (Black's words) one for a month and see if your opinion changes? Explain your answers.

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".

No one likes to feel out of control, unprepared, and scared. But as Red will tell you, life can change in an instant (whether it’s a crisis impacting many or one that seems very personal). She’ll also tell you that when everything seems so negative, it’s difficult to have a positive mindset (or even a non-emotional perspective) …

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In some ways, it seems like decades ago that my husband got fired, in other ways it seems like yesterday. I felt then so many of the same emotions that people are going through today due to the coronavirus. I was so scared. And unprepared. At the time, I thought he'd work for the company where he had been for years until he retired, and by then we'd have a second home and would live happily ever after. I never thought anything would change that plan. Everything was perfect, until my life, literally overnight, became a living nightmare.

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Yes, and as I told you at the time … you needed to calm down. I said that a lot. Still do. Anyway, I remember telling you to take a deep breath … and that you would get through it. And, you did. Although you constantly questioned whether you had the ability to do so.

  • Your life can change in an instant. Can you be prepared? How can you plan for the unknown?
  • What are other unplanned life events?

It’s hot and humid, and we’re all tired and cranky. But if there are kids involved (and even if there aren’t) and you’re looking for something to get you through what’s left of the summer before school starts, check out my list below. (The funny thing is, even though it’s a few years old, it still applies. I guess some things never change.) And who knows, some of them just might have you feeling like a kid again, too.

When I suggested to Black that we have a checklist or menu of items to amuse or, at least, occupy kids over the summer (something that almost every parent with kids home on summer break searches for every year), I thought my work was already done as I'd pull out the list I created years ago for my daughters. Except that I forgot it had been on a computer that no longer exists, and although a copy might be somewhere in a stack of filing, I'd have to start over. Which turned out to be a good thing …

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