This is one of those posts that was "suggested" I write, although I did not see why anyone would care about my shoes or my shoe dilemma. Yes, I am known for my shoes – in particular, my stiletto heels. In fact, when Red and I taught at KIPP Houston High School, the students would text about my shoes within minutes of me arriving on campus. (Red would always ask them, doing her version of sarcasm, why they did not do the same for her "comfy" shoes and boots.)
When we did a speaking engagement about personal finance at Silsbee High School, my shoes became a topic of discussion during the Q&A session. (Red was so amused that she included it as Story #2 in her Memory Lane post titled "The Road To Silsbee. To Where?!") I will admit I was impressed by how astute the students were to question how I could talk about "Thinking Before Spending" yet stand in front of them wearing shoes with red soles that they guessed cost hundreds of dollars. (I never disclosed their exact price, but the students were online pricing Christian Louboutin shoes.)
Luckily, none of the students have ever asked how many pairs of shoes I owned. I could not compete with the thousands of pairs Imelda Marcos had, but I did own (past tense) hundreds of pairs that I had collected over the years. No, make that decades. I enjoyed the collecting as much as the wearing, and would even buy shoes as souvenirs when I traveled.
My logic, not that I needed any, was that fashion and shoe styles repeat themselves over the years. Plus, classic shoes (from pumps to driving shoes) never seem to go out of style. So, I would carefully store the shoes (and boots) in clear plastic shoe boxes (I lost count of how many cases of shoe boxes I have bought from The Container Store), and every season go down to my storage unit in the basement of my high-rise to shop my "collection" and decide what would "move up" into my closet. Of course, I would add a few new pairs each season. Usually black, because black never goes out of style.
So, what was my dilemma? Which pair to wear? I wish. No, I had to run out and buy a pair of shoes for a date. And, it soon became apparent it was about more than a pair of shoes,
- I had not gone out on a "date" in years, as I do not count dinners out with friends as dates, and I typically wear "dressy" jeans or slacks since we do not dress up. I never wear a dress.
- Although I once had a collection of fabulous dressy high-heel summer sandals, they floated away when Hurricane Harvey flooded the basement of my high-rise. I know all of them did not drown as some were found in the building's garage when the water finally receded, and I can only hope those hundreds of shoes found good homes.
- The pandemic has changed women's attraction to high heels, so when I stopped by Saks to buy a pair of high heeled black sandals, what in the past would have been easy to do, was more like a scavenger hunt as the shoe department was filled with sneakers (!!!) and casual shoes.
I still wonder why I am writing this … other than Red finds the whole situation amusing. But, sometimes, I feel like my life is her entertainment. The other person who suggested I write this post was my date (he did appreciate the effort I put forth to "dust off" a dress and find a pair of date shoes), as he thought my story about the "concept" of wearing a dress on a date and dating post-pandemic was something that a lot of people can relate to right now. Plus, he thought my predicament was, and I quote, "Funny shit!" I guess he, too, finds my life entertaining. Hmmm, maybe I should also dust off our idea for a Red & Black sitcom …
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,
Soft skills are transferable – between your personal life and the workplace (and from industry to industry). If you recognize that interpersonal relations have existed since Adam and Eve (or “caveman” days), and technical skills are constantly changing and there is no way to predict the careers of the future … it is easy to see why soft skills will always be needed.
It's funny, but now that Red’s familiar with soft skills, she not only recognizes them in day-to-day living but sees the impact they have (and the problems caused when they’re lacking). Our new website may not have SOFT SKILLS as a major section, but since it’s one of Black's passion projects, it will have a special place.
Until then, here are some of our favorite posts showing how soft skills affect us on a daily basis (OK, the Ferrari one about negotiating skills may not affect many people, but the message will):
- COLLEGE & SOFT SKILLS: My son’s going off to college but doesn’t know what he wants to study …
- COMMUNICATION: How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points?
- CUSTOMER SERVICE: RED & BLACK … May I Help You?
- LEADERSHIP: RED & BLACK … Leaders All Around Us
- MOM SKILLS: Translating Mom Responsibilities
- PERSUASION SKILLS: The Fact Is … Don’t Use Facts
- NEGOTIATING SKILLS: A Perfect Day For A Convertible. And For Chutzpah.
- PROBLEM-SOLVING: One Person’s Problem … Is Another’s Challenge?!
- SPOT THE SOFT SKILLS: Selfish, Shallow … And Svelte?
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.
And while not a homework assignment, we figure if you’re still reading, you might be interested in some of our favorite “lifelong learning” posts (many of which helped Red learn about learning in a whole new way).
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.)
- Black’s Time Management “Secret” ... Is Worth Repeating (Time Management)
- It's happened again ... I can’t see my desk there’s so much paper on it. Help! (Piles of Paper)
- How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points? (Communication)
- Expect Reality, Not Perfection (Relationships)
- Don’t Confuse Time Alone With Time Away! (Stress)
P.S. – Wondering why we haven’t mentioned money? Well, stay tuned, as we’ll have a post dedicated to DOLLARS & SENSE in early November as we get closer to the holidays. (FYI, our subscribers get sneak peeks before we post online.)