With age comes wisdom … and years of hard work.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: You can't change the facts, but much like the glass half full vs. glass half empty analogy, how one looks at getting older – or at failing – can make all the difference, as Red soon discovered from Black's unexpected reaction to, of all things, a golf tournament.

It all began when Black asked Red if she had watched the PGA Championship, the second of the four "major" men's golf tournaments. Red admitted that she hadn't yet had seen the headlines about Phil Mickelson having won it, which was amazing given that while he's had an incredible career, the last years have been less than stellar. But when she commented that sports, like so many things, favor the young, she definitely wasn't expecting Black's response,

"Old People" – however you want to define old – are on a roll. In 2019, Tom Brady, at the age of 41, became the NFL's oldest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. In 2020, President Biden, at the age of 77, became the oldest person ever elected president. Now, Phil Mickelson, at the age of 50, becomes the oldest golfer to ever win a major championship.

That caught Red totally off guard, as Black often laments about having to speed walk instead of running to "save" her knees, and even though Red's the younger (by five years) sister and still feels young at heart, she's also noticed that it's not as easy to do things as when she was younger – whether physically, like working out, or work, in terms of stamina or concentration.

However, it reminded Red of one of her favorite movies, Space Cowboys, and how age might be a physical hindrance but unquestionably provides a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, both personal and professional, that can only be gained over time. Or via a mother's unwavering desire to give her children advice. In this case, it was Phil Mickelson's mom, who sent a text message to her son via Phil's sister,

Text Philip and tell him just to par in. Don't hit bombs or activate calves. Just par. They will have to catch him. He won't listen to his mother so you text him. Hurry.

Phil played his game. The one that got him there. And the rest is history. But what Black found most inspirational about this win actually happened about a week before the PGA Championship began, when Phil tweeted,

I've failed many times in my life and career and because of this I've learned a lot. Instead of feeling defeated countless times, I've used it as fuel to drive me to work harder. So today, join me in accepting our failures. Let's use them to motivate us to work even harder.


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OK, before I saw this question, I had absolutely no idea what "greenwashing" was. I mean, not a clue. So Black sent me two good "overview" articles (American Scientific and UL) that helped me understand it's when a company makes an unsubstantiated claim to try and convince us that its products are environmentally "friendly" when they're not. Obviously, they're taking advantage of the fact most of us want to do whatever we can to help protect the environment and support businesses that do (although sometimes it's difficult if the products are significantly more expensive).

I'll admit, though, that once I began reading various claims about sustainability and "supposed" benefits, it became very confusing. And, in general, the topic gives me a headache, which is why I had to laugh when Black sent me a statement issued by Advil about its sustainability efforts.


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I first became aware of "greenwashing" years ago when I stayed at a hotel that asked me to help "save the planet" by not having the sheets changed daily and reusing my towels instead of tossing them on the floor after a single use. Maybe I am cynical, but my initial reaction was they wanted me to help them "save money" since they would have less laundry to do. And, as I looked around my room and the hotel, I saw numerous ways they could be "green" – but were not, thereby supporting my initial impression. (Curious how consumers react to hotels that greenwash?)

Nowadays, many companies are rebranding themselves as well as renaming and repackaging products to demonstrate their "commitment" to the environment. But, just because they make a claim does not make it so. However, determining who is green versus "greenwashing" can be done, it just takes a little time and effort.
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Quick! Define literacy (without Google or Siri's help). Ok, finished? We bet that you may have stopped at the ability to read and write. Which, technically, isn't wrong. It just isn't completely right, either. Which is what Red found out when she discovered, much to her surprise, that it includes such critical areas as financial, digital, and health literacy.

Red even admitted to Black that she didn't understand all those terms, although she had another concern … was Black going to use her as a poster child for her lack of literacy skills in this month's column, "RED & BLACK … A Blueprint For Life?!"

P.S. – This month's column is in honor of September being Adult & Family Literacy Month.

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

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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When I first heard the term "digital literacy," I wasn't exactly sure what it meant, but I'll admit that I feel like a dinosaur when it comes to technology, and usually turn to my daughters for help. I don't know if it's just generational, but I'm intimidated by my computer, and although I can do the basics, any time things go "wrong" I default into panic mode, followed by feeling lost and frustrated. And the thought of buying a new computer? Well, it gives me a headache – not only the cost but especially learning how to use it. And if I lose internet service, I feel disconnected from the world. (I guess that can sometimes be a good thing.)

Then there's my cell phone, and I admit that smartphones often make me feel stupid. I remember when phones were landlines, and cordless was a big deal. Now I'm walking around with a small computer that also makes phone calls and takes photos. I've learned how to text, load some simple apps, and even how to set the alarm clock, but that's about it.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I know us "older" people think younger people are technology-savvy, but many are merely technology-dependent, which is very different. Technology is much more than access and setup. Being able to use computers, smartphones, and the internet covers a wide range of "basics" (such as emails and other communication tools, web browsers, and search engines), and there are specific computer skills that improve our productivity (such as word processing and spreadsheets). Now, you often need web conferencing skills (like Zoom or other audio and video applications) just to interview for a job.

But, that is only the beginning. Since we live in a digital world, we need the skills to find and analyze information, and also make sure it is accurate and credible. (What is that old adage, "Garbage in – garbage out"?) However, it is not only finding the right information, it is then knowing what to do with it. Including what and how to share.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • How would you describe digital literacy? What skills do you think are necessary to manage daily life? To be successful in the workplace?
  • Why does using technology correctly seem so daunting?
  • What do you think is the best way to learn about technology and become digitally literate?
  • How do you evaluate the reliability of internet websites and other resources? How do you locate appropriate and credible sources of information?

P.S. – You might be interested in this animated video on Research & Analytical Skills we did as part of a soft skills series for The Greater Houston Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative.