Red's younger daughter, Sawyer, is the athlete in the family and besides playing competitive volleyball, loves to workout. So, you can imagine how thrilled she was when her local Lifetime Fitness gym re-opened, of course, with COVID protocols. And it seems that with each passing day, her workouts are becoming longer and longer. Knowing that her aunt, Black, has religiously worked out for years, she had a question for her.
Sawyer was using an old volleyball backpack for the gym that she was also using for school (she loved all the pockets and the versatility it offered) but was tired of constantly having to switch out all the contents. She was curious if Black had an old gym bag she wasn't using since she doesn't like to spend money unnecessarily. Not to mention, she knew her aunt's hand-me-downs would be better than anything she'd buy.
Black said she'd look and get back to her, and called back with a rundown of the options. Sawyer planned to go look at them, so you can imagine her surprise the next morning when she found this email waiting for her,
I was thinking about it … and now how much the "perfect" gym bag can help keep you motivated (and organized) … so … just find your "perfect" bag, and I'll pay for it.
Sawyer knew exactly what she wanted and to say she's thrilled with her new Adidas backpack is an understatement. Red let Black know exactly that, explaining how Sawyer talks not only about how much she loves it, but how she'll use it at college (she'll be a freshman next year) and wouldn't be surprised if beyond then. Although Red laughed as she relayed the details, saying that she doubted it would last that many years but how great it is that she so loves – and appreciates – the gift. Black saw it, as always, in a different way.
It is the small things.
A single sentence. A short sentence. But one, as Red has been thinking about ever since, that speaks a huge truth.
When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from
complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was
being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those
incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served
as the country's first Black
national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state
(under President George W. Bush).
I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.
However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.
|I will not pretend to be a history
buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman,
and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as
a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating,
"I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my
entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned
Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)
Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.
|I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?|
|Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?|
|No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.|
|I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.|
|They're probably my favorite decorations, regardless of the holiday. And not just because I like seeing them out the window of my workroom but because I get to watch all the little kids in the neighborhood walk by and enjoy them.|
|Well, I hope this year Halloween will be a little more "normal" in terms of trick-or-treating, especially as the CDC has issued guidelines to make it less scary.|
|I think that the coronavirus has genuinely been the scariest thing to appear in our lives. Full stop. And while I'm not making light of the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, I can't help but wonder if we're going to see Halloween "COVID" costumes since there seem to be costumes of almost everything else that's considered scary.|
|FYI, there is a shortage of store-bought costumes (and decorations) due to pandemic-related shipping delays, so there is no telling what you will see. Hopefully, this year's trick-or-treaters will include lots of kids dressed up as front-line workers as they are the true superheroes. Not to mention, the costumes would then include masks that are functional as well as decorative.|
|Do you have to look at Halloween pragmatically? And does that mean I'm about to get a lecture on how Halloween's big business?|
|No, my "treat" to you is I will not tell you how it is a $10 billion industry that did not take as big a hit in 2020 as you would have expected.|
|Yeah, except you just managed to tell it to me anyway. So, I guess that falls under the "trick" category.|
|That is merely semantics. Sometimes we "package" things to make them more palatable for the recipient. But, some people take it to an extreme and disguise who they really are … but, I do not want to make this a conversation about politicians and the "costumes" they often wear.|
|Please don't! Although I know you've occasionally "pretended" to be me.|
|Except, whenever I try to do "warm and fuzzy", I have a hard time keeping a straight face. And, being "nice" can be a challenge, not to mention time-consuming. I remember when we taught at KIPP and its motto at the time was, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and I asked if I could just "Work Hard. Be Fair."|
|Of course, you did. But I can think of a few times when you've been in situations where I thought you were going to take a stand, yet you used my "default" setting of conflict avoidance. It was very out of character. And more than a little scary.|
|You pick your battles. Keeping in mind that some things are not worth the time and effort. Or, need to be saved for another day.|
|Are you saying that you give them the "treat" of letting it go when in reality you are "tricking" them into a feeling of complacency?|
|I guess that is one way of looking at it, but only if you are trying to give it a Halloween spin. At the risk of "tricking you" into talking about marketing, do you remember years ago when we worked with Rob (an advertising creative executive director), and he told us how he could envision little kids one day dressing up as the characters Red and Black?|
|I had forgotten about that! At first, I thought he was kidding around or being sarcastic until he clarified that he was serious. Explaining how he could see kids pairing up with each other, pretending to be us. Obviously, the one pretending to be me would be sweet and nice, and the other would be … well, you!|
|Actually, I think he was focused on the differences in our appearances. Regardless, I think it was crazy. Although the costumes would be easy – mine could be high heels, tattered jeans, white top, black jacket, and a wig with short, black, spiked hair.|
|I guess that means my "costume" would be something boring and "mom-like". But even with a wig of long red hair and comfy shoes, I'm not sure any kid would choose to "be Red".|
|Yes, but what is that old axiom about you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Maybe the trick-or-treating "Reds" would be rewarded with more candy …|
|I know Columbus
Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely
celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like
it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but
because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories)
learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new
way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and
found the Americas instead! I still
recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall
off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting
impression. Regardless, he became one of
the most famous explorers in history.
I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.
|Obviously, Red needs to "update"
her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that
might not have been his real name. Information
has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation),
leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized
hero originally depicted in history books.
As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."
So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,
"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."