Words & Banter

Straight Talk & Straight Hair

Photo by Red

My daughter, Sawyer, thought her decision was made. However, she had agonized over it for some time. She's gone to the same camp every summer for all but one since she was five-years-old, and was a counselor (for the first time) last summer, but decided to skip this year. Her logic? She knew that going away to college for her freshman year meant she wanted to spend as much time as possible with her high school friends before saying goodbye, not to mention having to get ready and pack for college.

All sounds good, yes? Until one of the camp directors got in touch with her, hoping to change her mind. It seems they have plenty of campers (many Sawyer has watched grow up over the years) but not enough counselors. So, the dilemma began … all over again.


She loves camp and not only because it's fun. For her, it's been a strong emotional experience, a second family, and a community where she has always felt the bonds of love and the power of relationships. But she recognized that this is a summer of transition – moving away from her core group of high school friends that may or may not remain in her life, and moving away from home. In other words, leaving behind one part of her life and beginning the next chapter. Now what?

Well, in our family, when faced with a difficult decision, it usually means talking about it. But this was a delicate situation as she had already talked to me about all the pros and cons, not to mention the tug-of-war between her heart and her head. I knew that she needed a sounding board and support more than anything else. So, I decided … to get my hair done,

As Sawyer wielded her flat iron magic on my hair, we casually talked about her dilemma. I mostly listened, allowing her to talk about whatever she wanted so that she could hear the words out loud, not just in her head. Occasionally, I'd ask a "curiosity" question – not to get an answer, but to generate food-for-thought. At the end, I didn't ask if she had made a decision, but I told her that whatever decision she ultimately made, I knew it was the right one. And that my hair looked great.

I've gone most of my life thinking that everything had a right or wrong answer. And that conversations about serious things require serious conversations. But Sawyer made me realize that conversations about serious things need effective communication, but they don't have to take place in a serious setting.

And what did Black say when I told her about my "awakening"? I won't bore you with all her "analysis" about it being easier to talk with people when it's a casual conversation, and you don't have direct eye-to-eye contact, but she couldn't help but point out,

Well, I guess that explains why so many people share so much with their hairstylists.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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