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 Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


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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.


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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 with parties."

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.

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


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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?


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Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


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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.


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I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.
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Image by Arseniy45 on iStock


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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.


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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."