Chapter 12: Desserts Spelled Backwards Is Stressed. And Vice Versa.

Red has always admired Black because she can go for a run or exercise with weights as a mental break from her day, not to mention the physical benefits derived from her workout routine. She's always envied people that exercise on a regular basis as she thought they obviously have more spare time than she did. Then, when she was in the midst of her "crisis", Black helped her realize that it might be that other people just prioritized exercise higher than she did.

P.S. – For Red, making exercise a priority still presented a challenge even though she knows all of its benefits. (How could she forget with Black's dedication to exercise serving as a constant reminder?) Ironically, the pandemic made Red look to exercise as a possible way to help reduce her stress. And it worked! So now her daily walks are a top priority. (Maybe we should make "positive changes due to the pandemic" a future post?!)


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Quick question. I was wondering if, and I repeat the word IF, I wanted to start exercising, how would I go about it?


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Hello. Hello. Who is this? You must have the wrong number.

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I didn't say I was going to do it, I said I was wondering.


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And what brought this on?


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Primarily the obvious — health and fitness and weight control. But watching you use it as a way to temporarily get away from life and reduce stress is also a motive. Although I have no desire to run five miles.


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What happened to your Sunday movie? Are you trying to tell me you are not going tomorrow?


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I'm not answering that question until you answer my question. If I wanted to start an exercise program, where would I start?


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The first step is to make it a short-term priority.


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Short-term? No, I want it to become something I do on an ongoing basis, not just a quick fix.


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I understand, but if you make it a long-term goal, you may procrastinate starting. If you make it a short-term project, once you start experiencing the benefits, you will become addicted. I bet it will go from being a scheduled task to a way of life within six months. It is similar to when you started Weight Watchers. Initially it was to lose weight, but then it became a logical way of eating.


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We'll see. For the moment, keep in mind I don't intend to become fanatical like you; I just want a normal exercise program.


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First, you need to find something that you enjoy. It can be as simple as throwing on sneakers and going for a walk. Or you can rent a yoga tape or go to a Pilates class at the local gym. Or come over here and work out in our gym.


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This sounds like it may take more time than I have available at the moment. I think I'll wait until I'm settled in the new house.


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No! What did I just say about procrastinating? Exercise does not require hours of time. And it does not have to be in a gym. You can start with 10-minute sessions at home and gradually increase them. The key is to start. And I would suggest doing it first thing in the morning.


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But that would mean getting up even earlier than I already do and you know I'm not a morning person.


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Not necessarily. Get up at the usual time and do the exercise first. Before you get side-tracked by other activities like wasting 15 minutes IMing me. Plus you will not be awake enough to change your mind.


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That all sounds very logical, but I have a feeling that something is going to fall by the wayside, and I'm guessing it's the exercise.


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That's why for the first few weeks, or maybe even months, you need to schedule your exercise time as appointments. Ones that are etched in stone. Once you start, it will not take long for you to feel the results — physically you will have more energy, and mentally you will feel more confident and in control. And trust me, over time it will become addictive.


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Somehow I don't picture me ever becoming a gym bunny, hopping my way to happiness. But I'd certainly be happy to be in better shape — mentally and physically.


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I can remember what you looked like in that Winnie-the-Pooh Halloween costume, and I am picturing you in a bunny outfit hopping down the treadmill. It is a great visual. Hilarious, in fact!

Chapter 18: Whine Or Lemonade? Your Choice

In the midst of Red’s financial crisis, when her focus seemed to be on every little penny, Black helped her look at money realistically and honestly (it only took Red 40+ years to do that). Black also made her see the need to be honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy. But the last thing Red ever expected was to learn that Black had paid for half a Ferrari engine without telling her (millionaire!) husband. Although she didn’t want to think about how much it cost, Red couldn’t help but wonder how important it must’ve been to her sister if she secretly paid for it herself. Especially given how “public” she was about her extensive (and expensive) handbag and shoe collections.

P.S. – Years later, Red still rolls her eyes when she thinks about the conversation. And even though she’s gotten over the shock, she still finds it sad that Black couldn’t talk about money with her husband. Especially because Black was the one that helped Red realize that whether you’re worth millions or living paycheck to paycheck, being able to have open, honest conversations about money is critical if you want a successful and happy partnership.



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What are you doing online?


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Checking e-mails before dinner. And you?


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Same same.


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Can I ask you a question?


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Chapter 15: I Need A Warning System

Typically, when Red asked Black questions, she received questions in return. Or flippant comments. When Red asked her about charity, and specifically Make-A-Wish, she got straight answers, and that alone got Red’s attention. Before this conversation, Red thought her sister’s involvement with Make-A-Wish was very generous, both of her time and her money, but attributed much of it to the fact she had surpluses of both in her life. But once Black made her realize that her involvement went back to her corporate life, years when she might have had spare money but was working ridiculous hours, Red gained a new respect for Black’s commitment. But when Black said how it had become her “reality check” on life, Red began to understand that we all need something to help us remember what’s genuinely important.

P.S. – Charity and helping others remain an important part of our lives (and, much to the chagrin of our accountants and attorneys, drive much of our work in the education and criminal justice worlds). Black’s long-time commitment to Make-A-Wish set an example for Red’s daughters when they were growing up, and made them aware of how important it is to not only appreciate what you have but to think of others. And whether it’s an ongoing commitment to a single organization, helping various charities throughout the year, celebrating targeted donation days (such as #GivingTuesday or World Wish Day), or when specific natural disasters or humanitarian needs require immediate aid, charitable giving (whether money or time) – can make all the difference. Not only to the recipient, but as Black pointed out to Red all those years ago, for yourself.



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I’m curious about something, though. As children, we were never exposed to charity, so what got you involved with Make-A-Wish? Even Natasha has asked me about Make-A-Wish, because she has seen the kids’ artwork at your house and recognizes the logo from seeing it on your race car.
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Chapter 10: So You Think Staying At Home Isn’t A Full-Time Job?

Even before Red’s husband was fired, she had a lot on her plate. But, in reality, probably no more than any other mom, daughter, and wife, who are often (or should that be “usually”) at the center of everything, with their lives being a combination of chauffeur, referee, nurse, cook, friend, and an assortment of other “hats”. And while it can be very rewarding and gratifying knowing that so many people count on you, it can also be overwhelming, not to mention just plain stressful.

P.S. – Even today, Black’s perspective on being a full-time mom (as a stepmom, she considered herself a part-time mom, although she knew that was an important role) still makes Red smile. And while years ago she might have wished she was just a little less needed, now that her girls are older, it makes her a little sad and very nostalgic.



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Another early morning?


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Yes! Now that I did the Sunday night review, I can see how you wake up on Monday mornings ready to tackle the week. Except today is Presidents’ Day and so Natasha’s home from school.


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Anything special planned?


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Why do I have to have something special planned? In fact, why do I have to be the one who does all the planning?


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Sorry I asked …
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