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?!)
|Quick question. I was wondering if, and I repeat the word IF, I wanted to start exercising, how would I go about it?|
||Hello. Hello. Who is this? You must have the wrong number.|
|I didn't say I was going to do it, I said I was wondering.|
||And what brought this on?|
||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.|
||What happened to your Sunday movie? Are you trying to tell me you are not going tomorrow?|
||I'm not answering that question until you answer my question. If I wanted to start an exercise program, where would I start?|
||The first step is to make it a short-term priority.|
||Short-term? No, I want it to become something I do on an ongoing basis, not just a quick fix.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||But that would mean getting up even earlier than I already do and you know I'm not a morning person.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!
When Red was in the midst of her crisis and trying to deal with seemingly every aspect of her life, it quickly became obvious that she had been living in an old-fashioned sitcom where life appeared to be perfect. Adjusting to reality wouldn't be easy (now, that could be a sitcom!), especially when one of the biggest adjustments had to do with what she viewed as one of her strong suits – people skills. More specifically, her relationship with her husband because Red's expectations of her husband and her marriage definitely weren't related to reality.
P.S. – Since then, Red has learned about how important it is to have realistic expectations in any relationship, but when it comes to spouses/partners, it's essential. And Black has (finally) gotten her to realize that you need to be honest with yourself (ideally about both you and your partner), so that you set your relationship up for success, not failure. But Red will add a warning … understanding the logic of this mindset and approach is much easier than accepting and implementing it. Although she'll agree with Black that it's worth the effort if it results in a more successful relationship.
E-mail From: Black
Subject: Perception vs. Reality
Sent: Saturday, February 7
Not really, or at least nothing that I know of. But our marriage is not paradise. I went into it knowing I had made trade-offs and compromises. And that is OK. I had no false expectations. But at times I have to stop and ask myself if either of us has changed or whether I have merely forgotten to adjust my thinking for changing circumstances. I always thought Larry and I had the potential to be great together. Not because we were a perfect couple, but because we were an imperfect couple that appreciated our differences.
But when it comes to you and Nick … the two of you need to face reality. Together. As a team.
By the way, how is your house-hunting going? That is a perfect place to start working together. And a lot more productive than wasting the afternoon online with me.
||I found Black's comment about having a great marriage very interesting since I didn't think it existed in real life. However, her comment got me thinking that maybe my expectations of marriage needed to be adjusted to be more realistic. I guess I was thinking a great or even really good marriage was one where two people were perfect for one another. One where there were never any major issues that tested the relationship. One where problems had obvious and easy answers. One that ran on automatic and didn't require any special effort. OK, so I was living in a fantasy world. Nothing new there!|
Chapter 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!
One of the hardest lessons Red had to learn during her crisis (partially because she was adamantly resisting it) was one that Black couldn't believe she didn't already know – that marriage (and relationships) isn't all flowers and romantic dinners, but is about teamwork, with an emphasis on work. As well as realizing that life isn't fair, which means teamwork can be 50-50 one day and 90-10 the next.
P.S. – Over the years, Red learned that the concept of teamwork applies to families, not just marriages. Although she sometimes gets so focused on the challenges of being a single mom that she forgets Black's analogy about teamwork. So, falls back into the habit of acting (remember, she was a theater major) the martyr rather than being part of a team that works together.
|… Stop complaining that your life is no longer perfect. Shut up, suck it up and work at it.|
|Thanks for the sugar coating! And for the record, I don't mind the work. What I mind is that I feel like I'm the only one working.|
|That is because you are
doing more than you are used to doing and you do not think Nick is doing anything extra.|
|True. And I don't think
|Yes, it is. It all averages out. The first few years I was racing the Ferrari, my crew did not have to do much to the car on race weekends. Basically "nut and bolt" her, fill her with fuel, and clean the windshield. The car was new, I kept my nose clean and stayed out of accidents and away from the walls. Then late one afternoon I had a minor
"sharing of paint" with someone, and they needed to stay late and work on the car. I apologized to the crew. My
crew chief, Scott, explained that
was their job. The fact that it
had been easy up until then was fine, but
they were always prepared to do whatever it took to keep my car racing. A
marriage is no different.|
|I don't think you can compare racing a Ferrari to a marriage. One is an expensive hobby, and one is your life!|
|Really? Scott is in charge of making sure my race car is ready to be driven to its limit on a racetrack at speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour. If something goes wrong at that speed, things can get very ugly. And I have to be secure in knowing that the car is 100% race-ready. You cannot have doubts in your mind. I would say my relationship with Scott is as serious as a marriage, because every time I put my car on the track, I am trusting Scott with my life.|
|I never would have thought of it that way. So do you trust
Larry with your life?|
|Trust in a marriage is different. The point you need to understand is sometimes a marriage is a 50-50 partnership, and sometimes it requires one party to increase their usual workload to get through challenges. At the moment, you may feel like it is skewed, but even if it is 90-10, the important thing is you have to work together. That might mean that you have to bear a bit more of the "work" right now.|
|So I'm supposed to accept the fact I'm carrying more than my share of the work and let him get a free ride?|
|In a word, yes.|
Chapter 8: It's Time To Take Charge Of The Charge Cards
Red, the straight-A student who loves history, would normally love to engage in a conversation about history. But in the midst of her crisis, preoccupied with trying to deal with her family's financial situation, she didn't have the desire nor see the point in getting a history lesson. And from her sister, no less, who hates history. But that should have been Red's first clue that it would be very pragmatic, highly relevant, and "instantly translatable" to her situation and daily life.
P.S. – Black's history lesson would change how Red looked at credit cards, not only then but to this day. And based on feedback from others (men and women of all ages, and even students), something as unexpected as understanding the original purpose of those little plastic cards (and now mobile wallets, although we both still do it the old-fashioned way) can dramatically change one's perspective on how to use them.
||Quick call. I think it be might be helpful for you to understand the history of credit cards.|
||What ever happened to "Hello?" I'm trying to come to grips with our own personal credit card history, and even that's more than I want to know. I don't think knowing the history of credit cards is going to help me deal with our personal dilemma. I'm not sure anything will help.|
||I know you feel overwhelmed, and I have no desire to continually look backwards, but sometimes understanding history helps you. It did when we looked at the history of your spending habits.|
||It doesn't sound like you're going to drop this, so can you at least make it quick?|
||First, there were gas charge cards, which eventually lead to general purpose charge cards, like American Express. Keep in mind these were charge cards, which meant they had to be paid in full every month. They were created as an alternative to having to go to a local Western Union office to wire for money, which is what people did instead of carrying large amounts of cash or trying to cash out-of-state checks. Then in the late 1950's Bank of America issued the first "credit" card – meaning they were extending credit to the cardholder – and initially promoted it to people traveling, in particular salesmen, who could not easily access their home banks.|
||That makes sense. I remember Mommy telling me how when she and Daddy traveled out West in the 1950s for three months, they had to use Western Union to cable Grandma and Grandpa for money on a regular basis. Now this is all very interesting and will be useful if I find myself on a game show, but what, pray tell, does this history lesson have to do with my credit card debt?|
||Patience, grasshopper! The point is credit cards were started as a business tool to save time and provide convenience. Credit cards were NOT initially designed as consumer debt or financial aid.|
||That may not have been the initial plan, but times have changed. Nick and I, and our mountain of credit card debt, are proof of that!|
||True. But if you returned to the original purpose of what credit cards were meant to be – a convenience so that you did not have to write lots of checks or have cash available all the time – you might find that you use your credit cards differently. Rather than looking at them as a line of credit or endless funds to buy things, you would start to view them as simply a convenience tool, nothing more.|
||You mean actually pay off what you spend each month? All the time? Do people do that? It's an interesting concept, though perhaps not very realistic, and an entirely new way of looking at credit cards.|
||Actually, it is a very old way. The original way. And, that is the point I am trying to make. Think about it. Mom and Daddy always paid their credit cards off every month, and even today, Mom only carries about four credit cards, if that many. I think it is important to remember the history – and true purpose – of credit cards.|
It was extremely annoying when Black was always right. Especially when I thought I finally had the better of her, and then, she proved me wrong. Understanding that credit cards weren't originally intended to be used as long-term debt makes a huge difference.