Design by Sawyer Pennington

red head red head

I probably shouldn't admit this, especially with Black around, but I know exactly how you feel. It's not that we don't know all the good reasons to exercise; it's just hard to get motivated. So, at the risk of Black rolling her eyes, I'm going to share with you two things that work for me. My exercise of choice is walking, and since I'm a warm and fuzzy person that will do for others before I'll do for myself, I "do it" for my dog. I know that all I have to do is pick up the leash and as she starts to do her "happy dance" all the excuses I might have quickly become irrelevant.

The second "trick" I use on myself is to think of my walk as uninterrupted time to mentally sort out my "to do" lists for the rest of the day. Without an actual list in front of me, I'll usually remember only the high priority items which lets me approach the rest of my day more focused and organized. And, if I just happen to daydream while walking, that's ok as I'll return refreshed and ready to go.

Black's Head Black

Actually, I am not rolling my eyes because the bottom line is that whatever motivates you to exercise is the right answer. My motivation is selfish and shallow. I love clothing and have a small fortune invested in my closet since I have been a size 2 for decades. So, exercise (cardio and weights) and watching my diet have always been high priority. But, there are still days when it is hard to get started. Then I tell myself I am only going to exercise for 10 minutes – as that is better than nothing. And, once I get started, I figure I might as well keep going.

Red's Head

I'm laughing because I suspect Black would argue that I rarely look "nice" in the sense that I rarely "dress up". Even before the pandemic, unless I had a Red & Black business meeting or speaking engagement, my normal "look" was that of super comfy – workout or very casual clothing and minimal makeup. Here in Texas, where the heat and humidity are oppressive, I'm always looking for tips because the moment you step outside, you're going to start sweating, your makeup will drip, and your hair will either frizz or wilt (neither's a good look for me). So, I keep my skincare simple and summer-friendly – extremely lightweight, tinted facial moisturizer with a high SPF (so I only need a single product) and waterproof mascara.

I've never been very creative when managing my long hair for the summer, but my daughter let me in on a secret when she straightened my hair for me. Unlike my rushed approach, she took an extra 10 minutes to do it in smaller sections, which looked great when my hair was down but, amazingly, even made my ponytail look "finished". Taking a little more time to do it right makes a huge difference as now my hair stands up to the heat and humidity. (Good news is she's always willing to do it for me, bad news is that she goes to college in a few months, so I'll have to learn how to do it myself.)

Black's Head Black

When I started racing cars in the mid-1990s, I cut my hair very short so I could easily style it with some water and hair goo when I removed my helmet, which makes it perfect for summer. (Plus, I calculated that I could save over 10 hours/month, or five full days a year, by not dealing with my hair.)

In terms of clothing, it is a function of where you are going or where you work (obviously, if you are in the banking industry, you will dress very differently than someone who works for a design or marketing firm). For the last few decades, I have worn the same "uniform" – dark slacks or jeans, white shirt, blazer, and colorful Hermes shawl. In the summer, I select pieces that are light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable fabrics, but if I had to give one tip, it would be to wear layers since going in and out of air-conditioning can be a challenge, although I see it as a fashion opportunity. In fact, that is how my "signature" shawls started as, regardless of the season, I would always have one with me to handle changes in temperature.
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FULL QUESTION: My teenager's a slob and it's driving me crazy – their messy room, leaving dirty dishes all around the house, and the bathroom looking like a disaster area! And now they're home for the summer. Help!

Red's Head

Moms everywhere know exactly what you're talking about! And although people told me not to worry, this phase will pass, that didn't make it any better while I was in the midst of it. (I wish I had understood why teenagers have messy rooms and what I could have done to manage it better.)The good news was I was able to set expectations (and help maintain them) for the common areas of the house, but dealing with their rooms was very different. Especially with my eldest daughter since nothing would work – not bribes, not threats, not rationale conversation. I tried all the tips and "tricks" without success, and eventually decided to stop nagging her because all it did was get me upset while she seemed perfectly content with the mess.

At that point, I realized my primary concern was that I'd ultimately need an exterminator and/or plumber (for those of you that have lived through this, you understand), so I'd periodically go in and selectively clean that which would create problems for the rest of us. The rest I left alone. Hey, if she wanted to wear smelly clothing or have a bathroom that should be declared a national emergency zone, so be it.

My younger daughter, in comparison, was so much better. And since she's more social and likes to have friends over, that has been the best thing to keep her room habitable by humans, as she'd never have them come into a pigsty.

Black's Head Black

I do not have children, but there was a time I did have stepdaughters, and not knowing what else to do, I decided to treat them like I would new employees. I knew employees basically wanted to please management, so I figured kids wanted to please their parents. I created a "Rules of the House" document (small, basic, easy things) and presented most of them as things to do versus things not to do, and looked at the rules as an opportunity for them to achieve and succeed, not as a set of restrictions. I always found it more effective with employees, and then the girls (and even their father), to reinforce positive behavior rather than punish bad behavior. It can be as simple as a "thank you," complimenting them on their efforts, or maybe even reward a job well done. It seemed to work, and along the way, improved communications and helped us set priorities.

Red's Head

As pandemic restrictions start to lift, especially for those of us who've been vaccinated, and we ease toward getting back to "normal" (or whatever will be our new normal), hugs are on a lot of people's minds and "wish lists". Myself included, as I've really missed being able to hug people. But I always make sure that I first ask permission, making it clear that I respect whatever they want to do, or perhaps not to do.

At the same time, we have a 93-year-old mom, and I'm extremely careful about who I hug – making sure they've also been vaccinated. And, like many moms, I admit to being overprotective and, although both my kids have been vaccinated, still encourage them to continue to be cautious.

Black's Head Black

Red's eldest, Natasha, lives in England, and earlier this month when it announced that its citizens would be allowed to hug again, I laughed as she did not hug pre-COVID. For that matter, Sawyer is not much of a hugger, either. I will not get into the science of why people are or are not huggers, but I fully appreciate that hugs provide a wealth of health benefits and was fascinated by this study. But not even scientific proof will make me want a hug, although I may give in for those friends I know really need hugs right now. For everyone else, the pandemic provides me with the perfect excuse not to hug.