Photo taken by Red in her kitchen

I promise this isn't about how as a single mom, my days and evenings (including weekends) have always been busy. But lately, my evenings are as busy as my days, as that's when I try to "catch up" on Red & Black because my usual "juggling" act of work, mom, and daughter duties has become even more challenging. And if there's not enough to do as my younger daughter goes off to college in a few weeks, not to mention just wanting to enjoy every moment of our time together, there are the rapidly increasing demands because of our aging mom. The result? My daytime work hours have been seriously encroached upon, pushing things into the evening.

So, is this a piece about work-life balance? And how I feel like I'm constantly taking one step ahead but falling two (or three or four) steps behind? Or how all those articles about how one day you'll find yourself in the middle of caring for children while caring for parents will present not only time management challenges but mental health ones as you try to take care of everyone, including yourself … are suddenly about me?

Well, actually, no. As a former theater major, I was merely "setting the stage" …


I was recently in my workroom with my head buried in paper and emails when a sound interrupted me that I easily could've ignored as "white noise" (ok, Black would probably comment that I'm misusing the word as it has a technical definition and specific uses, but as any parent knows it's that background noise that you know you can disregard). But I chose not to as it was the sound of my daughter and fiancé baking in the kitchen, and I'm not sure who was having more fun – my 18-year-old or an almost 60-year-old grown man.

It started with the sound of lots of laughter followed by some (really bad) singing to everything from John Denver to Lady GaGa singing "Shallow" alongside Bradley Cooper. (It must be said that my daughter has a very eclectic playlist.) Then the next thing I know, I see fingers full of cookie dough coming my way, playfully threatening to get it on me. Wrapped up in the moment, I wasn't sure that would be a bad thing, and smiled when they left as it looked like really good cookie dough.

At this point, I turn to the TV (more "white noise"), apologize to Don Lemon, and turn it off because the sounds from the kitchen are some of the happiest I'd heard all day and far better than all the depressing news on TV. And then, as if it couldn't get any better, the sweet smell of a freshly baked cookie cake (because who can be bothered making individual cookies when you can just cut the time in half by baking a cake and cutting it into bars) drifts towards my workroom.

It's the most relaxed and happy I've felt all day, and I fire off those sentiments to Black, thinking that I'm being very clever by ending my email not with a warm and fuzzy comment, but something that I thought Black would appreciate,

And who would've thought that happiness could be "bought" for the price of some flour, sugar, chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla extract?

Of course, her reply comes within minutes (unlike me, Black's work-life balance seems, to me, to be more of a work-work balance as she'll acknowledge she has no life) and, of course, has a business angle (at least she didn't tell me to calculate a cost per bite). Black explained the successes of the Pillsbury advertising campaign from the 1950s and 1960s (check out this TV commercial from 1962), including the introduction of the beloved Pillsbury doughboy, ending her email with what's one of the most iconic advertising slogans of all time, and one she thinks Pillsbury should re-introduce,

Nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven.

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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

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


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.