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.
|I love history and understand that “Lincoln freed the slaves,” but the Civil War was about more than slavery. It was about preserving the Union, and about states’ rights (some things never change) and westward expansion. However, once President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the war between the states would be forever remembered as a war to end slavery. Although I’ll admit that I’d never of Juneteenth until I moved to Texas. And I was surprised to learn it took two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation for slaves in Texas to be set free, but that explains why Juneteenth’s celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States. And why it was declared a federal holiday in 2021.|
|Change is never as simple as issuing proclamations. Especially since slavery represented systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity. Real change requires words and actions, and a change in mindset. Celebrating the end of slavery is noble, but it should also serve as a reminder of where we are and how far we still have to go. Ending racism is not as simple as saying it is wrong but recognizing that it still exists is an important start.|
|Every Father’s Day , when I think of Daddy, I think about alligators and turtles. I know that might sound crazy, especially as there are so many wonderful memories, but those stand out. As does the fact that every day, he taught me about unconditional love and was always there for me. And even though he passed away over 20 years ago, the memories are as strong, both emotionally and “visually”, as if it was just yesterday. And for that, I’m so grateful.|
|I know you are probably expecting me to talk about how Father’s Day is, in many ways, a form of “equal rights" since Mother’s Day was already in existence , or maybe the business aspects of it being a “ retail holiday ”. Instead, at the risk of sounding warm and fuzzy, I will just say that dads always have a very special place in the hearts of their “little girls” … no matter how old those “girls” become.|
Wishing all dads a very Happy Father’s Day!
|This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.|
|Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.|
|I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.|
|If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.|
|I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.|
|Not really. In the case of the American flag, they needed something to communicate a new nation fighting for its freedom . But remember when I gave Natasha a set of racing flags years ago?|
|How could I forget? It was a very difficult and challenging time. And although you had already made me realize that different people like to communicate differently , the problem with Natasha wasn't so much how to communicate with her as figuring out when. We were frustrated and walking around on eggshells because we never knew when she was in a good mood or a bad mood, when it was safe to talk to her, and when she needed to be left alone.|
|Sometimes flags are the perfect way to communicate a message when words are not an option.|
|Leave it to you to use racing flags to solve what seemed like an impossible situation in a way that was not only clever but appealed to her because of her love of cars and racing. And we know where she got that from!|
|It just seemed logical. As did the cheat sheet where I basically "translated" the racing meanings of the different color flags for your use. For example, in racing, a green flag can either be the start of a race, a re-start, or just displayed to communicate safe racing. With Natasha, it would mean it was "safe" to talk to her. In racing, a yellow flag means caution and to slow down, which needs no further explanation.|
|I remember her telling me, quite emphatically, that a black flag means "Go away." Which made me laugh because it just seemed so, well, appropriate, given that's something I could see you saying.|
|On the track, it means to go to the pits, usually because you are in trouble. So, I cannot argue with your comment about it being appropriate for me. But, keep in mind that a red flag means to "Stop!"|