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


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Where did January go? Every day feels like Groundhog Day, but yet the months are flying by! Our January column was about "resets" instead of resolutions, so maybe we could expand on that and talk about self-improvement.


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Instead of love, hearts, and Valentine's Day? Works for me.


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Maybe we can tie the two concepts together – become a better person as a Valentine's Day gift to yourself?


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Instead of looking at what needs improvement, what about learning to love – and accept – yourself?


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That sounds rather arrogant, as I think it's safe to say that most of us could use some improvement.


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Agree, but that puts the focus on what is wrong with us versus what is right.


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Interesting thought, especially as I suspect that most of us underestimate, and undervalue, all the positive things we do. It's just so easy to get caught up in the "how to be better" mindset. Which can be overwhelming, as it becomes just one more thing you feel you need to do.


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And, can set you up for failure versus success. Plus, everyone's personal circumstances are different, which is why I am suggesting self-acceptance versus comparing yourself to some other "ideal". Focus on positive traits. Then, build on those.


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I like that! Especially since building on something you already do will probably take less time than trying to change and, let's face it, lately it seems that time's flying by even more quickly than usual.


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Someone once told me, "The older you get, the quicker time flies." Which means we must use it wisely. Especially since none of us knows how much time we have left.


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I know you're pragmatic, but that was painfully blunt. Especially given what's going on with the pandemic. In the past, most people preferred not to think about death, but now, at the risk of sounding dramatic, it's all around us and has touched so many people. It's so incredibly tragic.


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Having loved ones die, especially untimely deaths, can have a powerful impact. Which is what happened to me growing up. It made me realize that the future is not a guarantee, but merely an incentive. And that, in turn, had a direct impact on my priorities. And, how I approach life.


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I remember you telling me that. It certainly explained a lot of things, like what appeared to be your "devil-may-care" attitude. It helped me realize that a lot of your decisions, and actions, were based on your unusual perspective. I guess you can say that you live life based on your experience with death.


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To some extent, but I see the bigger influence being how I want to be remembered at my funeral.


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I'm not sure I even want to have this conversation, but I'll admit I'm curious. So, do you care to explain that remark?!


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I believe you should live your life not concerned about what people think and say about you when you are alive. But instead, what they will say about you once you are gone.


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Why would you care if you're no longer around?


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By then, what you say you are going to do is a moot point. All that is left are your actions. And, they will speak louder than words. What did you do? Who did you help? Did you try to make a difference?


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That's a very interesting attitude for someone who doesn't seem to care what people say about you when you're alive!


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Is it? When people talk about the living, many focus on gossip and/or perceptions. People look at isolated incidents. Recent events or actions. However, when you remember those who are no longer here, you may have specific memories that stand out, but you remember the person. And, what they stood for. You remember them in terms of the life they lived.


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You're right. Almost every night, Wolf Blitzer on CNN takes the last few minutes to memorialize victims of COVID-19 and he talks about the life they lived. I don't even know them, but it makes me realize how everyone can be special. And the ripple effect everyone has on the lives they've touched.


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Do you remember the conversation we had years ago when we were returning from Cousin Frankie's funeral? We talked about all the incredible things that everyone was saying about him.


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Absolutely! We weren't close to Frankie, but we learned so much about him by what other people said. He touched so many lives. I remember thinking that, in a strange way, knowing that helped comfort Aunt Maxine and Uncle Connie.


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I remember the recurring sentiment was that he always let his family and friends know that he loved them.


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Yes, I remember that, too. Since his death was so untimely and unexpected, that was such an amazing gift that he left the people he loved.


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One of the greatest gifts you can give the people you love is to let them know that you love them. Especially because you never know if that will be the last chance you have to let them know how you feel.


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So true. Which is one of the reasons that Valentine's Day drives me crazy. Although I love getting cards and flowers, I don't think that you should need a holiday or special occasion to prompt these things. Do you really need Hallmark and your local florist to tell you that you should be saying, "I Love You"?


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Somehow, I do not think you want to discuss the business aspects of holidays. But you, of all people, understand how easy it is to get wrapped up in day-to-day living. Sometimes we need a reminder to make us stop and focus on what is truly important. Why not use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to stock up on "I love you" cards and then use them all year long? Obviously, Post-it notes, phone messages, or text messages work just as well. There is much truth to the cliché, "It is the thought that counts."


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So, does that mean you do or don't want me and the girls to send you a card on Valentine's Day?


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Whatever makes you happy. Just promise if you get me a card, it will not be one of those drippy sweet ones. If you really love me, make sure it is sarcastic. And, the more sarcastic – the better.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

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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.