Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … A Year-Round Valentine

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.

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


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As you know, I love history, but I appreciate many people don’t.


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I am one of those people, so not sure where you are going with this.


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Exactly. So, when you first wanted to talk to me about the history of credit cards, I should have known something was up.


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Or, at least been curious.


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How was I supposed to know it would make a difference in my life?


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Why else would I want to give you a “history lesson”?
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Photo by mevans on iStock
Let’s be very clear. Autism has no correlation with intelligence; it’s a developmental disability (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). And it’s a spectrum disorder, which means each autistic person has their unique mix of abilities, challenges, and ways of seeing the world (can’t that be said of all of us?!) So, as we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week, remember it’s more than just awareness – it’s about acceptance.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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