Photo taken by David Mendel

There's a line towards the end of The Shawshank Redemption, one of my all-time favorite movies, when the character Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, writes in a letter, "Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things …" And, although the "Red" is not me, for some reason, it has always stayed with me, not only because it comes when the Red character, played by Morgan Freeman, is feeling particularly hopeless, but because it's a simple yet very powerful statement.


So, it didn't surprise me when my youngest daughter and I were at Belmont University in Nashville for freshman orientation a few months ago, and I listened to their new president, Dr. Greg Jones, welcome us with a message of hope. He spoke passionately of the power of hope and imagination, the promise of things being better, even while living in turbulent times, and how opportunity and optimism for a brighter future are always possible.

So, in the poignant setting of an auditorium of students and parents preparing for the next stage of their respective lives, it not only resonated but, well, made me think of Andy Dufresne and how he'd probably agree with Dr. Jones and his vision for Belmont to be a catalyst to "Let Hope Abound."

A week ago, I was back at Belmont, this time to drop off my daughter, and I lingered on for a few extra days (no, I wasn't being a clingy mom as it was her request so we could celebrate her first day of classes which fell on my birthday). And even though I wholeheartedly believed in the words of hope as expressed by both Dr. Jones and the character of Andy, part of me was feeling more like the character of Red. Well, that might be a bit dramatic as I didn't actually feel hopeless, just sad.

It was bittersweet. A commonly used word to describe chocolate that's both bitter and sweet at the same time, it was also the perfect way to explain the situation as I felt both hope for the future yet also sadness. Unsure of how to let the "positive" be the focus of my thoughts. And while I knew that thousands (and thousands) of parents were feeling the same way I was, it didn't seem to make it any better. Until …

The night of my birthday, having said our final goodbyes after dinner, my daughter insisted that I should take a final walk around the campus instead of immediately going back to the hotel. Belmont's a beautiful campus, and I smiled as I passed students having impromptu "jam" sessions on the lawns and in gazebos. I walked past a security guard who was obviously enjoying a conversation with a student. And everywhere I walked, there were "flags" proclaiming "Let Hope Abound."

And as I thought to myself that maybe the walk was my daughter's way of letting me know that all would be good, I hear the ping of a perfectly-timed text from my daughter letting me know she was going to meet me and walk with me to the car.

Yes, Andy Dufresne. Yes, Dr. Jones. You're both so right. Hope's a good thing, maybe the best of things. Not only for my daughter and me as we each start new chapters in our lives … but for all college freshmen and their families. Let hope abound!
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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.


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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.
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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.


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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!

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It seems most appropriate that Flag Day falls during Effective Communication Month, or at least it does to Black, who years ago had suggested Red use race flags as a fun (and “safe”) way to communicate with her teenage daughter. From that point on, Red never looked at the “Stars & Stripes” the same way again … because she learned flags might be one of the most straightforward and effective ways to communicate – whether feelings of pride and support, messages to racecar drivers, or even to indicate your moods.


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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.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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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.


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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.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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