Words & Banter

Hope. The Most Powerful Four-Letter Word?!

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!

After a busy weekend doing all those personal things that pile up during the week, I feel like I need a nap. But ironically, I never think about weekend naps, even though I could “rationalize” them as doing something positive for myself vs. feeling like it’s a “guilty pleasure” (which is how I feel about workday naps).

When I mentioned that to Black, she suggested I reread my post below (I still laugh at one of the places Black has taken power naps). She then added that it was a selfish request as she knows that my work, not to mention my mood, improves from recharging my batteries.

I'm sitting at my computer but I see our big black labradoodle, Moo (imagine calling for her on the street), curled up for a nap in an armchair. I look at her with love but also with more than a touch of envy. Because as much as the stacks of papers on my desk beckon (or is it taunts) me, a nap's what I really want, and probably need.

The reasons why are unimportant but probably familiar to most people. I stayed up later than I planned, then my sleep was interrupted during the night by Moo, a crazy morning filled with unplanned things that delayed what I'd hoped to have accomplished, which meant I was now working at full speed to "catch up" and I felt exhausted. Not to mention, this morning's caffeine had worn off hours ago.

You may be thinking, "You work from home, just stop what you're doing and take a nap." Well, it sounds like good advice except I'd feel guilty doing that, especially during a workday. A nap just seems selfish. Plus, I'm not sure how I'd explain it to Black, although she doesn't sleep normal hours, and does take power naps.

Keep Reading ...Show less
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Why does everything have to be such a struggle? Even a simple phone call to a doctor’s office. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m tired or getting older, but I just don’t have the time or the patience for this.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Me, neither.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Do you mean this conversation? Or are you agreeing with me? Which, although nice, doesn’t make sense, as you don’t even know what happened.
Keep Reading ...Show less

If you asked each of us our favorite childhood book, Red would draw a blank, while Black would quickly reply, “The Little Engine That Could,” and then start repeating, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” But if you asked about our memory of the first book we read on our own, we might not remember the title, but it would be a Dr. Seuss book. And even though we both love to read, that would probably be the last time we agreed on what to read (see Red's original post below). Red prefers to read for enjoyment and escape (she’ll read online articles as “brain breaks” during the workday), while Black always seems to be “researching” something … and recently sent Red an article listing the benefits of reading because, in addition to our love of reading, we both love lists!

Keep Reading ...Show less