Design by Sawyer Pennington


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Oh, you must be kidding! Would you expect a warm and fuzzy single parent to always see eye-to-eye with an extremely pragmatic business executive who never had kids? But what helps is Black's favorite word is "Why" and she tries to understand my perspective. Although sometimes I have to explain to her that "it's a mere mortal thing" (I've come to the conclusion she's a Vulcan).


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For the most part we agree on the "big things" as we have the same basic values, but not always the smaller things (funny how small things cause bigger disagreements). Years ago, I learned to pick my battles. And, also learned the value of agreeing to disagree.


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Well, this question immediately brings to mind the rekindling of "Bennifer" (nickname given to the celebrity romance of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) since it's been in the news so much. And it's not only the TV talk shows but also some of the "news" shows. While many people are asking "Why now?" and "Why are so many people happy about it?" I think it's pretty simple. Many people, especially women, are just romantics at heart, and whether dramas or romantic comedies, most of us love a good love story. Full stop. And they often follow the same plotline – the couple meet, fall in love, break up, but in the last scene, realize they've never stopped loving one another, reconcile, and live happily ever after.

So, especially given what we've all been through with the pandemic, what could be better than a real-life love story with a happy ending? And if celebrities can do it, why can't we? Of course, it doesn't help that many people tend to reminisce about the good times, making it easy to over-romanticize a past relationship, especially if thinking about rekindling it.


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Without getting into all the studies on Socioemotional Selectivity Theory, the bottom line is that as people get older, they focus on the time remaining and direct their attention to positive thoughts and memories. Combine that with the emotional drain of the pandemic and limited social interaction, and it is easy to understand why people go back to their Rolodex (pre-technology contact lists) rather than try to meet new people.

Yes, there may be good reasons to go this route. For me, it would make me question the logic of trying again when something did not work in the past. The operative word in that sentence is "question" as I am a firm believer in asking questions, lots of questions. With my favorite one being, "Why?" So, while I cannot tell you why people are trying to rekindle old romances, I can encourage anyone doing so to ask themselves why they are doing it, including why it did not work the first time, and why they believe this time would be different.


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I'm laughing because I suspect Black would argue that I rarely look "nice" in the sense that I rarely "dress up". Even before the pandemic, unless I had a Red & Black business meeting or speaking engagement, my normal "look" was that of super comfy – workout or very casual clothing and minimal makeup. Here in Texas, where the heat and humidity are oppressive, I'm always looking for tips because the moment you step outside, you're going to start sweating, your makeup will drip, and your hair will either frizz or wilt (neither's a good look for me). So, I keep my skincare simple and summer-friendly – extremely lightweight, tinted facial moisturizer with a high SPF (so I only need a single product) and waterproof mascara.

I've never been very creative when managing my long hair for the summer, but my daughter let me in on a secret when she straightened my hair for me. Unlike my rushed approach, she took an extra 10 minutes to do it in smaller sections, which looked great when my hair was down but, amazingly, even made my ponytail look "finished". Taking a little more time to do it right makes a huge difference as now my hair stands up to the heat and humidity. (Good news is she's always willing to do it for me, bad news is that she goes to college in a few months, so I'll have to learn how to do it myself.)


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When I started racing cars in the mid-1990s, I cut my hair very short so I could easily style it with some water and hair goo when I removed my helmet, which makes it perfect for summer. (Plus, I calculated that I could save over 10 hours/month, or five full days a year, by not dealing with my hair.)

In terms of clothing, it is a function of where you are going or where you work (obviously, if you are in the banking industry, you will dress very differently than someone who works for a design or marketing firm). For the last few decades, I have worn the same "uniform" – dark slacks or jeans, white shirt, blazer, and colorful Hermes shawl. In the summer, I select pieces that are light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable fabrics, but if I had to give one tip, it would be to wear layers since going in and out of air-conditioning can be a challenge, although I see it as a fashion opportunity. In fact, that is how my "signature" shawls started as, regardless of the season, I would always have one with me to handle changes in temperature.

FULL QUESTION: My teenager's a slob and it's driving me crazy – their messy room, leaving dirty dishes all around the house, and the bathroom looking like a disaster area! And now they're home for the summer. Help!


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Moms everywhere know exactly what you're talking about! And although people told me not to worry, this phase will pass, that didn't make it any better while I was in the midst of it. (I wish I had understood why teenagers have messy rooms and what I could have done to manage it better.)The good news was I was able to set expectations (and help maintain them) for the common areas of the house, but dealing with their rooms was very different. Especially with my eldest daughter since nothing would work – not bribes, not threats, not rationale conversation. I tried all the tips and "tricks" without success, and eventually decided to stop nagging her because all it did was get me upset while she seemed perfectly content with the mess.

At that point, I realized my primary concern was that I'd ultimately need an exterminator and/or plumber (for those of you that have lived through this, you understand), so I'd periodically go in and selectively clean that which would create problems for the rest of us. The rest I left alone. Hey, if she wanted to wear smelly clothing or have a bathroom that should be declared a national emergency zone, so be it.

My younger daughter, in comparison, was so much better. And since she's more social and likes to have friends over, that has been the best thing to keep her room habitable by humans, as she'd never have them come into a pigsty.


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I do not have children, but there was a time I did have stepdaughters, and not knowing what else to do, I decided to treat them like I would new employees. I knew employees basically wanted to please management, so I figured kids wanted to please their parents. I created a "Rules of the House" document (small, basic, easy things) and presented most of them as things to do versus things not to do, and looked at the rules as an opportunity for them to achieve and succeed, not as a set of restrictions. I always found it more effective with employees, and then the girls (and even their father), to reinforce positive behavior rather than punish bad behavior. It can be as simple as a "thank you," complimenting them on their efforts, or maybe even reward a job well done. It seemed to work, and along the way, improved communications and helped us set priorities.