Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … 2021 – A New Normal

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


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Well, it's a new year but it really doesn't feel much different from last year. Even though there's a vaccine, the coronavirus is still a gray cloud hanging over us. Combine that with resolutions that typically don't last more than a month or so, and it's not a good start to the new year.


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The new year is a date on the calendar. It would be like saying Wednesday really does not feel any different from Tuesday. It is a mindset and an attitude. And, obviously, yours is focused on the negative – not the positive.


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I know I should treat the new year as a new beginning. You know, the concept that's the basis of countless articles and news features. But it just seems like an almost impossible task.



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Speaking of difficult tasks ... how is the new computer? I know that you were dreading having to deal with it. In fact, you fought it until you finally had no choice.


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I know. But now I love it! It's so fast and much of what I thought was going to be difficult to learn was actually pretty intuitive, even for me. And I know this might sound crazy, but the best part was that since all of my old emails (all 25,000+ of them!) are now archived, opening Outlook every morning's no longer stressful.


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Makes sense. I am almost afraid to ask, but I know you were freaking out that the discontinued version of Franklin Planner software you use for all your "to do" tasks might not transfer. Any luck?


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Initially, I was freaking out because I had a ton of stuff on it. But then I started preparing for the worst – that everything would be lost – and that's when I realized that I didn't use or need most of it. Although all the old data did end up being lost, the software transferred. Now, I'm only using Franklin Planner for important things or where I need reminders. And I love seeing only a few tasks vs. long lists of things that would make me feel like a failure for not getting through them!


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So, let me understand. The new computer is like a clean slate. Where you can focus on important things versus agonizing over things that are merely carried over. Is that correct?


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Exactly! You call it a "clean slate" but I see it as a new start. It's just a coincidence that it happened at the end of the year. Anyway, it's great!


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OK, so how about taking that same approach to the new year?


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That's why you changed the subject to my new computer! You tricked me. But I'll forgive you because that's a really interesting way of looking at 2021. But life's not that easy. You can't ignore the past. With my computer I really had no other choice.


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You are not ignoring the past; you are merely putting it in perspective and hitting "reset" before moving forward.


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A reset … I like that! I know it may just be words, but that just seems so much better than a resolution.


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That may be because a reset allows you to truly start fresh, to focus on what things you want to do or do better. Since you are not overwhelmed with lists and "good intentions" from the past, it is easier to identify what is truly important. Including things that may have gotten "lost" along the way. And, that is before taking into consideration that the pandemic has changed everything.


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There's an understatement. When I was looking at my old lists it became obvious they were filled with many unimportant tasks. But what was really a wake-up call was realizing how many things that I took for granted – that I just didn't appreciate enough at the time and now miss.


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I think many of us do. It sounds like a cliché but a crisis forces us to think about what is truly important as well as what we take for granted. Often times it is a personal crisis, as you well know, but this happens to be a crisis that is impacting everyone.


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And almost everyone I've talked to, talks about how it's not only impacted their lives but made them relook at their priorities.


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That is to be expected. But, unfortunately, when a crisis passes, it is easy to fall back into our old ways. Except this crisis has been going on long enough that it is hard to remember what we used to consider "normal" …


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I know, and that makes me sad.


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I think that is where we started this conversation, with you choosing to look at the negative versus the positive.


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I'm sorry, but it's not easy to look at what we're all going through as something positive.


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Well, it is not something we would intentionally want to go through, but we are here now. And, 2021 is the start of a new normal.


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Well, in that case I think we should wish everyone a Happy – and Healthy – New Normal!


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You just did.

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

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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