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


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I keep forgetting to ask you, since Sawyer is away at camp, what did you do for July 4th?



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Well, it was a very different Fourth of July. No kids. No barbeque. No fireworks.


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I know most of the fireworks were cancelled, but is your barbeque grill broken?


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No, this year I decided to declare my "independence" from doing a big holiday grocery shop, major prep work, and cooking outdoors in Texas heat.


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I wish there were more people willing to declare their independence.



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Somehow I don't think you're talking about me making an easy pasta dish in the comfort of my air-conditioned house vs. standing over a hot barbeque on a hot day.


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No, but the quote, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" does apply to a bunch of elected government "leaders" – and I use that terms loosely as they actually seem to be "followers." You cannot tell me they do not see how their actions – or inactions – are hurting their constituents.



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Although I agree with you, I can see where some elected officials feel the need to maintain the party line. Like you've always told me, you have to pick your battles.


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Yes, but we are talking about people's lives. You are the history buff, so you well know there was a time when people would give their lives to do what they felt was right – for their families, for their community, for their country. Even if that meant standing up to those in control.



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Yes, but I think you're being a bit dramatic. Which is interesting as I was the theater major, not you. After all, equating sacrificing your life to taking a stand about your beliefs is different from leaders who aren't willing to "speak up" to "higher-ups".


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Really? One is risking their life – the other, maybe, their career. True leadership is about doing what is right. And, if you feel that something that is wrong, take an independent stand. It is about having the strength, courage, and conviction to do what you believe is right.


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Sounds like you watched "The Patriot" over the holiday weekend.


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Never heard of it, but you are the movie-goer, not me. Although we both know your primary motivation is the popcorn.


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True. Anyway, it starred Mel Gibson as an American colonist, and although an "action movie" showing our fight to win independence from Britain, it still explores those exact themes. America may not be a perfect country, but it has always stood up and been willing to fight for what it believes in.


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Yes, but that is harder to do when leaders are not leading, but rather just following. Being a true leader requires independent thinking.


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That reminds me of something someone told me decades ago about a colleague they worked with, "He would be a great leader, if only people would follow him." It definitely made me laugh.


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Sometimes you do not realize the wisdom of a true leader until much later. Initially, they may be measured by doing what is popular or convenient.


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I love history, and there are countless examples of just that, but I'm not sure how you begin to crack that nut. Today, thinking, yet alone independent thinking, isn't what a lot of people do well.


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OK, Miss History. After we got our independence from England, how were we ruled? Who made all the decisions?


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Is this a trick question?


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No, I do not know the answer, and I am trying to understand what happened and why.


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First, my disclaimer that I know more about Tudor history than American history, but to keep it short and simple, the 13 states had to find a way to work together, and the original structure (if you're ever on Jeopardy remember "The Articles of Confederation") gave the states a lot of power. However, that didn't work out so well, and after just a few years, there was the brilliant idea to create The Constitution, which establishes and defines the separation of powers.


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So, it required a lot of creative thinking, with an end goal of what was best for "We the people". In other words, when our country was born – it was led by independent thinkers not people that merely followed along.


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Yes, but that's history. Good luck turning back that clock! It would require those "up the ranks" to relinquish some of their power. And need I remind you that we had to fight the War of Independence to achieve that?


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That history fact, I do know. However, I think we have recently witnessed the importance – and power – of independent thinking. And, combined with good leadership, it can result in great things.


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Absolutely! And to say there's such an overwhelming need for that at this critical time would be a huge understatement. Maybe it's time for another revolution, although this time make it peaceful.


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The War of Independent Thinking. Now that would warrant fireworks.

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

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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

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


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.