Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Not Just New, Better

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


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Well, it’s our first column of the year. A new beginning. Any “new” ideas for topics? Something other than New Year’s resolutions.


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Is there a reason you do not want to talk about resolutions?


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Obviously, yours was not to ask fewer questions.


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That will never happen, but you are avoiding the question. Why?


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Because every year, I have a long list of things I want to do, and I start strong, but within a few months, I fall back into old habits. Sometimes it only takes weeks. It’s frustrating and disappointing.


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Next question. What is the opposite of “old?"


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I want to say, “New,” but this is clearly one of your trick questions.


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”New” would technically be correct … but, so is “current.” Most people think of resolutions as total overhauls, which has never made sense to me. Instead of major change, which is rarely a realistic goal, why not focus on improving and doing things better?


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Now that’s an interesting thought, especially as Sawyer said to me, mere minutes into the new year, that one of her resolutions was to build on last year’s goals at the gym. So, for me, instead of using that dreaded word “diet,” I could just focus on eating better.


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“Dieting” is focused on weight loss, but eating better is about healthy choices. It may sound like a nuance, but it is a different mindset.


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All I know is phrasing it that way already takes the pressure off. And since I love fruit and salads, it’d be easier to think about using them as substitutes vs. trying to give up the “bad stuff”.


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Exactly. Keep what you are doing that is good and get rid of – or at least reduce – what is not so good.


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I find it interesting that you said “not so good” instead of “bad.” I like that. It puts the focus on the good. Which is a good idea! Pun intended.


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And, that applies to everything … not just eating habits.


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Well, it’s too bad that everyone doesn’t focus on the good. There’s so much negativity everywhere. You turn on the news, and that’s all you hear. You pick up the newspaper, and that’s all you see. And to make matters worse, I often feel like the media’s stirring the pot.


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Good thing you are not on social media. It is even worse there.


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I’d like to think people want good news, but I feel like you have to search for those stories. For example, I get CNN headlines on my phone, and there’s usually one or two “feel good” stories, but they’re typically buried at the bottom.


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Without boring you with studies and statistics, although people say they prefer stories with a “positive” message, they are drawn to “negative” stories. And, since the news media is big business, it gives audiences what they want. Maybe you should change your newsfeed to Axios, as I find its stories are not only factual, but have a human element as they explain “why” the information is important. Regardless, nothing requires you to keep up with all the news.


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Usually it’s just background noise while I’m doing other things. But when Mom passed in mid-December, I stopped watching the news and have barely looked at the headlines on my phone. It started with me feeling like I didn’t need to hear anything negative going on in the world while I was dealing with my grief. And then I decided I didn’t miss all the negative news and preferred to focus on positive things.


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Imagine if everyone took that same approach. Focusing on positive things, not negative. The difference it could make – not only to us individually but to society as a whole.


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Do you think, in today’s world where people are so quick to criticize and find the negative, that’s even possible?


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You tell me. After “divorcing” yourself from the news, have you noticed any change in your behavior toward others?


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Yes, but it also might be because Mom’s passing has made me overly sensitive. However, I’ve found myself having more patience with other people. Places where I sometimes can be impatient – the grocery store, the gas station, etc.


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You get impatient with people? So, you are not always warm and fuzzy?


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Very funny. But if you’ll let me finish ... instead of ignoring people and/or muttering to myself that they were in my way or moving slowly or whatever, I’ve been giving people more “time”. I make a point of trying to smile or making a friendly comment. And almost everyone has responded in a positive way.


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Kindness can be contagious. So, maybe you should add that to your list of New Year’s resolutions. As I already said, resolutions do not have to be major overhauls, they are about improving and doing things better.


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So, what do you plan to do better in the New Year? Work on your sarcasm, perhaps?


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Actually, I have been told I already do that well. But, I guess there is always room for improvement …

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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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

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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