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.

Image by osbkin on iStock


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I love history and understand that “Lincoln freed the slaves,” but the Civil War was about more than slavery. It was about preserving the Union, and about states’ rights (some things never change) and westward expansion. However, once President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the war between the states would be forever remembered as a war to end slavery. Although I’ll admit that I’d never of Juneteenth until I moved to Texas. And I was surprised to learn it took two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation for slaves in Texas to be set free, but that explains why Juneteenth’s celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States. And why it was declared a federal holiday in 2021.


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Change is never as simple as issuing proclamations. Especially since slavery represented systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity. Real change requires words and actions, and a change in mindset. Celebrating the end of slavery is noble, but it should also serve as a reminder of where we are and how far we still have to go. Ending racism is not as simple as saying it is wrong but recognizing that it still exists is an important start.
Image by Kenishirotie on iStock


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Every Father’s Day , when I think of Daddy, I think about alligators and turtles. I know that might sound crazy, especially as there are so many wonderful memories, but those stand out. As does the fact that every day, he taught me about unconditional love and was always there for me. And even though he passed away over 20 years ago, the memories are as strong, both emotionally and “visually”, as if it was just yesterday. And for that, I’m so grateful.


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I know you are probably expecting me to talk about how Father’s Day is, in many ways, a form of “equal rights" since Mother’s Day was already in existence , or maybe the business aspects of it being a “ retail holiday ”. Instead, at the risk of sounding warm and fuzzy, I will just say that dads always have a very special place in the hearts of their “little girls” … no matter how old those “girls” become.

Wishing all dads a very Happy Father’s Day!

Photo by nycshooter on iStock
It seems most appropriate that Flag Day falls during Effective Communication Month, or at least it does to Black, who years ago had suggested Red use race flags as a fun (and “safe”) way to communicate with her teenage daughter. From that point on, Red never looked at the “Stars & Stripes” the same way again … because she learned flags might be one of the most straightforward and effective ways to communicate – whether feelings of pride and support, messages to racecar drivers, or even to indicate your moods.


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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