Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … A Monthly Valentine

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


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It is February, so I suppose we should do something with a Valentine’s Day theme. Which is too warm and fuzzy for me, so you are on your own.


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You’re not getting off the hook that easily! Although, as the most pragmatic and non-emotional person I know, I doubt that you’ll have anything of “romantic” value to say.


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Well, I could talk about the business aspects of sending flowers, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, and remembering to tell people you love that you love them – which, by the way, should NOT require a holiday.

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You’re right. Maybe I do need to write this on my own. Especially since there’s nothing wrong with using Valentine’s Day as a reminder to tell people you’re thinking of them.

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I thought that was one of your New Year’s resolutions – to reach out to people you have not spoken to in a while – whether friends or distant family. Or, even new acquaintances.

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It was. And I loved your idea to pick one person each month to reach out to – whether by phone, Zoom, email, or even a handwritten note, so that by year-end, I’ll have touched the lives of 12 people.

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Let me guess. You had it to do on your January “to-do” list, and it never happened.

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Exactly. So, instead of feeling motivated, I feel defeated.

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I am confident you wished lots of people “Happy New Year,” so that counts for January, and you still have time to send Valentine’s Day wishes, so you are good until March. You are on a roll, so keep up the good work.

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You definitely look at things differently than I do. But I have February covered, as when I was at HEB buying Valentine’s Day cards for the girls, I bought one for Lisa, my best friend since grade school. She was just made a partner at her law firm, and instead of a congratulations card, I found the perfect Valentine’s Day card that talked about friendship. And I took the time to add a heartfelt, pun intended, message of congratulations.

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Maybe you should stock up on Valentine’s Day cards and then use them all year long for an assortment of purposes.

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Well, that sounds good, but I’m afraid it will fall by the wayside, along with so many other good ideas I’ve had over the years.

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That sounds like a defeatist attitude. Explain how you manage to go to the gym at the same time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but cannot reach out to one “special” person during the month.


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That’s because I finally listened to you and put it on my calendar and treat it like a doctor’s appointment.


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And, what about your calls with Nina, your friend in Australia? I appreciate the time difference is a challenge, but you have spoken with her twice in the last month versus only a handful of times in the last year.


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This is getting annoying. Same answer. By scheduling it. Before, we’d end each FaceTime with a general “talk soon,” and then months would go by. Now we pull out our calendars and schedule the next one for two weeks later, knowing that if something comes up, we may push it out a week.


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So, take a similar approach to reaching out once a month to the people on your list. Maybe even pick a person for the next month, choose a specific day, and put it on your calendar versus having it on a monthly “to-do” list.


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I’m feeling a bit foolish because that’s an incredibly simple idea, but a good one. I have so many things on my “to-do” list, but rarely put any of them on my calendar. That alone will make it a high priority.


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Remember, we live in a world of email and text messages, so anything handwritten is special. But, it does not have to be two pages long, although that might become a keepsake.


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Funny you mention that, as I recently received an email from Levenger about the lost art of the love letter. And although their intention may have been romantic, I couldn’t help but think a handwritten note, whoever the recipient, shows you care enough about them to put pen to paper.


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I received the same email, but saw it as marketing their selection of pens and other potential Valentine’s Day gifts. But, it did remind me I needed to order more Circa products.


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I guess that’s one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.


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Well, if it makes you feel better, in January, I sent a few dear friends some heart-shaped gingersnap cookies.


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If it were anyone else, I’d say how thoughtful. But with you … what’s the real story?


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In December, a business associate sent me a box of beautifully packaged gingersnap cookies. It included a note stating all proceeds support The Center for Pursuit, which promotes the pursuit of choice, growth, and independence for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, or similar conditions. When I went to order some as gifts, they were all sold out. When I checked again in January, I saw they were back in stock and even had limited edition heart-shaped ones.

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Now that makes sense. Did you even try the cookies?


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Yes, and they were delicious, so I immediately gave them to the guys downstairs to avoid overindulging.

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Of course you did. So now that you did something sweet (well, technically, gingersnap cookies aren’t sweet) in December and January, what are your plans for February?


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You forget, reaching out to people every month is your resolution. Not mine.

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

Photo by nycshooter on iStock
What do you get when you cross Flag Day (June 14) with June being Effective Communication Month? Well, if you include Black in the mix, you get one of Red’s favorite memories … and a unique way to think about the importance of communicating – whether in your personal or professional life. And especially if you’re in a racecar!


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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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Photo by John Gomez on iStock

There’s much debate about the role America should play in world politics and standing by our allies, and we can’t help but wonder … how many people look at history before forming their opinions? Which is why we feel so strongly about remembering D-Day (and are rerunning the post below), which is about so much more than just a day …


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I still can’t believe you didn’t know what D-Day was.


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All I knew was it had to do with World War II and beaches. And, required lots of strategic planning. Remember, I am not a history buff like you.


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Or a movie buff. There has been an assortment of D-Day movies, and I wouldn’t expect you to have watched the older movies, like “ The Longest Day” with John Wayne, but I figured you’d have seen “ Saving Private Ryan .”


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The Tom Hanks movie? It was a great war movie, but from what I remember, it was about the search for a particular soldier during WWII. Although I remember the opening scene showed the horrors of war. Regardless, I do not get my “history” from movies that might take literary license for the sake of storytelling, even if Steven Spielberg’s movies are mostly accurate.


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That opening scene WAS D-Day.
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Photo by Iam Anupong on iStock

Some memories fade with time, but others remain as vivid as the day they happened. Like the day my big sister and I played golf together (an extremely rare event), although the memory isn’t about golf, but about how a sister’s flippant comment can stay with you for over 40 years …

There was no way to know it would become a highly effective way of remembering the importance of sunscreen. Especially as it happened before May was declared Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and May 27 became National Sunscreen Day.

I'll never forget the day. It was an "almost" ordinary day out on the golf course with my mom and dad during the heat of a Long Island summer. Now, if "Long Island" conjures up images of stately manors on the North Shore (think "Great Gatsby") or beachfront mansions in the Hamptons (think Robin Leach and his popular show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), you can put those out of your head. I'm not talking about some fancy country club golf course, just a regular public course.

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