Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Who To Be In ’23?

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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I know Mom’s passing has left a void in your life. And, although it was over a year ago, it overlapped with you becoming an empty-nester when Sawyer left for college last year.

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Yes, and having Sawyer home for the holidays, thriving and talking about her future, combined with Natasha possibly buying a home in England, made it all hit home. Pun intended. It’s got me thinking about, well, me.

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The girls will always need you, although now, for advice, guidance, and support versus day-to-day needs. It is time for the next chapter of your life.

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Exactly! Except I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

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I refuse to “grow up.” I refuse to give up on dreams and thinking, pragmatically, of course, what could be. I will never stop being inquisitive.

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You’ve always had the insatiable curiosity of a child, constantly asking, “Why? Why? Why?” Something I don’t possess, although I do admire it. Except for those times when it’s directed at me.

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I know it can come across as questioning your decisions, but I am focused on the thought process. Anyway, if you cannot think like a child, what about like a business?

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Do you mean I should now focus entirely on Red & Black? I love what we do and am excited about all the changes we have in store for 2023, but unlike you, work has never been my “reason for being”.

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I was not suggesting you become a workaholic; I just think you would benefit from using the concept of a mission statement. But, make it a personal mission statement.

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That’s easy. A fit and healthy woman of a “certain age” who has finally decluttered her house, organized her boxes full of papers, and has the time, and money, to travel and see family and friends more often.

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Those are mainly goals and objectives. A business mission statement is a short paragraph, although it can be just a concise sentence, that summarizes the purpose of the business and what is most important to the company. In other words, its “reason for being”.


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I knowthe definition, but don’t forget, I think more about the day-to-day stuff while you focus on the “big picture”.


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Think of the mission statement as the ultimate destination, which you need to identify before you start to figure out how to get there. What is most important to you? What, if anything, are you passionate about? What would you want people to say about you when you are gone? What is the legacy you want to leave?


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I started to say that’s rather morbid, but it does put everything in perspective. I remember Cousin Frankie’s funeral years ago after he died unexpectedly at a young age. Everyone talked about what a good person he was and how he touched all our lives with love and laughter. I’ll never forget our conversation on the plane home when you said, “How you want to be remembered is a good way to live your life.”


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Yes, but it often gets forgotten in day-to-day living. New Year’s resolutions can be used as an annual reminder, although monthly reminders would be more effective. Which is why I think a mission statement could be invaluable.


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I’m not sure how a few sentences, or even a paragraph, would make that big a difference.


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Just starting to write it helps give you focus. It may be a little rough at first, but fine-tuning provides more clarity. Once written, it will give you a sense of direction. And, if you get off track, you can refer back to it. Although reviewing it on a regular basis to help you stay on track would be even better.


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I like the thought of having a plan for becoming a “better” me. Too often, I feel like I’m trying to make changes in my life, changes I know are good for me, but without any real direction.


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It is like getting in a car and driving; you will get somewhere – but not necessarily where you want to go.


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I know that’s one of your favorite car analogies, but it’s still rather “big picture”. So how do I take this magical mission statement and actually use it?


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One of the things you already mentioned was “the time, and money, to travel and see family and friends more often.” If you were writing a mission statement, and ignoring the “time and money” part, as everyone wants more of each, why would that be part of it?


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Because in the last year, I reconnected with old friends “in person”, and it meant so much, not only to me but to them.


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OK. And, why is that important?

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Fine, here comes your inquisition. Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But I guess it boils down to letting them know how important they are to me, and how I’ll always be there for them.


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Can you only do that with in-person visits?


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Of course not. I’ve always called and/or Facetimed them.


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Do you have time to write a letter? Can you afford a postage stamp?


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OK, now you’re just being ridiculous. Or overly sarcastic.


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Am I? Writing an old-fashioned letter has become a lost art, which means receiving a letter in the mail, or a “for no special reason” greeting card even without a handwritten note, can make an ordinary day – special.


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I’ve always encouraged the girls to write handwritten thank-you notes but never thought about it in terms of a way to reach out to friends to let them know I’m thinking about them. It’s a nice idea.


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I was not trying to be nice; I was trying to show you how a mission statement is not only “big picture”, but applies to your day-to-day life. It can help you create realistic resolutions that can become habits, all with the same underlying goal – becoming a “better you”.


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Makes sense. Now, I just have to decide who I want to be in ’23.


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—Sounds like you are a woman on a mission.

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

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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Wherever you may be … we wish you a happy and healthy ’23!

Photo by AlexRaths for iStock


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I remember when I was growing up and old enough to stay home alone (long before the movie “ Home Alone”) on New Year’s Eve. Our parents may have gone out to celebrate, but I had the perfect evening. Before they left, they’d get me my favorite takeout Chinese food (again, long before the days of food delivery services), and I’d savor the egg drop soup with wontons and a large container of pork fried rice, knowing that I didn’t have to share with anyone. Then, I’d settle in for a night of old movies on TV, only taking a short break to watch the ball come down in Times Square , before going back to watching movies for hours. (Long after my parents had come home and gone to sleep.)

Fast forward more decades than I care to admit, and my favorite way to celebrate New Year’s Eve is pretty much the same. Except now, what would be even more perfect would be to have my daughters home with me.


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I started to say that Red has always needed to get a life, but the reality is that I understand why she likes a quiet New Year’s Eve and has created her own “special” tradition. Over the years, I would celebrate New Year’s Eve by going out to a “special” dinner with my spouse or significant other (if applicable) and dear friends. The funny thing is the older we get, the earlier we return home. We tell ourselves it is because we do not want to be on the roads with the drunks, but that does not explain why we all admit we usually are asleep well before midnight.

Whether celebrating by yourself or with others … whether you find yourself feeling extra warm and fuzzy and reminiscing at midnight, like Red, or being pragmatically optimistic, like Black, who will raise a glass and toast her friends as well as the promise and hope that the new year offers us all … we want to wish you,

Happy New Year! And may 2023 be filled with health and happiness, love and laughter.