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.

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


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As you know, I love history, but I appreciate many people don’t.


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I am one of those people, so not sure where you are going with this.


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Exactly. So, when you first wanted to talk to me about the history of credit cards, I should have known something was up.


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Or, at least been curious.


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How was I supposed to know it would make a difference in my life?


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Why else would I want to give you a “history lesson”?
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Photo by mevans on iStock
Let’s be very clear. Autism has no correlation with intelligence; it’s a developmental disability (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). And it’s a spectrum disorder, which means each autistic person has their unique mix of abilities, challenges, and ways of seeing the world (can’t that be said of all of us?!) So, as we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week, remember it’s more than just awareness – it’s about acceptance.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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