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


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Is it possible that this summer might actually feel a bit more "normal" than last year?


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Define "normal," as I am confident we are not returning to normal, but instead are transitioning to a new normal.


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Fine. I just meant in comparison to last summer when I was hoarding toilet paper, fully stocking my pantry and freezer, and constantly wiping down seemingly every surface in my house.


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I guess you could call it "the summer of survival" since we were not prepared for the pandemic, especially not the lockdowns.


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Exactly! Which means that this summer will be more like a pre-pandemic summer in that we'll have more freedom, especially for those of us that are vaccinated. And it feels great.


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I agree, but at the risk of sounding like a pessimist, we have to be careful not to lapse into a state of complacency. Yes, we are more protected if we are vaccinated, but not everyone is getting vaccinated. And, fewer and fewer people are wearing masks.


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I know that. I'm not hiding from reality; I just want to be able to enjoy the "mindset" of summer. As in the lazy days of summer. Now, I don't mean that literally, of course. It's just when things just seem to "ease up" a little, days are longer so you feel like you have more time. You know, summer.


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No, I do not know. For me, summer only means it is hotter outside, and it stays lighter longer.


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Seriously? Summer for you is strictly related to temperature and daylight?


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Correct. I do not have kids, so it is not like I have to adjust for them being on summer break. I do not work in an office where I have to plan for people to be away on summer vacations. I live alone and am a workaholic that works from home.


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I find it very hard to believe that last summer, at the height of the pandemic, it didn't feel any different for you than any other summer.


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That is not what I said. I said that for me, summer, regardless of the year, is the same as any other season. Unless you take into consideration what fruit and flowers Whole Foods has since those are seasonal.


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This is when I want to say that you really need to get a life, but I do understand what you're saying. But tell me, did summer ever mean anything to you?


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How far back are you asking?


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As far as you want to go.


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As a child, summer meant no school, hanging out in the neighborhood, and since my favorite television shows were all reruns, almost every night the boys from the surrounding houses and I would have watermelon seed spitting contests.


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If nothing else, that would explain a lot about your competitiveness. Well, my most vivid summer memories are of when the girls were little, and I had to go into big-time "camp counselor" and "chauffeur" mode during the summer. It's funny, it was exhausting at the time, but now they're priceless memories. And bittersweet since Natasha's no longer living at home and Sawyer's driving herself.


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Not to mention, she goes off to college at the end of the summer.


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Thanks for the reminder, but I'm trying not to think about that. I just want to fully enjoy this summer. Of course, safely, but still, I want that more carefree feeling of summer.


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Interesting concept, being carefully carefree. However, you do bring up an interesting side effect of the pandemic. It has allowed many people to experience, or re-experience, the "simple pleasures" of life. To stop and reflect on priorities and begin to make some changes about where to focus their time and energy.


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Yes, simple things like being able to escape the summer heat by going to re-opened movie theaters. There's something about needing a sweater when it's 100+ degrees outside that just screams "summer."


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Well, that sounds like it is related to temperature, which is how I think of summer. Anyway, I went a year without seeing friends and only recently have started going out to eat again. For the most part, we have been dining outside, but Houston's summer heat and humidity will change that to dining inside with social distancing.


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Yes! And that's what I meant when I said that I hoped this summer might actually feel a bit more "normal". And that's mere mortal "normal", not your "normal".


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In other words, you want a summer rerun of years gone by. FYI, I will admit that every summer I think it would be fun, although totally unacceptable, to spit watermelon seeds off my high-rise balcony.


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Oh, that I want to see!

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

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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

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


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.