Ask Red & Black
What do you think about celebrities admitting to mental health struggles?
May 21, 2021
|I used to think that when it came to actors or musicians, or really any public figure, I didn't care about their personal lives. (Black will probably take issue with that statement as I make an exception for historical figures, especially those from the Tudor period.) Yes, I know the personal lives of "celebrities" sells magazines and grabs headlines. But for me, it was about their professional work. However, when it comes to sharing stories about their mental health struggles and challenges, I now have a totally different attitude. It's not only brave but a wonderful way to help others. Recently, I heard musician and songwriter, Bebe Rexha, speaking with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, and what resonated with me was how she wished growing up that her favorite artist had talked about mental health. And, I know that Demi Lovato, Glenn Close, and Anderson Cooper, all mental health advocates, are teaming up to do an event later this month. So, I think the more people that can talk openly and honestly about it, the better!|
|In about sixth grade, a friend of mine, Janet A., was
seriously ill, but no one would talk about what was wrong. I later found out it was "the Big C" because
people back then would not say the word "cancer." Years ago, Red had a miscarriage, but although
she could have used the support, told very few people about it. She would come to learn, years later, that they
are more common than many people realize. Today, you have famous
people openly talking about their miscarriages. The same is happening with mental illness –
with celebrities and athletes (gripping essays)
speaking out. |
There have always been stigmas associated with mental health issues – just as there used to be with cancer and miscarriages. But we need to bring it out into the open, raise awareness, and not only acknowledge it has hit crisis proportions, but that it can be treated. And, celebrities can help shine a bright light. Not only during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, but all year-round.
Ask Red & Black
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Do you have any traditions?
May 26, 2023
Last year Red “ran away” to New York for Memorial Day weekend, but since she was just in New York for Mother’s Day, she’s looking forward to her “usual” three-day week routine (see below). And Black? Some things never change, including how she celebrates holiday weekends …
One of the best things about holiday weekends is having an extra
“weekend” day, especially as most weekends are spent on personal things I can’t
get done during the week, so can be just as exhausting as the week itself. But I always try (but don’t always succeed)
to get some “
me time” by
escaping to my local
, even if it’s more for the popcorn than the movie.
This year, since I have some airfare credits that will expire, I’m going to take advantage of the extra day and visit my oldest friend (from 5 th grade!) who lives in New York. It’s strange being an empty-nester and taking a mini-vacation on my own. It seems like only yesterday, when my girls were much younger, that Black would take us (and her stepdaughters) to the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio, so I know that holiday weekends can provide lifelong memories!
|I love three-day weekends as instead of having two days when I can work uninterrupted, I have three. Some might think I need to get a life, but I have passion projects that bring me joy, so I am doing what makes me happy. And, I have a standing “appointment” at 3 p.m. every Memorial Day to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.|
It is important to remember that Memorial Day weekend is more than just a holiday weekend (and the “unofficial” start to summer). Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. A day to put aside politics and think about patriotism, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
|Growing up, I was aware of the Kentucky Derby because I’d watch golf every weekend with my dad, and there was always talk about it. We’d usually tune in just in time for the race, but we didn’t know much about thoroughbred horse racing, nor really cared to learn. Fast forward a few decades, and my love of movies made me see how dramatic and inspiring horse racing can be.|
In terms of the Kentucky Derby, the movie “Secretariat” captivated me with its truly extraordinary story of a horse that overcame the odds to not only become the first winner of the Triple Crown in 25 years but also to become one (and to many, the) greatest racehorses of all times. But my favorite horse racing movie is “Seabiscuit,” as it’s a story of perseverance and sheer determination that never ceases to amaze me. Seabiscuit never competed in the Kentucky Derby because it’s only open to three-year-olds, and he didn’t start his career until he was five, so I can only wonder how he would’ve done.
|There is much tradition associated with the Kentucky, yet I am always amused by all the “hoopla” around this historic sporting event, to the point where it seems as if the race is just a two-minute interruption from Kentucky Derby parties where people dress up and drink mint juleps. (Who knew a drink could have such a fascinating history?) |
And, people may disagree on the greatest Kentucky Derby winners. But, there is no denying there are many life lessons on display – never stop believing in ourselves (Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, never gave up on him, even when others doubted his potential), the importance of teamwork, working hard, overcoming adversity. However, Rich Strike, the surprise 2022 Kentucky Derby champion, who beat the odds (I have always found the most fascinating part of horse racing to be understanding the odds because it involves math and statistics), is the horse that really got me thinking …
Ask Red & Black
What is World Wish Day?
April 28, 2023
to defer to Black about World Wish Day because she was the one who “introduced”
me to Make-A-Wish. Before that, if you said “make a wish” to me,
I would’ve thought about blowing out candles on a birthday cake – not granting the
wish of a child suffering from a critical illness.
One of the first wishes Black told me about was a little boy who wanted to be “boss of the ice cream man” so he could give away free ice cream to less fortunate kids. Hearing the passion as Black told the story, realizing it was about hope and joy, combined with the wish being about doing for others, was inspiring, heartwarming, and “evidence” of the power of a wish. And not just for the child but for their families, neighbors, community, and even strangers. (I’m so proud that as children, my daughters took it upon themselves to have lemonade stands benefiting our local Make-A-Wish chapter.)
I have been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades and have
always felt it has done more for me than I can ever do for it, as it reminds me
that my problems or frustrations are minuscule in the scheme of things. It is my “reality check” on life. (I recently found out there is science that supports
helping others is good for you, and recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving
Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)
Oh, and to answer your question: World Wish Day is celebrated on April 29 to mark the anniversary of the first wish, which was granted in 1980. But, when Tommy Austin first became buddies with young Chris Grecius, there was no way to know his wish would grow into a worldwide organization.
Every day is the perfect day to celebrate the power of a wish, but in celebration of World Wish Day … consider making a difference by making a donation.