Book Bites

Expect Reality, Not Perfection

Chapter 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!

When Red was in the midst of her crisis and trying to deal with seemingly every aspect of her life, it quickly became obvious that she had been living in an old-fashioned sitcom where life appeared to be perfect. Adjusting to reality wouldn't be easy (now, that could be a sitcom!), especially when one of the biggest adjustments had to do with what she viewed as one of her strong suits – people skills. More specifically, her relationship with her husband because Red's expectations of her husband and her marriage definitely weren't related to reality.

P.S. – Since then, Red has learned about how important it is to have realistic expectations in any relationship, but when it comes to spouses/partners, it's essential. And Black has (finally) gotten her to realize that you need to be honest with yourself (ideally about both you and your partner), so that you set your relationship up for success, not failure. But Red will add a warning … understanding the logic of this mindset and approach is much easier than accepting and implementing it. Although she'll agree with Black that it's worth the effort if it results in a more successful relationship.

E-mail From: Black
Subject: Perception vs. Reality
Sent: Saturday, February 7

Not really, or at least nothing that I know of. But our marriage is not paradise. I went into it knowing I had made trade-offs and compromises. And that is OK. I had no false expectations. But at times I have to stop and ask myself if either of us has changed or whether I have merely forgotten to adjust my thinking for changing circumstances. I always thought Larry and I had the potential to be great together. Not because we were a perfect couple, but because we were an imperfect couple that appreciated our differences.

But when it comes to you and Nick … the two of you need to face reality. Together. As a team.

By the way, how is your house-hunting going? That is a perfect place to start working together. And a lot more productive than wasting the afternoon online with me.

Red's Head

I found Black's comment about having a great marriage very interesting since I didn't think it existed in real life. However, her comment got me thinking that maybe my expectations of marriage needed to be adjusted to be more realistic. I guess I was thinking a great or even really good marriage was one where two people were perfect for one another. One where there were never any major issues that tested the relationship. One where problems had obvious and easy answers. One that ran on automatic and didn't require any special effort. OK, so I was living in a fantasy world. Nothing new there!

Chapter 9: I’m Too Busy To Make A List Of All The Things On My “To Do” List

Whether it’s because it’s the end of the school year, the beginning of the lazy days of summer, or you’re just determined to finally tackle those boxes full of memories, now is the perfect time to start. But first, you might want to read this “secret” to success – whether scrapbooking or any major project …

Red has always had a tendency (Black would say it’s her default setting) of becoming overwhelmed quickly, especially when presented with a project that she isn’t able to do in “one sitting”. And this was even before her crisis, when she had more time. Before she had to juggle being a mom to two young girls along with handling many new responsibilities, when something as simple as scrapbooking became a major task. And although scrapbooking’s as “warm and fuzzy” as it gets, Black gave her some pragmatic advice that not only calmed her down by making the project manageable, but included the girls.

P.S. – Red knows scrapbooking’s never done, but now, years later, the boxes of “new” items to be included are in the attic, and she’s not sure if working on them will give her a feeling of accomplishment or be bittersweet as her “little girls” have now grown into young women. Regardless, Red decided that when she has some pockets of time (whether over holidays or weekends or maybe whenever she needs a “break”), she’ll continue to eat that elephant that Black had given her the “recipe” to many years prior.

red headred head

OK. One of the things that has been on my list forever is working on the girls’ scrapbooks.

Black's HeadBlack

Scrapbooking? It is a big business and nothing to laugh at. But since I am not a scrapbooker (not sure that is even a real word), could you give me a little more detail?
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Chapter 18: Whine Or Lemonade? Your Choice

In the midst of Red’s crisis (her word, not Black’s), when she was finally learning about money (at the age of 40+!), she was shocked to discover that her sister, Black, secretly paid for half the cost of a Ferrari engine even though she was married to an extremely wealthy man. But for Red, what stood out the most in the conversation was Black explaining how, for her, racing is an analogy to life.

P.S. – At the time, Red just listened politely as she found it difficult, almost impossible, to equate how racing a Ferrari at speeds exceeding 150 miles an hour had anything to do with life. Especially as, back then, her “driving” experiences consisted of carpool lines, playing chauffeur for her daughters, and loading Labradoodles into her “Mom car” for trips to the vet. But today, Red will tell you how that analogy has stuck with her all these years and is probably one of the most powerful of Black’s many (seemingly endless?) racing analogies.

Black's HeadBlack

… my overall spending is related to boredom. The money is filling a void … not making me happy. Yes — racing makes me happy. For many reasons. I have thought about it a lot in the last few weeks. The key is knowing why you are spending money and what you are getting in return.

red headred head

And what have you figured out?

Black's HeadBlack

That racing is an analogy to life.
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Chapter 12: Desserts Spelled Backwards Is Stressed. And Vice Versa.

It’s a new year, and many (Red included) make resolutions to lose weight and exercise more. But Red knows that for moms, taking care of ourselves often falls by the wayside as we prioritize taking care of others. Over the years, Black has repeatedly pointed out to Red that self-care, including being heart-healthy, may seem selfish, but better positions her to be there for others when they need her. Although sometimes Black needs to remind her,

When it comes to taking care of yourself, I have two words for you … airplane analogy.

The last thing Red needed in the middle of her "crisis" (her husband being unexpectedly fired) was to get sick, but that's exactly what happened. (Is there ever a good time to get sick?) And although she had walking pneumonia, her instinct as a mom was to put the needs of others, especially her children, ahead of her own. Luckily, Black, being pragmatic and unemotional, knew the advice she was about to give her sister would initially seem counterintuitive, so included what she hoped would be a memorable analogy …

P.S. – Even if Red didn't realize it at the time, self-care has always been important. But it became even more important during the pandemic (especially emotional self-care) as many of us have had to "to be" there for others – whether our loved ones, neighbors, community.

red headred head

You must be joking. Dr. Fields means well but doesn't understand that doing nothing is a luxury right now — not an option.

Black's HeadBlack

Well, "Wonder Woman," I think it is you that does not understand. It is not an option. It is a necessity. Let Nick handle things for a few days. Trust me, everyone will survive.

red headred head

But there are so many things I need to do. Life doesn't stop just because I'm sick.

Black's HeadBlack

True. But the bottom line is that unless you take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of your family.

red headred head

I understand the logic, but it's difficult for me to just stop and crawl into bed, as much as that's what I want to do. I feel like I'm letting the family down. I'm not trying to sound like "Wonder Woman," I'm just being honest.

Black's HeadBlack

Let me give you an analogy. If you were on an airplane with the girls and you lost altitude and the oxygen masks came down, would you put the mask on yourself first or the girls?
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