Who knew that the woman that sang so passionately and danced so spectacularly would be even more impressive in “real life”?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: West Side Story. These three words magically wrap us in its music and bring back memories of how much we love the original movie, although when we think of Rita Moreno, the amazing actress who gained instant fame from her performance as Anita, we have very different perspectives.
Although it would be well over a decade before Red became a Theater major at Wake Forest University, her love of musicals and theater started when she was growing up on Long Island, New York, about an hour from where “West Side Story” takes place on the Upper West Side of New York City. As she vividly remembers,
It was the bright red album cover that first got my attention, and Daddy used to play it. A LOT. Which made sense, as Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are fantastic. Of course, when the movie was eventually aired on TV (1972), it was amazing, not only for Jerome Robbin’s incredible choreography but Rita Moreno’s portrayal of Anita. I can’t imagine there ever being a better film version, but that won’t stop me from seeing the just-released Steven Spielberg remake, especially as it again stars Rita Moreno, although in a new role created specifically for her.
Of course, Black mentioned that Moreno’s also one of the executive producers of the Spielberg remake. And then explained how she had almost quit the original movie over offensive lyrics about her native Puerto Rico, but that Sondheim changed them during rehearsal, and how she (unsuccessfully) spoke out against the brownface used to darken actors’ skin,
Moreno’s life story and accomplishments are even more fascinating and inspiring than her performances, and her spirit, perseverance, and unwillingness to accept conventional restraints (not to mention her spunk at the age of almost 90) show you that this is a woman who not only went for it, but made it. Forget high kicks – she kicked ass!
Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.
Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).
When Red learned that June was Effective Communications Month, she had to laugh, as the first thought that popped into her head was,
Oh, Black will have a field day with this given my tendency to blah-blah-blah. Plus, I don't know how many times she's told me that whatever point I'm trying to make often gets lost in my "sea of words". Of course, when she's told me this in person, I get the added emphasis of seeing her roll her eyes. At least, it's not what I call "The Look", which is a step beyond the rolling of her eyes when you can only imagine what she's thinking, but you know it's not good. But, I digress, which, I guess, is part of my communication "challenge".
The fact Red's warm and fuzzy, and likes to couch her words (whether spoken or written) so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, and to provide full explanations to avoid misunderstanding, is a good thing but is still only half the equation. Communication requires both the sending – and the receiving – of a message. But if the other party isn't listening, it falls on … well, deaf ears. Which often means you repeat yourself (oh, and we all know how our tone of voice changes when we're saying something for the millionth time), and although it may initially have been said with good intentions, ends up being seen as nagging.
Black, on the other hand, has never been accused of being quiet or shy, and given her extremely pragmatic business-like personality, has a much more direct communication style. Some of which Red recognizes can be useful,
I've often said that you write, talk, and probably even dream in bullet points. And while I might think of them as "abrupt" at times, there's no question that they provide a very clear and succinct way of communicating. Which is why I preface some of my longer emails that cover lots of topics and explanations, with, "I'm borrowing some of Black's beloved bullet points …"
So, what's the most effective method? Well, you can spend hours on the internet reading countless articles about the benefits of effective communications, the various types of communications (not everything is verbal and written – think about things like body language and facial expressions), and ways to improve communication skills, but Black tends to look at things slightly backward …
The reality is that we each have our own style of communicating, but we need to remember that communication is a two-way street, and the objective is connecting with other people, and sharing thoughts and ideas. Sometimes the best way to get our point across is to work backward and think how the other person will receive what we want to express. And then listening, truly listening, to their feedback.
Most workaholics can rationalize working all the time. At least to themselves.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: “Gizmos” already blurred the lines between the workweek and the weekend, but the WFH (working from home) “revolution” caused by the pandemic has destroyed the line; except for people like Black, who have always treated every day as a workday.
So, is being a workaholic a bad thing? Well, we both agree that having two days where we (hopefully) get time to do what we enjoy is exactly what weekends are all about. And while Black will admit that she doesn’t love every aspect of her work life, there’s nothing she rather be doing. (And points out to Red that could also be said of parenting.) Regardless, Red has always found Black’s total love of work a bit perplexing, and she’s definitely not the only one who has used the phrase “she needs to get a life” when describing her sister. Black, of course, sees it very differently,
Whether it’s just a regular weekend or, even better, a long holiday weekend, I look forward to the “time off” to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. From the outside, others might see it as “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy.
Red knows better than to argue with Black and wasn’t surprised that she could make being a workaholic sound like a good thing. But since Black lives alone and never had children (although she always finds time for Red’s girls), our priorities and ideas about a “wonderful weekend” are very different,
While it often seems like my weekends are as busy as my weekdays because I’m catching up on all the personal things I don’t have the time to do during the week, it makes me appreciate the “time off” even more – whether escaping to a movie (ok, my passion is popcorn), going for a Dunkin coffee (it brings back memories of growing up in New York), reading, or climbing into bed to watch some old episodes of Downton Abbey.
So, while Black may roll her eyes at what Red chooses to do with her quiet time, she'd be the first to point out we all have very different ways of spending our weekends, but we should all do whatever makes us happy. Wouldn’t you agree?
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.