Book Bites

It's Not Selfish ... Sometimes “Me First” SHOULD Come First

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.


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


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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.


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


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


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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.


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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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I'm not sure I feel up to one of your stupid quizzes.


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Humor me. Answer the question.


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OK. They say that adults should put their mask on first and then help their children, though I must admit I have never understood that since my instinct as a mom is to help my child first. Did I pass or fail?


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Airline one, Red zero. The airline knows it is in the best interest of the child for the adult to be safe and secure. If the adult is not stable and calm, then helping a scared, helpless child is going to be extremely difficult.


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Great. The next time I'm on an airplane and the oxygen masks fall down, I'll remember this conversation. But what exactly is the point you're trying to make? Maybe it's the fever, but I don't understand.


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If you do not take care of yourself and you get sicker, then you will be of no use to anyone. For now, that means following doctor's orders and taking a few days to rest. But even after you get over this, you need to start taking some time for yourself to make sure that you stay healthy – both physically and mentally – so that you can be there for everyone that needs you. Get off the computer and climb into bed. Now! EOM

FYI, EOM = Black uses EOM to indicate "end of message" ... in this case, to tell Red they've come to the end and there's nothing more to be said.

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.



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… 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.


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And what have you figured out?


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That racing is an analogy to life.
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Chapter 15: I Need A Warning System


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I know we first posted this excerpt earlier this year, but now seems the perfect time to repeat it. First of all, it’s always a good time to think of others, and never more so than right now – between natural disasters (Florida will be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian for a long time) and the holidays (including Giving Tuesday) being just around the corner. And, I have no doubt that if Black were here, she’d probably tell you about the science proving 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“ because I know she’s been buying it for people.)

But Black’s not here, which is another reason to rerun this post. Although she might not appreciate me telling you she’s at The Make-A-Wish Foundation national conference in Orlando, Florida, as she prefers to keep her involvement “under the radar” as much as possible. (One exception was when she agreed to be MC at the recent dedication of the Make-A-Wish Teresa E. Andrepont building.) I know this might sound ironic as Black’s personality is neither shy nor unassuming, but when it comes to charity and her decades-long involvement with Make-A-Wish, Black doesn’t do it for the recognition … she does it for the Wish kids.

Typically, when Red asked Black questions, she received questions in return. Or flippant comments. When Red asked her about charity, and specifically Make-A-Wish, she got straight answers, and that alone got Red’s attention. Before this conversation, Red thought her sister’s involvement with Make-A-Wish was very generous, both of her time and her money, but attributed much of it to the fact she had surpluses of both in her life. But once Black made her realize that her involvement went back to her corporate life, years when she might have had spare money but was working ridiculous hours, Red gained a new respect for Black’s commitment. But when Black said how it had become her “reality check” on life, Red began to understand that we all need something to help us remember what’s genuinely important.

P.S. – Charity and helping others remain an important part of our lives (and, much to the chagrin of our accountants and attorneys, drive much of our work in the education and criminal justice worlds). Black’s long-time commitment to Make-A-Wish set an example for Red’s daughters when they were growing up, and made them aware of how important it is to not only appreciate what you have but to think of others. And whether it’s an ongoing commitment to a single organization, helping various charities throughout the year, celebrating targeted donation days (such as #GivingTuesday or World Wish Day), or when specific natural disasters or humanitarian needs require immediate aid, charitable giving (whether money or time) – can make all the difference. Not only to the recipient, but as Black pointed out to Red all those years ago, for yourself.



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I’m curious about something, though. As children, we were never exposed to charity, so what got you involved with Make-A-Wish? Even Natasha has asked me about Make-A-Wish, because she has seen the kids’ artwork at your house and recognizes the logo from seeing it on your race car.
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Chapter 18: Whine Or Lemonade? Your Choice

In the midst of Red’s financial crisis, when her focus seemed to be on every little penny, Black helped her look at money realistically and honestly (it only took Red 40+ years to do that). Black also made her see the need to be honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy. But the last thing Red ever expected was to learn that Black had paid for half a Ferrari engine without telling her (millionaire!) husband. Although she didn’t want to think about how much it cost, Red couldn’t help but wonder how important it must’ve been to her sister if she secretly paid for it herself. Especially given how “public” she was about her extensive (and expensive) handbag and shoe collections.

P.S. – Years later, Red still rolls her eyes when she thinks about the conversation. And even though she’s gotten over the shock, she still finds it sad that Black couldn’t talk about money with her husband. Especially because Black was the one that helped Red realize that whether you’re worth millions or living paycheck to paycheck, being able to have open, honest conversations about money is critical if you want a successful and happy partnership.



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What are you doing online?


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Checking e-mails before dinner. And you?


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Same same.


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Can I ask you a question?


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