Book Bites

Talking Stuffed Animals?

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

Are you a talker? Or do you prefer the written word? Are you the outspoken type or do you prefer quiet and will do almost anything to avoid conflict? Well, in the best of times, communication between spouses can be challenging. Throw in different communication preferences and it can seem almost impossible. In this excerpt, Red's in the midst of her crisis so communicating with her husband becomes even more critical than usual. And what does she do? She further complicates the situation by wanting to communicate differently than she usually does. Talk about a recipe for disaster!

P. S.This excerpt's relevant whether or not you're going through a crisis. In fact, communicating with others in a method they prefer is not only extremely effective, but may be one of the "secrets" to good communication. Especially as you can use it in all aspects of your life – family, friends, and even in the workplace.

Sometimes I wish I could be more like Black in that she seems to get away with being blunt, almost to the point of being rude, and yet she can pull it off because it is totally "in character" for her. There's a consistency and sense of predictability in how she handles things. And maybe that was part of Nick's and my problem right now. We were acting out of character.


I wanted to fight and talk about things while Nick wanted to "retreat." And we really didn't know how to deal with the changes. Which made communication even more important. And challenging!


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


Good morning.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Is it? Does that mean the love letter worked? Wink-wink.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


Haven't written it yet, but I plan to.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Good. Remember when you came back to the States ready to divorce Nick? You were complaining that Nick did not communicate.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


Yes. I think I know where this is going, but I hope I'm wrong.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Sounds like you remember the talking stuffed animals.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


They didn't talk much, they wrote me letters.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Same difference. Nick communicated his feelings to you through letters "written" by stuffed animals. I remember specifically asking you if you really thought the animals had written to you.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


Back then I thought it was cute and amusing, now it would piss me off because I want Nick, and not the stuffed animals, to talk to me.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


As I explained then, and it is still relevant, it does not matter how you two actually communicate as long as you communicate. Letters from stuffed animals, e-mails, conversations … whatever works!


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


OK. I had forgotten how that conversation ended up being a turning point. It helped me understand how we could work together. Maybe I should prop up one of the stuffed animals with the Real Estate section of today's paper and a note "I don't want to live on the street!"


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


I might change the note to "I need a new home!" But otherwise … whatever works!

I never had intended to tell Black about the letters from the stuffed animals, as I thought she would find it childish and immature. It just slipped out. Looking back, I understood they were the best way for Nick to express himself, yet maintain his "proper" appearance. I forgot the important role those letters played. It was as if I now needed to take a step backwards and remember things that helped in the past, before I made decisions about how to move forward.

Chapter 15: I Need A Warning System


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

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.



red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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.
Keep Reading ...Show less

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.



Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

What are you doing online?


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Checking e-mails before dinner. And you?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Same same.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Can I ask you a question?


Keep Reading ...Show less

Chapter 15: I Need A Warning System

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.



red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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.
Keep Reading ...Show less