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!


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Good morning.


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


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


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


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


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Sounds like you remember the talking stuffed animals.


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


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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.


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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.


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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!


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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!"


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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

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 10: So You Think Staying At Home Isn’t A Full-Time Job?

Even before Red’s husband was fired, she had a lot on her plate. But, in reality, probably no more than any other mom, daughter, and wife, who are often (or should that be “usually”) at the center of everything, with their lives being a combination of chauffeur, referee, nurse, cook, friend, and an assortment of other “hats”. And while it can be very rewarding and gratifying knowing that so many people count on you, it can also be overwhelming, not to mention just plain stressful.

P.S. – Even today, Black’s perspective on being a full-time mom (as a stepmom, she considered herself a part-time mom, although she knew that was an important role) still makes Red smile. And while years ago she might have wished she was just a little less needed, now that her girls are older, it makes her a little sad and very nostalgic.



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Another early morning?


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Yes! Now that I did the Sunday night review, I can see how you wake up on Monday mornings ready to tackle the week. Except today is Presidents’ Day and so Natasha’s home from school.


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Anything special planned?


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Why do I have to have something special planned? In fact, why do I have to be the one who does all the planning?


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Sorry I asked …
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Chapter 9: I'm Too Busy To Make A List Of All The Things On My "To Do" List

Red constantly feels like time’s just flying by, and in terms of her “to do” lists, she’s getting nowhere. (Sound familiar?!) But when she turns to Black hoping to get just a little sympathy or empathy (she should’ve known she’d get neither), instead she gets a sarcastic comment,

I guess I need to tell you my “secret”. Again …

"Once upon a time" is how fairy tales begin, but once upon a time in Red's life, she had lots of things to do but was able to fit everything into any given day. And her worst-case scenario? Something might slide but would still get done in a timely fashion. But when her husband got fired, her fairy tale life ended and she had to take on more day-to-day responsibilities, which meant Red soon began to run out of hours in the day, the week, the month. Luckily, Black's advice about how to manage her time, although not an obvious "approach" until it was explained to her, made a big difference.

P.S. – If Red thought she was busy when her husband got fired, she had no idea what busy was until years later when she had to juggle being a single mom with being the warm and fuzzy half of Red & Black. In fact, this new level of crazy busy (Black likes to clarify that it's "good crazy") has now become the "new norm", which means that Red still struggles with way too much to do and way too little time to do it in. It's then, when she's really stressing out, that Black often has to remind her of the original advice she gave Red, and usually tells her she needs to re-read this excerpt …


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I do have one question. What exactly did you mean by time management? I understand there's a limited amount of time in the day, but unless I give up sleeping altogether, I'm not sure how to find the time to do everything on my lists. I'm already getting up at 5:00 a.m. (and this morning even earlier!) so that I have some quiet time before I start the "mom" thing. Any suggestions? And just this once, skip the smart-ass comments!


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If I could tell you how to create more time in your day, I could make a fortune. There are countless books on time management, but I doubt you will find the time to read one, so I will tell you what works best for me.


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Type faster. What's the secret?
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