Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, since it’s February, I guess we’ll want to talk about Valentine’s Day or love.


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Or, not hating.


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Excuse me? I know they say there’s a fine line between love and hate, but I’d prefer a “feel good” topic.


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But, sometimes “not hating” can be about hope, perseverance, and finding meaning.


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Care to connect those dots?


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Think about all the personal stories recently in the media as part of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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They were incredible! I found myself in awe and admiration as I listened to Holocaust survivors and, although you’d think they’d want to forget what they went through, they were determined the world should “never forget.”

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They were stories of hope, not hate.

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You’re right. I didn’t hear one word about hate. But I saw the love between a 98-year-old survivor, Lily Ebert, and her great-grandson, Dov Forman, as together they created TikToks to fulfill the promise she made herself while imprisoned that, “I will tell my story.”

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A story that has now reached millions of people, including younger generations who may not be familiar with the Holocaust. A story that not only “warns” of what can happen but also shows the importance of hope and determination.

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It’s similar to the video Natasha sent us of Alina Peretti, who had sterilization experiments done on her at Auschwitz, but instead of condemning her captors, she focused on how she survived. I had to smile when, in that very British understated way, she said, “Bloody hell, I’m very lucky that I came out of it.”

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Again, not a hateful word. Just explaining what she experienced (the experiments did not prevent her from having children), and amazement and gratitude that she survived.

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I’m not sure I could be that understanding, that generous, that brave. I think if I had survived such atrocities, or had family that had perished, I’d be full of hate.

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The problem with hate is it is contagious and becomes a vicious cycle. If you find a reason to hate someone – their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, political opinions, whatever – and those who are targets of hatred, in turn, hate their haters, it will never end.

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True. But it takes a special kind of person to not only “turn the other cheek” but go out of their way to confront hate with hope.

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Like the Italian street artist who uses spray paint to cover up graffiti of swastikas and racial slurs with images of food. Replacing hate with art.


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When I first saw the subject line on your email, “Swastikas & Cupcakes,” I thought it was another one of your strange connect-the-dots, not a “feel good” story.


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No, those are two things even I could never connect.


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What I found so inspiring, besides the obvious, is that the artist said, "The important thing is to rediscover values that we may have forgotten … We must remind ourselves of these values." But how does one do that? Can it even be done?


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Yes, but it takes a conscious effort. And, what better time to begin than Valentine’s Day?


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I’m sorry, but do I need to remind you that Valentine’s Day is about chocolates, flowers, and greeting cards? And if you’re lucky, maybe a romantic dinner.


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Sorry, but that is the commercial side of Valentine’s Day. Although brands are feeling pressure to allow customers to “opt out” of Valentine’s Day ads and promotions.


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Are you kidding me? I’m not sure I want to know the logic behind that, but suspect it has to do with the whole “let’s not offend anyone” culture we now live in.


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Basically, as brands bombard you with marketing, they want to appear to be sensitive that “celebrating relationships” can cause stress, and even depression, for some people. Similar to how this year, you may find Mother’s Day harder than in the past.


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Fine, but Valentine’s Day isn’t only about romantic love. I can remember when we were growing up, Daddy always gave us those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and a card. And you’ve always given the girls Valentine’s Day gifts.


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Because I believe Valentine’s Day is about showing someone that you love them. Or, are thinking of them. This year, my quarterly teeth cleaning happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, so I plan to buy heart-shaped cookies for the office to let them know they are appreciated.


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I hope they’ll be sugar-free ones. Seriously, you might be the only person who gives their dentist’s office something for Valentine’s Day! But I guess there’s no reason why we all can’t think about someone whose day we can brighten. Even if it’s just a phone call or text message.


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Exactly. Rediscovering values we may have forgotten does not have to be as extreme as turning hate into love by turning swastikas into cupcakes, but we all have the ability to make a difference. One person at a time.

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I think you’ve inspired me. This Valentine’s Day, I may “show some love” by sending cards to people just to let them know I’m thinking of them.


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Good idea. I wonder if Hallmark has any cards that say, “Happy Valentine’s Day … I may not love you, but the good news is that I do not hate you.”

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by chatiyanon on iStock

It seems the pandemic has resulted in people “recycling” relationships from their past, and I have already admitted to doing that and then being “ghosted” (the relationship was doomed the first go-round and trying to resurrect it reminded me of why). Although on the surface it may seem rude, there are a few “legitimate” reasons for ghosting, some less obvious than others.

Looking back to decades of dating, a handful of engagements, and two failed marriages, I realized none of them started as friendships. I will also admit that very few started with sparks of passion (I know those fizzle out), but all were analyzed in terms of compatibility. Too bad I was not aware of research indicating the majority of romantic relationships begin as long-term friendships.

This story began as an impromptu business meeting when I asked to speak to the manager of a food franchise I frequented, thinking there might be an opportunity to create a joint marketing opportunity with Red & Black. There was no way to know the attractive man sitting toward the back of the store, who I noticed when I first walked in, would be the district manager.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I can’t believe it’s already May, which means hot and humid weather is just around the corner. All I can say is … ugh.


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Not a scientific term, but descriptive nonetheless. And, I hate to break the news to you, but the science of climate change and global warming means summers will keep getting hotter.


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I can remember growing up in New York and summers being hot, but not like now. Of course, it didn’t help that Mommy didn’t run the air conditioning until it got into the 90s.
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Photo by Epiximages on iStock


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I appreciate that bullet points may not be the typical approach to Mother’s Day, but it seems appropriate to me …
  • Be sensitive to those people whose mothers may no longer be with us, especially given how many have been lost to COVID
  • If you have lost a mother, remember they are always with you – in your heart and in your memories
  • Remember Mother’s Day also includes all those “unofficial moms” and “mother figures” who are like second (or replacement) moms
  • And, last but not least, If you’re a mom, try to enjoy the day by doing something for yourself, as today may be the one day you can get away with it


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This year I write about Mother’s Day with a heavy heart and still much raw emotion, as our mom passed in December. My pragmatic side (yes, that’s usually Black’s area although she did sound somewhat warm and fuzzy above) knows that she had been 94 and led a full life, but that really doesn’t make it any less sad or fill the emptiness. But I find myself, when I least expect it and triggered by the most unexpected things, finding comfort in wonderful memories. And although Black’s first bullet point hits too close to home for me, I’ll try my best to focus on the other bullets.

Wishing all moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!