Monthly Archives: November 2014

Holidays for Savvy Cooks

Basket of Fruit and Pumpkin PieMy favorite holiday time of year is Thanksgiving.  It was Mom’s as well. “It’s all about the food,” Aunt Kathy pointedly told my mom with a grin, as they discussed an upcoming trip and Mom plotted their vacation by the restaurants they would dine in along the way.  Lella Mai (mom) certainly enjoyed good food, cooking and loving people with her creations from the kitchen.  My cousins loved Aunt Mai’s sweet tea, potato salad, corn bread dressing and chocolate confections.  From her “doctored up” Mississippi Mud Cake to her truffles and other deliciousness, desserts were top of mind.  Her first love, pound cake, was a constant entertainment as she tried many recipes.  I have found the same enjoyment in my own kitchen, especially creating new recipes, or tweaking others’ recipes to make them my own.

Mom was not one of those who kept secrets about her ingredients.  She would share recipes readily and was honored when people asked her for one.  She definitely had command of the kitchen.  Of course, everything else was under her leadership as well, but that’s another story.

The following salad is a recent discovery, and its simplicity makes it an easy addition to any meal.  Mom probably would not have liked this one because she never tasted arugula, to my knowledge, and she became fairly picky.  I can see her “would be” reaction to it now, a crinkled up nose in disapproval of the strong flavor.  It makes me laugh.  I do miss her.  She could make some awful faces.

This recipe serves 16-20 as an accompaniment and leftovers the next day are delicious.  Lemon is the standout and makes for a nice break on the palate between the savory goodness of turkey and dressing and that sweet potato casserole with the brown sugared crunchy topping.

Lemon Arugula Salad

  • 3 containers of arugula, organic if you can get it
  • 6 ounces thin sliced prosciutto di Parma, torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup of large shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano (use a large bit grater)


  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 to ½ cup of good olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix the liquids and pour over the salad.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Gathering family, cooking, eating, laughing and of course, expressing thanks, are all on the plan.  A nice walk in the woods, breathing in the crisp, cool air and walking off some of that deliciousness will be on the plan as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

About Renee Bates

Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Acquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most powerful woman in medieval Europe, due to her inheritance and her marriages.  She “leaned in” long before modern women were urged to do so.

Eleanor was born in 1122 as heir to the Aquitaine, which was roughly a third of modern France.  At the age of 15 she married Louis VII, King of France. Eleanor’s life as Queen of France is notable for three things. First, she invited herself along on the Second Crusade which outraged the political and religious leaders of the day.  Second, she had only daughters with Louis. Third, at the age of 25, Eleanor fell madly in love with a younger man, Henry Plantagenet. He was 18 years old when they met and he had prospects that far exceeded what Louis could offer.

Eleanor convinced the pope to grant her an annulment so that she could marry Henry.  After Henry became King of England, they controlled territory stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Louis was left with little more than Paris and its surrounding counties. To compound Louis’ humiliation, Eleanor’s new marriage produced sons including, Richard the Lion-Hearted and John (of Magna Carta fame).

Eleanor ran their vast kingdom while Henry II was off fighting wars with the Scots, Welsh, Irish, and French.  But their marriage eventually soured and Eleanor conspired with her sons against Henry and almost won a civil war against him. In retaliation, Henry imprisoned Eleanor in one of his more inaccessible castles.  She was not freed until Henry died.

Eleanor lived for 82 years and remained feisty to the end. At the age of 80, she crossed the Alps on a trip to the Norman kingdom in Sicily to find a husband for one of her granddaughters.

For a fictionalized account of Eleanor and Henry watch the movie, “The Lion in Winter”, starring Kathryn Hepburn and Peter O’Toole (and a young Anthony Hopkins as Richard).  The movie captures the soap opera behavior of the Plantagenet’s although it compresses actual historical events.  For a biographical study, read “Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings”, by Amy Kelly.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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Effective Leadership – Building Trust

Effective Leadership-BuildingTrust

It’s a basic necessity for good relationships, so it makes sense that trust is a key contributor to a leader’s effectiveness.  Think about it… Would you follow someone you don’t trust? The trust that is critical to being an effective leader involves much more than honesty, though. Leaders usually act a little shocked—act as if their character has been assaulted—when I ask whether people trust them. They hear the question as something akin to, “Do you lie to people?” I ask leaders whether they are trusted so that they will focus on the following key questions. The answers to which all need to be, “Yes.”

Do people trust that:

  • You have their best interests at heart?
  • You will follow through on your commitments?
  • You know what you’re doing?
  • You will make sound decisions?
  • You’ll keep your cool?
  • You’ll be honest with them?

Recent psychological research provides a key pointer toward what leaders can do to earn the trust of the people who work with them: people begin to trust you when they see you demonstrate self-control, i.e. avoid doing what is not beneficial and do more of what is, even if there will be a little pain involved. People look for clues about your trustworthiness in all that you say and do. If you tell everyone you are on a diet, but snack on the office goodies routinely, people will file that away as evidence that you either don’t mean what you say or you don’t have the strength to make hard choices…neither behavior being very leader-like, of course.  Imagine if you also then tiptoe around a difficult team member who is not carrying her weight on projects. Once again, others will conclude you can’t make tough decisions for the ultimate benefit of the team.

Earning trust can take time, but it’s possible to speed things along a bit if you put your mind to it. If you’re in leadership, and wondering what proactive steps you can take to earn others’ trust sooner rather than later, try out some of these:

  • Seek out information that can answer questions or ease concerns your team has expressed and pass that information along to them.
  • Start and end meetings on time, and if you must deviate from the stated agenda, make it clear why.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to advocate for your employees with others in the company.
  • Pay close attention to what you tell people you will do—even the trivial things—and do them or tell them why you can’t.
  • Keep a lid on your emotions when reacting to news, situations, etc. Besides not throwing tantrums in the office, we’re talking about keeping your less-measured editorial comments about people or events to yourself.
  • Admit when you don’t know something and demonstrate a commitment to learn it.

Obviously, none of this is rocket science; you just have to decide you’re going to take these steps. After all, building trust is as simple as staying away from the cookies when you’re on a diet.

About Dr. Debra Fish

Dr. Fish is a consulting psychologist whose writing and work focus exclusively on helping individuals and teams lead more effectively. Her firm, Fish Executive Leadership Group, LLC, counts among its clients everything from Fortune 50 corporations to small, privately-held professional service firms.

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The Other Side of the Couch –Listening


I recently had the pleasure of attending an unusual conference in our nation’s capital. NO, the conference had nothing to do with politics (although we did have a surprise visit from “President Obama” – for split seconds the audience really did think this very talented impersonator was the real thing!)  The theme of the conference was Joyful Aliveness, and the hotel was rocked by shouts of “You are Amazing!” from the presenters, the participants, and anyone else who was brought in for any purpose.

I was attending the annual conference of Imago Relationship Therapists. IRI is an international organization that brings together Imago therapists from all over the world.  This year there were participants from 21 different countries, including 8 from Estonia, 17 from South Korea, and 4 from South Africa.

Imago Relationship Therapy, first developed by Harville Hendricks and his wife, Helen LeKelly Hunt, is a way of healing relationships through the use of a variety of processes, most importantly through the use of Dialogical processes.  First developed nearly 25 years ago, Imago is used by over 1000 therapists around the world, changing the world, as we say “one couple at a time.”  (For more information, check out, or just google it on Youtube.)

Imago processes are based on very precise and attuned listening, a skill that most people have never been taught.  What more often than not happens when two people are talking about a subject that brings up any feeling of conflict is that while one person is talking and the other is ostensibly listening, what is really going on is that the supposed listener is actually listening to what is going on inside his or her own head, so as to effectively challenge or contradict the other.  The same thing goes on when the other person is called upon to listen.  WE DON’T LISTEN, and we, therefore, often base our behavior on erroneous information.

What was beautiful about this conference was that I was in a community of trained and respectful listeners who, even in the midst of disagreement (and there were disagreements), were able to listen, take in new information, even change their positions based on new information.  I enjoyed it so much!

Below is a poem that was shared after the conference.  It sums up my thoughts about listening.  Enjoy!


“Reduced to Joy” by Mark Nepo

We can grow by simply listening, the way the tree on

 that ridge listens its branches to the sky,

 the way blood listens its flow to the site

 of a wound, the way you listen like a basin when

 my head so full of grief can’t look you in the eye.

 We can listen our way out of anger, if we let the heart

 soften the wolf we keep inside.

 We can last by listening deeply,

 the way roots reach for the next inch of earth,

 the way an old turtle listens all he hears into the pattern of his shell.


About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”

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Social Media And How To Build Your Authentic Personal Brand

Social Media 3

The  women of HerSavvy met recently to learn more about using social media to build and enhance our business brands.  The session was led by a young adult, or digital native, who walked us through the process of using Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and the like.  To us digital immigrants, it was a bit overwhelming, but there is no denying the importance of social media in today’s world.  We all understand the need to, if not master it, at least know the basics.  And when it comes to business there are professionals to help us navigate that world.  The bigger issue for many of us is how, or whether, to use social media for our personal lives and where personal and business identities intersect.  The question also came up of how to be our authentic selves while at the same time creating a brand and where and when to set boundaries on our use of social media.  Just like Hollywood celebrities (or Barbara Mandrell) all of us are now under a bit of a microscope and can be photographed, quoted or otherwise “captured” by this wild new world.

Listen to our discussion on our latest podcast and let us know how you manage to balance your personal and business identities and remain your authentic, best self.  And thanks for tuning in!

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website at

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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First Impressions

Business Handshake

We all know that first impressions are important and that we never get a second chance at making one.  I think about that adage each time I drive past the store of a local business owner.

It all started several months ago when I joined a business networking group and began to contact other members.  My goal was to ask for a brief meeting to introduce myself, to learn about the other business’s product or service, and to explore how we can help each other grow our businesses.

One of the first businesses I contacted had a new owner who said he was also new to the networking group.  I set a time to meet him at his store. Two weeks later, I showed up at the appointed time.  The guy wasn’t there.

The woman at the store said the owner had left to run an errand.  She didn’t know where he had gone, when he would be back, or that he was scheduled to meet me that afternoon.  After a few minutes of chatter, I left my business card and went on my way.  Sure I was disappointed because my time was wasted, but I’ve screwed up appointments too, so I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.  What happened?  I never heard from him.

Here’s where first impressions are important.  Missing an appointment is minor; it happens to all of us at some point.  Not following up to apologize and perhaps reschedule is major.  My first impression of this business owner is that he’s sloppy and uncaring about details.

Based on my first impression, I know that I will never buy this guy’s product or service.  I also know I won’t ever recommend his business to anyone who could use his product or service because I’m not going to burn my contacts by recommending someone who doesn’t care about how he treats potential customers.

I think about what sort of first impression I want to make on the people I meet. They may never need the service my company offers, but they all know someone who does and I sure don’t want to blow all those future potential relationships by making a lousy first impression.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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