Monthly Archives: December 2015

Sharing What You Know

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I had a painting workshop recently that moved me a lot. The teacher told us flat out, “You need to be teaching. Share what you know with others, it solidifies what you have learned.” The teacher also shared their opinion that we are creative beings designed by a creative Creator who delights in our work. I learned a lot that day because I opened my mind to possibility. Wasn’t it Emily Dickinson who said, “Dwell in possibility”?

Over the course of my short time as a painter, I have taken a lot of workshops from several different teachers and though I am sure on some points I was instructed in the same information more than once, I learned new things in each and every class. With all instruction, being gentle on myself and accepting of the truism,”I hear it when I am ready to hear it, and I see it when I am ready to see it,” is helpful.   Taking lots of instruction exposes me to new and old ways and different techniques of transferring and applying information. Each of us has our own learning style.

Another truism I embrace, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” So, I opened myself up to the idea of teaching and call it fate, destiny, chance, whatever you will but in November I was visiting an art show with a friend and from it came an opportunity to teach for the first time, coming in February. I am grateful, I am challenged, and I am happily collecting the basic tenets of what I have learned about oil painting for the class. We are going to focus on opening up, turning off the “what I think it should look like” image in our heads and explore what we actually see to transfer it onto canvas. I hope to help turn back the clock in our heads to our young six-year-old selves, to a time before what other people thought about what we drew or painted became so important and limiting and shut down many of our creative leanings. I am grateful and think that I will likely learn as much as the students. If you are in the Nashville area and would like to explore creativity with us, you are invited to register: USN Evening Classes, Beginning Oil Painting. The class number is #701.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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It’s Never Too Late:  Pursuing Your Dreams Through Life


Growing up I had big dreams, and don’t we all?  From ballerina to movie star to maybe even first woman President, my dreams ran the gamut.  For many years I actually pursued my dreams of being a professional actress and even earned some money from acting jobs.  But alas, over time I realized the life of a starving artist just wasn’t for me and I moved on.

Dreams die hard, though, and through the years my creative self has continued to bubble up in various ways.  When my children were young I owned a small business franchise that offered classes for parents and their toddlers.  The classes were focused on nurturing socialization and movement but also included music and dance.  Leading the classes gave me an outlet for my performing skills and used my musical theater training experiences.  Owning a business also taught me some real-life skills in marketing, networking, accounting and personnel development.  I gained confidence and built my self-esteem in ways I never imagined during my acting days.

Once my last child was in school I decided to return to graduate school to earn a degree in journalism.  I had always loved writing and finally decided to honor another long-shelved passion for the written word.  I chose to focus on broadcast journalism because, again, it gave me a chance to use my performance skills.  It was in grad school that my world really changed.  News writing came naturally to me and for the first time I felt that my work really matched my inner self.  Journalism fed my natural curiosity about the world and the things that both unite and distinguish people from all walks of life.  I love telling stories and giving a voice to those unable to speak for themselves and writing and journalism continue to fulfill me.

Looking back over the years I have come to realize that each thing I pursued built on skills, interests and dreams that came before.  What seemed like random changes at the time now make sense and I see my varied professional choices as logical expressions of pieces of myself.  If I could give my younger self any advice it would be: “Trust yourself and honor your dreams and passions.  Don’t be afraid of making a mistake.”  As I think now about the next phase of my life I am encouraged and fueled by this life lesson.  The things that bring us joy are worth pursuing with drive and passion.  And it’s never too late to dust off an old dream and figure out how to integrate it into a mature life.  What are your dreams?  What are you waiting for?

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  Check it out at  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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3 Mistakes of Networking

NetworkingNetworking is a skill that must be developed, as I learned the hard way when I started my own business. Based on my experiences, I’ve developed a hit list of networking mistakes. Here are my top 3:

Mistake #1: No preparation. A mistake I made early on was not thinking about what I wanted out of the meeting.  Was I expecting to walk away with a new client?  Could the person I was meeting connect me to someone I wanted to meet?  Who did I want to meet? Was there someone in my network that I could connect to the person I was meeting?  In other words, I didn’t prepare properly. I learned my lesson.  Now when the other person says “so how can I help you,” I whip out my list of 3 – 5 names to which I’d like to be connected.  It all starts with preparation.

By now, everyone knows that LinkedIn and Facebook are great resources for gathering information about people. I want to know if we have any common interests or experiences. I also look at company websites to see who they target as customers to see if there are ways we can help our mutual businesses.

Mistake #2: No show.  It can be a challenge to schedule a meeting because anyone you really want to meet already has multiple obligations making it difficult to find an open date.  But if we’re agreeing to meet it means we both expect to get something of value from the meeting.  So not showing up is bad. I’ve waited at coffee shops for people who never showed and never called to let me know they couldn’t make the meeting.  It’s hard not to take it personally.  To limit the no show problem, I confirm via email a day or two before the scheduled date.  When I’ve screwed up and missed a meeting, I’ve emailed or called the other person as soon as possible to apologize.  I want to limit the damage done to my reputation.

Mistake #3: No referrals.  I’ve lost count of the coffee meetings I’ve had where the other person offered nothing. What was the point of meeting if you’re not prepared to make connections? One of the most effective networkers I know goes into each meeting expecting to connect the other person with at least one person in his network.  Even if he doesn’t get any referrals, he’s helped the other person achieve a goal.  My networking improved when began using the same approach. If I can help others achieve their goals, I will eventually be rewarded.

As I continue to hone my networking skills, I’m sure my list of networking mistakes will also be refined. Meanwhile, I continue striving to avoid committing my top 3 mistakes of networking.

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. Visit Norma’s website:

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The Other Side of the Couch – New Traditions?!

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I don’t really remember a time when the Christmas season was not filled with activity.  I grew up in a home with four other siblings and Christmas was a great event in our house.  My earliest memories involve sneaking down the stairs with my sister to see if Santa had come, and being absolutely convinced that Santa Claus was real, because ALL the presents were there, and Daddy and Mommy were asleep!  As I grew to adulthood Christmas continued to be the central holiday when the family gathered.  It was also true that as an adult I became much more involved in the preparing of these seemingly effortless rituals that culminated in the perfect Christmas morning, the presents wrapped and prepared for all, the Christmas breakfast and the Christmas dinner prepared and ready to serve.  I have loved Christmas and enjoyed the traditions of having my own home and making these traditions ours.

Now with my own home and my own adult, married daughter and my own Christmas to prepare, I am facing a first.  My daughter is spending Christmas with her husband’s family in another state.

No matter what I tell myself – that this is normal, that this is right, that this is her life, that we will be fine– I am overcome with sadness.  All of the wisdom I have so readily shared with others – make your own plans, create your own traditions, make this a day that is right for you, do a service project for others – pales in the face of this new reality.

As I face this, I think of my mother, whose five children grew up and scattered far across this country, rarely being all in the same place at the same time as adults.  I wonder how this felt for her.  I wonder how she bore it when I swanned off to South America for six years.   I wonder if she felt the same kind of emptiness in the face of this absence of what is, in the end, a part of one’s self.

So a part of my heart is going to be in North Carolina this Christmas.  I will bear up and be brave and have a good day.  And I will do my best to support my daughter in her choices, perhaps on the inside having a little childish tantrum that says “What about ME!” but hopefully not letting that part of me get in the way of giving her what she needs as an adult.  I will take my own advice, and my husband and I will do something different on Christmas.  It will be different, and it will be ok, and we will all grow a little bit in new ways.

I will hope for some new traditions that will translate into new ways of being for all of us.

So – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – Whatever you celebrate, make it a tradition that works for you.

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.”  Contact Susan at

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