Category Archives: Fun Savvy

Reflections on the Family Dinner

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This last few weeks has been hard for me for many reasons. My business has shifted gears, in a positive way, but has resulted in long hours and many decisions.  My husband has been working on a big project at work, so we haven’t had as much time together as usual, leaving us both irritable and feeling disconnected.  The Jewish holidays have come and gone and, while spiritually uplifting, the attendant socializing and entertaining have me feeling somewhat depleted physically.  And then there’s the big elephant in the room, the circus freak-show going on in Washington, which makes me sad, depressed, angry and frightened.  I am not really a negative person, in fact most people would say I’m unnaturally optimistic, but this month has been a struggle, even for me.

But, dear reader, do not despair. I was hit with inspiration the other day during a random, casual conversation with some of my colleagues.  I had brought my lunch to a meeting and the discussion turned to cooking in general, cooking for families in particular.  I was the only person with children of my own, the others being considerably younger than myself, but each of us had something to say about our experiences with family meals.  I mentioned that, while my children were growing up, I made family dinners an every-night thing. As the children got older, had more activities and eventually were able to drive themselves around, attendance was not always one hundred percent.  But, at the proscribed time, dinner was on the table for whomever was home.

One of my colleagues mentioned that her mom didn’t know how to cook, so they ate out every dinner, or brought in food from somewhere else.  This led us to discuss what, exactly, constitutes a “family dinner.”  Did it have to be homemade?  Did it have to be at home?  Did it have to be dinner?  I was struck by the guilt the other felt that they didn’t engage in this daily ritual with their families.  They judged their parents for not making it a priority.  I, in turn, began to feel self-conscious.  I am not one to hold everyone to some random standard that fits me and in fact, I try to look deeper in these types of discussions.  Did each of their families make some sort of regular interaction happen?  Could they look differently at their family’s process and see what they did to maintain connection?  For my family, dinner was the available time, but for other families it may have been something else.

The discussion revealed to me the complex and intense relationship between families and food.  Not a groundbreaking thing, for sure.  But scratch the surface and you’ll find that even in today’s modern world where things move at lightning speed and dinner can be obtained with the click of a mouse, by opening an app or by a meal delivery program, there remains a longing for people in the same household to spend time together.  For most of us food is comfort and the comfort of eating with those we love, in our familiar surroundings, makes us feel safer and less alone in the world.

In these turbulent times, we all long for a way to make sense of things.  At the end of the day I still feel comforted by going to the fridge, taking out the fixings for a home cooked meal and beginning the preparations while my husband pours a glass of wine and we share our day.  When my children come home for visits, they ask for their favorite meals and we cook together, catching up and remembering what always brings us back together.

If you have a memory or story to share about your “family dinner,” please share.  I’m working on a collection of stories on this subject and would love to connect with you.  Leave a comment here, or email me at barbaradabpr@gmail.com  Bon apetit!

Bonus points if you can identify the family in the featured photo!

P.S.  Here’s one last picture from my Summer Garden.  Sweet Potatoes!  Just dug from the ground, ready to dry and store for Sweet Potato pie for Thanksgiving!

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About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  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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Summer In My Garden: Reflections

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This past month has been a challenge in many ways and I think my recent gardening experiences are particularly illustrative.  As you may recall, I began the season by planting four raised beds consisting of: broccoli, edamame, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, eggplant, jalapenos, bell peppers and three types of tomatoes.  I know, I got carried away.  To date, the edamame has finished its growing cycle, the cabbage and broccoli were eaten by critters and are now gone, the cucumbers jalapenos and bell peppers are producing well, as are the tomatoes and I have a few gorgeous eggplants almost ready to harvest.  Unfortunately, the pumpkins and squash were attacked by an infestation of stink bugs and I’ve been fighting that battle the last few weeks.  I have managed to salvage five pumpkins and three spaghetti squash, and for that I am grateful.

I first noticed the nasty pests a couple of weeks ago during my daily maintenance.  I’d spotted a couple here and there, but that particular day, there was a total infestation.  I was, of course, completely grossed out and heartbroken.  Until that point, the garden was my best one yet, and everything looked gorgeous!  I researched some websites for help and information.  That same evening, my husband and I were out to dinner at a neighborhood restaurant and who wanders in, but my next-door neighbors who have lovely gardens!  I lamented my plight and they recommended a pesticide they’ve used that they swore would work.  When I returned home, lo and behold these lovely friends had left a can of the stuff on my back fence.  The next morning, we went to work applying the poison.  I crossed my fingers and left the yard.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve sprayed, weeded, removed dead leaves and had to make some tough decisions about what to save and what is beyond saving.  I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that the promise of my beloved vegetable garden will not fully be realized. I’ve learned to take pride and joy in the small successes, like the five healthy pumpkins and three small but beautiful spaghetti squash, and I’ve focused a lot of energy on the crops that were not harmed, like the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

So, like in life, not everything turns out as planned, but everything has its own season.  I can stew (no pun intended) on the failures or give attention and love to the things I can control.  I can grieve over what might have been, or revel in the successes that came my way.  In the end, I can take satisfaction that I gave it my best effort, learned some new things and know that this will all come around again next year when I will have the chance to start fresh.  All in all, this year’s garden is still my most successful one to date and that is something to celebrate.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  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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A Milestone Birthday and Summer in My Garden

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Today is a milestone birthday for me.  But, savvy woman that I am, this post was written in advance, so I’ll share some reflections as I close out this decade of my life.

As I’ve shared in this blog, I have spent the summer helping two of my adult children move apartments, traveling and growing a vegetable garden.  It occurs to me that all of these activities share some common themes: putting down roots, exploring the world outside of home and engaging in strenuous physical activity.  These themes have defined my life and pretty much describe my personal outlook.  I believe in strong roots, connection to my culture and home.  I believe that a secure foundation helps us feel confident about leaving home to seek out new experiences, be they far afield or in our own environs.  I also believe that a strong sense of identity helps us create our own values and keeps us afloat in a turbulent world.  And physical activity builds strength, both inside and out.  Developing the discipline required to commit to exercise or sports keeps mind and body engaged.

At one point during the latest move for my son, as I was schlepping yet another box from the truck to his apartment, I looked at him and proudly reminded him of my age.  He smiled and said, “I know mom, you and dad aren’t like other parents.”  Well, that may or may not be true, but I felt good knowing I’ve maintained my health and fitness and can enjoy an active life.  I plan to continue working towards greater strength and stamina and look forward to another physical challenge (though the next move will involve professionals!).

This last ten years has been one of incredible emotional growth for me, and for my family.  Our move to Nashville was difficult.  Much of the time I have felt like a small dinghy being blown about in a storm.  I’ve struggled to find my balance and today I am stronger for weathering it.  I’ve built a great life, found amazing friends, started a business and created a comforting home.  The toughest part these days is living away from my children.  In fact, each of us lives in a different city.  I’ve worried that leaving their childhood home would make them feel adrift as well.  I’ve come to realize that they are creating their own homes and building lives that is unique to each of them.  I also now, finally, understand that we are always a family, regardless of where we live.  When we come together, we are as we’ve always been, The Dab Family.  And, this weekend, they have all planned a wonderful family vacation to celebrate my birthday.  I am truly a lucky woman and have much for which to be grateful.

And as for my garden, well, it’s a little out of control.  I have four rather large pumpkins developing, several spaghetti squash, gobs of cucumbers, bushels of tomatoes and some tired sunflowers.  The broccoli and cabbage have not thrived, but the jalapenos are doing great.  I’ve made a batch of fresh gazpacho and grilled some zucchini.  All in all, it’s been a successful summer season.

My hopes for my future have evolved, too.  I no longer wish for material things, bigger houses, more prestigious career moves.  Instead I wish to continue on the path I’m already traveling.  I wish for more years to enjoy my husband and children.  I wish for more joy, good health, connection to my community and my spirituality.  I wish for contentment and to recognize when I have enough and when I am enough.  I wish for these things for all of you, too.  Oh, and world peace (ref. “Miss Congeniality,”).

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  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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My Precious Hummers

I get so excited every year when I see that first hummingbird darting around the feeder! I am so amazed. These tiny birds find their way across miles and miles of land and sea back to my little patio and the “nectar” I put out for them. Folks say they’re likely the same ones each year. I wish I had a way to know for sure.

My dear friend, Leslee, in West Virginia, introduced me to the idea of feeding the hummingbirds. She had feeders under the eaves all around her Victorian bed and breakfast and the little darlings absolutely swarmed her house. Then, Nancy and I had a feeder at the house in Ashland City and we would sit quietly on the deck watching our “hummers” flit and flutter around it. The first time I put my feeder out at my condo here in Ashland City, I wondered if and how anybody would ever find me and my red feeder with yellow “flowers.” Wow! No sooner did I hang it out than there they were. Or there it was anyway. Through my kitchen window, where I watch them daily now, mostly early mornings and at dusk, I saw a hummer. I was thrilled.

According to beautyofbirds.com, the hummingbirds typically found in Tennessee are…

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are natives. Migrating males are usually the first to arrive in April and the first to depart in or around October. The females and the young usually follow about two weeks later. I definitely have these in my backyard family.

 

 

The male has a ruby-red throat, a white collar, an emerald green back and a forked tail.

 

 

 

 

The female has a green back and tail feathers that are banded white, black and grey-green.

 

 

Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) are regular visitors. These hummingbirds are usually found in gardens and at feeders. These birds are fearless, and are known for chasing away other hummingbirds and even larger birds, or rodents away from their favorite nectar feeders and flowers. I do have a couple of rather aggressive “chasers,” but they don’t look like these.

 

Males can easily be identified by their glossy orange-red throats.

 

 

 

Females have whitish, speckled throats, green backs and crowns, and rufous, white-tipped tail feathers.

 

Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are considered “accidental” visitors. I think I have a couple of these, too.

 

 

The male has a black, shimmering throat with a purple edge and pale feathersbelow that create a collar. However, unless the light is just right, the head looks all black. His back is green and there are some green feathers covering the chest.

 

 

 

The female is pale below (sometimes with a slightly speckled throat) and her back is green.

 

 

“Like all hummingbirds, ruby-throats are precision flyers with the ability to fly full out and stop in an instant, hang motionless in midair, and adjust their position up, down, sideways, and backwards with minute control. They dart between nectar sources with fast, straight flights or sit on a small twig keeping a lookout, bill waving back and forth as the bird looks around. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds aggressively defend flowers and feeders, leading to spectacular chases and dogfights, and occasional jabs with the beak. They typically yield to larger hummingbird species (in Mexico) and to the notoriously aggressive Rufous Hummingbird.”

These are my guys for sure. My friend and co-writer, Brenda, caught this guy on camera one evening. We have begun a tradition of working on our songs while our humming friends fly around our heads. (Big smile as I write this…)

 

 

Are hummingbirds the most unique birds on earth? I sure think so. https://www.beautyofbirds.com/hummingbirdsinterestingfacts.html

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher. She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations. She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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We’re Better Together

On Saturday, July 14th, about one billion people watched France win the FIFA World Cup.  No other sport draws as big an audience and only the marriage of British royals can draw a similar global audience.  July 14th is also Bastille Day, a celebration of the French Revolution when France transformed from a monarchy to a democracy.

Both events demonstrate the benefits of globalization. Football (soccer to Americans) is the most popular sport in the world. Players leave their country of origin to compete in the top leagues in the world which makes them better players when they represent their country at the World Cup.

The winning French squad included individuals who play their club football in Spain, Germany, and England. Croatia, their opponent, has stars that play in Italy, Spain and England. The English Premier League is expected to suffer a loss of top talent after Brexit due to immigration barriers and the loss of passport-free movement around Europe.

The U.S. also benefits from this international trade. Several of our top players are honing their skills in European leagues against the top players in the world. Our domestic league, Major League Soccer, has many stars who are national team players in their countries of origin.  (The same is true for our national women’s team and league.)

The other big French event, Bastille Day, symbolizes the globalization of democracy.  The French revolutionary ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity flowed across Europe with their armies and eventually around the world.  The concepts inspired popular uprisings in 1830 and 1848 as oppressed Europeans fought to overthrow oppressive governments.

The “losers” of these European revolutions fled to the U.S. where they became soldiers in the Civil War, homesteaders, business owners and politicians.  They helped build the U.S. into a world economic and political power.

After World War II, the U.S. used its economic and political power to create a global system anchored by democracy.   Political stability is maintained through the United Nations and similar international organizations. Economic stability is supported through the World Trade Organization and multilateral trade agreements.

Unfortunately, the benefits of globalization are being undermined by populists.  Like the royalist forces in 1789, 1830 and 1848, they believe in an illusory past glory when they were the “winners” and the condition of others was irrelevant.  If the populists succeed, I expect to pay more money to see a lousier game of football.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of HR, see my weekly blog HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which publishes every Wednesday morning. To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Heading Out: Vacation Prep Blues

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As I write this, I’m about to head out with my husband for a two-week vacation.  It’s the longest we’ve been away in years, and I am a bundle of stress.  The past several weeks I have been occupied with visits from my three adult children, something I enjoy but that also distracts me from the daily life I have constructed for myself.  So, my mind is most definitely not engaged in vacation prep.  Not only that but my youngest, who has been living with us for the last couple of months, has taken a job in another city and will be leaving just four days after we return.  I feel both excited for him and for my return to normalcy, but also somewhat sad to be missing out on some quality time during his last weeks at home.  Oy!  I am quite literally a mess of emotions.

I’ve written before about the pressure we women put on ourselves; the pressure to perform, the pressure to look great all the time, the pressure to succeed, to be perfect in every way.  For me, I add in the pressure to be the perfect mother for whatever stage my kids are in their development.  These days, as young adults just starting out, that takes the form of regular texts and phone calls for recipes, work advice, fashion input, roommate issues, financial planning, dating, the list goes on.  And of course, there is “Mom’s Moving Service,” which is always at the ready to help with apartment hunting, box schlepping and the assembly of Ikea furniture.

For the most part, it’s great fun to watch, and participate, as their adult lives take shape.  God knows I wish I’d had the same encouragement and support when I struck out on my own young adult life.  But it’s also physically and emotionally exhausting.  I walk the line between respecting their boundaries and giving input, all the while remembering their sweet little baby smiles, their sticky faces, their hurt cries and the tiny arms drawing me close to say goodnight.  Yep, for me it’s constant work to refocus the picture of them in mind as fully-grown adults.

And actually, they are all doing a great job of building their lives.  Each is on a different path with widely varying careers and lifestyles.  Each is financially self-sufficient and two of them have higher degrees.  This is not a brag on my kids, but the way, it’s me reassuring myself that they are all fine and well so that I can get on with my life and my vacation!

At this point, our bags are mostly packed and ready, save for the last-minute carry-on items, we’re checked into our flights and tonight our son will drop us off at the airport for our overnight transatlantic trip.  I’m hoping that somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll drift off to sleep (with the help of some Ambien and a glass of wine) and by the time I wake up I’ll be recovered from the “Kids’ Visit Hangover.”

As you read this, I’ll be arriving home, hopefully with some new stories to tell my children when I see them next, and a refocused perspective on who we all are in this world and where I intend to go next.  Here’s hoping…

P.S.  The recent rains have made my garden go crazy!  Enjoy some pictures of my sunflowers, tomatoes and squash!

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  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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The Other Side of the Couch – Loafing

 

A friend recently gave me some words of wisdom that I found shocking.

She said, “You’ve been through a lot over the last 18 months – now it’s time to focus on relaxing and self-care and fun.”This perception on her part was shocking in several ways – but most importantly, it invited me think about what HAS been going on in my life.

In the last eighteen months I have had three major surgeries, the trip of a lifetime, selling of a childhood home and subsequent downsizing process, purchase of a new home, loss of my best friend to early-onset Alzheimer’s, a home disaster in our new condo that resulted in almost five months in an extended-stay hotel, my daughter’s first pregnancy, exposure of our cats to the lethal effects of eating an Easter lily (they are fine), and the birth of a granddaughter.

WOW. Or better said, YIKES! Talk about a roller coaster!  No wonder my friend had this perception.

Living life is like being in a river.  The current is constantly flowing, and we are in that current.  It is ongoing, ever-changing, sometimes stormy, sometimes swift and challenging, sometimes slow and lazy, but never the same.  Taking the time to climb out onto the bank to observe one’s self in that current can be challenging – and sometimes it takes another person looking in to help us see what has been going on.

My friend’s comment did this for me – and helped me realize something about my own process.  I don’t take the time to step back, to rest, to recharge.  These last months have really been about “good soldiering”.  One step in front of the other, don’t look back, don’t look ahead, just slog on, keep your head down, that’s the best you can do.

It’s not a process that is filled with rest, renewal, or any kind of joy.  It is called survival.

Many of us get stuck in this place of survival and adapt to it – it becomes the only way we know how to approach living.  To break that mold takes intention and some degree of support.  It takes claiming time for yourself to do things that perhaps you don’t normally do – whatever it is that you experience as relaxing and fun and outside the regular track of your life.

What am I doing?  I am puttering around with plants for my little patio.  I am taking a trip to hear music over Memorial Day.  I am going to my college reunion in June.  I am planning a trip to Charleston to see my other grandchild.  I am planning a trip to Florida to see dear friends.  On a daily basis I am asking myself this question:  How would you like to loaf today?

Answering that question may be the most important and the most challenging of all – because I don’t know much about loafing around (that means being unproductive – heaven forbid!).  Redefining loafing as resting, taking it easy, changing your pace, slowing down – these are new ideas for me.

When do you “loaf”?  Are you always on the move, always doing, always restless?  If so, you might need a dose of loafing to bring some balance into your life.  I know I do!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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Creative Camping

IMG_9991 (1)Having just participated in an art workshop for 3 days, it was so filled with adventure that I have come away comparing it to what kids might feel like when they go away to camp.  The busyness of preparation with getting supplies together, the trepidation of feelings, “Am I going to succeed at new tasks?”, and the exhilaration of “I am having fun!”  The fun, in addition to the satisfaction of learning something new, comes from being with other artists who encourage one another, give grace at the stumbles, tell funny jokes and some dumb ones, too, and express gratitude at the good days and the fact that we get to do what we do.   The other fabulous feeling comes from admiration that another human being can do something unique and to such a high degree of competency that it fills me with inspiration and a grateful heart for being shown the way.  Charlie Hunter, who has developed a style of his own, was so willing and generous to share his process and help us experience his way of working that I came away with faith that I will continue to find my bliss.  I was inspired and feel that I can paint and explore processes in any way that I want, and that I, too, will find my own mountaintop.  This is a good life.  I am grateful.

Painting en plein air is not for everyone.  There are challenges. First, logistics.  I am my mother’s child, and I want to have my needs met at any given time.  This means that I carry a lot of supplies – a rolling cart and usually another bag that holds the gadgets.  I want my favorite brushes, stool, umbrella (sun protection), water device, the right canvas, sketchpad, viewer, pencils, palette paper, trashcan, easel, and tripod, camera for photographing scenes and birds, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, beverages, snack, and now there are new gadgets, oh, but they are such fun, mark making, tools.

The joy of getting away and focussing on art is such a gift that it makes the logistics part bearable. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class with Charlie Hunter through The Chestnut Group this week.  It was different than anything else so far, and frankly, I didn’t know that I would even like painting in this monochromatic, tonal style.  Let me tell you, it has drawn me in like a moth to the flame.

If you have ever wanted to try painting, or if you already paint and you are looking for a community of artists, consider us,  The Chestnut Group.  We will encourage you and share what’s been shared with us.

I will continue to negotiate the cold, heat, humidity, sun, weather threats, bugs, long distances to restroom facilities, logistics and unknowns.  The payoff is so worth it.  Painting and birding, two of my favorite pastimes, are afforded in one outing.  I am fortunate.

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About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, in 2015. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. To see what she’s working on, visit her website: www.reneebatesartist.com.  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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My Summer Garden

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My backyard in Los Angeles was an oasis. We had green space, a large pool, spa, four different citrus trees, a concrete sports court and a patio with a barbecue and seating. And since the weather was good all year, we really made use of our outdoor space. We had pool parties in January, and cookouts in August. But the one thing I never did in L.A. was grow vegetables. Ironically the great year round weather lulled me into feeling I’d get to it eventually, but never did. I did try planting pumpkins with my kids a couple of times, but they didn’t take, so we gave up.

Now that we live in an urban neighborhood near downtown Nashville, I feel a strong desire to turn our cozy little backyard into my garden retreat. So for the past couple of weekends, my husband and I have been researching, shopping, prepping, building and planting. And our city garden retreat is nearly finished. We have four raised beds filled with vegetables, two baskets of herbs, we cleaned and moved an old abandoned dog house into the yard for our fur baby, “Bentley,” planted a row of sunflowers (my mother’s favorites) for privacy and fun and built a rain barrel to give all these plants some fresh rain water. I plan to add some seating, maybe some garden sculpture and maybe even a water feature.

This is a pretty ambitious plan for me. I’ve never been very good at maintaining houseplants; in fact most of my indoor plants are artificial. But I just feel drawn to getting outside, digging in the dirt and growing food we will actually eat. There’s just something so satisfying about cooking with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself, snipping some fresh mint for a mojito (!) or baking some zucchini bread with fresh squash. I also feel more relaxed after a productive session working in the garden. And since I am once again a city dweller, gardening brings some peace and beauty to an otherwise hectic environment.

Beginning with this post, I’ll be sharing my summer garden experiences and pictures as it grows. If you have tips, advice or anything to share about your garden adventures, please comment here. I’d looooove to hear about your successes and your failures. As my garden grows, so do I!

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About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  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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I Wanna Live Forever!

Gilgamesh and his best friend Enkidu had many adventures together. Then Enkidu died. Gilgamesh was inconsolable with grief and loneliness. But he was also afraid of his own death. So he wandered endlessly in search of the secret to never dying.

Gilgamesh’s story is told in the Epic of Gilgamesh, written between 2150 – 1400 BCE.  It was the first major piece of literature in the western world, predating even Homer’s stories about the destruction of Troy.  Gilgamesh was a mythical king of Uruk, a Sumerian city-state in what is now Iraq.

His story may have been written over 4000 years ago but Gilgamesh was not so different from us today.  We are still looking for the magical elixir of life.  Gilgamesh hoped the gods would tell him the secret to immortality but they never did.

Today, our “gods” are the allegedly scientific studies on the benefits of exercise and food.  I say alleged because the studies usually provide conflicting advice and are often sponsored by industries that have a stake in the outcome.  Consider how the definition of “healthy” food changes constantly.

Years ago a study told us not to eat eggs because they have cholesterol which is bad for us. Then a study told us that eggs are loaded with protein; so they are good for us. The poultry industry celebrated.  Another study told us sugar is bad for us. Then a study arrived claiming that lab rats died from consuming saccharine and other sugar substitutes.  Suddenly sugar is good for us again. Sugar beet farmers and sugarcane refineries rejoice.

Along with diet, we’re told to exercise regularly. What does “regularly” mean? One study tells us to exercise until our hearts are thumping and we’re soaked in sweat. The next study tells us that we can achieve excellent health and long life from as little as fifteen minutes of daily exercise.   Recently, a BBC news story cited a new study which claims that prolonged sitting will kill us no matter how much we exercise.

What no one ever admits is that if we live forever, we’ll outlive all our friends. Then we’ll be as lonely as Gilgamesh was after Enkidu died.  Instead of agonizing over living forever, I’ll support a scientific study that says we should enjoy life with our friends, our favorite foods and exercise when we feel like it.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps 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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