Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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The Perilous Plight of Pollinators

 

per·il·ous

ˈperələs/

adjective

full of danger or risk.

“a perilous journey south”

synonyms:

dangerous, fraught with danger, hazardous, risky, unsafe, treacherous; More exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin.

Can you imagine the world without bees? How about birds? Then you might also imagine the world without food because birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are pollinators. As they move from spot to spot, they pick up and transport pollen from flowers. This pollen carries the genetic material necessary for plants to reproduce and produce the fruits, nuts, vegetables, and more, that all the earth’s creatures depend on for survival. But pollinators are struggling for survival because of loss of habitat, disease, pollution, and chemical misuse.

Why are pollinators important? Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. That means that 1 out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators. If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy and honey bees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.

Most of us have been at least somewhat aware that honey bees are in danger, but how many realize how severe the problem really is and why? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) began in 2006. There are a host of “stressors” attributing to the decline in honey bee populations, including, parasites, viruses, bacterial diseases, pesticides, nutrition, genetics, “queen quality,” and management. Pesticide usage is possibly the biggest contributor to the severe decline in honey bee populations.

More than 1200 chemicals are registered for use in the United States and are used in some 18,000 separate products sold under a variety of trade names. People who apply the more toxic pesticides must have training and a state issued license to use these materials. Some insecticides have warnings or bee hazards on their label because they are toxic to honey bees, causing honey bee deaths. If the insecticide has a sub-lethal affect on honey bees it may result in reduced larval survival, altered foraging behavior or shortened lifespan of adult bees. The extent of the sub-lethal affects is still unknown. (Pollinator.org)

According to the Pesticide Action Network:

During the 2017-2018 winter, beekeepers reported losing an estimated 30.7% of managed colonies in the U.S. This is an increase of almost 10% from the previous year.

Traditionally, measures of honey bee losses have focused on overwintering losses, but more and more beekeepers are seeing losses throughout the year. The BIP also asked about summer losses this year, and beekeepers reported losing 17.1% of managed colonies from April 2017 – October 2017. For the entire year, beekeepers lost an estimated 40.1% of their colonies, 2.7% higher than the average annual rate of loss experienced since 2010.

Download this PDF to learn more about global Honey Bee colony disorders and other threats to insect pollinators.

There is good news, though. There are things you and I can do to help pollinator populations recover.

  • Spread the word about the importance of pollinators.
  • Support Farmers and Beekeepers by buying local honey and locally produced organic foods.
  • Donate to support researchers so that they can help fill in the blanks, the more we know the more we can help the bees!
  • Plant to provide habitat for pollinators in your yard and in your community.

Pollinator Partnership (P2) has compiled planting guides and an APP that helps you select the right plant for the right spot. “Plant the right plants on highway rights of ways, farms, schools, home gardens, corporate landscapes and on public spaces.” Their mission “is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. Signature initiatives include the NAPPC (North American Pollinator Protection Campaign), National Pollinator Week, and the Ecoregional Planting Guides.”

So let’s do what we can to keep them pollinators pollinating. Together, we can keep them bees a-buzzin’!!!

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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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.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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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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Parenting Our Parents (Cont’d)

So… In the first segment of Parenting Our Parents back in January, I shared my mom’s often belligerent attitude toward me and her most assuredly depressing, nay, morbid feelings toward life itself. I wrote that we had “introduced her to the idea of a senior residence that seems absolutely fabulous. She now goes to a class there every Wednesday and admits (albeit reluctantly) that she enjoys it. Moving there is under consideration, but she’s ‘not ready for that yet.’” Well, I have an update and it is really good news!

Since April 15th, mom has been residing in that absolutely fabulous senior residence and, let me tell you, she is truly a different person. I mean, she has done a complete 180. I think I convinced her to try it by talking about having “kids her own age to play with.” I also had to promise that if she really didn’t like it, she could come home. My sister, Joan, is still living in the condo, of course, so it was easy to assure mom that the house would be there as she left it should she want to return. Thankfully, she trusted me enough to believe me.

So far, mom has not once mentioned going “home.” Nor has she talked about killing herself. Oh, sure, she says she’s tired and would still like to go to sleep and, well, you know, but she has made friends, goes to meals regularly, and even has a favorite pianist who visits the residence every couple of weeks. She plays bingo which “passes the time” (She’d rather play Poker, but hasn’t managed to get a game up yet. She’s working on it, though.), and roams the grounds in her power chair regularly. She’s getting a lot more fresh air because she can easily get in and out of the building herself and is eating better. The food isn’t always great, but they make “delicious soup” most of the time. If things aren’t up to par, you can bet she lets them know.

An intuitive article from the New England Geriatrics website, How Socialization Can Benefit the Elderly by Karen Mozzer, describes how important socialization is for the elderly.

No matter what age a person is, socialization is important and gives a person a sense of belonging and acceptance. The elderly are no different; they need contact with other people just as much as a child, teenager, young adult, and adults of all ages. People need socialization to thrive and enjoy fulfilling lives.

Socialization becomes more important as we get older, especially once we reach our senior years. A recent research study performed by Harvard University showed that elderly individuals, who had active social lives, were happier, healthier and more likely to live longer, than elderly people who did not have an active social life. Loneliness can deter an elderly person’s life, socializing can enrich it.

I, we, believe wholeheartedly that this is making the difference for mom. It has been totally life-changing for her. I joke that she’ll never admit it in my lifetime, but we think she is actually happy, much of the time anyway. Stay tuned.

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.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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The Other Side of the Couch – What Have We Become  

The information is chilling.

Families seeking asylum at our southern border are being deliberately separated due to a zero-tolerance policy that makes all adults illegal, incarcerates the adults, and sends children, sometimes infants in arms who are breast-feeding, to a detention setting.

This is not just a number.  This is a living, breathing baby whose only source of nourishment is its mother.   The baby probably has no idea how to take a bottle.  Torn from its mother’s arms, it will cry uncontrollably, will be unable to eat, and could very likely die due to this kind of treatment.  This is a criminal act.

The Trump administration has said that this horrific policy is being undertaken to deter asylum seekers.

What have we become as a nation?  How is it possible that thousands are not gathered at the border to protest these policies.

These are CHILDREN – children who are brought to this country by desperate parents fleeing for their lives.

Children who are traumatized carry the results of these experiences in their own DNA.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences research study (www.acestudy.org ) has proved that these kinds of events have long-lasting effects on the physical and mental health of children long into their adulthoods.  Any competent mental health professional knows that the effects of attachment disruption is profound.

The United States is wrong.  The world is watching.  I will contact my representative and senators. I will protest this injustice.  I will support with donations organizations that are attempting to serve these children.

What will you 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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My Family Air Bnb and Summer In The Garden

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First things first. This summer I’ll be entertaining a revolving door of visits from my adult children and their friends. To date, I’ve already had my youngest come home to live while he’s between jobs, my middle has been here for a couple of weeks to participate in a wedding and a professional program and my oldest will be here soon for a week’s vacation. And, it’s only the beginning of June!

For those who know me, time spent with my children is most precious to me. We all live in different cities in different parts of the country and I miss them pretty much all the time. But living in the same town and living in the same house…different experiences entirely. The addition of even one adult into the dynamic of our empty nest really changes things.

As happens in many families, when we are reunited we fall back into old familiar roles, one might even say we regress. This pattern of regression can take many forms.   First is the excitement of coming together, which lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days. At some point, the excitement subsides and then comes the irritability (mostly from the kids) of being in close quarters with us. There is bickering, annoying glares, sullen faces and snappy responses to simple questions. Finally as the visit winds down, everyone is more relaxed. This is when the really great conversations take place and before I know it, it’s over. In between all of this emotion is constant laundry, nonstop food prep, the beeps and dings of people hunched over devices, showers running and in the midst of it all, our Labradoodle, Bentley, just waiting for someone, anyone, to pick him up. I’m exhausted.

But here’s the thing about these visits, they remind me how far I’ve come toward becoming something other than a mom. For years my identity was primarily that of caregiver, sandwich maker, chauffeur, therapist, homework taskmaster, camp counselor and disciplinarian. I loved every minute of it and would go back in a heartbeat. But as that isn’t an option, I’ve worked hard to move on and carve out a different life. And I love every minute of my life now. The feeling of intrusion and interruption validates my progress and although it’s a frustrating time, I am comforted by the fact that the kids will eventually return to their new lives, leaving me to return to mine. But the bonds of love and shared experiences, the lessons taught and learned, the petty annoyances, they remain with us and carry us to the next hectic, fun filled, messy visit.

And now, on to my garden’s progress. At this point it’s been about a month since planting the beds. As you can see from the photos the recent warm, rainy weather has done wonders for the plants, if not for my hair! The cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers and jalapeños are all beginning to grow, the cucumbers are blossoming, the sunflowers are several inches tall and the squash are leafy. The mulch has helped keep the weeds at bay and, fingers crossed, I haven’t detected any pests yet. Check back next month for more on summer in my garden.

And, while you’re waiting to see my garden’s progress, let us know how yours is doing. Or, share your own family’s summer vacation.

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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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.

Renee Bates -lowest res SB 7 copy 3

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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