Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mother's Day Table Settings and other Stories about How Women Feed Themselves

I am both a mom and a daughter. I have had a mother-in-law whom I adored. My own precious mother had seven children and she fed us dinner at 6pm for decades. I am the mom to three, step mom to two, and grandmother of four, and I love to cook for and feed my family. With all of this mothering in my life, I know my way around Mother's Day, and I know it is just a few weeks away. Shoot! Huh?

Mother's Day is set aside in the US as a day to feed moms in a special manner. I know it is also a card-giving occasion, a flower-planting day for many, and a big hug of thanks to the woman we all count on: our mom. I have observed though that it is mostly about the food. Breakfast in bed. Brunch out after church. A gathering of the grown up kids for an afternoon meal in the backyard. Ah, American life on Mother's Day! Delicious food made special for ONE day. Thanks, Mom!

As a health coach, it occurs to me that setting aside one day a year to focus on special food, flowers and gratitude for maternal reward is simply not enough. I propose that all women, especially women who are also moms, and daughters, too, for that matter, should think about how we make special the very act of eating. You know, how we do it for ourselves. Yes, we don't have to wait for Mother's Day to have a luxurious breakfast in bed (our eat our lunch without also driving)!

Here are a few eating questions to ponder, without judgement, just think about:
  • Do you often sit at your kitchen or dining room table to eat? Will you on Mother's Day?
  • How often do you have sit down family dinners at your home? Are you in the midst of raising kids or is yours more of an empty nest these days?
  • Are you the primary cook of your food?
  • Do you eat while driving? Do you have a lovely eat while driving tray, like the one shown above?
  • How often do you entertain at home, and when you do, do you set the table for your guests?
  • Did you ever eat at a TV tray and watch The Wonderful World of Disney?
  • Did you ever get to eat on a TV tray that had short legs so that you could place it on your lap as you sit in your favorite chair?
  • Do you find it more relaxing to eat alone, before or after your kids have finished their dinner?
  • Do you eat higher quality foods when you set the table to eat it?
  • How often do you eat your food on the coffee table?
  • What is your favorite thing to do in addition to eating when you are eating?
I am here to tell you, because it has just now become crystal clear to me, that most women, and I include myself, do not make eating the special experience that it should be. Did you ever read the 1964 children's book, Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban? I remember this book fondly. It involves the story of Francis being packed lunch by his mother, and in that lunchbox he is treated to a soft boiled egg along with a tiny little salt and pepper shaker, and a tiny little spoon to tap the egg open, and oh, yes, yummy bread and jam. I remember thinking, boy-o-boy, that Francis is so lucky! To be treated to such a special way of eating school lunch. I want to be this lucky!

I propose that we can all make ourselves feel special at most every meal we eat. We can set a place for ourselves at the proverbial table of life, and make sure that our simple daily meals are precious moments of time
when our food is nourishing, our mind is relaxed, our full senses come out to play, and we know ourselves to be special. We can involve other people in this effort, or we can do it for ourselves because we like it that way. I really can and so can you.

Let's prepare to celebrate Mother's Day this year as the fresh start in a new way of eating. After that lovely and special meal is over, let's keep out our place mats, and our cloth napkins, and even keep a place clear  on the coffee table. Bringing mindful beauty to most every meal is a healthy and fun thing to do, and it makes us feel special, because we are.

If you have concerns about how food is a part of your life, I hope you will find helpful resources at my fun health coaching website. Go there now and let me know you read this blog. I'd love to send you my top ten tips to make your mealtime a bit more relaxing.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Phone Tech Savvy to Benefit Your Fiber Art

If you are getting to know the features of your iPhone, and like me, you may never use that cell phone tool to its full advantage, today's blog post will give you one good reason to stretch beyond your technology boundaries! I fully admit that I am technology adverse. I seek out all the paper and pencil in the house well before I seek out a machine on which I can write. No calendar on my phone, no movies on my iPad--I simply like things old school. I get a little twitchy when people ask me why I don't take advantage of the time-saving tools on my iPhone, and I maybe even tune them out a bit, because I've convinced myself that I won't understand the steps involved in using my phone, at least not in a way that feels comfortable. Can you relate to any of this?

So, now that you know about the low-tech place from which I function, I am about to tell you that I am enamoured with the Turbo Scan App on my iPhone! My patient husband looked at me during my recent rant regarding my HP Office Jet Pro. "I don't know how to scan anything or send a fax! I cannot find anyway to make my computer and scanner 'talk' to one another!!"  Or something to that effect. With a respectful pause, my husband told me that he uses this App on his phone and he can send a scan to anyone he wants, quickly and easily. Well, good for you, smarty pants! He very kindly showed me how to do just that.

If you are an artist and often have fiber art in some stage of creative expression, you, too will love this phone App. I attended Jean Herman's workshop on fabric collage in Loveland, Colorado, this past weekend. Fabric collage is a fun technique that reminds me of creating your own puzzle from scraps of fabric. Gather up your scrap bag, a jar of gel medium, and a few of your favorite photos as inspiration, and you can in an afternoon, create a landscape, portrait or abstract image in fiber. The photo series I am sharing today reflects just such an experience. This fabric collage was developed during a four-hour workshop under Jean's guidance.

Here is when the Turbo Scan tool on your iPhone comes into play! I opened the App on my phone and was directed to take three successive photos of the piece [the original looks like the image on the left]. The App then melded those three photos into one scan, which I could then manipulate. To say that I manipulated anything sounds like an exaggeration of what I personally did at this point...I simply pushed a button that let me see the scan in black and white [middle image], or with a bit of color [image on the right], or as a complete photo [the first image]. Can you see how helpful this functionality is to a fiber artist? I can easily see in this series of scans that the simple fabric shapes I glued down actually do have a 3-D impact, are of interesting tonal values, have line that moves the eye, and finally, where I might need to add more detail. All from the push of a button! The exciting use of this tool let me see in just moments where I need to go next with this fiber art. No pinning it up across a large room and looking at it all squinty-eyed until I can see room for improvement. No need for getting expert form and function critiquing to determine the next best move. In just moments, I used technology to guide myself, and I feel great!

I am reaching out to my fellow tech-avoiders today in a selfish manner. This is my way of passing along the first step in healing myself of the notion I do not need to learn how to fully use my new phone. I hope that you have visions about how you could use this tool to get instant feedback on your next creative project! Or, I hope that this silly story is proof that old-school women can join together and learn new things! As Jean gently told us all at the workshop yesterday, her hope for us was that we would all end the day knowing that we had learned one important thing. Thanks Jean! I definitely did. You are a wonderful teacher.

Thanks for stopping by,