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Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Patti Hatton

2021 Decisions: Success or Failure

Updated: Jan 28, 2021



The Covid-19 quarantined lifestyle has had its challenges! I have been proactive in areas such as cleaning and organizing, spending time with loved ones, and learning to play online Mahjong. However, I have slipped into some comfort- zone patterns of behavior that are not serving me well, and it is these activities I would like to address.


Behaviors are driven by the decisions we make, and decisions determine our successes and failures. There are big decision categories such as what type of person we marry, will I develop my spiritual life, or what vocation will I pursue. Then there are daily categories: will I eat healthy foods; will I exercise; will I foster and develop strong friendships; will I monitor what goes into my mind. How we answer these questions will guide our decisions and our decisions will drive our successes, failures, and future.


The decision is the seat of power and the place where Christ awaits to give us strength when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). Utilizing our freedom to make good decisions is key to living a satisfying life. Are you conscious of the decisions you make each day? The purpose of making decisions is to drive preferred goals and to secure positive outcomes. What are you choosing? Are you accepting ownership of yourself and making choices to live your best life?


Let’s try this exercise. Name a personal target area for growth or area of behavior you want to change in 2021. Now, name two people you know who are succeeding in this area and name two who are failing. If you study each person, you will see common actions each are taking, or not taking, resulting in a positive or negative result.


The rut of behaviors I find myself in because of quarantine is watching too much TV and eating too many snacks…while watching TV. During the day I eat in a healthy manner and exercise regularly. In the evening, I give myself permission to eat a treat. To me, TV and treats represents the finish of a busy day and a respite from the pressure to perform. This is not a bad thing if handled properly. My problem arises in the amount of time I watch TV. During the shutdowns, my screen watching has increased dramatically, and so have the amount of treats I consume.


What is your challenge? What area do you wish to change? Do you drink more than you would like? What about excessive shopping online? Have you stopped initiating activities to build friendships, grow your mind, create something, serve or mentor others? Do you need to learn a new skill, study your Bible more, or clean out your closets?


Give serious thought to an area you would like to change. Begin to observe your thought patterns associated with your challenge. What rituals will you put into place to help you avoid slipping back into the same bad habits?


I rate my behaviors on a scale from 1 to 10. Wanting to watch TV and eat snacks is an 8 for me. This is high. But I also know the cost of my unsupervised behaviors will cause me to waste time, gain weight, and lose sleep. I need to actively come up with ideas I can use to substitute my actions. I must find tools to put in my toolbox I can use the next time I want to sit on the couch and binge.


When I look introspectively, I realize I enjoy rest time and pleasurable snacks. Knowing this about myself, I can take steps to determine other ways to meet these same needs, which will also accomplish my goal to remain healthy.


These are the three alternative behaviors I have chosen when I want to watch TV:

  • Turn the TV off and leave the media room at a pre-determined time.

  • Choose two nights a week to forgo watching TV and work on a creative project instead.

  • Cultivate a habit of writing in a journal at the end of each day, which requires cutting TV time off at a reasonable hour.


Here are my three alternative behaviors for snacking too much in the evening:

  • Plan to drink decaf tea after enjoying one treat. The tea represents a soft finish and fills the stomach.

  • Sit on the floor and do sit-ups, or some form of exercise, as a distraction and to create new energy.

  • Embrace the discomfort of saying no to overeating. (This is a big one because you are allowing yourself to be uncomfortable. Change can cause discomfort, which is often why we resist it. Ask God to make Himself strong on your behalf and to combat the desire to eat. Over time, the neurological wiring in the brain will alter and the uncomfortable urges will dissipate. Celebrate the discomfort knowing that you are experiencing your body making a positive shift.)


Fill your toolbox when you are not in the middle of your challenging activity if you want to experience success. This way, when temptation arises, you are prepared. Without a pre-planned roadmap, the pressure becomes too strong, and you will slip back into the never-ending cycle of repeat failure. If you need extra support, rally a friend, spouse, or professional counselor to encourage you. Help can come in many forms, and our likelihood of success is greater when we are in the presence of people that care for us.


Cheers to you and to making decisions that will drive you to experience a happy and healthy 2021!


Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

www.pattihattoncounselor.com