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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

  • Lisa Lou

Rules Without Reason Equals Rebellion

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

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

I believe in manners, etiquette, and protocol, but in our more modern society, I feel these guidelines should come from a place of commonsense. Good manners mean making sure those around you are comfortable. It is not about following rules. Knowing the etiquette playbook, though, can save all of us a great deal of heartache when interacting with others. Learning good protocol helps us stay within the boundaries of good manners.

Through much research, I have concluded most etiquette guidelines have a purpose. Knowing the “why” also aids me in remembering what I am to do in different situations. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to answer 7 of the most common questions I have received regarding social practices.

Why do knife blades point in?

When eating a meal, we are taught to put our utensils down between bites with the sharp side of the blade in the resting position and pointing towards us. This rule dates to medieval days when utensils were rare. This period was hostile and when men gathered around a table there was uncertainty as to who was friend and who was foe. Carrying a weapon was common, and these weapons (usually a knife of some type) would sometimes be used to carve food. Pointing a sharp blade toward another person was considered a sign of aggression. To show you meant no harm, if your weapon was used at the dinner table, you made sure to point the sharp side of the blade toward yourself. This is the reason we turn our dinner blade inward.

Why do we shake with our right hand, and why is it a sign of greeting?

This answer dovetails with the answer above. During this same period in history, you never knew when you might encounter someone that intended to do you harm. When two men approached, they would stretch out their right hand and grasp each other’s forearm. Most males wore a sword, and this sword was worn on the left hip. This allowed a right-handed man to easily draw his sword from the left side of his body. Imagine if, upon greeting, two men were grasping each other’s right arms, this would render that arm useless. Neither man would be able to draw his sword. When encountering another person, grabbing arms became a way of greeting and to state in unspoken words, “I come in peace.” Today, we continue this tradition of greeting by shaking hands, and we use our right hand for the simple reason that most of the world is right-handed.

Why does a man tip his hat?

Again, we are dealing with the same time-period. When a knight wore his armor, you could not see his face. We learn much about a person by looking into their eyes, and keeping the eyes hidden allows for secrecy (thus the reason some poker players wear sunglasses when playing). A knight, to show he meant no harm, would raise the visor on his helmet when greeting another person to reveal his eyes and face. By showing his identity, this communicated he came in peace. This act of courtesy became a sign of greeting. The same gesture moved into military ranks in future centuries. The hand movement a soldier uses to salute replicates the same formation a knight used when raising his face shield. Pretend you are wearing a knight’s helmet, and mimic raising the visor to allow someone else to see your eyes. As you can see, you have just performed the modern military salute. The tipping of a civilian hat is a historical progression from the knight raising his visor and the soldier saluting. It is a sign of greeting.

Why were women taught to walk on the right side of a man?

As we have learned, most men wore their swords on their left hip. By having the woman walk on the right side of a man, she did not need to worry about bumping into his sword. And, if the man needed to quickly draw his sword, the woman’s body would not interfere if she were stationed to his right.

Why did men walk between a woman and the street?

It was for protection from dirt. Imagine the horse and buggy days. The closer you were to the street, the dirtier you became. The man served as a buffer to the woman from all the grime caused by these transportation vehicles.

Why did men take their hats off indoors?

Until recent history, men wore hats daily. A head covering would protect from the cold and keep the sun out of the eyes, but they also served to catch dirt and dust that was airborne during the industrial times. Remember the old Western movies where the cowboy walks into the saloon, takes off his hat, and proceeds to brush the dirt from his head covering? The reason men removed their hat indoors was for the simple reason…they were filthy! No one wanted this dirty piece of clothing at the dinner table where the grime could contaminate the food or fall onto other guests. Once inside, a man immediately removed his hat and placed it on a rack. It is no different today when we carry a wet umbrella inside an establishment. Most restaurants will have a container for you to deposit the wet gear, so puddles do not gather throughout. I am often asked if men should still remove their hats today when stepping inside. The short answer, yes.

Keep your elbows off the table

Are you seeing a pattern to the origin of much of our etiquette? Yep. Those medieval ancestors gave us a lot of rules, but they made sense. Here is another one. Kings would host massive banquets. There were long tables and benches filling the halls of the aristocracy. Space was an expensive commodity at these big slabs of wood, so the invited guests kept their arms close to the vest (so to speak). It was considered bad manners to prop your elbows on the table and infringe on another person’s small territory. In later history (and during the English and French eras where many of our modern etiquette rules were created) putting elbows on the table was considered a trait of the low-born, because it caused a person to slouch. Think about the Downton Abbey episodes we watched where dining etiquette was displayed at its best. Every guest sat straight up in their chair. In summary, the rule of elbows off the table was created for two reasons: do not infringe on another’s space and have good posture.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

Get rid of the noise in your life. Join Lisa Lou and receive commonsense, faith-based advice for the modern woman.

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