Mom, Manners, and The Meranova

Mom, Manners, and The Meranova

By Dr. Jane N. Geiger, M.A.

You have arrived fifteen minutes early.  
You are one hour late.

You have nothing of interest to say to the other guests. 
You are not naturally interested, not curious, not provocative . . . don’t want to be here?

You’re socially shy, and forgot to take your social anxiety prescribed pre-party meds.
You’re socially comfortable, but talk about yourself . . . droning on and on and on . . .

You spilled red wine on the cream carpet.
You tried to clean it yourself, creating a wide circle of what looks like pink pudding.

You forgot to bring a thoughtful hostess gift or card.
You forgot to thank your host at all.
You forgot about the party, altogether.


Who better to consult about the topic, “What traits make a guest go from good to great during holiday season?” than two innkeepers who have over 75 years of hospitality experience between them?  No one.  No one, except my mom.  So, while researching for this article, I went back into the archives of my Mom, the consummate hostess AND great guest, as well as mining the sage stories from Frank and David, the owners and innkeepers at the Meranova Guest Inn, Dunedin, FL.

WWMS?  What would Mom say?  I know I was younger than 7 years old when I first heard my mom (former R.N., mother of 4 children) say, “When you come to the dinner table, please remember to be both interestING and interestED.”  Yes, the emphasis is EXACTLY how she sounded-out those words.  She wanted all four of us to be not just socially adept, but to truly care.  As a Registered Nurse, she had already made a career out of caring.  She would not tolerate narcissism, rudeness, speaking unkindly, interrupting, or showing up with nothing to give to the group, our family of six.


Frank and David, the innkeepers, are the perfect perfectionists to weigh in on what makes a great guest.  Between them, they have worked in the hospitality industry as: A five-star chef, head waiter, manager of wait staff, concierge to executive guests, and sole proprietors of a full-service inn.  The Meranova Guest Inn has been featured in major travel and cuisine magazines for nearly 15 years. Their pearls of wisdom actually apply to being a great guest anywhere, anytime, and all year long.

Not only do these innkeepers have experience on the hospitality side of life, but also on the guest side of the exchange.  Yes, you guessed it:  They have experienced some of the finest restaurants in the world, the restaurants that have a 9-month waiting list for a reservation. This is what people with perfect palates do with their pennies.  Cool, huh?  And, they notice everything.  More vitally, they appreciate the efforts, the details, and the beauty . . . the carefully crafted ambience of all things created so specially to provide the finest dining experience possible.  They get it. We can, too.

Frank and David and I spent 5 days together on my most recent work/play trip to Dunedin, FL, so we had lots of time to craft a “Top 5” list . . .
Frank and David’s Top 5 Great Guest List:

  1. Arrive on time . . . meaning, either on-the-dot or a few minutes late.  If you arrive early, you may create stress for your host or hostess.  Empathy goes a long way here. Visualize your host making the finishing touches . . . lighting candles, placing bottles of chilled wine in ice buckets, and checking the food once more.
  2. When you think you’ve purchased the perfect host or hostess gift, think again. Thoughtfulness expressed in the gift communicates care.  If you do not know your host or hostess well, kindly ask a friend of theirs to share some details about their personal tastes and/or what they may need.  It’s not about the cost or the size of the gift.  It’s about being thoughtful.  As Frank said, “Think again.”
  3. Conversationally, be prepared to “hit the ball back over the net.”  Yes, this is an exact quote from Frank, who is extremely frank.  If you tend to be socially lazy, you may want to read anything by Daniel Goleman, the guru of Emotional Intelligence (a Dr. Jane tip). Engage with others.  Be curious. Care. Listen. Bring your A-game to the party.  And, as David added, “Bring some joy to the festive occasion.  It is a party, after all.”  My mom used to say, “If you’re bored, then you’re boring.” She was so very right.  If you don’t possess the art of mining the gold out of others’ souls, it’s time to learn. If you are eager to learn about people, and learn from them, you will never be bored.  My mom taught me this social lesson when she gave  me pots and pie pans to play with on the floor in the kitchen.  I was 5, I think.  Narcissists, by the way, often think others are boring, and hate to listen.  Be the party you wish to attend.  Thanks, Gandhi.
  4. Know when to offer help.  Some friends help decorate the week before a party.  Some friends help you dust and vacuum.  Others refill ice buckets, check your candles, and pour wine when needed.  Pay attention. Your host will love you!
  5. Express gratitude, having noticed the details.  Look your host or hostess in the eye, and say, “Thank you for ______,” and fill in the blank with some particular details of their efforts. Your host will invite you back! Both sides of hospitality, hosting and being the guest, require effort.  

Every day, Dr. Jane N. Geiger and the staff at Chattanooga Counseling learn a little bit more about how to provide a warm and gracious nest for their clients. Thanks for teaching us! Reach us at www.grace4thenoog.com and we will be ready with candles lit, bottled water, peppermints, comfy couch . . . and, no risk of pink pudding, as we don’t serve merlot on white rugs. You’re safe!

Veterans Day 2014 - THANK YOU

Grace Ministries and teamGRACE would like to THANK all of our veterans who serve or have served. What sacrifice and how grateful we are.

Simply...Thank You.


Attire Alignment







Attire Alignment


Animal prints.  Minis. Maxis. Pumps. Flats. The wedge.

Halter top. Midriff crop. Portrait collar.  Tees.

Boyfriend jeans. Mommy jeans. Skinny jeans. Holes.

Wrap dress. Black dress. Sequin gown. Shift.

Uptown. Downtown. Boho. Grunge.





            Sometimes, there really are too many choices in life.  Decisions can be challenging to make:  The restaurant menu that reads like a novel;  bra selections --women need an appointment with a fitter; the right pants for your body – pear shape, boy shape, shapely; carwashes – regular, upgrade, premium, wax, rinse, no rinse: dating sites – Match, Don’t Match, Cupid, Phishing4Real, MisMatch, etc.  As marketing, sales, and the push for profit drive retailers to seduce our purchasing power, the volume of choices can be overwhelming.

This is certainly true in the fashion industry.

For this reason, discovering and landing on your own personal style can be a colossal challenge.  Some women know exactly who they are and what they want. Others are just frustrated.  When it’s confusing, it’s also expensive. Blowing precious cash on clothes not worn produces added angst.  Not fun.

Adorning ourselves should be fun.  How can we make it a joy?

Our wardrobe should communicate who we are.  How do we achieve that goal?

Our clothing choices should be appropriate for the day, the night, the venue. How?

Let’s break it down:

            InStyle, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar are filled with great ideas for how to say what you mean.  A drug store magazine purchase can cost $5 to $10 an issue, depending on the fashion mag.  An annual subscription can save big money. Another option is to order catalogues from your favorite stores – Anthropologie, Eddie Bauer, or J Crew, just to name a few.  Online guides can help define your true preferences.  Online is free :-)

Work Wear

At work is where some women get in to some serious trouble.  If you work for a bank, wearing your Hooter’s uniform can cost you a promotion.  If you work for Hooter’s, sporting a suit will cost you big tips.  Sometimes you just can’t win.

            Pay attention to the standards at your place of work.  Suits required? Jeans allowed? Professional, corporate standard rules, or laid-back casual?  Often, women truly do not notice the standards of their office.  When in doubt, ask a colleague or supervisor.  It matters. It costs. Ultimately, dressing inappropriately can cost a promotion or stunt an ascending career.  You may not need to wear a berka (?), but, generally, showing too much skin at work is a bad idea.  Again, pay attention.  A nun habit just doesn’t work at The Tilted Kilt, and the Katy Perry bra garners way too much attention at the 4Q sales review.  Also, if you want to lose the respect of men and women at work, play the skin card.  We all make choices.  Choices have consequences. Gather data.  

Date Night Dressing

            This is easy.  A lob.  Fun night.  A blend of comfortable and flirty is allowed.  Enjoy yourself.  This is the time and place to try trends, play with heel height, and slip into some painted-on jeans.  One caution:  If you do not want to draw the attention of sex addicts, perverts, and weirdo’s set healthy boundaries and limits on how far is too far in the flirt department.  Remember, you’re flirting with him (or her), not the whole restaurant, bar, or venue.  This is the time to be the modern, Audrey Hepburn version of Angelina Jolie, not the old, Billy Bob Thornton/blood vial-drinking Angelina Jolie.  Your good taste actually protects you from uninvited harm.  Your date or boyfriend will thank you.

Formal Events

            Formal events can bring out the best or the beast in us.  When did flashing cleavage become a wedding trend?  Ministers have to focus way too hard on the text, the program, and the groom. Poor grooms got nothin’.  The term P.C. does not stand for Public Cleavage.  Or does it?  A rule of thumb for weddings, a sacred ceremony for most, is to cover up.  Fabric is your friend. If a bride intends to communicate, “Boobs for sale,” okay.  Better may be, “Breasts . . . later unveiled.”   In just a short while, you will be with your honey, behind closed doors.  Again, it’s a choice.  A bridal gown selection is usually not a swift buy.  If you intend to show it, just know that others know it. 

Most-Admired Women

            People Magazine recently reported that Kate Middleton was voted #1 fashion icon to watch.  Why?  She dresses spot-on per the occasion.  Sure, sometimes she plays field hockey in kitten heels, but she’s flexible.  Even in jeans with kitten heels, if you toss her a stick, she’s game.  Her wedding dress was a little bit Kate Middleton and a lot Grace Kelly.  Smart girl.  This is a girl who effectively communicates WHO SHE IS via what WHAT SHE WEARS.  Pure class, great taste.  We can watch and learn. Kate avoids big trend swings.  We don’t see her in Goth, space age neon, tube tops or leopard print leggings. Thanks, Kate.

            In addition to our modern royal Kate, we can take some tips from the classic beauties who wore timeless attire – Jackie O, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn.  Two icons who are still living and still splashing in the fashion industry include Diane von Furstenburg, the creator of the timeless wrap dress and Diane Keaton, the original Annie Hall actress who made wearing men’s clothing appealing, sexy, and timeless.  A quick Google search for images can take you there. If you’re under 20, Pinterest.

Couture Quick List

            If you’re not sure who you are, and how you want to express yourself with fashion, here are some categories to explore:


Low Maintenance                                                                   Classic

High Maintenance                                                                   Trendy

Coiffed, including the hair                                                       Wildly Elegant

Relaxed, including the hair                                                      Colorblock Classic

Dripping with Daddy’s money                                              Western (like John Wayne)

Dripping with your own money                                            Western (like Sundance)

Dripping with Sugar Daddy’s money                                                Metrosexual (David Bowie)

Sporty Girl (you can toss her the keys or a fastball)             Overtly Sexual (Katy Perry)

Indoorsy Girl (don’t throw anything at her)                          Whatever Sells (Madonna)

Corporate Christmas Party Date                                            Conservative (Pastor’s wife)

Lulu Lemon Yogi                                                                    Conservative (you are pastor)

Urban Street, Gangsta                                                             Lady Gaga (meat,fish,an egg)

Literary Chic (yes, this is a look J)                                       Menswear (Annie Hall)

Cocktail Party Chic                                                                Menswear (Chas Bono)

Hot Mommy (yes, this is a look J)                                      Menswear (you’re a guy)

Label conscious                                                                       Scholar (eyewear is so hip)

Label could not care less                                                         Expensive (no knock-offs)

Slutty-and-I-know-it, clap your hands!                                 Thrifty (as in thrift stores)

Slutty-and-I’m-clueless, is that true?                                     Bold = “Look at me!”


Have fun. Enjoy discovering your true self. Get in alignment. Say what you mean to say with your fun fashionable self.  Thankfully, you can change clothes!

Sporting the whole range of attire (except Gaga), Dr. Jane N. Geiger and the staff at Chattanooga Counseling are available to help you find and express your true self. Grace for you if your inner hottie is also a tired mommy. We will help you get in touch with your inner self to match your outer expression. If you’ve already bought that boob-boasting bridal gown, no worries. Grace for ALL at grace4thenoog.com  -- seriously.


**originally published in BLUSH Magazine Couture Issue - September, 2014 - article by Dr. Jane N. Geiger


The Pool Is Open

 It’s SummerTime, and the Pool is Open . . . 

Memorial Day brought pool openings, linen tops, wearing white, flags raised . . . dreams
Summer fun -- a break from school and schedules
For some, SummerTime brings a dive into the deep end of the pool . . .
The pool of pain

One couple cheered their daughter’s hopeful opportunities as they drove their
Fresh-faced FreshmanGirl to college . . .  to learn, grow, mature, and to have fun
She was having fun
Until he raped her

Now, SummerTime . . . a time to heal from the sophomore attack at the hands of
The “Southern Gentleman on campus” with the right suit, pocket square, breeding, legacy
Shattered trust
First formal, First gown
Now, Legitimate Fear, Lasting Shame . . . even though she said, “No!”
Seven times, at least, she said, “No!” --“No!” means “No.”
But, God
SummerTime brings healing, insight, wisdom, courage, and a BeautifulHeadHeldHigh
A head held high again, triumphant over one traumatic night
Several, hard fought-for victories trump one costly night . . . Priceless

SummerTime . . . a time to recover from an office affair
One woman’s neglect of the marriage, her own admission
One husband’s attention straying to the listening ear of an attentive girl
Two culpable parties, confessing and scheduling their marital counseling appointments
Afraid and courageous, Nervous and hopeful
Honestly Healing
We need you, Lord

The Deep End of the Pool is crowded at Grace Ministries, AL/TN/AZ, now, in 3 cities
The Shallow End of the Pool entertains the usual --
GardenVarietyCodependents, are still running for “Class Favorite,” unable to say, “No.”
People-pleasers who enter the Sanctuary of Grace, exhausted . . . it can’t be done
We cannot please everyone, God will not allow it
“I will have no other gods before me”
Not your spouse. Not your boss. Not your pastor. Not your children. Not yourself.
No means, “No.”

Thank you, Lord, for SummerTime which brings deep healing to the entire pool
Healing help in the deep end, the place of deep pain
Deliverance in the shallow end, the place of chronic idolatry . . .
Less traumatic than the deep end, but just as tragic . . . maybe more deadly

by dr. jane n geiger -- June 2014 – grace4ALTNAZ&Beyond


How to Hail a Cab of...

How to Hail a Cab of . . .

You see it.  Here it comes.  Moving quickly. 

Yellow. Swerving through traffic.

Traffic is heavy.

It’s noisy.



Wait for it.

Wait for it.


Ooooooh no . . . there it goes . . . again!


Another cab gone.

One more cab gone.

“New York sucks,” you say.  Does it?  Does it, really?


You spotted it.

You stood there, waiting.

Did it go by, or did you fully hail that cab of joy?


Get ready.  This endeavor is not for sissies.

Ironically, finding joy, discovering delight, and living your bliss takes some serious effort. Grabbing joy is serious business.  We need stronger verbs.  In this case, we really DO need more cowbell.  It’s time for some serious substitutions, vital verbs . . .



Fight for

Go after it


Then, HOLD ON TIGHTLY to it like a mad woman, crazed with tenacity . . .


We don’t sit on the curb and wait for the cab to stop for us.  Well, we could, but that would make for a frustrating day, at a minimum.  What do we do?


We HAIL that thing! 

Then, we get in it for a RIDE!

Life is like this.  We have to hail that cab of joy.  Being intentional about grasping for a speeding cab of joy is not for the faint of heart.  You gotta dig in, get it done, and hold on. And, watch the heck out for the armies of people who will try to rob you of it!

We all have good days and bad days, great moments and sour times.  What separates the girls from the generals is the tenacity of the pursuit of happiness. Again, another powerful verb -- the PURSUIT of happiness.  Even happiness won’t land on us like a bug. 



Some things to ponder . . .

** Are you Results-Driven or Process-Driven? Both?

** Do you operate with an Internal or External Locus of Control?

** Meditate on the Good or Dwell on the Negative?

** Hold on to JOY, or is there a Break in the Cup?  (David Wilcox)

** Catalyst for Change and Growth or Pouting Passive Player?

** Great Gratitude or Bad Attitude?


Let’s take these one at a time . . .

Results v. Process

We are most happy when we take joy in the journey AND feel satisfied with good results.  Life is much sweeter when we maximize both, paying attention to the process in the moment while also becoming satisfied with the final outcome.  This falls under “Along the way, take time to smell the roses.”

Internal Locus of Control v. External Locus of Control

This is easier than it sounds.  If you can go to the family reunion and savor the heck out of laughs with Uncle Jerry, make memories with cousins WHILE minimizing the impact of the obnoxious date your sister brought, then you have an internal locus of control.  Way to go. Yes, it’s this simple. We really can make our own fun and savor the sweetness of life, but not without laser-focused intention and a flexible spirit.  If everyone else’s behavior determines your joy, then your external locus of control is driving your cab of joy in the opposite direction.  Take over. Lift your arm, and hail that cab. No one is going to do it for you, nor should they.

Holding on to JOY, or is there a Break in the Cup?

See David Wilcox’s lyrics to A Break in the Cup. A quick Google search, and you’re there.  Take action right now. GOOGLE it!


Catalyst for Change and Growth or Pouting Passive Player?

Again, ACTION VERBS win out here . . . REACH for, GRAB it, SEE the possibilities, and, Lord, there must be something stronger in this verb than we truly appreciate  . . . DAYDREAM!  #DreamBig&GoAfterYourDreamsUntilYouSoar!


Great Gratitude or Bad Attitude?

After you have hailed your cab, you get in it.  Right?  Do you savor the sights, soak up the experience?  Or, does the demon of dread get in your head?  More action verbs . . . KICK that negative attitude OUT of your head!  Kick it out!  Sure, you can be aware that the cab driver smells like a RestaurantGymComboGross, but you can savor the sights.  LordJesusOprahZen&ChaiTea, could we all learn to SAVOR the GOOD?  Let’s do it!

Yep, more action verb encouragement from Nike . . . JUST DO IT!

Dr. Jane N. Geiger and her staff hope to hail the cab with you.  Take action any time of day or night to schedule ActionVerbs at www.chattanoogacounselingandmediation.com  We’re doing all we can to hold tightly to joy, too. We’ll hail the cab, and ride alongside.