The Zen of dishes and the musings of self


Things are lightening up a bit today, or they will be soon. This week’s earlier full moon in Sagittarius came in on the solstice and delivered us a giant helping of leftovers. The good news is that when you finish up with those leftovers it is quite fine to throw the rest away, and prepare for a meal a bit easier to digest. It may even come complete with the safe feeling of lingering at the dinner table – carrying on, boasting your good day, or speaking out with authority on any given matter. This week even the preachiest of us might be forgiven as simply something to behold.

I love dishes. Those attractive, ceremonial vessels that deliver nutritional feasts for the mind, body, and spirit. Their ancient reverence connects us spiritually to one and another at a table of thanks.

When I moved into my first apartment, I was fairly certain of who I was, who I wanted to become, and how I wanted other’s to notice me. My first set of dishes were made of stoneware glazed in a satin white. The lines were clean and the plates had some weight to them. I felt (in my body, because that is where one “feels”) that the dishes portrayed me as a flexible, but a seriously contemporary woman. They weren’t the lightweight dishes of past generations, they were heavy and straight to the point about who I was. I felt this, but I didn’t necessarily think it. I am only thinking it now as I consider my sense of self back then.

I had an investment in those dishes that far exceeded their cost. They were a reflection of me. They reminded me of who I was when I set the table.  They suited my role as independent young woman, but in time as a married woman with children, the dishes began to lack lustre. To be fair they were worn, but back then what drove me more to replace them was a desire to see myself more clearly as a young mother and homemaker, than as an independent woman. I wanted to pull a dish from the cupboard and have it communicate the maternal competence of generations of nurturing women. I imagined that shelves full of the right dishes, might be the same as having the best grandma show up and help me cut PB & Js on the diagonal and slice fresh pears into quarters.

I stacked the new ivory colored, ceramic plates and bowls, all hand-painted with big, pink desert roses, in the cabinet to the left of the stove. I felt the plates wanting stacks of oven fresh chocolate chip cookies and the bowls longing for scoops of Goldfish crackers and ice cream. These dishes would mentor me through motherhood. They would guide me to carry forward nurturing traditions, the way I imagined the best mothers and grandmothers did before me. They would inspire me to a certain standard.

They are well-worn now. Some plates have become like lottery tickets, with bets placed on whether they will weather their next washing, before splitting down the visible crack into pieces. I will replace them soon. It is time, I am a different woman. And yet I am the same the person who values beauty, the person who believes things are more precious when they are imbibed with the history of human use and love, and the person who can sometimes admit that change is good.

Those dishes are the last prop from my previous role: fast dinners of chicken tenders on baseball night; celebrations for jobs well done, or failed experiment with the likes of tofu . I am not ready yet to send them off to the Goodwill, but I am thinking about it. I am not ready, because I don’t know what a mature woman who would just as soon eat out as cook, needs in a plate. Or maybe it is more due to the fact that I need less props to play my part. New dishes, old dishes, no dishes or a backyard path paved in a mosaic of ceramic, next you see me, you’ll know I moved on.

In the midst of what you see as problematic, it can be difficult to recognize the opportunities. I can help you discover a new way of thinking that will assist you in managing and negotiating life’s obstacles. You will find that this new way of thinking provides you opportunities that you hadn’t previously noticed as well as affords you the confidence and desire to live your life in the driver’s seat.

Tami Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBCCH, HTP is a licensed psychotherapist who practices solution-oriented healing from a deep ecological perspective. Her specialities include hypnosis for anxiety, performance, and creativity. Sessions on-line or in Boulder, Colorado include cutting edge brain therapies that will change the way you think. Learn more at


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