What’s On Your Plate?

by Tanya Geisler on · 28 comments

I was taught to approach consumption from the perspective of moderation.

"Everything in moderation."

Hoo boy, how I hated being told this as a child. Moderation is so….MODERATE. Puritan. Buttoned-down. Laaaa-aaame.

"Yes, you can watch TV, but just a little." "Yes, you can have a cookie, but just one."

It's a qualified "yes, but".

And while we all love a "yes", nobody likes a "but".

It became apparent that this version of moderation was all about going without, based on cultural mores rooted in gluttony, politesse and virtues. It made for some complicated relationships: I want this, but can only have a little, which has me wanting it more.

It is the "more" that was – and remains – the problem.

For me. (And maybe for you?)

More food. More conversation. More obligations. More information. I had lost the sense of how I wanted to FEEL during and post-consumption. Back then, it was about filling up, not fueling up.

Big difference.

I wasn't savouring, I was shoveling. A bulging calendar meant a life well-lived. A heaping plate meant abundance. A full closet meant affluence.

So why was I feeling so depleted?

You know the answer: I was choosing quantity over quality.

In choosing dubious quality, I was producing dubious quality in my relationships, work and art.

Crap in, crap out.

There is this truth: there is only so much room, and there is only so much time. And mercy me, this truth becomes more and more acute with every passing year.

I now approach MOST consumption from the perspective of a small plate at a large and sumptuous buffet of life.

I'm not talking about scarcity here. I'm talking about INTENTION, 'cause, Darlin' I don't doubt for a nanosecond that you have the capacity to receive many more gifts, much more wealth and much more joy in your life. And don't you dare doubt that either.

What I am advocating is crystal-clear clarity about your intention as you approach that buffet.

What do you want from this meal, conversation, hour, visit? Do you want to feel energized? Inspired? Alive? Accomplished? Comforted?

Let this intention inform your every choice.

Will you be satiated with filet or filler? Fact-finding or Facebook? Meeting your mother or "How I met your mother"?

You get to choose.

And if you find yourself becoming overstuffed, overwhelmed, overscheduled or overweight, notice what – and how much – you've invited onto your plate.

Believe as I do that you can handle it AND choose differently the next trip to the buffet.


So go ahead and fuel up. Just don't forget to leave a little room for dessert.

by Tanya Geisler

Clarity. Action. Achievement. Joy. Tanya Geisler is a CTI-certified coach (a.k.a. "catalyst, not therapist") and speaker who believes that life is a grand production...and it's time for you to step into your starring role. And radiate. Right now.
Tanya Geisler
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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen November 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

Love this Suzie!
You had me smiling and reflecting all at the same time. And you are oh-so-right about INTENTION!

A great post to ponder as we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, where I will think carefully about intention as I interact with relatives, food, and family:)


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

Thanks Jen! Am thinking fondly of my American friends who ARE celebrating Thanksgiving and wishing you ease + joy. And holding my own intentions for the same close to my heart.


Jen November 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

OMG…sorry I called you Suzie! It was a foggy brain moment!
Jen:) Happy Day ( a week later….)
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Carrie November 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

This is brilliant and beautiful. I think I’m going to eat a single gourmet cupcake now. x0


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

You + gourmet cupcakes. Nothing lovelier than that.


J.D. Meier November 22, 2011 at 11:37 am

> crystal-clear clar­ity about your inten­tion as you approach that buffet.
Well put.

I used the “what’s on your plate” metaphor in my book because it really hits home. It’s such a simple question, and yet, how we answer that is so revealing. If we can’t easily see what’s on our plate, it’s probably over-flowing and making a mess.

One of the best ways to fix it, is to decide what’s on your plate (going back to your point on intention), and then deal with it. My Mom taught me early on to take two trips, and I later realized that same wisdom applied to how I fill my plate. It’s better to finish what’s on my plate before taking on more, or at least be very deliberate about what I’m letting go or trading up for.


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:01 am

Thanks J.D.! “If we can’t easily see what’s on our plate, it’s probably over-flowing and making a mess”. YES.

Also brings to mind a client’s A-HA (I share with her permission). She realized that she was treating all aspects of her business as equally important and on the main plate, but then realized that some aspects could go on the less coveted side plate. (like, does anyone really care if you don’t finish that roll?) It was very powerful for her and helped her to recognize the importance of prioritizing.


Ann McDonald November 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

This is the type of article that makes you THINK & say “I never thought of it that way!” Thanks Tanya for sharing your words of wisdom!


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:03 am

Ann…am so thrilled this resonated for you. Makes me feel that lovely quality of satisfied but not stuffed. Like the perfect and satisfying amount of food. XO


Nick Sotos November 23, 2011 at 4:54 am

I loved this article Tanya. Your writing is so touching and tender, that no one can remain unmoved by your words, by your thoughts. I haven’t reflected before on what you define as intention. Thank you Tanya.


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:04 am

What a truly generous acknowledgment, Nick. Thank you.


Megan Bord November 23, 2011 at 7:38 am

Holy crap, this was terrific! Man, where have you been all my (blog-reading) life, Tanya?! I love your style, but more so loved the words you used here today: “And while we all love a ‘yes,’ nobody likes a ‘but.'”

I look back on when my own “yes, but” fear-reaction developed, and it was in childhood, when my dad left. He left and my entire life changed: I went from a content little life-lover, to a much more fearful “never gonna have enough” type person, especially when it came to food (mostly, actually). Although, truth be told my desire to eat more than I needed was sort of an f-you aimed squarely at him. He used to restrict what or how we ate, so when he walked out there wasn’t anyone to tell me “just one.” So I went from “just one” to “just as many as I want!” (Take THAT, Dad.)

Today, though, those knee-jerk responses to deep-seated emotional scars that are triggered by daily or weekly events don’t serve me. And no one suffers but me. It’s in my good hands, and while I work to bring more mindfulness and intention to what I do, the way you’ve framed it here gives me renewed inspiration. What’s my intention? How do I want to FEEL when I’m done doing X, Y, or Z?

I pray I can keep your words with me from here on out.

Thank you, Tanya. Thank you so much!


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:14 am

Oh YES you can keep them close at hand, Dear Megan. It’s all in your good hands, as you so beautifully state. And they are REALLY good hands. You’ve got this.

Here’s my hippie-dippie prescription: have setting your intention be EASY. We like to make it complicated (that’s the “more”, right?)

Because complicated = important. Easy = pedestrian/unimportant.

Let’s call BS on that one, shall we?


suzen November 23, 2011 at 8:28 am

Wonderful! Love it! Great advice anytime, but especially now with the holidays – wow, yes, this is sure a good time to start being mindful of what we eat!


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:17 am

Happy these words landed with you.
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Jody - Fit at 54 November 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I think the hardest thing for people to learn is that to say NO to certain things makes them a better person because when you are over scheduled & overstressed it is not only unhealthy for you but those around you. We all need to know that it is OK to say NO & just step back & breathe!


Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

My favourite take-away from a live event with Danielle LaPorte and Marie Forleo was this: “no, but thanks for asking”.

Saying “no” so your “yes” has value is pretty much at the top of the pile when it comes to overwhelm, to be sure. Thanks for sharing, Jody!
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Jimmy November 25, 2011 at 12:29 am

Hi Tanya,

Thank you for giving us the permission to take beyond the level of moderation. When we look at things from the perspective of our intentions, it really becomes easier for us to decide when and what is enough.
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Tanya November 25, 2011 at 9:20 am

YES!!!!! Nailed it. Thank you, Jimmy.
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Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition November 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

I really appreciate this reminder to set an intention beforehand. I wish I had read it before I attended Thanksgiving though. It’s a great remind me that I have the power to shape my experiences.
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Tanya November 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

You most certainly do, Angela! Thanks!
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Colleen Kelly November 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I LOVE this ! I got it from a link from Twitter. Wanted you to know it got around 🙂 I like your attitude . I feel the same way and it helped me remember I do..lol Thank you for your insight and for sharing it with us .


Tanya November 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

Ooh, WONDERFUL to hear. So glad it reached you, and gladder still that this resonated!
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Naomi November 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Beautifully said, Tanya! Thank you for the timely reminder to be mindful. I shall take it to heart 🙂


Tanya November 30, 2011 at 9:11 am

YAY! Can’t tell you how happy I am that this post is being of service.
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Foodnap November 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Awesome post, crap in crap out!


Tanya November 30, 2011 at 9:12 am

Oh, I’ve got crap metaphors! 🙂
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