Fireside Chats and Kitchen Table Talks


Fireplace Photo (c) 2014 by Pat Ruppel

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

The Daily Post has asked: “What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?”

Best conversations come about in fireside chats or just sitting around the kitchen table. I think it’s when we learn the most from each other, when our hearts open to give our opinions and tell our stories.

How would it feel to clear our agendas for a day and sit down to talk with someone purely with the intention of listening and sharing what’s happening in our lives. Maybe, we need to hear about an experience or exchange different points of view on something.

Don’t you remember a late-night talk, when the moment was perfect, and you got the chance to tell someone your story. You felt comfortable revealing your truth, pouring out your heart because you were rewarded with a listening ear. Somehow, talking made all the difference, though very little was resolved.

What I take away from these types of talks is a feeling of connection. I’m plugged in again and no longer isolated. If I’m facing challenges, I’m comforted in hearing that someone else has been there and survived.

Years ago, I piloted a talking-stick workshop in a corporate environment. I wanted to get to know my fellow workers that I spent the majority of my day with and wondered if they ever thought about some of the things I thought about. I wanted the time I spent with them to have more value than just eye contact while passing in the hall. I knew I had a lot going on in my life but knew very little about them and wanted to learn what it took to be real.

So, beginning in 1999/2000, I started a 4-part workshop with a talking-sticking and a series of questions each having a theme. It went well for more than a year and I learned a lot about my co-workers and the process.

Given my 2015 statement to Invite the Miraculous, I’m challenging myself to take risks and try something new. I’ve been thinking about some things that have gone on in my life and, given the Daily Post’s prompt, I’m entertaining the idea of having a fireside/kitchen table chat (Google+) with you. What do you think — for an hour? There would be no right or wrong answers — just talking and sharing on how we feel and why on a given topic.

For me, the one thing I like to start with has been the topic of “Trust”. It’s how I started the workshops with the intention to establish a comfortable place to land with a couple of questions like:

  • We hear and use the word trust a lot. What does trust mean to you? 
  • How is it earned?

I experimented a little with Google+ chat today with hubby and clearly I have some learning to do. So, if any of you out there have some expertise on how to get started with this, I’m game in finding out how so I can learn what to do to get started.

If you’re interested in something like this, let me know how you feel about it, what day/times work for you (I’m at MST — Mountain Standard Time) in the contact form below. If not, that’s okay, too, I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

This is all new to me and I’m winging it. So, let’s have some fun getting to know one another more by having a fireside chat.

See The Daily Post’s prompt at Fireside Chat

25 thoughts on “Fireside Chats and Kitchen Table Talks

  1. Hi Pat. It’s a lovey idea but I’m not used to using Google+ Hope you have an interesting and fruitful discussion. ‘Trust’ ~ when we put our trust in each other it can be empowering but also make us feel vulnerable. It is when we trust to the future and stop fretting that exciting things happen in our lives! Dianax

    • Thank you, Diana, on your thoughts of the idea. I’m hoping it will be interesting and there’s something we all take away from it. I agree on what you say about trust being empowering or leaving us feeling vulnerable. I suppose it’s all about where we’re coming from that determines how we look at it. Interesting, for sure, and love your input. We’ll see what exciting things happen as I take this leap and trust in putting myself out there to connect. 🙂

    • Hi Susan — thought this might be something you’d be familiar with, though I’m not quite there yet with how easy it is. Tried a trial run with hubby the other day on Google+ chat and it turned out awkward all with me in the video looking around for how things worked. Deleted it — geeky looking 🙂 — as it was something I sure didn’t want to go viral. I’m digging in and checking out what tutorials are available and doing research on privacy to get more acquainted with it.

      If you can point me in the direction of a good place to start, I’d sure appreciate it — or if I could just pick your brain. Clearly, I have a lot to learn about it but does sound like fun and right for what I’m looking to do next.

      Are you interested in joining us on my first try? I have a few people interested and I’m working on setting it up for an hour one day in the middle to end of next week.

      Thank you, my friend. I truly appreciate your input and expertise. 🙂

    • Thanks, Andrea. I’m working on setting it up next week for an hour. I’m still learning about it and not sure of all the ins and outs, especially in the event guests are out of the U.S. It’s a work in progress, for sure, and I’m excited about it. Taking baby steps as I go and hope to have something to report back. 🙂

  2. Pat, Your posts are always so positive and endearing. Fireside chats and kitchen table talks reveal so much. Nowadays, I believe the art of listening has fallen to the wayside. Most people sit waiting to respond or to say what they want to say. I miss those days when I’d sit with a friend and we’d divulge our secrets, cry, and laugh until the early morning.

    I don’t think my time zone would fit along with your chat, but I wish you the best with it. Have fun and a great week.

    • Thank you, Denise, and I share your sentiments in those days when we’d sit and talk for hours with a friend. I think we still do on some occasions but maybe not as freely. Wouldn’t it be special if a safe place like that could be created over the internet? I think there’s a hunger for it for those that remember the way it was and for those who have yet to experience it. I don’t know — but believe it’s possible. Miracles happen all the time and, who knows, when we invite the miraculous.

      Wish you could join us but don’t know the time difference with you in Germany and me in the US (MST – Mountain Standard Time). Also, not sure if there’s other requirements on international Google+ chats. It’s a work in progress and I’m learning as I go. Hopefully, it would work for you in chats in the future. 🙂

  3. I think I’m still on Google+ but never use it. I got invited by a co-worker two years ago to discuss some business plans. However, a couple of months ago friends of mine started getting invitations to join ‘my google group’ which was not operated by me. Looked like a scam of some sort. I told everyone to ignore and delete the mails. Eventually it stopped. Anyway, it sounds like a great idea and love the philosophy behind it. Right now I’m at the start of a new phase in my business life and have already a hard time keeping up with the blogs, so maybe later when I’m more in a routine. Good luck with it Pat!

    • Hi Karin — I’m happy to see that you’ve made the tour and stopped by to catch up and read some of my latest posts. I’m new to Google+ chats and I’m not sure how it will play out. But, I’m wanting to try and learn about it as I go.

      I understand the risks in doing something like this over the internet. But, I can’t help but feel there must be some type of vehicle where we can talk with one another and engage on a deeper level. I believe we need to hear how others handled situations, how we felt and why. I guess that’s always been important to me, even though there are times when it’s difficult to hear no less talk about it.

      Thank you for the vote of confidence on this new endeavor of mine and I wish you much success in your new phase of business. Of course, I’m truly honored when you choose my blog to come over to for a visit when you have the time. It means a lot. You’re the best, my friend. God bless! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Fireside Chats ― Kitchen Table Talks Revisited | Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom

  5. Comment: Hello Pat, how are you ?

    Before coming onto that post, this morning I was thinking about the wonderful idea that you shared with all your followers, about sharing kitchen table stories. As I told you in one of my previous comments, we agree about the fact that sitting around a kitchen table, either to share a good cup of coffee or a delicious meal, is the best warm moment that we would like to share after a long and tiresome day or half-day to look for some recomfort through those kitchen table stories.

    Personally, to be honest with you, I didn’t really experience about relating kitchen table stories in my environment 🙁 Either we were sitting in silence and eating because we were in a hurry before going back to work or to our occupations, or we were too numerous around one same table, with some people joyfully talking, some other people being grumpy or some other people remaining silent at a corner of the table, until one of the people around the table noticed their isolation and asked whether everything was alright, forcing the silent ones to shyly mumble yes before going back into silence again.

    It’s very sad unfortunately that in my country and in my culture, we didn’t really have the pleasure into experiencing the fact of sharing kitchen table stories, and it’s something which should bring that glimpse of magic when you are sitting at the same table, either for special occasions or during routine dinners. In my personal culture, for example, when you have a party at your place, people organize a very long table where all guests sit around and enjoy a good time and a good meal together with other people. Unfortunately, very few people will have the courage mingling with other guests and would prefer to stay only with the ones they prefer 🙁

    The reason behind it is that in my culture, it’s very badly seen when people are talking during meal time, especially as per the mores in the 40-50s generation, stipulating that you should keep quiet while eating your food for better appreciating your food and finishing your plate. I very often listened to an audio sketch in Mauritian creole where a whole family was having dinner. There was the father, Prescot, the mother, Bianca, the two sons Herod and Harris, the son-in-law Nicolas and the granddaughter Sheila. Everyone was having dinner in a jolly and noisy atmosphere with everyone was chatting together in a joyful brouhaha, until Prescot screamed that everyone should keep silent to allow HIM finishing HIS meal quietly. His sons were very angry against him and tried to made him understanding how important dialogue is within a family, especially during meal time. But instead of accepting that his sons were right, Prescot got angry and furiously got out of the table without finishing his dinner, which spoilt the jolly atmosphere of that dinner, a delicious dinner prepared by Bianca with all her love with some rice and vegetables coming from her neighbor’s garden 🙁

    As a Mauritian native, I always kept on thinking that talking during meal time was not properly seen and this is a more which is still in practice in a lot of families nowadays. But during the weekend I was meditating a lot about your idea of creating kitchen table stories, but before sharing my meditations with you, I asked myself why it wasn’t good to talk at the table. I did some researches on Google and then I had the answer that it was NEVER forbidden to talk during meal times around the kitchen table, but that you should be careful about what you talk about. I saw that article from Huffington post as the perfect example of conversation to never maintain during meal time since they are the kinds of conversations which can spoil a good family atmosphere (Source: and it reminded me of a Holiday dinner we had in Paris at my husband’s aunt’s place, where under the influence of alcohol, she revealed us about the death of her French companion Henri, which she hid to the whole family for several months despite being so close to her two brothers who are settled in France with her too! And I remember how after that revelation, the delicious dinner she prepared for us was spoilt, since the jolly family atmosphere of the beginning was spoilt after that news, and our appetite was cut! Then I came on the conclusion that it’s ALLOWED to talk around the kitchen table, since it’s a moment of pleasure to share with your family and a way for all the family to reunite in a warm atmosphere, but that there are some restrictions we should respect for not turning the family dinner into a moment of stress and tension. See also that blog post I discovered where so many people reacted against a young mother, further to a misunderstanding which occured and where she mentioned that she hated when her kids used to talk during meal time:

    While reading that blog post and how this mother was trying desperately to “repair” the mistake and confusing herself in her explanations to justify herself, it reminds me about the retrograde education that so many Mauritians still have regarding dialogue around the table kitchen, and I sincerely congratulate you for having launched the initiative behind the kitchen table stories.

    As I am actually rebuilding my website with new stuffs, one of the stuffs I am projecting to add very soon within my website is a blog about cooking basic theories, including recipes and biographies about some popular chefs. But your kitchen table stories gave me another idea to include in that blog: the importance of dialogue during meal times. Your blog would be a wonderful link about the importance of relating kitchen table stories during meal times and making of your meal times and coffee moments an agreeable moment of pleasure, either when you are in your own place or when you are invited at other people’s place. On Friday evening I went to restaurant with my little family since my son wanted to eat a “strawberry pizza”, LOL! And we spent a wonderful time there as per some pictures I am sharing with you on that restaurant named “BRAVO” (Source: However, I thought afterwards about something: If we can have a wonderful time around a restaurant table, why don’t we adapt that same philosphy around a kitchen table as well? And then I thought that if Mauritian people could take a look on your blog like I do everyday, they would change their point of view.

    Yesterday I purchased the Kindle version of “Kitchen Table Wisdom 10th Anniversary” from Author Rachel Naomi Remen, where maybe I will get a lot of answers about the importance of the Kitchen Table dialogue which you make us experiencing everyday, and I also bought together with it a small pocket book from same author, entitled “The Little Book of Kitchen Table Wisdom”, which regroups lots of useful quotes to meditate about and which were extracted from the book itself. I don’t know whether you have read that book before, but I am sure that if you discover that book, it will really confirm everything that you make us experiencing every day with your beautiful and inspirational kitchen table stories. Through that kitchen table experience with you, I am learning a lot of things about life and seeing life around the kitchen table with new eyes, completely differently from what I was wrongly taught within my Mauritian culture.

    I truly hope to go ahead with that experience I share everyday together with you and that if I share it on my blog and succeed into inspiring people with it, starting with my compatriots, they will change their point of view about kitchen table talks and understand how important it is for a couple like for a family to maintain those talks and to do it as well properly.

    And I won’t pen off here without thanking you for giving not only to me but to all your followers the wonderful opportunity to discover everyday about the beauty of the kitchen table wisdom through your anecdotes and stories 🙂

    • Hi Uma. I am well, thank you and thank you for your wonderful comments on my fireside chats and kitchen table stories. In the US, it seems the kitchen table is where everyone migrates and people gather first not only to eat but to relax. If it’s in a home where they’re comfortable, the kitchen table feels like a safe place, maybe to ask something or open their heart. Yes, there can be different points of view but I think when we’re sitting around the kitchen table and it feels safe, it can grow to become a place where real truths come out.

      I love that this is interesting to you and is something you want to further explore. It’s hard to explain the feeling I get when family and friends sit around and laugh and share. It comes from my childhood when I would lay up in bed listening to my parents and grandparents talking downstairs around the kitchen table late at night. It made me feel warm inside and loved, like all was well in the world. I’d love to create that same space for others but it’s not something I’d be able to do on my own. It would definitely have to be Divinely guided. 🙂

      • Hello Pat, everything is good by my side as well 🙂 Your point of view about the kitchen table being a “safe place where the real truths come out” arose my curiosity and I am very impatient to discover more about it when I will acknowledge the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” as well 🙂 I understand as well that it’s a feeling you cannot explain with theories and words, and also the best way to understand it is to experience it too. When you mentioned though about joyful conversations at the kitchen table, I remember, though that culture is not always existant in Mauritian families, that my in-laws were among the rare ones breaking that rule since they are clever people 🙂 When I was still engaged to Dhiraj (my husband’s name), I remember that for breakfast one morning, the morning after Dhiraj came to Mauritius for a short holiday and to see me, he was having breakfast with his parents and was crackling some jokes to relax the atmosphere. At a moment, his mother struggled so hard to control her laughing that she spit the tea which she already sipped from her mug and started laughing heavily, hihihihi… From that example, I understand that kitchen table stories aren’t limited only with conversations. They also include emotions, sharing and even laughter 🙂 If you saw my mother-in-law laughing at that time, yourself you would have been amused since she was really funny, LOL!

        • Hi Uma — I like that you’re exploring the kitchen table as a safe place to gather and talk and that maybe it’s something you’ve never considered before. For us, when we’d come together for meals, it would be a time for family to tell how our night went, if it was morning and first meal of the day, what we dreamed or planned to do that day. Or, if it was a mealtime later in the day, we’d gather and share what happened through the course of the day.

          If there were problems or issues we could all talk about it. It’s also a place to just sit with someone with a cup of coffee or tea and reminisce about loved ones and of times past. That’s when the stories come out and people reflect and may start talking about what it was like and how they felt.

          I have Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s book, “Kitchen Table Wisdom” and read it a couple of years ago. Another book of hers I have that’s good and you might consider reading is, “My Grandfather’s Blessings“.

          Her stories warm my heart and get right to the core of life and in the living of it. It’s what I envision capturing in fireside chats as there’s no particular format or outline. The stories and conversations that come forth in a safe place, like the kitchen table, can’t be planned. It’s like Dr. Rachel says about her counseling and in the writing of her stories, “I just follow the natural process of things.

          • Hello Pat,

            I fully agree with you regarding the kitchen table being a safe place for everyone to sit and to talk. Frankly speaking, it would be nice for every Mauritian native to consider the importance of the kitchen table and of communication within a family, since communication is the main key for the good balance within the family bonds and atmosphere. We are so much caught up by our ambitions that we tend to forget those little things of life which keep us happy and make of those little things something totally ordinary, from which we don’t try to find out the extraordinary. But there is perhaps an explanation behind this which may justify the ignorance from Mauritian people: Most Mauritians are of Indian inheritance, and in the past, Indians didn’t even know what it meant to have a kitchen table in their home. Even nowadays in India, so many poor families don’t even have a kitchen table to sit around to talk and to enjoy a good meal. Most Indian families were used to sit on the floor, eating their food on banana leaves and with their fingers, and it’s when their financial situation got improved that they could allow themselves having a good house, and of course a good kitchen table. And when the food was ready, they had to eat immediately and no one was allowed to talk during the meal time. But nowadays, so many Indians succeed into reaching the middle class and all have a kitchen table, and communication is in good progress in a lot of Indian communities nowadays. But there are still so many Indians who don’t even speak during meal time, despite having a kitchen table at home, either because in the past they never knew the meaning of having a kitchen table at their place, or because they still didn’t improve about communication during meal time. Another sad point which still exists is that lots of Indians fear a lot the patriarch’s authority, as the Hindu patriarch is mostly known as a severe and authoritarian man, which makes that the spouse cannot express herself freely and must keep silent, and so do the children though they are more allowed to express themselves than their mother. When my father was young, it was exactly whatever my dada (paternal grandfather) used to do with all his daughters-in-law and with all his grandchildren, mostly his granddaughters who were very scared of him and had to keep quiet during the meal time. And it was in the 30s and 40s and at this period, most Hindu families didn’t have a kitchen table and were eating as per the traditional Indian style sitting on the floor with the fingers and on banana trees instead of platters. You won’t even believe me, but when my father graduated after college, he obtained a maintenance grant to study medicine in UK, Ireland and India. At this period, he didn’t have facilities to go by aircraft and he had to travel by boat. He spent 14 years out of his native country where he obtained his MBBS and did his specialization to become the first anesthetist in Mauritius. When he arrived in UK he never knew how to use cutlery at all since he always knew only to use his fingers to eat, and he was staying in the YMCA community during that period, discovering the kitchen table and the hall dining table for the very first time of his life, together with the whole flatware. It was very hard for him, but he never gave up and today it became a part of his daily habits 🙂 He is today 85 years old and, imagine the pathway he had been crossing since the age of 19-20 years old after college until now 🙂

          • Thank you for sharing that with me, Uma. I don’t think it’s so much the kitchen table that makes or breaks conversation and connection. Before kitchen tables, people sat around fire pits and gathered around there to eat. It’s more what we feel in terms of comfort and safety when we come together and the opportunity to share. I can see where in your culture conversation was not as important, especially if the sole purpose of their coming together was to eat. Then, that’s what they did.

            You must be so proud of what your father accomplished. It must have taken a lot of courage to follow his dreams, go to another country and break tradition learning new ways. I’m amazed when people do that. There must be something strong inside of them that drives them forward to new countries and living. That’s how we evolve and grow as humanity. I admire those that do that. 🙂

  6. Well, I would rather say that my father passed through those steps mostly because he didn’t have any choices. During his youth, his parents had to decide for him and he couldn’t do his own choices by himself. Deep inside himself, he wanted to become a researcher, but his father imposed that he would become a doctor, since he was very intelligent and that the family needed a doctor since they were living in poor conditions during that period. Also, my father didn’t go against my grandfather’s wishes and was graduated first General Physician, then Anesthetist. But despite all, he has no regrets since he experienced so many things such as European and occidental way of living, culture, Christianity (he converted Anglican when he was studying in Kerala, India), and he had the opportunity to travel a lot during his youth: UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Madagascar, Reunion Island, South Africa, Italy… He was also a good football and cricket player during his university years as well. Maybe it’s thanks to him that I developed that thirst for new cultures and experiences, but frankly speaking he did such a great journey to arrive at such a point 🙂 Regarding the kitchen table, as well the kitchen table wasn’t important for him before, as well it became a moment of fun and good atmosphere exactly like it is for you and for your family. The funniest moment though I always kept in mind was breakfast, it was really funny to see him greedily enjoying his toasted bread with butter and jam, and his mug of coffee (the same yellow mug he uses since generations, and the same Ricoffy as well, LOL!) He also enjoys a lot the famous English Breakfast which he discovered when he was in university and eating almost every morning for breakfast.

    Yes, I agree with you about the fire pits, and we experienced it a lot of times in Madagascar during winter. We had been living in Antananarivo for a couple of years, and it’s located at more than 2000 meters of altitude, which makes that the winter there is rude though it doesn’t snow. I also saw so many scenes next to the fire pits in “Dynasty”, and one of the scenes I remember is one where Steven and Samy-Jo were having a romantic late night conversation next to the fire pit. It was really recomforting to hear the fire and the wood cracking in the chimney as well 🙂

    • Ah, those memories, Uma, and wondering what life was like for our dads and moms. Wouldn’t it have been fun to travel around with them in all of their adventures? I know my Dad spoke of travels during World War II and what the people and different cultures were like. In spite of the conflicts of wartime, he dearly loved the places and people he saw.

      Yes, that crackling of the fire and smell of smoke on an evening adventure can stir up conversations and comforts of love and home. It was always a fun time for me. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      • Hello Pat,

        Yes that’s true that in such moments you would have wished to be with them when they were still young and experience with them exactly the same feelings they had when they were young. I understand how your dad felt, despite the hardness of the conflicts of wartime, and how he felt enriched by discovering new cultures and new places, though they were menaced with guns and bombs. My grandfather, however, never mentioned about his experiences about World War II, during which hundreds of Mauritian volunteers left their country to assist into the World War II in the endangered countries. But when he came back from the war, however, the war made of him a very cruel and heartless person, especially when it comes on discipline and education at home, and he was a real terror in the house. However, with time and space, when he turned older, with maturity he softened and learnt about enjoying life much better. He was a charming mixed man with his lovely green eyes and suntanned skin, and he was a wonderful tenor and epicurian, a true lover of Mother Nature as well 🙂

        • It’s interesting to hear the stories and observe the changes in people over time. Events can hurt and scar our hearts. Your grandfather seemed like a beautiful soul that worked through many seasons of his life. I’m happy to hear you have fond, loving memories of him. Thank you, Uma. 🙂

          • Oh yes dear 🙂 my grandfather was a bundle of joy 🙂 I am sharing with you something which is still making me smiling: There was a total contrast between my grandfather and my grandmother. As well my grandfather was a jolly fellow, as well my grandmother was always sad, and at times for nothing whereas she herself could be a true bundle of joy whenever she wanted to. One day, my grandfather was admitted in clinic, he was seriously ill and during that period I was a pre-teenager. While my grandmother was complaining and worrying about him, my grandfather was all the time singing and amusing all the nurses and doctors thanks to his good mood, jokes, funny anecdotes and also by singing (he was a tenor in his youth and used to sing “Ave Maria” during weddings). While everyone was having fun with him, my grandmother, one day, arrived at clinic with his lunch, and when she saw him amusing everyone instead of sleeping and having rest, she was so angry at him that she menaced not to bring his food at clinic anymore, LOL 😀

          • Oh my, Uma. I guess your grandparents had their different outlooks. I can see that in me sometimes and those around me. I’ve felt a little like your grandfather at times and then there are times when I can feel like your grandmother and not be too happy with what’s going on.

            I don’t stay in it, though, and can usually work my way through it. Some people don’t recognize that and are miserable their whole lives. That’s okay as we each have our own timing and things to learn. 🙂

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