Joy and Pain

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These last few weeks have left me a bit empty emotionally and creatively, which is why this post is late. The excitement of being able to think about a future after COVID has given way to anxiety about when to wear a mask, how to travel safely, whether to travel at all, how to begin to re-enter the world. It’s all pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Added to the mix is the excitement and joy that my daughter has finally landed her dream job and will be moving back across the country to Los Angeles. It’s a complicated endeavor that needs to be completed in a scant few weeks and involves a cross country driving trip (my husband will be doing that), finding a place to live and getting her stuff moved. And professionally, let’s just say it’s been complicated. As a newspaper editor and reporter for a Jewish publication, the escalation of violence in Israel and the current ceasefire have meant difficult information to sift through and report while I watch unfolding misery on both sides. And finally, this last weekend saw an ugly and painful display of antisemitism in my city brought on by one woman who used a yellow star as a symbol of being unvaccinated.

To unpack some of this, I’ll first focus on my daughter because her situation is one that brings me joy and relief. Last summer during the height of the pandemic, she lost her job. Since then she has pieced together a living, often working two and three jobs, while applying for and interviewing for something in her field. I watched her bravely persevere and overcome worry while dealing with grief and anger, most of the time with a smile on her face. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her resilience and courage.

As for the COVID pandemic, I guess I’m doing what most people are doing and trying to take baby steps to rejoin the living. As an extrovert in normal times, I’m surprised by how exhausted I feel at the effort it takes to make and execute simple plans. I feel overwhelmed at choosing a restaurant, preferring to either cook at home or order in. There are a few local places that have wrapped us in comfort the last year and a half (thanks to the crew at answer.) and it feels so much easier to just do that. But we are venturing out a bit and when we do, I feel almost normal. I’ve said, “hello,” to some clothes I haven’t worn in a long time, praying everything still fits (thankfully, so far, it all does). I have two short trips planned this summer and a big trip in the Fall. I’m anxious about traveling, but also looking forward to the change of scenery.

My professional challenges are more difficult to explore. As a journalist I’ve been trained to look at as many sides of an issue as possible, to be fair in analyzing and presenting the facts and to be balanced in my coverage. Lately though, the rising antisemitism in this country and around the world has shaken me. I am, after all, a Jew in America, raised to love Israel by parents who watched and prayed as the tiny country was born over 70 years ago out of the ashes of the Holocaust. My father-in-law was a survivor of German ghettos, concentration camps and death marches. The last trip he took before his early death at age 52 was to visit Israel, to experience the joy and relief at a Jewish homeland.

I traveled to Israel for the first time as a 15-year-old teen and have visited a few times since, watching the country grow from a developing land into a high tech, modern day marvel. Is it perfect? No. Did growth come at a high price? Most definitely. Does it deserve both criticism and admiration for the choices made in the face of daily existential threat? Absolutely. But since when does criticizing your country render you unpatriotic or worse, guilty of some sort of treason? I was raised to question, to voice my opinion, to push back against injustice, to challenge the status quo, and that includes my views about Israel. But make no mistake, I am a Zionist, I am fully committed to its existence as the only Democratic country in the Middle East. And that democracy demands that I speak up and speak out. I do not pretend to understand what it is like to live with constant threat, rockets and bombs. And there is certainly plenty of misery to go around on both sides.

And now I turn to the antisemitism infecting my own city. The pain I felt when I saw a local shopkeeper peddling the yellow star of David, emblazoned with, “not vaccinated,” to an often uninformed public, was immediate and deep. My stomach turned over as I read with horror the words in the social media comments. My community’s response was fast and direct, spreading to the greater Nashville area and reaching the pages and airways of national news outlets. Most of the woman’s vendors have stopped their supply of merchandise to her store and have made their outrage known. It has been both gratifying and comforting to know there are many people who were also reviled by the post. But the pain lingers like a handprint slapped on my heart. Sadness weighs on me and the creeping fear that history may repeat itself keeps me awake.

I pray my family’s suffering at the hands of those who sought to destroy us was not in vain. Never again.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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The Story of Easter, And the Girl Who Loved Her

I love horses.  No, I mean, I REALLY, REALLY LOVE horses.  So, when I came upon the Canadian television series, Heartland, which actually began in 2007, I was instantly hooked.  I found it on Netflix, and, at this writing, I just finished the 6th of the total 13 seasons.  Tears here.

Based on Lauren Brooke’s +/- 26-novel series begun in 2000 (20 series and 5 extra special editions, according to equipepper.com), the story of Amy Fleming and an assortment of characters, especially family members, is based in Virginia, where she, her family, and friends, heal and help abused, mistreated, or “difficult” horses.  At Heartland, “They attempt to help the abused horses by using psychologically based therapies instead of more traditional training methods.”  Perhaps you’ve seen or read the series, as I’m a bit late in catching on.

I allow myself to watch one or two episodes in a sitting.  Sometime I can’t help getting carried away and watching more because the focus on the horses brings me close to my dear, sweet pony (just barely big enough to be a horse), Easter.

Our meeting and ensuing relationship was quite magical, so much like some of those in the series.  If you’ve never had the extraordinary experience of mutual love with a horse, let me assure you, there is no experience in the world like it.  You see, meeting my Easter came from a situation much like many of the equine characters in the series.  She was quite misunderstood and so was shuffled from rider to rider, getting them off her back in one way or another, until she was just locked away in a stall and ignored.  One day, we met.  We connected.  I asked about her and was told “the story.”  It was about to change.

It was at a summer camp in the mountains of Georgia where I had been a camper for a couple of years and then became a counselor.  We were able to spend the rest of the summer together on trail rides.  Of course, no one could believe I was riding Easter, as her reputation was far from stellar.  But there we were, a team.  Unfortunately, summers come to an end.  I had to leave my beloved pony and return home.  It was off to college and over two years before Easter was back in my life.  One birthday morning, after a pretty wild night of partying with friends, I woke to a commotion outside the mobile home on the little farm my partner and I lived on.  I staggered, literally, to the back door and a startled pony with a wide-eyed, shocked look on her face, which I know mirrored mine, was standing in front of me.  No lie.  Neither of us was believing it, but there we were.  My partner had convinced the unfeeling woman who owned the camp, and refused to sell her to me two years earlier, to sell her, and had her shipped down for my birthday.  Talk about magical.  I won’t talk about the end.  Just know we were together for many, many good years.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Support the Gig Economy

We’re in a time warp on employment law.  The economy has shifted toward a gig economy model, but the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the 1930’s factory model. 

Start with the gig economy.  The shift began in the 1980’s when business schools preached the benefits of “shareholder” value to the exclusion of all other considerations.  The bean counters scrutinized each company’s expenses in slash and burn operations. First to go was in-house training of workers.

Second to go was entire swathes of workers.  The downsized workers were often hired back as independent contractors to do their old jobs.  The “savings” on not paying employee benefits to them created “shareholder” value.  Senior management promptly rewarded themselves with bigger pay packets and stock options while shoveling a few dollars more to their shareholders as dividends.

(Business leaders now moan about their inability to find workers with the appropriate skills but are still unwilling to invest in their workers.  In an article a few years ago in The Wall Street Journal business leaders admitted they would not invest in training their workers because they didn’t want to lose their investment when the employees left. The irony of demanding loyalty from workers while offering nothing in return is apparently lost of these overpaid masters of the universe.)

By the 2000’s, the internet had lowered the cost of starting a business.  The switch to a gig economy accelerated during last year’s covid.  Many workers pushed into unemployment during the past year have decided to bet on themselves by starting their own businesses.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the past. Don’t get me wrong. Biden’s boffos are a distinct relief after Trump’s minions tried to resurrect the 1980’s by dismembering every law that might protect workers.

But the Biden administration’s approach will undermine the gig economy, the most dynamic part of our economy now that most big businesses are monopolies dominating their industries.  Recent Department of Labor guidance makes it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.  The rationale is that too many companies deliberately misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to save on payroll taxes and employee benefits.  That is true.

However, that’s no reason to rip the heart out of the gig economy.   Instead of rolling back the economic clock, it’s time to change how employee benefits are offered.  Employee benefits like health care, fair wages and overtime pay were forced on employers in the 1930’s in a clever maneuver to bust the unions; and indirectly to fight communism since most Americans believed that all union organizers were commies.

That was then. Now we need to free up workers to use their skills and interests to the best of their abilities. Instead of looking backward, the Biden administration should imagine how the future of work could look.

It’s time to create individual health accounts, just as there are individual retirement accounts.  Allow gig workers to top up their IRA’s with amounts equivalent to an employer’s 401(k) match.  Give gig workers a tax credit to cover a set number of vacation and sick days each year.

Some people prefer traditional employment. Some people are suited to be gig workers.  The benefit of encouraging a hybrid economic model, part traditional and part gig, will unleash the creative abilities of our country. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. We also integrate HR compliance into the company-wide compliance program through internal controls and advising on how to mitigate risks with insurance. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com). For my musings on history, visit History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts here on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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The Other Side of the Couch – The Weight of Grief

Grief Image

I am not unfamiliar with grieving, and yet each time Life requires that I encounter it, I am yet again surprised by its strength.  I know from past encounters that the intensity will pass – there will come a time that I am not aware almost every waking moment of the depth of this loss.  But that time has not yet arrived.

My husband and I both lost beloved brothers – barely two weeks apart – to metastatic cancer.  Both men lived wonderful lives – one a world traveller and humanitarian, the other a brilliant scientist and sharer of knowledge and kindness. Their accomplishments were many, but it is their connections to their families and communities that live on in my memory.

Grief is heavy.  Grief is physical.  I am sleeping but wake up exhausted nonetheless.  Moments of unexpected sadness come at random moments – just now, thinking about Glenn, wishing I could tell him about a new find in our family tree, wishing I could ask him a computer question.  Little things.

I am grateful that I was able to spend time with him in person.  My daughter and I went to California – the vaccine finally giving us the opportunity to go – we would have gone long since but the pandemic stopped us.  We were able to be with him – to say we loved each other – to essentially say goodbye.  We hoped it was not the last time – but it turned out that way.

The words of a poem by Steven Spender have meant a lot to me in these last days – in particular the last several lines. 

I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great

“Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields 
See how these names are feted by the waving grass 
And by the streamers of white cloud 
And whispers of wind in the listening sky. 
The names of those who in their lives fought for life 
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center. 
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun, 
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.”

My brother touched many lives – and for me, that is the measure of greatness. Love to you, Glenn, and Godspeed. 

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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Sourdough, Gardening, Life

One of my early loaves made for Valentine’s Day

This year we are planning a landscaping project and deck remodel, so I have decided not to plant my spring/summer garden. I really wrestled with what to do because I just love getting out into the dirt, tending to the vegetables and watching them grow. I also love preparing and eating the fresh zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other assorted crops throughout the Summer and into the Fall. I’m still considering a small container garden.

I have decided to continue my Winter project: sourdough baking. During the cold, dark months my son and I began cultivating a couple of starters. If you’ve been following me on Instagram @barbdab58 you’ve seen some of my efforts. It has been a lot of fun watching this little science experiment literally come alive in front of our eyes! Mix water and flour, let it sit on the counter and lo and behold, it bubbles, ferments and develops a pungent, delicious fragrance! Then we combine it with more flour, water and salt and it bakes into a bubbly, poofy, crusty loaf.

Over the last few months, we’ve experimented with different types of flour starters. We have one made from regular all-purpose flour and one from whole wheat flour. Each has its own unique fragrance, taste and personality. In fact, tradition dictates that we might name our starters and so we have introduced Rob and Laura Petrie, named after the main characters on my favorite TV show, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob is the lively, bubbly all-purpose starter and Laura is the more exotic, complicated, delicate whole wheat. We’ve also tried a few different flavors in our bread. We’ve used oats and maple syrup, garlic, onions and one that substitutes beer for the water. We’ve had successes and failures. This past weekend, we had a huge success with our original, classic sourdough. Previously we failed with an oatmeal loaf that was too wet, a whole wheat/regular blend that did not rise enough and a garlic loaf that was too garlicky. Early on, we had some failed starters, as well.

In sourdough, as in life, success depends on planning, patience, experience and that extra something intangible. Maybe it’s luck. But I also think it’s the love and attention paid and the focus and will to succeed. Last week I made my oatmeal/maple syrup loaf by myself. My son was busy and unable to participate. The loaf was tasty, with nice crumb and a toasty crust. But it was somewhat lackluster and rather flat. So this week I decided to go back to the basics, together with my son, and make the classic version. We took the starter out of the fridge, fed it, waited for the perfect timing when it was active and bubbly, and then began our process of mixing the dough, letting it rest, stretching and folding before letting it ferment overnight. In the morning, the dough was fluffy and shiny, with little bubbles just beneath the surface, and it smelled fantastic! After shaping and proofing, my son worked his magic scoring the loaf and into the oven it went. The result was a nearly perfect, golden loaf with a slightly charred crust and inside it was moist and tangy. As we reflected on how this loaf was different, better, my son declared that it was because we made it together, with love, as we’d planned, each contributing to the end result in our own way.

Last year’s garden

My sourdough journey has mirrored my gardening process, too. Nurturing something from the beginning stages, developing patience through trial and error and adding in lots and lots of love. This year has presented all of us with unforeseen challenges and the need to pivot and adapt to an ever changing set of circumstances. We’ve had to take the long view as we navigate our way out of this pandemic. There have been failures and successes and as we begin to emerge from our isolation, it is clear life is different, most likely permanently changed. But hopefully what appears is beautiful, the result of hard work, planning, patience and love. A beautiful juicy red tomato, a fragrant crusty sourdough, a meaningful vibrant life.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!

Indeed, it has!  And, thanks to the weather and the way I have been scheduled at work, I’ve had lots of time to work my “gardens.”  In fact, I’ve been so immersed, yesterday’s scheduled HerSavvy post slid right on by me. 

So…

My hummingbird feeders have been out since early this month and, while I haven’t seen any of my hummers yet, the sweet liquid goes down steadily, so they must be sneaking about when I’m not home.  I do believe I was “buzzed” by one this past weekend. I’m anxious to see my little friends again. 

I just LOVE tomatoes and it is very special to me to be able to share them around with my neighbors.  I have a “pot” garden on my patio for the smaller varieties and several of a full-sized variety planted in front of my condo.  The Super Sweet 100 is a cherry variety that does well in a large pot with a tomato stake to support it.  I’m trying out a new variety as well.  Its name is Chocolate Sprinkles.  Gotta love that!  I bought them as starts, so I’ll pinch their tops once they get a bit taller.  Doing this will help them fill out and not get spindly.  The four starts in the front, Bonnie Originals, are in the ground.  They’re of the large slicing type, so, while they are staked too, I like to let them “crawl’ once they’re really going.  At this point, everyone is doing great and looking fabulous.  I planted in a mixture of top soil and compost with manure.  Been quite a while since I’ve had the time and been able, physically, to dig in the dirt.  I’m excited.

I’m about to expand this year with a small bed off the patio for some Bush variety Blue Lake beans and Early Golden Acre cabbage.  We’ll see how THAT goes…

The front garden has some herbs and flower bulbs amidst the shrubs that were there when I moved in.  There are some very vibrant Comfrey plants I transplanted when I moved here, some yarrow, and some flower bulbs I got from my dear friend and fellow gardener, Kate Stephenson.  I can’t remember what they are (I got them from her early last fall and I’ve slept a bunch since then.) and I expect they won’t bloom until next year, but they’re doing great.

This is all probably a lot more than you want to know, but maybe you found a couple of nuggets in my ramblings.  Maybe you’re already a gardener, certainly more of one than I am, or maybe this is some inspiration for you.  Either way, dig it!

*Edit today:

Chocolate Sprinkles are early bloomers… REALLY early!!! 🙂

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

Like what you’ve read?  Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit.  Thanks!

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Time for a Change

Recently the English Premier League announced they are considering a ban on all social media platforms effective May 1st.   The ban is being considered to protect footballers (soccer players) from racial and homophobic abuse.  Most footballers are teenagers or 20-something’s.  

Racial and homophobic abuse has always been a feature of sports from a segment of “fans”.  It’s on a par with the jerks who post revenge porn against their exes when they realize those women won’t put up with the selfish, spoiled brat behavior that mommy indulged all those years ago.  

When racial or homophobic abuse happens on the field, the footballing authorities can investigate, identify and ban the moronic player spewing hate.  When “fans” scream filth, the home team can investigate, identify and ban the jerks for life from attending games.

Social media abusers can hide behind avatars and fake identities. In some cases, abusers are based outside the country of their victims.  In other situations, the abusers deliberately, with malice aforethought, route their internet connections through countries that can’t or won’t prosecute the abusers.  

It’s time to stop social media abusers from using their cyberspace anonymity to avoid the consequences of their hateful, malicious actions.   The first step is to require all social media companies to authenticate the identity of each account holder just as banks are required to “know your customer” by authenticating the identity of new bank account holders.  Social media companies should also continue shutting down the fake accounts they find littering their platforms.

The second step is to enact laws that require social media companies to provide the identity of the abuser to the victim.  This process should be quick and easy and low cost. There are limited (at best) privacy concerns for the abuser because no one has a First Amendment right to spew hate and the threat of violence.  Foot-dragging on ID’ing the abuser is tantamount to enabling and condoning the abuse.

The victim can then decide whether to file a criminal complaint or to sue for civil rights violations or defamation.  That brings us to the third step. The civil and criminal penalties for engaging in hate speech and revenge porn on social media should be much more severe.  At a minimum, abusers should be banned from social media platforms until they can demonstrate they deserve the privilege of having an account.

Abusers who spew hate on social media are usually feeling insecure and afraid of social and cultural changes that they view as a loss of power and control.  Their fears make them lash out to try to regain control.  They’re counting on us being so scared of drawing their abuse or violating their free speech rights, or of secretly sympathizing with their racist, sexist, xenophobic comments, or so uncaring that we do nothing.  It’s time for that to change. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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The Return of the Hug

I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until, after a full year, I was able to give one to someone other than my immediate family members. It began in the entry to my house after a couple of friends came to celebrate the first night of Passover with us. They walked in, we all made eye contact, then grabbed each other one by one in a lovely, warm, full body hug. Happy tears were shed as we stood for just a few minutes longer, smiling, looking into each other’s maskless faces, savoring the simplest of human experiences. At the end of the evening, I was exhausted by the sheer intensity of emotion and the close proximity of our friends.

Last year’s Passover holiday came on the heels of the local safer-at-home order. Plans were scrapped, we learned about Zoom and the tears that fell were tears of grief, fear and horror at what was then unfolding. Our little local family sat around the table and at one end sat my computer, with my son 2,000 miles away on the screen. I kept reminding everyone it was just one year, and we needed to endure so we could all be together again soon. 

The pandemic evokes many biblical images and analogies. During the Passover seder meal, we are tasked with retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, and the beginning of the Israelites’ wandering in the desert. This past year has felt as if all of humanity has relived a truncated version of the story. We began with a plague. Mysterious, frightening and deadly. The promise of a vaccine brought a feeling of hope that we might leave the oppression of the disease behind us. For months we suffered the plague while researchers and scientists did the difficult work and regular people took a personal risk by participating in clinical trials. After many months, receiving the vaccine itself felt like an exodus. The weight of fear and anxiety slipped away. We wandered through the desert of disease around us, and emerged, blinking into the sun, taking tentative steps toward a new life. The hug that just weeks ago might prove deadly, now feeling like freedom itself.

Sunday evening marked the end of this year’s holiday. My kitchen has returned to its normal, everyday condition, leftovers fill the fridge and outside my garden is blooming. There is reason to celebrate. But just as in the annual telling of the exodus, let us remember the year without a hug and in the midst of the loss and our grief, savor what has returned and what will (hopefully) remain.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Vaccinated!

Today I received my covid-19 vaccination as part of the mass vaccination event at the Titans Stadium.   During an approximately 12-hour period on March 20th, Metro Nashville scheduled 10,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine.  I was thrilled to be one of the lucky 10,000 with an appointment.

I was more nervous about a potential traffic jam getting into the site than getting the vaccine. But when I arrived around 1:00 pm, there were no delays. Only one point of entry was open into the vaccination site.  Cars wended their way between traffic cones back and forth across the parking lot on their way to the tents where the vaccinations were administered. It was like playing bumper cars without the bumping.

National Guardsmen and volunteers directed cars around the corners and through the traffic cones. A live band entertained us as we crept along.  A short 10 – 15 minute slalom through the traffic cones brought me to a point where I was directed into a line to approach one of the tents. 

After completing a consent form, it was my turn.  I handed over the clipboard with the consent form, got a quick jab and a postcard-sized certificate saying I’d been vaccinated.  From there I drove to the recovery area.  After a 15-minute wait for adverse side effects, I was able to leave.

The exit point was the only poorly designed part of the entire process. Cars from all the recovery areas tried to simultaneously enter Interstate Drive heading for the Shelby Avenue traffic light.  Most of the cars tried to squeeze into the lane accessing the I-24 entrance ramp.  But even with these delays, the whole process took about 45 minutes from the time I arrived.  

Kudos to the engineer who designed the traffic cone system for moving so many cars through the site. Kudos also to the volunteers, Guardsmen, and police officers who made the whole process work.  This mass vaccination event moves us closer to the tipping point of immunization when Nashville can return to normal (whatever the new normal looks like).

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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AUDREY!

I watched “Audrey,” on Netflix last night and was so impressed and inspired, I decided to skip my original topic and share this one with you all.  Perhaps you’ve seen it, a biography of Audrey Hepburn.  Perhaps you already know her story.  I’ve always loved her and her characters.  Who doesn’t?  I just never knew HER story; Where she came from and how she became the powerful force she was; dancer, actor, philanthropist, and that she really became an actress by accident.   

Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born on Мау 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Belgium. She adорtеd thе pseudonym Edda van Heemstra іn 1940 tо evade capture bу thе Germans because аn “English sounding” nаmе wаs considered dangerous durіng thе German occupation. 

During World War II, when she was just a little girl, the Nazi’s over took Audrey’s town in Holland and thousands died, including some of Audrey’s relatives. Food was very scarce, and, in fact, just to survive, Audrey and her family would grind tulip bulbs to eat and attempt to bake grass into bread. This led to her being extremely malnourished and left her with complications later in her life; Undernourishment, acute anemia, and respiratory problems during the war, contributed to her lifelong waif-like figure.

Audrey wanted to be a prima ballerina. She began training at the early age of 5 for many years to fulfill this desire. Unfortunately, at 5 feet 7 inches, she was too tall, and after being so malnourished when her town was occupied during the war, she often fell ill and could not continue training. She is quoted saying, “…there is probably nothing in the world as determined as a child with a dream and I wanted to dance more than I feared the Germans.” 

Audrey worked for the Dutch Resistance and would carry secret messages in her ballet slippers. Anyone suspected of being a part of the resistance, was rounded up and killed. Once, she was suspect and rounded up by truck. She barely escaped when the Nazis pulled over to the side of the road and she crawled under the truck and out the other side.  As an agent for the Dutch Resistance, she performed in a series of secret ballets to help raise money for the rebels – after the shows, no one would applaud so as not to alert the German Soldiers. These performances would be called “black performances” to raise money for the rebels and their underground war against Hitler. 

At 16, Audrey was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital. During the battle of Arnhem, Hepburn’s hospital received many wounded Allied soldiers. One of the wounded soldiers Audrey helped nurse back to health was a young British paratrooper. Little did she know, the young man would be a future director named Terence Young and within 20 years would later direct her in Wait Until Dark.

Having suffered several miscarriages during her various marriages, but always wanting a family, Audrey was blessed with two sons.  She took a hiatus from her career to spend time with them and was away from acting for many years.  Her childhood traumas and malnourishment, not to mention her three-pack-a-day smoking habit, contributed to her death at just 64 years old in 1993.

From “Our Fair Lady” at People.com,

OUR MOST RECENT IMAGES OF HER CAME OUT OF AFRICA where, as a shirtsleeved ambassador for UNICEF, she walked in a ravaged Somalia, giving solace with that radiant smile—and focusing the world’s attention on a starving land. Last September she asked to be taken to the famine’s epicenter, a feeding camp in the town of Baidoa. As she arrived, she saw hundreds of small lifeless bodies being loaded onto trucks. The worst of it, she would later say, eyes welling with tears, was “the terrible silence.”

Audrey donated аll thе salaries shе earned fоr hеr final movies tо UNICEF. She hаd contributed tо UNICEF sіnсе 1954 and wаs appointed Goodwill Ambassador оf UNICEF іn 1988. UNICEF was the foundation that actually helped thousands like Audrey during WWII and she is quoted saying, “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.  I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.”

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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