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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The Other Side of the Couch – Unexpected Gifts

By Susan E. Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP



March 18, 2020 – almost a year ago – was the last time I saw clients in my office. We were all in the early days of the pandemic – uncertain, rattled, no idea of what to expect or what was to come. The news became more and more dire with each day. The country shut down. I remember driving through deserted streets – my husband and I drove one day into downtown Nashville, all the way down Broadway, just to see it. Empty. No people. No church. No Symphony. No plays. Worst of all, no contact with my daughter and my granddaughter as we all tried to make sense of what was dangerous and what we could risk.

It all seems like a blur to me now. I have heard the days of the week during COVID called Blursdays – because there is no sense of time, no markers that indicate the familiar rhythms of life. We humans live lives based on expectations and routine. Our bodies require food at regular intervals; we require sleep at certain times. We unconsciously count on these routines and structures. While we certainly continued to eat and sleep, the pandemic stripped away our sense of expectation. Suddenly we could count on nothing. Going to the grocery became an exercise in avoiding mortal peril. Hugging a grandchild could result in becoming infected with a mortal disease. We could enter a hospital and never come out, dying alone with no loved ones near us. Or worse – we could infect the ones we love and watch them die while blaming ourselves.

Today – almost one year later – we are entering an era that MAY BE hopeful. The amazing speed with which effective vaccines have been developed and made available is changing the risk analysis each person has had to make each day. More and more people that I know personally are getting the vaccine, and with each shot in the arm hope increases that we will be able to regain those moments of just being with each other without fear.

At the same time, this year has also brought me face to face with the reality that time does not wait for anyone. Three beloved family members are facing cancer. My beloved feline companion of 18 years left us after a hard-fought battle with kidney failure. My clients continue to struggle with all the things that bring people to therapy – because COVID is not the only thing that is going on in their lives.

How to make sense of all this? I have found two things that make a difference.

The first is gratitude. The second is structure.

This year I have returned to playing the piano because I am home to do it. I am no longer “too busy” to take the time to practice. I have continued to do the work I love online, but I am choosing to work fewer hours and to spend more time with my family and with myself. I have become an amateur bird watcher. My far-flung family has become much more connected through the magic of Zoom. I am cooking much more regularly rather than going out for meals. These are small things – none of them is monumental or earth-shattering – yet taken together, they have made a difference in my life for good.

We know that the practice of gratitude creates better mental health. Structure helps those Blursdays become manageable and even enjoyable. Having a routine and expectations of the self help contain anxiety and mitigate depression. As the days of the pandemic begin to wind down, I hope to take with me these unexpected gifts.

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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The Leader of the Pack

How does our birth order influence our lives, our relationships, our personality, our parenting, our future?  I am the first born child, with two younger siblings.  My mother was an only child, and my father was the youngest of five.  I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking about birth order mainly because my parents made a point of impressing upon me the responsibility to take care of my sister and brother.  “Friends will come and go,” my mom would tell me, “but your siblings are forever.”  “Make sure you take your sister with you.”  “Hold your brother’s hand when you cross the street.”  “Always look out for your sister and brother.”  You get the picture. 

I have no recollection of the 18 months of my life before my sister was born, but I’m told my parents had a pretty good time with me.  So good, in fact, that they couldn’t wait to have another baby.  That was always their story and they stuck to it.  The new baby girl arrived, followed two years later by, “the boy.”  I do remember my parents bringing him home from the hospital all swaddled up.  “Watch the soft spot,” was the refrain for months as I awkwardly tried to sit with him on my tiny lap. 

I guess you could say I am a classic big sister.  Caregiving, bossy, driven, organized, high achieving.  I organized parades where I would sit in my brother’s red wagon, draped in a boa, tiara on my head, my brother gamely pulling me as I waved to the neighborhood.  I choreographed ballets for my sister and I to entertain our parents, clad in my mom’s old nightgowns.  And when my brother would get sick, I was obsessed with taking his temperature, bringing him toast and reading to him in bed. 

As the oldest, my developmental milestones and achievements were always the first for my parents.  And attention-loving drama queen that I am, I generally liked it.  I loved feeling grown up and couldn’t wait to, “get there.”  By the time I was 17, I’d graduated from high school, left for college and rarely looked back.  My summers were spent involved in theater companies, part time jobs, hanging at the beach with friends.  I got married right after college and never lived with my family again.  I guess you could say my early years were pretty standard for an L.A. girl growing up in the 1970s. 

This all sounds charming, right?  But underneath all that grooviness lurks a dark secret.  You see, I did enjoy being the oldest for all of the above reasons.  But I also hated it.  I hated the burden dumped on a little girl to always look out for the younger ones.  I hated not having any cover for my mistakes, so I just worked to avoid them.  I hated the assumption that my hard fought victories were preordained because I was the golden one.  I hated there not being much room for me, so growing up fast and leaving was the best option.  Most of all I hated not being allowed to rebel and act out like a normal kid.  “You’re older, you should know better.”  It’s all so exhausting. 

One time I asked my mom if my dad was happy his first born was a girl rather than a boy.  Her answer, “He was thrilled!  Big sisters are better at keeping the family together,” meant to be reassuring sounded to me like another assignment.  I spent years studying my mother’s techniques for entertaining and preparing holiday dinners.  I listened in on her conversations with my dad’s three older sisters for clues on how, exactly, I was supposed to keep us all together.  And when I became a mom to three children, I vowed not to put the same burden on my first born, also a girl.  Karma, right?

So here we are, all three of us in late middle age, our parents alive only in our memories.  I guess you could say I have lived up to my birthright.  I continue to try and keep the family together, to look out for my sister and brother.  We have aged, live in different parts of the country and each of us has been knocked around by life.  For one of us, life in general is a battle and the other two of us do our best to keep moving forward.  A very good therapist once told me it was time to fire myself from the job of being the Big Sister.  It’s hard to break the old patterns and often when I try, one of the two resists my effort to change, but I continue to work on that.  And while I now have a loving husband, amazing grown children and a circle of close friends, sometimes that little girl inside me just wants someone to take care of her. 

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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So, What’s The Deal?

Gas is going up, up, and up, so what’s the deal???

From the Associated Press’ Darcie Loreno:

The price at the pump has climbed 46 cents since Nov. 20. The highest average price in the nation is $3.57 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area. The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline jumped 14 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.64.

According to AAA, the country is seeing some of the most expensive prices in over a year. AAA says with the forced shutdown of the Gulf Coast and some Mid-West refineries due to last week’s winter weather, gas stocks and prices have skyrocketed…66 percent of state averages spiked by double digits.

“When close to 40% of U.S. crude production is offline because refineries are closed, there is going to be pain at the pump until operations resume,’ Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson, said in a release. “The good news is the nearly two dozen impacted refiners are expected to restart operations this week, if they haven’t already. That means regular gasoline deliveries will resume and impacted stations will be re-fueled.”

But some suggest the quick and extreme rise in fuel prices is because President Biden put the brakes on the Keystone XL Pipeline. I followed that line of reasoning and it led me to an article from Jacksonville, Florida’s First Coast News:

Experts said the move did little to harm the number of permanent jobs coming from the pipeline.

Tom Tunstall, research director for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development, has conducted extensive research on oil and gas in his nearly 10 years with the university. He said while prices at the gas pump are climbing, it’s independent of Biden’s decision.

“If oil prices go to $4 a gallon, it will be for other reasons than the fact that the keystone isn’t under construction,” Tunstall explained. 

He said the reason is due to other nations curtailing their own production, along with other market forces causing U.S. producers to cut back on the country’s own production of oil.

As far as jobs go, Tunstall said the move did little to harm permanent jobs.

“It’s important to note that the jobs associated with pipeline construction are exactly that—they’re construction jobs,” he said. “And so, by definition, they’re temporary. Once the construction is complete, then the jobs basically go away … There may be several thousand jobs associated with the construction, (but) I think it may only take 35 people to operate the pipeline once it’s done.”

So what exactly is causing the spike in fuel prices at the pump? Experts say it boils down to two things: winter weather, and supply and demand.

According to GasBuddy, the price of gas has already been impacted as millions of barrels of refining capacity have gone offline due to the extreme cold in the South.

First Coast News (Video)

So, it seems it’s all about that “supply and demand” thing again. Folks are beginning to get out and about in spite of the pandemic because they’re going a little stir crazy, and because the vaccine’s instilling some confidence. Between these factors and the extreme weather that shut down oil production out west for a bit, the demand is higher and production is slightly off. What do the oil companies do? Raise their prices, of course. Capitalize. It seems it’s, as always, about money and maximum profit for the oil companies rather than looking out for us Americans, many, MANY of whom are struggling just to survive.

I fear it is also ‘fueled’ by the new president’s push for electric vehicles and the many new electric vehicle options available and coming available. Big Oil wants to get it’s licks in and profits up while they can. I’m sorry, but this mentality really and radically gets under my skin.

My next car WILL be electric!!!

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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The Prime Directive

One of the concepts introduced early in the Star Trek franchise was the Prime Directive.  This guiding principle prohibited the Star Fleet alliance from interfering in the social and political customs of societies on the planets they visited.  These societies were supposed to develop naturally without outside ethical and social rules imposed on them.

Of course, every Star Trek captain, beginning with Captain Kirk, violated the Prime Directive every time he (and only once, she) visited a planet that offended the captain’s notion of how things ought to be done.  At least Captain Picard debated the matter with his senior staff. 

Their discussions sounded an awful lot like debates at the European Union or the United Nations.  The EU was founded in hopes that economic integration would prevent future European wars.  The UN was founded in hopes that nations would negotiate their differences rather than going to war. From the beginning, both organizations faced Prime Directive problems. 

When Putin’s Russia repeatedly tried to murder Alexey Navalny and imprisoned him on bogus charges, should the EU and the UN have intervened?  Navalny is fighting for an end to the kleptocratic reign of Putin and the creation of a democracy that works for Russians.  Putin and his enablers argue that Navalny’s treatment is an internal matter for Russia.

When China imprisoned a million Uighers in “re-education camps” where they are tortured and used as slave labor, should Chairman XI and his minions be charged with “crimes against humanity”? China claims the Uighers are Muslim terrorists and besides, it’s an internal matter for China.  

Prime Directive arguments pop up in the U.S., too.  Our federalist system allows states broad scope to enact laws on social and political matters.  But sometimes the federal government overrules what states want to do.  Notable examples include creating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and civil rights laws that ended segregation and reduced voter suppression.  These laws were challenged by states who argued that how they treat their citizens is an internal matter.

The Prime Directive debates will flare up over the next year as each state legislature creates a new districting plan for federal and state elections.  Nearly two-thirds of state legislatures are controlled by the Republican Party. In states like Tennessee, the Republican Party has a super majority. 

Already, the Republican-controlled state legislatures have introduced more than 100 bills to restrict voting rights based on the bogus claims of stolen votes.  The proposed laws include purging voter rolls, eliminating early voting, severely restricting mail-in voting, making it more difficult to register to vote, and cutting the number of polling locations in areas that historically haven’t voted for Republican candidates. 

President Biden and his advisors will have many Prime Directive discussions on whether the federal government should intervene in the redistricting and voting law changes taken by state legislatures.  Expect the states to raise the same arguments as in the past. 

The Prime Directive debates could potentially become a lot uglier over the next year. A recent survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, found that 55% of grassroots Republican Party members believe it is acceptable to use violence to enforce their political vision for America.

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 Other Side of the Couch – Lessons from a Pandemic

The landscape outside my window is bound by the rectangles of the windowpanes on either side and the windowsill below and blinds above.  Just below the sill are holly bushes, still with bright red berries, a little further on is a brick border, then a grassy verge, then a sidewalk that passes in front of an old oak tree.  A large shrub whose name I do not know creates a boundary on the other side.  Farther away steps lead to another level of the condominiums.

Centered in the midst of this view is an iron post with an arm that swings out over the grass; hanging from that arm is a cylindrical bird feeder with four perches.  This object is fought over, jumped on, blown about, surrounded by so many birds – and by the occasional squirrel.

Today, a gray and frosty day, the feeder is surrounded by many house finches, red-headed and breasted or dove-colored depending on their sex.  A Carolina wren approaches, yellow breasted, then a black-capped chickadee.  Suddenly a flash of blue – an Eastern bluebird appears momentarily, then leaves, disappointed with the seeds available.  A mockingbird approaches – too large for this feeder.  I watch a squirrel make a determined assault on the feeder, climbing the pole, reaching out onto the swinging arm, then actually grasping the cylinder with all four feet – but this feeder closes with the weight of this determined rodent – no luck.  He retreats to the scattered seeds and shells beneath the feeder.

As all this unfolds outside, my Maine Coon cat sits inside the window, watching every move of every creature on the outside, tail switching and ears perked.  This is her daily entertainment – a bench is placed at the window level so she can enjoy the vista, even though she cannot reach the creatures she would like to hunt.  Sometimes a squirrel decides to climb onto the outside ledge – to his dismay as the cat strikes, the squirrel jumps, and is suddenly displaced from what appeared safe.

I too spend lots of time at this window.  My own life is also bounded by the rectangle of this window and the computer that sits to the right of it.  The computer allows me the opportunity to connect with family and with friends; it also allows me to continue my life’s work of serving those who are struggling with varieties of life crises and emotional distress.  COVID-19 has led to the compression of life into a computer screen in so many ways.

What is amazing to me is the persistence of life in the face of these limitations.  The birds keep on searching for food, the squirrels keep on trying for more, the cat keeps on doing what cats do, and so do we humans.  In the face of this life-changing year, we keep on.  We continue to live, in spite of the limitations.  For me the year of COVID-19 has been a distillation, a clearing, an intensification of all that matters most.  With so much gone, I have had time to learn what matters.  Not surprisingly, it turns out to be connection with family and friends.  While I miss the busy life of pre-COVID, full of many subscription series, I believe I will not return to that busy life.  COVID has taught me once again that it is necessary to choose between good and good.  I hope that as the year goes on and more safety returns I will remember that important lesson.

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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It’s Been a Year…

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

February, 2021!  It’s so hard to believe almost a year has passed since the pandemic changed the world forever.  A year of worry.  A year of frustration.  A year of separation from my son and other cherished friends and family.  A year watching out my window.  A year adapting.  A year waiting.  A year hoping.  A year learning. 

I still wait for my turn to be vaccinated. I still worry about getting sick. I’m still frustrated about so much lost time. I still wait for the next visit with my son. I still look out my window at the changing seasons. I’m still adapting, learning, hoping, trying to look forward.

To say I am not a patient person is REALLY an understatement. From my earliest memories I recall barreling into life at full speed, always in a hurry to get to the next thing. This past year has felt like I ran smack into a wall. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’m not complaining, per se.  I’m just reflecting. Is there a deeper lesson to be learned?  The obvious is what I hear most folks are trying to do: live in the moment, be grateful, savor a slower pace.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever.

Here’s what I’m learning: I am not a slowdown type of person. Yes, I am savoring the time I get to spend with my husband who is working from home and my son who is attending graduate school from home.  But most days I just want to get back out there, in it. While I have managed to continue my work and to stay in touch with many of my friends, I can’t help but grieve for all the lost time.  The days, weeks, months and now, a year, just marking time. I can’t shake the feeling that, at my age, there’s no time to waste. I still have plans, goals and things to get on with. Grateful?  Of course I am!  I’m also very aware of how fortunate I am to have a job, a comfortable home in which to stay safe with people I love and who love me.  Yes, life is good.

Now there seems to be, maybe, a speck of daylight at the end of this very long tunnel. And…I’m off!  Planning a fall vacation with friends. Thinking about dinners out, live music, sporting events and having people over. Every day is a roller coaster as I swing from despair to hope and back again. Read the news. Don’t read the news. By bedtime I am exhausted, that is until my head hits the pillow. Then as my body relaxes my mind revs up and I lay awake, sometimes for hours, until I can calm it down.

This year has shined a light on the differences between me and my husband. Where I am an extrovert, he is content to be alone. Where I experience life at full speed, he is happy with the slow and steady approach. While I rage against the frustration, his patience is both infuriating and a gift. And while I toss and turn all night, he sleeps soundly. All these differences, which used to drive me crazy, have now become my salvation. To know that in spite of it all, or maybe because of it, we continue on. I can depend on his patience, his ability to compartmentalize the pain and focus on what is in front of him. I am comforted by his strength and by his steady breathing at night. 

Lessons learned? My basic nature is what it always has been, and so it is for those around me. But in times of great challenge, we can lean into and on each other, for real.

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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Out With The Old, In With…

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Yes, the entire world is under siege by a deadly virus, but I still feel some degree of optimism. There’s something about Joe Biden that invites me to trust him. You may not agree, but, to me, he just seems very real. As I watched Joe giving a press briefing, I felt he spoke to the American citizens as an American citizen. No airs, no pompous attitude, nothing like his predecessor who, I felt, always came off like he thought he was a ruling monarch. It always made me nervous when he started to speak. He was just plain scary.

I was really encouraged by Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s Press Briefing on January 25th. It feels like things in this country may actually get “back to normal,” whatever normal may be these days. At least we will be heading in a positive direction:

First, as a part of this administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts, starting today, we will have an ASL — an American Sign Language — interpreter for our daily press briefings… The President is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just, and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.

She continued:

President Biden issued an executive order setting the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be able to serve.  Today’s action revokes the Presidential Memorandum of March 2013 [23], 2018, and also confirms the revocation of the Presidential Memorandum of August 25th of 2017. 

Today’s action fulfills another campaign promise.  With this EO, no one will be separated or discharged from the military or denied reenlistment on the basis of gender identity.  And for those transgender service members who were discharged or separated because of their gender identity, their cases will be reexamined. 

President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service and that America’s strength is found in its diversity.  America is stronger at home and around the world when it is inclusive.

Further:

This afternoon, the President will sign an executive order that takes an important step to support American manufacturing.  With this “Buy American” executive order, the President is already making good on his commitment to building a future that is made in America by all of America’s workers.

Here’s to a safer, more inclusive, more prosperous future for the United States of America and all that it has stood for. 

LONG MAY SHE WAVE!

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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