Monthly Archives: February 2018

You May Not Agree, But I Hope You Do

I’ll apologize just in case, but the way I see it; Violence begets violence.  If we begin arming our teachers, I believe we are escalating into an outright war.  School children are already afraid to go to school.  Parents are afraid to send them.  So is adding more guns to the mix really the answer?  And with a teacher shortage in existence already, who will want to join that noble profession aware that they will need to be “packing” to stay safe?  There has to be a better way.

We are also begging to lose students due to mistakes by gun-toting staff.  A teacher in north-western Pakistan was cleaning his pistol in the staff room when it fired a bullet by accident, hitting a student passing through the hall.  This incident occurred just months after school staff were given permission to carry guns, according to police there.  The idea seemed necessary because militants had been invading the schools, but the student died on the spot.

We’re talking about education here.  WHY are so many of our young people feeling so violent?  Are they in such pain that they have lost all connection to life and what it means to take one, or many?  How can we help them?  Can we replenish their souls so that they can appreciate life?

I don’t have the answers, but more guns in the schools?  I hope you agree.  There has to be a better way.

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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Road Rage in the Age of Victimhood

Recently I was involved in a road rage incident while on my way home. It all began, as so often happens, with a passive aggressive driver who would speed up every time someone tried to pass him. Eventually he was stuck behind a plumber’s truck and a line of vehicles blew by him of which I was driving the last.

Apparently the driver was so enraged that he followed me into a nearby grocery store. If I had known a nut was chasing me I would have swung by the local police precinct instead. I became aware of him when he tried to block me against a deli case so that he could spew a stream of profanity-laced filth, wrapping up by calling me a fat c—t and a lesbian. (Why is it that inadequate frustrated men always call women lesbians?)

I have lots of friends in the gay community so being called a lesbian isn’t particularly insulting. I’ve also been called many vulgar names while doing collections work and I worked a factory job long ago where I learned to out-cuss a drunken sailor. This guy was a comparative amateur. I couldn’t help myself. I smiled; almost laughed.

That set him off again and he followed me for several minutes through the store spewing comments about my putative lesbian love life.  He didn’t scare me at the time. There were plenty of people around and it was obvious that the tubby little man wasn’t going to get physically violent. When I left the store, he didn’t follow me.

Later I couldn’t help thinking about the guy. In my experience, that kind of rage boils up from months, even years of frustrated ambitions and blighted expectations. In other words, the guy felt like a victim and he needed a target for his victimhood.

We live in an era of victimhood.  There are economic victims of globalization, job automation, and the financial industry meltdown caused by blatant greed of the global elite. There are racial victims, ethnic victims, sexual harassment victims, and religious intolerance victims.  All victims have suffered a grievance based on a valid and real injustice.

But populist politicians who lack any sense of morality and decency are cynically exploiting the sense of victimhood by promising that the perpetrators will pay.  The perpetrators are some hazy “other” group that is racially, ethnically, and religiously different from the victim.  For an alarmingly large number of men, who feel their status has comparatively dropped, the perpetrators are females.

Populist politicians use inflammatory language that encourages their audience to take action against the alleged perpetrators.  We’ve seen it in the rise of hate crimes.  It also might explain why an angry, chubby, balding man followed a woman into a grocery store to spew hate.  That’s when I started feeling scared. Thank God he didn’t have a gun.


About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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The Other Side of the Couch – The Gift of Waiting

Another month has passed – and we are still not back in our home after the twin disasters of mold in a wall (due to failure of roof flashings) and damaged hardwood floors (due to a water heater failure). Living in a hotel and eating most meals out is not glamorous in any way – and it is just not home.

What is taking so long? I wish I knew. In part it is due to timing (over the holidays), the weather (Arctic air mass that stopped work of any kind), Nashville’s booming construction industry (which makes finding contractors for relatively small jobs a challenge). However, in large part it is due to several entities having to sign off on what needs to be done and how much it will cost. These include the homeowner’s insurance agent and the adjuster, the moisture mitigation company, the contractors and their schedules, and the HOA (Homeowners Association). Throw into that mix the need for movers and packers (all the furniture has to come off of the damaged floors) – a lot of cooks are stirring this broth!

We wait with what patience we can muster. I am very clear that fretting and worrying will do nothing other than make my life harder and will do nothing to change the outcome of this process. I am trying to cultivate the practice of living in the present.

As I experience this time of waiting, I am aware of other times of waiting. I remember my father saying things like, “I can’t wait until she is old enough to…” – whatever the next milestone might have been. He had a hard time enjoying what was due to his anticipation of what would be. I remember waiting to graduate from high school, waiting to start a career, waiting to find a romantic partner, waiting for a child to be born. I am not sure that I waited with patience, nor am I sure that I ever had the wisdom to cultivate the practice of living in the present.

My guess is that I have missed a lot. This time of waiting has lessons that I need to learn. So I look around and am grateful for time spent with my daughter, who is awaiting her first child. I am grateful for the warmth of a space heater next to my feet as another round of Arctic air descends on Nashville. I am grateful for a new down coat that arrived just in time for the coldest days of winter. I am grateful that I am alive, here in this world, with eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind that works.

In the grand scheme of things problems with water heaters and walls are small compared to the grace of being alive in a world full of beauty and brokenness.
Perhaps you have worries that are fretting you. Perhaps you are spending too much time in the land of the future (the land of What If) or the past (the land of If Only) and not enough time in the land of Right Now. Let yourself enjoy it if possible or mourn it if necessary – but above all, be in it. It is all we really have.

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

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The Big 6-0 And Other Surprises  


No, it’s not me turning 60 (though that will come soon enough), it was my husband who just hit this milestone birthday. And as is his way, he had no idea how to celebrate or commemorate the occasion. After some thought he finally decided he’d like to just go out with me to a fabulous steak dinner. Nothing else. No parties, no fancy gifts, no trips, nothing. I think this had more to do with his ambivalence toward the birthday than anything else. And I see his point. Sixty sounds considerably older than 59 or anything that came before. It sounds, dare I say it, like middle age is finally in the past. But I am a big believer that age is a state of mind, and that aging is a subtle process that transcends the calendar. And I really wanted my love to be able to celebrate the man he has become and to look forward rather than backward. And so began the plans for…THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE.

I have known my husband through 42 birthdays. You read that right. The first birthday we celebrated was his 18th, during our freshman year of college. I have attempted to surprise him many times and always, always, he has figured it out. This time, I concocted what I believed to be the perfect birthday surprise. I worked with our three adult children to bring them all home for a weekend to celebrate him. Three cross country flights, three different cities, three jobs. It seems straightforward and yet there were challenges.

I managed to coordinate the flights so two arrived around the same time, one a bit earlier. I signed us up for dinner and a speaker at our synagogue in order to get us out of the house on the appointed night of arrival. I told very, very, very few people about my plan. I lied my way through questions about the weekend, including coming up with fake plans. And, last week my brother decided to come for an overlapping visit, which turned out to be a great red herring. At the last minute my son set off our home security alarm resulting in a panicked phone call and more lies from me about the porch door blowing open and our neighbor coming to the rescue. Finally we were on our way home. After we parked the car in the garage, I blew past my husband up the stairs. The house was dark. The kids were sitting silently on the sofa. My husband followed me into the house, let the dog out, and when he turned around on went the lights. The look on his face was priceless! He was truly stunned. The kids gathered him into a group hug singing Happy Birthday. We did it!

The rest of the weekend passed with lots of catching up, laughter and of course, food. It was magical and I believe my husband was actually surprised. It was a quick trip, but one I know we’ll all remember. Monday morning the first thing my husband did was thank me. He said that even though he’s used to the kids not being here, he realized how much he misses them and how happy he is when he’s with them. He felt grateful they would drop their lives to come for his birthday. This man has made endless sacrifices of time and energy; he is the rock of our family. Our children know they are the lucky ones. They know they are loved unconditionally and valued beyond measure by their father. To them, it was an honor and a privilege to be able to come celebrate. Every single one thanked me for bringing them home. And I can add my gratitude to theirs. I am grateful for the 42 birthdays we’ve spent together; I look forward to many more. And I still can’t believe we pulled off the surprise of a lifetime.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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