Monthly Archives: November 2018

Feeling Thankful Amid the Chaos

Two days from now, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.  At first glance there seems little to be thankful for given the chaos in our society.

The working poor in America face daily hunger because their wages are not sufficient to cover rent, utility bills and food but they make “too much” money to qualify for public assistance. Not surprisingly, a rising number of people believe capitalism is a failed economic system that benefits only insiders, according to a recent survey in The Economist magazine. The most anti-capitalist are young people just entering the workforce.

Our recent mid-term election has brought the threat of more chaos. The prospect of Democratic control of the House of Representatives has caused our president to unleash shrill tweets filled with paranoiac fear and conspiracy theories about how everyone is out to get him.

On November 13th, the FBI released their annual report on hate crimes showing a 17% increase from 2016 to 2017.  The most common hate crimes are based on race, ethnicity or ancestry. The second most common category is religion, closely followed by sexual orientation. These statistics are borne out by recent mass shootings against religious and ethnic minorities.

Last week the National Rifle Association sued Washington State to block a new law that bans the sale of fully automatic weapons to anyone under the age of 21.  The NRA apparently believes an 18-year-old kid should be allowed to buy a weapon that can kills dozens of people in minutes even if that same kid can’t buy his own beer for another three years.

All of these headlines left me feeling deeply depressed and wondering why I should feel thankful on Thursday.  But then I took a closer look.

Social engagement has increased with hundreds of groups trying to solve problems ranging from climate change to eradicating hunger to opposing intolerance.  Younger people are more relaxed by racial integration and sexual orientation.  White supremacists and other haters are a tiny percentage of the population who cannot win their battle against demographics and decency.

Political engagement has also increased as voters actually showed up to vote and mostly rejected the nuts of the left and the right.  Most importantly, young voters showed up at the polls in large numbers for the first time, having finally recognized that marches aren’t enough; voting is what counts in a democracy.

I see many dark days ahead as our society struggles to adapt to gut-wrenching economic, political and social changes. But amid the chaos, I am thankful this year because I also see signs of hope for our future.


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 ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my new history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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The Gift


As I write this column this morning, I am waiting.  I spent a good part of the last hour WAITING in a huge traffic backup caused by an accident.  I spent time yesterday WAITING for a client who failed to keep her appointment.  I spent time last night WAITING for the tornado-warning all-clear so that I could feel safe about going to bed.  Today, November 6, 2018, I am spending time in WAITING for the outcomes of this milestone midterm election, outcomes that will determine a significant path for the United States.

I am struck as I think about these experiences by the phrase “spending time”.  On an existential level each second of our lives moves us closer to the inevitable end of living.  When we reach that moment, if we are given the opportunity, how will we look back at the time we have spent on this earth?  How will we regard the choices we made?  Will we celebrate or will we have regrets?

We all spend time in lines or in situations that are not of our own making.  We try to minimize the time spent in slow grocery lines, in traffic, in retail stores. We try to rush things up, sometimes to little effect.  I often experience another driver zooming by me in a rush to get ahead, only to find that same driver next to or behind me as the traffic sorts itself out.  Little is gained, and much is lost (gas usage increases, and emotional energy is expended).  Allowing one’s self to respond with frustration or even rage to these situations serves little purpose.  If you look back at your life and find that you spent time focusing on frustration at situations over which you had no control, you may be in for a lot of regret.

We also spend time in situations in which we do have some possible impact.  While I am waiting with some significant degree of angst for this Election Day to end and for the results to be counted, I also know that I did everything that I could do to affect the outcome.  I voted.  I wrote letters to potential voters.  I contributed dollars to the candidates and party of my choice.  I talked to friends about the importance of involvement.  I encouraged others to take a stand.  While I will be tremendously disappointed and concerned if my party of choice does not make strides, I will know that I did what I could do.  I may not celebrate, but I will not have personal regrets as to my participation.  I did not WAIT to get involved.

We wait for something to happen, for an event to take place, for a change to occur.  The experience of waiting is often difficult.  We humans are impatient creatures, for the most part, and we want things to happen on our time schedule.  The eternal cry of the young traveler – “Are we there yet?” – resonates through the lives of human creatures.  We are always wanting to be “there”.  We want to skip over the waiting and get somewhere.

We can wait with patience, or we can wait with anxiety.  We can fill the time of waiting with fretting about how we are not “yet there”, or we can focus on what is happening in this time of waiting.  Perhaps in the midst of the traffic jam there is glimpse of a sunrise that would not have been seen had I not been sitting still.  Perhaps time to complete a project became available through the gift of an unexpected hour.  Perhaps waiting for the all-clear gave me time to read a few chapters of that book I want to finish.

Time is a gift, not a certainty.  Use it wisely.

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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Your vote your vioce

These past couple of weeks have been hard.  Attending the local vigil for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass murder, watching others on TV, reading the many stories of the victims and their families and talking about this horror with my friends have left me drained.  I am aware that my people has lived through this time before.  In fact, it seems to be our recurring theme.  But rather than relive the past right now in this column, I’d like to offer something else that has been repeated these last several days.  That is the notion that we, meaning the American people, have an opportunity right now, to make our voices heard.  We have the power of the vote to express our dissatisfaction and unhappiness, or for some, our satisfaction with the status quo.  The thing that gives me hope is that in our country, regardless of any administration, we have a peaceful outlet for expressing ourselves.  I, for one, have already exercised my right and voted early.  If you have as well, great.  If you have not, this is what I now implore you: VOTE dammit!  Today is Election Day!  Now is your chance.  Vote as if your life depends on it because it just might.  See y’all on the other side.

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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