Monthly Archives: April 2020

Hi, my name is Frankie.


Yes, I’m Frankie and I’m going to a new home.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ll miss my foster parents and their doggie family, but I’m going to have a sister and she needs me.  We both came from bad situations, so we’re really lucky someone with a big heart, a nice home, and LOTS of treats is going to make us a family.

My new sister, Winnie, was put out of her home to roam the streets for weeks until some folks picked her up.  She has a chip (my foster folks are getting me one for my new person) so Winnie’s rescuers were able to find her owners and return her, but imagine their surprise when her people told them, “Oh, we don’t want her anymore.  That’s why we turned her out.”  They just threw her outside and wouldn’t let her back in!  Here’s what her scared little self looked like then.

Well, I actually ran away from home.  My people were very mean to me, so I started running to the next door neighbors who have all kinds of rescued pets.  They were very nice to me, but always felt like they had to send me home.  Then my “people” brought a Pit Bull home and that dog nearly ate me up.  I fought back, though, and made it to my borrowed family next door.  The vet patched me up and, there’s a bit more to it, but let’s just say, the “neighbors” didn’t let me go back to those “people.”

So, as I understand it, and I understand human speak pretty well, the neighbor’s friend has a friend who helps children like me find new and better homes.  But, guess what!  This time, she had been thinking about finding a pal for her Winnie! Poor Winnie has pretty bad separation anxiety, which is understandable, and whenever her person leaves for work and stuff, she gets real upset and frets while she’s away.  Well, Winnie and I got to meet and we got along quite well.  She even let me play with her “Squeaky,” which is pretty special I hear.  When she and Jan get back home, I’m going to live with them.  I can hardly wait!

Stay tuned for updates…




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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What’s Your Angle?

One of the most obnoxious teachers I ever had actually said something useful that I never forgot.  He told us that every writer has biases which will influence the way the story is told. He said we should always look beyond the words on the page to the motivations of the writer.

My teacher’s advice rings true today.  Our country seems to be splitting between those who watch and believe only Fox News and those who watch and believe only CNN.  Few people admit to watching both TV news channels.  The fear is that our country is splitting into two warring factions with little in common.

While it’s difficult and annoying to watch people talk past each other, it’s not a new phenomenon.  Our country has always been split between opposing viewpoints. Most towns had a local version of the Fox News and CNN split because they had two hometown newspapers.

Nashville had two hometown newspapers, The Tennessean and the Nashville Banner. The papers were owned by men who disliked each other and always took opposing sides on every hot topic of the day. Subscribing to both papers would have allowed readers to see two angles to every story, particularly the political news.  But it’s much more likely that readers subscribed to the paper that aligned with their own beliefs.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Any psychologist or anthropologist can point to countless studies showing how reluctant we are to change our views.  We tend to select friends who agree with our worldview.  We also choose either Fox News or CNN based on which channel supports our existing ideas.

We’re not going to change human nature.  That means we’re going to continue living in a country full of people who choose to listen to the news sources that support their beliefs.  The most we can do is to stop vilifying the people on the other side of the divide.

People on the other side of the divide are not stupid or vicious or uncaring.  They simply have life experiences that have taught them to believe differently.   That’s their motivation, their angle on the story.


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 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 Other Side of the Couch – Denial in the Time of Pandemic

As the corona virus pandemic enters its third month, the United States continues to struggle with a coordinated response to the situation.  A strong federal response has been hampered by misinformation, ignored information, and struggles for power.  States have been essentially left to go it alone and as a result have been caught in some cases in a bidding war with other states to secure the essential protective equipment needed by health care workers and the essential medical supplies needed by patients.

The economic impact of the shut-downs required by social distancing have had catastrophic effects on the financial well-being of millions – and so often, the people who are most affected are those who can least afford it.  Small business owners, members of the entertainment and hospitality industry, artists, actors and musicians, servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, Lyft and Uber drivers – all are suffering.

On an individual level the requirements of social distancing have created huge holes in the normal experiences of family and friends.  Internet virtual get-togethers, carport Happy Hours with neighbors at least 6 feet apart, church and synagogue services played to empty sanctuaries – all underline the radical changes forced on normal social engagement.

People are reacting to all this with a variety of activities and responses.  Some, early on in the shutdown, just seemed to ignore the reality – examples of this were seen on the beaches of Florida as teenagers partied on, ignoring the very real possibilities of infecting others with the virus.  Some became so panicked at the idea of being shut in that they began “panic buying” with the resultant shortage nationwide of toilet paper. Some immediately decided to stay at home before such an order even came down.

Something that I am seeing, and that, as a therapist, I see with a significant amount of concern, is the rush to finding the good in this pandemic.  Please don’t misunderstand – I do think that it is useful to find ways to be grateful even in the midst of turmoil and pain.  Yes, I am grateful that even though I cannot see my family, I can “see” them through technology.  Yes, I am grateful that the stores are still stocked, although not as fully as I am used to.  Yes, I am grateful for the beautiful spring and the lighter footprint on the planet that humans staying indoors has offered.

However, we human beings are often too quick to move to the good – because we are SO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH DEALING WITH LOSS, PAIN AND DEATH.  This epidemic is making us confront the reality of mortality in very direct ways.  People we know and love are at risk.   Every day we hear that more people have died.  By the time this is contained most citizens of the United States will know someone who has died as a result of this pandemic.

We don’t like to think about this.  We don’t like to face it.  We don’t like to recognize that mortality is staring us in the face.  It could be you.  It could be me.  It could be a close loved one.  We just don’t know.

What to do in the face of this?  I would say, face it.  Grieve it, be angry about it, fight with it – but don’t ignore it and move too quickly into the platitudes of gratitude.  This virus is a bear, and unless we face it and its implications head on, we will not heal from the trauma.  It seems easier to turn our heads, to look for the lemonade, to skate lightly over the painful truth.  My fear is that in so doing, we will lose the important and central lesson in this whole experience.

We are mortal.  We will die.  We do not know when or how.  Facing that truth makes living every single moment that we are given in this life a sacred time to be treasured.  May we all face this reality, because in so doing, we can transform our way of living and our relationships with one another.

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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Why is This Year Different?

traditional jewish matzo

Photo by cottonbro on

This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.  It is a well-known fact that it is also the most celebrated of all the holidays.  The observance lasts eight days during which we focus on the theme of our people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea in a hurry with little time to prepare.  The first night consists of a festive meal, or Seder, when we retell the story through questions and answers, singing, eating and drinking four cups of wine.  The point of this exercise is to both remind us that freedom is precious, and to teach the younger generations about our story.

One of the highlights of every Seder is the asking of The Four Questions.  These questions are designed to provoke discussion and thought around the significance of the holiday.  Usually asked by the youngest person at the table, the refrain is always, “Why is this night different from all other nights.”  The answers to the four questions are the heart of the rest of the Seder.  But the overarching theme is always: freedom.


Over the last couple of weeks, I admit I’ve engaged in bouts of self-pity.  I have felt afraid for myself and my family.  I have been depressed about the changes in my life.  I have been angry, too, that those in leadership who could have mitigated some of the damage, did nothing.  And I have felt sad and helpless.  These negative thoughts and feelings are foreign to me.  I am usually an optimistic person who can find fun and joy in most places.  But our current state of affairs has been really tough for me to accept.

A therapist would probably say I’m moving through the stages of grief, and that’s likely the case.  I know from grief.  My people know from grief.  Generation after generation of Jewish people have been chased around the globe, experiencing plagues, famine, Holocaust and antisemitism.  And we are not alone in this.  Other cultures and peoples have faced similar obstacles and discrimination.  I can’t speak for the others, but I can speak for myself and my people.  The one thing we do to defend ourselves against the darkness is to survive.  We survive by carrying on our traditions.  We survive by being joyful.  We survive by telling the stories.  We survive by holding tight to each other, even if it is only in memory.

Most years we host a large group of friends and family to join our Seder.  I spend weeks planning and preparing the ritual foods and the traditional festive delicacies.  This year, obviously, the usual crowd will not be joining us live in our home.  It was with a heavy heart that a couple of weeks ago I emailed everyone to cancel.  And it was at that point that I really felt the enormity of what we are dealing with today.  I was also able to relate to the story of my ancestors and the challenges they faced.  Personally, my world has become pretty small and my life has slowed to a pace way out of my comfort zone.  But we will have our Seder.  We will include my son in California via Zoom.  I will make my chicken soup the way my mother taught me.  My husband, who will now be home, will make the brisket.  We will drink four cups of wine (really, the best part).  And, we will retell the story of our exodus and our journey to freedom.

The final prayer of the Seder meal is one in which we express our hope that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem.  For me, the meaning is not to literally be in Jerusalem, although that would be amazing.  I think of Jerusalem as my spiritual home, the place where I can feel free to express my faith and tradition.  But my actual home, here in Nashville, is also a place where I can feel free to be myself and to enjoy life with my family and friends.  So, this year when we say the prayer, I will be thinking ahead to next Passover, when I can once again open my home and share the story of our survival and freedom with 30 of our nearest and dearest.  In the meantime, stay healthy, stay home and wash your hands.  xo


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current 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 .

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