Monthly Archives: August 2020

I See Miracles

That was the title of a presentation I shared several years ago with the incredible women of the Breakfast Club of Nashville.  I am not a prolific writer and am often stymied to find inspiration as to what to write for my HerSavvy post.  I certainly wanted to stay away from politics…  That’s why I am often late posting my submission and I’m late again.  Yesterday, however, I was blessed with great inspiration.

My presentation to the club was about my practice of CranioSacral Therapy.  As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I have been practicing this very special form of healing bodywork for almost 20 years.  A very light touch form of work, CST, addressing the cerebrospinal fluid, reaches into the body and can help release deep seated discomfort (aka “pain”) resulting from physical injury, emotional injury or a combination of the two.

We don’t always realize that an accident causing physical injury can, and I believe, usually does result in an emotional component as well.  CST can restore balance to the body and two of my clients yesterday experienced radical changes in their bodies as the result of this kind of release.  Each described what was, in their words, a life changing breakthrough.  What a wonder!!!  This didn’t happen over night, of course.  But in a remarkably short period of time, we, I say WE, made an amazing difference in each of their lives.

Over the years, I have witnessed so many of these miracles, more than I can count.  I am just the messenger and I am blessed.

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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Blurred Vision

Today we’re in the middle of the biggest culture war since the 1960’s. As with every culture war in American history, it’s a fight to shape the future.  Will everyone have a seat at the table regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and gender? Or will some people be more equal than others, to paraphrase George Orwell?

Since no one can see the future, most of us look to the past.  The past is usually interpreted nostalgically as we think about the good things that have happened.  But nostalgia is also a trap.  The past was never as idyllic as our rose colored glasses make it seem.

People of color, whether black, Hispanic, or American Indian, were enslaved by Europeans from the conquistadors to the old South. Then they were airbrushed out of the history books. Women were also airbrushed out of history.  They existed only as a wife, a mother, or a daughter; never as an adult person with an individual identity.

The blurred vision of nostalgia is easy to demonstrate.  Lots of people like to dress up in antebellum clothes and Confederate uniforms and imagine living at Tara.  Not one of them wants to put on rags and live in a cabin on slave row.   Lots of people have a dream-catcher dangling from the rear view mirror of their vehicle. Not one of them wants to be a child torn from their family and sent to an Indian school to be starved and beaten into forced assimilation.

Rather than distorting our vision with nostalgia, we should recognize that times change.  We’ve all learned to use computers and video conferencing.  Our parents and grandparents have too. The current pandemic is made bearable for many of us because we can buy everything we need over the internet and have it delivered to our doorstep.  Yet each new technological change caused fear until we learned to adapt to the change.

Rather than fighting the changes and trying to recreate a false past, we should embrace the fact that our culture has already changed. The proof of our new culture is in our food choices.  From soul food to sushi, tacos to corned beef, fry bread to matzos, and tapas to injera, Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities and gender are already seated at the table. That’s a brilliant future.

 

Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers.

She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com).  She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com.   In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.

Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons.

She may be contacted at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Holding On to Hope

A friend of mine just re-posted a handwritten note on Facebook that listed many things to do during the social isolation imposed by the pandemic to maintain “Isolation Well-being”.  Jonathan H. Jones’ post has apparently received thousands of shares.  The suggestions are simple, the activities easily available.  Whether you are weathering the pandemic alone or living in a home with others, all these activities feed the body, the mind, and the soul.

And yet – what is it about being human that, even in the face of KNOWING that such activities would be helpful, stops us in our tracks and puts barriers in our way.  I know that drinking water is good for my body – yet do I do so in an intentional way?  I know that reaching out to others improves my own emotional outlook – yet do I consistently do so? Too often we depend on being in the mood or on wanting to do these things – and will power runs out after a while.

The key words here are intentionality and consistency.  Most of us will do some good self-care every now and then, but few of us are find it easy to stay with that self-care over time.  We run out of gas; we run out of energy; we run out of self-discipline – we run out of whatever the wherewithal is to just keep on going.

This is especially true when there is no end in sight.  We are living now in a time without markers.  We do not have any clear expectation of what is ahead; we do not have a timeline; we do not know when or even if there will be a way to return to familiar life.  And this new life is getting OLD!

I do not have any easy answers.  I am tired of being inside and of not having plays and concerts and of not having church services and of not being able to sing even if there were a church service and of not being able to go out to dinner and of not being able to see friends unless we are on a Zoom call.  Tonight, I just want to bemoan my fate and have a bit of self-pity…

And yet…even as I complain and feel the sadness and loss of these familiar joys, I am remembering that all is NOT lost.  If I am alive and have breath in my body, I have hope for another day.  Each new day is another day of possibility, another day of doing things that I know are good for me and for my community.  I may not do all those things on that list.  I may not do any of them perfectly or consistently.   I may complain and feel the sadness.  And yet – no matter what, I will celebrate that new day, and be grateful for the breath in my body, for eyes that see and ears that hear, and for the renewal each day brings – because in the end, I am alive to live it.  And that, to me, is hope enough.

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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My Whole30 Journey

person holding green vegetables

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Okay, I’m going to really open up here, so get ready. This past month my family and I have been participating in the Whole30 dietary reset plan. I don’t usually do diets because after a childhood filled with dieting, I don’t really believe in them, but I did some research and this program seems different. The idea is for 30 days to eliminate the most common food groups known to cause inflammation, digestive issues, headaches, allergies, etc. What remains is a core diet of protein, healthy fats (yay avocadoes!), vegetables and fruit. It is very restrictive, but is not intended to be a long term, sustainable way of eating. After the 30 days, the eliminated foods are reintroduced, slowly, to determine what, if any, reactions might occur. Knowing how your body reacts with certain foods helps you to make good decisions about what to eat and when. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, yes…and no.

I started this plan at the suggestion of my strength trainer. I’ve always suspected I have some food sensitivities and during the recent quarantine, my habits have become, shall we say, sloppy? When I mentioned it to my husband, he decided to try the plan, too, and so did my son and daughter. I’m not sure how they have all processed the program, or what they’ve learned, but for me it’s been fairly eye opening. Once I recovered from the detox of sugar, alcohol, grains, glutens, etc., I was able to reflect on other issues. How do I feel before and after I eat? How do I feel during meals? Lots of thoughts bubbled to the surface and some painful memories.

As a child I was fairly average size; definitely not a skinny kid, could be described at times as a tad chubby. One year at my annual checkup, the pediatrician gave my mother a 1200-1400 calorie a day diet for me to follow to lose weight. I must have been somewhere between eight and ten, maybe could have lost a few pounds, but overall not terribly heavy. But I followed the diet. Deprived of sweets, small portions, limited bread. I don’t remember the results, but I’m sure it worked to a point. Then there was the Weight Watcher experience, which I did with my mom who was also overweight. And sometime later, as I got closer to puberty, the doctor prescribed diet pills. Diet pills!!!! For a pre-teen girl!!!!! By the time I was 13, I’d slimmed down, like most of the other girls. But those diet and body image messages have stayed with me all these years. I had an ulcer when I was 14 and spent two weeks in a hospital for tests when I was 16 because I was experiencing chronic stomach aches. The result: “spastic colon,” which is basically saying I was a typical, anxious, teen who felt everything in the gut.

I am fully aware that my parents and my pediatrician made what they believed were decisions in my best interest. And I am also aware that I’m not alone in this experience. My younger sister, who was not placed on a diet, most likely observed my experience and has struggled with body image and eating issues. She recently confessed to me that she is terrified of being fat. Most of my women friends of a “certain age,” if they’re being honest, likely have a similar story to tell. The media during the 60s and 70s was filled with images of skinny, Twiggy-like models. Actresses were required to be skinny. The whole notion of the female form was objectified, sexualized, demeaned. The idea was to become as small as possible, for what???? To disappear? To not realize our full potential as people, regardless of our looks? To appease the insecurities of the male dominated culture? Okay, okay, I need to calm down.

I have had anxiety about food and my body my whole life. I am about to turn 62-years-old this week and I still feel burdened by a childhood that, while happy and privileged, left me loathing my own body. I have been pregnant and given birth to three babies, breastfed them for a total of three years of my life. I have danced on stage, run 5k races, hiked, swam, lifted weights, practiced Pilates, carried my children in my arms, carried groceries into my house and helped carry my mother when she was ill. I am a freakin’ miracle! And yet, when I sit down to eat a meal, I get a stomachache. At a restaurant I am paralyzed by indecision. Do I order what looks good, or what is healthiest? What actually is the healthiest? How will I feel after I eat? Even at home where I do most of the cooking, I am insecure about what I, myself, should be eating. I spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I am envious that my husband can go merrily through life eating whatever he wants and if he puts on a few pounds, oh well, he’ll just take them off again. For him, eating is just another thing he has to do. And while his body has aged and changed through the years, eh, who cares? He has most of his hair, he wears the same size pants and looks pretty great! Why can’t I feel like that????

So, where do I go from here? I’m not sure. Over the last few weeks I have experienced what it is like to eat without pain. I have learned how to determine if I am really hungry for a snack, and if so, what is something that will fuel my body. I have worked hard to analyze how food makes me feel. I still have a lot of work to do. I’m scared to reintroduce the foods I’ve eliminated because I don’t want to once again experience pain when I eat. But, that’s the next step in this experiment. I don’t want to continue to be afraid of food. Afraid to get fat. Afraid of pain. I don’t want to feel shame because I didn’t make a, “good,” choice. I want to truly enjoy food and eating for what it is: nourishment for this miracle of a body. I want to go through my day without worrying about meals and how I will feel. I want to continue to prepare healthy, enjoyable meals for myself and my family. I want to be grateful for the body I live in and the good health I enjoy. I want this next ride around the sun to bring me freedom from the fear of food, peace with my body and most of all, continuing good health.

Let’s touch base next year and see how it goes. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, wear a mask and wash your hands!

 

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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