Monthly Archives: October 2020

And The Word of the Day Is…

These are trying times.  We all know this.  And the fear of the devastating illness the world is dealing with is just part of it, albeit a huge part, of course.  But the isolation so many face daily can be even more overwhelming and I believe COMPASSION needs to be the word of the day – every day. 

I am so fortunate.  I’m not isolated at all, and I am certain that helps me find it easy to be compassionate with the people I meet every day everywhere.  I am an “essential worker.”  While I’m not a doctor or nurse, not a first responder, my colleagues and I are absolutely on the front lines.  We meet the public each day at a very popular national chain of “corner markets” and most, if not all, of us believe that compassion is first on the list of our responsibilities.  This has always been my nature, so what a career for me to have at this point in my life.

When people come to the store, the first thing they see is a line of people outside standing six feet apart.  “Oh, no!” is their first thought.  We know this because they tell us later.  But the line moves quickly and they enter the store.  You can see the stress on their faces as they begin to shop.  We’re all quite busy stocking, straightening, rushing back and forth, moving in and out of the back room, but NEVER too busy to stop and chat.  Then there’s that “I wonder where this is” look.  My favorite approach is, “What can’t you find?”  Ah, a smile.  This leads to a bit of conversation and the rest, well…

Finally, checking out at the register is not just cha-chinging.  We talk about family, what they’ve been doing.  Have they been able to work?  So many work from home now, of course, that this is literally the highlight of their week.  I ask them and they tell me honestly that it actually is!  Just the other day I had a customer who hadn’t been out shopping since March.  March!  You can imagine what her total bill was, and we had a great conversation.  Flowers for a birthday or anniversary.  Candy for travel.  I just love making people’s day a bit brighter.  I carry it with me wherever I go.  You know, people can see you’re smiling – even with your mask on.  It’s in your eyes.

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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Voting Early

Early voting is in full swing. I always try to vote early because I can show up at a time convenient to my schedule and there is usually no waiting.  But this year is different.  For the first time ever, early voting was as busy as a typical Election Day crowd.

When I drove to the public library on the afternoon of the second day of early voting I couldn’t find a parking space. The line wrapped around the building. I gave up and went home.  The next day I showed up at 7:30 am and was happy to find a parking space next door. Then I stood in a line that snaked around the library parking lot waiting for the 8 am opening. 

Voters ranged in age from 18 to 80.  Several neighbors in the line told me that they were willing to wait all day for their chance to vote.  When word spread of a first time voter, everyone in line cheered them on.   I finally voted around 9:10 am.    It was absolutely amazing.   

This year we will probably see record-breaking voter turnouts in every state. The good news is that people are motivated to have a say in the outcome of the election.  The bad news is that they are motived because our society is so polarized that many people see this election as an existential threat to their existence. (If my candidate doesn’t win, the world will end!) 

I suspect that is how voters felt in the past when there was a major political realignment of voters.  Major political realignments happen when demographic changes or political grievances motivate normally uninterested voters. 

The 1876 presidential election was so contentious, it still reverberates.  Samuel J. Tilden received 185 electoral votes, Rutherford B. Hayes received 165 votes, and 20 electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina were disputed.  In a thoroughly disreputable political deal, Hayes was declared the winner in exchange for an end to Reconstruction in the south. 

The south repudiated the Republican Party which had imposed Reconstruction and created the Jim Crow laws that suppressed black voters until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included the Voting Rights Act.  The 1964 law moved the entire south back to the Republican Party until this year.

This year demographic changes are reshaping the electoral landscape.  A tenth of the eligible voters are from Generation Z (18 – 23 years old) and a third of all voters are non-white, mostly Hispanic. The Baby Boomers are a shrinking voter bloc.   Although it is too soon to call, the early voting turnout may be a harbinger of a major political realignment.

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 – Making an Ofrenda

Autumn has arrived. As I look out the window I see leaves scattered across the yard, berries turned bright red on the shrubs just below the sill, and squirrels busily chasing whatever they can store up for the cold to come. The angle of the sun is different now, and brilliant as it is, still plays hide and seek with wind and clouds. The humidity of summer is over, and a little crisp bite of a breeze sends the leaves scurrying.
Autumn has always been to me a bittersweet time – a time of laying to rest, of putting by, of acknowledging endings. The time of harvest has arrived, and the time to sweep the fields of plantings, prepare them for the rest of winter, has arrived. No wonder then that in this time of planetary transition, I am drawn into remembering.
The Disney movie “Coco”, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this small gem of an animated film, focuses on the story of a young boy who finds himself catapulted into the land of the dead. Based on the Mexican tradition of the “El Dia de los Muertos” – the Day of the Dead (celebrated in Mexican culture on November 1) – he finds himself as a living boy searching for someone he remembers. This causes consternation in the Land of the Dead, as a living boy is NOT supposed to be there! After a number of snafus all works out, and he finds the family he was meant to find. A message of the film is the importance of remembering and honoring those who have gone before us.
I was touched by my daughter’s request for family pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents so that she could make an “ofrenda”, as is done in the movie, to remember those dear people and to teach her young daughter about them. What a lovely idea! And so I began to search and to remember.
In the process of finding and sharing these pictures I was drawn into the joy of thinking about and remembering these loved family members – remembering not only their faces, but also their beings – the things they enjoyed, the times we spent together. Little moments returned – shopping with my mother; making boiled custard with my grandmother – so many precious moments.
In our Western culture this concept of celebrating the dead may seem morbid to some – but I am seeing it as a lovely and gentle way to both grieve and honor those who live on in our hearts. So thank you to my daughter for this opportunity – and welcome to Autumn, that time of bittersweet Remembering.

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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Be the Change

Okay, I did the one thing that, as a professional journalist, I swear never to do: I missed my deadline.  Yep, my day to post on this blog is the first Tuesday of each month.  I have almost never missed, but this week, I just can’t remember what day it is.  And while for the average reader it is surely not a major issue, for me it represents just how disoriented I am these days.  I’ve written about it before, but as the season is changing again, I am reminded of just how long we have all been dealing with the current pandemic.  The light through my window is different, the air feels crisper and when I run the few errands I must these days, the décor is focused on Thanksgiving and even Christmas!  How is that even happening again? 

There are other events that have served to keep me off kilter, as well.  The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, has triggered so many memories of my own mother.  The two women were born just a year apart.  Like RBG, my mother wanted to become a lawyer.  But while Ruth was cheered on by her parents and later, her husband, breaking down the barriers in her path, my mom was discouraged from following that path.  My grandfather, himself a judge and state legislator, felt the law would be a difficult profession for a woman of that time.  He wanted to protect my mother from the mistreatment he knew would come her way.  “Be a teacher,” he told her, “That’s a good profession for a nice Jewish girl.”  And so it was. 

My mother was a brilliant person and a gifted teacher.  She was a devoted wife and as a mother, well, there are no words to describe the depth and breadth of her love for her children.  And yet, I have always wondered if she didn’t harbor some regret about the path not taken.  In fact, one of her favorite poems was Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.”  She used to recite it to me, write it in birthday cards and reference it often.  When I would ask if she wished for some other life, some other story, her answer was always the same.  She was happy in her choice and dedicated to using her abilities to better her family and our community.  And she did amazing, wonderful things. She inspired not only her children at home, but countless children in her third grade classroom. 

Perhaps the question I should be considering is not whether she had regret, but rather whether she was fulfilled.  And whether fulfillment is not tied to any one thing but is a feeling that comes from satisfying one’s inner sense of purpose.  I believe my mother was wholly herself regardless of the task at hand or the job title.  She never wavered from living her values and sharing them with the world around her.  And while she didn’t change the world in big, revolutionary ways, she changed those in her sphere by being herself.

There is a famous quote, often attributed to Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  That was my mother. 

Oh, and make sure to wash your hands, wear a mask and VOTE!!!

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 .

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