Monthly Archives: March 2021


Today I received my covid-19 vaccination as part of the mass vaccination event at the Titans Stadium.   During an approximately 12-hour period on March 20th, Metro Nashville scheduled 10,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine.  I was thrilled to be one of the lucky 10,000 with an appointment.

I was more nervous about a potential traffic jam getting into the site than getting the vaccine. But when I arrived around 1:00 pm, there were no delays. Only one point of entry was open into the vaccination site.  Cars wended their way between traffic cones back and forth across the parking lot on their way to the tents where the vaccinations were administered. It was like playing bumper cars without the bumping.

National Guardsmen and volunteers directed cars around the corners and through the traffic cones. A live band entertained us as we crept along.  A short 10 – 15 minute slalom through the traffic cones brought me to a point where I was directed into a line to approach one of the tents. 

After completing a consent form, it was my turn.  I handed over the clipboard with the consent form, got a quick jab and a postcard-sized certificate saying I’d been vaccinated.  From there I drove to the recovery area.  After a 15-minute wait for adverse side effects, I was able to leave.

The exit point was the only poorly designed part of the entire process. Cars from all the recovery areas tried to simultaneously enter Interstate Drive heading for the Shelby Avenue traffic light.  Most of the cars tried to squeeze into the lane accessing the I-24 entrance ramp.  But even with these delays, the whole process took about 45 minutes from the time I arrived.  

Kudos to the engineer who designed the traffic cone system for moving so many cars through the site. Kudos also to the volunteers, Guardsmen, and police officers who made the whole process work.  This mass vaccination event moves us closer to the tipping point of immunization when Nashville can return to normal (whatever the new normal looks like).

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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I watched “Audrey,” on Netflix last night and was so impressed and inspired, I decided to skip my original topic and share this one with you all.  Perhaps you’ve seen it, a biography of Audrey Hepburn.  Perhaps you already know her story.  I’ve always loved her and her characters.  Who doesn’t?  I just never knew HER story; Where she came from and how she became the powerful force she was; dancer, actor, philanthropist, and that she really became an actress by accident.   

Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born on Мау 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Belgium. She adорtеd thе pseudonym Edda van Heemstra іn 1940 tо evade capture bу thе Germans because аn “English sounding” nаmе wаs considered dangerous durіng thе German occupation. 

During World War II, when she was just a little girl, the Nazi’s over took Audrey’s town in Holland and thousands died, including some of Audrey’s relatives. Food was very scarce, and, in fact, just to survive, Audrey and her family would grind tulip bulbs to eat and attempt to bake grass into bread. This led to her being extremely malnourished and left her with complications later in her life; Undernourishment, acute anemia, and respiratory problems during the war, contributed to her lifelong waif-like figure.

Audrey wanted to be a prima ballerina. She began training at the early age of 5 for many years to fulfill this desire. Unfortunately, at 5 feet 7 inches, she was too tall, and after being so malnourished when her town was occupied during the war, she often fell ill and could not continue training. She is quoted saying, “…there is probably nothing in the world as determined as a child with a dream and I wanted to dance more than I feared the Germans.” 

Audrey worked for the Dutch Resistance and would carry secret messages in her ballet slippers. Anyone suspected of being a part of the resistance, was rounded up and killed. Once, she was suspect and rounded up by truck. She barely escaped when the Nazis pulled over to the side of the road and she crawled under the truck and out the other side.  As an agent for the Dutch Resistance, she performed in a series of secret ballets to help raise money for the rebels – after the shows, no one would applaud so as not to alert the German Soldiers. These performances would be called “black performances” to raise money for the rebels and their underground war against Hitler. 

At 16, Audrey was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital. During the battle of Arnhem, Hepburn’s hospital received many wounded Allied soldiers. One of the wounded soldiers Audrey helped nurse back to health was a young British paratrooper. Little did she know, the young man would be a future director named Terence Young and within 20 years would later direct her in Wait Until Dark.

Having suffered several miscarriages during her various marriages, but always wanting a family, Audrey was blessed with two sons.  She took a hiatus from her career to spend time with them and was away from acting for many years.  Her childhood traumas and malnourishment, not to mention her three-pack-a-day smoking habit, contributed to her death at just 64 years old in 1993.

From “Our Fair Lady” at,

OUR MOST RECENT IMAGES OF HER CAME OUT OF AFRICA where, as a shirtsleeved ambassador for UNICEF, she walked in a ravaged Somalia, giving solace with that radiant smile—and focusing the world’s attention on a starving land. Last September she asked to be taken to the famine’s epicenter, a feeding camp in the town of Baidoa. As she arrived, she saw hundreds of small lifeless bodies being loaded onto trucks. The worst of it, she would later say, eyes welling with tears, was “the terrible silence.”

Audrey donated аll thе salaries shе earned fоr hеr final movies tо UNICEF. She hаd contributed tо UNICEF sіnсе 1954 and wаs appointed Goodwill Ambassador оf UNICEF іn 1988. UNICEF was the foundation that actually helped thousands like Audrey during WWII and she is quoted saying, “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.  I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.”

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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About Jan Schim

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The Other Side of the Couch – Unexpected Gifts

By Susan E. Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

March 18, 2020 – almost a year ago – was the last time I saw clients in my office. We were all in the early days of the pandemic – uncertain, rattled, no idea of what to expect or what was to come. The news became more and more dire with each day. The country shut down. I remember driving through deserted streets – my husband and I drove one day into downtown Nashville, all the way down Broadway, just to see it. Empty. No people. No church. No Symphony. No plays. Worst of all, no contact with my daughter and my granddaughter as we all tried to make sense of what was dangerous and what we could risk.

It all seems like a blur to me now. I have heard the days of the week during COVID called Blursdays – because there is no sense of time, no markers that indicate the familiar rhythms of life. We humans live lives based on expectations and routine. Our bodies require food at regular intervals; we require sleep at certain times. We unconsciously count on these routines and structures. While we certainly continued to eat and sleep, the pandemic stripped away our sense of expectation. Suddenly we could count on nothing. Going to the grocery became an exercise in avoiding mortal peril. Hugging a grandchild could result in becoming infected with a mortal disease. We could enter a hospital and never come out, dying alone with no loved ones near us. Or worse – we could infect the ones we love and watch them die while blaming ourselves.

Today – almost one year later – we are entering an era that MAY BE hopeful. The amazing speed with which effective vaccines have been developed and made available is changing the risk analysis each person has had to make each day. More and more people that I know personally are getting the vaccine, and with each shot in the arm hope increases that we will be able to regain those moments of just being with each other without fear.

At the same time, this year has also brought me face to face with the reality that time does not wait for anyone. Three beloved family members are facing cancer. My beloved feline companion of 18 years left us after a hard-fought battle with kidney failure. My clients continue to struggle with all the things that bring people to therapy – because COVID is not the only thing that is going on in their lives.

How to make sense of all this? I have found two things that make a difference.

The first is gratitude. The second is structure.

This year I have returned to playing the piano because I am home to do it. I am no longer “too busy” to take the time to practice. I have continued to do the work I love online, but I am choosing to work fewer hours and to spend more time with my family and with myself. I have become an amateur bird watcher. My far-flung family has become much more connected through the magic of Zoom. I am cooking much more regularly rather than going out for meals. These are small things – none of them is monumental or earth-shattering – yet taken together, they have made a difference in my life for good.

We know that the practice of gratitude creates better mental health. Structure helps those Blursdays become manageable and even enjoyable. Having a routine and expectations of the self help contain anxiety and mitigate depression. As the days of the pandemic begin to wind down, I hope to take with me these unexpected gifts.

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 Leader of the Pack

How does our birth order influence our lives, our relationships, our personality, our parenting, our future?  I am the first born child, with two younger siblings.  My mother was an only child, and my father was the youngest of five.  I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking about birth order mainly because my parents made a point of impressing upon me the responsibility to take care of my sister and brother.  “Friends will come and go,” my mom would tell me, “but your siblings are forever.”  “Make sure you take your sister with you.”  “Hold your brother’s hand when you cross the street.”  “Always look out for your sister and brother.”  You get the picture. 

I have no recollection of the 18 months of my life before my sister was born, but I’m told my parents had a pretty good time with me.  So good, in fact, that they couldn’t wait to have another baby.  That was always their story and they stuck to it.  The new baby girl arrived, followed two years later by, “the boy.”  I do remember my parents bringing him home from the hospital all swaddled up.  “Watch the soft spot,” was the refrain for months as I awkwardly tried to sit with him on my tiny lap. 

I guess you could say I am a classic big sister.  Caregiving, bossy, driven, organized, high achieving.  I organized parades where I would sit in my brother’s red wagon, draped in a boa, tiara on my head, my brother gamely pulling me as I waved to the neighborhood.  I choreographed ballets for my sister and I to entertain our parents, clad in my mom’s old nightgowns.  And when my brother would get sick, I was obsessed with taking his temperature, bringing him toast and reading to him in bed. 

As the oldest, my developmental milestones and achievements were always the first for my parents.  And attention-loving drama queen that I am, I generally liked it.  I loved feeling grown up and couldn’t wait to, “get there.”  By the time I was 17, I’d graduated from high school, left for college and rarely looked back.  My summers were spent involved in theater companies, part time jobs, hanging at the beach with friends.  I got married right after college and never lived with my family again.  I guess you could say my early years were pretty standard for an L.A. girl growing up in the 1970s. 

This all sounds charming, right?  But underneath all that grooviness lurks a dark secret.  You see, I did enjoy being the oldest for all of the above reasons.  But I also hated it.  I hated the burden dumped on a little girl to always look out for the younger ones.  I hated not having any cover for my mistakes, so I just worked to avoid them.  I hated the assumption that my hard fought victories were preordained because I was the golden one.  I hated there not being much room for me, so growing up fast and leaving was the best option.  Most of all I hated not being allowed to rebel and act out like a normal kid.  “You’re older, you should know better.”  It’s all so exhausting. 

One time I asked my mom if my dad was happy his first born was a girl rather than a boy.  Her answer, “He was thrilled!  Big sisters are better at keeping the family together,” meant to be reassuring sounded to me like another assignment.  I spent years studying my mother’s techniques for entertaining and preparing holiday dinners.  I listened in on her conversations with my dad’s three older sisters for clues on how, exactly, I was supposed to keep us all together.  And when I became a mom to three children, I vowed not to put the same burden on my first born, also a girl.  Karma, right?

So here we are, all three of us in late middle age, our parents alive only in our memories.  I guess you could say I have lived up to my birthright.  I continue to try and keep the family together, to look out for my sister and brother.  We have aged, live in different parts of the country and each of us has been knocked around by life.  For one of us, life in general is a battle and the other two of us do our best to keep moving forward.  A very good therapist once told me it was time to fire myself from the job of being the Big Sister.  It’s hard to break the old patterns and often when I try, one of the two resists my effort to change, but I continue to work on that.  And while I now have a loving husband, amazing grown children and a circle of close friends, sometimes that little girl inside me just wants someone to take care of her. 

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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