Monthly Archives: December 2021

The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye and Hello


The turning of the year is for many a time of reflection – what has this last year brought to us; what are we leaving behind; what are we welcoming in the year ahead.  As I write this post, we are experiencing yet another wave of COVID-19 distress as the Omicron variant has become the dominant disease vector; we do not yet know enough about this variant to predict much about it other than that it is more contagious than the two prior variants – we hope it is less lethal.

This year for me has been a year of facing loss and mortality.  My brother, brother-in-law, sister and aunt all died of cancer this year – I am the oldest of five siblings, and these losses have really brought into focus the essential question that life presents to all of us.  Our time here is limited.  What do we choose to do with that precious time?

COVID prevented me from spending the time I would have wished with my brother and sister.  We were barely able to see Glenn a few weeks before his death – he was fighting hard to get to another clinical trial that held out so much promise, but his cancer was too far advanced.  My daughter and I flew to San Francisco and spent two precious days with him – just being together, talking, remembering.  When we left, we still were hoping for more time – but it was not to be.

Lindsay’s situation turned so quickly.  She was diagnosed in November of 2020, had surgery, and the extensive tumor was identified and removed.  She joined a clinical trial that worked so well until suddenly it didn’t.  In early June of 2021 she was hospitalized, and scans finally revealed that the cancer was back in all her internal organs.

Because Hawaii was so strict regarding COVID, when we learned that her time was short, we still had to have COVID tests within 72 hours of travel.  The only place in Nashville that gave the tests approved by the Hawaiian government was finally identified, and we flew on July 3.  Arriving at 2 in the afternoon, Lindsay, by this time in hospice at home, recognized us, welcomed us, but was not able to converse.  We were just together. During the night she became unable to respond, and in the early morning hours I talked to her, sang to her, told her it was ok to go.  She left us at 8:45 on July 4.

Three weeks later we said hello to a beautiful new granddaughter – Cora Lindsay.   Named after my sister, her great-aunt, this child carries hope into the world as a legacy of love.

The thread that binds all these experiences together is that legacy.  I am a fortunate person in that I grew up in a family that was and is bound together by love.  Although we have certainly had our struggles – no families in my experience do not have struggles – we got along (for the most part) and valued kindness.  Whatever I can say about my time on this earth, I can at least say that I gave and received love.  That is no small thing.

May you find ways in your own life to love.  The gift will return to you a thousand-fold.

Happy New Year.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at
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Hope at a Time of Despair

We’re a few days away from Christmas and it’s difficult to see signs of hope. 

We’re heading into another covid winter as infections and deaths again rise.  More than 800,000 Americans have already died from the covid virus.  Vaccines are widely available and medical evidence indicates that the unvaccinated are the ones dying now.  But too many people claim they have a Constitutional right to their “freedom” to refuse the vaccination. 

This argument distorts the Constitution.  Constitutional freedoms extend only to the point where one person’s rights infringe on the freedoms of others.  By claiming a right to reject the vaccine, anti-vaxxers increase the risk of infecting others, thus infringing on the Constitutional rights of others to live virus-free.  Anti-vaxxers also increase the likelihood that we will never reach herd immunity and that the virus will mutate into a form that is vaccine resistant.  

Unfortunately, the political and social disputes about covid and the vaccine are just the latest symptom of the twin diseases of political intolerance and violence.  Our country has a violent history. Therefore, it is disturbing to learn from recent surveys that around a quarter of Republican Party supporters believe it is acceptable to use violence to win political disagreements.   Meanwhile, the leftist fringe infecting the Democratic Party screams a message of tolerance through an intolerant program of “wokeness”.  Significantly, these pampered pooches haven’t agreed to give up one iota of their privileged, coastal-elite existence to bring their utopia to fruition.

Since no one is listening to each other and the few voices of reason have been drowned out by a sea of intolerance, there is a mad scramble to impose intolerance through the capture of the political process.  Too many states are passing “secure voting” laws that are designed solely to suppress the votes of people who are deemed politically and socially undesirable and inferior.  Virtually all the states are racing to create gerrymandered districts that will distort the outcome of elections over the next ten years.  Our Constitution stands in grave danger of becoming more useful as toilet paper.

So where do we find hope in this time of despair? History teaches us that intolerance eventually burns itself out due to its own excesses.  The Inquisition eventually ran out of victims to torture and murder in the name of God.  The American Civil War ended when the “secesh” states ran out of people to fight and die on the battlefield.  The covid pandemic will end when the virus runs out of people to kill.

My hope is that our country will reject intolerance sooner rather than later. My despair is that we value our lives and the lives of others so cheaply that we are willing to watch so many people die before our intolerance finally burns out.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation 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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2021 Review

This is my last column for the year. Without sounding cliché, or like another broken record…What a year it has been! In fact, sometimes it still feels like one loooooong 2020. Still, the needle has moved a bit in some ways, and I traditionally like to spend some time reflecting

Professionally, it’s been a pretty good year. I started my job as Editor of my community’s Jewish newspaper in January of 2020 and basically had about six weeks before the world changed forever. So last year was a big learning curve with a lot of fear and panic peppered in as I maneuvered through all the changes. This year I know I grew more in confidence and in proficiency. I’ve had some very nice feedback from my colleagues in the community. And most satisfying has been the response from the readers who say I’ve made some nice changes in tone and direction. My goal has always been to bring people together through news and information and to create a truly community-based paper. I think I’m moving in the right direction. And I also challenged myself to learn to build and maintain a new website. As someone of a certain generation, some of this computer stuff is a mystery. BUT I focused hard and dove in and realized, I CAN do hard things! And I actually enjoy adding content and photos to the website and feeling empowered over more of my job.

Personally, this year has been a roller coaster. I’ve said goodbye again to two of my adult children who spent much of the past couple of years living both in our house and nearby. It was a lot of fun and a comfort to have them around. Now, with the nest empty once again, we’re enjoying the peace, the freedom, and the privacy. Our food and water bills are smaller. Our liquor cabinet remains well stocked. And our co-dependent labradoodle, Bentley, is filling the void with lots of attention to us.

2021 also gave us the vaccines and booster shots that will, hopefully, keep us alive should we contract COVID19. We continue to wear masks in crowds and my hands are raw from so much washing. I am more than grateful that so far, none of my family has been infected or gotten sick. And I pray that trend continues. I am saddened by the illness and death of others, and worried about our overburdened healthcare workers. Those brave souls, hailed as heroes early on during this siege, now often bullied and tormented by many who just refuse to believe what is in front of their eyes.

We’ve done some traveling, something I always found exciting and now I’m just anxious to get to my destination. We work to avoid too much contact with strangers and keep to ourselves. We have had some memorable and enjoyable experiences, though, and I consider myself very fortunate.

I think the biggest takeaway from this past year for me is the painful realization that our world is divided, and the divide is getting bigger. My Jewish values teach me that it is both incumbent upon each of us to do whatever is necessary to save our own lives, and that we are all responsible for each other. It’s the idea that we first put on our own oxygen mask (no pun intended), and then help those around us. The idea is not uniquely Jewish. And it is not uniquely American. I believe it is uniquely human.

So as 2021 comes to an end, I know I am forever changed by what we’ve experienced. Traumatized, but also emboldened. I don’t want to waste one precious minute or one ounce of energy. I want to recover my enthusiasm and courage. I want to clear away the clutter that litters my mind and heart.

The famous Jewish scholar, Rabbi Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

Cheers to 2021 and bring on ’22!

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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