Author Archives: Barbara Dab

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  A former small business owner, she is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville.  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 . 

Wolves and Elk and Moose, Oh My!

Grand Teton National Park

I have just returned from my first vacation in over two years. Planning was a challenge, but so worth it. My husband and I, along with our dear friends, spent nine days exploring Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands and so much more. We began planning early in the year, before any of us was vaccinated, with the idea that if travel was inappropriate or not safe, we would cancel. After learning just a couple of months ago that our guide was unvaccinated, and was not planning to become vaccinated, we scrambled to find a substitute. The result was a memorable adventure that restored my soul and let me breathe in air that can only be found in the widest of open spaces.

Day one found us hiking to the hidden water falls at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Forest. The six-mile trek took us over rocky, hilly terrain around the lake, through forests of Aspen trees just turning to golden yellow. As we made our way, the clear lake reflected the bluest sky I have seen in a long time. By the time we returned to our van, I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready for more. And for the next week and a half we got so much more.

Our visit to Yellowstone began with a drive through the pre-dawn hours to watch the sunrise over Lake Yellowstone. Upon arrival we were greeted by a mother Elk and her baby serenely grazing in the grass while the sun began to peek over the horizon. The air echoed with the early morning cries of Elk waking and greeting each other throughout the park. As daylight broke, we witnessed the herd all around us as they wandered down to find food. Simply magical!

We made our way to perhaps the most famous landmark in Yellowstone: Old Faithful Geyser. A sign let us know when the next eruption was expected, and we wandered around the geysers until just before. As we waited, other geysers spouted plumes of boiling water that had made its way to the surface over thousands of years. Old Faithful did not disappoint, either. The eruption lasted for three minutes, sending plumes of water high into the sky above. The rest of the day was spent viewing geysers and thermal pools throughout the section of park known as, “The Caldera,” the area created by volcanic eruptions over the past 2 million years. Everywhere we looked we could see steam rising from the pools’ bubbling surface. The largest, Grand Prismatic, glowed blue, red, orange, yellow, and green. It felt prehistoric and otherworldly.

Another highlight found us the next day rising even earlier to participate in a wildlife safari. We began in a section of the park known as Lamar Valley, home to wolves, grizzlies, elk, moose, and many other species of animals and birds. Daybreak found us perched on a small hill about a mile and a half from a group of young, sleepy wolves. Once again, the air rang out with their morning howls like a symphony surrounding us. Our guide was equipped with special binoculars and scopes that allowed us to witness the activity from a safe distance, nearly two miles away. We watched as three young wolves frolicked, waiting for an elder to bring them their breakfast. Throughout the day we followed the Valley’s roads as our guide received updates from his network of scouts reporting on the latest sightings. We watched a solitary female moose run through the woods in search of her herd. We saw pronghorns, or antelopes, grazing as they stayed safely away from the wolves. We also witnessed bison during their rutting, or mating, season, fighting with each other to claim their favorite female. Above soared hawks, eagles, and magpies.

Later in the week, we made our way to South Dakota where we viewed the majestic Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and hiked into Badlands National Park. The Badlands was originally home to Oglala Sioux Indians. As homesteaders spread out through the area, the U.S. government stripped the Native people of their land and sent them to reservations. Badlands is the site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. There is, however, much beauty in the area. The rough looking terrain boasts tall spires and pinnacles and is home to the once endangered black footed ferret, which was reintroduced into the wild. The area is also the largest mixed grass prairie in the country. Dramatic and stark, the Badlands was a highlight for me.

There were so many memorable experiences and sights along our journey. What sticks with me the most is the sense of freedom after many months of confinement and restriction. I am awestruck by the beauty to be found in our country and a bit ashamed I have spent so much time exploring the world without ever looking in my own backyard. This trip inspired me to see more, do more, and interact more with the United States. I will always remember the cries of the elk and wolves, the fragrance of pine forests and the feeling of success as I climb a high peak. And while another vacation may be months away, there is much to explore in my own little corner of the world. See you out there!

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Happy 5782

For the Jewish people, this week marks the beginning of the year 5782. It’s been quite a year for everyone, not just for the Jews. Now some may say I’m taking the easy out by re-publishing an old post from Rosh Hashanah 5780, but let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to reflect back on the “before times,” a little? So, without further ado, I present, “Happy New Year — Asking for Forgiveness.” Here’s wishing everyone a happier, healthier, sweeter year.

As I sit writing this month’s post, I am in a contemplative mood.  The Jewish High Holidays are around the corner, in fact as of the publication date, it is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  And the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, are also called “The Days of Awe.”  These are the holiest days for us and an opportunity to reflect on the past year, to take stock of ourselves and our lives and to think about how we can grow into better versions of ourselves in the coming year. 

One of the most important things we do at this time is to ask forgiveness of those we’ve wronged or hurt during the year.  It is customary to do this in person but in these days of electronic communication, many accomplish this task via social media.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe it is always appropriate to ask forgiveness in whatever fashion is available.  But much like sending an email thank you note, to me it falls in the “better than nothing,” category.  In other words, not as personal and seems like the easy way out.  But…better than nothing.  There is also the mandate that if you are the person who is being asked for forgiveness, that you must try to accept.  If, after three attempts you cannot accept, the person doing the asking is “off the hook,” so to speak. 

Why all this focus on forgiveness being asked for and granted?  I don’t have a rabbinic answer, but I do have my answer.  To be honest, I have a very difficult time admitting when I’m wrong.  I know I inherited this from my dad and try as I might, it’s probably the thing I struggle with the hardest in relationships (ask my husband for more on that).  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that admitting you’ve been wrong and asking for forgiveness is one of the strongest things a person can do.  Taking responsibility for our actions, I believe, is fundamental to fostering and maintaining healthy relationships.  Not only that, but granting forgiveness when asked is also fundamental.  These behaviors serve to level the playing field between people.  Recognizing our basic, common humanity, moving beyond our mistakes and even loving each other in spite of it all is perhaps the trickiest, and yet, most rewarding thing in a relationship. 

This coming year, I hope to become better at admitting when I’m wrong, asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness to others.  And while I can’t actually ask each of you in person, I’ll take advantage of this forum to ask for forgiveness if I’ve hurt or wronged you in any way.  To those I can ask in person, stay tuned.  And to everyone, here’s wishing a happy, healthy and sweet New Year, whatever your faith, tradition, practice or belief.  Because who couldn’t use a little more happy, healthy and sweet? 

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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The Nest is Empty Again

The Full Team

Two years ago, our youngest son came home to live with us while he attended graduate school at nearby Vanderbilt University. Around the same time, our daughter returned to town to take a job and while she didn’t live with us, she lived near us, and we were able to see her regularly. It was my dream: to have one of my kids live in the same city, but not in the same house.

Flash forward one pandemic later, and both have now moved on, leaving our nest empty once more. My daughter has moved back to our hometown of Los Angeles to pursue her dream job and our son is heading off to New York City to find his next adventure. Our middle son has lived in San Francisco for several years now and shows no sign of returning for more than a visit. But you never really know…

It’s hard to explain the rollercoaster of emotions as our young adult children swing back and forth between our home base and the world beyond. Each move brings adjustments to our relationships and just when I think I’m used to the status quo, things change again. I admit freely that I have a hard time turning off the “Mom Button.” In fact, it’s probably never really off, just on idle, always ready to rev back up as needed for a phone call, text, email or a visit.

The goodbyes are the hardest. The ride to the airport feels like a last-minute rush to say all the things I’m afraid I didn’t say and yet, we make small talk to make it seem like just another normal drive. When we hug, I want to hold on to the baby that still lives in my heart and my memory, but I know I must let go of the adult who stands in front of me. During the ride home I feel empty and full at the same time. My arms are empty, but my heart is full of love and pride for the people they are.

I’ve heard it said that if we do our job as parents, they will leave. They will have the tools they need to live independent, productive, meaningful lives. I know it’s true, but it’s still hard. I have always loved having a front row seat to the best show in the world, watching my children grow up. Well, that show is over and now I get to watch from the wings as they take center stage in their own lives. And let me tell you, it’s a really great show.

So, here I am again, putting parts of the house back together after our son created his own little upstairs bachelor pad. It’s a good time to re-evaluate how we will continue to live in our home, to reclaim it for ourselves and decide what will be relegated to storage or trash and what will remain. I admit I’m looking forward to a little more calm; young men expend a surprising amount of energy just entering a room! I look forward to less laundry, smaller food bills, a neater kitchen. I will miss having our own in-house DJ on Sunday mornings, and personal tech support when I need it. I have loved chatting with my son over lunch, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows and movies. Like many people, we have a mountain of completed puzzles from our months stuck in the house and each one will remind me of this difficult, yet special time.

I guess the thing I think about the most is how lucky we are to have children who still like to come home and reconnect with us. Although we don’t live in their childhood house anymore, they have taught me that wherever we are together as a family is home and I look forward to gathering someday in one of their houses. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what comes next for all of us.

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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And Now This…

When the pandemic first rolled into our lives, my husband and I were still basking in the glow of a magical week long trip to Hawaii with our grown children to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Two days from now, we will be celebrating our 42nd. The months in between have been for us, as for most people, challenging, difficult and exhausting. As individuals we have faced our fears about the virus, dealt with social isolation and met professional challenges. As a couple we have dealt with adapting to a new way of living and working together, learning to find small pleasures in becoming co-workers who are also married. Tomorrow, things shift again as my husband returns to his office, at least for now, on a part time basis. And once again, we will evolve and shift our new found daily rituals into something else.

Over the years we have weathered a lot of change. We began as teenagers and grew up through college and post college degrees, became parents, lost parents, handled financial struggles, illnesses and a cross-country move. It’s really just the stuff of life. We are more fortunate than many, less so than some. The one constant in my life has been our relationship which, while sometimes difficult, has always served to ground me and make me feel safe and loved in an uncertain world.

This past year and a half, I’ve had a LOT more time to study my husband, to listen to his Zoom calls, to observe how he moves through a day. It’s interesting to see how my spouse conducts himself at work, something I never was able to experience before now. The change in tone of voice, his body language, the way he solves problems, all things I could never know when he was at his office. I’m grateful I have been able to see this side of him as it helps me to understand what he goes through each day and why he sometimes comes home with work on his mind. I also appreciate his ability to shift gears and listen to me when I pop into his office for a quick visit or to share something about my work day.

All in all, this pandemic experience has been good for our marriage. For a bit of time we have been able to blend our lives, share small daily moments and see each other in a new way. We’ve each had to adjust and learn to share our home office, learned to set and respect new boundaries with each other and appreciate our differences. Perhaps most important is that even in a long relationship, there are unexpected challenges life throws at us and we are resilient and strong enough to weather it. He is still my best friend, my favorite person and the love of my life.

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Joy and Pain

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

These last few weeks have left me a bit empty emotionally and creatively, which is why this post is late. The excitement of being able to think about a future after COVID has given way to anxiety about when to wear a mask, how to travel safely, whether to travel at all, how to begin to re-enter the world. It’s all pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Added to the mix is the excitement and joy that my daughter has finally landed her dream job and will be moving back across the country to Los Angeles. It’s a complicated endeavor that needs to be completed in a scant few weeks and involves a cross country driving trip (my husband will be doing that), finding a place to live and getting her stuff moved. And professionally, let’s just say it’s been complicated. As a newspaper editor and reporter for a Jewish publication, the escalation of violence in Israel and the current ceasefire have meant difficult information to sift through and report while I watch unfolding misery on both sides. And finally, this last weekend saw an ugly and painful display of antisemitism in my city brought on by one woman who used a yellow star as a symbol of being unvaccinated.

To unpack some of this, I’ll first focus on my daughter because her situation is one that brings me joy and relief. Last summer during the height of the pandemic, she lost her job. Since then she has pieced together a living, often working two and three jobs, while applying for and interviewing for something in her field. I watched her bravely persevere and overcome worry while dealing with grief and anger, most of the time with a smile on her face. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her resilience and courage.

As for the COVID pandemic, I guess I’m doing what most people are doing and trying to take baby steps to rejoin the living. As an extrovert in normal times, I’m surprised by how exhausted I feel at the effort it takes to make and execute simple plans. I feel overwhelmed at choosing a restaurant, preferring to either cook at home or order in. There are a few local places that have wrapped us in comfort the last year and a half (thanks to the crew at answer.) and it feels so much easier to just do that. But we are venturing out a bit and when we do, I feel almost normal. I’ve said, “hello,” to some clothes I haven’t worn in a long time, praying everything still fits (thankfully, so far, it all does). I have two short trips planned this summer and a big trip in the Fall. I’m anxious about traveling, but also looking forward to the change of scenery.

My professional challenges are more difficult to explore. As a journalist I’ve been trained to look at as many sides of an issue as possible, to be fair in analyzing and presenting the facts and to be balanced in my coverage. Lately though, the rising antisemitism in this country and around the world has shaken me. I am, after all, a Jew in America, raised to love Israel by parents who watched and prayed as the tiny country was born over 70 years ago out of the ashes of the Holocaust. My father-in-law was a survivor of German ghettos, concentration camps and death marches. The last trip he took before his early death at age 52 was to visit Israel, to experience the joy and relief at a Jewish homeland.

I traveled to Israel for the first time as a 15-year-old teen and have visited a few times since, watching the country grow from a developing land into a high tech, modern day marvel. Is it perfect? No. Did growth come at a high price? Most definitely. Does it deserve both criticism and admiration for the choices made in the face of daily existential threat? Absolutely. But since when does criticizing your country render you unpatriotic or worse, guilty of some sort of treason? I was raised to question, to voice my opinion, to push back against injustice, to challenge the status quo, and that includes my views about Israel. But make no mistake, I am a Zionist, I am fully committed to its existence as the only Democratic country in the Middle East. And that democracy demands that I speak up and speak out. I do not pretend to understand what it is like to live with constant threat, rockets and bombs. And there is certainly plenty of misery to go around on both sides.

And now I turn to the antisemitism infecting my own city. The pain I felt when I saw a local shopkeeper peddling the yellow star of David, emblazoned with, “not vaccinated,” to an often uninformed public, was immediate and deep. My stomach turned over as I read with horror the words in the social media comments. My community’s response was fast and direct, spreading to the greater Nashville area and reaching the pages and airways of national news outlets. Most of the woman’s vendors have stopped their supply of merchandise to her store and have made their outrage known. It has been both gratifying and comforting to know there are many people who were also reviled by the post. But the pain lingers like a handprint slapped on my heart. Sadness weighs on me and the creeping fear that history may repeat itself keeps me awake.

I pray my family’s suffering at the hands of those who sought to destroy us was not in vain. Never again.

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Sourdough, Gardening, Life

One of my early loaves made for Valentine’s Day

This year we are planning a landscaping project and deck remodel, so I have decided not to plant my spring/summer garden. I really wrestled with what to do because I just love getting out into the dirt, tending to the vegetables and watching them grow. I also love preparing and eating the fresh zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other assorted crops throughout the Summer and into the Fall. I’m still considering a small container garden.

I have decided to continue my Winter project: sourdough baking. During the cold, dark months my son and I began cultivating a couple of starters. If you’ve been following me on Instagram @barbdab58 you’ve seen some of my efforts. It has been a lot of fun watching this little science experiment literally come alive in front of our eyes! Mix water and flour, let it sit on the counter and lo and behold, it bubbles, ferments and develops a pungent, delicious fragrance! Then we combine it with more flour, water and salt and it bakes into a bubbly, poofy, crusty loaf.

Over the last few months, we’ve experimented with different types of flour starters. We have one made from regular all-purpose flour and one from whole wheat flour. Each has its own unique fragrance, taste and personality. In fact, tradition dictates that we might name our starters and so we have introduced Rob and Laura Petrie, named after the main characters on my favorite TV show, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob is the lively, bubbly all-purpose starter and Laura is the more exotic, complicated, delicate whole wheat. We’ve also tried a few different flavors in our bread. We’ve used oats and maple syrup, garlic, onions and one that substitutes beer for the water. We’ve had successes and failures. This past weekend, we had a huge success with our original, classic sourdough. Previously we failed with an oatmeal loaf that was too wet, a whole wheat/regular blend that did not rise enough and a garlic loaf that was too garlicky. Early on, we had some failed starters, as well.

In sourdough, as in life, success depends on planning, patience, experience and that extra something intangible. Maybe it’s luck. But I also think it’s the love and attention paid and the focus and will to succeed. Last week I made my oatmeal/maple syrup loaf by myself. My son was busy and unable to participate. The loaf was tasty, with nice crumb and a toasty crust. But it was somewhat lackluster and rather flat. So this week I decided to go back to the basics, together with my son, and make the classic version. We took the starter out of the fridge, fed it, waited for the perfect timing when it was active and bubbly, and then began our process of mixing the dough, letting it rest, stretching and folding before letting it ferment overnight. In the morning, the dough was fluffy and shiny, with little bubbles just beneath the surface, and it smelled fantastic! After shaping and proofing, my son worked his magic scoring the loaf and into the oven it went. The result was a nearly perfect, golden loaf with a slightly charred crust and inside it was moist and tangy. As we reflected on how this loaf was different, better, my son declared that it was because we made it together, with love, as we’d planned, each contributing to the end result in our own way.

Last year’s garden

My sourdough journey has mirrored my gardening process, too. Nurturing something from the beginning stages, developing patience through trial and error and adding in lots and lots of love. This year has presented all of us with unforeseen challenges and the need to pivot and adapt to an ever changing set of circumstances. We’ve had to take the long view as we navigate our way out of this pandemic. There have been failures and successes and as we begin to emerge from our isolation, it is clear life is different, most likely permanently changed. But hopefully what appears is beautiful, the result of hard work, planning, patience and love. A beautiful juicy red tomato, a fragrant crusty sourdough, a meaningful vibrant life.

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 . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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The Return of the Hug

I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until, after a full year, I was able to give one to someone other than my immediate family members. It began in the entry to my house after a couple of friends came to celebrate the first night of Passover with us. They walked in, we all made eye contact, then grabbed each other one by one in a lovely, warm, full body hug. Happy tears were shed as we stood for just a few minutes longer, smiling, looking into each other’s maskless faces, savoring the simplest of human experiences. At the end of the evening, I was exhausted by the sheer intensity of emotion and the close proximity of our friends.

Last year’s Passover holiday came on the heels of the local safer-at-home order. Plans were scrapped, we learned about Zoom and the tears that fell were tears of grief, fear and horror at what was then unfolding. Our little local family sat around the table and at one end sat my computer, with my son 2,000 miles away on the screen. I kept reminding everyone it was just one year, and we needed to endure so we could all be together again soon. 

The pandemic evokes many biblical images and analogies. During the Passover seder meal, we are tasked with retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, and the beginning of the Israelites’ wandering in the desert. This past year has felt as if all of humanity has relived a truncated version of the story. We began with a plague. Mysterious, frightening and deadly. The promise of a vaccine brought a feeling of hope that we might leave the oppression of the disease behind us. For months we suffered the plague while researchers and scientists did the difficult work and regular people took a personal risk by participating in clinical trials. After many months, receiving the vaccine itself felt like an exodus. The weight of fear and anxiety slipped away. We wandered through the desert of disease around us, and emerged, blinking into the sun, taking tentative steps toward a new life. The hug that just weeks ago might prove deadly, now feeling like freedom itself.

Sunday evening marked the end of this year’s holiday. My kitchen has returned to its normal, everyday condition, leftovers fill the fridge and outside my garden is blooming. There is reason to celebrate. But just as in the annual telling of the exodus, let us remember the year without a hug and in the midst of the loss and our grief, savor what has returned and what will (hopefully) remain.

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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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 www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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It’s Been a Year…

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

February, 2021!  It’s so hard to believe almost a year has passed since the pandemic changed the world forever.  A year of worry.  A year of frustration.  A year of separation from my son and other cherished friends and family.  A year watching out my window.  A year adapting.  A year waiting.  A year hoping.  A year learning. 

I still wait for my turn to be vaccinated. I still worry about getting sick. I’m still frustrated about so much lost time. I still wait for the next visit with my son. I still look out my window at the changing seasons. I’m still adapting, learning, hoping, trying to look forward.

To say I am not a patient person is REALLY an understatement. From my earliest memories I recall barreling into life at full speed, always in a hurry to get to the next thing. This past year has felt like I ran smack into a wall. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’m not complaining, per se.  I’m just reflecting. Is there a deeper lesson to be learned?  The obvious is what I hear most folks are trying to do: live in the moment, be grateful, savor a slower pace.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever.

Here’s what I’m learning: I am not a slowdown type of person. Yes, I am savoring the time I get to spend with my husband who is working from home and my son who is attending graduate school from home.  But most days I just want to get back out there, in it. While I have managed to continue my work and to stay in touch with many of my friends, I can’t help but grieve for all the lost time.  The days, weeks, months and now, a year, just marking time. I can’t shake the feeling that, at my age, there’s no time to waste. I still have plans, goals and things to get on with. Grateful?  Of course I am!  I’m also very aware of how fortunate I am to have a job, a comfortable home in which to stay safe with people I love and who love me.  Yes, life is good.

Now there seems to be, maybe, a speck of daylight at the end of this very long tunnel. And…I’m off!  Planning a fall vacation with friends. Thinking about dinners out, live music, sporting events and having people over. Every day is a roller coaster as I swing from despair to hope and back again. Read the news. Don’t read the news. By bedtime I am exhausted, that is until my head hits the pillow. Then as my body relaxes my mind revs up and I lay awake, sometimes for hours, until I can calm it down.

This year has shined a light on the differences between me and my husband. Where I am an extrovert, he is content to be alone. Where I experience life at full speed, he is happy with the slow and steady approach. While I rage against the frustration, his patience is both infuriating and a gift. And while I toss and turn all night, he sleeps soundly. All these differences, which used to drive me crazy, have now become my salvation. To know that in spite of it all, or maybe because of it, we continue on. I can depend on his patience, his ability to compartmentalize the pain and focus on what is in front of him. I am comforted by his strength and by his steady breathing at night. 

Lessons learned? My basic nature is what it always has been, and so it is for those around me. But in times of great challenge, we can lean into and on each other, for real.

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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Reflections on a Dirty Martini

There’s not much more to be said of the past year, and since the new one isn’t even a week old, I’d prefer not to comment too much or even try to predict any turn of events.  Life has not felt normal for a long time and frankly, I’m tired of trying to make any sense of things right now.  Instead, I just want to reflect on something small.  A martini.

My dad’s regular drink was a dirty martini.  Medium dry, Beefeater’s Gin, with a drizzle of Vermouth, a splash of olive juice and as the piece de resistance, those gorgeous, juicy, green olives with just a peek of red pimento winking at me.  He’d come home from work, call for my mom to join him upstairs while he changed clothes and they spent a few private moments together.  Then it was back down to the kitchen to mix that perfectly glamorous drink while my mom finished preparing dinner.  I’d hang around, hoping for a taste of the olive at the end.  Year after year he’d simply tell me I was too young, while I watched him sip that tantalizing concoction.  Finally, the day came when he handed over the olive.  Aaaah!  I’d finally made it!  I took the fruit from his toothpick and popped it into my mouth, sucked on it for a few minutes, then nibbled it bit by bit, savoring the tang of the gin with the saltiness of the olive. 

To this day, a dirty martini is my decadent pleasure.  Just the look of the triangle shaped glass with the olives perched on their toothpick inside the slightly cloudy drink of gin and Vermouth, makes me think of my dad driving into the garage in his Chevy Malibu, of our Delta Green shag carpet, our paneled den where I’d watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, my mom made up, hair done, dressed for going out.  Yep, the late 1960s and early 1970s were groovy times, at least to me. 

In retrospect, though, they were also troubled years filled with social unrest, presidential scandals, assassinations, air pollution and some really groundbreaking protest songs.  As a late baby boomer, I was ill equipped to participate actively in the struggles of my older cousins to move the needle from the heady post-war (WWII) years to bridge the Generation Gap and herald the new age of technology just on the horizon.  But I watched from the sidelines as they marched, protested, chanted and sang about the wrongs they believed needed to be put right.  Those years shaped me, too, just like my dad’s dirty martini.  Part bitter, part tart, a little sweetness and at the end, an olive plucked from that marinade.  Every evening mix and repeat. 

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 .

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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