Category Archives: Self Savvy

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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The Other Side of the Couch – What We Didn’t Know

March 18, 2020 – A day like many other days – I saw clients, did paperwork, watered plants – walked out, drove home.  I did not know then what I know now – that March 18, 2020 was the last day I would see clients in my office for many months, that the country was embarking on a perilous journey with no current end in sight, that the major issues of mental illness and trauma would be Trumped – and I use this word intentionally – by a raging pandemic, poorly controlled.  I did not know that my office would become a laptop, a butler’s table (the right height for the computer), a new office chair, rapidly purchased when dining room chairs began to cause backaches.

I did not know that I would lose clients who hate working online, gain clients who love it (so convenient – just like in person).  I did not know that I would tolerate working online but sorely miss being with people, that my ability to survive as an introvert who does not depend on other people’s energy for motivation would be a plus in this situation, that being unable to see my daughter and granddaughter would become intolerable.

I would not have believed that the leaders of our federal government would literally reject science in favor of pushing for opening the economy – at the expense of hospitals, health-care workers, and vulnerable populations.  I would not have believed that the simple, caring act of wearing a mask would become a political statement.

In the months ahead there could be many good things – science-based treatment, a variety of vaccines targeted for the different populations that are most at risk, a coordinated federal response, an economic plan that supports everyone rather than the 1%.  What we do know now that we didn’t know then is that life as we knew it is irrevocably changed.  Good things will come again – but much has changed, and much more will change.  When January comes, perhaps many good and new things will move forward.

I keep hoping – and voting in November.

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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It’s the End of the World as we Know it

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For the first time in a long time, I’m out of words. Not actually unable to speak (God forbid!), but out of pithy, insightful, tightly woven phrases. I’ve cried, I’ve ranted, I’ve shared, and I’ve bared my soul to anyone and everyone who would listen. Which means to say, mostly my family who are captive with me in our little home shelter and a few close friends. And now, I’m just done. I’m done railing against the unfairness of it all. I’m done focusing on the grief. I’m done being angry about canceled plans and missed opportunities. What remains for me is sadness and the realization that the life I had, the life we all had, or hoped to have, is gone.

But, and here comes my cockeyed optimism (thanks Mom), I do believe that the crises facing humankind are offering us an opportunity. Personally, I’m refocusing my thoughts and energy on self-improvement; mental, physical and spiritual. I’m taking on challenges and setting goals for myself that I don’t think I would have even thought about before. The time I used to spend in the car or running endless errands is now mine to spend in new ways. The distractions of modern life have been stripped away leaving a void. Filling that void in meaningful ways is what I’m working on. Because the thing is, at some point still to be determined, we will emerge from this isolation into a new world. I don’t want to feel that I’ve squandered the opportunity to be fully present and to find meaning in this experience.

So, here are some things I’m tackling. On the physical front my family and I are embarking on a health experiment, one designed to help us fine tune our nutritional needs. I’m also building strength with a personal trainer. Yes, I’ve been working with her for a couple of years now, but I’m pushing myself harder, working out on our porch and getting a hard sweat. Mentally I’m working more on my professional writing, pushing myself to dig deeper in the stories I write for the newspaper I edit. Spiritually I’m reading more about things that make me uncomfortable and challenge some old assumptions that have limited my thinking. I’m working on quieting my mind through meditation. And with much of my family all home, some old roles and behaviors are evolving as we navigate living and working together. And once again, I have my summer vegetable garden, but this year expanded to a larger space and some new experiments.

Well, I guess I did have a lot to say this month. Who knew? I will close with one last thing. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. I know, that makes us seem ancient. We have lived a lifetime together, beginning on that very first day of freshman orientation. We were so young, still just teenagers. The fact is, we finished raising each other. Last year we vacationed with our children in Hawaii. One evening after dinner, standing under a canopy overlooking the beach, out of the rain, my husband pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket on which he’d written his thoughts about our years together. Yes, this reserved, quiet guy who doesn’t communicate his feelings well, wrote the following (excerpted): “As one should expect, our life together has not been a bed of roses. We’ve had successes and setbacks and weathered a good many storms. We have learned that when you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way. Some of the things we worried about turned out not to matter at all. What really mattered was our love. This one constant in our lives has grown stronger and I thank you for the joy you’ve given me during these 40 years together. Whatever the future may hold for us, we will always have our love. It is enough.” Yes, my darling husband, even during this sad, frightening, garbage fire of a year, our love is enough. Happy Anniversary.

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask.

 

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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Matthew 7:12

I will be honest.  I am not a student of The Bible, so I hope it is not presumptuous of me to quote it.  As most have, I should think, I am aware of “The Golden Rule.”  It seems obvious enough: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I mean, how simple is that?

I will tell you what I have learned in my research.  According to Wikipedia, this is “A command based on words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.’”  It goes on to explain that this is shared in the New Testament, in the Book; Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 7:12 is the twelfth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This well known verse presents what has become known as the Golden Rule.

Further:

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures.

From Biblestudy.org:

Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

So… This begs the question: Why is this so hard to understand?  Why can’t we treat each other equally, as God’s children?  Are we not all the same flesh and blood underneath?  No matter what color our skin?  No matter our political party alignment?  These are very trying times, I know, but its seems like we would band together to get through this crazy pandemic, these unusual and dangerous weather events and more, rather than work so hard at being divided.

I have ALWAYS had a problem with this.  I remember writing a paper in junior high (a million years ago LOL) suggesting that if people were pink with purple polka dots, if we all looked alike, everything would be so much easier.  True, it was an adolescent’s idea.  But I think I made the point and my English teacher sure liked it.  We have this one home, Planet Earth, and we’ve got to learn to share it and care for it NOW.

Here’s a song for you, written by Chet Powers, aka Dino Valenti, famously performed by The Youngbloods:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdxUIZOzd5E

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.

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

 

“And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

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It’s About Winners and Losers

Our country is again twisting itself into knots over the issue of white privilege and racial injustice.  That issue is at the heart of America because our country’s founders decided to kick the can down the road leaving it for someone else to solve.

We fought a Civil War over it.  The 1950’s Civil Rights movement and the 1960’s Black Power movement were about it.  The most recent spark was the death of George Floyd (and others) at the hands of police officers.

What underpins this issue?  Fear of losing.  Our country is going through a gigantic transition that is changing us socially, economically and politically and people are afraid of what those changes will mean for them.

Our country is turning brown. Within 30 – 50 years, whites will be a minority in the country.  We already have many people who are racially or ethnically mixed.  That scares a lot of people who aren’t sure what a new multi-racial America means for them.

Our economy is evolving due to technology and now the coronavirus and no one knows how many jobs are gone forever.  The losses so far have been borne by the working poor who are fed by food pantries and who face homelessness in the next 60 days as landlords resume evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent.  Their children are losing a chance to escape poverty because they can’t keep up with their school lessons since they live in homes without internet access.

Helping these economic losers would mean spending more money on education, health coverage and job training programs for them.  That scares the winners of the current economic system who wring their hands about social and racial inequities while simultaneously rejecting any tax law changes that might reduce their economic privileges.

Amplifying these social and economic fears is the November election. Most Americans view the election as a zero sum game of winners and losers.  Both sides of the political divide are terrified of what they will face if their side loses the election.

But before we give in to our fears, let’s acknowledge how far our country has come.  In the 1950’s the police officers who caused Mr. Floyd’s death would not have been charged with murder.  The economy has transitioned before and we have always found a way to help the economic losers have a chance at becoming winners.  Our democratic institutions stand strong which allows protesters to march in anger at the injustices that linger.

If we can overcome our fear of losing, we can find the courage to accept the changes needed to finally fix the issue of white privilege and racial injustice.  It won’t be easy and everyone will need to compromise.  But it’s better than living in fear of losing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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

 

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The Other Side of the Couch – Is There Hope?

As I write this article I am listening to my friend’s beautiful cello arrangement of the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace”.  My friend is a professional musician who shares her gift freely with our church and with so many others, including the terminally ill.  As I listen to the sacred chords and lift up the words of the hymn in my heart, I am also at this moment so aware of the pain that has engulfed our nation in the last two weeks.

Tonight marks the fifteenth night of protests ignited by the death of George Floyd, a black American who was killed in full view of the world.  We all saw a police officer calmly holding his knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck as he struggled, saying over and over again,  “I can’t breathe.”  As he lay there dying he called for his mother.  The officer never moved, even had his hand in his pocket.

This is an image that can never be erased from the world’s consciousness.  We saw it happen.  We saw a man die.  And yet, it is only because someone had a video camera and filmed it that the world knows.  How many other lives have been taken without any record and without any possibility of accountability?

We will never know.

After all the words, all the protests, all the promises, all the political uproar, only one thing is left.  Black people are dying at the hands of authorities, and no one is held accountable.

I am hoping that change is coming.  I am hoping that this time the reality that we are seeing will make a difference.  Things like the NFL’s commissioner admitting his error regarding black players’ protests at games, the NASCAR group announcing that Confederate flags are banned from cars and arenas – these are promising.  I just heard that “Gone With the Wind” has been removed from streaming and will be returned only with an explanation of the historical inaccuracy of its presentation of the institution of slavery.  Perhaps these are only cosmetic changes, but perhaps also they reflect an awakened sensibility.

Maybe more people are getting it – not just black and brown people, but white people, who have to get it in order for real change to happen.  It is no longer up to black and brown people to teach white people what to do.  We have to be willing to learn, and to do that we have to look at ourselves.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.”

May a world that has been blind to the death of black and brown men and women be awakened by this new reality.  May the world truly change.

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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Here we are in the middle of an absolute world-wide crisis.  Can this be the “Apocalypse” predicted for such a long time by so many?  Maybe.  I know many of us have suspected “something” was coming, while trying so VERY hard NOT to focus on it, NOT to think about it, NOT to put energy on it.  Many of us believe in the power of intention; What we focus on, we get more of.  Just as discussed in the book/movie “The Secret,” we have been FOCUSING on this virus moment by every moment, day by every day for nearly four months now.  And what keeps happening?  Numbers look a bit better, so we feel hopeful.  We talk about loosening up.  Then it all becomes a big (political) discussion, and numbers rise.  I truly believe it is indeed the Law of Attraction.  That is to say, the more we focus on this, the more we’re gonna get.  Am I crazy?  Well, yes, many of my friends do think so I know, but they also think I might be right…

Here’s a thought: How ‘bout we all get out in the fresh air and sunshine like our mothers and grandmothers used to tell us to do?  Eat our oranges.  Take our Airborne (or Emergen-C, if you prefer), add some extra zinc, fresh green veggies, and think positively.  I mean, what have we got to lose?  It just might work.  What happened to the reports back in February of hospitals using vitamin C intravenously?  That made sense.  True, too many people have lost their lives to this terrible debacle, but many more have overcome it.  They survived.

There was a song about accentuating the positive.  Remember it?

Indeed, the economy has tanked because of all this, but we’ll get through that part as well.  There will be new and amazing opportunities coming out of all of this.  Right now, families are getting to spend much needed time together, quality time.  Home schooling has gotten a real go.  The technology we all love is helping to get us through by keeping us connected.  We ARE going to get through this, dear ones.  I know we are.  And we will have learned so much about life and ourselves.  We’ll create new and better ways of living and embracing change.  After all, as it is said, “The only constant in life – is change.”  Peace.

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.

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

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Hero Fatigue

A few years ago, everyone wearing a U.S. military uniform was called a hero.  Now every firefighter, police officer, EMT, nurse and doctor on the frontlines of the covid-19 pandemic is called a hero.  It’s inexpressibly fatiguing.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “one that shows great courage”.  Doing your job should not be equivalent to showing great courage.  Undoubtedly, there are times when individuals in all these professions (or any other) go beyond what is expected of them and perform on a heroic level. But calling everyone a hero diminishes truly heroic action.

It’s like elementary school sports where every child gets a medal or an award to “build self-esteem”.  But it doesn’t.  Children know when they haven’t put in the extra effort that would justify receiving an award.  Knowing they haven’t earned their award can lead to shame and insecurity that undermines their confidence the rest of their lives.

If a child can recognize hollow praise, so can an adult. Being called a hero heaps tremendous pressure on the recipient. Must the individual take outrageous risks every work shift in order to perform deeds worthy of being called a hero?

What of the emotional toll?  Heroes are generally portrayed as individuals without fear or self-doubt or exhaustion.  But everyone has fears and self-doubts. Everyone suffers exhaustion.  Trying to live up to being heroes may deter emergency response and medical people from seeking help to cope with their fears and depression lest they be thought unheroic.

Some might see our hero worship as acceptable based on another of Webster’s definitions for a hero as “an object of extreme admiration and devotion”.  Certainly we can admire the emergency response and medical staff for continuing to do their jobs despite the danger of infection and possible death due to infection.  But those risks existed, even if they are now enhanced, the day they signed up for the job.

I’ve read many interviews given by World War II medal winners who are now labeled as heroes.  Each of them denied being a hero. They said “I just did my job” or “I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just knew I had to do it”.

Let’s show our appreciation for the emergency responders and the medical teams working the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic by reducing the pressure we put on them.   Let’s drop all the hyperbolic hollow talk about “heroes” and just let them do their jobs.

 

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 (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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

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The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye to the Music

 

“It’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of sand, made of sand

In the wink of an eye my soul is turning, in your hand, in your hand

Are you going away with no word of farewell,

Will there be not a trace left behind

Well, I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

 

This song by Neil Diamond has been playing in my mind off and on for days.  I know it is meant to be a song about a lover who is leaving someone behind – but what it is meaning to me is something else.

I learned this week that the process of making music – of singing in a choir, or playing in a symphony, or listening to a congregation singing hymns, or attending a concert – all cause greatly-increased possibilities of exposure to the Corona virus.  Going to a play is also part of this problem – the projection required to be heard in a theater increases the risks of infection.  Time exposed plus being in a closed environment plus the presence of people who may have the virus but don’t yet know it results in vectors of disease.

We have endured so many losses due to this pandemic – loss of control, loss of the illusion of control, loss of being able to be with and hug our loved ones and friends, loss of safety, loss of income in many cases.  My personal loss involves being unable to be close to my daughter and granddaughter – she is only two and would not understand social distancing. Losing music – that really was the last thing on my mind.

Finding out about the music and about live theater has really thrown me.  Being able to sing together is such a wholesome thing, such a joyful experience.  People who sing together experience a symmetry of rhythms – blood pressure and heart rates synchronize, breathing synchronizes.  Studies indicate that group singing results in increases in positive affect and decreases in production of cortisol (the stress hormone), as well as increases in immune functions.  To lose all this to a virus – incredibly sad.

It feels as though the music has gone – gone in the wink of an eye, with no opportunity for farewell.  Who knew that mid-March would mark the end of symphony as we know it, the end of church choirs, the end of group singing?

I would like to come up with something positive and hopeful at this point.  However, the truth is I do not feel hopeful.  I feel sad, and bereft, and lost – and loss of the music is part of that reality.

I can listen to music – and I do.  I can sing, and I do.  It is the creation of music together that is lost.  Creation of music in real time, in the same room, breathing the same air.  This will not come again – not until there is a vaccine and better treatment.  The time will come – but oh, I am so sad for now.

“Could have loved you better – didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

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.

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

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Pandemic Overload

blue and white face mask on white laptop computer

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Okay everyone, I am about to unleash a whole pile of emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the new “Safe-at-home,” lifestyle we’re all now living. I say, “lifestyle,” because as far as I can see, life as I knew it is officially over. Yes, we will eventually leave our homes and go back to work, to shop, to gather in small groups and maybe even larger ones. But honestly, can anyone imagine that our pre-pandemic life is out there somewhere, waiting for us? Will we ever think the same way about a cough, a sneeze, a fever? Will we ever not think that the stranger next to us in line at Starbucks might be carrying a virus? Will we ever hug someone who does not live in our house without asking for permission? Will we ever forget that for a time we were confined to our homes, isolated from our children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and extended family? Will I ever erase the images of people dying alone in a hospital with only a doctor or nurse for comfort?

For most of the last couple of months, I have cycled through the stages of grief over and over. From shock, to denial, to bargaining, anger and acceptance and back again, sometimes not even in that order. I’ve observed the social media accounts of people I know, and don’t know, who seem to be enjoying this time as some sort of staycation. And yes, everyone copes differently. I suppose if my children were young and needed to be schooled, entertained and otherwise taught the lessons that are part and parcel of this historic time, I’d also find the wherewithal to be a good model. But honestly, I just can’t seem to shake the grief and despair that I carry all day and most of the night. My usual exuberant energy feels dampened, my sunny outlook is overshadowed by sadness and my heart literally feels heavy.

I read once that trauma can be characterized as splitting life into two parts: life before the occurrence and life after. I believe our world is experiencing one giant collective trauma that will forever divide our lives in two. There will undoubtedly be other traumas that come along and supersede this one, much like my parents’ generation defined life before the Great Depression and life after and then, life before World War II and life after. And on and on and on…I. Hate. It.

Are there lessons to be learned from this crisis? Good that will come from all the deaths, the risks on the part of first responders and others who face danger everyday delivering essential goods and services? Who knows? There are those who believe this is some sort of cosmic payback for our collective bad behavior and disrespect of each other and our planet. Some believe this is nature’s way of thinning the herd and cleansing our overpopulated world. Some even believe this is all a hoax perpetrated by one political party or the other, one government or another, this or that corporate giant. I have become distrustful of most of the information I hear or read. There are a few sources I rely on, but I’m often skeptical of even those.

So how does all of this stack up for me? I still don’t know. Every day is different. I’m working on finding some peace, but it’s a struggle. I dread leaving my house, but when I do, I feel a bit better. As for some sort of deeper meaning, I just can’t see it, but maybe in time I will. Maybe it’s all just a senseless tragedy with no explanation or meaning to be found. I do hope that I can learn to be more patient, more compassionate, more accepting of things I can’t control. Mostly I hope someday to again feel safe in the world.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current 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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