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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 Other Side of the Couch – Understanding Self-Delusion

download (1) June seems so far away now – a miraculous moment now fading with the miasma of the Delta variant that is reversing the gains that were made.  We were so close to being able to be a bit safer, a bit freer. How is it possible that so many people in this country are so willing to risk their own lives and the LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN by choosing to forego vaccination against COVID-19.

I have been more than perplexed by this conundrum.  It makes no rational sense.  However, I recently read an article written by Shankar Vedantam that shed some light on this issue.

Shankar Vedantam is the NPR host of the podcast “Hidden Brain”.  He is interested in the issue of delusional thinking, and his latest book, Useful Delusions:  The Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain, presents a fascinating look at events that illustrate the protective power of self-delusion.  Although the buzzwords of the last few years – alternative facts, fake news, QAnon – are not mentioned, these concerns hover in the background of the stories like malevolent fairies just waiting to become visible.

Vedantam cites the story of one Donald Lowry, the founder of the infamous Church of Love that made millions of dollars in the 80s on the backs of lonely men.  Lowry essentially impersonated women who wrote letters to men who subscribed to the program, assuming a variety of personas and including many personalized touches to the letters he sent.  He was eventually caught and prosecuted, but the strange twist to this was that men who were members of his love letter subscription service CAME TO THE COURTHOUSE TO DEFEND HIM.  The men said the letters had saved their lives, stopped addiction, even stopped suicidal behavior.

Vedantam states in an article written for Psychotherapy Networker:

 “Foregoing self-deception isn’t merely a mark of education or enlightenment – it is a sign of privilege…your material, cultural, and social worlds are providing you with other safety nets for your psychological and physical needs.  But should your circumstances change for the worse, were the pillars of your life to buckle and sway, your mind, too, would prove fertile ground for the wildest self-deceptions.” (Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2021, p. 23)

So, what to do when we see the pillars of rationality challenged by what to many of us can only seem completely without merit.  Vedantam suggests that we are dealing with an evolutionary process in which “old” brain responses are at war with “newer” brain responses.  The two states of the brain have different value systems, and when rationality is seen as the only way of knowing, it is often ignored.

Humans have spent eons using the processes of narrative and storytelling and use of symbols – when we don’t use these processes and rely totally on rationality for truth, we lose sight of much that makes us human.  Joseph Campbell’s monumental work in defining the power of myth in human history is an example, as is Carl Jung’s exploration of the archetypes that live in the collective unconscious of humanity.

So, what does self-deception do for us?  In its best form it protects us when things are just too fragile, too out of control, too frightening.  Self-delusion gives us something to hold onto in a scary world.  It can create a sense of meaning and a sense of community.  We need to think carefully about what self-delusion does, and we need to figure out how to work with it.  How does this self-deception help the believer? What are the consequences of the belief?  Without this insight, it will be hard to create any kind of traction for change.

So, you don’t believe in vaccinations?  Tell me more about that – what are your hesitations?  Oh, your church community is against it? Oh, you feel a strong bond with your fellow church members and wouldn’t want to be different?  Oh, your grandfather was involved in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis research experiment?  That helps me understand.  I still disagree with your choice, but it makes better sense now.  Let me explain to you my experience – would you be willing to listen?

Vedantam closes his article with quite a statement:

“The psychological forces that make it difficult for the members of the Church of Love to see reality accurately fill all our lives.  If we seem less credulous, it’s only because circumstances have not tested us to the same extent. Put another way, those poor, pathetic rubes –but for a few strokes of luck –are us.” Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2021, p. 25

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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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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On Top of Old…

No, that is certainly not Old Smokey.  That’s a picture I took from the northwest side of the Nashville-Davidson County Landfill.  What appears as a mountain ridge-top is a 77-acre mound of garbage!!!

The site, Southern Services Construction & Demolition landfill, is owned by Waste Management. The company has plans to expand the site by 17 acres, a plan that was rejected by Nashville’s Solid Waste Region Board.  In April, the company filed a lawsuit against Davidson County.  According to my research, the board has a “Solid Waste Master Plan” which aims to send near zero waste to landfills by 2050.  Not exactly around the corner, but it’s a start…

So now, according to the news, Waste Management is having a shortage of employees.  Therefore, areas around Nashville are not having their garbage picked up.  The company is resorting to alternating schedules, so people’s trash is piling up.  According to WSMV, “An ordinary chore turned into a mound of frustration this month for people living in one Antioch neighborhood who say they weren’t paid a visit from their garbage truck for more than two weeks.”  So sad.  And I saw interviews on television showing people’s “trash.” 

How pathetic.  I mean, c’mon people!  I saw so many examples of recyclable items: Coke cartons, beer cartons, cans, milk jugs, plastic bags…  What’s the deal?  It’s 2021 and it’s high time, no, it’s WAY PAST high time for folks to WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GARBAGE!!!  Where do they think it goes?  Into a pile.  Okay.  And where does that pile go?  Nowhere, people –  Nowhere!!!!!!!!!

Now: Many neighborhoods have recycling collection.  Sure, they have some restrictions (like no glass – dangerous, I guess), but how hard is it to get it to the curb?  I have to tote mine to one of the recycling collection bin centers around town, or in my county, but it’s worth it.  I’ve been doing it for YEARS.  I just plan it in to my schedule and I know, at least I hope, it’s being dealt with sustainably.  As for plastic bags, most grocery stores have bins for those.

I know the public hears the word “recycle.”  I believe they even know what it means.  But if we don’t start conserving resources, and recycling serves that purpose as well, and limiting our garbage dumping, we are going down a very slippery slope.  “Earth Day” is more than just one day a year. Please…

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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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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The Story of Easter, And the Girl Who Loved Her

I love horses.  No, I mean, I REALLY, REALLY LOVE horses.  So, when I came upon the Canadian television series, Heartland, which actually began in 2007, I was instantly hooked.  I found it on Netflix, and, at this writing, I just finished the 6th of the total 13 seasons.  Tears here.

Based on Lauren Brooke’s +/- 26-novel series begun in 2000 (20 series and 5 extra special editions, according to equipepper.com), the story of Amy Fleming and an assortment of characters, especially family members, is based in Virginia, where she, her family, and friends, heal and help abused, mistreated, or “difficult” horses.  At Heartland, “They attempt to help the abused horses by using psychologically based therapies instead of more traditional training methods.”  Perhaps you’ve seen or read the series, as I’m a bit late in catching on.

I allow myself to watch one or two episodes in a sitting.  Sometime I can’t help getting carried away and watching more because the focus on the horses brings me close to my dear, sweet pony (just barely big enough to be a horse), Easter.

Our meeting and ensuing relationship was quite magical, so much like some of those in the series.  If you’ve never had the extraordinary experience of mutual love with a horse, let me assure you, there is no experience in the world like it.  You see, meeting my Easter came from a situation much like many of the equine characters in the series.  She was quite misunderstood and so was shuffled from rider to rider, getting them off her back in one way or another, until she was just locked away in a stall and ignored.  One day, we met.  We connected.  I asked about her and was told “the story.”  It was about to change.

It was at a summer camp in the mountains of Georgia where I had been a camper for a couple of years and then became a counselor.  We were able to spend the rest of the summer together on trail rides.  Of course, no one could believe I was riding Easter, as her reputation was far from stellar.  But there we were, a team.  Unfortunately, summers come to an end.  I had to leave my beloved pony and return home.  It was off to college and over two years before Easter was back in my life.  One birthday morning, after a pretty wild night of partying with friends, I woke to a commotion outside the mobile home on the little farm my partner and I lived on.  I staggered, literally, to the back door and a startled pony with a wide-eyed, shocked look on her face, which I know mirrored mine, was standing in front of me.  No lie.  Neither of us was believing it, but there we were.  My partner had convinced the unfeeling woman who owned the camp, and refused to sell her to me two years earlier, to sell her, and had her shipped down for my birthday.  Talk about magical.  I won’t talk about the end.  Just know we were together for many, many good years.

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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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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SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!

Indeed, it has!  And, thanks to the weather and the way I have been scheduled at work, I’ve had lots of time to work my “gardens.”  In fact, I’ve been so immersed, yesterday’s scheduled HerSavvy post slid right on by me. 

So…

My hummingbird feeders have been out since early this month and, while I haven’t seen any of my hummers yet, the sweet liquid goes down steadily, so they must be sneaking about when I’m not home.  I do believe I was “buzzed” by one this past weekend. I’m anxious to see my little friends again. 

I just LOVE tomatoes and it is very special to me to be able to share them around with my neighbors.  I have a “pot” garden on my patio for the smaller varieties and several of a full-sized variety planted in front of my condo.  The Super Sweet 100 is a cherry variety that does well in a large pot with a tomato stake to support it.  I’m trying out a new variety as well.  Its name is Chocolate Sprinkles.  Gotta love that!  I bought them as starts, so I’ll pinch their tops once they get a bit taller.  Doing this will help them fill out and not get spindly.  The four starts in the front, Bonnie Originals, are in the ground.  They’re of the large slicing type, so, while they are staked too, I like to let them “crawl’ once they’re really going.  At this point, everyone is doing great and looking fabulous.  I planted in a mixture of top soil and compost with manure.  Been quite a while since I’ve had the time and been able, physically, to dig in the dirt.  I’m excited.

I’m about to expand this year with a small bed off the patio for some Bush variety Blue Lake beans and Early Golden Acre cabbage.  We’ll see how THAT goes…

The front garden has some herbs and flower bulbs amidst the shrubs that were there when I moved in.  There are some very vibrant Comfrey plants I transplanted when I moved here, some yarrow, and some flower bulbs I got from my dear friend and fellow gardener, Kate Stephenson.  I can’t remember what they are (I got them from her early last fall and I’ve slept a bunch since then.) and I expect they won’t bloom until next year, but they’re doing great.

This is all probably a lot more than you want to know, but maybe you found a couple of nuggets in my ramblings.  Maybe you’re already a gardener, certainly more of one than I am, or maybe this is some inspiration for you.  Either way, dig it!

*Edit today:

Chocolate Sprinkles are early bloomers… REALLY early!!! 🙂

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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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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