On Being Human

Love-and-compassion-are-necessities-not-luxuries.-Without-them-humanity-cannot-survive.

This week I did something I’ve never done in my professional life…I missed a deadline. In fact, I missed my deadline for publishing this post! I don’t know how or why, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it. I consider myself a responsible, mature professional who is able to manage time well. But somehow, it happened.

As you can see, I’m beating myself up pretty badly about this. And I can’t help but wonder why. Why are we so hard on ourselves when we behave in a perfectly normal, natural, understandable manner? Is it perfection we expect? Are we afraid of letting people down, of being a disappointment?

Last week I spent much of my time preparing my home for the holiday of Passover. This requires cleaning my food pantry and clearing it of any food items containing flour and other foods forbidden during the weeklong holiday. In our household it means moving things from one place to anther, swapping out my everyday dishes for those reserved for this holiday, along with flatware. I also shopped, cleaned house and prepared food for the seder, festive meal, we hosted for 18 people at our house on Friday night. And, my adult daughter arrived to spend the weekend with us. In short, I DID A LOT OF STUFF! At various moments I reminded myself that I also had to write this post, but obviously, that didn’t stick. I can’t imagine why not! Ha!

Obviously I am someone who can accomplish and juggle many tasks. I pride myself on that fact and consider it one of my strengths. Heck, I raised three kids, went to grad school, worked full time, started two businesses and held volunteer leadership positions. I’ve set a pretty high bar for myself and usually can meet it. So is that why I can’t seem to shake the shame that I feel? Or is it something deeper?

I have a theory. I think my overblown shame and embarrassment stem from my underlying insecurity. It’s a feeling that, no matter how much I accomplish, I am not good enough. So when I fall short of my own expectations, it’s as if my suspicions about myself are right, and I am exposed. The world can now see me for what I really am: inadequate and incompetent.

My insecurities have their origin in my childhood, of course. I’ve had enough therapy to know from whence it came. The question is how do I move past this? It’s a difficult task. There are no easy answers or shortcuts. What I know is that this is part of my life’s journey. Learning to accept myself as I am, to value myself for who I am and to grant myself the compassion I give to others.

The lesson of Passover is to understand our past, and to remind ourselves of our journey from slavery to freedom. This year, I want to free myself from the bonds of insecurity and self-doubt. I want to remember the lessons of my childhood so that I can make new, better, kinder choices. One of the blessings in the seder services says, “This year we are slaves, next year may we all be free.” We are all slaves to something. What does it take for us to be free?

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Building the Boat While Sailing It

When I began my human resources consulting business in 2011, I had limited experience running a business.  I am a lawyer so naturally I believed that I could become competent if I just did sufficient research. Research meant reading a lot of business books, a category I normally ignore on my to the history (specifically military history) section.

I knew I needed help after doing countless coffee meetings but closing few deals. So I began reading books about sales and marketing.  Two of my favorites in this category are Integrity Selling in the 21st Century, by Ron Willingham and Getting Naked, by Patrick Lencioni.  The gist of these books is that fairness matters and it’s important to focus on what the client needs.

That sounds obvious, doesn’t it?   A few months ago, I went to a meeting expecting to talk about how we could do referrals to our respective businesses. Instead, the other guy and his boss ran through a PowerPoint of their company’s brilliant services. They never asked about my priorities. They insisted on doing the presentation as they’d rehearsed it.  I’m still annoyed at them for wasting my time.

My biggest business challenge has revolved around money.  I witnessed incredibly poor money management skills while growing up. I was also raised in a conservative Christian community where money was denigrated as the root of all evil.  In a nutshell, I have lots of misconceptions and phobias about money.

To overcome this handicap, I read Drive, by Daniel Pink which explains that higher skilled workers value autonomy more than actual pay. I also read You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero. Her book is hilarious, scatological and blunt. I’ve re-read her chapter on money phobias several times.   I found it more helpful than Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.

At the moment, I’m reading Good to Great, by Jim Collins with my savvy women friends. The book explains the importance of getting the right people in the right seats on the bus so that a company can evolve into being great.  I enjoy our weekly discussions of each chapter because we are a diverse group with varying perspectives. It inspires me to become more creative solving challenges with my company.

I’m also reading Traction, by Gino Wickham, which I consider a companion piece to Collins’ book. Traction provides step-by-step instructions in honing a company’s vision, marketing strategies, and administrative processes so that it can become successful. I had a lot of the pieces discussed in Wickham’s book. Now I’m organizing them into a coherent format that can be understood by the rest of my team.

The learning curve in business ownership was steeper than I realized but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.  I’ll admit, though, that sometimes it feels like I’m building the boat while trying to sail it.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Losing a Friend

It all happened gradually – so gradually that until it had been going on for months, even years, it was hard to notice.  Taken individually, the changes could be explained.  Lost keys.  Forgotten purse.  Trouble with managing a smart phone.  Struggling with finding a word on occasion.  Each one of those experiences has happened to all of us at some time or another.

However, suddenly, all those things were significant, because more things began to happen, more often.

Someone who had been the most fastidious of people had hair that needed washing.  Someone who had always been full of ideas seemed to have lost her interest in others.  Someone who knew her city well began to be confused about how to get from one place to another.

When the day came when she tried to write a check and didn’t know how to do it – when she sat at lunch with us and forgot there was food on her plate – we knew.

We knew what we hadn’t wanted to know, that we had written off as depression, as Attention Deficit Disorder, as just growing older – we knew that our friend was facing progressive dementia.  Because of her family history, we also knew that this was most likely early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Our friend is fortunate in that she has a caring family who intervened, who helped her make the changes she needed to make.  She will be loved and safe.  Although she will no longer be in this city, she will be with people who love her.

Others who live alone and/or who have no family are not so fortunate.

We are facing an epidemic of Alzheimer’s and other dementias as our population ages.  What I have learned by going through this process with my friend is that it is all too easy to dismiss the visible signs of early dementia because we don’t want to know it is happening.  This denial does a disservice to the person who is suffering, because early detection and early use of the medications available that slow the process down are essential to preserving the functional parts of the brain.

This terrible illness that ultimately eradicates the person’s memory and ability to function can be treated (not cured, but treated).  If you notice any of these signs, talk to your doctor.  Don’t wait; don’t live in denial.  If you see a friend struggling, speak up.  In the end it serves no one to pretend that all is well.

This link discusses some of the early signs of dementia.  It is worth reading. The Alzheimer’s Association is also a wonderful resource and support for caregivers.

https://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs

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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Business 101: A Savvy Woman’s Book Club

Book Club

A few of us savvy women are currently part of somewhat unique book club. Rather than reading the latest bestseller, romance or historical fiction, we are reading a business primer of sorts, focused on learning how some major US companies grew into some pretty great ones. The book, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins was written in 2001 and while some of the businesses profiled are no longer with us, the deep dive into the successes of these giants is proving to be both fascinating and moving.

The book details a multi-year study into 11 industry giants, which over a 15-year period, grew from being a good, solid business into a truly great company. Collins compiled a team of about 20 researchers who helped develop benchmarks against which to measure their subjects. They painstakingly defined the concepts of, “good,” and, “great,” compared the subjects to other similar companies, and what resulted is this book. It may sound dry, and I confess I was skeptical it would hold my interest, but to date I am about halfway through and I cannot wait to get to the next chapter.

One of the things that surprised me is how the characteristics, principles and practices that Collins and his team have uncovered in the great companies can be applied to most facets of life. Chapter Two, for example, looked at the five levels of leadership and defined what makes up each level. One by one, each member of our group began measuring herself against the top level and found herself coming up short. Our discussion that morning centered around how people in general and women in particular, judge ourselves harshly and often fail to see or acknowledge our own strengths and successes. The discussion led me to reflect on my own tendency to set a high bar for success and then when I don’t reach it, I feel like a failure. And this concept does not only apply in business. I can see it in my relationships with my children, my husband, friends and colleagues. I can see it in how I evaluate my own concept of success and failure.

The best part of reading this book, though, has been the group itself. Each of us has found something that resonates either personally or professionally and often, both. Our discussions are deep, funny, interesting, educational and sometimes frustrating, as we learn more about ourselves and our individual journeys. It’s exhilarating to be learning new things and facing new ideas in concert with others.

This savvy gal highly recommends you find a similar outlet. Books provide a springboard for so many wonderful discussions. Let us know your experiences with a book club or new experience. And if you haven’t already read it, try, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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You May Not Agree, But I Hope You Do

I’ll apologize just in case, but the way I see it; Violence begets violence.  If we begin arming our teachers, I believe we are escalating into an outright war.  School children are already afraid to go to school.  Parents are afraid to send them.  So is adding more guns to the mix really the answer?  And with a teacher shortage in existence already, who will want to join that noble profession aware that they will need to be “packing” to stay safe?  There has to be a better way.

We are also begging to lose students due to mistakes by gun-toting staff.  A teacher in north-western Pakistan was cleaning his pistol in the staff room when it fired a bullet by accident, hitting a student passing through the hall.  This incident occurred just months after school staff were given permission to carry guns, according to police there.  The idea seemed necessary because militants had been invading the schools, but the student died on the spot.

We’re talking about education here.  WHY are so many of our young people feeling so violent?  Are they in such pain that they have lost all connection to life and what it means to take one, or many?  How can we help them?  Can we replenish their souls so that they can appreciate life?

I don’t have the answers, but more guns in the schools?  I hope you agree.  There has to be a better way.

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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Road Rage in the Age of Victimhood

Recently I was involved in a road rage incident while on my way home. It all began, as so often happens, with a passive aggressive driver who would speed up every time someone tried to pass him. Eventually he was stuck behind a plumber’s truck and a line of vehicles blew by him of which I was driving the last.

Apparently the driver was so enraged that he followed me into a nearby grocery store. If I had known a nut was chasing me I would have swung by the local police precinct instead. I became aware of him when he tried to block me against a deli case so that he could spew a stream of profanity-laced filth, wrapping up by calling me a fat c—t and a lesbian. (Why is it that inadequate frustrated men always call women lesbians?)

I have lots of friends in the gay community so being called a lesbian isn’t particularly insulting. I’ve also been called many vulgar names while doing collections work and I worked a factory job long ago where I learned to out-cuss a drunken sailor. This guy was a comparative amateur. I couldn’t help myself. I smiled; almost laughed.

That set him off again and he followed me for several minutes through the store spewing comments about my putative lesbian love life.  He didn’t scare me at the time. There were plenty of people around and it was obvious that the tubby little man wasn’t going to get physically violent. When I left the store, he didn’t follow me.

Later I couldn’t help thinking about the guy. In my experience, that kind of rage boils up from months, even years of frustrated ambitions and blighted expectations. In other words, the guy felt like a victim and he needed a target for his victimhood.

We live in an era of victimhood.  There are economic victims of globalization, job automation, and the financial industry meltdown caused by blatant greed of the global elite. There are racial victims, ethnic victims, sexual harassment victims, and religious intolerance victims.  All victims have suffered a grievance based on a valid and real injustice.

But populist politicians who lack any sense of morality and decency are cynically exploiting the sense of victimhood by promising that the perpetrators will pay.  The perpetrators are some hazy “other” group that is racially, ethnically, and religiously different from the victim.  For an alarmingly large number of men, who feel their status has comparatively dropped, the perpetrators are females.

Populist politicians use inflammatory language that encourages their audience to take action against the alleged perpetrators.  We’ve seen it in the rise of hate crimes.  It also might explain why an angry, chubby, balding man followed a woman into a grocery store to spew hate.  That’s when I started feeling scared. Thank God he didn’t have a gun.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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 – The Gift of Waiting

Another month has passed – and we are still not back in our home after the twin disasters of mold in a wall (due to failure of roof flashings) and damaged hardwood floors (due to a water heater failure). Living in a hotel and eating most meals out is not glamorous in any way – and it is just not home.

What is taking so long? I wish I knew. In part it is due to timing (over the holidays), the weather (Arctic air mass that stopped work of any kind), Nashville’s booming construction industry (which makes finding contractors for relatively small jobs a challenge). However, in large part it is due to several entities having to sign off on what needs to be done and how much it will cost. These include the homeowner’s insurance agent and the adjuster, the moisture mitigation company, the contractors and their schedules, and the HOA (Homeowners Association). Throw into that mix the need for movers and packers (all the furniture has to come off of the damaged floors) – a lot of cooks are stirring this broth!

We wait with what patience we can muster. I am very clear that fretting and worrying will do nothing other than make my life harder and will do nothing to change the outcome of this process. I am trying to cultivate the practice of living in the present.

As I experience this time of waiting, I am aware of other times of waiting. I remember my father saying things like, “I can’t wait until she is old enough to…” – whatever the next milestone might have been. He had a hard time enjoying what was due to his anticipation of what would be. I remember waiting to graduate from high school, waiting to start a career, waiting to find a romantic partner, waiting for a child to be born. I am not sure that I waited with patience, nor am I sure that I ever had the wisdom to cultivate the practice of living in the present.

My guess is that I have missed a lot. This time of waiting has lessons that I need to learn. So I look around and am grateful for time spent with my daughter, who is awaiting her first child. I am grateful for the warmth of a space heater next to my feet as another round of Arctic air descends on Nashville. I am grateful for a new down coat that arrived just in time for the coldest days of winter. I am grateful that I am alive, here in this world, with eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind that works.

In the grand scheme of things problems with water heaters and walls are small compared to the grace of being alive in a world full of beauty and brokenness.
Perhaps you have worries that are fretting you. Perhaps you are spending too much time in the land of the future (the land of What If) or the past (the land of If Only) and not enough time in the land of Right Now. Let yourself enjoy it if possible or mourn it if necessary – but above all, be in it. It is all we really have.

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 Big 6-0 And Other Surprises  

birthday-surprize-upcoming-events-birthday-surprise-lake-of-the-torches

No, it’s not me turning 60 (though that will come soon enough), it was my husband who just hit this milestone birthday. And as is his way, he had no idea how to celebrate or commemorate the occasion. After some thought he finally decided he’d like to just go out with me to a fabulous steak dinner. Nothing else. No parties, no fancy gifts, no trips, nothing. I think this had more to do with his ambivalence toward the birthday than anything else. And I see his point. Sixty sounds considerably older than 59 or anything that came before. It sounds, dare I say it, like middle age is finally in the past. But I am a big believer that age is a state of mind, and that aging is a subtle process that transcends the calendar. And I really wanted my love to be able to celebrate the man he has become and to look forward rather than backward. And so began the plans for…THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE.

I have known my husband through 42 birthdays. You read that right. The first birthday we celebrated was his 18th, during our freshman year of college. I have attempted to surprise him many times and always, always, he has figured it out. This time, I concocted what I believed to be the perfect birthday surprise. I worked with our three adult children to bring them all home for a weekend to celebrate him. Three cross country flights, three different cities, three jobs. It seems straightforward and yet there were challenges.

I managed to coordinate the flights so two arrived around the same time, one a bit earlier. I signed us up for dinner and a speaker at our synagogue in order to get us out of the house on the appointed night of arrival. I told very, very, very few people about my plan. I lied my way through questions about the weekend, including coming up with fake plans. And, last week my brother decided to come for an overlapping visit, which turned out to be a great red herring. At the last minute my son set off our home security alarm resulting in a panicked phone call and more lies from me about the porch door blowing open and our neighbor coming to the rescue. Finally we were on our way home. After we parked the car in the garage, I blew past my husband up the stairs. The house was dark. The kids were sitting silently on the sofa. My husband followed me into the house, let the dog out, and when he turned around on went the lights. The look on his face was priceless! He was truly stunned. The kids gathered him into a group hug singing Happy Birthday. We did it!

The rest of the weekend passed with lots of catching up, laughter and of course, food. It was magical and I believe my husband was actually surprised. It was a quick trip, but one I know we’ll all remember. Monday morning the first thing my husband did was thank me. He said that even though he’s used to the kids not being here, he realized how much he misses them and how happy he is when he’s with them. He felt grateful they would drop their lives to come for his birthday. This man has made endless sacrifices of time and energy; he is the rock of our family. Our children know they are the lucky ones. They know they are loved unconditionally and valued beyond measure by their father. To them, it was an honor and a privilege to be able to come celebrate. Every single one thanked me for bringing them home. And I can add my gratitude to theirs. I am grateful for the 42 birthdays we’ve spent together; I look forward to many more. And I still can’t believe we pulled off the surprise of a lifetime.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Parenting Our Parents

When did it happen? At exactly what point did the tables turn? Did I see it coming? Yes, I know my mother ended up with a horrible outcome from what was supposed to be a relatively “simple” surgery, and that has resulted in her dependence on my sister and me, but I don’t think this is exclusively the reason. I know many of my friends are in the same situation. Even if their parent(s) are not disabled in any specific way, they share their concerns with me about their parent(s)’s behaviors, decisions, etc. I hear them express their disapproval of a particular decision or attitude. They express these to the parent(s) only to be rebuked. Then there is angst between them. Sadly, sometimes it doesn’t get resolved before it is too late…

As children, we looked to our parents for everything; clothing and housing, food and education, more. We depended on them to make “the rules” and lay a foundation to lead us into responsible and respectable adulthood. They made, or at least helped us make, important decisions. Most of us were fortunate enough to receive all of these gifts from our parents. So what happens when we begin to see and feel the need to take care of them and make those same kinds of decisions for them?

From an article at elderoptionsoftexas.com, Roll Reversal: Should You ‘Parent’ Your Parent?:

Because of advances in medicine, more and more people are living well into their 90’s. But quality of life isn’t always keeping up—and many older adults have mobility issues, chronic conditions, dementia, and other health problems that mean they need live-in care.

Many adult children make the decision to take care of their elderly parents—either part-time or full-time. But caring for a parent comes with some pitfalls. Often, it comes in the form of ‘roll reversal’. When your parent needs significant help to do basic things—even things involve very intimate hygiene-related tasks—it can be tempting to start seeing this as a reversal in roles. 

If you haven’t had to face this, let me tell ya, it ain’t easy. My dear sister, Joan, now lives with my mother. Granted, the loss of Mom’s leg is truly tragic and she often expresses feelings of uselessness. While she still balances her own check book, lays out her vitamins for the week every Saturday, folds laundry, and writes out checks for her bills in her same beautiful, perfect handwriting, “I’m a cripple,” she cries. “I hate my life. I just want to die.” Yet, whenever faced with some kind of challenge, like coughing to the point of choking, she clings to life in a panic. I don’t think she really wants to leave us. She just gets frustrated and depressed. Understandable for sure. She led such an active life before and still takes care of herself pretty well, with some limitations, of course. She has a caregiver most days while Joan is at work and I take over care duties full-time whenever Joan goes out of town.

For the most part, it’s routine. For instance, breakfast in the morning consists of cereal or eggs and toast, occasionally with a little bacon because she loves it, but has to avoid too much salt. BUT, if I ask her if she’d like some sliced tomato with it, I am met with gritted teeth and fists banging the table. “Noooooo,” she roars, “I just want eggs!” I want to ask, “Who are you and what have you done with my mother?” Joan gets this same type of reaction when Mom can’t find some piece of paper she feels is important and Joan doesn’t quite grasp the significance.

I found an article at agingcare.com entitled Switching Roles: Coping with Your Rebellious Aging Parent by Carolyn Rosenblatt.  She says,

“Some people call this “switching roles”. What it means is that your job, one you’ve never done before, is to be sure your parent is safe and cared for, just as your parent once did for you. The problem is, your parent is not going to grow up, become more mature and eventually appreciate your efforts. So where does that leave you?

For most adult children who must learn this new job of safety monitor, taking on the new responsibility of “parenting your parent” leaves you with a fair amount of stress and anxiety. Some adult children still feel intimidated by an imperious aging parent, even one who is infirm, demented or unable to care for themselves independently. It takes some doing to face this and cope, but it can be done.”

Rosenblatt offers five “strategies” for coping with the new role of parenting our parent(s). She also refers to several other articles the agingcare.com website offers on the subject.

Mom is still mighty sharp in most aspects, but sometimes she can get downright belligerent. That is probably our greatest challenge. We’ve decided she is bored, since she stays at home with rare exception, and could use some stimulation, input from outside her little world. It’s hard to get her out, though, because she claims getting in and out of the car is “exhausting.” No doubt. It would probably be so at 92 even if she had both legs. At this point, however, we have introduced her to the idea of a senior residence that seems absolutely fabulous. She now goes to a class there every Wednesday and admits (albeit reluctantly) that she enjoys it. Moving there is under consideration, but she’s “not ready for that yet.”

For now, like everything in life, we’re taking it one day – one minute at a time. And loving her all we can for as long as we can. Perhaps you are facing similar challenges with your parent or parents. Do you have any suggestions?                Any and all are welcome.

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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Kitchen Kitsch

I love to cook so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. My cooking is pretty basic; I don’t use exotic ingredients and I have a battered set of pots and pans.  I grew up poor and learned to use what was available and in my price range.

These days I have more income but I stick by my old habits.  I buy in bulk and I look for what is on sale and then build recipes around those items.  Recently I realized that I was spending a lot of time in the kitchen slicing, dicing and chopping vegetables. I actually enjoy the process because it allows me to think about the various combinations of food, spices, oils, or whatever I need for the finished dish.

Kitchen time fills more than just the need to prepare my next meal. Kitchen time also allows me to reflect on ideas or issues that are important to me. I could get the same benefit from a long walk but at this time of year I’m doing my exercising indoors on a treadmill facing the TV.

Because I spend so much time in my kitchen, I began posting important messages for myself.  I always find it ironic when gifted, educated and powerful women say they struggle or have struggled with their sense of self. I’ve spent a lifetime struggling to think of myself in those terms, despite every accomplishment and achievement in my life.  So my refrigerator and kitchen walls are covered with inspirational notes to remind me of what I am; not what I used to think I was.

When I was a child, I was taught to cook because it was considered a “womanly” skill. Despite that handicap, I still enjoy cooking. Only now my kitchen time is usually spent thinking about reinforcing my self-image and building a stronger, successful business.

As a small business owner, I’m constantly thinking about where that next client will come from or the best (meaning most effective) method for prospecting for new clients or what tasks I should delegate to others.  Sure, I could sit down at a desk and cogitate on all these points. But it seems to flow more naturally when I’m doing other things, like chopping vegetables to make a stew.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. My company works primarily with employers that have up to 50 employees.

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