Tag Archives: family

Time Change

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Sometimes I sit down to write and I’ve got nothing.  My mind is constantly spinning, but unless I feel something in my gut, the words just don’t come.  That appears to be the case today.  This past weekend we turned the clocks back and I guess I’m feeling uninspired and sluggish.  The view outside my window is actually lovely; blue sky, leaves finally turning coppery and softly fluttering in the breeze.  But it’s 2:00pm and already it feels like late afternoon rather than a bit after lunchtime.  Even Bentley, the labradoodle, feels it.  He’s dozing on the chair in my office, tail twitching every now and then.

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Every Fall it seems I experience this same sense of sadness when the clock changes.  Farewell to summer, to my vegetable garden, to the abundant daylight hours.  I know the coming weeks and months will be festive and fun, filled with holiday parties and celebrating a new year.  But today I just feel down.  Tonight, I will prepare the last of my beautiful summer eggplants and this weekend I will clean out the beds.  The other day I picked the last of the bell peppers and jalapenos for the season.  This year I planted a couple of beds with cool weather greens and they are doing well, but I already miss my fragrant tomatoes, the unruly squash and cucumbers.

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This year’s time change has brought other changes, too.  My daughter, newly returned from California, will soon be moving into her new condo.  I’m happy for her, glad she’ll have a new place to call her own.  But I’ll miss her comings and goings in my house.  A friend recently joked with me that we just can’t get rid of the adult children, and it’s true.  They cycle in and out as they transition from one thing to another.  But honestly, I’m happy they know our arms and our doors are always open when they need us.  Yes, it’s disrupting, but all things being equal, I’ll take this type of disruption any day of the week.  The fridge is fully stocked, the washing machine runs constantly, but I’m enjoying this short-term visit with my parenting past.

The shadows are growing longer and it’s still just mid-afternoon.  I know this feeling won’t last long.  In a couple of days, I’ll be used to this new season and have more energy to face the darker months.  But right now I’ll just watch the waning light outside my window and say a little farewell to summer.

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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Stop Saying These Words

 

 

We need to stop saying these words now!

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of…”   It’s cynical and hypocritical coming from the mouths of our politicians and community leaders who shrug their shoulders and say they can do nothing about the mass murders happening across our country.

If their thoughts and prayers were really with the families of the victims, they’d take steps to prevent more mass murders.  But they don’t.  They’d rather deny all responsibility with a meaningless phrase and bogus arguments like these.

Bogus argument #1: The gunman was mentally ill.

Each mass murder is followed by the NRA and their political puppets mouthing nonsense about the gunman being mentally ill.  If the NRA and their enablers at all levels of government truly believed this was true, they would expand funding for mental health coverage and treatment.  But they don’t.

Bogus argument #2: We’re protecting the 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment says every citizen has the right to “bear arms”.  It doesn’t say that every citizen has the right to own an assault rifle that kills 9 and wounds 25 people in less than a minute.  It doesn’t say that we are prohibited from requiring waiting periods and background checks or banning some types of quasi-military rifles.

A recent survey showed 67% of Americans support banning assault rifles like those used in the recent mass murders. So it’s time to stop accepting the hypocrisy of every irresponsible politician and take action.

  1. Vote for candidates at every level of government who support laws that allow gun ownership while also protecting all of us. We need laws that require waiting periods and background checks.  Federal and local law enforcement databases need to be connected to make the checks meaningful.
  2. End gerrymandering. Our country is gridlocked due to “safe” seats at all levels of government. This undemocratic practice hands victory to politicians  of both major parties who are owned by special interests, like the NRA, which fund their election campaigns.  These politicians don’t represent or respect what most voters want.
  3. Reform our campaign finance laws. We need a public registry identifying every donor who contributes a minimum $100 to any political party, PAC, or candidate in any election.  If the donor is a business or special interest group, then we should know the names of their officers and largest shareholders/donors.  We (the voters) have a right to know who is contributing to the campaigns of politicians who mouth hypocritical, cynical nothings while shrugging their shoulders and voting for loose gun laws that enable mass murders.

If we don’t act now, the next meaningless phrase could be mouthed to our families.

 

 

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 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).

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Exercising My Superpower

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This past month has been eventful.  My husband and I celebrated a big anniversary with a Hawaiian vacation that included our three adult children.  The vacation was glorious, but traveling as a family of five adults is a challenge (although I’ll take the challenges over not being together any day of the week).  Added in was a recurrence of bursitis in my left arm that was painful and frustrating.  Our two-week sojourn also included a stay in Los Angeles, a drive up the coast to attend my niece’s wedding and a mad dash back to LAX for the return flight home.  And upon our return, our youngest son is now living with us while he attends graduate school.  Oh, and just before our trip, a leak in our upstairs HVAC resulted in drenched duct work and damage to the ceiling drywall.

I’m not complaining!  Well, actually, I’ve done a ton of complaining to my husband.  Thankfully he has very broad shoulders and has kept his cool.  Staying cool in the face of my emotional storms is one of his super powers.  And in the midst of the chaos, well maybe after some of it has passed, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a partner with truly superhuman patience.  In fact, sweetie, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), thank you.

And this week is my birthday, so there’s that.  I always feel a little melancholy around this time.  Every birthday since my parents passed is another reminder of what I’ve missed sharing with them.  I was so fortunate to have the kind of parents many kids long for.  They weren’t perfect by any means, but they were perfect for me.  They were my first teachers, my protectors and my biggest cheerleaders.  They loved me unconditionally and completely and they showed me how to do the same with my children.

Is there a lesson in all that has happened this past month?  I’m not sure.  Since last week, there have been three more mass shootings with little outrage coming from our nation’s lawmakers.  The erratic weather patterns around the world further highlight the threat to our planet.  And unstable and dangerous dictators in foreign countries threaten our nation’s democracy and safety.

One of my super powers is my ability to remain positive and optimistic in the face of life’s difficulties.  Right now, my powers aren’t as strong as they usually are.  But I will offer this: all of the current challenges we face are proof of our humanity.  What distinguishes us from other life forms and from machines is our resilience in the face of pain and tragedy and our ability to learn and grow from our mistakes and the misdeeds of others.  I am hopeful that our common humanity will give us the strength we all need to work together to find solutions and to honor our differences.  I believe it is our ability to love that elevates us and allows us to see the humanity in each other.

And when I feel really down, I head out to my summer garden and revel in nature’s creations and take pride in my accomplishments there.  This year, my sunflowers haven’t worked out as I’d like.  But I’ve had a bumper crop of squash, peppers and cucumbers.  Tomatoes are still going strong and I’m anxiously awaiting some eggplants to ripen.  More lessons learned.

 

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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Talking To Your Sister Is Sometimes All the Therapy You Need –anon

My mother always stressed how important my sister and I are to each other. Whenever we fought, and, like all siblings do, we DID fight, she would remind us that sometimes, and perhaps someday, we would be all we had.  “When your friends are not there for you, or you have lost a love, anything, your sister will be there,” she would say, and how right she was.  She was an only child so I guess she felt the value of having a sister more than we did at the time.  As it happened, thankfully, our Uncle Howard, my father’s older brother, married my Aunt Helen who too was an only child.  Now, my mom literally grew up with my dad and his brothers because my grandmothers were best friends.  It naturally followed that Marilyn and Helen became “sisters” big-time.  They were pretty much inseparable for most of their lives.  Again, like siblings, they had their moments, but all was always forgiven in the end.

This is a plaque in my room.  A gift from my sweet sis’, it greets me every morning.  I smile.

I am so grateful to my mother, OUR mother for instilling this gratitude in us.  Our love and caring and support for each other have carried us through many an emotional trauma.  We’ve spent plenty of long sleepless nights on the phone or in person working through life’s challenges.  We both have wonderful friends, of course, who have shared their support through the ups and downs, but there is something beyond special about our sisterly relationship.

Losing Mom this spring and taking care of all that was necessary following her passing has been proof of that.  We cared for her right there at home, with the help of hospice, but it was just the two of us there for most of the last days and at the end.  Joan and I spent two and a half months together under the same roof, a true test indeed.  We hadn’t been together for more than a few days or a week, maybe, since childhood.  Oh, we did have a couple of skirmishes, but Mom’s words got us through.  We didn’t say it out loud, but I know we were both thinking it.  In a moment, one time, we did tell each other that we thought Mom would be proud of us.

If you have a sibling or siblings, I hope you are close like we are.  I have to say that Mom would often comment on how happy she was that we appreciate each other like we do.  She spoke of friends whose children didn’t even speak to each other — ever. I have friends like that. Very sad.

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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Freedom and Happiness

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As I sit here writing this post, the sound of beautiful music is wafting down from my upstairs loft and the grand piano that mostly sits silent.  Today however the piano’s owner, my son, is visiting and finally the keys have sprung to life once again.  This background of music has been constant in our lives since the boy was four years old when my mother, a pretty good musician herself, bought us our first upright piano and signed him up for music classes.  Every Saturday morning, she and my dad would pick up our son and take him to the class, participate with him and return with instructions for the week’s practicing.  This cycle continued for a few years until he was old enough for private lessons and then I would dutifully drop him off.  And so it went until he could drive himself and finally, upon high school graduation, he transitioned to a university music conservatory.

My parents are not alive anymore to witness the flame that grew from those early lessons.  But when I hear my son play, I feel connected to them.  Both were musical, albeit in different ways.  My mom loved the structure of sitting at the piano.  My dad was whimsical and loved the tactile sensation of picking up a clarinet, a banjo, a concertina and would often bring some new, unusual instrument home to show us.  Even a harmonica delighted him and he’d run it between his lips, a twinkle in in eye, and try to teach us the same technique.

My son also spent several years with a violin, but it was the piano that had staying power for him and now, it is his life’s work.  We’ve watched and listened as he grew from a tiny boy whose feet couldn’t even touch the floor pedals, into a man towering over the keys.  When he plays his body sways with the music, his feet move confidently over the pedals and his green eyes blaze with energy.

Years ago, I asked my son how he feels when he plays the piano.  He told me it felt like he was flying and that he is happy when he plays.  I interpreted the flying as a feeling of freedom.  Freedom and happiness; what more could a mother want for her child?  What more could anyone want for themselves?  As we head into Independence Day 2019, I wish for all of you, freedom and happiness.  I wish that for our country and for our planet.

 

And, here’s the latest update from my garden:

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Farm to table zucchini bread

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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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Going Home

Today has been a remarkable confluence of a variety of events – the 30th birthday of a dear son-in-law, the celebration of life of a beloved church member, the good-byes to neighbors who are moving on, my husband’s return to work after the first round of chemotherapy (three more to go). I spent the afternoon yesterday with the youngest member of our family – our 14-month-old granddaughter, walking, talking, playing – making her wishes clearly known.

When I opened the New York Times newsletter that I receive daily, I turned to the op-ed features, as I so often do.  Margaret Renkl, a fellow Nashvillian, wrote a beautiful piece about time and loss and mortality.  The link to this piece is here.  It is so worth reading, and so I offer it to you today.  Enjoy.

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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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Trauma Comes in Many Forms

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Photo by Natália Ivanková on Pexels.com

I recently read in an article that trauma, though usually associated with a sudden, unexpected horrible event or occurrence, can also be caused by something positive.  The article explained that trauma is anything that divides your life into before, and after.  I realized, as I approach the 12th anniversary of my move to Tennessee, that I’ve been dealing with the trauma of being uprooted from the only home I ever knew and relocating to a place where I had no family or friends.

My discovery was triggered by a call from someone I don’t know, but who is a colleague of my brother.  This person and his wife are considering moving to Nashville and my brother suggested they reach out to me to learn the ropes.  As I first spoke to the husband, I answered his questions and gave him the broad strokes about life here.  He’s concerned for his wife and how she will fare.  I next spoke with the wife, who had very different questions and concerns.  We had a great conversation, but as I shared my experiences with her it became clear to me that I’ve suffered some trauma as a result of the move.  In fact, after our conversation, I felt a wave of grief wash over me and it stayed for several days.

I’m sure on the spectrum of trauma, my experience is somewhat mild.  But I do distinguish my life before the move and my life since.  I often spend time wondering what my life would have been like if we’d never moved.  I fantasize about what I’d be doing at this moment if I was still, “back home.”  And I long for a time we can move back.

I don’t know much about recovery from trauma, but in this case, it’s come as a gradual process.  The last 12 years have been challenging but, I know now, also incredibly rewarding.  I’ve learned that I am a resilient person.  I’ve become more confident in my ability to navigate new situations.  And while I always knew I’m someone who makes friends easily, I’ve learned to consciously use that skill when necessary.

And there’s been another, unexpected lesson I’ve learned.  The concept of, “home,” is one I always associated with a place.  In my case, that home is Southern California.  But home is a funny thing, wherever you are, wherever your loved ones are, that’s home.  For some people, it’s obvious but for me, it was something I really had to live through to understand.  And the places that I long for are always with me, in my heart and my memories.  Just like people who have passed through my life, places I treasure don’t disappear.  But unlike people who have passed, I can, and do, revisit places.  The shores of the Pacific Ocean, the rocky peaks of the Sierras, the desert sands of Palm Springs, all are still there for me.  Not to mention the breakfast table at my best friend’s house, the neighborhood parks where my children played, the street where we bought our first home and the duplex I lived in when I was a child.

Right now, I actually feel lucky to have two big parts to my life.  The part before the move that gave me my values, my inner strength, my education and my family.  And the part since, that put all of that to the test.  I know now that, given the choice, I wouldn’t go back to the life I had; that life exists in my memory.  The one I have now is so much richer, more meaningful and more satisfying.  As time passes I feel blended rather than split in two.  I get to choose what part of my past to keep and what to let go and I also get to decide what to embrace in my new life and what to let pass.  I guess for now, the grief is passed, but I’m sure it will resurface and next time, it will be different.

Springtime in my Garden

Here are a few shots from my garden.  This is definitely something new for me!  A vegetable garden of my own is something I always wanted in So. Cal. but never had time or space.  Check it out!

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The latest veggie harvest

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First yield of the season.

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The garden!

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He’s Baaaaack! The Return of the Son

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File this under the “Be careful what you wish for,” file.

My youngest child has been accepted into grad school at a local university (I’m not allowed to say which one, just yet, but it’s very local to our home).  We are, of course, very excited to have him back home for a while.  But as reality sinks in and planning gets underway, I am also a bit apprehensive.  As empty nesters, we are about to have an adult roommate.  In my mind I picture a sophisticated arrangement where we enjoy dinner together, maybe a glass of wine at the end of the day.  I’m looking forward to someone else to do some of the cooking.  On the other hand, after several years alone, my husband and I have a nice routine of our own.  Our house is orderly for the first time in, well, forever.  Our utility bills are manageable, the refrigerator is stocked for two, laundry is done every couple of weeks and the thermostat is set for my comfort.  It’s all about to change.

Funny thing about having children; they grow up, they leave and then, one by one they each come back for a time.  The challenge for me is how to maintain my independence and balance it against my automatic return to “mommy mode.”  And actually, the bigger challenge is to recognize when I snap into mommy mode and then to manage myself so that I don’t get completely lost in it again.  This time around, I’m expecting that said adult child will be so busy with school, studying, internships and making new friends that he won’t be around all the time.  The goal, after all, is for him to launch the next chapter of his life.  And as he’s been living independently in another city for the last several years, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need us for much anymore.  Additionally, I have a pretty full life myself with new friends, a business to run and volunteer work.

The first test came the other day when my son asked if he could share my office for his studies.  I was a little taken aback, then calmly told him that I think it would be best to set him up in one of the other bedrooms since I use my office regularly. Privately I was a little peeved because I’ve waited years to have a nice home office that is just mine and frankly, I don’t like to share it with anyone.  So, obviously we’ll have to establish boundaries.

I realize I’m getting ahead of myself right now.  And I also realize I’m having a roller coaster of emotions around this child’s return.  Excited, anxious, relieved, then anxious again, then back to being thrilled.  At least we have a few months before our new living arrangement begins.  In the meantime, I plan to do some personal work to figure out what are my boundaries and how do I want to communicate about them.  I want to be aware of my own triggers so that I can be prepared and not get sucked back in.  I also want to think about my expectations for this time in our lives.  It will be fun to have my little buddy back, to have someone to chat with over coffee, to discuss politics with and to have my social media guru around to help with that aspect of my business.  And I expect he will want to set his own boundaries and manage his expectations.

As the next few months of planning unfolds, communication will be key to making this a smooth transition.  And it will be important to remember that we all love each other and want each of us to be happy and content at home.  More to come.

And in other news, this past weekend I prepared my raised beds for planting.  Keep watching my posts for updates on my Summer Garden 2019!

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COMING SOON SUMMER 2019!

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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The Other Side of the Couch – The Path We All Must Take

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Someone very close to me has received a diagnosis of cancer.  Neither the nature of the relationship nor the specifics of the diagnosis are significant here – what I am watching, as though from a distance, is my own set of responses.

I have been here before.  The shock of the information, the moment when everything goes still and you find yourself not breathing.  The deliberate focus on detail – who, what, when – what is the plan – what do you need – how can I help.  My method for coping with crisis is to become very organized and intentional.  I suppose that is about imposing some degree of order on a suddenly chaotic world.

That works for a limited amount of time.  It is the cushion that the psyche provides when events are too overwhelming to process all at once.  I find that it is useful.

What I have not done, and what I need to do, is to set aside time to feel the emotions that I am now deliberately avoiding.  I am afraid.  I am devastated. I am unbelieving and in shock.  I am so afraid that my time on this earth with this person is coming to an end.  I am dealing with loss.

I wish I had words to say that would make it better.  I wish it were not happening.  I wish I could go back to that blissful place of unknowing.  I wish so many things.

This event throws into perspective once again that truth – our days on this earth are numbered.  We will all follow the same path out of this world, and each and every moment we have together is a gift and a blessing.  I remember when I was a teenager and experienced the assassination of President Kennedy – my response that day was to gather all my siblings and to go home, to a place we could all be together.

My impulse today is the same, but we are widely scattered – thousands of miles apart.  So – metaphorically speaking I gather us all into love and light, I reach out and connect, I share my loved one’s story far and wide, because I believe that loving energy helps and supports healing. I do all I can.

And I take time to cry.

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 Other Side of the Couch – How to Change the World An Hour at a Time

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I have a new granddaughter.  She is nine months old now, and I am delighting in watching her become the person she is meant to be in this world.  Even at this young age she has decided preferences, and she has two devoted parents, not to mention grandparents on both sides who are wild about her.  This little girl is surrounded by so much love and care.

Human babies come into this world as the most fragile and helpless of creatures.  They are totally dependent for food, shelter and protection on their parents.  For their brains to develop properly they must receive these things, AS WELL AS the intangibles of loving and responsive interaction with caring adults.  We learned years ago that children who are physically cared for but emotionally ignored grow up with impaired ability to attach.  This distortion of attachment impairs adult relationships in major ways.

Dan Siegel, author of The Developing Mind, describes a baby’s brain as a first draft – the child has some hard-wired processes (handedness, various kinds of talents like perfect pitch), but the expression of many of the genes a child carries is also determined by environmental experiences. Nature vs. Nurture? No, Nature AND Nurture.  Both are significant in the development of a cohesive self.  Human beings are meant to develop in the context of relationship.  The human brain is a relational organism that does not develop well in isolation from others.

Does this mean that the many children across the world who are born into war, into poverty, into natural disasters are doomed?  It does not – because human beings also have a remarkable ability to persist in the face of very challenging circumstances.  Sometimes the existence of even one adult in a child’s life who responds to them with care and concern is enough to give that child the hope for tomorrow that is needed to surmount the troubles of today.  Teachers, aunts, uncles, caring neighbors – all have a role to play in helping kids in difficult circumstances.

My granddaughter is lucky – she will likely never have to lack for love or response.  Millions of other children are not so situated.  Perhaps you have an hour a week to do something as simple as read a book at an elementary school in your city.  Being read to is one of the most important ways that children learn to love and appreciate books; this leads to better reading skills, better success in school, and better ability to connect to others.

How to change the world – one hour at a time.  Think about it!

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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