Tag Archives: life changes

The Other Side of the Couch – What’s Next

     

 

I was driving on Old Hickory Boulevard on Saturday morning (November 7) on the way to visit my daughter and granddaughter and listening to NPR’s Ask Me Another, when suddenly Scott Simon broke in, and it became clear that the presidential race had been called for Joe Biden.  I had been waiting for this, hoping for this for so long – and as I took in the news, I felt a weight that I hadn’t realized I had been carrying begin to slip away.  Unfortunately, that weight has returned, given what is transpiring in our government in these last few days.

Ever since that awful morning in 2016 when I awakened to learn that a misogynistic reality TV star had defeated the most qualified and prepared candidate for president who had run in the last forty years, I have been to some degree in disbelief.  Secretary Clinton said he was unfit to hold the office of President of the United States.  It turns out this was an understatement.

Now after a hard-fought race that has been clearly won by Vice-President Biden – now President-Elect Biden – Trump is refusing to concede, is directing government offices NOT to cooperate with the transition, and appears to be purging high-level Pentagon officials and installing his own loyalists.

Over and over again well-meaning people have said, “It can’t get worse.”  And over and over again it has gotten worse.

I don’t want to think that Trump is planning to stage a coup or start a war in order to stay in office.  I don’t want to think that he would incite some blindly loyal followers to become violent in order to keep him in office.  But I didn’t want to think that most of the things he has done could happen.

I say, America, wake up!  Something is not right.

My dependence is on our military because I do not think the military will allow itself to be used for political ends. And I never thought that I would be saying these things in the United States of America.  The tradition of a non-political military that is not used to enforce domestic policy is essential to our democracy – and I believe that line will hold.  Today is Veterans Day -and we owe a debt of gratitude to all our service members, past and present, who have been willing to give their all – even their very lives – in service to our country.  I say to them – thank you – and may you soon have a Commander-in-Chief who values you and sees you and supports you.

May we survive these days and make it to January 20, 2021.  Then we can say with hope – what’s next.

 

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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Be the Change

Okay, I did the one thing that, as a professional journalist, I swear never to do: I missed my deadline.  Yep, my day to post on this blog is the first Tuesday of each month.  I have almost never missed, but this week, I just can’t remember what day it is.  And while for the average reader it is surely not a major issue, for me it represents just how disoriented I am these days.  I’ve written about it before, but as the season is changing again, I am reminded of just how long we have all been dealing with the current pandemic.  The light through my window is different, the air feels crisper and when I run the few errands I must these days, the décor is focused on Thanksgiving and even Christmas!  How is that even happening again? 

There are other events that have served to keep me off kilter, as well.  The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, has triggered so many memories of my own mother.  The two women were born just a year apart.  Like RBG, my mother wanted to become a lawyer.  But while Ruth was cheered on by her parents and later, her husband, breaking down the barriers in her path, my mom was discouraged from following that path.  My grandfather, himself a judge and state legislator, felt the law would be a difficult profession for a woman of that time.  He wanted to protect my mother from the mistreatment he knew would come her way.  “Be a teacher,” he told her, “That’s a good profession for a nice Jewish girl.”  And so it was. 

My mother was a brilliant person and a gifted teacher.  She was a devoted wife and as a mother, well, there are no words to describe the depth and breadth of her love for her children.  And yet, I have always wondered if she didn’t harbor some regret about the path not taken.  In fact, one of her favorite poems was Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.”  She used to recite it to me, write it in birthday cards and reference it often.  When I would ask if she wished for some other life, some other story, her answer was always the same.  She was happy in her choice and dedicated to using her abilities to better her family and our community.  And she did amazing, wonderful things. She inspired not only her children at home, but countless children in her third grade classroom. 

Perhaps the question I should be considering is not whether she had regret, but rather whether she was fulfilled.  And whether fulfillment is not tied to any one thing but is a feeling that comes from satisfying one’s inner sense of purpose.  I believe my mother was wholly herself regardless of the task at hand or the job title.  She never wavered from living her values and sharing them with the world around her.  And while she didn’t change the world in big, revolutionary ways, she changed those in her sphere by being herself.

There is a famous quote, often attributed to Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  That was my mother. 

Oh, and make sure to wash your hands, wear a mask and VOTE!!!

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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Off Balance but Still Standing

This is the weirdest autumn ever.  Everything feels off balance.

The covid-19 pandemic continues to kill people with no relief in sight.  Our economy is teetering on the edge of recession due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, like job losses and slowing demand.  The economic blows are made worse by protectionist politicians who ignore what is good for the average consumer in order to protect monopolistic industries run by big campaign donors.

We have a new class war brewing as our society splits between those who can work from home and those who can’t.  The ones who can’t are mostly blue collar workers who are paid less and have fewer employee benefits.   Blue collar workers are also less likely to have options for ensuring their children will keep up with their schooling. Parents who are struggling with fears of layoffs don’t have energy to try to help their kids solve math problems.

As if a pandemic isn’t bad enough, our political lives have fractured due to the ugliest electoral season since 1968 and 1860.  In 1968, race riots caused by racial injustices and protests against the Vietnam War turned most major cities into mini-war zones.  In 1860, half the country was ready to secede and fight a civil war to keep the institution of slavery.  Then as now, self-serving political and religious demagogues got their 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the situation.

But this is the point when I realize that not everything is doom and gloom.  The political violence of 1968 and 1860 can’t happen again in our country.  Today, hardly anyone supports the notion of seceding or going to war to protect racial purity and racial inequities.  Unlike 1968, today people of all races, ethnicities and ages are marching demanding a fairer social bargain for everyone.

Eventually, there will be a vaccine to beat back the threat of covid-19.  That vaccine will be created faster than any other vaccine has ever been thanks to advances in bio-medical research in recent years.

There are also signs that the economy is adjusting to the new ways of doing business. Some old business models will fail and be replaced by new models.  That’s what capitalism calls creative destruction.

We’ll adapt even as we carry the psychological scars of the pandemic and its economic destruction.  Everything feels off balance but we’re still standing.

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Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers.

She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com).  She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com.   In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.

Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons.  She may be contacted at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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The Other Side of the Couch – The Land of Present Time

What a time we are in, my friends – what a time!  Surely this moment in history is one that will be dissected and studied and torn apart and rehashed again and again in years to come – and yet here we are, living it day to day.  Who could have known that we would still be separated when the pandemic began to affect all of our lives in March – now it is six months later, and we do not know how long we will need to continue with the new behaviors that are required to maintain our own health and the health of others  – masks, social distancing, hand washing being the activities that are proven to result in protection.

I know this has been tremendously hard for many of us – I would venture to say for all of us – for different reasons.  For some it is the pain of living alone, for some it is the terror of getting this virus, for some it is the loss of face-to-face church, for some it is the loss of being with children and grandchildren.  For some it has been the loss of the ability to earn a living, for some it has been the loss of the joyful experience of making music together.  I am sure that each one of you can identify a personal impact that COVID-19 has had on your day-to-day life.

The response many of us have to all this is to worry.  We worry about what may happen tomorrow; we fret over what could happen, might happen, won’t happen, will happen – we spend so much time and energy on events THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN.

We have three possible ways to address time.  Some of us spend way too much time in the land of If Only – – if only I had done that, or not done this – maybe things would be different now.  Some of us spend way too much time in the land of What If – this or that might happen or not happen.  We fret about the future – a future that does not exist!

The place that we are in now – the Land of Now, of Present Time – is the only time that we have.  Surely we know that we are not guaranteed another day of life – and that we can never reclaim time that is past.

I invite you to take a breath, right now – to look around.  Celebrate this moment.  We are here.  We are connecting in spite of the distance imposed by the circumstances of the pandemic.  Notice what your eyes can see, what your ears can hear.  We are here together, now, with the amazing opportunity through technology of being present together in spite of the physical distance many of us are living.  I, for one, am more than grateful.

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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I See Miracles

That was the title of a presentation I shared several years ago with the incredible women of the Breakfast Club of Nashville.  I am not a prolific writer and am often stymied to find inspiration as to what to write for my HerSavvy post.  I certainly wanted to stay away from politics…  That’s why I am often late posting my submission and I’m late again.  Yesterday, however, I was blessed with great inspiration.

My presentation to the club was about my practice of CranioSacral Therapy.  As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I have been practicing this very special form of healing bodywork for almost 20 years.  A very light touch form of work, CST, addressing the cerebrospinal fluid, reaches into the body and can help release deep seated discomfort (aka “pain”) resulting from physical injury, emotional injury or a combination of the two.

We don’t always realize that an accident causing physical injury can, and I believe, usually does result in an emotional component as well.  CST can restore balance to the body and two of my clients yesterday experienced radical changes in their bodies as the result of this kind of release.  Each described what was, in their words, a life changing breakthrough.  What a wonder!!!  This didn’t happen over night, of course.  But in a remarkably short period of time, we, I say WE, made an amazing difference in each of their lives.

Over the years, I have witnessed so many of these miracles, more than I can count.  I am just the messenger and I am blessed.

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

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

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

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

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

I keep hoping – and voting in November.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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Matthew 7:12

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

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

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

Further:

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

From Biblestudy.org:

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

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

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

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

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

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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

 

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

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It’s About Winners and Losers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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

 

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The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye to the Music

 

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

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

Are you going away with no word of farewell,

Will there be not a trace left behind

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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

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What’s Your Angle?

One of the most obnoxious teachers I ever had actually said something useful that I never forgot.  He told us that every writer has biases which will influence the way the story is told. He said we should always look beyond the words on the page to the motivations of the writer.

My teacher’s advice rings true today.  Our country seems to be splitting between those who watch and believe only Fox News and those who watch and believe only CNN.  Few people admit to watching both TV news channels.  The fear is that our country is splitting into two warring factions with little in common.

While it’s difficult and annoying to watch people talk past each other, it’s not a new phenomenon.  Our country has always been split between opposing viewpoints. Most towns had a local version of the Fox News and CNN split because they had two hometown newspapers.

Nashville had two hometown newspapers, The Tennessean and the Nashville Banner. The papers were owned by men who disliked each other and always took opposing sides on every hot topic of the day. Subscribing to both papers would have allowed readers to see two angles to every story, particularly the political news.  But it’s much more likely that readers subscribed to the paper that aligned with their own beliefs.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Any psychologist or anthropologist can point to countless studies showing how reluctant we are to change our views.  We tend to select friends who agree with our worldview.  We also choose either Fox News or CNN based on which channel supports our existing ideas.

We’re not going to change human nature.  That means we’re going to continue living in a country full of people who choose to listen to the news sources that support their beliefs.  The most we can do is to stop vilifying the people on the other side of the divide.

People on the other side of the divide are not stupid or vicious or uncaring.  They simply have life experiences that have taught them to believe differently.   That’s their motivation, their angle on the story.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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

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