Tag Archives: life

The Despair of Poverty

Imagine climbing a mountain with no helmet, no harness and no pitons or belaying ropes to keep you safe.  You constantly slide back because there’s no support to help you succeed.  You keep trying, one attempt after another, until you are physically and emotionally exhausted.  Then despair overwhelms you and you give up.

That’s what it’s like to be poor in America.  Poor people don’t choose to be poor. They are born into poverty and our social welfare programs are designed to ensure they never have the tools to climb the mountain and escape poverty.

Public assistance (“welfare”) programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps and public housing are based on household income.  The income assessment is done monthly and there’s no leeway.  Either you’re below the dollar limit for eligibility or you’re not. You’re not allowed to build up a nest egg, the pitons that could save you from falling.  Getting a job means losing all support and you’ll plummet down the mountain.

Of course, most poor people are too wealthy to qualify for public assistance even though their low paying jobs don’t cover the rent and the light bill, let alone food and school fees. Every day they must decide whether to buy gas for the car to get to their job or buy food.  They can’t do both.

Their kids go to school in clothes bought at a thrift shop or donated by a charity. Other kids mercilessly “tease” them for their shabby clothes and cheap sneakers. Poor kids live every day with emotional stress that would flatten an able-bodied adult.  They are beaten down by the despair of knowing they have no climbing gear to take them up the mountain.

Every time a poor family gets two nickels, a dollar’s worth of bills pop up.  The car breaks down.  The landlord raises the rent.  The unpaid balance on the electric bill plus the “restoration” fee wipes out a month’s pay.  You’re banging your head on rocks as you fall down the mountain.

Then a family member gets sick.  Poor people either can’t afford to buy health insurance or the co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance guarantee there’s no way to pay the hospital and doctor bills.  A collection agency relentlessly pursues payment before a person is healthy.  The now utterly exhausted poor person gives up.

When poverty intersects with American culture, the results are rotten for the poor.  We’re taught that people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps if they’d only try harder.  Our Protestant tradition encourages us to blame poor people for being poor as if poverty is a punishment from God.

Yes, poor people often make bad decisions. But so do better-off people. The difference is that better off people have helmets, harnesses, pitons and belaying ropes from birth in the form of family and friends who save them from falling down the mountain.  When we blame the poor for their poverty, we ignore the barriers blocking their climb and we accept the despair of poverty.

 

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!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Self Savvy

If it’s Tuesday, it Must be…

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

When I was a kid, my dad used to love to take us all to the drive-in movies. There was one that stands out called, “If it’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium.” I don’t remember the details, but it had something to do with tourists running all over Europe, different cities, different days, until they lost track of time. The film title became our family’s code for describing that feeling of being disoriented or off kilter. That’s exactly how I feel! This week, I’ve been at least one, if not two, days off, and I missed my deadline for this blog post. If it’s COVID, this must be…who even knows what day it is anymore?

Okay, so here it is, Thursday…again. I think this weekend is the Labor Day holiday? Yes, I’m sure it is. I’m just not sure where summer went. I’ve experienced most of it from inside my house, which means it feels the same as Spring and most likely Fall will feel the same. I guess I’ll need to change my wardrobe just to keep track of the passing of time. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

Last month I shared my Whole30 journey. I’m happy to report I’m still on the journey. I’ve learned more about how my body experiences different foods. So far, I do well with most food groups. I have noticed that alcohol consumption affects my sleep, so I can decide if that glass of wine at dinner is worth losing some sleep over. My cravings for sweets and snacks have mostly disappeared, although some days I just need a little something in between meals, especially if I haven’t eaten enough protein. Overall, some good lessons and some new, healthier, habits are being formed.

In a little over a week, my middle son will come for a visit. We haven’t seen him since mid-February and while I’m very excited, I’m also a bit nervous and apprehensive about the health risk – for all of us. Crazy times. What used to be a routine trip now feels like a treacherous journey. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

And to add to the fun the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is just around the corner. This year our congregation will hold services virtually with a combination of pre-recorded segments and live streaming from the synagogue where the Rabbi and Cantor will be present in the sanctuary. Disorienting? You bet! Bittersweet? Yep! There is so much to miss this year, most important for me is the feeling of being in my community, physically present together to usher in a new year (yes, we Jews get to celebrate the New Year twice). Yes, I’m grateful to be healthy and to be with my family. But this thing, this plague, started just before the Spring holiday of Passover and here we still are. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

So, I’ll just close with a traditional Jewish New Year’s blessing and wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year (whether you observe or not, what the heck!). Here’s hoping next month I’ll know what day it is…

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 .

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.”

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

The Other Side of the Couch – Is There Hope?

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

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

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

We will never know.

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

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

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

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.”

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

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

Pandemic Overload

blue and white face mask on white laptop computer

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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

 

10 Comments

Filed under family, Self Savvy

So I received this yesterday,

…in an email from an ex.

Don't Worry

 Yeah, perfect.

 

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!

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Self Savvy

The Other Side of the couch – No Warning

Image result for tornadoes

 

 

My husband woke me at 5:20 that morning – I was deeply asleep and somewhat groggy when he told me that Nashville had been hit by a tornado during the night.  I was slow to take in what he was saying, but when I had climbed out of the fog of sleep and turned on the news, the overwhelming reality of what had happened to our city and state was all too real – and all too overwhelming.

As is always the case in situations like this, the immediate response is to connect with loved ones.  Are you Ok?  We are OK.  Anyone hurt?  What do you need?  How can we help?  I sent out texts to family in other cities; checked with friends who lived in the path – learned as the day moved on that a friend had lost her home, that another had significant damage.

We know now that a tornado determined to be at EF2 strength decimated the John C. Tune Airport, moved on into North Nashville, pounded Germantown, and then, reaching EF3 strength, obliterated Five Points in East Nashville before continuing through Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and on to Lebanon. According to the National Weather Service this tornado traveled over a 60-mile path, the longest recorded in Tennessee history.  It caused 6 deaths and thousands of dollars of property injury and destruction.  Another tornado struck in the Cookeville area; this E4 storm killed 18 people and ripped open homes and businesses.

Almost one week later, the reality of what must be done to rebuild is coming into focus.  Churches across the area are becoming centers for donations.  Twenty thousand volunteers signed up to help with projects this past weekend through Hands On Nashville.  So many volunteers showed up that in some areas the big machinery trucks and electrical repair trucks had trouble getting through!  Music benefits are planned (of course).  The Titans and Taylor Swift have made million dollar donations to tornado relief.

Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State – this designation really came true this weekend, and it will come true again next weekend – because that’s what people in Nashville do.

Margaret Renkl, Nashvillian and contributing writer to the New York Times, said it best.  Her opinion column in the New York Times, titled “What It Means to #Nashville Strong” is so worth reading.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/08/opinion/nashville-tornado.html

It’s the Nashville way.

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Self Savvy

Excess To Lessess

OK, so I’m a pack rat.  Yes, I am.  I admit it.  I don’t think I’m a hoarder, because everything I see on television about hoarders is about buying tons of things that they don’t need and stashing them just in case they might ever need them or they may never be available on the planet again, or for no particular reason they know.  For me, much of what I keep is sentimental; Reminders of the past.  I don’t go out and buy an excess of anything, but I do keep odds and ends for the “just in case I might need it someday.”  It’s a habit I’ve had forever it seems.  Interestingly, and I think my ex might say it’s true, every time I finally got rid of some of those odds and ends under pressure, sure enough, the day would come shortly thereafter where we needed a little something just like the little something that I just threw out…

My condo is FULL.  As if I didn’t have enough stuff to move, at the time my ex and I parted ways, I had already cleared some stuff out of the garage and into a “climate-controlled” storage unit.  Oh, I thought this was a fabulous idea.  Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner?  It wouldn’t be in the way and I could go through it at my convenience.  You see, by this time, I had taught at, been in administration for, and seen the doors close on five different massage programs. You know what it’s like to empty an office… especially for a pack rat.  And then there’s grandma’s china, miscellaneous tools, sound equipment (singer and songwriter me), and more.  Just the smallest unit, I packed it efficiently.  Then, one day, I received a phone call from the facility: “We are re-purposing the climate-controlled building.”  I had one day to empty my unit.  One major U-Haul truck trip and, to where?  Why my living room, of course!  And there it lives ever since.  It’s embarrassing to tell, but it’s now been over a year and most of it (I did manage to give some things away) is right where it landed.

In my defense, I had begun to suffer severe back pain developed over years and just couldn’t face the prospect of going through boxes.  Well the surgeon has fixed my back and I’ve been laid up at home amidst it all and I have promised myself that as soon as I am able to lift and move things again, I am going to tackle it.  All of it, and more!

I came upon the book you see above, “The Year of Less,” by Cait Flanders, and, while I’ve always thought I believed in the ideas she pursued, I sure can’t say I’ve lived them.  She challenged herself to stop drinking (Fortunately, I gave that up long ago.), stop buying anything that wasn’t on her “approved shopping list” for a year and begin giving away anything and everything that was not essential.  Being parked at home, I was painfully aware (pardon the pun) of the mess I had before me and apologized profusely to the dear friends and my wonderful sister who stayed with me when I first got home from the hospital.  But Ms. Flanders’ book inspired me and made it bearable.  My healing is slow, but sure and I’ve even returned to work on “transitional duty.”  One of her suggestions is, “Tell everyone what you’re doing.”  She says it helps create accountability. Well, I’m telling y’all, so I guess now I’m accountable.  Stay tuned.

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

What Are You Thankful For?


I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful for my friends.  I am thankful for my sweet little dog, Winnie.  I am thankful for the surgeon who is going to take good care of me next week.  I am particularly thankful for what seems to be a new awareness regarding the earth’s plight.  There are more and more organizations trying desperately to clean up our oceans.  There are more and more organizations trying desperately to clean up our lands.  There are more and more organizations trying desperately to make life better for the disadvantaged.  There are more and more organizations helping abused children find a better place in the world.  There are more and more organizations rescuing pets (like my Winnie) and finding good homes for them.   And there are more and more organizations trying to help refugees displaced from their countries of origin to find new places to start over.

It is unfortunate that there are key people in our government and other governments who would like to thwart much of this change, but I believe we will overcome their efforts and we will prevail.  For this, I am truly thankful.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Self Savvy, Uncategorized

Time Change

fullsizeoutput_3767

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.

fullsizeoutput_3768

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.

fullsizeoutput_3769

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.

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

1 Comment

Filed under family, Fun Savvy, Self Savvy, Uncategorized