Tag Archives: marriage

It’s the End of the World as we Know it

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For the first time in a long time, I’m out of words. Not actually unable to speak (God forbid!), but out of pithy, insightful, tightly woven phrases. I’ve cried, I’ve ranted, I’ve shared, and I’ve bared my soul to anyone and everyone who would listen. Which means to say, mostly my family who are captive with me in our little home shelter and a few close friends. And now, I’m just done. I’m done railing against the unfairness of it all. I’m done focusing on the grief. I’m done being angry about canceled plans and missed opportunities. What remains for me is sadness and the realization that the life I had, the life we all had, or hoped to have, is gone.

But, and here comes my cockeyed optimism (thanks Mom), I do believe that the crises facing humankind are offering us an opportunity. Personally, I’m refocusing my thoughts and energy on self-improvement; mental, physical and spiritual. I’m taking on challenges and setting goals for myself that I don’t think I would have even thought about before. The time I used to spend in the car or running endless errands is now mine to spend in new ways. The distractions of modern life have been stripped away leaving a void. Filling that void in meaningful ways is what I’m working on. Because the thing is, at some point still to be determined, we will emerge from this isolation into a new world. I don’t want to feel that I’ve squandered the opportunity to be fully present and to find meaning in this experience.

So, here are some things I’m tackling. On the physical front my family and I are embarking on a health experiment, one designed to help us fine tune our nutritional needs. I’m also building strength with a personal trainer. Yes, I’ve been working with her for a couple of years now, but I’m pushing myself harder, working out on our porch and getting a hard sweat. Mentally I’m working more on my professional writing, pushing myself to dig deeper in the stories I write for the newspaper I edit. Spiritually I’m reading more about things that make me uncomfortable and challenge some old assumptions that have limited my thinking. I’m working on quieting my mind through meditation. And with much of my family all home, some old roles and behaviors are evolving as we navigate living and working together. And once again, I have my summer vegetable garden, but this year expanded to a larger space and some new experiments.

Well, I guess I did have a lot to say this month. Who knew? I will close with one last thing. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. I know, that makes us seem ancient. We have lived a lifetime together, beginning on that very first day of freshman orientation. We were so young, still just teenagers. The fact is, we finished raising each other. Last year we vacationed with our children in Hawaii. One evening after dinner, standing under a canopy overlooking the beach, out of the rain, my husband pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket on which he’d written his thoughts about our years together. Yes, this reserved, quiet guy who doesn’t communicate his feelings well, wrote the following (excerpted): “As one should expect, our life together has not been a bed of roses. We’ve had successes and setbacks and weathered a good many storms. We have learned that when you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way. Some of the things we worried about turned out not to matter at all. What really mattered was our love. This one constant in our lives has grown stronger and I thank you for the joy you’ve given me during these 40 years together. Whatever the future may hold for us, we will always have our love. It is enough.” Yes, my darling husband, even during this sad, frightening, garbage fire of a year, our love is enough. Happy Anniversary.

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask.

 

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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Birthday Lessons and (Final) Summer in My Garden

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Latest harvest

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Two beds prepped and ready for Fall

I just celebrated my birthday and, like most people with summer birthdays, it was underwhelming.  I’m not complaining, or ungrateful, but I confess my younger self gets pretty needy around the day.  When I was younger, I always felt left out of the classroom celebrations and parties usually had to be postponed until later in the month when my friends returned from camp and vacations.  As a young mother, of course my birthday was eclipsed by my son’s, just three weeks later.  I used to feel pretty sorry for myself.  There was a TV show a few years back called, “The New Girl,” that featured a young woman and her roommates living in a loft somewhere in L.A.  In one episode, the main character, Jess, explained that she liked to spend her birthday alone at the movies.  That way, the day passed quickly and she wasn’t disappointed by the lack of attention.  I often felt the same way, just wanting the day to be over.

These days, I work to manage my expectations.  It’s just another day of life, thankfully, and everyone has a birthday, so no big accomplishment, really.  But I do look forward to receiving a card from my children and maybe a gift from my husband.  He’s not great in the gift giving department, but he’s working on it.  This year in fact, he gave me an incredibly thoughtful gift.  Rather than shopping for yet another piece of jewelry or other trinket he found something that was personal to me.  He researched and found two really special books on gardening.  I’ve spent hours poring over these books, getting ideas and learning more about the hobby that has grown on me slowly.  I’ve been planning my Fall and Winter vegetables and thinking about expanding our little urban backyard next Spring.  We’ll see how much I can execute these plans.

For now, I’m enjoying the process and feeling grateful that I have a spouse who is also willing to take chances and learn new things about himself and about me.

My Summer garden has had a shorter season than I’d hoped.  But I’ve had the largest harvest yet, and the vegetables have been delicious.  The other day, I spent a few hours tearing out the cucumbers and squash and cleaning out the bed where the onions never did take.  I still have tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and jalapenos for days!  All in all, it’s been a successful summer in my garden.  And yesterday I planted some lettuce, kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage that will hopefully yield some fresh greens this Fall and Winter.  Fingers crossed and on to the new season!

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Waiting for these beauties

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Fall greens ahead

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More Fall greens

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:  Gratitude – It Works

 

GratitudeGratitude.  Who knew that the act of giving thanks had such profound effects on so many things? The act of being grateful on a regular basis has been shown to diminish cortisol levels in the body by a significant amount and to increase variability in heart rate coherence patterns, both of which are an indication of lowered stress levels (McCraty and colleagues, 1998).

In addition to improvement of personal health, expressing gratitude has recently been shown to have a clear protective effect on relationships.  In a study that recently appeared in the journal “Personal Relationships,” results indicated that expressions of gratitude helped relationships in measurable ways.

“Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” says study co-author Ted Futris.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our relationships is to engage in a daily practice of gratitude.  This can be done in a number of different ways.  Taking stock of the day, focusing before you go to sleep on five things for which you are grateful is one way.  Writing them down seems to help anchor the experience.  Notice how your body feels when you focus on things for which you are grateful – many people experience a sense of relaxing on the inside, perhaps a feeling of warmth.  These steps can be personally helpful in alleviating stress.

Expressing gratitude to others seems to be remarkably helpful in keeping relationships on an even keel.  Making a daily practice of expressing appreciation and gratitude to your partner, children, friends, and business associates really does make relationships better.  I recommend to the couples with whom I work that thinking about, looking for, and expressing thanks on a daily basis is an incredibly powerful tool that can keep your relationship connected.  Give it a try.  You will be glad you did.

Happy Day of Thanksgiving!

 

McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D., Atkinson, M. & Watkins, A. (1998). The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 32, 151-70.

Barton et.al, Linking Financial Distress to Marital Quality:  The Intermediary Roles of Demand/Withdraw and Spousal Gratitude Expressions, Personal Relationships, 22, (2015), 536-549.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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How to Stay Married – Kindness is the Key

Relationship
My husband and I are pushing 30 years together…and it hasn’t always been a walk in the park. As a Certified Imago Therapist and a Professional Counselor, you’d think that I, of all people, would know how to keep a marriage alive and thriving, but guess what…therapists have to work at things, too. NO marriage, no human relationship, really, thrives without what I consider to be one key element: Kindness. If I assume that my husband’s intentions are good, and if I do my best to act, myself, out of genuine care for his best interests, many small problems just fall away.  If both of us are able to do this – to act out of intention rather than reactivity, the struggles of relationship become much smaller. I found a wonderful article that I want to share today by Lydia Netzer, an author and blogger.  The link to her post is below.  Lydia has some great things to say about staying married.  Take a look!

http://lydianetzer.blogspot.com/2012/04/15-ways-to-stay-married-for-15-years.html

What one word would describe what it has taken for you to stay in relationship?  I would love to hear from you.

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Mother of the Bride

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The day is coming soon, the day my only daughter will walk down that aisle into the arms of a young man who will promise to love her, care for her, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”…and I am bewildered by the wild swings my emotions are taking in these days leading up to this event.  It’s not the planning.  She is actually firmly in charge of all that and has clear ideas and strong organizational skills.  It’s not any kind of mother-daughter conflict.  It’s not even that we (my husband and I) don’t trust this young man and believe he will do all in his power to make her happy.

What I am experiencing is a kind of shame-faced wish to stop time.  As parents we pour our love and care and support into our children, hoping and praying for a life full of joy.  And then when the time comes, and it is time for them to fly away into that dreamed-of life…we have to say goodbye.

I know that these feelings are not necessarily rational…it’s probably not the last time we will eat dinner together, just the three of us, or the last time we will go on a trip together…yet these days have a tremendously bittersweet edge.  The focus of her life has changed, and we’re not so central to it anymore.  The irony of all this is that I, myself, am a Professional Counselor, helping others to deal with life transitions.  It’s hard no matter where you come from.

I will face that day with all the grace I can muster.  I will cry (I already cry at commercials, so I don’t have a prayer that day.)  And I will welcome her husband into our lives as a son.  I will accept the changes in our relationship that are inevitable.  I will learn to love him.  But I will always miss my little girl.

Tips for Dealing with “Good” Transitions:

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself…even if it’s a wonderful event, it’s still a change.
  1. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.  It doesn’t help to tell yourself you “should” feel a certain way if you don’t.
  1. Find support.  Talk to your spouse, a best friend, a counselor (!).  Sometimes writing about it helps.
  1. Plan something special for yourself after the event.  The week after might be a big let-down…so have something on the books – a massage, a day trip, a visit to a museum – something just for you.

Above all, be gentle with yourself.  You deserve as much care as anyone else does.

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