Tag Archives: relationships

The Leader of the Pack

How does our birth order influence our lives, our relationships, our personality, our parenting, our future?  I am the first born child, with two younger siblings.  My mother was an only child, and my father was the youngest of five.  I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking about birth order mainly because my parents made a point of impressing upon me the responsibility to take care of my sister and brother.  “Friends will come and go,” my mom would tell me, “but your siblings are forever.”  “Make sure you take your sister with you.”  “Hold your brother’s hand when you cross the street.”  “Always look out for your sister and brother.”  You get the picture. 

I have no recollection of the 18 months of my life before my sister was born, but I’m told my parents had a pretty good time with me.  So good, in fact, that they couldn’t wait to have another baby.  That was always their story and they stuck to it.  The new baby girl arrived, followed two years later by, “the boy.”  I do remember my parents bringing him home from the hospital all swaddled up.  “Watch the soft spot,” was the refrain for months as I awkwardly tried to sit with him on my tiny lap. 

I guess you could say I am a classic big sister.  Caregiving, bossy, driven, organized, high achieving.  I organized parades where I would sit in my brother’s red wagon, draped in a boa, tiara on my head, my brother gamely pulling me as I waved to the neighborhood.  I choreographed ballets for my sister and I to entertain our parents, clad in my mom’s old nightgowns.  And when my brother would get sick, I was obsessed with taking his temperature, bringing him toast and reading to him in bed. 

As the oldest, my developmental milestones and achievements were always the first for my parents.  And attention-loving drama queen that I am, I generally liked it.  I loved feeling grown up and couldn’t wait to, “get there.”  By the time I was 17, I’d graduated from high school, left for college and rarely looked back.  My summers were spent involved in theater companies, part time jobs, hanging at the beach with friends.  I got married right after college and never lived with my family again.  I guess you could say my early years were pretty standard for an L.A. girl growing up in the 1970s. 

This all sounds charming, right?  But underneath all that grooviness lurks a dark secret.  You see, I did enjoy being the oldest for all of the above reasons.  But I also hated it.  I hated the burden dumped on a little girl to always look out for the younger ones.  I hated not having any cover for my mistakes, so I just worked to avoid them.  I hated the assumption that my hard fought victories were preordained because I was the golden one.  I hated there not being much room for me, so growing up fast and leaving was the best option.  Most of all I hated not being allowed to rebel and act out like a normal kid.  “You’re older, you should know better.”  It’s all so exhausting. 

One time I asked my mom if my dad was happy his first born was a girl rather than a boy.  Her answer, “He was thrilled!  Big sisters are better at keeping the family together,” meant to be reassuring sounded to me like another assignment.  I spent years studying my mother’s techniques for entertaining and preparing holiday dinners.  I listened in on her conversations with my dad’s three older sisters for clues on how, exactly, I was supposed to keep us all together.  And when I became a mom to three children, I vowed not to put the same burden on my first born, also a girl.  Karma, right?

So here we are, all three of us in late middle age, our parents alive only in our memories.  I guess you could say I have lived up to my birthright.  I continue to try and keep the family together, to look out for my sister and brother.  We have aged, live in different parts of the country and each of us has been knocked around by life.  For one of us, life in general is a battle and the other two of us do our best to keep moving forward.  A very good therapist once told me it was time to fire myself from the job of being the Big Sister.  It’s hard to break the old patterns and often when I try, one of the two resists my effort to change, but I continue to work on that.  And while I now have a loving husband, amazing grown children and a circle of close friends, sometimes that little girl inside me just wants someone to take care of her. 

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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It’s Been a Year…

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February, 2021!  It’s so hard to believe almost a year has passed since the pandemic changed the world forever.  A year of worry.  A year of frustration.  A year of separation from my son and other cherished friends and family.  A year watching out my window.  A year adapting.  A year waiting.  A year hoping.  A year learning. 

I still wait for my turn to be vaccinated. I still worry about getting sick. I’m still frustrated about so much lost time. I still wait for the next visit with my son. I still look out my window at the changing seasons. I’m still adapting, learning, hoping, trying to look forward.

To say I am not a patient person is REALLY an understatement. From my earliest memories I recall barreling into life at full speed, always in a hurry to get to the next thing. This past year has felt like I ran smack into a wall. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’m not complaining, per se.  I’m just reflecting. Is there a deeper lesson to be learned?  The obvious is what I hear most folks are trying to do: live in the moment, be grateful, savor a slower pace.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever.

Here’s what I’m learning: I am not a slowdown type of person. Yes, I am savoring the time I get to spend with my husband who is working from home and my son who is attending graduate school from home.  But most days I just want to get back out there, in it. While I have managed to continue my work and to stay in touch with many of my friends, I can’t help but grieve for all the lost time.  The days, weeks, months and now, a year, just marking time. I can’t shake the feeling that, at my age, there’s no time to waste. I still have plans, goals and things to get on with. Grateful?  Of course I am!  I’m also very aware of how fortunate I am to have a job, a comfortable home in which to stay safe with people I love and who love me.  Yes, life is good.

Now there seems to be, maybe, a speck of daylight at the end of this very long tunnel. And…I’m off!  Planning a fall vacation with friends. Thinking about dinners out, live music, sporting events and having people over. Every day is a roller coaster as I swing from despair to hope and back again. Read the news. Don’t read the news. By bedtime I am exhausted, that is until my head hits the pillow. Then as my body relaxes my mind revs up and I lay awake, sometimes for hours, until I can calm it down.

This year has shined a light on the differences between me and my husband. Where I am an extrovert, he is content to be alone. Where I experience life at full speed, he is happy with the slow and steady approach. While I rage against the frustration, his patience is both infuriating and a gift. And while I toss and turn all night, he sleeps soundly. All these differences, which used to drive me crazy, have now become my salvation. To know that in spite of it all, or maybe because of it, we continue on. I can depend on his patience, his ability to compartmentalize the pain and focus on what is in front of him. I am comforted by his strength and by his steady breathing at night. 

Lessons learned? My basic nature is what it always has been, and so it is for those around me. But in times of great challenge, we can lean into and on each other, for real.

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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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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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).

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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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Why is This Year Different?

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This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.  It is a well-known fact that it is also the most celebrated of all the holidays.  The observance lasts eight days during which we focus on the theme of our people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea in a hurry with little time to prepare.  The first night consists of a festive meal, or Seder, when we retell the story through questions and answers, singing, eating and drinking four cups of wine.  The point of this exercise is to both remind us that freedom is precious, and to teach the younger generations about our story.

One of the highlights of every Seder is the asking of The Four Questions.  These questions are designed to provoke discussion and thought around the significance of the holiday.  Usually asked by the youngest person at the table, the refrain is always, “Why is this night different from all other nights.”  The answers to the four questions are the heart of the rest of the Seder.  But the overarching theme is always: freedom.

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I admit I’ve engaged in bouts of self-pity.  I have felt afraid for myself and my family.  I have been depressed about the changes in my life.  I have been angry, too, that those in leadership who could have mitigated some of the damage, did nothing.  And I have felt sad and helpless.  These negative thoughts and feelings are foreign to me.  I am usually an optimistic person who can find fun and joy in most places.  But our current state of affairs has been really tough for me to accept.

A therapist would probably say I’m moving through the stages of grief, and that’s likely the case.  I know from grief.  My people know from grief.  Generation after generation of Jewish people have been chased around the globe, experiencing plagues, famine, Holocaust and antisemitism.  And we are not alone in this.  Other cultures and peoples have faced similar obstacles and discrimination.  I can’t speak for the others, but I can speak for myself and my people.  The one thing we do to defend ourselves against the darkness is to survive.  We survive by carrying on our traditions.  We survive by being joyful.  We survive by telling the stories.  We survive by holding tight to each other, even if it is only in memory.

Most years we host a large group of friends and family to join our Seder.  I spend weeks planning and preparing the ritual foods and the traditional festive delicacies.  This year, obviously, the usual crowd will not be joining us live in our home.  It was with a heavy heart that a couple of weeks ago I emailed everyone to cancel.  And it was at that point that I really felt the enormity of what we are dealing with today.  I was also able to relate to the story of my ancestors and the challenges they faced.  Personally, my world has become pretty small and my life has slowed to a pace way out of my comfort zone.  But we will have our Seder.  We will include my son in California via Zoom.  I will make my chicken soup the way my mother taught me.  My husband, who will now be home, will make the brisket.  We will drink four cups of wine (really, the best part).  And, we will retell the story of our exodus and our journey to freedom.

The final prayer of the Seder meal is one in which we express our hope that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem.  For me, the meaning is not to literally be in Jerusalem, although that would be amazing.  I think of Jerusalem as my spiritual home, the place where I can feel free to express my faith and tradition.  But my actual home, here in Nashville, is also a place where I can feel free to be myself and to enjoy life with my family and friends.  So, this year when we say the prayer, I will be thinking ahead to next Passover, when I can once again open my home and share the story of our survival and freedom with 30 of our nearest and dearest.  In the meantime, stay healthy, stay home and wash your hands.  xo

 

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!

 

 

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Look For the Signs

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There was a song in the early 1970s by the Five Man Electrical Band called, “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs.”  It’s meaning is meant, I believe, as a sarcastic protest against the “establishment,” culture of the times.  Certain groups of people were labeled, kept out and otherwise rejected by the mainstream, even in church.  But over the years what has resonated for me is the concept of “signs,” both literal and figurative.  I think when we are open to the world around us, there are, indeed, signs everywhere.

A few months ago, I was shown a sign and thank goodness, I was able to read it.  I was offered a tremendous opportunity to return to my professional roots as editor of a local newspaper.  While my background is in broadcasting, nevertheless someone saw fit to offer me the position.  It was at the very same time I was contemplating my future in the small business I owned for the last several years.  My partner and I had come to a crossroads and I had the choice to become the sole owner or to join her in the sale of the business.  I considered doing both jobs at once and decided that while probably doable, I really wanted to pour myself into just one thing.  Although I really enjoy being an entrepreneur, the thing that feeds my soul and my mind is writing.  At this stage of my life, I feel entitled to follow my passion.  To quote another song, “It’s Now or Never.”  And while it sounds corny, I really did feel the universe was sending me a sign with flashing lights and bells.

So here I am, a month into my new position and there are challenges.  I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know people and processes.  I have felt insecure and anxious.  I have been exhausted by the mental and emotional effort required to learn new things and to restart a part of my brain that had been on hiatus.  At times I’ve felt like a rusty engine that needs grease to get it going again.  But the overwhelming feeling has been relief.  Relief that I’ve found a place that feels like a good fit.  Relief that despite the challenges, I’ve been able to refocus pretty quickly on the demands of this type of work.  And perhaps most important, I feel both relief and gratitude that I was able to read the sign!  And I know this is the right thing for me because despite the exhaustion and jitters, I wake up looking forward to the day and at the end of it, I feel satisfied.  I no longer dread Sunday evenings knowing the new week will feel like a slog.  As tough as this new job might be, I feel at peace inside knowing I’m honoring the passion that has lain dormant for far too long.  And I also feel joy when I sit down to write an article or edit a submission.  The looming deadlines and unpredictable schedule are exhilarating.

I truly believe there are signs all around us.  Most of the time we aren’t looking, and they pass us by.  But if we really tune into our inner voices and give ourselves permission to stop and think, we may just find something we didn’t even know we were seeking.  In my case I was seeking joy, fulfillment and peace by returning to something.  What are you looking for and will you be ready to spot the signs pointing you in the right direction?  “Signs, signs, everywhere signs.”

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 http://www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Transitions 2020

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The new year is only a week old and already I’ve had two significant professional transitions.  The first is that after several years as a small business owner, I have sold my business.  The second is that I’ve returned to my journalism career as editor of a local newspaper.  It’s been a whirlwind of change and learning, and it’s been exhausting, but it’s also been exhilarating.

Life as a business owner was not new to me.  Thirty years ago, in the pre-internet era, I owned a franchise business.  It was fun and challenging and I loved being my own boss.  Most of all, I loved interacting with my clientele.  As an extrovert, I draw energy from interacting with others.  I also was a sole owner and, while the risk was solely mine, so was the reward.  I was also very young and had a growing family, so there were personal challenges as well.  Overall, I’d say it was a wonderful experience.

This time around, I had a partner and we built our business from the ground up.  No consultants to guide us, no corporation to hand us marketing materials and promotions.  Although the risk was greater without a corporate safety net, it’s been fun to see our business grow from an idea into something real and valuable.  A big challenge for me was spending most of my time in my home office.  I missed the client interactions and being alone was depressing at times.  The experience did teach me to be more mindful of self-care and to plan outings and lunches with friends and colleagues.  The partnership also taught me some valuable lessons about myself.  As someone who is a pleaser, I often yield too soon to others’ desires and opinions.  My drive to get along and be liked can be stronger than my need to stand up for what I think and what I know to be a good solution.  I look for compromise or, if there doesn’t appear to be a good one, I’m inclined to give in rather than push my agenda.  And while it’s good to choose one’s battles carefully, I too often choose to just walk away.

I’ve also learned that partnerships can be difficult and challenging, but the best ones are those where both parties feel heard and valued.  Differences of opinion can be a good growth opportunity and as long as there is trust and respect, those differences needn’t become make-or-break.  It is in the struggle that people can draw closer together.  And in the end, the reward was building something of value that we could successfully, and profitably, pass on to someone else.

So where am I now?  For most of my life I have been passionate about writing.  Words fascinate me with their power to move minds and hearts and to effect change.  These days, journalism gets a bad rap.  As with anything, there are bad apples that spoil the bunch.  But for most journalists, the responsibility and privilege to enlighten, engage, provoke, educate and entertain weighs heavy.  It may seem cliché but being a voice for those who have none and providing a check on the powerful in society and government is a calling.  I am excited to spend more time telling the stories of real people and events in my community.  I’m also thrilled to spend more time out in the world, observing and reflecting back what I see and hear.

I’ve been lucky to have several careers in my life.  Each one has led me to the other and each is a reflection of a part of myself.  Writing is the thread that has run through it all and the thing that feeds my soul.  It is the best expression of myself and the way I can best share myself with the world.  So, onward to the future.  I look forward to sharing more of this new chapter with all of you.  Happy New Year 2020!

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  A former small business owner, she is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville.  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 http://www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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

 

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Thanksgiving Reflections

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The house is finally quiet and empty.  Dishes are washed and put away, a load of laundry is in the wash and Bentley the Labradoodle is resting after a whirlwind visit from his humans.  I should be basking in the glow of a fun filled weekend with all of my family under one roof.  And while I am happy overall with the way things went, I admit I’m also a bit exhausted emotionally and physically.

This may be a surprise to those who know me well.  I pretty much wear my motherhood on my sleeve and long for those opportunities to spend time with my children.  But lately, I’ve come to realize that we’re all moving on in very different ways.  I still adore talking to my kids, in fact, they are the most interesting people I know.  I am constantly surprised and delighted to observe the way their lives are unfolding and to listen to their ideas about pretty much everything from politics to religion to sports, books, movies, etc.  We don’t always agree on things, but the exchange is always fun and often enlightening for me.  I learn from them and their experiences.

And yet, as exhilarating as it is to be together, the family dynamic in close quarters can leave me pretty wiped out.  Rather than a family of two parents and three children, we are now a family of five adults.  We have different habits when it comes to personal care, household chores and interpersonal relationships.  When we come together, we now bring baggage from our respective lives and try to blend during short, intense visits.  It’s easy to want to fall back into old roles, but we’ve all grown and changed and the old ways of being together don’t always work.  We have to re-learn how to interact and to be open and flexible with each other.  We also have to know when to give each other space.  It can be confusing and frustrating.

But there is one thing I know for certain, as I sit here unraveling the weekend: my family is worth the work.  And while it can be exhausting to navigate around each other, I am proud of the way my kids are living their dreams and changing the world around them.  I am inspired by their energy, enthusiasm and drive.  And frankly, they are a reminder that inside me is that newly formed adult bursting out into the future, eyes wide open and ready to go.  As I face the end of this year and look forward to the next one, I have only to look to them to feel myself renewed.  And I am so thankful for their presence in my life and for their journey passing through.

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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A Thoroughly American Feast

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving, an annual food fest for family and friends.  The cuisine reflects our diverse culture. Most of us will eat New World foods like turkey, squash and cranberries.  These foods and the rest of the feast will be prepared from recipes handed down the generations.

The food may vary from kosher to halal; from tacos and burritos to pickled red beets and pumpkin pie; from sweet and sour pork to chutneys and curries. My family traditionally had ham with Pennsylvania Dutch delicacies like mashed potatoes doused in browned butter; shoo fly pie (like a chess pie made with molasses instead of sugar) and deep dish apple pie.

Thanksgiving is also a holiday of giving. Many people deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly or serve meals at homeless shelters.  Each year there seem to be new opportunities to help others who are facing adversity.

All of these activities follow traditions established at the first Thanksgiving. According to tradition, the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down to a feast with Squanto and the Wampanoag Indian tribe. The meal was a celebration of surviving a hard year for the Pilgrims and recognition that they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Wampanoag.

Thanksgiving is the most “American” holiday we celebrate.  It was multi-cultural from the beginning. It combines old and new foods that are prepared using both traditional and new fusion cuisine methods.   It reminds us that family means more than just our blood relatives.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

 

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).

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