Tag Archives: summer

Exercising My Superpower


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

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

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

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

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

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



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My Summer Garden


My backyard in Los Angeles was an oasis. We had green space, a large pool, spa, four different citrus trees, a concrete sports court and a patio with a barbecue and seating. And since the weather was good all year, we really made use of our outdoor space. We had pool parties in January, and cookouts in August. But the one thing I never did in L.A. was grow vegetables. Ironically the great year round weather lulled me into feeling I’d get to it eventually, but never did. I did try planting pumpkins with my kids a couple of times, but they didn’t take, so we gave up.

Now that we live in an urban neighborhood near downtown Nashville, I feel a strong desire to turn our cozy little backyard into my garden retreat. So for the past couple of weekends, my husband and I have been researching, shopping, prepping, building and planting. And our city garden retreat is nearly finished. We have four raised beds filled with vegetables, two baskets of herbs, we cleaned and moved an old abandoned dog house into the yard for our fur baby, “Bentley,” planted a row of sunflowers (my mother’s favorites) for privacy and fun and built a rain barrel to give all these plants some fresh rain water. I plan to add some seating, maybe some garden sculpture and maybe even a water feature.

This is a pretty ambitious plan for me. I’ve never been very good at maintaining houseplants; in fact most of my indoor plants are artificial. But I just feel drawn to getting outside, digging in the dirt and growing food we will actually eat. There’s just something so satisfying about cooking with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself, snipping some fresh mint for a mojito (!) or baking some zucchini bread with fresh squash. I also feel more relaxed after a productive session working in the garden. And since I am once again a city dweller, gardening brings some peace and beauty to an otherwise hectic environment.

Beginning with this post, I’ll be sharing my summer garden experiences and pictures as it grows. If you have tips, advice or anything to share about your garden adventures, please comment here. I’d looooove to hear about your successes and your failures. As my garden grows, so do I!





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: What’s In A Name?


Late July and early August in Nashville can be overwhelmingly humid and uncomfortable.  However, yesterday and today have been little glimpses of fall…crisp air, sunshine, and temperatures in the 70s.  How delicious!

Because of this wonderful weather I have been outside more than I normally am (I am one of those Southerners who is overloved by all insects, in particular mosquitoes and chiggers…I can literally walk across a patch of grass and get attacked, while my husband seems to be immune).  In doing so, I have been enjoying the incredible display of a special kind of lily that happens at this time of year.

These lilies have many names.  I have heard them called Surprise Lilies.  Other names that I am now hearing are:  Resurrection Lilies, Pop-up Lilies, and (my favorite) Naked Ladies.  They start out in the spring with a massive amount of greenery, and no blooms.  The greenery dies away, and sometime in late July little buds begin to poke their way through the soil.  Within a day or two they stand up to two feet tall, spilling pink profusion and a sweet , intoxicating aroma into the summer air – an incredible display.  They line my driveway on either side, cascades of pink spilling up and astounding the eye.  My late godmother planted these lilies, and every time they bloom I am reminded of her legacy of beauty.

Surprise lilies – yes, because they are so sudden and so unexpected.  Resurrection lilies – yes, because they appear to have died and disappeared, and then unexpectedly are reborn.  Pop-up lilies – yes, because they literally pop out of the ground; I think that if I were there I could see it happen. Naked Ladies – yes, only a burst of petals topping a long, green stalk…no leaves, no clothes, so to speak.

Names matter.  What we call something has resonance and connects us to a larger world.  I use “surprise lilies” because that is what Marie called them, and by using this particular name I am connected to memories of her and of her special place in my life.  A master gardener, she spent the last twenty years of her life planting perennials and bulbs, creating beauty, and digging in the dirt.  She loved being outside.  I don’t love being outside, but I love the beauty that she created, and I love remembering her when I see her lilies.

Be aware of how you name things, and of how those names can create an entire internal story of remembrance.  Just like Proust’s madeleine, names evoke more than just an object.  They take you on an internal journey, filled with sight and sound and sensations…just as I see Marie, faded red hair wrapped in a kerchief, happily kneeling in the dirt and planting bulbs for a future she would never see.

Some Additional Thoughts on Names

  1. Be aware of how you name others.  Nicknames or descriptions determine perception.  If you are calling your child “the pretty one”, you can be sure she will learn that this is what you value.
  2. Notice how you name yourself. Many of us have an internal name-caller that isn’t kind.  Work with bringing compassion to your dialogue with you.
  3. Name the things you want in life…values, goals, directions. Naming is powerful.  Give yourself that power.

What is the power of naming in your life?  I would love to know.

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.


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Another Year Older…and Wiser


Today is my birthday.  My dear friend, Renee Bates, kind of got the jump on me the other day because it was also her birthday.  Nevertheless I want to honor myself by sharing some of my own reflections.  As a wife, mother and big sister, it’s not often I get to nab some of the limelight so I will milk this opportunity today.

These last few years have challenged me like no other.  Uprooting my settled, predictable life back home in Los Angeles was pretty tough.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s been hard to dig some new roots, let my brain create new pathways, open my heart to new possibilities.  Many people leave home at the start of their adult lives, but for me, this separation came much later and I confess I have been fighting a battle with my head and heart.

But I believe this year I turned a corner.  I’ve begun to rely on new friends and my local “family of choice.”  I still call my best friends and my sister for support, but I’ve started allowing myself to reach out to and trust my new connections too.  After all, when I’m having my morning coffee and starting my day, the sun hasn’t even come up in La La Land and I dare not call folks there!  So I’ll pick up the phone and chat up my Nashville friends to help get myself moving.

Holidays have been some of the toughest times.  Timeworn traditions add to the richness and meaning of key celebrations and observances.  Our home was always “that” house where folks gathered.  I’ve continued the practice here, but at times the absences at our table are a bittersweet reminder of what we left behind.  Still, in spite of myself, new memories are being made and new traditions are taking hold.

One of the hardest things to adjust to has been the weather.  Most people who know me know summer is my favorite time of year.  And lucky me, in Los Angeles it is always summer!  The sun is out most of the time, save for the odd foggy mornings in June, it rarely rains and the air is balmy and breezy.  It’s pretty hard to imagine anything better.  So to adapt to the changing weather I have created a more seasonal wardrobe; accumulated sweaters, boots, coats, scarves and gloves.  I’ve even braved driving the icy roads and the torrential downpours.  I still do not like the weather here, but I’m learning how to live with it.  Baby steps, after all.

So what are the lessons here?  Well I have learned I’m stronger than I thought.  I can ask for help and not feel ashamed.  I can ask for what I want.  It feels good to embrace change.  It’s important to take care of myself.  It’s fun to make new friends.  I still cherish my old friends.  Weather is an opportunity to go shopping.  Home and family are what you chose to make of them.  And, no matter where I live, I am still Me!  Here’s to another year older and, hopefully, wiser.

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website at http://www.zoneabouttown.com.

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.



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And the Seasons, They Go ‘Round and ‘Round

Mature woman beach

Summer officially starts in just a couple of days.  For me, summer is what I wait for all year.  As a bona fide California girl, I thrive in the warm (read, “hot”) weather.  Moving to a place with four seasons has been a big adjustment for me and I confess, it’s not one of my favorite things about my new hometown.  My husband relishes the changing scenery outside our windows and with it, the different lifestyles each season brings.

What occurs to me is that our varying response to the weather reflects our different approaches to life’s changes.  Many people, like my husband, embrace the external changing of the seasons.  They love to watch the leaves turn in the fall, they enjoy the stark landscape and cold days of winter, they relish the anticipation of new growth in the spring and in summer, they can’t get enough of the outdoors. These folks also thrive in the day-to-day routine of life, heading out to work each day and appreciating the predictability.

After living in a place of perpetual summer all my life, moving to Nashville has been a challenge.  I am a person who loves change, but to me, change is an internal thing.  I like the consistency in my external world so that I can face life’s transitions.  When my routine is unaffected by extreme weather, I can ride the ups and downs unencumbered.

These days my home nest is empty.  Without the demands of fulltime childcare, the season of my life is changing again.  With that, I have lots of questions.  Now that I have extra time and energy for my own interests, where will I spend it?  Do I expand my professional life or find some new hobbies?  Do I just enjoy the free time and read or do some additional volunteer work?  And finally, do I embrace growing older or fight the passing years?

As women, I believe our lives are in constant motion.  It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.  So it is at the start of summer that I take stock of where I’ve been and ponder where I’m going.  It’s true I prefer this external season, but I’m learning to also appreciate the changing view outside my window and balance it with the real storms inside me.  The seasons do go ‘round and ‘round and whatever change means for you, take this opportunity to rest, reflect and recharge.





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