Be Strong!

Just a saying about inner strength that I liked:

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 


It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 


I think there is a lot to this topic…


Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it’s decision time.  


Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 


Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.


Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good–more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial “wine, women, and song” or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  


It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 


Are we being selfish or selfless?


Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us–even too much giving and selflessness–we need to care for ourselves too–we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 


But you can’t be a glutton or a slave to your impulses–you can’t take and not give, your can’t indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.


Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.


Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 


If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jailbird Freedom

So I’m doing laps in the indoor pool.


And out of the corner of my eye, I see this bird swoop in overhead.


But it’s not outside, it’s inside the building enclosure. 


The bird dived in through an open door.


Now it was stuck inside. 


It perched itself on a shelf overlooking the outdoors.


But it was stuck behind the glass walls.


The lifeguard tried to swoop it out with the sticks, brushes, and nets for cleaning the pool.


But this bird wasn’t going anywhere. 


I asked if it was injured or sick.


He said that the bird was scared, which made sense. 


Over and over again, the lifeguard tried to coax the bird out.


Finally, it took flight and headed straight into another glass pane–BONG–and fell down–SPLAT–onto another ledge. 


The lifeguard and I looked at each other — asking whether the bird was still alive or not.


I suggested he call for help, and the advice he was given was just to leave it alone and that eventually, it would find its way out. 


It was time for me to go, but I am still thinking about that trapped bird.


If you love something, you have to let it free.


Everyone and everything should be free (unless they’ve abused that freedom).


Free to come and go, free to express themselves, free to choose, free to act.


Sometimes, when you’re free you run into trouble or into a glass pane.


You need to find your way out and home again to freedom. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To Bed Hungry

So lots of people like to drink tea. 


But the other day, a nice person was telling me how they drink tea all the time. 


It’s not just that they like tea, but there was an important true story behind it. 


You see, they said, when they were young growing up in a foreign country, they often didn’t have enough to eat. 


So instead, they had resorted to drinking lots of tea. 


They went on to say, that as children, they often had to go to sleep hungry. 


It is truly a wake-up call for those of us who, thank G-d, have what to eat and so much choice and plenty in this great country. 


Not everyone in the world is so blessed to eat heartily and go to sleep with a full and satisfied belly. 


It is especially saddening and tragic when we are talking about innocent children in this world. 


As we go from the workweek to the weekend, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on how much we have to be grateful for and to wish blessings of peace, health, and prosperity on all our fellow mankind, here and all around the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)

Settle Down or Trade Up

Trade Up.jpeg

So I always hear this question from people…

 

Should I be happy with what I have or should I seek out something better?

It’s the age old question of whether to settle down or trade up.


When it comes to any decision in life…choosing a school, degree, career, place to live, an investment decision, or even your spouse and life partner–how do you know when you are making the right decision?


Maybe you like or love what’s in front of your eyes, but you still don’t know 100% if there’s something better out there for you.


Every choice means you are settling in some way, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect in life!

When is good, good enough for you?


There are trade-offs with every decision.


And it’s a matter of what YOU can live with!


A guy may say, “I like this girl, but I’m not sure whether she’s the one for me or that I really want to settle down with long-term.”


Someone else says, “I’m studying to be an accountant, but you know I really always liked psychology.”


And yet a third person says, “I like working at company ABC, but maybe I can learn something new or do better financially for myself and family if I go somewhere else.”


So when do you settle down and when do you try to trade-up?


The dilemma is fateful because you don’t want to lose what you have, but you also don’t want to potentially miss out on something even better for you.


Listen, we’re not prophets!


No one knows whether your investment in something is going to pay off in spades or land you flat on your butt. 


All you can do is try to weight the pros and cons of every decision. 


If you treat life like a roulette game in Las  Vegas, the one thing that is pretty sure is that at some point, you will lose it all to the house. 


So choose wisely and make sure you are passionate about your choice and that can live with it over time. 


Know that you made the best decision you could by looking at it from all angles. 


And most important of all, be grateful for everything you have–these are blessings from the Almighty Above and you need to have faith that He/She is guiding and helping you all along the way. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Only Game In Town

Only Game In Town.JPeG

This was a funny sign up in Harpers Ferry yesterday, Thanksgiving Day. 


Outside this restaurant, it says, “Only OPEN Place in Town, GREAT Food.”


I suppose if it’s the only game in town, then whatever food they have is by definition “great”-compared to going hungry that is. 


Life is very much like this–where everything is relative. 


If I have too many choices–how do I choose? 


Whatever I choose, I may second guess myself that maybe another one would’ve been better. 


It’s like when I go out with my daughter to eat, somehow whatever she orders is always better than what I got!


But when choice is limited or non-existent, well then “beggars can’t be choosey.”


Essentially, your happy with what you have– perhaps, something is often better than nothing. 


But really it’s much more than that, because if you look closely at others, you realize that what you have is actually a pretty darn good lot in life–so don’t be envious, jealous, or be too quick to want to change places with your neighbor. 


Obviously, this was a very apropos sign for Thanksgiving–where we need to learn to be grateful for everything we have in life. 


It is our basket, and we wouldn’t want to trade it for anything in the world (and if you did, you’d be sorry afterwards). 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s The Way You Look At Things

Attitude.jpeg

It’s the old saying, “Is the glass half empty or half full?”


You can be a positive Peter or a negative Nellie. 


Your choice–or disposition, perhaps. 


Last week one day when the weather was bad out and I was entering the indoor pool for my laps, someone said to me, “The worse it is out there, the better it is in here.”


And he was right, you can complain about the weather or whatever, but you can appreciate having great indoor facilities or just a roof over your head. 


If you look up, you can be inspired to reach for the next rung, and if you look down you can be grateful for how far you’ve already made it. 


Also, however bad off you might be, there are always others who are worse off. 


As a kid, I remember hearing about the person who was missing a hand and feeling bad about themselves, until they meet someone who was missing both arms. 


I do recall in actuality riding the NYC subways and poor people would come through the end doors between the cars (not allowed on the DC Metro) to go begging from money through the train–the unbelievable thing was that they were just a stump of a body from the waste up (no lower body whatsoever!) getting around by sliding themselves on a skateboard inches of the ground–can you imagine that? 


Perspective…my father used to say, “Smile and the whole world smiles with you.”


Sometimes just the motion (even if it’s just an act) of putting on that happy face can actually transform you to being happier. 


No, not a placebo effect, but like the Jewish notion that from doing can actually come the feeling.


In other words, just try–there is so much to be positive about and thankful for–not just on Thanksgiving–coming up next week–but all year round. 


Life is a journey full of learning and growing–not a destination. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)