Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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Look Down To Feel Up

Feet.jpeg

Listen, everyone has problems.


Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.


Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could’ve killed him.


Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 


And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 


But people make the best of it!


They have to.


I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson’s Disease:

“We are part of the survivors club.”


It wasn’t easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 


When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:

“There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad…that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet.”


It doesn’t take much for things to get really bad in life…sometimes it can seem like we’re literally just holding on by a thin thread. 


But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren’t worse….and yes, they can even get better again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Key Is Calm

Calm.jpeg

So what happens to most of us when we experience the stresses, disappointments, and conflicts in life?


We feel…


– Angst


– Anger


– Upset


– Frustrated


– Murderous at times


We even question, “Why me?”


But none of this helps.


In fact, it just makes things worse.


Because we compound our life challenges with more problems in how we react!


What should we do instead?


The key is to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed. 


Don’t get rattled, disjointed, and out of whack over anything or anybody. 


These are all tests in life.


They are all fleeting. 


G-d is watching us and seeing if we have faith in him.


When you remember the creator and sustainer of all life then you can rise above the adversity before you.


Go beyond the superficial.


Experience the world beyond the earthly bounds of time and space. 


See the larger picture.


Breath deeply…a sigh of relief. 


There is nothing to be upset about that G-d can’t make right for you. 


Face the challenges with a clear head, a brave heart, and follow your conscience.


Act with determination to speak out and right the wrongs you encounter. 


Remember, you are one with G-d and the universe, and all will be for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Compassion Instead Of Anger

Compassion and Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 


I listened carefully and tried to empathize–also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!


At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 


And I could see in other person’s reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 


We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 


People blame us, attack us, don’t appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.


Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.


And maybe we have every right to feel angry.


But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn’t help us achieve what we really want. 


What we want most of the time is to resolve things!


But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 


We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.


If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 


This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.


Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn’t and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Disability Stories And Resources

Disability

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 


It is hosted by Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on “disability programs and services.” 


The blog site promotes the “full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide.”


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


– Disability rights activism

– Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability

– Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident

– A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).

– Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network


As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it’s like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)

Self-Aware Grafitti Artist

Writing
So got to hand it to this graffiti artist. 



He/she is quite introspective. 



They wrote on this pole in D.C. “Writes his problems away!”



Thus, it’s not just any old graffiti that often desecrates public or private property, but in this case it is an emotional and psychological catharsis for the artist.  



Sure when you write, you can express yourself and your feelings–you can think things through and work them out in your head. 



Also, you can share of yourself with others and influence them too. 



On the lamp pole, bus stop, or building wall–ah, not the best place to work these things out. 



But on paper or the computer, if you have something important to say, get it off your chest–go for it–and you can feel better too! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ready To Explode

Explode

So have you ever had to deal with someone at work and they are NOT exactly acting the consummate professional?


They may be volatile, angry, raising their voice, intransigent, threatening, acting the a*s, maybe even a little meshuga.


Yeah, unfortunately it happens (although it absolutely shouldn’t)!  


People have crap going on in the office, at home, and sometimes they come in and they just can’t cope.  


G-d forbid, they should never really “go postal” as in real violence–but you never really know what you are going to be dealing with. 


One colleague said some people are just “hypervolic“–a new word for someone who is excessive, over the top, and emotionally volcanic!


Yikes–scary enough. 


Another colleague I know who is excellent with people and has decades of experience dealing with a cast of characters told me, “I just look at everyone as a bomb ready to go off.


Ugh, not exactly how I would want to perceive people around me, but the point is well taken–you never know (and you can almost hear the ticking now). 


With some people we sort of know from dealing with them that they have some marbles loose, and while others may appear calm, cool, and collected on the outside, on the inside they may be a volcano ready to blow. 


Heck, you can’t read everyone right and even if you do, you can try to calm them down, listen to them, work with them, talk sense to them, suggest some counseling or other outside assistance, but even then they may go off the deep end. 


Lots of personalities out there, lots of people with problems and stresses, and sometimes we in our best intentions may make mistakes or unknowingly say the wrong thing and it only inflames the situation.


Of course hopefully, calmer heads will prevail, professionalism will take front seat, and people will get some perspective and do the right thing…chill man!


But also keep in mind what my colleagues said, some people may  just be ready to go explode–like a volcano–and we need to be ready for that too. 


How do you prepare for this?


Yeah, I don’t remember them covering that subject in leadership training–maybe with the exception of listen, show empathy, and if worst comes to worst you can either head for the exits to get away or shelter in place before the human stress bomb goes big boom! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Camilo Rueda Lopez)