From Hate To Love

Just a self-reflection today…


Important to me. 


It’s about who I thought I was and…


Who I became. 


Truly, I went full circle from a child’s hate to an adult’s love relationship with:


– Reading


– Writing


– Swimming


– Hebrew


As a kid, I tried to avoid these like the plague, and as an adult I like to practice these every single day of my life. 


I wonder to myself is it that I strove to become good (or decent) at what I have previously been bad at or was somehow afraid of. 


Yet now, they are integral to my life, learning, and growth. 


Like the hands of a clock that circle and tick the hours and minutes. 


My life takes me full circle and brings me home to who I am and what I really love spending time at. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Parking Lot Full of Ideas

So conducting large meetings is not often easy. 


People have their own concepts as to where they’d like the discussion to go.


Yes, agendas help keep the meeting focused. 


And a good facilitator enforces meeting discipline. 


Some people think that any deviation from the agenda is like taken a sudden left turn or driving off the cliff. 


But you don’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water. 


It’s important to jot down good ideas or follow up questions that come out in the discussion even when they are not immediately relevant. 


That’s where the “Parking Lot” comes into play. 


A flip chart or whiteboard to capture the important thoughts for follow up afterwards. 


While parking lots are needed to take certain things off the table immediately in order to focus on accomplishing the meeting’s objectives, they are not junk yards for people’s input. 


Instead, they are a place to park the stray thoughts and then to actively follow up on these after. 


No question is a dumb one, and no idea isn’t worth considering. 


Parking lots can be full of these and they should be parked and then taken for a spin around the neighborhood.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Yom Kippur Diet Plan

Yom Kippur Diet.jpeg

So Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar is a 25-hour day of repentance, prayer, and fasting. 


This last Yom Kippur, someone mentioned to me that some people take the idea of fasting and apply it to dieting during the year by doing a 3-day fasting. 


Uh, that sounds pretty severe and maybe even a little dangerous. 


But it got me thinking that on Yom Kippur we fast for a day and then eat a meal, so why not do that daily for dieting. 


Just subsist on one main meal a day–basically limiting intake of food to a few hours in the evening. 


This made sense to me as a moderate way that I could stay focused and disciplined without any food for about 20 hours at a time, but still give myself something to look forward to with a proper, natural dinner–almost like a natural give and take that I believe I could live with (at least for a good while). 


I thought let me give this a try!


And I did. 


First without drinking or eating. 


Then I rethought this after a few days and getting parched, and said just drink zero-calorie drinks, but no food or caloric intake during the day until the meal at the end of the day. 


And I’ve been doing this now since Yom Kippur 2 weeks ago. 


I have actually lost almost 10 pounds in that time and feel great. 


It hasn’t been hard–except for one day when the synagogue had a mega Bar Mitzvah kiddish/luncheon and I sat there and didn’t have a thing!


But otherwise, I go to work and all my activities, including working out–sometimes twice a day–and without any food.


It seems to be working. 


While previously, I stayed completely off any carbs, and still gained weight–now, I allow myself to eat everything (kosher) at dinner and am losing!


I wonder if I am on to something with this new “Yom Kippur Diet.”


I pray to Hashem that I’ve discovered something good and healthy here and am committed to seeing it through. 


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Learning To Save For A Rainy Day

Piggy Bank.jpeg

This was so funny coming across this big bright red piggy bank in a thrift store. 


What a blast from the past!


I remember having one of these as a child. 


My parents taught me to put my allowance in to save for the future. 


When it accumulated $10, the metal door on the bottom would open and we could put the money in the bank.


It was like a game to try to get to the magic amount and get the register to pop open.


In those days, the bank had little books for your checking and savings accounts, and when you deposited the money, you’d get a line printed with the deposit and new balance printed in the dot matrix print of yesteryear. 


Again, these were all good lessons about savings and seeing the benefits in the toy register or in your bank book.


Maybe these were things that initially inspired me to get my bachelors degree in accounting.  


The discipline of numbers was great, but it was never as exciting as the promise and hope of ever new technology, but that’s what added up at the time to me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Budget Cuts Conundrum

G-d Over Money.jpeg

So I’m hearing two opposing themes about the proposed federal budget cuts:


1) It’s horrible because we are cutting into the bone and this is going to really hurt a lot of important government programs.


2) It’s great because we have been spending money that we don’t really have, and we need to finally reign it in. 


Let’s face it, we’ll never get such drastic cuts across the civilian government unless this country goes into severe crisis mode–which never happens until it’s too late and something terrible has happened. 


If we even got half the cuts being proposed–which most people don’t seem to believe will even happen–that would be significant and painful itself. 


The truth of the matter is that we are facing enormous danger on both the national security and financial fronts!


– Militarily–Russia, China, Iran, North Korea pose huge threats including those involving weapons of mass destruction. 


– Financially–We have a serious national debt to the tune of $20 trillion, an annual trade deficit of half a trillion dollars, and social security and medicare trust funds that are going bankrupt. 


If we let these threats run their course, we will eventually have a crisis that will be truly nationally catastrophic. 


So what’s it gonna be–guns or butter–or national bankruptcy. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyday, A Catch-22

Catch-22
I took this photo of this guys’ cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 



Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.



Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.



In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 



Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can’t unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can’t look for them.



In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22’s, however not solving them is not an option…we must come up with a workable solution.



At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 



At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 



With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 



With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren’t just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 



The list of life’s conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face…there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard…you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Just Can’t Bear To Think

Whether though endless work, family activities, exercise, computer time, or whatever, people have a hard time just stopping to think. 

According to the Washington Post, a study in Science shows that people would rather do just about anything–including administer electric shocks to themselves–rather than having to just think for a little while. 

Fully 67% of men and 25% of women chose electric shocks over sitting and thinking for just 6-15 minutes!

People are “desperate for distractions”–whether through social media or smartphones and more.

This is why many ancient practices such as Buddhism, martial arts, yoga, and other disciplines teach meditation–sitting silently, without distraction, deeply in thought. 

People are afraid to stop their endless running, rounds of chores and activities, hustle and bustle, and just think about what they are actually doing and where they are going.

Sitting alone with yourself–you have to confront you!

  • Fears and anxieties
  • Life problems of all sorts
  • Mistakes and personal inadequacies
  • Bad habits and even dangerous addictions

Keeping yourself endlessly busy is an enabler to avoid sometimes painful reflection, introspection, and even necessary self-help. 

While you often hear that doctors recommend a certain amount of activity to keep physically healthy, I believe that similarly, mental and spiritual guidance would be for carving out time for physical inactivity and instead focusing on meditation and reflection. 

Perhaps, this is one reason that the Sabbath (kept in various ways by religions around the world) is so important to the mind and soul–it is a time to stop the work and daily mundane activities and instead focus on your spiritual side. 

Contrary to what you might think, refraining from all the activity may be one of the hardest things to actually do, but stopping and thinking (instead of just continuously doing), confronting yourself, and making life course corrections can be some of the most rewarding. 

Can you stop and think for just 15 minutes or do you need that next fix of compulsive distraction? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)