Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 


1. Teamwork – Remember you’re not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting! 


2. Work-Life Balance – Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life–professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual–then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!


3. Perspective – You’ve got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side–we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!


4. Sense of Humor – When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you’re looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly…perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!


5. Faith – No matter what…G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life’s journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!


On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:


“The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!” (or in Hebrew “Adonai li v’lo ira”)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

Organized Religion.jpeg

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Faces of The Metro and The Times

Metro1.JPEGMetro2.JPEGMetro3.jpEgMetro4.JPEG

Do these people look happy and fulfilled or are they looking more vacant, exhausted, and miserable to you?


Is it the Metro? 

Is it Washington, D.C.? 

Is it their work? 

Is it family issues? 

Is it the economy?

Is it health problems?


For a superpower country with supposed incredible wealth, might, and freedom to enjoy it all–what the heck is going on.


Should we blame the politics and fighting? 

Should we blame the fake news optics?

Should we blame our gnawing adversaries (Axis of Evil Russia, Iran, North Korea…)?

Should we blame materialism and consumerism (and a corresponding lack of spirituality and values in our lives)? 


We have the greatest advances in history–revolutionizing energy, transportation, healthcare, communications, and more–so much to advance our well-being, to savor, and seemingly endless more to come. 


Why aren’t people smiling?

Why aren’t people jumping for joy more? 

Why aren’t people even awake with eyes open to enjoy the life’s journey?


There should be great hope in the future–with fruitful life there is hope and with hope there is excitement and joy–but without hope all is meaningless and lost.  


What is going on out there–psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, clergy?


We are trying to do everything right.


So where are we going wrong-wrong-wrong? 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Aging Is A Process

Aging.jpeg

This guy was a hoot on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 


His shirt says:


“With age comes oldness.”


Ah, yeah!


When he was sitting, he had his arms crossed over his chest, and I thought it said:

“With age, comes baldness.”


That too!


Getting old is not easy.


Being young is not easy either. 


But it’s really how you handle yourself during every stage and turn in life that defines who you are and what you become as an person and a creation of G-d. 


You’ve got to get up and walk the dance through thick and thin…life bring old age and oldness…what’s the alternative. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Enter With A HANDSHAKE & Leave With A HUG

Hug.jpeg

So after almost 6 years at the U.S. Department of State, I am moving forward in my career to a very exciting role at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


As I look back, I have fond memories of the wonderful high-performance division I was part of and the many amazing achievements we had together, and what our Deputy Assistant Secretary called, the “A Team.”


But one thing today is sticking out in my mind and it’s this image.

“Enter with a handshake and leave with a hug.”

On the first days, when I arrived it was all formality and firm welcome handshakes.


We don’t really know you and you don’t really know us, but we’re embarking on this journey together, and where it takes us no one really knows, BUT we wish you the best of luck–now go out and do great things!


Then on the last days, as I was preparing to leave, the formal handshakes were long gone and instead they were replaced with warm heartfelt hugs (and some special emotional words and cards). 


I was no longer a mystery of a person, with just my reputation, coming in to do G-d knows what. 


Now, I was a human being that had a genuine history with them, formed relationships with many, had faced challenges together, and had touched not only minds, but also it was apparent, hearts. 


I will not forget the special people, nor the many times shared, our accomplishments as an organization, and how we grew. 


I am moving forward not only with their tight hugs to more handshakes anew, but also to once again hopefully grow heart-to-heart with people, as further relationships are formed and we make, please G-d, amazing new progress together–for the mission and for the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

On The Train Of Life

Train.jpeg

My beautiful daughter, Michelle, forwarded this wonderful message to me about our journey through life, and I wanted to share it with everyone.


🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋
Life is like a journey on a train…
with its stations…
with changes of routes…
and with accidents !

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

We board this train when we are born and our parents are the ones who get our ticket.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

We believe they will always travel on this train with us.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

However, at some station our parents will get off the train, leaving us alone on this journey.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

As time goes by, other passengers will board the train, many of whom will be significant – our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Many will get off during the journey and leave a permanent vacuum in our lives.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Many will go so unnoticed that we won’t even know when they vacated their seats and got off the train!

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.

🚂🚋🚋🚋

A good journey is helping, loving, having a good relationship with all co passengers…and making sure that we give our best to make their journey comfortable.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

The mystery of this fabulous journey is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves are going to get off.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

So, we must live in the best way – adjust, forget, forgive and offer the best of what we have.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to leave our seat… we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.”

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Thank you for being one of the important passengers on my train… don’t know when my station will come… don’t want 2 miss saying: “Thank you.”

🚂🚋🚋🚋

Body of Armor

body-armor

So had some disappointments recently.


Nothing terrible (and for that I am so grateful). 


Just life happening. 


Have to fail and fail and fail {more}…in order to get to that single success. 


Along the way, sometimes it feels like arrows going through your body.


Or as someone said to Tina Fey in a movie we watched yesterday:

“Hearts and minds, the two best places to shoot someone.”


Is that funny? 


Ok, now I know that I am feeling a little down, because even that made me smirk but not fully smile. 


It’s okay.


Life is a series of peaks and valleys. 


Time to climb that next peak. 


I will do it with body armor on and solid. 


Won’t let those arrows pierce me, while I ascend.


I am trying, and learning and growing along the way.


If I am to fall, Hashem, in mercy, pick me up that I may keep doing my mission you have for me in life, so that I may ultimately prevail toward the destiny only that You know and have planned for me, for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)