There’s A Reason For Everything

I go to the fridge to look for something to eat. 


I find am empty food storage container on the shelf. 


I recognize it from the day before when it was filled with delicious over-baked salmon. 


So I go to one kid who I guess may be the culprit and I ask:

Why did you leave the empty bowl in the fridge and not clean it out when you were done?


She says:

Dad, I didn’t do it. 


So, I feel like a jerk and apologize for thinking maybe it was her.


Then I go to the other kid and say:

Did you leave an empty dirty salmon bowl in the fridge?


And she says to me:

I did.


So I ask rhetorically thinking there was no acceptable reason:

Why did you do that?


She says sweetly to me:

My sister was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her by washing out the bowl.

And I knew she meant it. 


I wouldn’t have imagined a reason for leaving an empty dirty bowl in the fridge, but it just goes to show not to misjudge people–there is usually a reason for everything. 😉


(Source Photo: Amazon)

The Blessings and The Curses

L-rd, Bless your loving children. 


And do swift justice to the wicked that seek their destruction. 


Bless those that stand guard at your heavenly and earthly gates. 


Curse those evil ones that make a mockery of your lofty kingship. 


Bless the humble and faithful to you and your laws.


Curse those that stand in arrogance and spread hate and vileness before you. 


Bless those that bless you and seek to do good. 


Curse those that curse you and do harm to your creations. 


Bless the righteous people with all that is good. 


Curse the wicked and tear them asunder so that they are utterly destroyed. 


L-rd, please hear your lowly servant and bring the ultimate redemption to your people. 


And verily discomfort, smite and throw to the depths of punishment and exile the cursed wicked. 


None can stand before you in their shame and disgrace. 


Do it for your name’s sake; do it for your children’s sake, do it for your justice’s sake, do it to make things right in your beautiful and perfect world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left Handshake Is Right

So I heard about someone misinterpreting something I did for the worse.


Occasionally, when someone tries to shake my hand, instead of shaking with my right hand, I will take their hand in my left. 


I’ll do this for various reasons such as arthritic pain or from dirt (like ink or cleaning ) from some prior work I was doing. 


But always when I extend my hand it is with warmth and friendship. 


However, I learned that one person took this handshake as a serious personal affront. 


They thought that I was “disrespecting” them intentionally.


So I learned that even the most everyday, mundane gestures like a handshake, but done differently, can be taken out of context and misinterpreted. 


Why do we judge others for the bad?


Maybe because we don’t trust, don’t want to ask, don’t want to know, or have had bad experiences in life that jade us. 


But sometimes a handshake is just a handshake whether with the right or left hand. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Braving Trust and Credibility

So I thought this was really good from a colleague this week. 


How to build trust and credibility in the workplace:


Credibility is about being “convincing and believable” and results from “expertise and experience.”


Trust is believing strongly in the honesty, reliability, character, and effectiveness of a person.”


BRAVING


Boundaries – Have good boundaries–respecting yours and having my own; show others respect in words and deeds. 


Reliability – Be someone who is both reliable (can be counted on)  and is authentic.


Accountability – Hold others and yourself accountable; we all own our mistakes, apologize and make amends. 


Vault – Keep information in confidence.


Integrity – Hold courage over comfort; choose what’s right over what’s fun, easy or fast; practice and not just profess values. 


Non-judgmental – Believe the best in people even when they occasionally disappoint you. 


Generosity – Offer and ask for help from others, and give generously of yourself in time and effort. 


No offense to anyone…the last thing they said was a little spicy for the workplace (but I know it was meant well):  “Good conversation with others should be like a miniskirt–short enough to retain interest and long enough to cover the topic.” 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

That Smug Face, Evil Haman

That Smug Face, Evil Haman.

Reclining back with legs crossed.

Know-it-all, interrupting others rudely.

Abusive, hurtful words.

Violent, loud, aggressive actions.

Narcissist, my way or the highway.

For their power and desires only.

They believe that might makes right.

In every generation, they rise to perpetuate suffering on others.

But G-d stands supreme.

He will evoke his judgment and rain His fiery wrath on the oppressive, evil, and haughty.

And He will restore good over evil in the world.

His faithful will praise His holy name forever.

Undergoing A Spiritual Awakening

Wake Up.jpeg.JPG

My wife sent me this beautiful photo about spiritual awakenings. 

She found it on a new age blog, but I really thought it was great. 

As I contemplated this, I felt like I was reaching some truths.

Because when we are released from the constraints of the purely physical and material world, we can elevate ourselves to an expanded realm of both perception and inner peace.

So here is what the essence of a spiritual awakening is to me:

Spiritual Awakening - Andy B.JPEG

Hope you like this and I would welcome others’ thoughts on this.

Happy and peaceful new year to all.

Andy

(Source Graphic on Spiritual Awakening: Andy Blumenthal)

Academic Assignments In Hate

Academic Assignments In Hate

According to the New York Times (12 April 2013) a high school English teacher in Albany, New York on Monday asked students to write a persuasive essay on why Jews are evil and the source of our problems.

The assignment stated: “You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and…convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”

This assignment echoed a similar assignment given to students in Georgia and New York City earlier this year instructing students to calculate math problems by using number of slave whippings and killings.

Yes, these school assignments–to our children–are shocking and appalling.

Although they call these teachers giving these assignments, these are not real educators, but rather bigots given a classroom pulpit.

Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, the school district superintendent, said: “Obviously, we have a severe lack of judgment and a horrible level of insensitivity.”

But this “apology” does not go far enough–in fact, there is no apology–just excuses and calls for sensitivity training.

Wyngaard should’ve called this behavior for what it is–discrimination, anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred, and announced the firing of the teacher–who shouldn’t be teaching anyone, anything!

With the Holocaust Remembrance Day this past Monday, April 8–this teacher added insult to injury in making such an assignment.

While teaching students how to write persuasively and argue different points of view can mean that sometimes you have to argue “the other side”; it crosses the line to assign students to write about why a whole race of people are evil, and on top of it to force them all to take that position.

According to CNews, a third of the students stood up and refused to complete the assignment–thankfully, there are some good and decent people left in this world.

Excuses are not apologies. Sensitivity training is not removal of a hateful bigot. And this school superintendent should’ve had the ethical backbone and courage to join the students who stood against this wrong.

These “teachers” and school superintendent have at least six million reasons to do better, much better.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Leadership Lessons from 127 Hours

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Rarely does a movie get an 8.7 out of 10 in the reviews, so I had to go see the movie 127 Hours about Aron Ralston, the hiker who got trapped under a boulder in 2003 while mountain climbing in Utah, and had to amputate his own arm to free himself.

This was an incredible story of survival.

The guy had to drink his own urine to survive after running out of drinking water and finally had to break his own bones and cut off his own forearm with a dull blade and use a pliers to tear through his tendons in order to finally dislodge himself after 5 days of being trapped.

But what is even more amazing to me than what Aron had to do to survive is what he has chosen to do afterwards with his life.

Aside from the media appearances, motivational speaking, writing a book Between A Rock And A Hard Place, and getting married and having a son, Aron continues to be an ardent mountain climber.

While many people would actually choose to “lick their wounds” and basically find another hobby—a safer one, Aron continues to do what he loves—climbing.

He is not deterred.

To the contrary—he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009 and still plans to climb Mt. Everest.

Aron inspires me, yet I have conflicting emotions about his choices.

Part of me thinks this guy is off the wall, since he took so many life-threatening chances (for example, climbing without even letting anyone know where he was) and nearly got himself killed, and now he continues to do pursue this dangerous sport with only one arm!

And another part of me is awed by him. He is unstoppable. He knows what he loves and he pursues it, no matter what: Terror, trauma, two arms or one, Aron will be climbing as long as he is able.

It is a great thing to be true to yourself, to have a passion, and to pursue it relentlessly. However, I believe it is a blessing to also have the wisdom to balance even the greatest of pursuits with sound judgment, so excuse the pun, you don’t end up having to cut off your nose (or in this case your arm) in despite of your face.

Aron is an inspiration similar to the movie character Rocky in terms of his determination and perseverance, but even Rocky knew when his health was at risk and it was time to hang his gloves up. Knowing when it’s safe to go and when it’s necessary to pause or even stop is an important part of our survival skills and it doesn’t mean that we are any less passionate about who we are or what we are about or believe in.

Passion should mean we responsibly grow into our pursuits and not unnecessarily die trying. In the movie, I got the impression that Aron was more than a little reckless, and he paid a heavy price for it, but I admire his bravery and that he continues to pursue his dreams.

In our organizations, we should encourage everyone to find their passion in the work they do—because that is a motivator for people that supersedes any paycheck or bonus management can provide.