Character Building Day

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So I really like this…


A friend told me that when they have a really tough day, they call it:

“A Character Building Day!”


I thought that was pretty astute. 


When people are up against the wall…


And they feel like they practically have their hands and legs tied…


And the world is spinning around them out of control…


And others are throwing tomatoes, darts, arrows, and all types of other sh*t their way…

– We can either just close our eyes, feel powerless, get upset and depressed, and basically give up

OR

– We can see the tough times as challenges–however great–to build our character.


Every situation is a learning and growth opportunity. 


Don’t give in–Get up and fight.


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!


Yes, many days are character building days–it doesn’t always feel good–often it feels horrible–but we can approach it with the right attitude and help shape our character and soul for the better.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Horrible C Word

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Cancer is such an awful killer disease.


After heart disease, it is the #2 cause of death in the United States taking almost 592,000 lives a year or 22.5% of all deaths!


Usually, we don’t even like to say the word and even tempt fate.


Instead we just refer to it as the horrible “C word.”  


Today my daughter forwarded to me this poem written by a teenager with terminal cancer, and I thought this was worth sharing with you all…


SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?


You better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last.


Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?”

Do you hear the reply?


When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,

with the next hundred chores running through your head?


You’d better slow down

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short

The music won’t last.


Ever told your child, 

We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?


Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die 

Cause you never had time 

To call and say,’Hi’


You’d better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last..


When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.


When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift….

Thrown away.


Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

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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)

Cyclops Looking Eye

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What’s the fascination with the mythical cyclops and the single eye in the center of the forehead?


If the eye represents seeing and knowing then aren’t we better off with two or even a dozen eyes to see with?


See more, know more, do more.


How about eyes in the back of the head?


Or all around the head in a cool circle–like a majestic crown of sight all around you.


Seeing is miraculous.


The beauty of the world–people, nature, and the stars above. 


Seeing is function.


Being able to navigate, get around, and do things with relative ease. 


Seeing is safety.


Sensing path from obstacle and friend from foe. 


It’s frightening to think of not having vision–what a challenge!


One old lady is possibly legally blind, but still serves as a notary public–how does she do that?


Eyes themselves are beautiful–brown and blue and hazel, and soft and deep and mesmerizing. 


Looking into someone’s eyes, have you ever seen their soul. 


Show me thy ways oh L-rd and let me learn and grow in the world you’ve created for us–seeing the material and spiritual world we’re enveloped in. 


I see the beauty, necessity, and lessons you have for me. 


However many eyes, seeing is believing in it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Is Wisdom?

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Some thoughts today on what is wisdom:


– Knowing you know nothing–and you can prove it (ah, humility)!


– Knowing when to ask–like the infamous directions when you’re lost or how to use the latest new technology.


– Learning from all others (everyone has something they can teach us).


– Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience (you’ve gotten an inkling about some truth out there, and you’ve had a chance to test it out). 


– Seeing that people’s outer bodies are just the superficial, material cover for their inner souls. 


– Realizing that doing for others is so much more rewarding than doing for ourselves. 


– Following the great truths of morality and responsibility.


– Keen awareness that we are not alone in the universe–G-d is everywhere.


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Feeling Good Vibes

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So what a nice compliment…


I’m talking with someone this week.


They’re new, and so I tried to be generally nice and ask about them, show interest, and just be overall friendly and welcoming.  


It was amazing–these little things, and they made someone else feel comfortable and happy. 


They are smiling and go to me:

“I get good vibes from you!”


Wow, good vibes–awesome!  


And now I was happy too. 


I thought to myself, how often we goof and give off the wrong vibes and how easy it really is to just treat most people decently and sincerely, and get a good reaction. 


Yes, not everyone is easy to get along with and not everyone is nice.


But generally, I think it’s good to try to be the type of person that others feel good vibes from. 


I’ll take that and continue to try and spread the wealth. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

@Takoma Park Folk Festival

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So today we were at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. 


It was a combination of food, chachkas, art, dance, and music–thank G-d, it was a good time!


When we were going through the booths, I came across this one artist pictured here. 


A little scary looking at first, but actually seemed nice enough and he stopped to speak with us. 


I asked about his very cool jacket.


And he told me, how he had actually made it with all the artistic things on it, including spikes, skulls, medals, patches, and even a pair of teeth!


Then he took off his jacket and turned around to show me his vest. 


On the back was this awesome fighting foe.


I said feigning surprise:

“Oh, and it says RESIST on top?”


He replies:

“Yeah, never miss an opportunity to share a message!”


I thought to myself this guy is pretty smart, especially as he started to explain not only his jacket, but the meanings behind some of his other artwork. 


Creativity is a wonderful thing–especially when no one gets hurt :-)–and it immediately sparks interest and dialogue.


How’d you do that?  What gave you that idea?  How do you use it?


The boring becomes exciting when another soul expresses itself. 


Yes, we’re all the same, but also we’re all different!


It’s by “going there,” you explore and learn new things.  😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)