You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.


It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it’s not all roses. 


In short, it went something like this:

There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 


I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 


No not about Philadelphia, but about life–that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn’t as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 


Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize (“first place”) is really not something to get excited about, because it’s in Philadelphia!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Can’t See Yourself

So this donut-shaped art at the Outlets in Clarksburg is metallic and reflective. 


But what is really interesting to me is that when you stand in front of it (like I was literally doing here), you can’t see yourself. 


It made me wonder how you can look at yourself and yet not see yourself. 


And I thought of this as being a bigger lesson in life. 


When we are looking at ourself and there is a big donut whole in the mirror of ourselves then we are left blind to what should be reflecting back at us.  


No matter how hard we try to see ourselves and what we are doing right and wrong, it’s like a ghost out there–we are blind to it. 


To really see ourselves, our heart and mind have to be receptive to seeing the full picture. 


That means looking at ourselves as we really are, even when there seems to be a piece missing to the puzzle, and we have trouble being honest about what we see. 


To change, learn, grow–to become a better person, we need to look full on and be willing to see what we will see.  


You can’t see yourself until you can.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Emo Art

So I’ve been wanting to post this example of this special art form from my daughter, Rebecca. 


She makes this novel art called, “EMO”, which stands for emotional.


In this art she mixes children and monsters–and it depicts how innocent kids have to deal with the monsters they find in an often unscrupulous and morally-tarnished society. 


I love the feelings and message of this art in that it encapsulates how children enter this world in purity, but how so many bad people and things around them (and us) can corrupt that. 


I always learned that the goal for each person was to leave the world a better place then the way we found it; however, I think a more personal goal should also be for us to leave here as better human beings than the day we arrived.  


Challenging ourselves–learning and maturing–yet at the same time keeping that essence of decency and integrity of mind, heart, and deed–that is a life where we can grow up, but not turn into the morally-bankrupt monsters that we see all around us. 


(Source Art: Rebecca Ochayon)

How Angry Do You Get?

Anger is one of those emotions (like jealousy) that can clearly get the best of people. 


Hence, the term anger management!


The Talmud teaches that there are 3 ways to know a person’s real character: 


– Koso, Kiso, and Ka’aso.


From Aramaic to English it translates as:


– Cup, Purse, and Anger. 


In other words…


Cup–When a person “drinks,” this is how they handle their alcohol and how they act when physically (or perhaps emotionally) inebriated or as we say, “When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!” Are they jumping on the bar, ripping it all off and saying and doing the inappropriate and profane or are they able to recognize their point of weakness and ask someone for a ride safely home. 


Purse–This is how a person handles money (and power). Materialism of people speaks volumes. Are they cheap, misery, and narcissistic or compassionate, caring, and giving to others.  


Anger–When a person is angry, this is often when their “true colors” show.  Do they get mean, bullying, abusive, and violent–do they go for the throat and the kill or are they situationally aware, measured, and do they listen, understand, and are they able to cope well when “under the gun.”  


Focusing on the anger piece…


It’s easy to get angry, and it’s also easy to look for a scapegoat and let it out on people that really have nothing to do with why you’re really angry. 


Maybe people can’t always address their anger with the true source, maybe they don’t even recognize their feelings fully, or have no idea how to safely release and reset.


In any case, anger is a dangerous emotion if not dealt with. 


Many mistakes are made that cannot be undone when people lose their cool (or sh*t, as now seems more commonly said). 


Thoughts on this…


Take a breath, slow down. 


Evaluate what’s really going on


Think about whether it’s truly the end of the world or not. 


Assess the options for coping with it. 


Look for ways to deescalate and resolve. 


If necessary, seek help from others.


Finally, where possible be compassionate and forgiving. 


And where not, cope, cope, cope–and survive another day!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Essence of Time Management

So here are some quickies on the essence of time management.


1. Urgency vs Importance:


Don’t sacrifice the important items for the urgent ones!


– Focus on the items that are important on the right side of the matrix–if they are urgent (upper-right), you need to do now; if they aren’t urgent, but they are important (lower-right), you need to make time for them. 


– Deemphasize the items that aren’t important on the left side of the matrix–if they are urgent and not important (upper-left), limit them or delegate them; if they aren’t urgent or important (lower-left), delete them. 


There are two potential areas of dissonance that can cause you tension, stress, and anxiety.


– When the urgent top row items and the lower-left life necessities get in the way of your focusing on the quality life items that are of long-term importance to you (the lower-left).  For example, work and errands can crowd out your personal, family, community, and spiritual time. 


– When you have too many items in the lower-right quality time area and these are in competition with each other for your time and attention, and you don’t know how to prioritize them and get it all done.  It’s like there is never enough time. For example, we ignore our spouse, the kids, or closeness with G-d, because we just can’t get to it all.


This is where our personal values and conscience come into play to drive what we do and how we spend our precious time in this world. 


We all only have 24 hours in a day, so our actions need to be purposeful and driven by our values!


2. Tasks vs Relationships


Imagine another matrix with focus on tasks on the vertical access and focus on relationships on the horizontal access. 


Again here, we want to ensure a healthy balance of focus on both task and relationships (upper-right corner). 


If we focus on tasks at the expense of relationships or relationships at the expense of tasks, we are going to have a problem.  Moreover, it makes no sense to focus on items that are neither task- nor relationship-focused (lower-left).  


We need to collaborate with others to accomplish great, complex tasks (we can only accomplish so much alone). 


Again, dissonance (tension, stress, anxiety) is caused when we are pulled off-balance to focus on work or people to the exclusion of the other.  


As they say,


“Mission first, people always!”


We’ve got to build meaningful relationships and work together to get the mission done and the mission can be helping people and building a better society in a variety of ways. 


In a sense, it’s people helping people. Love thy neighbor to help thy neighbor.  


Time is of the essence–we have so little of it–it is precious–we can’t get it back–it goes so fast–we need to manage it like gold. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t / Can’t – Turn Back Now

My father used to say a very wise thing:

You can only go forward.
You can’t go back.


Often in life, I reflect on how wise this is and he was. 


Sometimes, we are hesitant or afraid of what lies ahead, and we turn our heads back and reinvent history and creatively fantasize how wonderful things were before and maybe we should go back.


Like the Israelites thousands of years ago, who G-d redeemed from the servitude of Egypt, but with hundreds of years of a slave mentality, they were in a sense paralyzed with fear of going into the foreboding expanse of the desert. 

“If only we had died by the L-rd’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. But You have brought us out to this dessert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)


But we know that going forward is the only way to learn, grow, and progress. 


Just like the Israelites that went forward through the depths of the Red Sea on dry land and to receive the Torah on Sinai and for forty years in the desert to ultimately get to the amazing promised land of Israel. 


Thank G-d, they didn’t turn back–there really was no turning back.


Back is death.  


Forward is life. 


We have a journey that we need to complete. 


The destination is wherever G-d takes us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Heart And Soul Of The Matter

So I had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman who works in a menial job for minimum wage for most of his life. 


But this person was shinning and smiling ear-to-ear. 


What happened, he got offered a job to work in a lovely school as their cook. 


He’s been doing this as a special treat for the students once a year, and they decided to bring him on to do this full time. 


He pulled out his phone and proudly showed me a picture of himself in the classroom surrounded by all the children.  He was in an orange sweater and stood out in the middle of all of them and with a smile that lit up the entire room. 


He told me how the children thought of him as a celebrity chef and the teacher even organized autographs by him for the children.


His whole life, he questioned his worth, and now he felt recognized, appreciated, and loved. 


I told him that I thought he was indeed quite a special person. 


He said to me, you may have a talent or be special, but you have to recognize it–and he repeated aloud again at least three times emphasizing more and more on RECOGNIZE it. 


Surely, after so many years, only now was he being recognized and more so, recognizing it himself. 


Apparently, someone who worked in the school was also a renown food critic, and she had nothing but praises to sing of him. 


Talking with him, I felt my eyes being opened. 


Everyone can do good with their lives and have worth. 


We have to recognize it in ourselves. 


We need to just be given an opportunity to show it and share it. 


It doesn’t matter what you are or earn.


It matters where your heart is.


For many, they earn gazillions, but their heart is a heart of stone. 


For others, they may earn minimum wage, but their heart is a heart of gold. 


It’s not the money, it’s not the power, it’s not the prestige…it’s the heart and soul of the matter. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)