Face The Fear

Face The Fear.jpeg

I have to give my wife credit. 


She said something to me the other day that was really profound and had a deep impact on me. 


Something bad had happened and honestly, it was a truly frightening situation.


At first, it seemed like one of those negative surprises in life that brings bad news and you are at first sort of shocked. 


As things progress though and the news unfortunately doesn’t get better, but in fact gets worse, the shock turns to fear and maybe even panic. 


Oh shit, what do I do now?


Turn this way..no good. 


Turn that way…no good.


Retreat…not an option.


So I speak to my wife, and at first she says:

“Just look away.”

But I can’t look away…I can’t ignore a problem…my instinct is that I have to plan for it, deal with it, solve it. 


I go back to my wife, and she says to me:

“Face the fear, and walk through it.”

And I had to stop in my tracks at that. 


She was right–there is no use being fearful or worrying–I would face it and walk through it, and come out the other side better for it. 


That was some of the best advice anyone I think has ever given to me. 


Got to be strong, have courage, face the challenges in life, and “walk through it!” 


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Have to have emunah (faith), and realize it’s just a test. 


And the Almighty G-d is my shield and protector. 


It’s a test, but I can pass it with G-d’s help, and everything will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

I Got The Call

ATM.jpeg

I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting what they wanted when they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!” 


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

CNN News May (Sometimes) Be Fake, But The Flowers Aren’t

Flowers.jpeg

As CNN (and other news outlets) continue to go after the President of the United States with a vehemence, and three of its journalists had to resign, I thought it was important to remember that while there may be much news these days that is ugly and fake, there are still many things in life that are still beautiful and real like these gorgeous flowers.


While we look to the media for honest and fair news reporting to educate and inform us all, it continues to be more than disappointing that they not only seem to take sides, but as one of their own producers admitted, they are looking out for their own ratings more than for the benefit of the American and global news consumer. 


Political biases, chasing after ratings, alternative facts, fake news…what are people across the political and viewpoint spectrum to do to get to the truth?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Meaning of Silence

Silence.jpeg

Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fighting Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse.jpegNonviolence.jpeg

I came across these excellent graphics used to educate and prevent against domestic dominance and abuse.


The first wheel shows how “power and control” are used to instill fear and dominate domestic partners as well as in an overall pattern of relationships with physical and sexual violence:


– Intimidation

– Emotional Abuse

– Isolation

– Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

– Using Children

– Male Privilege

– Economic Abuse

– Coercion and Threats


In contrast, the second wheel displays positive patterns of “equality” in relationships and nonviolence and are marked by the following attributes:


– Non-threatening behavior

– Respect

– Trust and Support

– Honesty and Accountability

– Responsible Parenting

– Shared Responsibility

– Economic Partnership

– Negotiation and Fairness


Have you ever noticed a pattern of domestic abuse behaviors that include the following?


– Constantly lecturing on political views the other person should hold.

– Keeping them away from their family and friends.

– Controlling the major life decisions.

– Hiding money and accounts.

– Demanding the partner stay home with the kids indefinitely.

– Using emotional withdrawal and/or passive aggressiveness to control.

– Requiring the other person to be available whenever they want.


Spouses and partners should be your best friend and not your servant or dog to kick when you get home.


Watch out for those who exhibit the bad behaviors and patterns of abuse and violence…and stay safe in good and healthy relationships! 😉


(Source Photo: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project – Duluth Model)

Kosher Trust Or Not

Matzo Man.JPEG

Here’s the big controversy in our synagogue this week. 


The Rabbi is having a Purim open house and he invited everyone to bring a pot luck.


Only home-made food, no purchased food please!”


In Jewish circles, this is the opposite of what you’d expect, where checking the kosher labels and symbols is critical to ensuring the food has followed the strict kosher dietary laws and can be eaten. 


Yet as pointed out, kashrut has been made into a whole commercial business these days…does it still reflect the intent?


The Rabbi explained in services today, in a very well received way, that we need to get back to respecting and trusting each other. 


That these values are essential to being truly religious people.


It was a wonderful speech in that it evoked unconditional acceptance and respect for everyone. 


As we know, no one is so perfect, even though the goal of course is to be as perfect as we can be. 


So two things:


1) I really like the notion of treating people well and putting that high on the priorities as we are all G-d’s creatures.


2) I myself am kosher, but not fanatically so, therefore, I personally appreciated the acceptance and love in the community. 


Yet, after I got home, and thinking about this some more, and despite my own failings religiously and otherwise, I asked myself, “Am I really comfortable eating from a parve and meat community pot luck?”


And even as I ask this question, I am sort of squirming at the idea of just eating anyone’s food–and not knowing anything about it. 


How am I doing due diligence in even trying to keep kosher like that?


While maybe I’m not the most kosher of everyone, it certainly is important to me to at least try (to some extent), but I ask myself can this be considered really even trying–when some people aren’t religious, may not have a strong religious education, and perhaps some may not even be (fully) Jewish?


Sure, someone can even have the best intentions and try to bring kosher food, yet it’s certainly possible that the food may not be kosher. 


Perhaps, in prior times, it was an issue of more or less kosher, but these days, it can be an issue of kosher or not kosher at all. 


This is a very difficult issue–because we can’t put people up against the law–we must by necessity respect both. 


So yes, I love the idea of respecting everyone and that’s a given assuming they are good, decent people, but trust is not something you just have, it’s something you earn, by…being trustful!


I’m not one to preach religion to anyone…I struggle myself with the laws and in trying to do what’s right in the commandments between man and G-d. 


And while I am ready to accept all good and loving people, I am perhaps not ready to just trust them without knowing that the trust is dutiful. 


Love thy neighbor as thyself is paramount, but also we have a duty to G-d to try to fulfill his commandments the best we can. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Media Is Becoming The Biggest Loser

Colored Glasses.JPEG

So this is an interesting poll from Emerson College:

“49% of U.S. voters believe that the Trump administration is truthful, while only 39% feel that way about the news media.”


Growing up, I never thought or felt the media was biasing the news.


Frankly, it never would have occurred to me. 


Maybe, I was too innocent or naive. 


But I always thought the media’s job was to “tell it the way it is.”


The media’s job, I understood was to be a honest broker, investigate, report, and tell all sides of the issues to help inform and educate. 


What people then did with that information was up to them. 


They would be free in a democracy to form their own opinions and see things that were presented to them through their experiences and sense of identity and justice.

But now, the world is upside down, and bias, bigotry, and prejudice is embedded in the media news itself. 


The same story on a deportation case today can be told by CNN as one of racism and cruelty to immigrants for deporting a mother of two who was “a threat to nobody” or by FOX news as one of enforcing the laws and security against an undocumented immigrant with a felony conviction for social security fraud. 


It depends what colored glasses your looking through and how you want to influence or control what the masses think and do about it. 


No wonder, people don’t trust the media!


Not only were the projections based on garbage polling completely wrong in terms of who would win the election, but the reporting out of daily events is done through one-sided reporting, “alternative facts,” and “fake news.”


The Democrats and Republicans are duking it out, but it’s the media that it getting the biggest black eye on honesty and credibility, and losing the fight for influence over the American people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)