Be Strong!

Just a saying about inner strength that I liked:

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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When It Turns In

A friend told me something interesting about anxiety and depression…

Depression is anxiety turned inward. 


When people feel anxious and that they don’t have control over their situation that make them feel in a sense helpless, and then the anxiety “has no where to go,” it becomes depression. 


I guess it make sense that if you feel that you can’t really do anything to make things better–and no matter how hard you try–then you feel somewhat helpless/hopeless and get depressed


Perhaps it’s almost like a frustration at your own inability to change things you feel you need to change. 


That is why a person’s feeling some sense of control over their environment and life is so important. 


When things are looking down, it helps to try and do something to take back control over what feels like spiraling uncontrollable events and circumstances.  


Of course, only G-d really has control over what ultimately happens. 


But we need to do our part to try to make things better. 


Just taking that first (and second and third) step is freeing. 


I’m pretty sure that an element of this is that you can tell yourself that you “did everything you could” so in effect there is a lifting of guilt about the situation, but at the same time there is also a genuine feeling that you are here for a purpose and perhaps have made a difference in this world. 


Some people feel big and important, but the reality is that we are all so small in a very big world and universe where suffering and loss can strike (G-d forbid) at any moment. 


Man is but a speck of dust in the realm of things. 


But at the same time, our speck is filled with a soul of the living G-d. 


So we must do what we can to be a good influence and impact. 


Whatever it is, it is what we can do. 


If everyone–7.6 billion of us out there—does their part that can make a difference. 


Don’t let life’s anxieties become your depression.


Look for what you can contribute–do it!–try your best to make a difference and make the world better.


It’s what you’re here for and what you can positively do.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Living Life Vicariously

So the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.  Go DC!


This little figurine made a debut on the counter of the concierge late last week for us to cheer them on!


You can ring the bell for help and while your waiting, get excited about the game. 


While these types of sports are not my thing per se, I do like watching a good Rocky movie or action flick where the good guys beat the sh*t out of the bad guys.


Whether you’watching your favorite sports team, your Hollywood dream stars, or even an occasional do (something) good politician, we are living vicariously through them. 


It’s not our success we are seeing, but somehow we temporarily suspend our own selves and live through others (their eyes, their actions) and we partake just for a second of what it’s like to be them winning or doing something really significant in life. 


We all can’t be superstars in the center ring duking it out (all the time) and so we take a step back to see others that we relate to face up to the challenge, fight and hopefully win big. 


We don’t walk away with the trophy, prize money, or fame, but we congratulate ourselves somehow for being on the winning team. 


Heck, I didn’t do anything but have faith, go along for the ride, and then take pleasure in seeing my guy(s) win. 


Yet, from the humdrumness of perhaps some of our own everyday lives, we fantasize and garner the courage and strength to do our own great things. 


We can’t be the strongest, smartest, most good-looking, personable, and talented in the world, but we can see parts of ourselves in others and we can try to model the best of them in ourselves and leverage what we got going on!


I don’t really like spending a lot of precious time living like this through others–I don’t mind getting inspiration when I see something amazing, but really I just want to try my hardest to be the best that I can be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Controlling The World, Really?

So, unfortunately, there is a lot of discrimination and hate out there. 


Often, I see, hear, or read lots of anti-Semitism. 


People don’t like what I write in my blog, that I eat Kosher, Keep Shabbat, or that I wear a head covering or whatever. 


I get things like “Dirty Jew!”


Sometimes, “Get out! Go back to Israel!”


Or when I try to express myself, “Uh, the Jews control the world,”


The funny thing is if Jews control the world, why do I feel like I don’t control anything!


I feel so small and insignificant in a way in the realm of G-d’s great universe. 


Where I am but a speck of dust.


I see tall skyscrapers.


Huge mountain ranges. 


The deep oceans.


The rolling plains. 


The infinite stars in the sky. 


I see a world with hundreds of countries. 


And billions of people. 


And I see me, and I am just a person. 


And I see the Jewish people–a tiny minority.


One that has been subject of pogroms, inquisitions, exiles, destruction, and genocide–over and over again. 


I grew up pretty poor and watching my parents work so hard trying their best to support the family. 


I think Jews don’t control the world. 


I certainly don’t think I control even my day. 


The reality is only G-d is in control. 


And for that, I am most humble and grateful to the L-rd above. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Motivation, Hard Work, and Blessings

So I am incredibly impressed at how talented so many people are. 

And I’ll tell you, people are motivated to get ahead and they are working hard to do it. 

I took Lyft to a couple of destinations down here in Florida. 

Two drivers that I had just yesterday were both from relatively poor backgrounds in Jamaica. 

And both were incredible in what they’ve been able to accomplish for themselves.  

One was a senior communications technologist with a large cable company.

Another was a pretty impressive and successful Reggae music star. 

Both had come to this country and made amazing lives for themselves. 

In meeting these incredible people, I learned that everyone is driving Uber and Lyft now-a-days. 🙂

Both were driving as they told me just to keep busy on their days off–because they “hate being bored!”

More importantly, I learned that despite whatever background, hardships, or adversity you come from or have experienced, you can make it in your own way! 

Motivation and hard work coupled with mercy and blessings from, and faith in the Almighty Above are an incredible combination that can propel people towards incredible levels of success in life that maybe many would’ve never even really dreamed of. 

There is no easy road–just one filled with trying your best, plenty of obstacles, stumbles, and falls, and then picking yourself up and trying again and again until hopefully and with G-d’s help you break the bonds and chains keeping you from your amazing levels of potential and contribution to this world. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Knowable and Unknowable

Hole.JPEG

So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 


And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them–is it survival or the challenge or both?


But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 


I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.


And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.


Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will–which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn’t fully control? 


One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again…interesting. 


Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.


Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?


No, I don’t think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 


So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 


– We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can’t just get it.


– We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 


– We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 


– At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.


While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys–and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 


In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)