Showing posts with label Coping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coping. Show all posts

March 25, 2019

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 

She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.

His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 

He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn't know when he would be coming back to class. 

The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 

Life is so tenuous--where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 

You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.

But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.

You can't really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 

Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 

A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 

I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 10, 2018

Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d. 

It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 

Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 

Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 

Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 

But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 

One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 

On the other, we cry on each other's shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.

Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared--occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 

Yes, we laugh and we cry together--alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 

We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 

Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 

Sharing with each other at our houses of worship--that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others' souls--all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 26, 2017

Look Down To Feel Up

Listen, everyone has problems.

Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.

Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could've killed him.

Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 

And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 

But people make the best of it!

They have to.

I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson's Disease:
"We are part of the survivors club."

It wasn't easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 

When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:
"There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad...that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet."

It doesn't take much for things to get really bad in life...sometimes it can seem like we're literally just holding on by a thin thread. 

But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren't worse....and yes, they can even get better again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 5, 2017

The Key Is Calm

So what happens to most of us when we experience the stresses, disappointments, and conflicts in life?

We feel...

- Angst

- Anger

- Upset

- Frustrated

- Murderous at times

We even question, "Why me?"

But none of this helps.

In fact, it just makes things worse.

Because we compound our life challenges with more problems in how we react!

What should we do instead?

The key is to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed. 

Don't get rattled, disjointed, and out of whack over anything or anybody. 

These are all tests in life.

They are all fleeting. 

G-d is watching us and seeing if we have faith in him.

When you remember the creator and sustainer of all life then you can rise above the adversity before you.

Go beyond the superficial.

Experience the world beyond the earthly bounds of time and space. 

See the larger picture.

Breath deeply...a sigh of relief. 

There is nothing to be upset about that G-d can't make right for you. 

Face the challenges with a clear head, a brave heart, and follow your conscience.

Act with determination to speak out and right the wrongs you encounter. 

Remember, you are one with G-d and the universe, and all will be for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 29, 2016

Compassion Instead Of Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 

I listened carefully and tried to empathize--also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!

At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 

And I could see in other person's reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 

We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 

People blame us, attack us, don't appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.

Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.

And maybe we have every right to feel angry.

But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn't help us achieve what we really want. 

What we want most of the time is to resolve things!

But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 

We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.

If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 

This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.

Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn't and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2015

Disability Stories and Resources

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 

It is hosted by Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on "disability programs and services." 


The blog site promotes the "full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide."


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


- Disability rights activism

- Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability
- Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident
- A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).
- Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network

As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it's like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)

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June 22, 2015

Self-Aware Graffiti Artist

So got to hand it to this graffiti artist. 

He/she is quite introspective. 

They wrote on this pole in D.C. "Writes his problems away!"

Thus, it's not just any old graffiti that often desecrates public or private property, but in this case it is an emotional and psychological catharsis for the artist.  

Sure when you write, you can express yourself and your feelings--you can think things through and work them out in your head. 

Also, you can share of yourself with others and influence them too. 

On the lamp pole, bus stop, or building wall--ah, not the best place to work these things out. 

But on paper or the computer, if you have something important to say, get it off your chest--go for it--and you can feel better too! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2015

Ready To Explode

So have you ever had to deal with someone at work and they are NOT exactly acting the consummate professional?

They may be volatile, angry, raising their voice, intransigent, threatening, acting the a*s, maybe even a little meshuga.

Yeah, unfortunately it happens (although it absolutely shouldn't)!  

People have crap going on in the office, at home, and sometimes they come in and they just can't cope.  

G-d forbid, they should never really "go postal" as in real violence--but you never really know what you are going to be dealing with. 

One colleague said some people are just "hypervolic"--a new word for someone who is excessive, over the top, and emotionally volcanic!

Yikes--scary enough. 

Another colleague I know who is excellent with people and has decades of experience dealing with a cast of characters told me, "I just look at everyone as a bomb ready to go off."

Ugh, not exactly how I would want to perceive people around me, but the point is well taken--you never know (and you can almost hear the ticking now). 

With some people we sort of know from dealing with them that they have some marbles loose, and while others may appear calm, cool, and collected on the outside, on the inside they may be a volcano ready to blow. 

Heck, you can't read everyone right and even if you do, you can try to calm them down, listen to them, work with them, talk sense to them, suggest some counseling or other outside assistance, but even then they may go off the deep end. 

Lots of personalities out there, lots of people with problems and stresses, and sometimes we in our best intentions may make mistakes or unknowingly say the wrong thing and it only inflames the situation.

Of course hopefully, calmer heads will prevail, professionalism will take front seat, and people will get some perspective and do the right thing...chill man!

But also keep in mind what my colleagues said, some people may  just be ready to go explode--like a volcano--and we need to be ready for that too. 

How do you prepare for this?

Yeah, I don't remember them covering that subject in leadership training--maybe with the exception of listen, show empathy, and if worst comes to worst you can either head for the exits to get away or shelter in place before the human stress bomb goes big boom! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Camilo Rueda Lopez)
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May 23, 2015

Feeling It All

Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 

We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can't hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what's called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring--because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me--8 years--and I would listen to their "mature" girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, "You need to get a thicker skin!"


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others--but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception...sometimes you can see what others don't, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings--sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 11, 2015

A Doll For Every Worry


Some kids put their baby teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.

But in Guatemala they make Worry Dolls that children can put under their pillows, so they can be released from their worries and sleep better. 

If those were my worry dolls, I wouldn't put them under my pillow and have a lumpy sleep and wake up to them once again, but rather I would throw them out the window, so hopefully they would be gone for good. 

Man, if only we could really get rid of our worries and problems that easily--I think they call it transference! ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 25, 2013

Less With Less

This was a funny picture of a "Complaint Jar".

"All complaints must be written on $1.00 bills or larger. Thank you."

Hey, if you're going to complain, put your money where you mouth is. 

The person on the receiving end isn't looking for more negativity and insults about the job they are doing--they want compliments and tips!

This is similar to a story I heard today about an executive where he and his team where stretched thin and stressed out.

So at one point, when he was once again asked to do more with less, he slams his fist on the table and says, "No, we are going to do less with less!"

It is interesting that nationally and in our organizations, we are constantly asked to increase productivity, but at the same tighten our belts. 

And in the short to intermediate term, we are able to shed "dead weight" and become more efficient.

However, over the longer-term, there does come a breaking point, where trying to do more with less results not in cutting fat, but in cutting bone--and the stress ends up in a fracture. 

Before you know it, fists are slamming on desks, absenteeism is going up, people are getting sick, fights--verbal and otherwise--are breaking out at work, poor decisions are being made, fighting for scarce resources become fierce, and collaboration becomes overt warfare, and perhaps, even someone commits suicide or "goes postal."

Cutting for efficiency can work up to a point, after that all bets are off and you cut at your own and your organization's risk--then even the complaint jar or suggestion box will be nothing but a broken marquee. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 6, 2012

Two Lessons On The Road To Enlightenment

I watched a terrific PBS Emmy-nominated documentary called The Buddha (2010).

The show described the life of Prince Siddhartha from India about 2500 years ago and his "quest for serenity and eternal enlightenment."

There were two highlights that I feel are really worth noting: 

1) The Story of the Glass:

Prince Siddhartha saw a glass and marveled how it held the water, how it made a distinct ringing sound when tapped, and how it so beautifully reflected the light off of it.  

After this, he imagined what would happen to the glass if the wind or shaking knocked it down and it shattered. 

Then he realized the reality of this world is that the glass was (as if) already broken, and that we should appreciate the goodness of the glass all the more while it is still whole. 

I loved this story, because it so encompasses Buddhist thinking in terms of its seeking to overcome human loss and suffering.

Like the glass, the reality of this world is impermanence and therefore, it is as if we have already lost all the people and things we love--therefore, we should appreciate them all the more while they are here. 

Further, we can learn to cope with these feelings of (eventual) loss and suffering by ending material cravings and instead seeking out inner tranquility and spiritual enlightenment. 

2) The Story of the Four Meetings:

The Prince who had been pampered his whole life (up until about the age 29) and had only known pleasure--the finest food, clothing, and women--until one day he went out and meet four people. 

- The first was an old man and so, he came to know how people change.

- The second was a sick person, and so, he came to know how people suffer.

- The third was a corpse, and so, he came to know impermanence and death.

- The fourth was a spiritual seeker, and so he came to know escape.

I thought this story was profound in understanding the cycle of life--from birth to maturity and ultimately to decline and death. 

And in order to escape from the loss and suffering (that occurs again and again through the continual cycle of birth and death and rebirth), we must seek to liberate ourselves from materialist desire, greed, envy, and jealousy.

These things ultimately causes us to sin and suffer and if we can break the cycle by meditation, asceticism, and spiritual wisdom, then we can find true inner peace and achieve nirvana. 

Some personal takeaways:

While I am no expert nor a practitioner of Buddhism, I do appreciate the Buddhist teachings and try to integrate it where possible with my Judaism, so that I can find meaning in the path toward spirituality and faith in G-d.

One of my personal goals is to overcome the senseless drive for chasing endless materialism for it's own--and ultimately--meaningless sake, and instead be able to really focus and achieve something meaningful.  

I believe that meaning is different for each individual, and is part of our path of finding ourselves and our in place in this universe. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Christos Tsoumplekas)


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