Showing posts with label Growing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growing. Show all posts

June 10, 2019

Long Nails

Ran into this lady in South Florida. 

Couldn't help but notice the nails. 

She told me she's been growing them like this for 29 years!

I asked if she had any difficulty typing, driving, or anything. 

And she told me she does everything with them.

No, I don't think that I want to touch these things. 

I'm only getting as close as the camera. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 13, 2018

Flower Petals In Water

Just wanted to share these absolutely beautiful flower petals floating on the water. 

G-d's creations are so wondrous and marvelous.

Frankly, I find it hard to comprehend how He made everything so gorgeous. 

There are plenty of challenges for us in this world to keep us learning and growing. 

But truly, I love that there is some Garden of Eden paradise in this world too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 12, 2017

Feeling Good Vibes

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)
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August 7, 2016

Playing The Work Game Can End In More Ways Than One


This game takes working to a whole new level of absurdity. 

It's called "Don't Get Fired!

And it's by a 29-year old South Korean programmer who found a way to vent his own frustration with the crazy working world by making it into a mobile game. 

The goal is to "rise through the ranks of a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding  a long list of fireable offenses."

I did a screenshot here after I passed the interview and did the tasks that the various levels of management told me to by yelling at me with exclamation marks. 

The more exclamation marks means the more yelling and critical the tasks are from the seniors in the organization. 

Here the added stressor is everyone is in "fever mode," because the president is in town, so now you are getting work from everyone and have to manage all the competing priorities. 

See me, the intern in the lower right corner with the work piled up on my desk.

You have to tap furiously on each task to turn them green and eventually make them disappear as completed.

In the game, you basically "get fired again and again in a cycle of humiliation and false hope." 

There are no less than "29 ways to get fired, including opening a box of donuts that doesn't belong to you,...addressing colleagues with the wrong level of formality, or failing to laugh hard enough at the jokes of a company vice president."

One game player said, "sometimes you just have to laugh at the futility of life" or in this case I think he is referring to meaningless work tasks. 

Mind-numbing tasks and yelling in the office are not what decent work life is about.  

It's no wonder that doing meaningful work, being treated with dignity and respect, and having the opportunity to learn and grow are some of the most important aspects of a satisfying job.

Then why get fired, when instead you can get promoted. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 20, 2016

Young Love

So I took this photo of a painting in a home furnishings store.

Just something really striking about it to me. 

The way the women is leaning into the man and his head/face leans into hers. 

Their focus on the drawing or plans in front of them, where he seems to be sketching out their future together. 

Also, their hands touching and almost clasped.

Young love is beautiful.

When people find each other, by some miracle of G-d.

And the chemistry magically makes 2 people like 1. 

The look they give each other, when their hopes and dreams converge.

Best friends, companions, lovers with the potential to grow ever mightier over time. 

Life not without obstacles that the couple must overcome, supporting each other.

Building a home, raising a family, making a future together come true.

When the minds meet, the hearts yearn for each other, and the souls join.

What a time of joy and blessing...a time to live for and to continue the generations forward and build that which cannot be completed by any man alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 16, 2016

Setbacks Lead To Comebacks

My wife, Danielle Blumenthal, sent me this beautiful quote from Joel Osteen's book called, "It's Your time."

"For every setback, G-d has prearranged a comeback

For every failure, G-d has prearranged mercy. 

For every disappointment, G-d has prearranged restoration. 

For every unfair thing, G-d has prearranged vindication....

It's easy to get discouraged, lose your enthusiasm, or even be tempted to just settle where you are.

But if we're going to see G-d's best, when you get knocked down, you don't stay down. You get back up again.You have to know that every time adversity comes against you, it's a setup for a comeback."

Often we look at some people, and think that they have everything. 

But no one does--life is a bunch of trade-offs. 

Some are blessed with family and friends, others with health and longevity, and still others with peace or prosperity, but no one has it all. 

And if you think they do, then you don't really know them and their circumstances. 

In life, everyone has weaknesses, setbacks and failures...it's how we learn, it's how we grow.

Understanding that setbacks doesn't necessarily mean "game over" and that as long as there is life, there is hope, can give us the courage to go on, and the strength to get up when it seems like we are down for the count, and to make a comeback to live and thrive yet another day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 2, 2016

Should You MYOB?

Great Salt And Pepper comic in the Wall Street Journal today.

"What makes you think the meaning of life is any of your business."

Man goes to mountain. 

Man seeks to know the meaning of his existence. 

Mountain tells man to mind your own business.

I guess it's just not that easy. 

No one will just tell us how each of us is to make our difference in this world. 

Of course, there is faith and religious teachings to guide us.

But each and every one of us must find our path to G-d and our mission to his world. 

In doing that we struggle through life's trials and tribulations. 

It is painful at times, but we change and grow especially when the pain of what we are doing wrong becomes greater than the pleasure we gain from it. 

The meaning is in the journey and in the destination we seek. 

Our paths are not straight, but winding and hilly and not without obstacles--but it is a trek not only to the mountain, but to the very heavens itself. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 14, 2016

Your Computer Is All Wet

So I was at my first synagogue men's club event last week.

A guy at the door was checking people in with a laptop lent by my friend, who is the head of the men's club.

Sitting at the desk, the check-in guy had a cup of soda and at one point, it got knocked over and spilled on top of the MacAir. 

I raced over with some napkins to try and wipe it off quickly, and my friend grabbed his laptop and held it upside down to try and get the spill out.

For a while, the computer stayed on, but as I feared all the sugary stuff in the soda would do it in so it wouldn't turn on again. 

I emailed my friend a number of times during the week to find out how his laptop was doing. 

He had made an appointment with AppleCare and they said they could fix it, but he said it would cost almost as much as a new computer. 

Also, they gave him a contact somewhere else that specializes in recovering the data/contents on the computer. 

The saga with the computer isn't over, but on Shabbat my friend in synagogue said to me, "You know, you were the only one who contacted me to inquire how I was doing with the laptop."

And he gave me a warm smile that said thank you for actually giving a damn. 

I thought to myself perhaps we only have a few real friends in the world and it's not just about who gives us that old ada-boy at the fun events. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 12, 2015

Helping Kids To Stand On Their Own

So my wife and I have a longstanding disagreement on the best way of teaching children. 

Her perspective:

TEACH TO CARE - Get the kids to do them for themselves, learn to be independent, by doing they learn to stand on their own two feet, don't baby them, by teaching them to do for themselves you are caring for the kids, if you jump every time they ask then there is no reason for them to try themselves.

His perspective:

CARE TO TEACH - Do for the kids when they are young, by showing them how then they start to learn how to do it for themselves later in life, children need to be shown love and caring so they can learn to one day care for themselves as well as for others, by loving and giving selflessly to children they learn that they are valuable human beings and grow to a healthy maturity. 

The reality:

CARE AND TEACH - We need to show care and love to children, but also need to teach them to do for themselves. We can't smother children nor can we send them out into the world unprepared. Care for them at an early age, show them how, and then give them opportunities to do it for themselves and become full adults. 

Like with most things in marriage, and relationships in general, the bringing together of two heads and hearts is better than just one alone. We balance each other, complement each other, and synergize each other--one is alone and deficient, two is together and with G-d making three, it is a whole. 

And always tell your wife she was right. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 20, 2015

It's The Way You Look At Things

It's the old saying, "Is the glass half empty or half full?"

You can be a positive Peter or a negative Nellie. 

Your choice--or disposition, perhaps. 

Last week one day when the weather was bad out and I was entering the indoor pool for my laps, someone said to me, "The worse it is out there, the better it is in here."

And he was right, you can complain about the weather or whatever, but you can appreciate having great indoor facilities or just a roof over your head. 

If you look up, you can be inspired to reach for the next rung, and if you look down you can be grateful for how far you've already made it. 

Also, however bad off you might be, there are always others who are worse off. 

As a kid, I remember hearing about the person who was missing a hand and feeling bad about themselves, until they meet someone who was missing both arms. 

I do recall in actuality riding the NYC subways and poor people would come through the end doors between the cars (not allowed on the DC Metro) to go begging from money through the train--the unbelievable thing was that they were just a stump of a body from the waste up (no lower body whatsoever!) getting around by sliding themselves on a skateboard inches of the ground--can you imagine that? 

Perspective...my father used to say, "Smile and the whole world smiles with you."

Sometimes just the motion (even if it's just an act) of putting on that happy face can actually transform you to being happier. 

No, not a placebo effect, but like the Jewish notion that from doing can actually come the feeling.

In other words, just try--there is so much to be positive about and thankful for--not just on Thanksgiving--coming up next week--but all year round. 

Life is a journey full of learning and growing--not a destination. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 10, 2015

Helpless And Helping

The following is all true.

So I dreamed last night a scary dream...

I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.

My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.

I could see my legs, but could not move them--at all. 

The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.

I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.

My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:

"Father! Father! Father!" 

I was looking for my dad (who I know deeply loved me and vice versa), and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 

Then, my voice turned and called:

"Father that art in heaven" and repeated this again. 

I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 

Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted--I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 

Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 

As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.

I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 

But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 

Seeing that she was upset and couldn't do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.

I said, "Why don't you share with me (there is plenty of room)?"

She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, "It's no problem."

And then she went under and did her exercise thing--and we shared.

It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her--she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.

Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy--seriously, I did. 

And I thought to myself...Andy, you can learn!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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March 17, 2015

Everyday, A Catch-22

I took this photo of this guys' cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 

Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.

Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.

In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 

Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can't unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can't look for them.

In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22's, however not solving them is not an option...we must come up with a workable solution.

At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 

At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 

With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 

With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren't just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 

The list of life's conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face...there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard...you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 5, 2014

Good Spreads Good

This was a nice note to see this morning at the parking garage. 

"To the good samaritan who picked up an Amex card on 11/3: Thank you! You are awesome."

Look at how good deeds work and spread:

Someone lost their Amex credit card.

Another found it and went out of their way to take the time to safeguard it and turn it in.

The person who lost it then got to recognize the kind act and in turn make the effort to write this nice thank you note and post it. 

Other people passing this by get to see this and learn from it, and hopefully do similar nice things when they are presented the opportunity.

Do you look the other way and run off to do just your own (selfish) things or do you take the time to help others when they are in need?  

The answer may not be obvious to everyone or all the time, but we can all learn and grow. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 17, 2014

Now's Your Chance To Make Things Right

Day 4...pain gradually subsiding, walking improving.

Still pushing my body...walk, ice, walk, ice. 

But more than the physical, I realized that I was going through something far more spiritual in my journey. 

People are coming out of the woodwork telling me their travails through these surgeries. 

One old time friend, welcomed me to the "Hip Club"--her new hip is 4 years old, but I didn't even know she had it done (albeit that we only keep in touch through Facebook these days).

Another, my neighbor, had knee replacement in 2011--again, was I too busy or blind to know--I felt like an absolute card. She in particular told me again and again, "I cried, I cried."

Later in the day, as I am trying to figure it all out--how am I going to get everything done and back on my feet, my wife says to me, "Now's your chance to make things right!"

Then it hit me, that while I always try to think of myself as trying to do what's right, I wasn't doing enough. 

Open your eyes Andy.  

There are lot's of people that are in pain, that are crying, that need help. 

What are you doing about it? 

Do you even see them?

Are you aware they are there?

WAKE-UP CALL.

Do Better, Make things right. Try harder. Do More. 

It's not too late. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2014

Will You Take The Next Exit Or Not?

I'm not really into the psychic stuff. 

First, I learned in Yeshiva that we are not supposed to divine the future. 

Second, I don't think we're supposed to know what we're not supposed to know--it take the edge of the challenge in life (almost like trying to gain an unfair advantage in going through life's ups and downs, which is how we learn and grow). 

Third, I think there are a lot of charlatans out there (not everyone, but a lot). 

But one idea recently, from Sylvia Brown, has got me thinking. 

The idea is that we each have Exit Points in our lives--"precise times and ways when we'll leave here and go Home again." 

Brown says we each have 5 of these exits planned in our lives--"and we can use any one of the five we want, as we go along, depending on whether or not we feel we've accomplished enough of what we wanted from this lifetime to begin with."

Thinking back to my own life, I can clearly see times when it seemed like my number was up.

Each occurrence was dramatic and looking back now, sort of surreal. 

During these exit points, I know that I was just inches from death and that G-d brought me back. 

This is where I differ from Brown, I don't think it was my choice to live or die, but I think it was a time of judgment, when G-d decided whether to let me live on (although, perhaps, I had some input as far as G-d is concerned).

The exit points are not escape hatches like from the Matrix, where we can choose to stop or "exit program," but rather times in our lives when we are given the opportunity to go on or not. 

Also, I think the decision of whether we stay or go is based in part on whether we've accomplished our mission, but also on those around us who will be impacted--that's why it takes G-d to figure out all the combinations and permutations to make the call. 

Bad things happen and people die suddenly and violently or even excruciatingly slow and painful deaths--and in other cases, people survive to die another day--we really don't know what is going to happen. 

Part of not knowing tests us--sometimes to our limits and perhaps for some even beyond (although I was taught in Yeshiva that G-d never gives us more than we can handle). 

We live, we die, and perhaps we live again i.e. through reincarnation--a mechanism of ultimate justice and learning. 

Will G-d permit us to continue as ourselves in this go around, to come back as another in a future spiral, or is it really "game over"?

I thank G-d for letting me live to continue my journey--I still have so much to learn here and now--what the future brings, only the merciful Almighty knows. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2014

There's No Line In Online

I loved the article in the Wall Street Journal By Andy Kessler. 

Kessler's point is that technology is all about convenience. 


The way I put it is that online, there is no line!


With technology, we can do things proverbially--better, faster, cheaper.


But so much of technology really is about doing things with the utmost convenience--that means that rather then spend time hunting or gathering, searching or shopping, traveling or transacting, gaming or gambling, we can go online and in Internet speed it's done!


The beauty of the Internet and technology is that there is no queue, no lines, no waiting--just lots of convenience mainly with point and click.  


I couldn't hate lines more--hate wasting time--hate doing stupid things that have no real meaning-->time is absolutely precious! 


We are mortal and one day, time stops for all of us, so we better use what we have well--use it wisely, not wastefully. 


When we have convenience from technology, we have to spend less time on the mundane and have more time to do the things we really enjoy or that can grow us.


So get the doldrums done quickly online, and spend more time with family and friends, on fitness, pursing spiritual matters, and even learning the secrets of the universe--and then blogging about them. 


Technology is a convenience and a true G-dsend. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 22, 2013

Hiring and Marrying Great People--Is It Random or Predictable?


The Atlantic (21 June 2013) has a startling article about hiring at Google--"It's a complete random mess."

With all the Google information genius and the brainteasers they test people with, all the rounds of interviews they put them through, they found "zero relationship" between how people scored in tens of thousands of interviews and how they performed in their jobs.

No only didn't the interviews predict good hires, but "colleges didn't matter, GPAs...didn't matter."

Only one guy who was the world's leading expert in something, and was hiring for a very specialized area seemed to be able to weed out the wheat from the chaff in interviews. 

"People are complicated, organizations are complicated, matching people with organizations is complicated."

This reminds me of what it's like to match people for intimate relationships...very, very difficult. Sort of like, men are complicated, women are complicated, and matching men and women is complicated.

Whether matching people to organizations or to each other, getting a good Shidduch is a big challenge and hard to predict the outcome. 

Perhaps that is why the average person goes through seven careers in a lifetime and "50% of all marriages in America end in divorce."

Making a good match with a company or a person is hard--because as I heard as a teenager, "you never know what the person is really like until you wake up with them in the morning"--morning breath, hair messed, bad dreams, pissy moods, and all. 

Similarly, with a company, until you work there and actually have to live the culture and deal with the people, policies, and politics, you won't really know what it's like just by asking around and reading up about them on Glassdoor.

Also, not only do you have imperfect information about the people and jobs when you try and match them up, but people change (organizations do to, but much more slowly--it's a bigger ship to turn around). 

Yes, while past performance are predictors of future performance--good skills and bad habits, they do stick around--at the same time, people do learn, grow, mature, and change--hopefully for the better. 

As the old Jewish saying goes, "with age, comes wisdom"--and hopefully, more mature and better ways of dealing and coping with challenging and complex people and situations. 

So what should you look for--whether in a new hire or a marriage mate? 

Start with a good heart and a good fit; look for a track record of success in life, a hunger to succeed personally and professionally, someone willing to learn and grow, and not be afraid to work hard, have some failures, and get back on their feet again--that's life. 

Say a prayer and don't be fooled by the superficial things or what people just say to get the job or the mate--look for what they do (action speaks louder than words) and remember, personal beauty is more than just skin deep. ;-)
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May 4, 2013

Walking On Rocks

The first few times when I started hiking, I had this paradigm that I had to walk between the rocks--sort of like hopscotch--then I realized that I could walk on them.

For a long time, I had heard about how thinking within the box constrains our thought processes and innovation. 

It was interesting for me to see this in action just by the way I initially viewed a basic skill like hiking. 

The paradigms we use to view the world alter what we think and do, and only when we break out of the proverbial box we are in, can we really see and be open to other ways of being and doing things.  

You can walk between the rocks or you can climb over them--whatever works best for you--just be open to seeing things in many different ways.

No one way is necessarily better than another--they are just different and each useful in their own time and place. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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March 7, 2013

Eyes Wide Open


This is an interesting video on Plato's Allegory of The Cave. 

It is long-winded, but if you watch a little I think you will get the point.

In the video prisoners who are kept in the dark, chained, and with no real view of the outside world, have a limited perception of what exists out there.

They see shadows, but what is a shadow compared with the reality of true people, places, and things. 

When one prisoner is released outside into the light and the wonders of the world, he sees and experiences the greatness, the complexity, and the beauty of it all. 

The world, he sees, is much more than a shadow on a darkened wall. 

Watching this video, I think how fortunate I am to be able to have an education (and I am actually in a class this week). 

It is wonderful to learn and grow--and have one's eyes opened to all there is out there. 

True, not all the topics that I encounter and learn about are of great interest to me (sometimes, like everyone, I feel like I just want to get some Zzzzzs), but just being exposed to different topics and ways of thinking is a great opportunity in and of itself. 

I think sometimes, how lucky I am to live in the 21st century in an age of globalization, opportunities for advanced education, and all the technology to bridge time and space and see more than many who came before us. 

I imagine that compared to G-d, we are like the prisoners in the cave who only experience and see a minutia of reality, and G-d is out there over us, omniscient. 

Someday, G-d releases us from our mortal bodies and we ascend to heaven to partake of his greatness and then our eyes are truly opened as well. ;-)

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August 12, 2012

The Sugarloaf Overlook

Went hiking on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland today. 

The trails were awesome--with amazing climbs and descents over and around rocks, trees, vines, and the natural vegetation. 

This is a picture from the West View of the mountain, and what I liked about this photo is the story that it tells. 

In it, you can see on the left, the rocks, which represent to me the obstacles in life to climb over, maneuver around, or even to push through--the last option is for the littler ones. :-)

On the right, you can see the trees--areas for shade, rest, and sustenance on your road trip of life.

And in the center, in the distance, you can see the beautiful overlook view of where you are going--for miles around, there is heaven and earth and the meeting of the two. 

There are shades of light and dark where you stand at the overlook, there bright times and dark--on the road--it is not all fun or all hard work, but it is a journey that combines the two. 

I went with my wife and girls and together the trip--to overlook--was nicer and more peaceful, together. 

I was happy going with them--yet, afterward, I was a little sad looking at some of the pictures, and thinking if only it could always be the way it is, right now. 

But life keeps moving forward, through time and space, and what lies over those rocks and trees is but a glimpse of what truly lies ahead for each of us. 

I love the peace of the moment, but the moment passes and the hike along the trail continues with more ascents and descents and around lots of curves. 

I pray and hope for more beauty, health, sustenance, and peace--both along the way and at the end of the passage.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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