Showing posts with label Journey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Journey. Show all posts

August 4, 2019

Open Your Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Open Your Eyes to Hashem."


G-d has a plan and a reason for everything–not only for them, but for all of us. We are all on a journey, and even if we don’t always readily see G-d, it’s part of our core faith that He is always there, He is guiding us, and that everything is for the best. Yet despite our best efforts to have faith, at times, we may feel that we don’t know what we’re doing here–why we’re at this place, at this time, or even how we got here–we may actually feel a little lost. Maybe we just can rattle off a list of “Well I did this and then that and then this other thing happened.” But exactly how we got to where we are, regardless of our best laid plans, is often a mystery to us as human beings. As I often tell students and colleagues in the planning discipline of enterprise architecture, “Man plans, and G-d laughs.”

While we may think we are going about fulfilling our plans and accomplishing our life dreams, the truth is that everything ultimately comes from G-d. He gives you the strength, the health, the family and friends as support, the talent, the opportunity, and the right thoughts in your head and the right words in your mouth to do what you do. Of course, we must do our part and the hard work to find and fulfill our mission in life and to overcome the challenges we face, but we are flesh and blood and in the bigger realm of things, messengers of G-d in fulfilling his bigger plan for all of us. If we open our eyes, we realize that wherever we end up and whatever happens to us is by His merciful decree.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 31, 2019

Be Happy, Have Fun

Thought this was funny at work. 

One person writes:
Be Happy. Have Fun. 

Another chimes in:
Ok, I will!

And finally a 3rd person writes:
Me too. 
Smiley faces and all. 

Never take yourself too seriously. 

It's true--try to enjoy the ride!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 22, 2019

I will Survive


G-d gives us strength. 

To battle ignorance, apathy, and evil. 

To educate, persuade, influence, and fight for what's right. 

With a thick skin of battle armor.

And sword and arrows of insight, cunning, and righteousness.

To stand firm even when you feel weakened. 

To find the words even when you are mocked. 

To see clearly and hear distinctly even when confounded. 

The soul and spirit of G-d guides you.

As you traverse a journey through life's winding tests and challenges. 

Fight heroically to repair that which is broken. 

Say resolutely, I will survive!  ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 2, 2019

Moses' Handicap

Please see new my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Moses's Handicap."
In truth, we are all handicapped in one way or another. One person comes from a meager financial background, another has no education, and yet another has any of a host of physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Essentially, we all have something that rightfully can hold us back. But still G-d chooses us to do His bidding. Whether it’s leading the Jews out of Egypt or standing up and doing what’s right in situations that we are confronted with every day, we are asked to go beyond our handicap.

We can't let our handicaps prevent us from fulfilling our purpose in life--we need to meet the challenges head on with G-d's help.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

May 8, 2018

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 16, 2018

It's For Us

I love this saying from one of my colleagues:
"G-d doesn't do it to us. 
He does it for us!"

Instead of asking with anger and resentment "why me?" -- perhaps we can try to see the larger picture and be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that G-d does give us. 

While certainly there is pain and suffering in this world, there is also the chance to learn, grow, and become stronger and better people. 

We are here to hopefully leave the world a better place than before we got here. 

The perspective that the challenges and obstacles are not meant to really harm us, but to help us is not an easy pill to swallow.

But maybe it really is the enlightened view of faith that we all need to fight on and overcome. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

December 17, 2017

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 10, 2017

Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 

1. Teamwork - Remember you're not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting! 

2. Work-Life Balance - Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life--professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual--then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!

3. Perspective - You've got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side--we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!

4. Sense of Humor - When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you're looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly...perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!

5. Faith - No matter what...G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life's journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!

On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:

"The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!" (or in Hebrew "Adonai li v'lo ira")

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 7, 2017

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.

I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 

Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 

Why?

1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.

To some people, I believe it's partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices--where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again--even when we don't feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  

In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment--that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d--and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 

In other words, we just don't follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 

2)  There is a money and power problem.

In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal "peers"? 

In other cases, it's not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the "most religious" and presumably walks the walk.  If you but "seem" more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  

Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone--to everyone being children of G-d--to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can't we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  

Religion should be the one place that isn't a competition with others. 

Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!

And only G-d knows what is inside man's heart and in his soul--and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence

I welcome G-d in my life, because I:

- Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 
- Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better
- Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 

I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people's lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 

If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 26, 2017

Faces of The Metro and The Times





Do these people look happy and fulfilled or are they looking more vacant, exhausted, and miserable to you?

Is it the Metro? 
Is it Washington, D.C.? 
Is it their work? 
Is it family issues? 
Is it the economy?
Is it health problems?

For a superpower country with supposed incredible wealth, might, and freedom to enjoy it all--what the heck is going on.

Should we blame the politics and fighting? 
Should we blame the fake news optics?
Should we blame our gnawing adversaries (Axis of Evil Russia, Iran, North Korea...)?
Should we blame materialism and consumerism (and a corresponding lack of spirituality and values in our lives)? 

We have the greatest advances in history--revolutionizing energy, transportation, healthcare, communications, and more--so much to advance our well-being, to savor, and seemingly endless more to come. 

Why aren't people smiling?
Why aren't people jumping for joy more? 
Why aren't people even awake with eyes open to enjoy the life's journey?

There should be great hope in the future--with fruitful life there is hope and with hope there is excitement and joy--but without hope all is meaningless and lost.  

What is going on out there--psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, clergy?

We are trying to do everything right.

So where are we going wrong-wrong-wrong? ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 15, 2017

Aging Is A Process

This guy was a hoot on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 

His shirt says:

"With age comes oldness."

Ah, yeah!

When he was sitting, he had his arms crossed over his chest, and I thought it said:


"With age, comes baldness."

That too!

Getting old is not easy.

Being young is not easy either. 

But it's really how you handle yourself during every stage and turn in life that defines who you are and what you become as an person and a creation of G-d. 

You've got to get up and walk the dance through thick and thin...life bring old age and oldness...what's the alternative. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 7, 2017

Enter With A HANDSHAKE & Leave With A HUG

So after almost 6 years at the U.S. Department of State, I am moving forward in my career to a very exciting role at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

As I look back, I have fond memories of the wonderful high-performance division I was part of and the many amazing achievements we had together, and what our Deputy Assistant Secretary called, the "A Team."

But one thing today is sticking out in my mind and it's this image.
"Enter with a handshake and leave with a hug."

On the first days, when I arrived it was all formality and firm welcome handshakes.

We don't really know you and you don't really know us, but we're embarking on this journey together, and where it takes us no one really knows, BUT we wish you the best of luck--now go out and do great things!

Then on the last days, as I was preparing to leave, the formal handshakes were long gone and instead they were replaced with warm heartfelt hugs (and some special emotional words and cards). 

I was no longer a mystery of a person, with just my reputation, coming in to do G-d knows what. 

Now, I was a human being that had a genuine history with them, formed relationships with many, had faced challenges together, and had touched not only minds, but also it was apparent, hearts. 

I will not forget the special people, nor the many times shared, our accomplishments as an organization, and how we grew. 

I am moving forward not only with their tight hugs to more handshakes anew, but also to once again hopefully grow heart-to-heart with people, as further relationships are formed and we make, please G-d, amazing new progress together--for the mission and for the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 30, 2016

On The Train Of Life

My beautiful daughter, Michelle, forwarded this wonderful message to me about our journey through life, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋
Life is like a journey on a train...
with its stations...
with changes of routes...
and with accidents !

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

We board this train when we are born and our parents are the ones who get our ticket.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

We believe they will always travel on this train with us.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

However, at some station our parents will get off the train, leaving us alone on this journey.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

As time goes by, other passengers will board the train, many of whom will be significant - our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Many will get off during the journey and leave a permanent vacuum in our lives.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Many will go so unnoticed that we won't even know when they vacated their seats and got off the train!

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.

🚂🚋🚋🚋

A good journey is helping, loving, having a good relationship with all co passengers...and making sure that we give our best to make their journey comfortable.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

The mystery of this fabulous journey is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves are going to get off.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

So, we must live in the best way - adjust, forget, forgive and offer the best of what we have.

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to leave our seat... we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life."

🚂🚋🚋🚋🚋

Thank you for being one of the important passengers on my train... don't know when my station will come... don't want 2 miss saying: "Thank you."

🚂🚋🚋🚋

Share/Save/Bookmark

September 17, 2016

Body of Armor

So had some disappointments recently.

Nothing terrible (and for that I am so grateful). 

Just life happening. 

Have to fail and fail and fail {more}...in order to get to that single success. 

Along the way, sometimes it feels like arrows going through your body.

Or as someone said to Tina Fey in a movie we watched yesterday:
"Hearts and minds, the two best places to shoot someone."

Is that funny? 

Ok, now I know that I am feeling a little down, because even that made me smirk but not fully smile. 

It's okay.

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. 

Time to climb that next peak. 

I will do it with body armor on and solid. 

Won't let those arrows pierce me, while I ascend.

I am trying, and learning and growing along the way.

If I am to fall, Hashem, in mercy, pick me up that I may keep doing my mission you have for me in life, so that I may ultimately prevail toward the destiny only that You know and have planned for me, for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

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)

Share/Save/Bookmark

May 25, 2016

(Re)Kashering The Kitchen

So with all the 613s that we and are our friends and family are seeing, we are taking these as a sign and important message. 

Yesterday, I posted that I would show you today how it is personally affecting us.

So one of the things that we are doing is (re)kashering our kitchen. 

New and separate dishes and cooking utensils for meat and dairy meals.  

We got these beautiful French Perle Lenox in gorgeous lilac and ice blue (of course, no one better actually use one and break it). 

Being more a part of the synagogue and community now, we are hoping to host more people for Shabbat etc.

There are other small (and large) ways that we are coming back to more of our traditions, but we are far from perfect. 

Sort of a blend of the secular world, the religious one, and just being ourselves. 

But that is our road, and we strive to do better in all aspects of our lives and pray for G-d's mercy and blessings all along the way and at the destination. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 1, 2016

Work For It

This was an astute fortune cookie this weekend:

"The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work."

It reminded me of what my dad used to tell me that:

"Nothing, in life, is easy."

Or as my mother-in-law says:

"The world owes you nothing!"

Basically, the messages are similar that we have to work hard for what we want in life.

You have to believe in your goals and your mission. 

And follow through with rock solid determination and perserverance.

It seems in life that almost as soon as one challenge is over the next is ready to begin.

Got to have faith, pray for G-d's guidance, and be strong. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 25, 2015

Speed Of Time

So a friend told me yesterday something interesting about the passing of time. 

We were looking back and saying how quickly it all goes...

I said, "Like the blink of an eye!"

He then told me this:

"Time is like the speed of a automobile. 

Your age is how fast the car is going. 

So for a child of 10-years old, the car is going 10 miles an hour...and it feels too slow. 

But for an adult of 60-years old, the car is going 60 miles per hour...too fast--in this case, 5 miles over the speed limit. 

The older you get the faster the whole thing goes by."

I told him how much I liked this explanation. 

And finished by saying, that in the end, we should just have good memories of it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 20, 2015

Learning To Compromise

My wife and I decided after living in the same condo for the last 15 years that maybe it was time for a change. 

There is a great area that we hang out in with workout, grocery, pharmacy, public transportation, and--most importantly to my wife--Starbucks--all right there.

So my wife made an appointment for us to look at this rental right above all the action....

The apartment was nice, modern, and best of all in this vibrant neighborhood--but on the smallish side (we would definitely be cramped) and with a substantial monthly. 

My wife, the perennial city dweller, loved it, and I didn't.

Next, my turn up, we went with a real estate broker to see a charm of a house--this was the one we'd "been waiting for," all these years. 

Solid, roomy, castle-like...but it would have some ongoing house maintenance things and was a little distance from public transportation (i.e. we'd mostly have to drive). 

This time, my wife hated it, and I loved it.

Back and forth--argue and debate--getting no where (this is a very egalitarian relationship--my wife tells me what to do!) :-)

Thinking about this, I say "Okay, let's compromise"--let's look for a more upscale and roomy condo that we can make our own but in the neighborhood she really likes (and yeah, I like it too). 

1-2-3, with a little searching, we find something online we like, and back to the real estate broker to make an appointment. 

This story is not over in terms of where (or if) we are going to move to, but along the way we continue to learn as a couple to get along, love each other, and of course, compromise. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark