Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Bone Tired Weariness

 When the days just seem to run into one another and sleep eludes you at night, every action is just... so... tiring.


When I know I have so many things to do, it's hard to turn my mind off and enjoy that much needed sleep. The next day, everything just d r a g s. Getting anything really accomplished the next day seems almost, if not totally, impossible.


How do YOU deal with a sleepless night? Do you imagine lying on a beach with toes in the sand and the warm sun shining on your face? Or maybe you are one of those who will pretend to be riding in a slow, topless elevator and watching the top of the elevator shaft grow smaller and smaller. Maybe calming music will help you to drift off...


Or perhaps you check the clock after forcing yourself to lie still for most of the night only to find it's a mere eight minutes since you looked last.


As you go through the next day feeling so, so drained and you spy that young child who can just curl himself up and drift into slumber and you feel such incredible envy — and you can't avoid those feelings of guilt over that envy of an innocent child.


We need to find ways to turn off our minds so that we can be rested when sunlight comes again. Rested, productive, feeling accomplished, being positive... such lofty goals.


Instead of dwelling on all of the things you need to get done TOMORROW, think of what you accomplished today. Make a plan and then store it away so your body can have time to recharge. Whether you pray or simply "talk to yourself", express your gratitude for everything good in your life and congratulate yourself for making yesterday doable and productive.


Try spending a few quiet moments to meditate  before actually crawling under the bedtime blankets, think positive thoughts and remind yourself of the things you DID accomplish (and not just how much more you need to get done). Close your eyes and find a "Happy Place" where you can picture yourself stretching out and relaxing.


And when you wake in the morning and find that you aren't really dragging... well that is just one more accomplishment to think about when you turn off your mind.


Have a GREAT Day!







Wednesday, April 28, 2021

KARMA and LIFE

 

I try to make a habit of NEVER wishing harm on others, okay, I admit, sometimes that is hard, but…  Instead, I wish for everyone to get out of this world what they put into it — and yes, I guess that sometimes that means I am wishing them harm. I consider it KARMA, let G-d (or whatever higher power you may believe in) sort it out. Karma is associated with the idea of rebirth in many Indian religions, in our Western culture we generally refer to it as “Consequences”.

 

Karma means action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect): good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths.” en.wikipedia.org

 

I swear that I have seen Karma at work, sometimes it takes a while, but it does come back. I have personally seen someone make unfounded accusations of a crime against someone else and then had to sit by as his own son got arrested for theft; then there was another who was threatened with arrest himself when he tried to cover up his son’s crimes. I’ve heard of folks who treated family members with callousness only to find themselves lost when they lose their relationships. It’s seems to be true, when you live a life filled with venom and malice, it really does come back to bite you.  

 

I’ve tried to live my life by the Golden Rule, something my parents taught me, treat others as you yourself want to be treated. Now living a good and kind life does not prevent tears and pain in your own life, but I do believe a good life will help you find peace and comfort as you shoulder your burdens, and that is certainly far better than living with guilt, fear, and darkness. Living by the Golden Rule can literally make you feel good about yourself. Yes, it is still frustrating when you come across someone who does you dirty, but really you should feel sorry for the way they live their lives.

 

I just attended a portion of the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future and listened to a comment the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet made, (I am paraphrasing), “Stop thinking about Me, Me, Me… Instead think about HUMANITY. That’s the way to find true happiness.”

 

Think about others, be good to all — people (both family and strangers), nature, animals, and our earth. Share as you can and accept others whether or not they look like you or sound like you. Be better and be happier in your life. Help make this a better world.




Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT…

...and in many ways, we are all the same. So why is there so much hate these days? Why does looking or being “different” create so much suspicion and animosity?

 

In school kids make fun of other children who “look” different, it can be a child with prophylactics, who wears glasses, or even who comes to school in tattered clothes because of family finances. Maybe the child comes from a different culture which has a unique clothing style, or even wears a pendant of their faith. Some can make fun of children who may have a different skin color, or are overweight, or can’t speak fluent English, or anything that is different from “the cool kids”. Parents and teachers need to teach children about diversity in both culture, lifestyle and economic means.

 

Anti-bias education, at home and in the school, is a crucial step to opening children’s minds to acceptance. Things like teaching children that occupations are not gender-specific will help to bridge the gender gap, knowing that a little girl can grow up to lead a construction crew, or a little boy can study to be nurse (as examples) are ways to help children live up to their own personal potentials despite societal norms. Encouraging children to take personal pride in their cultural traditions AND accepting others who do the same will help them as they grow up and are exposed to diversity.

 

Exposing children to anti-bias books (appropriate for their age) will help to open their minds to peoples’ differences and humanity. It’s important not to stay quiet or discourage conversation — if the child questions how a girl can grow up to be the President for example, don’t admonish them. Encourage conversation and help them, through subtle questions and discussion starters, see all the things they are capable of and that no profession is specific to one gender. Ask them about hobbies and dreams. Maybe a young boy will tell others he likes to sew or crochet and the other children giggle, don’t admonish but tell them about fashion designers like Michael Kors or the tailor down the street. Help to foster interest in other children’s cultures and traditions by giving an opportunity to share fun customs and possibly sample cuisines.

 

When parents and teachers have open minds and accept the differences EVERYONE has, it is easier to teach and help children to learn anti-bias behavior. It’s not too late to start. Watch the words you use, avoid stereotypes, open yourself to learning about others and offering knowledge about your own background. Stress the similarities, but don’t ignore the variety of things others can bring to any conversation or experience. Let’s work on being humans first and accept those around us without prejudice.

 


 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

SOME FOLKS JUST WANT TO ARGUE…

 

It gets frustrating when all YOU want to do is come up with constructive ways to improve a situation. You don’t start off criticizing or even talking about different viewpoints… maybe you are just trying to get folks involved. Not every argument is personal or about your relationship.

But along comes that ONE PERSON who just has to throw in a nasty about someone, dredges up something from the far-away past that has NOTHING to do with the discussion, and like a mad-dog, attacks. And then a bunch of people just jump on the bandwagon to throw nasty barbs around and no one even mentions the original issues anymore.

SIMPLY FRUSTRATING!

Some psychologists say that people who NEED to argue are doing it to boost their own self-esteem; they feel the need to impose their way to feel important. I imagine when they were young, they might have been the school-yard bullies, or maybe they were the ones picked on and now feel the need to attack before they are.

Unfortunately arguing back seems to only build their feeling of importance, maybe because they are getting such strong reactions and it seems to feed their needs. So really the best way to deal with the compulsive arguer is to just ignore them — I don’t think that is the easiest method for most of us and unfortunately things just seem to intensify.

It may take near super-human efforts, but the “experts” recommend not feeding into the arguments. Don’t try to make the aggressor see things your way. Don’t attack back. Ask questions, let someone explain their feelings. Do not let the aggressor, or you, make it personal. If you can, without confronting, try to steer the conversation back to the original intent; ask how he/she would recommend solving the ORIGINAL problem. Above all, stay calm (yes, if you are like me that might take counting SILENTLY to ten several times, lol).

If things are completely out-of-control, maybe you need to find a way to END the argument (preferably without coming to blows!). Try not to walk away in anger. Let the person know that they have been heard, whether or not you agree. If at all possible, find common ground in resolving the original issue. If there is anyway to think about the issue from their perspective, try, and let them know you are looking at it from their point of view. One way you MIGHT be able to end the argument is to suggest taking the time to think about it. Unfortunately, though, understand that some people won’t want to end the argument and you will have to find a way to walk away… even if it is just an excuse.

It’s difficult to get anything done constructively when there are those who are more interested in a power play or giving themselves a VOICE (possibly in the only way they think they can be heard). The sooner you can de-escalate the argument, the more chance you have to get back to your original purpose to possibly unite a group, initiate actions, or just simply raise interest. Remember that everyone will see things in a different way, it does pay to listen, but it also doesn’t mean that anyone needs to be berated or tormented.

Remember, smile and stay calm. Never lose your motivation. Don’t get discouraged.



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The World Needs to Know

Yom Hashoah 

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day 

Yom Hashoah 2021 is observed at sundown, Wednesday, April 7th and ends at sundown on Thursday, April 8th. Yom Hashoah, also called Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the lives of the Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945 more than 76 years ago.

Approximately six million Jews and some 5 million others, targeted for racial, political, ideological and behavioral reasons, died in the Holocaust. More than one million of those who perished were children. 

This day is remembered in the Hebrew calendar on the 27th day of Nisan.


Watch this video from 2017 of a group of young Canadian students
 visiting Auschwitz along with a survivor of the Nazi death camp




Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Authority Figures

If you’ve ever felt paranoid when a police car is driving behind you EVEN IF THERE ISN’T A RULE IN THE BOOK THAT YOU ARE BREAKING, then you are having the most typical reaction to authority figures.

 

FACT: “People on average will obey authority despite their own moral objections.”

 

I laughed the first time that I read that statement. Way back in 1977 I got an early morning call from my sister telling me that my dad had died suddenly. He had been at work in New Jersey, she was on her way to the hospital to do the legal stuff of identifying him. Meanwhile our mom, at home in the Bronx NYC, was sick and the police officer who delivered the news to her had told my sister that he was worried about her condition.

 

I was in Rockland County, NY, at least 40-minutes away and it was a miserable, rainy day. Nonetheless I got into the car and I knowingly did much more than the posted speed limits. (I was remembering a story of my dad rushing home because mommy wasn’t well and he actually received a police escort across the George Washington Bridge… I guess I was hoping for the same advantage) Maybe it was because of the weather, but no one stopped me so that I could ask for an escort.

 

 What really struck me as odd, and now in retrospect actually makes me chuckle, was when the coins I threw into the Tappan Zee Bridge hopper didn’t register, and instead of my just peeling out and hopefully attracting a police escort, I sat there honking my horn until the toll-taker a few booths over manually reset the light. I could NOT bring myself to go through the stop light even though I was certainly breaking the speed limit.

 

We are (mostly) conditioned to accept and obey authority figures… at least to a limit. So here I was, knowingly breaking every speed law in the rush to get to my grieving mother, and yet when it came to going through the STOP sign at the toll bridge, I froze, I couldn’t do it.

 

Especially in this day and age we’ve seen several instances where folks have ignored authority figures selectively. Many of us will “respect” and comply with authoritative directives unless our moral obligations are stronger, and we believe the authority is wrong. I guess I was able to justify the speed in which I was driving, and yet I was not prepared to burst through a red light at the toll booth. It sounds funny now, so many years later, when I clearly remember my annoyance and impatience at that toll basket and yet my foot remained frozen on the brake pedal.

 

Months after that horrible day I told my mom about the way I froze in-route to see her. She chuckled and told me it was all the years of her and daddy telling me there were rules to be followed. She joked while patting herself on the back reminding me what a good mother she was in teaching me to be a “good girl”.

 

So many years later (and no longer living in Rockland County!), many of the lessons that my folks taught me still remain, and not always in the BACK of my mind.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

I Was Named for My Grandfather

 

In the Ashkenazi Jewish faith that I was raised in, it is customary to name a newborn baby for a deceased loved one — I was named for my maternal grandfather, Reuben. This tradition both honors the deceased, keeps them “alive” by connection, and it is believed helps to form a bond between the ancestor and the child.

 

I heard many wonderful stories about my grandfather and quite ironically, both my sister and I have very distinct memories of being read bedtime stories by him… even though he died long before either of us was born.

 

My grandfather was a loving man, a smart businessman, a devout Jew, and an actual HERO. Living in the Deep South, my mom grew up amidst many prejudices towards Jews, towards Blacks, and basically anyone who didn’t look the same. It was also customary for many families to have hired help in their homes, and most every housekeeper was Black. My grandma was criticized by her neighbors because she would often sit and have coffee with her housekeeper, and my mom and the housekeeper’s son would sometimes sit in the parlor and play board games together.

 

Mostly for safety reasons, the races did not normally mingle on the streets of the town they lived in, and no Black man was allowed to confront or get physical with a White person. Yet there was the one day my mom and a girlfriend had gone into town and were accosted by a couple of drunken White men who had stumbled out of a bar. They loudly told the men to keep their hands to themselves, but they wouldn’t listen.

 

As “luck” would have it, the housekeeper had sent her son into town to pick up groceries. The young man was across the street when he heard my mom and her friend yelling at the drunken men. One of the men had grabbed my mom’s friend by the arm and pulled her in tightly. At that point the housekeeper’s son ran across the street and loudly confronted the men. In both surprise and anger, the wrath of the drunks turned to this young Black man who firmly stood his ground and demanded that the two young ladies be left alone. The two girls walked up the street, followed by their rescuer who made sure that they were not harassed again.

 

That night when my grandfather returned home from work he found their housekeeper crying hysterically in my grandmother’s arms. They explained to him that there had been a death threat, a vow to lynch the young Black man for having the audacity to confront the White men; it didn’t matter that the White men were drunk and accosting White teenage girls. My grandmother had helped to hide the housekeeper’s son long enough to wait for my grandfather to come home and decide what to do.

 

That night my grandfather, a Jewish merchant in the south, contacted a friend in North Virginia and arranged for transport for this young man to somewhere in New York State. And then he rolled the young man up in a heavy carpet and tied the young man to the undercarriage of his delivery truck. He promised to bring the young man to safety, hoping that he would not get stopped along the way.

 

          My grandmother and the housekeeper kept a vigil at the kitchen table until the next morning when my grandfather walked in. He told the housekeeper that her son was safe and passed her money so that she could afford the transportation up north to join him.

 

          I watched the movie “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” on Netflix the other night and I was reminded of this heroic story my mom always told me. I am so proud to be named for my grandfather.



Billie Holiday sings "Strange Fruit"