Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Highs and Lows


Many times in life we can have both moments of happiness and moments that bring us tears. It isn't an easy choice which moment to focus on, but if you find yourself always ignoring your joys and dwelling on your sorrows then you never experience happiness.


Everybody has disappointments, losses and worries in their life — but also we find reasons to smile and feel content. Never forget the happiness you’ve shared with someone even on the day that they are no longer be with you, embrace your memories to find strength and hope. In Judaism it is common to offer condolences with the words “May his/her memory forever be a blessing”; these words are meant to help the survivors live their lives remembering not only the happiness they shared, but also encouraging them to live the kind of life the lost loved one would want “you” to have. By focusing on the good times and appreciating the principles taught, you find strength to go on and make your life worth so much.


It isn’t only death where we need to focus on GOOD THINGS, it’s every morning you rise to enjoy the sunlight on your face, every evening you find the softness of a pillow to comfort you as you sleep; appreciate every meal as if it were a banquet while it assuages any hunger pains; don’t envy your neighbor for their shiny new car in the driveway when you can sleep in and maybe work from home instead of navigating a traffic jam on your way to work; and enjoy the cuddles of a pussycat instead of bemoaning your temporary loneliness. I learned painstakingly to never say “this is the worst it could be” instead of focusing on the things I did have, don’t make that mistake.


It is alright to wish for more, but don’t ignore the things you do have already. Never turn your back on the good things that come your way, don’t be envious of what someone else has and instead acknowledge all the things you do have. And here’s a little thing I’ll let you in on, there is always somebody out there who is envious of the things YOU have. Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature to not only be VERY aware of the negative things around us, but to dwell on them as well. Shiny and ritzy are not necessarily signs of success, money has never guaranteed happiness. Look around you and chances are that you will see good things, things to make you smile, things to comfort, and things that bring you satisfaction and happiness.


While you are appreciating your own “good things”, try taking the time to give a stranger a smile, to let a service worker know you appreciate their efforts, to hug your loved ones, and even cuddle with your fur-babies… you just might make someone else’s day. Spread the joy. There’s a reason the word SMILE has a “mile” in it, it goes a long way.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021


Whether you want to call it “empowerment” or simply just liking and accepting yourself for the way you are, having confidence in WHO you really are and knowing your strengths and abilities can help you live a more satisfying and less-stressful existence.


Understand that…

Number-one, YOU can’t do it all, sometimes you need a bit of help.

And number-two, YOU don’t know EVERYTHING.

Taking charge of yourself and being responsible for living the life you want to live does NOT mean that you become that proverbial island that needs no one else. It does mean that YOU are the “Expert of You”, you are capable of making your own decisions, enjoying your own personal likes, and CAN take care of yourself to the best of your ability; yes, sometimes you are allowed to accept a helping hand. Sometimes it is even okay to allow yourself to be pampered a bit and enjoy having someone do something for you.


Start your journey towards self-empowerment by examining you: What are your skills and knowledge? What can you do to learn who to do things you want or need done? And who do you have around that can help guide you through new experiences? Make a list of REASONABLE goals for yourself — and by setting a goal, make a plan, set a schedule, and don’t be afraid to revise your list of goals every few months or so.


Being reasonable also means that you are honest in assessing your own abilities. Not everyone has the necessary physical strength to move furniture, or is tall enough to reach that top shelf without a step-stool, and not everyone can drive a car (just a few things…). Maybe you do have a “disability”, but most disabilities should not make you totally dependent on others to do simple tasks. What kinds of workarounds can you come up with to level the playing field? Again, what are things you CAN learn to do? You would be surprised how many wives and husbands have no idea how to even balance a checkbook or be able to contact their financial institution for necessary paperwork.


If you are in a relationship, you probably find that you like doing things for each other. My late parents used to tell everyone that my mom treated my dad “like a king”, but also my dad treated my mom “like a queen”. Sharing life and doing things for each other out of love, enjoyment and comfort is pretty darn terrific. BUT, never become so dependent that you turn your partner into a “servant” and you forget how to do things for yourself. Relationships should be reciprocal but never a crutch.


Positivity is a major factor in self-empowerment. Be positive about you, acknowledge your strengths and don’t dwell on your limits. Avoid negativity, both your own and the people around you. Voice YOUR thoughts, you don’t need permission to speak up about something you like or want. Don’t be afraid to speak up, throw in choices, make decisions and more. Let go of mistakes and disappointments of the past and find things to look forward to in the near future. Don’t worry about what others think, you are the one who lives with you. Recognize all the things you have to be happy about or at least content. Be assertive. Trust your close relationships.

When you feel good about yourself life really can become easier to deal with.





Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Tearing Others Down

Remember all those movies where the “popular girls” ostracized the one they considered to be an “oddball” — maybe the ostracized girl had the audacity to show up in hand-me down clothes or spoke out in defense of another cast-out student. Sometimes these weren’t just movie themes, sometimes they were painful realities that we may have had happen to ourselves, or sadly, maybe we were the ones who feared being ostracized and went along with the crowd even though we knew it hurt.


In many ways this is how today’s “Cancel Culture” works. People, ideologies, books, movies and companies are cast out based on an OPINION and often not actually tried and convicted. In a July 2020 article in Psychology Today, Cancel Culture is explained, “Canceling begins with a real or perceived transgression by the canceled entity that the canceler observes or is made aware of and deems to be serious. The transgression can be about anything such as the violation of a strongly held political value or a social justice value that the canceler deems to be significant... Social canceling is not based on a balanced assessment of the transgression or any absolute criterion of wrongdoing. Because it's a visceral response and relies on one particular shared understanding of the transgression, one side of the story so to speak, every canceling campaign is necessarily grounded in bias.”


And therein lies the danger, it may be one person’s supposed act, an assumed intent, an otherwise innocent lapse of judgement that sparks the canceling or ostracizing. There is no judge and jury to decide, there is no chance of defense, and often there is no chance of redemption. And what might offend one or some really seems to have no effect on others.


We need to exercise sensitivity and respect towards others. We need to educate ourselves about the social mores of different groups and understand how some traditions may be purely innocent in their intent. We need to respect everyone’s right to an opinion and to a large extent their right to free speech — of course we also need to be aware that IF we find our actions are offensive then we need to change them. And if we are offended by someone’s unintentional offense, it is our obligation to say something in a non-combative way at which time we should be able to expect their consideration in the future.


There are certainly actions which are known to be wrong, which will hurt others and if we flagrantly ignore those hurts, then of course we are in the wrong. But if someone makes an otherwise innocent mistake, let’s not become the stereotyped “popular kids” and cast out others without regard for their feelings.




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!