"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Posts tagged ‘Life Challenges’

What I’d tell my 22-year old self

Fear

Fear” by Kevin B 3, used under CC BY 2.0

That self-assured girl I was at 22 knew everything. She was afraid, however, she’d be seen for the impostor she was. Set loose after post-college dreams of Ivy League grad schools were dashed, she lacked direction. She wanted love and marriage, because, that’s what you do when you’re grown up. She expected to have a stellar career since she went to a name-brand university where they created the aura of superiority. She had good health and an open road ahead. But she refused to stretch her wings to the fullest and coasted on the breezes cast in the wake of others.

If I could have spoken to her then I would have told her to not give in to fear. Fear of trying due to fear of failure or imperfection stalled her and clipped her wings.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Failure. Fear keeps us from doing things that are out of our reach. We are a culture driven by success and aptitude. Nobody hails the second place winner. Ability and cunning outpace agreeability and geniality. Fear freezes our ambition and whispers, “Don’t go there. Don’t try that. You might fail.”

So what if we fail? I’m not of the “no pain, no gain” persuasion. I don’t advocate creating pain or difficulty. If we fail… the first time we do something…we leave room for improvement, for mastery of a technique. Skill builds itself through trial and error. Think of the musician practicing hour after hour. Think how baseball players practice hitting the ball over and over again. Think about learning to ride a bicycle. After all, who hasn’t fallen off the bike once or twice before getting the hang of this skill?

What are we afraid of? Who said “good enough” wasn’t good enough? We illogically fear not being totally adept at the first try of something new. We fear imperfection because of potential ridicule or being shown to be vulnerable. Perhaps, too, we fear competition. Not only do we need to be perfect, but we need to be perfect ahead of others. This sets us up for failure, something we fear above all. But that’s not all.

Our society demands perfection. I think some of this attitude comes from expectations created by the nascent machine age. Once upon a time craftsmanship was valued and individual variation was expected. Suddenly, mass production allowed conformity and constancy of product. “As good as store-bought” became the measuring stick for handmade items. Our expectations rose as machines could produce items better, faster and cheaper.

Our schools pit students against each other. We are taught to vie for the highest marks, to outshine our peers. If we do not achieve as well as the others in our group, we are “less than.” Nobody wants to be an underdog. Everyone wants to be first in the class. Harvard accepts the cream of the crop. Accolades go to perfect SAT scorers.

Analog, September 1995

Analog, September 1995

Sports set teams or individuals against each other, too. You may assist your teammates, but the other team is the enemy, to be defeated. There can only be one winner. I read a science fiction story where three teams compete for victory at the same time, but the highest scores were awarded when two teams worked cooperatively!(1) What an alternate world scenario that was!

I would have told my 22-year old self that half the fun of the trip is getting there. It’s alright to travel into uncharted lands and test the waters of seas not yet sailed. If I had quit the first time I fell off my bicycle I would not have had the hours of enjoyment and freedom of travel that the bike afforded me. If I had thrown down my knitting needles at the first dropped stitch or wonky scarf I would have missed the satisfaction of wearing items I made by my own hand. If I never committed my thoughts to this blog I would be poorer for not even trying.

I’ve spent countless hours “in the zone” fixing a seam or painting, practicing a guitar piece, learning computer code. Flow (the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity) feels great! You can lose yourself in something for hours and come out refreshed as if time had not passed. A way of getting into flow is the natural repetition of practicing a skill, repeating what you don’t know—and it doesn’t require mastery, just attention.

On the other hand, fear quenches flow and its attendant happiness, putting doubt, timidity, and uncertainty to the forefront. “You can’t grow when fear binds ropes around your hands and heart,” I would have said to my younger self. “Stretch your wings and try everything once, twice, maybe a few times more. Taste the world and savor its sweetness and variety.”

Stepping out of our comfort zone can be terrifying. But as President Roosevelt said, it can be unreasoning and unjustified. For today, I shall dip my toe into the waters of uncertainty…and sail upon a new sea to destinations unknown.

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(1) Touchdown, Touchdown, Rah Rah Rah! W.R. Thompson, Analog/Astounding Science Fiction, September 1995, pp. 12-64.

Wrecked on Broadway

Wrecked Camry in the Bronx on Broadway

Wrecked Camry in the Bronx under the 1-Train tracks on Broadway

Today’s blog comments on a scene not far from Washington Heights. I moved my car for the first time in two weeks the other day. No snow, no Alternate Side Parking. Bad news: a tire was flat. I drove slowly to the gas station and filled it with enough air to get me to the tire shop in Riverdale. Preparing for a bit of a wait, I walked down Broadway to the supermarket to get something to drink and came across this ruin.

The wreck sits under the 1-Train tracks. It has been moldering here at least since last fall, six months or so, judging from the dead leaves inside and around it. Ironically, a white police cruiser sits across the street, and two cars over is a black auxiliary police car. You would think that the police know about this eyesore and would be doing something to have it removed. I can’t fathom why it’s been here so long. The owner must be known; the front license plate is still affixed!

An intact shoe rests on the driver’s side rocker panel contrasting oddly with the condition of this wrecked Toyota Camry. How odd, I thought, my curiosity piqued. I walked around it noting the totally shattered windshield, the flayed innards, rusted metal, nightmarish wires jutting out, and the oddly unmolested back seat. I prayed that nobody was in it when it got crushed. No one could have lived through an accident that would cause this much damage.

What story could this car tell? What happened to cause this damage? And how did a lone shoe come to rest here, of all places?

Video

Happiness is My Choice, 5

I can act and do one small thing in my corner of the world to make a difference for the good without world-changing impact.
A new beginning starts within me.


Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events

—Prince EA1


(c) Prince EA


 

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded
The people are depressed and angry
We can't live with each other and we can't live with ourselves
So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it's meaningless robotic communication
More people want 15 seconds of fame
Than a lifetime of meaning and purpose
Because what’s popular is more important than what’s right
Ratings are more important than the truth
Our government builds twice as many prisons than schools
It’s easier to find a Big Mac than an apple
And when you find the apple
It's been genetically processed and modified
Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I'll kill you
Or even worse argue you to death
92% of songs on the radio are about sex
Kids don’t play tag, they play twerk videos
The average person watches 5 hours of television a day
And it's more violence on the screen than ever before
Technology has given us everything we could ever want
And at the same time stolen everything we really need
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low
Everybody knows everything, everybody’s going somewhere
Ignoring someone, blaming somebody
Not many human beings left anymore, a lot of human doings
Plenty of human lingerings in the past, not many human beings
Money is still the root of all evil
Yet we tell our kids don’t get that degree
The jobs don’t pay enough
Good deeds are only done when there's a profit margin
Videos of the misfortunes of others go viral
We laugh and share them with our friends to laugh with us
Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against 
Because they were born a certain way
Companies invest millions of dollars hiring specialists to make 
Little girls feel like they need “make up” to be beautiful 
Permanently lowering their self esteem
Because they will never be pretty enough
To meet those impossible standards
Corporations tell us buy, buy, buy, get this, get that
You must keep up, you must fit in
This will make you happy, but it never does for long
So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution? We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed
Perform an act of kindness because that is contagious
We can be mindful during every interaction
Planting seeds of goodness
Showing a little more compassion than usual
We can forgive
Because 300 years from now will that grudge you hold against 
Your friend, your mother, your father have been worth it?
Instead of trying to change others we can change ourselves
We can change our hearts
We have been sold lies
Brainwashed by our leaders and those we trust
To not recognize our brothers and sisters
And to exhibit anger, hatred and cruelty
But once we truly love we will meet anger with sympathy
Hatred with compassion, cruelty with kindness
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth
Robert Kennedy once said that
Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those acts
Will be written in the history of a generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you

 
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1. Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is an American rapper and activist. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Ea>, accessed February 2, 2015.
2. Lyrics on Genius.com. “Why I Think This World Should End” by Prince Ea

Blizzard ’15: Update

Service changes rule the System as the MTA normalizes service.

Service changes rule the System as the MTA normalizes service.

 

QUIET…

The City was silent last night. But for the sound of salt trucks and snow plows, an unnatural, yet welcome silence blanketed the City. Yes, a blanket. Puffy, white piles of snow mounded on the sidewalks, cars, trees, fences.

But now we’re getting back to “normal,” that is, what is abnormal: the busyness of the City. I hear distant sirens; is it some poor ill soul or a vehicular accident?

Restarting trains and buses, the MTA’s progress seems to be a health report of the City. The transit system is its pulse, its heart, and its medical condition is revealed in the transit schedule.  Right now, there are no buses on Broadway—at least none I can hear—and I usually can hear them.

The baby next door cries and quiets. A few children outside sparkle the air with their amusement. My husband, home from work, makes cooking and washing up noises from the kitchen. It is peaceful. An automobile drives by, its tires sounding slushy. Someone’s shovel scrapes the sidewalk.

This lassitude, this ease, this torpor, this languor, this lethargy, this tranquility, this calm—THIS is what it’s like to live “out of town,” i.e., NOT in New York City. Peacefulness. As much as I like the activity in the City, I miss the quiet of “town,” my type of normal, snowy day.

A snow day is rare. Rarer still is subway shutdown. Is the patient moribund? Or just having a heart transplant? I hope it’s the latter. NYC can do with a change of attitude.  A storm can take her to her knees but won’t take her down all the way. She’ll rise again, a remade entity, and wait for the next challenge thrown her way.

We’re safe, we’re warm, we’re well-fed. We’re grateful and taken care of.

Blizzard ’15: Winter Storm Juno

Is this the view I'll see from my window tomorrow night?

Is this the view I’ll see from my window tomorrow night?

NYC is girding its loins for a blizzard! All the media agree: we are going to be hit with a massive winter storm some time early Tuesday morning.  It’s a little after midnight on Tuesday as I write and the streets are still.  All day snow plows have scraped the streets.  The snow started coming down in the early afternoon but mostly as fits and less as starts.  It is under control out there. We are battened down, waiting.

The MTA has put out a severe service advisory.

Snow View 2-09-13 017

Shopkeepers clear the sidewalks.

New York City Transit
The MTA is committed to the safety of its customers and its employees, and due to the forecast, will be suspending service on all bus, commuter rail and subway service at 11:00 p.m. this evening. All nine MTA Bridge & Tunnel facilities will also close to non-emergency vehicular traffic at that time. If you don’t have to travel between now and later this evening, we urge you to stay home….

Prior to full service suspension, express service on several NYC Transit subway lines will be curtailed to allow subway trains to be stored underground in anticipation of the storm. Bus service will gradually be curtailed. Railroad cars will also be moved to locations to protect them from the storm….

Before suspending all subway service, NYC Transit will store trains underground on express tracks to protect the fleet from the elements and ensure that trains are ready for the next rush period.  As trains are stored underground, only local service will be available and all overnight construction work is canceled.

Wow! This is an admission that we are whipped, that we are brought to our knees in the face of the storm.  I like the image of all the train cars being pushed inside the tunnels, deep in the bedrock of the city. The trains are sleeping inside tonight.  They are being tucked in by kindly old Aunt Juno.

Anticipation of what the next few days hold.

Anticipation of what the next few days hold.

All traffic has been banned from city streets after 11pm. Emergency crews only. Schools are cancelled. Who will be able to report to work tomorrow morning, IF there is work tomorrow morning? I am waiting to hear the jangle of the plows on the streets again as they shave the asphalt. They screech and moan, banshees of the canyons.

I am humbled. A city of 8.5 million trapped, immobilized. Where else but here?

This is a life challenge of a different sort than I usually write about.  It’s a good things I have stores of toilet paper and eggs.  We’re in for a bit of a comeuppance.

Happiness is My Choice, 4

I attended a funeral last week. Yesterday I attended a wedding. The circle of life constantly wheels around.

Sublime Happiness - the Bride at Her Wedding

Sublime Happiness – the Bride at Her Wedding

A woman from my congregation passed away, the first person I actually knew since I’ve moved to NYC who died. Her death occupied my mind after I learned of it. She wasn’t particularly young, but she didn’t seem quite old. I spoke to her at a congregational function a few weeks ago, just a few words, and didn’t remark that she looked ill or odd. No death touches nobody; this one touched quite a few. A wooden barrier closed the street to traffic.  Mourners lined the street and sidewalks outside the synagogue as short eulogies were spoken into a microphone by the rabbi and one of her sons. As is our tradition, we followed the hearse, walking a way with it, accompanying the deceased for her honor. Though not very overcast or cold, a mood-swallowing chill engulfed the participants. No laughter, just a smattering of voices, most were silent or reciting psalms while escorting her as far as we could walk.

This lady, her son recalled, dedicated her life to making people happy.  She followed a directive of the former Rav1 of the community, Rabbi Shimon Schwab. When you are walking on the avenue and see a woman, compliment her on her outfit, say something nice and brighten her day was the gist of the message. The son also requested from the crowd that everyone consider honoring his mother’s memory by taking on one mitzvah/positive deed. Smile at someone once a day. Say psalms. Do a kindness for someone.

How wonderful a concept: remembrance through deeds and positive actions. I can choose to create peace and harmony in my corner of the world. I can commemorate a life well-led and carry on her good deeds. Every time I have a good word for someone else, I send a blessing. A smile, a thoughtful gesture, a small courtesy may not take much time or mean much to me… but it could make a whole lot of difference to someone else.

I can choose to be a better person and get over hurts and slights, move on from difficulties, aim my efforts to improve the situation wherever I am.

Yesterday I danced at a wedding! I hugged and laughed and dabbed at my eyes which filled with tears of joy.

I watched the proceedings with my own personal blessings on my lips: wishing the young couple a happy, harmonious life, a long marital bond.  I sat amongst friends, relatives, people I’ve seen before and those I’ve never seen and may never see again. I reveled in their happiness, delighted in the pleasure of the parents, friends, and relatives. A new start, a bright new future as this couple forges a permanent bond.  How special! What a difference from the experience of last week.

Sure, I can focus on the bittersweet: the ones who are not here, the ones who cannot be here, the ones who are not yet married or engaged, the ones who yearn to be so. But now is for the present. Keeping in the present keeps me grounded, not guessing about the future or lamenting the past.  I choose to live in the moment and let my heart soar.

Flowers at a wedding.

Flowers at a wedding.

My philosophy is simple: Happiness is my choice, and I can frame my experience through happy eyes… or choose to see the world as impoverished, mundane, gray and something to be muddled through. I am not the progenitor of this philosophy; I only claim the role of spreading the idea. Through simple action and leading a life aware of blessings and gifts, I can make my corner of the world a better place.

Now isn’t that fun?

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1. Rav, honorific for a rabbi, usually the head of a community or distinguished by great scholarship.

Happiness is My Choice, 3

Crutches

my crutches” by dmitiri_66, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Chanukah is over but its lessons are not.

One of the great lessons of Chanukah is rededicating ourselves to thanking Hashem on a daily basis –‟V’Ahl Nissecha SheBeChal Yom Imanu” 1 — for all of the ‘little’ and not so little miracles that are with us every day. 2

Thankfulness. Gratitude. Awareness.

The body is an amazing creation yet I wake into it daily and walk it about, taking it for granted.  I never thought about what a miracle it was that my knee could bend … until one day it couldn’t bend, after the anterior cruciate ligament had torn.  Why and how it snapped, I’ll never know.  One day I was clambering about on Puerto Rico’s rocky shore, capering for the camera, preparing to leave after a successful business trip. Hours later on the jet homeward there was a moment of blinding pain and the knee ceased to function. When I couldn’t bend my leg by my own volition, I thought I’d never walk again. I was who-knows-where over the Atlantic Ocean, in the darkness, a zillion feet above the icy water, when it happened. Nobody saw anything, nobody noticed me falling onto the empty seats in my row, not even the coworker I’d spent four days with. I couldn’t fathom what had happened.

Gratitude at that pain-filled time? Yes!!!

2012-12-13 17.57.23 HDR

Chanukah menorah lighting in New York City.

Strangely, I remember feeling blessed, taken care of and calm. At that moment I was spiritually-centered and had a flash of clarity. I realized that I could have been liable for a worse outcome, such as a hijacking or a plane crash and death in the freezing waters, two of the most dramatic scenarios possible. I knew that G-d had spared me from worse. G-d gave me the clarity to acknowledge His kindness at that moment where I could have despaired but instead saw His hand in the works.

After momentary searing pain I notified the air crew, assuring them that nothing due to the operation of the flight caused my injury. An unscheduled landing sent me to a Baltimore hospital where a screaming woman in the next cubicle with a dislocated her knee was getting it realigned. I wondered if that was my fate, but they released me with splints and crutches. The airline picked up the tab for a hotel room, rescheduled my return flight, arranged a cab to the airport, and I winged back home the next day. I started physical therapy and ultimately had surgery. It took a few months to reestablish nerve pathways and relearn walking. Twenty-some years later, I walk mostly unimpeded, thoughtlessly, expecting my foot to contact something solid where I guide it. Bending my knee. Walking. Little things? Actions taken for granted?

I choose to dedicate time to acknowledge my gratitude every day. 

I’d like to be disciplined enough to write a daily gratitude journal. From time to time I start one but don’t carry through. Despite this, I’m able to focus on gratitude daily, even if I don’t write it down. I’ve made a choice. When I’m outdoors, perhaps rushing to the subway station past a few blocks of apartment buildings, parked cars, and piles of trash set out for collection, I whisper to the Creator, “Thanks G-d-for giving me the ability to walk.” I’ll hear a bird chirping or see one flying overhead and give thanks for the ability to enjoy its sweet song or follow the arc flight. If the train arrives after I get to the subway platform, instead of leaving a moment before I descend the steps, my lips smile, recognizing where this boon originated.

Everybody loves a cup of coffee!

My cup is neither half-empty nor half-full.

Does this mean I see my cup as being half-full?

Chanukah commemorates the historic event of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Rededication of the Temple itself, the edifice, required preparation of the building (i.e., removal of idols, cleaning up pig blood, restoring order) and having the proper tools (e.g., menorah, pure oil) to do so.  Rededication was not limited to the structure; it required intensive preparation by the priests for restoration of the order of prayer. The worshipers, too, needed to be in the frame of mind to take on this holy duty and be immersed in the Temple experience. They reconnected with the Source of All Good in that time and place. I resonate to the message of Chanukah because it is my birthday and validates a fundamental truth: we are not in control of the world but He is.

How do I maintain a spiritual connection today? My attitude sustains my connection, and my choices produce my attitude.  Happiness is my choice, satisfaction with my lot. Gratitude propels me toward happiness. It’s my choice to look at things with a good eye.  It’s my choice to  remember to be grateful. Those choices bring me happiness.

My cup is neither half-empty nor half-full; rather, it is brimming over with gifts and delight.

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1. Part of the “Modim” מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ prayer in the Amidah prayer, recited three times daily by devout Jews.

2. Hakhel Organization, Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin – Rote Map?!?‏, December 26, 2014.  [To subscribe: send an email to majordomo@hakhel.info (leave the subject line blank) with the the words “subscribe list” (no quotations) in the body of your email message.]

21 years

happy birthday 21

Happy 21st birthday guys!

Twenty-one years ago today a miracle occurred. Two lives came into the world, my twin sons Z & Y. When I learned I was expecting twins, tears of joy ran down my face. Talk about surprise!! I’ve been totally grateful since G-d blessed me, entrusting me with raising these two little souls. The pleasure experienced through the years of their development far eclipses the sheer exhilaration of that moment.

The soul is an amazing thing. We cannot see it; we have no direct evidence of its existence. Yet, we know that each person carries a spark of the Divine as evidenced by his actions: kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, caring, selflessness, loving. To think that I was entrusted to raise little people, souls within mortal bodies, so they could express these actions on earth! I can think of no higher calling.

Now we enter a different phase as they are longer children but men. I am always going to be a Mother, sometimes a confidante, friend, and adviser. I love them as a special part of myself taken wing. My soul soars higher, lofted by the beat of their wings. May their souls ever rise higher and higher!

Happiness is My Choice, 2

sailors

Fishermen Statue in Reykjavik Harbor © Just Having Fun. Photo was taken close to midnight on a June evening.

What is success? Does success equal happiness? Can I find happiness through success?

I’m responding to a blog post I read the other day. Allison Marie Conway wrote the following around the topics of success, ambition, creativity, and spirituality in a post entitled “I’m Chewing Stale Gum Successfully – Can We Please Talk About Ambition Now?”:

I guess I’m developing narcoleptic tendencies around the word success. It seems to have been putting me to sleep lately, all the use and overuse of the word ‘success’ and everything, everywhere, all the time.[…] The numbers and the stats and the ranks and the followers and the attention and all those figures that we too often accept by default as marks of what we traditionally call ‘success’ are fine but quite honestly at the moment, I’m over it.[…] It’s like the piece of chewing gum you’ve gnashed every last bit of worthwhile juice out of. It was freshly inviting at first and enjoyable for the first few hundred munches, but now it tastes more than a little bit like the underside of a cardboard box. (One might imagine.)

If I met you at a cocktail party (gosh I would seriously so love that!) I would not be all that interested in hearing about numbers that somehow rank you in some kind of obscure success-shelving system. I would, however, love to hear about what stealthy initiatives you have going and about what invisible-ness [sic] you imagine moves you toward the otherwise daunting blank canvas. I’d especially love to hear you talk about the way you create your music or your poetry or your designs. I’d be enthralled to learn about what ideas came to you and how and why you molded your thing the way you did. I’d lean in tight to hear about how you got mixed up and pushed around and then back on your feet again as you tried to get your art out just the way you envisioned it. I’d love to know why any of it matters to you; what shifts inside you when you do your creative thing. What keeps you coming back?

Stale gum: who would have thought that lump of plastic would lead to inspiration and introspection? Where Allison is discussing creativity, she is also discussing life and happiness.  What measures we track ourselves with, how we compare ourselves to the outside world, indicate our happiness levels. These measures are artificial, however, and happiness does not equal success. To the contrary, happiness is success.

Meaningless measurements include grades, job titles, salaries, popular votes, or any externality that assigns a rank to ourselves, a comparison against others, subjective values that place worth on our existence.

We can only be compared to ourselves, to the evolving person that G-d wants us to be.  Admission that we are imperfect — but can make constant progress toward improving ourselves — is the first step to happiness.

What the Sailors See, Reykjavik, Iceland © Just Having FunWhat elusive measure is success? I don’t buy into it. Rather, I think in terms of being fortunate, being satisfied, and improving my little corner of humanity. By these measures I reap success and satisfaction in so many ways.

  • Standing in a long grocery store line is a time to exercise patience. Success.
  • When I get off the bus I thank the driver… and mean it; he got me to my destination safely. Success.
  • The old lady in the crosswalk smiled because I complimented her hairstyle. Success.
  • I will make you laugh to lighten a sober mood. Success.
  • I see beauty in a raindrop hanging off a leaf. Success.
  • When you mourn I will sit with you and share your sorrow. Success.
  • I can be happy for you when you marry off a child or get a new car. Your good fortune is reflected in my eyes because I despite that I am not blessed in the same manner. I don’t have to have what you have to be satisfied. Success.
  • I raised children who are loving, caring, thinking and civilized beings. Big Success!
sailors 2

Fishemen Statue in the Reykjavk, Iceland Harbor © Just Having Fun. Photo was taken near midnight on a June evening.

Having a good name and a good eye are the only measures of my life that will have any lasting impact. Others can make a difference by grand inventions or forging peace treaties. Me? I just take care of my own corner … with a smile. And with this, I choose Happiness.

Happiness is My Choice, 1

DSC02414We all have our own painful challenges. Hashem (G-d) gives us challenges to perfect us. Some ways we can understand at the time: immunization shots hurt when given but we don’t suffer a worse disease. We may only get an inkling about other benefits after we’ve passed phases of our lives: I may have failed to get the job I wanted but ended up in a more satisfying career I’d never have chosen at the outset. We may never understand how certain challenges perfect us; it’s incomprehensible why a child must suffer and die.

Pain, loneliness, fear, temptation, despair, confusion, loss, sadness, and torment — these are some of the feelings we encounter during those “challenges” (which is a dressed up word for events seen as negative). Our pain is real, our losses are tangible. But it is all in His Plan.

And in the end is the grave….

There’s a saying that if you had the opportunity to exchange your “peckel” (package/burden) with others, you’d ultimately choose your own troubles. Unless that is happening to me or mine, perhaps it’s not quite real to me. I may not feel your pain and be completely sympathetic. There are women who are scorned by their husbands or are abused; severely impoverished; who suffer debilitating diseases, or screaming pain. But that’s not my challenge. “Hey, I feel for you {{{hug}}}” I can write on Facebook, then click on the next post, find the next cartoon for a laugh. I’ll stick with my challenges because they are familiar. I know how to deal with them… or not.

Today’s news identifies African countries devastated by Ebola and AIDS. People are dying. Those problems seem so far away. Winter arrives in New York City, inviting mentally ill and poor people to seek shelter on sidewalks and in subway stations, How can this happen in the most advanced civilization in history? I should feel pain, but I usually don’t until it is me bleeding, until I stumble over what’s in front of me. Otherwise I’d be crying all the time. Perhaps that’s preferable?

Photo_121607_003Pain and tears are NOT my destiny. I am meant to soar, to reap the benefits of His World and pass on the message that “All He Does is For the Good.” It is for me to remove blinders, starting with myself first, and illuminate dark corners. I spread my wings and reach for the Heavens. To that I can aspire.

 

DSC02429adjEvery day is a gift, no matter how painful. Our faith demands that we cultivate the certainty that all is for the best. Gratitude is our nation’s backbone. Any outcome, therefore, can be a “happy ending.” Happiness is our choice. Happiness through pain is our privilege.

Today I pray to be happy with my lot and hope to soar. Or at least, let me have the patience to grow from the pain… and wait for the Big Reveal, whether it be now in my time, or later, in the World to Come.

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