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Monday, December 26, 2011


Don't Be Afraid -- You Might Actually Win!

Last week I posted about the holidays.  Not to be partial to my own faith and stripe, but I'd like to go back to the historical description of the Chanukah story.  Pretty interesting tale, considering our friends in the Greek Orthodox community have never ONCE claimed that the story offended their ethnic heritage in any way.  One would think that during Chanukah, none of us would be able to set foot in Astoria, Queens, much less order any baklava.  Instead, it appears that they've sort of shrugged it off, and left us to enjoy our latkes in peace!  :)

But the reason I discuss it is because the Maccabees were not the favorites to win that war.  Not by a long shot.  Most of the Jewish population was loving the new Hellenstic ways, and wanted to be absorbed in them.  They had a much smaller force than the Greeks, and most likely lacked the same training that their soldiers had.

But the Maccabees were not afraid.  They knew only that they wanted to stay true to their faith and not permit further desecration of the Temple.  They might lose, but they also might actually win.

So should it be with us.  Do you have a shot to make a big change?  To win a big case?  To earn a big payday?  But is there a possibility it might not happen in spite of your effort?  Do it anyway!  If you've prepared for a possible loss, then there's no real cost involved.  But what if you WIN? 

It does happen, believe it or not.  It's just better if you believe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Special Holiday Season Post!

Happy Holidays -- Please!

Sunday night, friends and neighbors!  Time to share with all some thoughts on the upcoming December holidays!

This month, those of us who were raised with a Judeo-Christian upbringing encounter the second of two occurrences in the year when two quasi-religious festivals that coincide chronologically, but represent different traditions, are celebrated.  That is to say, it's one of the rare occasions where Judeo- and -Christian are de-hyphenated and separated.

Let's review. 


Chanukah (also known as Hannukah, Hanukkah, Channukah, Chanukkah (Jodie how do you get the app for Hebrew letters again?), and the Festival of Lights) is celebrated by Jews to commemorate the events in the First Book of Maccabees.  Ironically, this book is not included in the Jewish Bible, which had already been canonized when these events took place, and is instead in the Apocrypha.

A Greek ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, was given control over Jerusalem, desecrated the Holy Temple, attempted to completely suppress the practice of Judaism, and to completely Hellenize the population.  The sons of the High Priest, Mattathias, including Judah Maccabee, staged a military campaign against the Greeks to defend and protect the faith, emerged victorious, and rededicated the Temple (too bad they had to form an alliance with the Romans to get it done).  Legend says that there was not enough oil to light the lamps in the Temple for even one day, but after it had been re-dedicated, it lit the lamp for eight days instead. 

The theme of this holiday is to resist conformity, to refuse to be dominated by oppressors, and to be courageous.  It's celebrated by lighting the menorah eight nights in a row, giving & receiving presents, and eating latkes and applesauce (sometimes sour cream, that's my thing) and jelly donuts (what, no chocolate?).  All in all, not the major huge holiday that Passover is, but it's celebrated nonetheless, and the message is certainly not lost on this blogger!


Christmas celebrates the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ to Mary.  The two accounts of this occasion, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, indicate that the birth took place in a manger, which may or may not have been in the midst of farm animals.  It is the second-most important holiday in all Christian denominations, as the birth of this Son of G-D to a human mother is the first of several miracles that are said to reveal G-D's love to the world, and the foundation of all permutations of Christianity that would eventually follow.

(yes, some of them celebrate this holiday in January, but that's not important right now).

The celebration of these two holidays have given rise to a certain degree of awkwardness, that many have attempted to remedy by simply merging both holidays into a generic December/winter-solstice celebration to make sure nobody gets "offended" or left out, or made to feel disloyal in some way.  I can still remember songs being replaced from an elementary school's holiday concert for just that reason.  The terms used to describe an office party likewise become homgenized and genericized to avoid ruffling feathers.

Rather than continue in this politically correct mishmash, I propose a different approach -- celebrate the underlying MESSAGES of both holidays, and how they coincide, and not contradict!  They BOTH stand for NEW BEGINNINGS, and declarations of SELF-IDENTITY!


Just look at them:  Chanukah celebrates a new beginning for Judaism by removing a corrupting influence, despite the fact that most of the Jews actually wanted the corrupting influence to continue.  Christmas celebrates a new beginning because a savior and redeemer was born, half human and half diety, just ready to start one of the most influential lives ever lived.  Until he met the end of his human life in his early 30's, he would face an onslaught of corrupting influences, and inspire those around him to resist them without the need to take up arms.

Now that I've found and isolated the common thread between both festivals, what exactly am I planning to do with it?  Glad you asked . . . .

I am not suggesting that any of you dispense with family traditions, of course.  But my proposal would be to merge Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year's into a two-week nonsectarian festival of New Beginnings.  Is it any accident that both holidays are perched so perilously close to January 1st?  Let's make the timing work for us!

Let's go easy on the list of what you want to give/receive in terms of material gifts -- instead, make a list of new beginnings!  How will you cleanse the temple that is your life?  Will you restore it to the joy and peace you knew in childhood?  Will you remove negativity, obsessions, and old habits from your sanctuary and replace them with things worth venerating?

Or better yet, will this be a year to start a whole new life?  I mean from the ground up, from the beginning forward?  Can you get past everything that happened before that held you back and make this a Day One instead?

Not to toot my own horn, but I think we may have discovered the "true meaning" of the "holiday season" -- to start a new beginning!

Ummmm, yeaaaahhh Daaaave???  Isn't this what you already posted about for the Jewish New Year?

Ummmm, no it isn't.  Those posts were about forgiveness, while this one is simply about beginning again.  No requirement to atone here -- only a desire to start from Square One!
And while you're repeating "Seasons' Greetings," "Happy Holidays," and whatever other greetings gets tossed around for the next few weeks, let's put this one on for size:


May you and yours have a Happy New Beginning!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Post For The Office Xmas Party!

Office Party!

I've been speaking about holiday traditions that I'm not a fan of, but this week, I'd like to discuss a tradition that has stood the test of time for those of us in the white-collar realm: The Office Xmas Party!

For five (or more) days every week, we see our co-workers out of necessity, when questions need answers and deadlines must be met. When stress is on the rise, and the bottom line is primary, it's not always fun and games like it is at Dunder Mifflin, I assure you. We got cases to win, cases to resolve, and clients to keep happy!

But all that changes once a year at the holiday party! That's our chance to knock back a few! To socialize with our clientele in a relaxed and easygoing setting. To live, baby live! And for some of us, to "bust a move" with no fear of embarrassment or repercussions!

Little disappointed that the DJ neglected to introduce my jam, "The Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground, into the mix, but I still managed. Would have been fun to ruin the image and style that you're used to -- and one of these years they'll add a karaoke machine, and I'll bring the old stylings of Humpty (a/k/a Shock G) to life!

So without the rap/club equivalent of "They Call Him The Streak" being played, I went into my techno trance. Not enough to turn heads, thank goodness, but enough to keep the rhythm going for hours on end!

Yes, your fearless blogger needed to cut loose. And once every blue moon it's OK to do with my co-workers. I consider them my teammates, my compadres, my brothers and sisters in arms. Although some may consider me the guru of my own self-governing fiefdom, I look to many of them for advice, and am never disappointed. So this camaraderie should naturally ascend to the next level of partying just as hard as we work!

So it filled me with some holiday cheer. So much that the next morning, on only 6 hours of sleep, I ran a 6-kilometer race in Brooklyn at a pace of 7:30 per mile. Who says that you can't carb up on Coors Light?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Sunday night, all, you know what that means!

Careful How You Handle It!

Hey all --

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know that my link to a picture posted by a friend mine sort of says it all:  "Never sacrifice who you are just because someone else has a problem with it."

As we get closer to 2012, I can only hope that we all can abide by this all-too-simple rule of life.  When other people have problems with us simply being who we are, they lead us to a crossroads:  Should we admit that they know best, and that we're just simply subpar individuals who don't deserve respect?  Or should we refuse to let them beat us just because they have issues?

The sad fact is that no matter how nice we are, how friendly we are, how good-looking or popular we might be (if that's the case), or how wealthy and "on top of things" we are, not everyone will like us.  Even if you do nothing wrong at all, someone else may very well still have a problem with you, simply because they don't like you.

Guess what, that's their right.  Nobody is forcing you to love and worship people you don't like, so how can you expect them to shower you with love?  If they don't like you, that's their business.  Thing is, it's only their business -- don't buy into it!

Also, they need to realize that such dislike must also be tempered with respect.  That means they don't have the right to bash you, bully you, isolate you, defame you, or harass you.  If they are, you must set them straight and protect yourself.

That being said, as I've previously mentioned in this blog, we don't live in a comic book, or in a Sylvester Stallone movie.  We can't whip out a Jesse Ventura gun and kill them all when they screw with us.  Sometimes we have to use our heads first. 

It might be that if you stand your ground against some miscreant or gangster, and you don't keep your head, you might find yourself without money or a place to live.  If that's the case, you must either (a) temporarily take it on the chin, while actively finding a new source of income or a new home; or (b) be prepared to do without income or a home for an indefinite period of time, while continuing to find a better life. 

There are many of us out there who re-define the words "tough" and "resilient," and have no problem choosing choice (b).  However, common sense tells me that choice (a), despite the fact that it forces us to temporarily endure treatment we don't deserve, is the smarter choice to make.  This is because it prevents us from allowing our aggression to ruin the entire situation. 

And let's be objective:  As intolerable as bullying is, and always will be, life could still be worse.  You're not in a concentration camp, you haven't had limbs removed from your body, and you're not in jail.  Imagine how it would feel if you were in either of those messes!

At the very least, choice (a) gives you time to think:  Time to plan your next response, your next maneuver, and your next counterstrike.  And you can also plan for what the main character in "Quantum Leap" forever searched for:  the final leap home!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going soft on the bullies and thugs who try to siphon off our self-esteem and usurp our power.  I'm telling you all to be smart in your dealings with them.  If they have enough legitimate power to hurt you, no matter how right you are, then be careful.  You won't be sacrificing who you are by any means.  If anything, you'll be preserving your rights to continue being who you are, free from those who don't think anything's wrong with disrespecting you.  Just watch yourself to make sure that they, and not you, are on the receiving end of something unpleasant!

Feel free to comment, all!