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Saturday, March 30, 2013

It Only Looks Like The End Of The World

Hey All:

While I'm still in the middle of my own traditions, many people will be observing Easter Sunday tomorrow.  Although this is not a tradition of mine, common knowledge tells me that it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As a little treat for all my long-time readers, I've reached back into the MySpace archives, and resuscitated this little scribble from 2008 (with a few edits):

Many questions have been raised about these events in the past few years, especially in a movie directed by Mel Gibson and a book written by Dan Brown.  But rather than discuss them, we only need remember this -- for every loss we suffer and every hit we take, there is always the seed for a new life, a new fortune, and a new beginning. 

For example, my father once commented that there should always be a baby at every funeral.  I still remember that at every funeral we attended as a family, there would always be a grieving widow or great-aunt, and my father would always come over to that mourner and point her in the direction of the newborn baby someone else would always be holding.  That way, he would comfort the grief-stricken by reminding them that even though one life ends, there is always a new one beginning. 

I am not in a position to provide a lot of knowledge or insight into the events that Good Friday and Easter Sunday are based upon.  I can, however, note that even the most tragic and heart-wrenching events of human existence usually signaled the beginning of some of the most joyful and beautiful events.  After the attack of September 11, 2001, Americans reached out to each other with nothing less than love and compassion, and our respect for one another reached new heights.  After the Holocaust, the State of Israel was established.  And after the MLB players’ strike of 1994 threatened to destroy the sport of baseball, the New York Yankees built a dynasty that would dominate the Major Leagues for the next several years!

So everybody, no matter what holiday was yours to celebrate this year, let’s keep the fires of faith and understanding burning.  

Just to add a riff on this theme -- don't be so quick to pack it in.  The story of the Easter miracle shows that even when it seems like it's over, sometimes it's not.  Even when it seems like the game is already lost, there is still an opening for a win.  Even when it seems like there's no way out, sometimes there still is.  

Just find it.  It's there for the taking.  Just as long as you don't throw up your hands in defeat prematurely.

Happy Easter to all those celebrating tomorrow.  May those who sow in tears reap in joy, may those who have lost eventually gain, and may those who have erred in bad judgment learn and mature from their mistakes.

And kids, go easy on the chocolate!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Passover Re-Post

Hey All.

Last night, after the First Seder, I just drifted away to sleep, as we often do after heavy meals.  I was about to post something for Passover before I went out for my morning run when I realized that a few years ago, I already posted something topical.  Not to get lazy after being receiving a Very Inspiring Blogger award, but I'd like to re-post this entry from 2011, as I think it says it all (with a few edits and updates).

Today is the first day of Passover -- the celebration of freedom from slavery!  I already touched on this theme in my last post, when I exhorted my readers not to allow themselves to become slaves.  But that's not the end of the story.

Someone I once knew was a major American history buff.  She liked to remind everyone that July 4th is an important holiday because it was the day the United States declared its independence from Britain, but that September 17th is an even more important holiday.  For those of us not aware, that was the date in 1787 that the United States Constitution was signed.

However, it's just a lot easier to rest on past laurels and focus on the fact that freedom was achieved, than it is to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and start writing new laws for ourselves.  That's the major obstacle the freed ex-slaves had to contend with before they finally got to Sinai.  Because they had been slaves so long, they had gotten used to not thinking for themselves, not making decisions, and not asking questions.  The only thing they were used to doing was complaining about how bad things were.  They may have expected a care-free, work-free life once they crossed the Red Sea, and when that was not made available to them, they just pointed fingers as they'd always done before.

Don't get me wrong, this blog is specifically devoted to helping people with low self-esteem get better and live happier lives.  I'm not trying to be another taskmaster.  However, one good way to grow self-esteem, besides eliminating those who don't care about you and don't wish you well, is to work at becoming your own person.  That means you think, you ask, you build, you create, you act, and you move.  Will this suck sometimes?  No doubt.  Anyone who says work is comfortable mistakenly thinks he's working when he's really not!  But this kind of work is not slavery because it's your own work.  It's the work you need to do, and should want to do if you really want to be somebody!  Complaining about the fact that it needs to be done will just hold you back like all those ex-slaves who complained about Moses' lack of leadership skills instead of developing their own!

How to?  You can (a) just accept what the rules are, if you're not in a position to change them; (b) not hold grudges; and (c) try to find ways to avoid or outsmart any bullies or adversaries you may be dealing with (they're not omnipotent by any means).  And if you keep your cool and hold it together in the presence of those who don't respect you, you can either (a) find ways to tell them off to their faces, knowing full well that nothing they do to you can hurt you; (b) make them look stupid (easier than it looks); or (c) have them turned over to the proper authorities to face their just desserts without looking like a (sn)itch.

If you want to take the easy way out, you could argue that nobody taught you how to do this, as another complaining slave.  Not only would that be a cop-out, it's not even true!  The proper authorities of your youth may not have taught you how to do this on a blackboard in a classroom, but nothing can stop you from learning it now.

So for some of you ex-slaves out there, time still remains.  Free yourself from self-defeating complaints.  Don't just relish the fact that tyranny can be overthrown, be your own ruler afterwards!  Build your own Tabernacle, pick your own friends, earn your own money, buy your own clothes, live where you like (without breaking the bank), and be your own person . . .  please!

Those who like this, please keep reading.  And don't be afraid to comment either -- I know people are reading this blog in the US, Canada, Russia, France, Poland, and other countries, maybe I've written something that got your attention?  Say something -- you might be surprised how I respond!

Just as a caveat, I still sometimes complain too, we're all human and life isn't perfect, after all.  We all need just a little time to get it out of our systems.  But if you let complaints eat away at you, and spend your life pointing fingers and blaming, you'll never be free.  

I will be posting more new material, don't get me wrong.  But since I've cultivated a few archives with messages that stand the test of time, once in a while I can simply go back to the well, dust them off, and present a few oldies-but-goodies.  Since there happens to be a new reader of this blog who's only just getting acquainted with my messages, I think it's only fair to let this new reader see what was posted earlier - shame this person wasn't aware of my blog previously, but these blasts from the past are certainly new to this person.  ;)

A Sweet Passover to all those who celebrate!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thank You So Much!

Recognition -- How Sweet It Is, and Thank You!

Hey All!

This homegrown hobby of mine, this blog, has been around for just a few years now.  Every Sunday night, I've transformed myself into an armchair philosopher, a would-be preacher, a home-bound Anthony Robbins, a running guru, an apolitical humorist, and by a few people's accounts, "the best thing on Facebook (their words, not mine)."

And yet, after this short period of time sharing my thoughts with the rest of all y'all, someone has seen fit to honor me as a "Very Inspiring Blogger":  Just check it out!

Those of you who read my St. Patrick's Day post from last week can see this award also posted in the Comments section.

First and foremost, a great deal of thanks is owing to the fellow blogger who saw fit to honor me.  However, there are a few rules I must abide by upon receipt of this award:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
Well, if the URL I've posted above results in the logo being displayed, I'm cool.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
No problem there:
Now this blog is inspirational on many different levels -- this author is a real survivor who recounts times of hardship and drama that she has overcome, and continues to overcome, with vivid imagery and a wild sense of humor.  I encourage all of my readers to check her out!
3. State 7 things about yourself.
(1) I'm an attorney from NYC reaching what could be the pinnacle of my career.
(2) I'm a marathon runner looking for a new PR.
(3) I am 40 years young, and starting a brand new chapter in my life.
(4) I have become more selective as to who gets invited into my life, and accordingly have implemented a no-bozo, no-bully, no-a$$#ole policy to ensure that only those trustworthy enough are granted access.
(5) I seek to dispense self-improvement and self-fulfillment advice to those who need it, and am open to learn advice from others who dispense similar wisdom.
(6) I use social networking to reignite and resuscitate old friendships, and to make brand spanking new ones even better.
(7) I am much quieter and more reserved in real life than I am in my posts and my videos, but who I am is for real!
4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
OK, small problem there -- I don't know 7 other bloggers.
But I can still nominate those that I do know of:
(1)  Dr. Benjamin Leichtling sets forth strategies, and an opportunity for private coaching, to eliminate bully at school for children, and at work for adults.
(2)  For all the blogging entrepreneurs out there, this man has tons of advice on how to break free and set up your own brand!
(3)  Hans Hallanger offers great personal development advice for men, especially those recently divorced or about to be divorced.
(4)  Hans' other blog focuses on keeping things organized and orderly to improve your life (one blogger, two blogs -- does this count?).
(5)  A sportswriter for the Buffalo News, who also happens to be a triathlete, writes very inspirational messages for female athletes and those seeking self-fulfillment.
That's all I got . . . .
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Will do!

So once again, I thank the author of Proportions In Life for giving me this award, and recommend her writing to all of my readers -- and the same recommendation is made for the five above blogs as well.  We're a rare breed, those of us willing to write down our thoughts and opinions for all the world to read, exposed to opposition and criticism, because what we say just matters.  Let's all continue to honor, support, and respect each other.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Forgotten Quest

Hi All.

Like that Jamaican runner said on that old "Seinfeld" episode, "I got ta reece tomorrow, mon!"  Accordingly, it's early to bed, even before St. Patty's Day, to get ready for tomorrow's NYC Half Marathon!  The hype around this one evokes a similar feeling to the ING NYC Marathon, and by a stroke of luck, this is the first time I'm doing it, after going through the lottery.

Due to my extreme lack of Celtic ancestry, I never really learned a lot of extensive information about good old Saint Patrick, other than a story about him expelling snakes out of a country that they would not have found hospitable to begin with.  Having Googled the man, myth, and legend, I've learned that he was a man who overcame severe hardships to proceed in a quest.  Specifically, this quest involved returning to the country where he was enslaved, and from where he had escaped from that slavery, to bring the word of G-D, as he understood it, to that country.  Not to point out the obvious, but he won.

Not an easy task, by any means.  Type of thing that leaves the rest of us discouraged and defeated.  But this man had the fortitude to not only defy the rules that kept him enslaved, but to actually return to the same place that enslaved him, with every intention of becoming a respected leader.  Who does that?

Deep down, I'd like to think that we all do.

What better way to call yourself a winner than to return to someplace that you endured hardships and show people that you're not the same as you were before?  Or better yet, to just walk in there like you own the place, and then actually own the place!

Just from those facts alone, I'm shocked that Hollywood didn't pick up on this man's story in earlier years.  Nowadays, they never would, they'd be too afraid of possibly promoting a particular religion, or even showing religion in a good light in general.  Or possibly afraid that it would just appeal to one target audience and alienate everyone else.  That's a shame.

I know that it's not really my holiday, but shouldn't the celebrations honor the man and his deeds just a little bit more?  When I was in grade school, we were taught that "everyone's Irish on St. Patty's Day," and my Mom used to make corned beef and cabbage and bake Irish soda bread, so we could all share in the festivities.  But the idea that this man had a quest that would have crushed those with weaker wills, and he succeeded at it, is something that should be common knowledge to everyone, Irish or not, and regardless of religion.  Personally, I think his memory deserves a little bit more than a pint of Guinness.

So, peeps, as we inch towards the final days of winter and the promise of spring, remember what St. Patrick did as you don the green.  Regardless of your faith or your tribe, raise a glass to someone who was brave, resilient and indefatigable.  Take his story as an example to remember that you can survive damn near anything with enough faith in yourself.  And that after you're done surviving, you can outdo yourself and succeed, too!

Happy St. Patty's Day, all, and good luck to all my TFK/RWP friends in NYC who are running the Half tomorrow -- see you all at the South Street Seaport!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ahhhh, The Smurfs!

Second Chances?

Good evening, all.

Tonight is the season premiere of my favorite reality show, Celebrity Apprentice (All-Star Edition).

Actually, to clarify, it was my favorite reality show when it was just simply "The Apprentice," and the contestants were self-styled entrepreneurs who wanted to be hired to run one of Donald Trump's companies for a year.  That spoke to me, and much of the remaining white-collar world, as the thought of being called to the boardroom by a boss like Trump, forced to either admit a screw-up, or blame someone else for one, and endure the threat of job loss was a real and tangible fear that most of us suit-and-tie types always dealt with. Of course, all of reality TV is manipulated to the extent that it's no longer reality, but that scenario was the type of show that most of America could relate with.

But Celebrity Apprentice?  Whose idea was this?  These aren't job applicants looking to be a big cheese by working for a big cheese -- they're former celebrities who aren't messed up enough to be on Celebrity Rehab, or cool enough to be on Dancing With The Stars!  They don't actually get hired and fired, which was the original series' selling point, they just get into bitching wars "for charity!"  Jeez Louise, what's the sense?

The answer, my friends, is a-blowin' this way:  People love second chances, and sometimes thirds.  Even long after someone's day in the sun is over (Rodman no longer rebounding, Bret Michaels no longer selling out the big arenas with Poison, Aubrey O'Day doing whatever made people like her before she turned into such a b---- last year), these shows apparently give them a chance to shine once more.  Whether they screw it up and act like Charlie Sheen on another coke binge is up to them, but these people made their livelihood by entertaining us in some fashion.  When those are the skills that pay the bills, it's a little hurtful to think that one day they won't.  Some of them really do need another chance to shine -- and in the case of last year's champ, Arseniooooooooooooooooooooo Hall, it can lead to a chance to completely start over again, even better than in the '90s!

So those of you all who are into this show, don't let me stop you.  And remember, one day you may be looking for a Second Chance to dust off your old uniform to play a new game, too!

Night All -- hope you remembered to Spring Forward!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

But What If It's Me?

Good question, all.  Some of us are annoying, and they know it, too.

So how do we keep our own irritating tendencies in check without sacrificing our individuality?

(1) If you have to ask, "Am I being annoying," then you are, plain and simple.  Just be honest with yourself first.

(2)  Don't admit that you're being annoying to anyone else, though.  Some people take that as an invitation to declare open season on you and your annoying tendencies!  And if you say, "yes, I know, I'm being annoying," and then you persist in doing exactly that which is annoying?  Hell, even I'd have problems with you!

(3)  The far better approach is to ask.  Have I crossed a line somewhere?  Is there something you're not happy with?  Is there something I could do to rectify the situation?  Don't assume or admit, just communicate as to what the other party is thinking.

Granted, there is still a risk that the other party could unload on you.  But at least if you're showing a little good faith, and a desire to not be annoying, it's far more likely that you'll earn some respect.

And even if they're far too polite to tell you what you do that burns their biscuits, chances are you already know.  And so you reach your crossroads:

(A)  Can you stop what it is that's pissing people off?  Not if it means you can't be yourself, but yes if you're being something you're not.

(B)  Is their annoyance legitimate?  Not if all you're doing is being you, but yes if you're harming someone, or making them feel really uncomfortable.

Bottom line is, some people just won't forgive annoyances.  If they can't, then just move on.  But even if it's a good idea to keep your annoying tendencies under control, I'll quote myself from a recent Facebook observation:  a true friend is someone who doesn't mind that you repeat catch phrases too often.

Hope you enjoyed the Hump-Day bonus, peeps.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Nice, But Not Weak!

The Annoyance Factor -- Is It A Deal-Breaker?

Hi All:

I've written before about people getting the best of us -- "Under Your Skin," October 21, 2012.  I talked about controlling our anger, identifying the chink in our armor, and sealing it up.  Only problem is, when circumstances require us to be around those very people who still keep scratching up the armor, it's only too easy for our "shields" to malfunction under heavy (read irritating) firepower.

Let's say it's someone at work who just doesn't get it.  They might even acknowledge the situation and say, "I know, it's annoying, I'm being a pain when I do this," and then they still persist in doing it.  The time it takes to deal with what they do takes time away from everything else you need to do.

Here's a somewhat modified answer for this situation:

(1)  As stated before, don't lose it.  You'll let this foolio look like a victim, a martyr, and an innocent bystander, which we all know is not true.

(2)  Make it clear that what this person is doing, or not doing, is not acceptable, and must change.  Don't be swayed by excuses, blaming, apologies, or proclamations that this person is somehow a misunderstood genius and you should love them -- just lay down the law.

(3)  Most importantly, don't forget what you said.  If people like this see that you don't follow through, then they'll just walk all over you.  But if they see that you mean what you say, which may require you to repeat it again, and again, and again, and again (which in itself is frustrating when you think that this person is a fully-formed adult), they will get the point, and either adapt or leave.

(4)  Set boundaries.  If they can't respect them, then talk to someone at a higher rank and grade who has authority to deal with it in ways that you can't.

The trick is to be firm, but not ferocious.  To be assertive, but not furious.  To be friendly, but not weak.  To be honest, but not insane.

So many of us live in a black-and-white world, where no gray areas exist.  But all individuals are different, and so are all situations.  Find the gray area that colors you the best, and sends them the right signals.

Thanks All -- Spring is Coming!!!!

DISCLAIMER:  The above message was not meant to describe any actual person, or to insinuate or imply that anyone is actually taking advantage of the author of this message.  Any misunderstanding is entirely the responsibility and the perception of the reader.