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Under the Surface

If you’ve ever tried to grow a vegetable garden or flowers or any sort of vegetation, you will know that it requires a great amount of patience and dedication to your plants.  However as your attempts to produce something fail year after year, you may soon grow discouraged. What am I doing wrong? Is the soil not right, the seeds, the climate of my environment?

When working on a character trait, or an aspect of one’s personality that one doesn’t like, it is easy to get discouraged. I for example have this problem where I constantly compare myself to others. It’s an awful thing to do. Every person is created differently with different strengths, weaknesses, family situations, looks, and the list goes on. In my mind I know all of these things, and it is with this conviction that I am able to continue moving past my insecurities, however I can’t seem to stop comparing myself to others. It comes to a point where I throw my hands up in despair and say “What can I do already????”

So now I have to dig beneath the surface, what is wrong with my soil? Why do I continue to do something that I so despise, that makes me miserable and that I desperately want to stop?

The answer came to me in the form of an epiphany (don’t we love them). I came to the realization that I was a competitive person. Although over the years I had built up a layer of defense called apathy, it didn’t get rid of the root problem. So although in my  mind I said “I don’t really care” but I did. So suddenly, when I wasn’t on top and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted as fast as I wanted, I  started comparing myself as to see where I fell in line compared to others. Of course in certain areas it was lower than I anticipated.This caused me to be unhappy with myself as I assumed that the way I compared myself to others was the way people viewed me as well. Of course, people never really pay as much attention to you as you think.

It has been about a week since I have discovered this. Once the underlying factor to my struggle was discovered it was that much easier to tackle the problem. The amount of times I find myself comparing myself to others has been dramatically reduced.

It also happened to be Yom Kippur time, and  I realized that Hashem isn’t comparing me to others and so although I may be “less” or “more” frum than people in certain categories, Hashem isn’t looking at me and saying. “Wow your shmone esrei was 5 minutes shorter than hers.” Hashem is looking at me and saying “Wow, she davened with more kavanah this year than she did last year, thats an improvment”

So as always, I leave off with a suggestion- the next time you find yourself struggling, look beneath the surface and attack the root of the problem, so then a beautiful blossom of accomplishment can burst through the earth.

Hatzlacha Rabbah and Have a Chag Kosher V’sameach!

In her compilation of riddles for King Shlomo, the Queen of Sheba asked: What in life is most certain? His answer: Death. It’s a truth that many of us don’t want to face, or even think about- but Death is the one thing in life that will with 100% certainty happen.

I recently witnessed the death of a bunny rabbit. You might think this humorous but in actuality it was one of the most disturbing things I have seen in my life. I was in a camp in the mountains where they let rabbits and chickens roam free. It was a Friday night and me and my friend were strolling down the road. Two bunnies were hopping across the street that divided the two sections of the camp. A car came speeding and didn’t see the rabbit and ran right over it.

It was so quick.

A life form of that size was suddenly dead, squashed by four wheels right in front of my eyes. Its companion hopped around it and inspected it and then dejectedly hopped away. A living breathing thing was suddenly dead. This event was something that really(excuse the pun) hit me.  It made me realize how fragile our lives really are.

In a second everything can be gone. Things we value and love can vanish instantly. So what do I really value and love? How much time am I investing in things that are pointless? What am I living my life for?

Just a reminder to ask yourself these questions everyday and to reevaluate what you make a big deal out of. Are those people, those items, that position worth your emotional energy, or can you use that energy for something more constructive?

Hope that you can put it all in perspective. Good Luck

Away

Hey guys, so I’m going away for the summer and I will not have internet access for 2 months, so this is my last post till then. Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and meaningful summer.

Just a reminder to look out for all the little things in life that can be so inspiring and that you can learn so much from!! If you get any ideas over the summer and are willing to share them, leave a comment and I’ll see it when I get back :)

Signing Out..Sunday, July 27th 2:10

Zoom Out

I find it funny, or really the word is sad, how when something is over-  you see in about a hundred different ways how you could have done that better. Well as I finished the last week of school and all that stress and pressure fell off, my mind miraculously cleared and I was able to see how I could have made the past year so much better. It was like the second I was out of the situation I was able to disconnect myself and see it from an outside perspective.

I know that I bit off a bit more than I could chew this year. Yet I was very optimistic as I embarked on this long journey of an 11th grade curriculum along with 2 AP’s. As the year progressed my morale broke down slowly which resulted in a frustration with everything around me. My internal dissatisfaction was taken out on my family, my friends, my school.  Everybody was at fault for the fact that I was miserable.  That just bred an environment of laziness and despair for myself, and that too continued in a downward spiral.

The fact that all this negative energy surrounded me made it difficult to see the positive and good that I was able to gain from this year. It also made it impossible for me to listen to anybody who was trying to help me see a different angle.

GAH..Its so frustrating to look back and see all the opportunities I missed. Now that I look back, I see that I had gained so much good. I made new friends, and strengthened the bonds with old ones. I learned how to look critically at myself and at things around me. The amount of academic knowledge I gained is enormous.

So I guess this whole rant is really just for me to retrospect and say: When you’re in a situation, remove yourself from it. Zoom Out. Look at it from an outside perspective. Go to some park, I don’t know or a library by yourself and look at the situation. Regroup your thoughts. Because believe you me, you do not want to look back at a whole year, and only then realize what you should have ages ago.

So the next time you’re feeling frustrated with life. Zoom Out, you will be amazed at the results. Good Luck!!

Silly Bandz

The name says it all. Literally. SILLY bandz. They are silly, completely useless rubber bands that kids all over the place are going crazy for. It’s a trend and it spread like wildfire.

This was the first time in my life that such a perfect example popped up.  For a long time I had known that societal pressure causes individuals to do the most ridiculous things- like wear jumpsuit pants. (seriously) And here finally is an example that I can use.

A company lets out rubber bands in shape of various animals. The gimmick is that the shape always stays, no matter how many times you’ve twisted the rubber band. Now thousands of people are flocking to pile these things on their wrists- for what? what do they do? They’re colorful sure but what else??. At least with Crazy bones it was a game.

Schools have started banning silly bandz because they’re distracting students during class. This made me think of the following parallel. How many things in life do we feel that we must have. It’s “in”, the latest car, cell phone. The latest trend in clothing that we must have even though its too short or tight. Aren’t all these Trends really just a distraction. A distraction from whats really important, what we should really focus on.

I am now happy to say that silly bandz have had a purpose for me. They helped me gain perspective.

Alice in Tshuvaland?

I looked down the hole.  It looked dark and foreboding. Where had that white Rabbit gone? It had looked so carefree, hopping past me. But I wasn’t going to go climbing in, it would soil my dress.  So I left the hole alone and went on with my daily life.

Yet that hole haunted my thoughts. It popped up in every empty space. The Rabbit had a waistcoat, and a watch, it seemed so luring, interesting. It had been a refreshing change from my daily routine.

One day, I couldn’t take it any longer I went back to the hole and peeked in. I crawled slowly, slowly and all of a sudden I fell. I fell down fast. I couldn’t grasp onto anything on the sides. I hit a chair, and then a piano, and a few other objects along the way. Terror seized my insides, where I was  I going? I finally hit the floor, cracked through it and hit the level underneath. I looked up. A table was standing on the ceiling. Huh?

All of a sudden I fell again. And the world turned right side up. I had landed on the ceiling? Now that I had hit rock bottom, I had to find my way out.

With each step to go back up to my home, things got more and more confusing. First I seemed to grow, then shrink, then grow again, just to get through one door. Next, I met a whole bunch of characters who all seemed to give me good advice, but weren’t helping me out at all. There was a dodo bird, flowers, a caterpillar and even a mad hatter. They all had their own ideas of how to leave.

With each step this awful world I had entered, and was desperate to leave- got more and more confusing. The Paths kept on switching and then there was a constantly vanishing cat that asked me questions that made no sense.

How was I ever going to go back home?

Eventually you wake up, and you do get back home.  This is called Tshuva. You fall down a hole, and it takes many tears, ( a whole river in fact) do get you through the many doors. Your grow and then shrink again, and meet with people who seem to not help at all. Yet you reach the top.

I guess my lesson from this was- don’t go near that hole. There’s a whole world out there, that may seem exciting and interesting, with a waistcoat and a watch. And at first you’re smart enough to stay away-yet curiosity always gets the better of us and before we know it, we’re falling, down down a never ending hole. Then to get back up is difficult and confusing. So stay away from that hole, no matter how interesting it looks because you know what that world is just not worth it. Don’t soil you’re beautiful dress that you already have!

Good Luck!

Opportunity. It’s one of my favorite words. It can mean freedom, choice, a dream of something beyond today. It’s why I love libraries, you have a world of knowledge, of opportunity right beneath your fingertips. Its one of the reasons I love still being a teenager. There are so many things you still haven’t decided and the possibilities seem endless. I mean think about it, you still don’t know what college your going to go to, or which career you’re going to choose, or who you’re going to marry. Where are you going to live? Who are you going to be? It leaves room for dreaming.

That’s why the phrase is called “Windows of opportunity” because you’re on the inside, or on the outside and the window is the only way to see the other side. When you think of someone dreaming, doesn’t a person sitting by a window often come to mind? That’s because it’s symbolic to not knowing exactly whats out there, but viewing it and dreaming about how it might be.

But then again, this is naive. As you get older you begin to realize that certain things that you thought were bright and cheery and full of opportunity, just aren’t. People aren’t as friendly and easy going as they make themselves out to be. That nice lady who spoke so enthusiastically about her job had to fight with every ounce of her energy to get there. The school that offered to give every kid a chance to shine, doesn’t really mean it.

The world thrives off of people who are either naturally gifted or extremely hard working. Opportunity doesn’t mean this fluffy, optimistic thing we imagine. Yes opportunity is out there, but instead of sitting and dreaming out the window get up and go look for that door. It’s about finding whats out there that speaks to you and then doing all you can to achieve it.

It’s about seriously sitting down in middle of a windowed room and deciding which window you want to choose. Its a maturing process, realizing that yes, you are not all talented, knowing, able. It’s about knowing your strengths and using them, even if that’s not what you want. And then once you’ve made the decision about which window you use, it’s your job to be happy with it and decorate it and hang up some sunny window shades- cuz that’s what you’re going to have.

So why are you still sitting here- go get up while your still inspired and do something that will take you one step closer to grabbing that opportunity by the ears- before someone else does. Good Luck living every opportunity to its fullest.

Silent Teamwork

There is something to being on a team. Maybe it’s the working together to win. Maybe its the feeling that someones there to back you up. It’s that subtle bond, a silent acknowledgment, that nod of the head where you fully understand what the other person meant.

To me it was a time where you allowed others to see your weaknesses, and your strengths. Your vulnerable moments, where somebody pats you on the back and lifts you back up. It’s lowering yourself off your high chair to criticism and challenge. Its finally measuring yourself up against someone, and then cheering for that same person because your a team.

Team means unity, it means a whole not just the one you. My Ego is lowered, yet at the same time I find my self-esteem growing. It’s replacing arrogance with confidence. It’s allowing someone less talented to have a turn, even if it means you’ll lose the point.

And the surprising thing is- the people become your friends. You don’t even realize when the transition takes place. Maybe it was that conversation in the locker room? Or was it the hours of working together silently that created that connection? Sweating the same sweat, feeling the same soreness the day after a game? What was once a nod of acknowledgment, becomes a high five, a smile, a hug- a connection.

And its comes silently. The feeling of belonging. Life is about being an individual withing a team, with different teams propelling you forward in different areas of your life. Teams teach you to complete yourself as an individual and give you an opportunity to give to others. They teach you life skill for all the teams you will be part of in the future, So pick your teams carefully. Good Luck :)

You know those embarrassing moments, the ones you shudder at when you remember them for a moment, and then again commit them to the back of your mind hoping never to remember that moment again? Yeah that one. Well unfortunately it happened to me today.

I was trying to say Fuzz and Shucks at the same time…yeah you can picture what I said. It  just slipped out and then my hands jumped up to my mouth as I gasped in shock at what had escaped my mouth. Worse, it was in a playground with children and people who I respected. I slapped myself on the head for the next half an hour, I’m still slapping.

It was an accident, yet why do I feel so responsible??

Because although it wasn’t conscious, it was still in my mind at some point or another and that’s how it managed to surface. It made me think. What things do we give ourselves access to and say ‘oh, it won’t really affect my life’, ‘it won’t change me’? News Flash: It Will.

The Human mind is very good at remembering things, especially things that we shouldn’t remember. It is so important to monitor what we are allowing to enter our lives. How many secular philosophies and ideologies are clouding our judgment? How much thinking space is that book or movie taking up?

It made me realize how many things I have to completely remove from my life.Otherwise these things will poke out at one point or another. Things that I really personally don’t want anything to do with, yet somehow managed to worm into my mind. Everything is good in moderation, but some things shouldn’t be there at all.

Of Course everything requires one step at a time, and removing large chunks of your life in a fast amount of time is never recommended. However it is a life long struggle with the information out there in the world. Good Luck!

Statement 1

This isn’t a long article, this is just me really wanting to rant about how important attitude is in life.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!!!!! i can’t emphasize it enough, and the more I experience, the more I realize that it’s so true. There are people who have everything and are miserable. And there are people who by all laws of nature should be miserable and aren’t. You want to work on bettering yourself, on making life smoother- work on your attitude, it will change your life in ways you will not imagine, and affect almost every other middah that you want to work on!!! Life is 10% situation and 90% how we act upon it!!

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