One Nation, One Moment – Please Observe Memorial Day

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In 2000 The National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed by Congress. On Memorial Day (this Monday), at 3:00PM, this Act asks us to stop everything we are doing and spend one minute honoring the men and women who died in service of our country. The time of 3:00PM was selected because it is when most of us are busy enjoying ourselves on Memorial Day – enjoying the freedom made possible by those who gave their lives while serving our country.

In this beautiful video produced by the Uniformed Services Benefit Association, a not-for-profit association that provides insurance and financial products and services to military families, here’s what should happen at 3:00PM on Monday in observance of the National Moment of Remembrance:

Trains will blow their whistles. Almost 500,000 Major League Baseball fans will pause for a moment of silence. Cars will drive with their headlights on. Americans everywhere will wave flags. Taps will play throughout the nation.

But none of this will happen if we don’t make it happen. So let’s do just that. Let’s make it happen. As the video suggests, please set your cell phone alarm to 3:00PM on Monday. Please stop what you are doing for a minute and remember. Download Taps to your phone and play it as you do.

There is nothing complicated about honoring our fallen soldiers. Ideally we should spend a lot more than one minute on Monday reflecting on what they gave us. But, one minute is better than nothing. One minute is a simple way to bring some sanctity back to Memorial Day. And in this day and age when our country is so divided, one minute of unity can help put things in perspective and remind us what our country is all about.

We owe our fallen heroes this one minute of reflection. Please, give them and their families the honor and respect they deserve. Please observe Memorial Day.

How My Toothbrush Transformed My Life

My latest piece published on The Wisdom Daily

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My alarm goes off at 6:15 in the morning and almost immediately I begin to think about the things I have to get done in the new day that is just beginning. I check my phone and see a text from someone I was supposed to have a breakfast meeting with at 8:00. The text asks me if it is okay if we push our meeting to 8:15. I respond back: “Yes!” The extra 15 minutes will come in handy as I completely forgot about the meeting.

As I begin to think about what else I have forgotten, I hear the rumble of the trash trucks. The garbage! I forgot to put the trash out. I run to the garage, grab the overflowing bags of trash and make it to the curb just in time to hand them to my garbage man!

By the time I come back into the house, my wife and kids are all busy getting ready for their day. My son needs my help to do a final review for a big test. My daughter can’t find her computer charger and sends me looking for it. My wife and I try to find a minute or two to review our schedules and determine which one of us is picking up our kids from school and which one of us is running to the grocery store and meeting the plumber at the house at 2:30 in the afternoon. I am feeling stressed and I have only been awake for 15 minutes. My day is off to the usual start.

I know that stress so early in my day isn’t good for me. When the frenetic energy of my early morning routine pushes my buttons before 6:30 in the morning, the real intense stuff I’ll face at work in a few hours will have the potential to put my mind, body and soul into overload and the results won’t be good.

I know that good habits like taking time to slow down, catch my breath and pay attention to what I am thinking and feeling form the foundation of a happy, meaningful, stress free life. But, the fact is, good habits like these just aren’t a normal part of my early morning ritual. The experts say we can embrace healthier habits that can overpower and replace the unhealthy routines that fill our lives with stress.

I have tried to find ways to slow myself down in the morning and begin my day feeling refreshed and recharged. I have tried prayer, but there is simply too much going on in my house to carve out spiritual time. I have tried meditation, but, again, the energy level in the house makes it impossible to focus. I don’t have time to exercise in the morning. I have tried waking up earlier so that I can go for a run or take advantage of some quite time to pray or meditate – but honestly, I like and need my sleep too much. And so, I have found myself getting into the very unhealthy habit of beginning my day feeling scattered and frenzied.

But, just recently, I purchased an electronic toothbrush…READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

A Mother’s Spark

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A Mother’s Day Tale/Midrash (originally posted Mother’s Day 2015)

At the beginning of time, God created the plants and the trees, the Sun and the Moon.  God created the animals, the seas, Heaven and Earth and, of course, humans.  But, did you know that when it all began, God created a small but powerful spark of energy?  God loved this spark.  It was so bright, so full of love.  It emanated compassion.  It actually made God, the protector of all, feel safe and not alone.

God brought this spark to Earth after the work of Creation was done.  Now, God knew that this spark could not stand on its own.  It needed to be put inside of something special – something that could protect it, nurture it and enable it to fill the world with its incredible light.  And so God tried to put the spark inside some of the plants and trees – but the spark was just too strong.  It could not be contained within leaves, stalks and bark.  God tried to put the spark in some of the animals – but the spark frightened them.  So God tried to put the spark in the Sun and the Moon, but, the spark kept falling down to Earth.  So, God put the spark into man.  But, inside man, the spark did not shine brightly.  Its light did nothing to make the Earth more beautiful.  And, so, God was frustrated.

As God thought about where else the spark could be placed, God was startled by the cry of the first baby born on the face of the Earth.   As God looked down upon this baby, his mother lovingly picked him up, cuddled him, comforted him and rocked him to sleep.  As she did so, God noticed that the mother’s eyes were radiating a magnificent light – a light that was very familiar to God.  It was the spark!  It had found its home on its own – inside of the first mother – the first human being who truly and madly and deeply loved another human being.  Over time, the spark multiplied and found a home in all the mothers on the face of the Earth.  And God saw this and was happy for it was good.

Some might read this and think that this sounds like a wonderful fairy tale.  But, the fact is, anyone who is lucky enough to have been loved by a mother has looked into her eyes and seen the spark.  It’s still there filling the world with incredible energy, love, compassion and beauty that can only come from a mother.

Take the time this weekend to look for the spark in the eyes of all those mothers you celebrate this weekend.  Once you see it, realize how blessed you are.  Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, to my wife and to all the moms out there that make the world a more magnificent place.

Taming Our Inner Control Freak

It is hard to believe that Passover is over!

During the holiday, over on the ISHBlog, I explored ways in which slavery is still part of the world in which we live. I blogged about the fact that there are still people across this planet who are forced to work in harsh conditions and with little to no pay to produce products that many of us use today. I shared a powerful piece capturing how too many of us are enslaved by the words of others, and just last Thursday I shared the piece below.

On Passover, we remember the slavery that our ancestors endured and the freedom they celebrated. But, Passover is there to remind us that the story of slavery is not over. So many of us are still craving freedom, and since our ancestors were once slaves in Egypt, we have an obligation to make this freedom a reality.

 

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Finding Freedom: Taming Our Inner Control Freak
When Our Inner Control Freak Loses Control, Fear Enslaves Us

Many of us are enslaved by our inner control freak. We work so hard to ensure that everything is just so and we are fully in control. Most of the time, our hard work pays off and life goes as planned. But, inevitably, something happens that threatens our control. When this happens, we fight with all of our might to regain control. As we do so, the fear that we will fail, that we will not be able to control what happens, grows. It becomes all consuming. We stop living life and, instead, live in fear, enslaved by our emotions and irrational belief that we can control everything that comes our way.

How can we tame our inner control freak? How can we break free from the fear that the unpredictability of life fills us with? Lori Deschene, the founder of Tiny Buddha, shares some simple, yet powerful wisdom that those of us who think we can control it all need to absorb. Check out her wisdom HERE. If we can truly internalize her wisdom, we can tame our inner control freak and find much needed freedom.