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Pay it forward in comfort and kindness

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With the world primarily put on hold and stuck at home, many people are flooding social media.  If what you see online is a reflection of society as a whole, then there is a clear pattern emerging from what we are seeing.  There are those who start games that involve participation and those who post things that are cute and humorous, but when we go beyond that, much of what we see posted is negative, and it doesn’t take a degree in psychology to know that the negativity isn’t helpful.

It is not difficult to understand why  people lash out and play the blame game or reveal their fear and despair at a time like this. It would be unfair to criticize people who have been doing that, even if it was my place to do so, which it isn’t. But it is not only very obvious that it is happening, it is also very obvious that it is increasing, and I think that even those partaking in it would likely agree that it is an unhealthy pattern.   Bad situations create negative feelings and harsh reactions.  Many people focus a lot on whose fault they think it is, and with so much extra time on their hands they seize the opportunity to make their point and to try and relay what they think is their unique perspective that got them to that conclusion.  But even if some of the conclusions are correct, which would means the opposite conclusion is not, are the people doing this helping anyone? Are  they creating unity and camaraderie when it’s needed most? And maybe even more significantly, are they themselves coming out of it better? I think we all know the answer to that question.

To those posting fear and despair, it’s important to look at it through different lens than the one we use on the finger pointers and armchair quarterbacks.  Those who are sad and scared, often terrified, are not only an indicator of how bad things have gotten very quickly, they are also provide an opportunity to those who are coping better emotionally and mentally.  The opportunity I speak of is the opportunity to help, to make a positive difference. This has been, and will be a horrific time specifically for people who have lost or will lose loved ones.  People will grieve.  They will mourn.  But some will also be turning to people for help.  If you have time to post about the politician, political party or even the country you blame for the situation we find ourselves in, then you certainly have time to help someone who may desperately need it.  And if not, you might start by helping with everyone’s collective mental health by showing honor to the lost, comfort to the struggling, or inspiration and even humor to the general public.

If you’re doing OK, pay it forward.  And if you aren’t sure you’re OK then try to show kindness anyway.  There is a reasonable chance it well help you feel better. No one is an island, especially not now.  Finding a way to help starts with words of comfort and encouragement,  words that often do as much for the person saying them as they do for those for whom they are intended.  Why not give it a try?  It will be better for everyone.

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A Shabbat message for everyone

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This message is for everyone out there.  Whether you are Jewish or not, observant or not.

The observance of Shabbat, the Sabbath, is the weekly observance of a day of rest.  It is a day in which we stop much of our weekly activities, many of the more observant Jews refraining from work. driving, spending money and using electricity or phones.  The belief is that God created the world on 6 days and on the 7th day he rested.  Although different religions have different beliefs as to which day that is, Islam believes it’s Friday, Judaism Saturday, Catholicism Sunday, the basic concept is the same.  A day of rest to acknowledge God’s work and to make that day a holy day.

We live in a time when many will inevitably have a crisis of faith, while many will have a strengthening of faith.  Other’s who do not believe will either find themselves turning towards God, or believing that the current situation proves their position that God does not exist.  Although I am one who not only believes in God, but is also not having a crisis of faith, this message is applicable to each and every one of you, for even if you do not believe the origin of the concept is in religious dogma, the essence of the concept is a pure one.  It is what Judaism refers to as Bayn Adam L’chaveyru, the relationship between one person and another.

Jewish commandments are broken down into 2 categories.  One is the aforementioned relationship between one human being and the other, and the other being what is know as Bayn Adam L’Makom.  The relationship between People and God. I have no intention of using this forum today to convince anyone to hold my views on what relationship mankind should have with God, nor will I project a feeling of an attitude of superiority based on the one that I have.  I do this on purpose.  I do this because our relationship with each other may be at the core of so many of the problems facing us today.

Before we try to do right by others, we need to be honest with ourselves.  We need to be honest about our intentions and be honest about our actions.   Are we doing what we are doing because it is self-serving or because we want to do good for others?  Do we truly care about other people or does everything we do revolve entirely around our own needs?  As a flawed individual, I need to constantly ask myself those questions.  Am I doing the best I can to help those close to me, to contribute to society?  Are my intentions pure? I ask these questions of myself on a regular basis, but when do I have an actual scheduled stop from my every day life to take a step back and take an introspective look on who I am and what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong? That time is from sundown on Friday evening till darkness on Saturday.  The time designated in the Jewish religion as Shabbat.

So my Shabbat message to each and everyone of you is the following.  Take a step back. Stop your regular weekday activities.  Of course the irony is that it at this moment in time for many that means, stop your past week’s activities of stopping your everyday activities. You may not believe in God, or you do believe in God and don’t believe God gave us Shabbat, but your belief does not detract from the fact that it is indeed something wonderful.  Shabbat brings you peace and tranquility, sometimes added understanding, and a brighter outlook for the future.  Whether you believe it is God given or not, who among us couldn’t use those things right now?

Be safe, be healthy, and Shabbat Shalom.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Jay Agular.

 

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A Helpful Perspective

help-support-guidance-advice-signpostThere are ways to get through anything in life.  I don’t say that entirely from my personal experiences, because although like everyone else even though I’ve gone through good times and bad, there are so many hardships I have never had to deal with, and if I am blessed and fortunate enough, I never will.  But I have listened to and observed people over the years, some close to me, like my parents who were Holocaust survivors, some mere acquaintances, who have offered lessons in how to get through the toughest of times.  I am nowhere near having all of the answers, but to the best of my ability I will try to share some thoughts on how to handle hopelessness and fear.  For those dealing with loss or illness it is a different playing field, but for everyone else I write this with the hope that my understanding and outlook will help you in some small way, and if I help just one person, then it was time well spent.

It starts with the acquisition of knowledge.  Whether it is on a small personal scale or on a larger one, knowing as many accurate facts as possible will, with the correct approach and perspective, only help you deal with any issue.  That means chose your sources wisely and narrowly.  This is a medical issue, not a political one.  The politics and whatever consequences develop as a result are a matter to be dealt with later.  So find the medical sources you believe are trustworthy and try your best to understand what they are saying.  I suggest spreading it out a little so as to satisfy yourself that there are no hidden agendas, but once you find those 3 or 4 sources, keep your flow of information narrow and follow their guidance. It will be possible to find 10 different medical sources each day if you look hard enough, but if you do that, regardless of what happens to you physically, the mental impact will likely not be a healthy one.  Partially because it means you are spending too much time focusing on things you can’t control.

This brings me to my next point.  The issue of control is always an important thing to understand, but even more so in a crisis like the one we are facing today.  It is my belief that it is critical to understand how little of what happens is in our control, for once we do that we can focus on the things that we actually can control.  We can control our own personal actions.  If you are someone who just wants this all to be over and sits there shouting at the TV or crying on Facebook, but at the same time are not practicing social distancing, then you are not properly focused on what you can control.  And if you are someone who is angry about how things are being handled by our leaders but litter the parking lots of supermarkets and banks with your masks and gloves, you are definitely not getting it.  And yes, there are many reports of this happening.  Control your own personal actions and you will be doing your part in helping get things back to normal sooner rather than later.  But most of all, and this is where I think mental health issues can be averted, to the best of your ability, control your thoughts and emotions.

I am not a mental health professional.  But I am someone who is getting through this with certain mental disciplines and techniques I find to be very helpful.  For starters I divide my day into segments.  As someone who lives alone there is no one else I live with that depends on me.  As with so many things in life, there things about that which are advantageous, and thinks about that which are not.  It would be very easy to fall into doing just one thing all day, be it binge watching the news, catching up on all the movies and TV shows I’ve yet to see, interact online, eat, etc.   I suggest, for those who have not already done so, to structure your day.  As I told someone the other day, if you do mostly one thing during your time stuck at home, that will be who you become.  However, by diversifying your efforts, you can actually look back at any individual day and feel that it was actually a good one, even if it is not the ideal one.   Do different things, find ways to grow, even develop new hobbies, but more than anything else, think of someone other than yourself.

So there are many out there, particularly parents and healthcare workers that certainly do not need to be told to find someone else to help.  That is built into their home life or career. But for those not in that category I share with you that which has been my most useful tool in handling this time. Find at least one person, or more if you are so inclined, and help them.  Talk with them, comfort them, show them love and support.  Besides having that rewarding feeling that you made a difference in someone’s life by making their day and for all you know, many of their days better, focusing on someone else does something critically important.  It stops you from fixating on yourself and your own problems.  In a time when many of the things we need to do to fix our problems we are unable to do because of these unforeseen circumstances, if we spend too much of the day focused on that, we are not helping anyone, least of all ourselves.  But by finding someone who needs your help, be it practically or emotionally, we have done something to help. A LOT.

Whenever things are bad, personally or collectively, it is human nature to look for someone to blame. I would offer that in a time like this, pointing fingers is a misuse of your energy.  Use your energy to keep busy, work on having a positive outlook and contribute in any way you can to help.  And if you yourself feel you need help, reach out to someone for support.  If you can’t find anyone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to listen.  If you can’t find me online you can email me at hollandsheroes80@gmail.com.

Good luck and stay strong.

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Acknowledging those who are helping during the crisis (videos included)

The notion that there are many famous celebrities and organizations helping during the Coronavirus pandemic is not just an inspirational one, it’s an accurate one.  There are many stories of people giving significant amounts of money and support during this critical time.  This is not a contest. Each and every one who gives whatever they feel they can is a winner for doing so, and we thank you.  In this post I picked out 2 celebrities and 2 organizations that struck me as particularly noteworthy.

Rihanna

The very talented singer and actress has donated $5 million dollars to The Clara Lionel Foundation which she founded in 2012 to help support Coronavirus relief efforts.  In addition she has donated Personal Protective Equioment (PPE) to medics in New York state. Thank you to her, and indeed, Take a Bow.

 

 

Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees and his wife have donated $5 million dollars to the state of Louisiana to help in relief efforts to fight the Coronavirus.  In a statement Brees said the  following:

After “considerable research and conversations with local organizers,” this money will “be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana.”

Thanking them for their generosity. And if that wasn’t enough for you, enjoy this video and watch this incredible quarterback in action. Especially noteworthy are highlights 13,17, 18 & 19.

 

Anheuser-Busch

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I’m usually a Scotch or wine  guy, but after I saw the commercial telling me they were doing this, I almost wanted to go out and buy a beer. But since I am STAYING HOME. something we all need to do, I let the moment pass and decided to write about it instead.  Anheuser-Busch is redirecting all the money it uses on advertising for sports and entertainment to its non-profit partners for the Coronavirus relief effort.  In a statement, CEO Michael Doukeris said the following:

“COVID-19 has changed how we all live our lives, but it hasn’t changed Anheuser-Busch’s priorities and our commitments as an employer, a business partner and a corporate citizen. “While we can’t solve this crisis on our own, we are proud to do what we can to serve and support our communities in need and the heroes on the front lines, using our capabilities, our relationships, and our reach to do our part. We invite other companies to use their unique capabilities to join us in this effort, however they can, so that together we can make a difference.”

Thank guys. The next Bud’s for you.

 

The New York Giants

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Disclaimer: I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  That being said, I just love what the New York Giants are doing.  They are funding a program at the Meadowlands YMCA to provide free childcare for emergency response personnel for the next 10 weeks.  Thank you New York Giants. Here’s hoping you come in a strong second in your division next year.

 

Again I reiterate that there are many out there who are helping and that every bit of help should be appreciated.  If you have any stories you wish me to share please email me at hollandsheroes80@gmail.com.

Stay strong and stay home.

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We need to be better

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The human race is at a crossroads. This world of ours is a massive collection of energy. I would propose that we us use that to our advantage and make the energy we create a good energy.  None of us who will be here in the months and years ahead know what our lives will be like . These are so many things at this moment we can not control. But to whatever extent each and everyone one of us can take control of our thoughts and actions we must do so. In the loss of control so many of us are experiencing in this difficult time, an opportunity exists. The opportunity to use our inner powers to impact the world positively.  In previous days a message like this  might have been nothing more than melodramatic hyperbole, but with the current state of our world it is critical that we all take a step back and take this seriously.

There are those out there who will try to tell you that they know what God wants from you.  I am against that for 2 reasons.  First of all if an individual ever comes along who actually knows exactly what God demands of us, we will know with total certainty that such an individual is the real deal.  In the meantime, what about those who do not believe in God, or whose religious beliefs are different, or even more significantly diametrically opposed to yours? Do those people not count?  Are we going to work towards a better world only for those who think and believe like we do? To believe that and claim to believe in God at the same time just doesn’t add up.

No, this is not about service to God. This is about our service to each other.  You may be someone who believes in divinely controlled mystical forces that made the current crisis inevitable, or you may believe in a higher power that is allowing this to happen, but either way it always comes back to the same thing. We have to be better. Each and every one of us. That does not mean insulting or yelling at someone who has ideals you are convinced are wrong.  Nor does it mean sitting in judgment of the actions of others.  This means going into the deepest reaches of your heart and soul and using that power to make yourself better and provide strength and support for someone else.  Even one person is enough.  We live in a world where so many people have lost sight of the most important fundamental fact.  We are all human beings.  And if, as I do, you believe we are created by God, you must truly  believe we are all created in God’s image.

We all look to everyone else to make the world better.  I propose that we are looking too far.  We only need to look within ourselves.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Irving Buterman

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While People struggle, get sick or die, many still spend their time pointing fingers and fighting

Argue

Like every other normal person on the planet, I am saddened and concerned by the current state of affairs.  Also, like many others out there, I search for that silver lining.  It has been my hope that one of the things people would learn from this crisis is to look more at themselves and how they can become better, and less to how they can criticize others for what’s wrong in the world.  While I am sure there are many out there who are trying to do that, it is clear from what I see in the press and in social media that this is not happening on a large enough scale.

I will do my best to make my point without being overly political.  However, since most of the bickering and finger pointing is indeed rooted in political affiliation, it will be very difficult to make this point without going back to the source.  Sadly, it is clear that even in the most serious crisis that America has faced since WWII, a significant amount of people still put partisanship over country.  In tense times like these, politicians who need to work together but have different styles and philosophies are inevitably going to bang heads to some degree, but if you look to the back and forth between President Donald Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, you will see that it is possible to do so without either looking liking a petulant child.  Yet some are so hell bent on turning this into a juvenile pissing match that they even try to coax the 2 of them on, trying to lead them towards personal insults.  To their credit, it has not worked.

Other than taking the critical action of staying home, not everyone is in a position to help during this crisis. But almost anyone can make it worse.  If you get on social media and your contribution is to hurl insults in the direction of people that think differently than you do, then not only are you not helping, you are hurting.  Why?  Because if even one person is polluted by your focus on anger and bitterness over hope and personal development, you’ve contributed towards a societal deterioration we just can’t afford ever, least of all now.  It is human nature to lash out when you are frustrated or scared. I get it. I do it too. But times like these require a little extra self-control, a little extra focus on the all so important final outcome.  This should not be a time to yell because you need someone to blame, this should be about racking your brain to try to find a way to make at least one person’s life better.  If you can’t do that, then at least work on making yourself a better person.

Next time you decide to spend your time insulting other people, whether it be politicians or the average citizen, take a moment to think about whether or not you are helping anyone by doing so. Ask yourself if you want this to be your contribution to society during a time when society faces one of its greatest challenges ever.

And lastly, the time to litigate the performance of your leaders is not while they are working on saving lives.  I live in a hotspot for the Coronavirus. I live in a county in New York State that currently has more cases than every other state, not county, every other state in the country other than New Jersey. I make this point because my Governor is Andrew Cuomo, and my President is Donald Trump.  Two very different people and certainly two very different politicians.  But as an American and as a New Yorker, living through times that are life and death situations, my responsibility is to listen to and support my leaders.  Anything else is divisive, and divisiveness is a disease in itself that will not only not help save lives, it will take them.

So next time you look for people to yell at or blame, take a deep breath and try to make a different choice.  Choose to contribute positively. Call a friend or family member and ask them how they’re doing.  Make someone laugh or give someone encouragement.  Instead of publicly berating someone for what you feel they do wrong, try and find a way do at least one more thing right. Rather than be like everyone else and showing how much you dislike someone for how they think, be a difference maker. Come up with thoughts or ideas that help make people feel better and be better.  If you do that, ultimately you will not only do much more for the people you come in contact with, you will do more for yourself.

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Stories of Hope & Recovery in the age of COVID-19

Grondona

Italica Grondona

With the global spread of the Coronavirus it is very easy for all of us to follow all the bad things happening all over the world. In this post I want to share a few of the happy stories.  Although I totally understand and agree with the respect we need to give to those who have lost their lives as a result of this Pandemic, I think there are enough positive outcomes that those need to be shared as well. With the majority of the people actually recovering from COVID-19, I dedicate this post to the focus on 3 specific cases. Well 3 ½ actually.  The ½ being a little more personal.

Eli Beer-46

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Eli Beer

Miami resident Eli Beer is the Director of United Hatzalah, volunteer emergency medical organization.  He was hospitalized with COVID-19 on March 18th.  On Friday, March 20th he was put on a ventilator.  Here is part of the statement issued by his family as of yesterday.

“As you may be aware, Eli was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of last week. He was put on a ventilator last Friday evening. Eli is showing signs of improvement. His vital signs continue to get stronger and the level of fluid in his lungs is decreasing. If Eli continues to improve they will start the process of waking him slowly in the coming days.”

Here’s hoping and praying his health continue to progress in the right direction.

 

Lawrence Garbuz-50

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Lawrence Garbuz

Having the unfortunate distinction as being the first American to contract the COVID-19 virus, Lawrence Garbuz of New Rochelle went into the hospital on March 9th.  On March 11th he was put into a medically-induced coma. On March 18th,  his wife Adina posted that Lawrence was “awake and alert and seems to be on the road to full recovery.”

We wish him a full recovery as well and are happy to hear of his good news.

 

Italica Grondona

 

Leaving out Naples resident Italica Grondona was not an oversight.  Her amazing story has to do with her age.  Grondona is 102 years old. That is not a typo.  Italica Grondona, born in 1917 was alive during the time the Spanish flu as well. In the beginning of March she was admitted to the hospital with mild heart failure.  She subsequently tested positive for the Coronvirus.  Although the average age of those who were diagnosed and later died of COVID-19 in Italy is 78, Grondona has recovered from the virus, and on March 26th this remarkable woman was released from the hospital.

Hoping she keeps going on for quite some time and inspires us all.

 

Susie

About 10 minutes before I started writing this, I found out in a text from my friend Jeremy, that his wife Susie, who was in the hospital with pneumonia caused by the Coronavirus has been released and his resting comfortably at home.  She is doing well and all indications are that she is on the road to a full recovery.  May she continue on a good path and have a complete and speedy recovery.

 

It is so important, if we are going to spend our time following everything that is happening regarding the Coronavirus that we take the time to talk about the good news as well.  Although there is more bad news than any of us wants to hear, there is plenty of good news as well, and I will try my best to share it with all of you over the course of time.  If there are stories you wish me to share, please email me at hollandsheroes80@gmail.com.

Stay healthy and safe.

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