Monday, June 5, 2017

Quote of the Week: God is Everywhere

"God is everywhere save in arrogance." -Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone

Monday, May 29, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 49: Wanna Be That Song


Day 49: Malchut in Malchut, Leadership in Leadership
Wanna Be That Song by Brett Eldridge


Wanna be those words that fill you up
Pull your windows down and keeps you young
Makes you believe you're right where you belong
I wanna be that song


If you didn't already know, Brett Eldridge is a huge Cubs fan, which only makes me love this song and the video more, but that's not the point today.

Today is the final day of the Omer! We made it! It is a good day for reflection, to look back on what we've learned over the past seven weeks. ​Each of these songs hopefully taught us something about ourselves and how we can make our interactions with the world more positive and fulfilling. Today, as we bring another period of the Omer to a close with leadership in leadership, let's all commit to living out some of those lessons. Be a song that makes someone else's day.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 48: Bright Side of the Road


Day 48: Yesod in Malchut, Connection in Leadership
Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison

And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye
Let's enjoy it while we can (let's enjoy it while we can)
Help me sing my song (help me sing my song)


Can you believe we're almost done counting the Omer? Time really does go by fast!

It took me 48 days, but I've finally worked some Van Morrison into the Omer. The lesson today is that the connections you make are important. Professionally, use your contacts to help you get ahead. Personally, reach out to your friends and family to help you celebrate the good times in life. Don't let time get away from you without making those connections and savoring those moments.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 47: The Times Are a-Changin'


Day 47: Hod in Malchut, Glory/Humility in Leadership
The Times Are a-Changin' by Bob Dylan

For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.


Being a leader is a source of great pride and glory, but also of humility. Leaders can have awesome decision-making power, but also great responsibility to act in the best interests of the people they lead. And, of course, as times change, leadership opportunities change.  So, if you're on top of the world today, it is humbling to remember that your time in charge is fleeting. For those who have not quite made it into leadership roles yet, keep working hard, so that you're ready to lead when your time comes.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 46: Freedom


Day 46: Netzach in Malchut, Endurance/Victory in Leadership
Freedom by Beyonce featuring Kendrick Lamar

I break chains all by myself
Won't let my freedom rot in hell
Hey! I'ma keep running
'Cause a winner don't quit on themselves


Don't quit when something is difficult.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 45: Yeled Shel Aba


Day 45: Tiferet in Malchut, Balance in Leadership
ילד של אבא by מוקי
Yeled Shel Aba (Father's Son) by Mooki


This Hebrew song is a written from a father to his son. In it, the father encourages his son to explore and grow without fear of failure, while also reassuring him that no matter what, he will always be there when needed. It is a lesson in balance in leadership - knowing when to provide guidance and when to step back.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 44: Hey Leonardo


Day 44: Gevurah in Malchut, Bravery in Leadership
Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me) by Blessid Union of Souls



The things that we're afraid of
are gonna show us what we're made of in the end


This song is full of dated pop culture references that 80s babies like me love, but between references to Robert Redford and pre-Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi, is this lyric with some actual enduring substance. Fear can hold us back, but when we face those fears, we prove what we can do and push our boundaries.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 43: Kindly Deeds


Day 43: Chesed in Malchut, Kindness in Leadership
Kindly Deeds Done for Free by The Simpsons' parody band, AD/BC

Kindly deeds
Done for free


Maimonides taught that there are 8 levels of tzedakah or charity:
8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than one should, but does so cheerfully.
6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. Donations when the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor still doesn't know the specific identity of the recipient.
3. Donations when the donor is aware to whom the charity is being given, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. Giving assistance in such a way that the giver and recipient are unknown to each other. Communal funds, administered by responsible people are also in this category.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them to find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

Giving on any level is a mitzvah, whether one gives grudgingly or less than one could, or one is in the position to provide steady employment or a small business start-up loan. The point is really to strive to do more, to give more, for those in need.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 42: Put Your Hearts Up


Day 42: Malchut in Yesod, Leadership in Connection
Put Your Hearts Up by Ariana Grande

If we put our heads together
we can do anything


As I count day 42 tonight, I am watching news reports of the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. I can think of no better way to honor the victims of this terrible attack than to dedicate this day to Grande's music. This is a song from her earlier days, back in 2011. In the wake of this attack, may we all come together and become leaders against hate and violence.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 41: Southern Comfort Zone


Day 41: Yesod in Yesod, Foundation in Connection
Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley

And I miss my Tennessee home
I can see the ways that I've grown
I can't see this world unless I go
Outside my Southern Comfort Zone...
...I have since become a drifter
And I just can't wait to pack
Cause I know the road I leave on
It will always bring me back


Home is comfortable because it's what we know and there is security in having a comfortable place to return to, but as Brad Paisley points out, it is also important to explore the unknown. It is through travel and exploration that we learn and grow and, while where you come from will inevitably affect the lens through which you view the world, getting out of our comfort zones can also give us a new understanding of ourselves and the places we call home.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 40: Hava Nagila


Day 40: Hod in Yesod, Glory in Connection
Hava Nagila

Hava nagila, hava nagila
Hava nagila ve-nismeha
Let us rejoice, let us rejoice
Let us rejoice and be glad


Hava Nagila began as a wordless Hasidic melody in Eastern Europe and was brought to Israel by early Zionist settlers. Lyrics based on Psalms were added in 1918 to celebrate the British army's defeat of the Turks. It has become a song of celebration and glory, connecting Jewish history across continents and over centuries, and is included in almost all joyous Jewish occasions.

When Marc and I were planning our wedding, our DJ had ten different recordings of this song for us to choose from for the chair dance. We chose the longest version that he had on file and after the terrifying exhilaration of being hoisted onto chairs, we danced the rest of the song in circles around the dance floor with all of our friends and family.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 39: With A Little Help From My Friends


Day 39: Netzach in Yesod, Endurance in Connection
With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles

I get by with a little help from my friends


Shabbat Shalom! Take time today to recognize the friends who help you get through a hectic work week.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 38: The Rainbow Connection


Day 38: Tiferet in Yesod, Beauty in Connection
The Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog

Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me


Cherry Blossoms
May got off to a bizarre start in DC. I'm not talking about the news, which is a topic for a different blog post, but the weather. The month started with a cold snap that felt more like March and then days of non-stop rain that would have been better suited to April. Now, the weather has finally caught up with the season here and DC, with its many colorful early-Spring blooms that give way to lush late-Spring greenery, is showing its true beauty. It amazes me every Spring just how green this whole region is. It's probably because of all that humidity that I spend the whole summer cursing.

Still, today I'm thinking about the weather as it relates to beauty in connection and I have to share a conversation I had last month with my mother-in-law. She lives in Chicago and, because of the science (or magic) of weather patterns, their weather often makes its way to us after a day or two. So, when DC had these gorgeous low-humidity 70-degree days in late April, I was talking to my mother-in-law about the house we were about to put a down payment on and a movie she had recently seen. During that conversation, I remarked about the great weather we'd been having and she replied that Chicago had been terrible; it had been in the 30s and 40s and rainy all week. "That's too bad!" I said, knowing that her weather would eventually get here, but still enjoying sunshine and a light breeze. Sure enough, after a couple of days, all that cold and rain came to DC. So, while I live 700 miles from my home city, I am still connected to it through my family and friends who still live there and through the weather (sometimes rainy, sometimes beautiful) that hits there and then here.

Constitution Gardens

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 37: New Romantics


Day 37: Gevurah in Yesod, Strength in Foundation
New Romantics by Taylor Swift

Cause, baby, I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me


What are you made of? Today, try to take the negativity and criticism thrown your way and turn it into something positive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 36: Go Cubs Go


Day 36: Chesed in Yesod, Loving-Kindness in Connection
Go Cubs Go by Steve Goodman


Go Cubs Go
Go Cubs Go
Hey Chicago, what d'you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today


When I was planning out this blog last year, the Cubs had not yet won the World Series and, while I begin every baseball season with sincere belief in my Cubbies, I couldn't bring myself to pre-write a blog post assuming that we would be World Series Champions. It had gone wrong too many times before. Instead, I assigned this song to chesed in netzach, love in victory, on day 22 and dreamed of the day when my undying love for the Cubs would be rewarded with the ultimate W.

And then they won! So I scrapped my blog post (well, I posted it early), chose a Frank Sinatra song for day 22 that better embodied love in endurance, and moved on. But tomorrow morning will mark four months since my grandpa passed away and he was the world's biggest Cubs fan, so today, in his memory, I give you Go Cubs Go for the 36th day of the Omer.


To understand how this song relates to loving-kindness in connection, you have to know a few things about my grandpa. First, he was married for 62 years, raised four daughters, and had ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; he built and was surrounded by a loving family. At 92 years old, he had lived through many things: the Depression, WWII, the discovery of Pluto, the invention of the microwave, and 91 straight years of World Series disappointments. But still, he watched every Cubs game without fail his whole life. My other grandpa used to swear that he couldn't die until the Cubs won the World Series, but he missed it by four years. So when my mom called on January 17, 2017, to tell me that my grandpa had died, it was no surprise that she added, "At least he got to see the Cubs win." At the wake, my grandma propped his Cubs hat next to him in the casket and she made sure that he was buried in the Cubs World Series shirt (worn under his suit) that my cousin Richie had bought him just a couple months before.

Go Cubs Go represents the love of family, celebrating victories with friends, and the eternal hope for a brighter future.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 35: Run the World


Day 35: Malchut in Hod, Leadership in Majesty
Run the World by Beyonce

Who run the world?
Girls

Queen Bey knows what's up.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 34: Birdhouse in Your Soul


Day 34: Yesod in Hod, Connection in Glory
Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
...
And while you're at it
Keep the nightlight on inside the
Birdhouse in your soul

This song is about a nightlight in the shape of a blue canary that watches over you while you sleep, protecting you from darkness. By "building a birdhouse in your soul" with a light of your own, you can carry that protection with you out into the world and let it shine for others.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 33: Maybe I'm Amazed


Day 33: Hod in Hod, Glory in Humility
Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney

Maybe I'm a man and maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Today is a good day to offer your knowledge and insights to help solve a problem or improve a situation. It is also a good day to admit that you don't know everything and ask for help when you need it.

Today is also Lag B'Omer. Light a bonfire and celebrate!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 32: Every Mile a Memory


Day 32: Netzach in Hod, Endurance in Humility
Every Mile a Memory by Dierks Bentley


Funny how no matter where I run
'Round every bend I only see
Just how far I haven't come

In many ways, I've come so far from the shy girl I was growing up in Chicago. When I tell stories today about how I used to leave sleepovers in the middle of the night with crippling anxiety, made excuses to avoid social events, and couldn't even manage day camp without feeling homesick, people don't believe me, but it's true. It took a lot of work for me to become an outgoing, semi-confident woman and I am proud of the strides I have made toward becoming the person I want to be, but today I recognize that there is still work to be done.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 31: What Makes You Beautiful


Day 31: Tiferet in Hod, Beauty in Humility
What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

You don't know, oh oh,
You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh,
That's what makes you beautiful.

You are beautiful. Just be yourself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 30: Parachute


Day 30: Gevurah in Hod, Strength/Bravery in Majesty/Humility
Parachute by Chris Stapleton

Falling feels like flying til you hit the ground
Say the word and I'll be there for you
Baby, I will be your parachute

I've never been sky diving and I don't have any intention of ever jumping out of a plane, but I imagine that first step would mimic hod, part exhilarating and part terrifying, a little majestic as you float toward earth and a little humbling to entrust your life to a piece of nylon on your back, especially as the earth beneath you looms larger the further you fall.

I think it's probably the same feeling you get whenever you embark on something that is both exciting and scary. Will you succeed or fail? Are the risks worth the reward? It takes a lot of bravery to try something new and we shouldn't let fear hold us back from a new challenge. Be smart about your next undertaking - pack a parachute, surround yourself with friends who will help you through it - but whether it is a majestic success or a humbling failure, the important thing is to try.

Back to Day 29 | Jump to Day 31

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 29: Always Love


Day 29: Chesed in Hod, Loving-Kindness in Humility
Always Love by Nada Surf

I never learned enough
To listen to the voice that told me
Always love; Hate will get you every time
Always love; Don't wait til the finish line


What lessons do you wish you had learned earlier in life? What advice do you wish you had heeded sooner?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 28: Arlington


Day 28: Malchut in Netzach, Leadership in Eternity
Arlington by Trace Adkins


Arlington Cemetery is one of the most humbling places in the United States. More than 300,000 veterans are buried there, as are Presidents Taft and Kennedy, 12 Supreme Court Justices, and 19 astronauts.


It is moving to see so many rows of small white headstones, each representing a leader, a hero, a person who dedicated his or her life to helping others.

Back to Day 27 | Jump to Day 29

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 27: Chelsea Dagger


Day 27: Yesod in Netzach, Connection in Victory
Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis


This is the song that the Chicago Blackhawks play when they score a goal and when they win a game. It is now irrevocably connected to victory for me, even though the Predators knocked them out of the playoffs this season.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 26: Israeli Caves


Day 26: Hod in Netzach, Splendor/Humility in Eternity
Israeli Caves by Maps & Atlases

When you look out on the Midwest plain
Do you realize the moon is still the same?
That rose above Israeli caves
The day the words you praised were written


There is splendor and also deep humility to be gained in recognizing the eternity that is all around us every day (and night). Plus, the little hipster kid in this video is adorable.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 25: All I Do Is Win


Day 25: Netzach in Netzach, Victory in Victory
All I Do Is Win by DJ Khaled

All I do is win, win, win, no matter what

This song speaks for itself. May you have the confidence today to try something new and succeed. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 24: The General


Day 24: Tiferet in Netzach, Compassion in Victory
The General by Dispatch

I have seen the other
and I have discovered
that this fight is not worth fighting
and I've seen their mothers
and I will no other
to follow me where I'm going
So take a shower and shine your shoes
You've got no time to lose
You are young men, you must be living
Go now, you are forgiven


Last year, on day 24, I chose Sisera's mother to represent tiferet in netzach. The image of her watching the road for her son's triumphant return, not knowing that he had been killed humanizes his death and continues to cause us to think about the costs of war. This song not only recognizes humanity in the enemy, but the loss of youth and innocence for our own troops as well. How can we show compassion for "the other" today and appreciation for our troops and veterans who give up so much to keep us safe?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 23: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots


Day 23: Gevurah in Netzach, Strength in Endurance
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips

Those evil-natured robots
They're programmed to destroy us
She's gotta be strong to fight them
So she's taking lots of vitamins


I know that early May is not the time for New Year's resolutions, but let's talk about them anyway, because like New Year's resolutions, counting the Omer is a time for self-reflection and improvement. The most common resolutions are about becoming healthier or more organized, taking on a new hobby or learning a new skill, and changing your spending/saving habits. Every January, people join a gym, create a reading list challenge for themselves, download a new money management app, and eventually let those things fall by the wayside as time goes by. Our habits and routines can be hard to change. There are things I've said I will commit to as I count the Omer this year, last year, and in years past, that I haven't stuck to. As long as some of those changes endure long-term, I'm happy and I will be a stronger person for it. Maybe next year I can get one more change to stick, and another the year after that, and, like Yoshimi's vitamins, the changes will build up over time to make me a stronger person.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 22: You Make Me Feel So Young


Day 22: Chesed in Netzach, Love in Eternity
You Make Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra

And even when I'm old and gray
I'm gonna feel the way I do, today
Because you make me feel so young

Love puts a little extra pep my step and, while I get older every year, love still gives me butterflies and makes me act goofy.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 21: Hatikvah


Day 21: Malchut in Tiferet, Leadership in Beauty
Hatikvah, Israeli National Anthem
Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day


In celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, I give you Israel's beautiful national anthem, Hatikvah ("the hope"). The song expresses the long-awaited hope for freedom. Yesterday was Yom Ha'Zikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, which always falls the day before their Independence Day. Together, these holidays remind us that freedom comes at a cost; we must stand up for ourselves to safeguard the beautiful lives we have built in freedom and to pass on a world of hope and possibility to the next generation.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 20: Compassion


Day 20: Yesod in Tiferet, Connection in Compassion
Compassion by Lucinda Williams

Have compassion for everyone you meet
Even if they don't want it
What seems conceit is always a sign
...
You do not know
What wars are going on
Down there where the spirit meets the bone

People need compassion in difficult times. Williams reminds us that, while you may expect gratitude for showing compassion to someone who is grieving or dealing with the impact of a horrible event, you might not get it. You may instead receive a cold response or seeming rejection of your sympathy, but part of having compassion is giving it without the need for reciprocation. We can't know what a person is struggling with that may keep them from "properly" responding to our comforting remarks, but that doesn't mean that our compassion goes unnoticed or that that connection won't be a source of strength for the person later when they are better able to process it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 19: Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive


Day 19: Hod in Tiferet, Glory in Balance
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene


You can't stop gloom and chaos, but you can minimize their effects by balancing them with joy and optimism. Name something positive that happened today and something you are looking forward to tomorrow.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 18: Big Yellow Taxi


Day 18: Netzach in Tiferet, Endurance in Beauty
Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

"I wrote 'Big Yellow Taxi' on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart . . . this blight on paradise." -Joni Mitchell on her inspiration for Big Yellow Taxi

On Tu B'Shevat, I wrote about Heschel's suggestion that the earth is not Mother Earth, but our sister, a sibling to humanity, both of us created by God. Today, Mitchell reminds us that we should not take nature's beauty for granted. The beauty around us will not endure without some help to maintain and protect it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 17: Try


Day 17: Tiferet in Tiferet, Beauty in Beauty
Try by Colbie Caillat

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don't you like you?
'Cause I like you

Caillat's Try is an anthem to our inner beauty, questioning the value our society places on outer beauty at the expense of who we really are. Don't hide yourself under makeup, she says; let your inner beauty shine and it will be reflected out to the world.