23 posts categorized "Character development"

Climbin' Those Marble Steps

Up them steps
When I was a little boy in inner-city Washington, DC, we lived in a small apartment on top of my father's grocery store in inner-city DC, on Independence Avenue SE, twelve blocks from the Capital. We had a really nice Afro-American mailman who used to deliver the mail to us every day. I don't remember his name, but he had the warmest smile you could ever imagine. I loved to greet him and talk to him. He would pinch my then-chubby cheeks and say, "Child, I ain't gonna be totin' mail all my life down here in inna-city. I'm gonna climb them marble steps, like the ones at the White House. Shucks, someday, I'm gonna be rich. Maybe I'll even buy the White House. Meantime, I keep on dreamin' and I keep on truckin'!"

I'll never forget those words of wisdom. You keep on dreaming and in the meanwhile, you keep on plugging away. Every major accomplishment begins with climbing the first one of those marble steps. Let's get going!

Yes, You Can

Yes I Can
Look at the determination in Igor's eyes. All he's focused on is the finish line. Sure, Igor is an amputee who lost a leg from the knee down, but it would be completely inaccurate to call him a handicapped athlete even though he represents his country in the Paralympic Games. He's a champion in every sense of the word. After the accident that cost him his leg, he had to learn to walk with a crutch. Then, he learned to walk with a prosthesis. Afterwards, he learned to run with a prosthesis; and man, can he ever run!

What's Igor's secret? He used three simple steps that I'm going to teach you, so that you can accomplish anything you want to do, whether it's losing 50 pounds or learning a tractate of Talmud by heart. If Igor could do what he did, then you can too!

Therefore, you owe it to yourself to learn the Three Simple Steps to Success, which I teach you in my feature article this week on Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rav Shalom Arush -  The Power of Speech

Rav Nissan Dovid Kivak - Surviving the Tough Times

Dr. Zev Ballen - The Halo Effect

Racheli Reckles - A State of Unknown

Yehudit Channen - Better, Not Bitter

David Perlow - Your Child or Theirs 

Dovber Halevi - The Gory Gambler

Special for Jewish Music lovers - Shamil

Our prayers for your success and blessings for a wonderful new week!


The Garden of Gehinnom


Just look at this disgusting picture. 


How delicious does that disgusting double burger with all the toppings and fries look?? 

After Shabbat David and I managed to get my tired and his lazy behind(s?) out of the house! Miracles! We went to the new mall in Bet Shemesh, which is the closest thing to America that we got. It's got at least 7 restaurants, a bowling alley, a supermarket, and an overpriced toy store. I gotta say that it's a very nice mall, and all of the restaurants have beautiful outside seating available. 

Anyhow, our date was terrible. I mean, we didn't fight or anything. But I had to sit there and watch him enjoy slopping up this juicy, medium rare American style burger with a real bun and real fries. These are not things to be taken for granted in Israel. They're actual novelties.

I could have eaten just the hamburgers by themselves, but that would have been no fun. And besides, I hate eating late at night. Then my stomach stays bloated throughout the next day and I can't stand it. I hate doing Zumba on a bloated stomach. It's so unladylike. 

Now I've been on plenty of bad dates in my life, and most of them happened to be with my husband, but this date takes the cake. In one word, it was gehinnom. After watching him take two bites, I turned around to face the other direction and ignored him until he was done. What? You think I should have been happy for him? What's wrong with you??

So I'm writing this post for two reasons. First, to throw David under the bus, which you know I love to do. And second, to tell you about my latest article that you must read. MUST!! 

It's called The Garden of Gehinnom, and it's my sequel to Rav Arush's marital guide for men, The Garden of Peace. 

My article gives men a clear understanding of what is expected of them in a marriage, and clearly shows them how they may be making their wives' lives gehinnom even without realizing it. It's going to make me super popular with the ladies and super unpopular with the mens. Yeah, I said mens. You got a problem with that?


Oh, and don't miss my weekly post of insanity below! I'm sharing the latest developments in my fascinating and glamorous life!  


Pigeon Purgatory



Hate them.

This isn't my roof, but it's pretty darn close. Every morning and late afternoon, my balcony suffers from a pigeon infestation. We put a pool on the balcony, but even though it's covered, somehow the pigeons can tell that there's water there, so they fly over looking for some poolside fun. What do they want? Are they looking for me to walk outside with a tray of icy pina coladas and frozen grapes on a stick? Are they looking for a summer pigeon fling? The problem is that my balcony is high up, and it's not covered by another balcony. Supposedly pigeons like high places. So fly to the Azrieli Towers, you disgusting pigeons!! 

Here's what my days have turned into. I get up at about 6:30, and try to be as quiet as I can. Sleeping Beauty (David) must be woken up no earlier than 7:15. After tiptoeing to the bathroom and back, I open my closet door which has a mirror on the inside, and begin the 45-minute face cream/makeup/voodoo ritual. My bedroom window faces the balcony, so while applying my makeup and chanting curses on my enemies, I spot pigeons attempting to land on my pergola and pool. 

I immediately turn, run over to the window, and BANG! BANG! BANG! on it as hard as I can. You know, in order to scare away the pigeons. (And also to wake up my lazy princess of a husband.) I watch in evil glee as the pigeons scramble to fly away as I mutter curses in their direction. My glee is doubled (does that even make sense?) because out of the corner of my eye, I see my husband jump up out of his deep sleep, startled by the BANG! BANG! BANG! noise. I laugh my wicked laugh and go back to painting my eyebrows.

Then, as the sun is setting, the disgusting pigeons come lookin' for some front row seats so they can admire the gorgeous sunset from my balcony. One day I'll post a picture, G-d willing. As I'm feeding the kids dinner, I see the pigeons coming back, and I can't get over how stupid they are. Don't they remember how I traumatized them in the morning? Why can they remember to keep flying back to the same spot, but they can't remember the BANG! BANG! BANG!????

So in between serving my kids, I keep running over to the dining room window and bang away again, as I scream at them to "Get away from here, you disgusting pigeons!!" Okay, it really sounds like, "GET AWAY FROM HERE, YOU DISGUSSSSTTTTIINNNGGGG PIGEONS!!!" When I'm too far away, but I can still see the pigeons, I send one of my kids running to bang on the window. So far, thank G-d, I haven't broken any windows. Yet.

Of course, the problem isn't the pigeons. It's the DISGUSTING mess they leave behind, if you get my drift. I can't stand it!!! So for the past three summers, I've been dealing with this aggravation. And you can be sure I've been complaining a lot about it. A LOT. 

In the midst of my endless complaining, my inconsiderate husband decided to point out that there could be way worse problems to have than pigeon poop infesting every corner of your balcony that your kids use, and, oh yeah, the pool too, because that cover sometimes sinks into the pool so water ends up sitting on top of it. When the pigeons see this they go crazy like a bunch of wild beasts that just found a watering hole in the middle of the African savanna in the middle of July. Wait. It is the middle of July, right? OMG! I missed my dad's birthday! Better call him real quick and explain that I'm too preoccupied with murderous thoughts about pigeons to call him on his birthday.

Do you know that every single time I wanted to write the word pigeon, I started writing the word pie? Does that mean something? You know, subconsciously?

So the princess is right. The piegons (that's it, I'm fed up of correcting myself!) are just an aggravation. And an aggravation is much more preferable than a serious challenge. So, I'm telling all of you fellow piegon-haters out there, don't sweat the minor aggravations. Because when you think about it, wouldn't you prefer a minor aggravation to something more serious?

I have just one more thing to say: DIE, PIEGONS, DIE!! (I apologize to all animal rights activists for my incredibly insensitive feelings of rage and frustration toward helpless creatures.)

Alao, do you like this amazing "I can't believe it's gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free" chocolate swirl cheesecake that I made? It's OUTSTANDING!!



The Joys of Pesach Cleaning

IMG_20170327_193503363 (1)

Oh, joy. The fun. The excitement. The unbelievable horror when you discover something like this hiding between your kid's bed and the wall. I'm disgusted beyond belief. I thought I ran a pretty clean house. Boy was I wrong! Admittedly, I didn't think to move my kids' beds every week, as that's just not done. Right? 

How I actually found this mess is what I want to talk about. I was changing one of my kids' bedsheets, when I noticed a cup wedged between the bed and the wall. Assuming it was an empty cup used for water, I quickly grabbed it. As soon as I did, I suddenly screamed as I watched old, gooey, gross, sludgy chocolate milk fly out of the cup and spill all over the side of the bed and down the wall. I was soooooo mad!!! 

I started screaming for my kid, who was old enough to know better than to leave half a cup of chocolate milk by his bed. He was also old enough to know that I don't allow food in the bedrooms, either. Yes. My kids are great listeners. So he grudgingly made his way over, not even paying attention to what I was screaming at him. This bed is a bunk bed, and the floor tiles aren't perfectly lined up (shocker,) so the bed gets stuck along one of the tiles when I try to move it back.

But what could I do? I moved the bed over and lo and behold, another shock awaited me. The entire length of the bed was lined with the garbage that you see above. How in the world could this happen?? 

So here's what I came away with. 

First, Pesach cleaning is awesome. While it's not technically necessary to go through all of your stuff and decide what needs to stay and what should go, this is usually done by most people. I think it's great because it gives us a chance to clear out all of the clutter, both physically and spiritually. Clutter actually clogs the spiritual pipes of abundance, so getting rid of junk is a must. And, it should be done more than once a year.

Second, I finally understood the importance of challenges. This particular challenge was to see if I could keep my explosive Iraqi reaction in check and to realize that it was a challenge given to me by Hashem. I'm proud to say I failed with flying colors! But, here's the best part. Challenges are there to bring out our internal junk; to show us who we really are inside. While on the surface I may be perfect, inside I still have a lot of junk to work on. Hashem was showing me that clear as day. 

Third, this incident made me realize just how important personal prayer is. Only through personal prayer can we expose what we really need to work on. There is no better way in my opinion. If we don't do personal prayer every day, we run the risk of our pile of garbage getting larger by the second, right under our noses - except we can't see it happening. 

Who knew a little garbage could be so profound?

Have a great day!


Keep Moving Forward

Coconut rice & vegetables

Mmmm, mmmm! Doesn't that look just delicious? Here's another one of my friend Tena's healthy and delicious creations. It's coconut rice and mixed vegetables. I'm so frustrated that I can't eat it right now. Tena, will you please reconsider moving in with me? I'll even let you put my kids to bed and spend 1-on-5 quality time with them while I'm out enjoying my peace and quiet. At least think about it. 

If you want this recipe, email me at racheli@breslev.co.il and I'll send it to you!

What does this picture have to do with the title of this post? Well, nothing, really. I didn't want to put a picture of a guy on a moving walkway, and I'm hungry, so I thought I could at least enjoy looking at yummy food if I can't eat it right now. But now I realized that I actually made things worse for myself. Great, my stomach is grumbling.

So let's talk about this title. What does it mean to move forward in life? It means that you're evolving in your personality and abilities. For example: I was realizing lately that I have greatly improved my Zumba skills, to the point where I'm not tripping over myself and bumping into other people. Okay, so I'm not really bad at all, but I have seen a great improvement. My sister calls me the JLo of Beit Shemesh. I kinda like that! 

As it happens, I love to lift weights as well. I've gotten to be friendly with many of the women in the gym, but I've noticed over the past 8 months that many of them stay at the same level they were on when I joined. In 8 months, I've increased the amount of weights I'm lifting several times. It's very motivating to see myself getting stronger.

But I wonder why some of the others stay at the same level of weights. I actually told one woman that she could clearly lift heavier weights, but she refused to even try, saying it was too hard. 

Unfortunately, this is how many of us behave in life. Hashem is trying to push us to the next level, but how many times do we refuse to budge because we think it will be too hard? Fear of the unknown and fear of failure can be completely incapacitating, and can cause us to freeze in our forward progression in life.

That's why emuna is so key. When we learn to trust Hashem, to believe that we can handle the situations He's trying to put us in for our own personal growth, this is when we are able to move forward. 

What about when things aren't clear? When we're not sure if the direction we're being pushed in is actually what Hashem wants for us? The only way to know is to talk to Hashem about it. Tell Him you're confused and you need clarity, so you can make the right decision. 

We all have so much untapped potential hiding inside of us; things that we can do that we never imagined were possible. Do you not know what your hidden talents are? Do you want to develop the talents that you're already aware of? Then ask Hashem for help! 

I really believe that everyone has a certain gift that Hashem gave them. Whether it's art, music, helping others, cooking, being empathetic, etc., each one of you has a special and brilliant diamond inside that's just waiting to sparkle. Your potential is so much greater than what you're aware of. You just have to ask Hashem to help you reveal it.

Wishing you a wonderful and insightful Shabbat!


Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom!