“Everything is hard,” “get your hopes up” and 6 other entrepreneurial tips for the new year

So many of us yearn to do what we truly love in a way that will “impact” the world in meaningful ways. On the one hand these yearnings lead to a sense of determination and fulfillment. But on the one hand, the raised expectations often lead to feelings of helplessness and fear (of failure, among other fears).

In other words, we live in a very emotionally trying time.

With all that being said, here are some rules I try to live by as I make it through my day-to-day life as an entrepreneur who is more on the sensitive and questioning side of the spectrum:

1. Doing things for free ain’t so bad

photo by william white
photo by william white

I started Things to do in Jerusalem around two-and-a-half years ago just because I saw the need for a resource with info about the cool events happening in Jerusalem. I’ve been running it for free ever since, with no business plan in sight.

TTDIJ is not the only thing I do for free. I blog, speak and run an unofficial service whereby people send me private messages asking me questions about culture in Jerusalem and I do my best to answer them.

Truthfully, I often feel like I fall short for lack of resources (the main resource being my un-paid time) but I love giving these services to people in the best way I can.

So, why do things for free? Well, simply put, if you love it, you should be doing it, simply for the love of the thing itself. This gives you important experience and the ability to develop yourself professionally and the byproduct is that you are slowly marketing yourself as the go-to person for that thing you love. At the very least this means you’re doing what you love and opening the option of developing that love into a career.

2. Get out there

photo by ricky rachman
photo by ricky rachman from the made in jlm happy hour

Another thing I try to do is get out there. You need to find what is best for you but for me it includes posting info about my professional life on Facebook and on my blog (apropos this post) and going to events that attract me (like the monthly Made in JLM happy hour). (I seldom meet people one-on-one for lack of time.)

I think it’s really important to approach your “networking” as just something nice you do, not something you’re doing in order to get things out of people. That way it can be enjoyable for you and the people you meet. And truthfully, by putting myself out there, I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of help from people with everything from emotional support to amazing gigs.

3. Give big decisions very serious thought

photo source
photo source

On the one hand it’s so important to keep doing things no matter what, but on the other hand it’s so important not to jump into things without giving them serious thought. Nati, my partner, and I, have decided against seemingly perfect opportunities after discussing them in depth. At the very least you should work hard to justify your business decisions using dry numbers in a spreadsheet, market research (and preferably experience) and serious contemplation about your ability to stand up against the (excruciatingly) hard work.

Of course you still might fail but at least you know that your decision is based on serious research and not just a “passion” or a gut feeling.

4. Everything is hard

photo source
photo source

Basically anything that’s worth anything takes some really, really hard work.

For some reason we live in a time when people grossly underestimate the amount of time, effort and thought that is required in almost anything. This fact causes so much frustration from under-charging to building up unrealistic expectations regarding deadlines and quality and quantity of work. It also means that people will almost never appreciate how much effort goes into your work.

For example, would you like to guess how long this blog post took me to write? Many hours plus way more thought.

I almost never work with people who say things like, “Just throw together a blog post…” because I know that our differing attitudes regarding the effort behind my work will almost definitely cause clashes between us.

5. Work on accepting who you are and what you’ve got

photo source
photo source

I’m pretty bad at this. I’m so used to focusing on my weaknesses and the walls in front of me, that I don’t often truly appreciate my talents, my hard work and the amazing things in my life. I’ve started playing with different exercises such as going into a meeting with the assumption that I am the best person for the job. It’s interesting and I need to continue working on this since it’ll make the whole process of building myself up way more enjoyable.

6. Surround yourself with good people

photo by yuval wirzberger
photo of (part of) the Team JLMvibe taken by yuval wirzberger at the datahack

I don’t know about you but I can’t work with just anyone. To a large extent, I need my partner and colleagues to be aligned with me morally and goals-wise. We need to get along really well and respect and trust each other basically fully.

That means that it’s a long process finding people to work with which is why I think it’s important to always have your eyes open for those good matches.

7. Put one step in front of the other

photo source
photo source

Keep going. If you continue to feel connected to that thing you initially loved, keep going. And going. And going. Keep thinking, keep researching, keep learning, keep working, keep developing yourself, do stuff that goes to waste, “pivot” when necessary, take breaks, get back up, continue on. And on. And on. The painful thing is that we can’t know what is going to lead us where, we can only try to do what we believe in, continue growing, and wait and see where we end up.

8. Get your hopes up

photo source
photo source

When we used to say to my Bubby, “Don’t get your hopes up!” she’d say, “I hate when people say that to me. Of course I’m going to get my hopes up. What have I got, if not hope?”

So that’s my last tip for January 1, 2017: Get your hopes up. Let yourself get dragged into those projects that thrill you, that turn on your creative juices and make you lie in bed, sit on the toilet, take a shower and wash the dishes with your brain churning out ideas like a fiend. And dream and hope of what can be.

Wishing you all a happy, new, entrepreneurial year.

Why Men Don’t Shake My Hand

Watching the movie Suffragettes made me into a feminist. Of course I always believed in women having completely equal rights and security as men but I never gave it much thought. But watching that movie brought me to the horrifying understanding of the alternative, which isn’t a fantasy. It is how it was in the past, with women working for substantially lower wages, working harder, dying from diseases they developed from terrible work conditions, having no protection against rape by husbands, having no rights on their kids, etc. etc. Horrifying.

Since I saw that movie I’ve become much more sensitive and conscious of potentially being treated differently because I’m a woman. I currently live in a very male-dominated world – working in a coworking space where I’m often the only woman and a lot of my friends today are wonderful men.

And one thing I seem to notice is that many men shake hands with each other but not with me. Like, within the same 30 seconds two men might shake hands and then nod at me.

I don’t know how to feel about this. I have felt a little annoyed by it but I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing. Men and women are different and no matter what we do, I’m pretty sure there will always be that awkward tension between the two sexes (well, besides with gays which is a different story, of course) and although I do prefer to shake hands in most cases, there is something nice about having that little bit of distance.

At the same time, it’s just a hand shake. If the person is religious then that’s completely different but there are many non-religious (or at least not outwardly religious) men who have that extra distance and that is a little strange to me.

What do you think about it?

Photo source

Do I Have a Mental Illness?

In my last post I mentioned the term “mental illness” and it’s been making me uncomfortable since the moment I typed it down.

Mental illness. Am I “mentally ill”? That sounds so terrible. I imagine myself not as the girl sitting in my work hub at 9:30 on a Sunday morning shmoozing with my colleagues, listening to a new playlist from a friend and checking my Facebook, but someone who does strange things, can’t easily communicate with others and can barely scrape by because their mental illness prevents them from functioning normally.


I need to ask my shiny new psychiatrist what she diagnosed me with but I’d think it’s some kind of generalized anxiety disorder or minor to moderate depression but even so I asked my social worker friend if what I have, whatever it is exactly, is a mental illness. She wrote:

Good question. I think whatever is in the DSM is considered a mental illness but there is a spectrum and anxiety is on the lower side, not as severe. Actually there are 2 axis and this is on axis 1 which is less severe.

The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For example, Jerusalem syndrome, “the mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem” is in there.

jerusalem syndrome wikimediaHmmm… Is Jerusalem syndrome axis 1 or 2, I wonder…

Anyway, I have two connected issues with using the term mental illness in regards to myself. First, yes, I suffer and it’s painful what I go through. But I don’t think I compare to people who have full-fledged depression or other mental illnesses which render them heart-breakingly low functioning. So when I use that term, I feel like I’m misrepresenting all those people who are struggling and suffering in more intense ways than I am.

Second, yes, I’m worried about the stigma. Even if technically generalized anxiety disorder (yeah, I’m diagnosing myself until my next appointment with my doctor), is in the DSM, I’m fully functioning and I have a lot of happy, productive times.

There’s another issue I have which is that the moment I write something down, it partially stops being true. It’s like how when we go to the doctor we suddenly don’t have the symptom anymore? Same but with my writing. They say writing is therapeutic but it can’t be that it’s curing me, can it?

No, I don’t think it is, but at the same time, I feel like a fake saying I’m suffering from any mental illness, even axis 1 ones which are less severe.

Point being, let’s take the terminology with a grain of salt, shall we? You’re welcome to weigh in on this if you have thoughts on it.


Photo source

To Share Or Not To Share

It’s been a hard last few months. My grandmother died on Hanukkah, in December 2015, and unlike my grandmother who was sure she knew where we go when we die, I don’t know. And not knowing what has happened to her, where she is now, has made it very hard for me to acclimate to her being gone.

That and a few other things I’m dealing with have all taken their toll on me with the current culmination being anxiety attacks which I’ve been suffering from periodically for a few months now.

The attacks mainly happen when I’m with my loved ones. The first one was with my parents and little sister when I had them over for dinner. I sat there having a lovely time and then I just couldn’t shake the fact that this is all so fleeting. And then I started feeling like I was going outside of myself, hearing myself and seeing the scene from the outside. And I got very scared.

Until that point I’d never experienced anxiety like that. I’ve performed in front of audiences and felt so terrified that my foot was shaking too much to press the piano pedals. I’ve felt depressed and left Israel and moved to Vancouver, a place I’d never been, adding that to the list of scariest things I’ve ever done. I’ve taken exams which were too hard for me and organized events which made me feel very vulnerable. Once when feeling very connected to the man I was dating, I cried from deep sadness over the fact that one day I’d have to be parted from him.

But the feelings I had that evening were of a different caliber and one of my first thoughts was: Give me a pill for this. NOW. (Something I’ve since done – maybe more on that later.)

“So that’s the difference between being really stressed and an actual anxiety attack,” I’ve said many times since then when trying to describe to people what a terrible thing this is, realizing I had no idea (and still don’t) what others are going through when they suffer from any kind of anxiety, depression or other mental illness.

An anxiety attack is a whole other ball game. Not to mention the terrible fact that it is a game-changer, potentially affecting my decisions, inhibiting me and making me fearful to go out into the world and do what I want to do.

And to think of all the people suffering in this and other ways…

I’ve since had a few other attacks, almost always while with loved ones. I think we all need that thing that comforts us in this world – religion, spirituality, faith, or something of the sort – and since I don’t really have that, I start getting overwhelmed when with the people I love and find that I needed to remove myself from the situation in order to calm down.

The thing is that although the attacks are new, the underlying thoughts and feelings are not. As a child I remember lying in bed and being hit by the illogical nature of the vast universe. My inability to process the information sent a surge of fear pulsing through my body and I needed to force myself to think of something else. When relatives would die, I didn’t understand how people could just continue on like this was OK. (My aunt recently told me she thought all humans should go on strike. Stop everything and say to the Heavens, “We are not continuing on until You explain to us what this is all about.”)

While teachers taught us about math and literature and Torah, I didn’t understand why any of it mattered and how people could so often act as though they understood anything about anything.

And it has all always boiled down to the most basic of questions:

Does any of this matter? Does any of this make sense?

Not that I really want you to know any of this…

I think one of the reasons I have barely written anything personal over the last few years is because on the one hand what can I write if not the really personal stuff? But on the other hand, there are repercussions to sharing such personal experiences.

And so, if you don’t mind, I’d like to outline the main reasons I hesitate talking about my emotional issues, dark thoughts and ensuing medical care and the reasons I just might do it anyway (oh, I think I’m doing it already).

Maybe see this sort of as our contract for me to write about these personal topics and for you to read them with care.

Why I don’t want to share this with you

First, I feel badly talking about disturbing facts about reality (the aforementioned death and suffering among others) because if you aren’t thinking about them then why bring them up? It’ll only upset you.

Second, the amount and complexity of thoughts and feelings going on in my (well, our) head is way more than is possible to really process and get down on paper and so writing or talking always falls short of reality.

Third, there is the worrisome issue of what people will think. This makes me feel vulnerable.

Fourth, sometimes it’s good to talk about these things and sometimes it’s too much. Some of the good people who will read my pieces will want to talk about it. Though touching, this can be very draining and I may not always be up to it.

Fifth, I don’t want sympathy or advice and, again, I know that some well-meaning people might try to give those to me.

Sixth, I hope this doesn’t negatively impact my professional life. I am building up a business and although I think people shouldn’t have to be perfect in the professional sphere, just like we shouldn’t have to be perfect in the personal one, still, I wouldn’t want my openness to affect people’s perceptions of me on a professional level. And on a personal level? Well, it does impacts me and for some reason I’m OK with that right now.

Why I might share this with you anyway

And yet with all those concerns voiced, I still really do want to write about this. I believe it’s a good thing to do and here are some reasons why:

First, for years I’ve been watching videos and reading articles about the taboo of mental illness and how detrimental that is to those who suffer from it and so really I want to jump at the opportunity to help break the taboo, now that I have the chance.

Second, others who are suffering might feel more understood and less alone if they can relate to what I write.

Third, I hate when people idealize other people’s lives. I am prone to that too and it drives me crazy how often we wistfully gaze at others and wish our lives could be more like theirs. I love the idea of bursting people’s (mine and others’) bubbles.

And fourth, I believe that the source of my anxiety – namely, ongoing dark thoughts about the world – are the most important difficult truths about our existence, so how could we not talk about them? That’s ludicrous.

So, will I do it?


For a few weeks I have been yearning to tell you about my crazy experience when I had an anxiety attack on a train ride from Amsterdam to Berlin a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I’ll finish working on it now and publish it. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

One final thing

I’m still the Deena you know (and love:).

It’s not that I walk around with no sense of meaning or purpose. On the contrary. I am often very excited about the work I do. I love the people in my life who enrich my world in the most beautiful ways. I get passionate and I get into a flow which can make my days go quickly in the most exciting sense.

But there is also this added dimension which is a big struggle. It is a major part of what defines the way I see things and the choices I make. It may not be all of who I am, but it definitely is a part of me.

9 Philosophies from an Entrepreneur in the Wind

Entrepreneurship is very important to me. It is this lifestyle that opens up the opportunity for me to develop the ideas I have, work with the people I want to and influence the things that really matter to me.

But it’s also a very difficult lifestyle. I am often trying to figure out not only how to put one foot in front of the other, but which direction to put that foot in. I am forever competing with self doubt in a lifestyle that demands constant decision-making, a balance between ideas and practicality and, of course, all this with the infamous uncertain and unknown future staring right back at me.

I’d like to share some of the philosophies that, when actually practiced, give me the strength to get through the day-to-day life as the woman roaming the streets of Jerusalem, consciously (and self-consciously) offering narrowly-defined services, dreaming of an innovative business with a colleague and almost always juggling too many things at once.

I hope you find this list useful.

Sometimes we're playing and only five people are listening and that's OK. (The Marakia on Koresh St. Tuesday jazz nights)

1. The impostor syndrome isn’t only bad (most things aren’t only bad)

Many of us are walking around life sure we’re about to be found out as the frauds that we are. We feel like we don’t know enough and we aren’t professional enough and we marvel at the fact that people take us seriously at all.

But recently I saw a new way to look at the impostor syndrome which made me realize the upside of this painful phenomenon. Namely, that if we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, it is a sign that we’re pushing our limits and trying new things. So, maybe we’re feeling like a newbie because we really are always learning and trying new things, which is a good thing!

Here is the animated gif which I love that inspired this thought:

I have no idea what I'm doing (Source)
I have no idea what I’m doing (Source)

2. Be really forgiving of people

While working on building up my own thing, there is little space for pettiness. It’s a world of imperfect people and being suspicious or feeling resentment towards them for making mistakes or being inconsiderate, dooms me to a life of tab-keeping. It takes too much energy and people really aren’t usually that bad.

Of course that doesn’t mean we’re never going to get upset and that there aren’t times when it’s important to get upset. But I often experience first hand the benefits of letting things slide and moving on.

Dance like everyone/nobody is looking (the Boogie)
The Boogie

3. Keeping self-absorption to a minimum

Working for myself, being my own manager and having to make decisions constantly, are all things which bring up a lot of feelings about myself. I am so aware of the responsibility I hold all on my own that my successes and my mistakes hit home very hard.

And I find it best not to dwell.

I love how my latest blog post came out? Yay! Next. I made a big mistake with my taxes last year? Oy veis mir! Learnt my lesson big-time. Moving on. I think I came off sounding a little stupid in that meeting? Ugh. Anyway… That excellent piece my colleague wrote was based on my idea? Clearly I do know what I’m doing! Woo hoo! MOVING THE FUCK ON.

Because, like in #2, we could spend our entire lives keeping tabs, trying unsuccessfully to figure out if we’re the bee’s knees or impostors indeed, and that’s a waste of a lot of perfectly good energy.

The First Station, Jerusalem
The First Station

4. Be happy for (and learn from) others

I grew up being taught to “fargin”  people their achievements and successes. Only in my adulthood did I find out that fargin is a Yiddish word, not an English one (and it is also a popular Hebrew word – לפרגן). It means to be generous of spirit and to feel truly joyful for people and their accomplishments and good fortune.

For some reason it scares me when others do good work, as though it is a sign that I missed my own boat of success. But I’m aware of the fact that this is a narrow-minded view of the world and so I think it’s good practice to show support to people in their work and celebrate their successes with them. And, of course, we can always use their successes as learning opportunities for ourselves.

2015-02-16 20.45.20 good

5. Always on the lookout for excellent people

Work relationships are intense and important and one of the benefits of independence is having more control over who we work with. Namely, I want to be with professional, kind and idealistic people who I truly respect, trust, enjoy, admire and can relate to.

This might sound like a lot to ask for and sometimes I feel like my pickiness might hold me back, but I also realize that this is of utmost importance to me. And when I do meet people who fit my criteria, it is often exhilarating and with (relative) confidence we can move forward together.

2015-02-04 14.35.42

6. Doing things I enjoy

Sometimes I could spend an entire week trudging through annoying work. But this isn’t the reason I’m where I’m at and at those times, I like to ask myself, “What could I choose to do with my time right now that I’d enjoy?” and I try to do that work instead.

When we stop for a moment and make sure to spend time on things we enjoy, that means we can still be productive but also create something which wants to be created and and it will inspire us to continue on.

Hummus Abu-Yoyo
Hummus Abu-Yoyo

7. My support network only goes so far

I have a wonderful support network of colleagues, friends and family. I rely on these people often and often heavily, but I have understood over time that the buck stops somewhere. In every situation, at some point we must stop talking, take control, believe in our abilities to make good decisions and move on.

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus

8. Finding inspiration

As many people close to me know, I am in a near-constant state of asking “Why?” Why am I doing what I’m doing? Does it even matter? What does anything matter? Is this where I want to be putting my time? How do I make that decision?

To say the least, this is a strenuous place to be and I’m always looking for ways to either answer the questions, quiet the questions or give a constructive place for them. This is very personal and each person needs to find their own sources of strength and inspiration but here are a few ways in which I inspire myself:

a. I remind myself why I do what I do by going to the events I help advertise and by meeting the people behind them. Because when I sit at a dance festival in the outdoor market of Jerusalem and am moved to tears by the performances, or when I talk to the couple behind the new pop-up exhibitions in Jerusalem, I get a peek into the reasons behind my work.

b. I listen to talks and read pieces which touch upon the philosophical and psychological issues I deal with. For example, Krista Tippett’s interviews on “On Being” with deep thinkers from around the world (like this one with David Steindl-Rast where they talk about what gratitude really is) give me the opportunity to find insight into the issues that often sit in my subconscious and not feel alone with my questions.

c. I talk to people who either can relate to my internal process helping me understand and appreciate them more or can offer me different perspectives on them, helping me evolve over time. For example, it is one particular friend who has helped me respect my questioning and understand how it contributes to the work I do, taking mine and my colleague’s ideas to deeper, more innovative places.

d. I remind myself that this is not the last dance but instead just one movement in the composition of my life. Everything has worked up to this point and is continuing to work up to some future unknown point.

Independence Park, downtown Jerusalem
Independence Park

9. My personality isn’t a hindrance

Sometimes I get upset at myself, for certain personality traits I possess, and I think that they hold me back. For example, my constant questioning of “Why?” mentioned in #8 has often infuriated me since it makes me lack the carefree spirit which I have idealized in other entrepreneurs as their way to move forwards without always looking back or thinking too much.

But I am reminded, also via the tools I mentioned in #8, that who I am is the reason I do what I do, not the thing that gets in the way. For example, my sensitivity and awareness towards others, though tiring and intense, often allow me to connect with people in wonderful and inspiring ways.

I think that when we’re upset about certain things about ourselves, it’s a good idea to stop for a moment to ask ourselves how these traits might also contribute towards our goals, hopes and dreams, not only holding us back. Because the more we respect who we are, the more we can tap into our unique selves and create our own unique work.

2015-05-10 11.21.33
The Israel Museum

How about you?

If I had written this list a few months ago, it would probably look different. It’ll probably look different in a few months from now too since the things I’m dealing with change and I’m always looking for new ways to deal with the challenges and continue to grow. What helps you stay strong, persevere and carry on?

Curious what I do? Join Things to do in Jerusalem to get a taste.

Flawed Memories

Image: My Bubby and me, August 8, 2013

There’s nothing romantic about death.

You say goodbye to someone you love, or someone you’ve known or someone you didn’t know so well or someone you wish you’d known better, or someone you liked a little or liked a lot or really didn’t like very much at all. And when there is no life left in their body, when, in an instant, it becomes a temporary mass of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, you are slapped with the reality that our bodies are only vessels and that’s one thing that is completely clear.

And where does the person go? Where is she now? Moments after her death? Days, years, centuries afterwards? Some have no idea, some have theories, others think they know.

I woke up 20 minutes after my grandmother died. It’s one of the things I’m struggling with, as though I should have been awake, even if I was thousands of miles away. Either my soul should have sensed it or I should have been told she was leaving so I could cry about it while she was still here. I am laden with guilt following my grandmother’s death, almost as though it is a way to hold on to something, instead of letting her become simply a memory. She is a weight on my shoulders, as though that will give me some control, an occupation, as though, if I feel guilty enough, maybe she’ll come back to let me finish the job of good granddaughter.

But I keep thinking about how Bubby herself dealt with death. The death of her beloved parents. The death of her beloved husband and her best friend in one year. The death of her second beloved husband. The death of her son in law which left her daughter a widow, just one month after she had become one for the second time. The death of other close friends and relatives…

And I think that that thing that takes me fully into a task, into a moment, the great joy I feel in my accomplishments, my laughs with good friends, my good times with my family… That thing which makes me revel in life and my heart burst with love… I can feel it moving me onto this next stage in my life and I think it is what kept my Bubby moving on, time and again.

The one time I heard my Bubby curse was the day I called to tell her I don’t keep Shabbat. I didn’t want to lie to her about my shabbatot in Vancouver and so I told her that I drive to synagogue on Shabbat and she got so angry at me. She said, “That’s bullshit!” and then she asked me to write her a letter explaining my choice.

And then we continued on in our relationship. She took immense pride in her personal, authentic relationships with her grandchildren and I took immense pride in my part in that.

And with all the realness, she cherished me. I was a far from perfect granddaughter but she just loved me.

It often felt as though Bubby possessed some kind of deeper understanding of the world than I do. Her “simple faith,” something I observed with awe, respect and envy from the other side of the chasm, gave her an aura of romance and beauty that made her very attractive.

And I think that her “simple faith” was one of the things that kept her consistently determined to put one step in front of the other with a smile.

Bubby wasn’t always easy. I think most of us who were close to her had many times that we felt frustrated with her. But I’m not upset with her today because those memories fall away and I just recall her love for us, her beauty, her constant singing, her great pride and her contagious enthusiasm. I suppose, if she’s also thinking about me, she will be thinking of the good, which is what she always did. She’ll be remembering our conversations, going out shopping together, eating together, praying on the High Holidays together… And she’ll be feeling great pride for the person I am, as she always did.

It’s hard to let go of the guilt. There is no one to blame my shortcomings on but myself. There is no one to apologize to. And I don’t want to kid myself into thinking I would have been different given a second chance. Saying that would mean disregarding the complexity of what was and the reasons behind how I am.

Life is a great balancing act and it’s full of stumbles, falls, scraped knees and scraped hearts.

But it’s also full of getting back up, of hugs and kisses and singing together and holding hands and laughing and reveling in life’s experiences together, and I’d like to think that if I were to say, “Bubby, I’m sorry for the times I got upset at you. I’m sorry for not calling more often during the last year of your life,” she might say, “I don’t remember you getting upset at me. And that last year was hard on us all. But Deena, why are you thinking about that? Don’t you remember all the times we laughed together? And you looked hysterical in those curlers. And you’re the best.”

The symbolic act of a walk

Today my Uncle Avrum got up from shiva, the seven day mourning period when the immediate relatives of the deceased sit on low chairs as friends, family and acquaintances pay respects. As his shiva came to an end, we stood by him and gave him our condolences for the passing of his mother, my grandmother. He then stood up, put on his outdoor shoes, put on his jacket and went for a walk around the block by himself.

Avrum’s first reventuring out into the world seemed almost like a rebirth as a new person into an altered world. He has spent the last week embraced by those who love him and now he’s begun his reintegration into the world.

On the one hand it is so sad to see my uncle take his first steps. On the other hand, the post-shiva walk symbolizes the inner strength of the individual, especially the strength of which we are unaware.

I know those steps were only the first of many which will sometimes feel heavy, sometimes empty and sometimes full of potential. When Avrum came back, I gave him a hug and we all sat back down with our loved ones to have breakfast and to talk. Because thankfully he the cocoon of the home and family will continue to be there, waiting for his return.

חזק ואמץ.

What we’re really thinking when given a rushed timeline

This amazing Dilbert piece by Scott Adams describes excellently what is really going on in many of our heads (or at least mine) when forced to pretend that tight deadlines make any sense.

the ridiculousness of deadlines september 2015

To be clear, I’m yet to come across a tight deadline that worked. Rush-rush stressy projects are usually only a rush until the client suddenly comes across a decision they need time to sit and think about. Because guess what. In life things come up that we need to sit and think about. To not foresee that is humorous. At that point obviously the rush-rush attitude goes out the window because the client prefers to make the decision carefully. After that either the rushing is again expected or there is a new understanding that things will happen at a more natural speed.

The dude sitting there with his cup of coffee is also making a pretty important yet seemingly unknown fact. That most of the work we’re doing is not a matter of life and death. For most of us, although it feels like it matters, those extra few weeks (or months in many cases), like in this cartoon, are not only fine, but often they’re actually good in the long run.

From one Jewish wanderer to another…

I can relate to finding a way to live in relative peace and comfort with a certain personally-defined lifestyle/outlook. But in my opinion and experience these are relatively short-lived (the same way the externally defined lifestyle+belief system is not sustainable). I think that’s first and foremost because they don’t successfully address the most important unanswered existential questions and issues, which at a certain point makes the lifestyle/system feel arbitrary and forced, even if was initially, supposedly, to a large extent self-defined.

What separates the optimists from the pessimists

I just read an article on inc.com that advises entrepreneurs to assume there are solutions to their problems. To me that was a revelation and it got me thinking.

My theory is that we can easily categorize ourselves as pessimists or optimists by answering one question:

When you have a problem, do you assume there is a (good, doable) solution?

Really now. Be honest, with yourself, at least.

Of course pessimists assume there are no solutions and they are surprised and skeptical when solutions arise, often wondering if the solutions presented are really any good or if everything’s going to go to hell again momentarily.

Optimists, on the other hand, assume there are solutions and usually, instead of fretting over a problem, will naturally just start looking for the/a proper solution (whether or not you believe there is more than one solution connects to your belief in fate).

Often pessimists think they aren’t pessimistic but, in fact, realists. They think they see reality in the most objective way possible and that optimists walk around with pink-pigmented glasses. And since no one can prove one way or the other, both pessimists and optimists continue to exist. Each group continues on with their beliefs – pessimists thinking about how much the world sucks and optimists probably not thinking about this topic much at all.

Because my next theory is that optimists are much better doers. Pessimists are the philosophers because they’re too depressed to actually do anything.

Which one are you? Which one am I?