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Looking Back …

The Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover) has just finished and I was thinking about some of the lessons that I learnt over the festival to incorporate into a blog.

Without going into details of the festival, on the first two nights we read a book called the Haggadah that recalls the story of the Jewish nation from slavery in Egypt to ultimate freedom.

Post Pesach, I noticed a very relevant quote from Chief Rabbi Mirvis[1]that is applicable to all aspects of our lives “…during Pesach we look to our past in order to gain inspiration for our present and our future.”

I will try to link the 2 topics of looking back and freedom.

On the first night of Pesach, I normally like to do a bit of a speech. Normally I would give an insight on the festival, but this year I focussed on non-religious quotes on the topic of “freedom” that I had heard and read over the last year. I would like to share a few of these quotes that are applicable for business, life and fitness training.

One of the key ideas in this concept of freedom is that even with freedom you have some type of responsibility. Victor Frankl[2]says, “Human freedom is not a freedom from but freedom to[3]”.

Jocko Willink[4]is a retired Navy SEAL commander, bestselling author, and popular podcast host. The mantra that Willink instilled into his men was “Discipline equals freedom,” and it’s the idea that with structure and a strict dedication to it, one can act with more efficiency and find freedom.

Do you want more time for freedom? Be disciplined with time management.

Do you want to be healthy? Have the discipline to train and eat well.

Do you want financial freedom? Have the financial discipline to save and be prudent.

Do you want to free your mind? Have the discipline to read daily.

Dotsie Bausch[5]is an Olympic Cyclist who went from drug addict and bulimic to Olympic Champion. She only started cycling at 26, did road racing for a number of years, changed to track riding and won a track silver medal at the age of 39 at the London Olympic Games. She said , “There is freedom on the other Side”. She says that ‘There is always a way out, there is a pathway to have freedom from… there is freedom.

For the present to have any meaning or influence there must first be a background to help explain it and contrast changing circumstances and times.” – Rabbi Berel Wein

In an essay from Althea Mirvis, she asks “Surely ‘launch day’ should be called the ‘first’ day.”She continues to explain the inherent value of preparation and ends with an excellent quote “The journey to the destination is no less important than the destination itself”. Only if we look back at the preparation that we have put into a ‘mission,’ can we appreciate the success that we can achieve. As Rabbi Berel Wein[6]says “If you know how far you have come it is easier to imagine that you will successfully achieve your goal”.

We all need to accept that we have strengths and weaknesses and accept that at times we may need help, support, mentoring and [7]criticism. Rabbi Jonathon Sacks says that feelings of inadequacy, the imposter syndrome, can be bad news or good news depending on what you do with them. Do they lead you to depression and despair? Alternatively, do they lead you to work at your weaknesses and emerge successful? He ends with a brilliant quote “Our weaknesses make us human; wrestling with them makes us strong.”

Our Sages tell us that from here we learn that it is only when you know where you are coming from that you can know where you are going to.” – Chief Rabbi Mirvis

This week the State of Israel is celebrating 70 years since independence. It is unbelievable what a small country has achieved in this time in the fields of technology, agriculture, science and medicine. But like everything we need to look back at the loss of lives Israel has suffered during this period. During a commemoration service (Yom Hazicharon) in Melbourne, a survivor from the Israeli Defence Force was talking about his 2 ½ years of rehabilitation and made the following comment about his reflections of the incident and his recovery “… it gave me a whole new perspective on life: how we, as human beings, have the ability to change our reality, to dream and make a difference, to create a vision and see it through…

To end in the Chartered Accountant’s magazine, Acuity, Camille Woods[8]is asked why she chose to become an accountant? She answers, “I wanted freedom – freedom to work the way I wanted, the freedom to dream big with the support of a fullback”. She goes on to say that the funny thing about accounting is the further you run away from it, the more it strengthens its grip…

[1]https://chiefrabbi.org

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl

[3]http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/viktor-frankl/

[4]http://jockopodcast.com

[5]  http://dotsiebauschusa.com/index.html

[6]https://www.rabbiwein.com

[7]http://rabbisacks.org/weakness-becomes-strength-shemini-5778/

[8]http://acuity.realviewdigital.com/#folio=12

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PERSEVERANCE!

There are no fast tracks. Lasting achievement takes time. You can never get there by the shortest road. The harder it gets, the stronger you become.” – Rabbi Sacks

Torah Parsha (Portion) Vayikra in a Nutshell from http://www.chabad.org

G‑d calls to Moses from the Tent of Meeting, and communicates to him the laws of the korbanot, the animal and meal offerings brought in the Sanctuary. These include:

  • The “ascending offering” (olah) that is wholly raised to G‑d by the fire atop the altar;
  • Five varieties of “meal offering” (minchah) prepared with fine flour, olive oil and frankincense;
  • The “peace offering” (shelamim), whose meat was eaten by the one bringing the offering, after parts are burned on the altar and parts are given to the kohanim (priests);
  • The different types of “sin offering” (chatat) brought to atone for transgressions committed erroneously by the high priest, the entire community, the king or the ordinary Jew;
  • The “guilt offering” (asham) brought by one who has misappropriated property of the Sanctuary, who is in doubt as to whether he transgressed a divine prohibition, or who has committed a “betrayal against G‑d” by swearing falsely to defraud a fellow man

The ideas for this Blog have been formed over the holiday period where I had time to relax, spend time with my wife Loren, discuss things with her, read, watch movies and listen to Podcasts. The ideas apply to all aspects of our lives.

In Antonia Garcia’s biography of Elon Musk, he talks about Musk’s perseverance “…the harder it gets, the better he gets. I’ve never seen anything like his ability to take pain.[1]

Twice over the holidays, I questioned whether I should persevere with something:

The first was a movie that Loren and I watched called Mother[2]. We decided to give it a go as it had a very good cast, as the movie got weirder, we considered stopping, but continued… WHY? To make matters worse, the next day we tried to discuss what the movie was actually about. After our discussion, I decided to look for a write-up on the internet and found a post that said the movie had these biblical themes and compared the movie to the creation and the characters, to Adam and Eve. Loren and I both said – really? There are definitely times when it is not worth persevering with something… You just need to know when to stop or give up.

The second was listening to a Podacst[3] with Shaman Durek. Shamans[4] typically work with the spirit or the soul. Shaman means, one who know or sees. After a few minutes, I thought this guy is wacky, and I am going to give the Podcast a miss, but he had such a gentle, calming voice, that I decided to persevere. This perseverance was very worthwhile as he shared many great lessons. He does not like words that keep you in limbo and he says you should try to avoid them. This state of limbo is an intermediate or transitional state. He talks about two types of Limbo. The limbo, where you stop to either observe or to stop to make better decisions. The other limbo is where you are, what he calls, desecrating yourself, by thinking of all the bad things that may occur and you get stuck. He says that there are words that we use that keep us stuck in limbo. These include: – Maybe (Rather be honest, you need to commit), Hope, I think So, I don’t know (Means we don’t have power. Rather say that I will go find out! He spoke about religion and shared some general thoughts on religion. He asks the following overriding questions about Religion – Does it lead to love? Do you have more connection to people? Do you feel more devotion or service? Interesting thoughts to consider.

In an article[5] on cricketer Glenn Maxwell he said that he had to focus on being the cricketer he wanted to be “… with a concerted effort to not just train hard, but also maintain the path regardless of the roadblocks

I love to do endurance events. Normally after doing an event, I do a post-event Blog on some of the lessons that I have learnt from the event. During the holiday period, I did two very tough events, that needed lots of perseverance to get through.

In January I did a 56 km trail run called The Two Bays Trail Run. It is a run from Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula to Dromana and back. I have to say this was one of the hardest runs that I have ever done. Besides being very long, I did not have that much trail experience and some of the hills, climbs and steps were very tough. It really took grit and determination to get through this. I am not one who likes to walk on a run, but I just had to walk at times. Doing these events really gives you time to think and reflect.

You need to smell the roses and enjoy the views, enjoy the atmosphere and acknowledge the support on the route. I could never have done the training on my own and I most definitely could not have done the event without my training Buddy, Aubrey. Without Aub’s support, I am not sure I would have got through this. In an excellent Article in the Age in January 2018, Caroline Wozniackis, fiancé, the ex NBA basketballer, David Lee questions these individual sports, like tennis “…you know, it’s gotta be a lonely feeling out there…” He goes on to say that in a team sport, you can say, “…my coach didn’t do this, or my teammate didn’t do that, so it’s a little bit of a different situation in a team sport.”[6]

 “Perseverance is also key to success in any endeavour, but without perseverance in combat, there can be no victory.” –  Jocko Willink

Earlier this month, I joined a group of fellow cyclists from Sydney and Melbourne to ride in the mountains near Bright in Victoria. Bright is a really beautiful part of the world. Day 1 included a climb up to the top of Falls Creek. The 30km climb from Mt. Beauty to Falls Creek is one of the longest in the Victorian Alps and also one of the most picturesque. While there are several downhill sections and plenty of opportunities to rest in the middle section of the climb, the overall length means you need good endurance to get through this climb. Yip, it took looks of endurance and soul searching to stay with the group to the top. The final 6 km was the real killer. If you stop peddling, you will not get to the top and if you keep peddling, then you will keep moving. You need to turn the big goal into small steps. I read an article titled “6 lessons one CEO learned from biking with Richard Branson”[7], it highlights the following:

  • Focus on yourself – “…you have to trust your own instincts about the right plan for you…
  • Get advice from others – “Listen to people who have done it…” or in my case, just stay on their tail and hold on for dear life.
  • Focus on the present – “Looking over your shoulder or dwelling on the past doesn’t get you anywhere”
  • Smile – “For whatever reason, just smiling and having a sense of humour about an outrageous endeavour works” or in my case, just trying to be talkative as it numbs the pain.

So, what does perseverance mean to you?

It is defined as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

“The effort you put into something does not just change the object: it changes you. The greater the labour, the greater the love for what you have made.” – Rabbi Sacks

[1] The Saturday Herald Sun – 10 February 2018

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother!

[3] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mindbodygreen-podcast-motivational-interviews-covering/id1246494475?mt=2

[4] Shamans work with the spirit or the soul

[5] The Saturday Herald Sun – 10 February 2018

[6] http://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/2018-australian-open-caroline-wozniackis-fiance-david-lee-talks-about-individual-pressure-20180126-h0ou1d.html

[7] https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/14/6-lessons-one-ceo-learned-from-biking-with-richard-branson.html

The Journey Plan

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs

Torah Portion (“Parsha”) Vayechi in a nutshell from http://www.chabad.org

Jacob lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Joseph to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribes within the nation of Israel.

The patriarch desires to reveal the end of days to his children, but is prevented from doing so. 

Jacob blesses his sons, assigning to each his role as a tribe: Judah will produce leaders, legislators and kings; priests will come from Levi, scholars from Issachar, seafarers from Zebulun, schoolteachers from Simeon, soldiers from Gad, judges from Dan, olive-growers from Asher, and so on. Reuben is rebuked for “confusing his father’s marriage bed”; Simeon and Levi, for the massacre of Shechem and the plot against Joseph. Naphtali is granted the swiftness of a deer, Benjamin the ferociousness of a wolf, and Joseph is blessed with beauty and fertility. 

A large funeral procession consisting of Jacob’s descendants, Pharaoh’s ministers, the leading citizens of Egypt and the Egyptian cavalry accompanies Jacob on his final journey to the Holy Land, where he is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron. 

Joseph, too, dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. He, too, instructs that his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried in the Holy Land, but this would come to pass only with the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt many years later. Before his passing, Joseph conveys to the Children of Israel the testament from which they will draw their hope and faith in the difficult years to come: “G‑d will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”


Well another year is gone… Time to plan for the new year, set new goals and challenges. Part of the process, I think includes reflecting on the past. WHY do we set goals and challenges? I suppose we set them to try and achieve success. Success can be defined in many ways. Our ‘goals’ may be family, work & business, personal, financial.

In a newsletter post by triathlon coach, Simon Ward[1], he says that for an athlete, it is about setting challenging goals and achieving them, regardless of your ability level. Achieving these goals makes you a ‘winner’.

Yaacov Avinu blesses all his children and two of his grandchildren, but does not bless them in order of age. Rabbi Elozor M. Preil[2] says that this message of Yaakov speaks to us today. Rabbi Preill says “It does not matter where in the family line-up you happened to have been born. Whether you are the oldest, the youngest, or anywhere in between, your destiny is in your own hands. You can achieve your goals to the degree that you are willing to dedicate yourself to achieving those goals. It is all is up to you.”

Simon Ward has come to the conclusion that we all need 4 things to be successful. He calls this our – Journey Plan. His journey plan is made up of 4 steps. The first 3 steps are pretty obvious and easy to understand, but what caught my attention was the 4th step on his journey.

  1. DreamThis is the result you want to achieve. This could be anything from running your first 5k, swimming the channel to representing your country. It doesn’t have to be athletic. You could also choose running your own business or buying a house. Some people suggest that goals/dreams should be big and scary and that might be right but not so scary that they put you off. Big and scary enough to excite you and install a bit of fear at the same time. Something that is going to get you out of your comfort zone. You could call this the destination of your journey
  2. PlanIn order to get to your destination, you need to have a plan. There will be the most efficient way to get there or the scenic way – the one where you don’t have accurate guidance and you keep making wrong turns. The military are fond of saying that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” so you must expect obstacles, but keep moving forward
  3. Workthe route to the destination still needs to be traveled. At some point, you are going to have to do some work. A big dream requires constant drive and resilience. Assuming your dream is taking you into the unknown then your obstacles will also be unknown to you and likely to be bigger and tougher to overcome than previously. There will be times when you feel like quitting. That’s OK…as long as you don’t.
  4. Environment Finally even in the solo endurance sports that I am connected with no one is on that journey alone. Everyone needs a team and one within an environment designed to allow success. That team will contain coaches to guide and inspire and to be accountable to and to challenge you. You will have supporters to pat you on the back when things go write and to console you when they don’t. And you will have training partners who you can share the load with, who will drag you out when you don’t want to go and will push you harder when you do.

The secret to longevity, as I see it, has less to do with diet, or even exercise, and more to do with the environment in which a person lives: social and physical. What do I mean by this? They live rewardingly inconvenient lives.” Dan Buettner[3]

liferadius760x428I really found this idea of ‘environment’ very interesting. This applies to the people we train with, our homes, workplaces and the places we live. There seems to be a link between reaching or achieving our goals and success and the environment in which we work, train, play etc. In Dan Buettner’s book “The Blue Zones of Happiness”, he links our happiness with our environment. He describes environment as your ‘life radius[4]’. Your life radius is your surroundings and he says that you can shape your surroundings. He says to achieve or goals, success and happiness we need to set up our home, workplaces, finances, social network, training partners and inner life to favour happiness and success. Without being in this ‘happy place’ we cannot succeed.

If you haven’t yet started planning your journey for 2018 and beyond then please take a moment to think about…. the Dream, the Work, the Plan, the Environment. You must own these.” – Simon Ward

Simon Ward goes on to say that along the journey, you may need a mentor, coach, help, support and you may need to make adjustments if you go off course (like satellite navigation) but you must do the driving to your destination.

Dan Buettner uses this word “Moais” (pronounced mow-eye). Moais are social support groups that form in order to provide varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests. Moai means “meeting for a common purpose” in Japanese and originated from the social support groups in Okinawa, Japan.

In the MBG Podcast with guest GT Dave[5] (The king of Kombucha), GT Dave talks about energy. In a way this ‘energy’ is similar to the environment, as without this energy, you won’t succeed – He says, “Energy is everything…Energy around us plays a role in everything…the people you surround yourself, surround yourself with great energy… invite great energy… grow.” He links this ‘energy’ with the ability to grow and I suppose achieve success?

You may come up with other traits and skills that you need but regardless of your particular journey everyone needs these four items.

You see, it’s never the environment; it’s never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events – how we interpret them – that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow.” Tony Robbins

0a194acd-1700-43ab-bfe8-6817f29ee73fMy first goal for 2018 is to do the Two Bays Trail Run. It’s a 56km trail run on the Mornington Peninsula, from Cape Schanck to Dromana return. My mate Aubrey had the dream to do this event and I have joined him on the journey. We have had a training plan and have put in the miles, now we just need the support of our fellow runners on the day to complete this epic ultra-run. Should be lots of fun. (Yip, I had to qualify to do this run!)

To end a quote from Kayla Itsnes “Set a goal, Make a plan, Do it!” – She says – “This is something I talk a lot …. Don’t just set goals like “get fit, read more, go to gym” … actually make a PLAN for your goals. Set a goal, make a plan on HOW you are going to get there. Write down something that MAY get in the way of that plan and find ways to overcome those. Once you have done ALL of that… THEN you will be ready for 2018!!

I loved this thought for 2018 from @thinkgrowprosper

“In 2018, I hope you get rich.

Rich in knowledge.

Rich in adventure.

Rich in laughter.

Rich in family.

Rich in health.

Rich in love.”

[1]http://www.simonwardtriathloncoach.com

[2]https://www.ou.org/oupress/excerpts/coming-of-age-an-anthology-of-divrei-torah-for-bar-and-bat-mitzvah-parshat-vayechi/

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Buettner

[4] The life radius—the environment where people spend about 80 percent of their lives.

[5]https://www.inc.com/magazine/201503/tom-foster/the-king-of-kombucha.html

#Wellness

“I’ve always wanted to be in the health and wellness business. I try to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle.” – Mark Wahlberg

This week’s Parsha, Mikeitz in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

Joseph’s imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean years. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenath, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 

Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten of Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Simeon as a hostage. Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.

Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him. This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Simeon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home. But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin’s sack. When the brothers set out for home the next morning, they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered. Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.


It has been a while since my last Blog, apologies to all those who have missed my Blogs. With the year coming to an end, lots of people have New Year resolutions or commentators come out with predictions for the new year. As someone who loves a #healthylifestyle, MindBodyGreen’s trend for 2018 has caught my eye.

In 2017, the definition of “wellness” shifted. At mindbodygreen, we know that wellness is bigger than any individual’s journey. We are banding together to heal one another, our communities, and the planet. …., and so is our new mantra, one we hope will illuminate the way to a better, brighter 2018: You. We. All.”

 Being Chanukah, I thought I would share a thought than links in with these themes of wellness. The miracle of Chanukah is not just about a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It is about the inner healing light within each of us. Chanukah is a time when we can celebrate this inner healing light as we move toward wellness. Chanukah is also about the miracle of survival against all odds, about hope, courage and belief in one’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles[1]. What I really liked in the article was a list of wellness thoughts for each night of Chanukah:

First night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Second night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our minds.

Third night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our souls.

Fourth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our children.

Fifth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our parents.

Sixth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our communities.

Seventh night:

…, we light this candle for the restoration of health and wellness to those who are ill, suffering, or grieving.

Eighth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our world.

Michaela - Flying Fox 2.jpgWe are all very critical of the Millennials and there is a lot written about their attitude to work, friends, relationships, technology, religion etc. BUT what amazes me about the millennials that goes against so much that is written about them is that the Millennials have become more “civic-minded” with a strong sense of community both local and global. They are socially aware and care for the wellness of others and the world. Over the last few years, I have watched the growth of the youth-led organisation, Flying Fox. Flying Fox is a network of fun and life-changing opportunities that connect people with a disability and the community. This year I was very proud of my daughter, Michaela and a few of her school buddies who volunteered as “buddies” on their Camp Sababa. Camp Sababa Junior is a camp for 8-16 year olds with special needs. Campers are supported by Flying Fox trained year-12 graduates and professional support staff on the camps that have the aim of providing kids with the most fun time. Well done Flying Fox team and Michaela.

GP_82Birthday_PLANK4PLAYER-copy-1600x807There is so much that can be written on wellness, but I would like to share a thought on a true ‘wellness warrior’, Gary Player. Gary has a passion for health, fitness, wellness and nutrition and has pioneered the way the modern golfers prepare themselves for tour golf. Gary is showing us by example how to remain ‘ageless’. I noticed on the Wellness Wednesday! Podacst[2], that in honour of Gary’s 82nd birthday people are planking for 82 seconds when they wake up in the morning and posting to Instagram & Twitter #Plank4Player – Go Gary!

#plank4player • Instagram photos and videosAs we come to the end of each year we need to spend some time on reflecting on the past year and planning for the new year. What is your wellness plan for the new year?

“It’s time to use the incredible practices we have established to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children, and our planet. Here’s to a progressive 2018!” – MindBodyGreen

[1] http://mochajuden.com/?tag=chanukah

[2] http://debbienigro.com/wellness-wednesday-mikes-organic-delivery-and-gary-player/

Autism Speaks

..sometimes, the greatest dreams are the ones your heart fears.” – RM Drake[1]

This week’s Parsha Chaya Sara in nutshell from www.chabad.org

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son. 

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.


 

Out on my bike ride on Sunday, I was reflecting on a Drosha that I had read on Parsha Vayeira and had shared with my family at the Shabbat table. A few things had brought me to reflecting on this including a presentation on Asperger’s in the workplace at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, advertising at David Jones for a new hand cream promoting the charity Autism Speaks and TV programs such as Atypical[2] (on Netflix) and The Good Doctor[3].

In last week’s Parsha, the Torah describes how Avraham rushed to prepare a meal for his guests, the angels, and tells us that they ate while he “stood over them under the tree” (18:8). In a Drosha from Rav David Silverberg[4] he says that the angels came to Avraham to deliver the message that Sara would soon conceive, and this necessitated their descent into this world and acting as human beings, partaking of a lavish meal.  This resulted in a “vacancy” in the heavens, as their heavenly roles went unfulfilled.  Therefore, Avraham “stood over them” – he rose to the heavens to serve the angels’ roles.  As they had come to earth and acted like human beings, Avraham rose to the heavens to fill the roles which the angels would normally have filled.

Rav David Silverberg says that just as these angels were sent away from the heavens, far from their normal surroundings, to engage in our world, similarly, we human beings are capable of extending beyond our familiar “worlds” and reaching higher.  Too often, we assume that we are who we are, that we are restricted to our current lifestyle, routine, habits, character and religious standards. Amazing Race presenter, Phil Keoghan in a Podcast[5] called this a “Mental Leap”. “Because you have taken a mental leap with something that is quite primal and quite physical, you’re more likely to take another challenge.” – Phil Keoghan

Write about the emotions you fear the most.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson

After hearing an author tell me he had failed English, I told Michaela that once she is finished her VCE exam, it is up to her to reach higher or do things that she never thought that she was capable of. She is going to have to morph from this life as a school student – Good Luck!

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village,” Coach Elaine Hall

BUT, what I was thinking on my bike was how Sam had in effect swapped roles this week at school. Throughout his learning and schooling, he has had to be helped and supported by his teachers, aides and school friends. This process has not been easy for us, and as we have learnt it has not been easy for him. There are so many things that he battles with – Sam loves to socialise, but battles socialising. Over the last few weeks as he has learnt more about his condition, Sam, the school and us have been working towards Sam talking to the boys in his year level about his ‘trials’. Last week Sam swapped roles and became the teacher. Sam made a PowerPoint presentation about his condition and what he battles with. I wish I had a YouTube video of his speech that was apparently brilliant, but I will share the actual PowerPoint[6].

On the side, walking in David Jones on Friday I noticed this display for a hand cream with the wrapping designed by actor Matthew McConaughey in aid of an organisation, Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

So often when thinking of a blog, I come across so much material on the topic including a brilliant 20-minute short film[7] titled “Jeremy the Dud”, the new short film that flips disability on its head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFcFpWzIQNk While ‘Jeremy the Dud’ takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to subverting the typical stigma and judgement that people with disability may face on a daily basis, at its core has a beautifully heartfelt message.

Lewis - Untitled-design-54During the month of November, men are asked to make a more conscious effort to improve ‘their’ health. This is diet, physical and mental health. Men need to ‘swap’ their roles or as Lewis Howes[8] says, “Unmask their masculinity”. I listened to a brilliant Podcast[9] with Lewis on unmasking masculinity and another brilliant Podcast[10] with Movember founder Justin Coghlan (“JC”) on The Men’s Health Crisis, Mustaches & How To Save A Life.

The story of the angels thus challenges us to set our sights higher, to carefully examine what we perceive as our limits, and see which of these boundaries we are capable of breaking in the pursuit of greater achievements.” – Rav David Silverberg

To end a quote[11] from golfer Ernie Els’s wife Lizl “Ernie’s relationship with (his Autistic son) Ben has gone from, ‘What am I going to do with this kid?’ to ‘When can I spend time with him again?‘” she said. “It’s been a beautiful evolution.”

Watching our kids grow and change has been an evolution!

NOTE: Rav David Silverberg brings another beautiful idea to this week’s Parsha, which is worth reading[12] “…Just as Rivka’s family was shown that Rivka was, in fact, chosen for the distinction and challenge of joining Avraham’s family, we, too, may at times be shown that we are capable of more than we had previously thought.”

[1] https://twitter.com/rmdrk?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atypical

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Doctor_(TV_series)

[4] https://mizrachi.org/breaking-glass-ceiling/

[5] http://theforwardpodcast.libsyn.com/phil-keoghan

[6] https://www.dropbox.com/s/cnd402pyaxbnwi2/171107%20-%20PowerPoint%20-%20About%20me%20and%20how%20you%20can%20help%20version%202.pptx?dl=0

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFcFpWzIQNk

[8] https://twitter.com/LewisHowes?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

[9] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/lewis-howes-3/

[10] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/jc-of-movember-on-the-mens-health-crisis-mustaches-how-to-save-a-life

[11] Read more: http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/health/ernie-els-discovers-his-inner-voice-is-quietened-by-a-son-slow-to-speak-20160613-gphwui#

[12] http://etzion.org.il/en/salt-sunday-16-cheshvan-5778-november-5-2017

5778: A Year of Great Expectations

5778: A Year of Great Expectations[1]

 “From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out, …” – Patrick Lange – Winner Kona Ironman 2017

Parsha (Torah Portion) Noah in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

G‑d instructs Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G‑d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species. 

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal. 

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations. 

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.


Not planning to do my normal post-race Blog, my daughter Michaela commented that my Melbourne Marathon race number, 5778 is the current Jewish year. In Shule (synagogue) on this past Sabbath, Rabbi Noam Sendor commented that we all need to look back at this ‘marathon’ of Jewish festivals and take some inspiration, meaning and life lessons etc.

 “There is a quote in the Talmud that ‘when a mitzvah comes your way, run to do it at the first opportunity.’”

Many people have the custom that straight after Yom Kippur they start to put up their Sukkah to fulfil the quote above, but what else did I learn from this mitzvah? The goal of Sukkot is to take the spiritual experience of Yom Kippur and bring it down to the reality in which we live and to make it part of our everyday routine. If we hum and we ha, we do nothing.

A race is very different experience to a training run. It is a bit of a spiritual experience, and while the memories are fresh in my mind, I need to try bringing this experience into my training and planning or setting a goal for my next challenge?

After a tough training year and my forced break from training, I did not set a very high goal for this race. Normally, I potentially over-train for an event to make sure I am 110% prepared, but I was way more relaxed in my training and the pace I set in my training runs.

Before the race, I said to my mate Anthony Barnett that I was planning to run in the 3:40 or 3:50 group. He said that I was crazy and should join him and his running mate Neda Nahemoff in the 3:30 train. I had not really done a training run at 5mins/km pace or tested this pace on a run? “Embrace courage. // Crush life” – Robyn NYC  – So, against my better judgement I joined them and will share my experience and lessons:

  • Following a bad plan” – Matt Frazier (The No Meat Athlete[1]) – I think that this was key to me doing the time that I did start slowly and built up to a good steady pace rather than racing out the blocks. I have noticed that since coming back from my forced break that I have been able to hold a certain pace, but have battled when the pace speeds up or people surge. This I think was my undoing with about 3km’s to go. I am sure as my base builds I will get stronger, but understand that this all takes time and patience.
  • Even champs have a bad day – In Lance Armstrong’s Stages Podcast[2] that was a race re-cap of the Kona Ironman. In the podcast, Lance said that the previous year’s winner, Jan Frodeno was this year’s hero. Jan was reduced to stretching on the side of the road and walking 5km’s into the run. BUT he pushed on, finished, ‘honoured’ the race and his fellow competitors. (See Instagram post[3])Frodeno floor

 “It was a downright awful day,” he admitted. “Just when you think you’ve got this race figured out, it does a 180 on you and I guess it’s a tradition of our sport. So many guys out there are still fighting and fighting for a long time and it was my first taste of what some of the age groupers get to feel. Again, my respect for you guys has grown.” – Jan Frodeno

So what does this have to do with my experience… Well. At about 13km’s Anthony Barnett who has 10 x more experience than me, needed a toilet stop and said that he would catch up to us. Neda and I kept hoping that Ant would catch us, but unfortunately, he had a very bad day, and was unable to catch us, which was disappointing to us and very upsetting for Ant, but he persevered… You just never know how your body is going to respond on race day. No training or experience can prepare you for this…

  • On route, Neda’s neighbour and family were cheering her on, which was very exciting for her on her first marathon (Family – I was not expecting to see you, so don’t feel guilty). Neda ran so consistently and was able to pull away from me in the last few km’s and run under 3:30. Bumping into her neighbour the next morning at the pool, he said that Neda is very headstrong. So much to do with an endurance event is in the mind. I don’t think we fully understand how powerful our minds are and what we are capable of. (Yip I am thinking of David Goggins[4]).

“If you have ANY mental toughness, if you have any fraction of self-discipline; The ability to not want to do it, but still do it; If you can get through to doing things that you hate to do: on the other side is GREATNESS” – David Goggins

  • With about 6-8km’s to go in the race, I suddenly got so bloated (GI Issues). I was able to push on, but it is not very comfortable. “Unfortunately, what can result from a focused attempt to obtain carbohydrate calories for high fuel needs, is that your stomach becomes overfull and does not empty quickly or comfortably[5].” For years, I have been trying to get off the sport brand products without much success. Post-race on the Stages Podcast, I was listening to Lance’s discussions with triathlon greats, Mark Allen and Dave Scott. Dave provided unbelievable insights on nutrition and discussed these GI issues. Hopefully, with what I have learnt from the race and the advice of experts I am hoping this will put me in a better position for my next race. The answer may be avoiding sports bars and using salt tablets?
  • I noticed that there is a high correlation between highly structured training program prepared by an expert and race performance. I must congratulate some of IMG_1999my running buddies who followed these ‘crazy’ training programs an achieved unbelievable PB’s – Well done Daniel, Danny, Mark & Barak. Len B, you have inspired us all this year and I hope your injury is not too serious. What was just as inspiring was seeing so many Team Bear runners doing the Marathon. Well done to you all, especially first-time runner Evan Nathanson. There is one other person I need to congratulate – Adrian Godlewicz. I would not say he runs with us, as with a turn of speed he leaves us in his wake. Adrian has been very reluctant to do an organised race, so I was very surprised to see him at the start (he entered a few days before the race), but with his immense talent he was able to do his first marathon under 3hours.
  • Slightly off the topic, but very important is to thank people who have supported, guided and loved you during your training – Thanks, Loren. I have recently heard a few Podcasts featuring Esther Perel. Esther is an author, a psychotherapist and a self-described expert in relationships and sexuality. As an athlete, we can sometimes get selfish and forget about our family and spouses. One lesson I learnt from a recent Esther Perel Podcast with Mia Freedman[6], was that she said that what ‘turns a woman on’ is when she is removed from her ‘responsibility’ as a wife and a mother. So, as a husband, it is not about ‘helping’ with the dishes etc. , but taking ‘responsibility’ for the dishes, removing this burden from our spouses and giving them time to think about themselves and do something for themselves without this burden of ‘responsibility’.

To end a quote from Rabbi Meir Sendor[7] for the year ahead “May we all be blessed for the year ahead … – for a year of healing, prosperity, inspiration, creativity and closeness to Hashem and to each other.” Plus with good health, a healthy lifestyle and improved performance. BUT we need to remember that most of us will settle back into our routines, perhaps relieved that the Yom Tovs and marathons are over. So before you get too comfortable, remember all those resolutions, those goals and those ideas.

I just had to re-end with a lesson from Matt Frazier on the mistakes runners make “Actually, you know another big mistake people make? This one is sort of different… It’s that they don’t think running a marathon is possible for them. They think it takes a certain type of person to be able to run 26.2 miles (42.195kms).

Nope. Unless you have a serious medical condition, you can run a marathon. I mentioned earlier how I overcame injuries (that’s a story for another time) and have since run ultramarathons.”


[1] “Marathon mistakes = sad runners” – Matt Frazier – Email

[2] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stages/id1254370585?mt=2

[3] Janfrodeno So this is where it all unravelled for me today. A pretty sudden muscle spasm locked my lower back up (SI joint) and it took me a good 10min to even be able to stretch it. Not sure if a nerve got some pressure or I need a spoon full of cement to harden up, but this was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had. After 5k of walking things started to loosen up and I could even get back to some jogging. But I guess that makes me one of many out there today who just had to honour this race and their fellow competitors by bringing it home. Until next time… (https://www.instagram.com/p/BaQjBIol0bV/?taken-by=janfrodeno )

[4] http://davidgoggins.com

[5] Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2005/09/training-center/nutrition/the-feed-zone-with-monique-ryan-that-bloated-feeling_8940#0lg1oS7oj9LAR5XF.99

[6] http://www.mamamia.com.au/podcast/no-filter-esther-perel/

[7] http://www.talorot.org/rain-dance/

[1] http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/5778-a-year-of-great-expectations/2017/09/20/

Bitumen is Boring…

 

Try “green exercise” and take your workout outdoors.” – Sarah Berry[1]

I am going to keep this Blog very short, but I have had a few ideas to share.

In this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we add some additional text to the silent Amidah[2]. These additions include the phrase “Remember us for life…”.

After doing a run/ race, I normally like to remember a few aspects and try to learn from the experience. Recently I did my first trail run, after being pushed by my mate Aubrey Levy to join him on a trail run in Anglesea on the beautiful Great Ocean Road. The experience is worth remembering. Below are a few points:

  • Bitumen is boring… – I noticed lots of competitors with this phrase on their shirts. I think this is more than just not running on boring black bitumen, but having more of an ‘experience’ for want of a better word. Look we did run on the beach, trails, sand roads, through water and over rocks.
  • Trail running is MUCH harder – There are a few reasons for this including:
    • Running on so many different surfaces;
    • Some of the hills climbs, stairs (up and down) are so difficult to both navigate and to get up. Normally I try not to walk in a race, but this rule does not apply on a trail run; and
    • You need to keep your concentration – going up, down or running on a flat, there are always obstacles, slippery or wet surfaces and there is always the chance for twisting your ankles or falling. Yip, I twisted my ankle, but was very lucky…
  • Can’t get too precious – On a normal run, I try to do all that I can to avoid my runners getting dirty. On this trail run within the first 300m, we had to run through a river on the beach – Yip the mix of sand and water!
  • The scenery is magnificent – What more can I say!
  • I was soo stiff a few days later – DOMS[3]

Nature nurtures the elemental inside of us. It really only takes getting outside and taking a walk on the wild side to experience the effects for ourselves.” – Sarah Berry[4]

In an article in the Herald Sun regarding the Melbourne Storm’s preliminary final win against the Broncos last week. The article mentioned 3 Things we learnt. I think that some of these lessons are very important for us all. The 3 things mentioned were:

  • Billy is brilliant;
  • Cooper Cronk is tough as; and
  • Finals football is survival of the fittest.

For me, the key point was about the great Billy Slater and how even after so many years in the game he still shows ‘unbridled enthusiasm’ and was ‘still going’ when no one else was. This epitomises a champion and on how he will one day be remembered.

The last thing I want to mention is to remember a few lessons that I learnt over Rosh Hashanah.

  • Rabbi Noam Sendor gave a brilliant Drasha on Avraham’s 10 tests and why different commentators include different tests and why the order of the tests differs. But for me the lesson from having the 10th test was this possibly extra test of “Abraham’s purchase of a burial plot for Sarah (ch. 23)” and the lesson that after going through Rosh Hashanah with these commitments and resolutions to improve ourselves, we now need to implement these into our everyday life. This is what Avraham did when he purchased the plot for Sarah, he knew he knew even after G-d many times promised him the Land of Israel, he was forced to spend an exorbitant amount in the purchase of a plot to bury his wife, but he still acted like a true gentleman.
  • In a brilliant article by HaRav Yehuda Amital z”l titled the ‘Sounds of Silence’. He talks about the fact that even though we cannot always convey our feelings, thoughts, desires and fears into words when we are praying, the power of concentrating while listening to the blowing the Shofar, is a conduit.

Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying:  Wake up, sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.  (Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4)”

The Yom Kippur service will end with the blowing of the Shofar. The lesson from this blowing is that it is now time to celebrate. It’s been an otherworldly experience, and now we’ve come out the other end. The blowing of the shofar publicizes to all that the evening following Yom Kippur is a holiday, and it is now time to celebrate the closeness we’ve achieved and the forgiveness we’ve secured during this awesome day. Like soldiers returning triumphantly from battle, we blow the shofar to celebrate our victory over the prosecuting angel, a.k.a. the Satan and we can walk away, certain that we’ve been granted a sweet year.

To end I listened to a brilliant Podcast[5] featuring Dr Frank Lipman[6]. In the Podcast, he mentioned the Xhosa phrase Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]). He described the word to mean “What Makes us human is the humanity we show each other”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity“.

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us remember experiences, decisions and lessons that we have learnt. I love this lesson from the teachings of Maimonides[7] “…Rather, one should be easy to pacify and difficult to anger…”. In a Blog[8] post by Rabbi Marc Angel, he says “Yom Kippur can be just another external show of piety, or it can be a transformative occasion.” I think the decision is ours….

To end a quote from Rabbi Sacks[9] from last week’s Parsha Ha’azinu – “Moses does not exist in Judaism as an object of worship but as a role model for each of us to aspire to. … Moses continues to inspire.

 


[1] Sarah Berry lives and breathes her job as Lifestyle Health Editor for Fairfax Media. She is constantly putting her body on the line to test the latest health trends then delving into the science of why they do or don’t work.

[2] The word Amidah literally means standing, because it is recited while standing. It is also known as Shemoneh Esrei, meaning eighteen, because it originally consisted of eighteen blessings, and as tefilah (prayer) because it is the most important Jewish prayer.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/does-nature-have-restorative-powers-when-it-comes-to-health-20170914-gyhkj9.html

[5] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mindbodygreen-podcast-motivational-interviews-covering/id1246494475?mt=2

[6] https://www.bewell.com/about/

[7] Maimonides provides another very important lesson in his Laws of Repentance (2:10)

[8] https://www.jewishideas.org/thoughts-yom-kippur-1

[9] http://rabbisacks.org/moses-man-haazinu-5777/