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2016-02-26 digital edition

TODAY in the Jewish World:

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February 26, 2016  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Incidentally Iris

Ok, just so you know: I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. It’s always the same four every year anyway:

Eliminate carbs

Jog three miles a day

Learn more Hebrew

Streamline my personal belongings

It never works. Come February, the whole show is out the window.

So now I have both a new approach to self-improvement – finding the most perfect stress busters. And here they are:

Count the blessings, not the deficits. It’s the old gratitude thing. Go to bed every night being thankful for three good things that happened during the day. This not only expands your gratitude quotient, but you will find yourself looking for things to be grateful for throughout the day, rather than eagle-eyeing and stock piling every aggravation, annoyance and slight directed your way.

Be a divergent thinker. Look at things in new ways.

Once there was a little bird who decided to stay in the North for the winter. However, it soon turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly to Miami Beach anyway. Ice began to form on his wings. Almost frozen, he fell to earth in a pasture. A cow wandered over and - excuse the verb - pooped on the little bird. Our feathered friend thought it was the end.

But the manure was warm and defrosted his wings. Comfortable, happy and able to breathe, he started to sing. Just then, a cat came by and hearing the chirping, investigated. The cat cleared away the manure, found the singing bird, and promptly ate him.

The moral of the story is: Anyone who dumps a little brown present on you is not necessarily your enemy. Anyone who pulls you out a pile of manure is not necessarily your friend. And - if you’re warm and happy in that pile - keep your mouth shut!

Find every opportunity to laugh. Steve Lipman in his article “Jews Serious When It Comes To Humor,” notes that the Pew Research Center found that 42 percent of American Jews consider “having a good sense of humor” to be “an essential part of what being Jewish means.” A sense of humor helps us deal with obstacles, road blocks and bumps in the road. Humor reduces stress, helps keep things in proper perspective and takes the edge off. Employing humor helps us concentrate less on our disappointments, frustrations and woes and more on what’s fine in our lives.

I keep a feel-good basket near my computer. Every time I come across a good joke, I print it out, fold it up and toss it in the basket. When darkness descends and despair come calling, I pluck one out and read it. And feel better.

Here’s one of my favorites:

One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to G-d. “Lord, I have a Problem!”

“What’s the problem, Eve?”

“Lord, I know you created me and provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals and that hilarious snake, but I’m just not happy.”

“Why is that, Eve?” came the reply from above.

“Lord, I am lonely, and I’m sick to death of apples.”

”Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you.”

“What’s a man, Lord?”

“A man is a flawed creature, with many flawed character traits. He’ll be stubborn, vainglorious, and self-absorbed. All in all, he’ll probably give you a hard time. But…he’ll be bigger, faster and will revel in childish things like fighting and kicking a ball about. He won’t be too smart, so he’ll also need your advice to think properly.”

“Sounds great,” says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow. “But what’s the catch, Lord?”

“Well… you can have him on one condition.”

“What’s that, Lord?” Eve asks.

“As I said, he’ll be proud, arrogant and self admiring…so you’ll have to let him believe that I made him first. Just remember, it’s our little secret…you know, woman to woman.


You don’t ever have had to eat lobster to know that lobsters molt. It’s an interesting activity that lobsters engage in when they cast aside and shed their shell. Here’s some facts:

In the first 5 years of life, a lobster molts or sheds its shell up to 25 times. As an adult, it molts about once a year. As the shell weakens, the lobster seeks out safe areas in the water to molt and protect himself as he readies to shed the old shell. Why? Because he is very vulnerable and in danger at this point – the new shell is not as strong nor as durable as the old one. The new shell is soft and more prone to invasions, so the lobster eats part of its old shell to help harden the new one more quickly.

Just like the lobster, we need to shed our old skins, and grow into bigger, more expansive and more inclusive shells, while retaining that which makes us strong and healthy and unique. And we need a safety net within to do it, such as in the protection of our own home, neighborhood and community. I consciously shed outmoded beliefs and practices. And I embrace my new shell – a shell that allows room for growth, the incorporation of new approaches and diverse experiences.

Remember when your mom bought you a winter coat one size larger than you needed? What did she say?

“You’ll grow into it.”

Happy Growing.

Keep coping,
Iris Ruth Pastor

Editor’s note: This is an occasional column by Tampa resident Iris Ruth Pastor. Iris is a married mother of five grown sons and a grandmother of five. She has been writing slice-of-life columns for more than 25 years including for the American Israelite in Cincinnati, where she was managing editor. She retired in 2013 from the Tampa JCC & Federation as director of the Young Adult Division. In addition, Iris is a Huffington Post blogger, publishes a weekly newsletter and is available for speaking engagements.

For more on Iris, go to:; or

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