When I think of strength, I think of strong in BODY. Taking care of yourself. Finding your body’s potential. And using it. Crossing it. Extending it.
I think of strong in MIND. Smart. Efficient. Quick thinking. Flexible. Reflective. Intuitive. Ever-learning.
I think of strong in CHARACTER. Responsible. Caring. Moral. Kind. Trustworthy. Someone whom you’d take home to meet Mama. To take care of your children. To take care of your heart.
And then my mind wanders to the strength required to take chances. Face fears. And chase dreams.
Strength, in all of it’s forms, is a trait that I covet and strive for. And one that I want for my children.
A ‘lil while back I received a package of glossy, new books from Kar-Ben Publishing. As the kids and I excitedly glanced through the lovely, artsy covers we saw Zishe the StrongMan by Robert Rubinstein. And when we read it, it really struck a chord. With all of us.
Zishe the StrongMan by Robert Rubinstein is based on the real life story of Siegmund Breitbart (1883-1925).
One of the first pages reads: Who would have thought that a Polish Jew, son of a poor blacksmith, would become the strongest person in the world?
I loved the nonfiction-ness of it as well as the themes of perseverance and hard work.
I equally loved the description of the SrongMan as a heart and soul – gentle and sensitive – music loving – cello playing – helpful man.
That’s right: I liked the strong but sensitive element. But, really, who doesn’t?
That’s the part of strength that as a society we’re ever-so-slowly evolving to love, isn’t it? The strength to be who you are. Contradictory or dichotomous or unpopular as it may be. Authentic. Real. True. Strong.
I want my kids to be all sorts of strong: body, mind and character. But the kind of strong that it takes to be their own authentic selves? No matter what? That’s the kind that will propel them to impossible greatness.
I lifted this fabulous quote from Facebook (What? You don’t get your inspiration from social media? Weird.) that also struck a chord with me.
The way life actually works is this: You must first be who you really are. Then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.
We’ve read Zishe the StrongMan many, many times in the last few weeks. And I’m not complaining. Good lessons, good history and a good read.
Today, being the teacher at heart that I am, I just HAD to ask the kids: What does it mean to be strong? And their answers were, of course, priceless:
What is being STRONG?
*** Thank you so much to Kar-Ben Publishing for a free copy-to-review of
Zishe the StrongMan by Robert Rubinstein.***
Such a good question to pose: what is strong? You are for raising your kids to be themselves, to see authenticity as a strength.
This is such a good question and your kids are super cute.
Being strong to me is having the guts to be yourself and to speak your truth in a way that does not diminish others.
Strength is doing things you never thought possible, things you never imagined, things you never thought you’d do.
Strength is seeing the end, and then doing the work to get there. Success is a by product.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Your kids are sooo stinkin’ adorable 🙂 You are raising them very well: to think independently, to live by example, and to stand up for what they think is important. <These are all examples of what I think it means to be strong.
i think there is tremendous strength in what others see as weakness. for instance crying, when i hear about child abuse. that is strong despite vulnerable in showing emotions.
strong in the ability to stick up for others when i hear gossip at work.
strong when you do what is right even when nobody is looking.
strong when you value your marriage rather than cultivating friendships with vulnerable “friends” of the opposite sex
strong when you resist the attractive career alternative knowing that your present situation is where “home” is despite a lower salary.
strong is valuing your time with people over material possessions
those are just a few that i see here in central ohio
You used the very word that came to mind for strength – AUTHENTIC. It takes courage to be that way, for sure. Loved that quote by the way. I’m stealing it for FB right now! And my blog, which I will credit you with, of course!
And if I had ever been graced with children, I would want them to be as fabulously fabulous as your brood!
That looks like a fun book! I will have to look for that book, LS LOVES books!
I haven’t read the book, but I did see the film, based on his life, entitled Invincible a couple of years ago. It was quite the poignant and inspiring film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245171/
Strong is such an illuminating word in many facets. Oe can be sensitive, yet be strong. One can cry, whether man or woman, and still be considered strong. One can weather the storms of adversity and be strong, not because they overcame the odds, but because they refused to give in to the negativity surrounding them, they chose to move forward and they were not their own weakest link.
I believe strength is forging ahead, even when you are scared, tired, and uncertain.
I love these pictures of your kids! And I also love the idea of strength being a bit hard to pin down — that makes it even more powerful to me 🙂
I think it is when one has a real strong sense of “self” and likes who they are—Everything and Anything is possible. Strength or being Strong comes from an inner knowledge of your own worth—as I said, a strong sense of “self” and being truly comfortable with who and what you are.
Being strong is living with conviction.
Sometimes I beat myself up over things that I instinctively consider weakness… but it takes more strength to face it. (I’m not sure if that makes any sense without going into lengthy examples!)
I love the Facebook quote 🙂
Sometimes, it’s not giving up, even when you’re not sure what’s next: putting one foot after the other knowing that you only have to deal with “right now” or “the next five minutes.” My dad always says, “I don’t have any control over the hand I’m dealt, only how I play the cards.” Sometimes, it’s playing the hand with grace – when you’d really sooner throw the cards across the room and quit.
Good post. This is something I’ve been thinking about this very week. I’m going to pose this question to my kids and think some more. Thanks
There are so many forms that strength can come in. The strength to be yourself in the face of scorn is big. So is standing up for injustices.
The proudest I have ever been of my oldest son, I saw him hitting an older, bigger child. I went in to yell at him- we don’t hit!- and then he said the kid was picking on another child. Confirmed by others in the area, I told my son not to hit, but I was glad he stuck up for the smaller kid. I never had that kind of courage.
I love what the previous poster said…being strong is living with conviction. Being able to stand up for what you believe in, even if it isn’t the popular choice.
Your kids are adorable!!
PS – I am going to be in Minnesota next Friday for 2 days. But it’s a quick trip in and out for a wedding so I don’t think I’ll have time to meet up unfortunately. I would have loved to meet you!!
Galit: I always love the photos of your kids and I just want to Hug each of them! (for some reason I thought you had a smaller dog (?) )
In any event; this is a wonderful post. I think strong means many things but it takes real strength in our world today to be yourself – truly yourself. There’s a great quote but I don’t know who said it: “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” I think you are correct – albeit slowly, we are evolving as a society to where being authentic is becoming more attractive and popular.
I love it that you are instilling this attitude in your children. Parents need to be teachers to their children but yours are doubly blessed to have that other kind of teacher in their Mommy too. Hugs!
Being strong means believing in yourself and your convictions and not being afraid to admit that they have changed.
I had too many thoughts on this to post a comment, so I wrote a blog post about it instead…
Hey, our library has this book – thanks for the recommendation! (how do I get cool review copies for my blog?)
We use the quote from pirkei avot a lot: “Who is strong? One who conquers his…” The hebrew word is “yitzro” meaning his inclinations, but this is a tough word for kids.
The other two lines we talk a lot about are: “Who is wise? One who learns from all people.” and “Who is wealthy? One who rejoices in his portion.”
Very important messages.
Those pictures of your kids doing their little muscle poses ARE absolutely priceless… as are their answers.
And your wishes for your children about strength? Are also what I wish for my own.
Great idea, asking your kids for their thoughts. I should do that. 🙂 And great responses from them.
To me, being strong, means standing your ground in the face of objection.
Hey, Galit, your thoughts really resonated with me. So much about being strong is really tied to the courage to be who we are. Thanks for saying it.
You could look at those pictures and see strength in many different ways, strength of character, of passion, or hope and a strength in innocence. You both did that, you both grew that as parents and it’s awesome.
Although I must turn this slightly, in a way that I probably shouldn’t but my strength lies in my fears.
Why am I strong? I am not, why then do people perceive me to be strong? because I have to be. Do I want my son to be strong? Yes but I want him to be strong for what he believes in (that is what I took from your post) but I fear (yes it’s back to the fear) I fear that his strength will come from the life we live. The inner strength that you have to overcome to understand, to be passionate, to make your own destiny. Life is never going to be easy but with strength of our conviction we can make it so and although we want our children to be strong we don’t want them to suffer for it.
I hope and I pray that my son finds strength through life because of what I have shown him and not because of what life teaches him. Another wonderful and inspiring post x
My daughter likes to tell her friends that she is stronger than abba. But at home she likes to snuggle up next to me and whisper that she is kidding.
Kids provide untold strength to do things that you might not otherwise be able to do.
Oooh, I really loved this post and it brought tears to my eyes because it really hit home…having the strength to be who you are, authentic.
Yes, I agree, that is true strength and not only do I strive for this myself but I hope to instill this authenticity into my children.
Love this. And? LOVE your children’s answers 🙂
Another beautiful post, but your kids truly stole the show. If you ever wanted reassurance that you’re raising top notch little people, there it is!
Strength; inner, outer, work it! I want my kids to have inner strength as well but I am now appreciating strength of the body more than ever. When your body is capable of lifting with ease a new kind of inner confidence grows as well. I never knew how connected your muscle tissue is to your spirit until I started lifting heavier weights at the gym. I can’t say enough about the power a woman can have when she is physically strong! Love this topic!!