Minnesota Mamaleh: Being Strong


Strong: Mighty. Bold. Potent.
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

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:

Brody, Age 2: Daddy. (Are you melting yet, Babe?)

Chloe, Age 4 1/2: Me. As in Chloe, not Mama. And I assure you that she does, indeed, see herself as STRONG. And I hope that she always does.

& Kayli, Age 6 1/2: Good at sports, standing up for yourself and standing up for other people. She kind of rocked the WOW-y factor, don’t you think?

Sigh. I could seriously do this all day. Ask them all about their thoughts, definitions and world views. But that might get annoying. So in a totally better idea: Let me annoy you instead. What do you think?

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.***