Where were you ten, twenty years ago? I don't mean geographically - I'm talking about your inner presence, your mindset, your core being…

I've passed the half-century milestone now and I reflect: How have I grown? Have I achieved all that I could thus far? Can I be a better Jew? A more productive citizen? And the answer to these questions is in the affirmative - yet I now love where I'm at…because I can appreciate the journey thus far and the paths yet untraversed.

I appreciate the journey thus far and the paths yet untraversedA relatively new and very dear friend of mine is awaiting a double lung transplant; she is presently focusing on staying on an even plane - meditating, appreciating the lessons of the Torah and miraculously performing good deeds in every imaginable way as she continues on through the next stage of her significant journey. She is my inspiration, the reason for my awakened reflection and introspection.

Have you ever had the privilege of watching a tiny hummingbird, seemingly floating from flower to flower while effortlessly sipping its precious nectar? Its wings are barely visible as they beat as much as 70 times per second. This exceptional creature can fly backwards and forwards, maintaining its position while feeding. A remarkable bird, it is, and my friend is equally impressive in her ability to nourish herself and others while struggling to live, to breathe.

She puts the rest of us to shame. Her determination, courage, remarkable talents and intelligence have transported me to a new level of understanding of where I need to be in this world and why I should love who I am. She is that rare, exquisite flower in the heart of a barren desert - and she loves where she's at spiritually.

Can we accomplish this sense of peace without an existing threatening medical condition or impending life changing surgery?

Our society has become increasingly focused on youth and external beauty. We have forgotten the value of wrinkles earned through life experiences, and instead reward and worship those with the most artificial appearances, the tautest skin and most comical expressions created by pulling, lifting, and injecting. We have virtually ignored the sacrifices and immeasurable value of the aged population who laid a solid foundation for all of us. Yet in Judaism, there is great emphasis and importance on the need to honor our elders.

I'll tell you who I think was a stunning woman. Golda Meir. Aesthetically, she may not have qualified as a beauty, but her face portrayed her fierce devotion to Israel, her undeniable intelligence and a unique ability to astound others with her majestic presence and inner radiance - a glow which would certainly outshine any Hollywood "beauty" by my standards. Her face was not smooth and unmarred, but rather well-defined by lines and chiseled with furrows earned through hard work and devotion to her family, friends, her people, and the world.

Let us also applaud and recognize the true heroes Frankly, I'm tired of the countless accolades and attention showered upon celebrities at entertainment award ceremonies for their various achievements in the industry. I'm sure that they have done a fine job, but let us also applaud and recognize the true heroes: the single parents who struggle to provide food and shelter for their kids, the health-challenged individuals who surmount incredible obstacles each day in order to survive in a so-called 'able' world, the healthcare workers who compassionately nurse the ill and the dying, the children who emerge from underpriviledged situations to become productive citizens…the list goes on and on…

Loving where you're at involves much more than accepting yourself. It implores attention to the needs of others, less focus on oneself, appreciation for acts of kindness and true friendship. It's about holding the door open for the person behind you without stressing over the consequences of its political correctness. It is being aware of the power of humanity and decent behavior. It means performing good deeds on a daily basis.

Like the skillful hummingbird, loving where you're at means hovering from journey to journey while dexterously maintaining your position in this world.

This piece is dedicated to my very dear friend Melody Masha Pierson. May she be blessed with strength and renewed health!