Monday, October 23, 2017

Passion Party #582 - Avinu Maleinu Part 2

Accepting the premise that there is some God-like entity or energy to pray to, the Avinu Malkeinu prayer from the Jewish New Year is really a series of requests from the congregation to "Our Father, Our King".
In a nutshell, we are saying, "I have screwed up this year; have compassion God, let me try again for another year."  It is made up of 15 short statements, almost all of them requests:
1) a statement that there is a God
2) a request, prefaced by "for Your sake" asking for mercy.
This presents an interesting relationship between the believer and God. It is in God's benefit to show me mercy because I believe in him.  If I am not shown mercy, who will believe in God?  Who will be left to do God's will?
3) a request for healing of the sick (this is one of the few requests that is not "all about me".)
4) a request to remove the decree against me
5) a request to be inscribed in the Book of Life
6) a request for God to remember our good deeds
7) like #2, a request to save us "for Your sake".
8) a request to be heard
9) a statement that we have sinned
10) a request for compassion for us and our family
11) a request to end sickness, violence and hunger (finally not just for me and my family)
12) a request to end the reign of those that cause pain and terror
13) a request to be entered in the Book of Goodness
14) a request for a year of goodness
15) finally, a request for an answer to the prayer, to be saved through acts of justice and love.
Like so many prayers that I learned in Hebrew School, this one feels somewhat misguided.  It does gratefully move for centering on "all about me", finally requesting things for the greater good (from "me" to "us" to "everyone").
I have come to believe that requesting specific action from God or the Universe is a waste of time.  The Universe just is.
The best we can do is fit into the positive flow of energy and avoid the negative.
So my prayer is, "What can I do today to better serve Your will?  Relieve me of the bondage of self. Show me what acts of justice and love I can do now so that I can better serve Your will and Your way of life.  Your will, not mine, be done."

Passion Party #584 - Income/Expense - Part 1

It's been about a year and a half now that my wife and I have talked about creating a budget.

Budget is such a dirty word
For me it has elements of shame and discomfort built into its definition

It has been easier for me to make more money rather than look at how I spend it.
But that time is over.  It's time to pull the curtain back and see what the Wizard of Oz really looks like.

Why is this important?
Its about getting clarity
and focus
and removing the weight of worry and doubt
It will give me a purpose as to what I am working for
or not working for
It will give me a clear path to work from/off of

My argument against getting this clarity was that my income fluctuates so much each year, how can I ever really predict the future?
But then I realized that it is not about predicting the future
It is about looking at the past and seeing where the money went, not where it is coming from.
The budget will create itself
once I have clarity on how I spend my money.
The budget will allow me to make choices.

Right now it is just about clarity
Putting my expenses into categories
filling in the pieces of the puzzle
with no judgement - it is what it is.
The income/expense comes later.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Passion Party #583 - Every Day

I found this poem in the Prayer Book for Yom Kippur at our Temple:

Prayer - by Marie Howe



-->
Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention - the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Passion Party #581 - Avinu Malkeinu Part 1

One of the prayers we say during the Jewish New Year is Avinu Malkeinu.  The literal translation is "Our Father, Our King."  It is often interpreted as "Almighty and Merciful."
The metaphor is saying that God is a judging, commanding and awe-inspiring Sovereign, and at the same time is a loving, compassionate parent.

She could wipe us all out with a look in the eye, but instead chooses to guide us through our foibles with mercy and compassion.

The first question that comes to mind is: Do I believe that an "Almighty and merciful God" exists?  Do I believe that there is some one, or some force, guiding the universe and acting in some way that directly relates to this speck of dust we call "earth" and its inhabitants? Do I believe that somehow the floods, hurricanes and earthquakes we are currently experiencing have some kind of Divine cause, and somehow in all this devastation there is mercy and compassion?

Logic tells me this does not make sense.

But my belief and faith says that, yes, there is a chance that in our inter-connected universe there may be an energy guiding our better human intentions.  Between the "I am That" and the "That I am" I am somehow connected to something greater than myself.

My Sea of Faith is almost gone, but I still have hope.
Image result for avinu malkeinu

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Passion Party #580 - Farm To Table

I am blessed to live in Los Angeles
the land of pleasant weather
the place where almost any day of the week there is a Farmer's Market within a 7-mile radius of my home
the home of celebrity chefs that create restaurant "experiences" that cost $250 per person (not including wine).
But who needs a chef when you have a back yard?
This year I started a new vegetable garden in the back yard and filled it with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and more tomatoes.
Now with June coming to an end the harvest has begun, and the dinners become more and more amazing.
Last night may have been a pinnacle of gastronomic happiness.
  • Diana's cauliflower soup with farmers market potatoes, carrots and celery
  • fresh off the vine sliced cucumber
  • fresh sliced Cherokee Purple tomato, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • steamed rainbow Swiss Chard
  • grilled lemon-pepper turkey thighs (cooked on the backyard BBQ)
Instagram photos would not do it justice, so we did not take any.  But here's the garden this morning:



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Passion Party #579 - Purpose Vs. Passion

There is a lot of fear going around.  I feel it.
I see it in the news. I hear it from my friends.
At times like this I feel a need to rise above, to filter out the noise.

I am lucky.  I found a job that I love, a job that lets me help people get to their goals, a job that relates to my purpose in life. 
I love to use my talents to inspire others and help them build a better life, whether it is through banking or music or education.

Some people are not so lucky.  They struggle to find their purpose in life.  They may feel lost, or on a treadmill, not really living - just existing day to day.

"Finding Your Purpose In Life" can be a drag.  It can feel like another chore.  Why bother?

Better to find the passion in your life.  What lights your fire? What makes you want to wake up in the morning?  If money were no object, what would you do today?
Even here the answer may not be so obvious.  It might not be the first thought that comes to mind. But do it, take action, see how it feels.  Can you wear this comfortably?

When you find your Passion, your Purpose will follow close behind.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Passion Party #578 - Context Vs. Content

Most people want the short answer, the quick fix.  "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it".
They think if you give them the answer, they will know the question. But just like Carnac The Magnificent (OK kids - Google it) the answer might lead to the wrong question.

There are hundreds, probably thousands of books and articles about how to be a positive person - the power of positive thinking, etc.  The steps of "How  to" are easy and simple, virtually anyone can really do them.  The "What to do" is a short list, nothing to it.

But before we get to the content of any discussion, it is important to set the context.  The "Why" is the key.  The "what's important about being a positive person, to you?" must be explored.  Otherwise it is just another feel-good pamphlet sitting in that stack at the edge of your desk; another book of affirmations that you never open.

Context is set by asking probing questions, giving examples, analyzing what actually changed in people's lives and what triggered the change.  Change is the one constant in life, and change is hard.  It is so much easier to stay in the status quo, to accept that, maybe, life sucks a large percentage of the time.

Or maybe - when we have established the context of Positivity, the How and What will become not only easy, but will make sense and be worth pursuing.