Saturday, October 31, 2009

Passion Party #95 - Rain

We wait 6 months or more here
in this desert we call Los Angeles

The rain finally arrives
after threats from the Meteorologists
of severe weather and mudslides

Walking on the beach yesterday
it looked like the winds might blow the storm north,
missing the L A basin
But last night the rain hit
strong and steady
washing the roads clean of months of oil and rubber

I love the rain
it lets me know that Nature has not forgotten us
the grass and the flowers smile
the air cool and clean
A walk with an umbrella
is a reason to celebrate

Friday, October 30, 2009

Passion Party #94 - The Power of Negative Thinking

Yesterday I read a book review of two new books:
one by a woman who is a cancer survivor,
one by an arch conservative.
Both were complaining about our
Feel-Good, Positive-Thinking, Have-a-nice-day society.
The woman felt she was ostracized if she didn't buy in to the idea that she had to "think positively" to help get rid of the cancer, instead of her belief that science and medicine would or would not cure her disease.
The man was just a curmudgeon, positive that Oprah and Dr. Phil and Eckhart Tolle are taking us all to hell in a hand-basket.
My mom, like many Jewish mothers, was a card-carrying member of the Power of Negative Thinking Club.
The Club has four precepts:
- Bad things are to be expected, and you know, it could be worse!
- No matter how good something is, these is always room to complain.
- Expect the worst, and you leave room that you can be pleasantly surprised.
- Complain enough, and you will feel better
And one corollary:
- Worrying prevents bad things from happening.

But over the last few years even my mother has become more positive.

I see myself as a realist that prefers to look at the glass half full
being optimistic with a healthy dose of skepticism
and always backing my positive attitude
with action.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Passion Party #93 - Open

Open up
Open your heart
Open your mind
Open your thoughts

Open for business
Open for suggestion
Open during remodeling

open up
to a new day

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Passion Party #92 - Three Marriages

(A thank you to David Whyte)

I have three marriages in my life.
I have the marriage to my wife, the actual legal marriage that we all think of when we see that word.
I have a marriage to my chosen profession (or professions);
to my job.
I have a marriage to my self, and to personal growth, to finding out who I am.

Each marriage requires time, energy
and constant attention,
each one must grow
or it will be dying.

I used to think of this as
an impossible juggling act
trying to keep all the balls in the air and fearful of one or more dropping

Now I see
the interface
the support
the balance that comes
from the three marriages.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Passion Party #90 - 5 Types of People

There are 5 types of people or types of character
that I run into in business over and over again.

There are Great People:
interesting and interested,
open to discussion, intelligent, willing to listen,
they make decisions and follow through.

There are Sometimes Great People:
much the same as above, but more self-centered,
moody, open to wide swings of opinion, less decisive.

There are Fun But Hopeless People:
great to be around, but nothing ever gets done
good for partying, but don't take them to work with you.

There are Don't Trust Anyone People:
they have been hurt along the way, and no matter what you do they are sure the world is out to get them, so they better do it themselves.

There are Use You For Information People:
they suck you dry, and then move on.

I work with Great and Sometimes Great People
because character counts
and I want to be surrounded with Great People.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Passion Party #89 - Billionaires

Last night I read Forbes Magazine
"The 400 Richest People in America"
almost all of them billionaires.
Warren Buffett's stock dropped last year
and he lost $10 billion dollars
Now he only has $50 billion ($50,000,000,000).

Four of the top 10 are the Walton clan,
all have billions because America supports them by buying cheap stuff at Wal-Mart.

What drives these people?
After reading Warren Buffett's biography
I now know that, besides not having his unique abilities,
I wouldn't want to be him.
Nor would I want to be Bill Gates.
But I admire them for both moving from
accumulation to significance
by creating a foundation to improve the world,
spending the money rather than leaving it to their heirs.
I certainly would not want to be Larry Ellison.
buying his competition into oblivion and
spending it on the fastest sailboat in the world.

I don't need to be the smartest person in the world,
I just need to be smart enough.
I don't need to be the richest person in the world,
I just need to be rich enough.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Passion Party #88 - Proceed With Joy

Every day we are given the gift of life
and then we get to choose
to open the gift, or not
to play with the gift, or not
to see this gift as an enemy or a friend.

It often feels like a road under construction
warning flags and orange cones everywhere.
The signs say, "Proceed With Caution"
But today I choose
to Proceed With Joy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Passion Party #87 - My Mom

My mom taught me to be an artist
not by what she said, but by what she did.
Trained as a draftsman,
she could not get work in the 40s
due to sexual discrimination.
Marrying my dad shortly after the war
her life rapidly absorbed into being
the wife of an entrepreneur:
he was building a sheet metal business,
she was taking care of a growing family (three kids by 1955)

But all the while she was being the dutiful wife,
she also took art classes, was painting,
learned sculpture,
started designing jewelry and built a side business designing and selling gold and silver jewelry...
She fought the stereotype
of the hausfrau and the corporate appendage
to be her own person, and follow her own muse.

And now, at age 87 (as of next week)
she has a gallery showing in a Boston suburb of her latest 13 paintings, plus a selection of her other related work,
13 canvasses completed in the last 6 months or so
inspired by this, her first gallery showing in 15 years.

As an artist
she made choices in her life
to support her art
or bury her art
or subvert her art
but in the end she is an artist
and the art will come out
It is not a choice
It is who she is
Helping you see things differently
Helping you hear things differently
Helping you feel alive.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Passion Party #86 - Be Decisive

The people I like best
are those that make quick decisions
they can assess a situation and
promptly decide the next action

It is not a what-if
No second guessing
No looking to the future
to paralyze the present.

Being decisive is the first step in setting a goal
it sets things in motion

Not to say that I can't change my mind
that is another conclusion for a later day
when I again review the situation
and choose
and act.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Passion Party #85 - Environment

Nothing can cool passion faster
than a lousy environment.
The musician needs the right environment for the muse to visit
The lover needs the right environment for trust and lust to join together.

I took five days off the other week to travel,
visit family and observe the Jewish New Year
and at the end I felt
The FEAR was that I had lost my center,
afraid of returning to my job
afraid of the economy
afraid of disappointing people
afraid business will dry up, that the music gigs will stop, that my family will stop loving me, afraid of illness and death.
It all felt hard, scary and uncontrollable.

But yesterday I awoke to a loving wife
who let me cry on her shoulder
a long needed cry.
And when I got to work, I found
the FEAR was just
False Expectations Appearing Real.
My office was still there
my systems still in place
my support staff still helping with the loan files
business was humming, and I was able to just drop in, regroup, and hum along.
The office, the space I work in
and the people I work with
were all there to help, and I felt my
passion rise again
the passion to see what I can do to make life better for others.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Passion Party #84 - a New Year

The Jewish New Year
always arrives when school starts,
when summer ends
and it always feels more like the New Year to me than our Roman Calendar New Year.
The autumn brings a "buckling down" atmosphere
that feels more like a new beginning in some way.

Some years I wonder why I am at Temple
but this year the message was loud and clear

Taking time for self-reflection
to review what I have done right, what I have done wrong, and what I can do to make it better
Prayer for me is not a matter of asking for what I want
it is asking to follow God's will, or
your Moral Compass if you do not believe in a Higher Power
And then charity, reaching out to the community,
seeing what I can do to make life better for others.

This is what it is all about
Returning, Prayer, and Charity
T'shuvah, T'filah, and Tzedakah
Reaching in, reaching up, and reaching out

Friday, October 16, 2009

Passion Party #83 - Tzedakah

When I was a boy
we would get these little metal "Tzedakah boxes"
and would collect loose change,
and then at Sunday School we would hand them in to the teacher.
The money went somewhere, but I never really knew where.
It went to a Jewish Charity
It went to "the Needy"
It was a vague unknown where the money went
I just knew it went to somebody needier than me.

When I grew up I discovered that money was not the only way to give to the needy.
Charity meant service, taking the time to help,
working for free at times to do the right thing.

And then I learned generosity
and again it did not have to mean giving money
it was leading with the open hand
and an open spirit
It was giving, not the "the needy"
but to those you love
to those deserving.
It felt good to be generous
to be big enough to let the time and money flow
instead of hoarding what I had.

Now I see charity and generosity intertwined
and I remember
it is not about the money
I can wear this as a loose garment today
as I pray to heal the world
and heal my life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Passion Party #82 - T'shuvah

I was never a big fan of repentance.
It always brings up an image of a New Yorker comic
with a guy in a long robe walking the streets
with a big placard,
someone Holier Than Thou,
who are you to tell me to repent for my sins?

But T'shuvah has other meanings
It is taking responsibility for one's actions
It is being accountable
And in another way it can be translated as "return".
A return to where you have come from
a return to the beginning
as we all finally return to the same nothingness.

When thought of this way
T'shuvah is really the 4th Step Prayer
a time to clean my side of the street
admit what I did wrong
and a willingness to change
to make it right in the future.
And it is when I become accountable
that things begin
creating space for what
the Universe has to offer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Passion Party #81 - Prayer and Meditation

Prayer and meditation are similar but different.
Meditation is an emptying out
a clearing of the mind
a "no-thought"
or a watching of the thoughts go by
just like clouds, blown in a clear blue sky.

Prayer is more directed
but it is not an asking of what God can do for you,
it is not like the wish list for Santa Claus
It is an asking of what you can do to fulfill God's will.

My prayers start with a request for clarity and serenity, and this is like a meditation.
Then a thank you for what I have been given
(and often a surprise at how things that I desire seem to be coming my way)
Then a grateful list
and then a request prefaced by "if it is Your Will".

And yes, there is a big part of me that questions God as an individual or any kind of anthropomorphic being with the capability of listening and responding. Seems like a fairy tale. It is more an offering to life, to the universe, and the response continues to be surprising and often accurate and at times immediate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Passion Party #80 - Money, Part 8

Abundance comes
to those that give it away
I need to share the wealth
to receive wealth.

My dad made a lot of money
and spent a lot of money
He realized early on
you need to be your own boss to really make money
and he loved to spend it as much as he loved to make it.
What is the money for?
Why do I want it so?
Freedom first, then security,
and peace of mind, and to spread joy.

It is the willingness to let it go
to spread it around
that makes me attractive
that brings me abundance.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Passion Party #79 - Reward Yourself

Our lives are filled with doing
Today, take time for being
A small reward
a walk around the block
a gift of time
today is a day to celebrate
and reward yourself -
You have come so far!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Passion Party #78 - 100 Things I Love About My Business

Three and a half months ago I was in a seminar and it started with a challenge:
Take 10 minutes and write down 100 things you love about your business.
After 10 minutes I had about 18 things on my list. I was done.
Then it was suggested that we pair up into groups of 2, 3 or 4 and compare our lists, to help each other get to 100.
The power of group thinking kicked in as we read our lists to each other, and found other aspects of our business that were similar. Things that resonated got added to my list. My list started to grow.
I got stuck when someone said, "I love the unknown" and "I love unpredictability" and "I love change".
I said, "I don't think I can put those on my list."
The person answered, "If you don't love those three things, then you are in the wrong business."
I put them on my list.

Within less than a half hour, we all had a list of 100 things and a mental shift had occurred.
I had discovered positive aspects of my business that I had never considered.
Problems became challenges
and challenges became something to solve
and I love solving puzzles (#28 on my list).

The group mind had made it easy,
and I doubt I could have done it on my own.
The last thing on my list was:
100. I love giving hope
This was the week I started my Passion Party.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Passion Party #77 - Passages

Our lives are filled with passages
Borders that we cross into new lands
and like the cartographers of the 1400s
our view of the world and its design gets clearer
as we explore new lands.

It is an uncharted territory,
even though others have been there before
this point in time being different from
every point before
and yet the same.

A passing through from one side to the next
and you can't go back
It is so important to acknowledge these changes
and mark them
so that it is more than just one more day
sliding into another:
a young couple's wedding vows at a 250-year-old inn,
a barbeque with friends for a young son off to college,
a son turning 16 - sweet 16 - at a pool party in Santa Monica,
an 86-year-old mother's first art show in over 20 years.
Grabbing each day
as if it is as special
as it really is.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Passion Party #76 - The Pathless Path

I remember
until I was in my mid-30s
I could pick any moment and,
looking back would think,
"How did I get here?"
If I could time travel
and go back in time 5 years
and tell myself, "5 years in the future you will be doing 'X'",
I would never believe it.

A constant overachiever, it felt like I had started my midlife crisis way too early.

Now from a further distance
I can see that what I am today
is a summation of all that came before.
It does all add up in a nonlinear way
I was on a pathless path

And I may still not know where I am going
or where I will end up.
I can see the past informs my present
and from this I create choices for the future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Passion Party #75 - True Wealth

While in Washington DC
we took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
and we saw where they print money.
Reams and reams of special paper
being printed, turned into $100 bills.
It can't help but make you think:
what makes this paper so valuable
that people will work their lives away to accumulate it?

In the Money Factory they had people checking and double checking the process
pulling the less-than-perfect product
to keep quality control of the printing and cutting and wrapping.
The "defective money" gets shredded,
then they put it in bags and sell it to tourists in the gift shop.
People buy shredded money with their hard-earned cash...

It would be nice to print money
rather than just work in the factory, getting an hourly wage for quality control.
In the end it is only paper.
In our massive dream we give value to it
but the true wealth is not in the paper
it is in a life worth living
in singing your unique song.

"Remember that your real wealth can be measured not by what you have, but what you are." - Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Passion Party #74 - Family Reunion

Some people are born into loving families
Some are born into families that don't care.
Some people choose their own families,
surrounding themselves with people of like mind.

Some people have children to create
the family they always wanted.
some people never have kids
fearful that their family will become like their parents'.

Some people run to record the family history,
some run from the family, changing their name in the hopes of creating a new life.

These are all parts of my family.

When I was growing up, becoming my own person,
I hurt my family with my separateness,
but now we all come together.
We celebrate, watch our families grow
through marriage and other life events
we enjoy each others company
even though the family is spread 6000 miles apart.
There is a caring and a common thread of
kindness - joy - support - love

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Passion Party #73 - Life Is Not Linear

I remember when, at the age of 35, I got my
first banking job.
My mother was so excited.
After spending years pursuing a career in music
I had finally gotten "A Real Job".
A Job with a Future.
A job with benefits, and one that would undoubtedly lead to promotions.

Now as I look back
I see a long string of various jobs for banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies that are either merged, closed or worse.
The days of working for the mega-corporation until you get the gold watch are gone - look at GM. Look at Chrysler. Look at the LA Times.

Life is not linear
no matter how much we try to make it so.
And yet if I take a moment
in honesty
I am able to look back and understand
how all these non-linear moves in my life
have led me to this place.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Passion Party #72 - Don't Set Goals

OK, let me be clear.
I love goals
I love scoring points and winning
I set deadlines for myself,
and things get done -
I would not have released 6 albums of music
if I did not set goals.

Goals are great for sports
but they are not always great in life.
In The Game of Life
we don't get to cross the finish line, count our score, and then just sip a beer until the rest of our time is up.

We are often so busy racing to our goal that we forget that
Life may have other plans.
So, just for today,
I won't set a goal
I will just live and see what happens.