Just Feed One


Play it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept “pay it forward” is old, but the phrase is believed to have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight. Here’s a slightly different twist on ‘play/pay it forward’:

We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter: ‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?” My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.” Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’.

While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks ‘Do you have any suspended coffee?’ It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.” very respectfully, Scott Sonnon www.facebook.com/ScottSonnon

Here and there I ‘pay/play it forward’ but not nearly as much as my heart and soul wishes I would. So here at the start of a sparkling new year, I commit to myself to share my fortunate life more with the world, without expectation. Yet, I know whatever I give will come back to me multiplied. I am grateful.

If you can’t feed
a hundred people,
then just feed one.
Mother Teresa

Love Is Always the Answer


Today… an older gentleman walked in.

Carla asks if he has any questions, to which he responds:

“I have all the answers.”

So I ask him what the meaning of life is.

He says, “Love.”

He continues:

“All faiths have one goal.
To establish YOU in love.
Today, tomorrow and forever.
An establishment of love forever into eternity.
You will be loved forever and ever and ever.

All faiths pursue the same ideal.

The trouble is, you don’t get there too well sometimes.
Love is a difficult thing to maintain.”

Yes, love is difficult— but anything worthwhile is.
Yes, you will be loved forever and ever and ever.
Yes, love is the answer. 

Have faith. Love is always the answer. Sufey Chen

Thank you, Sufey.  I follow your blog and keep track of you on Facebook. Your radiant happiness and joy for life amazes me. I am grateful for the days when reading what you shared has taken an ordinary day and made it better.

To be yourself in a world
that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The “Just War Theory”


On a semi-regular basis I attend a local Unitarian church and always benefit from each visit. This morning the minister talked about a concept I had not heard of called “Jus Ad Bellum” which in Latin translates to “The Law to War Theory”. Some refer to it as “The Just War Theory”.

At a time my country is considering making war in another country (again) I hope many will go through the seven criteria for a “Just War” and come to their own conclusion concerning possible new military action in the Middle East.

Just Cause: The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot therefore be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.

Comparative Justice: While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other

Competent Authority: Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war. “A just war must be initiated by a political authority within a political system that allows distinctions of justice. Dictatorships are typically considered as violations of this criterion.

Right Intention: Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose… correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.

Probability of Success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.

Last Resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical..

Proportionality: The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms. In modern terms, just war is waged in terms of self-defense, or in defense of another (with sufficient evidence).

“The Just War Theory” has Catholic roots, but in my mind stands as wisdom unbound by any dogma. War is something that has always been difficult for me to sort out and I often been a fence straggler. I have grateful that “Jus Ad Bellum’ has been made known to me. It will a useful yardstick from now on when the politicians and generals start talking about making war, not matter how limited in scope.

There is no such thing
as a little war.
It’s like trying to say someone
is a little pregnant.

Paid In Full

paid2bby2ba2bglass2bof2bmilkOne day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house.

However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied “Mother has taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.” He said… “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt; stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation.

When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her.

He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case. After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.

He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side as she read these words…… “Paid in full with one glass of milk.” (Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

On-line sources say the essential parts of the story are materially true. There really was a Dr. Kelly who actually did return the kindness many times over for a glass of milk. That act resonates with me in a deeply emotional way. There have been many kindnesses shown me that given the chance I would repay a hundred, even a thousand fold. I am thankful for my grateful spirit and all the compassion many have shown me.

Guard well within yourself
that treasure, kindness.
Know how to give without hesitation,
how to lose without regret,
how to acquire without meanness.
George Sand

howard atwood kelly

Howard Atwood Kelly, M.D.
(February 20, 1858 – January 12, 1943)
A founding professor at the
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland

Six Little Things

find-cheaper-beverag_1371Having focus and good intentions has proven to have significant effect on the quality of my life. When I walk into a day with specific things to try to do better, even managing to improve just a little gives a sense of satisfaction. Here on a Monday, with that in mind I go into my work-day with six little things to keep top of mind.

1. Be focused outwardly and actively observe the outside world I see during my morning and evening commute.

2. When I get to work, open up my office then walk around and say hello to everyone.

3. Take a ten minute break late morning and mid-afternoon. Get up from my desk and walk around.

4. Leave the office for lunch and eat something I like that is good for me.

5. Prioritize and do what needs to be done today. Then go home on time.

6. Try to listen a little more and talk a little less.

At the end of the day, it may be apparent that I did well at keeping all six top of mind in my behavior. Or my results may be small because I lose focus through the day. No matter. Good intention and even small successes at living better always lend a positive result. I am grateful for the inspiration to try.

If your daily life seems poor,
do not blame it;
blame yourself,
tell yourself that
you are not poet enough
to call forth its riches;
for to the creator
there is no poverty
and no poor indifferent place.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure…

MilitaryXmasReadily I admit I fought through watery eyes to get this retyped here. Though I did not serve in the military, I have known many good men and women who did. While the poem was written specifically by a Marine for Marines, I have placed it here as a tribute to all military men and women, past and present. I honor and thank you. By your efforts I am able to celebrate Christmas quietly and without fear.

“Merry Christmas, My Friend”
T’was the night Before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree,
No stockings by the mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen,
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read,
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted into sleep
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still
I noticed he shivered from the cold nights chill.
I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over and in a voice clean and pure,
said, “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and good night.

Although attributed to many and often amended, what I have included here is the original poem in its original form written by James M. Schmidt in 1986. In December 2002, he set the record straight about the poem’s origin when he wrote “The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th and I, Washington, DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers, I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine”.

Please share this blog with others in honor of our veterans and soldiers.

From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge,
to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq,
our soldiers have courageously answered when called,
gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.
Solomon Ortiz

Two Ordinary People

DropTED is a favorite free website where I find content that moves me, causes me to think and marvel at the accomplishments some of the speakers. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading”. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. The two annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, Scotland, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).  The main conferences are augmented today by a number of smaller conferences around the world that the organization holds.

After not being there for over a month, last week I visited TED.com and found two new short videos (around 5 min) that touched my emotional core. One was  how something Hannah Brechner did on a lark turned into a life changing endeavor (for her and others). She always loved that her family communicated via handwritten letters. In October of 2010, Hannah began writing love letters intended for strangers and tucking them away in libraries and cafes across New York City, for people to randomly discover. Soon, she offered on her blog HannahKaty.com to write a letter to anyone who needed one. Over the next year, she mailed out more than 400 hand-penned letters.

Today she runs http://www.moreloveletters.com/, a letter exchange dedicated to connecting strangers across the globe through the art of letter writing.

CLick here for Hannah’s story: http://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers.html

And then there’s TED Fellow and artist Candy Chang. In her New Orleans neighborhood she turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors’ answers, surprising, poignant and funny became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What’s your answer?)

before I die

Find Candy Changs story here: http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html

Just two ordinary people who started in small way to make a small difference who instead ended up changing lives every day. I am thankful for the humble feeling of gratitude I feel for such people who change the world a drop at a time and the inspiration they give me.

Never be afraid to do something new. Remember,
amateurs built the ark;
professionals built the titanic.