An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Part I: Please Help Honor World War II Veterans

Several years ago as I was boarding a flight from Chicago to Boise, I was stopped in my tracks as I started to walk down the aisle to my seat.  I saw a sea of black hats.  I immediately recognized the hats because my husband has one on his dresser, it was his grandfathers. The hat signifies what war a soldier may have fought in, if they are a veteran and sometimes what branch they served.  I was overwhelmed, wanted to take a picture because it was a beautiful sight, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. I quickly learned I was on an Honor Flight full of World War II Veterans.  They were flying back from Washington D.C. where most were seeing the World War II memorial for the first time.

When we arrived in Boise, the veterans were the last to exit the plane. Many of us on the flight stayed around and welcomed them home, a Hero’s Welcome they never received after the war.  Tears welled up in my eyes and all I could do was clap and smile as one by one they passed by. 

Indy Honor Flight is a non-profit organization created solely to honor Indiana’s veterans for all their sacrifices.  There are similar organizations throughout the country with the same mission: to transport America's Veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices. Currently, the top priority is given to the senior veterans-World War II survivors, along with those veterans who may be terminally ill. 

“Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation- and as a culturally diverse, free society. Now, with over 700-900 World War II veterans dying each day, our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.” Indy Honor Flight
Several weeks ago a fellow colleague sent out an email asking for support in writing letters to veterans that will be going on an upcoming honor flight.  I knew this was an opportunity to give and hopefully get others involved.  This is TOP SECRET!  The Veterans on the flight don’t know it, but each Veteran will receive 10 or more pieces of mail.  The emotions that “mail call” raises are a testimony to the character of these men and women and how much these small acts of kindness mean to them. 

My Cisco colleagues, Vic Minatel, accompanied his uncle on an Honor Flight trip last September and stated, “During the war, mail call was a great day! It was a day that raised their spirits.  Mail call during the honor flight is a total surprise and they were humbled and very grateful for all of the letters. The veterans are humbled by the outpouring of support that is shown to them by friends, family and strangers.”
If you are reading this blog, you have freedoms that were fought for by the men in World War II and other wars. 

Please take a couple of minutes of your time to write a letter to say, THANK YOU!
Deadline for letters: March 28th (if you miss this deadline, there is another flight in May)

·       Please address your letter to: Dear Veteran

·       Do not date your letter

·       Example signatures: Stephanie, Mrs. Jones or simply A Grateful American

Please mail cards and letters to:

Indy Honor Flight

c/o Mail Call

9093 S SR 39

Moorseville,IN 46158
The schedule has the veterans returning home to Indianapolis on April 5th and another flight returning home on May 10th.  Again, I would encourage all of you to take a few minutes and jot a couple of notes to our Veterans who will be on the flight thanking them for their service and sacrifice that allows us to enjoy our enduring freedoms and liberties.   

“We can’t all be heroes, some of us need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by”

–Will Rogers

Thank you to Vic Mantel and Indy Honor Flight for pictures and information on the Indy Honor Flight experience. To learn more about Indy Honor Flight check out their website at

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Have you done this before?

I’m a bit embarrassed by this gift. Not at the gift itself but more so that I didn’t do more.  Today as my husband and I were pulling into Costco we noticed a man standing at the entrance to the parking lot. He was scruffy looking and holding a sign I couldn’t read.  I commented to my husband that I had seen him there before and that was the end of our conversation.

By the time we parked, got our cart, toured the isles looking at a bunch of stuff we didn’t need, filling our cart with the essentials such as Kleenex’s, paper towels, trail mix, etc the man asking for money on the side of the road slipped my mind.
I don’t call him homeless because I’m not sure of his situation. He may have a home but needs money for food. He may not need money but still trying to collect it from those passing by. I don’t know his story and at the end of the day does it really matter?

Fast forward through check-out, unloading the cart into the car and now we are pulling out.  We are several cars back and I see the man still standing on the side of the road with his sign.  He is standing on my side so in just a few seconds I have a decision to make.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but if you’re honest with yourself you have probably done the same thing.  I know in the past I have looked the other way.  We justify if we don’t look we don’t see the person.  Today, I’m going to admit as we were approaching the man the thought crossed my mind that it would be easier to turn my head, act like I’m in conversation with my husband and just ignore him.  But this time, I couldn’t do it. 

As we approached I looked the man in the eyes, nodded my head, gave a simple smile and a slight raise of the hand.  I acknowledged him.  And you know what happened? He smiled back and waved. We had made a connection.
Whenever I see someone on the side of the road I often struggle on how to help them and sometimes judge if they really need help. The judgment on my part is wrong, because it doesn’t matter.   Even though I’m embarrassed that I didn’t do more, I feel what I did may have been greater than giving him money. It may have been harder to look him in the eye and smile.  And for some reason I feel like for him maybe that is what he needed today on the side of the road, just a smile from a stranger.

I’m interested to hear if anyone else has struggled with this issue in the past.  I hope the next time you pass a stranger on the side of the road you will at least smile.
Have a blessed week!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Christmas Shoes

I read a lot. I love to read!  For the most part I try to read positive or inspiring books. Every so often I’ll get pulled in by James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books or a book on Navy Seals. I have a bit of an obsession with the SEALs.

Anyway, Friday night my hubby was having a guys night so I decided to throw my “to do” list out the window and take a little time for myself.  I first stopped in at Edible Arrangements to pick up a fruit bouquet for a friend who had been spending the better half of the last month at hospice with a family member who unfortunately passed away yesterday.  I’m so glad I listened to that nagging feeling that kept telling me I needed to do something for her, something to bring a little sunshine in the dark.

After dropping off the fruit bouquet I pulled into the Walgreen’s parking lot.  I had an appointment with a coaching client and wanted to give her my full attention. I didn’t need to be driving and talking anyways.  Not very safe! After catching up with my client I headed to Target. Oh I love not to be rushed in Target.  I had a short list of things I needed to pick up, but I also enjoyed looking at shoes, office supplies and kitchen gadgets. I impressed myself that I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on my list.  I’m really trying to stick to buying needs over wants this year.  It’s a work in progress but I have to start somewhere and getting out of Target with no extra items was a little miracle in and of itself.
I considered going home, but Barnes and Noble was calling my name.  Okay, so I peaked inside Pier 1 and after picking up a few things, I put them back. Again, things I wanted but didn’t need.  My husband would have been impressed. I spent zero dollars at Pier 1.  Get the Guinness Book of World Records to Valparaiso, Indiana because that has never happened!

Finally, I entered into the world of my true weaknesses…Barnes and Noble. I think I literally smiled and took a deep breath as I pull open those large, heavy wooden doors and entered.  It’s like the land of adventure for adults.  I had no particular book in mind. I just love to browse. I picked up many books.  I read the inside covers then put most books back down. Some I made a mental note to pick up at the library and others I don’t think are worth my time.  Then, as I always do, I stumbled upon the clearance books.  They had an entire table of $2 books.  SCORE! I was ecstatic to find three that peaked my interest and that I would purchase.  Think Like a Winner, Lost December by one of my favorite authors, Richard Paul Evans and The Christmas Shoes.  I had read the Christmas Secret by the same author and loved it. I also remember my mother mentioning this book. 
I finished The Christmas Shoes, by Donna VanLiere, this morning. I must be honest I cried through the last forty pages. My husband even walked in and said, “Really, a book is making you cry that much?”  Well I’m emotional and yes, it’s a sad book!

Besides The Christmas Shoes having sad moments it also had the underlying lessons of what this giving journey has taught me and what I’m on a mission to share with others.  The mission and message is simple.   It’s this. It is that things don’t make you happy.  That being rich with money and having nice things or going into debt to have nice things will never make you happy.  Thinking that children will be happy with rooms full of toys and stuff. That we have to spend lots of money and give tons of time to make a difference in the lives of others.  None of that is true.  My gift giving journey hasn’t been about big gifts and giving people things, though it may happen once it in awhile. It’s about the small things that may impact people in ways we will never know. It’s the small simple things that literally may change the course of someone’s life.  It may change the course of your life, like it has mine.  It’s holding a door, giving a smile, a hug, or a compliment.  It’s making a meal for someone in need, praying when there is no other way to help, sending a card to a stranger, and the list goes on and on as there are always simple opportunities to give.

I encourage you to read The Christmas Shoes. It may change your life and it may not.  I hope the author, doesn’t mind, but I’ll leave you with the Afterword (some of this won’t make sense if you haven’t read the book, but you’ll get the point):

“If we’re open to it, God can use even the smallest thing to change our lives…to change us.  It might be a laughing child, car brakes that need fixing, a sale on pot roast, a cloudless sky, a trip to the woods to cut down a Christmas tree, a schoolteacher, a Dunhill Billard pipe…or even a pair of shoes.
Some people will never believe. They may feel that such things are too trivial, too simple, or too insignificant to forever change a life.  But I believe. 

And I always will.
Blessings, Stephanie

P.S. I would like to send my copy of The Christmas Shoes to someone that wants to read it and will pass it along.  If you get this far in the blog and are the first to respond, I’ll send you my copy of The Christmas Shoes.  Once you read it, if there are others that want the book, I ask that you send it along to them. Email me at if you are interested.