Tuesday, December 3, 2013

256th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Attacks of Gratitude

So much food heading to the Community Food Bankmakes such a pretty picture no matter what the surroundings.
The attacks started back in 1992, the year I landed an improbable job as Design Director at Merrill Lynch corporate headquarters in Princeton, NJ.

A year or so earlier my world didn’t contain much optimism. The first Bush recession knocked the stuffings out of my design firm which I then handed over to a business associate and walked away. What followed were a number of minimum wage jobs that added to the distress. A typesetter would loose new accounts I brought on board by delivering error ridden gallies. “But they were delivered on time,” he’s remind me. After he lost MetLife, he lost me, too.

Then I worked for a consumer photo service for a month or so where the owner tried to make color corrections to the prints by reading the negative. Since colors are reversed on negatives; i.e., green prints red for instance, the error rate was 25% at the minimum. Money was being thrown in the waste paper basket at an alarming rate and I could not get anyone’s attention.

At the same time my blood pressure was a constant 140/90, wearing me down because my cardiovascular system was stuck in first gear. And I could feel every beat. Interestingly enough, many medical people and ordinary folks say they can’t. They aren’t paying enough attention I’m thinking.

Through a last ditch phone call to a gentleman named Rick Roach—whom I had met earlier in the Merrill Lynch lobby for a five or so minute sales presentation—the doors opened and I was able to turn my life around completely. But no matter how good things got I have never forgotten the dire situation I was in physically and mentally with absolutely no where to turn.

Maybe six months after I was well established at Merrill I was walking down the quarter mile opulent corridor to the in-house cafeteria when I got my first attack of gratitude. I was so grateful to be working in such a wonderful place I smiled and thought “Thank You.” Not to any particular person or thing, but just Thank You. It could be so much worse and my whole being recognized that fact at that singular moment.

Since then, those attacks happen often. The food stacked high next to my guest house elicited one this weekend. We are collecting so much food I just look at it and said Thank You. It’s like I’m two people. On one side collecting food is easy for me yet I look at that skill with amazement. How the heck does it happen?

On Saturday TED (the Technology, Education and Design web site) sent me an email with a video link to a talk by BrotherDavid Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. His presentation was entitled “Want to be happy? Be grateful.”  Perhaps the most salient moment for me came when he suggested everyone should “live gratefully.” Fascinating. That is exactly what I am doing and I am happy. Things go up and down such as my truck dies, or I have little money to expand One Can A Week but I am still happy and have been so for five years now.

Sunday night I met my best friend Maen Mdanat at his store to pick up his neighborhood food collection. He explained all that happened to him and his children when he made his rounds earlier in the day. He, too, was good at gathering food and he felt delight in his heart. Maen had experienced what happens to me all of the time. He was very happy to help his neighbors help hungry kids.

Brother David is not wrong in his assessment. Now that I think about it gratitude is the key to happiness. I discovered this fact years ago by uttering a simple, quiet thank you every time I recognize my good fortune. Try it in place of a swear word when you experience your next close call. Then and there … that will be the start of your happiness.

16th Truck Load
Two dear friends, Kristin Broksas and Merle Stolar threw two wonderful Thanksgiving dinners and asked all of their guests to bring cans to their gatherings. When the donations were tallied including our Sunday collection the total was 344 lbs.

This week's donations amounted to 492 lbs. and included River View Estates, 78 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 70 lbs.; and Miles Neighborhood, 344 lbs.

It Happened Again
For the third straight year, Lenny’s sister, Patricia Diane Cota-Robles gave us $500 to donate to the Community Food Bank. This is a wonderful gift and adds up to $4,500 when you consider the food bank’s $1.00 - $9.00 buying power.

We collected a total of 492 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $601.00, two checks for $550.00 and $51.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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