Law Offices of Will Morris

Law Offices of Will Morris

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Showing 6 entries categorized by Aloha Book Legacy

Living a Legacy – Mindfully Bringing the Past Into the Present

Since posting my blog Reading and Living a Legacy - Send a Book to a Friend earlier this year, I have received many literary blessings from friends and clients, giving life to the old cliché (and in this instance a pun, but not an idiom): “You read me like a book." And they certainly have done so, quite successfully.  Together we continue to explore the complementary notions of living and leaving a legacy with the traditional practice of estate planning, which if left alone, focuses only on “leaving your stuff."

From Practice Aloha - Secrets to Living Life Hawaiian Style, by Mark Ellman to the most recent gift, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, by Kristin S. Kaufman, my “living a legacy” reflection has many new layers.  Ironically (or is that prophetically?), Kristin was herself a random encounter (or was she?).

Kristin tells personal stories that highlight the gifts of her random encounters and then invites our own reflection guided by the following: “Being Present in the Moment:  Moving Towards Alignment."  By embracing the added mindful intention of alignment, legacy is given even greater meaning, or potentially an active mandate.  Total alignment requires a collective awareness of those present moments which are now part of our past, with a challenge to artfully carry them forward to the next present moment.  

And therein lies the heart of “Living a Legacy” - awareness.  One need not discard the past to be fully in the present. Instead, one should magically embrace its positive energy and transform it lovingly into the present*.  Adding these layers acts as building blocks that actually enhance and empower the present exponentially.  And, when the future then becomes the present, it is augmented with even greater intensity.  Recognizing that the past has at differing times been both the present and the future, we can embrace the present with the same excitement for the role it plays in the future’s past and present.  This is how a legacy is recognized, embraced, and communicated.

Karen Salmansohn, sometimes referred to as a "happiness expert," summarizes my perspective perfectly: “Everything you’ve ever done, every person you’ve ever met, every experience you’ve ever had, is a part of who you are today, adding interesting layers to your being, and colorful depths to your soul.  Everything needed to be as it was, so you could grow as you did and do.”  Soul and legacy are terms that we should grow accustomed to recognizing in tandem.

And so it is with our legacy and the blessings of our relationships.  If you are totally present with a cherished friend, loved one, or family member, then you are also present with everything they have ever done, every person they have ever met, and every experience they have ever had.  If we are mindful and aware of this tremendous efficiency of being, then we have in effect, known that person forever - their past is collectively part of our presence together.  Our legacy is therefore intertwined with their legacy.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this experience, awareness, and understanding among our parents, grandparents, and others who have shaped our lives and to be able to carry that legacy forward?  Be mindful – you can do it.

And in the end, it doesn’t take long for me to recall a lyric from an old Beatles song, to express my world view.  “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." John Lennon, I Am The Walrus, Magical Mystery Tour.  We are all together - thank you.

  A brief side-bar, as I just loved this adorable picture, which paraphrases a sentiment I've expressed to my wife many times. And then it hit me – I had, in fact, loved her forever.


*As for the negative energy from the past – dismiss and leave it in the past – no need to pull it forward.   If it had somehow protected you in the past, say “thank you” and then “good-bye”.  It is not your legacy.



Living and Listing a Legacy – Starting your Aloha Book™ by Mindfully Making Lists

Creating lists can offer an introduction to both the concept of mindfulness and the Aloha Spirit, which in turn creates an outline for your legacy planning.  One of the key components of mindfulness is developing the capacity to fully focus, eliminating the clutter and becoming more aware.  Similarly, making lists helps us focus and bring an array of seemingly random thoughts into the present moment – to get things done without distraction.  The essence of experiencing the Aloha Spirit is to slow down, be aware, and be mindful of your environment and others - particularly those whom you love - ultimately determining how you are living your legacy.

I received some enchanting comments from those who are identifying with and implementing my “living a legacy” worldview and the conceptual design of the Aloha Book™.   I recently experienced a double-double legacy moment.  Rosalyn, a friend of almost fifty years, sent me a new book, Practicing Aloha – Secrets to Living Life Hawaiian Style – Stories, Recipes and Lyrics from Hawai’i’s Favorite Folks. Inside was  an inscription from the editor: “To Will, Much Aloha, Mark Ellman." Mark has created a living compilation (or should I say “a list”) of “stories, recipes, and lyrics” of how people experience Aloha in their everyday life.  The bonus legacy appeared in a portion of the inscription from Rosalyn, “I thought of the Aloha Blog when having lunch with a great friend at his restaurant, Honu.”  The friend was of course, Mark Ellman, a fabulous chef, living in Maui.  Although Rosalyn has spent a lifetime practicing Aloha, by making a mindful connection with my blog, she created an enduring legacy-enhancing moment.

Occasionally I get a compliment wrapped with some frustration. “Will, I wish I could write as well as you do – I seem to get writer's block when trying to start my Aloha Book™”.  Because the Aloha Book™ is a template for YOUR story and not just a repeat of MY story, I have created a quick-start strategy.  The easiest way to begin a reflection on your legacy is by making lists.  One does not have to be a great writer to make a list; they must only possess a mindful intention.  A list can provide a simple outline for an appropriate future narrative, or may simply tell a story by itself.  After making your lists, you can later start telling the related stories by filling in the emotions, perspectives, and insights as to who you are, the amplification of which, will become part of YOUR Aloha Book™.  You may also find that through this process,  the Aloha Spirit might change your perspectives, relationships, and consciousness moving forward. 

Here are a sampling of my lists (with a few of random entries) which I offer as evidence of how effortlessly powerful it can be.  You can create your own categories or lists and edit them as often as you wish.  As you discover how you have lived your legacy and how you will live it going forward, your lists and your entries may evolve as well. 

Please understand,  these are only partial lists that I am sharing with the universe at this time, as a catalyst for thought.  My more detailed and expansive lists, together with the personal narratives will be shared with my WHO, as part of my legacy.  Think not in terms of a “to do list” but instead create the space for your “DONE LIST”.

  • Men who influenced my life – Bill Morris (my father) - Eagle Thomas (my maternal grandfather) - Paul Bercher (my father in law) - Dave Eldredge (high school football and baseball coach) - Al Harrington (high school coach, teacher, entertainer, and Hawaii-50 cast member) - Father Jim Balint (pastor) - Bill Clinton (law school professor) – Zack Morris, Paul Morris, Brad Morris (My boys) **I have intentionally omitted many of my peers who have profoundly influenced my life - to mention one in this public blog might otherwise imply an exclusion of others.
  • Women who influenced my life – Lisa Morris (my wife), Janice Morris (my mother), Jessie Thomas (my maternal grandmother). **I have intentionally omitted many of my peers who have profoundly influenced my life - to mention one in this public blog might otherwise imply an exclusion of others.
  • My favorite movies – Field of Dreams, The Natural, For the Love of the Game, 61*, Sandlot, Blazing Saddles, Animal House, Blues Brothers, The Bucket List.
  • My favorite cities – Honolulu, San Francisco/Carmel/Big Sur, Rome, Eureka Springs.
  • My favorite songs – "Imagine," "Let It Be," "Give Peace a Chance."
  • My favorite books – A Mindful Nation (Tim Ryan), Your Life Calling (Jane Pauley), Bluewater Gold Rush (Tom Kendrick), Marley’s Ghost (Mark Osmun), Do One Green Thing (Mindy Pennybacker), One Great Game (Don Wallace), Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), Moneyball (Michael Lewis), The Power of  Who (Bob Beaudine).
  • My favorite baseball players – Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle.
  • My favorite football players – Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Lance Alworth, Wayne Harris, Charley Wedemeyer.
  • My favorite coaches – Bill Morris, Al Harrington, Leonard Kasparavich, Doug Bennett, Norm DeBriyn.
  • My favorite concerts – Sonny & Cher (my first), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Beach Boys, Santana, ZZ Top.
  • My favorite sporting events attended – 1982 World Series, 1993 & 1995 Super Bowl, 1978 Orange Bowl, 2009 District 5-A Texas Track Championship, Several Southwest Conference Basketball Tournaments.
  • How I voted in Presidential Elections – George McGovern, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barrack Obama.
  • My favorite quotes – “Be nice to people on the way up, because you may meet them again on the way down.”  (Bill Morris) – “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”  (Robert F. Kennedy)  “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.  America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.  It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.  But baseball has marked the time.  This field, this game: its part of our past, Ray.  It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.  Oh…people will come Ray.  People will most definitely come.  (Terence Mann, Field of Dreams) – “No, I didn’t. Honest.  I ran out of gas.  I, I had a flat tire.  I didn’t have enough money for cab fare.  My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners.  An old friend came in from out of town.  Someone stole my car.  There was an earthquake.  A terrible flood.  Locusts!  It wasn’t my fault, I swear to God!”  (Jake Blues, The Blues Brothers).

From the list above, the 1982 World Series offers an example of how I would expand my legacy story. I attended the World Series with my father and six of my very best friends.  Game 7 was on October 19, 1982, which was my father’s 61st birthday, creating one of the most wonderful father/son memories imaginable once Bruce Sutter struck out Gorman Thomas, and the Cardinals won the World Championship.  Two of my other friends, Carey and Greg, passed away two years ago, within 7 days of each other and a third of those friends, recently called to tell me he had been diagnosed with cancer.  I hope you can see how making a simple list will give rise to a legacy story for my boys, explaining some very powerful relationships in my life.

Your legacy has been forming since birth but you are the only one that can pull it together, make adjustments, redefine, and add perspective.  Have you ever lost a friend and then wished that you had known them better?  I assure you that your friends and family will feel the same way unless you do something about it.  I propose that if you focus on your legacy during your lifetime, you will in fact enhance the current joy in your life and of those around you.  Think of your legacy as being defined by your relationships, which in turn will express your values.

And surprisingly, the momentum and perspective created by your legacy planning, will offer insights and perspective on your estate planning (your stuff), which should be added to your “to do list” so that it can be added to your “done list."

Then there is one more list that you will want to create – a list of those friends and family with whom you will share your lists.  Beyond your family, start thinking of 12 friends, 3 close friends, and 1 best friend - your WHO friends as described by my friend, Bob Beaudine, The Power of Who.

Living a Legacy – Eternal Life Through Stories – Building the Aloha Book™

Would you believe that I love to tell stories?  Would you believe that I love to hear stories as well (with just a couple of exceptions)?  Stories are wonderful invitations into one’s soul, heart, values, fears, joys, and the value placed on relationships.  They tell a family history (note the word "story" in embedded in “history”).  I have a very simple concept of eternal life:  we live eternally through our legacy, the stories that people tell. 

Granted, some people tell maniacal egotistical stories that portray themselves with grandiose drama and misplaced accolades.  But, even those stories offer a few valuable data nuggets that deserve your care.  You simply need to learn to “separate the wheat from the chaff” and enjoy the wheat.  It also helps to learn a few transition lines to gently shift the conversation.  Some rambling stories are simply seeking affirmation;  you can save a lot of time and stress by granting that affirmation quickly by interjecting, “That is an awesome story and I am amazed by your accomplishments every time you tell it”.

Bill MorrisAnd yet, there are some stories I enjoyed hearing my father tell over and over again. His stories evoked a humble pride transitioning into a wonderful life that emerged from the depths of the Depression, through WWII, and becoming a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.  His legacy lives through his stories and the stories I tell about him.

In his final years, my father endured a struggle with dementia that stole his short term memory but gloriously preserved his long term memory, encased in a special golden vault for him to share with my family.  I loved every story he told, no matter how many times he told it.  My three boys learned not only the value in granting time for their grandfather to tell the stories, but also the lessons held within the story itself.  I urge all families to be mindful of listening to stories.

The following story is short, and everybody in my family can repeat it word for word.  We can just pick one word or phrase from the story and capture it all.

The story would often start like this, which immediately reflects the loss of short term memory:

“Hey Zack, how old are you now?”

 “Daddy Bill, I am 16.”

“You know, when I turned 16, I came home from school and my dad said, ‘Bill Ed, you’re 16 now, it’s time to quit school and get a job at the railroad as a hostler – it’s time you start earning some of your keep around here.'"

 Dad paused and said, "Whatever that means."

The backdrop for this short story is so rich for me in many ways, so let me pick out my family nuggets to help you find the pieces of gold in your family stories. 

It would be fair to say that my dad and his father were not close; let’s just say they didn’t go to ball games together.  My grandfather was not an educated man, but he worked all day at the railroad and then came home and worked in his garden until dark.  It was the Depression and my dad would often say (another quick story), “When they drew blood when I entered the Army, it was 90% turnip juice." Times were tough.

Train YardSince my grandfather believed that hard work was the only way to survive, it was his overwhelming measurable value, well above formal education.  For him, it probably made perfectly good sense that my dad should quit school at 16 and start his career at the railroad, where he assumed his son would work the rest of his life.  I imagine he believed a greater degree of seniority would be earned by starting early.  My dad described a “hostler” as the worker that back-breakingly shoveled coal.

My grandfather’s comment about “earning some of your keep” expressed the toughness of the times and the need for every family member to contribute in some way.  My dad’s parenthetical expression, “Whatever that means,” confirms the colloquialism of the term in today’s conversation, but he no doubt understood it at the time.

Dad did not quit school, as he knew that his education was important and the only vehicle to get away from a life at the railroad (which incidentally shut down shortly after the war).  He earned his keep by waking up early, going to work at the drug store before school and serving breakfast.  He would run back to the drug store to serve lunch and then again after school to serve dinner and clean the store.  Dad worked seven days a week, but played dominoes at the fire station on weekend evenings. He claims he often won more money playing bones than his dad did at the railroad.  (Dominoes gives rise to another great story, to be told at another time.)  When my dad was old enough to join the National Guard he did so, primarily for the extra money, but maybe with a vision of getting far away from the railroad.  Little did he know that a war would break out that changed his career course forever.

My dad valued education and often said (and I often repeat), "The greatest gift you can give your kids is a great education."  The greatest part of that perspective is simply the truth, but subliminally he was completely rejecting his father’s advice at 16.  I am so glad that he did.  Another quick story:  I attended Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the country.  It was no doubt expensive at the time, but Dad made sure that is where I attended.  After my junior year, our tour of duty in Hawaii was over and we were scheduled for reassignment to the mainland.  I would then have to attend my senior year in a new and strange venue, leaving behind relationships that to this day are among my most cherished.  Dad recognized the value of my education and the importance of these relationships, and unilaterally decided, without family discussion or fanfare, that he was going to volunteer for a tour of duty in Vietnam so that my mother and I could stay in Hawaii and I could graduate from Punahou.  He unselfishly lived his mantra, “The greatest gift you can give your kids is a great education,” and then some.  I have carried this value forward for my boys, and I still get emotional telling this story.

The stories that my dad told about his father were not necessarily told with the same love and admiration that I share about my dad, who was my best friend.  But almost every story about my grandfather spoke of his toughness.  He was always described to me as “the toughest and hardest working man he ever knew,” certainly a value of the 1920s and 1930s.  One day, in the last months before my father passed away, I had the opportunity to reframe his story about his father, without changing the facts. 

I said, “Dad, I know you had a tough relationship with your father, but he taught you a lot about hard work, and to me you are the hardest working man I know.  I am grateful that you have so lovingly passed that value on to me and Zack, and Paul, and Brad and modeled it for us with such compassion.  So in separating the wheat from the chaff, we can look back at my grandfather and say, 'Thank you for living that value.'” 

My dad looked up at me and said, “Damn right, he was a hard working man,” and I think there was some pride and peace in that recognition.  Maybe a legacy was revised through the story.

About that time Zack walked into the room and Dad said, “Hey Zack, how old are you now?”   You know the rest of the story.

Last weekend I asked Zack how his post-graduation job at Deloitte was going, to which he replied, “Just earning my keep, whatever that means,” – and now you know the rest of that story.

© Will Morris, JD, LLM 2014

Reading and Living a Legacy – Send a Book to a Friend – The Aloha Spirit Continues

The Aloha Spirit is frequently experienced through the words we read as well as the words we write.  Legacy planning is transformed by incorporating both; after reading a book that offers a special insight, feeling or memory, write a personal inscription and then send it to a friend. Your words will be forever embossed on their heart, soul, and spirit, further enhancing an evolutionary legacy.  You will notice that the Aloha Spirit fills you and your friends with gratitude and a common core that manifests itself in connectedness, kindness, love, compassion and joy.  Your estate planning will certainly take care of your stuff when you die, but a living legacy is created in and for the present – and books create a powerful and enduring medium.   

For me, the literary legacy experience was intensely highlighted subsequent to the turn of the 2014 calendar.  First, I received a copy of A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit by Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.  Prior to receiving this surprising gift from Ceseli (a friend of almost 50 years), “mindfulness” was not on my radar or my reading list, and yet she intuitively knew that I would enjoy it.  Suddenly, articles about mindfulness seemed to appear every day: Time magazine highlighted mindfulness on the cover of its February 3, 2014 issue; and the Huffington Post featured a pre-Super Bowl article on the Seattle Seahawks' use of mindfulness.  I started thinking, "If mindfulness made their defense the best in the NFL, then I am all in," and started meditating daily.  Thank you, Ceseli.

Ceseli could have simply read the book then placed it gently on the shelf or table in her home where her books go to rest – end of story.  Or, she could have composed a short e-mail, “Hey Will, you might like this book,"  and pressed “send” thereby discharging all further responsibility for my enlightenment, with only the hope that I would follow her tendered proposal.   But, with mindful intention, she purchased the book with the added inscription, “Will, Help us build AMN! –Tim Ryan”.  That was pretty cool.  But Ceseli was not yet finished enhancing our mutual legacies.  She too penned the following: “Will, you are already one of the most mindful people I know……..Aloha and Blessings, Ceseli.”  Even cooler.  But to gain the superlative, the coolest discovery was that Ceseli had already read the same copy of the book before entrusting it to the US Postal Service for the journey to Texas.  With this foundation well in place, all I had to do was light the fireplace on a Sunday morning and turn the pages.  And to take coolest to a new level, my wife and best friend, Lisa, is now reading the book by the fireplace, our dog Izzy sitting at her feet, and a cup of Kona coffee at her side.  I am having a great day watching her enjoy and extend the legacy. 

Already in the glow of that literary triumph, the UPS man arrived a few days later with a package from Blake, one of my oldest and dearest friends, with whom I share a loving bond with baseball.  Enclosed was another book, The Kid – The Immortal Life of Ted Williams, the latest and most complete biography of one of the greatest hitters of all time.  If anything defines my soul, it is baseball, and no living person knows that better than Blake. 

I already knew a lot about Ted Williams, whose legendary career ended when I was eight years old.  Although the book adds stories and perspectives on a very complex man, the literary content of the book may not, in and of itself, be life-changing , but the soulful spirit that inspired Blake to share it with me has added a legacy-enhancing moment to our friendship. We can look forward to new conversations to follow about baseball, our dads, and our friend Carey, all of whom now live only through our stories.

Blake chose not to inscribe the book itself, perhaps out of respect for its virgin purity or possibly freeing me to forward to someone else (a very green and sustainable thought).  But it did include a personal note attached to the inside cover, the last paragraph of which I have read over and over again.  Blake explained that there was one other person to whom he thought of sending the book, with the following caveat, “He came in a distant second…but mostly because in terms of love and friendship, I treasure you more."  WOW, that expresses ALOHA and LEGACY in capital letters.  Thank you, Blake.

Amid this literary stimulus, Lisa and I attended a book signing for Jane Pauley’s new book, Your Life Calling – Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, a Baby Boomer Bible, if you will.  With the synchronicity of the calendar, this book was a perfect gift for Ceseli, whose birthday was just a few days away.  We purchased two copies of the book.  Jane inscribed one copy to “Will and Lisa” and a second copy to “Ceseli”.  Possessed of two copies, Lisa and I sat in front of our fireplace and read the book in total communion with each other before inscribing the second copy with a note to Ceseli, further annotated throughout with blue sticky notes.

These are not the first books I have received from friends or family nor the first I have dispatched to special people in similar fashion.  However, these are the first books I have held with a clear understanding that I was reading more than just the text.  By endorsement, I was sharing a piece of who I am with others who are equally willing to share a piece of who they are with me.  LEGACY and ALOHA – ALOHA and LEGACY. 

Literary Legacy Planning Tip   Going forward, as you read a book, become aware of a friend to whom you might ultimately promote the text with a mindful intention and personal inscription.  In doing so, notice how your reading evolves into a shared experience of Aloha.  You will feel as though you are reading the book with them knowing that they will soon be reading it with you.  I believe it is much more soulful when you send them the same book you read so that they will turn the very pages that you enjoyed.  If you wish to retain a copy on your desk or night stand, buy a second copy.  Even if you envision sharing your experience with more than one friend, always add a personal inscription and maybe a note at a special chapter.  I laced my book to Ceseli with blue sticky notes that highlighted my favorite quotes and references.

Some of my dearest friends are writers and I cherish the books they have written and forwarded to me with their handwritten message.  I loved their books upon first reading,  but today’s mindful reflection is with an even broader soulfulness and awareness of our shared living legacy.  Mahalo and  Aloha to Bob, Tom, Mark and Mindy – I will continue to share your literary talents and insights with people you may never meet, but your words will be a part of my legacy, as well as yours.

The Aloha Book™  The Aloha Book™ is a collaborative project that I am writing that seeks to redefine and blend the traditional concept of estate planning (your stuff) with legacy planning (your relationships).  I want people to enjoy “living” a legacy not just “leaving” a legacy.   

© Will Morris, JD, LLM 2014

Living a Legacy: Friendships - Expansion of the Aloha Book™

Death of a Salesman

Don’t Be This Guy – “Sorry Dude?”

At the end of your life, your legacy will not be the plaques on the wall or trophies on the shelf. Quite frankly, such items will be placed in a box,  shuffled among dusty venues bearing such historically romantic names as  "garage," "attic" or "storage building," only to be disposed of one day in response to the inevitable question, “What do I with this stuff?"  My wife affectionately calls it "clutter."  Your greater legacy will be those relationships upon which a special value is assessed.

The genesis of the Aloha Book™ was to memorialize a legacy for children and grandchildren.  Yet, I realize that so much of who I am has been defined by cherished friendships, many from childhood and high school. Some of these friendships have been dormant for decades, as friends established new roots and raised families from Buzzards Bay to Haunama Bay, from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Shafter, from New York City to Pearl City and from Boston Harbor to Pearl Harbor.  

With mindful intention, I encourage you to consider your legacy through two different filters - “leaving a legacy” and “living a legacy." Connecting the dots of our past that illuminate our present paths can create a beautiful legacy among our beloved families and friends.  (Thank you for that thought, Ceseli – you are a cherished dot.)

Living a legacy is the restoration and enhancement of old friendships into more reflective adult relationships, connecting the past with the present.   That foundational trust and heart connection offers a gifted introduction to the present and the sharing of newly invited wisdom.  A living legacy is experienced and enjoyed in real time and preserves an eternal exchange of knowledge portals that need no other filters.

Here are a few of my living legacy suggestions.

Friendship Bucket List - Make a list of treasured friends who live in parts of the country, away from where you first met, and then schedule a vacation on their new home turf.  Your visit can be as simple as scheduling a lunch or dinner while exploring the area on your own OR more deeply sharing all of your time together as you become part of their ohana, and explore a new place from a local perspective.  In turn, make it very clear that your old friends are invited to share the same perspective in your home.

New additions to my friendship bucket list in 2014 include: Mystic, Connecticut; Billings, Montana; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Walnut Creek, California.

Birthday Card List – Make a list of birthdays for special friends and mark them on your calendar with a one week reminder alarm.  You will be surprised how many you can remember just off the top of your head.  Other birthdates can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.  Don’t just send them a Facebook post or E-card – send them a real birthday card and write something meaningful!  It is no excuse to say you did not have the chance to get a card.  Start building an inventory of birthday cards by purchasing two or three cards each time you go to the grocery store or drug store.  When you travel, check out the cards at the airports, restaurants, or truck stops.  All tourist locations have multiple shops with cards expressing a local flavor or humor.  Buy a mixture of cards that are humorous, old fashioned, or with a much deeper meaning; you will know which cards fit which friends and that are gender appropriate.  

WHO Friday – Adopt the practice of “WHO Friday” as proposed by my friend Bob Beaudine, the author of “The Power of Who” (a must read   Bob defines your “WHO” as those people “WHO” matter most in your life – “someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”  Bob has designated Friday as a day to reach out and call one of your WHO and let them know the special place they hold in your life.  Try it, you will like it – start connecting the dots. 

Take it one step further and celebrate “Aloha Friday." Take a moment to relax, wear your favorite Aloha shirt, and transition into the weekend, grateful for your old friends and the opportunity to create new memories.  Your legacy planning and Aloha Book™ will add even greater context to the WHO in your life.

Mindful Monday – Set an intention of mindfulness for the week that leads to a WHO Friday and Aloha Friday celebration of the “living legacy” way.

Imagine Your Eulogy - How will your friends remember you?  How do you want to be remembered? And, conversely, how will you remember your friends?  If you have a difficult time answering either question, you are not yet living your legacy.  As you answer those questions, you will know who to visit, who to write, and who to call.  They have been waiting.

© Will Morris, JD, LLM 2014

Legacy Planning With The Aloha Spirit - Your Aloha Book™

Hawaiian Burial at Sea

"Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono" is the Hawaii State motto, translated to mean – “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness”.   It seems to me, that your life and your legacy should be perpetuated with the same righteousness, respect, and mindfulness – I call this “legacy planning” – a focused derivative of traditional estate planning.

"Aloha" is a wonderfully gracious word of many meanings that uniquely expresses both “hello” and “goodbye."  It is a state of mind that peacefully, generously, and lovingly connects our spirit to our families, our friends, our community, and our environment.   Feeling complete, living fully, and mindfully planning for our future and that of our family creates an integrated bond with the peace of mind we seek through legacy planning and estate planning.  

Kawika is a cherished friend of many years, with whom I share a connection to Hawaii and Punahou School.  During a recent visit, he confided that his doctor had confirmed his diagnoses of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).  With questionable bedside manner, the doctor suggested that Kawika start putting together a “Death Book” with instructions to his family about his finances, location of documents, and expressions of intent.  Although recognizing the wisdom of the strategy, Kawika promptly rejected the idea of a “death” book and turned his attention to creating his own Aloha Book™

Kawika said his Aloha Book™ would say “hello” by memorializing his life through an expression of his stories, values, family history, pictures, and world view.  He will also start to say “goodbye” and express his feelings about his disease, his wishes for his children and grandchildren, and a reflection on his legacy. He wants to add perspective to key life events with his children - understanding that common facts may have born strikingly different interpretations, when viewed through the diverse filters of a parent and child.

ALS, cancer, and other terminable diseases are unexpected intrusions into our life cycle and yet function as dramatic calls for reflection and connection our own spirit of Aloha.  We become “mindful” of who we are, what values we live by, what makes us laugh, what stirs our heart and soul, and how we would like to pass that on to our children, grandchildren, and friends.  Mindfulness brings the same peace of mind to our spirit that one should achieve through their estate planning and legacy planning.

There is no objective blessing in being diagnosed with a life threatening or terminal illness - and yet, as I have noticed from too many friends in recent years, it does force one to carve out the time to get organized.  It invites a discussion about things that have perpetually been stored in the back of their mind, not knowing when they might be brought forward.  Unfortunately “later” is never a good planning strategy.

As usually happens after Kawika and I share a cup of Kona coffee, I walked away smarter, more insightful and dedicated to the idea of an expanded Aloha Book™ - an enhancement to the estate planning process, and more particularly legacy planning.  Legacy planning involves a recognition that in the big picture, “who” we are is more important than the “stuff” we have.

CALL TO ACTION - For those who die or lose their abilities suddenly, the opportunity for such reflective time may never arise.  It will forever remain on their virtual “to do” list, only to be buried in secret with them - in turn robbing friends and family of a very special gift.  I therefore encourage everybody to get in touch with the Aloha Spirit – craft your thoughts around saying “hello” and “goodbye” and start outlining your Aloha Book™.  Be prepared to start and edit it often.  Say A-LO----HA and start the reflection as you exhale – then start typing.   

YES, YOU DO HAVE THE TIMEApproach your Aloha Book™ as your personal journal.  Certainly enough people share their thoughts, feelings, views, and pictures with friends and non-friends on Facebook and other social media every day without the mindfulness that it also expresses their legacy.  You don’t have to write your Aloha Book™ in chronological order and certainly not in one sitting – it is an evolutionary process.  As you share stories with friends and family during your lifetime, start to memorialize them in your Aloha Book™ with additional insights and reflection.  Ask yourself, “Why am I telling this story?" Consider turning part of your Aloha Book™ into a video with your favorite music or giving your Aloha Book™ a video introduction.

GET STARTED - I am starting my Aloha Book™ in solidarity with Kawika, while acknowledging a special gratefulness for bringing the Aloha Spirit into a welcomed context.  To help get you started, I am sharing my broad outline below, with the assurance of future editing.  I will fill in the narrative in random order as the Aloha Spirit moves me.

  • Family history and genealogy – stories and pictures from my parents and grandparents.  How their world view shaped my world view.
  • Reflections on my childhood - as I recall it then and as I view it now.
  • High school, college, and law school – open, frank, and unedited.  Highlighting special friends and experiences.  Good decisions and bad decisions. Discussion of key world events from the ‘60’s and 70’s – haircuts - my world view then and how I view it today.
  • How I met my wife – And for my boys, how I met your mother. Personal reflections of 30+ years of marriage. 
  • The joys of being a father – personal reflections for each of my boys.  Discussion of key life events – their joys, successes, and disappointments – as I perceived them and as I think they perceived them.   
  • Influential people in my life – I have made a list of the 20 most influential men and women in my life.  Many are friends, some are mentors, and a few surprises.
  • My global world view and my specific views on religion, faith, family, and politics and how they evolved over time.  My heroes, if any.
  • A brief discussion of people and things I don’t like.  Hopefully this will change and be reconciled before I finish as I mindfully say “thank you” and move on.
  • I am going through thousands of pictures and slides and recording the most meaningful ones on a CD that I can share with family with my own narrative.  For those who visit Facebook often, imagine a lifetime of “Throwback Thursdays”.
  • The legacy I hope to leave – from my perspective.

BOOK TO FOLLOWThis blog offers an insight into my overall philosophy of taking a complementary and holistic approach to the lifetime features of estate planning.  I have started writing a new book that offers a creative way to enjoy the process of saying “hello” and “good-bye”.  I will start highlighting key features in subsequent blogs.  I welcome your comments along the journey.  ALOHA. 

 © Will Morris, JD, LLM 2014