Second Milers

Extra Mile


“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Success begins at the extra mile.”
Yuikan Shirik

If you are going to undertake something grand (ie a Prom), three rules of thumb are necessary for its success.
1.  Pray for inspiration.
2.  Give it your all – and then some.
3.  Surround yourself with talented people who are willing to do the same.

At a recent track meet, Hoka athletics (the event sponsor) handed out these 27.2 stickers. You may have seen similar oval bumper stickers with numbers like (26.2), or (13.1).  For non-runners, these numbers may make little sense, but for distance athletes, these digits tell a story.  Stickers marked 26.2 or 13.1 is a proclamation that this person ran a marathon or half-marathon.

Pretty awesome accomplishment.  But if 26.2 is the number of miles in a marathon, and 13.1 the number of miles in a half-marathon, what’s with the 27.2?  Quick math or a peek at this blog’s title gives it away.  It’s the extra mile.  A suggestion to go a second mile further.

I love this concept with sports, but I love this even more as a metaphor for life. 

We all face subtle yet significant decisions that regularly fall under the category of:  What amount of effort do I put into this? How many hours should I invest?  How much work should I give?

My answer?  Give it your all.  Give everything your best.  Not perfection, mind you – just your best.  I love this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Well stated, sir!  Put your whole heart into everything you do, and you won’t just do a good job, you will have done a job WELL.  Go above and beyond what is expected.  Go the extra mile.

That last one was the advice of Jesus to an oppressed Jewish community. And it struck a nerve.  Matthew recorded his advice this way.

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain (an extra mile).”
Matthew 5:41

“Go with him Twain”? – Here’s the Back-story
The Jews lived under foreign rule.  Roman soldiers imposed crazy taxes and oppressive laws. This sorry state of affairs had existed since the barbaric Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 BC, followed by the Assyrians, then the Persians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans, putting Jews under theological and political exile for centuries.

How did Jews deal with centuries of bondage without going wackadoodle?  Some rebelled by heading out of Dodge, finding refuge in surrounding countries.  Some, like the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, opted for separation from society over being ruled with an iron fist. Others, like the Zealots, fought back with a holy war – say your prayers and sharpen your swords, boys.

Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount

But Jesus came along and taught them another way to deal.  Serve, he said.  Serve the ones who hate you.  Forgive the ones who hurt you.  Retaliate, not in kind, but in kindness.  Jesus introduced a radical concept about going the Second Mile.

The Second Mile
In Jesus’ day, thug Roman soldiers could legally force Jewish citizens into carrying their cargo for one mile. Yep. With nothing more than a, “Hey you, get over here!” they could order a merchant to close shop, or a farmer to leave his land and carry paraphernalia for one mile.

“When this happens,” Jesus said, “Give ’em more than they ask for.” Go two.  At the end of one mile, surprise the heck out of the centurion and say, “I haven’t done enough for you. I am going a second mile.”  Do more than is asked. And do so with a good attitude.

I am happy to say that Second Milers exist today. Not in dealing with dictatorships, but in doing more than is asked. And doing it well. (Gee, I need to be careful or I may make myself sound like the dictator. Hahaha). It is these Second Milers who I want to recognize in this post.

Second Milers Do the ImPossible
During our very first Prom planning meeting, I spelled out my design plans for the event. Some were art projects and signs that I would undertake, but a few ideas were crazy long-shots that I put on the table and asked if they were possible.  Several people not only stepped forward and volunteered – these Second Milers did the impossible.

30′ Eiffel Tower
First impressions are everything.  I asked for a 30-foot Eiffel Tower out front.  One that would light up and give guests a proper welcome. Everyone suggested Allen Wilson. “If it is remotely possible, Allen’s the guy who can create it.” Boy, did he!  Since our budget was puny, he took nothing more than plastic, duct tape, and sheer genius, and did the impossible.  He created a gorgeous 30-foot Eiffel Tower.  Take a look.

Left: my son Landon, Allen, and Reed (my hubby)

Left: Landon, Allen, and (hubby) Reed

Eiffel Tower being hoisted up

Allen hoisting up Eiffel Tower

Up, up, up

Up, up, up

Set up, before it was completely lit.

Eiffel Tower before being completely lit.

Funny, when Allen first shared his plans for the tower, telling me he was making it from plastic and duct tape, I was a lit-tle concerned. “Um, Allen,” I said cautiously, “this sounds very creative, buuuut I’d like it to look elegant.”

“No problem,” he assured, “It’ll work out. Promise.”  Boy, he wasn’t kidding. Stunning!

6′ Chandelier Made from Umbrellas
How does one make something grand on a shoe-string budget?  You get creative.  I wanted a large chandelier for the Dance Hall and suggested it be made from three umbrellas, in graduating sizes (XXL, XL, small). Jacob, one of our youth, quickly raised his hand, “I want to give it a try!”  Here are pictures of 17 year-old Jacob’s creation in the works.  Amazing. (Wait ’til you see the finished product in our Prom pictures. Someone may have a future in engineering design).

From Left: Hannah, Jacob, Landon

Jacob (middle), Hannah and Landon help bead and light the chandelier

Hannah's back, Landon, Jacob (Ashley and Connor are photo-bombing in background)

Jacob (right), Landon & Hannah help (Ashley & Connor photo-bomb in background)

13′ Arc de Triumph
My Arc de Triumph.  I planned to paint this on a huge canvas, but I wanted wood trim to give it body and character. Dana Karren, master carpenter, was more than willing to help.  I came by his shop with the Arc sketched on canvas and a pile of really bad fence wood for the 3D trim accents. “Can you make this work?” I asked.

“No problem,” he said, eyeballing my horrible wood with a grin. “Just give me a few days.” Despite his very busy schedule, he returned my Arc de Triumph canvas with, not my bad fence wood, he trimmed it out with crown moulding!!!  Are you kidding me?  Bevelled base and a wood arch inlay. Talk about going the extra mile!  He went TUH-WAIN.

Arc de Triumph before lighting it up

Arc de Triumph trimmed and painted.

Sketching the Arc de Triumph on Canvas Prior to the wood trim

Sketching the Arch on Canvas
Prior to the wood trim

Dana’s generosity kept going. (Again, despite his crazy schedule) he also cut my 4 wood lamp post designs, Metro sign, aaand my Man in the Moon prop.  Very cool.

Raw wood lamp post

Raw wood lamp post


Painted lamp post w/o sign

Lamppost MetroMy list of second milers didn’t end with these guys. Oh no. There was my:

Small army of ceiling installers who worked for days to figure out my “night sky.”
Photo Mural lenders
Lighting guys
Cafe table and park bench gatherers
Cafe chef
Entertainers (we’re talking juggler, mimes, unicyclist, guitar quartet, violin duo, balloon animal maker, and caricature artist)
(Photographs of the entire Night in Paris are coming on my next post. Sweeet)

Did I mention that this was all voluntary? Who does that?  I’ll tell you – those who go 27.2. The Second Milers.

Second Milers
Let me tell you how to spot them. They don’t wear uniforms or broadcast their abilities.  They don’t crave the spotlight, demand recognition or request payment for services rendered.  They just volunteer.  When they see a need, they offer assistance, doing their best until the job is done, and done well.

And they do it with a great attitude.  I think that is because they have discovered the secret.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35

“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 10:39

The joy is found in the extra effort.  The sweetest satisfaction lies, not in just doing, but doing a job well in order to make others happy.

That’s what the Prom was all about – making a nice evening for our young people.  And I think we succeeded.  But, the evening simply would not have been possible without the many hands (and feet) who were willing to go 27.2 – the extra mile (and not even get winded).

“I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know.  If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

Eiffel Towers, chandeliers, and Arc de Triumphs, these were just some of the miracles that rested at the base of the second mile post.

Thanks, all.  This simply could not have happened without you.  The kids had a blaaaast (and I think we did too!).


Credits and kudos:
Allen Wilson
Lead Industrial Designer, Focus PDM Product Design & Manufacturing
To see Eiffel Tower creation and setup, click here.
Check out his Portfolio:

Dana Karren (trust me, master carpenters don’t come more gifted than this one)
Wood Classics
418 Industrial Street, Campbell, CA 95008

Derek Taylor –
Evan Graves – next to my family, these guys were my marathoners throughout. You’re awesome!

Mark Walton, who lent us scaffolding from his business, came early to set up and stayed late to clean up. Extra mile and beyond!
Walton Stained Glass
Los Gatos, CA

Sam Post, Photographer
Some of his amazing photos are here:

Scott Stratford, hobby photographer extraordinaire
Jacob Stratford, very cool High School Student

My family. All for one and one for all. Your stamina is awe-inspiring


They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.


One thought on “Second Milers

  1. Pingback: Night in Paris | The Nef Chronicles

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