The Best You Possible

One lesson I’ve always taught my daughter as she grew up was to always strive to be the best she could be…find what is great in her and be the best for everyone to see.  She’s doing amazing things and I see much more in her future.

Then I realized, have I ever asked myself the same question – am I being my best self possible?

The moment I came to this thinking was the moment that my life began to change.  I was battling depression.  I was trapped in a job that I hated.  I wasn’t happy with myself or how my life had turned out.  The only thing I had going for me was my daughter…and that was only half the time!

It was a hard reality.  Of course, several things went through my mind.  I had all the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” pass through my mind.  I’ve been single a very long time so I had the failed relationships, those I messed up, then the recurring bad dates (some even atrocious).  Financially I was not sitting much better and then questioned how I ended up there.

This is a reality for many people.  And these are the things that lead to my depression.  But I think we tend to dwell on the questions that keep us immersed in the mud.  It’s the same effect that I like to refer to as “concrete feet” – that moment when you are standing the same place for so long you become part of the ground.  You don’t take a step forward because you can’t see forward.  All you can see is the past.  And these questions are all questions pertaining to the past.

In order for me to break free, I had to figure out how to move forward.  How as I going to get past this lull in my life?  How was I going to figure out how to move forward and make life great again?  What could I do to make a change and get past the stage in my life?

So the new question became, “What am I doing to be better?  What am doing to change what was missing in my past.  Ultimately my future will be my past, right?  And I didn’t want to sit around at any point thinking that I was unable to continue to look at my past and wonder “what if, why not, how come.”

Eventually I asked myself, “What am I doing to be the best me possible?”  And since I tend to talk to myself as a moment of inspiration, I said, “What are you doing to be the best you possible?”

It was at that moment I realized not a whole hell of a lot.  I pulled out a notebook and wrote in it.  The very first line of my notebook was, “I do my best to raise an amazing daughter.”

That was all I had.  That was my only response.  But that should be a given, right?  I should do that no matter what.  So what else am I doing to be the best me possible?

My notebook remained blank and for the first time I realized I’m not doing nearly enough.  If you want to be the best you possible, you have to feel pretty great, correct?  I didn’t feel great.  In fact, I felt crappy.

Since I couldn’t come up with an answer, I chose the next best thing…what am I going to start doing to become the best me possible?

Then the sentences began to flow.

To feel good, I have to nourish well.  So my diet needed to change.

To feel good, I have to strengthen my body, so I needed to begin a new exercise regimen.

To feel good, I have to strengthen my mind, so getting lost in good reading became a must.

I wrote many things down, including one that Tony Robbins always mentions in his seminars – always give back.  I don’t do NEARLY enough of that.

The results?

I have lost 26 pounds since January 16th (I have 24 more to go).  I have read 6 books (about one book a month) since January 16th.  I have remained committed to my blog, finished my third motivational book (Igniting Your Pilot Light), close to finishing my first fictional novel (due by the end of July), changed careers, and will be starting a very intense training regimen in a couple short weeks.  That is just a small portion of my goals.  I have given to a couple charities, donated my time for a radio interview, and have many more wonderful things planned throughout the summer to continue to give back.

Today, before I decided to write this post, I sat down and thought long and hard about this year, the ups and downs, the good and the bad.  The good most definitely outweighed the bad.  I feel pretty damn good.  I’m not the best me possible, but I’m heading that direction.

You know the best part? I still have six more months to continue reaching my goals to be the very best of me.

So now I ask you…what are you doing to be the best you possible?  Think about it and let me know!

 

 

MSDStrong: Graduation and Beyond

On Sunday, June 3rd, I had the privilege, pleasure, and the experience of one of the proudest moments in my life…I witnessed my daughter graduate high school – one year early nonetheless!

It was moving.  It was emotional.  It was exceptional.

It was a day she looked forward to, not just because of the February 14th tragedy, but because last summer, she decided she wanted to graduate a year early and be done with school so she could focus on her career.  What an idea and concept.  Back then, I didn’t think she would go through with it.  But it was her choice.  Her decision.  And she did it.

Would I consider it a blessing in disguise?  That’s a tough question to answer.  Here’s why.

On one end of the spectrum, she graduated and will not have to worry about returning to school.  The tragedy still affects many of the students, especially those that will be returning next year, either as seniors, juniors or sophomores.  And for those new, incoming freshmen, they may not have a clue or know what to expect.  And they shouldn’t because despite the tragic event, this was an incident that should not ONLY define Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  The school had cemented a legacy prior to this event.  The school had an outstanding staff prior to the event.  The school had great academics, awesome programs and clubs, and a very talented group of kids involved in sports.

I listened during the graduation as Principal Thompson spoke.  He stood proudly, reading off a HUGE list of accomplishments letting the entire audience and students know just how great MSD High School truly is.

Sadly, Marjory Stoneman Douglas will always be remember for February 14th, 2018, much the same way Sandy Hook and Columbine will be.

But not this day.  It wasn’t just about this.  It was more.  And meant much more.

My daughter and I were invited to go to Miami for a radio interview.  We were invited to attend and go live on WLRN 93.1 radio station.  There were two fathers, me and Roberto Munoz, two parents that had children that were incoming freshman, and we spoke about how we coped, what we expect for the future, and were able to address any questions or concerns.  I was very happy to offer any advice, calm any fears, or simply provide the answers to any questions these mothers of future MSD students may have had concerning their own children.   If you’d like to listen the show, you can click here.   It was a very riveting show, including Mr. Munoz’ daughter’s audio diary concerning her feelings and how she coped after the tragedy.  It is very moving, very emotional, and very powerful.

At the end of the day, my daughter is now an MSD alumni…one of which will always be remembered as the year of the largest shooting in school history.

I hate to say it.  I hate how it sounds.  Sometimes it’s tough because when I speak about my daughter and they ask questions and we get around to her being a student at Douglas, the first response is always, “Oh…was she there?  Were you there?  Man, that must have been tough.”

Yes. Yes. And yes.

That is a reality she and I and her mother will always live with, as will so many students and parents, including the parents of the victims – and those who will be sending their kids there as future students.

Some time ago after this happened, she was having a hard time.  I told her to focus and do her best.  She has wanted to be a nurse for a few years now, so I said to her, “Honey, if you are going into nursing, use this as strength if you are ever again faced with tragedy while on duty. You can help calm, help relieve, and if they say anything concerning your inability to empathize, this is your reality.  Use it to comfort them.  I know it’ll work.”

This gave her some perspective and I believe in some way it began to help her.  Not a lot.  But some.

The positive we take out of this is that she finished her year strong.  She completed her workload, she didn’t give up, she received an AMAZING scholarship, she graduated, and in a couple months, she will be off to begin the next chapter of her life as she prepares to start college.

Strong.  It really is an amazingly powerful word.  Whether individually or as a group, it signifies a certain characteristic, a trait that we all look to reach.  I watched 764 STRONG students walk the stage on June 3rd.  I listened to a principal take great pride in all the school has achieved and accomplished and witnessed his strength as he moved forward.  I watched friends and family accept honorary diplomas to honor the fallen victims, as sad and hard as that was to witness, for them and the entire audience.  I witnessed a special guest, Jimmy Fallon, come on stage to provide some comic relief, show support, and give great advice to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduating class of 2018 during the commencement speech.  I listened to the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches, both positive and proud, full of laughter and jokes and happiness for the future.  And for the first time in four months, I was able to sit in an arena, and watch a family – all Marjory Stoneman Douglas related – come together to witness this amazing class of 2018 walk the stage and graduate.

I’m proud of my daughter.  I’m proud of these students.  I’m proud that we will forever be linked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  Despite the trials and tribulations, these kids earned their day.  They earned their moment.  And we will always be MSDStrong!

Always Daddy’s Little Girl

This is a very tough time of the year for me.  So much has happened this year.  So much more is gonna happen.  Where do I begin?

On January 16th, I began my trek to losing the crazy amount of weight I put on.  I’m 42 years young, but it’s not a great age to be overweight.  Not that there is a great age to be overweight, but it is much tougher to deal with when you get older because your metabolism begins to slow down.  I was at 251 lbs. on January 16th.  It is now May 22nd and I’m down to 224.  That’s 26 lbs. in just four months.  Awesome, really.  I went from a size 38/40 to a 36 waist.  I actually had to buy new shorts and pants because mine were too big and falling off.  Great feeling.  I have another 20+ to go.  It was all diet.  I changed my diet, cutting out carbs, only receiving them from vegetables.  I’ll let you know how it goes during the next 3 months.

I finished and self-published my third inspirational book, Igniting Your Pilot Light available now for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Yesterday was my daughter’s last day of school as a high school student.  She weathered some major storms this year, most notably the MSD tragedy.  But she is still moving past it and is now ready to graduate.  She had an amazing prom and looked amazing in every way, finished her final exam yesterday, and is on her way to receiving her diploma on June 3rd.  I’m very proud of her and her efforts.

There are many new and wonderful things coming soon, I will divulge them later on.  But for now, here’s where I’m at – my emotions are at an all time high, realizing my little girl is grown up and in a few short months, she’ll be off to college.

I think the hardest part is the reflection of it.  When I look back, it almost seems like it was the blink of an eye that she was suddenly whisked into an (almost) adult woman from the tiny little infant I once held in my arms.  I smile at her accomplishments, achievements and successes…proud does not describe my feelings because they reach much higher.  But I get teary-eyed and emotional thinking how quickly the time has gone.

(The waterworks are in full effect as I write this)

I know there will be plenty more times like this, including the day we finally take her to school and drop her off.  But we still have graduation, the orientation, the graduation party, and then…off to college!  We can only hope she takes all that we have taught her, all that she has learned, and apply it while she is away at school.

(I’m planning on buying stock in Kleenex…you should consider it, too, as share prices will increase exponentially in the next three months!)

I find myself reflecting more frequently than ever at this stage in my life.  I tell people all the time that I’m at a great point in my life.  A really great point.  And I am.  This is a great point for her in her life, too.  What’s most ironic is that I had a GREAT high school experience.  My daughter’s was so-so.  My college experience was disastrous.  So I’m hoping her college experience is opposite my own.

(I’m guessing at some point I’ll have to take off the GPS tracker from her…it’s still up for discussion)

So what is a single dad to do at this point?  I have a bunch of great things planned.  I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time as I’ll have more time to spend and will need to re-focus my energy and strategy.  I’m guessing that’s what you are supposed to do when the brood leaves the nest.

For one, I seriously have to start dating again.  I’ve spent the last three years (well, three years in August) being a recluse.  Not because I wanted to be, but because I had so many bad dating stories that I just lost interest.  That has to change.  My plan has always been to start up again at the end of the summer.

I’m changing careers.  I haven’t told many people about it, other than those few close to me.  At the recommendation of my best bud, I’ve decided to take his advice and I’m going to do it.  More to come on that.

That’s it for now.  I have more to share and will share in the coming weeks.  But while sharing, I’ll continue to reflect on raising my daughter, how amazing she is, how much I love her, our talks together, the awesome memories I have of being her daddy, and the many new and wonderful memories she’ll be creating for herself.

 

 

Have You Found Your Pilot Light?

There is just a few hours left before you can get my book for FREE!  I am not going to email you hundreds of extras you need to sign up for, or other projects you need to spend money on.   What I’m doing is giving you a gateway – a free gateway – to something I’ve developed, practiced, and have found results in.  I want you to be the best you possible and I think you can get there.

My book has a lot of material.  There are stories of successes you never thought possible. There are tidbits of information you will find that you may never have realized before.  What’s best????

My book is not long.  I have read books on this kind of material that have gone on for 400, 500, even 600 pages long.  Even after reading them, I say to myself, “The book could have been shortened to 150-200 pages and I would have stuck with the process.”

I want you to know that change is not difficult.  It’s actually quite simple.  It does, however, require discipline and hard work.

“How is that simple,” you ask.  Easy, really.  Hard work is inevitable.  We all work hard to get to a greater lever.  And you have to be disciplined to getting up every morning and applying discipline tactics to your daily routine.

“Huh?  What are discipline tactics?”

Discipline tactics are those tactics used to complete your goals.  You have to have a definitive plan in place to tackle these obstacles.  Without a plan, there can be no successful results.  You might get a couple, but the whole package will remain incomplete.

What are you doing to achieve your goals?  What do you want most of yourself?

Get my book now, Igniting Your Pilot Light  for FREE until May 5th at 11:59pm.  Time for you to get started and discover your pilot light!

The Best Of You

I bet when you started off this year, you had major goals – plans to make 2018 the best year possible.  You were probably going to lose weight, get in shape, change careers, go back to school, push for more pay and/or promotion, etc.

Here we are and it is May 2nd.  Where do you stand right this moment?  My guess is that you are no where near and have given up on the year already.

I’m here to tell you that you can’t think that way.  Only four months have gone, but there are still eight months that ARE NOT gone!

97% of people that have New Year’s resolutions quit by January 15th.

Where do you stand?

There is so much time left to achieve what you set out to do.  You just need to refocus, stand your ground, get some discipline, and go after it.

My new book, “Igniting Your Pilot Light,” is now available on Amazon Kindle – FOR FREE! And by clicking on the link below this sentence, you can be directed there and take advantage of this amazing offer.  I only ask that you leave feedback after you read.  That’s it!  Fair trade off, don’t you think?  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Igniting Your Pilot Light

I realize how amazing and rewarding it is to help people become the best they can be.  I love to see how they change, transform, and reinvent themselves all by discovering that they are capable of anything they want to do or want to become.  We tend to get stuck in our own heads for so long that we become stagnant.  We lose the ability to move out of our comfort zone because we develop fear.  We grow “concrete feet” meaning we’ve been standing for so long that our feet become part of the pavement, unable to move forward because we are stuck.

There are solutions and they are simple.  Read that again:  there are solutions and they are simple.  HOWEVER, they do require hard work and discipline.  In my book, you’ll learn why you get stuck, what keeps you from moving forward, how to rediscover your passion, ignite your pilot light and watch the results you’ve always desired.

I’m very proud of this work as I spent just over a year developing it and creating my own method of teaching.  Part of it has to do with the way we use words to define our actions, words such as want vs. need, reasons vs. excuses, doing vs. trying, etc.

Please download for free and leave me feedback where you download the book.  Thank you so much.  Also check out my website, The Power Three and visit and like my author page, J. Martin Turner and The Power Three Facebook  page.

Have an amazing day and as always, thank you for your support and for following!

Ignite Your Pilot Light

It is May 1st…what were your resolutions on January 1st? How much have you achieved? How many of your goals are being met? I’m willing to bet not much. Ready to stop hoping and start doing? Ready to stop using January 1st as a reason to change? Why not right now, at this very moment? Download my new book, “Igniting Your Pilot Light” – FOR FREE! Available until May 5th at 11:59 PM, take advantage of the opportunity to finally set out and do what you’ve always thought or dreamed of doing…without ever looking back! Your goals are important and change is inevitable. Your time is NOW! I only ask that you leave feedback on my Amazon site. Download here:

I’m pleased to share this release of my new motivational (or as I prefer it to be labeled, influential) book, “Igniting Your Pilot Light.”  This is the third motivational book I’ve written under my author name, J. Martin Turner.  I self-publish my works through Amazon.com and they are all available through Amazon Kindle, a free app available for download.

I realize how amazing and rewarding it is to help people become the best they can be.  I love to see how they change, transform, and reinvent themselves all by discovering that they are capable of anything they want to do or want to become.  We tend to get stuck in our own heads for so long that we become stagnant.  We lose the ability to move out of our comfort zone because we develop fear.  We grow “concrete feet” meaning we’ve been standing for so long that our feet become part of the pavement, unable to move forward because we are stuck.

There are solutions and they are simple.  Read that again:  there are solutions and they are simple.  HOWEVER, they do require hard work and discipline.  In my book, you’ll learn why you get stuck, what keeps you from moving forward, how to rediscover your passion, ignite your pilot light and watch the results you’ve always desired.

I’m very proud of this work as I spent just over a year developing it and creating my own method of teaching.  Part of it has to do with the way we use words to define our actions, words such as want vs. need, reasons vs. excuses, doing vs. trying, etc.

Please download for free and leave me feedback where you download the book.  Thank you so much.  Also check out my website, The Power Three and visit and like my author page, J. Martin Turner and The Power Three Facebook  page.  Have an amazing day and as always, thank you for your support and for following!

 

Social Media Morons: Our Published (and Public) Conscience

I was watching  the news the other day because, well, let’s be real…there was nothing else on and I wanted to see what the weather was going to be like.  That’s really the only reason I watch the news anymore…and they are right only half the time, or so I’ve heard.

A kid in Sarasota, FL, posts a picture of himself holding a “promposal” sign.

A Florida school district is investigating a student's "promposal" that many found racist and offensive.

While he apologized and said it was a joke, ask the black community how many of them found it funny.  I’m quite certain they would all agree it was anything but.

We live in a society of social media morons.  What do I mean by this?

Simple.

People are using social media, not only to express opinions, share recipes, or talk about their families and share pics.  They also use it as a way to publicly address their conscience.

Whether Twitter, Snapchat, IG, FB, or any other platform, social media has become a way for people to “think” they are using it unleash their inner demons.  They use it as a way to speak openly and aggressively by charging at people, groups, organizations, etc. without first thinking of the consequences of their words.  Social media has become a streaming device for everyone’s conscience, including those that use it in a moronic sense.

I can sit here and share hundreds…possibly thousands…of tweets that were put out there, then suddenly removed once the person that posted it realized it was detrimental, not only to the person they were targeting, but it is not part of the public domain.  It is now published for the world to see.  You can’t “unsee” it, so-to-speak.  And even if it was removed or their site was made private, you pretty much secure a fate you never thought possible.

Case in point, Laura Ingraham.  She posted a tweet calling David Hogg a whiner because he was rejected by four colleges.

Before I go any further, I have my own personal feelings about David Hogg.  I’ve done my research.  I watch this teenager and what he posts and his agenda.  Plus my daughter goes to school with him and she has her own ideas about him.  In the beginning, I praised his efforts along with a few other students.  Let’s just say I’m not an advocate of his for my own personal reasons, but if you want to discuss this privately, we can.   I was happy for his movement and what he’s trying to do, but I did further research and, well, we all have our own opinions.  I’ll leave it at that.

Ingraham didn’t need to post that.  And it hurt her with her advertisers.  She has since returned and claimed that ratings were sky high, obviously protecting her and the show.  But would she have had to worry about this had she left “whine” out of her tweet…or not tweet at all?  Probably not.

Her conscience became a social media tweet.  What she was thinking she felt the need to share.

I don’t get this.  And I do get this.

First, the I do.  Look, we have an arena where we can say whatever our hearts and minds feel.  We can share it and think maybe somebody might respond or feel the same way.  I’ve done it.  I’ve gone out, had a few drinks, had someone tip their hat in a way that lit a spark.  I would sit and realize what was said and my conscience would get the best of me.  Instead of doing like we did back in the days, opening up a composition book or a journal and writing down how we were feeling, privately and without anyone’s knowledge, we now use social media as a forum for the same…only once you put it out there, you can’t take it back.

I’ve retracted comments I’ve made for the same reason.  I’d write it, get it out of my system, publish it, and then remove it.  Getting it out of my system was great.  Sharing it was not.  Hence, an old-school style of journal and pen/pencil companionship would have best suited me.  Same goes for those that think posting whatever they want is just fine but will not suffer any consequences.

Second, I don’t.   A lot of tweets that have come back to haunt people, either political pundits, celebrities, or even our President.  This has cost them their jobs or early resignations.  This may have even cost them relationships, followers, fans, etc.  As a grown man that supports himself and is working toward some great goals, I don’t get why you’d want the world to know your thoughts, especially if they are not thought out.  I tend to think out everything I write now.  Not just because I don’t want anything to come and haunt me (also because I really don’t say anything that would…although you just never know these days).  But also because that’s why I have friends.  That’s why I have a family.  If I want to vent, I go to them.  Or I write it down.  By hand.  On paper.  Or I type it out on a Word document (I can write faster if I’m typing and thinking).  Twitter doesn’t need to know.  Instagram doesn’t need to know.  Facebook doesn’t need to know.

That conscience is causing these “social media morons” to lose out on many things that they once deemed successes.  Losing your job, losing faith and trust in people, sounding like a racist or bigot, appearing to be a misogynist…that is what is destroying people.  I call them morons because that’s exactly what they are.  They sacrifice so much of themselves and their lives and then make a statement they decide to share.  This may be their true character and if so, then they expose themselves for who they really are so in essence, it may be a good thing.   So that’s good for the general public or those that witness their true colors.  But as a grown man and an adult, if you are that dumb – that moronic – to go on social media and expose yourself, then be prepared for the consequences.

There is no excuse for it, really.  And I don’t feel sorry for them for putting their “conscience” on display for the world to see.  I get heated up about a lot of things.  But it is momentary.  Typically before I rant for people to see, I make sure I read it, re-read it, then I make an educated decision on whether it is worth the argument or just something that is not worth it.   Just recently I posted about the Southwest Airlines incident.  I knew I’d get backlash from my comments.  But I was prepared and I defended myself.  However, sometimes I’d rather walk into my room, shut the door and scream or sit down with a notebook and write out how I feel.

If you are a public figure with several hundreds, thousands, or even millions of followers and decide to publish your thoughts, your conscience, then you reap the benefits of the return.  And if you aren’t and people share it and you become a national news story, then I don’t feel for you, either.  I don’t know what you expect out of making comments like that, but you deserve everything that happens – whether democrat, republican, conservative, liberal, celebrity, author, or kid at school with stupid promposal sign – whatever you may be, you must suffer the consequences.  You are no better than anyone that posts a nude pic and later regrets it.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to post your feelings thinking it was a smart move and all you did was expose yourself to the world at who you really are…even if you are not and just reacted.

You are a social media moron.  And perhaps you should consider a journal and a fresh set of pens or pencils in your immediate future.

The Ways of the Peaceful Warriors

Just before I left Gainesville, FL to return home after failing miserably in college, a friend of mine at the time, Ryan, gave me a book called “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman.  I didn’t think much of the book and quite honestly I used it as a coaster or a dust-collector.  It never really dawned on me to read it and I really wasn’t much of a reader back then.

One afternoon, while trying to figure out what to do with my life and what direction I was going to take, I looked over at the book, grabbed a towel and my sunglasses and hit the pool.  I was immediately sucked into the book, not just because of the story, but because I was also into the spiritual mind-body practices, at least in theory (yes, it all sounded great in my mind, but I never actually practiced, even though I liked them and wanted to learn about my inner Chi).

The book was great, but I was a young guy, in my very early 20’s, and most of the book went into and out of my head.  A few weeks back, I was going through some old books and came across this book again.  It was dusty and the cover and several pages were bent.  I pulled it out and sat down to reread the book.  And it couldn’t have been more opportune that I should happen upon it.

Over the last several months, maybe even couple of years, I’ve learned to become a peaceful warrior.  In the past, I’ve reacted quickly, hastily to comments I feel passionate about, writing from the heart rather than allowing my head take over, listen to myself and my stance, and understand that in writing, there can be just as much screaming as there is in person.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I would go on a rant and later read it over and think, “What the hell was I just saying!”  I would then erase it and shake my head in embarrassment because it was gibberish.  There may have been a valid point somewhere, but it was hard to figure out with highly intensive slandering, bad language (sometimes) and sentences that went on without a single break while trying to make a point.  I was ashamed because I know that I don’t…nor should I…write like that.  It was time to be different.  It was time not to react, but to act.  It was time to make a point, to be a warrior yet maintain the peace.

I think I’ve achieved that result.  I can’t promise there won’t be a time when I may not write intensely and passionately, but for the most part, I want to try and maintain a level of intelligence, provide facts, and make sure the other person can discuss or argue back the same way.  I always tell my daughter, “Don’t stoop to stupidity.  Don’t get angry with anger.  Just hold your ground, stand firm, and know when to walk away.  But always be able to back up your argument.”

A 50 year-old ex-marine attacked my daughter on Facebook the other day, mostly because she was defending one of her fellow students, David Hogg.  The man called him a child, said he was stupid.  My daughter responded to defend him, saying he is actually quite intelligent as they had a couple of classes together.  The man then turned to belittle my daughter.  Doesn’t matter what he said, she got nasty back, calling him an “asshole” and then blocked him.  So I asked her, “you did a hit and run, huh?”

“What’s that?”
“That’s when you purposely slam someone, then cut them off so they can’t reply.  You hit him by calling him an asshole then blocked him, choosing to run away and not deal.  Did you get something out of it?”

“No.  He just made me really mad.”

“I understand that, but there is not resolve in slamming someone.  Name-calling and bashing is not a solution.  Be smarter than them, honey.  Make them want to tell you off so bad that they say that to you, not the other way around.  Most of the time, they will be pissed off and do the hit and run, but as long as you made your point and it was valid, intelligent, and merely a discussion on your end, you have nothing to worry about.  You will always be able to walk away on top.”

She is learning.  Trust me, I was furious and wanted to blast this jackass (there’s my name-calling), but chose to let her fight this battle.  She will have to learn to do so one day.  I will not be there all the time to fight her battles.  And she needs to learn to become just that – a peaceful warrior.

I feel awful that our society chooses to bash Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg…or I once did.  I don’t any longer.  Why?  Because I’m watching these children become strong adults.  I’m watching them become peaceful warriors.  I’m watching them take what is being thrown at them and instead of lashing out in response, they choose to be smarter.  Now it is possible that someone is guiding them and teaching them, showing them how to respond intelligently much like I’m doing with my daughter.  Or maybe not.  But if so, then I’m sure their parents are guiding them to support their movement.

I’m certain it can’t be easy to take on so much at such a young age.  Six weeks ago, they were students going to school, learning, being teenagers looking forward to prom and graduating soon.  In the blink of an eye, they were planted in front of an entire nation because for the first time in their young lives, they have a passion that they never realized.

There are many who could learn by becoming a peaceful warrior.  There many that NEED to learn to become a peaceful warrior.  I do my best to teach my daughter each day.  She is still learning.  So am I.

Stoneman-Douglas: Post Tragedy and the Steps Moving Forward

Today marks five weeks since the Stoneman-Douglas shooting.  It still makes me quiver inside, especially when I recall that day.  I also still feel remorse for those families that lost their children.  I haven’t dreamt much about it and really only one time in the last week.  There are still events that continue to plague the students, as my daughter had to experience two days ago.

First, there was Nik Cruz’ brother Zachary Cruz, who ended up on campus on Monday evening.  You can look it up and read about it as I won’t go into detail.  Somehow, he made it on campus after being told three times not to go near it.  He was immediately arrested, a bomb sweep was performed to make sure Cruz did not leave anything behind as a measure of protocol.

The next day, Tuesday morning, my daughter was having a bad anxiety attack at school because she was told there was a bomb threat.  I had to let her know that was false and it was only a bomb sweep to make sure there was nothing done by Zach Cruz while on campus which had been performed Monday evening.  Then, two students were arrested for bringing a knife to school and one was baker acted.

She began to panic and her mother had to pick her up from school Tuesday.  She was doing much better as of today, but was still having a tough time as of yesterday.  So naturally we allowed her to stay home the rest of the week with next week being spring break.

I called her last night and we spoke.  I gave her the most fatherly advice I knew how:

“I know this can’t be easy.  But the children that were arrested were done so immediately and any reason or excuse was not accepted for them having knives.  I don’t believe they were bringing knives to intentionally cause harm or inflict damage to other children.  Still, there is no reason or excuse and they were properly handled by the authorities.  As for Zachary Cruz, I can’t say how he entered campus, but he did so freely and was apprehended.  They did a bomb sweep for security purposes and to follow protocol.  There was no bomb threat but when they found him, he had only the clothes on his back and a skateboard with him.”

“That makes me feel a little better,” she said.

“Look, your school is under a microscope right now.  Anything that occurs there is going to be amplified one-hundred fold.  It’ll look much bigger than it seems because that is the way it will be portrayed by everyone.  I can only tell you this:  You have to continue to move forward.  There is an equal amount of fear you can have by driving in a car, going to a mall or grocery store, or going off to college.  People carry knives.  People have guns. I can only hope and pray that you are vigilant of your surroundings.  You need to pay attention, but you should not live your life in fear.  I pray everyday that you remain safe and you must do the same.  I’d like to say it’ll be OK.  But hope is all I can really do that it does remain OK and that you are always fine.  If anything, learn from this.  I can’t tell you not to be afraid.  But should you have fear, do not let it keep you from moving forward.  Share with and teach others.  And remember that you have only seven weeks left after you return from spring break.  You’ll have prom, then finals, then graduation and a new chapter begins.  Keep that in mind if/when you worry.  And if need be, mommy and I will be there for you.”

That was the best I had for her.  I can’t sugar coat anything because I don’t believe in it.  Truth is hard to swallow, but as long as truth contains some semblance of faith and hope and it isn’t all just hard truth, then there should be light – in her heart and in her eyes.

I continue to pray for those families.  I love what Florida has done to enact knew legislation concerning the several issues that we have dealt with.  And the student movement has been remarkable.

My belief?  This is more than just a gun issue.  I have said that from the beginning and now there has been confirmation and here’s how…

There have been several bombings going on in Austin, Texas.  Two people lost their lives.  Several have been injured.  Seven bombs went off, including the one that killed the serial bomber, Mark Conditt.  He was 23 years-old, only four years older than Nik Cruz.  He didn’t have much of a social media presence, other than a few blogs he wrote on topics he discussed…and that was back in 2012.  As of now, there is no motive.  He was home schooled, graduated, and was attending a community college.  He was in computer repair and a purchasing agent.

Mental health issues are rampant.  Until more comes out about this case, we will not know why he did these acts or what other knowledge there is of his mental health.  Nik Cruz and his brother have had several very well documented acts of violence and disturbances.  However, there was no knowledge of this young man having any issues…as of yet.  While Cruz may have been prevented, we just don’t know who is going to cause damage…or when or where.  He used bombs, not a gun.  This is still tragic because people were killed and injured.

We need to go back to giving a shit about people.  We need to go back to being nosy-neighbors.  We need to spend more time with our kids and less time with computers and technology.  We need to teach manners and instill a taste of fear in our children to elicit their respect to us as adults.  Not abuse.  We need kids to get involved with each other and learn to leave no one out.

Fixing what I see many are calling our “broken society” is not a difficult task.  Our society is not broken, it just needs to be readjusted.  This is not one person’s problem.  The President didn’t do this to us.  Politicians didn’t do this to us.  Religious groups didn’t do this to us.  A particular race didn’t do this to us.

WE DID! Technology has made us weaker.  We care less.  We act less.  We don’t instill the values that were once taught.  We allow mediocrity.  We are accepting of average work.  I read an article the other day by a “respectable news source” (if there is such a thing anymore) and I was appalled by the grammatical errors and misspelling.  I found five in just the first four paragraphs and stopped reading because it was written by the editor of the news source.  All this technology and they couldn’t get spellcheck right.

When my mother was involved in politics several years ago, we went door-to-door promoting the candidate she supported.  We passed out fliers.  We spoke to homes.  We shook hands.  And my brother and I went along for the ride.  I’m not saying that in support of the politics; I’m saying that in support of our involvement.  We knew what was going on.  We were learning.  We weren’t glued to a computer or a video game.  We weren’t stuck on our phones or laptops or iPads lost in a screen.  We were involved.  If we did play video games, we did so for about an hour and then we were back outside, riding bikes, playing make-believe, creating fake scenarios, using our imaginations.

I don’t think we are broken.  But we are certainly way off track.  We just have to re-route the track and find our way back to the course.  We have to do so as community, as a family of Americans.  We have to revive what was been lost like having dinner together with our families without TV, talking and having conversations, knowing what’s going on in our children’s lives and in their minds, involved in their school and with their schoolwork.  We need to be more diligent with their functions, as children learning to grow.  We have to be impressionable by sharing stories and knowledge and experience, but also allowing them to make decisions so they can grow.

I don’t have all the answers.  But I will never stray away from offering solutions I believe may work.

For now, hope is all I can really do that it will once again – someday – be OK.

Be Positive.  Be Passionate.  Be Proud.  #msdstrong

 

 

 

Banned In the USA

Pitbulls.  Several will claim they are happy, loving dogs.  Many will claim they are a breed that is destined to wreak havoc and cause pain because they are a killing machine.  Cocaine in the early 1900’s was considered safe.  Over time, people realized it had addictive personalities and it was thus banned, as a primary ingredient in Coca Cola.  AR-15’s, a gun that is being widely accused of several mass shootings, is the topic of discussion for being banned because of its ease of purchase for such a tirade, especially in the last several mass shootings.

Lets be clear before I continue:  my daughter was in school the day of the Stoneman-Douglas shooting.  I was there.  If you read my last two blogs, you are well aware that this plays big in my mind and heart as I held my breath until I found my daughter safe and she was returned to me.  And while I’m an advocate and support the second amendment, many people feel the AR-15 should be banned.  I don’t.  And here’s why.

First, let’s be honest about all of this:  this is more than just a gun.  Yes, he did get it legally. Yes, he did kill 17 people.  And yes, he was mentally diagnosed with autism at 11 years old.  And yes, he used an AR-15.

“But AR-15’s are responsible for the last several school shootings, including this one.”

I hear you.  I do.  But did you know that there was a tri-county wide ban that was put into effect to ban pitbulls for the same fear?

Go look it up!  I challenge you.  In the 70’s it was German Shepards.  In the 80’s it was Doberman Pinchers.  In the 90’s it was Rotweilers.  Now it is Pitbulls and has been for the last several years.

“This is a ridiculous argument.  You are comparing an animal to an animal shooting up a live environment?”

Is it really all that different?  Maybe in the sense of the amount of lives taken, but is a pitbull no more or less dangerous…in the minds of those that experienced it?

Maybe to some extent.  But here is the comment from one person’s experience with an pitbull:

“People are frightened,” Michele Lazarow, HallandaleBeach city commissioner, said. “And they’re angry. They’re seeing what has happened in Miami-Dade County, and they’re frightened that it could happen here.”

That was a comment by someone who feels pitbull attacks could happen with those they love around them and want them banned so they never have to experience it.  They fear that pitbulls could cause the same damage and are scared.

So what makes pitbulls attack any different from a gun?  There was a county-wide push to have this breed banned based on the reaction of the breed’s potential to lash out without knowledge.  How is that any different than a person that is mentally disabled lashing out without knowledge?

“That’s just ignorant.  You can’t compare an animals breed lashing out to someone who is firing against several students.”

Really?  Why not?  If I own the breed and they go after one or several people and cause damage or harm, how different is that breed than someone who has a gun, pistol (Columbine) or rifle (Douglas) lashing out on a group of people?  How is that really different?  The amount of people they kill?  Really?  I hope that’s not your basis for reasoning.  If it is, then I guess the Boston Marathon bombing isn’t included because it only caused three deaths but 16 people lost limbs.  And the World Trade Center Bombings killed six people and injured a thousand.

People will cause harm regardless of laws.  People will figure out a way to do harm no matter what they need to do to do it.  9/11 was a result of planes and buildings, no guns involved.

“That was a terrorist act.”

So that’s OK?  Nobody used guns.  But several thousands of people were killed and lost their lives.

“That was premeditated!”

So was Douglas!!!  But we are going to blame the AR-15.   Let’s not blame the several (the number varies between 32 and 39) calls that resulted from this sickened individual.  Let’s not recall the FBI calls that were given to him claiming to be a “professional school shooter” one day or the fact that he may “explode and one day kill several.”  Let’s not talk about so much more that I am ill talking about because we know now what it is.

There is no doubt that it was too easy for him to purchase this gun.  There is no doubt that he was able to pass a background check even though he was declared autistic at age 11.

Before you go ape-shit on me about this, here’s my take:

I believe you should be 23 before you get a gun.  I believe when you turn 21, you should be have to take a course (if you want to own a gun) that allows you the opportunity to have a pre-liminary license.  I feel that over the next 2 years, you should have a set amount of time spent in a gun range and you should have to take two courses – one on gun-firing and recoil and one on gun-knowledge.  The gun-firing course should include a certain number of rounds that you fire for practice, to understand the impact and power behind it; you  that should have the required amount of rounds shooting (like community service hours) in order to obtain the shooting license.  Then there should be a test, a course you take that requires you to learn about guns, ammo, and all things that are involved with guns that make you educated and pass a test that will allow you to have a knowledge based license. Combined, you would receive a SAF-T Ownership License that will allow you the ability to carry legally.  The money charged, part of that goes to the licensing company, the rest to education to help safely protect children.

AR-15’s won’t go away.  They won’t.  Banning them is like banning a pitbull because they are a dangerous animal and you never know if/when they are going to act out.  You can argue with me all day long.

At the end of the day, there are several out there that feel a Pit Bull is a dangerous breed and if they had a child or family member that were attacked by one, could you convince them they were wrong any more than you could convince someone who was shot and killed by an AR-15?  Probably not.  A hard argument from both sides.

“But a pitbull doesn’t cause 17 people to lose their lives, including the lives at SandyHook, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Pulse, etc.  What now?”

I can’t argue that.  Fear is fear.  And this fear is just as great and has been as greatly expressed in the sense of banning Pitbulls as a breed because they feel passionately about it and fearful of the breed.  Why should it be any different?  A Pit Bull can cause death just as much as an AR-15…maybe not in the same capacity, but in the same sense of destruction and death.

I’m not an advocate of the NRA nor am I a member.  I have shot an AR-15.  I don’t feel one way or the other about them, whether they should be banned or not.  The NRA apparently does not want to help with the stand and they aren’t willing to change their stance on age or making new laws because they feel age is not a consideration on the matter.  I don’t know why.  Many would argue it’s a money issue and would take away the position of the NRA.  I’m not sure why they don’t feel the need to stand up and make changes.  It’s disheartening nonetheless.

However, so many people have bowed out of their efforts to support the NRA or give discounts to them or completely move away from supporting them.  Sad that they can’t seem to move in favor of such, that a person of 18 years of age can possess a firearm, yet can’t drink a beer.  So maybe there needs to be a new association that moves in favor of better, safer laws.

We need to make change.  Change needs to happen immediately.  There is no discussion, but we need to do it the right way.  Governor Scott proposed several different actions and I respect and appreciate his efforts and actions.  We’ll see what happens.  To be continued…