Where we are going wrong K-12

I have been working in education for 20 years now and every year I get more and more frustrated with our educational system. In every school I have worked in they say we are creating college and career ready students. Yet, kids have no communication skills, coping strategies or understanding of how to deal with their own struggles emotionally.\

In most schools there are about 20 percent of the population that are made for our educational system and will succeed no matter what we do. It is the bottom 30 percent that I am concerned with though, and for that matter the 50 percent above them are on the fence. Why? Because education is based on 2 maybe 3 intelligences. We focus on Mathematical, Linguistic, and science. We do not even begin to touch upon interpersonal, interpersonal, or kinesethtic intelligences.

Businesses today want and need people that are problem solvers, not products of regurgitation. That want an employee that can find the answers. They want employees that don’t give up easily and they want employees that have a key skill…empathy. None of which we teach. Don’t get me wrong, problem solving is taught in schools, but not the type needed by our working world. Let me explain…CHEATING in school is seen as looking up answers for a test, writing them on your arm, talking or looking at your neighbor, etc. Yet, in the real world these are seen as resourceful natured people. Willing to do whatever it takes to find the answers. Not in school.

Then there are the kids that no matter what you do, no matter how good you are at teaching your subject, they will not learn. Why? Because they are not functioning from their right brain. They are in survival mode, trying to get through the next hour, the next day or the next week. They are functioning from their Limbic brain. These are most of the kids that I work with in Detroit. They are just surviving. Yet, our school focuses on the next best math technique or writing strategy. Not working…right? Detroit has some of the lowest scoring kids in the country, but they are far from dumb. We are missing out on kids like this because we as educators refuse to change our mindset. Empathy as a teacher? Naw! Not going to happen. …to be continued

When will we Learn?

Over the last week I have been writing about what I am hearing from people, mostly our youth and it has been affecting me at a core level. I have heard stories of abuse, neglect, loss, violence, and more. Our kids, at least in Detroit are suffering and how we handle them will determine to a large part what they do in their lives.

We all know that home is where it starts, and home is where we as a community need to come together. We also must understand that it is a must-level issue that must be handled as such, we must not point fingers, play the blame game as there is no power in blame. What we need to do is look in the mirror and begin to reflect as parents, educators, city officials, community members, police and the list could go on, as to what each us us can do to affect our community, our children and our future in a positive manner. Then we need to come together and listen to what each of us has to say, and develop a plan of action for each individual community.

As an educator working in the city of Detroit, I see and hear what our youth are going through. Mainly because I ask a simple question…What’s up? Are you ok? Do you want to talk? And because the kids trust me, they often share with me their struggles, and it breaks my heart to hear what they are dealing with on a daily basis.

When a young lady already in tears looks at you and says…”I just want to feel loved, I want my mom to hug me, say she is proud of me…and it never happens.” What do you do, what do you say? Then she tells you that she is having trouble just concentrating in class, staying focused, listening and learning….she is functioning from a mid brain level.

She is not learning effectively because she is in survival mode. Then she goes to school and many times it only gets worse. She is tired, emotionally drained, uncertain of who she is and if she has value in life. She sits in class and puts her head down or her head phones in…the teacher scolds her….she gets defensive and rolls her eyes or makes a comment to the teacher that is inappropriate….She is then written up, or security is call and then sent home or just pushed along until the next class.

Event 2:

This is today May 9, 2018: I am standing in my class, when I see security run by my room. I got out to make sure it is not one of my students or to see if I can help. I follow security into the classroom 2 doors down. When we enter the room there is definite tension. Two big young man were arguing and threatening each other, but at that moment both were seated and quite. Security walks behind one of the boys, they say something to him and then put their hands on him to stand him up and remove him from the room. He is not having it, he shakes their hands off him. Security then places him in a choke hold pushing him onto the desk in front of him. he struggles, the second officer jumps in to help. They end up wresting with him and then throwing him on the floor. The boy is still in a choke hold, he is now gasping for air. I can hear him choking. Security struggles to put handcuffs on him. Once the cuffs are on, they let him go. He sits up and with tears running down his face and says…”You have no idea what I am going through….You have no idea what I am going through.”

This is not the way to help our kids learn. We as Educators, community member, parents need to start rising above the anger, the use of force to deal with our youth. It does not work, it does not teach.

Later in the day when I was asked by the head of security, what I was upset about. He thought I was made about the use of cuffs, which I wasn’t happy about but was not the real issue. I was upset at the way it was handled. Force was not needed. I was then asked did security ask him to get up and come with them? I responded, yes. Did he? No…then what were they suppose to do?

Really? Because he didn’t obey you, that gives you the right to use force. That right there is a problem. He then asked me what would I have done. I said I would have walked bent down and talked with the student. At some point I would have then escorted out of the room. It may take a moment, but because the student knows me and trusts me I believe he would have left the room peacefully. No choke hold, no cuffs, no violence, no suspension.

The students do not trust security…and I understand. To change our culture WE as the ADULTS must model behavior. We are the models for problem solving, self management, coping skills and communication. The teachers, the staff, the administration….EVERY ADULT needs to be that positive model.

sad boy bench

Finding Our Gift!

We all have a gift, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you may look like. AS educators, parents and community members it is our responsibility to help you find that gift. What makes you special? We all have multiple gifts and many times those are not found in our current educational system. We are missing a large percentage of our youth, they do not have a purpose, because their gifts have been found.

In talking with many people today and in the last few days, this is a key to success, a key to greatness, understand WHY we are here. I believe that we should be helping our students find themselves, learn about who they are where they come from and why they exist.

When I was a kid growing up and attending school, I did not know my purpose, I did not know my gifts. I knew I was a great hockey player, athlete, but as it related to everything else….I have NO CLUE. I thought I was dumb, not capable of being successful in a classroom, it was what I thought, therefore it was what I was. It wasn’t until I got to Community College that I found one of my gifts, psychology and the mind….It captivated me, inspired me and brought out my interest in school. I went from a 1.8 overall in High School to a 3.75 GPA in my first semester.

Then my accident happened and it was another lesson for me to learn. I found that I was a lot stronger than I thought, I was determined to be more than I was, to take advantage of this second chance at life. To find my purpose! I did and I am still am finding new gifts each year.

It is a story of finding self, overcoming adversity and striving for greatness, but did I need to go through this horrific event to get me there? Maybe? Yet, I also know that after going through 12+ years of school I had little idea of what I was here for and that to me as an educator is unacceptable. We must do a better job of find students purpose, finding those gifts and helping them fine tune and grow these skills. Help them see the greatness in each of them and bring out that energy that runs through and between us all!

For American Education to be successful in a global economy we must help our students find themselves, their gifts, their greatness…It is in us ALL! What are your gift

Taking Control: from Victim to Victor

The Last few days I have been blogging about what kids and people are going through in lives and how it affects their future. I have been struggling with all the things I am hearing from people because it makes me sad that people have faced some many demons and yet are still here, unfortunately, most people are surviving, they are not living. So how do we go from these struggles, these dark places to strength?

Let’s get real, making change is NOT easy, there is no magic bullet, no quick fix. Will Smith has an Excellent video, it is called Fault vs. Responsibility. Yes..many things have happened to all of us, and these events vary in severity, but what we do with those events is what separates the “victim from the victor.” So how do I do this? I ma going to talk about many different options, because each person is different and there is no one right answer.

The only thing that is a must….You Must look in the mirror! You cannot place blame, you cannot point your finger…we are not talking about whose fault is it that you are where you are. We are talking about CHANGE. To make CHANGE in you, you MUST focus on YOU.

I believe we are the creators of our own future. I do not believe in luck, good or bad, what I do believe is that what we think, what we believe, what we say….is what we manifest. So if i am always telling myself and the world that I can’t, I’m not, I’m dumb, I’m ugly, I’m not worth it…This story you tell yourself is the story that will play itself out right in front of you. I believe there is some truth to the law of attraction, what we put out there, is what comes back…Whether it comes back because we connect with a power or energy greater than ourselves, or it comes back because we  make it so, what matters is it comes back.

So whatever it is that you want in life, think it, see it, say it, be it. If we want to be happy, to make better choices, then you have to start thinking differently. Change your mind, change your life. Mindset is powerful!!!! You have to start changing the story that plays out in your thoughts, changing from the negative to the positive, from the I think I can, to I know I can….

This means that when that story starts rolling out in your thoughts, and that story is negative, you have to STOP. You have to actively tell yourself….NO this is not going to be my story….I CAN change it, I MUST change it and I WILL Change it. What ever it is you want, write it down, print it out and put it everywhere you look throughout the day. Places like the bathroom mirror, in your car, on your notebooks, your planner, at your desk.

Now, you have your plan, you have  written and posted it everywhere…now you have to practice…practice….practice. When those thoughts come into your mind…SAY STOP! If no one is around, Say it out loud. I am the creator of my story, my past is my strength that will help me create this story. Every time that negativity creeps in, STOP, refocus, and create a new story through positive thinking, through visualization, through what you think, what you say, then what you do.

The negative stuff in your life, the things that you can are pulling you in the wrong direction you must let go. That means if there is person or people that continually send messages, that stress you out, they say things that hurt you….STOP. Distance yourself from them and find other people or other things to refocus your thoughts…..


The Struggles We go through: The break down of our souls or the lifting of our Spirit

Over the last few days I have heard story after story of what people go through in their lives and it has been making me think about how we are so quick to judge. My last blog entry was about taking the time to open the book and not just judge the cover.

My story of overcoming great obstacles is uplifting to many, but in my opinion what I went through pales in comparison to the people I have been talking with over these last few days. Just today I was talking with a group of girls who are struggling with their peers, and trying not to get into fights. As they begin to talk with me I can see and feel the anger bleeding off of them, they are getting more and more worked up as they talk.

The more we talk the more I try to steer the conversation towards understanding where the anger is coming from and if it is anger at all. The girls begin to open up and start talking home, about their past. Without getting into details too much this is what I heard:

  • My father abused me, touched me, my mom’s new husband is always touching me and mom believes that it is my fault.
  • I just want to be hugged by my mom, I want to hear her say that she is proud of me, but those things never happen.
  • We have almost no food in the house, and things are usually in chaos.
  • Why does my boyfriend care for me more than my mom.
  • My Grandmother did the same to my mom as she is doing to me, I don’t want to be like that

Then I was talking with these two boys and again the stories they told me crushed my soul:

  • When I was 12 my cousin and I were riding and ATV and a dirt bike through the neighborhood, I was behind my cuz, he was on the dirt bike, When I heard 2 pops…Bang…Bang…and my cuz went down. I stopped and ran over to him and it was the first time I saw someone die right in front of me. As he is telling me this story tears are welling up and start to stream down his face. You can see and feel the pain, the uncertainty of life for this young man.
  • He and his friend are now in a gang, they joined because they needed to feel like they belonged to something, to feel important to someone else.
  • After being initiated into the group by one of their brothers, they began running with the #200’s a 7 Mile Gang that match up with the bloods.
  • They feel love, they feel important.
  • One night they are out with his brother, when they find out a member of another gang stole some of their stuff. They go out searching for this man, and they find him. This boys older brother pulls out a gun and begins threatening the man. Give us our shit back…it goes on for a minute…the brother gets upset and pulls the trigger. The man drops to the ground dead. These boys see this and have no idea what to feel. They are scared, sad, and lost.
  • Watching someone die at any age is scary and brings about a variety of feelings, many of which the most balanced individual will struggle with, but a kid…

I have heard story after story of the struggles of our kids and have watched them walk into a school that is not equipped to fully educate them, let alone help them deal with REAL LIFE. Kids in all walks of life, the poor and the rich, the white and the black, we all have events in our lives that shape us, and not always for the best. We need to understand that kids will become adults and these events if not adequately dealt with will manifest themselves into poor decisions, criminal activities, violence both internally and externally, and other destructive behaviors. These are not bad people, they are products of their environment, our environment. It may not be our fault, but it damn well our responsibility to help build our people. We need to listen to people, learn their stories before we write them off as “BAD”.

When we ask the simple the questions like, Are you ok? What is going on? Or we say, I’m here if you want to talk, we learn that these people are not bad, they are just struggling. By reaching out and caring, we are changing lives, helping them begin to process all the traumas, helping them understand that what has happened to them can help build them if we talk it out and deal.

To be continued…..

Take a minute and Open the book!

As I woke today and the sun was shining and the birds were chirping, I began to think about how lucky we all are to rise and wake, yet I also understand that far too many wake and do not feel this or see this. People that are living life, that have had the right breaks, and the right opportunities, do not always understand the struggles others go through in life and how it affects them at a core level.

I think that it is a natural thing for people to judge, we are always talking about the important of that first impression, yet, judgement past is opportunity lost. Meaning that when we make quick judgments about the cover of the book, we often miss out on the greatest stories. I know that I am guilty of this, and I am always striving to stop and learn, to challenge myself take a minute and listen, and as I have done this I have heard some of the most amazing stories and friended some incredible people that yesterday I may have past on by.

In my last blog I was writing about how? How do we overcome the obstacles that just seem to dark, too deep, and too, much for us to handle. Then I started thinking about people, from the most successful to the ones struggling just to survive till tomorrow. People that are doing ok often do not understand the struggle of others, what they have been through, we just make a judgement and move on.

The stories I have heard over the years of what many of our children have been through would surprise you, and would help you understand why many people grow up and make the choices they do. When you are born into a life where those that are suppose to love and care for you don’t, maybe because they themselves are hurt and damaged, maybe because they have mental issues…whatever the reason it doesn’t matter to that child that looks to them for love and protection.

This child slowly grows up in a home that is not supportive, is not caring or loving, and is often abusive physically, emotionally, and sexually. This is your life, your are told you are worthless, you don’t receive hugs and love, you may not get the right nutrition, home is chaos….this is the first 18 years of you life or more….

You go to school during these years where all of this is happening at home, school is your safe place, but it is not enough. Your body is always on guard, always ready for the next perceived attack, and then you are asked to listen, learn and perform in all your classes. When you don’t, the idea in your mind is reinforced that you are less than. This is what you learn in Elementary school and middle school. You look for some place to fit in and that place is with others like you, others that school, home and maybe even society has deemed as less than. You bond with them, they understand you, have your back…but they like you are in survival mode. That means that when danger is perceived in the slightest, that innate animal in us rises…we Fight…we run…or we freeze. That danger could be a word, a look, a touch, a smell, or anything that that person senses, they react and often with violence, anger, and rage. Those watching either run into to video and/or cheer on, or watch in disbelief…I hear people often say what is wrong with them? Don’t they understand the consequences? It wasn’t even anything big, it was just a word or a bump…what is wrong with them….

Well, when you have lived your live in survival mode and have not been taught much else, that is what we do! Race, religion, or gender have no barring on this, all of us will react if this is our reality. So when people make rash judgements about other people, it bothers me, because we do not know their opening chapters, their main body of work, all we know is the cover.

So the next time you see some one doing wrong, behaving poorly, or just acting out of the norm…STOP…Ask yourself….what is wrong…. If you are a teacher, a Principal, or work with kids and they are acting up, sleeping in class, performing poorly…take a minute sit down with them and open the book!pexels-photo-186447.jpeg

A Dying Light – A Healing hand: A Pride Built Strong

How? When everything seems to be falling apart around you, do you rise and fight. When it feels as though you are cursed, from your first memories of being abused or neglected. Every time you close your eyes you see another person trying to hurt you, destroy you. How do you rise?

That is the question that runs through the heads of hundreds of thousands of people everyday, why should I rise? “How can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside.” A tear runs down their cheek as they talk, “I just can’t do it anymore.”

That story plays over and over in their thoughts, they hear the voices of all that hurt them, they feel the pain course through their bodies….”I have no more, I am no more.” As they say this, you know that there is a part of them that just wants to be happy, but with each strike, that part gets smaller and smaller.

The sun starts to shine in their life, things start to improve…then bang, another let down, another lie told, or another person scolded. That shine turns to darkness, that hope to fear, the fear turns to dread, and dread to complete and absolute darkness.

When you are in darkness like this what do you do? How do you find even the smallest ray of hope?

I believe that through all darkness, there is a way to grow and find hope, yet I also understand that when you are in this place….hope seems a million miles away. Sometimes it is just a kind word, or a smile that lifts the dirt, you can feel the earth move, and again for a second there is hope…..


We all want to believe that we are strong enough to fight the battles that are placed before us, we want to feel strong, think strong and pick ourselves up by the boot straps. The problem is that sometimes we aren’t wearing boots and we don’t always have that strength to channel from within. We are human, we are not meant to be alone, we are meant to be “ONE”. Humans are social beings, we are not designed to be alone, do alone, win alone, we are designed to be a Pride, a unit, a family. This is our strength.

So when the darkness begins to close in and your heart begins to break, as you feel the blood begin to seep, you can either let yourself fall deep, into the darkness….or search for the ray of hope, that hand that is searching through the darkness for you….that is your strength….find your Pride…Your Family…and let them pick up. This is strength. As for one we call, as many we rise and shine!

So when you ask yourself, why should I rise, how can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside…We say to you….you might not but your Pride/Family…WE DO! This is how we rise, we unite! We support each other, and build a Pride that grows each day, that tears down the blight, the plight, with incredible fight, we rise!

No matter where one may be, they are never alone in their struggles, unless they choose to be.  It is this choice that you make to fight alone that maybe your true adversary. You may survive the battle, but will you ever win the war.

No matter where one maybe, they are never alone in their struggles, if they choose to reach out…that hand is there…and together you will search through the darkest of night…to find that light…..it is there and together WE will LIVE!

So build your Pride….Start with one and grow into many….Unite our Prides and together we can truly UNITE these States!

#Lionheart; #buildingourPride; #buildavillage; #Pepper&SaltConsulting

Let’s get real about Education and Diversity

I grew up in Southeast Michigan, just outside of Detroit in a Middle to Upper Class Neighborhood. I received the best opportunities in life because of where I grew up, and truthfully because of the color of my skin. I am a white man, and anyone that says color doesn’t matter, or that being white is not “being privileged” is not seeing what I am seeing. I understand that things in this country have changed over the last 50 to 100 years as it relates to diversity, but I do not believe that this is by any means an equal country. It is far from it!

I know live 8.5 miles from the school I work at in Detroit, my son attends a high school in that district that is no more than 10-12 miles from the high school I work at, yet the differences between these two schools, these two neighborhoods, is night and day. The featured picture is of one of the blocks across from my school.  I think we can all agree that the neighborhoods that most of us live in do not look like this, yet this is Detroit. 8.5 Miles from my home where there is not one abandon house, no medical marijuana depots, no strip joints and no gun fire.

The School my son attends is well taken care of, has many electives, plenty of teachers, and no metal detectors. They have books, computers, copy machines, cold drinking water and plenty of drinking fountains to choose from.  My school, has 1 out of 3 boilers working, and many of the classes in the winter are so warm that I sweat through my shirts and sometimes my pants. Our windows do not open, and the drinking water is, well not available. There are a few water fountains that work, but kids will not drink from them because of the taste and the look. I am not sure of the quality of the water, but  perception is power and the water fountains look bad. This means that most of our students are probably dehydrated, which to be a successful learner, the first criteria is that you need to be hydrated, have decent nutrition and have decent shelter. Here, those are well either not here, or very poor.

The next step to being successful in school is to have a feeling of safety, and well Im in the 9th Precinct in Detroit and safety is most definitely an issue in their neighborhoods and the community. Our school, I would say is fairly safe from violence, and I think I can say that the students here are as safe as the students at my sons school to a certain degree, while in the school building. Outside of the school though is other story. Kids do not feel safe walking to and from school. Kids have been robbed, mugged, had guns put to their heads, and always have to be aware of the stray dogs that roam about Detroit.

Since starting work here, these are some of the things that I have heard from kids; One student while walking to school had a gun put to his head and was told to hand over everything he had. Luckily this student was not injured physically, but psychologically, emotionally, he was scared. Another student was telling me about her home, she lives with her Auntie, who has been ill, she has been in and out of the hospital and has not been able to work. This also means that this young lady (15 years old) has to take care of her younger siblings, helping them with their school work, chores, dinner, and preparing them for bed, a job which in most households outside the city would be done by an adult. She is also working 20-30 hours a week on top of attending high school full time.

I know of at least 4 current students that are living in abandon houses either with family or friends because they cannot afford housing. They have limited heat, and limited water sometimes no power, yet these kids still make it to school.

These are just a few of the cases, and they are by no means the worst cases. If you or I were in these situations could we truly focus in class, could we learn effectively, or would we, like these kids struggle academically and behaviorally. I believe that no matter who you are, white, black, jewish or muslim, straight or gay, you would most likely behave in the very same way the kids in many Detroit schools behave. Your grades would suffer, your behavior would not be the best and your hopes and dreams would always seem to be just too far to ever reach.

So what is the solution, for Detroit and really for many of our schools across this great nation? How can we catch up with the rest of the industrialized world, one that currently we are in the middle of the pack. In Detroit, our kids are NOT career and college ready, and from what I have seen from many of the schools I have worked in, or been apart of neither are their kids. Our educational system is archaic, it has not really changed in a 100 years, other than technology. We are teaching the same skills as we did 50 years ago, during a time when many people would leave school and go into factory work, which is no longer a real option for most these days. The skills we are teaching are called hard skills, math, science, english, and history. Which are important skills, but by no means the only skills needed to be college and career ready. Please know that most high schools will have this statement in either their mission or their vision statement, and truth be told, students are NOT ready for either.

Let’s take a look at what soft skills companies are looking for these days:

  1. Communication Skills: being able to effectively communicate is something that is severely lacking with young people today which has a lot to do with social media and texting. Kids do not understand the importance of body language, tone of voice, eye contact and social cues. Most schools and classrooms that I have been in seem to follow the policy for students that you come into class, you sit down and you listen. This method of teaching is old and played out, it is not effective and certainly not preparing students to communicate effectively, let alone learn effectively.
  2. Problem-Solving: A skill which I believe is as important as communication. Problem-solving is a skill that should be seen as critical in all classes, but when kids are allowed to fail, not allowed to think in their own ways Problem-solving does not happen. Most of the time you are taught to do it the teachers way, and if you go on your own, you receive a lower grade.
  3. Self-Management: Students understanding self is almost never taught in school. It is something that is learned in the home, which is often taught wrong, and modeled inappropriately.

I could go on and on, but the truth is I am tired of the bull shit, I am tired of the politics in  our schools and in this country, so I am signing off for know and will pick up this at a later date.


“I’m Sorry”: A story about regrets and a second chance

It was 26 years ago today that I died and was given a second chance at life. I was involved in a head on collision with a Fully loaded car transport. I was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the car, fortunately for me, the engine crushed my right leg keeping me in the car. I laid there on the dashboard of my car dying.

I have recently remembered those last moments of life, I remember lying there in the car, the cold December wind blowing on my face, and the icy drops of snow falling. I could feel my heart beat slowing, the coldness of death approaching, I was cold and I was sorry! That is what I kept saying.

Now I know why I was cold, I was bleeding to death, the blood pooling in my stomach, but why was I sorry?

“I’m sorry” would have been the words that I spoke, had I not received the amazing care I did from the first responders to the doctors at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital. Why though, was I sorry? For the longest time I thought I was saying I was sorry because I was involved in the accident and may have believed I caused it. I was sorry to my parents and my brother for leaving them this way. Yet, as I reflect I am not so sure that is why I was saying I was sorry.

As I laid there, very certain that this was it, the moment of death for me, at the young age of 18. I was not sorry that I was dying though, I think I was saying I was sorry because I did not LIVE! I had floated through life, not realizing my potential, not putting forth the effort needed to be successful. I did not see myself as valuable in this world outside my family. What was I? Who was I? Where was I going?

I was sorry because I did not do my best! I was telling my soul I was sorry! I was sorry for not believing in myself, for not seeing who I was, or where I could go. I was sorry that at this moment I was disappointed in ME.

The greatest fear I think we all have is that at the moment of DEATH, we look back at LIFE and have regrets. Things that we didn’t do…things that we could have done…and a few things that we did do. For me at that moment, it wasn’t that I regretted the things that I had done, but at all the things I passed on because I was shy or timid, or because I over thought things, but in the end they didn’t….happen…..they we left as I wish I would haves…..what if’s.

8 days later I awoke in a hospital bed, in incredible pain, not really sure what had happened. All I knew….was that I was not right. It was for a brief time that I lay in that hospital bed feeling sorry for myself, scared of the future that was before me. Then something changed. I saw this guy on TV, he was in the hospital paralyzed from the chest down from a football accident, his accident had happened a month before mine so we were in very similar struggles. Yet, he was not feeling sorry for himself, he was battling, fighting for every breath…He was a warrior and at that moment I made up my mind that I was too…a WARRIOR. I was not going to accept anything less than a full recovery and more. It was time that I started taking advantage of this wonderful SECOND CHANCE at life….no more, what if’s, no more trying…no more not believing in me….It was time for me to take responsibility for me and my future! To fight for every success, and to fight through ever failure and learn.

It is now 26 years later. I am 44 and have seen my fair share of struggles, I have endured 39 surgeries, constant pain, but I have also seen 26 marvelous years of growth and success. I have 2 great kids, Keenan and Liam. I have a beautiful wife and partner. I have the opportunity to work with some amazing students in the city of Detroit at Osborn High School.

My goals now are to share my experiences with others, to help them see that ANYTHING is POSSIBLE, that they CAN….they WILL…and they MUST Succeed. I want them to see and learn from my struggles to see that they MUST plan, the MUST BELIEVE, and they MUST work for everything they get in life. Lion Heart Motivation is about sharing experiences, learning from one another and growing a greater tomorrow for ALL.”


This is a question that pierces the minds of all, it comes in many forms, with many outcomes. The WHY question I think about tonight is WHY ME? The good, the bad and the ugly follow this question.

We want to know why things happen to us, things that seemingly we have no control over. Things like when a man walks into a church and kills  innocent people, or when a young man walks into an Elementary school and takes the lives of children. No matter where lives are taken, young and old, male and female, Christians or Muslims, those in the United States or in Villages in Kabul, the taken of innocent lives make little sense to any sane person. So why? Why do these things happen?

Today I watched a video that made me think why? A coach wanted his students to learn the meaning of privilege, to understand that some have opportunities that others do not. He told them that he was going have a race, where the winner would get the clean and fresh $100 he was holding in his hand, but before the race was to start he has some questions to ask. If you answered “Yes” to any of these question you got to take two steps towards the finish line.

There were many questions, but they went something like this; If your parents are still married take two steps. If you never have to worry about food take two steps. If you never had to work to help support your family take two steps. The questions went on and on, till many of the students were nearly to the finish line, while others hadn’t even taken a step. After the last question the race began…..

I think we all know that the winner of the race was a privileged kid, not the fastest, or maybe even the hardest working, but the one with the most opportunity. This is very much like the life we live, the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”. So, why me? Why do I get opportunities while others don’t, or why am I the one on the starting line with no chance of winning.

I believe the answer to this question of “WHY ME?” has no short term answer. I believe the the answer to this question comes later in life, when we begin to realize that all of those times that I asked “why me?” were the times that “Shaped me”. They were the times that “grew me” or “held me” back.

When we ask this question, our response is either our power or our prison. When we look at the WHY ME, and we wallow and blame, or hide and cower, we find ourselves looking through the bars of life. Yet, when we ask WHY ME and we feel its weight against us and we rise and fight, those bars turn to ladders that help us from the hole we are in. We dig through the darkness to find the light shining above just waiting for us to arrive. So, I believe the why is because that is the opportunity that lies in wait for us to find.

I know, you are thinking, what about those poor souls whose lives were taken, what about them? Why them, why were they taken, they were good kind people that in their death could not gain…right?

I cannot say that I know with certainty that this is the case for all, but the day I died on that cold winter morning in 1991, I realized that I learned from death as I did in life and that if I did not come back that day that my spirit was stronger because of my death, and my family, would be okay, not without pain or sorrow, but opportunity to grow from their loss.