Before dad went to prison he was not focused on mental health, physical health, or relationship health.
When we share our story he is the first to say “ I used to be a lame”. But while he was incarcerated his mindset shifted. He knew that in order for us to make it through that experience – something had to change. So, he began the journey of self-improvement.
My mom also recognized that if we were going to make it on the outside we had to fight for family. She determined to grow our family beyond our circumstances and teach us the art of hard work.
Every job my mom had, Blake (my brother) and I would be there helping her. If that was cleaning horse stalls, cleaning apartments, working on parts from a factory as a piece rate, or helping with mailings while she worked at a Community Pregnancy Center – We did everything as a family.
As my dad was working on rebuilding himself internally, he knew that something needed to change externally, too.
So, he connected with some guys who were in the cage daily. He began to push himself and build his mental toughness. I remember during visits Blake and I would challenge him and tell him we could hurt his arm if we punched it. He accepted the challenge, so Blake and I would each take one punch. Everytime he would be like, “Owe! Ok no more.” The guard would just shake his head at us and we would laugh.
My dad and my mom constantly pushing themselves and not accepting defeat inspired me to do the same. I never really got into working out like my dad – which I wish I would have. Instead I pushed myself to be a great musician. I practiced drums like crazy. Putting on headphones and playing with all styles of music. Eventually I got pretty good. Joined a band, put out some albums, played on radio stations, and even got to go on tour a couple times.
Now, I work with my parents and brother to help families who are experiencing similar situations. We get to help them learn the skills they need to change their lives and their legacies. One of the greatest tools we have to change our future is our mind. We have to protect it, feed it, and challenge it to become stronger.
"Protecting your mind means not allowing negative thoughts to take root and turn into a belief, not hanging around people who are talking down to you because of something in your past or because of something a family member did, and not allowing yourself to get lazy."
You gotta feed your mind positivity. We feed our minds by reading, meditating, and creating. There are a lot of free resources out there to help us feed our mind – we have to take advantage of them in order to surpass our limits. Building mental toughness is the best way to help us not to quit when we are tired, but to quit when the job is done. It’s easy to become complacent. One of the best ways to build mental toughness is by working out and going till you can’t anymore.
Life can be challenging. It’s up to you to fight back and build something great for yourself and your family. If my family can make it and change the direction of our life – YOU CAN TOO.
Never stop improving and never stop fighting for your family!
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