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I was an avid reader from a young age and once I learned I read lots and lots of books. My reading prowess actually won a couple of contests in school. To this day I still love to read, but often challenges in my life don’t always allow for time just to sit down and read books. I try to read a book a month but in all honesty it takes 3 – 4 months for me to read just one. Generally at the end of the year I take 2 weeks off, purchase a couple of books I have wanted to read and actually tackle them in a matter of days. This last Christmas I read the “Good Men Project” by Tom Matlack and “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. Great books by amazing men and if you’re looking for something to read I highly recommend them. As a young child one of the books that really struck me was reading a book about Helen Keller. It told the story of her life, what she had gone through and it all seemed to resonate with me. I read that book in the 2nd grade and at that time decided I had found I career path I wanted to take. I was going to grow up and become a sign language teacher for the deaf. I learned the ASL alphabet and checked out some cool books in Braille and was satisfied knowing what I was going to do with my life. The other part I had decided as a young boy was I wanted to get married and have a large family. I informed my parents about my plans and continued holding on to them up until middle school. It was then that the television shows Dallas and Dynasty became popular and my family watched them every week. I started watching them, saw how cool it looked being incredibly wealthy and powerful and made up my mind that whatever it took I was going to be wealthy beyond the likes of anyone in my family. I started acting as if the very best was all that I would accept, nothing less would do for me, which really grated on my mom. We weren’t wealthy or anywhere close, in fact we were below middle class. Most all of our clothing came from either Kmart or Goodwill. Many times my mom and I butted heads on what was acceptable for me to wear. During grade school and middle school, while having the desire to make it big I figured acting was a good way to do this, I was pretty good at it and it was also a way for me to step outside of who I was. I got involved in school plays as well as the yearly traveling group that put on plays at our school each year in the spring. In my head I figured someone would see me, recognize my incredible talent and I would be on my way to stardom. In my family, college wasn’t really talked about. My dad had an 8th grade education, he was highly intelligent and after dropping out had read set of encyclopedia’s and dictionaries and became self-taught on many things. My mom had taken some classes after high school, but got married and took on the role of a full-time mom. As I was growing up my family didn’t much about going to college to better ourselves. The clear messages given to both my sister and I by our parents was they were not going to pay for us to go to school and they would not buy us a car once we started driving. I remember most everyone I knew in school talking about going to college, getting degrees and making something of their life. Not having parents who really supported this, also meant we never really talked much about what I wanted to do and based on everything else I had been through in my life up till then I knew I was on my own. At some point my parents both started telling me “If you want a big family, you better make sure you get a really good job, because your going to need it to afford a large family. My response to them was, well it isn’t just my responsibility my wife will work to.
In high school I was active in speech, debate and drama as well as a few school plays. I remember the tv show LA Law started and I got hooked on it. I decided that I had a better chance of making lots of money by becoming some type of power attorney and sending the bad guys to jail. I dreamed of a life being a corporate attorney that quickly made my way to the top. My wife would be beautiful, we would always be dressed in the finest clothing, our kids would attend the best schools, we would own a mansion I designed and built, a couple of expensive cars along with a limousine that transported us everywhere. I would be working, my wife would work and we would have all that we needed and provide our children with the best money could buy. It was around that time the movie “Wallstreet” came out and only fueled my fire for power and money. During my junior year I was taking a life management class and we were asked to create a time line for ourselves. In laying out my life and the goals I wanted to accomplish by certain ages it helped me get serious about wanting to be a lawyer and I narrowed it down to either practicing criminal or family law. I was planning on attending Gonzaga University in Spokane, to got to law school. I began filling out the forms, trying to find scholarships and do all that I could on my own to get there. Unfortunately my parents weren’t poor enough for me to get grants and in making it clear they weren’t paying for school, graduation was just around the corner and I was stuck, I didn’t know what I was going to do. The only thing I knew for sure was I was moving out from my parents and starting my own life. Shortly after graduation, I visited Spokane and attempted to get a job, actually I did get a job washing dishes in a restaurant, I ended up having a panic attack and left. Later that night I started really evaluating my life, I began crying and sobbing and realizing I had no future and things weren’t going to go as I had planned. This has been my chance to get out and I had blown it. I decided to head back home, get a job, move out and start on with my life and hope that some parts of it would come together. So I headed back to my parents, got a job working in the men’s department at Sears and moved out on my own. I was happy for a short time, I had moved out, was working as much as I could and starting my own life. I watched and listened to co-workers who were attending college and heard how much they enjoyed it and how they were following their dreams. I began to long for more and wasn’t happy with my “independent life”. I still had an interest in the law and began looking to see what I could do. My parents despite what they had told me, bought me a 76 Honda Civic and were helping my sister go to college and decided they would help me. So we discovered there was a Paralegal Program being offered for 2 years and I decided that I wanted to go for it. My parents paid for me to attend the program, which I did very well in. One of the teachers in the class had connections and got me a job as Paralegal for a lawyer he knew. It ended up not working out and I went back to retail. I was fortunate enough to get another full-time job working at a gas station/convenience store through a family I knew. I was now working 2 full-time jobs, making more money then I ever had, but not really happy with my life. My goal was now to try to find a job as a Paralegal, because of the small city I was in and not having a lot of secretarial skills I wasn’t having much luck. Now my goal became I getting out of this town, start my life over whatever it takes. I thought about where I wanted to live and realized how much I had really enjoyed visiting Portland, my aunt lived there, it was a big city and I could see myself living there. Since I was still working at Sears I found out I could transfer. I called up my aunt who allowed me to live with her, transferred, said my goodbyes and headed out to Portland. I
remember driving out to Portland vividly and feeling a new sense of freedom and my life was really going to take shape now. I worked at Sears for a while, tried finding Paralegal jobs and not having much fun or success at either. Someone recommended I use an agency to aid in finding a job. I hadn’t head of them before, but I decided it was worth it. I used a couple different ones, took some tests and found that management would be a good fit for me. So I started working as a manager trainee at a shoe store. Not the ideal job, but it was a good start, I moved out from my aunt’s place and in with someone I met through an ad in the newspaper. I came to work one day to find out the shoe store had filed bankruptcy and was going out of business. They wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for me, but I was out of a job and ended up getting a part-time job working in the children’s department at Mervyn’s as well as obtaining a part-time job working as the fry cook at Wendy’s. I began dating my wife at that time and in talking with her it really made me realize that my dream of being a paralegal just wasn’t in the cards but I did want to have a job that was Monday – Friday, 8 –5. I began really praying I would find something. A friend of ours worked with adults who were mentally retarded and developmentally disabled, she said they were looking for employees and I could go and talk to them and I probably could get a job. I kept brushing it off, and thinking no I can’t work with those “type of folks”. Finally after a few more conversations with her and realizing it was a Mon – Fri, 8 – 5 job, I decided to give it a shot. I interviewed and got the job. I started out as a regular staff and within about 6 months got promoted to a manager. It certainly wasn’t easy in the beginning being in management, but I feel like it was the right thing for me and it seemed like a good fit. In looking back at my life all those years ago, I didn’t have anyone one who spoke into my life, saw areas of strength or encouraged me to go in a certain direction. I don’t know where or what my life would look like today had that happened. It’s why I believe in the significance of mentorship at any age. I’m not bitter because of it, actually I am really very happy with how my life has turned out and all the experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today. As I have conversations with my kids and ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I purposely listen to what they say, continually observe their actions in various situations, and constantly promote what they want to do. There are times I wish I had someone invested in my life the way I purposely do with my own children.. At this point in my life, I know what I am supposed to be, what I have been called to do, what my strengths and weaknesses are. I am fortunate to have a job where I get to utilize all of these things and more importantly that allows me to pour myself into each one of my kids. What do you want to be when you grow up is a loaded question. There is still so much I want to be, I am capable of many things and have the drive and energy to get myself there. My goal is to help my kids not only figure out what they are really good at, but what they desire most in life and how to help maneuver the paths to get there. I still have lots of life left in me and there is a huge world out there to explore. I won’t be confined by limitations, nor do I want my kids to live their life that way. One person can make a difference in the world, I am making a huge difference in the life of my children, my wife and friends and family. I never expected to have half the jobs I have had, but it’s
also been a great process to get me to the place I am today and from each of those jobs I have taken a piece of it, applied it to my life and use it as a skill today. My kids are still young and as we continue to have discussions about life and careers, the bottom line for me is that no matter what they do, make sure it’s something they enjoy and know that I will always be behind them as their biggest supporter.
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