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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ottis Johnson: Life After 44 Years In Prison



Ottis Johnson was sent to prison at the age of 25 years old, and was released at 69 years old.


In 1970 a the young Ottis Johnson was convicted of the attempted murder of a police officer. A victim himself of the affects of poverty and lack mentality, which often leads to theft and violent behavior. He served his sentence, and was released in August 2014.


44 Year Sentence



Life in prison was hard. All choices were taken away. The world was passing him by, and the only evidence he had that people were still out there, living life, was the small window that all inmates shared. The one with channels that only the guards could choose from.

Ottis watched styles and major news events, come and go, To get a feel for the events that he watched through a television lens, see this time-line of major US Events just from 1970-1989.

When he went in, Richard Nixon was president. He watched Nixon become the first president in US History to resign from office, through that small black and white window. He watched other presidents come and go; Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr., and when he got out in 2014, President Barack Obama was in office.

Everything from the falling of the Berlin wall, gulf war, Y2K, and 9-11, were seen from the window of television.

Beyond the television, the only other knowledge he had was that of the guards, and the prisoners with shorter sentences who came and went over the years.

He lost all trace of his extended family, and has no way to contact them now that he is out.

Despite watching his entire life slip away without him, Ottis refused bitterness. He does not feel that society owes him anything. He committed a crime, and he paid his due time. He embraced the experience, and released anger through prayer and meditation.


I try to let that go. Deal with the future instead of dealing with the past.


Post Release Shock



So what shocked him most when he got out? What had changed on the street level from 1970 to 2014?

He was released by bus, and dropped off at Times Square, New York of all places. One of the strangest cities in the world.

There were television advertisements playing on the windows. Not on TV's behind the windows, but ON the windows. In 1970, you would see people walking back and forth inside the store, but not TV's.

Everyone had wires coming out of their ears. He was thinking "What happened? Did everyone join the CIA or become agents or stuff like that?" Because that's all he knew about wires in the ear in 1970.

Ottis laughed, " I was thinking, Why is everyone looking down at their phones? What do they call them... iPhones or something like that? How can you walk like that and not run into things?"

"I remember this, when I first got out. I was gonna make a call, and I seen the price on the pay phone was $1.00 (for 4 minutes), it used to be $0.25 when I went in?" Then he picked up, and found out that nobody even uses them anymore, and most don't work.

Grocery store options had exploded. Choices were limited in the prison system by design, but even with that aside; the choices from 1970 to 2014 were vastly improved. He said his hardest part of shopping is making up his mind. There's just so much. Boxed dinners. Gatorade in many colors. Peanut Butter and Jelly in the same jar.

At least they still had Skippy, that was familiar.



Conclusions:



This one gets to me, having had a brother who went through the prison systems before he died. What's funny is that he and I grew up the in same home, with the same parents. Somehow he would tell people that he "grew up on the streets", while I grew up in middle class suburbia.

It was his choice. He chose to leave behind one life for another. Other's make the choice to leave their hard neighborhoods and pursue a better life.

And yet we all live in various types of prisons. I was just re-reading a post I'd done a while back about Strongholds, which are prisons of the heart and mind. We are all in need of freedom, and freedom more abundantly.

How many things do we have today that we take for granted. What did you go through 10, 15, 30 years ago that God's grace allowed you to overcome? What are you not going through today, because He brought you out? And yet you are still complaining because you don't have everything you want?

Today, just a few days after Thanks Giving, the period of time that greedy shoppers are trampling each other for "stuff", let's go back and Thank God for the moments we have today, and for the things we are no longer burdened by, and the freedom we have gained so far.


Change is scary


Let's be grateful for the small things, like Skippy Peanut Butter, that remind us of the things that haven't changed.

Let's be grateful for the small things, like the Windows Tablet I'm writing this on, that have changed. They remind us of the comforts we have today, that we could not have imagined 20 years ago.


To hear Ottis for yourself:


He was interviewed in this video: My Life After 44 Years In Prison (HERE).




Your Turn: What's your story?


Tell the LIFE community about a story you encountered this week, and what you learned from it. 

Comment on this post, or Hit me up on Twitter @DarrellWolfe , Google +DarrellWolfe, Facebook DarrellGWolfe



Tweet These:
#TellYourStory#BeStillBeLed

By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller, Creative, INFJIntellection, Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever





For more book suggestions, see my Amazon Store:



Other Hobby Sties by Darrell:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Frantic But Motivated - Lessons in Leadership



Dr. Delight's Optometry


The good Dr. Delight is frantically moving about her small office. She picks out several pair of glasses to show a man and his wife. "I'm very sorry, I've had several staff members call out sick today, and my optometrist is out too. I'm just helping out between patients. Here, let me show you these."

She leaves the man and his wife to try on and compare.

"Have you seen anything you just can't live without?" She says as she approaches a preteen and her mother.

Delight brushes back her read hair, her smile betrays the worry lines of a small business owner.

"I totally understand if you cannot make up your mind. It's a tough decision."

"Maybe we'll come back later, " the mother says to the daughter. "After you have had time to think about it."

Dr. Delight probes, " Is it the price or the style you are unsure of? "

"These are just a bit out of our price range, but she really likes them." The mother admits, as she picks up her bag to go. "We'll go home and think about it, we can always come back."

"Well, if price is your concern, I may still be able to help you." Dr. Delight motions to the wall next to them. "I am the owner and I order all of the frames. I could find a similar pair for less. If that does not work out, I could special order some from the catalog for you."

The mothers' face relaxes slightly, and she glances to the daughter. The preteen holds her chosen frames a little tighter, but walks to the adjacent wall.

Dr. Delight picks up two or three pair that are a close match to the ones the preteen has chosen. None stay on her face as long as the first pair did.

"You know," Dr. Delight raised an eyebrow and picked up the original pair. "I believe these are from Coach. It just so happens that I have a large order coming in from that manufacturer. I could give you 30% off these pair that you originally liked. That way your total after insurance would only be $45.00. Would that help?"

The preteen smiled, and the mother relaxed the hold on her purse. Dr. Delight let out a small breath, and with one nod from mom, they were off to meet Alfredo to ring up the purchase.

Dr. Delight shook their hands with a big smile, "I'm glad I could help" and headed to the back to see another patient.


***

The leadership student in me was conflicted watching Dr. Delight today. 




Leadership Do's



On one hand, she was out there making the best of a bad situation. She was showing the true spirit of an American Business Owner. She was not sitting around feeling bad for herself, or sitting in the back wishing she had help. She was out front, owning her business, making it work.

Dr. Delight showed great care for her individual patients. I was honestly convinced that she would rather take a discount and let a young girl leave with the pair she wanted, then push them into a cheaper pair and hold on the price. She went out of her way to please her customer (and probably made a customer for life).


Leadership Don'ts



On the other hand, she was acting a bit more like a business owner than an entrepreneur. The leadership student in me wanted to tell her that she had one man behind the desk ringing people up, three ladies behind the window helping with intake. Two of the three ladies came out to help in the frames area.

Maybe Dr. Delight could have worked through these ladies a little more, trusted them to help with the sales. Maybe the fact that the owner orders the frames shows that we can assume she needs to lean on her staff a little more for things.


Which brings me to this:


Entrepreneur vs Business Owner



An business owner keeps his/her hand in everything, all the time. Because if they don't someone might mess up, and it's the owner who has to pay for it.

An entrepreneur is just as aware (if not more) of every facet of the business, but they don't do the work (none of it). They train, put systems and guides in place. The systems not only show people how to do things, what types of over-rides and discounts they can offer, but they put safe-guards and checks in place for errors.

The "owner" of McDonald's isn't out there running every store in the world himself. And it has nothing to do with "finding good people". It has everything to do with putting things in place that make sure that the decisions made in his absence are the same ones he would make when he was present.


Conclusion



All that being said, I appreciated Dr. Delight's spirit of enthusiasm, and passion for her work. I appreciated her dept of knowledge about her product lines. I appreciated her 30% discount on the frames that were "out of network" because my insurance company is being a pain the butt.

The entire staff was lovely, and I think I found my new Eye Dr. from here on out.


Your Turn: What's your story?


Tell the LIFE community about a story you encountered this week, and what you learned from it. 

Comment on this post, or Hit me up on Twitter @DarrellWolfe , Google +DarrellWolfe, Facebook DarrellGWolfe

By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller, Creative, INFJIntellection, Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever




For more book suggestions, see my Amazon Store:



Other Hobby Sties by Darrell:

    Sunday, November 15, 2015

    I am a story teller! Time to flex my story telling...


    In the spirit of sharing what I'm up to this weekend, here is a short scene I posted on my fiction blog a while back. This is being used an example for a new trial project I'll talk about at the end of this post.


    The Closet (originally posted on my fiction practice blog here). 


    It was the sound. It washed over his mind, like a shower on the inside. Water landing on pavement, concrete, and wood; as though beating a million tiny drums. The distant sound of the tiny river, washing down the sidewalks into the gutters. Ash always slept with the window open, but most especially on rainy nights.

    We are no closer now to getting to the bottom of this, than we were when it started.

    The rest of the house was asleep, but he couldn't find sleep. The air shifted slightly, and he felt he wasn't alone. Ash sat up straight, and at the edge of his bed sat a man. He was wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt, and a well kept beard. His hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and he smiled. The man's eyes held a piercing gaze, frightening and peaceful all at once.

    The man stood, and motioned to Ash. Almost unable to fight his own body, he rose to follow the man to the closet door. He reached out to open it, and a blinding light raced across the room. When Ash opened his eyes again, they were not in his room anymore. They were standing on a rooftop, overlooking New York City, and Herald Square.

    There, sitting on the ledge was a young man, maybe no more than 20. He was holding himself, rocking himself back and forth.

    "It'll all be over soon. It'll all be over soon." He repeated to himself over and over.

    Ash could see the Parade balloons in the distance. He knew this is what Eta had been talking about. Ash wanted to go stop him, but he couldn't move. His traveling companion put his arm on Ash's shoulder and smiled. He could feel the answer.

    Not Now.

    The bright light flashed, and he found himself standing in front of his open closet, staring at the darkness. Ash turned back to his bed, and lay there for a few more hours. Sleep overcame him, and he rested. For the first time in a long time, confused, but peaceful, he rested.


    The Story Teller



    I've decided that I am a story teller and creative writer. It's my niche, it's my hub, it's my repeating theme. It's the one thing I'm known for. The vice president of the company I worked for asked me to write up a situation because she liked my "story telling". My co-worker and desk neighbor would say: "Here comes another story".

    SO, I signed up for three websites today:


    • Fiverr: I posted a Flash Fiction Gig (here), and set up my profile (here)
    • UpWork: I built my profile (here)
    • Freelancer: I built my profile (here)



    Storyteller Profile

    Here is the profile I posted on the sites:

    Darrell Wolfe 
    Story Teller | INFJ | Intelection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input

    I am a writer with an emphasis on story telling and creative writing: however, that doesn't mean I only write fiction. I my "day job", I work complaint resolution for a major financial institution. When a customer has a problem, I write summaries of the complaint, research, and resolution to "tell the story" to the executives.

    I also write for my owns blogs as a hobby.

    Email me for more information: darrell@darrellwolfe.com

    Check out my blogs for some writing examples:

    http://www.darrellwolfe.com
    http://www.lifeinfortworth.com
    http://authorfun.blogspot.com

    Storyteller - Fiverr Offer:


    Here is the offer I posted on Fiverr. We'll see what comes of it.
    I will write a flash fiction story for you

    I will write a short, personalized, flash fiction story just for you.
    You provide me:
    • up to three Characters
    • one location
    • one action (sequence)
    • desired result: some idea of what you want out of it
    I'll write you one scene of at least 300 words.

    Rules:
    1. Content will be PG (no horror or erotica).
    2. Conscience: I reserve the right to turn down any project or subject if it doesn't fit my style.
    3. Edits: the product is final; however, if you really feel an edit is needed we can discuss a single edit.
    4. Delivery: Will be delivered by email in a Word Doc and/or PDF. 
    Example:
    http://authorfun.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-closet.html

    I'm not really sure what I'm hoping to get out of this exercise, or what my end game is. I think I just wanted to try and take one step forward. Maybe in a year, I'll tell you how this went. Maybe sooner.

    Your Turn: What's your story?


    Tell the LIFE community about a story you encountered this week, or an action you took, and what you learned from it. 

    Comment on this post, or Hit me up on Twitter @DarrellWolfe , Google +DarrellWolfe, Facebook DarrellGWolfe

    By Darrell Wolfe

    Storyteller, Creative, INFJIntellection, Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever




    For more book suggestions, see my Amazon Store:



    Other Hobby Sties by Darrell:

      Saturday, November 7, 2015

      Everyone has a story: Amos the Engineer



      Amos the Engineer


      Walking through Walmart is an interesting way to meet people. As I approach the Walmart Vision Center, there is an older man in a lab coat, looking down at his paperwork. He sits alone, in the back of the vision center, at a desk behind a computer.

      It's a cool rainy Sunday evening, about 7pm, not many people in the store tonight. I walk in, and head straight for the Men's glasses wall. I already know what I'm looking for, generally. I want glasses with built in removable sunglass, that clip on through magnets. I've had a paid for years, and I want a new pair. Surprisingly, these are hard to find this year. Most places do not carry them, and didn't know about them. No surprisingly, Walmart has two rows of them from two different companies. Hurrah!

      The gentlemen stands up and approaches. The first thing I notice, besides his white lab coat, is how tall he is. He's well over 6' tall, I have to bend my head backward to look up at him. He's definitely older, not sure how old (70's?). His name tag says Amos.

      He proceeds to tell me about the Walmart way of doing glasses, the warranties, the time frames, the costs. Then he starts to explain the individual components and features of the two brands. And this is when my world changed for an hour. He was fascinating. It could be the that the input and learner sides of my personality were kicking into high gear, but I was engrossed.

      He handed me a pair of glasses with a particularly interesting feature. The Hinge is built in like a socket, and can move 360*. The EasyClip's are my favorite.




      Amos proceeded with his own level of enjoyment and fascination, to explain the hinge system and how it works, the materials they were made out of, the process through which they make the special lenses.

      We settled on a pair for him to write up, and sat down at the desk. I was enjoying his passion for the topic. I probed and asked questions. In 1964, Amos was one of the chief engineers that helped develop the Raised Pavement Markers we use in the US today. Of course the patents went to the people funding the research. He went on to start his own engineering company, helped develop the standards for Auto Manufacturers lighting equipment (think headlights and tail lights).

      After he retired, he didn't want to sit on his butt all day, so he came to work part time for Walmart, using his passion for engineering to discuss eye glasses.


      This got me thinking... everyone has a story


      Some of the best lessons I've learned in life were from people I met in the course of my day (work, shopping, etc). What do to, not to do; what works and doesn't; etc...

      A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. BUT, a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether. 





      I don't know that I learned any mistakes from Amos, but I learned a lot about glasses, which ones will work best for me. I learned that there is a lot more to the person you pass by than first meets the eye.


      Your Turn: What's your story?


      Tell the LIFE community about a story you encountered this week, and what you learned from it. 

      Comment on this post, or Hit me up on Twitter @DarrellWolfe , Google +DarrellWolfe, Facebook DarrellGWolfe


      Tweet These:
      #TellYourStory#BeStillBeLed

      By Darrell Wolfe

      Storyteller, Creative, INFJIntellection, Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever




      For more book suggestions, see my Amazon Store:



      Other Hobby Sties by Darrell: