Category Archives: My Story – Helping at-risk youth

Genesis

I was reminded about the genesis of my blog and it was about society’s moral compass. I thought that I could dovetail the theme or thesis with mentoring young people – we’ll see how this unfolds.

While talking to a friend of mine, we were arguing about the different protests taking place today and I stated how up is down and right is wrong, etc.

Our country has been turned upside down and we have lost our way morally.

This is nothing new: Early in history evil raised its head when Cain killed Abel and of course this goes back to their parents.

I remember when we could play outside all day long and we could hear our parents calling for us to come inside for dinner. Or we knew that it was time to go inside when the street lights went on.

Today there are statistics for how long children play outside and if I recall correctly, it’s about an hour a day. And might point out that the children are heavily guarded too.

What makes up a good moral compass?

I think a good answer is what makes a bad moral compass: Evil in the world.

We’ve let evil overtake our society. We used to be a virtuous society. In the two world wars, we fought against evil.

Today evil is dividing our country and we are couching evil in political-correctness, the right to choose, protecting children from corporal punishment or equal rights. And we hide behind a false narrative like “Common-sense gun laws” or “Russian collusion”.

As a result, whenever anyone breaks the law, they’re not held accountable for their actions or punished. And the results of that the offenders become more emboldened in the lawlessness and becomes s snowball effect.

The only thing protecting us from tyranny is the United States Constitution.

We used to live in relative harmony. On occasion, we would hear about someone being kidnaped, but that was rare. Someone might answer that we didn’t have the same media exposure back then as we do today or that records weren’t reported accurately back then.

I’m pretty sure that it would be hard to argue that we didn’t have the same level media exposure then that we do today, based on current technology.

Introduction – At Risk Youth

Introduction – At Risk Youth

Why am I telling my story? What is so significant about it and why would anyone be interested in hearing about it?

There are a lot of young men who may be considered at-risk youth. I see this on the news and all around social media; young men committing unconscionable crimes against society. In addition, most of them have one thing in common: They do not have a male figure providing valuable lessons and examples of how to live a responsible life.

There is a breakdown in our moral fabric – we have lost our moral compass and it started about fifty years ago when professionals promoted a more passive form of discipline, while condemning corporal punishment. They promoted this because they were abused as children and were not properly disciplined. I see this attitude all the time.

As a result, they buck a millennial old system.

A lesser-known fact states that if you discipline your child, each according to their unique personality, that the child will intrinsically love you for it and as a result, learn to respect you and other people.

We are afraid to punish our children for their outright willful disobedience. We are afraid to use corporal punishment because it’s been abused and turned into physical abuse, frowned upon by society and that is the risk parents take if the punishment is not dispensed in love with verbal communication and instruction. Discipline needs to educational or a teachable moment but with strong consequences.

A child needs to learn the importance of being coached and following instructions. If they aren’t taught how to be a team-player for example, how can they work in the business world and be productive as adults? This may sound like an awkward question, but I will explain it further.

We have multiple generations who have an attitude of:  I want it and I want it now! Call it “Instant gratification” or “Entitlement”. We can thank technology and initial public offering of stock. That is where someone thinks of a great idea, sells the idea to a venture capital investor, develops the idea enough to take it to market, the their private stock gets offered to the public and when that happens, they become millionaires almost overnight. (This is the simple explanation)

Next

My story…

If I can grow up, get married, successfully raise four children and  lead a productive and responsible life, then almost anyone can. What I am attempting to say is; anyone can be successful and productive if they decide to be and like in my case – with a lot of help from God.

…Coming soon.

My Story – In the beginning

As I write this, I am sixty years old and when I was in grade school, I counted the years that I had left in school. I said to myself, “I have six more years and I will be done with school. I’ll never need to learn anything else ever!” (Little did I know that I would never stop learning.) You see I struggled in school and it was painful to do school work. In class I would stare out the window and daydream or get out of my chair and visit the other students or crack jokes like a class-clown. I recall early evenings at the dinner table doing my homework and my parents trying to help and it was a disaster. They would get frustrated and I would cry and nothing would get accomplished.  It was a nightmare, even so that when it was time to bring my report card home from school, I would claim that I was too sick to go to school that day.

It all started one day when my teacher was so frustrated trying to help me learn math that she threw her arms up in disgust and blurted out loud, “You’re just plain stupid!” and stormed off. And of course I believed her – she was the teacher!

Fifty years ago, little was known about dyslexia. I didn’t know that I had it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I grew up believing that I was incapable of learning.

So then you might ask, “How did you get through high school?” I was very interested in photography and track, so I got busy taking pictures and taking photography classes (which allowed me to be involved with the yearbook) and running track.  I was also very social and made friends with my teachers. I had some ability to do school work which allowed me to “pass” my grades and move on to the next grade in school and eventually graduate from high school.

You could say that I fooled my teachers or that they “wink winked – nod nod” my way through school.

So what changed?

As I grew up, I made up my mind that I didn’t want to live an average life. I wanted to achieve more in life. As a teenager I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve or how to achieve it, but I did know that I didn’t want the life that my parents were leading because even though they were providing a roof over my head and food on the table, they were formally uneducated and laborers. They were intelligent and capable of furthering their education, but they never pursued it. I knew that I wanted to accomplish more in life and that’s when I made the decision to follow my dreams and goals. And at that time in my life, I didn’t know what dreams and goals were – butI knew that I didn’t want to live in a rut.

My fear in life.

I recall this feeling of failure. I was afraid of failing in life because I was ill prepared to be a productive citizen, husband and parent. I imagined not being capable of holding down a job or staying married because I was not taught how to and I have carried those feelings throughout life.  There is even a condition called Imposter Syndrome which is explained in a book by Amy Cuddy, called Presence. In it she describes how accomplished people feel like imposters, while attempting to accomplish their goals and dreams. It’s a feeling of inadequacy or not feeling worthy (the latter description in my words). Today I struggle with this condition.

What was the turning point?

On the very first day of my senior year I walked into my English class and promptly looked around the classroom for the cutest girl and sat behind her.  As was my routine, I came to school unprepared – without school supplies! So I tapped this girl in the shoulder and asked her for some paper. She reached into her bag and handed it over her shoulder while avoiding eye-contact. I thought to myself, “That was successful!” And I proceeded to ask her for a pencil. I needed something to write with. She complied, but without making eye-contact, which I thought was very strange. “Who wouldn’t want to flirt with me?” I thought to myself. Later she told me that she was too embarrassed to look at me. This girl, several weeks later, help me change my life forever. I will never forget her and neither will our children.

 

The Story behind the story

The Story behind the story:

Why is the story behind the story important?

My goal is to make my story significant. I want to be able to explain the meaning and motivation behind the story.

The “why” in anything that we do is important and casual observers may read my story and ask themselves, “What’s so special about Frank’s story?” And that is the risk that I need to avoid. I don’t want to miss the target.

So I feel that I need to provide an explanation periodically just to add insight because I’m afraid of failing to make my point. Maybe I will learn how to go grow out of that as I write.

The Turning Point cont.

So the turning point came in life when I met this young lady. She was very shy and came to my high school because her and her mom just moved into the area. All of my friends warned her to stay away from me because I was “trouble” (quotes are not necessary). But she didn’t listen. We had two classes together and I knew the teacher of one of the classes well enough to let him know that I really liked this girl, so he set us up to take a night class together in Marketing. We had to take a school bus down town and that gave us time to get to know each other.

Forty years later we located our teacher to let him know that he was instrumental in putting us together. It was fun to reunite with him.

I learned that she was a Christian and that didn’t faze me at all. I still thought that she was cute. But what I didn’t know at the time was that she ask her friends at church to pray for my salvation. I didn’t see it coming.

Since I was an outgoing individual, I volunteered to be a counselor at sixth grade science camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I am not sure but I think that she may have followed in my footsteps and volunteered too. In any case we went together as camp counselors. Camp was in the middle of October, which is a nice time to be in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

While at the camp, I had a religious experience. The only way to explain it is it was like God put a mirror in front of me and I saw the reflection of myself and it wasn’t pretty. I saw an individual in need of a savior. That was a wakeup call, I was shocked and it greatly disturbed me. Then I recalled that this girl was a Christian, so I went looking for her and I asked her to tell me about God or Jesus. I didn’t know what to ask, but I knew I needed God.

She agreed to meet me that night in the counselors’ lounge to try and explain the Bible. Afterwards none of it made any sense to me and I still didn’t get it. So we finish the week, go home, I attended a football game that night and work on the weekend. And nothing changed because I was still wrestling in my soul I still had questions.

It’s now Monday and I tell her that I still have several questions about my experience and I want answers. I am focused and on a mission.

Let me digress a little. In years past, my friends tried to tell me about God and the Bible, but I just shrugged it off and told them that when I got my stuff together that I would consider religion – not now though.

So she tells me to come to her house and she would explain more.

I arrive at her doorstep, she lets me in, we sit down on her couch and I ask her if this religion requires me to pray to Mary, or go to confession etc. and she tells me no. Because that didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong – my family went to church religiously twice a year – Christmas and Easter!

After some time, that night, learning about the Bible, which was extremely foreign to me, she asked me if I wanted to pray the prayer of salvation – and I jumped at the opportunity. I thought to myself lets jump in head first. Why not? So I did and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have God in my life.

Chronological order

If you’re like me, you pay attention to the details.

As I write and post my blog, the order in which they appear on the page installs the newest page/post at the top.

Some may like it to appear like that, but I don’t.

While my eldest son, Joe, was helping me set up my page,   we couldn’t figure out how get the newest page to go to the bottom of the lists of posts. (I hope that this won’t be an issue years down the road.)

So he figured out that if we modified the date, so that it appeared that newest post has an older date, we could achieve our goal.

As a result, the newest post goes towards the bottom. It should work for some people.

Daydreams

As I mentioned before, I was a terrible student – I had trouble staying focused. If there was a window, I would stare out the window. I would admire the clouds and drift off into a daydream.

I would think about the future and imagine what it would be like to be out of school. I didn’t even know what that was like, but I thought of it. I would reminisce about a past event or something that I did over the weekend. Anything but school work.

My teachers would catch me goofing off and turn my chair around or move away from the window.

If I wasn’t looking out the window, I was “visiting” with other students, asking them what they were doing. In other words, I was interrupting them from their school work.

As I look back, I try to think why I was like that and I am clueless. I suppose that I would need a Psychiatry degree to figure it out. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

Fast forward to the present:

After taking several personality test, I discovered that I am an extrovert and very social. Big surprise!

I like talking to people.

Life is made up of decisions. As child, we are not a cognoscente of the need to make decisions. Even as we develop into adults, we still don’t really know that in order to move forward and achieve goals, it requires a decision or a made-up mind! It would be nice to have an idea, a strategy and the motivation to accomplish the goal. Ultimately, we don’t (fill in the blank) and then we procrastinate because we don’t make a hard decision.

I am social and I the opposite is studious. I had to learn how to learn. I didn’t know that I needed to learn how to learn. I like to say that, “We don’t know that we don’t know.” We are ignorant of a lot of things. I wish that I had someone who would have come beside me and tell me that I needed to learn how to learn, but I had to that the hard way – on my own – out of necessity. That necessity came in the [looking for the word] while I was in the Navy going to school, needing to make a 70% average in my class in order to move on to my next duty station, which was supposed to be submarine school.

I am going to attempt to tie it all together.

While in Basic Electricity and Electronics school in the Navy, I had to study three times harder than the next “normal” guy. I fell into the routine of getting up early enough to muster at 7:00 AM. But before muster, I would get coffee and a doughnut for twenty cents. So that meant that I was there on base at 6:15 or so.

I would go home for lunch then go back to class and study in the afternoon. Then go home for dinner and after dinner go back to base for night study. After night study, go home and study, shine my shoes (usually at 11:00 PM), go to sleep and wake up and do it again.

By the grace of God I passed. I was determined and I didn’t give up. Not that I knew what a plan B was, but I had one and it wasn’t very good either. I had enough education to apply for Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). As I will explain later, when I joined the Navy, I didn’t want to be average and ordinary and I thought that joining the UDT would be the next best thing to joining the submarine force. But I was driven to go to submarine school and I did. There’s an old saying, “Chipping paint and painting chips.” I wanted to work on computers.

While in high school, I had a friend show a digital clock that he made. He opened the shoe box and I saw the computer chips, etc. and I thought, “That’s nice – good for you.” I wish I was paying more attention and learned how electronics worked in high school and I think that it would have given a head start. But that is an example of not knowing what I don’t know.

At this time I was married and I couldn’t fail. I had a reason to succeed so that I could provide a life and future for my bride. But I still was just nineteen years old and before I turned twenty, I accomplished my goal of getting qualified onboard submarines. That story will be told at later time – it’s a great one!

So this is the first time that I unconsciously forced myself to focus and achieve an academic goal. It was brute force, but I made a decision to accomplish that specific goal of getting qualified on submarines.