After Thoughts

“You can hand over your keys or your life. Make the right choice.” After Thoughts.

Back in 2000, I was the manager of my high school hockey team. It was the first year we had a team and I wanted to do anything I could to play my part and support. I managed the team with my friend, Jennifer Cheney. She was a loving, caring, funny charismatic girl with a smile that made you feel at home. The kind of girl that shined her light so bright when you spoke to her she made you feel like you were the only one around. The team would practice early every morning, so I would swing by her house and pick her up before school, then we would head over to practice. One day that all changed.

My dear friend Jen was in a horrific accident and was killed. It was the other driver who decided to drink and drive. He planned to get drunk that night. Actually, he planned to get wasted. I entirely believe he never once thought about the lives he would be putting at risk and about how many lives would be changed forever. Our community came out in droves of support for Jen. It rocked my life. Death is always around the corner yet it never gets easy. As a high school student navigating a life altering experience I became lost in the confusion of her death. I couldn’t understand how this could happen, even more so why? I made a pact with some friends and myself during this time period that I would never drink and drive. Thinking about it now 17 years later I am still affected by this loss. She left an impression on me that saved so many lives years later.

I never thought I would play a part in a film such as this. It’s a film created by some students of Livermore. It highlights drunk driver awareness and is now getting national attention. After Thoughts has been nominated for the All American High School Film Festival and will be showcased in Time Square later this year. With over 2000 submission from 50 states and over 40 countries, the film was selected for the Jostens category which is “teens taking a stand against societal issues.” I cannot express how proud I am of everyone who played a part in making the project happen. Last year I sat in a classroom and met the high school students who had the seedling of an idea and the fire of a pack of lions in their eyes.

It was impressive. They showed the stamina and dedication to changing the world and they have. This film continues to get picked up and watched, and now it will get showcased internationally, in turn saving the lives of millions, touching the lives of billions. As a creator and artist, we never know what piece or work is going to be the one that others notice. It can be painful sometimes putting our work out there not knowing what it’s going to do. We have our hopes, our dreams, our goals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen. We never know how one of our creations will touch people until it does.

Some of us in life never get the opportunity to hear how much we play a part in others lives. Between work, raising kids, trying to feed mouths or worry about our bank accounts, we tend to lose track of time and how much others mean to us. Then one day someone comes to you and clearly says,

“You changed my life. I’m not sure words can ever explain how much you mean to me and how much I love who you are and what you do, you inspire me.”

The way I see it, we all live on this earth for such a short time, we fight, we claw and we strive for what we want in the future, but it’s appreciating what we have now that really matters.

To the team of After Thoughts: You have left an impression on me and have been an inspiration to all of us in this community and world. There is no telling exactly what this universe has in store for you going forward, however, you can hold your head high and with great confidence knowing that you created a film that is leaving a lasting impression on all who watch it and pay attention. Thank you for allowing me to play my part in this project and thank you for saving my girls and families life. Good luck in New York and what ever happens, keep going!

Check out the short film After Thoughts

#TeamAfterThoughts #DigitalLegacy #Besomebody

The Pressure Our Children Feel

When I was a kid I was told I was going to be gay. Why? Because I walked on my toes, had a stuttering issue and chose to be friends with the girls in my class (as opposed to boys.) I guess looking back now I’ve always had more of a connection with sensitivity and empathy as opposed to the masculinity boys/men are supposed to have. I grew up playing baseball and was in a band but could most of the time care less about sports.

In my twenties, I enjoyed watching the NFL and occasionally going to an MLB game not because I really cared about the sport but more so because of the experience. Over the past several years I haven’t actively watched sports games other than the big Super Bowl or World Series. To be honest I care more about the food and drinks and family than I do about the game. I used to wonder why I didn’t tend to connect well with the men in my life then I discovered myself at age 30 with two girls and a wife that didn’t need me to be a “MAN” they needed me to be their dad, father, husband. They needed me to a human that they could connect with, tell a story to, share a hug with, someone who could and would communicate love and caring for them. This to me is what it means to be not just a man but also a positive influence in their world.

This is what is missing in our children’s lives today, a connection; it’s not the only thing but a big part. The chance for them to connect and be who they want to be and express what they want to express, without negative criticism from others is important. Sometimes their ideas or feelings come out before they are entirely ready like an egg waiting to hatch and it takes others points of view to allow it to come into clarity. We as parents and community leaders should be there for that clarity. There is a difference however between constructive criticism and negativity.

When I was younger, I received my fair share of verbal abuse some of which I continue to battle with every day. Somewhere between the “gay” comments and the “are you stupid?” arose a burning desire to care for others, which I entirely appreciate. In life, it’s almost as if we learn more from others about what not to do as opposed to what we should do. Since I’m not a psychologist or therapist I have no clue on why we do what we do but based on our past experiences. When it comes to this subject I can only state what I went through. Because of this, we choose to raise our children with constructive words and lessons as best as possible. We are not perfect and do falter some days but we also know everyone does. That is the part about being human, forgiveness and loving others, as long as you continue to love and spread your light and inner genius the universe has a way of working itself out.

I met Ashanti last year and he is one impressive dude. If you have children or work with them take some time to watch this movie, it will give you some perspectives on students and children today. The Mask You Live In

Girls: We love you. Mom and dad. #DigitalLegacy