• Lisa Love

His name is Adam - he's good!

My 45-year-old little brother is more at peace and happier than almost anyone I know. Wanna know his secret?

He spent almost 6 years in prison.

Let me explain ...

A year ago, I sat with my brother Adam in a small kitchen and we talked ... a lot.

He had just been released from prison, a place where he had been for the past 5 plus years. Prison was a hard, hard place to be. Adam told me some of the terrible experiences he had, but there were some he said he would probably never tell me ... and I am okay with that.

It wasn't prison that we talked about, however, it was before prison. We talked about his growing up years and the choices he made during those years that put him on the path to prison. His story is one that needs to be heard. I believe that so much that I spent a few days typing up what he shared with me.

It was a hard story to write.

It is personal for him.

It is personal for me.

I shed many tears while writing his story and I almost couldn't share it, but Adam knew his story could help many people, and so share it I did. You can read that story here: "His Name Is Adam"

That blog post has had over 12,000 hits since last year. Adam's story is particularly important for educators to read. I have lost count of how many principals, teachers, school superintendents, and other educators have contacted me to share how powerfully Adam's story impacted them. Classrooms full of students have read Adam's story and have written him letters about their own struggles.

It has been an incredible thing to watch.

My brother lives in a different state than I do and I haven't seen him since last year at this time ... until this week. This morning I visited with my brother and after our visit, as I was driving away, my mind filled with the understanding that, as I wrote above, Adam is more at peace and happier than almost anyone I know.

He lives simply.

He helps others.

He is working in his passion and where his genius lies, and he is grateful for his life.

Is it really that simple? Yes, but it wasn't always that simple for him.

If you have read the original story, you will know that Adam struggled through school. His academic skills were never what his teachers wanted them to be. He was ridiculed and made fun of by students and teachers until he finally dropped out of high school at the end of 10th grade.

They didn't know he was a mechanical genius. They didn't know that he could (and still can) literally see mechanical mechanisms in his head and envision how they work and how they need to be repaired. It wasn't until a teacher who worked at the prison where Adam spent most of his time, saw something truly remarkable in him.

That was when Adam's life changed.

This morning I met my brother at his repair shop. Yes, HIS repair shop. A year out of prison, Adam owns his own small business that runs purely on word of mouth and he can't keep up with the work. Adam can repair the big stuff, the hard stuff, the super, duper expensive tractors and trucks that most people won't even attempt. He has never been taught, he just knows how and if he doesn't know how, he tinkers, he reads, he experiments, or he asks others, until he figures it out. (For my STEM teacher friends, and all those who are starting to see the value in a growth mindset, you will be excited about all of that! Adam is the perfect example!)

He took me on a tour and taught me a few things about repairing these big monsters. I don't remember a thing, except that I was continually impressed with Adam's genius.

Those two ramps he is standing next to are to help him work on big trucks like dump trucks. He made those ramps. He made them from scratch! (Proud big sister moment there.)

Not only does Adam support himself, but he also gives other guys he knew in prison an opportunity to work with him if they need the work, and they often do. He is who they turn to not just for a job, but for encouragement, and moral support.

Adam has very few wants.

He's just so grateful for what he already has.

Adam is at peace with his past and is not overly concerned about the future.

He learned how to let go of what he couldn't control and just take care of what he could, which, as he shared with me, is really only his own attitude about life.

Adam knows where his talents are and he doesn't second guess them.

He didn't finish high school when he was "supposed" to finish.

He didn't go to college.

He isn't the world's greatest reader and he is an even worse speller.

He has no school loan debt.

He is making a very nice living for himself.

He doesn't have a big house and a fancy car. His name isn't flashing across a billboard. For the rest of his life, a record will follow him that will cause the majority of people to immediately think the worst of him and yet, Adam is good.

He's really good.

The path getting him to a good place was not good, but it taught him, it molded and shaped him into probably one of the greatest men I know.

So, back to what I wrote at the beginning:

My 45-year-old little brother is more at peace and happier than almost anyone I know. Wanna know his secret?

He spent almost 6 years in prison.

Obviously, I would never condone going to prison as a secret to success. A lot of people do not come out of prison better than they went in. I am also not condoning dropping out of high school. The point I'm making is that my brother never, ever fit into the box everyone tried to put him in. It was hard. It crushed him. I wish none of that had happened at all.

Adam wishes it hadn't had to happen as well.

But it did.

He chose to learn from it all.

He chose to let the bitterness go.

He chose to change his life.

He is still choosing, every day, to remember all that he has learned.

My "little" brother has a lot more grey hair than I remember him having a year ago. I am older, but he is wiser in so many ways. I look up to him, not just because he is a big 6 feet 3 inches tall in height, but more because he has a big spirit and a big heart.

A year ago, tears streamed down my cheeks as I wrote my brother's story. They were tears of sadness for all that my brother suffered. Today, tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write, but they are not tears of sadness, they are tears of joy, gratitude, and love.

Oh, what a difference a year can make.

I am going to end by including the letter Adam wrote to a 7th-grade class who read his story and shared their own personal struggles with him. I think you will appreciate his wisdom:

April 18, 2019

Dear Students –

I would like to thank you for your thoughtful letters to me about my experiences in life and the story that you read. I was really moved to hear that my story was inspirational to many of you and that it has helped you either cope with some of your own struggles or helped you know you are not alone in your struggles.

It never dawned on me when that story was written that it could help anyone else. It is encouraging me to write more. Your letters helped me realize that we never know how far our experiences and life lessons can go to reach people we have never met.

I am very glad you are talking about your challenges instead of just bottling them up. I am glad you are realizing that there are positive ways to get through being bullied, criticized, having learning challenges and other difficult times.

Your letters have inspired me to share more of my experiences with others.

I want to remind you that you are exactly who you are supposed to be. I want to encourage you to be true to yourselves. If you choose to change for your own reasons, that is wonderful, but do not think you have to change the person you are simply to please others.

I would like to close this letter with my favorite quote. “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth,” Archimedes.