Tag Archives: Reality Changers

Tired Again

It was a good night at Reality Changers tonight. We’re getting near to the end of the school year and all the students who are going to four year schools have gotten their offers from those schools. I did see one guy who is not who seemed disappointed, but it’s hard to tell. He doesn’t seem like the happiest guy anyway.

Lots of smiling faces though. One guy is deciding where he’ll transfer after Cal State San Marcos. He wants to be a writer. He’s good and he knows it. Not in an arrogant way. He is simply confident that he has some skills and he’s confident that writing is what he wants to do. That’s so great. And somewhat unusual. Many of them know where they want to go, but what they want to do is different.

I’m glad to be a part of the program.

Tonight I was thinking about the possibility that I could use Kickstarter to fundraise to benefit Reality Changers. Here’s the website:

Maybe I could make an album (I can actually sing) and get people to donate to benefit our public speakers group within RC.

I know some local musicians who are actually professionals and this would allow me to kill two birds with one stone. I would like to be recorded before I get so old that my voice has changed.

Though I guess that’s not for sure. I saw Donovan on the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame special the other night and he sounds the same even though he looks like Donovan’s grandfather.

I haven’t been this tired while writing for a while. Maybe not since high school. LOL

I remember staying up late a couple times. Once I only got about an hour’s sleep and decided that if I had to do that again it would be better to stay up all night. I remember laying my head on the pillow and then it was time to get up. What a weird sensation.

But some of these RC students stay up until 3 am or later on a regular basis. There’s that much work if they are in Advanced Placement classes. I really didn’t know what it took in high school like some of these students. Of course, it is worse today than back then. Even in middle school they do a lot more work than we did in the 70s.

I think that some things are being lost.

What they really need is the ability to think.

That’s not always being taught.

And they need more voices telling them how hard they need to work if they want to go to college. I think too many look at their peers or friends to see what they’re doing and that only helps if you’re around the really hard workers.

Some of them need to understand that some people they go to school with are going to be working in fast food or at least something much less demanding than being a lawyer, doctor, marine biologist, what have you…

That’s what happens when you are a first generation college student. Or candidate for college. There’s no one in your family to show you the way. There’s not enough in the budget for individual attention for all students from the counselors.

I don’t think they realize how pro-active they need to be.

Reality Changers are fortunate in that regard. The culture is about doing things differently. CHANGING their reality – the world that surrounds them.

So we will have the great graduation ceremony at USD on Sunday. There will still be RC meetings to keep them on track, but this early will make it possible for perhaps 2,000 people to attend.

Last year I couldn’t attend because my nephew was graduating on the same day as RC’s ceremony.

I’ve only been to one of these before. This is the whole shebang.

What do you know…spellcheck was ok with shebang.

We also have a graduation at each location and I’m sure that will be in a couple weeks here in Solana Beach.

There’s a girl graduating this year who has an older sister and an older brother who are both graduates of Reality Changers.

That’s cool. I remember when she was a freshman.

Now she’s been one of the big leaders of the group.

She even interviewed (is that the word?) at Harvard. She was nervous and postponed, but she eventually went.

She didn’t get in, but I’m sure she’s proud to have had the chance.

She has a lot of other schools to choose from.

That’s the ticket!


Funky Comments

I want to take this opportunity to say thanks again to all who have commented on this blog. All the legitimate comments and the likes and follows are appreciated. Some comments that are obviously not legitimate have me mystified.

“Haven’t seen this before. Thanks for mentioning.” Then they finish with a link to a website. Really?

I guess some people are so desperate for comments that they’ll accept something like the above comment as real. I advise against it. The link associated with general comments like that is usually spammy or worse.

It takes time to build an audience. We’re not all Mark Twain or even Robert Kiyosaki.

It’s nearly time to go tutor at Reality Changers and I’ve been thinking about what else I can do to make more of an impact. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and I guess one of the things I would like to see is other people following me into tutoring. So far no one in five years has imitated my labors. That’s actually a strong word. Presence is more like it.

Don’t get me wrong (one of my favorite overused phrases) – I am a help most of the time. [Some of the time?]

But I’ve noticed over the years that I’m rusty on a few things. I used to be awesome at math. My biggest problem now is I can’t remember the terminology or they are using terminology that I never learned.

Last week was different. I actually had trouble doing a word problem and converting it into an equation with one variable. I guess I need to brush up.

Words. I have more impact when they ask me questions about writing, literature, reading and speaking. Those questions don’t come as often.

When I first started with my current student, Shawn, he was a freshman and he was just starting Japanese. So he made flash cards and I helped him that way. That was what we did nearly every week.

I did share with him some political columnists a couple months ago for some essay he needed to complete. That was good to have those in my back pocket.

But Japanese for him now is way over my head. Way beyond flash cards.

In some ways I’m glad that when he’s a senior he goes into a special Senior Academy at RC. I don’t know how much I would be able to help in the advanced classes he’ll be taking. Hopefully we can take a trip to UCSB this summer so he can see it firsthand.

If things continue the way they have then Reality Changers will probably assign me a new freshman in late August or early September.

I would really like to get more kids involved in public speaking, too. I’ve had a hard time getting enough of them to come regularly.

My concern is that the money situation isn’t real enough for them until it’s too late.

They can win up to $22,000 for college through the Lion’s Club speakers contest and that’s only one reason for them to learn to be better public speakers. Reality Changers requires them to speak at least once a year to the RC audience.

Most will have to take a speech class in college and it’s absolutely mandatory if they attend a California State school. Plus, they will almost all have to speak to a small group or even a medium size group at sometime during their career. That’s just the way things are now.

Never underestimate people fear of public speaking. LOL

They do a great job of volunteering in the community, too.

Over 4 years each student puts in at least 200 hours. I didn’t do much of that. I had no clue about that during high school. When I got involved with a church youth group in my senior year I might have done a little, but I was not in touch with the community that much.

Now that I’m nearly fifty I realize how important it is to volunteer.

When you make time you find that you are learning things you didn’t know you’d learn. If you volunteer and the experience isn’t like that or it isn’t positive, do something else.

There are so many ways to volunteer in this world and people you help are almost always grateful.

Thank yous really touch your heart if you let them.

How much more will you get out of volunteering for and hour or two or three than if you were sitting at home watching television?

We can do so much through volunteering as opposed to everyone getting paid for every bit of work they do.

I have no problem with people being compensated fairly, even generously, when they are employed.

However, as long as we let wealthier and wealthier people mostly do as they please with their money, there probably won’t be a more equal distribution of income any time soon. That is not casting aspersions, it’s merely observing reality.

Since we have that unequal distribution of wealth, no matter how or if one judge’s it, it makes sense that some of what people do they do on a volunteer basis.

My church has a week during the summer called Vacation Bible School. Actually, we call it Kid’s Games, which started in Egypt I think, but it’s basically the same thing with more physical activity thrown in.

I think we have around 300 volunteers to get this done and I’m not sure how many kids attend. 500? 600?

One lady a couple years ago asked how our church could afford to do this. Technically we couldn’t IF we paid everyone. We don’t have a big enough budget for that. But when people decide that they’re going to give something of themselves we have a pretty cool event.

I’m not personally involved in that.

The same goes for anyone. Pick something that means something to you. Or as some say – something that resonates with you.

That’s why I picked Reality Changers. Young people going to college who might not have is something that I can get behind.

We all have only so much time so each of us has to learn to say no to some things.

Just don’t say no to EVERYTHING.

If you start volunteering at something that happens regularly, whether once a year or once or twice a week or somewhere in between, you’ll soon find yourself building a tradition and a legacy.

Last week someone asked how long Reality Changers had been in Solana Beach. I wasn’t exactly sure and someone spoke up and said something about me being the granddaddy of the group. That’s not exactly true. There’s a staff member there who has been there longer than me. But it felt good just the same.

I don’t do it so people will say what a great guy I am. I do it because I believe it’s important. For the time being I’m going to continue. I still might create my own nonprofit someday.

Yet I will continue to show up on Monday nights for the foreseeable future.

Looks like it’s time to go.


Getting Down To It

Today I was distracted by the Williams.edu website.

Frequent readers will probably know that I volunteer with a group called Reality Changers. We help students become the first generation in their family to go to college. My student – the one I tutor – is nearing his senior year. I recommended that he take a look at Williams.edu to see if there’s a fit for him. He’s a strong student in Japanese and that’s one of the majors that Williams College offers. It’s old and academically prestigious.

While at Reality Changers on Monday I asked him if he thought he could work harder than he works now in college. He works really, really hard now and usually goes to sleep about 4 am at least twice a week. He said that he definitely intended on working harder in college. I didn’t work as hard as he does in high school and definitely not as hard as he intends when I was in college. He’ll probably end up with a 4.1 or higher GPA and that’s probably enough to get admitted to Williams assuming all the other things fall into place. He’s a soccer player, too, and participates in extracurricular activities.

In my opinion, it’s just a shame when a student who has potential and has shown the willingness to work hard misses an opportunity simply because he or she didn’t know it existed. So I make sure to tell academically inclined students about Williams. If you know a great student who intends on working hard at their education after high school, I recommend that you at least tell them about Williams.

When I was in high school I didn’t have much knowledge about all the educational opportunities out there and my dad said that I was going to community college. I found that somewhat discouraging, but didn’t have enough freedom to say how I felt about it. I didn’t realize that I had more choices than simply accepting it. I recognize that community college can be a great place to start, but if you have the drive and you have the ability, why not explore the options. It’s hard for me to believe that I didn’t know more about how to stand up for myself in that situation, but that was a long time ago and in many, many ways I feel like a different person now.

My wife just came in to relax beside me and I don’t think she realized how much I was treasuring this time to be alone with the opportunity to write. I do like my alone time and I’m not sure that she has quite the same need for solitude. I can hear her breathing at times and shuffling the pages of whatever she’s reading.

Our room is cooler than the rest of the house and I find that absolutely wonderful. That’s especially true when it starts to get hotter as it is today. Our walls are a dark pastel-ly purple and the ceiling is bright white. Definitely have something approaching bohemian tendencies with the color in our room. There’s not really anything on the walls and we like it that way. They feel like a blank canvas to me or maybe an easy place to rest my eyes as I’m lost in thought.

We have horizontal blinds and that let’s me keep the light down. She had to turn on a lamp when she came into the room. I don’t mind it being a little dark. In fact, she probably considers it pretty dark and I see it as similar to just after dawn. Now she has turned off the light and turned on her side. I think she wants to take a nap, but I’m determined to finish this before I leave the room or more probably, join her.

Earlier we got the chance to go to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and to my surprise she was content to sit with me on a bench overlooking the beach. We watched some birds in the ocean air. I couldn’t remember the last time that I followed a bird or a group of birds with my eyes for several minutes until they landed. It can be very relaxing. We both agreed that we would like to live there and I said that I was probably several books away from affording that. I think it probably costs around $2 Million to live there in a 2000 square foot house with probably the same amount of land we have here in San Marcos, which isn’t much.

We enjoyed the breeze and I was thinking that I don’t think there’s any way to replicate it.

I was remembering Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green as he commits suicide with the help of the state. He’s watching a movie that shows beautiful views of nature that don’t exist anymore in the world of that film. They give him something to drink that takes him out of this world after it puts him to sleep and Charlton Heston’s character is heartbroken when he finds out and it’s too late to do anything about it.

But it would take better technology than a movie to capture the feel and smell of the breeze and the sun beating down not too hot. That doesn’t even take into account the gorgeous view of the ocean itself. Maybe there will be a market for it. Actually, I think there is a market for it if you get far enough away from the ocean. It’s just that we don’t have holodeck technology like they have on Star Trek The Next Generation and later shows.

This reminds me that I don’t think we will advance technology in many areas as fast as people expect. I wouldn’t mind being pleasantly surprised. Back in the 1950’s they thought we would have hover cars by now. I don’t mean a couple which my son pointed out that we do actually have. I mean widespread use of hovercars – so widespread that they are the primary mode of transportation like plain old automobiles are today. At least in the U.S. and several countries.

THAT reminds me that I don’t even know how many cars there are in the world and how widespread their use is in different countries. My guess is that there are plenty of countries who use cars appoximately at the same level as we do, but there are many countries that use more rapid transit, more communal transportation than we do.

Still, will we really be using Google glasses that much in 10 or 20 years? Is it possible that they will be a fad? Do you really want to wear glasses all the time that connect you to the internet so you can let people know where you are at all times? Do you really want to have information popping up in your field of view semi-constantly? I’m sure I could use it for a while, but won’t good old everyday life without the interactivity of the glasses be calling us? Also, I’m concerned that it will rapidly become a way for more advertisements to be shoved in front of us. I want less advertising personally, not more. I like pieces of land with nothing on it but nature.

How many people agree or disagree with me, I wonder.


Reality Changers

For nearly five years now I’ve been volunteering with Reality Changers. We used to meet on Wednesday nights at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church in Solana Beach, California. Now we meet on Monday nights because the church is doing a big remodel.

Reality Changers helps students become the first generation in their family to go to college. You can check out their website at RealityChangers.org. RC is a very, very effective program and their are three other locations in San Diego proper.

Soon there will be senior academies springing up in several locations when the local parents see enough of a need that they are interested in investing themselves in the process.

While the main program in Solana Beach starts at 6 pm, I started teaching public speaking to those who show up at 10 minutes after 5 for a little over two years. I’ll be doing that in less than 2 hours from now.

There is a story which really illustrates the power of what we do. I don’t mean to say that this is the only story. There are many, including one student who lived in his family’s car since the early 2000s and last September started at UC Santa Barbara (I’m pretty sure that’s where he went).

But the story to which I’m referring is about two boys who were both in eight grade together.
They both lived about a block and a half apart in the same tough San Diego neighborhood.
Both had the same dismal grade point average in 8th grade. I think it was 0.6.
They went to the same church and had similar-sized families.
You could go down the list and see how similar their situations where. Very, very similar.

At the beginning of 9th grade, one said no thank you to Reality Changers. He did not want to be a part of it.
He ended up being involved with drugs and eventually ended up in prison doing 50 to life for murder.

The other guy said yes to Reality Changers and that was part of the influence in saying no to drugs and yes to more studying and community involvement.
He went to UC Santa Barbara.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s an INCREDIBLE difference in their lives and the fact that they started out with such similar circumstances
really tells me how much of a difference that Reality Changers makes in the lives of young people who can be our future leaders.

Now that I’ve been volunteering for nearly five years, I have had the privilege of seeing groups of students start out as freshmen and seeing them eventually
make it all the way through RC and high school and move into what is a dream phase of life for many of them: college!

Right now as I write this I’m thinking of a guy named Christian who is up at the University of Redlands. I remember Christian as a freshman. Smart and a little goofy and dreaming of playing a sport and getting a scholarship. He learned about reality in RC. His skills at sports were not going to be enough to get a full ride scholarship and he concentrated on his academic studies – more and more as the years went on. He did get some scholarships to Redlands and seems happy with his decision to attend there.

I also remember Claudette, who is now a sophomore at Syracuse on a full ride scholarship. She is a talented piano player and very good student. She decided to focus on her academics and music is now a hobby. She wanted to be an example to the Solana Beach RC students and she is as the first one from this group to go across the country to school. Prior to her the graduates stayed in California, mostly in Southern California.

The same year that Claudette graduated there was another student named Phylicia who is on a full ride scholarship to Columbia! And, we had a Gates Millenium Scholar that year. Her name was Daniela and last time we spoke she wanted to be a lawyer. She attends the University of San Diego and her bachelor’s, master’s, and Phd. will be payed for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation if she chooses to go that far. I suspect that she will.

Right now my assigned student is a guy named Shawn who attends San Dieguito Academy. He’s now more fluent in Japanese after taking more language in two years than most people take in four. He’ll be a senior next year and he’ll go into our senior academy. I’ll still see him sometimes, but not every week. Will he go to UCLA or Stanford or Arizona State? I don’t think he knows yet and we’ll see how his GPA looks at the end of next year. He’s doing great now.

It’s bittersweet when you lose your student to the senior academy portion of the program, but it’s so well worth it.

Times up. Gotta leave for Reality Changers!