Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Mother's Day Story



She simply said, "If you ever want to talk about what's going on with you, you can talk to me."

It's one of those moments that etch a sweet place in the mind forever.

I was 17, that tender age when any sort of negative experience regarding the opposite gender could be devastating. But this devastation was taken to new limits. In my heart anyway.

You see, I really liked Isabel. She was a foreign exchange student who said that she could see the true me, and that I was different than others she had met. I was "special" to her.

Since "specialness," young love and foreign exchange students don't stick around forever, there came a time when I had to say goodbye to Isabel. For this youthful, innocent heart, it was the hardest thing to do. I was heartbroken.

And so - as 17-year-olds may tend to do - I moped. I took moping to a whole new level. Dragging my feet, being silent, showing very little initiative for anything. I didn't know what to do with myself. I would follow my mom around, hoping perhaps that she would notice my heartbreak and do something about it. We weren't the most expressive family, and we rarely talked about emotions. In fact, I used to think crying merely meant your head pounded and your throat felt all hot and burning.

This, mostly because I would hold my breath from the desire to squelch the tears.

But on this certain summer day, as my mom attended to some task about the house, I would find myself following her all around. As she took care of some laundry or the like in her room, I simply climbed up onto the end of the bed and just laid there.

Silent.

Sad.

Hoping to be noticed.

And then she said it. "If you ever want to talk about what's going on with you, you can talk to me."

Tears.

An opened door. It's what I needed. The permission to be human, to be hurting, to be heard.

I believe I needed the door to be opened more than I needed to walk through it.

But my mother opened that door, as mothers do. Allowing me in, and allowing me to open up.
Here is to all the mothers who nurture their young, giving an unconditional love that sweetly invites the heart to come out - to be seen, heard and experienced.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why I am Standing up for our Law Enforcement



I'll be honest. For so long, I disliked cops. 

I would see them as enemies who would try and catch the next unsuspecting person going a few miles over the speed limit or making a safe but rolling turn at a stop sign ... all to feed the system with our own hard-earned money.

Whenever I saw a police car driving behind me, no matter what I was doing, I would get a burst of adrenaline and start to worry just a bit. "What are they going to do?" "Are they going to stop me?" 

This was my mindset. And it held steadfast. 

But like anything, perceptions can change over time ... and with experience.

For it was in 2012 that I produced a documentary "Indoctrinated; The Grooming of our Children Into Prostitution." This film brought awareness and light to the child sex trafficking issue, and highlighted the good works of the National City Police. I saw firsthand, on a ride-along and through interviews, how much darkness and evil these officers faced and how much effort many gave for the well-being of these young women and girls.

As one officer described the abuse the girls encountered from their pimps, "It's a level of inhumanity most would not grasp." 

After the film was released, it got a good amount of airplay and found its way to public forums across the nation and even to other countries such as New Zealand. Since the audience of this film was teens and their parents, I heard from a few mothers over time that said this film actually helped save their children from being lured or tricked into a prostituted life. Oh my goodness, on one level, it was saving lives. 

At a screening in San Diego in 2017, sergeant Matthew Blumenthal of the San Diego Police Department Human Trafficking Division approached me and said, "I have to show this film to every single officer in my department." 

This opened my mind - if this film could do some good, what next could I produce, what other way could I use my creativity and skills with a new project?

The very next day I met up with former police officer who said to me, "You really need to take a look at the PTSD that law enforcement is facing. They won't want to talk about it, but it's killing them." 

Bam! idea.


Another chance to bring some light where there may be darkness. Yes. Use me up God. Let's go.

It will be a short educational film called "Keeping The Peace," and I will gift it to receptive local and national police agencies once complete.

Once the idea came, i did some research and found some alarming statistics.

  • According to Officer.com, there are an estimated 150,000 officers who have symptoms of post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI).
  • Recent research indicates that 1/3 of active-duty and retired officers suffer from post-traumatic stress, with some unaware of this condition.
  • The Badge of Life Organization states law enforcement officers are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
  • With over 100 suicides per year nationally - the #1 one killer of police officers is ... law enforcement suicide.

I needed help though. I reached out to a few police agencies and talked with a few key players in the Wellness Unit and Peer Support arenas. But nothing was really moving things along until I truly started taking action on producing the film. 

I got help from a man on my men's team, who directed me towards his friend Victor who was a retired special agent officer for the Department of Justice. 

I interviewed Victor in person, and this was illuminating and mind opening. He spoke of what officers go through, and even told a story that brought him to tears. Thirty years ago, he had to tell a mother that her daughter had died in an accident. The distraught mother gave Victor a teddy bear to take with him back to the scene of the accident. While relating this story, he broke down much to his surprise. "That was 30 years ago and I've only thought of that incident only a few times." Though surprised over his reaction, he did note that he felt so much better having shared it.

This is the key to healing and wellness. Trust, safety, and sharing the burden. 

That is what this project is all about. Wellness of our first responders and officers who face intense amounts of stress and trauma while in the line of duty.

After interviewing Victor and half a dozen others, and after setting up a campaign fundraising page, there has been a lot of activity around the project. A team of six are supporting the campaign. There are endorsements. Funding has started to come in. A list of 94 contacts have been identified. And I'm here to simply manage the momentum and to do the legwork to film, edit and produce this piece.

How will the project unfold exactly? I can not know precisely. It's a process. But I can imagine and hold a high intention for the results:
  1. A cultural shift where officers ask for and receive the support they need to cope with what they face.
  2. Law enforcement experiencing wellness on all levels, serving the public in the highest.
  3. The public - realizing these are fellow humans needing support too - joining forces with law enforcement in co-creating symbiotic good relations.
  4. Reduced suicide rates among law enforcement.
  5. Lives being saved.
There was a side effect or result I did not consider when I started this. With officers owning their own needs as humans to get the support they need, perhaps the public too would see the officers as people and not enemies. 

We all know relations can be constrained between the public and police, and we have been privy to the horror stories played out on social media. This project will not eradicate all bad apples or remove due process and accountability for excessive force. But can you imagine a shift taking place when police and the public meet face to face on the humanity level in order to care for our neighborhoods, our communities, our society, our nation?  

Imagine.

When I was younger, I looked in the review mirror and saw only an enemy out to get me. Adrenaline would shoot through my veins and I'd think, "Oh no." Now, after all these years of working closely with officers, seeing what evils they attempt to protect us from, i look in the review mirror at them and think, "Oh good." 

An unexpected shift ... in me.

And so in conclusion, what are the real reasons I am doing this project, and why do I stand up for law enforcement?
  • To live with purpose
  • To bring light to the dark
  • To save some lives
  • To be used up in the highest way possible
  • To honor those who truly serve and protect


James Anthony Ellis is a writer, producer and owner of Legacy Productions.
Details of the "Keeping The Peace" campaign can be found HERE
He can be reached at (858) 518-5826.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

What To Do With Depression and Darkness?



I am freaking depressed.

DEEEEEPRESSED!

It feels like the weight of 100 sacks of flour are resting squarely on my back.

I trudge through the world as if walking in soft sand while wearing army boots.

There is a tape loop that plays in my head every time I make a mistake. The words are cruel and punishing.

"You failure."

"You'll never make it."

"There is no hope."

Where did these voices come from, and what am I to do with them?

I want to hide away so the voices can't reach me. But they live within me and cannot be ditched.

So I carry on - in this deep depression, wanting so badly to find a way out of it.

Long ago, I learned that there was no better way to get out of the sadness and darkness ... then to go directly into it. I learned to not swerve away from it or go around it. I was never a drinker or a druggy, so these escapes never could serve. Even the gluttonous self-pleasure of food and porn can not mask the agony any longer.

I'm in the middle of it. Or it's in the middle of me.

So what comes to my mind? How am I to rid myself of this feeling of darkness and to rise up into a light feeling of joy and love? 

A simple phrase: "Give it away in order to keep it."

Huh? What does that mean? Give it away ... in order to keep it.

Simply, I'm being directed to bring positive thoughts, energy and sentiments to others. I am tasked to give away this love and light to others. But how am I to do that when I don't feel it within?

Give it away ... in order to keep it.

Give love, even if I don't feel it strong within me, in order to PROVE that it does exist within. Give love so that it can grow stronger within me.

But this idea of having something get bigger after giving it away? Surely this is madness. If you have 10 dollars and you give away 10 dollars, surely you are now lesser for it. If you have seven bananas and you give away five of them, no doubt you have fewer bananas. This concept of giving in order to retain something is a counter-intuitive thought within the physical realm and within the conscious mind.

But I imagine we are not talking about rationality but reality.

According to A Course In Miracles, "giving is proof of having," In Lesson 187, it states: "Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess."

So be it. I will give as much love and light as I can to all I come across.
 
I will keep bringing the uplifting sentiments to others, especially when feeling low and depressed.

I will give it away, to prove I possess it, and to have it grow stronger, ever stronger, within me.

No need to focus on the depression or heed the voices that would drive me downward. Simply focus on giving away that which resides in me ... in peace, joy and truth.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living and loving in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org or on the inner plane of higher consciousness. Check him out at either locale.