Enjoy Yourself In A Responsible Way!

People Helping People

Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived and we all survived such a harsh winter, the tendency is for us as human beings to think we need to hurry up and cram good times into as many days as possible, before the temperatures dip back down again.

I, for one, love the summer, but forever need to remember that it was always my favorite time of the year to drink and do drugs.

There is just something about being able to leave my house and walk outside without a shirt on and just wear shorts to go to the beach, play ball, or simply hang out with friends.

I felt liberated – after a long winter – to be able to enjoy myself knowing that the days were longer and I could lay in the sun to get a tan.

However, my addiction would always turn what I thought was going to be fun into something worse.

Fights, arrests, gambling problems, and other negative consequences were the result of thinking I “deserved” to have fun during these warm months of the year without any regard of the outcome.

Nowadays, fun takes on a whole new meaning, since I am clean nearly six and a half years.

Responsibility, dependability, reliability, and trustworthiness are just some of the positive characteristics that I take pride in, and combined with my desire to help other recovering addicts, or anyone not living up to their full potential, is what motivates me each and every single day, rain or shine!

I don’t begrudge anyone who drinks socially, and just hope it doesn’t interfere with their normal, everyday life.

Nor do I have a problem with any person who works hard for a living, pays his or her taxes, and is a positive role model in the community.

In a perfect world, men and women who are successful would have sense enough to help those who are less fortunate than they are.

For when they do, we all feel better about ourselves!

Enjoy this great weather everyone, and if you ever feel the need to talk about something that is on your mind, know that I am just a click away!

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My Blog Interview On IV League

BLOG Typewriter Keys

Author Interview: Gary Goldstein

By Keri B.

In June of 1998, Gary Goldstein was arrested after robbing a series of dry cleaners to pay back bookies and feed his addiction. After serving 6 years in the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision, Goldstein was released and penned a memoir entitled Jew in Jail. Today, Goldstein is clean and sober, working as a motivational speaker, and promoting his book.

1. What prompted you to write this? I mean, there are lots of people who do prison time; what prompted you to write a book about it?JewInJail_Cover

I have always wanted to write a book, although, obviously, not under these conditions of becoming incarcerated. However, once I knew that my fate was going to be serving time in prison, I decided to write Jew in Jail, and was inspired to do so once my beloved late father, Irving Goldstein, passed away from the effects of lung cancer and emphysema on January 23, 1999, which was only 15 days after I had been sentenced, and still on Rikers Island waiting to be transported north to a correctional facility. My father had always encouraged me to be my best, and offered unending support my entire life, so I wanted to honor my father by dedicating Jew in Jail to how special my father was to me.

In addition, the other reason why I wrote Jew in Jail was to show anyone that whatever obstacles appear in one’s life – and in my case it was the disease of addiction – it is possible to overcome them and go on to lead a positive and fruitful life. These days, aside from being a published author, I am also a motivational and inspirational speaker on the topic of recovery from addiction, and get so much out of helping others.

2. What was your writing process like for this? Did you write most of it as it happened or did you later decide to put pen to paper?

I wrote Jew in Jail as I was serving my time, and it turned about to be extremely therapeutic to do so! It allowed me to not only document my life behind bars on a daily basis, but also helped me keep my sanity under the worst possible conditions, as well as plan my strategy for my eventual release.

3. Did you consider traditional publishing routes before deciding to go for indie publishing?

Yes, I did, and I sent many query letters out. Unfortunately, though, as a first-time author, I received a lot of rejection letters, so eventually simply decided to self-publish Jew in Jail.

4. What have you done for marketing? You seem to have a lot more blog and online interviews than many of the indie authors; you’ve really gotten your name out there. How did you do it?

Thank you for noticing that, Keri!

First of all, it is very, very important for any author – especially an indie one – to come up with a “hook,” which is a way to get readers, and the public in general to notice you.

In my case, the most successful marketing technique I have used thus far – and continue to use – is dressing up in my prison costume to get attention for Jew in Jail, which I first did in May of 2011 at the Jacob K. Javits Center for BookExpo America 2011 (BEA 2011). I paraded around the entire center handing out my business cards and bookmarks, took photos with attendees, and also autographed copies of my book wearing that outfit. Now, wherever I go, I am known as the Jew in jail, or at least, that Jew who was in jail, and wrote about it! It certainly was a smart marketing strategy, and one that has definitely gotten me noticed.

Aside from blog, online and radio interviews, I also remain involved in social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads as well.

I also speak at drug treatment programs, hospital detoxes, jails, schools, or anywhere else I can help make a difference in someone’s life, whether they are an addict in recovery, a current or former prisoner, or just a person not living up to their full potential.

5. How many copies have you sold so far?

Honestly, I really don’t know, since my royalty payments are deposited directly into my bank account.

I can tell you that, as mentioned earlier, I actually didn’t write Jew in Jail to make money, but only as a way to honor and pay tribute to my late father, as well as help others in a similar situation in life.

Now, though, with the 10 year “anniversary” of my release from prison quickly approaching, coupled with the fact that I have invested a lot of money to get the word out, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I would like to see Jew in Jail sell millions of copies, in addition to myself becoming a highly successful motivational & inspirational speaker!

6. I see that you do some public speaking – how did you get into that?

Becoming a motivational & inspirational speaker has only been possible by remaining clean and sober, and then from going out into the world to meet people and promote myself, Jew in Jail, and, of course, tirelessly doing my best to help others.

In other words, good things happen when one works hard, is selfless, and listens to others and takes suggestions.

I have found that doors have opened up for me by simply being honest about myself and my past, remaining humble, and choosing to give, rather than take.

In one particular instance, I met a man who runs a drug treatment center in Virginia when he appeared as a guest and listened to me speak at a meeting in New York City.

I handed him a copy of my book, he liked what he read, and then invited me down to his program to speak – not only there, but at two local jails in the area as well.

Here is the video of that speech, which, although admittedly new at doing back then, I am still very proud of the message of hope I gave to those in attendance

7. Your bio says that you worked in journalism before your arrest but in construction after (until you turned to public speaking). As a journalist, I’m curious why you didn’t return to journalism? Did it have negative associations for you? Did a felony make getting a job at that level – you had been working for big names like CBS and NBC – not feasible?

That is such a great question, Keri!

I started working at CBS TV as an unpaid intern while a senior at Long Island University way back in 1982 and loved it.

Upon graduation, I was given a full-time paying job and thought I would work there forever!

However, not long after I started, I injured my back on the job and discovered I was living with many physical problems that I didn’t know about until I aggravated it in the accident.

Long story short was that I quickly developed an addiction to pain medication and then gambling, until I became too big for my britches and a liability for the company, which eventually caused them to terminate my employment.

I did return many years later on a per diem basis, although I was forced to start back at the bottom, as opposed to where I had ascended to previously, and was just not comfortable with that situation.

But I have nobody else to blame except for myself – notwithstanding the fact that addiction is a disease – because I also did have “many bites of the apple” elsewhere, having also worked at NBC TV, NBA Entertainment, Major League Baseball Productions, The New York Post, and other prominent organizations in the media field.

8. Somewhat randomly, what was your prison name? I was called Harry Potter the entire time I was in prison – what were you called? Or were you lucky enough to escape without a prison name?

Fat chance! I was called many names, both by my fellow prisoners, the correction officers and staff alike!

Just think for a moment. I am a Jewish man from Brooklyn, who was incarcerated with hundreds of men who were mostly black and Hispanic, not to mention a majority of the officers and other staff members who were white and looked down on me for being locked up in the first place.

I am sure you can get where this is going, but if not, you and your readers are definitely invited to check out Jew in Jail to find out!

9. Do you have any plans for future books?

I have been taking notes for another book for several years now, but decided to hold off and pursue a career in motivational and inspirational speaking instead.

I can always write when I have free time, and definitely enjoy putting pen to paper.

However, for now, this “Jew in Jail” feels the need to tell his story, so that others can be helped and prevented from making the same mistakes in life.

If you’d like to buy Jew in Jail, it’s available on Amazon HERE. To check out Gary’s blog, go HERE.

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Related

Author Interview: Marianne G. PetrinoIn “Interviews”

Author Interview: Johnny WilliamsIn “Interviews”

Reforming Prisons and EducationIn “Jails and Prisons”

About Keri B.

I’m a freelance writer currently in the process of writing and publishing my first book, a memoir called IV League. View all posts by Keri B.
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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 at 10:22 pm and tagged with author interviews, Gary Goldstein, Jew in Jail, Memoir, New York prisons, prison books, Rikers Island and posted in Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed

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Jew in Jail: How It All Began!

Jew In Jail Book Cover

Hello everyone.

I wanted to post the first chapter of my book, “Jew in Jail,” again, for anyone who hasn’t read it yet to learn what it was like for me – addicted to alcohol, drugs and gambling at the time and eventually sentenced to seven years behind bars for robbery – to recover and go on to lead a healthy, happy and productive life.

No matter what addiction you or someone you know and love may be suffering from, or if said person is simply not living up to his or her full potential, it IS possible to get better and enjoy life, which is what “Jew in Jail” is all about.

If you would like to read the rest of my book, or have me come and deliver a motivational & inspirational speech to your group – at a school, jail, drug treatment program, or anywhere I can be of help – then please feel free to contact me through my website, http://www.jewinjail.com/.

Thanks, and enjoy the first chapter of “Jew in Jail.”

1. THE DAY THIS WHOLE NIGHTMARE BEGAN

My mother had asked me, the night before, what I was doing with that toy gun. She noticed it on the foot of the extra bed in my room, and I told her that I was going to give it to my friend Alan’s son as a birthday present. I lied to her. The truth of the matter was that I was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a compulsive gambler, and I was planning to go into Manhattan the next day in order to rob a few dry cleaning stores.

I had thought about doing this before, but this time, I had to go through with it—I already owed the bookmaker six hundred and forty dollars for the week that was about to end, and not only was I unlikely to get even, but I didn’t have the cash in my house. I gave my sister and her husband about ten thousand dollars of my money several months earlier to hold on to, and I was tired of calling and asking for some of it back, a little bit at a time, which I had been doing for a while now. Besides, what could go wrong? I was smart, and knew that all dry cleaning stores have old-fashioned cash registers, no video cameras, and are run either by women or Chinese people, and I would be in and out in no time at all. And once I stole enough money to pay off my debt, I would stop gambling for good. So there was no harm in doing this at all, right?

I woke up bright and early that next morning, which was Saturday, June 13, 1998 (I actually don’t remember sleeping at all the night before), and had breakfast: three Valium, three Tylenol #4 with Codeine, and a bottle of Heineken beer. Then I got dressed and hopped on the D train to Manhattan. I brought another Heineken along with me for the ride, but finished it before the train even departed the Brighton Beach station.

After transferring to two more trains, I finally arrived at my destination: the east side of Manhattan—First Avenue in the 60s, where there were as many dry cleaning stores around as any good thief could want. So I proceeded to walk up First, looking into each dry cleaning establishment I passed, until I found one that was empty and had a woman working behind the counter. I had a plan but needed a rehearsal, so I went into dry cleaning store number one on First Avenue and 67th Street.

“Good morning,” the woman behind the counter cheerfully said to me. “Can I help you?”

“Yes, could you please tell me how much it would cost to clean and press these dungarees that I am wearing?” I asked so innocently.

“Three dollars and fifty cents,” the shopkeeper replied, anxiously awaiting my decision.

“Oh, okay, maybe I’ll be back later,” I responded as I walked out the door, knowing very well that I had no intention of returning.

Still not feeling comfortable with my game plan, I went through my practice run at another place.

Then, after having swallowed my fourth and fifth Valium and Tylenol #4 with Codeine, and washing that down with yet another Heineken, my third of the morning (it was still only 8:25 AM), I conjured up enough courage and felt the time was right to go to work.

So I entered the next dry cleaning store that suited my needs. After asking my “how much” question, I allowed the woman behind the counter to start her answer before I began what later would be the biggest mistake of my thirty-six-year life to that point. She was Indian or Pakistani, just the kind of foreigner who would easily comply with my demands, I remember thinking at the time. As we made eye contact while she was telling me the price to clean and press my dungarees, I nonchalantly lifted up my shirt, thereby exposing the toy gun that was tucked neatly under my waistband, and calmly and methodically ordered, “Empty the money out of the cash register or I’ll blow your fucking brains out!”

I remembered the terror in her eyes later on while I was in my jail cell at the 17th Precinct, wondering how I could have done this to another human being, not once, but three times in all. This, after all, was the kind of thing that you only read about in newspapers or see on the news. But I was desperate. I was in debt to my bookie and was feeling nice from the pills and beer. Besides, I rationalized, I absolutely had no intentions of hurting anybody. Little did I realize at the time that the tables could have been turned, and I could have been blown away myself, with there being no repercussions at all to the store owner. However, my plan had worked like a charm, and I grabbed the loot off the counter and scurried outside to hail a cab.

I told the cabbie to drive straight down First Avenue and I’d let him know when to let me out. Being a neat freak, I began to straighten out the money, which I had balled up in my hand, and when it was finally arranged the way I liked it and safe in my pocket, I instructed the cab driver to pull over and let me out. “Two-seventy-five,” he said to me, as we approached the curb. “Here, keep the change,” I replied, as I handed him a five-dollar bill, feeling like a real big shot.

I got out of the cab and stood on the corner of First Avenue and 51st Street for a few minutes in order to psych myself up for my next robbery. Being intoxicated and high from the pills, I never stopped to think for a moment that the woman I just ripped off a few minutes earlier might have called the police, and that they were looking for me right now. I was only about fifteen blocks away from the first robbery, but we crooks are smarter than the cops anyway. We have to be!

I set my game plan into motion again, an exact replica of the first. And the results were the same as well. So I figured I’d try it one more time and that would be it. After all, I had to make sure that I got back home in time to study the baseball lines (odds) in the newspaper and call my bookmaker. Then I was going to take my radio and lie on the beach, it being a beautiful sunny day and all. You see, I was planning on making a whole day of it: the robberies in the morning, lying in the sun all afternoon, and then going over to O.T.B. that night to bet on the horses at Yonkers Raceway. This is what I had been doing pretty much every day (except for the robberies) since I was fired six months earlier for drinking on the job at Phoenix Communications (Major League Baseball Productions).

I continued to walk down First Avenue, this time oblivious to everything else around me, until I found another dry cleaning store that I felt could provide me with another success story. I stumbled (literally) onto a small mom-and-pop operation and went inside. There, I found the cutest little old Chinese man and woman going about their business, and by now, after having accomplished two robberies with relative ease, I felt like a seasoned pro on top of his game. So, again I went through my shtick of asking the price to clean and press my pants, but this time, I couldn’t wait. I immediately displayed the (toy) gun in my waistband and demanded the cash. Appearing frightened out of his wits, the elderly gentleman placed the cigar box he and his wife used as a cash register on top of the counter while his wife remained behind her husband for protection, and like a little kid rifling through the cookie jar, I grabbed its contents and fled.

Not knowing exactly how much money I had accumulated, I said to myself that three robberies were enough. But I wasn’t ready to head home just yet. Not until I had another beer or two. This was another of the many mistakes I made that day.

I began walking again until I came upon a little delicatessen that sold beer, not even grasping the fact that I had just committed three “armed” robberies, and that the police were probably hot on my trail at that very moment. But, hey, I earned this break for myself. I justified. I had just worked up quite a thirst, pulling off three robberies in the previous thirty minutes.

I went into the deli and grabbed an ice cold Heineken from out of the freezer and asked the owner what the price was, like any good Jew would have done. Then I walked out and proceeded to drink my beer as I leisurely strolled down the street. After downing it in no time flat and letting out a healthy belch, I remember saying to myself that one more cold one was in order before heading home. After all, my mission had been accomplished, and I was now hungry and tired. So I looked for another deli, all the while not caring one iota about the lowlife things I had just done to these innocent and hardworking shopkeepers.

It being Manhattan, there were many delis to choose from, and I decided to cut over to Second Avenue for a change of scenery. I found a store to my liking near the strip club Scores on 60th Street and took the Heineken out of the freezer and over to the counter. When the woman who worked there told me that I owed her two-seventy-five, I became enraged. “I just paid one-fifty two blocks away,” I shouted, as a small crowd began to form at the counter. After getting nowhere with my efforts at haggling, I paid her “extortion money” and walked out, slamming the door behind me.

I crossed the street and found a cozy corner in which to drink my beer before calling it a morning (it was still only nine-fifteen, and I wasn’t ready to “escape” into the subway system just yet). All of a sudden, from seemingly out of nowhere and coming from every direction, were the police. Before I knew what hit me, one cop tackled me hard to the sidewalk, knocking my bottle of beer high into the air; it came crashing down to the pavement.

“Where’s the gun?” the flatfoot demanded.

“What gun?” I asked, as he took the fake weapon from out of my pocket.

He then pulled me up off the ground and brought me over to one of the many squad cars that were now on the scene.

“We got him. We got Woody Allen,” the officer chirped as he handcuffed and handed me over to another of New York’s finest. “Don’t move an inch, you piece of shit,” the second officer ordered, as I finally realized the magnitude of what I had done, although still not believing that all of these cops had come just for little old me with the balding head and thick prescription eyeglasses.

After being positively identified right there in the street by my last victim, the elderly Chinese man, I was placed into the police car and taken over to the 17th Precinct, without even having had my rights read to me.

At the police station, I was immediately processed (photographed and fingerprinted), and then thrown into a filthy, stinking cell. Oh, yeah, and my money and pills were taken from me, presumably to be held as evidence.

“Now I’ve really done it,” I remember mumbling to myself, as the gravity of the entire situation began to completely sink in. Then, after lingering in my cell for over an hour, two sharply dressed detectives came to pay me a visit.

“How ya’ doing, Gary? I’m Detective Burns and this is my partner, Detective Foley,” the older of the two announced.

“Can I please have my medication back?” I asked. “I’m not feeling well, and my back hurts.” (I have scoliosis and a slipped disc, among other problems with my back, which is why I began taking these pills in the first place many years earlier.)

“We want to talk to you first,” Detective Foley responded, as he began to open up my cell.

I was then brought upstairs to the squad room and handed a cup of water as I took a seat in Detective Burns’ office. But my one free telephone call was still not forthcoming.

“You know, Gary, those were very nice people you robbed today,” Burns offered.

“Can I please have some of my medication back?” I tried again. “I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms and need some of my Valium and Tylenol #4 with Codeine because my back hurts.”

Although the Tylenol #4 with Codeine was indeed prescribed for my back pain by my personal physician, Dr. Gencer Filiz, and the Valium for my nerves, due to my anxiety, at this point in my life I was merely only taking these pills to get high because I was an addict.

“Gary, you tell us what happened, and we’ll give you back some of your medication,” Foley guaranteed.

“What happened?” I asked, as if I had no idea of what Burns and Foley were inquiring about.

“Look, Gary,” Burns said, “we were out there in our car and we saw you darting across First Avenue. You almost got yourself run over, you know. But we don’t want you…we want the bigger fish out there. You tell us what we want to hear, and then we’ll speak to the assistant district attorney, whom we are good friends with, and we promise that she will let you go home today and you won’t even be prosecuted.”

“Can I have some of my pills back first?” I bargained yet again. “I’m a drug addict and I need to take the edge off.”

Detective Foley removed three Tylenol #4 with Codeine and three Valium from my pill bottle, which he now had in his possession, and gave them to me. I quickly threw all six pills into my mouth and washed them down with a big gulp of water before Burns and Foley could change their minds.

“Now step up to the plate and be a man,” Burns implored of me, in a slight variation of the normal good cop/bad cop routine. “Tell me what happened from the very beginning.”

As I began spilling my guts, I noticed Burns was writing everything down like a secretary taking dictation from her boss. And whenever I got stuck or was unsure about some of the details of my crime, Burns didn’t hesitate to put his two cents in and volunteer information.

When my statement was complete, Foley told me to sign it at the bottom, and I complied, without hesitation. After all, he and Burns promised that I would be back home by the end of the day, and when you are as high and drunk as I was, you tend to believe the words of two experienced detectives. Another of my many mistakes on that fateful day.

But the deal wasn’t completed yet. Not by a longshot. I was then taken by another detective, Hackett, to the 19th Squad, where I was to give another statement, this one written by me. Detective Hackett, on the car ride over to the 19th Squad, told me that after I write this second statement, using my “own words,” I should add a paragraph or two explaining how sorry and remorseful I was for what I had done, and that he would see to it that I was placed into an inpatient drug treatment program to get the help I needed. That all sounded good to me, since I really did want to get my life straightened out once and for all, so I did exactly as he instructed.

In all honesty, and even looking back at it now, although he lied and set me up like the rest of them, Hackett really wasn’t a bad guy. He did feed me McDonald’s after I completed that second written statement, which was more than Burns, Foley, or anyone else did for me.

I still had one more confession to give, and it was a big one. Alan Daab, who was the arresting officer, then took me over to One Hogan Place, where Assistant District Attorney Lois Booker-Williams was waiting.

In the squad car, Daab said to me, “Gary Goldstein, what’s a nice Jewish guy like you committing robberies for?”

“I don’t know. I’m a drug addict and a gambler,” I answered, as if he even gave a damn. I then asked him if I could use the telephone to call Sportsphone when we arrived at our destination, because I needed to double check the scores of the previous night’s ballgames, and he very patronizingly said that I could.

The woman, who I was led to believe was eventually going to send me home as if nothing had ever happened, had Room 1209 all set up for me to give a videotaped confession.

By now, it was 1:15 PM, and I was no longer drunk or high, but very, very tired. I just wanted to get this whole thing over with, and presumably go home. So, after receiving my Miranda warnings for the very first time, I looked straight ahead (the camera was behind a one-way mirror) and, in essence, hung myself out to dry. When Lois Booker-Williams had what she needed, she stopped the tape and nodded at Daab.

“Let’s go, you piece of shit,” Daab ordered.

“What about that phone call I need to make?” I inquired.

“They’ll let you call after you’ve been processed at Central Booking,” Daab said.

“But Detectives Burns, Foley, and Hackett all told me that I would be going home after I confessed,” I insisted. “Can I talk to you, Ms. Booker-Williams?”

“I said let’s go, and I don’t want to hear another word out of your mouth until we get to Central Booking,” said Daab.

When we arrived at Central Booking, it finally began to sink in that I was tricked, manipulated, and used. After processing was completed, which included removing my shoelaces to prevent suicide, I was permitted to call my mother and father.

I told them everything that had happened, and that I was sorry. It was yet another case of my causing my parents so much unnecessary pain and aggravation. After telling them that I would call again the next day, when I knew more of what was going on, I curled up like a fetus, and went to sleep on my part of the bench in the cell that I had to share with eleven other guys.

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Recovery Is Freedom!

Me In Albany 2 For Recovery Rally On Sunday Sept 29 2013

My name is Gary Goldstein, author of “Jew in Jail,” as well as blogger, and motivational & inspirational speaker.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I am an addict in long-term recovery, approaching six years and four months clean.

It took a lot of pain and suffering – both that I experienced myself and caused others – to finally get me to change my ways.

But once I finally decided to seek recovery from alcohol, drugs and gambling on October 31, 2007, my life has continued to get immeasurably better.

I know I have a disease, and that there is no cure, so I must remain vigilant every single day of my life and make sure to never get overconfident or complacent, because that is an easy way to relapse.

I am also extremely aware that this disease doesn’t discriminate, and whether you are a college graduate, like I am, or a homeless person sleeping in the subway, addiction will destroy your life the same way regardless.

So, how does one rationalize it when a person who seemingly has it all – most recently, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman – succumbs to this disease by way of an overdose?

Well, I am certainly not a doctor, but just a guy from Brooklyn, New York, who has seen a lot in his 52 plus years on this planet, and, for me, at least, it all comes down to self-esteem and self-confidence.

Even though I was an A student, who went on to earn a college degree in journalism and then worked for many prestigious companies in the media industry, it wasn’t until 1998 – the year I got arrested for robbery, due to my past addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling, and was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison – that I finally decided to spend time being introspective and come to terms with why I was drinking, using drugs and gambling.

I simply wasn’t happy who I was, or, as many people call it, “comfortable in my own skin.”

Knowing I wasn’t going anywhere until 2004 at the earliest, barring a successful criminal appeal, (which was not meant to be, and I served just under six years), I decided to put my thoughts down on paper, and wrote Jew in Jail.

http://www.jewinjail.com/

The therapeutic value was something I had no idea would end up being so priceless to this day, as it was the impetus for all of the good things that have happened since my release from prison.

I am now the president of the alumni committee at the Coney Island Hospital Chemical Dependency Program, and am also on several committees with the New York State Office Of Alcoholism And Substance Abuse Services.

I have returned to Rikers Island to speak to the detainees there and help spread the message of recovery, and since I didn’t have a number on my shirt this time around, I was treated much better by the staff!

By being connected to OASAS, doors have opened, including getting invited to travel the country to attend National Recovery Day, as well as speaking to prisoners at other correctional facilities too.

The bottom line, in my recovery and from what I have learned by speaking and attending Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous meetings, is that the only way to remain clean is by sharing the message of recovery and hope with others.

Keeping things bottled up inside for so long, thinking that my problems were unique to me, was a huge mistake.

I have so much gratitude for where I am in my life now, and owe it all to not only the great people I have met along the way, but to my own determination and desire to finally change and stop beating myself up about my past.

As for addicts like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith, Whitney Houston, and all of the others who have perished too soon, it just goes to show that being a wealthy celebrity is no guarantee for happiness.

We are all humans, with feelings, emotions, desires and needs.

Being labeled a recovering addict doesn’t bother me one bit.

Life is way too short to care what others think of me.

If you are a recovering addict, I hope you realize the great decision you made to seek treatment.

If you are still “out there” dealing with the insanity that comes with using, please consider going to a meeting or, at the very least, picking up a phone to call someone and ask for help.

You are worth it, and a role model waiting to blossom.

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Enough Already!

Overdose

I am always sad to learn of a fellow addict’s death, but am also always upset that it takes it happening to someone famous for the media to again take notice and devote time to this disease.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an overdose on the floor of his bathroom this past Sunday, February 2nd in Manhattan’s West Village, and now, once again, the media is giving airtime to this deadly disease and putting it in the spotlight.

My question is, what about all of the others out there who are succumbing to alcohol and drugs on a daily basis, but because they are not movie stars, singers, or notable athletes, we, as a society, never hear about their passing?

Do they not have families, friends and loved ones they leave behind, just as those who are well-known do?

I understand the way the media operates, having been employed in the industry myself for many years.

I also don’t mean to come off as being unsympathetic to the Hoffman tragedy, but just wish the media would cover and report on addiction more than just on the occasion of someone famous losing their battle to this terrible disease.

If change – real change – is ever going to occur to educate and inform people of the perils of alcohol and drug use, then the media, and each and every one of us in general, simply have to do our parts on a daily basis to keep this disease in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

For, if we don’t, it will sadly be just a matter of time until the next “Philip Seymour Hoffman” makes headlines again for the wrong reason.

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S L O W Down And Enjoy Life!

Texting With Head Down

If you are like millions of people – as I am – then you spend many, many hours on the internet, either related to what you do for a living, or just in a recreational way.

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are just a few of the popular websites so many of us gravitate to on a daily basis, but, of course, there are dozens more out there to keep us busy.

Why, you may be asking yourself, am I even bringing this up in the first place?

My response is that, with each passing year, the amount of free time we all have for ourselves to accomplish and enjoy such important activities as exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and spending quality time with family and friends has consistently been dwindling.

Chasing the almighty dollar has become so widespread, especially in such a competitive country as America is, that greed and selfishness are at an all-time high.

I am not trying to imply that working hard to support oneself and family is any less important now than it was at any other time in the past, but am just amazed at how some people have become so ruthless that they lose focus on what’s really important.

At least once a week I am forced to avoid someone who is walking down the street, head down, texting or talking into their smartphone (ironic name, isn’t it?!) or other gadget, coming straight in my direction as if they are the only person on the face of the planet.

My point is, what’s the use of working so hard and becoming so competitive, that it takes away from what is really important in life?

After all, if one doesn’t have their health, then all of the money and material things one possesses in the world will not matter, nor buy true happiness.

Just something to think about for a while.

Or at least until my next blog post!

If you haven’t read my book, “Jew in Jail” yet, I hope you do.

It is chock full of insightful information on how I was able to recover from my past addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling while incarcerated, and go on to lead a happy and healthful life myself.

http://www.jewinjail.com/

If you or anyone you know is in need of a motivational and inspirational speaker, I sure hope you tell them about me!

In addition, I also always welcome comments from you, my readers, about my blog, book or website, because receiving feedback from you is what drives me to be my best and help others.

Until next time, everyone, have a great day, and week ahead!

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Resolve To Succeed!

New Year's Resolutions2

We are now two weeks into 2014, and it is a good time to gauge where you are, as far as new year’s resolutions are concerned.

Millions of people vow to start each year by working out, eating healthy, quitting smoking, etc., but the majority give up on those commitments.

Why is this so?

Well, I am certainly no expert, but can only speak for myself.

First of all, I don’t even make any new year’s resolutions, because, quite frankly, I live the way I want to all throughout the year, and, therefore, don’t need to start doing anything from scratch from day one.

That is not to say that I have my “house in order” completely, but do by best to live the right way on a daily basis.

Perhaps it is because I spent nearly six years behind bars from 1998 to 2004, and do not want to chance returning to the negative lifestyle that I was involved in for so long back then, and now always maintain my focus on my top priorities in life.

Exercising, healthy eating, waking up with a smile on my face, and being grateful for where I am now in my life, are just a few of the constants that continue to keep me grounded and content these days.

Writing this blog, maintaining my sobriety, and delivering motivational & inspirational speeches to help others in their recovery, or anyone not living up to their full potential, are things I began doing once I came home from prison, and have truly become almost as important to me as breathing, since they are my personal ingredients for a happy, productive life.

Now, back to you, my readers.

For those of you who have made new year’s resolutions, and are now having a tough time keeping them, here’s some advice from me.

You might want to start off slow, rather than bite off more than you could chew.

For exercise, try walking a block every day for a week, and then each time after that, increase your distance by small increments until you arrive at a satisfying mark. If you feel that your stamina has built up to a good level, then by all means begin jogging.

As far as eating healthy, start your day off with a nutritious breakfast that will keep you full and energized until lunchtime.

Consuming a lunch that is high in protein will insure that you won’t get hungry and have to grab that unhealthy candy bar at around 2:00 in the afternoon.

For dinner, have a sensible meal that will carry you over to breakfast the following morning, including vegetables and a piece of fruit as a snack.

I find that drinking water all throughout the day not only keeps me away from binging on chocolate and chips, but also does wonders for the skin.

If you are a smoker – and I hope you are not – then quitting this nasty habit could very well be the toughest task of your entire life.

However, like anything and everything else, you have the power and the choice to accomplish this!

You weren’t born to lag behind anyone else in the world.

You are a winner and role model to others.

So, start to shine like the star you are!

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