Have you ever used a GPS device to navigate from point A to point B?  At the beginning of your trip you plug in the desired destination and “voila” up pops the best route and estimated driving tine.  Now you’re in the car and the GPS’s synthetic woman’s voice is guiding your every turn and you soon merge onto the highway.  As you near your destination the now familiar, albeit annoying voice instructs you to “take the next exit on the right,” you approach the exit and start to notice orange construction signs and barricades.  Your exit is closed due to construction. “What the?”  “Oh no!”  “This can’t be!”  By now your heart rate and blood pressure rise collectively. The GPS voice starts barking out commands in a tone reminiscent of a marine drill sergeant. “Turn right!” “Exit on the right!” “Turn right NOW!”

You are obviously forced to disobey these direct orders and continue past the planned exit at freeway speed.  “This isn’t part of the plan,” you say to yourself, “Now what?” The voices in your head are manifesting into spoken words, some only single syllables with just one vowel.

Just then you hear the familiar and now NOT so annoying GPS voice calmly announce, “Recalculating Route to Destination,” you breath deep and your grip loosens on the steering wheel while simultaneously your external voice is again silent and your minds voice says “Okay, I can do this, it’s all going to work out.”

We all have road maps for our lives, a destination of sorts, in the where and what we want to be, do and have by a given time.

“In 5 years I want to……….”

“In 10 years I would like to be………”

“When I retire I am going to……….”

However the path between where we are now and what we think is our destination is not a straight-line and is most definitely under construction. There are road signs down, exits closed, detours, and potholes, lots and lots of potholes.Sometimes we are forced to “recalculate our route.”  We may even be forced to take an unplanned exit that just may lead us to a place we never knew existed.  I am now, more than ever, convinced we are always being tested, not necessarily on our knowledge or ability to navigate from point A to point B as quickly as possible.  But rather how we handle the unexpected detours and rough roads, and perhaps whether or not we can recognize that being re-routed to an unknown place may in fact become our true destination.

Having been a pilot my entire adult life I have planned long flights on numerous occasions.  Always checking the enroute weather to determine the most suitable direction.  One thing a pilot cannot really predict is turbulence. Yes, it may be reported in the weather report but you cannot see it like other weather patterns. Every pilot strives to make the takeoff and certainly the landings as smooth as possible, however there are bound to be bumps along the way. It is not the turbulence that defines the safety of the flight but how the pilot reacts to its effects.

Before coming to prison my family and I would enjoy watching those home renovation shows on television.  You know the ones where somebody buys a “fixer upper” and plans on minimal renovations and maximum profits.  Install some new carpet,give it a little fresh paint and it’s the neighborhood showpiece that buyers will fight over, NOT!

How boring would that be? What makes the show so entertaining is that behind every wall, and under every roof shingle there is another disaster. It’s the unknown and how they deal with it that makes the show real. You appreciate the result even more knowing all of the troubles and headaches the owner has gone through.

Coming to prison was not on my life’s itinerary.  It has been determined that my life needs a renovation and my contractor just told me there are termites, asbestos, lead paint, a leaky roof, and an addition (in the form of 30 extra pounds) that was installed without a permit.

It’s going to take some time and lots of love and support from family and friends but the reveal will be worth it.

I am “recalculating my route. This journey will undoubtedly take me toplaces I have never been and I just might learn that what I thought was my originally planned destination is not where I was meant to go after all. There is still turbulence and stormy weather ahead, but I know I can “stick” the landing.

It is never too late to start preparing…Download Lessons From Prison Now to discover what is truly possible in federal prison.

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