‘Answering the Call” By: Kristie Stutler

Hey Y’all! Kristie is a friend of mine who inquired about guest blogging. She works with at risk youth, and I think thats pretty awesome being that the children she works with daily are just like I was as a child. I hope that y’all enjoy her words as much as I did!



‘Answering the Call’ By: Kristie Stutler

Before the day I walked through those doors, the only experience I had working with kids was parenting my own children who were 10 and 8.  Oh yes, and coaching Pee-Wee Cheerleaders.  So, working with severely emotionally disturbed boys who had been removed from their homes for abuse and neglect, was not something I knew I could do.  It wasn’t even something I wanted to do.

What happens to kids who are removed from their homes by Child Protective Services who have no family willing to take them in?  What happens to kids who hit, bite, spit, cuss, refuse to follow rules, and throw things at others?  What happens to kids who are adopted and then returned like animals to the shelter when their behavior becomes too difficult to manage?. I guess if I ever thought of it before, I would have assumed there was some magical place they went when they couldn’t stay where they were.  Kind of like the fictional farm we tell children we are sending pets to when they die.  (If there is a child reading this, that farm is totally real.  That IS where your pet went.) I guess, truth be told, like most everyone else, I never considered it enough before to worry about where they went.

That was long ago, before I walked through those doors.

I learned in my interview that this facility served boys, adolescents, who had severe behavior problems.  I learned that they lived there all the time in kind of dorm like settings. I learned that I would be trained in behavior management.  I learned that I would be trained to physically restrain them when they got out of control.  It did not escape me that my interviewer said WHEN they got out of control not IF they got out of control.  Wow, I remember thinking, I am not sure I can do this.

After I passed the initial “sizing up” session, the man who did my interview walked me through one of the “units” where the boys lived.  I say “sizing up” session because I truly believe that is what it was.  He was telling me all of these bad things to see if I thought I could handle it.  I wasn’t sure I could but I would never tell him that.

When you see a padded room with a large latch on the exterior for the first time, the image stays with you for awhile.  This room was used for boys who got so out of control that they weren’t safe to be around others.  It scared me.  The sight of it was enough to run me off.  I wasn’t sure I could handle this challenge, but I needed a job.  No harm accepting it until I found something else.

I walked in nervous the first day with the boys.  All of the boys who I was assigned to work with were much larger than me.  I’m sassy so I could easily overcome the size difference but these boys were sad.  As bad as their behavior was, their stories were ten times sadder.  Stories of being hit, abandoned, not fed, and worst of all “returned to the state.”   I learned that people could do that if the kid they adopted was too much for them to handle.   My interviewer failed to tell me that I would hear all these sad stories.  I left work that day doubting I could do the work.  I would repeat that experience numerous times during the first three months.  I would come in with enough hope to share and leave drained of every drop.  Despite my growing attachment to the boys, I had made up my mind that I needed to find something else.  This work was too heartbreaking for me to do.

I don’t remember how many days I repeated that ritual.  I do remember that this eleven year old boy had gotten kicked out of the on campus school.  He was yelling and cussing, threatening to hurt others.   He was larger than me by at least 5 inches and outweighed me by 50 pounds.  I took him to the padded room so he could calm down. Instead of calming down, he began jumping up and down screaming at the top of his lungs.  He was angry at the teacher and was clearly shouting words, but because he was jumping up and down, the words were less than clear.  I watched him for a few minutes wondering what the best possible intervention for this behavior was.  They failed to discuss this in behavior management training or even in all of those psychology classes I took in college.  I approached him and he began yelling louder.  At a loss, I joined him.  I began jumping up and down, making crazy noises back at him.  He stopped and stood still, staring at me like I had gone mad. I continued.  I began yelling words at him the way he had done at me.  Call it desperation.  Call it crazy.  I had a point to prove.

He looked at me quizzically and said “I can’t understand you.”

I stopped and stared at him the way I would my own children to let them know I was disapproving of their behavior.  “Right,” I said, “Just like I can’t understand you.  If you want people to listen, then you sit down and talk, you don’t yell at them like a crazy person.”

He laughed at me and sat down on the floor.  I joined him.

For the first time since I walked through those doors, I thought, perhaps, I CAN do this.

Somewhere along the way, CAN turned to MUST.

Fifteen years and thousands of boys after that first day, I got a call.

I picked up.

The voice on the other end of the phone said, “You have stories to tell.”

The voice wasn’t wrong.

We all have stories.

And we shouldn’t be afraid to jump up and down to get people to hear them.



Posted 9 months ago


Guest Blog (Internal Champion: By Will Allen)

What’s up guys! It’s always fun to break it up sometimes and have a guest blogger. Will Allen is a good friend of mine. I played with Will for 2 years while with the Steelers. He played at Ohio State, and is an all around good dude. He’s managed to stick around and play in the NFL for a decade, and that is not easy at all. Even the best players that are extremely lucky don’t achieve that. That’s just a quick little introduction. The other day while he and I were hanging out we got to talking, and I suggested he should guest blog for me at some point. He took me up on the offer, and I really dig what he had to say and I think y’all will as well.  






The Internal Champion: By Will Allen


Often in deep contemplation or in simple conversation pondering the thought of the significance of panic and fearfulness in adverse times, when confronted in time of panic, confusion, stagnation and fear what will one do?


Many cave into the circumstance.

Many succumb to the experiences crippling effect.

Some fall short on a consistent basis.


In attempt to save face or embarrassment one will experiment almost anything in order not look at adversity as it stands. Think of situations in time when these moments occurred. What were the responses or reactions? How did the adversity affect you? How did the adversity affect those impacted by your decision?


I apologize if I’m too serious but its important that we thoroughly understand that in moments of panic, confusion and fear that an appropriate response is crucial.


The response of the ‘Internal Champion’.


So what is the Internal Champion?


The Internal Champion is not some gung-ho, rah-rah cheerleader type.


It is the type of person that when challenged, tried and tested, embraces it and knows how to make a wise yet timely decision. When on the fringe of destruction and destiny the Champion doesn’t think of failure. The Champion carries out all duties to the very best capabilities.


From an unselfish place that the Champion flourishes.


The result of the adversity is to make you and others around you complete. Internal Champions understand that the measure of the circumstance merely is to make them more equipped for the next challenge. You see, it is a perspective on how we view the adversity. Is the adversity an atrocity or does it stimulate the inner Champion?


Adversity is a sneaky beast that comes at the most inopportune times in different forms. It is inevitably around us.

Recognize the beast!

Don’t be dismayed by its appearance or structure. Know that this beast is there; to tame is the only remedy.

Are you to jump over a building in a single bound, dodge bullets, or be the leader of your neighborhood crime watch?

Of course not.

The task of becoming an Internal Champion simply requires that you derive from the moments in which you have only experienced and how you’ve handled them. Learn from the experiences. Learn your behaviors and reactions. Take an honest note and inventory.

Now envision yourself responding like a Champion.

Whatever the internal or external battle may be, do the very opposite you have done your entire life. The results are astounding. This is the development of your Internal Champion. It takes faith of the unseen and courage to discover that you are capable, one step at time, one adversity at time, one decision at time to respond knowing that confusion, panic and adversity are in place to pull out the Internal Champion.


Posted 9 months ago


Diary 63 (12 Hours part 2)

So what is 12 hours?

Ticks on a clock?

A really good night of sleep?

Yes, it is all of those things and so much more. When I started painting, the idea of someone owning or purchasing my art always kind of aggravated me.

“I like that painting. Can I buy it?”


A few years back I would get the question quite frequently, and it always resurrected the same ghoulish feeling. A feeling that I can’t quite describe but could possibly be a long lost cousin of stinginess.

This feeling has razor sharp claws and the demeanor of a fat mean cat. The fat cats that only let their owners pet them, and as soon as another hand comes… you guys know what happens.



Like a dadgum ninja.

The fat cat strikes and then immediately goes back to comfortably purring in its owners lap.


And as much as I dislike cats, I guess I’m not so much different when I feel my time being infringed upon.


But what I have realized is that I am doing it all wrong. I always say that being an artist is special because each day I get to create something that will outlive me. It’s a great feeling. But I have been too focused on the actual painting that I will leave. My art is more than just paint and canvas. That’s what makes art, well…art.


Because art is time.

And time fills the treasury.

It is someone’s existence wrapped and packaged for purchase in the form of something tangible.


And Scrooge McDuck doesn’t like his pile of time being fooled with. Each and every coin matters, because it is his.


Recently, someone inquired about a commissioned piece of artwork that they wanted done. I told them the price, to which they replied, “That is a lot of money for a canvas and 12 hours of time.”


And then it happened. Like the Snickers commercials where the guys turn into divas. I transformed into a fat cat, then hissed and swiped.


“Ma’am you aren’t just buying art. You are paying for the years I spent to learn and acquire my skills, to learn how to create the product that you want. You are paying for my ideas. You are paying for a part of my existence. My art is part of my existence in the form of a clock that resets each time you, or anyone else, looks at it or enjoys it.”


That was the thought that shot through my mind. And it got me thinking.


Why am I so stingy with my time?


Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being selective over your time.


But if I want to truly leave my best here when I am gone, I have to give. My art is my time. But, in a way, the minute someone purchases it or I price it, it is no longer as valuable to me.


For the consumer, art only appreciates with time.

For the artist, it deprecates the instant they put a price on it.

Because their art is their time.

And time is priceless.


That is why time fills the treasury.

And I want to leave my best.

So my best has to be for free.

It has to be given.


Because only the best things you have, will you ever view as priceless.


This is why I feel most fulfilled when volunteering my time. In that moment, I am giving my time away in its purest form, I am giving the best I can offer in the only way it can ever be given.




So back to 12 hours. It is so much more than just 12 hours when given for free.


It is a memory. It is a feeling. It is a legacy. It is a hot meal for someone less fortunate. It is helping pick up trash. It is giving someone a ride who doesn’t have a car. It is going to a nursing home to converse with the elderly just because. It is giving away your most valuable skills because they are yours to give.


Simply because you can. And that’s it.


Within your most valuable skills, lies your Treasury.


And that is what must be emptied to leave anything worthwhile. Because everything else will fade away. But the contents that once filled a now empty Treasury will always help people realize that they too have one. And when the time comes, it will prompt them to empty theirs as well.


And that is lasting.


Spend 12 hours. It is 43,200 clicks on a clock. It is waiting in traffic. It is heating up a TV dinner. It is boring. It is mundane. It fades.


But give 12 hours, and part of you will get to live forever.


The simplest concepts are often the most ironic.


If time fills the treasury, then the richest of us all have nothing. And the bum on the street with an empty vault is King.


For 2014 I wanted to challenge myself. Well, let me rephrase that. I have been convicted of the very thing I just explained, and have decided to act on it.


So I am giving away 12 hours.


Once a month for the entire year, I am going to give away a piece of art that I spend exactly one hour on. I’m giving it away randomly and completely free of charge. There is no rhyme or reason. It is simply me giving my best.


My challenge to all of you that read this is to find a way to give 12 hours.


12 precious and priceless hours of existence.


The series of art I will be doing is simply called 12 hours. The paintings are not planned. I don’t have any idea what I will paint. I’ll just sit down and make the very best art that I can in 1 hour, and then give that away for free.


Doesn’t the phrase, “Always give your best” mean something entirely different now?


I’ve been trying to “spend my best,” and vintage bubble gum machines don’t take debit.





Posted 9 months ago


Diary 62 (12 Hours)

How long is 12 hours?

Simply 43,200 seconds.

It is measured in Time.

But what is that?

Something that, at some point, we have all claimed we didn’t have enough of?

Possibly something that we are all protective over?

The currency that we spend to buy meaningful stock in life?

So maybe 12 hours is much more than 12 hours.

Maybe it is much more than 43,200 ticks of a second hand.

It is much more.

It is a moment on the hand of a clock, a kiss, the turning of a book page, a blink of an eye, the space between a hummingbirds wings, the ripening of an orange or falling leaves, it is life and it is death, a scheduled UPS mail delivery, a little digital number showing when a Facebook post was created, the click to hit enter on a keyboard, the slightest twitches in your eyes as you read these words, and the electrical synaptic flicker that allowed your brain to process what that even means.

Forever in a lightning bolt.

Eternity hidden in hummingbird wings.

The Sun burning within our chests.

The birth of a million stars, within a million heartbeats.

And all at once.


It is much more than a number.

The most important things always are.

I guess it’s easy to give something away freely when it isn’t what’s most important to you. It’s easy to dump stock that you have invested little to nothing in, and yields small returns.

It’s easy to give away used socks, and throw a handful of change into a rusty can.

It’s easy to write a check.

Now don’t get me wrong, none of those things are bad. They aren’t bad at all.

… but…

They are easy.

And as long as the Treasury is safe, they will always be that way.


But even ‘Easy’ is bound by Time.

It is the lack of Time used to attain something to which we give value.

‘Easy’ is a salvaged ship with no sails, acquired for free. Steered but never moving, by a lazy captain who barks orders to his crew of ghosts that have yet to realize their Life walked the plank years before.

And with It, their Purpose submerged into the dark water. Left to drown, crying out like sirens to the sailors above, as water rushes into their tired lungs.

‘Easy’ is a doomed ship. It is the mirage of movement and the illusion of progress.

But hard things are good things.

Things that bring you to the gate of Selfishness, where a decision must be made.

Because hard things take Time.

And Time is Value.

Difficulty is the doorbell to the Treasury. It alerts the priceless Time within when something of value may be worth giving itself away to. Something worth leaving the Treasury for.

Time sees value in difficulty, and acknowledgment through Selfishness.

Because without our own selfishness, we could never use any of our Time.

And whenever Time leaves the treasury, it has to acknowledge the Gatekeeper.

And this Gatekeeper has a name. We have all met him.

We know him as Selfish, the Gatekeeper between the Treasury and what we perceive as Time.

He is neither good nor bad, but simply necessary.

He has a job and does it well.

He is the thought of, ‘should I?’ He inhales the air of, ‘this is mine,’ and exhales the breath of, ‘is this a good investment?’ His heartbeat thumps to the rhythm of the 5 words.

“What. Is. Worth. My. Time.”

He is the thin veil that all of our thoughts pass through.

He is the spark of thought that nods adieu to our most valuable asset as it leaves the treasury, becoming something that we can understand, weigh, number and value.


But Time is not a currency.

Time can only be given. Not spent.

A billionaire could fill a collection plate with hundred dollar bills, but would not be so inclined to open his Treasury and give One Hour.

He could buy his family the biggest house, best clothes and vehicles.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But that’s easy.

And the best of what he has to offer is not.

Would the Billionaire open the Treasury and allow One Hour to humbly leave, holding its briefcase and acknowledging the Treasury’s Selfish Gatekeeper with a nod while proceeding to his daughter’s recital?

Maybe. But maybe not.

If it helps to think of time as currency, then imagine Time as the only currency that makes its own decision as to what it should be spent on, how long it stays in the Treasury, when it wants to leave, and what is worth leaving for.

The Treasury door unlocks from the inside, and Time holds the keys.

Time leaves the Treasury freely, and at its own discretion.

Passing the Selfish Gatekeeper, who nods in acknowledgement as it transforms into terms that we understand. Terms of hours, days, and years. Terms that we can measure and time. Currency that we think we can spend.

But we can’t. We simply cannot spend Time.

Because trying to is most certainly a dangerous mirage.

The instant we believe we are spending Time like currency, our ship loses its sails, while raising the flag that the fleet of ‘Easy’ flies. A fleet that believes it is guarding something valuable.

Trying to spend time makes the Priceless meaningless.

Giving Time freely however, makes the Priceless live forever.

Because Time is value.

And that is why it is the hardest thing to give away for free. But freely is the only way it can be spent.

And that is why Time fills the Treasury.

It comes in the form of coins that are neither gold nor platinum. Diamonds, rubies and emeralds cannot compare.

Money fills the banks.

But Time fills the treasury.

Filled with coins that cannot be weighed on any earthly scale, and so beautiful that they shouldn’t have a value.

Because a value does not deserve to be tied to it.

It is above that.

If Priceless had a face, it surely would be stamped onto the currency of Time that fills the Treasury.

Where Priceless is the President, and in his wallet he holds his currency of no value.


Currency stamped with his image.

Currency that we are unable to spend.

Only give.

And I have been Scrooge McDuck.


Come back to read more






Posted 9 months ago