This I believe, that ones destiny in life is a personal responsibility. I not only believe this and, but I live it each day. It is at the core of my beliefs.
I attribute much of this belief to my parents, who instilled strong morals and values in myself, and my family. I come from a large family of six sisters and two brothers. We lived in center-city Toledo, or “The Badlands”. It is a very high crime and impoverished area. It is not a diverse area and I understand racism from a different point of view. We had moved there well before my birth, and the neighborhood changed thereafter. My father had bought the house from my grandparents and pride sake kept us in this danger zone, until my senior year in high school. Danger and violence was a part of life. It was as common as breathing. I fought through this violence and witnessed, in so many different ways, man’s inhumanity to man. It did not harden you, for you were already hardened because it was…simply, life as you knew it and survival was the normal fight. I was not prejudiced, for the ignorance and hatred I saw had no color. We could have become the streets, but we did not. These times were difficult, but we persevered. When I was four my mother contracted Tuberculosis. My younger sister and I were removed from our home and had to live with relatives for a year. My dad lost his job and his health, both physical and mental. My family was destitute. My mother recovered and returned back home, as my sister and I did as well. She returned to work, as a nurse. My father never did. We survived solely on her income. They were committed to our quality education and sent all of us through catholic elementary and high school. My parents never, not one day, regretted their choice to have a large family or the sacrifices they made for their children. What we did not have financially we made up for in the strength of our love for each other. Their example taught their children well.
My parents laid the foundations of character, integrity, morality and honor. All of my family carries these same values and we have excelled throughout our lives, with much adversity along the way. They taught us that you are responsible for what you become. The adversity only made you stronger. You are solely responsible for your actions. How you respond to the good and the bad things that happen in life is also your responsibility. Life has its ups and down and I have had my share of both. You have a choice when things are tough. You can either wallow in self-pity or you can pick yourself up and drive forward. There are setbacks in life and how we deal with them is the true measure of who we are. It’s my life; it’s my responsibility. This I believe.