” Success is how you you deal with failure and  a willingness to rise above everything” -this quote was said by me in an interview with  a magazine in Okinawa who graciously printed several of my poems. I would also add it is important to surround yourself with people who encourage and enjoy your  work. Every so often, if you are doing something wrong or need constructive feedback, they can give an honest opinion and you can learn from your mistakes. In the past thirty years, I have had music reviews published in my high school newspaper and that high school newspaper won an award for being the best newspaper in the Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach area.  When I graduated high school and moved to Okinawa, I had poems published in a weekly magazine and won an award for being the best associate with a disabillity for the Army and Air Force Exchange for the Pacific region which included Guam, Japan, South Korea and the Phillippines. I worked in music retail.  The Army and Air Force exchange is like a retail store for military personnel and their families.  When I moved from Okinawa, to Beaufort, South Carolina-I had poems published in an anthology. The anthology had a very positive review in the local newspaper. It is now out of print but a copy is in a college library.  Inspired by my elementary school librarian, I started volunteering at a church library in Beaufort. This led to a job at the Beaufort county library where I worked for six years until I moved to Greenville, South Carolina and worked in the Greenville county library until 2007. By the way, I have several collections of poetry in the Beaufort and Greenville county libraries. In 2005. an entertainment magazine of the Greenville News published an article of songs that I  would like to hear on my playlist. What is remarkable is that this was an unsolicited submission. My playlist included songs by Sonny Sharrock,Eddie& The Hot Rods,  Van Der Graaf Generator,Smokey Robinson& The Miracles,The Saints, The Mockers, The Lazy Cowgirls , Jenny Burton, Cactus, The Flamin’ Groovies , Thin Lizzy and Robert Gordon. Some of the groups may have been unknown to the readers of the newspaper. Also, I was the first of the four sons to buy a home and the only one to not graduate from college. I bought my first home in Beaufort , SC in 1997. Six years later through a miracle of God, it sold for almost double the value, I attended church regularly after that. When I moved to Greenville, I bought a second home where my personal belongings are safe. I make sure to lock the doors.  When I attended St. Matthew United Methodist Church, the music director of the worship band asked to me write a lyric  for a worship song. It took me about  thirteen minutes to write the lyric. Later, he recorded the song at worship and at a studio with his father who is a member of the Country music hall of fame. Years later, I wrote a review about a band from Australia . The singer of the band  read the review and liked what I wrote. I sent the singer a message and told him I wrote lyrics. Two hours later after sending him the message, he sent me a finished song with my lyrics that I enjoy and treasure. Now I would like to go back to Norfolk because this is where the turnaround began.  When I arrived in Norfolk, Virginia -I was determined to improve my grades and become a better person. I wrote a list of rules for myself and followed them-one of my rules was to be mentally and physically healthy. I began working out at a nearby gym and playing basketball. I learned an important life lesson.  Whenever I would try to put the ball into the basketball  net, I would always go to the furthest spot from the net. Then, I would attempt to put the ball into the basketball net and always miss. One day, a man gave me some great advice, move closer to the net and you will be more likely to put the ball into the net. I took his advice and was more successful in putting the ball into the basketball net.  The same advice could be used for setting goals.  Sometimes, we set a goal that is hard to achieve and we fail so we give up. It’s like expecting a toddler to run a marathon when the toddler is learning to crawl.  Be happy that the toddler can crawl and has encouragement to walk.  When you have a goal, start small, before you are going to be published, you will have to learn to write. It might take days,  months or years. Find people who share a similar interest in music or writing and are genuinely interested in being a friend. Read various authors and listen to different kinds of music,  I was lucky to have a subscription to Twilight Zone magazine and be introduced to authors of great stories. Stories that stirred the imagination, kept you entertained, made you think, made you laugh and made you weep. I had so many teachers at Maury High School who encouraged me and gave me constructive positive feedback. Some have passed away and some are my friends today. I was lucky to go to record stores in Norfolk like Skinnie’s and Offbeat who introduced me to different music.  I met people who enjoyed my poetry. I had poems published in the literary magazine of Maury Hgh School and I was an assistant editor of the Maury High School literary magazine called The Cache. Today, I have friends from different countries and walks of life who have inspired me with their creativity and willingness to listen, people from as far away as Australia. India, The Netherlands, England,  Canada, Colombia and various parts of the United States.  An example is a singer and band in Burbank that took the time to talk to me and enjoy my sense of humor. Without expecting it , they gave me a handwritten set list of songs that were played so I can  remember the songs and have a great memory.  Another example is communicating with a songwriter  I admire and respect, taking a chance and giving him my address. Without expecting it, I received  signed  posters from the songwriter thanking me for my support. Success is how you deal with failure and a willingness to have patience and perseverance to find a  way to achieve realistic goals. Encouragement and hope is all around me and you. It begins with me. It begins with you.