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“For the rest of my life I will never forget the day Rob told me he had
30 days sober”
30 days sober”
Nothing is more inspiring to me than hearing from someone close that saw you at your deepest and darkest moments – as they speak proudly of your achievements. Today, I share with you a video that elicits in me the kind of pride I want my children to experience someday. My stepfather speaks about some of the experiences that led to my book 180 Degrees.
He says, “It is easy judging situations from the outside looking in.
However its accuracy oftentimes leaves a lot to be desired.
Being a part of an actual situation not only gives validity and authenticity but grants you a license to describe and communicate with total clarity and realism.”
The man that once threw me out of the home he and my mother shared, now stands up and confidently declares that all the things you read in my book are entirely true. His testament to those tough times makes it even more real for me, now – so many years later – as life’s journey continues on.
If not anything else, the one message I hope you can take away from this profoundly heartening note recorded by him, is when my stepfather mentions the opportunity we all have to make a difference in someone’s life.
Believe me when I tell you that all it takes is just one inclination. One small spark that needs to be set off in the minds of those that see nothing but darkness and despair, feeling as if they have nowhere else to turn. There are myriad addictions that face countless people in this world and if my book can save just one – only one person – from their plight, I will sleep more peacefully and rest more contentedly for the rest of my life.
The things that were said in the video about “spiraling downward” and the “free fall of addictions, dealings, homelessness, threats…” are all very much real and a part of a dark reality that only changed once someone showed me that there is light amidst the pain.
Share my story with anyone and everyone you know that is facing the same kind of strife and struggle that I did so many years ago – and if they end up changing their lives as my stepdad so proudly talks about my life changing, you will have just saved a life. THAT is the true hope that addictions can miraculously be overcome.
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Nothing makes me more proud than to be able to sit with my head held high, knowing that I am living to the best of my abilities. Now, this may sound a bit “standoffish” to some of you but if you know anything about me (and chances are you do if you’ve read my book or have started reading it) I say this with all sincerity. To be able to live life to the fullest, wake up each day, embrace what is yet to come, feel empowered by what has already transpired and be wholly satisfied within each present moment – THAT is a feeling to be felt!
So as I was recording this video while reclining on the beach in Fiji, it occurred to me that one should enjoy the fruits of their labors. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, in the second part of my book (the one where I venture into the triumph over tribulation part of my story) I talk about having a crazy workload. Living life mechanically, working day in and day out – with little time to actually sit back and enjoy life.
I asked myself, isn’t the purpose of it all to enjoy your life? It is so important to get in the mindset to achieve all your goals but what is the real reason that motivates you to do it? The moment I began to ask myself this all-important question it opened up a new horizon of clarity for me.
What is the “why” behind everything that I do?
And as I carried on, working to achieve my goals, build my family, accomplish success professionally and strive for the top in my relationships – I came to the realization just how important it really is to understand the reason behind your motivation in life. It’s more than just “getting by” when you have a purpose. As you reach upward toward your goals that may seem at the very top of an unreachable mountain, the truth is you are going straight in the direction of the pinnacle of your own personal success.
So as I sit here in my chair in the sands of Fiji, watching my son live life with passion – I can’t help but be grateful for having clarity and focus in my life, so much so that it continues to make life exciting as I accomplish my ambitions.
Why do you go to work? To make more money. Or to contribute.
Why do you do that? To pay bills. To get a house.
All of these things are the “whys” of what we do, but if you’re someone that is striving for higher achievement that is more than just “getting by”, knowing your “why” is even more essential to your existence. Your reasons will be the ones getting you up and running to do things that others may or may not be doing.
Why do I wake up every morning at 5am? Because I believe the morning is the slingshot of the day and getting a head-start on my day allows me to have a head-start to achieve my goals.
In my opinion, it is important to know the reason goals are important; knowing the "Why" is something you may consider asking yourself with everything that you do, in this case, your goals.
For me, the "Why" behind big goals is because they make me feel good about myself and that I am getting the max in life. Goals give me rewards; not only security but also accomplishment. I have goals in all areas of my life. For those that read the book, you will recall the segment on "8 Equities." One of my goals (Equities) is to earn money. And, that "Why" to earn money allows me be generous to those that I love; my family, friends and others ... and the icing on the cake with accomplishing high monetary goals is to live a luxurious lifestyle and to enjoy all the rewards including places like Fiji.
That’s the “why” behind how I live my life.
What’s the "why" for you?
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If you’ve read the book "180 Degrees", there is no way you don’t remember Uncle Louis or my Aunt Dawn. Even after going through so many of their own trials (literally) and tests in life, today they both stand as a testament to how you really can change your life if you set your mind to it.
In this compelling video, Louie shares his personal insights; he says that "I am an inspiration to him." Coming from a man that epitomizes positive change himself – I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to hear him say those words and what it is to also have the admiration from my Aunt. I am very proud of them both.
As I continue to share my past life through a visual journey and at the same time include thoughts and insight in the present day, I had to make a trip to the infamous Miami, Florida (for many reasons, not the least of which is the story in 180 Degrees). Beginning with my Aunt Dawn’s smiling face as she shows us the club where we spend many nights just hanging out and waiting for the other side of midnight. Right off of South Beach, the place reminds me of so many memories – memories that I talk about in the book – of how life was so different back then.
You could say that this was the beginning of the end (only for there to be another new beginning much later), after I moved here as a teenager. Living with my Aunt Dawn, Uncle Louis and their kids, the house we were in was right on the waterway where there was a boat, a playhouse and lots of good times. When I hug Aunt Dawn today, I am overcome with emotion as she declares her infinite pride in my accomplishments since then. Being strong supporters of my recovery, both Uncle Louis and Aunt Dawn being proud of me is an amazing feeling and a true blessing.
It wasn’t all pretty though. There was a time when Aunt Dawn cut up all my clothes and threw them in the bay. In the video, you get to see the bridge where I spent time as if it was “home” and you also get to see the street where my friend Jimmy and his dad were waiting to kill me. You also see where we lived and where I spend nights homeless under Hallover bridge. It seemed the drama never ended. This was also the same place where I got a call from Uncle Donald telling me that there were six police cars waiting in his driveway looking for me.
In many interviews and of course in my book, I often mention the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys” and if you have seen Miami in those days, you’d attest to the fact that this documentary says it all. It really was that crazy. Schools were infiltrated with people from shady backgrounds. In fact, my school was very corrupt. I remember hundreds of pounds of pot around us every day.
As I taped this video, it was like another lifetime ago. Although I had a very chaotic time living in Miami, while visiting now; sober, I only remember the fond times with my Uncle Louie, Aunt Dawn, my family and all my childhood memories. Sadly, I also remember my Uncle Donald, whom past away 2 years ago (cause of death unknown). I loved him very much. I wish he was here to see the success of the book and to share the many laughs I had with him.
To find out more and to experience my Miami life as I tell it in 180 Degrees, click and watch the video :-)
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Rarely do you have the opportunity to impact others’ lives and when I finally sat down to rite 180 Degrees, I had realized after a long time that sharing my story was in fact a great way to share my wisdom of lesson’s learned. It’s taken a long time for me to reach this point where I can comfortably accept my words as those of wisdom – and it’s taken me a lot of personal growth to be able to smile and receive compliments from those that recognize my achievements.
So when I was invited to meet and speak with Bradley Quick on Cool Change Radio, you can imagine my excitement to be able to sit with yet another inspiring individual. Throughout our conversation we were both able to reflect upon times of strife and overcoming so many different obstacles.
Here, at the top and enjoying the pinnacle of personal and professional success, I am very pleased to share with you the video stream of that interview.
Building the Perfect Storm
As my childhood progressed, little did I know that things were shaping up to be very difficult in the coming years ahead. By the time I was 15 years old I was shooting dope when other kids the same age were involved in their schools, families and friends. I was a mess. The day before I turned 17 was the day that my family put their foot down and made me go to rehab (for the first time). How many young kids do you know are dealing with so much personal pain and strife that they are channeling that pain through drugs? Whether you know them or not, there are millions of us out there. And I, for one, wanted to share how I got out of that mess.
My time in rehab, as I shared both with Bradley and in my book with readers, was not pretty. Thinking it was going to be more like Club Med before I passed through those doors at first, is probably the only reason I agreed to go in the first place. When I finally made it through I somehow got through it playing the role of a lifetime, “acting” for therapists, hoping they couldn’t see through my façade. They saw through it all right. And though I had hoped to be discharged sooner, I wasn’t – the damage had already been done. I was right back at it again just shortly afterward when I traveled to California to be with my grandmother and finish high school.
Turning Point and Turning Life Around
Things do turn around if you want it badly enough. And after living on the streets, under a bridge, on friends’ couches, people’s garages – getting nasty stares by those that came within a few feet of me – all of that finally got me to take a chance on myself and make a change in my life.
I am still, to this day, overcome by fear at times but not nearly as much as during those days when I would wonder where I might lay my head down that night, unsure of day to day rather than long term like most people my age were doing at stage in their lives. I remember seeing myself, with my grey sunken eyes and almost feather light weight, realizing that something had to change.
I had to learn to find another coping mechanism to deal with my issues – drugs were off the table. The cocaine in Miami, pot (which seemed like child’s play after all that I’d been doing), acid and dealing drugs – all led to my demise and I now knew that.
While living in Venice, California I began working at a small real estate office. That was the beginning of the rest of my life. One step at a time, things began to change. Today, I am a self-made millionaire; I have a family of whom I am so proud, a thriving real estate practice and renowned status as an author. It doesn’t get any better than this. Bradley quotes me during our interview and nothing could be truer about that mantra:
Life as you know, is a series of cycles of ups and downs. When we reach a peak of any type we have to recognize that we have to descend into the next valley to get to the next peak. The valley is what makes us stronger.
We talked about the 180 blog and the purpose of this blog – and the truth is that by being able to share inside information, behind the scenes views and provide interesting insight about what got me to where I am today, I see the 180 blog as the perfect supplement to my book. One through which I can give readers (and potential readers) a glimpse into the reality of the book. For me, it was very real and to be able to show that on video makes it all the more gratifying that those interested in my story will get a 360-degree view of it.
More About the Book
To tell the story of my lifetime, in a way to share how it has impacted my life forever from this point on, 4 years to write the book doesn’t seem like that much time. For years I hadn’t even considered writing it and it wasn’t until an acquaintance of mine turned on the light bulb one day by reminding me that a book like this would not be for me, rather it would be to help the millions of people that do deal with this sort of thing on a daily basis. The most surprising thing though has been the revelation that most of my readers are mostly touched by part 2 of the book, where I talk about the turn around.
It’s been out for three years or so now and when you read it along with visits to the 180 blog it gets really interesting. The book’s available on my website or on amazon.
I believe that life’s schoolroom never closes. We learn new lessons everyday and will continue to do it. To this day, I am practicing the lessons of forgiveness, letting go of fears and not being afraid to inspire others – every single day. Sometimes it gets hard to stay in a comfort zone but I have to remember what really matters in life and I get right back on track. I am ever thankful for having God in my life, my family and of course the strength and conviction to do what I know is right for my life.
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If you’ve read my book chances are you can attest to the fact that I have been through a good number of trials in my life. One of the single most trying of those times was when I suffered an acute sense of fear that things may never change. As I found myself without a roof over my head, sleeping on someone’s couch or a friends’ car – I would often be overcome with a sense of deep loathing for myself and the circumstances I was surrounded in.
But my trust and faith in God is one thing that helped get me through those times and I stand tall and proud today to be able to say that that very fear was replaced by gratitude. You might think “what could Rob possibly have been grateful for while addicted to drugs and living a nightmare existence?”
Well, the truth is that the only way I was able to pull out of that craziness was because of sheer faith. Not my faith in God entirely but rather others’ faith in me. This is where I salute the amazing people that put together and implement 12-step programs, the endlessly giving individuals that would give of themselves in an effort to help ordinary people like me who were stuck in a web that was so hard to be freed from. And the incredible Alcoholics Anonymous book that has helped me tremendously. But most of all it is God that I owe my freedom to.
If it was not for God, I would not have been able to turn my life around. And just a relatively short time later become a successful Realtor and renowned businessman. As I jogged my morning jog, I realized how truly blessed I am. Blessed to be in the company of those who love and support me. Blessed to have a solid, strong head on my shoulders with the ability to make good, sound decisions. Blessed to be able to live in the absence of fear.
Fear is most definitely just about the most paralyzing phenomenon to a person’s psyche. And it wasn’t until I was no longer ruled by my fears that I began to realize just how wonderful life really is.
So as we embark on yet another year in this journey called life, I wanted to wish upon each and every one of you the power of overcoming your fears and embracing your strengths. I am never too far from thoughts of gratitude for all that I have and all that I am and all that I stand to become – and I wish the same up on you as well.
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MEMORIES OF A TIGHT LIVING SPACE
Remember the time in the book where I mention we had three of us cramped in the one-bedroom Venice Beach apartment? Well – I thought it would be fun to show you exactly what I was talking about. As I revisited my old home, I was lucky enough to find the new tenant willing to let us walk through. You’ll see the living space, the kitchen area and the stairs leading up to where our tenant lived.
It wasn’t easy paying my one third of the $895 rent in those days but it was also the beginning of the rest of my life and if it wasn’t for those building blocks, I can’t say I’d be here right now shooting this video.
As you watch the video, you get to see the spot where my roommates and I would wake up to find homeless people sleeping overnight – some of them that we would know by name.
THE BEGINNINGS OF A LIFETIME OF POSITIVE CHANGE
My former real estate office is around the corner from where we lived and in this video I show you exactly where it was. In those days it was the John Douglas Company but since then it has become RE/MAX – and it was very cool to be able to see the building where I got my real estate start.
SAND SURF AND FUN
The wonderful breeze of the Pacific Ocean fills the air and you can see exactly where the alley that led to the breakwater and beach was through which I would walk to go surfing. Though it was a nice area, we had a lot of break-ins in my car and we didn’t even have a door on our garage at that point. Here’s a great beach cam to see what’s going on Venice Beach in real time.
GOOD AND CHEAP EATS
This video would not be complete if I didn’t share with you the famous Thomas Hamburgers where I would get my breakfast, lunch and dinner ALL the time. Super cheap at the time, I have many fond memories of that place – right there on Washington and Pacific in Venice, California.
MORE TO COME
Stay tuned for more exciting walkthroughs of the life and times of yours truly. It’s really neat showing you what I’m talking about in my book.