No Different from You: Ownership of Our Decisions

Written By: Devika L. Carr, Esq.

When we take ownership of our decisions, neither good, bad or indifferent, we consciously elect to take ownership of who we chose to be in each moment. We can then decide to remain the same and be the person who makes choices in similarity to the last, or we can reset, transform and choose something different. It is only up to us what movement we make next, what reason we decide supports it, and what meaning it offers for who we intend to be in the next moment.

God gave us this free will and this incredible power of choice.

Retaining this power and strengthening the authority we have over our lives, is an affectionate way of demonstrating we understand we are allowed to use it.

So, what happens when the natural development of one’s brain automatically limits their ability to understand the power of choice and the impact of decision-making before an act has been committed?

This is a common opportunity for my gifted child diagnosed with asd. But it is more common for people to observe, immediately judge, and portray some outwardly obvious expression of disapproval.

 But it’s ok. Here’s why:

 1. I’m learning how not to give a f***. Who are you and why are you coming for my child? The average adult doesn’t understand the impact of their decisions until after the fact. But hey, no judgment there. Let’s just pass along judgment to the “little loves” who are still learning, still growing, and still manifesting playtime, naptime, and snack-time as their three most important goals. What I do accept is the need for him to learn before he becomes the adult who doesn’t understand.

 2. I get it. Human nature tends to prompt our immediate response to be misunderstanding for what we think goes against societal norms that we have learned over time. For some of us, that amount of time extends decades. It is reasonable to expect additional effort to transcend beyond societal norms.

 3. He is no different from my other children. And no, they are not diagnosed asd. Although, as a side-note, I think we are all traveling on the spectrum. The point is, I accept a responsibility to teach and encourage all my children how to consider potential consequences for intended decisions before becoming actions. I don’t discriminate.

 4. When my son acts in a way that negatively impacts others, he immediately apologizes and recognizes the negative impact made. He is emotionally connected and I allow him to be. I encourage him to feel the pain of impacting others, the pride in being genuinely apologetic, and the joy in feeling the love and hugs that always follow. He is naturally empathetic and for that, I am grateful.

 5. Hypocrisy is a slithering snake. If I want my son, my other children, or even myself, to be successful, it is a necessity to create the kind of awareness that allows us to recognize the power of our choices, the potential for impact, and the correlation all of it has with who we want to be for ourselves, in consideration for the world around us, but never who we want to be for other people. If you aren’t in line with this trajectory of conscious thinking and intentional living, that’s ok, it just means you have a decision to make.

My son is powerful, strong, emotionally connected, encouraged, and genuinely apologetic when necessary. He feels joy with love and hugs and he is naturally empathetic.  He is always being misunderstood, but he is always learning, growing, and trying to transcend beyond societal norms. And he is always saying, “see ME not asd.”

If different and “not normal” are all of these things, then I’d say different is wonderful. And absolutely, brilliant.

Just a Hug

It started with an introduction, the teacher telling me how musical my son is. Then came the “…but.”

When you’re an active parent raising 4 children, it’s not unusual to get phone calls and written messages from teachers asking to speak with you about your child.  But, when at least one child experiences daily challenges in the classroom, some calls are more interesting than others.

My son’s music teacher seemed to praise him for his musical interest, but she really wanted to know how to handle his meltdowns.

I knew it couldn’t have just been a friendly call.  I knew it couldn’t have been a pitch to enroll him for music lessons because he’s just so into it.  I knew it wasn’t to tell me about how musically gifted he is.  There’s too little time for that. 

Let’s face it, there’s little guidance for most people, let alone parents and teachers, on how to approach conversations about the potentially disruptive behavior of a gifted child on the autism spectrum.  My friend said teachers are taught to have sandwich conversations, where they put a compliment and a concern together to share their thoughts about your child. That’s cute and commendable.

I’ve learned to refrain from being easily offended.  In fact, the tone of this article might suggest I often am, but I mostly find the dialogue to be funky and awkward.  Mostly for the other person, because honestly, I’m used to explaining my son’s behavior more times a day than I need to.  I believe people try to tread lightly, try not to insult you about your child, and try to figure out what to do or say in unfamiliar situations…. I believe people genuinely don’t want to make your life harder than they imagine it already is.

However, what makes these interactions offensive is how often people in education admittedly failed to just talk to my child about how he was feeling, or failed to engage in meaningful dialogue to explain the situation or prepare him for their expectations.  Kids are much more intuitive than we give them credit for, but even as an adult, quickly adapting to the expectations of others is challenging.

When did educators forget that children were people, too?  I get it, not all children communicate the same, but shouldn’t we learn how to communicate with them in ways that make them feel comfortable enough to try and help us understand how they are feeling?

Because most meltdowns originate from a feeling of disruption, or some combination of mixed feelings the individual has yet to identify and understand. And I wouldn’t expect 2 minutes to be enough time for anyone to figure it out.

You know what I told the music teacher who asked for my help and asked for my advice about what to do when my son has a meltdown?

I kindly asked her to give him a little warning before she takes something away that he’s deeply enjoying.

I kindly invited her to ask him how he’s feeling and why.

And best of all, I kindly encouraged her to let him tell her what might cheer him up.

Because I know she’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that his endearing, authentic and very simple answer is usually, “Just a hug.”

Stand Among the History Makers

I am still watching, learning, and becoming.

I’ve often wondered what it would mean to stand among a history maker…to be hugged by a crowd of engaged and hopeful listeners as he or she used their voice to project the perfectly articulated words expressing passion for people and solutions for problems.

What would it feel like to hear each sentence of a historical speech so carefully constructed that it gives the audience the kind of inspiration that could uplift them for a lifetime in their individual pursuits of achieving dreams and in their collective efforts to make their communities the best places to live, diverse and inclusive of all?

I have admired history for the stories preserved and retold, and for the inspiration they continue to deliver even decades after debut.  The rebirth of every good, steadfast message makes my heart beat fast with anticipation for what will come, if we just continue to believe…just continue to achieve.

Some of the greatest history makers didn’t just talk about love, but also the hate that prompted their desire to stand on a platform and change the conversation.

My admirations are not without intense consideration for the imbalance, pervasive unfairness, and painful disparities communities experienced before the oratorical recognitions that redirected them a new way forward.

I met Joshua Simmons after joining the Chamber of Commerce in my home city of Coral Springs, Florida.  He was fiery in his campaign drive and persistent with his message.  He provided me with my first glimpse at how political involvement can improve lives and sustain positive growth when the right people carefully contemplate whether they’ve been called to serve others and if so, whether they are prepared to listen, learn, and lead as called upon.

On November 27th, 2018, I was just one of many whose eyes were locked in on the newly sworn Coral Springs Commissioner, Joshua Simmons, as he stood with unassuming confidence and delivered his formal acceptance speech to the constituents of Coral Springs and supporting leaders, mentors, dignitaries, business owners, family members, and friends. In candor, I was not only there for Joshua, but selfishly for me.  I finally had an opportunity to stand among a history maker who not only earned my respect, but who became a friend whose vision I support, defend, and share.  And there I was, anxiously hoping to feel the kind of inspirational words that would uplift me for my lifetime in my personal pursuits for achievement and my collaborative efforts to make Coral Springs the diverse and inclusive community that will ensure it is the best place to live for my children, my husband, my neighbors, and me.

Among all the beautiful stories and sentiments shared, I knew I felt the right moment when he asked us to consciously consider “each individual’s journey to this city.” Our immersion in daily routines can organically disrupt our awareness, but by consciously rebuking this disruption, we can step into a peak of gratitude and discover who our neighbors are, what they need, what they care about, and why they’re here.  And the power of this consciousness, this level of awareness, is what will change the things that no longer work, improve the things that need updating, and devise the platforms that will launch us forward into a realm of possibilities for everyone to succeed.

I went home after Commissioner Simmons delivered his emotionally powerful speech and I thought about my journey to this city nearly two and a half years ago, preceded by my journey to South Florida seven years prior.  I contemplated all the hardships, struggles, and roadblocks experienced before settling into our first home.  I revisited all the reasons we chose Coral Springs to raise our kids and how thankful I was for the garage where I started my business.  I examined many of the wonderful blessings living here has brought to our lives including being cared for during extended month-long stays in the city’s hotels after our house flooded, learning from promising youth pained by various tragedies while volunteering for Scott Brook’s Project Leadership programs, and gaining friendships with some of the most innovative business and community leaders in the city.

All of this reflection and gratitude reminded me three things: (1) there is power in living in a city that cares about its residents, (2) there is value in getting to know those who lead the city you love, and (3) there are a lifetime of benefits to just getting involved.

Now I know what it’s like to stand among a history maker, like Commissioner Joshua Simmons who became the first African-American Commissioner ever elected in Coral Springs.

Now I know what it’s like to be hugged by a crowd as we hear and feel the powerful words spoken by a history maker, together.

Now I know I don’t just love it.  I want more of it.  I desire it.  I will have it.

Are you watching, learning, and becoming?

Encourage yourself to stand among the history makers.

Receive the inspiration you need to uplift you as you move a new way forward.

Disrupt Your Thinking

IMG_2921Today I made a conscious decision to disrupt my daily routine and try a new coffee shop. It led me to a place that felt incredibly warm, as if nature existed inside the space.

And while I was the only patron for some time, the energy was explosive and I felt as if surrounded by members of my community.

There is a table with a prayer bucket where you can place your requests. A place to write anonymously in several journals just to express your thoughts and feelings. A place to see the faces of the children from #MSD killed just weeks ago. And a place to read what people are thinking.

I felt almost selfish for wanting to get a snapshot of the minds of the people in my community. I thought maybe I’d learn something about them and what they want from others so I can use it to my advantage in business, social and philanthropic efforts.

But when I say little moments have the power to move us in unexpected, powerful ways, I say it after being moved.

Once I began perusing through the content left on the table top, I knew it was different than reading the news, or hearing stories on television, or listening to protest testimonies. It was different because the words were written without care for who’s eyes it’d be exposed to, if anyone at all. The words were spontaneous, unedited, and raw.

I was most moved by the commitments nearly every writer expressed:

  • to offer the same love for friends to strangers,
  • to offer more compassion and understanding, to anyone you meet,
  • to share kindness exponentially, without concern for receiving the same,
  • to spread awareness about the issues that affect our communities in silence (like mental health),
  • to forgive without reserve but demand positive change wherever possible, and
  • to remember the “why” behind choosing to make such commitments at all.

I am not ashamed of the benefits I received today by engaging in this little moment nudged by selfish motivations.

What if trying to reach the community, in all our efforts, continued to be motivated by these commitments?  Would that make us better business owners, service providers, proponents for change, advocates for awareness, and pioneers for innovative solutions all in the name of improving each of our respective and deserving communities?

Create Opportunities Where None Exist

America added a significant event to her lifetime story on March 24, 2018 when hundreds of thousands of people gathered to March for Our Lives.”  While many shared feelings of desperation, anxiety, or eagerness stemming from tragedies experienced in their communities, most shared feelings of hope and excitement for the inspirational paths the emerging leaders and change seekers in those same communities are forging with resilience and powerful energy.  The composition of protesters didn’t have to be ALL young people to know that people are inspired by the youth leaders we are seeing triumph through their pain.

Seeing beautiful faces and hearing resounding voices of young people who have yet to reach voting age tells an inspirational story.

What happens when students in America effectively learn about their Constitutional rights and the rules of law that govern America? If taught correctly, it encourages them to think about how their lives are improved or restricted by them, and what options are available to influence positive changes. What happens when students in America are not learning these important concepts? They miss out on understanding the power of their voice and their vote, and they don’t participate in government wisely.

Civics education in America is not nearly what it should be.  Many students across the country are without opportunities to actively participate in frequent and relevant discussions about the Constitution, the rules of law, and the impact of both on their families, their friends, and their vision for their lives.

The March for Our Lives was not just a display of unity on a particular social or legal issue, it was a display of commitment and desire by America’s youth to actively participate in the structure of democracy that makes America amazing.  Now is the time for us to commit to America’s students and help them stay aware and knowledgeable about important issues and the power they have to effectuate change in their communities, their cities, their states, and their nation.

Understanding why the United States education system is failing to provide these opportunities is less important than how we can improve the way things get done.

Lawyers are one group of people in a position to impress upon our education system creative ways to improve knowledge among students. An article in The Young Lawyer magazine published Winter 2018, “How You Can Help Engage Students in Civic Education” written by Erik Carlsen-Landy, briefly discusses a few ways lawyers can get involved.  One suggestion is to volunteer in local schools by coaching debate teams or moot court teams.  This option might have minimal impact on the entire problem as participation on these teams tends to be from students with an existing interest in civics.  Another suggestion is to volunteer to teach about the U.S. Constitution or participate in Law Day two days out of the year, they limit learning to two specific days of the year, and the Constitution and rules of law are governing us every day. A third suggestion is to find local and national organizations that promote civics and legal education and volunteer.  This is a broad suggestion that requires researching different groups, finding a perfect match, and having dedicated flexibility in scheduling based on the events promoted by the group selected.

In many communities, existing opportunities to volunteer on projects like these are non-existent which is why Carlsen-Landy’s final suggestion appears to be the most promising: create an opportunity if none exists.  This is most promising because it encourages people to act on their ideas and bring them to fruition, no matter how big or small and all it takes is a focus on the demographic of young people who will inevitably become the face of our nation. We have the chance to empower our young people with the tools they need to make informed decisions and become wiser than preceding generations.

D. CARR LAW is building upon it’s Legal Literacy Initiative which focuses on free legal educational opportunities for youth to become informed, to respectfully discuss, to collaborate, and to share.

Students everywhere are ready to learn more and make a difference.  But what opportunities will you create in your communities to help them do that?

Share your initiatives with us, invite us to join you, and don’t stop creating!

 

WHY DOES D. CARR LAW SPECIALIZE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFENSE?

Think of it like this: most doctors are trained in general practice areas, and they become good at doing a little bit of everything general.  But you wouldn’t go to a general practice doctor to receive the best care for a unique medical problem requiring surgery with severe consequences if done improperly or not completed quickly with an effectively executed treatment plan.  

Hiring a lawyer should absolutely have the same selection process.  So if you have a specialized and unique legal problem involving false accusations and unfair charges of domestic violence, you’ve come to the best attorney to receive the best representation.

HOW IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFINED IN FLORIDA?

Pursuant to the Florida Statutes for 2016, domestic violence is defined as follows:

741.28 Domestic violence; definitions.—As used in ss. 741.28741.31:

(1) “Department” means the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

(2) “Domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

(3) “Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

(4) “Law enforcement officer” means any person who is elected, appointed, or employed by any municipality or the state or any political subdivision thereof who meets the minimum qualifications established in s. 943.13 and is certified as a law enforcement officer under s. 943.1395.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ARREST AND CONVICTION? 

There are legal consequences and there are consequences that affect the personal, professional, and financial aspects of someone’s present circumstances and future. Such consequences include those named above, and the following (although not limited to either list):

  • jail
  • prison
  • mandatory counseling
  • heavy monetary fines and fees
  • mandatory periods of probation and constant monitoring for a certain amount of time
  • a conviction record
  • immigration consequences (risk of deportation/removal from the United States)
  • gun ownership/possession privileges revoked
  • family relationships negatively impacted
  • romantic relationships negatively impacted
  • losing custody of children or court ordered supervised visitation