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Messages - Sam Wilson

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I don't know brother. It's the only way I know how to be I think. My role models growing up were imaginary; Captain America, BP, and they never quit. I just want to be like them.

Jane is 17 years old. She is a high school student who wears capri pants, likes to listen to music and tries her hardest to get out of doing anything realated to school work or learning.  Jane also takes lithium to keep her even, she has been diagnosed as bipolar and will go from 0 to 60 in a second.  It doesnít take much to get her upset and she will not back down, and unless you talk to her in a calm, soothing voice she will escalate until you have to call some type of authority to detain her.

Jane is a ward of the state, she has recently been placed in a new foster home (brand new, not even a month) in her sophomore year of high school. Technically she is a junior but has failed a few classes, she is in my junior English class.  Jane is functionally in 3rd grade, she has no figurative reading comprehension skills and can repeat back to what is said to her, but cannot make any kind of inferential connection with anything.  She is also severely OCD, she will spend 10 minutes shuffling papers trying to find the right one rather than focusing on the lesson being given, and will not stop unless you gently speak to her and help her get organized.

Jane isnít being served by a public high school. Even in a smaller special education class Jane has to deal with a curriculum almost 10 years past where she is, and has to deal with the social rigors of 2000 kids, 4 lunch periods, a 3 day rotating schedule, standardized tests and gym class when she is bipolar and OCD to the point where her medication knocks her right out.  When she takes her medication, Jane is a ward of the state, and being bounced around from foster home to foster home and school to school, her files donít necessarily follow her and she may take breaks from her meds, and when we sit at her intake meeting everyone is a little awkward while the social workers ask standard questions because no one knows enough about her to formulate any kind of proper case history, and her file is probably two schools removed from where it should be and wonít be coming anytime soon.

Jane needs an immediate psychiatric referral whitch will be filed for, but may not get done because there are only 4 weeks of school left.  She needs to be placed in an acute care specialized school which has a therapeutic setting so she can get the help she needs in order to succeed academically. The referral is over 100 pages of work and data which takes a minimum of 4 weeks, required by state law, before her referral will even be considered. Iím not sure if she will even be at our school long enough for the referral to be processed.

More than likely Jane is going to end up homeless and in jail, or worse dead and alone. She is difficult to get along with and isnít really one to reach out, but if she likes you she will be your shadow.  Jane isnít unique to my situation, Jane exists everywhere and needs to be loved and helped by someone.  Even just noticed would be more than she is used to.  Jane exists, and that should mean something.

Hudlin's Huddle / Revolution is the only solution, Sam Wilson's blog...
« on: January 24, 2012, 02:47:41 pm »
      Itís been a minute, so where should I start?  Today was a day unlike any I have experienced.  It starts with a class Iím teaching, social skills. This class is something I came up with. I teach self-contained special ed English.  Kids with learning disabilities and behavior disorders who need a small class setting to be taught the general English curriculum.  One semester to teach kids with learning disabilities Shakespeare, a novel, nonfiction, persuasive writing, grammar, all the while preparing them for a state standardized test; needless to say corners need to be cut and the time investment required to make these students successful is simplified to the extent very few remain functional and the majority do a little worse than fall through the cracks. They fall flat on their faces, give up, and in frustration wreck havoc and lash out at everything and everyone. Is this their fault? Yes, to an extent, but at the same time systemic dysfunction in public education is vastly responsible for their neglect, in their minds what other options do they have?  This is where my social skills class comes in.

   Social skills is a handpicked class of many of the students in my self-contained literature class and some other high needs students, some behavioral, some academic, who all needed an extra semester of one-on-one attention to help them become functional high school students. These are students who donít bring pencils and paper to class, read at maybe a 1st or 2nd grade level (some better, some worse, and they are all in high school), and have an excessive amount of school absences or tardy to class marks (a few of them are on the verge of being kicked out).  Iíve had most of them in class at one point or another, and some of them I have back to back in social skills and another lit class in the period before.  Itís my job, a job I volunteered for, to get them back on track. To get them to focus on one thing, to read better, write better, function better as students and decrease their disciplinary referrals, to be that adult in life that believes in them and cares about them when everyone else has written them off and wants nothing to do with them. Most adults talk about them like they talk about a distasteful meal, being condescending and dismissive at the same time.  I really dislike those people but that is another conversation.

   So Iíve been plugging along with this, and I find myself constantly rewriting my playbook. If grammar and basic skills arenít working, I try and figure out what works for them to make them more functional. Eric clearly needs a father figure; he gets fathered (many of them do, but whatever). Isabelle has aspergers syndrome (a type of autism) and has trouble spitting out sentences but her mind goes a million miles and hour and she has a ton to say. She needs patience and someone to listen to her.  Finally there is Jimmy, no teacher in the school has any love for him. He is a known drug dealer and at one point last semester had skipped so much class he was going to be withdrawn. I had him as a freshman, we had our moments but at the end of the day we had an understanding. If he worked I would pass him, and no matter what he did the next day was always a new day.  Iím better with him than most, and in a way this story is about him.

   Today I discovered a graphic novel I brought for one of my students to read was stolen. It was from my own personal collection, a giant, encyclopedia sized hardcover of spider-man comics. It was for a student who has so much anxiety he canít eat lunch in the cafeteria so he has to eat in the classroom, and for the life of him he hasnít done one once of schoolwork in quite some time (I have documentation to prove this). He does like comic books though, and in an effort to get him to focus on one thing for more than 20 minutes I brought the giant spider man book for him to read. I told him we would start slow, sit and read for 20 minutes at a stretch and we will build from that. It wasnít going as smoothly as planned but I think I was making headway. Then I discovered some kids who used my room in an afterschool program trashed my room and stole the book. I was pretty defeated after that happened. It wasnít about the book, it was the fact I would have loaned the book to any kid who would have asked me.  All my students know that. The young man who was reading the book? He was pretty upset. He literally turned the room upside down looking for the book before we decided it was stolen. Not knowing what to do I kinda shut down. I thought I was doing everything in my power to help, and this is what I get for my efforts.  After school I was walking to my car and Jimmy, the known drug dealer, chased me down.  He had my giant spider-man book in his hand and said, ďhey, we found who took your book and got it back.Ē Thatís all he said. I looked at him and hugged him.  There was nothing else I could do.  He went back to the afterschool program to do his thing and I went home.

   What did I learn here? Selfishly, Iíve been struggling with who I am now. I used to be fat; that was my mantra for a minute. It always goes back to that but then it doesnít. I donít want to be that guy anymore. I actually hate that guy. He was mean and took his anger out on the world and made himself fat because he wasnít sure why anyone would love him, so why not make that a reality and destroy myself and be mean.  You all know the story, I got my act together, it all went away and I was left with the question, ďwho am I?Ē  Still trying to figure out that answer, but today, at least for now, when Jimmy brought my book back, I know who I am and Iím not the guy who used to be fat. Iím the guy who cares about those whom no one else cares about because I know what itís like to be them, and Iíll be dammed if Iím ever going to watch another kid suffer through that. 

Fitness / Re: New Year's Diet Plans
« on: January 17, 2011, 08:02:16 am »
right now 5. Breakfast, mid morning, lunch, mid afternoon, dinner. Sometimes I miss the mid-morning, which is bad, but ideally I'm supposed to do five.

Hudlin's Huddle / sam wilson's blog, "How did I do it?"
« on: January 17, 2011, 07:20:25 am »
How did I do it?

Thatís the question I get the most. Someone at the gym will walk up to me, someone who is more often than not severely overweight (saying ďmorbidly obeseĒ sounds like a put-down) whom someone pointed in my direction as the guy who lost over 200 lbs.  Anyway, they always ask, ďhow did you do it?Ē  I think they want me to give them a short answer, like, ďX,Y, and Z dietĒ, or ďcolon cleansingĒ (seriously, because shoving something up your ass is a great way to loose weight), or whatever trend of the month fad weight loss technique they are wanting to purchase and use for a quick fix.  Clichťd as it sounds, an infomercial did not ďfixĒ me.  In all honestly I donít even feel ďfixedĒ, Iíve actually substituted one mental illness for another more than likely, but at least Iím healthy and Iím in a better place to make better decisions, but getting there wasnít a quick fix.

Being a perfectionist was my standard operating procedure for as long as I can remember. All my GI Joeís had to go back in a particular place in a particular order as a child, but thatís just the start. Coming from Dr. parentís and being sent to boarding school at the age of 13, perfection was something that was drilled in my head before I had any normal coming of age experiences.  As an adult, being a failure in my eyes (but more realistically in the expectations set fourth by a family I didnít even talk to anymore) led to depression, which led to the initial weight gain.  Then came the moment of clarity, which led to an obsession.  Even though it was a slow start, cardio three days a week, snacks went from king size candy bars to hummus and wheat thins, over the next couple of years it cascaded to five to seven days a week of cardio, weight training four days a week, muay thai, BJJ, pushing myself to the point of pain.  I havenít eaten fried foods in three years, I havenít drank a soda in three years. The thought of either of those things scares the sh*t out of me. Cake, candy bars, all of that is so far away from me I donít even want to think about it. I still have trouble going to a grocery store or a restaurant without an escort. Not just anyone either, the friends I have Iíve latched on to like a small child who is scared of everything latches on to an overprotective parent.

In many ways Iíve reverted. The outside scares me because the freedom of before is what ruined my life and Iíve proven myself incapable of making certain sound decisions, particularly when it pertained to my own health.  Iíve gotten a little better, Iím going to restaurants now and Iím serving myself rather than having my wife serving me, but even those activities are guarded. I reward myself with a Greek salad instead of chili, I stop eating when Iím not hungry.  Iím not great about that, but rather in excess I err to the minimal.  Sometimes I will skip lunch because I feel I need to be punished because I was ďbadĒ.   Sometimes I force myself on the treadmill rather than the elliptical for the same reasons, I need to punish myself for all the mistakes Iíve made. None of this is healthy, there is a healthy way to live and stay fit, but having been so far on the other end of the scale coming to this end came at a cost.

Counseling has helped, and my wife and my friends have helped. The healthiest thing I did was surround myself with people who care.  Without that support system I never would have made it.  So how did I do it? Yeah, mostly by myself, but I had help...

Hudlin's Huddle / Re: Sam Wilson's Blog, "I got nothing"...
« on: January 10, 2011, 06:25:44 am »
Once I forced my son on a 2 hour walk. At the end of the day he said it was therapeutic.

Kinda like Jared (Of Subway fame, among other things).

forcing someone to make a change is a great way to get them to quit. Change is something you have to come to peace with on your own.

Fitness / Re: New Year's Diet Plans
« on: January 05, 2011, 03:12:28 am »
5/7 meals to be brown rice, vegtables, chicken or fish. ice cream 1x a week. better spacing out of meals so i don't go hungry all day.

Fitness / Re: Losing Weight
« on: January 05, 2011, 03:11:02 am »
whatever you guys do, just stick to your routine even when you get frustrated. Sticking to your routine is the best way to get results, no matter what your routine is. Just stick to it. Somehow I managed to stay on mine for four years, and I've even gotten stricter with the new body, but ultimately staying the course is what brings you success.

What people don't tell you is its f*cking hard. Hardest thing you will ever do, but worth it.

Hudlin's Huddle / Sam Wilson's Blog, "I got nothing"...
« on: December 31, 2010, 08:48:54 pm »
Everyone wants to know how I do it.

I guess I should clarify that statement before I continue. I used to weight 550 lbs. Well, yeah, Iím not certain but it was well over 500.  I never really got on a scale that could accurately measure my weight. 550 was my best educated guess. I used to have a size 58 pants.  Before I would even register on a scale I had to get down to a size 50 pants, and then I finally started showing up at 440 lbs so my best guess is I started at 550 lbs in February 2007.  I had a final ďretreatĒ meal (Iíll explain that in a minute) of a large cheese-steak, a full size bag of kettle chips and a diet coke and then I started the next day with my new lifestyle.

I say retreat meal because retreating was why I ate the way I did. I was retreating from everything. I hated my life and I hated myself.  I lost the only job I ever loved (my short time as a police officer) for reasons I had no control over.  My only sense of self-identity up until that point was being the biggest and meanest guy in the room, and at one point I may have been the most muscular but I was slowly just becoming ďbigĒ as in fat. Obese. When people would try to be nice about it they said ďwow, youíre a big guyĒ but they meant, ďdamn, you are unhealthyĒ.  It wouldnít have mattered if they had actually said that, I wouldnít have listened. I mean, people did say it. My friends, my wife, they all said they were worried and they all tried to help but I didnít listen and I didnít care. Eating was a retreat and it gave me something. It was an escape, an instant gratification.  It almost killed me though, until I figured it out and came all the way back.

I started by acknowledging I had no idea what I was doing. I told my wife I didnít want to make decisions for myself anymore because clearly I had no idea how to take care of myself and asked her if she would make all pertinent decisions about my health and my diet for me. At least for awhile.  She was a medical professional and sought the aid of a dietician and a personal trainer. In conjunction with my wife the people at my gym provided me a lot of support.  Deidre, the manager, had known me for a few years. I started going there when I was still big and strong and had that going for me, but in a couple of years I had lost it and was just getting unhealthy. She saw this and offered me some help. She told me she was worried about me and would do whatever it took to help me get on track and she did. She had a trainer work with me and she provided me emotional support, which doesnít seem like anything but to someone who hated himself it was a lot. In fact it was everything. If it werenít for her support or my wifeís I never would have gotten started, and now here I sit. 4 years later, 250 some pounds lighter, and post-surgery. I finally got to the point where I needed to have the excess skin around my abdomen removed, about 15 lbs of it after they were all done. And Deidre and my wife were there for that too (in fact, Deidre and the gym paid for it). 

So I sit here typing this going a little crazy, I just had the surgery 4 days ago and I have a couple hundred stitches across my abdomen. I canít exercise and I havenít left the house since the surgery, and I canít leave the house until Tuesday which is my post-op and I get my drains removed.    But Iíve had visitors, people who have been with me ever since I started, and new people I just met who say Iím an inspiration (which I dismiss, I mean, as I said, I put myself in that position to begin with so I donít see how I did anything inspirational).  Either way, these are all people who love me and have supported me, and without that I never would have gotten here. My wife has been doting on me and showing me love she knows Iíve never had. Even though itís hard to see through all my anxiety and self-deprecation, I hope she knows I love her the same way.  The bottom line is though, itís just starting, it hasnít ended the path is the same as it always was.  Inspirational, no, at least I donít think so. Mental illness? More than likely, if it is hereditary then yes, mental illness for sure. Either way, Iím going to chase after itÖ

Yo. Today is the day when most want to give thanks and spend time with their families and get fat. That's fine, but Eurocentric holidays mean little to someone who has been sh*t on by the system repeatedly. Given the systemic f*cked-upnes of my existence and the fact I see the same cycle happen over and over again, I find it hard to celebrate a holiday predicated on genocide.

Love your family, spend time with your friends. There is nothing wrong with that. But don't forget those who never had that opportunity because someone more powerful than them destroyed their way of life in the favor of theirs. Anger is a gift. Rise up and make a change.

people don't seem to realize that being hard on someone just breaks them down even further than they already are. I'm tired of that, "break them down to build them up" bullsh*t. love is way more effective. love is what got me to change.

I never figured being pissed off at everything all the time and hating the way people are treated would bring me to this, but I guess it's all I had left after all the hate. 

Missed you too brother, your love helped me change, I'm just trying to spread what you guys started.

Friday Night Lights

Friday night was homecoming weekend.  The game of the year of course, and the hype machine was building up the drama, cumulating with a pep rally and lots of fanfare. The players were excited, there was going to be people watching and for a minute they were local celebrities. Even if they werenít playing they all wore their jerseys to class and were recognized as those about to do battle for the glory of the group.  Parents would be proud, dinners would be had and celebrating was to be done.

This holds true in most kids but didnít hold true for Jose, one of my students in my English class. Jose was a good kid, he wrote beautiful poetry about low-riding with his father in LA and was a class leader, tutoring other members of the football team and helping out his teacher whenever asked without question.  A good kid with a good heart, someone I would have been proud to call my son if my wife and I had a child.  This good kid texts me at 11:30 PM on a Friday night asking me if I could come pick him up from the game.

The thing is no one came to watch Jose play.  His dad was in LA (supposedly) and his mom was in South America, he has a grandmother (grandfather is not in the picture) but she works third shift.  Jose is on his own most of the time when he is not in school. Jose also has a sister who is in 7th grade who came to the game to watch him play.  I find this all out when I show up to pick him up.  I was ready to go to bed when he called, but I put on some sneakers and answered the call anyway, without hesitation. Iím not sure why until I thought about it later.

On a Friday night of homecoming the kid calls me for a ride.  He could have gone out with anyone on the team, he could have went and gotten in trouble or gone to a hotel party or done whatever disturbing things teenagers do these days that we donít want to think about but happen anyway, but he didnít. He called me for a ride. He had to take care of his sister. Iím sure that was part of it but a bigger part of it was he was lonely and just wanted someone to show him some love. He wanted an adult to show him some love. An adult male who reminded him of his fatherÖ

My wife and I took Jose and his sister out for burgers, I told him, ďitís past curfew, so if anyone asks you have to pretend you are my kid or somethingĒ. Jose smiled real big and said, ďyeah, I look just like you anywayĒ. He does. Heís light skinned, Iím a bit darker but paired with my fair skinned Irish wife he looks like he could be my kid.  It was the smile that tipped me off.  Since Friday night I havenít been able to get it out of my head and it makes me sad. Sad, frustrated and angry.

This kid who anyone would be proud of has no one.  No adult male anyway. No one to tell him he is loved, no one to be proud, no one to teach him about being a man or what it takes to be a man. What he does have is opportunity to become whatever he wants, and in most cases young people take that opportunity to become something bad, they get in trouble, they turn to drugs or partying and forget about school and a future and live for the here and now. Instant gratification because itís all they have ever known. Except for Jose, he just wanted someone to love him and on Friday night he chose me.   Teenage bravado, (which Jose is full of) is more often than not a mask.  As hard as a kid wants to be sometimes, more often than not they want to be loved more.

My name is Sam Wilson. Revolution is the only solution, and sometimes the best agent for that revolution is love.

Fitness / Re: my story...
« on: June 02, 2010, 12:31:38 pm »
Curt M:  that's a front page story for anyone to read.
Sam:  Did I take that pic in SD in 07?  That shot looks familiar.  If not, I know I was there for the week if not in tha room. 

98% sure it was you who took that pic brother. I wish you could be there with us this year when we own that place once again.

And everyone, thanks. The attention is a little hard at times, when you are 550 lbs you just hate yourself and everyone else around you and don't want anyone to talk to you. With the change and my picture up everywhere, everyone wants to talk to me. The hate is still there, well, because I live in a red state and am surrounded by conservative honkey bitch ass motherf*ckers who don't want change, but yeah, the attention. That's new. So anyway, I appreciate the words and support and firmly believe that anyone can do anything if they have the discipline and motivation. Sorry for the cliche, but its true...

Fitness / Re: my story...
« on: May 30, 2010, 04:45:00 am »
You look FAB U LOUS!!!!!
I am SO PROUD of you!
Kudos to you and Mrs. Wilson for the incredible transformation.
I am inspired!

so you forgive me if I can't order two deserts anymore?  ;)

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