Blog Post: An excerpt from "Pinstripe Suits to Prison Blues" Remembering September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001, Washington, D.C. Attending the NADA/DEAC annual political conference. The National Automobile Dealers Association political action committee (DEAC) would bring together a group of dealers for briefings on current political activity and actions affecting the franchise automobile dealers as well as their respective state Dealers Associations from around the United States. We would then go to Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss current legislative affairs. The morning of September 11, 2001, while attending a legislative briefing at out conference hotel, after which I was to proceed to the capital . Where some of the Florida delegation were to meet with Florida Congressman, Adam Putnam. He was to have returned from Florida aboard Air Force One, riding back to Washington with President Bush, later in the morning.
To say the day dramatically changed would be the understatement of the century. The morning briefing mentioned above occurred at the convention center in the Grand Hyatt Washington, just blocks from the Capitol. There were a number of political dignitaries in attendance conducting morning briefings, scheduled to speak or meeting with their local dealer delegations. As cell phones started ringing and the word of the events in New York spread. Soon, all the political dignitaries were escorted from the building by Capitol Police, taken away by a police escort. We then received word of the jet hitting the Pentagon, some said they heard the explosion and saw the smoke. The rumors started spreading more jets were heading for the Capital, the White House, and other points in Washington D.C.
Chaos ensued as thousands of federal employees were sent out of the various buildings all around the Capital, onto the streets of Washington D.C., many without their purses, briefcases, even shoes. My friend, Steve West, saw a staffer from his hometown and gave her money for the subway to get home; she was not wearing shoes and did not have her purse.
A number of us started discussing how we could get out of Washington D.C. At first, we were unaware of the grounding of all aircraft and the closing of airports. A number of us started calling people we knew with airplanes to see if we could get picked up since commercial traffic was shut down. Informed by a number of pilots all airspace and all airports were closed. The hotel told us we could stay as long as we needed, obviously no one would be checking in. My wife, who was at home with our two-year-old baby and other two children, told me to get my suitcase and get out of the city "even if you have to walk." My friend from Knoxville, Tennessee, Steve West, spoke to his son, Charles West, who was in Knoxville, he rapidly started calling dealerships for a car. Somewhere around one to two o’clock, at a dealership in Washington D.C., Charles secured a vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban. Part of the Tennessee delegation and I were able to proceed, slowly, in a gray-market taxicab to the dealership to buy the Suburban. By this time, the only things flying in and around Washington were Blackhawk helicopters and fighter jets protecting Washington D.C. We successfully picked up the Suburban and started making our way out of Washington. Departing the greater Washington D.C. area around 5 o’clock heading south west to Knoxville Tennessee. The plan was to drive with my friend and the other Tennessee dealers to Maryville, just outside of Knoxville, and stay the night. On the ride to Tennessee, at approximately 6 p.m., we saw Air Force One overhead returning to Washington with fighter escort. During the ride to Knoxville, I gave a number of interviews, via cell phone, to local newspapers, radio and TV stations in Florida as to my observations of the events I witnessed, the sheer panic as a result of events and the rumors. We arrived in the Knoxville area just after midnight.
The following morning I arose early. Very anxious to get home to my wife, family, and employees. I drove to West Chevrolet in Alcoa, Tennessee, just south of Knoxville, picked up a vehicle and headed to Florida. While leaving town, I witnessed the strangest sight on the tarmac of Knoxville International Airport, airplanes, private jets and commercial airlines of all sizes, parked on every square inch of the tarmac and taxiways. It was obvious all were hurriedly parked during the grounding of aircraft when the airspace above closed. I proceeded south, to Lakeland Florida via I-75 driving through the heart of Atlanta; traffic was very light, no one ever says that about Atlanta traffic in the middle of a weekday. Stopping at a Cracker Barrel south of Atlanta for a quick lunch, the place was only about a third occupied. In listening to the radio on the drive home, it was very evident our lives had changed forever. I arrived in Lakeland at 6:30 p.m. There is no place like home.
To those making a lasting impression! This Blog is for you!
Teachers and Coaches America’s greatest asset: As public schools return to their daily hectic activity. I thought I would dedicate this Blog to teachers and coaches who make a lasting impression on so many lives, with little fan fair. We remember few people from our youth outside of the family. We all remember a teacher or coach, the life lesson they took the time to share or teach. Not just academics, thoughts, ideas, inspiration and life-altering lessons. In our youth we may not appreciate the magnitude of the moment, yet it remains deep in our mind and soul. We feel the energy and personal dedication it takes to make such an impression, while too young to appreciate it.
Reflecting back on my own, less than glamorous, education. If not for those select few teachers, coaches and a guidance counselor, I would not have become the person I am. The influence, the faith and life’s counsel remain with me today. They were and are the heroes of their time, to me. Taking the time to care, listen, share and show interest in one that cared little for education. I so appreciate them now.
In this time of self-absorbency and “me now” mentality, along with the lack of taking responsibility for the many in the spotlight today. We can have faith and confidence the majority of teachers and coaches do what they do for the love of teaching. Other professions would have been more financially rewarding. You cannot put a monetary value on making a lifetime impression.
For those in public leadership who might read this; as you spend the hours and days discussing the dollars spent, the rules, the testing, policies, brick and mortar, transportation. These items are tools in a toolbox with no craftsman to use them, without the selfless dedication of “The Teacher.”
Having many friends and my wife, who are teachers and coaches I have a unique perspective. Witnessing the rewards and heartbreaks of caring so much for those they teach. Not just seeing, feeling the care and dedication. Students experiencing what may be a foreign feeling to them in their youth, asking “why me, why do they care for someone they barely know.” Because this is what teachers do. Impacting one student to take the correct path, to be all they were capable of being. Helping one young person see what they, at the time, do not see in themselves.
Yes, academics are important and why teachers go to work every day. Yet it is just part of the responsibilities they have accepted when they appear in front of those pupils. Under the microscope of parents, administrations, boards, elected officials and bureaucrats. Remembering the calling is to educate and make a positive impression. Wondering who that one young person is that will look back and ask “Why me?” The one on the podium of the Olympics or a stage entering the Hall of Fame, being sworn into office, the new Doctor taking the Hippocratic Oath, the college class valedictorian, all giving credit to that special teacher, professor or coach who taught them more than just academics.
As we start a new school year, sending our children off to spend a day with teachers and coaches. Remind them, with an open mind an open heart they might be filled with more than reading, writing and mathematics.
To all who teach and coach, Thank You! Thank you for choosing a profession to be a positive influence every day. Knowing, in time, you made a difference. Molding people to be all they were intended to be!!! Why me, because you saw something I did not see in myself!
Michael R Holley is an author, speaker and business consultant. His latest book “Finding the Wisdom You Seek” is an Amazon Hottest New Release. Most importantly he is the husband of a “Teacher.”
As I was finishing my latest book for publication, Finding the Wisdom You Seek, and after an annual physical, I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid cancer. There are four types of thyroid cancers, and Papillary is the least aggressive and has the highest cure rate. My cancer was contained to a tumor on the left side of my Thyroid, and the prognosis was good. The medical approach is surgery, treatment, medication, and live on. However, my cancer story has not one, but two, miracles.
Let me start from the beginning, during my physical my doctor noticed a comment from a radiologist recommending a chest x-ray follow up from the prior year. She ordered the x-ray, results were inconclusive, furthermore a CAT Scan was ordered. The item was of no concern with the recommendation to continue to follow in the future. However, at the top of the CAT scan was a shadow. I was unaware of this at the time. An ultrasound was ordered, (in the wrong spot I thought), I was then scheduled for a biopsy. Approximately one week later as I was finishing up lunch with a client on the east coast of Florida, I received a call from the nurse of my long time doctor requesting I come in, right now! After informing her I was out of town returning later on the same night, she said, with some urgency, to be in the office at 7 am. This did not sound good. I called my wife, Hope (I always have hope), and said “we are probably about to receive some bad news.” She took the day off of work and started researching Thyroid cancer, as it was my thyroid that was biopsied.
Informed of the ‘C’ word and understanding that the Papillary Thyroid cancer combined with an early diagnosis appeared to be the best of the bad news we could hope for. Later this same day, Friday June 3rd at 3 pm, Hope and I were having a late lunch reflecting on all the events and news of the day. The following had occurred since 7 am: informed I have cancer, an exam by my primary M.D., a CAT scan with contrast, lab work, a consult with an ENT surgeon and ultimately scheduled for surgery. By chance, I ran into a couple of friends at dinner, both in the medical field, after a conversation they concurred with the plan and thought I had a great surgeon. After making a couple of calls to other doctor friends we all agreed we were on the correct course.
Having already made a number of public posts and updates about how well the surgery went, the care in the hospital (LRMC Lakeland, FL) the surgeon, Dr. Pranay Patel, as well as the care from my wife Hope, I will not repeat those updates, only saying all went textbook or better.
As Paul Harvey used to say, “here is the rest of the story.” On Friday June 24th at 7 am, three weeks to the minute since being informed I have cancer. Hope and I met with Dr. Oats at Watson Clinic, an endocrinologist who received his undergrad at Ohio State and his medical degree at the University of Florida, love to be in that house on game day. He informed us the pathologist report shows c cells in a pre-cancer stage in a different part of the Thyroid. Stating he had rarely seen this, having two types of cancer cells in the same Thyroid gland. The report states these newly found cells were of the much more aggressive type of cancer and were virtually undetectable in their current stage. Basically, they would have developed in time to a life threatening cancer. This would not have been detected without surgery to remove my entire Thyroid and the pathologist dissection of the gland. You cannot make this stuff up. It was once said by someone introducing me for a speech, “his life reads like a fiction novel.” Add another chapter to the novel!
I truly feel blessed (protected) by God, surrounded by thousands of guardian angels from all walks of life, until such time as my mission here on earth is complete. Having survived the loss of all things material in 2008, maximum security prison, a potentially horrific car accident I walked away from and now this, cancer. As well as so many others ups and downs in life. A friend describes me as “a modern day bible story to be shared with all that will listen.” I am trying. If you would like to know more about my story. Please read my books, available on Amazon or on my website, I think you will enjoy the twists and turns in life through another's perspective. I speak, coach and consult on the same subjects as well as other topics. A great attitude and positive outlook can go far.
In conclusion or continuation to my miracle story. I will have a single dose of radiation placed in an iodine pill in about three weeks, go into seclusion for 5 days, working on my next book while waiting on the effects of the treatment to pass. Receive a series of scans and blood test confirming all Thyroid cells are gone. I will have a blood test every six months for the rest of my life, looking for Thyroid cell activity. Along with taking a medicine daily to compensate for the removal of the Thyroid gland. I feel great, I am so blessed to have Hope in my life as well as my Faith, Family, and Friends, guardian angles are truly among us.
Please, please, please get your physical, take care of the temple given to you at birth, it is the only one you have. I have no genetic or other known connections to these cancers. God has surrounded me with great doctors and I listen to them. Sometimes a miracle is that little voice inside of you, the instinct or the timing may not be convenient, listen to it. Be open to the wisdom and intuition gave to you at birth. Count the blessings you have, tell those you like and love you are glad to have them in your life. Ask for forgiveness of those who think you might have wronged them even if that is not your perception. What you have is today. Tomorrow is a gift not to be taken lightly. You have more control over your life and the ability to help and influence those around you than you might think. When not doing so well, slow down, take a quiet moment and ask for the insight to make the right decisions and move forward in this journey we call life. May God’s blessing be upon you and those you love and care about. Have fun, enjoy today and look at that horizon filled with the opportunities, success, and joy you are so destined to have. It is a beautiful day!!!
Michael Holley is an Author, Speaker, consultant and soon to be a cancer survivor, reach out to hear more of his story and learn the lessons of his positive message.
The Curve Balls We Are Thrown In Life (My Announcement)
I have spoken, written, and blogged about the curve balls of life. These, sometimes unpredicted, undeserved or self-induced situations and circumstances, occurring to everyone at some point in their life, are not what define us. They are the stepping stones in life’s journey that lead us to an understanding of universal principles larger than ourselves. You must have the faith and tenacity to remain focused on the journey even when surrounded by the negativity of these circumstances. Your faith and internal wisdom will get you through and teach you the lessons needed for the next curve ball.
So how do I, Mr. Positive, say this? “I have cancer”, my latest curve ball in life.
As bad as it sounds, and it sounded bad to me. It could be worse or the news is as good as bad news can be. I have been diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid cancer. Discovered by accident or miracle, as a result of unrelated findings and follow up from a physical. I have none of the listed possible causes of this type of cancer. I will undergo surgery on June 21 to remove my thyroid followed up with additional and standard Thyroid cancer treatment. The secret to success in any endeavor is surrounding yourself with specialists and professionals smarter than ourselves, coupled with Faith, Family, and Friends.
I have been on top of the world since finishing my upcoming book, “Finding the Wisdom You Seek”; on Amazon later this month, June 2016. More on that later. Hope, my wife, tells me God would like an addition to my resume, Cancer Survivor, and that is good by me. I love to share my optimism, with congregations and business groups, and will not stop doing so. Assuming all goes well and I do not loose my voice for too long, I will be out hitting the trail again, sharing my faith and love of all who are striving to thrive not just survive. Yes, this is a trying and stressful time, more for my family and friends than myself. Your prayers are welcome and needed. Please pray for my family and all those involved in my care. I will not be able to travel for a short time to promote my new book; I will ask for your help and prayers in its success, spreading the word of what I believe to be a life changing book for someone out there.
As far as the success of my treatment, I have faith in those charged with this task. I will do what is asked and required for a complete recovery. I truly am inspired by so many that have survived a much worse prognosis. They are too numerous to mention. I will begin a cancer journal and start a new blog post following my surgery, treatment, and recovery. I will return to answering emails, texts, and private messages as soon as possible.
Thank you in advance for your prayers and support. I know this is a short blog, I will post more later and send out a broadcast via Facebook live in the coming days.
Excerpt from a book I read; “What makes greatness is beginning something that does not end with you.”
Excerpt from my upcoming book; “…we do not know what we do not know until we know, then, my friend, we know forever. The unseen becomes the seen after we see. The unheard becomes the heard after we hear. You see that which you seek is within, or, as a wise old man once said: You are what you seek, the secret lies within.”
Thank you to so many for always being there.
Stay tuned to www.michaelholley.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Amazon for the announcement of my new book’s publication.
The creation of my latest book: Finding the Wisdom You Seek, as well as my thoughts on the book I know is inside of you!
My second book is complete and due for publication in June 2016. I am so excited about this project and hoping to meet someone this story has touched in the future. From the, what I am sure will be, award-winning cover, to the from the heart stories, words of wisdom to the enlightenment of those open to seeing what they currently do not use. What a feeling, for a guy barely graduating high school having now, almost, publishing two books, amazing even if I do say so myself. To be called an author, publisher and public speaker is truly an honor that is humbling. I say two books it will be five books counting the three editions of my first book, “Pinstripe Suites to Prison Blues.” Print, Kindle and auditable. This latest book planned for print and Kindle. Audible could also be forthcoming. If interested in these or future books go to an Amazon page and type in the search engine, Michael R Holley or use the link at the bottom of this blog.
To write a book. People have spoken to me about writing a book; saying “ I would like to write a book, and I always have a reason not to.” We all have a book inside of us, and your book would be interesting to someone. Maybe leaving a family history, for the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. You might have had a unique experience in the military, as an athlete, your occupation, whatever the subject there is only one you. Start by keeping a journal of your experiences, thoughts and ideas for the book you might or might not ever write. Someone once said, “You have never completed, what has yet to start.”
Now let’s just assume you have the intent to “birth a book.” A hero of mine, Andy Andrews, said, “there are two things fun about writing a book, deciding to write it and then naming it, after that it is hard work.” I have to say that is true of my first book not so much of my second. I wrote the main body of this latest book in one weekend. Of course, it took weeks even months to get the book ready for publication. Another mentor, actually the godfather of self-publishing, Dan Poynter, may he rest in peace, said: “when your first book is ninety-five percent complete push the button.” I hope I am quoting him correctly; you get the just of it. You will never be a hundred percent happy with the final product, and you can make changes until the end of time.
As I stated earlier just start, a journal is fine, when you are ready to sit at a keyboard or recorder and start typing/recording. Begin to get the thoughts, words and ideas on the hard drive. You then have a lot of help in the indie world. No one can get what is in your head out except for you. The most crucial part is good editing after you have content of course. Start with editing yourself to make sure you say what you mean and mean what you say. Read the book aloud, record the whole book and listen to it, making notes as to what you say, how you say it and does it mean what you intended. Then have the most educated person you know read the book, editing as they go. Using Word track changes so you can see the changes and address the comments and corrections.
You will then want a professional book editor to edit the book. If self-publishing, purchase books, read articles, and subscribe to newsletters for indie authors. You can email me if you would like and I will give you my thoughts and resources I have accumulated. I read my first book on self-publishing in 2010, my first book did not publish until December 2014.
I think writing is great therapy opening the mind and heart to what is. If you are a hardcore fiction writer and plan to write dime store novels, that is great, do it! Write whatever you want. You can publish a book on Createspace.com for about $1000 or less including editing. You can use a Word template and have a bound manuscript printed at Staples. As far as layout just follow your favorite books in your genre.
I am currently working on my next couple of books. The sequel to “Pinstripe Suits to Prison Blues” as well as a series based on my latest book “Finding the Wisdom You Seek.” This book will be for sale at local book signings and on my Amazon page in mid-June 2016.
I know you have a book inside of you and so do you. Write it; I'm told most people's regrets later in life are not what they did but what they did not do. Think about the endless; some would say wasted, hours of watching sitcoms, depressing news coverage. If you can read and write or work a recorder, start writing, journaling and planning to record the story and ideas you have in your head as well as in your heart. I have never given a speech exclusively for writing; I will if you have a group interested. I’ve spoken to some people about starting an online support group for indie writers. Not enough hours in the day sometimes. Writing a book or publication is one of the many things I know are part of you and those you know and love. Part of being all we were intended to be. I hope this blog encourages you to do what is your destiny, write the book, better yet encourage some else to write a book. The ultimate would be to do both, you write and inspire others to do the same. Showing you can while giving encouragement to others through example. I am planning a seminar on becoming and indie author and self-publishing in central Florida this summer, if interested in attending go to Michaelholley.com/HopefulPublishing and fill out the form.
I do hope you buy and enjoy my book when it publishes on Amazon June 2016. I have embedded a form at the bottom of this blog to sign up for notifications for this specific book launch. There is also an inquiry form on this website for inquiring about speaking, consulting as well as any other reason you might want to contact me.
God’s blessings in all you do. Use the talents, wisdom and insight you were born with to succeed and take a few others along with you for the ride. I see a journey paved with diamonds and gold if you do not let’s talk. Enjoy the books and let me share my enthusiasm for the future with your group, convention or meeting.