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The Twin Brothers Raised By An Alcoholic Father

Twin brothers raised by alcoholic fatherA tale of two brothers, each shares the same dark past…


A reporter sat on a city sidewalk next to a homeless man, ready to record his story for her article. Resting on the man’s lap was a backpack that contained all the belongings he had in the world.

The reporter opened her notebook and clicked her pen. “How did you end up here?” she asked gently, “How did you become homeless?”

The man quickly revealed that it was all because of his childhood, as he’d grown up with a father who was a raging alcoholic. Each evening his father would guzzle beer after beer, then take his anger out on his twin sons.

Not only would the father use physical violence, but he would use evil words to crush the spirit of his sons. Day after day, year after year.

“After a childhood like that,” said the man, what chance did I have? Of course I ended up being an alcoholic myself after what I had been through, and only having my father as an example. Over the years of drinking I lost everything and now here I am homeless on this sidewalk.”


The reporter was moved by the homeless man’s story, and she couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to his twin brother.

The twin who overcame his childhoodWith some work she was able to track him down, but she was in for a shock.

When she met the twin brother her jaw dropped to see that he was living in a large house and had been a successful businessman for many years. He smiled warmly while introducing her to his family and showing her around the house.

When she asked him how come he hadn’t ended up an alcoholic like his father, his answer was clear:
With a childhood like that, there was no way I would ever touch a drop of alcohol or anything like it! Instead I strove to be a better person and make a happy life for myself.”


I like this story because it delivers a simple yet powerful message about life—> how we look at things can end up deciding our future.

The only thing separating the twin brothers was the way they looked at their childhood, yet it made all the difference in the world!

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Not Afraid To Be Real: The Story Of Jenni Rivera

Picture of Jenni Rivera wearing a purple dress, a pearl necklace, and smiling for the camera.I got an email from a blog reader named Alondra a while back and she requested that I do the story behind the singer Jenni Rivera.

I got busy and had to put writing the story aside for a bit. I didn’t want to rush writing it because, though Jenni Rivera would have been the first to admit that she wasn’t perfect, she overcame a lot in her rise to stardom and went on to help millions of people. She lead an amazing life.

Her story is an important one because she made a point of standing up for what she believed in and worked to help others, even if it made things harder for herself (and it often did).

I have the time to tell her story now, and I think a good place to start is at the first major decision she had to make…


When Jenni Rivera was 15 years old she faced a problem: she was pregnant.

This was her sophmore year of high school and up till then she had worked hard to get straight A’s in her classes. Ever since she was a little girl she had loved school and she dreamed of going to college and becoming a business woman, but now things seemed to all be changing.

She had an important decision to make about her pregnancy. Her own mother had taken home remedies while pregnant with her to try and stop the pregnancy. Back Picture of Jenni Rivera when she was young still a teenager and holding her new baby daughter Janney 'Chiquis' Marín Rivera.then the family was going through hard times and having another child was seen as too much of a risk to take while the family was trying to survive.

But the home remedies didn’t work and Jenni was born anyway. The situation around her birth became a story that she would tell to show that she was a fighter even from the very beginning. She felt that this ‘never give up’ attitude was a very important part of who she was as a person, that no matter what obstacles life threw at her she would keep going.

So at 15 years old Jenni chose to keep her child… even though her parents had kicked her out, even though it would make staying in school very difficult or even impossible. The baby turned out to be a beautiful girl, Janney ‘Chiquis’ Marín Rivera.


Picture of the abusive ex husband of Jenni Rivera who is named José Trinidad Marín.Being a mother at that age wasn’t easy, especially since she kept on working at her goal of getting into college.

Money was tight and she not only had to juggle being a mother and going to school, but she also had to make money to support the family. She sold CD’s at flea markets to help make ends meet and through her dedication to studying she even graduated at the top of the class in her new high school.

Things were looking okay and she started college to work on getting a degree in business administration. But there was a dark cloud that hung over her life. José Trinidad Marín was the father of her baby and now her husband, he was also a violent person that abused her both physically and mentally.

He didn’t like the idea of her going for her dreams and getting more of an education. He thought that she should only be at home cooking and cleaning, and he did everything he could to try and keep her there.

Silhouette picture of a woman looking downward.Despite this she kept going to college (often having to study in secret) but the abuse was terrible and Jenni sank into a deep depression, even to the point of attempting suicide. It wasn’t in her character to give up but the abuse by José was one of the few things in her life that pushed her to the breaking point.

She had to force herself to rediscover the ‘never give up’ attitude that she was so proud of, she was a mother and her now 3 children needed her. It wasn’t easy but bit by bit she was able to build up the courage to leave him, she filed for divorce and started over as a single mother.

Believe it or not it was out of this dark time in her life that came the thing that sparked her music career.


To try and lift her spirits some of her friends decided to take her for a girl’s night out. Here’s the story of what happened as she told Billboard magazine:

Picture of Jenni Rivera singing into a microphone.That’s the night I discovered tequila. A single mother that had never gone out before, in a nightclub with tequila, wasn’t a good mix.

My friends dared me to go onstage and sing. I was a little tipsy and sang “Las Nieves de Enero” by Chalino Sanchez, who had passed away close to a year before.

After I was done, all the other drunken people applauded me. I liked it. Since my dad wanted me to be an artist, I figured he already had a record label; maybe I could have access to the musicians and the studio. That’s when I started recording.

This was the turning point for Jenni. She had gotten a college degree in business administration and used those skills to work in real estate for a while, but this experience at the girl’s night out ignited her passion to be a singer.

She set out to build a singing career using her musical talent and business skills. It turned out to be a long road. She faced a lot of prejudice because many of the people who were powerful in the styles of music that she sang believed that women were inferior and shouldn’t sing those types of music.

Picture of Jenni Rivera wearing earrings and looking into the camera smiling.As you can imagine, this was a horribly frustrating experience for her, her philosophy of never giving up was being put to the test big time.

Day after day, year after year she had to fight many battles with prejudiced people. And when she encountered really bad discrimination she tried to turn things around in her mind and use it to fuel her determination to succeed, it didn’t always work but it was enough to keep her going.

The public, however, loved her. The songs she sang told stories that really spoke to what was happening in their own lives, and the emotions in her songs expressed their own feelings in a way that other singers couldn’t. Her fans were very dedicated and her popularity skyrocketed.


Picture of Jenni Rivera as a singer and businesswoman.Jenni Rivera found the success she was looking for and then went beyond that.

Yes she became a famous singer but she also put that business degree to good use and started many successful companies: Divina Cosmetics, Jenni Rivera Fragrance, Jenni Jeans, Divine Music, and even a real estate company called Divina Realty.

She built a business empire and moved into doing TV shows and movies…all on top of doing her music. But when you look at all her career one thing shines through all the rest: she cared about people and always worked to help them.

Jenni’s songs dealt with social issues affecting the lives of her fans and she didn’t shy away from singing about topics that other musicians were afraid to mention. Some of these things she had been through herself and other things were experiences that she heard about while talking to her fans. Either way she wanted her music to help heal people of their pain and give them courage to make a better life for themselves.

Picture of Jenni Rivera talking about the sexual abuse of her sister and daughter by her ex husband.This philosophy extended beyond her music, as the world seen when she found out that her daughter and sister had been sexually molested by her ex-husband José back when he lived with the family. Many famous people sweep this kind of thing under the rug because they’re afraid it will give them bad publicity, but she didn’t do that.

Well first off she went after José with everything she had, he was a fugitive for many years but was finally arrested and sentenced to 30 years in jail for child molestation. But she also spoke openly about what had happened, even though she felt shame and guilt for being the one to bring him into the family. She wanted to show people that this kind of thing is okay to talk about and that it should be talked about, because otherwise the silence will help protect the abuser and does even more harm to the victims.

She was open and honest about many aspects of her life whether they were good or bad, she wasn’t afraid to be real with people and courageously lead the way on social issues through her example.

The last picture taken of Jenni Rivera shows her on a private jet plane looking back and smiling.THE PLANE CRASH

The last known picture of Jenni Rivera was taken on December 9, 2012. The picture shows her sitting on a plane and looking back at the camera, looking tired but still smiling to her fans.

That day she boarded a plane for the last time. She was flying to a city in Mexico for a TV appearance but never made it there, her plane malfunctioned and crashed not long after it took off.

The Jenni Rivera we know is frozen in time. 43 years old, mother of 5, and loved by millions around the world. We can only guess at how much more good she could have done in person if given more time, but what we do know is all the good she did while alive. This lives on through her music and the charities she founded, and this also lives on through the love of her fans who appreciate not only her music but her dedication to helping others.

She was not afraid to be real. And it’s through this fearless honesty that she is still able to help others through their troubles.
Picture of Jenni Rivera smiling and talking into a microphone while saying goodbye.
In return, her fans love her for who she was…including all the good and even the bad. She knew this and took it to heart, during her very last concert she said:

Thank you to my public. To all of you who are with me, who love me just like I am.

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Beyond Fear, Beyond Death: JK Rowling’s Struggle To Write Harry Potter

A picture of author JK Rowling wearing pink lipstick and an orange shirt.This post is a request by long time blog reader The Ikarians, who left me a voicemail comment a little while back requesting the story of how JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book.

I had known some of this story already, but after looking into it more I found some very interesting parts of the story that I don’t think gets talked about too often…


When JK Rowling first stepped foot on to the set of the original Harry Potter movie she was in total shock.

Up until that day she had never realized the house Harry lived in was the exact same layout as the house she herself had grown up in, with cabinet under the stairs and everything.

The movie makers had built the set of the house by what was described in the book, bringing to life a part of her childhood that she didn’t even know she’d written into the story.A picture of the cupboard under that stairs that Harry Potter lived in.

Luckily she never had to sleep in a cabinet under the stairs or anything like that, but her parents were definitely very open about how they would have preferred another child.

Before she was born they were expecting a boy and had even picked out a special name for him, but surprise…they got her instead. She was Joanne instead of the ‘Simon John’ that they had wanted and she never forgot it.

And when her parents had another child which turned out to be a girl they were often equally as open about how delighted they were in her sister but not her. How did she feel during times like this? In her own words: “I went up to my room and wept.”

This kind of a childhood left her on very shaky ground, and even though she was often able to hide it from others by pretending to be strong and confident (even to the point of being bossy and coming off as a know-it-all) inside she felt unsure of herself and afraid to be who she really was.


The story of Harry Potter first came into JK Rowling’s life when was in her twenties. She was stuck in a train station waiting on a train that was supposed to be going to London, but for the time being was going absolutely nowhere.

An illustration of the face of Harry Potter smiling and wearing his trademark glasses and scar.It was hard for her to mind too much though, as she had always loved trains and train stations. Trains were a deep part of the folklore of her life and she had grown up hearing romantic tales of how her parents met and fell in love at King’s Cross train station.

All of a sudden while she was sitting there on the train a vision of a boy popped into her mind, she could see him and his story very clearly, here was this scrawny little boy who didn’t know he was a wizard and was setting off toward a far off wizarding school.

The world of Harry Potter came flooding into her mind with all it’s little details like how exactly the wizarding school was run and the various characters who had adventures there.

But there was one major problem: she didn’t have a pen.

Frantically digging through her bag she first searched for a pen or pencil, but then eventually for any kind of writing instrument at all that she could use to start bringing this story to life on paper. Anything would do, an eyeliner even, but there was nothing.

A drawing JK Rowling made of the Harry Potter characters, including Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Severus Snape.And so she had to sit there all during the wait and the train ride just thinking about the world of Harry Potter. As soon as she got home she started writing and writing.

She had always wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first book, called ‘Rabbit’ at around six years old. She loved books a lot and she loved writing even more and had secretly harbored the dream of becoming a writer someday, but was riddled with self-doubt.

When her childhood best friend Sean Harris (who later became the inspiration for Ron Weasley) had found out about her dream he encouraged her to keep writing and not to give up. And indeed over the years she had always kept scribbling away longhand on whatever paper was around but she’d never truly commited herself to the goal of becoming published.

And now here was the story of Harry Potter calling out to her, a story that her heart leapt with joy at the thought of writing. She even started to make very detailed things like diagrams of the lives of every student of Hogwarts and drawings of the characters so she could ‘know what they looked like’.

But despite this world that was coming alive on the paper in front of her she still felt unsure of herself, she was afraid to dedicate herself to writing a book about child wizards going to wizarding school, even if it was her dream.

And then tragedy struck.


Just a few months after JK Rowling put her first Harry Potter ideas to paper her mother died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

JK Rowling wasn’t close to her father, in fact in many ways she had spent her life in fear of him, but things with her mother were different and the loss left her utterly devastated.

An illustration of Harry Potter standing at the Mirror Of Erised looking at his parents and family.Her mother never saw any of the pages of the book in progress or even knew about the world of Harry Potter, yet her death changed the book on a very deep level. JK Rowling describes it like this:

“Her death is on virtually every other page of the Harry Potter books.

At least half of Harry’s journey is a journey to deal with death in it’s many forms, what it does to the living, what it means to die. What survives death.

It’s there on every single page.”

After the trauma of losing her mother she made big changes in her life. The book was put to the side and she moved to Portugal to work as a teacher, got married, and had a daughter.

This was a more conventional route, much safer than wagering everything on pouring herself into trying to get a book published.

However, the marriage rapidly fell apart. She had spent her life afraid of her father and now she’d ended up marrying a man much like him. The marriage lasted a mere thirteen months and a day, and soon she was on a desperate plane ride back to the UK with no money and a new baby to take care of.

Picture of a Dementor flying through the air in the movie Prisoner Of Azkaban.To put things bluntly, her life was now in shreds and there was nowhere to hide from it. She was now literally as poor as you could get in the UK without being homeless.

It wasn’t long before she sank into the darkest depression of her life. For most people the Dementors are just spooky characters in a book, but to her they came from real terrors, a deep unrelenting depression and haunting thoughts of suicide.

She described this time in her life as:

“The cold absence of feeling, the cold hollowed out feeling. It was only because of my daughter that I got help.”


JK Rowling was terrified about what growing up around a extremely depressed mother would do to her daughter. Or worse, growing up around no mother at all. So she sought out medical help for her depression and started attending therapy sessions under the care of a doctor.

And while the therapy sessions helped keep her suicidal thoughts at bay, outside of the sessions she was faced with a life that had hit absolute rock bottom. But to her surprise, this ended up being a source of great strength …there was nothing left to do but to face her failure. This rock bottom failure gave her a freedom she had never experienced before, for the first time in her life she felt free to be her true self:

“Failure was a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was. I began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

A picture of The Elephant Room, the coffee shop cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

She threw herself into putting the Harry Potter story on paper no matter what, even if in the end it got rejected by every single publisher and never got published. This was her dream, this was who she was…and really what did she have to lose?

During this time her daughter had a hard time falling asleep and the best way to get her to rest was to take her around in a stroller each day until she dozed off. After these walks JK Rowling would stop into a local coffee shop called The Elephant House, sit at a particular out of the way table, and write and write.

And so in this way Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was written out longhand over many afternoons in a coffee shop and then later typed up on an old typewriter.

The rest is, well, history.

A picture of the book cover for JK Rowling's first published book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.Through the writing of Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (er, Philosopher’s Stone) she was not only able to fulfill her dream of becoming a published author but she also experienced an unexpected side effect… becoming the richest author in the entire world.

She didn’t just coast on the success of the first Harry Potter book though, she made sure the entire series was good and infused it with the wisdom she’d learned throughout her life. From the shaky ground of her childhood, to the crushing death of her mother, hitting rock bottom, and the struggle to write the first book. How had she overcome all this? The message of the Harry Potter series in her own words…

Love is the most powerful thing, beyond fear, beyond death.”

Her love for her family, of writing, and of the story of Harry Potter helped her overcome the hardships of life and ultimately gave her what she needed to succeed.

JK Rowling had come a long way from the girl who so desperately tried to hide who she was, who sitting in her childhood home would have never dared to dream that one day she’d actually be walking through the set of a movie …a movie based on a book written by Joanne ‘K’ Rowling.