Sunday, May 20, 2018

Memorial Day: Remembering the Unsung Heroes

Last Chance! If you haven't already been to the Illinois State Museum's Unsung Heroes Exhibit yet, it will be available until June 10, 2018, located at 502 South Spring Street, Springfield IL. With Memorial Day upon us, it is even more of a poignant time to experience this special exhibit. Among the heroes featured is Thomas R. Jones Senior who was an Illinois native and Navy Corpsman. 


Thomas R. Jones, Vietnam Veteran/author/playwright/motivational speaker, led an extraordinary life in public service. Tom Jones ‘Career Legends’ were transposed into a Proclamation from the Illinois Senate and issued by IL Senate President John Cullerton “in recognition of his exemplary career and dedication to Illinois public service and his sacrifice for the civic good of our nation”.

In his later years, Jones was instrumental in being able to get Springfield designated as a Purple Heart city, Sangamon County a Purple Heart County, and Illinois a Purple Heart state. 

Earlier in his career, Thomas Jones was assistant director of  Illinois Department Veteran Affairs in Governor Jim Thompson's cabinet. During that time Jones was an integral part in establishing the Vietnam Memorial here in Springfield, and also played a role in the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.  In D.C. he led his team where they were responsible for the Illinois contingency and were involved in some of the planning. 

Thomas R. Jones Sr. was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Vietnam Services Medal. His book, a historical fiction novel, the Lost Survivor tells the story of a marine corpsman of the Third recon battalion who spent most of his time in Da Nang.  His multimedia stage production Long Way Home was based on his novel.

This exhibit highlights his work as a veteran advocate in the Springfield area, Illinois, and the nation. Currently, photographs and artifacts from his life are still on display as part of the Unsung Heroes Exhibit at the Illinois State Museum through June 10, 2018. Please see the museum's website for more information at

Thursday, May 17, 2018

From Russia With Love: Combating Human Trafficking from Post- Soviet Region to Central Illinois

The World Affairs Council Central IL in partnership with NPR Illinois presents "From Russia With Love: Combating Human Trafficking from the Post- Soviet Region to Central Illinois" on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7:30 pm at the  Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St, Springfield IL. Our featured speaker is Dr. Laura A. Dean of Millikin University.

When folks think of this sensitive topic they don't realize it's happening in their own backyard so to speak, as It's often thought of being prevalent in really big cities. Dr. Laura A. Dean researches gender and politics issues focusing on public policy, migration, and gender-based violence in the former Soviet Union and is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Millikin University. Her talk will focus on her current book project, which examines policy adoption and implementation in the Post-Soviet region and research based on fieldwork and interviews with policy-makers in Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia.  Dr. Dean will also discuss the work of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force combating the issue in this region

More information on Dr. Dean can be found at For more information on this event and the World Affairs Council Central IL please see This program is open to the public. 

Dr. Dean is available for interviews and can be reached at  (217) 425-4699.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

A woman who flourished where angels and fools fear to tread

 For most of my life, people have been telling me not to try or to give up. They said my goals were impossible--that I couldn't possibly make any of it happen. But, what they were really saying was that it was impossible for them. Since they couldn't, I shouldn't even try. It was too bad and so sad that they empowered their fears and self-doubts instead of finding their own inner courage ignore the negative message. If you believe you can't, then you can't; yet if you are certain you can, you can find or make a way to reach your goals. I changed the punctuation, which modified the message to "I'm possible." What they didn't understand is that every time they said I couldn't, not only did I proved them wrong, but I did it so well that they looked foolish for doubting me.

I am a creative with a good business sense. As a storyteller, I tell tales about those who find the courage or are forced by circumstances beyond their control to face their deepest, darkest fears. As a producer, I use innovation, moxie, and the highest production standards to produce film and television projects. I base my projects on age, gender, and ethnic diversity both in front of and behind the cameras.

No matter what the venue, you first must start with an original concept and a well-crafted script. Adding the current visual/special effects or new talent doesn't make a project new, which makes nearly all remakes and sequels reruns.

The current trend of focusing on A-list talent and high price tent poles projects only serves to reduce the number of projects produced every year, which increases the financial risk to the investors and the production company. Just because it worked before doesn't mean it will be successful again. Original projects initially carry more risk, but the truly innovative ones become the trendsetters and sent new bars for profitability. Casting talent in an inappropriate role, no matter what their marketing rating, will only serve to increase the budget and will hurt the project at the box office. However, casting a talented unknown in the right role will garner the audiences and create a future A-list talent. 

Money can't fix a bad project. By substituting money for innovation is throwing good after bad and is the main ingredient in producing a disaster. Business 101 states that profitability comes when you give the public what they want at a cost-effective price. Business 102 states that if you treat your people well, they will treat you well, which means paying them a living wage and giving them respect. These are two elements many in the business community have forgotten, which is why the economy is still challenged.

Although I have not served, I use my talents to actively support military personnel and veterans. Recently, I was asked why. The answer is simple. I don't have the temperament to serve. Nearly all of my time would have been spent in the stockade. Besides, I am only capable of shooting off my mouth. But at that, I'm a markswoman because I know how to use words as weapons. 

Most of those who serve signed their name and dedicated their lives to serving and protecting their country and the world. However, killing others is an unfortunate necessity for both sides of conflicts. This is a major disconnect that causes most of the emotional issues for those served. In order to defend, they have to kill. But killing is contradictory to their need to protect. I met a gentleman, who served during WWII, who put it the best. Looking back on his life, he felt guilty over the good men he killed just because they belonged to the other side and for his buddies, he was unable to save. Now decades later, those memories tore him up inside, because he couldn't stop thinking about them

Those who serve the nation are people, not disposable parts of the war machine and they are especially not political footballs that are to be used, abused, and then losed at the whims of politicians.

My job is to make sure civilians and especially politicians never forget that.

I am proud of my work. It will make you laugh, cry, and scare your socks off. But it will also inspire you to see the world in new ways. Join my team and become the difference you want to see in the world.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Should television make a profit?

As the creator and Executive Producer of Horses and Heroes, I need to clarify the purpose and parameters of Horses and Heroes. It has never has been a non-profit company. Horses and Heroes combine equine therapy with peer support therapy to create an unscripted TV series that will empower veterans to reclaim their lives. Each season, eight veterans will come together with the hosts, Craig Sawyer and Tim Abell along with the Therapists on the hosting ranch and the team therapist, Dave Ferruolo. They will work together to identify and address their core issues. Unlike most in the genre, Horses and Heroes is all about healing and forward movement. Yesterday, I was accused to trying to make a profit off others' pain. The owner of a ranch said, "It is immoral to capitalize on the recovery of our wounded veterans." I debated with myself about how to or if I should address this accusation. Staying silent and letting it slid would only add credence to her charges.
Horses and Heroes is a production company that's sole purpose is to produce the unscripted TV series, Horses and Heroes. It is a for-profit company that is looking for equity investors and a corporate cross-branding partner. Although we wouldn't turn down donates, we are not actively seeing them out. Investors, expect and deserve to make a profit on their investment. That is why they invest. The corporate partnership with television programming has been around since the beginning of television. Texaco Star Theater and Mutual of Omaha's the Wild Kingdom are only two examples. We are offering an updated and active version of what was done before.
As for the morality of making a profit off the pain and recovery of others, the same could be said of everyone in medicine from the janitor to the CEOs, lawyers, drug manufacturers, including those who do the research, those in the funeral industry--all of them and more make a profit of the physical and emotional challenges of others. If they didn't, they wouldn't be able to donate to the non-profits such as this ranch.
We will be hiring veterans for both in front of and behind the cameras. We will be paying a fair wage plus covering the travel, housing, and food expenses during the production, including for the eight veterans going through the therapy on air. The ranch will be paid a sizeable location fee as well as receiving a great deal of promotion. After the show. we will be arranging aftercare for the veterans who went through the therapy. Everyone wins, especially those veterans, who watch the show and seek help afterward.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Facing Your Fears and Achieving Your Dream

A Butterfly is Born as a Caterpillar Dies gives aid and comfort to those, who are going through life's transitions.

For there to be a beginning, there needs to be an ending. The end of the day is the beginning of the night. Night's end begins with the new dawn. From childhood through the end of life, change is inevitable. How we choose to react will open or close doors. But not always in the ways we expect or want. Even when we chose to make the changes, the excitement intertwines with apprehension as we walk through the threshold into unknown. Some people we meet will help and support you. Some will challenge you. But each of them will play an important role in helping you learn and grow.

This is the lesson Shylon learns. She awakes in her egg. At first, she is afraid. But quickly realizes that she is safe and secure in her own little world As she starts to outgrow it, the feeling of security is replaced by fear of loss. When a piece of it falls away and she sees the world beyond, her fear intertwines with amazement and curiosity. The harder she tries to stay in her egg, the faster it falls away. She has no other choice than to release the past and follow her destiny.

Available as a PDF by clicking here website Available as a Kindle by clicking here
Available as a paperback by clicking here

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Are you ready for the changes that are coming your way?

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”
― Lao Tzu

This is the concept the parable God Saw a Butterfly. Change is inevitable. How we deal with it both opens and closes doors for us. In childhood, our bodies grow and mature. Every moment of every day brings amazing physical and emotional changes. Some changes we expect. Others take us completely by surprise. Yet as we meet these challenges, we develop new perspectives. As we become stronger and more aware our surrounding, our boundaries expand to give us more freedom. Doors open before us, while others close behind us. These changes can be scary and frustrating while we are going through them. They are like hallways. leading us from one door to the next. Yet as we cross the threshold of the new doorway, we can look back to see how much we've grown in wisdom, strength, and courage. Some challenges we will gladly and eagerly accept, while others we will be unable to refuse. It's a pattern that continues throughout our life until we come to the final hallway. Whether through illness or age, we must face the knowledge that we will be eventually walking out the door of this life and moving on to what lies beyond. With us, we take the wisdom, courage, and the love of this lifetime. God saw a Butterfly shares the journey of awareness, courage, and love of the changing adventure of life.

It is available as a PDF on the author's website or on Amazon as a Kindle and in paperback.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Stop feeding the political and spiritual vampires

Time to make positive change. Instead of fearing, hating, and slamming the negative events and people, we need to put our time, energy, and courage into what we want to create. Hating and attacking Trump, his minions, and his followers only supports their poor-me-pity-me-see-how they attack me mentality. By verbally, physically, and spiritually attacking them, you empower and embolden them to become worse as they see it as self defense.

There is a video going around a of a Evangelist in Texas going to a mall to destroy children's Christmas. He preached his church's version of religion,while saying Santa Clause didn't exist and everyone who believed in him was either evil or deluded. I can't imagine how horrible his life must be if he fills it by deliberately hurting others. My spirituality inspires me to help and comfort others. His obviously promotes the opposite. I couldn't imagine any sane, loving person would do what he did. My knee jerk reaction, as well as many others, was to go to his page and say horrible things No doubt he loved everyone of those negative comments. We fed his delusion of martyrdom. If instead, we had treated him as a mentally ill person in need of emotional and spiritual help, it would have been like feeding garlic to a vampire. Positive loving energy dispels negativity in the same way. Standing in your power and for what is right defeats fear, hate, and ignorance.

I am not advocating become a doormat. On the contrary, I'm saying use that time, energy, and courage to empower yourself and others of the same positive mindset. If you can march, march and speak up for each other and positive change. If you can't march support those who can, but also make phone calls, send faxes, send emails and run for office.

The Republican don't feel the need to compromise, because they have gerrymandered security into their seats. Gerrymandering is being addressed in the courts and voting booths. But that takes time. Voting is one thing we can and must all do. Every vote does matter. No candidate is perfect. Litigating 2016 is pointless. Voting in 2018 in a tidal wave numbers will change the balance of power. There are twice as many of us as there of them. When all of us show up, they can't win.