What Drives You To Stay Positive Every Day? - Daily Love with Mastin Kipp

What Drives You To Stay Positive Every Day?

tlm icon-1By Juan Tillis

LA County Jail – Twin Towers


I stay positive because of my belief in God, in his inherent mercy, and his unfailing love of me. I stay positive because of my ex-wife, Dionne Davison, who reminds me that I still have a light that shines about me. I stay positive because I have a sister, Deirdre Tillis, who visited me just to tell me that she believed in me and that I am an amazing person. I stay positive because Because my mom, over a jailhouse phone, tells me that she is proud of me for being part of EBI (Education Based Incarceration) program. I stay positive when Mr. Edwards, my life skills instructor, teaches us that “to be Great, is to be God-like,” and reads to us moving and empowering stories from “Chicken Soup for the Prison’s Soul.”  I stay positive because Chris Redlitz and his “Too Live Crew,” are training us about business excellence through “ethics and transparency.” Not to mention the Sheriff of Los Angeles County jail, Dr. Lee Baca, stating to us inmates to believe in ourselves and to build our dreams “like decorated castles in the sky.”

The host of people I just mentioned from God to the Sheriff, like being surrounded by a “Dream Team,” only echo the things I, at 46 years of age, am truly beginning to identify with. I have 20 year history of going in and out of jails and prisons for crimes fueled by addiction to cocaine. This addiction took hold of me and like a pit-bull would an unfortunate animal, biting, locking, and shaking everything in my life apart. I am lucky and very blessed to still be alive. How could I not be grateful? (Tweet-worthy!)

I am positive because the alternative would be to embrace the things of darkness and of dying and even though I will die one day, I choose to be concerned with living. I am positive because I have a 3 year old grandson named Eli that I love. He has never seem me high or knows anything about my criminal past, and by me maintaining my drive to stay positive, there is a good chance he never will. I stay positive because of all the tremendous people that God has sent into my life, communicating and instilling me to the truth that can and will do great things, if only I believe.


All communications between inmates and external channels are facilitated by approved volunteers since inmates do not have access to the internet. This program with Quora is part of The Last Mile San Quentin. Twitter:  @TLM