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

  • Leona Deleon

    Thank you for sharing, Juan! What a blessing your words are.

    • The Daily Love

      Thank you for reading, Leona! -TDL Team

  • jamie

    Very inspiring. Thank you Juan.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks, Jamie! -TDL Team

  • Leslie

    Dear Juan, Thank you for sharing your inspiring and uplifting thoughts, words; God-given beliefs and convictions with us in the Daily Love.

    And, yes…you become what you believe in. Stay on track and like you say, the sky (with decorated castles – just loved that imagery!) is the limit!

    We all make mistakes in life. So, now, given these amazing and rare opportunities with all the supportive people now in your life including Chris Redlitz and his “Too LIve Crew”, Dr. Lee Baca and your loving and devoted family, only look back in reflection and introspection. Otherwise, move into your newly transformed wonderful self. There are so many people who need you and your God-given talents. You are a gift of God.
    “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully, made; your works are wonderful”
    Psalm 139:14

    God bless you, Juan!

    Leslie (volunteer with The Last Mile Program at San Quentin)

    • The Daily Love

      Thank you for reading and sharing, Leslie! -TDL Team

  • Caroline Porter

    This is so incredible. I love reading these posts! Blessings to you, Juan and to your beautiful support system.

    • The Daily Love

      Blessings right back at you, Caroline! -TDL Team

  • Verna

    Thank you! Considering what a miraculous creation the mind and the body are, what a waste it is to not respect and appreciate such a gift, even though it takes whatever will power one can draw upon to face a new day and be a constructive human being. Being very old makes one appreciate that much more the love in this world, exemplified in so many little ways, even by just receiving and giving a smile. – Verna (97 years young)

    • The Daily Love

      Your words are beautiful, Verna. Thank you so much for sharing! -TDL Team

  • Heracio Harts

    Stay positive my TLM brother. The best is yet to come.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for reading, Heracio! -TDL Team

  • jill

    Beautifully written and expressed. Keep the faith. We keep it for you as well.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for sharing, Jill! -TDL Team

  • Gardenias

    Gratitude is a blessing and you have plenty of it, stay in the light Juan, God has plans for you that you can not even imagine, Bless be those who believe without seeing