Music Is My Life It Helps Me Through The Night A Sudden Awakening:A Cautionary Tale For Today’s Youth!

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A Sudden Awakening:A Cautionary Tale For Today’s Youth!

It was a hot and humid night on July 11, 2002. I was chauffeured around Manhattan in a white two-door Mercedes-Benz CL600 when my friend Craig Boogie and I pulled up in front of a busy night. club.

– Jamila, come with me. Craig said diligently as he jumped out of the car and walked towards the passenger door, motioning for me to get out.

“No Craig! I’m not going to any clubs tonight.” I replied sternly, leaning back in my seat and covering my thin, caramel-colored face with large black designer glasses.

Craig begged me to get in, but I waved him off, rolled down the window, and turned on the radio. Seeing that this was a hopeless cause, Craig went into the club without me. I thought he was going to stop quickly, but minutes passed and Craig still hadn’t returned. I called her number several times but no answer.

Excited, I got out of my car, locked the door and angrily drove to the jammed nightclub. Upon entering the building, “EXECUTION, Happy Birthday!” I heard a loud familiar voice shout.

My friends, mostly celebrities and music industry executives, greeted me with hugs and kisses. I felt honored and special because they all treated me like a queen that night. I was 25 years old and a multi-millionaire. I achieved what I thought was real success. I grew up from a small girl in the suburbs of Jamaica Queens, New York to a well-known and respected business woman. I lived in a prestigious gated community in Northern New Jersey. I had a collection of luxury cars, enough diamonds to fill a store, and fur coats. In my mind I have been trained all my life. Unfortunately, my success was short-lived.

On July 16, 2008, just 6 years later, I stood before Judge Jose Linares in the Federal District Court of Newark, New Jersey, awaiting sentencing for bank fraud. My past suddenly caught up with me. What I perceived as a simple business shortcut ruined my life and ruined my business.

My heart started racing as I waited for the judge to sentence me. It has been 5 years since my federal investigation began. I was desperate to end my 5 year nightmare. In a few minutes, this long saga will end, I thought to myself as I breathlessly recited Psalm 23.

“I sentence you to 151 months in prison and 5 years of probation.” Judge Linares, a stocky, middle-aged Cuban-American (optionally White) announced as he pounded his wooden gavel.

I immediately went numb inside. Tried to pull together 151 months to calculate how many years they equal. “Twelve and a half years, oh my gosh!” I said when the bailiff came to take me into custody.

I was given a few moments to part with a 4-carat diamond ring, a diamond tennis bracelet, a matching chain, and a diamond-bezel watch. I put my expensive jewelry in my large Louis Vuitton bag along with the keys to my brand new Escalade that I just bought. I sued myself and didn’t expect to go to federal prison. When I handed over my belongings to my lawyer, along with the ticket for my car parked in the courthouse parking lot, his face turned red. He was clearly surprised, too, and couldn’t believe the judge had sentenced me to over ten years behind bars.

In a matter of moments, I made a huge difference. Forced to remove my designer clothes and shoes, I was made to change into a pair of khaki prison overalls, ill-fitting trousers and blue skip sneakers. This can’t be, I thought to myself. In the blink of an eye, I went from being a free woman to being Federal Prisoner #59253-053. I was literally living my worst nightmare!

I stripped myself of all the worldly tools I used to hide my insecurities and stared into the small rusty mirror in my prison cell. Immediately, I hated the reflection of the figure I saw. Loaded with pounds of guilt and shame, I was overwhelmed and depressed. When the prison door closed behind me, I felt like my life was over!

All day long I was consumed with negative thoughts and played out the arrangements for my funeral in my mind. Locked in a 5 1/2 x 9 jail cell, I had no one to lean on or turn to. I’m caught! Crying with worry and grief, my life flashed before my eyes. I tried my best to please everyone and everything I did. Even more disappointing, people who I thought were really my friends left me. The sharp pain of grievances and disappointments recurred incessantly, forcing me to realize the futility of the superficial pursuits I had been pursuing.

Desperate, I reached for the Bible a woman in the next cell had given me. For countless hours I read. I felt like I was getting stronger as I finished each page. Through the word of God, I was able to see the light in the darkest place in my life. For the first time in years, I was quiet enough to listen to the inner voice that ministered to me. I was immediately convicted. I knew that in order to overcome the long road ahead, I had no choice but to change my course and follow the path God wanted me to take.

This journey has not been easy, but I can say that by the grace of God I made it! Today, six years later, I see things differently. I understand the importance of education and hard work from my mistakes. My experience has taught me that short cuts always turn out to be long wrong ones!

I had to raise my children behind bars from a prison living room. My son was 11 years old when I was first imprisoned. His high school graduation last June was one of the most memorable events I’ve ever had. Not only did I suffer, but my family suffered from my mistake.

Now that I have paid for my actions, I understand that nothing will threaten my freedom! I am sharing my story with you so that you can heed my message and learn from my mistakes. No matter how desperate you feel, avoid crime by any means necessary! No matter how you cut it, you’ll get caught eventually! So stay in school, get an education, and pursue your dreams. Hard work will eventually pay off and not be taken away. Take it from me, crime just doesn’t pay, DON’T DO IT!

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