Instagram Teaser #4 I can't breathe

“Whataya think Cooter? Pretty exciting stuff, huh?”  I provoked him.

“I can’t move… I can’t breathe… help me… help me get out of here… I need to… to take… to take a shower…” He could barely speak, his jaw visibly trembling out of control. Cooter’s phobia had caused him paralysis; overcome with anxiety, he was almost incapacitated.

Oh my God, what’ve I done? I felt so guilty. I’ve never wanted to see anyone suffer, especially at my hands. I escorted him out of the chapel and back to our unit, like a wounded soldier, where he climbed into his rack and curled up with his back toward me, wrapping his pillow around the back of his head, and holding it tight with both hands.

Excerpt from my book: “Pay To Play” My Odyssey from Multimillionaire Businessman to PRISONER #18099-424



Whistle While You Work

On Work                                                                                                                                                                                    “You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.

Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,

And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.

And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,

And all work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.

And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”

But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;

And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”            Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”


Was I absolutely livid after Mike plead guilty? Sure, but he was left no choice, and for me to hold onto my anger wasn’t going to change anything.

Being a devoted wife and mother has been the most rewarding part of my life. And now, after 20 years of marriage, our son Shaun just beginning college, and Megan a vulnerable sophomore in high school, I was more determined than ever to keep our family intact.

Joani's Flock

Joani, Megan, Shaun. circa 1989

With Mike’s impending incarceration I had to take charge. My innate love and motherly instincts took over. I worked several jobs, 6 to 7 days a week to support the family while Mike was away. I met this new challenge day by day and tried not to think about the insurmountable circumstances I was facing. We certainly faced other trials in the past; but I never fathomed one of this magnitude. But like any of those other tests, we would again persevere together, as a family.

Check out Mike’s book: “PAY TO PLAY-My Odyssey from Multimillionaire to PRISONER 18099-424”


In prison you have no choice but to sit. Now as a Uber driver/Author of my first book I often ask this question of myself, to sit, or not to sit? Like a fisherman, do I stay where I’m at with my line in the water waiting for a bite, or do I take up my bait and move on. If I ponder about my time being in prison, I think it is best to just sit. 

Check out my new book: “PAY TO PLAY-My Odyssey from Multimillionaire to PRISONER 18099-424”



Instagram Teaser #3a

He’d move around the bonfire like a boxer who’d just parted the ropes and was circling the ring waiting for the challenger. Then, like a bell had rung, he’d begin the battle, hopping up and down, thrashing about, grappling with the massive phone book, struggling to get the right grip. Once the pages started to tear, he’d stop and slump over, like a wrestler with a death grip on his opponent. His back muscles swelled through his T-shirt, his whole body shaking.

Excerpt from my book: Pay To Play

Weight Pit #4

The “Weight Pit” is an area behind the kitchen dock where free weights are strewn around under a small outdoor shelter with a slanted roof. There were 20 to 30 guys pumping iron. Most were shirtless, wearing just khaki pants and black army boots. Some wore gray sweat pants and gym shoes. A lot of the black guys were wearing do-rags or versions of Arabian head scarfs.

I have never seen so many tattoos; some were covered from head to ankles. Most everyone had at least a couple, and now I was wishing that I had even just one. Unlike in the dormitory where nobody seemed to notice my arrival, it was like I’d walked into an exclusive club without membership. The stares were direct and arrogant, and with complete intention. This was the inmate’s house. This would be a different game with different rules.

Excerpt from my book: Pay To Play


“Michael’s descriptions of his time in prison are so vivid that I felt like I was right there with him experiencing it, too. This book is inspiring with how he came through the devastating years of hard times with such a positive outlook in life. His writing touched my heart as well as the friends and family that I have shared his story with. I truly believe that God will use his story to encourage others. Great work!” AMAZON Customer. See all reviews at #bookreviews #onlyinchicago #goodreads #pageturner #amazonbooks


“Lowecki,” Vic said reading my name off the tag on the upper breast pocket of my shirt, just under the federal ID number, 18099-424.

“What’s that Polish! or something like dadt?” The Kramer-looking guy, Nicki, asked, and I wanted to punch him.

“No, it’s Russian… the name was shortened when my grandfather came over from Kiev and went through Ellis Island,” I snapped back.

I felt a gust of confidence come over me, and there was this brief awkward moment when the group silently agreed with each other, by nods of skepticism, that maybe they didn’t know as much about me as they originally thought.

“Well… we know you ain’t a ‘Rat’…, cause you didn’t cooperate wit the feds. Ain’t that right, Vic?” said the patsy Nicki, asking the “Don” for approval. There were nods of approval around the small posse and my admission was confirmed.

“Just do your time, don’t talk too much, and make sure you’re always at your bunk for count,” Vic explained. “The COs count all the inmates at 4:00 o’clock, 9:00 o’clock, midnight, 3:00 AM and again at 5:00 AM. There’s also an additional count on Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM. Be standing at your bunk when they file through or its to the Hole. Chow is served at 6:00 AM, 11:00 AM, and 4:30 PM.” Vic finished up and looked at his watch. Our little get-together was about to adjourn.

“Three o’clock… take a walk, kid. Look around. Go out in the rec yard and get some air. But be sure to be at your bunk before four.” Vic gave his final instructions, got up and his crew and I followed him back up the stairs and out of the basement.

Excerpt from my book: Pay To Play


The camp clerk was a real flamer named Hector, better known in prison as a “bone smuggler”, or the submissive one in a homosexual act. He was the bitchy inmate who gave the orientation in the clothing area that afternoon. The camp clerk was privy to much of the operations inside the prison, including: the timing of when goods were coming into the kitchen and commissary, who was going home, who was being released to the US Marshal for testimony in upcoming trials, and who was on their way to Leavenworth. Well, Hector was on the Chicago crew’s payroll so to speak. He gave them information so they got first dibs on food items and other condiments hitting the prison black market. They also knew who was coming and going before anyone else in the camp, which reinforced their rank. In turn I’m sure Hector was getting duked – oh, excuse the pun − no way were Vic and Rocco “light in the loafers”, but little Nicki, you never know.

Excerpt from my book: Pay To Play