Journal Entry: Daniel Jason Harrington-11/23/2023

Journal Entry

My Creative Canvas —

I used to stare at my canvas and only see the dark spots of trials. Though they are still there, programs like Michael Santos’ and mentors through my journey have enabled me to focus on the positives, like opportunities and strengths.

One such trial has been my youngest son, Daniel Harrington Jr. who has been diagnosed on the high spectrum of Autism. Those with Autism depend on routine and normalcy. Yet, over the years of my incarceration, his mother has become more and more unresponsive to my calls, letters and messages. I stand in line each day, several times a day, to place a call and speak with Junior, to be answered, maybe, once a month, or most times even less often.

Keeping in touch with my youngest son, and insuring him of daddy’s desire to be a part of his life has been an ongoing battle, and leads to a great amount of frustration. This has become some of the dark colors of trials on my palette.

If I mix in the brighter colors….grit, dedication, compassion, my hope to be a part of my children’s lives, and a willingness to learn, I find that a brighter picture of tomorrow begins to form.

I developed new means of communicating my love for Junior over the years by learning to oil paint; make crafts such as teddy bears and book bags; and sending letters to family members to hold for him until he is able to receive communication directly from us . The same determination that I had in the streets to ensure I would have enough to get high each day, I now used to bring upon the positives in my life.
As I began to learn and develop these parental skills, especially those designed for special needs children, I began to put them into a format that could be shared with other incarcerated men. I now facilitate the parenting program at the facility I am in, and am using the trials that I face to help others navigate the same murky waters. We share our ideas with each other, and together continue to transform ourselves and our relationships with our children into something memorable.