Name Rick Strait
Where are you from
I was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and lived my early childhood in Altoona, Pennsylvania. My dad, who was a pastor at the time took a church in Missouri so around age 10 or 11 we moved to Missouri, where I have lived for the last 30 years, minus 3 years when I was in the Marine Corps.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I barely graduated from High School in Farmington, MO. I then joined the United States Marine Corps and spent three years in the Marines. When I got out I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do and worked a few jobs and decided I wanted to get a business degree. At the time I was working as treatment technician at a drug and alcohol treatment facility and going to school. I quickly realized business wasn’t my calling. I loved psychology classes so I got my bachelor degree in psychology and criminal justice and went and got my Master’s in Clinical Counselling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) as well as have several certifications for substance abuse and gambling counselling.
My passion is working in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. I am on two not for profit boards. I teach Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes whenever I can.
My family is my strength and primary reason I keep going. I have two wonderful parents who have always been supportive of me, no matter what choices I made, and when I made the wrong choices they were there to help me get back on track and give me support. I have three wonderful adult children, Joshua (23), Shayna (21), and Holden (19). These three have been and are amazing. They put up with me working full time and going to school full time for seven years while they were growing up and they put up with me learning new counselling skills at trainings and trying them when I came home. Then I have what I call my two bonus children McKenzie (11) and Emily (10), we are not family by any legal sense, but they are my family. I am blessed that we all live in the same town and every we have a family dinner or lunch were we all visit. We also try to take mini trips together and some big vacations together.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news definitely has to be that I am lucky enough to have been included in Josh Rivedal’s new book The i’Mpossible Project Reengaging With Life, Creating a New You. This book is released January 2016. It was such an honor to have Josh include my story in his book.
In other news in September 2015 I had successfully organized by fifth suicide prevention and awareness conference and I am working on my sixth conference for next year. These conferences are in communities where we bring in great speakers some nationally and some regionally and we offer it free to our community.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poetry as a teenager and wrote a few short stories, but for the most part I just kept those stories and poems to myself.
For the last ten years I have been telling my children different book ideas I want to work on, and have started several, but never went very far and it was kind of standing joke with my children.
I started writing initially as a way of getting thoughts and feelings out. It was therapeutic for me. I still do some of that, but now I am working more on getting stories out that I hope will benefit others in some way or another.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Interesting question, I am still getting used to that, it wasn’t until I got my proof copy of The i’Mpossible Project where my name was listed as an author that it really sank in.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I haven’t completed my first book yet, but I will be completing three books in 2016 and hopefully getting them published. Two books I am writing and one I am helping my 11 year old write on bullying. In all honesty Josh Rivedal is the one who inspired me to take these ideas and thoughts and to start writing them. In addition a few people who have read my portion of the i’Mpossible Project have told me they connected with that story and that has further inspired me to finally write the two books.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure how you would define my writing style. I try to write from the heart and try to keep it in everyday language to hopefully connect with any readers and I try to use some humor mostly at my expense, because that is who I am.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
With the i’Mpossible Project Josh Rivedal came up with the title which I happen to love. I think it says so much in just the title alone. In my part of the story my Chapter is called: Stigma & My Life’s Epiphany: A Short Play in Six Acts – I chose that title because it is a good description of where I was in 1993 when I attempted to suicide to how I got to the point I am today working in suicide prevention and education and about six really important lessons I learned during this process of self-healing and helping others.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope when readers read my story, I hope they grasp just how wide spread mental health is and that they don’t have to suffer alone and that things can get better. I hope when they read the whole book that Josh wrote, they can see regardless of the bad things that happen, we can move forward and we can do great things.
In all honesty when I got the book I wasn’t really that interested in reading all the stories, but as I read the stories one after another, I cried, I thought and I realized we as humans can overcome a lot. I finished the book feeling inspired and blessed that I got to share in their stories and see their successes. In my opinion Josh Rivedal’s book is done in a genius format. You get just enough information to see the pain or loss and how they overcome it, but not bogged down with so much information and it makes it easier to read multiple stories.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The whole book is realistic. I know from sharing my story that there are our so many others who have similar story, but just aren’t at the point to share their story yet. In reading the book these are all very realistic events that we here about sometimes to us, our family, or at least in our community.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My part of the book is based on my own experiences and the process I went through to be able to do what I am doing now.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
To be honest any book where someone has overcome an obstacle or difficult situation or done something to make a difference in the world, whether it be worldwide, nationally or in their own section are the world, those are the types of books that I enjoy reading. Here are some of the books I have been influenced by:
- The Invisible Front Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War – Yochi Dreazen
- Guardian of the Golden Gate Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair – Kevin Briggs with Sam Mellinger
- The Gospel According to Josh A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah – Josh Rivedal
- Cracked Not Broken – Kevin Hines
As far as a mentor I don’t have an official Mentor. I have two individuals who have not written a book at least yet, Erin Poniewaz – she was my supervisor at the hospital, who pushed me out of my shell, her and I organized three conference together at the hospital, she continues to organize an annual conference there and I moved on to another employer and that is where I organized my last two conferences. Scott Perkins who was the Program Director of the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project who gave me a lot of assistance over the last few years. I have been blessed to be able to have communication with Josh Rivedal, Mark and Carol Graham, Kevin Briggs and Kevin Hines. They have all been a mentor to me in one way or another. My family and a few close friends who give me constant acceptance, listen to my ideas and help me with the conferences each year they are also my mentors. In addition the consumers I work with who struggle daily, sometimes just for a reason to live, they provide me the motivation to continue what I want to work on.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am actually reading a few text books for a class I am teaching at Central Methodist University starting in January so that is taking all my reading time.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Actually the authors I listed above are the ones that grasped my interest. I am also going to be looking further at the authors in the i’Mpossible Project as I believe some of them have their own books. I would like to read more on their stories.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I have several projects I am working on. One is I am working on our 2016 SE Missouri Suicide Prevention and Awareness Conference #SEMOSP16 which will be in July 2016.
I am working with a co-worker and another author on project that I believe will really have an impact on those who are struggling.
I am working on two books that I am writing. One will be a more in-depth story of what is published in the i’Mpossible Project, going a little more into the details of each of the learning points. I am also working on a book for new counselors trying to give some perspective into the wonderful and often challenging field we work in.
I am working on a book with my 11 year old McKenzie who is writing a book about bullying and learning to accept differences. She is doing the majority of the work I am just assisting.
I am trying to get start a blog and have a domain registered at http://listeningsaveslives.net/ I have secured the domain, but haven’t started blogging yet as I am still trying to figure it out.
I am also working on getting a webpage up and going.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I can’t really pick one entity outside my family. There are three people I would have to list as the biggest entity. My supervisor/friend that pushed me out of my shell and we organized three conferences together Erin Poniewaz. Heather Jenkins who is a co-worker and friend who provides me ongoing encouragement and support. And Audrey Burger who is my current supervisor who gives me ongoing support in work with suicide prevention.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as a future career for me or at least I hope.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a thing
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I first started writing it was a way of coping with thoughts and feelings. But I just kept those to myself
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am working on a project with a co-worker and another author that I believe will have a positive impact on people, I can’t really go into much detail on this project yet.
I am working on expanding my story from the i’Mpossible Project into a short book giving more explanation and more about how each step impacted me.
I am working on a book about things learned working as a counselor geared towards newer counselors, but may be beneficial to counselors who have been in the field for a while. It will be about lessons I have learned in the field.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I am just getting started so it is all challenging to me at this point.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As far as non-fiction I don’t have a favorite author, I enjoy any book that shows how people overcome difficult situations and move forward. For fiction my favorite author is Dean Koontz, I like how he makes things that I don’t necessarily believe to be possible appear possible. I think his books are easy to get into and hard to put down.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have not got to do any travel in relation to this book, but I am definitely hoping to at some point
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’m not sure as Josh is the one who put the book together.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It is a struggle to find the right words that I feel shows what I’m thinking, but also makes sense to anyone who is may read it the story
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That telling my story can benefit others
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re considering writing, do it. I found the process rewarding.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you find my portion and the whole book in general as something motivating to see we can move forward despite barriers, hardships, and loss
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I do not remember the first book I read. The first memory of books I read, where nonfiction about the civil war, I can’t remember the different authors. This reading was inspired after visiting Gettysburg. The first author I remember reading was Dean Koontz and the book was Dark Rivers of the Heart
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My family makes me laugh more than anything else. We have a lot of fun and we are often joking around with each other. Sometimes my job makes me cry, I work with people who are struggling and suffering. And sometimes it can be overwhelming, I cry when I lose someone or when people close to me lose someone.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
That is a tough question, I have been fortunate and have got to meet a lot of leaders in my field and I have enjoyed that. There are different people throughout history I wouldn’t mind talking to and asking some questions, but if I could meet one person it would be Peyton Manning and the reason why is that is my son’s favorite person of all time and I would like to make my son happy with this dream.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I have actually thought about this a lot. When everything is done and I am gone, I would like it my headstone to say two things. A Father who was blessed to have children that mean more to him than anything and that I was a man who shared compassion with those often written off in society.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I have recently started collecting autographed books, I also really enjoy traveling with my family. This past summer we went to the Smokey Mountains for a week and it was amazing. This year we plan on going to a beach somewhere for a week. I also enjoy many smaller trips with my family such as comic con. The kids enjoy it much more than I do, but I enjoy watching them enjoy themselves.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I enjoy a lot of different tv shows, a combination of sitcoms that make me laugh, like The Big Bang Theory and other shows that make me laugh, but I also like more drama/action type of shows like NCIS and Bluebloods.
Movies I like any movie that can either make me think about life, or the story gets me so involved that it is a break from reality. I loved The Green Mile, Armageddon and Signs where probably my top three movies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite foods are BBQ, pizza, Mexican and anything Italian. My favorite color is either red or blue.
For music I don’t have a favorite artist, I like a little of just about everything, but I would say my favorite genre of music is the 80s hair bands.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I work full time at a community mental health agency and I do trainings and presentations on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I am working on both of these and hope to have them both done by the end of this year.