Category: Stone Catchers

STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 3)

 

alch 

 

Wow! What a book! I just finished it. In the back I found Paulo Coelho’s blog site: paulocoelhoblog.com. I’ve decided to reach out to Mr. Coelho. I’ll share what I wrote to him. But first, I’d like to share a few more quotes from “The Alchemist.” These quotes really touched me and I found significant meaning in them. I hope you can too.

 

“When you are loved, you can do anything in creation.”

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

“Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World.”

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”

“I only invoked what you already knew.”

“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surly happen a third time.”

“His heart whispered, ‘Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where I am, and that’s where your treasure is.’ “

“Its true; life really is generous to those who pursue their Personal Legend.”

 

And now, my letter to Mr. Coelho:

 

Hello Mr. Coelho.
My name is Steven.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

The ALCHEMIST has taught me to listen to my heart. And to pay close attention to omens. I am in prison. Just like you once were. I published my first ebook at the age of 38. You were 38 when you first got published. Omens? We’ll see.

I am in pursue of my Personal Legend. I am embarking upon a journey that will lead me to my treasure. You have inspired me beyond words and into action. I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars, with over 22K followers. I’d like to invite you to check out my blog and to read my 3 part series. This series is in response to THE ALCHEMIST, and has several quotes straight from your book. And now I will ask something of you: Will you please help me reach my goal of 100K blog followers? My journey is still young and I need some of that beginners luck that you talk about.

I eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,

Steven D. Jennings
stevendjennings.com

 

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STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 1)
STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 2)
STONE CATCHERS: I Quit!!!

STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 2)

 

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

 

As you may recall, when I first started to read this book I wanted to throw it against the wall and then roll over and go to sleep. But I refrained and gave it a chance. And boy am I glad I did. This book is giving me things that I’ll keep for the rest of my life. No wonder it spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. And after 25 years, the book is still alive and well.

The rest of this post will be quotes straight out of this book. If you stop and give them serious thought, you’ll be able to apply them to specific aspects of your life. My hope is that you may be inspired. Enjoy.

 

“I must have no fear of failure. It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the Master Work. Now, I’m beginning what I could’ve started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”

“If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better.”

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.”

“Sell your camel and buy a horse. Camels are traitorous: they walk thousands of paces and never seem to tire. Then suddenly, they kneel and die. But horses tire bit by bit. You always know how much you can ask of them, and when it is that they are about to die.”

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”

“Men dream more about coming home than about leaving.”

“There is only one way to learn. Its through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

“Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there.”

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So its better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would’ve seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepard to achieve.”

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”

“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. Its the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’ ”

“The boy and his heart became friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.”

“When something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”

 

Let me interject here and point something out. When I first stared to read this book, I didn’t like it. The characters were too underdeveloped and the delivery of the story was weak. That was my perception.

Now I’m 142 pages into it. And because the characters and narrative are so underdeveloped, I’m able to easily plug my personal journey directly into this book. Every quote you just read, strongly relates to my personal journey.

What initially made this book so unappealing to me, is the exact same thing that has now made this book extremely powerful and influential to me. And all I had to do is be patient, proceed with an open mind, and seek out the positive.

Have a nice day.

 

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Steven Jennings

 

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STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 1)
STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 3)
STONE CATCHERS: I Quit!!!

STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 1)

 

the_alchemist

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

 

This book has me conflicted. The message is great. But the delivery of the message sucks. So I’ll focus on what I’m getting out of this book as it relates to my journey of becoming a successful, happy, multi-millionaire.

The first is HOPE. When ”The Alchemist” was first published, it only sold two copies in 6 months. And the same person bought both copies. After a year went by, the book was dropped by the publisher along with the author’s contract.

The author didn’t give up hope. He kept his journey alive. He kept pushing forward because HE believed. As of today, ”The Alchemist” has been translated into more than 80 different languages, and has spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Even after 25 years, the book is still very much alive.

One day, I aspire to write a book like that. Or shall I say ”books” like that. “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary” is just the beginning of my story. So much more is yet to come. Please share my ebook and my story with your friends and family. It’ll help me reach my goal of becoming a multi-millionaire before I get out of prison.

So not only does “The Alchemist” offer HOPE, but I’m also feeling INSPIRED. Inspired to enjoy the journey and all I encounter along the way. This book talks about omens, universal language, the principal of favorability, beginners luck, personal legend, and how the universe will come together to help one achieve their goals.

”The Alchemist” is teaching me patience. Because at first, I felt like tossing the book and not finishing it. But now I’m on page 61, and I’m actually enjoying it. I’m understanding it on a deeper, spiritual level. Read it for yourself and see how it touches you. Oh, it will touch you!

Here are just a few quotes that I can strongly relate to:

 

“Never stop dreaming. Follow the omens.”

“The language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”

“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“The mysterious chain that links one thing to another.”

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”

“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history or the world were written by the same hand.”

 

I encourage anyone to read this book. As you do, you’ll be able to identify and apply several principles and philosophies to your life. If you’re ready for some type of change in your life, this could be the book that catapults you into a new dimension.

 

 

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Steven Jennings

 

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STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 2)
STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 3)
STONE CATCHERS: I Quit!!!

Stone Catchers: I Quit!!!

 

Prison reading group

 

My wife recently asked how my book group, Stone Catchers, was going. I told her that I quit because of a few guys that I despise.

 

She sweetly reminded me of what I wrote in a post called, STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1):

“Within this class you can catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in your beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony. The more stones you catch, the less they hurt.”

 

She also wrote:

“I’m sorry to hear that a few guys have been making it unpleasant. Steven Baby, you are the strongest, smartest, and the most understanding man I know. What matters in this class is your growth and the positive change happening within you. I love you and I recognize your powerful mental strength and self-control. You are amazing!”

 

In which I replied:

“Thank you for the encouragement to stick with Stone Catchers. I will. I need to learn to cope with a variety of different personalities. And this is a perfect opportunity to hone those skills. Mwah…you are a great source of inspiration for me. Thank you, honey.”

 

So I went back and joined the group. And now we’re reading a book called, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

The reviews are so phenomenal that they led me to believe I was about to read the greatest book in the history of the world. But by page 20, I was ready to do what I’ve done in the past. And that is to chuck the book against the wall, then roll over and go to sleep. So far this book is stupid and scattered. But like the literacy group itself, I’m going to continue on, and try my best to get something positive out of it. However, I’m struggling right now.

By staying in the group, it’ll help me with my coping skills as I endure child molester Ray Ray run his mouth. Every time he opens his mouth, I just want to get up and walk out. Which I did at the last meeting. And I hadn’t been back since.

And if Ray Ray isn’t enough, I also have to sit there and listen to Dicky Oppen, a compulsive liar and master manipulator of the system. (Living With A Compulsive Liar…Is It Bad Or Good?)

By now, it’s clear how I feel. So what do I do? I feel like calling them out and exposing their bad intentions and devious ways. But who am I to do that? Another option I have is to remove myself from the equation. Quit the group. And just keep to myself. And for a moment, that’s what I did.

As I sit, think, and meditate on it, I come to the conclusion that I need these type of encounters/situations in order for me to grow and evolve. I need to face these type of inner conflicts as I challenge myself to remain positive and conduct myself appropriately.

Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve the inner positivity and peace that appropriate action attracts. And just because I don’t say anything to them, doesn’t mean I don’t harbor negative thoughts and feelings towards them. Because I do. And that’s wrong. I need to fix that.

Thoughts are things. The law of attraction operates through thoughts just the same as it does through actions. Therefore if I even as so much think in a negative manner, I’m essentially attracting negativity to myself. And it’s only a matter of time before negative thoughts will manifest into negative actions.

So now, at the age of 43, it’s time I recognize and really watch how my mind thinks. It’s time I utilize a deeper level of consciousness and truly control my mind and thoughts. It can be done. As I write this, my mind is already gearing up for my next course of action. And I feel like it won’t be as hard for me as I initially thought it would be.

Maybe I’ll say something nice to those two guys. As it is now, I don’t even talk to either one. I just sit back and think negatively towards them. And they have no idea. It’s all me. It’s all in my head. It’s my problem.

Well not anymore. I’ll find a way to overcome as I strive to live in peace with all of mankind.

As for the stupid book…ut…I mean, awesome book. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

Thank you for making this platform what it is. You and this blog have helped me tremendously. Thank you for all the inspiring comments. Keep em coming.

And a special THANK YOU to my amazing wife, Suzie. Your love, support, and encouragement have made me a better man. I love you, honor you, and appreciate you with all my heart.

 

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Steven Jennings

 

th7voumae9

STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 1)
STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 2)
STONE CATCHERS: The Alchemist (part 3)

STONE CATCHERS (3rd meeting)

For those of you who pay attention to details, you’ll notice that the title says “3rd meeting” as opposed to “WEEK 3”.

That’s because we skip weeks from time to time. Therefore it makes more sense to keep track of the meetings.

Moving on…

Today we finished discussions on Folkseeds. However, we might re visit the discussions, if Paul responds. For more on that, please read A LETTER TO PAUL.

We turned in Seedfolks and got our new book.

During the WEEK 1 MEETING, we were all asked by the Superintendent to recommend books for future reading.

I recommended:
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Out of ALL the books that were recommended, the Superintendent chose The Four Agreements!

I’m super excited!

Our assignment is to :

*Read the first two agreements.

*And write down my definitions of Personal Freedom, Happiness, and Love.

Stay tuned…its coming.

 

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Steven D. Jennings

A LETTER TO PAUL

 

Dear Paul,

When the Stone Catchers literacy group finished reading Seedfolks, we had an incredibly deep, thought provoking discussion.

During the course of that discussion, a few questions came up.

As I thought about the questions, I also thought about how amazing it would be to present you with those questions, and then to get your response, in which I’d share with the group.

Just the simple fact that you would respond would be a powerful testimony in regards to the metaphorical idea of planting a seed and tending to it until it bears its crop.

I say that because some of the group members are skeptical about whether or not you’ll reply. The seed was planted when a guy said to me, “Why don’t you use your blog to ask Paul some of these questions we’ve been asking?” I’ll now tend to that seed by putting forth the effort to contact you. The result of this seed is yet to be determined.

I’m excited for your reply, as the simple act in itself will expose powerful life lessons and quite possibly expand the horizons of those who limit themselves.

Here are the questions regarding Seedfolks :

Who is the man in the rocking chair?
What happened with Curtis and Lateesha?
What happened to Maricela and her baby?
Who was the girl in the locket?
Do you have plans for a sequel?

I eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,
Steven

STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 2)

The group session stared at 8am. I strolled in at 9. I was a hour late because G Unit was getting shook down. (I live in H-3. Not too long ago the SWAT team hit my unit. For more on the H-3 raid, please read The 6 AM Shakedown.)

The prison SWAT team raided G Unit unit at 5:30am. G Unit has two Freedom Tails dogs over there. So as all the inmates were herded into the gym, the dogs were put into their kennels.

I was asked to please go get the G Unit dogs and bring them to my unit (H-3) until the shake down was over. I did. By doing so, the dogs got to go potty, get exercise, eat, play, and get affection. Opposed to 8 hours locked in a kennel.

This is Bruiser. He spent the day with H-3 dog handlers while G Unit was under siege. steven (1)

As I strolled in a hour late, the Captain of the group welcomed me, then asked why was I late? I explained the situation. Everyone was understanding.

I then joined the conversation regarding the first 6 chapters of SEEDFOLK. Everyone seemed to be focused on the conflicts; explaining why they thought all the problems were occurring.

As the Reflector, I took notes on Focus, and on Direction. Then I raised my hand and addressed the group.

I said, “As your nominated Reflector its my job to keep track of the group’s process. Part of the process is for the Reflector to make comments regarding : focus, direction, organization, listening skills, and participation. At this time I’d like to address “Direction”.

As I spoke, I looked around the room and made eye contact with all those who were looking at me. It was about 80%. I felt confident and comfortable.

I continued, “I’ve been listening to everyone talk about the problems and why you think those problems exist. But now I’d like to propose a shift in direction. Can we talk about how these problems could’ve been prevented?”

The group took to it and the shift was on! I was surprised at how many people said that there was NO WAY to avoid the conflicts.

And to some degree, they’re right. Whenever you have a large diverse group of people, conflict is inevitable.

So for me, it boils down to how you deal with conflict and how will you let it affect you?

At the conclusion of class, we got some homework.

#1) Finish the book.
#2) Select one of the following writing activities:

A) Pair up with another person and write a script between two characters. Show what kind of conversation they might have.
B) Pick one character and write their extended and detailed biography.
C) Keep a journal and respond to each character as yourself.
D) Write a letter as yourself to one of the characters. Make it personal and meaningful.
E) Create sociological newspaper article on the conditions of living in Cleveland during the time of this book.
F) Write a poem about one of the characters.

At first I was going to do F and write a poem.

But I want to be efficient with my time and effort. I want to do something that will have real tangible effects on my life and goals.

That’s why I chose D. To write a letter to one of the characters. The character I’m writing to is Sam.

That letter will be my next post.

Have a nice day.

 

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Steven Jennings

STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1)

Hello everyone and welcome to the Violence Prevention Literacy Group…aka: Stone Catchers.

The name Stone Catchers represents those who throw stones at others by way of verbal abuse, gossip, or other negative means. Wait! Those would be the stone throwers. We are the Stone Catchers. We catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in our beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony.

The more stones we catch, the less they hurt. We are changing prison culture one stone at a time.

You might wonder how a literacy group can inspire peace and encourage violence prevention?

The answer lies within the participants. These men have committed a variety of crimes. Some of them have been in prison for 20, 30, 40 years! That makes them heavyweights amongst their peers.

When they talk, people listen. Their actions are closely observed. This wasn’t always used in a positive manner.

Times are changing. These men are realizing that they can be just as influential in a positive manner.

Stone Catchers is just one vehicle that allows us to drive positive messages to our peers and to each other as we all work towards a common goal : peace, love, and harmony within prison.

The book we are reading is called “Seedfolk” by Paul Fleischman.

Before I start to read, I must answer the following questions based solely on the book cover (The book cover shows 9 pictures. 5 of them are of people, all ages, all different races. The other 4 are : a picture of water, a zucini, binoculars, and a funnel.)

Q #1) What do you think the book is about?
A) I think its about a diverse group of people who face extreme challenges and find ways to overcome.

Q#2) What do you think will happen in the end?
A) The people will evolve and grow as their lives transition from chaotic to balanced and healthy. They’ll all live happily ever after.

Q#3) Who are the characters?
A) Everyday people. All ages. All races.

Q#4) What is the setting?
The setting is their environment. And that depends on their walk of life, poverty, middle class, upper class, etc.

* * *

I’ve read the first 6 chapters, as instructed. Now I will go back and answer those four questions again. (This book doesn’t have a Table of Contents. Chapters are arranged by each character. So instead of saying I just read 6 chapters, I could say I just read : Kim, Ana, Wendell, Gonzalo, Leona, and Sam.)

A#1) This book is about the domino effect of one little girl’s actions. It shows how everyone has similar desires, likes, passions, and dislikes. Regardless of age and race.

A little girl (Kim) plants three bean seeds in a vacant Cleveland lot that’s infested with rats and garbage.

An old lady (Ana) observes her, but can’t quite see exactly what she’s doing. The old lady assumes she’s hiding drugs.

So she tells a friend (Wendell) to go investigate. He does. He discovers the three beans.

This sequence of events leads to the entire community getting involved. Before long the lot is transformed into a beautiful garden in the midst of a poverty stricken, crime ridden, concrete jungle.

As more and more people get involved, more problems arise. People start to put up little fences, chicken wire, barbed wire, and “keep out” signs.

The garden becomes racially segregated. Vandalism and theft occures. Not everyone likes the garden.

A#2) In the end the paradise will be lost due to the selfish nature of mankind. The lot will come full circle as it travels a journey that sees love, compassion, possessiveness, hatred, and violence. It will come to rest completely ruined.

A#3) The characters are as described in my first answer.

A#4) The setting is in a lot full of trash that becomes a garden. The garden is in the heart of the characters neighborhood/community, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio.

MY THOUGHTS THIS FAR

This book shows how a casual act can blossom into something big.

No matter what you do, someone is always watching.

As more people watch, some will get involved.

As people get involved, they bring new visions and perspectives. This can be a slippery slope without strong leadership and firm rules to maintain order.

As you can see, this program promotes powerful food for thought. I’m excited to see what the rest of SEEDFOLK has to offer and how it’ll inspire and impact my life.

Stay tuned for week 2!

 

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Steven D. Jennings

THE VIOLENCE PREVENTION LITERACY GROUP : STONE CATCHERS

“Stone Catchers” is the name of the Literacy Group that I participate in.

This program is bran new. I’ll share the syllabus with you. As you read the syllabus, keep in mind that I am copying it EXACTLY how it reads. So the poor editing, typos and confusion is not my doing.

LITERACY GROUP

The literacy’s group goal is to encourage and support each other in learning. Participants will learn together inn small circles supporting each other and making a commitment to solve problems jointly through discussion and shared explanations.

*Groups will be flexible about which book is selected for reading.

*15-20 minutes per group is a substantial amount of time to discuss goals of the group.

*Once groups are selected one set of books per group will be assigned.

*Each offender will sign for the book and be held responsible to return the book upon the completion of the assignment.

*Each individual member has a responsibility to contribute to the group and do his “fair share.”

*A team Captain will be designated for each reading to keep the group on task and focused. The Captain will read assignments to the group, mediate conflicts and manage time.

*A Recorder will take minute4s and write down salient points then report back to the group.

*A Encourager gives the group feedback and is responsible for ensuring that all group mangers are heard.

Ok, here’s where it gets confusing. Even more so than the part that says,” A Recorder will take minute4s and write down salient points then report back to the group.” What? I thought they were in the group. What do you mean they report back to the group? Where do they go?

I’m in GROUP 2.
I was nominated and received the Reflector position.

I have no idea what a Reflector does. Here’s what the syllabus says:

“A reflector keeps track of dynamics of group process and makes comments (to be turned in with the reporters) focus, directions, organization, listening skill, participation of all members.”

After reading that, I STILL don’t know what a Reflector does. So I asked the Captain, Recorder, and Encourager. No one could give me a clear and concise description.

So I broke it down as I understood it. Until someone tells me otherwise, my job as a Reflector is to :

Keep track of group process.

Make comments that pertain to how guys are focusing within the group.

Make comments on the direction of the group, as I see it.

Make comments on the organization skills of the group.

Make comments regarding the listening skills of group members.

Make comments regarding the participation of all group members.

The syllabus goes on to say :

*The discussion will start with a walk through of the book based on the cover.

~What do you think the book is about?
~What do you think will happen in the end?
~Who are the characters?
~What is the setting?

*Discussions and predictions about the text will be weekly.

*At the conclusion of the storyline we will sequence events and do a flow map together.

That’s it. My next post will be called “STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1), where I’ll dive into the book and answer the 4 questions. Stay tuned! And tell all your friends and family to tune in. Bye!

 

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Steven D. Jennings

STONE CATCHERS : MY LETTER TO SAM

 

Dear Sam,

Please allow me to introduced myself. My name is Steven. I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars. I am also a published author, constantly looking for more exposure.

My eBook is called, Stone City: Life in the Penitentiary. It can be found in all major eBook stores.

I’m currently participating in a VIOLENCE PREVENTION LITERACY GROUP called STONE CATCHERS. link

We are reading SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman. And that is how I met you.

I admire your optimistic attitude and your ability to solve problems. The way you polled the people, and came up with a water solution, was genius!

You have inspired me to employ the same tactic.

My goal is to get millions of blog followers. This is where your strategy comes in.

I’m going to conduct a contest to see who can come up with ideas to increase my blog following.

As the ideas stack up, I may use only one, or I might use several.

For those ideas I use, that person will win the gift of blogging. Meaning : I will post their writing on my blog, where tens of thousands of people (world wide) will read it.

This contest is open to anyone who wants to get involved.

All I need to do now is draw up the BLOG FOLLOWING CONTEST and get it into circulation.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Sincerely,
Steven