Remember my NA series and all those NA Meetings I attended? Well they just now paid off in the form of good time. My release date has been adjusted from 8-9-32 to 3-7-32. I haven’t done the math, but according to DOC, that’s 155 days!
Upon receiving this good news I was also informed that I will be getting back an additional 90 days at my next review in August. All I gotta do is remain infraction free, stay in The Dog Program, and receive positive evaluations.
It feels good to be going the other way. To be earning good time rather than loosing it. To be living in harmony rather than conflict. To be progressing rather than regressing. To be making friends rather than enemies. To be focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
For almost 23 years my environment hasn’t changed. PRISON! It’s still full of misfits and misconduct. But what has changed is my attitude, perspective, outlook, and priorities. During my quest to seek knowledge and understanding I’ve learned that the mind is like a garden. Either you can intelligently Cultivate it, or neglect it and let it run wild. That’s why its crucial for me to constantly cultivate my mind by weeding out all the wrong, useless, destructive, impure thoughts. And nurturing my mind with right, useful, constructive, positive thoughts.
By constantly pursuing this process of mind evolution, I am starting to reap the rewards. Such as: I found my beautiful soulmate in Suzie, I made it to The Honor Unit, I got accepted into the dog program, I’ve met new people and have devolved new friendships, I’m no longer getting in fights or hurting people, and I’m earning back good time. Just to name a few.
For years I allowed my mind to run wild. The results were devastating! For more on the devastation you can read my ebook titled, STONE CITY : LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY.
I was oblivious to the fact that a deeper level of consciousness existed. I was mindlessly wandering through life, and inappropriately reacting to everything life threw at me. With a neglected mind, I didn’t stand a chance. But with a new and improved cultivated mind, I have so much hope and excitement for today and the rest of my life.
If you had the power to be happier, to change your environment, and to have better relationships with friends and family, would you use that power?
Of course you would!
So why don’t you?
The power is within you.
Take the first step and read : “AS A MAN THINKETH” by James Allen. This book will teach you LAWS OF THOUGHT that cannot error. By reading this quick little 55 page book, you’ll be taking a crucial step towards intelligently cultivating your mind. I hope you feel inspired.
I keep my prison cell immaculate. Everything has its place.
Cosmetics are lined up perfectly, labels out, finger width apart, from tallest to smallest.
Shoes lined up perfectly, one inch apart.
Clothes neatly hung, starting with pants, ending with shirts and a coat. Buttons and zippers facing out.
Socks, underwear, t-shirts, and towels, all folded perfectly… seems facing out. I don’t stuff one sock into the other. That stretches them out. I fold them.
Over the years my OCD created a lot of havoc between cellmates and I.
In addition to everything I just mentioned, I also like the floor to be disinfected and spotless.
These days I have a celly who could care less about my OCD and spotless floor. He’s a 9 year old black lab/collie mix. His name is Yahoo. And let me tell you, Yahoo sheds more than one thousand Ball Pythons in mid July!
He’s also an awesome cure for OCD. I love him so much that I just don’t care about all the XL sweaters and Fur Coats he leaves behind.
The first week I got him, I was cleaning my floor at least 6 times a day. I would try to drop the doggie treat in his mouth so I wouldn’t get his saliva on my hands. I was washing my hands a million times per day. I wouldn’t touch my cup or bowl after touching Yahoo, unless I washed first.
And oh, did I mention I also have a disabled human celly? His name is Dickie. He’s in a wheelchair due to Guillian syndrome. He has a ton of medical gear in here. He’s messy, sloppy, and unorganized.
IT WAS JUST TOO MUCH!!!
So I decided to use the power of MIND, and cure myself of OCD. To a degree.
I’ve had Yahoo four weeks and I now wipe my hand on my pants to get rid of his saliva before I grab my cup to take a drink of dog haired water. Everyday I’m picking or spitting dog hair outta my mouth. I lay down next to him on the floor. Then step out into the day room to brush myself off. I view it as a form of dust mopping. I get to love on Yahoo while cleaning the floor. Its a win win!
My perspective determines my attitude. Both are within my control.
In the past, I didn’t handle things appropriately. As a result, I suffered the consequences.
Today I simply do what I know to be right. As a result, the blessings speak for itself. I’M IN THE DOG PROGRAM!
PS – Yahoo has earned his yellow bandanna. Sweet! He is progressing beautifully! Now I gotta try to get him to smile for the camera 😉
As I sit in these meetings, I look for principles and philosophies that will serve me in the NOW.
Meeting #10 offered me just that as we read from chapter 4, titled “HOW IT WORKS”. There are 12 principles within this chapter. Principle #10 really stood out to me. It says:
“We continue to take personal inventory, and when we’re wrong, promptly admit it.”
I actually did this the other day when I put myself in a dangerous situation by sitting at the wrong table in the chow hall. I didn’t do anything wrong as far as rules are concerned. But I was wrong for allowing the situation to escalate to the point to where my recovery from violence was in serious jeopardy.
The second I realized that, I took a quick personal inventory. I reflected on my past and drew knowledge from past mistakes. I acknowledged the mistakes I just made. I became aware of how I was feeling and the serge of adrenalin that shot through my veins. I was in the heat of a confrontational moment. My body physically prepared for combat.
I knew this was an opportunity to demonstrate right action and defuse the situation with kindness and understanding.
So I did phase two of STEP TEN. I approached old boy and promptly admitted my mistake, apologized, and assured him it wouldn’t happen again.
By saying that, it freed me from the wreckage caused by the situation. NA is teaching me that if I don’t stay aware of my defects and actions, then it could drive me into a corner that results in relapse.
For me, a relapse isn’t drug use. It would be me beating down one of these so called convicts.
No matter what, if I fight, I lose. Never again will fighting ever be an option for me.
That’s why it’s so important for me to constantly be taking a personal inventory of my most inner self. This means, forming a habit of looking at myself, my thoughts, my attitude, the language I use, and the relationships I have with others.
Humans are creatures of habit. For most my life I had a habit of lashing out in a violent manner. I was a monster. I had an appetite for destruction. I looked for reasons to fight people I disliked.
To a degree, I’m still vulnerable to my old ways of thinking and reacting. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.
When ol boy threatened to break my jaw, there was a part of me that wanted to teach him a lesson.
Today I am not trapped by my old patterns. I have discovered a better way of life. A way that revolves around love and understanding. The rewards of this loving lifestyle is unlimited with joy and happiness.
Sure, I’m still in prison, but I won’t always be. I get out in 13 years. People have encouraged me to seek an early release via clemency, or commutation. The truth is, I don’t want that. I’m going to take full responsibility for my actions and serve the time I was sentenced to.
I’m going to learn how to function as a law abiding citizen from within prison. I’m going to rise above all the negativity and impose my own goodwill. I will only focus on the positive and the things that serve me well.
I have discovered the power of positive thought. I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to: The Honor Unit, Dog Program, Winning the Ironman, avoiding fights and becoming stronger for it.
The list goes on…being a loving husband, son, brother, uncle, and oneday a father.
When I first started NA, I was skeptical. But then I took personal inventory, re-adjusted my attitude, and decided I’d use it to broaden my perspective. And it has done just that!
Until next time, treat everyone with love and respect…it’ll serve you well.
I love my wife with all my heart. She is such a sweet, gentle person. Words alone cannot adequately express my love for her. But my actions can.
From day one, I promised her my very best. However, there were times I failed. My failure was a result of me making demands of my wife, and her not performing to my satisfaction or expectations.
I knew something had to change. I seeked advice from friends and family. I tried several different tactics and strategies. Only to make things worse. I was failing! And THAT didn’t make me happy.
More importantly, my wife wasn’t happy.
So I completely changed my approach. I took back all of my demands and virtually wiped the slate clean. This was a process that involved Suzie & I to go over her To-Do list one task at a time.
As she read the first task, I said, “Don’t worry about that one. Take it off.”
She questioned, “Why take that one off?”
I asked her, “Does that cause you stress?”
I respond, “That’s why we’re taking it off.”
Then I asked for the next task on her list and if that one caused her stress. She simply said, “Yes.”
I say, “Take it off.”
One by one, we went through a long list and my only demand was to take it off.
This was the start of something special.
From that point forward I would only focus on serving her.
By eliminating her To-Do list, we helped relieve her stress. I realized that nothing is more important to me than my wife’s happiness. And the key to a happy marriage is learning to serve the love of my life…Suzie Marie.
Instead of making demands, I would ask her, “Baby, is there anything I can do for you?”
Her reply is always sweet and simple. She would say things like: a poem, a love letter, a picture of my handsome face, or a romantic homemade card, etc. What ever her request is, I happily do.
Then something amazing happened. She asked me, “Is there something I can do for you?”
I said, “Baby, just by you being in my life is more than I ever expected. Your love is all I need.”
We spent the rest of our call just loving on each other and strengthening our circle of harmony.
Let me fast-forward a few months…to NOW.
Things have never been better between Suzie & I. We are so deeply in love and in-tune. I’ve never felt anything this incredible! My whole life revolves around serving my wife. And that brings me great happiness & joy.
The physical distance between us gets hard sometimes. We are not together everyday to pick up on little signs, mannerisms, or body language that couples who live together can see. Suzie and I must put a lot of work into our communication to keep our unity strong.
My actions, combined with Suzie’s generous and loving spirit, has created a mutual attitude of service towards each other.
When she asks me, “Is there anything I can do for you?”, I now occasionally slip in a task that used to be on that long To-Do list.
That’s a far cry from where we used to be. The days of demands are over!
Now we serve each other with a genuine heart. And the results are absolutely amazing!
Give your spouse the gift of serving and stop with all the demands. For this truly is the key that leads to a growing marriage full of happiness, love, and compassion.
At this meeting we listened to a foul-mouthed audio recording of a NA themed comedy. I didn’t find it funny at all. As a matter of fact, I did’nt like it. In the first 20 minutes I heard the ”F-word” 7 times!
But my mantra is “focus on the positive.” So I had to change my attitude and find something good within this session. I immediately thought of the first agreement in a book called ”The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
The first agreement is: Be Impeccable With Your Word
After sitting in NA, listening to a potty mouthed comedian for 45 minutes, I went back to my cell and read the entire chapter on the first agreement. It re-vitalized and re-charged my desire and my focus to be more mindful of what comes out of my mouth.
“Speak with integrity. Say only what I mean. Avoid speaking against myself or others. Use my word in the direction of truth and love.”
THAT’S what I took away from my 8th NA meeting.
The topic of this meeting was “Recovery & Relapse”.
My issue isn’t with drugs anymore. It’s with treating people with dignity and respect. It’s with keeping my words kind and uplifting. Therefore, when I succeed at this, I view it as a form of RECOVERY from an otherwise destructive and negative lifestyle.
NA has given me cause to stop, and really evaluate my life. Honestly.
In doing so, I see areas of relapse. I don’t always respond to people the way I should. If I don’t stay “razor sharp” focused, I suffer set backs in my recovery. NA is helping me realize this.
The book “Narcotic Anonymous” says in part:
“There is one thing more than anything that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance towards spiritual principals. Three of these that are indispensable are HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS, and WILLINGNESS.” (Ch:4, pg.18)
Those two sentences helped me realize the cause of my relapse. Indifference & Intolerance.
I thought Indifference meant “not seeing eye to eye with someone.”
And I thought Intolerance meant “not having any tolerance towards things/people that annoy me.”
So my vocabularly was a little off. But still, the message hit home.
I realized I’ve been relapsing because I don’t see eye to eye with certain men in here, and I have very little tolerance for their ignorant, stupid ways. And instead of me just walking away, I say something that violates my “Keep Your Speech Impeccable” rule.
I can’t be violating my own rules like that!
I can’t be having these minor relapses.
NA is helping me realize that an accumilation of minor relapses might just be the jarring experience that brings about a more rigorous relapse. Such as me slapping the sh*t outta one of these punks.
Please excuse the language, but that is the truth of the matter.
Just because I have gone long periods of abstinence from violence, doesn’t mean my success is complete.
Everyday presents new challenges. And I am learning that if I have an attitude of indifference towards my spiritual principals, well then that alone puts my recovery in jeopardy.
I am learning to love NA. It is giving me more tools. It is broading my perspective and understanding. It provides fertile ground that promotes growth and recovery…regardless of the addiction/issues.
Just take NA’s guiding principals & philosophies, and apply them to your struggle. Do it with HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS, and WILLINGNESS. Then sit back and watch the Universe respond. Favorably.
I keep saying how much I love this blog and how it is the best rehabilitative tool I’ve come across. Heres why: Fellowship. Feedback. Accountability.
The more I share, the more my fears slip away. I am learning to be open and honest about everything.
This blog has helped me grow. Growth means change.
It helps with my spiritual maintenance, which is essential to ongoing recovery. It helps me from feeling isolated and alone with the issues I once kept to myself.
The fellowship this blog provides has enabled me to overcome the tendency to run & hide from myself, my feelings, and my dark issues. Such as my past drug use.
So far, through only 3 NA meetings I have realized that when I communicate honestly, I can truly heal. And possibly help others heal as well. That makes me feel good and gives me a strong sense of purpose.
This blog has given me such a wonderful gift. It is a gift that I would like to pay forward to other inmates. If you have a loved one who is locked up, perhaps you can give them the gift of blogging, too.
For more details, please visit Stone City Blog.
“I don’t have any friends in here. I have acquaintances.”
I just heard a man say that. And it’s not the first time either. I’ve heard it many times over the years by many different people. It’s almost like an established well known quote amongst convicts.
I have to admit, I once had a mentality that fell victim to those sad words.
The results were devastating. I was constantly fighting and arguing. My life was full of turmoil and conflict. I was living a life with no friends…only acquaintances.
Within the past year something amazing happened. The idea of friendship weighed heavily on my mind. I was ready to open up and let people in.
I used The Law of Attraction as my guide. I have a mental picture of the type of friendships I desire. Therefore, I must send out those exact vibrations.
I desire to be loved. Therefore, I must love. I want people to treat me with dignity and respect. Therefore, I must also treat everyone with dignity and respect, too.
It really is quite simple. I must give as I wish to receive.
During my days of suffering and turmoil, I would have brief moments of clarity that would create desires to change. But I didn’t know how to truly implement genuine change in my life. I would say one thing, but then my actions wouldn’t be consistent with my words.
It is NOT enough to profess! I must DO!
But to verbally profess through prayer is a great start. So I keep praying that I can truly love all people more dearly than I have ever loved before.
I don’t pick and choose. I treat everyone with dignity & respect. I show love to all. And by doing so, The Law of Attraction will bring me like-minded friends.
Being in prison, it’s hard to find true enduring friendships with the men in here. Because it’s hard to cultivate an attitude of friendship towards people in here. I see both sides of the spectrum, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Those who project hate and negativity, get the same in return.
The ones who return the love that I show…I call friends.
Today I have several friends. I’m enjoying a level of harmony that exceeds that in which I’ve ever known. I am happy. I trust The Law of Attraction to bring me friends. As I love my fellowman, I get that same love back.
With all that being said, I’d like to leave you with a parting thought:
Don’t question your friends or your friendships. Question yourself. Look inside yourself and you will find the truth.
I’m always hearing people say things like:
“DOC does not rehabilitate people”
“DOC makes people worst off”
“DOC doesn’t give a f**k!”
Unfortunately, the people who say things like this are exposing their attitude towards life in general. Perception is reality.
Prison is full of pessimism. Most of these guys in here focus on the negative. And the majority of their conversations are full of whining and complaining. It’s always everyone else’s fault, except their own. Some of them make valid points, but that’s it. They don’t follow it up with positive action.
Not too long ago I used to fight this environment with a bad attitude, harsh words, clinched fists, and devastating elbows. I was doing nothing to better myself. I recognized this. I wanted to change, but I didn’t know how. So I sought help from DOC (Department of Corrections).
I sent numerous requests for various treatments, such as CD, PTSD, MRT, VA, AM, etc. And every single request was denied! The reason being: my “time structure.” (aka: I have too much time left to serve). Unbelievable! I sought help, and they told me “NO”.
So, I had to help myself. I mean, if I really wanted to change, I didn’t need any classes to succeed. It sure would be helpful, but DOC had made their position clear…”NO HELP FOR GUYS DOING A LOT OF TIME.”
As I worked hard on myself and my attitude, I realized that there was still a major hump that I needed to get over. I still found myself on the verge of fighting. I’d be doing good, but then I would get into an argument which then resulted in a fight.
WTF!! I was actually putting forth a lot of effort to change my ways, yet I was still getting into fights. I asked myself why this keeps on happening?
I thought about that long and hard, day after day. I really didn’t like how I was failing. I should be able to control this aspect of my life. But I obviously couldn’t.
After a couple years since my last request for help, I wondered if maybe DOC would help me now? So, I tried again. I submitted several requests to get help.
Again, I am DENIED!
But wait! There’s a new program called “Redemption” and it’s open to all. I’ll do it!
I enjoyed it. I felt productive. I learned things about myself. I gained tools I could use to build a better me. Then five months later, it was over and I graduated from that class. I was getting along with my peers, and I was applying what I had learned. I was finally over that hump.
All was good, right? Wrong!
Within a few months I found myself in a heated argument. Dude swings on me with no real warning. He hits me twice before I slam him down on the cement floor. His head cracks open, he’s knocked out, and blood forms a huge pool under his head. I walk away. When its all said and done, I loose my EFV’s (Extended Family Visits) for 5 years, and I spend 3 weeks in the hole.
While in the hole, I requested help. But I was denied once again. This time because I’m only doing 3 weeks in the hole.
The help programs are designed for guys doing 3 months or more. Think about that for a minute. I’m denied self help programs because I’m doing too much time in prison AND because I’m not doing enough time in the hole.
But I wasn’t mad at DOC. I was mad at myself.
I was the one who kept doing this. I needed to figure this out. I needed to find something that would last longer than the length of any class. I needed to find a way to help myself and to impose my own goodwill within this environment. But how could I consistently do that?
Well, I am proud to say that I have finally found a way. I’ve created my own personal ministry. It involves daily meditation and inspiration rocks.
I know what inspires me…my family, love, peace, and living in harmony.
The challenge is…to remain focused throughout every second of every day.
That challenge can be difficult in here where I am surrounded by so much negativity. But thankfully, I‘ve found a way to channel my energy into a positive & rewarding form that brings me clarity.
Every morning before I get out of bed, I meditate. Meditation amplifies what I already know. It helps me to stay focused., and it also allows me to reset my mind and visualize a positive lifestyle.
In addition to meditation, I also hold my inspiration rocks. My mantra is to feel the rocks in my hand as I focus on the words written on them and their meaning to me. This helps to keep my mind alert, aware, open, and receptive. I now do this everyday, several times a day. It seems to be working. (Please see my blog titled: Inspiration Rocks).
My personalized daily mantra of meditation & inspiration rocks helps me to be more open to myself, and to others, as I expand my patience & tolerance level.
I want to be a peaceful man. And now, after 42 years, I am finally learning what it takes to achieve this…desire, dedication, and constant commitment.
Rehabilitation, it’s my choice. I’ll never give up.
Last year (before I came to this unit) The H6 Nationals were so dysfunctional that many guys quit. This year many guys were not even going to play.
As soon as I moved to H-6, a few guys asked me if I wanted to coach the team. I didn’t have to think twice. Of course I want to.
I then started the scouting process. I approached a few of the good players to see if they wanted to play. To my surprise, they said, “No.”
I asked, “Why not?”
They said, “Too much negativity and drama.”
I assured them that this year will be different. They asked if certain people will be on the team. When I said yes, they said that is why they don’t want to play.
I knew I had my work cut out for me. Since I couldn’t tell them what to expect, I’d have to show them…lead by example.
I drew up a “Philosophy & Expectation” sheet. This is what it said:
COMMIT TO A CHAMPIONSHIP
Practice rain or shine. Always give your absolute best.
KEEP IT POSITIVE
The key to a championship is a positive attitude.
Always remain positive, especially in the face of adversity.
The best player will earn their position.
Attitude and commitment will play a huge role.
I sent it to Suzie and she did an awesome job of typing it up and adding some cool softball graphics. She sent it to me and I made copies.
Then I passed them out to all the guys…one at a time. This gave me an opportunity to talk to everyone one on one. I basically told them that if guys don’t abide by the guidelines, they won’t play and I’ll take them off the roster.
After the first week I had to take 3 guys off the roster. These were the same 3 guys who caused all the drama last year. Some guys just can’t keep it positive, other guys have a false sense of entitlement. Meaning, one guy wanted to play infield. The problem was, he couldn’t outplay any of the other infielders.
When I encouraged him to challenge for an outfield position, he got mad and negative. He told me, “I’ve been playing for over 20 years…I’ve won several championships, I’m the best infielder on this team!”
I told him to stay positive, keep trying, and he’ll get some playing time when someone misses a game due to a visit, or work, or whatever.
Nope! He wasn’t having it. He kept on being a negative distraction. Just like he was last year when he was the starting 2nd baseman. This guy is just hard to get along with. So most the guys were happy when I took him off the team.
It actually set a good example for everyone else to see. It showed everyone that I’m serious, and that I will cut a feller from the team if they don’t comply with the rules.
It also attracted those good players who initially said they didn’t want to play due to all the drama and negativity.
Right now the roster is full….15 players and 1 assistant coach. Only 10 guys play in a game. So 5 guys will be benched come game time. Only the best players who have earned their position will play.
We have an awesome group of guys who can really play. Everyone is positive and they all get along. I’m super excited! I expect our bench to be positive and supportive. Some guys won’t like being on the bench. If they become a negative distraction, I’ll cut ‘em!
We are undefeated in the pre-season, winning our last three games: 19 – 0 and 27 – 0 and 17 – 0.
It’s win a CHAMPIONSHIP or bust!!!
Our first official game is Saturday May 30th.
Wish us luck….I’ll keep ya posted.
The Universe is perfectly balanced. Everything is out there….the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The quality of your life depends on what you choose to focus on. For me, I choose love and understanding. If something doesn’t serve me well, I ignore it. By doing so, I have more energy to focus on love, peace, and harmony.
I will never know the nature of good if I’m constantly dissecting the nature of evil. So why do it? I’ve seen evil. I’ve lived evil. I’m done with it!
Knowledge and wisdom simply don’t see eye to eye with ignorance. That’s why arguments break out. Well guess what? I win all those arguments because I don’t participate in them.
Nothing is going to derail me from love and kindness. When people say mean things, I’ll use it as an opportunity to display maturity and strength. I’ll turn a negative into a positive. I’ll get stronger from that which was intended to break me down.
“Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1
For those who lack understanding, I humbly offer a glimpse of my perception. A perception that I know to be true, based on the history of my life. No matter what I do, one thing remains the same. And that is: I ALWAYS REAP WHAT I SOW.
When my thoughts projected judgment, criticism, and condemnation, there was always some form of consequence to follow. This proves that life WILL inevitably return to us the manifestation of our motives, thoughts, and desires. So be mindful when using these powers.
For years I thought I had a happy outlook on life. I thought I knew it all. I knew NOTHING! I was so lost! How can one truly be happy when they are constantly judging, criticizing, and condemning?
The happy outlook on life is always positive and constructive. The understanding heart is filled with love, compassion, and helpfulness towards all. An evolved soul does not judge or condemn.
Peace, love, and happiness, eludes the person who continuously lives in a state of condemnation. They may say they’re happy…but their actions and attitudes reveal the truth.
This blog is a blessing and every comment serves a purpose as it teaches a lesson.
I thank EVERYONE for following and contributing. We are all on the same road of experience, seeking, and living.