Blogging is such a great tool for rehabilitation. That is one reason why Suzie and I created Stone City Blog. We want all inmates to have access to this new and effective rehabilitative tool.
I’d like to encourage everyone who reads Stone City Blog, to reach out to the bloggers, and prompt them. Ask them critical questions that will inspire deeper thought and self reflection. By doing so, you could be that one thing that inspires great change within an inmate and his rehabilitative efforts. Stone City Blog gives you access to over 1,000 posts written by over 100 inmates. All of these inmates can be contacted via email (JPay).
In this post I will respond to THREE PROMPTS from Sandra Rogers.
PROMPT #1) How will you achieve a balance between redemption and rehabilitation?
This prompt is awesome. It brings a whole new dimension to my thought process. Until now, I’ve never ever even considered such a question. Redemption and rehabilitation go hand in hand. For me personally, I can’t achieve one without the other.
My rehabilitation efforts are a daily process. Everyday I’m focused on love, compassion, and understanding as I live in an environment full of hate, conflict, and turmoil. It’s my job to rehabilitate myself while in the belly of the beast surrounded by demons. I do not react to negativity with negativity. Instead, I remain focused on my goals and dreams as I use my energy in a positive productive manner.
On a scale of 1-10, if my Rehabilitation is at a 8, well then my Redemption has to be at least a 4. Because Rehabilitation is Redemption to some degree. 4 and 8 is not balanced. Therefore, I need to get my Redemption up by at least 4 points. I can do so by contributing to society in a positive way. Such as saving dogs and doing volunteer work. Hey, I do that.
PROMPT #2) How will you find a balance between Selflessness and Selfishness?
By keeping in close contact with mentors I trust and respect. Such as Suzie, Alana, Sandra, and maybe even professional counselors. They will help show me the way and keep me focused. They will prompt me to a deeper level of consciousness and self awareness.
If it is brought to my attention that a segment of my life is unbalanced, then I will do whatever it takes to balance it out. To simply answer this question: I will seek the advice of all those who are educated, and those who have great perspective and insight.
Meanwhile, in here I enjoy great balance between working out, eating healthy, watching football, and reading & writing. (Selfishness)
And then (Selflessness), helping others, sharing, and volunteering.
PROMPT #3) What are the markers of the above mentioned kind of balance?
Happiness. The ultimate marker is happiness. When my life is truly balanced, I’m at my happiest. Regardless of my environment. When aspects of my life fall out of balance, my happiness is the first to suffer.
Another great marker is the opinions and perspectives of my mentors and the people I love, and how THEY view me. If they are happy with me and proud of me, that is a great indication that I’m achieving a high degree of balance in my life.
Thank you Sandra for such thought provoking prompts. The insight and self analyzation that it takes in order to answer these questions are very valuable. Your on-going prompts have taught me more about life and myself. They invoke deep thinking and self reflection that is critical to any type of rehabilitation.
It is my prayer and hope that everyone can recognize the significant value that is hidden within inmate bloggers and critical thought-provoking prompts.
After reading an email from my sweet wife about what she is thankful for, I realized that my previous Thanksgiving post was incomplete. I failed to mention the things that I am thankful for.
I’m thankful for having such a wonderful family. Starting with my wife. She is so incredibly kind and loving. Her dedication & loyalty is absolutely impeccable. I am so blessed to have her. Thank you, Suzie!
I’m thankful for my amazing mother and all of her love & support. Thanks, mom! I love you.
I’m thankful for my sisters, and my nieces & nephew. I’m especially thankful for my brother-in-laws and how they treat my sisters and their kids.
Wow! There’s so much to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for my Friends.
I’m thankful for my readers and followers.
I’m thankful for being in The Dog Program.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to blog.
I’m thankful to be alive and to have a release date.
I’m thankful for my Marriage.
I’m thankful for clothes to wear and food to eat.
I’m thankful for JPay.
I’m thankful for football season.
I’m thankful for Influential Books to read.
I’m thankful for my health.
I’m thankful for Stone City Blog.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to take NA classes to earn back good time.
I’m thankful for all my blessings and for all the people who love & support me.
Making money is easy. I’ve been doing it for years.
My society is different than yours in more ways than it’s similar. But there are similarities: Money. We all need it to live comfortably. The more we have, the more comfortable we are able to live.
In this prison society I live in, I’ve always been in the “wealthy” bracket as I sit atop the prisons totem pole of higharchy. But compare that to mainstream society and I’m broke as a joke. This $0.42 an hour ain’t cutting it.
It also doesn’t quite put me in the “wealthy” bracket in here. I had to “get my hustle on” to reach “wealthy status.” (please read about it in Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)
That was back before I made a commitment to the people who love me. A commitment to follow all rules and laws. And to respect…
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I am so proud of my darling wife. The work she does may at times feel thankless and uneventful, but she is doing incredible work helping the incarcerated.
I was brought to tears today. I was struggling with work and my own personal spiritual journey. I nearly wanted to give up. But I knew I’d be letting myself and my husband down.
I finally found the will to get online and dig into my list of things to do.
I manage Stone City Blog. It’s a collection of blogs written by men in prison. I don’t get paid for this. I’d call it charity/volunteer/non-profit work for right now.
I saw that I had about 60 emails from inmates, all waiting for me to post their work. I was expecting a large number like that. After all, I let things back up, knowing very well that I shouldn’t have let that happen.
About an hour into my work load, I find an email addressed to me.
As I opened it, tears streamed down my face as I began…
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I got up in front of the class and spoke at this meeting. I overcame my fear of public speaking and just did it.
I started off my NA speech by saying, “The only reason why I’m here is because I was assigned 6 months of NA by my counselor in order to earn back some goodtime that I lost 20 years ago for smoking weed.” I mentioned my blog and how I post after every NA meeting. Then I shared the following posts: My 1st NA Meeting, and My 2nd NA Meeting.
As I read, I’d periodically look up and scan the room. I was surprised to see that I had everyone’s attention. There was no side talk or aimless doodling… all eyes were on me. It felt good. I concluded by expressing my desire to “pay it forward”. I’m talking about the gift of blogging.
It is my sincere hope that writing and sharing will help others the way it has helped me.
Here are 8 questions from Sandra Rogers, PhD, OTR/L. Please click on each one to read my answers.
Now that I’m learning a little about Occupational Therapy, I feel like it’s giving me a deeper, richer, more thorough understanding of life in general. I reflect back to my days of crime and misconduct, and I see direct parallels to the fact that I had zero to very little meaningful activities in my life.
Today I engage in several meaningful activities. And as a result, I live a healthy lifestyle full of love, compassion, excitement, and happiness. It’s so clear to see that the healthy lifestyle came AFTER I started to engage in meaningful activities.
Early in my incarceration I had a desire to live a healthy lifestyle. I told myself on numerous occasions, “It’s time. Let’s do it!” But time and time again, I’d fail. Why? Because I wasn’t engaging in meaningful activities. The ONLY way to achieve a healthy lifestyle IS to engage in meaningful activities. There’s no other way to do it!
I’m so glad I’m learning this stuff. In addition to the clarity it brings me, it also teaches me effective ways to articulate my journey when mentoring and helping others.
I feel like I’ve done a lot of this work on my own. And just now, I’m starting to learn about it from a clinical standpoint. Which is great! Because the principles and philosophies have been validated before they were recognized.
Now it’s time to continue to learn and build as I use Occupational Therapy (Wikipedia definition). That in itself is a meaningful activity that is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve learned that in Occupational Therapy there are 7 areas of occupation that people engage in. Some are self explanatory. Some are not. But I feel they are all important to know. By knowing them, I can achieve a better balance in my life. I can do a self evaluation and determine if I’m lacking or over compensating in a specific area. The 7 occupations are:
#1) Activities of Daily Living (ADL) – This refers to basic needs such as eating, showering, hygiene, clothing, sex, etc.
I’m definitely lacking in the sex department. So this is something I need to address in my life. And address it I shall…in March 2017!…EFV’s with my wife, Suzie. 🙂
#2) Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s) – This is the act of caring for my environment, such as ordering my commissary, cleaning my cell, helping my disabled celly, taking care of my dog, turning off the water that people deliberately leave on, etc.
I feel balanced with this one. However, I can do more. A lot of guys don’t clean up after themselves. Therefore, the sink and microwave area is always a mess. From now on, whenever I see a mess, I’ll take 30 seconds and clean it up. Why not? It’ll be good for me.
#3) Education – Participating in a learning environment or learning activities.
I could definitely use more of this. And now that its been brought to my attention, I will actively seek opportunities to engaged in more educational activities. I currently engage in two educational activities: NA Meetings and the Sustainability In Prison lectures.
#4) Leisure – A non-obligatory activity that is engeged in during discretionary time.
I have plenty of leisure activities, such as: blogging, writing Real Love Letters to the love of my life, working out, taking my dog for a walk, reading, etc.
#5) Work – Employment. Making money. Getting paid! Also, volunteer activities.
I do both. Freedom Tails is all volunteer work. And I find it way more rewarding than my actual job. If I had to choose between my “Remunerative Work” and my “Volunteer Work” I would sacrifice my pay and choose my Volunteer work. This just goes to show how rewarding volunteer work really is.
#6) Play – Any activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion.
This is interesting. Because what happens when these adjectives can be applied to work, volunteer, and leisure? All of a sudden, play becomes a dominant meaningful activities in my life. I like that! I’m going to make it happen.
#7) Social Participation – Activities associated with patterns of behavior within a given social system.
Prison is a social system. A lot of misconduct goes on in here. So I’m better off engaging in anti-social participation when it comes to the prison social system as a whole. Another word for “Social Participation” in prison would be “Institutionalized”. This is just one perspective. My reality is: there are sub societies within the overall predominant prison social system.
By conducting myself in a positive, productive manner, and observing The Law of Attraction, I find my self socially participating in a positive mini sub-division within a predominant negative social system. The social participation that I engage in, is strong enough to give me strength to navigate through the negative prison social system without getting caught up in the current of negativity.
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.
The Inside Out Group hosted a fundraiser on Aug. 8th. Inmates got to order outside food, such as: chicken, pie, ice cream, and soda.
Seminar – An “Overcoming Life’s Addictions” seminar was held on Aug. 19th. This seminar was based on the book, “At The Altar of Sexual Idolatry” by Steve Gallagher. Inmates had to read the book in order to attend. Fifty books were available for this, on a first come first served basis.
Back To School Event – This event fostered positive relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers. Fathers were able to give their kids back to school supplies, and spend the day playing fun educational games with their kids. This special event was held on Aug. 22nd.
Violence Prevention Field Day – I attended this event last year and it was awesome! Last year was such a great success that SCCC did it again this year in September.
Diversity – The Cultural Diversity Committee is made up of a diverse group of inmates. They aim to bring awareness and educate individuals in fun and exciting ways, and to teach the intricacies of different ethnical cultures and backgrounds. The goal is to create a more united community by throwing out false stereotypes. On Aug 6th, the Diversity Committee hosted a European Heritage Event.
Redemption – A new 21 week Redemption Self-Awareness class began in August. This class is available to all inmates who want to live a positive lifestyle. I highly recommend this class. I just recently graduated and I found this class very beneficial.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes are on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) classes are on Mondays and Thursdays. I will be taking these classes to help me gain back some good time.
Anger & Stress Management – This is a six week discussion group on Mondays and Fridays. Areas of discussion include: identifying anger, dealing with stress, communication skills, conflict resolution, family & celly issues. After I complete my NA classes, I will enroll in Anger Management classes.
Family Fun Night – This event took place in the visiting room on Sept. 18th. The activity was BINGO! There were prizes to be won and cupcakes to be eaten. The love of my life, Suzie Marie, made a special trip up for this event. We had a wonderful time together!
Sustainability In Prison Project – On Sept. 17th there was a lecture conducted by scientists and community members who are active in conservation & sustainability. The lecture topic was: Earthships – Reusing society’s byproducts into houses and that take care of you and the planet.
Flagging Program – This program allows inmates to earn a certificate that will qualify them to become a roadside flagger in construction zones. It’s a one day class and costs $45. Inmates must be one year or less to their release date, and they must also be six months infraction free.
College Readiness Program – This allows inmates and counselors to build a college readiness referral. The Greys Harbor Community College helps with this program by providing the following: skills to help transition from prison to college, free applications for FAFSA student loans, career info, admissions assistance, transcript requests, credit transfers, money management, study and test taking skills, etc. To participate in this program, inmates must be 18 months or less till their release date and they must have their high school diploma or GED.
Life is what you make of it.
Even in prison there is an abundance of opportunities!
Real Love Letters – Suzie & I have decided to share our journey from the very beginning. We will be posting our personal letters to show the world how we met and fell in love. A lot of people wonder how a good wholesome Mormon girl could fall in love and marry a man in prison serving a 43 year sentence. This blog will answer many questions as Suzie and I share our transparent back & forth dialogue.
Stone City Blog – A collection of blogs written by men in prison. If you have a loved one in prison, give them the gift of blogging. Our services are free. (For more information, please read: Submitting Blogs)
Suzie M. Jennings – What’s it like to be the wife of an inmate? Follow Suzie’s blog about love, life, & success. Everyone is on a journey…all are the same, yet all are different.
Steven D. Jennings – I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars! I share my journey towards rehabilitation & redemption. Please follow my blog as I share my experiences with you.
Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary – Please show your support and buy my ebook.
Help Unite Steven & Suzie – Please take a look at our GoFundMe campaign. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for all the love & support!