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.
The Significant Woman’s Event is on May 1st, 2016. Suzie and I absolutely love this event. It’s more like a date rather than a visit in prison.
This event is all about honoring the special woman in my life who has provided ongoing support, sacrifice, and encouragement: My loving wife, Suzie. The activities are designed to assist in fostering the growth & strengthening of our beautiful relationship.
I make and give her a corsage. We are served food and drinks just like in a restaurant. We get up and dance with each other. I take her to a private section where I read her a sweet, emotional, loving, gratitude letter.
You can read what this amazing event was like for us last year:
As you can see, this event is very special to us, and means a great deal to us both.
That’s why we’re humbly requesting some financial help so Suzie can make the trip from California to Washington for this event. Please help make this special day possible for us. Take a peek at our GoFundMe page.
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.
Real Love Letters: Falling in love through writing. The connection. The journey. The romance.
How could a vibrant, intelligent woman fall in love with a man in prison? To most people, it makes no sense. I don’t even fully understand it. Yet, I’m referring to my situation. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? That is the question a lot of people ask. And if they don’t ask it, they’re thinking it! The answer is better SHOWN, rather than told.
I invite you to follow our blog: Real Love Letters. It shows how a shy, introvert, Mormon girl falls in love with an outspoken, extrovert…who just so happens to be a convict serving 43 years in prison.
My wife, Suzie, and I know we have something special and unique. A powerful love unlike anything we’ve ever known. And now we have decided to share it with the world. We share our back and forth dialogue that started with a Prison Pen-Pal Ad, and continues all the way through falling in love and getting married.
I feel truly blessed that such an amazing and wholesome woman entered my life.
Real Love Letters is a testimony that true love knows no boundaries.
Back in 1994, I was in a drunken rage and shot 4 innocent young men. It is only because of their strong will that no one died. I got what I deserved: 43 years in prison. I’ve never appealed it. I’ve never seeked clemency. And I have no desire to be paroled.
I take full responsibility for my actions and I accept my sentence in full. I have about 13 years left to serve. I refuse to take my incarceration in vain. I am determined to match and exceed all my negative behaviors of the past, with present and future actions of love & compassion towards all of humanity.
My crimes of the past has set my bar extremely high for the present and future. As of today, I’m nowhere near where I need to be. I know I can never right my wrongs. But I can and will use it as motivation to give it my very best.
My setback is a 43 year prison term, and the fact that I hurt 4 people and all their friends and families, and all the bystanders and their friends and families, and all of my friends and family. Therefore, my equal seed of opportunity has to be extraordinary. And that’s exactly what I’m striving for.
The consequences of my crime has and will continue to inspire great change.
Once again, as I sat at this meeting, I struggled to identify with certain aspects.
Such as : “I’m an addict. My life has become unmanagable due to drugs. My entire life revolved around getting drugs and doing drugs.”
This has never been the case with me, yet it is the main theme of NA.
Then I realized that through out my incarceration, I’ve been offered heroin, meth, coke, LSD, weed, alcohol, cold pills, and spice.
It would be so easy for me to say I’ve only smoked a little weed, and I turned down everything else. But that would be a lie! The truth is, over the years, I have tried all the drugs listed above.
Until now I have been lying to myself and others about my drug use. It’s true that I’ve never been addicted to narcotics. I’ve only tried them a few times. Now it’s time to face the facts.
At this NA meeting, two things really stood out to me.
#1) NA is a program with a set of principles written so simply that I can follow them in my daily life.
This stood out to me because I have on my wall a set of principals that I have commited my life to. I call them “MY 7 FOCAL POINTS”. The 4th one says:
TRUTH– Always be honest and tell the truth. Lying is a form of weakness and will only set me back on my journey to self improvement.
As I sat in that meeting and really thought about things, I was actually a little surprised. I was suprised that after all I’ve been through, after all I’ve done, after all I’ve admitted to in “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary”, that there was still one major thing that I swept under the rug and tried to ignore.
And that is my involvement with drugs and addiction.
Alcohol is a drug!
I am an alcoholic.
I have done a variety of drugs in my past.
I am an addict.
NA has opened my eyes to the truth.
I am now ready to confront my truth and take responsibility for it as I deal with this appropriately. And the first step is to recognize it, admit it, identify it, and embrace it. NA is allowing me to do just that!
The 2nd thing that stood out to me was a saying from a NA book called,”Just For Today” (revised):
“I will open my eyes to the possibilities before me. My potential is as limitless and powerful as the God of my understanding. Today I will act on that potential.”
Those very words have inspired me to write this post and to share my truth. A truth I’ve been hiding for decades! I will embrace my past and use it to make me stronger, wise, and helpful to those who struggle.
This blog is by far the best rehabilitative tool I’ve ever come across.
Thank you for all your support.
Thank you to my family for all the years of unconditional love & support.
And thank you, Suzie. My rock, my world, my everything. The blessings you bring to my world are incredible. You truly are my other half and I love you so much with all my heart!
I went to brunch at 8:30 am. Then layed around and watched football.
Then went to dinner at 5:00 pm. I had: fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravey, yams, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie w/whiped cream.
It was actually pretty darn good! I was thankful.
Then I came back, hopped up on my bunk, and watched Chicago beat Green Bay! Who knew???
From 7-7:30pm, there was a live band made up of inmates who played a few songs in the dayroom.
I’ve never seen that before…not in the unit dayroom! It was cool. They were good.
But wait!!! The festive events arn’t over yet…
Today (Friday) was the start of several tournaments. I entered the Dominoe tournament. I won my first match and advanced in the bracket.
Then I subbmitted my name for the Pie Eating Contest. Outta 60 submittions…I got randomly selected. I ate one Chocolate Cream pie in 1:28! That was good enough for 1st place! By 5 seconds!!! I got a big ribbon that says: 2015 PIE EATING CHAMPION
Then the whole unit played BINGO for bags of homemade cookies. I was sitting at a table w/two other guys. We all agreed that if anyone of us win…we’ll split the cookies 3 ways. One of us won!!! The cookies were delicious.
I am so thankful for life.
No matter where we are…life is what we make of it.
The great joy of life comes into my soul, flooding me with love and thanksgiving.
I do not grieve or feel sorry for myself, because nothing is lost or gone from me.
I have friends and family who love me. I have the most sensitive, loving, wife in the world. I have inner peace with a spirit of love and appreciation.
No matter where I am, or where I go, peace, love, and serenity will follow me.
I keep my friends and family in my heart…they are always with me.
I am filled with the joy of living and the great peace that comes to all who believe in the power of love.
Happy Holidays To Everyone!
Enjoy your blessings & love your family.
Every July Stafford Creek Corrections Center is the host of an event called “The Family Fun BBQ.”
The criteria for me to attend is simple: Must be 6 months infraction free, and must have at least one minor in attendance.
This year was awesome! My mom brought my niece, Austyn.
The visiting room has a side door that leads to a grassy yard. That’s where you’ll find a Carnival type atmosphere.
Music was playing along with a ton of kids everywhere! There’s hula-hoops, plastic horse shoes, footballs, mini basketballs, face painting, a station to make sock puppets, and a couple inflatable bouncy houses.
As Austyn and I stepped outside, a song was playing. I asked her if she knew who was singing. She immediately said, “Taylor Swift.”
I said “OMG, I love this song” as I started to gyrate to the beat.
I asked if Austyn wanted to dance. She said, “No!” with a big smile.
That’s when I observed that there was no kids in one of the bouncy houses. So I ran to it and dove in!
That’s something Austyn has been trying to get me to do for the past few years. I had always told her, “NO…I’m too big for that.”
But this year was different. Probably because I realize she is almost 13 years old. And soon, these type of things might not be so appealing to her. So why not make some memories…I just dove right in!
Then, to my surprise, the entire house started to collapse! I was too big for it. I pushed out way too much air! I quickly jumped out. Austyn was standing there…laughing!
After we got that bouncy house standing again, we went over to a section of black top. There was huge chunks of chalk that was used for drawing on the black top.
Austyn wrote STEVEN in huge letters. I wrote LOVE”S AUSTYN in huge letters. Then we wrote the names of all our family members who we love in small letters all in-between and around the huge letters. We used different colors. It looked super cool as we took up a lot of space.
After that, we went to the sock puppet station. She made a kitty cat and I made a blue-eyed shark. They turned out awesome! We were having a great time.
After eating BBQ burgers with all the trimmings, we went back outside. Austyn dragged me to the face painting station. How could I say no? For years I said no to the bouncy house. This year is all systems go! Plus, how bad could it be? Other guys were running around with hearts, whiskers, rainbows, and other designs on their face.
Before I knew it, my entire face was covered! Other kids were using little paint brushes. Austyn gobbed it on using her fingers.
It was all fun and games until my mom tried to wipe it off of Austyn’s fingers. This stuff was not coming off. I panicked a little. I went straight to the bathroom and scrubbed my face with soap and water. A lot of it came off. But my hands and face were still stained red. And that was not coming off.
Come to find out, that was NOT face paint and it accidentally got placed at the wrong station. Oh well, I love it! It created a great memory and gave me something to blog about. 🙂 All in all, this was an awesome day. One I’ll never forget.
Thank you D. Taylor (the event coordinator) for allowing me to attend.
Than you mom for taking the time and money to come see me.
Thank you Austyn for being an awesome niece and for all the love & joy you bring to my life.
Thank you to my wife Suzie, and to all of my friends & family for your constant love and support.
My celly was telling me a story. He mentioned a minor detail that I KNEW to be untrue. I wanted to protest. But I didn’t. Because I knew he would dispute it.
Then what? Well I’ll tell you. I’d have to prove him wrong. To do that, I’d have to draw out the entire dispute. Which would just make it last longer. To me, that’s a negative. So I just let him tell his story as I remained a gracious listener.
I share this with you because I recognize growth. To be honest, I felt the urge to argue that point in his story. Years ago I would’ve. But now, because of meditation and my Inspiration Rocks…well, lets just say I recognize self-growth.
I’m proud of that. It makes me feel good to just be in harmony with people and the natural flow of life.
Even in prison I have a full range of emotions that cover every corner of the human spectrum. Within this spectrum, I choose to focus on all of the positive that’s going on. I seek it. I pluck it out. I make it mine.
Let me give you some examples:
1) My wife. I love her! She is the biggest positive force I have in my life.
2) My family. I love them!
3) My blog and all of my followers. I love you guys!
I see so many of these men in here who have nothing like this to focus on. Instead they focus on fighting the system, manipulating the rules, and that gangsta/outlaw life. It’s my environment. I use it to show me how NOT to act. There’s a lot of energy in here. I’m truly learning how to harness it, and to redirect it towards the good. And in doing so, I gravitate towards like-minded people.
I have sooo much GOOD in my life that it’s not even worth focusing on anything else.
That’s why I didn’t dispute the minor detail in my celly’s story. Or the dozen other situations per day that I encounter which make me want to engage in some form of negativity.
Big changes start with the smallest detail. I’m trying. I’m succeeding. And I will continue to succeed!
Who would want their daughter, sister, aunt, or any family member to get involved with a man in prison? Not me! I could only imagine. But this is the situation for Suzie’s family. She’s involved with me. We’re in love. We’re married.
Here is a letter that I wrote to her family:
Dear Suzie’s Family,
Um…Hi. I’m a little nervous, so please bare with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope you do so with an open mind.
What is love?
What does it mean to truly love someone?
What is the ultimate goal in life?
To me, these answers are quite simple. The ultimate goal is to be happy. To truly love someone means to treat them with respect and compassion at all times. Love is kind, gentle, and understanding.
I love Suzie. She is so sweet, kind, and compassionate. I recognize all her unique personal characteristics, and I absolutely love who she is as a person.
I promise all of you that I will always treat Suzie with love and respect. All I want to do is bring her happiness and joy.
Suzie & I confide in each other. Our love is open and honest without the fear of ridicule or harsh judgment. We have a strong foundation of trust and honesty that has allowed our relationship to grow into something very special. I’ve never known anything like this before. But now that I’ve experienced this, I want it forever.
Forever is a long time. That means peeks and valleys are on the horizon. When dilemma’s and conflicts appear, I promise to seek peaceful solutions that won’t upset the harmony of our relationship. In doing so, these type of situations that usually breaks others down, will only strengthen us.
Suzie inspires me in so many ways. She inspires me to keep on the righteous path and to work hard towards my goals. She inspires me to dream of a life full of love, joy, and happiness. And now she has given me the opportunity to achieve all my dreams.
I promise to do the same for her. Through love, support, and understanding, I will inspire my lovely lady to be the best she can be and to reach her full potential. I will encourage her every step of the way as she works towards her goals. Suzie has dreams and desires. Together, we will fulfill them.
Suzie has a lifelong partner in me. My incarceration has enabled me to view life through a different lens. I appreciate my blessings. I cherish my friends and family. And I absolutely worship my lady. I promise to do everything within my power to make Suzie happy and to maintain this strong circle of harmony that surrounds our relationship.
Suzie is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She inspires me to be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She is an amazing woman who I love with all my heart. She deserves so much better than a man in prison. That’s one of the many reasons why I am so committed to giving her a very special kind of love. The kind of love she deserves, the kind of love she desires and longs for. A love that only knows peace & harmony.
Please give me and my love for Suzie a chance. Please see me for who I am, not where I am. I know you have questions. Feel free to ask anything. I’ll always respond with a honest answer.
In closing, I’d like to point out that I could’ve wrote anything on these pages. And that wouldn’t necessarily make it true. People can say anything. So please just view this letter as an outline of what to expect from me. The tangible truth will be found within my actions, and by the way I will always treat Suzie.