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.
Prison is full of drama, negativity, and hate. But thanks to programs like NA, prison also offers hope, time to reflect, time to heal, and plenty of time for rehabilitation.
Some of the tools I’m finding from within NA are very effective and powerful. They go beyond addiction and can be applied by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Here are just a few that I cultivated after reading Chapter 9 in the big blue NA book (sixth edition). I’m calling them, “JUST FOR TODAY” tools. I’ve written these down and posted them above my mirror. So now, when I look in the mirror, I look deep into my eyes as I recite my newly found JUST FOR TODAY tools. This is what I tell myself:
JUST FOR TODAY I will live in the spirit of love.
JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on love and understanding as I enjoy my blessings and all the things that bring me happiness.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in my abilities to avoid conflict and maintain a circle of harmony with everyone I encounter.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be impeccable with my words and only say things that are positive and encouraging.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be the best person I can be as I treat everyone with dignity and respect.
After I read these to myself, I give Yahoo a big hug and kiss his nose.
Over the years I have slowly learned how to use my hardships as a pathway to peace. As I reflect back on the many negative incidents I’ve imposed upon myself, I am now able to use them as stepping stones within my pathway to peace.
I understand where I went wrong in the past.
If someone challenged me…I’d beat them down! If I felt disrespected…I’d beat them down. I didn’t know any other way. Fighting was a way for me to be victorious. Today, victory comes with effective problem solving and the ability to co exist with the most challenging of personalities.
Fighting and violence is no longer an option for me. A Pyrrhic victory is an epic failure! That’s why it’s crucial that I find a better way and create effective tools that work for me. That way, if I’m ever in a situation where some fool runs up in my cell wanting to fight, I’ll have the self control and strength to refrain from hurting that man…and ultimately hurting myself and the people who love and support me.
I’ve come a long way…but its evident I still have a long way to go. I’ll continue to work hard as I try my best to always do the right thing.
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.
The spirit within me is God. Therefore, I am my own God. I decide if I want to create an Almighty Living Spirit within my being. There is no outside divine nature that dictates anything. Everything comes from within.
The Spirit within me, which I have cultivated and created, represents Wholeness. It is peace, love, and harmony. I created it within my soul so that I may seek Divine Guidance from IT.
This Spirit governs every act of my life. If I let it. And I do! It surrounds me with Light in an environment that’s supposed to be dark, gloomy, and heavy with fear. Prison!
In this Light, I elevate to a higher level of consciousness. I am able to rise up and observe my Being. I now have the power to cast out all darkness and all fears.
I observe my transformation and it inspires me to GO HARDER, TO DO MORE, and to ACHIEVE GREATESS!
This Divine Wisdom within me guides all my actions. It pushes everything in my life towards happiness, peace, love, and joy.
I have discovered the most powerful Spirit I have ever known: THE SPIRIT OF LOVE!
I am in prison, yet LOVE surrounds me with beauty, friendship, and joy.
Some of you may remember my post: Please God…Are You Real? For years I struggled with my belief system. Is God real? Or is he Mythology created by man? I wanted to believe God is real. But for some reason, I had my doubts. All I knew about God was what I learned from the Bible. That made me extremely skeptical. Because most Christians believe in the Bible 100% as they take every word literally.
I couldn’t do that. I tried. But I can’t fool myself. Deep down I knew I didn’t believe 100% of the Bible in a literal sense.
I believe the Bible is full of metaphors that teach about the brief, temporary, transient nature of life on earth.
That’s it! The rest is up to ME! And not some divine force that comes from the sky and intervenes with the environment, conditions, and life. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO THAT!
And I am doing so by creating Divine Wisdom within myself through the teachings of Jesus.
This works for me. Because it is entirely individual, personal, and unique. I am the expression of my own complete self. There is NO LIMIT to this SELF-EXPRESSION. I am the Spirit of substance. That Spirit within me is the Father of Supply. It brings me everything I need to gain wisdom and understanding. As I unfold and evolve, this Spirit keeps me in a world of love & compassion as It governs me, NOW & FOREVER!
Good is all around us, at all times. Regardless of our environment.
So why hasn’t my life always been peaceful? Why have I been in numerous prison fights over the past 20 years?
These are the questions I ask myself. I seek and continue to seek answers. Let me share a tiny glimpse into my discovery.
In order to find peace in the world, I must first find peace within myself. As I surrender to peace, love, and harmony, I find that they attract many blessings to my life.
I’m not saying that negativity is gone, or that it doesn’t press against me on a daily basis. Because it does!
I’m not saying that the only way to counteract negativity is to focus on peace. Seek and ye shall find!
I’m so done responding to negativity in a way that gives it life and power, dulling my pleasures, and clouding me with misery and apprehension!
I’m done with all that!
But how can that be? I’m still in prison. An environment that’s notorious for hate, violence, and chaos!
The answer is simple: I recognize the one life principle, working in and through me, as it inspires and motivates me and everyone I come in contact with.
And that one life principle is: The Law of Attraction…peace, love, harmony, understanding, and all things good.
The vibes I put out, come back to me. The way I treat people, comes back to me. The way I view my environment, contributes to my atmosphere within my environment.
This is my reality: I treat everyone with dignity & respect. I’m positive and happy. I smile. I use the power of my words in a direction of truth & love.
As a result, I attract all these beautiful things back into my life, thus creating a peaceful atmosphere. In prison. While serving 43 years.
This concept has taken me years to effectively implement into my life. I will continue to study as I slowly master the concepts of personal freedom and happiness.
At one point or another, we all get feelings of insecurities. My wife is no exception. Over the past two years she has voiced her concerns and insecurities. Compound that with anxiety and depression and you have a recipe for disaster.
Suzie and I went through a phase where all her pent up emotions exploded! I didn’t know what to do. So I shut down for a few weeks. That means no phone calls, no emails, and no letters.
Then I realized that by shutting down, I’m giving up.
I love Suzie too much to give up. Especially during her deepest darkest hour of need, when she needs me the most. I am her husband, her best friend, and her partner in life.
I realized it was time for me to man up and do everything in my power to be the person she needs me to be. And it all starts with UNDERSTANDING. So I educated myself on anxiety and depression. I learned what to do & what not to do.
I read an article called: 9 Best Ways To Support Someone With Depression
The #1 thing on that list simply said, BE THERE.
I immediately reached out to my baby and apologized for not being there and for not being understanding.
#8 on the list says, LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
#9 on the list says, BE PATIENT
I applied everything I learned.
Suzie married me because she wanted to, not because she had to. I am a man in prison for the next 18 years. Talk about sacrifice on her behalf! Of course there are going to be times where emotions arise, for the both of us.
Suzie was 29 years old when we got married. There’s so much I can’t give her. But what I can give her is ME. All of me. All of my very best. I will do whatever it is I need to do. I’m going to love her with all my heart and soul. UNCONDITIONALLY!!!
I am reminded of a previous blog I posted called, Love.
I love my wife. I am making it my mission to truly understand her.
I’m constantly asking her if I can do anything better in our marriage. I asked her to compose a list of things I can do to make her feel loved & cherished. She did. And every day I do a few things from that list.
Our communication is wide open and honest. Today she tells me exactly what’s on her mind the instant it happens. When issues arise, we talk it out until we find an acceptable remedy. My #1 priority is her happiness.
In the past, she would let things build up. This would cause her stress. She wouldn’t speak up because she thought it was stupid or insignificant. And all the while, I would be wondering what was wrong. I didn’t have a clue.
Today I have a clue. I make it my business to truly understand my wife.
With knowledge comes understanding. With understanding comes love. And Love Conquers All!
Life is a journey. We live, learn, and grow. If you love someone you’ll take the time to understand them. With love & compassion, you can overcome anything. With all of this in mind, I wrote this poem to my wife: You’ve Opened My Eyes
My Sweet Darling,
I LOVE YOU MORE THAN AIR!!! Thank you for bringing me serenity, intimacy, love, and joy. I am in prison. I am not supposed to feel these things. Yet you find amazing ways to give me these in abundance. Without you a large part of my Being would suffocate in my own demise.
Our journey of minds have become ONE. I absolutely love & cherish the fact that together we know there is a state of consciousness that heals instantly. I’ve lived a huge portion of my life unaware that this state of consciousness exists. This is a gift that you have given me. You have opened my eyes.
When I am with you, I am at my happiest. Do you have any idea how much love & excitement you bring to my life? My heart beats for you. Not only are you my wife, you are my best friend. I am so lucky to have you. You are all things good in my life. You are my greatest source of love & happiness.
MWAH….on your cheek.
I love you with all my heart & soul.
PS – Please check out our blog: Real Love Letters
I am sharing the journal I kept while I did 7 months in the hole.
Journal entry dated 12/17/08:
Today was exchange day for jumpsuits. I have one of those really nice orange ones. Nice and thick. Zips all the way to the neck. I like mine big and baggy. I tuck the bottoms into my socks. It’s like lounging in my PJ’s all day. Love it.
I’m laying in bed when this mean guard comes by and kicks the door. He startles me. I look up from my bunk. He says in a curt voice, “What size jumpsuit do you need?”
I say, “3 X” as I get up and walk to the door. He eyeballs my body from head to toe, then says, “You’re getting a 2 X.”
I know about this guard. He’s well known for being a complete jerk. He comes to work on the war path every day. He never smiles and he dislikes every inmate. That’s probably why they have him working in the hole. Because he causes a lot of problems out there on mainline.
I respond by saying, “Oh yeah, that’s what I meant to say…2 X. This one here is a 3 X, and it’s way too big.”
I really wanted a 3 X. but I’m not going to satisfy this guy with an argument I can’t win. I know the type of reaction he was expecting and wanted. He wanted me to beg and plead for a 3 X. Most guards don’t care what size we get. We’re locked down 24/7…what does it matter? But this guy loves to “power trip” and create drama. He does it every day!
As he stuffs a 2X through the cuff port, I say, “Good looking out.” He slams the cuff port and moves on. I laugh to myself. That was NOT the reaction he wanted. I flipped the script and made it seem like “Mr. Hate-an-Inmate” just did me a favor.
I remember this incident very well. Instead of getting upset and stressed, I somehow found a way to get laughter and satisfaction outta the deal. That jumpsuit situation had huge potential for stress and anger.
Situations occur. It’s the thoughts in your mind that dictates how you respond. If I desire peace and happiness, yet I’m constantly stressing and in turmoil, it’ll never happen.
But if I put in the work and condition my mind with peace and happiness, only then will I be able to respond to situations from within that positive capacity.
“Stress is a choice”
I am sharing the journal I kept while I did 7 months in the hole.
Journal entry from 12/10/08:
Well today I went to my hearing and get 30 days in the hole. I lost 45 days of goodtime.
I get out of the hole on Christmas day. I’m very excited. I was expecting to get several months in the hole. 30 days is not bad for getting caught with a Blackberry Pearl 5150 cell phone! Yes, it was sooo worth it. I got my first taste of modern technology. (internet, pics, vids, selfies…all that!) I’d spend hours in chatrooms. I met tons of women who really liked me.
I’m a little sad. But I don’t wanna be sad. So I’ll focus on something else. Like origami.
I just finished making two stealth bombers. I’m learning from this book I have. It’s very challenging. The first one I completely messed up. But the second one looks much better. Will there be a third? Nope. I’m done with all that! I felt like giving up before I finished the 1st one, but I stuck with it despite my impatience and frustration.
As I reflect back on this, I remember what it was like in that cold cell. I remember starting to feel sad. I could’ve allowed my thoughts to really beat me up. And to some degree, I did.
But right now as I write this, I realize that suffering & sadness is always the result of wrong thinking. Suffering and sadness is an indication that an individual is out of harmony with themselves and their situation.
For example, if I’m in the hole stressing about my cell phone and all my girlfriends, then that means I’m out of harmony with myself and my situation. Those things are gone! And there’s NOTHING I can do about it!
However, if I change my thoughts, I then eliminate the material that creates wrong thinking. And that’s what I did. I switched gears from feeling sad and started thinking about something different, like origami.
MORAL: Happiness & harmony are created by proper thinking.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Why is the prayer of a righteous man so powerful and effective? Is it because God loves the righteous more than others, therefore, He responds to their prayers on a more consistent basis?
That’s what a lot of people think. They just don’t come out and say it. They’d rather say, “God loves everyone the same. I don’t know why some prayers go unanswered.”
So I ask you, “Why do some people get their prayers answered more than others?”
Here’s my take on the subject:
When I pray, I voice a conscious recognition. This allows me to animate desired blessings with the life of thought.
Whether I pray alone or with others, I am inducing within the mind: concepts, acceptance, peace, poise, power, plenty, health, healing, happiness, success, or whatever the prayer is about.
These thoughts swirl in my head long before I put them into prayer. And they remain swirling long after the end of prayer. So what’s the difference between prayer and thought? I don’t know. I just feel better after I formally get it out in prayer.
I feel like prayer is a formal demonstration to set the concept in motion. Then from there, The Law of Subjectivity will allow the manifestation of my prayers. AKA…my thoughts.
My prayers are basically the same thing over and over. Some of my prayers will never change. Other prayers I’ll stick with until they become a tangible reality. As a result, I feel like a lot of my prayers get answered.
For the people who just “believe in God” but their mind is all over the place, uncontrolled and without direction…they are the ones who might toss out the occasional prayer when misfortune strikes. And chances are, those prayers go unanswered.
For me, I live in Mind. And it can only return to me what I think into it. No matter what I do or say, this law will always be absolute. The mind has no choice but to return what we have thought into it.
Perhaps that is why some people get their prayers answered more than others…because they are persistent and they pray with a clear, focused mind. Opposed to the occasional prayer, performed by confused minds, in times of misfortune.
Thought must be organized to fit the premise of prayer. Consistently. Daily. Not just in times of need. Everyday actions should be consistent with all things good. That’s righteous!
I know Faith has a lot to do with it as well. Most people associate faith with their religion. But it goes beyond that. Especially for me.
My highest expression of faith is in myself, not in my religious experience. I have great faith in my abilities. I have great faith in the laws of the Universe. A lot of people call these laws God.
Through my studies, I realize a lot of people have similar spiritual beliefs…but they widely differ on how to articulate and explain God. People actually argue and fight, and get hostile when they disagree about God. I’ve seen it!
For me, I pay no mind to the things that don’t serve me well. If people want to debate trivial matters….let them.
My focus is on knowledge and understanding of the laws that will bring all things good into my life. My focus is on how to be righteous so that my prayers may be powerful and effective! I’ll conclude with this prayer……
“Dear Lord Heavenly Father, Please grant me the strength to impose my own goodwill within this hostile environment. Please help me gain knowledge and understanding so that I may become the best person I can be. Please allow me to inspire others and offer hope. Please teach me the ways of Jesus and give me the courage to always follow His examples. Please help me keep my mind focused on love and compassion towards everyone. Thank you. AMEN.”