On Thursday December 1st, DOC spent $18K to shakedown two units. DOC brought extra guards in by the buss load! Literally.
The first unit they hit was G UNIT. The dog program is in that unit. So at about 10 am, a guard brought me Sam from G UNIT. Sam is a two year old Husky/Shepard mix. We spent the day playing and getting to know each other.
Sam is an awesome dog, and he’s looking for a forever home. For more information on how to adopt, please read: Adopting A Dog.
I was expecting to give Sam back at 3:30pm. But to my surprise, he spent the night with my celly (Jesse Bailey) and I. The next morning, we got raided! Sam went back to G UNIT, and all of H3 (my unit), went to the gym. There we sat for 9 hours while our cells were getting TORE UP!
Some cells got hit harder than others. I was actually surprised that my cell didn’t get hit that hard. Everything was moved around, but they didn’t dump everything on the floor like they did others.
These shakedowns are to be expected. I mean after all, this is prison. But the interview tactics was out of line! As we all sat in the gym, DOC conducted interviews with everyone. Or should I say, they interrogated everyone.
As soon as I walked in the little office, the lead investigator looked at me from above his glasses and simply said, “Sit down!”
I said, “Yes sir” and sat.
He asked, “Are there drugs in the unit?”
I said, “I’m sure there is. This is prison.”
He asked, “Who has them?”
I said, “I don’t know. I’m not in that scene.”
He said, “Don’t lie to me. You live in that unit and you know where its at!”
I said, “Sir, I understand your position and objective. But I can’t tell you what I don’t know.”
He responded, “So if you knew, you’d tell me?”
That’s when I got philosophical with him. I said, “What’s done in the darkness will eventually be brought to light. Guys that come in here and tell, eventually get exposed. And that in itself presents a whole host of problems that often turns out worse than a guy sitting in his cell getting high.”
He says nothing as he jots down notes on his pad.
I continue, “So with all due respect, let’s just focus on me and what I’m doing.”
That’s when he says, “You’re getting high. I’m ordering that extra attention be paid to your cell. I’m also ordering that you get tested for drug use.”
I’m thinking, man, this dude is hardcore! I feel myself taking offense. Then all of a sudden, The Four Agreements pop into my head. I remember the second agreement: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY.
At that moment I start to relax and realize this guy is just doing his job and he views me as a number. He doesn’t care about me or my journey. He’s just doing his job and I just so happen to be within his line of work. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
He quickly snaps back, “That doesn’t mean anything!”
I quietly say, “To me it does.”
Then he asks, “Who do you run with?”
I reply, “No one. But I associate with all types of people.”
“Does that include the White Boys?” he asks.
It would be so easy to be a smart-allic to this guy, and at times I’m tempted. But I stay composed and answer his questions as he attempts to put his own twist on things.
I say, “Yes. And it includes my Black friends, my Native American friends, my Asian friends, and my Mexican friends.”
As he’s interrogating me, he’s looking at a computer screen, reading some type of inaccurate information on me. At least I assume it’s inaccurate, based on his line of questioning.
He asks me, “Do you sit with all these different races in the chow hall?”
I tell him, “Yes.”
He asks me, “How do the White Boys feel about that?”
I tell him, “I’ve never went around asking, but I assume it’s just like anything else in life…some hate it, some like it, and some don’t care.”
Then he asks me, “Have you ever been affiliated with the Skinheads?”
Have you ever been affiliated with the AF (Arian Family)?
“Have you ever attended any Asatru meetings or European events?”
“Nope. But I have attended Native American Pow Wows and Cinco De Mayo celebrations.”
“Let me see your tattoos,” he demands.
“I don’t have any,” I say.
He says, “Either you willingly show me your tattoos or else I’ll strip search you, then write you up you for lying to staff.”
“If I had tattoos I’d gladly show you. But I don’t have any.”
Silence filled the room.
His entire line of questioning was an attempt to tie me to STG (security threat groups) and make me out to be a racist. (please read: Prison Ink: The Art of Hate)
As silence filled the room, he continued to read from the computer. So I took it upon myself to give him some more unsolicited insight on myself.
I said, “I know I’ve done wrong in the past. I’m ashamed and remorseful for all that. Today I’m a rehabilitated man. I treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, religion, or crime. I don’t use drugs or alcohol and I always try my best to do the right thing.”
He continues to read and says nothing.
Then to my surprise, he took off his glasses, looked me in the eye, and said, ”Thank you for your time Mr. Jennings. And good luck to you in the future. We’re done here.”
I was shocked! WTF just happened?
As I stood up, he stood up. Then he extended his hand. I felt uncomfortable shaking it. Because this is where all the snitches conduct their business. And this is the man they conduct their business with. But I have a clear conscious. I’m not a snitch. And I haven’t done anything wrong. So I shook his hand and said, ”Thank you sir” as I walked out the door.
For more on this crazy day, please read my celly’s perspective in a post he wrote on Stone City Blog called: SHAKEDOWN (the drug raid)
And oh, just so you know, they never did UA me.
Or strip search me.
Or pay special attention to my cell.
Wow! What a book! I just finished it. In the back I found Paulo Coelho’s blog site: paulocoelhoblog.com. I’ve decided to reach out to Mr. Coelho. I’ll share what I wrote to him. But first, I’d like to share a few more quotes from “The Alchemist.” These quotes really touched me and I found significant meaning in them. I hope you can too.
“When you are loved, you can do anything in creation.”
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
“Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”
“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”
“I only invoked what you already knew.”
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surly happen a third time.”
“His heart whispered, ‘Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where I am, and that’s where your treasure is.’ “
“Its true; life really is generous to those who pursue their Personal Legend.”
And now, my letter to Mr. Coelho:
Hello Mr. Coelho.
My name is Steven.
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”
The ALCHEMIST has taught me to listen to my heart. And to pay close attention to omens. I am in prison. Just like you once were. I published my first ebook at the age of 38. You were 38 when you first got published. Omens? We’ll see.
I am in pursue of my Personal Legend. I am embarking upon a journey that will lead me to my treasure. You have inspired me beyond words and into action. I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars, with over 22K followers. I’d like to invite you to check out my blog and to read my 3 part series. This series is in response to THE ALCHEMIST, and has several quotes straight from your book. And now I will ask something of you: Will you please help me reach my goal of 100K blog followers? My journey is still young and I need some of that beginners luck that you talk about.
I eagerly await your reply.
Steven D. Jennings
As you may recall, when I first started to read this book I wanted to throw it against the wall and then roll over and go to sleep. But I refrained and gave it a chance. And boy am I glad I did. This book is giving me things that I’ll keep for the rest of my life. No wonder it spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. And after 25 years, the book is still alive and well.
The rest of this post will be quotes straight out of this book. If you stop and give them serious thought, you’ll be able to apply them to specific aspects of your life. My hope is that you may be inspired. Enjoy.
“I must have no fear of failure. It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the Master Work. Now, I’m beginning what I could’ve started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”
“If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better.”
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.”
“Sell your camel and buy a horse. Camels are traitorous: they walk thousands of paces and never seem to tire. Then suddenly, they kneel and die. But horses tire bit by bit. You always know how much you can ask of them, and when it is that they are about to die.”
“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
“Men dream more about coming home than about leaving.”
“There is only one way to learn. Its through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
“Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there.”
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So its better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”
“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would’ve seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepard to achieve.”
“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”
“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. Its the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’ ”
“The boy and his heart became friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.”
“When something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”
Let me interject here and point something out. When I first stared to read this book, I didn’t like it. The characters were too underdeveloped and the delivery of the story was weak. That was my perception.
Now I’m 142 pages into it. And because the characters and narrative are so underdeveloped, I’m able to easily plug my personal journey directly into this book. Every quote you just read, strongly relates to my personal journey.
What initially made this book so unappealing to me, is the exact same thing that has now made this book extremely powerful and influential to me. And all I had to do is be patient, proceed with an open mind, and seek out the positive.
Have a nice day.
This book has me conflicted. The message is great. But the delivery of the message sucks. So I’ll focus on what I’m getting out of this book as it relates to my journey of becoming a successful, happy, multi-millionaire.
The first is HOPE. When ”The Alchemist” was first published, it only sold two copies in 6 months. And the same person bought both copies. After a year went by, the book was dropped by the publisher along with the author’s contract.
The author didn’t give up hope. He kept his journey alive. He kept pushing forward because HE believed. As of today, ”The Alchemist” has been translated into more than 80 different languages, and has spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Even after 25 years, the book is still very much alive.
One day, I aspire to write a book like that. Or shall I say ”books” like that. “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary” is just the beginning of my story. So much more is yet to come. Please share my ebook and my story with your friends and family. It’ll help me reach my goal of becoming a multi-millionaire before I get out of prison.
So not only does “The Alchemist” offer HOPE, but I’m also feeling INSPIRED. Inspired to enjoy the journey and all I encounter along the way. This book talks about omens, universal language, the principal of favorability, beginners luck, personal legend, and how the universe will come together to help one achieve their goals.
”The Alchemist” is teaching me patience. Because at first, I felt like tossing the book and not finishing it. But now I’m on page 61, and I’m actually enjoying it. I’m understanding it on a deeper, spiritual level. Read it for yourself and see how it touches you. Oh, it will touch you!
Here are just a few quotes that I can strongly relate to:
“Never stop dreaming. Follow the omens.”
“The language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”
“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
“The mysterious chain that links one thing to another.”
“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”
“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history or the world were written by the same hand.”
I encourage anyone to read this book. As you do, you’ll be able to identify and apply several principles and philosophies to your life. If you’re ready for some type of change in your life, this could be the book that catapults you into a new dimension.
This book is awesome! I’m talking about the NA book, sixth edition. I can literally flip it open to any random page, and find something practical and useful.
I randomly flipped it open to page 19. As I read, I thought to myself, “This was the wrong page to flip to.” I was testing my “Any page is practicle and useful” theory. And I found page 19 hard to relate to.
It said things like, “Do we fully accept the fact that our every attempt to stop or to control our using failed?”
My Answer: NO, I don’t accept that. I have succeeded.
It also says, “Through this desperation, we sought help in NA. When we come to NA we are physically, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt.”
Not me. I was assigned NA as a pathway to earn back 6 months of good time for smoking weed back in 1996. As for being physically, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt… not me! I’m thriving in all three.
I just wasn’t feeling page 19. So I tried again, this time flipping to page 113.
It said, “You may not relate to everything you read here – just as you might not identify with everyone who shares in a NA meeting – but we hope that at least some of these voices will touch and inspire you.”
Hmmm….page 19 had great meaning to me after all. Empathy, understanding, different perspectives. It’s all part of the never ending journey.
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.
I recently received an email from Sandra Rogers. She is a faculty member in the School of Occupational Therapy (OT) at Pacific University. In part, this is how the email read:
My name is Sandra Rogers, I am a faculty member in the School of OT at Pacific University. I am writing to request help with a project I am working on. I work and mentor a group of occupational therapists who work in criminal justice (prison, jail, and community corrections) throughout the US. Occupational therapists believe that engaging in meaningful activities is important no matter your circumstances. In correctional facilities OT’s work with those incarcerated to help them develop and practice skills that lead to engagement in healthy lifestyles, like work that you enjoy, leisure interests that are fulfilling (and do not harm others), taking care of children or families, having relationships that are meaningful and healthy. We term the lack of engagement in meaningful activities occupational deprivation. I think you are a very good example of how engaging in meaningful activities, even while incarcerated, can really help you maintain health. I have read your blog and book, your wonderful relationship with your wife, and have been reading your adventures with Yahoo. I am wondering if you would be willing to talk to me about your experience of engaging in these activities and how they have helped you. IF you are willing I would love to videotape or share your written comments with the group of OT’s I mentor, and use your comments in a presentation I am doing. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts from a lived perspective, of having to deal with the consequences of the crime, and still trying to do good in the world. I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by occupational deprivation.
How awesome is that? I share this because IT in itself is “meaningful activity” to me. She and I have exchanged emails about working together and I am super excited about all of this. She’ll be interviewing me via email, phone calls, and video visitations. And I will be sure to blog this experience here for you all to read.
This blog is “meaningful activity” and has enriched my life tremendously.
I look forward to working with Sandra. This experience will be both educational and healing. It’ll also give me the opportunity to acquire new tools to help myself and others.
After reading her first email I learned the term “meaningful activities” and the crucial role they play in a healthy lifestyle. I am so excited about this learning journey I’m about to embark upon. Nothing gets me more excited, except for my wife and our upcoming EFV’s! 🙂
Already, Sandra has inspired deep, intellectual, soul searching thought. As a result, I have decided to write an ongoing blog series based solely on the food-for-thought which she inspires. The following three titles were derived from the very words she wrote in her initial email to me. I will kick start this series with:
It is my greatest hope that this blog will plant seeds that will somehow reach your incarcerated loved one (or anyone else for that matter) and inspire positive change in those lives.
I’ve already done 21 years of a 43 year prison sentence. I’ve spent many nights laying in the dark, wondering WHY? HOW?
Why me? How did this happen? Why did I do the things I did? How did certain thoughts enter my mind? And why did I act on them?
The process of answering these questions was long and complicated. I’m still seeking answers.
To answer the questions WHY and HOW, I had to read many books. Books that offer absolute truth, love, spiritual understanding, and universal laws. Such as: The Power of Now, The Science of Mind, As A Man Thinketh, The Bible, The Purpose Driven Life, From Onions To Pearls, The Four Agreements, The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional, and The Receptivity Project (just to name a few).
First and foremost, I have a burning desire to change. Otherwise, influential books would have no effect.
These books, my desire to change, and the support from thousands of people, have given me new perspective and answers.
I recognized my thought atmosphere was polluted. I understand why it was polluted. Because I was born and raised in an unstructured environment riddled with abuse and violence.
By giving my attention to abuse and violence, I automatically embodied it. As a baby, kid, ad teenager, I was clueless that I attract the likeness of this embodiment. I was clueless that thoughts become a thing. I was clueless that my mental state takes on form, color, and temporary reality.
Had I known that from birth, my entire life would be completely different.
Well, I know it NOW! And it’s never too late to turn your life around.
By reading influential and powerful books, I have cleaned up my thought atmosphere. I now nurture my mind with positive material full of TRUTH, LOVE, and UNDERSTANDING.
These wonderful books help change lives if you truly embrace change. They have enabled me to experience a deeper level of consciousness that instantly heals.
We outwardly experience our state of consciousness. Our actions are a reflection of what’s within. These books have taught me so much! They have given me true understanding. Once I truly understood, I was then able to truly change.
My transformation started with the simple proposition of the creative power of thought. And from this recognition I discovered that circumstances and conditions are formed and held in place by the power of the mind.
What a wonderful discovery!
This law applies to all!
If I can do it from in here, then anyone can do it from out there.