Remember my NA series and all those NA Meetings I attended? Well they just now paid off in the form of good time. My release date has been adjusted from 8-9-32 to 3-7-32. I haven’t done the math, but according to DOC, that’s 155 days!
Upon receiving this good news I was also informed that I will be getting back an additional 90 days at my next review in August. All I gotta do is remain infraction free, stay in The Dog Program, and receive positive evaluations.
It feels good to be going the other way. To be earning good time rather than loosing it. To be living in harmony rather than conflict. To be progressing rather than regressing. To be making friends rather than enemies. To be focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
For almost 23 years my environment hasn’t changed. PRISON! It’s still full of misfits and misconduct. But what has changed is my attitude, perspective, outlook, and priorities. During my quest to seek knowledge and understanding I’ve learned that the mind is like a garden. Either you can intelligently Cultivate it, or neglect it and let it run wild. That’s why its crucial for me to constantly cultivate my mind by weeding out all the wrong, useless, destructive, impure thoughts. And nurturing my mind with right, useful, constructive, positive thoughts.
By constantly pursuing this process of mind evolution, I am starting to reap the rewards. Such as: I found my beautiful soulmate in Suzie, I made it to The Honor Unit, I got accepted into the dog program, I’ve met new people and have devolved new friendships, I’m no longer getting in fights or hurting people, and I’m earning back good time. Just to name a few.
For years I allowed my mind to run wild. The results were devastating! For more on the devastation you can read my ebook titled, STONE CITY : LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY.
I was oblivious to the fact that a deeper level of consciousness existed. I was mindlessly wandering through life, and inappropriately reacting to everything life threw at me. With a neglected mind, I didn’t stand a chance. But with a new and improved cultivated mind, I have so much hope and excitement for today and the rest of my life.
If you had the power to be happier, to change your environment, and to have better relationships with friends and family, would you use that power?
Of course you would!
So why don’t you?
The power is within you.
Take the first step and read : “AS A MAN THINKETH” by James Allen. This book will teach you LAWS OF THOUGHT that cannot error. By reading this quick little 55 page book, you’ll be taking a crucial step towards intelligently cultivating your mind. I hope you feel inspired.
STEP FOUR: We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I did STEP FOUR years before I knew what it was. I did it in the form of writing, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary. Today, STEP FOUR offers an opportunity to get re-acquainted with myself. I’ll embrace this opportunity and do it. In order to get an accurate and complete picture of myself, I must include my LIABILITIES along with my ASSETS.
GUILT – A feeling of responsibility for having done something wrong.
I feel guilt constantly. My wrongdoings are irreversible. They can never be made right. I must live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life. I refuse to let this hinder me in any way, shape, or form. Instead, I will use it as motivation to live out the rest of my life serving others within the spirit of love.
SHAME – To bring disgrace upon.
I’ve let down so many people, especially my family. Shame has always been something I’ve felt. But just like GUILT, it has given me great cause to turn my life around and be the best I can be.
RESENTMENT – To feel angry or indignant about something.
For years I had strong resentment towards my father for the abuse he inflicted upon me. Today that resentment is still there. The difference is now I use it as an illustration of how NOT to be.
SELF-PITY – Feeling sorry for oneself.
It’s hard to admit, but yes, there has been isolated times when I’ve felt sorry for myself. However, I made my bed and now I must sleep in it. I have no one to blame but myself. Self-pity never served me well until I learned to accept full responsibility for my actions. Now, when that twinge of self-pity starts to creep in, I am reminded that I am the captain of my own destiny. And what I do today will affect my tomorrow.
ANGER – A feeling of great displeasure or hostility.
Oh my! I’ve lived a large portion of my life in anger. What a shame! What a waste! I’m learning that anger is a choice. So is stress. When either one of these emotions rear their ugly heads, I have a choice. I can feed into them and give them energy, which enables them to grow big and strong. Or, I can swiftly counter them with love and understanding as I move on to a calmer, more peaceful, loving section of my brain. That is a choice that only I can make for myself, and that no one else can control.
CONFUSION – To fail to differentiate from something else.
I didn’t even realize the severity of my confusion until I opened my heart and mind to love and understanding. Even then, it took time, along with the art of reflecting on the past with comparisons of today. Only then was I able to achieve clarity.
Not too long ago, all these LIABILITIES (and more) were detrimental to my wellbeing. I allowed them to affect me in a negative manner. I used them as an excuse to lash out. I used them to justify my misconduct.
Within those very liabilities, I also find my ASSETS. Such as the ability to focus on the positive that exists in each and every liability. I’ll conclude this post with a list of newly recognized ASSETS that NA has allowed me to discover. At the top of the list is my wife. Her steady love overflows into every area.
BEING CLEAN & SOBER
“We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
(pg. 25-27 in the NA book, sixth edition)
Today we read about step three. This reading gave me valuable food for thought as I interpreted it in a way that works for me. If I am to grow spiritually, I must be honest about everything, including my concept of God.
A lot of people try to force their version of God on me. However, their version makes no sense to me. To simplify my point, I’ll just say this: I don’t believe mythology in a literal sense.
However, I do believe in the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. I believe in Cause and Effect. I believe in The Law of Attraction. I believe in the power of love. Therefore, Love is my God.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or an afterlife, or a divine force that answers prayers and ignores others. I believe that You Reap What You Sow. And if your prayers are aligned with your actions, thoughts, and lifestyle…and if you consistently commit to that Prayer…well then sooner or later it’ll come true.
I am my own God. My moral compass is set by the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. And that’s where it ends. It picks up again with my actions and commitment level to living a life in accordance to the practical teachings throughout the Bible.
I don’t look to an empty sky for guidance. I look within myself and tap into my spiritual foundation which gives me strength and guidance.
Many people say, “Yes! That is God!”
In which I respond, “Hallelujah!”
So many people turn their lives over to God, yet they continue to struggle and suffer. That’s because God won’t do anything for anyone who does not understand that God has to be created from within them. There is not an outside force that magically works for the good (or the bad) of people. This force comes from within! This is As I Understand It.
If you want it, you can have it. How you come to IT and how you get IT, is up to you. But it must come from within. Don’t expect some outside force to come in and magically change your life.
Create your own God within your soul with love, understanding, and compassion. Then serve that God with all your might and strength. If you do that, then your life will truly transform for the better.
So again, STEP THREE says: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
How do you understand God? And how is THAT working for you?
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.