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.
“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?
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.
“We become able to make wise and loving decisions, based on principals and ideals that have real value in our lives. By shaping our thoughts with spiritual ideals, we are free to become who we want to be.” (page 105)
I never would’ve thought I would find this type of wisdom in a NA book. Before I started to attend NA meetings, I assumed it was all about drugs and addiction. And it is! But it’s also so much more. It’s whatever I want it to be. Just like I am whoever I want to be. The Universe is full of infinite power. What you choose to do with it is up to you.
“Complete surrender is the key to recovery, and total abstinence is the only thing that has ever worked for us.”
As we read from the 6th edition NA book, the above words really stood out to me. This is significant to me because not too long ago, some guy came in my cell wanting to fight. I completely surrendered and endured his verbal assault. I didn’t fight. Instead I took a verbal beating as I totally abstained from violence. NA teaches that if I surrender, I will find recovery. I surrender to rightful actions. The more I do it, the easier it gets. Violence is no longer an option.
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.
In My 12th NA Meeting, I rewrote the 12 principles of “HOW IT WORKS.” I rewrote them according to how I perceive them, and how I apply them to my daily life. In this post I want to focus on two of those 12 principles:
#2 Understand that there is a POWER greater than yourself that can and will help you.
#3 Make a decision to learn about and understand this power. Then commit your life to it.
So what exactly is this Power? Is it God? Or is it a complete and unreserved trust in the goodness and loving kindness that can still be found within mankind?
So many word games can be played here. I’m not up for the debate. Because I know there is but ONE spiritual teaching. And those who have followed these teachings, have been justified in their faith. Regardless of the God they believe in, or from whom they get their teachings from.
The POWER that is greater than myself, that can and will help me…is within the love of mankind . (Is that God?)
I say this from personal experience. Which brings me to principle #3. I’ve identified the power…now I must learn about it and understand it. The POWER in which I must learn about and commit my life to, is the POWER of Cause and Effect…or….The Law of Attraction. This is an Universal Law that cannot error.
I understand that this POWER is the law of perfect balance, of logical sequence, and of inevitable consequence. WHATEVER A MAN SOWS, HE MUST REAP. Everyone recieves their just due.
Life will return to me the manifestation of my thoughts, motives, desires, and actions. For years my thoughts and motives operated in the realms of negativity. Therefore, this POWER had no choice but to work against me. I created it…I set it in motion, and I got what I had coming.
I believe the POWER that can and will help me is within the love of mankind. That’s why its so important to understand The Law of Attraction.
If my outlook on life is always happy and positive, and I have a loving, understanding heart filled with sympathy and helpfulness towards all, well then THATS exactly what the POWER will suck out of mankind and return to me.
Today I try my absolute best not to judge, or to condemn anyone. Not even that guy who threatened to break my jaw. Because I now understand that the only judgement that matters is the immutable Cause and Effect.
Whoever deserves punishment will receive it.
And whoever merits reward, they too shall receive.
I didn’t just get my wife, Suzie. I earned her. She is my reward for being a good boy. She is my biggest blessing and I will forever cherish her. She is a testimony to the POWER that is there to assist all.
As I conclude, I want to leave you with some serious food for thought:
There is a POWER that directly responds to negativity.
There is a POWER that directly responds to positivity.
It is always your choice in how you want to use this Power. It is common to all people. It responds to everyone at the level in which they deserve.
If you live in a continuous state of condemnation of people, conditions, and things, then you will suffer at the level of your infliction. But if you learn to praise, love, and treat everyone with dignity and respect, then your life will be blessed with a POWER that will aid and assist you to no end.
My life is my testimony. Read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary, and witness for yourself the power within the POWER!
I am learning that NA is so much more than Narcotics Anonymous. It offers practical principles to EVERYONE…even those who’ve never touched a drug in their life.
What you’re about to read is my translation and interpretation of the 12 principles in Chapter 4 called, “HOW IT WORKS.” (for the original version, read Chapter 4 in the blue NA book)
HOW IT WORKS – If you want help with personal problems, and are willing to make the effort to get that help, then you are ready to apply these 12 principles to your daily life:
1. Admit that you have a problem that needs fixing.
2. Understand that there is a POWER greater than yourself that can and will help you.
3. Make a decision to learn about and understand this POWER. Then commit your life to IT.
4. Make a honest inventory of yourself and your deepest thoughts.
5. Admit to yourself, another human being, and your higher power, the exact nature of your wrongs.
6. Be entirely ready to remove all defects of character.
7. Look yourself in the mirror and humbly ask yourself to remove your shortcomings.
8. Make a list of all the people you’ve hurt, and be willing to make amends to them all.
9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except for when doing so would cause more harm.
10. Constantly take personal inventory, and when wrong promptly admit it.
11. Through prayer and meditation seek a deeper level of consciousness. Seek the knowledge of the righteous and develop the power to convert that knowledge into wisdom.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening, try to pay it forward to those who are ready. And always practice the art of LOVE in all your affairs.
As I wrote these, I realized I’m in compliance with most of them. And I have a desire to apply them all.
So right now I’d like to address #8. I know there’s a lot of people I have hurt in the past…and for that, I am truly sorry (Saying Sorry Isn’t Enough). I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make amends to all those I’ve hurt.
Forgiveness and love are powerful tools that help to rebuild and heal. Don’t forgive me for my sake. Forgive me because you deserve the healing and inner peace that forgiveness offers. And please know that your forgiveness will not be taken in vain or for granted.
If you should decide to choose forgiveness, you’ll be forgiving a man who is constantly striving for redemption and who has a desire to serve everyone with Love and compassion.
Please forgive me.
This NA post is about the 12th principal in Chapter 4: HOW IT WORKS. It says,
“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.”
When I translate and apply this to my daily life, it reads like this: “Having had a spiritual awakening, I carry the message of hope and love through my actions as I practice these principles in all my affairs.”
By writing this post and giving these principle’s specific and in depth thought, it adds to the long and tedious process of cleaning up a once very polluted thought atmosphere.
This is exactly why I love NA and what it’s doing for me.
At first I was reluctant and skeptical. I’m not a drug addict. I don’t need NA. I’m only here to get back good time. But as I sat in that very first meeting, I realized I needed to change my thinking and seek the good within this program.
My hope is that someone reading this will get something valuable out of it that they can apply to their daily life.
PS – I’d like to give a shout out to my amazing wife, Suzie. Thank you baby for all your hard work and dedication to this blogging thing. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I love you and appreciate you with all my heart. Mwah!
As I sit in these meetings, I look for principles and philosophies that will serve me in the NOW.
Meeting #10 offered me just that as we read from chapter 4, titled “HOW IT WORKS”. There are 12 principles within this chapter. Principle #10 really stood out to me. It says:
“We continue to take personal inventory, and when we’re wrong, promptly admit it.”
I actually did this the other day when I put myself in a dangerous situation by sitting at the wrong table in the chow hall. I didn’t do anything wrong as far as rules are concerned. But I was wrong for allowing the situation to escalate to the point to where my recovery from violence was in serious jeopardy.
The second I realized that, I took a quick personal inventory. I reflected on my past and drew knowledge from past mistakes. I acknowledged the mistakes I just made. I became aware of how I was feeling and the serge of adrenalin that shot through my veins. I was in the heat of a confrontational moment. My body physically prepared for combat.
I knew this was an opportunity to demonstrate right action and defuse the situation with kindness and understanding.
So I did phase two of STEP TEN. I approached old boy and promptly admitted my mistake, apologized, and assured him it wouldn’t happen again.
By saying that, it freed me from the wreckage caused by the situation. NA is teaching me that if I don’t stay aware of my defects and actions, then it could drive me into a corner that results in relapse.
For me, a relapse isn’t drug use. It would be me beating down one of these so called convicts.
No matter what, if I fight, I lose. Never again will fighting ever be an option for me.
That’s why it’s so important for me to constantly be taking a personal inventory of my most inner self. This means, forming a habit of looking at myself, my thoughts, my attitude, the language I use, and the relationships I have with others.
Humans are creatures of habit. For most my life I had a habit of lashing out in a violent manner. I was a monster. I had an appetite for destruction. I looked for reasons to fight people I disliked.
To a degree, I’m still vulnerable to my old ways of thinking and reacting. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.
When ol boy threatened to break my jaw, there was a part of me that wanted to teach him a lesson.
Today I am not trapped by my old patterns. I have discovered a better way of life. A way that revolves around love and understanding. The rewards of this loving lifestyle is unlimited with joy and happiness.
Sure, I’m still in prison, but I won’t always be. I get out in 13 years. People have encouraged me to seek an early release via clemency, or commutation. The truth is, I don’t want that. I’m going to take full responsibility for my actions and serve the time I was sentenced to.
I’m going to learn how to function as a law abiding citizen from within prison. I’m going to rise above all the negativity and impose my own goodwill. I will only focus on the positive and the things that serve me well.
I have discovered the power of positive thought. I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to: The Honor Unit, Dog Program, Winning the Ironman, avoiding fights and becoming stronger for it.
The list goes on…being a loving husband, son, brother, uncle, and oneday a father.
When I first started NA, I was skeptical. But then I took personal inventory, re-adjusted my attitude, and decided I’d use it to broaden my perspective. And it has done just that!
Until next time, treat everyone with love and respect…it’ll serve you well.