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.
My mentor, Sandra Rogers, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, asked me:
“In your blog titled: Those Who Will Re-offend And Those Who Will Stay Out, you imply why you feel like Paul will re-offend and Terry will stay out but you do not explicitly say why – can you tell me explicitly why? Or is it just a feeling?”
Its definitely just a feeling. However, I can explicitly explain why I have such feelings.
I feel Paul will come back because he’s in here gambling, using drugs, giving dirty UA’s, getting tattoo write ups, getting caught with tattoo guns and ink, and engaging in a constant stream of misconduct. He’s in prison and his activities are still criminal. He hasn’t changed one bit. Couple that with the fact that he’s been in and out of prison 4 times, and it’s easy to see he’ll be back for a 5th time.
But wait! There’s more! Upon his release, he’s going right back to the same environment that fosters his sad lifestyle. He’ll be hanging with the same bad crowd, doing the same bad things. Remember this post. Paul gets out soon. When he comes back, I’ll let you all know. It’ll be within 3 years of today.
As for Terry, I have a feeling he’ll stay out because he’s engaged in positive meaningful activities. He doesn’t engage in criminal activities. While in prison, he’s earned several degrees and has completed just about every program offered. He applies his newly learned skills on a daily basis. His actions are positive and productive. He gets along well with staff and inmates.
But wait! There’s more. Upon his release he’ll be going to a new environment that’s secure and structured. An environment that’s free of alcohol, drugs, and criminal culture.
Then there’s the statist factor that says people who serve 20 consecutive years or more, are less likely to come back.
Terry was 16 when he came in. He’ll be 36 when he gets out. His brain is completely developed now, he’s a different person today opposed to back when he was 16. He’s nurtured his mind with positive, productive material. And most of all, he has a strong will to live a happy life among the law abiding citizens of this country.
I would be shocked if Terry came back.
I would be shocked if Paul didn’t come back.
If you look closely at inmates and examine their daily activities, and how they conduct themselves, it’s relatively easy to predict who will come back and who will stay out.
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.
“I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by Occupational Deprivation.” ~Sandra Rogers
That single sentence stood out to me and is where the title of this post came from. First, I had to understand the meaning of Occupational Deprivation (OD). As far as I can tell, it means: The lack of meaningful activities. Hmmm…all of my activities have had some type of meaning behind them.
I hustled, gambled, sold drugs and tobacco.
The Meaning: to make money.
I got in fights.
The Meaning: to earn respect and to release pent up frustrations and aggression.
In a Penitentiary, or a Correctional Center, these truly are meaningful activities. If I want to spend the rest of my life locked up and miserable! Early on in my incarceration I knew I had to change. I wanted to change! (For an in-depth look, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)
The cure to Occupational Deprivation is Meaningful Activities. But for years, I was denied. I asked numerous DOC employees for help. The answer was always the same, “No. Those programs are for short timers…you have too much time.”
My misconduct would continue and I’d end up in the hole. Again! I shed many tears in The Hole. Because that’s when & where reality really hit! Prison. 43 years. The pain I’ve caused others. Isolation. Being a failure. A loser. The list goes on…
One time when I was in the hole they cuffed me and escorted me to the recreation enclosure. On the way there I saw a flier advertising Anger Management and Victim Awareness. These classes were available in the hole. Two classes I desperately needed. So I submitted a kite requesting them.
To my surprise, they denied me. The reason: I wasn’t doing enough time in the hole.
That pissed me off! While in population I’m denied for having too much time. And in the hole I’m denied for not having enough time. But if I seriously hurt someone and get, let’s say,12 months in the hole, then I’ll get the classes and my long prison sentence is no longer a factor.
It’s logic like this that’s so discouraging.
Lucky for me, I have a strong will and a burning desire for redemption (see: Redemption, It’s My Choice). Despite set back after set back, I continued to seek understanding as I took moral inventory of myself. As I write this and reflect back, I now see that I had the desire to get better, but I severely lacked in the “meaningful activity” department. Therefore, I struggled.
Occupational Deprivation was my program! And I suffered greatly because of it.
Today, my life is full of “meaningful activities.” And as a result, I’ve never been happier or more productive.
I go to NA Meetings, which I gain so much wisdom & knowledge from.
I’m in The Dog Program and I have the privilege of loving a dog named, Yahoo.
I graduated from my Redemption and Roots of Success classes because I wasn’t told, “No. You have too much time.”
I’ve started reading Influential Books, which I thoroughly enjoy.
I mentor those who are ready to hear positive messages. I lead by example so my words have greater impact.
I’m the nations leading blogger from behind bars.
I have meaningful relationships with the people I call Friends.
I have a job passing out commissary to thousands of guys.
I prepare healthy meals for myself and I workout regularly.
The list of “meaningful activities” goes on and on….and my most treasured one is my marriage. I have the most caring, loving wife any man could ever hope to have. Suzie has blessed my life beyond what I thought possible. The love I feel for her in my heart is stronger than any other feeling I’ve ever known.
All these “meaningful activities” have completely wiped out OD. Perhaps I should’ve titled this post, “How I Am Affected By Meaningful Activities.” Because this is where the beauty is. This is where true transformation is realized.
Its great to learn new terms and articulate my journey under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy. But the truth is: If someone wants change, they must want it for themselves, then relentlessly pursue it everyday for the rest of their lives.
It is now, after I am well on my way, that I make the connection between “meaningful activities” and rehabilitation. It would’ve been nice to learn all this years before I did. Better late than never.
I’m always saying, “It’s a matter of time before the universe responds.”
If you’re being positive, productive, and treating people with love and respect, then you’ll get positive, productive results and people will treat you with love & respect.
It’s such a simple truth to life. Yet so many people can’t grasp the concept. Or perhaps they don’t know it exists.
That was the case with me. I was just living life. Unfocused. Reckless. Didn’t have a clue. Fighting. Drinking. Ignorant to the Universal Laws, such as The Law of Attraction.
Then it happened! At the age of 20, the universe responded to my lifetime of negativity. The bottom line: 43 years in prison!
Good or bad, the universe will respond.
So let me share the good with you.
I’m on a path that leads to peace, love, and harmony. I’m positive and productive. I treat everyone with dignity & respect. This positive lifestyle serves me extremely well. The universal response is incredible.
Just the other day the universe gave me another favorable response. I got a huge manilla envelope in the mail. It was from a man in Papillion, NE. His name is R.L. Pelshaw. AKA: Bob.
Bob was a successful Midwestern real estate broker, developer, and consultant. His 25 year career also included investments and consultation for a large variety of businesses.
Bob is responsible for more than $600 million in career transactions. His success was the result of positive, proper action.
But not everything he did was positive and proper.
He misused $135,000 of SBA loan proceeds. Do you think the universe will respond favorably to that?
He was charged with a felony and served a 10 month sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison Camp.
Today, Bob is back on track and doing great things. He wants to help people stay out of prison. So he launched The National Hire Ex-Felons Campaign.
Bob also writes for the Truth About Prison – Network (TAP-X).
TAP-X is a great supporter of the cause, and wants to help the incarcerated, their families, and those about to be incarcerated.
Bob is also the author of several books. He sent me a copy of “Illegal To Legal: Business Success For (ex) Criminals.” This book is awesome! I recommend it for anyone wanting to start a business but has challenges to overcome…such as being a convicted felon. Check it out at: Illegal To Legal.
I share all of this with you because this is all great news!
Bob came into my life because of the good that I do. And now he is a wonderful blessing that I greatly appreciate. He bought and is reading my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary. Once finished he will write a review and post it on his blog. He’ll also get TAP-X to put the review in their newsletter.
I know this type of support and generosity from him is just another way that the universe is responding to me. It validates my efforts and inspires me to keep on fighting the good fight with love, patience, and understanding.
I’ve been in the Honor Unit for 8 weeks now. I love it! Things are going great. I’m in a clean cell and I have a good celly. I have a new job. I go around to all the units and pass out commissary (store).
One privilege the Honor Unit offers is an 8 o’ clock yard. This means at 8am, only my H6 Honor Unit is allowed out in the yard. So every morning I go out, jog & lift weights.
I have a fairly full schedule. From 10:30am to 6:00pm, I work.
Then from 6pm-9pm, I take classes.
Right now I’m taking: ROOTS TO SUCCESS & REDEMPTION
In addition to my busy schedule, I always make time to read and write. I also pray several times throughout the day.
Right now, my main prayer focus is to view everyone through a spirit of love.
Because for years I would judge people in a negative manner before I ever met them. I still do that. I’ll see someone and automatically not like them.
WHY? No reason. Other than because that’s how I’ve always been. And the results have always been negative ones. Such as hostility, turmoil, conflict, hate, violence, etc…
So lately I’ve been praying for the strength to constantly view ALL people through a spirit of love. To look for the good in them. To smile at them when passing by. To be polite and say kind words.
The results are instant! I feel better and people just respond differently. There’s more harmony and a feeling of peace amongst strangers.
My new job has given me the opportunity to say “please and thank you” to every inmate here at SCCC.
When they come to get their store I say, “sign here please.” After they sign I say, “thank you”.
By saying “please and thank you” thousands of times per week to all the people I used to pre-judge, well it really helps rehabilitate a once hostile spirit.
Another thing I have going on is a strong desire to re-write portions of chapter 1 from my ebook, “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary”.
Because recently I received a comment that strongly disputed some of the things I wrote about. They basically said I was lying. And perhaps they are right. Because some of my info was relayed to me via third party. Just because things are said, that doesn’t make them true.
But the more important issue is the fact that my choice of words are causing pain and anger in certain lives. This is not okay with me. Therefore I must do something about it. And I will.
Love and understanding, that’s what life is all about.
Thank you all for your love & support…everyone inspires me in one way or another.
I am sharing the journal I kept while I did 7 months in the hole.
Journal entry from 12/5/08:
Today I prepared two grievances and two tort claims. The grievances are on Sgt. Paulson for not letting me choose which excess property to send out. Paulson has 3 boxes of my property that he says I HAVE to send out! Yet he won’t tell me what’s in the boxes. I’m confused! There’s no way I have 3 boxes full of excess stuff.
I asked him, “May I have an inventory sheet that lists all the content in the boxes?”
He said, “I’m not going to inventory every single item. All you need to know is its all excess and it all needs to go.”
I say, “Okay. Let me see what it is and I’ll let you know what to throw away and what to send out.”
He acts like I’m being un-reasonable. Like my simple request is just TOO MUCH! Then he says, “You know what you’re allowed to have and not have. You know the limits.”
I say, “And you know you’re supposed to follow policy and procedure. Now go inventory my shit and give me a copy!”
At this point I see I’m dealing with a crooked cop who doesn’t care. He lacks integrity big time. He says in a loud voice, “You’re refusing to sign? Alright. Fine. It’s all getting thrown away!” He turns and walks away.
I feel like pounding my door! Cussing him out! Flooding my cell. But I don’t. I wait for shift change. 2 o’clock. I contact Sgt. Bienusa, I give him the run down. He acknowledges that Sgt. Paulson is wrong. The next day Sgt. Paulson comes to my door. He has an inventory sheet. It’s long! I’m amazed to see that they are enforcing EVERY single limit!
The limit on soap is 2 bars. I have 6. Four of them must go! What? I have never seen any prison enforce that! The list goes on. I have to send out extra: dental floss, tooth brush, shampoo, deodorant, razors, lotion, a pair of shoes, my Play Station 2 and all the games, and a bunch of food. They’re stripping me to the bare minimum! Oh well, easy come easy go.
Sgt. Paulson asks me what I want to send out. I go over the list and say, “The PS2, all the games, the shoes, and all the unopened hygiene products.”
He writes everything down on his form. He slides it under the door. I sign it and send it back. He asks what I want to do with the rest of it. I say, “Donate it.”
He says, “Okay.” And just walks away. What a JERK!
After he walks away, he goes and adds 9 more items to the list! One of the items was a prison issued blanket! That’s crazy! I’m surprised he didn’t throw in a mattress and pillow too. They charged me $18.55 for shipping!
So that’s what I’m fighting right now. We’ll see what happens. My prediction: I’m burnt! Why? Because I’m an inmate. I’m wrong, they’re right. Period!
As I reflect back, I remember the hate I felt towards Paulson. My thoughts towards him were all bad. I thought about acting a fool. But lucky for me, I was evolved slightly beyond that point. But still, the thought entered my mind. Why?
Today, here is my answer: Because I was neglecting my mind. I wasn’t constantly feeding it with intelligent, positive, productive thoughts. Therefore, my mind was left to its own demise. Which was an abundance of useless thoughts that have never served me well.
The concept is simple. When I cultivate my mind with intelligent thoughts, it automatically weeds out all the wrong, useless, impure, destructive thoughts. After years of aimless thinking, it’s hard to just flip a switch and change. Change is a process. As I proceed, I discover that I am the master of my soul and the director of my life.
MORAL: The key to a happy & successful life is controlled thinking.