The following poem was written back in June of 1996. Back then I was a drug using, drug selling, violent little badass. I was at Walla Walla, living with Mikey and Jeff. When we were using drugs and smoking joints people use to walk by our cell, look in, and fiend. A lot of guys would stop at our bars and try to make small talk in hopes it would lead to a free hit, or a joint.
(To read more about this crazy time in my life, please check out my ebook called, STONE CITY: LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY. Specifically, Chapter: 7.)
TAKING THE EDGE OFF PRISON LIFE
Waking up slow to the practical jokes,
where coffee is a must and everyone smokes.
Take a deep breath you can smell the green,
as the broke walk by they look in and fiend.
People say I’m gone how I wish that was true,
the fact is that I’m here so let me tell you what I do.
I kick em in the face sometimes I choke em out,
But then I get away with it and that’s what its about.
So please don’t mess because I gotta confess,
when it comes to fighting dirty I’m one of the best.
So what if I’m small so what if you’re tall,
within ten seconds guarantee you will fall.
The hell with taking the edge off prison life,
its more like taking your head off with my prison knife!
That poem illustrates just how sick my thoughts were. As a result, my actions were extremely destructive. I was oblivious to the fact that I induced my own suffering and hardships.
Now, it is with a joyous heart that I share a more recent poem that was written on 10-25-13, in the midst of enlightenment and spiritual awakening. I am so blessed to have this gentle love in my life. THIS is what takes the edge off of prison life for me these days.
THE MAGIC OF HER LOVE
Love is like magic, at least it is for me.
I pulled a rabbit out the hat, and her name is Suzie.
She transformed my world, a cold hard place.
By showing me a warm soft glow, within the beauty of her face.
Our situation is unique, and to some very strange.
But there’s nothing in this world that love can’t change.
Her love is so pure, understanding and kind.
She loves with all her heart, body, soul and mind.
Her love is so powerful, it reaches my core.
Her love is a love I’ve never felt before.
Her love is a love in which I’ve been seeking.
Her love is a language in which I’m now speaking.
Her love is the love that inspires my life.
Her love is the love that I’ve found in my wife.
My wife recently asked how my book group, Stone Catchers, was going. I told her that I quit because of a few guys that I despise.
She sweetly reminded me of what I wrote in a post called, STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1):
“Within this class you can catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in your beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony. The more stones you catch, the less they hurt.”
She also wrote:
“I’m sorry to hear that a few guys have been making it unpleasant. Steven Baby, you are the strongest, smartest, and the most understanding man I know. What matters in this class is your growth and the positive change happening within you. I love you and I recognize your powerful mental strength and self-control. You are amazing!”
In which I replied:
“Thank you for the encouragement to stick with Stone Catchers. I will. I need to learn to cope with a variety of different personalities. And this is a perfect opportunity to hone those skills. Mwah…you are a great source of inspiration for me. Thank you, honey.”
So I went back and joined the group. And now we’re reading a book called, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
The reviews are so phenomenal that they led me to believe I was about to read the greatest book in the history of the world. But by page 20, I was ready to do what I’ve done in the past. And that is to chuck the book against the wall, then roll over and go to sleep. So far this book is stupid and scattered. But like the literacy group itself, I’m going to continue on, and try my best to get something positive out of it. However, I’m struggling right now.
By staying in the group, it’ll help me with my coping skills as I endure child molester Ray Ray run his mouth. Every time he opens his mouth, I just want to get up and walk out. Which I did at the last meeting. And I hadn’t been back since.
By now, it’s clear how I feel. So what do I do? I feel like calling them out and exposing their bad intentions and devious ways. But who am I to do that? Another option I have is to remove myself from the equation. Quit the group. And just keep to myself. And for a moment, that’s what I did.
As I sit, think, and meditate on it, I come to the conclusion that I need these type of encounters/situations in order for me to grow and evolve. I need to face these type of inner conflicts as I challenge myself to remain positive and conduct myself appropriately.
Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve the inner positivity and peace that appropriate action attracts. And just because I don’t say anything to them, doesn’t mean I don’t harbor negative thoughts and feelings towards them. Because I do. And that’s wrong. I need to fix that.
Thoughts are things. The law of attraction operates through thoughts just the same as it does through actions. Therefore if I even as so much think in a negative manner, I’m essentially attracting negativity to myself. And it’s only a matter of time before negative thoughts will manifest into negative actions.
So now, at the age of 43, it’s time I recognize and really watch how my mind thinks. It’s time I utilize a deeper level of consciousness and truly control my mind and thoughts. It can be done. As I write this, my mind is already gearing up for my next course of action. And I feel like it won’t be as hard for me as I initially thought it would be.
Maybe I’ll say something nice to those two guys. As it is now, I don’t even talk to either one. I just sit back and think negatively towards them. And they have no idea. It’s all me. It’s all in my head. It’s my problem.
Well not anymore. I’ll find a way to overcome as I strive to live in peace with all of mankind.
As for the stupid book…ut…I mean, awesome book. I’ll talk more about that in another post.
Thank you for making this platform what it is. You and this blog have helped me tremendously. Thank you for all the inspiring comments. Keep em coming.
And a special THANK YOU to my amazing wife, Suzie. Your love, support, and encouragement have made me a better man. I love you, honor you, and appreciate you with all my heart.
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 took a seat in the back. I shook a few hands as people filed in. Then, I just sat there and listened as people read from chapter 10 in the big blue NA book. This is what I got from it:
“We are often amazed at how things work out for us. We are recovering in the here and now and the future becomes an exciting journey.” (pg. 106)
This is so true! My journey has taken me all over the place. Yet, I physically remain in prison.
However, the mental landscape changes dramatically…because my thoughts & actions
create my circumstances & environment. I can do easy time or hard time. I can focus on the positive or the negative. It’s my choice.
Case in point: I choose to improve myself. Therefore, I am able to improve my circumstances and my environment. Within the confines of prison!
I’ve been trying to get into the Dog Program since 2009. They kept denying me. I felt I was ready, but they felt I wasn’t. My past infractions had them very skeptical. Then in 2011, I was attacked and I defended myself (How I Lost My EFV’s For 5 Years). That was a huge setback.
My journey has taught me that you don’t get what you hope and pray for. You get what you justly earn. Wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with propper thoughts and actions.
I have finally been accepted into the Dog Program. It took me over 6 years, but I did it!
This proves that I AM THE MAKER OF MYSELF and the SHAPER AND AUTHOR OF MY ENVIRONMENT.
For years I wanted to improve my comfort level and living conditions. But I was unwilling to improve myself. And even after I was willing, I struggled to find effective ways. Therefore, I remained bound. I was constantly getting in my own way. I continued to seek effective ways to change myself. Seek and ye shall find!
I found a strong desire to change.
I found influential books, such as: The Bible, The Science of Mind, and As A Man Thinketh…just to name a few.
But most importantly, I found love. I found Suzie. Her love & support fuels me in a way I’ve never known.
“We become increasingly open-minded and open to new ideas in all areas of our lives. Through active listening, we hear things that work for us. This ability to listen is a gift and grows as we grow spiritually. Life takes on new meaning when we open ourselves to this gift. In order to recieve, we must be willing to give.” (pg. 106-107)
NA has given me cause for deeper thought. I read and listen to these words and it’s like planting seeds throughout my mind. These seeds take root and produce. They blossom sooner or later into action. I believe this concept as fact because it has transformed my life.
I love NA because it is now a colorful pillar that aids in my understanding, growth, and rehabilitation. NA is truly broadening my perspective.
Back in 1996, I lived with a couple heroin junkies at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wa.
They tried like hell to get me to shoot up that brown liquid syrup. I was offered hundreds of dollars in free dope to “just try it”.
I held my ground and refused. However, I did break weak and smoke some of that icky sticky boom-bonic supersonic chronic. AKA: Weed.
It was only a matter of time before I got caught. My first dirty UA (urine analysis) cost me 180 days of good time.
Thats when I decieded that smoking weed in prison is a bad idea.
To this day I have passed every UA with ease…simply because I don’t use drugs. I’ve been clean and sober for over 10 years.
I’ve never suffered from addiction to narcotics. My problem was alcohol & fighting.
So why NA?
Because my counselor told me I must attend NA for 6 months in order to get back my 180 days of good time.
As I’m sitting in my first meeting, the speaker gives a brief speach as to what NA is and how everyone is to introduce themselves.
He explains that EVERYONE is an addict, regardless of how much they used, what they used, how little they used, or how long they’ve been clean.
The introductions start and goes around the room. When it gets to me I say,”My name is Steven, I’m an addict.”
Those words coming from my mouth didn’t feel right. I immeadiatly start to question wheather or not I want to be here. A negative attitude started to creep.
Because the truth is…I am not an addict. I’m only here because I smoked weed 20 years ago. And these meetings were assigned to me in order to earn back 180 days my good time.
I close my eyes and focus…meditate.
I recognize that NOW is the time I need to control my mind and re-evaluate my thinking. Now is the time to put everything I’ve learned into action.
Thoughts are things. And different thoughts create types of manifestation. If I’m negative, I’ll recieve negativity. If I put nothing in, I’ll get nothing out. My perception is my reality.
So right then and there, I changed my mindset. I did away with the compulsive thinking that was leading down a path of negativity. And I replaced it with positive thinking.
Such as : “These meetings CAN help me and assist me in my rehabilitative efforts.”
I came up with a goal : To Broaden My Perspective
I flipped open the big blue book in front of me. It’s called, “Narcotic Anonymous (sixth edition)”
As I read through the table of contents I realized I could identify with alot of what I was reading. Especially if I substitute a word or two.
On pg 15, it says, “We can no longer blame people, places, or things for our addictions. We must face our addictions and our feelings.” (I substituted the word “addiction” for “problems”)
I like the philosophies and principals that NA represents. I will use this program to broaden my perspective as I focus on issues within my life that I need to overcome.
And so far, it’s working!
I’ve overcome the “My name is Steven, and I’m an addict” thingy.
I’m focused on the positive opportunities that NA offers. All I have to do is attend with an open mind and a positive attitude. From there, everything else will work out the way it should.
It’s hard for me to not take a loss personally.
But the truth is, losing gives me an opportunity to develop coping skills. It gives me the opportunity to evolve and grow. And it gives me an opportunity to apply the practical teachings & philosophies that I study.
To me, if I lose, I failed. That is how my mind thinks…therefore that is my reality. And with failure comes a sense of regret, fear, limitation, lack, etc.
Unless these false thoughts are erased, I will continue to fail! Because according to The Law of Cause and Effect, for what I persist in recognizing I persist in keeping that in my life. But if I refuse to recognize failure and all minions, then it will vanish as far as I’m concerned.
Sure, we lost the game. But I didn’t fail. I gained.
I gained an opportunity to display good sportsmanship and a positive attitude in the face of adversity. I gained an opportunity to lead by example. I was able to practice what I preach during a time when it would be super easy to lose focus and project negativity.
We lost because our outfield let three balls get past them. One guy charged the ball, only to let it get past him.
How could that happen? That is the main thing we’ve been working on since our last loss!
But you know what? It is what it is. It happened. Just like other undesirable things in life happen.
The key is what we choose to focus on.
This loss really gave me the opportunity to learn and further understand an aspect of spiritual law that has huge impacts on my daily life. And that is: The Law of Cause and Effect – for what I persist in recognizing, I persist in holding in place. That which I refuse to recognize, I neutralize, and it is no longer there to affect me in a negative manner.
Sure, we lost our softball game 13-5. But I was still able to remain positive and encourage others to stay positive. I congratulated the other team for their win. I shook hands. And I consoled a couple of our players who felt bad about their mistakes.
I focused on all the positive opportunities that existed. And for the first time ever, losing lost its sting.
In the following letter, my husband shows how he shifts his focus towards love. I am sooo proud of him. To find such amazing discipline in a negative environment demonstrates incredible self-mastery of the mind.
My husband is in prison. It doesn’t matter where we are, we all have a choice to control our thoughts. (You’ll LOVE this poem he wrote: –Who I Am–)
Knowing that the power of our love has helped aid & comfort him through a potentially dangerous situation makes me want to just wrap my arms around him and never let go.
Hello My Sweet Lady,
I miss you. I can’t wait to hold you again and kiss your soft lips. Mwah. I just spent 5 minutes re-setting my mind. I had to come to my cell and meditate. I directed my mind to thoughts of us. Suzie my darling, I love you sooo much.
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If you want a happier life filled with more love & joy, you can have it! Simply nurture your mind with material that will guide you in the direction you want to go.
Yes, the world is a violent place.
But it is also a very peaceful place.
The difference is in your perspective.
If you are able to only see love, joy, and harmony, then these things will be YOUR reality. Focus on them. Keep them in your mind, body, and soul and they WILL manifest in your life.
A lot of people believe the world is a bad place. That is their belief. Therefore that is their reality. For these people, their thoughts are very troubling. Their troubling thoughts cause them pain & suffering to some degree.
Your thoughts are your own personal problem, they are not a cosmic problem. Otherwise EVERYONE would suffer. And that is simply not the case.
Understand the “Law of Attraction” and “Cause and Effect.”
Use these principals daily, no matter what your experience level may be. The results will inspire you to expand your knowledge as your perception of the world gradually changes.
You will find new ways, new methods, and a new approach to the issues that were once perceived as everyday problems.
Skepticism may be holding you back. Don’t let it!
Love the world and everyone you come in contact with, and watch your conditions/environment dramatically change for the better.
Peace, love, and harmony can be yours…regardless of your current circumstances.
Cultivate your world by filling your mind with positive, loving, and nurturing thoughts. You will see & feel the change.
My life is my testimony. This stuff works!
There has always been only one spiritual teaching. How you choose to receive it is up to you. I choose Jesus. I commit my heart & soul to His fundamental teachings.
On 11-23-14 I committed to the teachings of Jesus. From that day on, His teachings have healed me. My soul and spirit has never been better. I said NEVER! And I’m in PRISON!
The blessings in my life are abundant. I’m so appreciative and humbled.
All of this has come at a cost. I had to stop Gambling & Hustling. Something I’ve been doing for years.
Look at all the things I had stocked in my cell. For being in prison, I was rich. Wanna know what I have in my cell right now? 1 bag of beans, half bag of rice, 2 pickles, 1 tuna, and a half bag of chips.
But my spiritual life is super rich. Because I have committed to the fundamental teachings of Jesus. I take into consideration EVERY moral situation.
So when my wife and I read verses from 1 Peter…I read 1 Peter 2:13-14 … and I knew I had to obey every rule known to man.
DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS?
There goes hustling up 50 stamped envelopes at $0.13 a pop! I’m now paying $0.49 a piece for those bad boys!
I quite my fantasy football leagues. And I had been playing them for years. I love it! But it’s wrong. Unless I play for free.
My point is, I’ve made many sacrifices. Gambling & hustling are just two more I’ve added to the list. It’s not really easy to give up free money. But in the light of my spiritual awakening, it’s necessary.
The sacrifices have been so worth it. I’ve found that the more sacrifices I make, the more blessings I receive. AND, the fear of repercussion for misconduct is totally gone. Unless of course I pick and choose which rules and laws to break. Spiritual or man-made.
That’s why it’s so important to commit and obey with the lessons (all of them!) of my spiritual teacher.
Easier said than done, I know!
I focus on ONE DAY AT A TIME. If I can be 100% obedient for just 24 hours, then I have won the day! As the day goes by, and my focus remains the same, it gets easier.
I am learning to watch my mind. Crazy, right? Who knew there was such a thing? By doing so, I activate a higher level of consciousness. In the past, so many of my thoughts were involuntary. A situation would occur and here comes a flood of Compulsive Thoughts. NOT GOOD!
Why? NO SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE! That’s why.
Through the power and wisdom of the scriptures, I am learning to stop my mind, reset, and re-focus.
OMG! What a blessing!
Just a few minutes ago I was asked if I wanted to play Pinochle. That’s free money! Of course I wanted to. I’ve been playing it for years, and I’m good at the game. My impulsive thought was, “Let’s play!”
But I didn’t. Because today I am committed to the Lord. Today I will obey His teachings. I will continue to focus on one day at a time.
I am sharing the journal I kept while I did 7 months in the hole.
Dec. 29th, 2008 @ 2am
I tried calling my mom yesterday and found out the prison has blocked all my numbers. That means I can’t call anyone. This week I’ll try to get that fixed. All I can do is write a kite to my case manager. We’ll see!
The hardest part of prison is hole time. Because it makes you think more. Things just pop into mind. Good and bad.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my crime. I wonder how could I have actually carried through with such an act. I think about my family and all the pain I’ve caused. I think about the victims and all their friends and families, and how I hurt so many people.
I’m in a tight little box with just me and my thoughts. When my thoughts get too intense, I force myself to switch gears. I seek the positive aspects that are within painful situations and thoughts.
For example, I’m thankful no one died. I’m thankful that I have a release date. I’m thankful that I won’t die as an old man in prison.
Despite my situation, I’m so lucky in so many ways. And that’s what I like to focus on.