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.
I was in my cell training for my upcoming EFV’s with my wife. I was doing weighted hip thrusters with a 65 pound box on my lap. As I was on my fifth set of fifty, my stomach growled. I finished my set, then looked at my watch to see how much longer until lunch time.
I looked at my digital Ironman TIMEX and quickly realized it was malfunctioning. The entire screen had nothing but 1’s on it. There was nine of them to be exact.
I immediately thought: GREAT, ANOTHER EXPENSE! THIS WATCH IS CRAP!!
Then it happened. The 11 seconds turned to 12, then 13, 14, 15, 16….etc. That’s when I realized it was November 11th at 11:11 am.
There’s nothing wrong with this Ironman TIMEX. It works like a champ. The problem was with me. Within all of one second, my brain had made an assumption and drawn a conclusion: My watch is broke. It’s crap. I need a new one.
Sometimes if we just take a second and let things play out, we’ll realize that there was never an issue to begin with. So many non-issues become issues because we make them issues.
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the wisdom to remain calm and assertive in the face of adversity. Please give me the ability to be patient before drawing conclusions. Open my eyes to the fact that no matter what the situation is, its as good or as bad as I choose to make it. Give me the strength to remain positive and happy as the events of life unfold. Thank you for using my watch to teach such a valuable lesson. AMEN.
This is a poem I wrote 14 years ago in November of 2002. As I go back and read some of my older poems, I contemplate whether or not I should share them. And if I do share them, should I edit them? Naw, I’ll just give it to you how it is. Here goes:
THE SKY IS BEAUTIFUL
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
So I stare…
up into the peaceful blue,
f#@k this place and f#@k you too!
But I don’t feel like this when I’m up in a bliss,
where rainbows hug and clouds kiss.
Visions of life make up the o-zone,
as I look up from down here, I see it’s all gone.
Standing on the earth,
wondering what its all worth.
Looking in the sky,
is it where we go when we die?
Then why….am I already there,
locked in a vision with a cold dead stare.
Don’t trip on me because I’m tripping on this,
most points will hit, others will miss.
But that’s cool,
I’ll be the fool.
Or perhaps I’m a little too deep,
and the road to my mind is a little too steep,
I live my best hours in my sleep.
In my sleep I see in the sky,
instead of blue it’s black like when we die.
So what’s my point, what am I saying,
that life is better when our body’s decaying?
I don’t know, it kinda seems that way,
live my life and see what you say.
When living in the skies is your best damn times,
or the hours you spend when you close your eyes.
Or you could come on down and do it like this:
always be pissed,
constantly hurting over things you miss,
Its not living, you simply exist…
in a shadow of crime,
always doing time,
every second of the day,
but that’s not the case I’m happy to say…
Simply because I do it my way,
elevating up to where the birds play,
and loving the darkness at the end of my day.
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
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.
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’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 support all good causes and anything positive. I am inspired and motivated to make a difference. I am committed to positive change in my life. And I have a strong desire to help those I can.
Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) has a large emphasis on programs that give back to the community while teaching inmates a variety of skills they can carry with them upon release.
If you have been following all my blogs, you’ll notice how much positivity there is in prison. Yes, I talk about the negative stuff too. But my point is: Life is full of everything. It’s what we choose to focus on that matters. That is what will define a person.
Below is a list of class’s and programs offered here at SCCC (pictures included).
REDEMPTION CLASS – Redemption is a 20 week self-awareness class designed for those who are committed to positive change. I have taken this class in the past, and I am currently participating in it right now. Love it!
ROOTS OF SUCCESS – I have submitted my application for this program.
H6 HONOR UNIT– This unit is a violence free, positive living environment. The men in this unit commit to living a violence free and crime free lifestyle. In order to live in this unit you must: be 3 years infraction free; get a referral from you counselor, and be involved in positive programs. If accepted, men must be willing to sign a commitment form promising to abide by the H6 Unit rules and expectations. I have already submitted an application for the H6 Honor Unit (see blog: Talk The Talk…Walk The Walk).
THE SUSTAINABILITY IN PRISON PROJECT – Learn green and live green. This awesome program brings science and nature into prisons. It helps reduce the environmental, economic, and human costs of prisons by inspiring sustainable and compassionate practices. The Sustainability In Prison Project also helps incarcerated individuals rebuild their lives through education and opportunities to contribute.
INSIDE OUT GROUP – The Inside Out Group is a diverse group of men here at SCCC who want to help the community. They do so by volunteering their time and energy. They conduct fundraisers within the prison. They donate thousands of dollars to a variety of organizations, projects, and programs that are dedicated to serving the community. Here are the projects within SCCC that the Inside Out Group sponsors:
I have submitted an application to become an active member of the Inside Out Group.
Boy oh boy, I sure do want to get accepted into these programs! In the past, every time I seeked help, I was told, “No, you have too much time.” I finally took matters into my own hands. (see blog: Rehabilitation, It’s My Choice)
As I write this newsletter, I’m getting my info from a handbook. I completely agree with the mission statements and core values. I strive to live by a strict code of ethics. I am committed to positive change and positive living. My actions and relations with staff validate my words. Yet, I’m constantly being denied for a lot of the programs I apply for.
Yes, it gets very frustrating. Especially when I see “players of the system” get accepted. To a degree, I understand. My past is so hardcore that it’s hard for them to see me in a new light. So I will continue to do the right thing with a sincere heart. I will be patient.
I will continue to focus on the positive. I will seek my spiritual guidance through the teachings of the Bible. And I will participate in as many positive programs as I can.
Thank you Green Bay for assuming you won the game.
Thank you for turning off the intensity and going into relax mode.
Thank you Mr. Burnett for sliding down after your 4th quarter imaginary “game winning” interception.
Thank you Julius Peppers for telling Burnett to “get down”.
Thank you Aaron Rogers for handing off the ball three consecutive times, causing a three and out.
Thank you for doing all that knowing we had three time outs, with PLENTY of time on the clock.
Thank you for failing to realize that we were so desperate, that we were willing to fight with every ounce of our strength.
Thank you for not matching our intensity and giving up early.
We realize we wouldn’t have stood a chance if Mr. Burnett would’ve ran back that late interception with all his strength and ability. Because then maybe Aaron Rogers would’ve kept playing too. I mean after all, you guys do have Mason Crosby. And a field goal at that point would’ve ensured a victory. A Super Bowl appearance.
Perhaps your coaches, staff, and players gave up early because they know we will give NEW ENGLAND a better run. Ya see, New England doesn’t give up either. Did you see Tom Brady take a shot at LaFell, in the end zone, late in the 4th quarter, up 45 to 7?
THAT’S how you finish a game!
THAT’S how you win championships!
THAT’S why New England will play Seattle in the Super Bowl.
Thank you Green Bay.
Better luck next year.
Are you married? Have you ever cheated on your spouse?
If so, how did that work out for you? Or perhaps you haven’t been caught. Yet. You will. Only the truth can withstand the test of time.
For those who are tempted to cheat…DON”T! Nothing good will come of it. The pain you’ll cause will be beyond repair.
For those who are cheating…STOP! Confess. Repent. Hold yourself accountable and ask for forgiveness.
For those who have endured the wrath of cheating…SHARE your testimony. Educate the cheaters and those who are tempted. Explain the pitfalls of such a selfish act. Describe the effect your actions had on your spouse, your kids, your friends, your family, your life!
For those reading this, today is your lucky day. A simple message has been sent your way.
“My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:1-2
Live by the scripture and enjoy a blessed life.