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.
Adopting a dog will change your life. I know because it has changed mine. I don’t actually adopt, I just work with dogs and get them ready for adoption. In doing so, I reap tremendous life changing benefits.
I’m in a program called Freedom Tails. For 10 weeks I live with a dog 24/7. During that time I give my four-legged friend basic obedience training, house training, boundaries, socialization skills, structure, and grooming. These dogs go from “undesired” shelter or rescue dogs to “highly desirable” well mannered and well trained dogs.
I’ve been in prison for 22 years. In just a few weeks, Freedom Tails has enabled me to develope valuable life skills. The dogs teach me how to be responsible, patient, consistent, and punctual.
If you don’t have a dog in your life, you’re not living life to the fullest.
For those who have disabilities (mental or physical), a dog can be a life changing experience. Dogs can offer hope, love, and joy to those who struggle to find it anywhere else. Dogs can help build confidence, a sense of purpose, and self-esteem to those who struggle in these areas.
ADOPT A DOG. This simple act has the ability to work miracles.
For more info on the dog program & dog adoption, please visit:
I had him for 76 glorious days. In that time, I witnessed an impressive transformation. He went from a dog that didn’t even know his name, or any basic commands, to a dog that obeys all his commands and even learned a couple new tricks.
At 3pm a Sargent came to my cell and told me to take Yahoo to Master Control at 8pm. Since he didn’t get adopted, he’s going back to PAWS (a local animal shelter). That gave me 5 hours to say goodbye. I enjoyed every second of it.
During count, I layed on the floor with him, using his body as a pillow. My hands massaged his neck and ears nonstop. I skipped going to the chow hall for dinner and ate with Yahoo instead. Tonight we had my Spectacular Brown Rice creation. I mixed a generous amount into his normal dog food. He loved it!
At 6pm I took him out to the yard to say goodbye to all who grew to love him. He got a lot of attention and love.
Then from 7-8pm Dicky and I hung out in the cell with Yahoo. We brushed him, gave him treats and spoiled him. He could definitely sense something was different.
At 8pm, Dicky grabbed the leash with Yahoo and I pushed him in his wheelchair as all three of us headed to Master Control. That’s where we met the Head Trainer. She told us we did a good job and thanked us.
My last goodbye consisted of a kiss on his nose followed by, “That was from my momma.” Then another kiss on the nose followed by, “That was from Suzie.” Then I pinched both his cheeks, kissed both sides of his nose and said, “And that’s from me!”
I handed over the leash and watched him disappear through two gates that lead to freedom. I got a little more emotional than I expected. Even though I mentally prepared myself, and I knew this moment would come, nothing can replicate or prepare me for the actual event of saying goodbye.
Yahoo was an absolute joy and pleasure to work with. He will forever live in my heart.
Now I’m ready for the next dog…bring it on!
“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’ve already done 21 years of a 43 year prison sentence. I’ve spent many nights laying in the dark, wondering WHY? HOW?
Why me? How did this happen? Why did I do the things I did? How did certain thoughts enter my mind? And why did I act on them?
The process of answering these questions was long and complicated. I’m still seeking answers.
To answer the questions WHY and HOW, I had to read many books. Books that offer absolute truth, love, spiritual understanding, and universal laws. Such as: The Power of Now, The Science of Mind, As A Man Thinketh, The Bible, The Purpose Driven Life, From Onions To Pearls, The Four Agreements, The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional, and The Receptivity Project (just to name a few).
First and foremost, I have a burning desire to change. Otherwise, influential books would have no effect.
These books, my desire to change, and the support from thousands of people, have given me new perspective and answers.
I recognized my thought atmosphere was polluted. I understand why it was polluted. Because I was born and raised in an unstructured environment riddled with abuse and violence.
By giving my attention to abuse and violence, I automatically embodied it. As a baby, kid, ad teenager, I was clueless that I attract the likeness of this embodiment. I was clueless that thoughts become a thing. I was clueless that my mental state takes on form, color, and temporary reality.
Had I known that from birth, my entire life would be completely different.
Well, I know it NOW! And it’s never too late to turn your life around.
By reading influential and powerful books, I have cleaned up my thought atmosphere. I now nurture my mind with positive material full of TRUTH, LOVE, and UNDERSTANDING.
These wonderful books help change lives if you truly embrace change. They have enabled me to experience a deeper level of consciousness that instantly heals.
We outwardly experience our state of consciousness. Our actions are a reflection of what’s within. These books have taught me so much! They have given me true understanding. Once I truly understood, I was then able to truly change.
My transformation started with the simple proposition of the creative power of thought. And from this recognition I discovered that circumstances and conditions are formed and held in place by the power of the mind.
What a wonderful discovery!
This law applies to all!
If I can do it from in here, then anyone can do it from out there.
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.
The spirit within me is God. Therefore, I am my own God. I decide if I want to create an Almighty Living Spirit within my being. There is no outside divine nature that dictates anything. Everything comes from within.
The Spirit within me, which I have cultivated and created, represents Wholeness. It is peace, love, and harmony. I created it within my soul so that I may seek Divine Guidance from IT.
This Spirit governs every act of my life. If I let it. And I do! It surrounds me with Light in an environment that’s supposed to be dark, gloomy, and heavy with fear. Prison!
In this Light, I elevate to a higher level of consciousness. I am able to rise up and observe my Being. I now have the power to cast out all darkness and all fears.
I observe my transformation and it inspires me to GO HARDER, TO DO MORE, and to ACHIEVE GREATESS!
This Divine Wisdom within me guides all my actions. It pushes everything in my life towards happiness, peace, love, and joy.
I have discovered the most powerful Spirit I have ever known: THE SPIRIT OF LOVE!
I am in prison, yet LOVE surrounds me with beauty, friendship, and joy.
Some of you may remember my post: Please God…Are You Real? For years I struggled with my belief system. Is God real? Or is he Mythology created by man? I wanted to believe God is real. But for some reason, I had my doubts. All I knew about God was what I learned from the Bible. That made me extremely skeptical. Because most Christians believe in the Bible 100% as they take every word literally.
I couldn’t do that. I tried. But I can’t fool myself. Deep down I knew I didn’t believe 100% of the Bible in a literal sense.
I believe the Bible is full of metaphors that teach about the brief, temporary, transient nature of life on earth.
That’s it! The rest is up to ME! And not some divine force that comes from the sky and intervenes with the environment, conditions, and life. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO THAT!
And I am doing so by creating Divine Wisdom within myself through the teachings of Jesus.
This works for me. Because it is entirely individual, personal, and unique. I am the expression of my own complete self. There is NO LIMIT to this SELF-EXPRESSION. I am the Spirit of substance. That Spirit within me is the Father of Supply. It brings me everything I need to gain wisdom and understanding. As I unfold and evolve, this Spirit keeps me in a world of love & compassion as It governs me, NOW & FOREVER!
“This book is a rare insight into a world most are not aware of except for the hollywood portrayal. This is a story about real events and real people who are sons, brothers, and fathers that have been put in situations that have caused them to make the wrong choice. People grow, people learn, and people change, they just need a chance.”
“This book had me reading from the start to finish, the context of this book gave me amazing pictures/images of the events and downfalls. I’ve known Steven for over 27 yrs, hearing the true words about his real-life story adventures captivated me to complete the book in less then 6 hrs and two readings. Moreover, I’m proud to say that I look forward to seeing the person who taught me how to ride a motor bike…my friend…Steven Jennings!”
“I couldn’t put the book down! It was very gripping and intense. My hat goes off to Steven for everything he’s been through and all of the positive changes he’s made.”
“A great true story about a mans personal transformation amongst an environment that is built to cause hate and anger. A rare look into an environment that is chaotic and cruel and an inspiration to see a man better himself in the face of adversity. A must read for all!”
“Talk about innovating yourself and the power of resilience! Talk about change from within and the force of Faith! Talk about triumph in the midst of Darkness! That darkness in which the author found himself from the tender age of 5 or so when he learned to fight. It matters not today who taught him, it matters not where that fighting led him, what matters is what he is now fighting for? He is fighting to be and stay a changed man right there in Prison where it is near impossible nor feasible. There you have to do all it takes to survive, and I have hung in there with the lots in my country for 6 months to understand some of what the author shares with us. Yet I was coming in daily from the outside, just coming in to visit like the US President did recently. He said admitted that what some of the guys did, he also did. He just didn’t land in Jail, just like I didn’t too although I did some pretty hard stuffs in my context. However, what is remarkable in this story is the author’s determination to not remain in the statusquo. He disciplines himself to channel that fierce energy and strength he has, to no more kick others asses, but to kick his ownself up to stay determined to his resolve. I like saying that ‘Do not be afraid of Your Breaking Point because that’s when the Turning Point occurs”, The author got that in Segregation for yet another merciless and senseless fight, but he did. As he says: ” When I was free, I took everyone I should have loved for granted”, and this definitely includes his ownself, but now he resolves after all these years and experiences which includes pet love with chirpy, that: “From within these dark walls, trapped in Stone City, I will defy all odds and come out a better man”. I couldn’t give such a hurtful, helpful, soulful and holistic book any less than a 5 star, and would recommend to all it with no hesitation.”
“This book held my interest from the first page and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. It was also a insightful, rare perspective of our prison system that one cannot get anywhere else. The author’s personal journey was also very moving and emotional.”
“I’ve read a lot of books in this genre. Most books about prison life linger on the bad, but give no glimpse of anything else. Steven Jennings weaves a story that will grip you from the beginning to the end. What I enjoyed most about the book was I felt like I was in his head as he honestly recounts all of his life journey, including life committing criminal acts, how he survived as an enraged and addicted inmate, and finally how he changed his ways and proceeded positively forward while in prison. I think the book should’ve went into more detail about the events, and conclusions that made him change the course of his life while serving time. They were there, but I think the book could’ve benefited from delving deeper. I was left feeling like I got all the details before and after, but the actual epiphany was understated from what I think it actually was. Despite that, I think it was an enjoyable and insightful read. It’s not your typical “prison book.” I highly recommend it – you’ll be glad you read it.”
“This story blew my mind. I’ve heard about things like this going on and thought maybe it only happened in movies. I’m impressed by Jennings’ attitude and ability to remain positive in the prison environment. Reading about what really goes on leaves me speechless.”
By Steven Jennings
As I read the Bible, I think of my past and my present.
I remember how I used to be. I remember how my life was full of conflict and turmoil.
Today I am committed to serving the Lord. That means living by the scripture. I believe in the scripture as it pertains to moral conduct.
For those who read the Bible and have a desire to live a better life, wisdom calls. Wisdom calls to the simple and says gain prudence. Wisdom calls to the foolish and says gain understanding. (Proverbs 8:5)
Wisdom says to love those who love me. Those who seek me find me. With me are riches, honor, wealth, and prosperity. (Proverbs 8: 17-18)
I have spent much of my life wondering down my own path. I didn’t have the scripture to guide me. I chose to ignore these basic principles that the Bible offers. And as a result, I continued to suffer. I’d go to the hole, fight, argue, lose my EFV’s, loose goodtime, and make my family cry. I was a fool!
But now I choose to allow the scripture to guide me. That is my God…the scripture. I’ve committed my life to the Lord, and I must admit, the transformation is AMAZING!
I had to see for myself. No one else could tell me. I have lived in darkness. I have lived in the light of God. There is no comparison! God is the way to go.
Please, grab your Bible and read Proverbs 8:32-36. My life is a testament to these five verses. Amen!