Tagged: volunteer

Prompting Inmate Bloggers Promotes Deeper Thinking

 

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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.

 

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Steven Jennings

Uniquely Unlocked

 

I am so grateful for my wife and all that she does. I wish I could be out there helping her right by her side. I love and appreciate her with all my heart. She truly is a blessing.

Suzie M. Jennings

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I had such a sheltered and spoiled background. I breezed through my childhood so fast that it’s hard to remember it. I wanted so badly to grow up and be an adult, a wife, and a mother.

I had a pretty awesome upbringing with loving parents, a big wholesome family, a kind religious community, and I was even a Girl Scout. But is it possible that sometimes things can be too perfect that you miss out on living and experiencing?

I have Stone City Blog on my mind right now. It is a collection of blogs written by men in prison, which I manage. Honestly, I’ve struggled with putting in all those hours helping men who couldn’t give me much in return.

I help men in prison share their voice with the world. At first, I choked on my own voice when telling people this. It wasn’t something I wanted to brag…

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Engaging In Meaningful Activities Is Crucial To A Healthy Lifestyle

 

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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’m thankful for the path I’m on. I’m thankful for my wife, family, and friends. I’m thankful for Sandra Rogers and the learning opportunity she has brought to my life.

 

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Steven Jennings

My 4th NA Meeting

 

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There’s nothing like a Christmas Eve NA meeting. The moon was huge as it hung low in the sky. I thought of Suzie and how lucky I am to have such a sweet, loving wife.

My mood was peaceful and happy as I entered the classroom.

I took a seat up front. Usually I sit in the back.

I volunteered to read. Usually I just introduce myself, then keep my mouth shut.

On this night the class read “How It Works” on page 17 in the blue Narcotics Anonymous book. If someone doesn’t want to read, he can simply say my favorite word “pass”, and the spot-light moves on to the next guy.

I always pass. Until tonight.

When it got to me, we were on the 5th principal. There are 12 in all. These are the 12 principals that make recovery possible.

I read aloud, “We admit to God, to ourselves, and to others, the exact natures of our wrongs.”

The class moved on and the meeting continued. But I was stuck!

I was somewhat amazed. How could THAT particular principal fall on me to read?

This is the exact issue that I am currently working out within myself. This is the exact principal that I’m giving extra focus on.

As I pondered how this could happen that I would be in line to read this specific principal, I realized three things played a significant factor.

#1) I had to be in the right mood. And I was. I was under the influence of Suzie. Earlier in the month she had sent me an email with this picture attached:

 

Christmas Moon

 

So when I saw that full moon in the sky on my way to NA…it was like taking a bong hit straight from her spiritual presence. I was “feeling it!”

#2) Because her influence is so intoxicating, I acted outside of my normal parameter when I took a seat up front.

#3) Because I was up front, principal #5 fell on me.

If I would’ve sat anywhere else, this entire experience would not have happened. (Read My 3rd NA Meeting, and you’ll see why this is significant to me.)

At first I was skepticle about these NA meetings. Now I see the power they provide. I now look forward to NA. Through the power of MIND and positive thinking, I have found another positive tool that is helping me grow and recover. I love it!

 

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Steven Jennings

Newsletter

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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:

Toy Time
Freedom Tail
Veterans Project
The SCCC Outreach Group
Stafford Creek Bike Program

I have submitted an application to become an active member of the Inside Out Group.

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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.

 

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Steven Jennings