Hello IMT Family – It feels like forever since I have posted a blog!  I wanted to share some exciting news with you about the leadership of IMT – Inmates Matter Too.

I began IMT in 2014 because of my passion to support those incarcerated and encouraging individuals inside to utilize their time productively and positively.  However over the past 6-8 months I have found the direction of my passion with those incarcerated shift towards more an activist role to effect change in our criminal justice system; specifically by helping those who have been wronged by our criminal justice system.

Over the last 4-5 months a friend of mine, whom also has close ties to the criminal justice system and a heart for those in prison.  This individual knew I was shifting gears and asked if he may take over IMT and without hesitation I said, YES!  So as of Summer 2017, IMT is solely in his hands going forward.  I assure you IMT is in the hands of someone who will do great things with the organization.

With that being said…let me introduce to you the new leader of IMT-Inmates Matter Too, Marcus Hill.  Marcus Hill resides also in the great state of Texas as I do. Marcus worked for close to 10 years with a major prison based organization based here in Texas that helps those incarcerated turn their life around and lead positive and productive lives upon release.  It is an organization I have volunteered with and believe in whole-heartedly.  Because I know the passion and heart this gentleman has for those  inside…I agreed to pass the torch of IMT to him.  I could not imagine a more better suited person to continue to run IMT and help those inside.

So this is goodbye to all of you from me, the Founder of IMT.  I am so grateful and thankful for each of you who have been a part of and supported IMT.  Be sure to stay connected on the IMT Facebook page and to follow the blog on the website so you can stay up to date with all the great things Marcus has in store for IMT.  He is a man of God, a man of integrity and a person whom I know has a pure heart for those incarcerated.

Thank you IMT Family…I wish you well.

God Bless,

Founder of IMT -Inmates Matter Too

Jennifer R.

Inmate Family Support

Families aren’t as connected as they used to be. I mean people just don’t talk or get together like they did when I was young. There used to be a time when you knew family would have your back no matter what the situation. What happened to Family Support ?

Being on the inside makes you think deeply about family. You think about how much you miss them and what you should’ve done with family before coming to prison. Some guys spent a lot of time with family. Coming to prison is very hard for them. I spend a lot of time just listening to people. I hear guys talk about their boys playing sports and how proud they are of them. Talking about family always brings out good feelings. Unfortunately I missed most of my daughter’s childhoods. That’s something I had no control over. I have however been very much a part of their lives. It’s not the same as being there physically, but being there for them to talk to makes things a little better. We need each other.

Sometime it’s hard to explain to people just how we feel in here. When we don’t hear from our folks for long periods of time it feels like we’re forgotten. Sometimes we may write to ask a question and get no response. The things that seem small on the outside aren’t so small in here. We crave a bond with our families and the people we love the most. Nothing is worse than a man with no support in here.

Being supportive is a two way streets. Our loved ones need us just as much as we need them. Sometimes a few good words are all a person needs to get through the day. I can always tell when a person doesn’t have support. Their overall morale is low and they don’t seem to care about anything. This causes people to act out in ways they normally wouldn’t. I’ve had issues with not having the support I felt I should’ve had at times. I built myself up of those negative emotions rather than using it as an excuse to act a fool. Acting up only causes more problems.
I’ve found that showing support for my children and loved ones makes me feel better. Without realizing it, my daughters support me emotionally. Some of the smallest things my girls do or say help me get through rough days. I try my best to give them the same attention and support. Family support is important because it gives each person the strength to face the world each day, rather it be inside these gates or on the other side. Everybody needs somebody sometimes…

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

Courage

Are you afraid of being you? Too often I see guys coming into prison trying to be something or someone they’re not. Men want to look hard or important in the eyes of other men. This causes problems because eventually you get found out. People loose respect for fakers or Wannabes. I respect the men who don’t put on an act. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what type of money you had in the streets; if you’re genuine, people are going to embrace you. I noticed that the guys who come into prison being themselves have no problem adjusting and getting through their time. When you’re playing a role and faking, the truth always comes out. Sometimes the truth can get you hurt.

I ask again,”Are you afraid of being you?” Each day you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror what do you see?  Do you even know that person? The issue with being a Wannabe is the work and lies you have to keep coming up with. You have to keep explaining yourself or cleaning up stories for people. It can be stressful.

I consider myself a Wannabe in a different way. I want-to-be a better person when I get out. I don’t try to impress men inside prison because it means nothing unless you plan on spending the rest of your life in prison. I take no pride in doing time. This isn’t the life I wanted. I want to impress myself by coming home and being better. I had a young guy get excited when I told him how long I’ve been down. He smiled and said, ” Man you been biddin’!…” He said it as if it was something to be proud of. I shook my head at him and said, “I haven’t enjoyed doing this time. This is what I HAD to do. If I had a choice I would’ve changed my life before getting to this point. I spend my time finding ways to never enter these gates again.”

Young guys are too impressionable. They strive to be kindred with other criminals. They Wannabe like the things they hear in here. They see our pictures and want to return home to try to emulate what they saw or heard in prison. I tell guys all the time, “The things you heard about us was done in the past. We got caught and put away for a long time. Why would you want to follow in our footsteps? What you should see is the truth; the things we did didn’t work!”

There are older guys misleading younger guys in here because those guys started out as Wannabes too. They need the younger guys to follow their lead to validate themselves. They pull guys into gangs, drugs or worse. I look down on these guys; they hate their lives so much that they want young men to be just like them. If you follow the lead of a fool, you will become a fool.

My message to young men is always going to be positive. I may deliver the message in a raw way but my intention is to wake you up. I want you to see my life and instead of praising the illegal things I did, look at the other side of this life. If you Wannabe something, be better than I was by learning from my mistakes. There are a few young guys in here who pay attention to what’s right. I can see the intelligence in these guys. I tell them all the time that they are way too smart to spend their lives in prison. I ask them if they are afraid to be who they are because I used to be. I used to be afraid to show the intelligent side of me. I didn’t want to be looked at funny or unaccepted by my peers. When you get to prison you begin to see your flaws. You have a choice to change or you can continue being a Wannabe;  It’s all on you. The world is very different now and we need men to be stronger and more responsible. I hope more young men make the right decision.

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

Solitary Drawing

Solitary is defined as confinement of a prisoner in a cell or other place in which he or she is completely isolated from others. What does that mean?

For the prisoner, it means no contact with others except perhaps getting food through a slot in the door. It may mean a place where you have no control over the light. It may be dark or light 24 hours a day. Your cell may not even have a window, but only slots for meals or putting on and taking off cuffs for transport. It means not being able to have a conversation with others; and if you can talk to your neighbor in the next cell, you may not ever see their face. It means no contact with family or outsiders except perhaps a monthly phone call or a visit through glass. It means 23 hours a day in your cell and only one hour to take a shower or exercise alone in a cage, similar to a dog kennel, and that may not happen every day. It means getting food that is below par even for a prison. It means isolation and despair. It means doubting your sanity and thinking you may be losing your mind. It means contemplating suicide just to end it.

Why are prisons using solitary confinement for everything from controlling a mentally ill inmate, to punishing infractions of the rules, to isolating a juvenile who is not following orders, to long term internment for those who are deemed gang members, or are violent or dangerous? Prisons now have more segregated housing than ever before. People are housed in concrete cells with concrete beds and toilets bolted to the floor. There is little room to move or do virtually anything except lie down or stand up. The United States has one of the highest per capita rate of incarceration (five percent of the world’s population and twenty-five percent of the world’s incarcerated people) and the most inmates in solitary confinement.  They use it to keep violent offenders and gang members controlled. They use it to keep the mentally ill controlled. They use solitary confinement when a prisoner they have had problems with does not follow the rules. It’s a fact that it costs more to keep an inmate in solitary than it does in general population. How do you think this affects the bottom line of for-profit prison corporations?

Has it worked? No. The violence in prisons has not been reduced, while the amount of inmates who develop mental illness while in isolation has increased. America has not yet come to the realization that solitary confinement does not work. In Germany and Britain, the penal system realized this and they changed how they dealt with violent criminals. They treated them like human beings and gave them more power over their conditions. They are not housed in isolation cells, but in blocks of housing, where when they receive more benefits as they learn to live and behave in their area. There have been several programs documenting their systems and the results. The most impressive being a 60 Minutes’ news program, showing how prisoners are treated in Germany and the results when they are released. Is there a 100% success rate? No, they still house a few individuals in solitary, but that amount is minuscule compared to the US.

In the book, “Hell is a Very Small Space”, voices from solitary confinement are documented. Those voices are so powerful. They tell and show how the mind is affected by long term confinement. In one excerpt the inmate writes that their cell is so small they can only take four steps forward before they reach the door. The cell is so small he cannot stand up without being careful as to not hit a part of his body on something. Some inmates in this prison have been there for more than twenty years! This is truly cruel and unusual punishment.

Solitary Confinement

Have some of these men and women committed a heinous crime? Yes. But some of them committed their crime as a teenager or young person and now they may be in their 50’s and 60’s. They are not the same person who committed that terrible crime.

We can only hope that America comes to its senses and realizes that solitary confinement is not an answer, but a problem that is getting bigger. There needs to be change.

If you are near San Francisco, please go see Sarah Shroud’s play, “The Box”. Sarah was one of the three American hikers held prisoner by Iran. She was held almost exclusively in solitary confinement for 410 days. Another good source for learning about solitary confinement is www.solitarywatch.com.

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Sharron-GrodzinskyAbout the Author, Sharron Grodzinsky

A registered nurse and former medical administrator, has now turned her inspiration to writing and advocacy. Her most recent published book,Waiting on the Outside; sharing her journey being a mother to her son who is in prison.  Sharron also maintains a blog and resource page providing information and related news for friends and family of the incarcerated.

To read more about Sharron and her recently published book of being a mother to her son in prison and or her blog, CLICK HERE.

Thrive in Prison

Prison is an unfortunate and depressing place to be, especially for an extended amount of time.  I have been in prison for over 22 of the 41 years I’ve been alive.  There is no need to describe the horrific aspects of prison because you have either lived through it, known someone who has or learned about it through some form of media, but I will describe it anyway.  Prison is a desperately lonely, horribly dangerous, very frustrating and humiliating place.

As a prisoner, we can choose to keep only the negative thoughts of prison in the forefront of our minds and be stagnant in our lives as we serve our time, or we can look at prison in another perspective and depict all the advantages.  Yes, there are positive aspects to prison, but due to our environment we must dig deeper to find them and take full advantage.  If we succeed in this, we will return to society as a better person instead of what typically happens.

We have already caused harm, fear and damage to ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors and society as a whole.  That is what got us here.  Each us of, individually, need to decide if we are done with our destructive, immature ways.  We need to decide if we are ready to make positive contributions in society or if we will refuse.  In my opinion, if you refuse, you deserve to stay in prison.  The free world, at least those who are law abiding, do not deserve to live among the likes of who we were before we arrived here.  Whether you were a drug user or drug dealer, a thief, an abuser, a killer or even a drunk driver; the majority of society does not deserve to be forced to deal with us.  We need to stop being a burden and start being a true benefit in people’s lives.  How we choose to live our lives while we are in prison is up to us.

We can treat our confinement as punishment or as rehabilitation.  I constantly hear that there is no rehabilitation in prison.  That is only true for those who choose not to be rehabilitated.  It is like saying there is no education in school.  If you choose not to learn or show up then you will not get an education.  But, if you put in the work and the effort you can become brilliant.  The same goes for our stay in prison.  You can choose to not make any changes in your life or you can choose to become a better person whether your prison has rehabilitation programs or not.

Although I have been sentenced to 40 years to life, I live my life as if I’m going home tomorrow.  I stay ready and prepared for life in the free world incase my day of freedom arrives before scheduled.

The number one advantage that prison gives us is time.  I think most inmates would say that “time lost” is the worst part of prison.  I understand that, but we also now have the time to stop, focus and stabilize our lives.

Surviving prison is really not that difficult.  Wake up in your free room.  Shower with your free water and soap.  Put on your free clothes.  Eat your free food, and so on.  Prison is a very dangerous place, but to survive, you just need to avoid making stupid choices.  The real question is will you thrive?  That is the challenge.

Prison gives us a unique opportunity that allows us to be selfish and responsible for only ourselves.  Honestly, it’s like they dumb us down and bring us back to the very basics.  While here, we have the opportunity to spend our entire days working on bettering ourselves.  This gives us the time we need to refocus our lives. It’s not like this in the free world.  We must take advantage of our “free” time and our “free” living expenses while we are not “free.”

I am a husband and father of four.  While I am here, I do not have to assist with getting my kids ready for school or for bed.  I do not have to help with homework or after school projects.  I do not have to help with the grocery shopping, cooking or cleaning.  I WISH I was free so I could do all of these things to help my wife, but I am not.  Instead, I take full advantage of the time I have available and help her and our family in different ways.  For example, my wife and I are interested in investing and saving for our future but learning about the best way to invest is ever changing and time consuming.  My wife is very busy, so she simply sends me the paperwork for our 401(k), I.R.A, Roth accounts, stocks or investments and I become very familiar with it.  I also subscribe to financial magazines to keep up with the current stock and financial trends and I’ve read many finance books.  My knowledge of the financial world makes me able to make the decisions that produce the desired results for our investments.  This allows me to have more responsibilities within our family and marriage.

Another example of using this time to my benefit is by taking college courses.  My wife is a paralegal.  In order to understand her work I took correspondence courses and obtained a paralegal certificate.  I took advantage of my situation of being in prison by completing the two-year program in only 76 days and still maintained an ‘A’ average.  This did not happen because I’m unusually smart.  I’m just an average person.  But due to my situation I was able to make school my full time job.  I was able to study 12 – 16 hours a day because I had nothing else to do.  When I’m not taking classes I fill my down time with reading and writing.  I’m constantly self-educating.  I do this so I can be ready to return to society.

Before I could afford to buy my own books and magazines I researched companies and organizations that would send them to me for free, or I simply visited the prison library.  There are a lot of programs available to assist us.  But we have to do the research to find them.  If you are not willing to put in the effort to find the free assistance we have available to us now, do you really think you will take the time to find the help you need when you are free and surrounded by the fast paced free world?

We must maintain a state of mind of accomplishments by completing a goal and then making a new one.  Write down your goals.  You should have daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals and long term goals.  Constantly check your progress.  Cross off the goals that you have completed.  This gives you a visual of your accomplishments.  Set your goals high yet attainable.  Believe in yourself.  Push yourself to constantly improve and do better.  Even small improvements more you in the right direction.

My day starts at 3:30am.  This allows me to do more before breakfast than most inmates do all day.  I am able to exercise, wash up, clean the cell, read/study and write before everyone else in the building wakes up.  There is no reason to not be in great shape.  There is no reason to not be well read and versed on many subjects.

The way we, as inmates, are portrayed and looked down upon by the free world should bother us.  We should refuse to fall into the stereotype of the typical prisoner.  Prison should disgust us to the point of never coming back therefore never going back to the bad habits or life style that got us here.  But, in order to not come back we must prepare ourselves before we return to society.

We have placed ourselves in a position of even greater obstacles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t succeed.  Failure can no longer be an option.  Thriving is part of the debt we owe for our crimes.  It is a part of our redemption.

We must do the opposite of what we did that landed us in prison.  We must serve our best interest which will lead us to serving others.  We must better ourselves so we can better those around us and most importantly our younger generations.

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Cedric Pierce

Learn More About the Author of this Blog: Cedric Pierce, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

Tolerance

tol·er·ance
ˈtäl(ə)rəns/
noun
 1. the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

Patients is a virtue, but tolerance can help you get through some or the worst times. On a daily basis we’re forced to abide by rules we don’t always agree with in prison. The rules change daily depending on who’s working that particular day. We’re expected to know who enforces each separate rule. It’s not easy at times. You have officers who come to work with other things on their minds and we end up getting the bad end of the stick. They’re human so they’re afforded bad days, but they don’t realize the effects they have on us. They have to be here 8 hours, and we’re here 24-7. We face disciplinary actions if we get out of character with staff, even if staff brings the attitude to us first. We have to learn to tolerate things when it’s hard. I personally have to check myself when I feel my blood boiling. It took a while for me to get to this point.

No one can become an accurate thinker without practicing tolerance. In here you deal with people you don’t always agree with. You have to cultivate the habit of saying kind words to people you don’t admire. I had my issues in that department. I had to look for the good in others instead of always seeing the bad first. Staff often sees the bad in each prisoner before learning who we are individually. That frustrates me because I’m not the average prisoner, and not like others. Being in prison puts every man in the same boat; you have to learn to tolerate people/rules and make them respect you for who you are. One of the bright side of learning tolerance is returning home mentally stronger. The work place will definitely be a lot easier to deal with after this experience.

Tolerance has become a valuable asset in my life…It can be applied to any and every person’s life for the greater good.

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

There’s a silent fear you face when you’re separated from the people you love the most. The separation tugs at your heart. You begin to wonder how you’re going to be able to carry on relationships with your kids, your spouse, and even your family. “Out Of Sight, Out of Mind”; there’s so much truth to that statement.

Sometimes the loss of love can make a person weak. Losing a woman affects a man in prison more than most would like to admit. It’s hard but not the end of the world. When you’re the backbone of your family, you have to learn to cope and keep pushin’. Life goes on for the people you love, and life goes on for you. The best thing you can do is strengthen your mind while you have time. Once the original sting of being incarcerated passes, you have to figure out how to make things work in your favor. Any man can learn to adjust. Your children expect to see a strong version of their father when they come to visit; not someone caught up in sorrow and throwing a pity parties for themselves. Don’t let them down; let go of the things you can’t change and hold on to the things that mean the most. There’s the good side to adversities; you have the opportunity to see what you’re made of. Learning how to cope is a part of maturing.

Each person has it in themselves to weather the storm. All you have to do is make up your mind and go into action. If needed, use your love for your children as extra motivation; that’s what I do. I always say to myself, “What would my daughters think of me if I just give up?”.  I expect them to believe in themselves so I have to set the same example…Prison is just a bump in the road. Once you get over that bump you begin to see how this situation can be beneficial to you. Use your time wisely…Learn how to cope and grow from the experience. You’re not the first person to go through this and you won’t be the last. Thousands have felt the very same way you feel and they managed to make it through. At the end of the day, you’ll be alright…

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

GED Cert

It’s graduation week here at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, – E.O.C.I., and many of the men I tutor now have a G.E.D. It’s indescribable to watch these newly minted graduates sit together in the auditorium. As each name is called, I think of all the hard work he put in and all the effort I put in to help him. There were moments of mind-blowing frustration, of course, but there were also moments of euphoria as understanding broke through.

Tutoring is a wonderfully rewarding endeavor. Most of the men in the G.E.D. program are young–between 18 and 24, and they are in dire need of someone to believe in them, to help them and guide them, and to show them they are not worthless. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they wonder if they are worth the effort required to earn a G.E.D., if they are capable of succeeding at anything other than crime and violence, if their future is going to be any different from their past. I get to show them they ARE worth the effort; I get to show them they ARE capable of something different; I get to pull back the curtain and show them a future that CAN be different from their past.

Earning a G.E.D. in prison is viewed by some as a lesser educational achievement, but those who hold that opinion are perhaps looking down on the accomplishments of struggling men trying desperately to work their way out of circumstances most couldn’t stomach. The majority of guys in the G.E.D. program here at E.O.C.I. don’t come from comfy two-parent, suburban, middle-class childhoods where they were expected to finish high school, go to college, and live happily ever after. No, most of them come from low-income backgrounds, dysfunctional families, and broken homes. Many self-medicated their pain and confusion with alcohol and drugs, making their problems more severe, and they often haven’t ever learned how to effectively solve problems and plan beyond the present moment.

While these issues certainly do not justify their criminal behavior, they no doubt contributed to the lack of education that turned them to a lifestyle of criminality. And for these men, earning a G.E.D. essentially begins a new chapter in their lives, a blank, unwritten chapter, a chapter in which drugs and crime and incarceration are not inevitable. I know this to be true because I earned my G.E.D. here at E.O.C.I. 13 years ago, and I’ve been on the path of transformation ever since. Earning my G.E.D. was the catalyst of change for me.

Those of us in prison are not all that different from people on the outside. We love and we hate. We win and we lose. We make mistakes sometimes, and sometimes we get it right. We hurt and we get lonely. And the vast majority of us regret the actions that brought us to prison… and the people we hurt.

Yes, we committed a felony, often multiple felonies, most of which hurt others in one way or another. However, a single criminal act–or even a series of criminal acts–doesn’t make us bad people. It just means we did some bad things, but if we are going to move forward and become contributing members of society, we need help, support, and respect. Incarcerated men cannot be punished into upstanding citizens. We need training and an opportunity. Education–even a simple G.E.D.–provides that opportunity, and as a tutor, I get to play a small part in transforming lives, helping each student take advantage of the opportunity to realize he’s worth more than the way he’s been living. Indeed, graduation week means good times here at E.O.C.I.

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Eric Burnham, Prison Inmate Blog ContributorAbout the Author, Eric Burnham

I’ve been incarcerated since 2001.  When I was 21 I confronted another man while intoxicated, and unfortunately, I took his life.  I was a heavy alcohol and drug user during adolescence and young adulthood. I deeply regret the actions of my youth, but I’m not the same person I was back then.

I’ve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Counseling, and I’m currently working on my Master’s degree while at the same time trying to earn enough CEUs (Continued Education Units) to meet the requirements for certification as an Alcohol and Drug counselor.  I work as a tutor in the GED program here at the prison.

Personal growth, to me, means becoming the person I was designed to be. I’m not entirely sure where the balance is found between nature and nurture in the formation of my spirit as a unique human being. I do know, however, that I am just one incarcerated man trying to use the very big mistakes of his past to make a positive impact on this crazy world. I kind of think that’s what life is all about: taking the bad and using it for good.

To read more about Eric, CLICK HERE

PLEASE LEAVE FEEDBACK/COMMENTS:  Please take a few moments to share your comments and or share you thoughts on Eric’s blog; you never know just how much your comments mean to those incarcerated. THANKS SO MUCH!!! :)

Change Your Attitude

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is something I’ve heard people talk about my whole life. I never really understood the meaning when I was younger. I wake up some days feeling like the world is easy. My breathing seems clearer, eyes brighter, and even my ideas just flow. On other days I wake up not feeling like getting up. I drag myself to the restroom, get dressed slowly, and just can’t seem to get my thoughts together. Those are the days I feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

There are days when you’re just not feeling it…In here you have no choice in if you’re going to work or not. The are no sick days. You’re expected to be there, or face disciplinary actions. I found a balance between my good and bad days. I stopped looking at going to work as a punishment or something I just don’t want to do. I found ways to turn work into a hobby. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Once I started waking up telling myself, “Lets get it !”, work didn’t seem so bad anymore. Changing my attitude towards work played a huge roll in the way I felt each day. Now my physically and mental mindset work together to turn my bad days around. I wake up, take a hot shower, get my thoughts together, and figure out how I can make each day work in my favor.

Some days are still a little tougher than others because you have to work with people that aren’t feeling the same as you are. Misery loves company so you have to move around from those negative people as much as possible. In here I have to deal with so…many different negative attitudes. It’s like I’m playing a game of  “sucker duckin'” everyday. I always manage to figure out how to find my peace despite all the chaos. Most of the time I find peace in music. Whatever it takes to turn your bad days into good days, you have to do it in order to make life better for you. One thing I learned about life is, talking about doing something won’t get you anywhere. If you wish to change how things are going for you, act on it. No one is making you wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Mentally, it’s all on you.  What will be your choice?

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

PLEASE Leave Comments/Feedback:  All comments are passed along to the authors.  Your kind words can go a long way for someone in prison.  THANKS:)

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Some of the best talent I’ve ever witnessed was inside these gates. I’m a part of the hobby craft program in here (Nathan’s beadwork pictured above). I even teach the bead class. I was intrigued by what I saw as I walked through hobby craft one day so I figured I’d try it out. The bead class was taught by a Native guy when I got in. His back ground and heritage included beaded dressings. I learned everything I could from him. I’d begun to enjoying making jewelry so I was at it most of the day. Needless to say, I got good. I changed things up to fit my style. I’m from the hip-hop generations so I brought a new flavor to beading. I drew a lot of attention to the things I made simply because no one had thought of it before. I used the learning tools he provided for me, but I tweaked the style to fit me. Sadly, the guy that taught me was envious of what I was doing because it took some of the attention away from him. That wasn’t my intention, I just wanted to be different.

The Native guy ended up going home a year later. I was asked by staff if I’d take over and teach people my style of making jewelry. I started teaching a little over 4 years ago. 2 years ago my attention was pulled towards leather work. I’d watched people making things that impressed me. The smell of real leather attracted my attention as well. I entered the leather class. After finishing the 8 week class I begin making a few leather items. I continued beading but I had this urge to learn more. I’ve made some of the best looking purses this prison has ever seen. I took the learning tools that were given to me and used them to create something different. I was accused of already knowing how to make purses because I learned so fast. Some people gave me props for my work and others well…they were hating on it. My purpose was to get good and make something nice. Not to make enemies.(P)

People don’t always understand a man with a creative mind. They feel threatened. My focus is on myself and being good at everything I do. I don’t even pay much attention to others unless I’m being taught something or giving you props for something they created. There are men in here doing things with their minds and hands that you couldn’t imagine. When outside visitors come to the prison, our work is shown to impress them.

There’s sometimes this idea of thought that we’re in here just wasting time. There are some guys who see prison as a waste of time. Those guys do nothing all day but talk about what they want after prison. They don’t understand that the things you do inside these gates will effect you once you leave. You can go home a smarter person or you could just go try your luck at whatever. I see prison as another part of my life so I used the time as wisely as possible. I don’t spend any days wasting time. My body is locked up but my mind is free to do incredible things. If more guys used their creative minds in here, prison would only be a stepping stone. I never thought I’d be making jewelry or purses in prison. Sometime I trip off what I do because I see now that there are no limits unless I create them for myself. The only thing you can’t do is what you say you can’t do…I feel like my creative mind is going to do great things. I encourage anyone on lock to use theirs.

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Nathan HendersonLearn More About the Author of this Blog: Nathan Henderson, CLICK HERE

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