Tag: peace

Christmas in prison – a time for reflection

The holidays can be some of the toughest time for prison inmates and their families and loved ones. An inmate can feel incredibly alone and sad being in prison during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Years. It’s a time we associate with family and the reality of being locked up can hit hard. It’s a time when mothers and fathers cry for their sons and daughters, and wives and husbands yearn for the touch of their mate.
As a former inmate, I can tell you there were bright spots to the holidays. For one, the inmates tend to have an attitude of “we are in this together” and while I was incarcerated, it was typical to plan a party where we would pool all our stashes from commissary and make the best spread we could. Sure, it could be a little random – raman noodles, peanut butter and tuna fish, for example. But we did share, and have some fun together for a couple hours at least. And, even our holiday meals were a bit above average. A little more served, maybe even something special on the plate. Hey, better than usual at least!
And, here is another thought that offers a new perspective for many of us who are dealing with incarceration during the holidays. Today I got my newsletter from the Human Kindness Foundation. For a little back history, Bo and Sita Lazoff started the Human Kindness Foundation many years ago, as an outreach to inmates. Bo wrote a book named “We’re all doing time” that is really well known amongst inmates and is a great book for anyone. I highly recommend it for those who are religious or not, it offers a lot of wisdom and comfort. I found it VERY helpful during my incarceration.
Anyway, Bo Lazoff passed away 2 years ago, a great man lost too young, but his writings and lessons live on. For this quarter’s newsletter, The Human Kindness Foundation reprinted some of Bo’s articles and letters from 1998. He made a really great point about being incarcerated during the holidays. To paraphrase Bo’s thoughts about this, think about Jesus, and the way he lived. Where do you think you would have found him on Christmas? In someone’s cheerful living room tearing gift wrap off of presents? Or would he be at the side of those with struggles, those that are a bit lost or afraid and needing to find their belief in themselves, and their ability to love their fellow man? I think it’s easy to imagine that the place Jesus would very likely to be found was in a prison.
Maybe you can find some comfort in the thought that our incarcerated loved ones are perhaps in a position to not be “Merry”, or “Happy” but perhaps thoughtful and reflective, and therefore much closer to the true spirit of Jesus’ love than many of us out in the world. And if you or your loved ones are not particularly religious or Christian, that is OK. Let’s hope that our incarcerated loved ones find some peace and comfort during this Christmas, regardless of their beliefs.
Merry Christmas everyone, and peace to y’all. ~ Magnum

The Holidays – Then and Now

While I was in prison, the holidays were sad days. I couldn’t help but feel alone and sad and think of my family and friends more than usual. I think it’s safe to say that was something almost all of us in prison dealt with, although some tried to act like they didn’t care. Maybe they didn’t, who knows. We did try to make the best of it. We were given a better meal than usual, with baked chicken and turkey. Baked chicken is one of the few things that prison cooking can’t screw up, since it’s relatively simple and doesn’t require much in the way of seasoning. We also would make our own spread, pooling all of our items from commissary on one of the tables in the common area. Might not sound like it, but a buffet of ramen noodles, tuna fish, peanut butter and crackers can be downright festive if that is all you’ve got. We tried to have some laughs and have a little holiday spirit but I will be honest, it was a stretch. At night, when it was time to go to sleep, my last thoughts of the day were spent imagining the smiling faces of my family and dreaming of a future I wasn’t sure could ever be mine. I never want to be that lonely again.

This year my Christmas was like the exact polar opposite of those darker days. I had my wife and my son, who is 1 month old now, beside me. We took a couple nice drives to look at Christmas lights around town, and we listened to Christmas music quite a bit. Money is tight but we got lucky. We got a Christmas tree from my grandfather which added a lot of Christmas spirit to our place. Then I got a little Christmas bonus at work so we went shopping for ourselves and got a few necessities like some new work clothes for me, and things for my wife and son, and we wrapped them up and put them under the tree. That might sound a little goofy but it was fun.

If you are spending the holidays away from your loved ones, if they are incarcerated or living the life of addiction somewhere, hold on to hope. Things change. People change. What I learned is life is good when you let it be.

Imagine me, a father and husband, celebrating the holidays with my family, surrounded with so much love and happiness. This is the dream I had and now it is true. I have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to look forward to in 2014. Peace to y’all ~ Texas Magnum

Yell, laugh, cry, scream, fight, or love

I will share something with you. Sometimes when I think about everything I get a heavy feeling in my heart. I think it could easily be mistaken for depression or despair. But it’s not. It’s the will to live, the passion I have for life beyond this reality I’ve set for myself.

It’s like a fire that burns inside of me, and I am not exactly sure how to release it or what’s the best outlet for it. It’s a combination of every emotion – I don’t know if I want to yell, laugh, cry, scream, fight, or love.

If you want to see what I am talking about, it will be easy to see it if you are a dog owner. Go grab the leash and walk over to your door or gate and just stand there. Your dog will be there waiting, I am sure of it, with that look in their eyes and suspense in their voices as they yap for you to hurry up. That is how I feel. Just how that dog wants to get out there and smell it all, taste the world, feel the wind on his face as he runs. More than anything I want to live my my life and be able to appreciate every little thing.

Peace ~ Magnum

What do I have to be thankful for?

I am sitting here thinking about Thanksgiving which is this coming week and how much that was always a day that I have always enjoyed being with family. I will be missing all of it this year, but the past couple of years it seems that half of the time when it was a holiday or something I was in rehab somewhere anyway.

I am mailing this tomorrow, but no matter what day it gets there, if it gets there before, I want it to get posted the night before Thanksgiving, because I know that is the time when I will probably be thinking a lot about what I am missing on Thanksgiving, and maybe some of you will be too. So this is for all of us.

I see that a lot of mothers of inmates have been the ones that send me comments. A couple have told me I make them think of their own sons and daughters. When I think of my own mother I hope she is going to have a really good day tomorrow. I hope she cooks up a big turkey and all the sides and that she knows I would give anything to be there, heaping up my plateful. I hope after the meal there is nothing but huesos left (that is bones for those of you who don’t speak Spanish.). And I hope somebody helps do the dishes. I hope all of you do the same, and don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for us, your kids that are in prison. We are all OK.

Here in county nobody has said much but I am pretty sure we will get some kind of Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. And I also figure it more than likely isn’t going to be anything like the meals we are all missing at home. But it’s alright.

I for one don’t want to think about what got me here or what I am missing out on but more about what is going to get me back to the other side. I am going to be thankful I am given this opportunity to set new goals for myself and to spend some time getting right. I am thankful that by the time I get out of here I am going to be an uncle, and that my sister is feeling and doing good. I am thankful that I have at least a few people that have remembered I still exist and who care about me. I am thankful I have everything I need already, and now I have a chance to learn what to do with it.

I hope you all have something in mind to be thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving and Peace ~ Magnum

I am convicted and going to Texas Prison – a very real feeling sets in

Today is Nov 8th, I just got through washing clothes. For those who do not know, when you are in jail, you can either send your whites off to be washed by the jail laundry or wash your things by hand. I prefer to wash by hand. I never thought I would be washing my underwear by hand, but it’s actually pretty relaxing to just get lost in daydreams while scrubbing away, thinking of every thing I miss so much. Some-time, I even sing one of my favorite tunes to myself while I scrub.

To wash my clothes, I crush up one of the bars of soap that the jail supplies. I add a small tube of toothpaste that is also supplied by the jail, and a little shampoo so it will suds nicely. The toothpaste is the secret to getting the clothes extra white. I add all these items together and whip them up until the soap is dissolved. It’s amazing how white my washing comes out this way, without using any bleach!

Anyway, this last Friday I received my papers telling me I am ready to go to TDCJ. When I received the document stating my readiness a very real feeling set in. The feeling that I AM GOING TO PRISON.
The truth is, I am scared. Not for my well being but for the unknown. This is a new, unknown experience for me, and new experiences have always made me anxious. I just really want to get there and get the initial introduction to prison life over with and behind me.

I won’t be able to write anyone for a coupe of weeks while I am going through the intake process, but I want you to know I will be thinking of you all.  I would like to say I love every one of you that has taken the time to read my blog and support me. Don’t worry about me, I will be OK. I can hold my own.

I want to add a special hello to Kasey, I miss you every single day. You are beautiful, in every way, shape and form, inside and out. Also, hello to my mom and to my sister, I love y’all. And, thanks to those that help me with this blog, it means a lot to me and is helping me feel connected to all the people I care about.

Peace ~ Magnum

Illusions by Richard Bach

I recently was lucky enough to pick up a good book off the book cart. Actually, this is the 2nd really good book I have grabbed. I think generally speaking the donated books we have to choose from are not so great, or at least not my taste. There are a lot of romance novels which aren’t for me. I have read a few westerns that were ok, and Twilight, which let me tell you, I didn’t like it. I think that book is written for women. The one other really good book I read so far while here is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I thought this book was awesome, and it made a big impact on me.

But anyway, I grabbed Illusions by Richard Bach. It’s a thin little book, and I really enjoyed it. I told my mom about reading it when he had our weekly call on the phone, and she told me it had been around since she was in high school, and she remembered reading it years ago.

Illusions by Richard Bach

The book is the story of a guy flying airplanes who meets another guy who is a messiah type. The messiah type teaches the pilot a lot about himself, and life in general. Here is a few quotes from it that made me think about things:

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. It feels on impulsion… this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”

This made me think of myself. Sometimes in my life, I have gone against my impulses to do the right thing. I have chosen a different direction instead of trusting my god, or sky, to send me in the right direction through my impulses which are usually well intentioned. I find it strange that my whole life I’ve gone against everything I know to be right, knowing exactly where it will end up taking me in life.

So, I guess in the end, I have acted on desire, and not really on gut impulses. Now that I sit here I remind myself I wanted to be here, obviously. We are all in our certain state of life because we chose it, and if we don’t like it, we just gotta work a little to get to where we wanna be.

Richard Bach writes “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”

In closing for today I leave you with this final quote from Illusions. If you haven’t read the book, or did years ago and don’t recall it so well, I suggest you give it another read. It’s a short book but has a good message.

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.” – RB

Editor’s note: Here is a link to Illusions by Richard Back on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Illusions-Richard-Bach/dp/0440343194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290368431&sr=1-1

The things I miss on the outside

Today I woke up thinking about what to write. “How can I inspire people?” I thought. While I sat there thinking hard, I realized that not every blog post has to be insightful and not every thing needs to have special meaning. So maybe today I will just write about myself and some of what goes through my head these days.

I’ve never been one to worry about the reason I am on this planet, I usually tend to just let the world carry me like a leaf in the wind. The truth is that’s probably why I am in jail and headed to prison, or one of the contributing reasons.

I find myself wondering sometimes, if I would have planned my life a little better would things have come out any better at this point? I really don’t know and don’t expect to know and this is exactly why I don’t like to think about these things. A “possibility war” starts to break out in my head.

Things I do know for sure is that I miss the sun, and so many of the simple things I took for granted a few months ago. A slow drive down River Road on a nice day. The sound of the river while sitting on the bank on a moonlit night. The way my dog loves me and is always happy to see me, no matter what. Or the sun setting on the lake late in the day.

Saying that I think of a song Jason Boland sings. He says “No matter how big the storms… the sun is shining somewhere down in Texas.”

I feel that right now I am in a storm in Texas. A lot of us are, those of us inside and outside too. I gotta work hard to get to that sun, but if I manage that, then soon I’ll see “The rays of light … makin’ me wanna turn the key and put down the throttle and get lost down 35.”

Peace be with you all ~ Magnum

Thank you for reaching out

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog site. I have received your messages and I want you to know that you all help me more than you can imagine. I have never been complimented on my thoughts so much. I always thought that what I had to say didn’t have any worth, but you all are helping me to believe in myself and my recovery.

To everyone who is struggling with drugs or who knows and loves somebody who is suffering, I want to let you know that even when things seem at their lowest, things can and do get better. I am in jail, headed to prison, some might consider this a low point in my life but my lowest was when I was out on the street using and feeling so much shame. Now I feel I am growing.

If any of you would like to write me a personal letter I would be happy to receive it and read what you have to say and learn what your story is. I truly believe that recovery cannot be done alone so let’s do it together and grow.

My whole life I have always been a giver, sometimes giving the wrong things and in the wrong ways, but I have always wanted to help when I saw someone needed something. Now I know that with a little kindness and an open heart I can help others and help myself too.

Peace, Love and Noodles ~ Magnum

Fights over the TV in jail – Small things change a man

Today is Saturday and of course, a fight almost broke out due to the TV, and most likely there will be a fight tonight as well.

A circumstance like this truly makes me think about the differences in inmates and how we decide to carry ourselves. On one side you have a type of man who has the mindset that prison was made for reacting. When I say reacting I mean that they react out on instinct and fear when a confrontation arises. They react with their fists first, not with their mind and heart. I believe that some men just cannot swallow their pride, and cannot be OK with not being the big man, the one with the final say so.

Of course, in here you can’t let yourself get preyed on but you don’t have to fight if you don’t want, especially if you are not in danger. Who is the bigger man, the one who raises his fist or the one who prays for the other? My opinion is the one who prays for the other. It is easier said than done, but just as I decided to start a blog today, I also have to decide to grow, one step at a time.

I believe that even the small things change a man. You may see many inmates keep their personal areas a mess, so start by cleaning yours, and keeping it clean. This way you practice discipline. When someone angers you, pray for the individual. This way you can practice a little humility. These are the things I have personally decided to do, and I feel that these small things will help me in my journey of not returning to this place called prison.

As they say, “Life’s a trip” so I might as well enjoy the ride. There is no reason in me being miserable any more. Today is a new day, and another day that I’m going to say “yes I can.”

Peace be with you all,
Magnum Edit/Delete Message