Re Entry Back into Society Can Be Like a Game of Chess

19 Jul

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Re entry to society is like a game of chess! A lot depends of the pieces in the game. First of when a person gets out of prison is he or she a pawn, someone who the authorities have taken a disliking to and are then set on targeting them to further their own agenda? Perhaps the person is a Knight, ready to stand firm and do all the right things and truly start over. Yet they are seldom looked at with a fair and impartial eye. Although they are ready to walk bolding into the lions den seeking work and acceptance, will they get it is the question. In many cases it is very tough. no matter how hard they try. Few make it without help in this game. We here at Cellblock Creations are seeking to make a real difference!

Now a ministry with A.C.T.International we are helping provide support and new opportunities to those who struggle while trying to make a new life.

A few things we have accomplished in this last few years.

1. We have taken art work from former inmates with real talent and produced cards and prints that are available on our web site. When you send a donation for a card or print the artist that contributed his work will receive a royalty.

2. We sell their original art on the web site which gives them much needed income.

3. We use re entry people to help with the web page and other jobs as we grow we will be able to employ those who are not artists with the duties that are needed. This will help those non artists gain some much needed assistance. This helps them and their families get back on track. Many of our people just want a honest way to make it on their own now.

4. We educate and encourage.

We hope you will check out our web site and if the spirit moves you to donate or volunteer please contact us.

We believe that we are all God’s people and have all fallen short. As long as people are working an honest life and doing right we are going to continue to encourage. For we have all fallen short and can start over at any time.

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Hand Painted

21 Jan

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I have decided to use this squirrel painting, which was done by one of our Cellblock artists, to illustrate the focus of this post.
You see this post is about addiction and all of the baggage that comes with that. It makes people squirrel-y to say the least!
I have had the great privilege and the great stress to witness all types of addictions and see the destruction.
No I am not a psychologist , counselor, or doctor; I am however a student of life who has been touched by alcohol and drugs in a direct way through the people I love. I believe that that is why I have been lead in the direction I have these last 2 years with growing Cellblock Creations.
When we really step back and look at addiction what does it look like? I find that deep addictive personalities all are able to do something continuously for hours and hours.
I believe that that is why when you go to a AA meeting or NA meeting you see two different types of people. First type are those who are the ones who got caught up in the life style through peer pressure or through social protocol, but they are not what I consider full blown addicts. I say that because they usually seek help and then go on to a pretty balanced life. Others however, even when in a program, seem to do things that feed that addiction need. They drink coffee, pop, or eat non stop. Some (usually those who like uppers I have noticed) love lots of tech, media games and being on Facebook and other social media non stop; or constant texting. In my opinion all of this is still self destructive because, I believe at the core we are all spiritual beings and need a relationship with God.
The people I have met and spoken in detail about their addiction tell two different tales. First are the ones who say “I can do it on my own and it is a matter of will power”. Then they usually tell me how now they no longer drink (or whatever the addiction) now they are hooked on exercise, fixing up models, collecting, etc. They usually say “hooked” as if it isn’t the same as addicted, but from my observation it usually is. Second are those who know they need God and embrace a new way of life after salvation.
Some of the reasons I believe what I believe.
I had a very old friend who a couple of years ago shot himself. He was a reformed alcoholic and he went to AA religiously for over thirty years. On the outside he looked good to everyone, he had a wife, a great job, and was a fun person to be around. Yet something was missing and missing enough that life had become unbearable. So a gun to his head was his answer and yes, he was sober. It is my belief that he couldn’t cope because he never knew God.
I also had a brother who was a pot smoker and an alcoholic. He died a year and a half ago at 54 years old of liver damage. The sad part here is he was once a gifted doctor of chiropractic who had two neurology degrees as well. He was truly one of the smartest people I knew. I always felt inferior because I had a vision problem and I am a bit dyslexic. It would take me hours to study for things and he just breezed though. But because of my eyes and the problems I endured I became compassionate to those who had issues of any type, where he became somewhat arrogant. In the six years prior to his death I tried to share my faith in Jesus with him, but there was never a way convince him. He had read hundreds of books and argued that all the problems with the world were due to religion. Although a true believer will tell you that “Religion is not the same as relationship with God”, You can not convince someone there is a God if they will not investigate with and open heart. The people who I have met at some of the churches and Christian gatherings that come across full of joy many times are recovering addicts and their stories of transformation are amazing.
So my belief is that, those who find God find peace and even in their struggle if they are faithful they usually persevere!
Now I am sure that someone will tell me a story after this of how I am wrong and they knew so and so who was a Christian and still killed themselves, etc. To that I say there are always exceptions. We as Christians know that you have to work on the relationship with God the same as you do with a person. If you make being busy your focus it is easy to not spend the time on prayer, the word, and/or meditation. So you distance yourself from the one who could and desires to give you strength.
In closing try to remember we are all connected. Addictions often lead to crime and crime leads to incarceration and in many cases, incarceration leads to poverty. If we don’t address the problems of addiction in the right way we will never heal our world.
Maybe we should look at the studies that show that improving nutrition takes away cravings for addictive substances. But of course my way of thinking and how to improve things would be a problem to many of the companies who run the country. The FDA is responsible for much of the illness and addiction in our culture. We need to know better and do better and not buy into the mainstream propaganda. My father used to tell me “You know the old saying of what you don’t know won’t kill you”? I would say yes and he would say “Not true, what you don’t know can absolutely kill you”. So learn and grow and teach someone; changing one person at a time may be all any of us can do.

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I have a face f…

20 Aug

I have a face for radio!! You will have to trust me on that, but feel free to listen.

Crossing Over To A Better Life

10 Apr Crossing Over

Crossing Over
So how do you change a life when it is so beaten down. Wrong choices compounded with punishment and hardship. Do we really want to analyze this? There are people who say punishment works and people who say praise and love work. Plus of course there are people who think a combination work. Personally I think all are true for some. Everyone is different. If this were not true, how is it that one person in family becomes a great success and another a complete bum? They were both raised the same and lived in the same house. But everyone has a view that is unique to them. So what shapes our views? Many things, this is why perhaps you first look at a family and 4 out of 5 turn out well rounded and do fine. Yet one may become a drug addict or a thief, why? At first glance we may think the children were raised in the same way and all the same values instilled, but is that the correct assumption? Parent’s often think, “we raised everyone the same and treated them all the same”. But is that really true? Life takes turns and when you really look at the whole picture, chances are you can figure out where things were different for each child. Everyone has a different experience even in the same situation. All the children in a family have different friends, teachers, coaches, etc. All of these things are a factor. When speaking with former prisoner’s you can find out a lot. Truly it is all in the perception of each person. Some people can handle peer pressure and ridicule well. While others struggle with the slightest insult. So I am going with the theory that people become mirrors of those around them. If there mirrors show contempt or hate or indifference, they start to mirror that back. Some times people are lucky and have many mirrors and end up mirroring the people who showed them love and kindness. While others have not a single mirror of love around. So my point is…..Do the best you can to be the face of God. Show kindness,love and compassion even when it is hard. We may see a major shift! Crossing over is a choice too. However all positive energy help immensely!

You Become What You Focus On

28 Mar

Using toothpick, toilet paper and more these artist make extraordinary pieces

From ordinary to extra ordinary


So when locked away how is it some people can focus on the good and some can not? Is it that some people are naturally more focused while others are more scattered and have attention problems to begin with? I was thinking if I was locked in a cell and had to create with noise and havoc going on could I do it? Probably, in my case no. I never could do homework with the T.V. on or if others were running around making noise. So I am especially amazed with the type of art that was produced over the years by inmates. If you can focus on the task at hand and really get into it, you have now become one with the art. You have created beauty and it fills you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. So now you have changed form lowly, inmate to genius artist. But when the art is not being produced who do you become? Does your mind say “I am an amazing artist”? Or does it say “I am a nothing man with no hope”? Some inmates stay the artist in their minds and believe one day when they return to society they will be able achieve an income with art or other self motivated ideas that came to them while doing art.
Focus is the beginning of everything. If you believe you are an artist and you have talent,you become that. If you believe you are nothing and you are just passing time with your art, then you are also correct.
The goal is to get the right focus. We all struggle with that. So imagine how hard it must be for those who have an even harder past to live down then the norm.
It is the goal of Cellblock Creations to gather artists and encourage them to continue with their art. To show it to sell it. To let it be photographed and made into products that can be sold. If you know anyone who is interested in showing off their talent, contact Cellblock Creations at 517.392.1286. As we are working on a very exciting project and would love more art.
So in closing, “Change your focus, change your future”.

Sending love to the outside

18 Mar

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So you ever think about the fact that when someone is locked away it not only effects the person, but the family as well. Perhaps you are a father and one night you drink a little to much and make the wrong decision and drive. An accident occurs, your fault of course. Now you are found guilty and the unthinkable you are locked away. Not saying that drinking and driving is right, just saying one bad decision can change more then just that persons life. Now the father and main bread winner in gone. Small children are confused, because to them dad is dad. Why would he be gone? Imagine the difficult job you would be faced with as a mom. Imagine the guilt the incarcerated person must feel. How now can he express love to his family? Well some inmates threw themselves into creating. It became their therapy if you will. A challenge to make something interesting and perhaps pleasing to a small child. Some of the most amazing things come out of deep pain. The question is “how do we become a society of creative and responsible people without the tragedy?”
Now a new and different person emerged, perhaps a better person, perhaps a worse person. However you are now entirely changed due to your experience. Now you are less employable, not as highly respected. Your self esteem starts to plummet. so where do you go? You go where you feel accepted, if you are lucky perhaps it is a church or group that really will help you grow and move forward. However often due to our need to make ourselves feel better we judge under the pretense of discernment. Keeping with the right people and such. But are we doing any one any good at this point? Why did Jesus sit with the sinners? Because they are the ones who need God’s grace and love. The saints are already saved. But when the saved start to judge and cast stones then the saint becomes the sinner, (does he not?) So hopefully you will find the right encouragement and you can go on.
We at Cellblock hope to encourage those who learned art and or a valuable skill to move forward and embrace the future and put the past in a light of a lessons learned.
The box pictured above was made by a grandfather for his grand daughter. It is made of pencils , cardboard and lovingly painted.