Happy Thanksgiving Day to those who celebrate the American holiday! And even to those who don’t celebrate holidays, I hope each of you are filled with gratitude for all you have in life to be thankful for: start with the functioning body parts and the air you breath to see another day.
Turkey Day USA! For me, I celebrate each day because of the life I’ve been blessed with living, which is less than what I want, but is much better than what I had when I posed for that picture inside the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia in the 80’s.
Healthwise, I was in much better physical condition back then than I am now, of course, but in regards to what really counts, today I am in better overall condition.
The positive aspect from that experience and others I was fortunate to have survived, is that I did walk out the prison doors and lived to fight another day. And decades later, continue to have a life worth writing about, which I do often in hope of inspiring others or to otherwise affect a positive change.
The most success in my writing career has become writing on Quora.com where I have over 1.2 million views on my profile page and Life Inside and Out. Should you decide to subscribe or to check out a free subscription, I am paid a small commission. Visit my profile to learn more: Wayne T. Dowdy or click Hereto subscribe to Quora Plus.
Should I focus on writing about the negative, I could write for days and still fail to tell everything that I dealt with throughout the years. A wonderful thing is that I could also write for days about the good things that I have experienced and feel fortunate to still be able to sit before my computer screen and type.
Finding the bright side of life can be a challenge if filled with self-pity because life is not happening the way I feel it should. But when I stop for a moment to remember where I came from, and then accept that things are working the way that the God of my understanding wants it to be, then I can breathe in a be grateful for the moment, knowing that I am blessed to have been around for all these years and to have accomplished the things that I have during the last few years.
My plan for the next few months is to focus on changing several things that I have the power to change in pursuit of accomplishing more than I have since my release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons on August 28, 2018. Then maybe next Turkey Day I will write about some spectacular events; however, I am probably going to stop paying for this website and end it for several reasons I may write about in an upcoming post as Revising A Life or Life After Release.
In reflection of 2022, I am grateful for many things, including being given the opportunity to appear on a public television station, which you may watch the YouTube version of by clicking the link in Revising a Life-10 for a Steadfast Journey-Bridging the Gap, with the lovely, Dr. Micshell Milsap, or by clicking the following links where I appeared in Wisdom Episode 10 and another Walking With God. Please check them out and click to like and subscribe to her channel. Thanks!
May your heart be filled with more gratitude this year than most, even though the World affairs have deteriorated. If you pray, remember Ukraine and those who suffer around the world.
One thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day is not being a Turkey. If you’re a turkey, I am sure you understand. 🙂
Last year I wrote Gratitude 2020 by Wayne T. Dowdy for Thanksgiving. My friend mentioned in that blog, Jeffrey P. Frye, is at home this year celebrating Thanksgiving with his family and doing great. Miracles do happen!
For those who celebrate Thanksgiving Day in America, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you get blessed with feelings of gratitude for whatever you have in life that gives you joy and makes you happy.
If you have had to deal with the loss of a loved one, my thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope you have healed or can otherwise deal with the loneliness and pain that often comes with loosing someone special, a pain some may not understand if never having went through the experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others or to do whatever you need to get through this holiday season.
When the year 2020 began, I believed it was going to be a wonderful year, and as in other things, it is a matter of perception of whether it has or has not been a wonderful year. For me, I lived to fight many more days and continue to be thrilled and happy to be “here,” with here meaning Alive, alive and still Kickin’ after all these years, which is a miracle, indeed. For that I am grateful. Some things I wished to have been different but … I am not in control of life. I am happy to be a part of it.
I am Blessed by the Best!
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday, and to all of those who do or do not, please take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of life today. Personally, I begin with the obvious, my health, including all body parts that remain intact and fully functional; especially, my Eyes to See and Ears to Hear, as well as my mouth and fingertips to express what I want the world to hear and read.
The most import is Love
Of all things I am grateful for, the most important is LOVE, love from above and love from my many friends and the few loved ones who remain alive and in my life. Should I list all things for which I am grateful, this blog would take more time to write than I have before posting it in time for people to read before Thanksgiving celebrations begin in America.
I’m late according to my schedule but on time spiritually.
FROM THE INSIDE
Two days ago, I received a Corrlinks email from a person who shared his feelings on the holiday. Here is what Chuck wrote, who is serving an excessive federal prison sentence:
“I wanted to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving, and to remind everyone that this time of year is an excellent time to reflect on family & friends, as well as community and the world. We are in challenging times now and can often not see the beauty in others around us because of our situations. To be thankful for what we have, as well as what we have learned about those closest to us are experiences that should not be overlooked. To see the trivial things that we otherwise might have missed because of the daily hustle and bustle of our hectic lives is reason enough to give thanks during this holiday. Those smiles and conversations that arise out of the extra time that we spend because of our closeness are opportunities that may only come once. So, embrace them and cherish them … give thanks for them and the people that they originate from.
Note: if you would like to correspond with the author, his address is as follows:
CHARLES R DENNING, # 21317-045
USP TERRE HAUTE
P.O. BOX 33
TERRE HAUTE, IN 47808
In the original draft of Too Late for Torrick, I began by using the dictate function in latest update for Microsoft Word 2016. Two reasons kept me from including a section titled, Positive Note; the first being something that a friend once said about using the talk-to-text function for sending emails.
He wrote, “I can’t get it to understand Southern.”
The second reason related to the amount of time it would take for me to decipher the convoluted dictation, and my deciding that it would be best to wait to include the positive perspective of the Corrlinks correspondence in a separate blog and that proved to be a better idea because of the events that followed.
My plan was to include the convoluted dictation as humor; however, I will spare my readers and conclude with the blog my friend sent and authorized me to post on his behalf. I also sent his blog into the prison system and received several favorable comments from those Inside who needed to read good news.
The devastation caused by COVID-19 from inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons did have a positive side, in that the courts intervened and ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners that the prison officials refused to release on their own initiative after given authorization to do so by the United States Attorney General.
A person who I have known for years and who wrote an Introduction to Unknown Innocence, recently wrote that he was granted his release because of the Court’s intervention related to his request for Compassionate Release because of the threat of COVID-19.
He sent me an email and wrote, “Thank you for all you have done for me recently. The daily stats helped me present my case.” That made me feel great and assured me that the time I take from my schedule to provide information and meaningful content to those on an approved Corrlinks contact list, is a worthy cause, for which I am grateful for being able to do.
On Monday, November 30, 2020, Jeffrey P. Frye, will be released because of his having a competent public defender who assisted him, and a federal judge who granted his motion and ordered his release.
Miracles happen! Never lose hope.
Leaving Shawshank (last blog from prison)
Jeffrey P. Frye
In June 2020, two months into the national lockdown in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I made a strong cup of coffee and took 10 sheets of paper and I sat in my cell and penned a Motion for Compassionate release to the court in Charleston, South Carolina. I cited the COVID-19 epidemic and its devastating effects on the inmate population, especially for people with my medical conditions of COPD, asthma, and hypertension… However, for somebody with my history, and given the fact that I was given 20 years for robbing seven banks (w/out wearing a mask), and given the fact that Judge Norton had actually whacked me with 7-20 yr. sentences (one for each bank), I figured it a stretch. But time and pressure sometimes make a jailhouse lawyer…so I fired off the motion anyway. And in what has turned out to be the smartest move I made, I sent a copy to the Federal Public Defender in Charleston, Ms. Ann W., to ask her if she would represent me on this filing.
After about a month I had still heard nothing back from the court or the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) on my case. Nor had I heard from the public defender’s office. I found this to be odd, because usually at least the AUSA would deny my filings in short shrift. I waited, all while the outbreak back here for worse and people started dropping like flies. I have a friend named Wayne T. Dowdy who had started sending me daily reports from the BOP’s website (bop.gov) of which institutions had cases and how many people had died. When we came out for our hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would write these down. It was sobering. The numbers were climbing all while the BOP told Congress and the media that it was getting better.
Enter Ms. Ann W, Esq.
The judge appointed her to investigate the validity of my claims. I kept piping her info through snail mail, and filing addendums to my original brief, and asked her to amend these to my pro se filing if she thought it relevant. In America, a lot of defendants have an incorrect assumption about public defenders. They assume that they are the bottom of the barrel or lawyers who are just on their way to something better. They also mistakenly believe (at least in federal court) that if they hire a high-priced lawyer that they’ll get a better deal. Maybe these opinions have at least a little validity in state court but not in federal court. In the feds, the public defender’s office is the best one to have because all they do is federal law, day in and day out. Subsequently, they are the smartest lawyers in the pack; the best to have.
Ms. Ann W. is the cream of the federal crop.
After sending her a second addendum telling her how bad things were, she filed an amazingly excellent 20 page brief that used recent reports from the Department of Justice’s Office of The Inspector General (OIG), and from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that refuted the BOP’s claims. She blended this with my medical history, my new-found career as a writer, and a couple of character letters the info on the place I would live if the motion were granted (this is paramount). Then after she’d threw all these things into the pot, she stirred it using her own narrative of me and my life. I have often commented that writing is like making sauce in that you throw in a bunch of different things and stir, hoping that the reader loves your creation. And much like feeding people and the ones you love; you hope that the reader likes your sauce. We, I am here to tell you that Ann W. makes a damn good sauce. She also included something else that I found to be pretty cool.
She included you guys. My blog readers for the last eight years and the people who have purchased my books. How cool is that? She also attached letters penned by the two people who have been great friends to me and that have been instrumental in my career to this point. Steve Hussy, Owner of Murder Slim Press and Jonathan J. (a.k.a., Alexius Rex), creator and pilot of my website bankblogger.weebly.com. Two people who have been very kind to me over the last eight years, and who, strangely enough, that I have never seen in person or even spoke to on the phone during these years. At the end of The Love Fest section of her sauce, Ms. W. listed my transition from the genre of “Hey look at the dumb criminal,” to the mainstream by mentioning The Life of Riley Book 1 (now available and seriously underpriced on Amazon). But in spite of her awesome brief (I’m almost out of stupendous adjectives to describe her work), there was still no word from the judge. Until two days ago.
I was standing on the inside of my cell door staring out into the abyss of abject criminal nothingness while practicing what I refer to as “Anti-social distancing.” This involves me strapping on my MP3 and ear buds and pretending that the music is playing, even though it’s not. This tactic prevents me from having to talk to my psycho cellie, the one whose face, head and neck are completely tattooed; the one that I have had to fight at 5am three frigging times in the last three months.
As I stood in my door feeling every bit the Nowhere Man living in my nowhere land, staring into nothing, while listening to absolutely nothing, I spied the back area of the staff offices open up and watched as my case manager hustled towards my cell with a sheaf of papers in his right hand. I found this to be extremely odd because most days, I couldn’t find this dude with a search warrant. He walked up to my house and opened my cell door, and said, “The judge has granted your compassionate release and commuted your sentence to Time Served. We have up to 14 days to get you out of here and on a flight to Chicago, all we’re waiting on is Probation in Illinois to verify your release residence, then you’re out of here.”
And just like that…this 12-year nightmare is over. I’m going free.
Now it’s two days later and what should be extended joy and elation is only fear. I have no money to speak of; No clothes; and until I can get to the food stamp office like a good liberal, I don’t even have any food. At least here at Shawshank I had Cheeseburger Day to look forward to every Wednesday. I was the guy who could write about Cheeseburger Day. Now I don’t even have that anymore. But in a few short days, you know what I will have?
Freedom. A brand-new beautiful life. A chance not to die here.
So, very soon I will be sitting in a terminal at Orlando International waiting to catch a flight To Chicago, where I will be met by my sister and brother in law with love. I will have on my lap all of my possessions; a mesh bag with the hand-written copy of The Life of Riley Books 1-4, and two other books I have penned and not decided what to do with yet. Ironically, I will be wearing a mask. Go figure.
I am not sure where my cool new beautiful life will take me in the coming years, but I do know one place that it will not. To a bank. Ever. From now on, I will be doing all my banking online.
Last year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.
12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.
I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.
The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”
That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.
His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.
The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.
I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).
I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.
This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.
Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.
Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.
Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:
THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.
When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.
Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!
For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.
In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.
The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.
Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.
The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!
September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.
Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.
Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne
December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.
Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs.
I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.
I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.
Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.
My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.
Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.
In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.
Miracles happen. Have faith and never loose hope. Hope keeps the world going.
* I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspirational story available in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.
Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($12.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon.com and other eStores, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers.