Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Comparing Purpose Statements, Why I Like Having More Than One Variation   by   Ruth Utnage

This is my purpose statement, why I exist in life using the method introduced by Chris Majer.

I am a stand for those who have truly rehabilitated despite any form of prison.

However, Defy Ventures Washington also has a method, which I really like, that helped put into words my life's purpose. Here it is (compare the two):

As a self-developed and independent person I create healthy environments by educating leadership to recognize, embrace, and empower those who have rehabilitated despite all forms of incarceration.

I like having both committed to memory because each has its uses. For instance, if someone asks in general conversation "What do you do?" I can reply "I am a stand for those who have truly rehabilitated from any form of prison." This opens up further dialogue and accurately depicts what I do with my time. Even if I'm working as a waitress at Denny's I'm fulfilling that because I can have a life and purpose outside of employment if I choose, it just doesn't have to be that way, its ideal to be working in the field that correlates, for me that's human resources.

I encourage you to develop your own purpose in life, don't just think of it as a fanciful ideology that sounds flowery and pretty, seriously, what are you a stand for?

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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A Condensed History of Nearly Everything, As According to Devin McCrary

Several months ago, at the behest of one of the most unrelentingly and belligerently encouraging people I know -- he's awesome, though -- and in a quest for challenge and self-development, I joined Twin Speaks Toastmasters Club. This impressive group transforms the visiting room in Twin Rivers Unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex into the secret clubhouse of determined, enterprising people. The secret handshake? A buddy's trademarked overenthusiastic high five, which seems to somehow transfer his infectious energy into your very bones, leaving a buzzing positivity for WEEKS. Being habitually nervous and self-conscious, I was hesitant at first to participate, but as I saw more, it became impossible to ignore one glaringly obvious and unlikely fact: some of the most compassionate people I've ever met were in that room.

As the weeks passed and I integrated into the group I realized it was exactly what I never would have expected, in my previously somewhat sheltered and naive life, to find in prison: a healthy, supportive, thriving community of individuals striving together for greatness. Not merely to survive, not to get over on people, not for personal material gain -- for greatness.

Or that's what I see; I doubt very much that more than a very few Toastmasters would describe what they do as "striving for greatness," but that's what it is.

I saw these people pursuing their goals and making dreams reality. In prison. I saw these people learning and implementing healthier habits and communication skills than I ever had. In prison. I found these people striving with more passion and unconstrained hope than most people. While in prison. I didn't know -- and still don't understand entirely -- what fuels them, but whatever it is, their drive is contagious.

In an unrelated decision I joined Defy Ventures Washington, a program focused on the development of entrepreneurial skills and success in the professional sphere through critical self-reflection and the development of positive self-regard. Completely unsurprisingly -- in hindsight -- I found the same core of people from Toastmasters within Defy. Of course that may have some small amount to do with the Defy sponsor also being a Toastmasters sponsor with precisely zero qualms against the shameless promotion of a good cause, but probably not. Nahhh, that's not it. *super duper sarcasm*

Anyway. I keep hearing about this website, HumanMe.org -- I seriously love that name -- where several of the most impressive people I met post blogs, and I'm really interested. Even so, it takes me probably a month and a half to ask the website’s owner if I can post, and she immediately responds with enthusiasm and encouragement. Woo!

Well...yay! BUT. Now I have a problem. I have to actually write something -- not so yay. (As it turns out you have to actually write something before you can post it. Who knew, right!?) So I sit down to produce what will obviously be a dazzling first post, aaaaand.... nothing. I got nothing. I'm rifling through my Bottomless Bag of Bafflement and Wonder (patent pending) and I get nothing. I've been thinking about this post for a week! I had so many great ideas! And now? Nothing. Blech, stage fright.

I have a contingency plan, though, so I pull out my notebook -- I spent nearly a decade affiliated with a Cross Country team either as an athlete or coach, and I've also spent nearly half my life struggling with my mental health (mainly depression), so I want to draw on these experiences to write a book about maintaining mental and emotional health through exercise, specifically endurance running, so I've been keeping notes. Unfortunately, one of the unavoidable facts about exercise is that WE have to do it -- we can't hire someone else to do it for us. Which means that it requires motivation. (Again, blech; clearly I was the funny coach, with such a persistently negative attitude as that, hah!) But to get to the point -- very circuitously; welcome to my brain -- because of that pesky motivation requirement this notebook contains many of my existential musings, some of which might have made a good topic for my first post. It was foolproof!

Except apparently not. Instead, when I opened that notebook I just stared blankly at the page. It was early afternoon and the sun was shining through the window within the narrow range of angles which might illuminate the texture of the page and I'm just fascinated. There was a dreamlike quality to the page which sent me tumbling into the convoluted catacombs of memory, and I was struck by the fact that the last time I stopped and appreciated the details of such minutiae as the texture of a page was nearly ten years ago, during one of the happiest, and very brief, times of my life.

How insane is that?

I'm in prison and I'm finding links back to a time in my life which was pure happiness. Currently, my life is in complete shambles and the people I love most in the world won't even speak to me, and I'm finding links to perhaps the happiest time of my life, to the last time I was really trying to challenge myself and my place in the world. The last time I felt hopeful.


I mean that's probably a pretty good indication that I'm doing something right, isn't it?

So hello. My name is Devin McCrary and I'm an inmate at MCC-TRU. The most descriptively accurate and simple statement which could be said about my life is that it has thus far been dominated and defined by loneliness -- literally my first memory is being ditched while playing hide-and-seek with my siblings when I was three; when I was "it" and I counted down and opened my eyes, it probably took me a whole twenty minutes to figure out that they had left me alone on the abandoned beach we were playing on.

Largely due to an unfilled need for love and connection, two fundamental human needs, I developed an extremely poor sense of self-worth when I was very young and began having suicidal thoughts when I was twelve. It wasn't that my family didn't love me -- they did -- but when my dad died following years of emotional hardship and turmoil in the family, my older siblings all dealt with the resulting emotional trauma in their own way and with each others' support -- they were all within a year in age to one another and there was a significant gap between them and "the annoying little brother" -- and my mum withdrew as well, most likely trying to protect me from whatever she was feeling -- and failing; kids are perceptive little jerks; you really can't hide as much as you want to think you can from them -- the effect was that I felt isolated and as though I couldn't ask for help (low self-worth is pretty debilitating).

That feeling of loneliness developed, due largely to the many self-defeating habits I had developed by then, into a mounting and crippling sense of self-loathing which persisted, almost without respite, until recently.

It's more complicated than that, of course, and looking back, I made some impressively, spectacularly awful decisions, but that statement captures the essence of it.

Besides, that loooong chain of poor decisions started long before I was even twelve years old and beginning to have those suicidal thoughts, and they just built and built -- although I wish I'd broken the chain earlier, ultimately I'm willing to forgive myself and work from where I am now.

I began coaching with my old high school Cross Country team when I was twenty-two, and while I am certain the sense of purpose I found in coaching literally saved my life from suicide, it was also a source of opportunities for connection, which became my downfall. When I was twenty-five, I started sleeping with a seventeen-year-old girl on the team, which eventually resulted in several charges of Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree (which I have been repeatedly told by other inmates isn't a real charge -- oh really? Cuz I have a criminal history now that says otherwise). I was sentenced to sixty months' confinement, equal to the statutory maximum for the offense.

Now I am twenty-eight years old and I am serving that five year sentence, but as mentioned previously, I have hope now. Not for the first time, but perhaps for the first time not based on a relationship I have with another person -- the first time not based on codependency.

I'm making a concerted, focused effort to change the course of my life. I decided shortly after I was arrested that I would not waste my life while in prison -- they can tell me where I reside and for how long, but they cannot tell me what to do in that place and time.

I will not waste a single day -- I will be productive every single day.

I plan on returning to school when I get out in just under two year to finish my Bachelor of the Arts in English Language and Literature and my Bachelor of the Sciences in Exercise Science with a Minor in Studio Art -- have you ever heard of a more eclectic combination of fields of study? Honestly I love learning, and if I could spend the rest of my life in an educational environment earning every degree on the planet, I very likely would. Unfortunately that's not an option, so, while I don't have a firm idea of what I'll end up doing, I want to get back in running shape and run a four-minute mile I want to become a TEDx speaker I want to become a published author in multiple genres and these are just my goals within three years.

I want to continue learning throughout my entire life and, though I don't know how yet, I want to use that knowledge to give back and lift people up.

A personal purpose statement I developed within Defy states: As an unrelentingly compassionate and enterprising force, I cultivate an environment of inclusion, personal development, and achievement by empowering people with the skills to create connections and transcend limitations.

I don't have many long-term goals at this point I'm only recently embracing a new journey. But I feel pretty good about the goals I do have. Because I spent most of my life on the verge of committing suicide, it is a preposterously momentous and monumental thing for me to even write down goals.

For literally the first time in my life, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction. I have confidence, and though I know there are jungles and swamps and mountains and chasms and worse ahead of me on my path, it is a path of my own choosing, and here I am powerful.

Here, my potential is unbound.

With resoluteness, Devin McCrary

Sunday, December 29, 2019


I have found this to be a fairly different topic to write about. I have pondered this for a while now and I have come to a realization. The value of human life is determined in the heart of the individual. If I want to be valued by others I must see value within myself. Others will see what I allow them to see, however, humans have this knak for being able to pick up on the faade of others. This means if I am not genuine about how I see and carry MYSELF, others will see the same thing.
Although this is hard sometimes, I have tried to make sure I have been maintaining a focus on positivity. Ruth, my mentor, teacher, confidant, and, most importantly, friend, has been a huge influence in my recent life change. She has been there to help in times of need and she has given me a plethora of challenges to navigate through in order to better my life. Everything from physical exercise to mental stimuli, she, along with others, have been there to help me see the value of my life. I will always be grateful to those who have been here to help me become the person I am today.


Chris (Renee) Permenter #337691
P.O. Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


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I know I haven't been as vocal on this site these last few weeks, and for that I apologize. I have been finding it more difficult than expected to prepare for release. It has been highly stressful. I don't have any financial or physical support I can rely on. I only have emotional support, and I am extremely grateful for that.
I have found a new inspiration I have never run into before. I received a thank you card from an unexpected person. This Ms. Jennifer "SUNSHINE" Byers has shown me a new found appreciation for appreciation. Even though I may not personally know this person, just that small card has shown me how much the small gestures impact the lives of others. If it made me feel appreciated this much, how much more will someone else feel when they receive the same thing.
I have recognized the importance of the little things in life. There has come a time in my life where the little things have shown me a clearer big picture. Now that this recognition has happened, I need to remember to be like the "SUNSHINE" and light up the lives of others.


Chris (Renee) Permenter #337691
P.O. Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272


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Loud Announcements and Other Loathsome Things By Ryan Erker

Prison is about as bothersome as a paper cut doused in lemon juice. Not completely painful but has just enough sting to be completely annoying. A perfect example of what I am complaining about is the loudspeaker mounted in the ceiling outside my cell door. It has to be turned up to "11" (for all you Spinal Tap fans) because every time an announcement is screamed through the microphone, the screeching feedback reverberates around the concrete box I call home. Just today as I was about to partake in some sweet, sweet slumber for a well deserved afternoon nap, a burst of feedback shot through my eardrum causing me to lurch upright on my bunk resulting in cracking my skull on the bunk above. I was not amused.

Of course, this ruined any chance of a nap due to the foul mood I was now in. So I decided to make a cup of instant coffee. I scooped out three large teaspoons of freeze dried swill and proceeded to pour scalding water out of my Hot Pot (it boils water quite fast) into a coffee cup. As I was pouring ridiculously hot water into a tiny coffee cup my "buddy" thought it would be funny to kick my door to see what I was doing. What I was doing at that very moment took a bit of concentration which was interrupted by a jackass.

It goes without saying I burned the everliving S##t out of my hand. At this point in time I was quite put out. I had a throbbing head, burnt hand, a lousy cup of coffee, and all I wanted to do was take a nap. Instead, my "buddy" was laughing at my colorful expression which may or may not have been something along the lines of "G.D. M-Fer" (edited for content) as I was clasping my poor hand between my legs hopping around like a deranged Easter Bunny.

I could not be mad at his excitement for long because he received an email from his estranged son. It was the first time my friend had heard from his child in over seven years. Letter after letter, picture drawn after picture drawn went unanswered. Finely, he received contact. What's more, he also received a phone number which to call. My friend was bursting with joy and had to share it.

The beaming smile upon his face made me forget the dull pounding of my concussed head, and the waves of pain radiating from what is an obvious 58th degree burn. All in all, today turned out to be a pretty darn good day.

By Ryan Erker 390480

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17 Minutes 21 Seconds of Hell By Ryan Erker

I woke up around 2:30 this morning with a splitting headache and a sour stomach. What did I do? I ate an orange and popped a MegaMax vitamin hoping against hope I would feel better when my alarm went off at 5:30. What did I wake up to? I woke up to a splitting headache and a sour stomach. I made myself a lousy cup of coffee, ate a banana and started to watch the news. I had a date with The Sissy Challenge (see previous post) at 6:30 am and no one can say that I am not punctual.

With great reservations I walked through the morning fog with the usual group of guys who enjoy punishing themselves before the sun makes its daily d├ębut. Buddhist Mike was his usually jolly self making fun of my aches and pains. After our stretches and quick warmup I had even more reservations about the upcoming feat that I was going to ask of my body. I felt off. But as evidenced by my current living situation, I have not been known to make the best choices. Hence the next few minutes.

I am somewhat ashamed to say I made it a whole six minutes before it became evident that I currently have the flu. It took another 45 seconds before my body decided that my brain was not working in my own best interest. It was at this point I dropped down to do a Burpee and decided to stay closer to the ground. I remember my grandfather used to say "A German is never drunk as long as he can hold on to a blade of grass and not fall off the face of the Earth." This statement echoed in my head as I clung to my yoga mat thinking about not throwing up. My only solace was watching Buddhist Mike out of the corner of my eye turn a shade of red from exertion that can only be deemed unnatural. Serves him right for trying to kill an obviously ill man.

Unfortunately for me Buddhist Mike finished the workout. I desperately did not want that to happen, but the Gods did not favor me this morning. He actually had the gall to say in quite a condescending voice "So what has Ryan learned today? Has Ryan learned to listen to his body?" Unable to respond at that exact moment due to the fear that something other than words would come out of my mouth I made a rude jesture. He understood what I was trying to say.

After taking a nice hot shower I am now laying on my bunk watching the news. Evidently I have a deep desire to continue punishing myself for some strange reason. I do believe it is time to switch to The Hallmark Channel and see if some Christmas Cheer can't work some healing magic. I have until Thursday to feel good enough to beat Buddhist Mikes current completion time. I shall have the last laugh. What can I say? I am stubborn.

By Ryan Erker

Ryan Erker 390480
PO Box 888
Monroe WA 98272

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