Friday, January 31, 2020

What I'm Learning About Self-Worth    by    Ruth Utnage

Self-worth is a decision we make, not a goal that gets achieved. It's not a moment that suddenly exists and stays in our lives, we have to seek it and choose it and remind ourselves of it, sometimes a lot.

I have come to the conclusion that true courage is making the decision to be worthy. To love yourself, and to go beyond ordinary love into the realm of worthiness, that takes courage. To recognize your own value as a being, a creation that exists here on this planet, in this galaxy, in the space of this universe without anyone having to say it to you, what a challenge to believe!

I am working a lot on this concept in my personal development and have come to realize that so many people I know, myself included, have a low sense of self-worth. Sure, if you ask them about it they say they have good self-worth, but their actions state otherwise. Will Smith once said "You have to love yourself enough to tell yourself no." He was talking about self-discipline. What we put in our bodies is a direct sign of our self-worth. If you have a child, you don't give them cigarettes or drugs, you feed them balanced meals and take exception when the school lunch has a cookie, because it's not good for them. But then you'll get fast-food, drink an energy drink or not eat at all, take smoke breaks or "vape" (seriously, eww!), and some even do drugs. This is not loving yourself! This is hurting yourself!

I'm not trying to get us all browbeat, but it paints the necessary picture of one element of self-worth and how we can begin to take that courageous step from unconscious unworthiness to conscious worthiness and it begins by telling yourself "I'm worthy", that's it, you start there.

If you'd like some real help in this arena, I suggest the book "Daring Greatly" by the lifesaving Brene Brown. She's become on of my personal heroes for her work in vulnerability and shame, she's certainly helped change my life.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Writing down 5 positive affirmations, say them once a day for 21 days, and write an essay on how it made you feel. Send me that...

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Grandparents of ThunderCheeks Will Bring Peace to the World   by    Ruth Utnage

I have this friend, his real name is Mike, named ThunderCheeks. Now, ThunderCheeks got his name because he likes to jog, in sweats, and well...ThunderCheeks, ahem, cheeks caught the attention of an obnoxious tranny and began making thunder noises when he'd run by. Then she told his buddies that she named him ThunderCheeks, the name stuck. what really delights my heart about this is he's a shaved head, goatee'd white guy with a background in prison violence, now he's a Buddhist who has been named ThunderCheeks by a tranny because she said his backside looked like two ostrich eggs jigglin' in a gunny sack, that's just funny.

Anyway, so me and ole' ThunderCheeks were talking about his grandparents and he mentioned that his Grandma thinks that every problem can be solved with a fresh baked cookie and a warm hug. Then he went on say that his Grandpa thinks that every problem can be solved with a shotgun. Lol. So we got to thinkin' about making them responsible for world peace.

Grandma will give all the people fresh baked cookies and warm hugs, that should solve all the major problems, dictators included, and if it don't work, well, that's why we got Grandpa. Lol.

I love people!

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sunday Nights, UW, and Bridges To HOPE     by    Ruth Utnage

I value education almost to the point of idolatry, almost, I stop just shy of dangerous territory. Education and educators changed my life. Opportunities are limited in prison to interact with a formal education system unless you have the family and money to pay the $700-1500 per class for correspondence courses. That's why I love Sunday nights.

Every Sunday night two UW professors, Claudia and Brad, come in to this prison and work to bring opportunities into this place. On one Sunday per month they also bring with them two other UW professors, Sylvia and Maxine, educators who specialize in educating educators, simply put. That's what they're doing here, educating the prisons educators, people like me. Truthfully, it's so much more than that.

Prison is a legal divorce from society, isolation from normalcy and humanity. (I could go into exhaustive historical lessons quoting Foucault and Davis, Gilmore and Bauer on how our government lead people to believe that removing humans from humanity will "fix" them, but, I will spare you...for now.) These folks from UW represent a restoration, of sorts. Part of that societal isolation from humanity and normalcy means you lose any potential for having a place therein, this represents a loss of purpose or hope thereof. These folks coming in believe we hold value, enough value that they take the time to interact with us, that's why its special.

I get to flex my intellectual wings, which I'm sure annoys some of my peers...sorry, not sorry, and interact with new concepts in a way that feels good. I leave feeling good about myself and my return to society because I know there is hope, hope that I can find my place in it. I would like to say find it again, but I never really had one in the first place. Now I feel like I can, I wish I had the words to express how that makes me feel inside. Amazing what one Sunday a month can do.

I've taken plenty of prison courses, but none of them bring to the table higher academic learning and the ability, or willingness, to teach any of us how to conduct critical analysis. I do not get educational materials, no research papers, no educational books unless one of you kind readers takes the time to send me one (which, is an occurrence that I wish happened more) because our library is full of fiction and all but refuses to invest in educational materials.

I just wanted to express some gratitude to these people, Sylvia, Maxine, Claudia and Brad. I wish I had an award I could give that held societal meaning, I would give it. But there is one last concept I want to cover that's really important to me personally.

As a transwoman in a male prison, my opportunities are often hard fought for. I have no mentors, I've begged, literally, for someone in the community to mentor me in various fields and I have been 100% ignored, 100% of the time. Being able to interact with strong, successful women that are happy and fulfilled is perhaps the most valuable thing I can hope for. While it's not formal mentor ship, or mentor ship at all, it is an up close example I can inspect, take notes on. PH.D holding women, boldly coming into a men's prison, fearlessly making a real and tangible difference in our world by literally walking in the midst of us. Yeah, I'll take that as an example to emulate any day of the week.

What this world needs more of is them.

If you would like to mentor me or send books, please contact me at:

Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

I am wanting to pursue a career and Business education in Human Resource Management. But truthfully, I just love to read and need positive community support, some folks that are willing to come in and visit me and have a real conversation with me.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Involvement Leads to Real Change...    by    Rory Andes

"Real change happens when you know why you matter." and "You matter by being invited to the table." These are just a fraction of the concepts we discussed last night in our leadership development class that we have with Bridges to HOPE and our friends at the University of Washington, professors Sylvia and Maxine. They teach educators how to be effective teachers and the ideas they bring in to us are groundbreaking for some who have never known how to lead their adult life to success. Breaking the barriers to personal, and then community, success starts with being involved and knowing why that involvement means something to the greater good.

Change can happen when it is clear that the change, and the person, matters. People who have fallen down the long hole to prison struggle to find their purpose. This makes it difficult to make the real changes needed to break the cycles of thought distortions, however they exist. But it doesn't have to be, if someone could just make their involvement meaningful. Try it. Try to be involved with things, anything, and become invested. Do it in a group setting and motivate each other. Build the synergy and collectively achieve a goal. That's how we often make changes here. Just by being involved, knowing that our involvement matters, and why that is. Lives change over this. So get involved. And being involved in a program with these amazing folks definitely makes me feel that I matter. Being involved with the people in my life show me that I matter. Time to show others that they matter, too, and how to change. Join me...

by Rory Andes

Belonging and involvement create the changes you want!

Email at using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Marshall-Heck-Yeah-Byers Up Date    by    Marshall Byers

I'm making progress with my math studies, it sure does help having a tutor that just made history. He is the first prisoner in the world to have made math, and to have it published. Web Development is VERY difficult, it brings out the quit in me. Ugh. Continuously seeking resources about the University of Washington, preparation for my departure out of prison.

I most enjoy making quilts on the weekend with my support group. Attending library weekly. Working out regularly, running in the snow was fun and freezing! Defy Ventures Washington twice a week working at entrepreneurship/self development. Let's not forget Yoga/meditation. Love it. And with the little time after my homework is done, I spend it with the puppies.

Saturday morning 1/18/20 was a sad day. It was my last UW Book Club. Walking up to Professor Steve and the UW students I fought back tears. It was a difficult decision. However, I was so happy to see the UW librarian I felt all better! Hi Emily.

Enjoying My Life,
Marshall Byers

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Marshall Byers #769274
MCC-TRU D-307-1
PO Box 888
Monroe WA  98272

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Marshall Byers # 769274