Breathing Life Where I Live   By Ruth Utnage

Prison can be a tough place to stay positive. There are unique factors that many do not know about, they are very hard to imagine. Some things are hard to describe or put into words and some things we just can’t bring ourselves to talk about at all. Like opportunities.

Before prison I never dreamed of taking a creative writing class or got excited about taking anything on empathy. I daydreamed about winning the lottery and when I wasn’t doing that I was looking for some low-hanging life fruit that some successful person graciously left for someone like me, lazy. That’s truly how I thought life worked, hand me downs and luck. In retrospect I was messy, to say the least.

Sometimes in prison it can feel so lonely. Maybe…maybe imagine yourself on an island where you can see a land mass way off in the distance. Only, it’s so far away that you can only see it when the ocean is completely still and from the highest tree. Other people are there with you, the want to climb the tree on calm days too so things get hectic from time to time. That glimmer of dark mass, that dot on the horizon becomes the stuff dreams are made of. Every night you make up in your head what’s happening on that land, who’s there, who’s not, who remembers you and who hates you, who loves you and why. Mostly, though, you think of all the things you wish you could do over. In moments like that, that sometimes last for weeks or months at a time, it’s hard to breathe life into yourself.

I am a firm believer in making our own way. I have learned that nothing is handed to us and the world owes us nothing for existing or for our deeds. We have to create our own opportunities. One opportunity I’d like to create right now I thought of tonight at Defy. Liz had us plant our feet on the floor and “exhale through your feet”, I imagined my breath leaving my body and injecting into the concrete like vapor into the clouds. I feel like a major part of me went into the bones of this place and for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t threatened by the walls. I felt like I was breathing new life into my environment.

Maybe, just maybe, tonight the universe seen me gasping for air in the ether and breathed new life into me.

Either way, I’m grateful.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

I am a trans woman incarcerated in Washington State since 2011. I have a social justice edge to me but am much more interested in people. I am pursuing higher academia with my goal a Master’s in Business so I can pursue a career in Human Resources, though recently I have learned that a Master’s in Human Services would also satisfy my itch for higher academia. I am the creator of whose primary objective is to educate our community leaders on how to recognize, embrace, and empower those who have chosen to positively rehabilitate despite all forms of incarceration.

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


Name: Jeff Utnage ( I am legally Ruth but incarcerated originally as Jeff, please only call me Ruth, despite having to add me as Jeff, thank you!)
DOC# 823469

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