Thursday, February 13, 2014

Doing Time....

The hardest thing about doing time and the hardest thing about any relationship are the same thing : facing the situation honestly. Sounds easy enough, but how many situations in life do we face honestly- admitting our weakness and strengths while evaluating the fluctuating levels of passion and connection with the subject.....? From business relationships to family relationships to community obligations to spiritual commitments we've approached one way or the other all our lives, most of us approach most of life with a half a heart and a sliver of life with honest passion and pure intent. That's why we're becoming the "Plastic Era"- we can throw away our used up passions and desires, ordering up a new set from the latest line of " what's hot and what's not". We have the blessing of endless selections and that makes it almost irresistible not to dip in to try some of the constant change. A couple of generations ago( baby boomers) this was not the case. People married for love and they went to work in the same career through retirement. They owned the same home for 50 years and enjoyed friendships for a lifetime. They were honest with themselves and their limitations.

My struggle has always been viewing the beauty and potential in someone without a clear, realistic view of how my life might be once this prison sentence is over. My struggle is not special though, everyone in prison shares this.Very few admit, The truth is that our lives are completely bereft of loving attentions from a women. With the slightest rain shower of this loving attention comes a waterfall of passion, pouring out from inside me like a dam breaking. Why not? The man who lives in darkness for many years should be enraptured by a sunrise. But, as the natural procession of life takes places, the sunrise becomes less and less profound and amazing. Goals, new hopes and imaginative aspirations replace it in the life that cannot help but look ahead. Sunshine is all around him everyday and he can't really remember what it felt like to wonder in the darkness.

I want to learn how to capture that initial state of new love and amazement and potential..... capture it put it in my heart to stay- without any clauses that speak about sunshiny days and the abundance of love opportunities ahead. There are many men in here who meet women with great hearts, good looks and even the means to help them out a little with small comforts money can buy. They fall in love within a month or two before leveling out into this "tramhauft" sort of limbo-commitment where they've convinced one another that these feelings won't change once the guy gets out and has not one, but one hundred women offering their coquettish smiles and flirty comments everyday. They say that love " conquers all", and this very well may be the case. I still worry that my poor track record with maintaining a deep level relationship with a women from in here will withhold her from the joy's of loving experiences out there when I may not sustain it upon my release. And I am honest enough to admit that fear.

Only the fool could say that he doesn't see this more than possible. And a greedy, careless fool he is that would continue to fan the flames of a love affair from in here without having ever shared an orgasm or a sunrise with that chic.

My girl is a realist. She has heard me out, understands my concerns and is still willing to kick it with me knowing that we may always remain close friends without the level of intimacy we felt growing early on. She doesn't hate me for not seeing life and love through her lens only. And she's not so strung out on the idea of control that she doesn't see the men around her. She's willing to wait until I get out to see how our relationship develops, rather than drawing lines in the sand and claiming that personal contact and private moments shared with one another mean less than they really do.

Some chicks out there- and most men in here- harbor the fantasy that what the feel right now is all they will ever feel, and who they are right now is the best and clearest they will ever see themselves. When feelings begin to change and people lose sight of the dreams they once dreamed, it seems almost second nature to ignore the fact that we change together and apart. The people we love sometimes cannot keep up with our change and, very often, we don't see our own changes as anything but good. That's what objectivity in the relationship is all about- we have the power through love and insight to see if our commitment to one another is primarily selfish and possessive or if it is a loved based in the premise of wanting the best experience out of life- learning, teaching, giving and receiving.

Re-Finding God

For most of my federal prison sentence I pursued the high reputation of a "solid convict". I said the right things, did the right things, liked the right people, and hated the right people. I showed disdain at all appearance of physical weakness and if thought didn't reflect the popular notion held by the circles that "make it and shake it" in here, then I didn't promote it. I was a bad ass, work out fanatic, intellectual guy who the thug could relate to and respect......

Until a few years ago when I picked up the need in my mind for some principled approach to living. Then I submerged myself in that way of thinking and pursued it whole-heartedly. I separated myself from all the drugs and most of the violence. I linked myself with those who are in full pursuit of changing their thinking for the better of their lives on the street, and became a quick leader in that circle. I love the thought of creating, and what better to create than a new, effective and community-minded self? But I still recognized all the flaws in myself- still pretty arrogant, still a skeptic, still able and willing to engage in worthless conversations about subjects that need not be discussed, still struggle viewing others as equal or better than me, still struggle with compassion, and have very little idea of this empathy that I speak so highly of in the book and program I devised. 

     Over the last five or six weeks, I began taking a Bible Correspondence College course through Rhema Bible College with the intent of learning more about a Christianity I walked away from at the beginning of this sentence. I figured that it could assist in opening some public speaking doors when I am released. It has had the effect of renewing my Spirit with God. It has led me to accept new friends for new reasons. And it is leading me to accept the fact that I need to submit to Him in everything and accept the humiliation (in here) that goes with that. I went on a few days fasting in order to gather the strength and understanding necessary to switch tables in the dining hall (an important status position in here), and the primary problem and fear lay in the fact that many sex offenders migrate to the Christian table in FCI's because they cannot sit with the others. Snitches abound. So the transition to this table is beating me up in ways. I have never been so humiliated, and at the same time, I have never felt the need to endure so strongly. It's all in my mind, for the most part, because I know that people are just wondering what the heck has come over me, but all I have stood for concerning some of these guys I sit with today is being compromised in my ego.

     This test is just the beginning. I know the power of God will settle things in my heart and mind and create important changes in the lives of those who watch what I am doing, but that doesn't mean that I am an accomplished man at the end of this test. I have much more pain and humiliation and giants tests ahead before I will be forged into the man God can use out there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


My friend and I had a conversation this morning while waiting for breakfast to be called. Cobo enjoys telling me stories about his family back in St. Croix, and all the stories are filled with the textures and flavors of a youth he truly enjoyed and misses in many ways.

The love and admiration for his friends and family -lessons they imparted to him-speak of a lifestyle that honored family and work, discipline and commitment above all else. Where his adult life deviated from the Olympic boxing career of his youth is irrelevant to this- although even through the deviation of his life into moving drugs, his commitment to friends and discipline adhering to personal values went unchanged. What interested me so much through our conversation were the starkly contrasting views we shared towards those we loved as children, yet we find ourselves in the same place today- and in important ways changed, because we are friends.

I was very self-centered. I lacked self confidence. I was terribly afraid of what others thought about me. And so I became violent-in terms of thoughts and the physical defensiveness through which I dealt with the world.

Beau Hansen

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Schooled in Prison

Here in FCI Florence-as with many Federal institutes-we have a pretty wide selection of A.C.E. classes ( Adult Continuing Education Classes) that are taught by inmates in whatever discipline or skill or expertise they might be approved by the education department to teach. There's much to be said about the teachers of these courses- for the most part they are genuine and eager to lead. And many of the inmates who enroll in these 8 week courses go into it with the best intentions toward self improvement. However, either due to the instructor's lack of energy/ expertise or tot he student's lack of commitment, the majority of A.C.E. course certificates are given to students who learned little, participated less, and ended up believing that the certificate itself is the only reason for enrolling. (These certificates amount to evidence of programming and each course brings a certain amount of money to the institution's budget, so inmates are "rewarded" for accumulating certificates.)

I've personally taught and attended many of these courses over the years. Most of the certificates I gained from them were purchased for a book of stamps. And I was less the man for it, no doubt. The few courses I taught were with excitement and I was proud of the students that participated and made the experience better for us both- so it never fails to shame me hen I think of the opportunities I wasted by taking the easy route to programming.

 The latest class I teach-or lead, rather- is based on the program at the end of my most recent book, " It's Never Just One Thing" . I'm growing from it. And the ten guys in the course are all growing from it as well. We all have the chance to speak on issues of race, sex, violence, drugs, addiction, and communication/ relationship issues as they revolve around the presence and absence of various principles. These are men who have grown weary of the masks and ego of prison culture, and now embrace the opportunity to explore some reality with men of the same mind. As I pointed out last week, we are part of a very small minority of people who want to- and have the power to-effect change in lives of people on the verge and in the depths of prison. approximately 40 million American's are directly affected by the 2.5 million behind bars. Another unknowable percentage of Americans will put their toes into the hot water of criminal behaviour- how many millions do they represent? 

By turning the corner in our characters and making the decision to become worthy citizens, we also corner the market on empirical wisdom that can strengthen our communities through examples and mentoring. If we have any moments of doubt to where we might " belong" in a community sense, this is a very obvious and empowering answer. And I doubt that anyone would deny us the opportunity to lead struggling men and women up from the depths into the light of their own potential.

Beau Hansen


Here is a recent picture of Beau with his friends.

(Shane on the left is Beaus cellmate, Beau is in the middle and Cobo)

Shane, Beau and Cobo

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Portrait of a mother

This is a portrait Beau drew for a fellow inmates mom, its done in pencil
( please don't mind the flash) 
drawing by: Beau Hansen

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas gift for my lady

This is the lilly beau sent me for christmas, it was drawn by a fellow inmate in his prison. It's beautiful