Manuel Chavez/ Class 4: Life Management Skills

by Manuel Chavez

105. How would you define your life management skills?

I have unique skills and capabilities. It started in high school and ended all most forever after graduation. You see, I’ve always have wanted to become a mechanical engineer. During high school I could have joined the USAF but, my father said ‘no’. I then went to work in the oilfields and the rigs. They fascinated me and they still do. I’m now working on my future job in the ‘patch’. I am working on volume vs. mud weight and doing calculations to figure cementing jobs. I would love to become a tool pusher for a drilling company in Pennsylvania or North Dakota.

106. What types of decisions influence how you will emerge from prison?

Like Michael, I understand in prison, I have to avoid confrontation with others to the extreme. 14 Years ago, I was very angry and I fought with others. I finally learned to make the right decisions about who I spend time with and who I play with. Anytime I make a decision to be around a lot of people I always weigh the consequences. I don’t participate in group sports anymore ever. I’ve seen too many fights and the majority happen over a game. I use my own skills to participate in games, such as pool, chess, or handball, all single participation. It’s easier that way, and I still get the camaraderie and recreation.

107. In what ways does your daily schedule determine your potential for success upon release?

Keeping on track helps me stay focused on becoming a better individual, mentally and physically.

108. How do personal relationships influence our prospects for success?

I really have no one except my family relationships at this time and I’m happy with that.

109. How can we cultivate and nurture personal relationships that may prove helpful through our prison journey and beyond?

I guess with the internet you can put yourself out there and there is always some girl that likes ‘bad boys’. And maybe you could go through all the bullshit and get mail and visits from strangers, but for me, It’s not the time or the place for that.

110. In what ways did Michael’s decisions at the beginning of his term lead to the opportunities that opened for him through the decades he served?

Getting a higher education really helped him with ahis writing skills and that lead to great communiction to others,whish lead to his current way of life. A great achievement for anyone especially a guy in prison with 45 yrs to serve!!!

111. In what ways have the decisions you made from the day of your arrest influenced your life today?

When I finally asked and prayed to God to help me, I broke down and cried and got down on my knees and humbled my proud self and earnestly asked God to help me. He blessed me and almost immediately a calm overcame me and a new door of my life opened before me.

112. How would you compare and contrast the initial adjustment decisions of two prisoners who offered their profiles?

I myself, fell into the lure of the ‘Homies’. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a bad decision. Soon they were asking for money and what not. Well, to make a long story short, I fought 3 of them and beat them up and got transferred out of my district to keep me and them safe. I need this mentor program that is freely offered by you and Mike. I really appreciate you and your comittment to help others like me.

113. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the individuals profiled?

Very similar, I’ve lived with all the ups and downs and have experienced the bad treatment from others for being different.

114. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the type of career trajectory that Greg Reyes or some of the other successful businessmen described?

After I get my life back on track and stay working towards my goals, I feel I will be again successful.

115. What steps can you take in the time that spans between now and your release date to prepare for a law-abiding, fulfilling life?

By keeping up with what I’m doing to improve myself and to make good choices.

116. In what ways are your interactions with others in prison and beyond purposeful?117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

I don’t want to make “friends” with anyone. I avoid a lot of bullshit. People are always talking and pointing fingers at others when they’re in the same boat!! I’ve tried desperately  to reach out to people in the free world about he importance of my invention. Unbelievably, almost everyone, except for this program, has not ever wrote back or encouraged me to contact others. It’s ashaming at best. I look to what I have this far as a huge plus in my life.

117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

I communicate well, and with commitment in the right manners and attitude you can become successful.

118. What types of activities, interests, and discussions motivate or inspire your closest acquaintances?

I really don’t have time for them. I’m always working on something for extra money for me or my family.

119. In what ways will the relationships you cultivate help or hinder your aspirations?

These inmates all have their own lives. We are just like ships passing in the dark. That’s why I keep a low profile. I got set up in the county jail by talking too much about my case, to a professional snitch. He’s out of prison and I’m doing time still.

120. If Red had a stable job with opportunities for growth, what do you suppose would have tempted him to revert to crime?

Homies and being around drugs and alcohol.

121. In what ways could a prisoner manage his life to persuade prospective employers that he lives by different values from men like Red?

Staying sober and proving he has changed with his actions, not just words.

122. How does an individual’s diction influence perceptions?

It shows if they are smart. I am always improving my speaking and writing skills. Everyday here must be a day preparing to go home ready. Reading helps too as I learn new words. I learned a bunch from Mike’s books.

123. How does an individual’s personal grooming and presentation influence opportunities?

It shows they are aware of what is going on, that they are ready.

124. With regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide, what does it mean to make a 100 percent commitment?

To live by what you say and do. Accept responsibly.

125. How would you assess your acquaintances with regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide?

I’ve learned that sure it’s good to have friends but to keep them at a distance. All you need is family and to rely upon yourself. After I’ve lived almost 20 yrs. in prison, you can maybe imagine what I’ve seen and heard, about what this guy did or he did this or that until I don’t care anymore. I simply tell them now and look them straight in the eye, “I don’t care about that”. With that it keeps even entering my train of thoughts. I believe in people, and I believe that most people are God abiding , law abiding and down to earth. That’s what I want to become and how I want to live for an example to my family.


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