Thomas Ross / Class 8: Relationship Training
200. What relationship do you have to others in the world?
When I made the decision to connect with the world through my network I believe that I have opened my life up to the world. As a child of God I feel as if I have a connection with every human being throughout the world. My responsibilities to my wife and children and making contributions to being a better person within society. Because I have been in prison does not resolve me of those feelings, and although I can work towards improving myself, I also strive to embrace tolerance and discipline.
201. To what extent do the decisions we make have an influence on the lives of others?
After being locked away for over a decade, I realized that decisions we make have a great influence on the lives of others. We can make decisions that lead to good, or we can make decisions that can turn out to be not so good. Either way, for instance in my case I have to realized that my family, children, and my supporters depend on me making the right decisions. I consider myself as a person that many can learn from because of my downfalls. My goal is to help others by being an example. I must continue to let God be in the center of my decision making.
202. In what ways does a relationship with God influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?
My relationship with God is what keeps me strong and humble. I have learned so much about God throughout my ministry schooling and submerging myself in the holy scriptures. I am so spiritually uplifted that I want to share the good news about God with everyone. I believe that God guiding your life and leading you into all truth you can only stay on the right path to righteousness. Being obedient to what God instills in you, one can only grow into a better relationship with God. This is my will to share with my family and others.
203. In what ways does our relationship to anyone else influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?
The essence of living a value-based life requires us to decide on what and who is important in our lives. Prior to being incarcerated I would have never thought about such things. I thought about what it would take to support my family and that consisted of working two jobs and going to school never being able to spend quality time with my family. Now that I have experienced what it is like being away from family and loved ones I make them a part of my decision making. This helps me with keeping my behavior rooted into my responsibilities as I accept to become a law-abiding citizen.
204. If everyone in society made decisions from the same code of personal values that we embrace, how would the world advance or decline for future generations, including our children?
I agree with Mike Santos answer on this question because he covers the main points about if everyone in society made decisions from the same code of personal values that we embrace how the world would advance for future generations including my children. If we act honorable and continue to be law-abiding citizens we would enrich ourselves. But if we make dishonorable decisions, it would be wrong which leads to troublesome times. The realization of my role in society is to help others realize that we should continue to make right choices and live according to values that lead to a better world for future generations.
205. To what extent do your choices and behaviors match the choices and behaviors you would want your children or people you love to see and emulate?
I want my choices and behaviors of the past to be examples to my children to others that because we sometimes are put in bad situations with the help of God we can overcome those situations and live a righteous life. I want my children and others to know that no one is perfect and when mistakes are made to learn from them and improve your life. You become more wise when you learn from lifes experiences. I am not a person that gives up or quits. I believe that God will use me to help others. I just want to be a servant and help my children grow into their full potential which is the standard I want to live the rest of my life.
206. What does it mean to you to live with integrity?
Living with integrity means living a life that a value structure, being responsible, and bringing meaning to your life. Also living by goal-setting that mesh with your structured values and not settling for less. You hold yourself accountable by staying on track, and staying disciplined.
207. What does it mean to you to serve a prison sentence or to confront adversity with dignity?
Living with dignity, whether in prison or in the free world, means that a person takes action and works towards making the most of his situation. He doesn’t complain, blame others, or play the pity card. He doesn’t let the current situation control and own his life. He thrives in spite of all that is going on. He makes decisions on how he can create meaning to his life through his own efforts. Having dignity requires strength of spirit and strength of mind. It requires that an individual make all decisions from a position of strength. I may be in prison, but I am always dignified, letting nothing get in the way of preparing to come home to my wonderful wife and kids.
208. In what ways do your relationships with other prisoners influence your possibility for success upon release?
The fact that I have been in prison for over a decade, I am very strict on myself when it comes to other relationships within the prison environment. I take into account that my wife, children, and family does this time with me. I try to just focus on my relationship with God who strengthens me and improve my life. I continue to build my skills with self-improvement by staying focused on these valued relationships. I do not have time to build relationships within the prison environment. I do have respect for others within the prison environment on how they do their time, but in return I expect respect from others on what I do with my time.
209. How do your relationships with other prisoners influence the way that prison staff members assess you?
I try to keep in good company with others who are also into self-improvement throughout my team meetings with my counselors and case manager I express my motivation to accomplishing as much as possible to becoming a man that has taken responsibility for my growth and becoming a law-abiding citizen upon release. It is very easy to get into all sorts of trouble within this controlled environment, so I try to stay clear of trouble, and I believe other prisoners realize that by the way I carry myself. God has put it into my heart to lead by example.
210. In what ways will your relationships with other prisoners influence the probation officer who supervises your release?
I have never experienced being released from prison prior to being incarceration in this case. That does not mean that I cannot set plans in motion for my transition upon release. One of the ways that I make such preparations is by the relationship I will have with my probation officer who will supervise my release. I have to expect that he or she will have extensive records to consult as they evaluate the level of scrutiny that they place upon me. Those records will include whatever staff has placed in my files on me. If those files indicate that I consorted with disruptive prisoners then I expect that the probations officer would be less inclined to extend my liberty. Every step that I take today is predicted with thoughts of how these steps influence my life tomorrow.
211. What efforts are you making today to influence the relationships you will have in the months and years to come?
Relationships that I try to build now months to come and years to come are stong spiritual relationships. Just as a light bulb is turned on in my life by God I want others to experience the joy and happiness that I am experiencing. Of course this starts with my family because as a spiritual leader of my family its important that God be in the center of our lives and I pray on it everyday. I hope this helps me with my influence with relationships in the months and years to come.
212. In what ways can you influence relationships with people beyond prison boundaries while you’re incarcerated?
My goal is to influence relationships beyond prison boundaries while being incarcerated by using the web site and my family. I will also strive to build relationships by using correspondence. I have a responsibility to prepare for my successful emergence from prison and I work towards my preparation each day.
213. How would maintaining relationships with people who embrace criminal values influence your potential for success upon release?
I do not interact closely with anyone who strikes me as being committed to a criminal way of life. Not that I am better than anybody than I have served time with but I feel as I have learned my lesson. Being involved with the criminal mind person can derail everything that I have worked hard for. It would be disrespectful to all the people who have believed in me and trusted in me. Maintaining relationships with criminal minded people would expose not only me but everyone within my network. I understand that connection because I have also been wrong throughout the criminal justice system for over a decade. My goal is not to do others as I have been done.
214. In what ways do grooming and personal appearance influence your relationship with others?
Being ex military I believe grooming and personal presentation is a big influence for my intention for success upon my release. Although I intend to build a career around all I have learned and observed and experienced as a federal prisoner I can strengthen my opportunities by presenting myself in a way that prison did not influence me in any way.
215. How do writing skills influence the potential for opening new relationships that may lead to success upon release?
I believe writing skills may be one of the most influential tools that an individual can develop while he serves a prison term. I urge others to work very hard on their writing skills because they can influence others also and this can open up new relationships that may lead to success upon release.
216. In what ways are you working now to nurture relationships that may help you succeed upon release?
First, my heart is into my relationship with God. I stay in prayer, and because of that I have confidence in everything that I do. I work hard to nurturing my relationship with my family and loved ones. I pray that this leads to openness, and future relationships. God first, my wife, my children and family, and then anyone who believes in me. The goal is to continue to open and nurture relationships.
217. What influence will your relationships with others have on your possibility for success upon release?
As I stated in my previous answer all efforts towards my relationships will possibly help me upon release. I only spend time positively to my growth inwardly and I pray that it will show in my outward actions. Like I stated before, my goal is to let God be the center of all my relationships and in my heart. I believe my relationships can only mature.
218. How would prospective mentors respond if they were to hear you attribute your predicament to the choices or actions of another?
I strengthen myself inwardly, emotionally, and respectively when I realize that my life was a mess prior to being incarcerated. Many things were not right in my life and I have no one to blame but myself. Because my case is still pending, I cannot really speak about the details of my conviction but one day when all of this is behind me I will be able to openly speak about the details that lead up to my incarceration. I have learned a great deal about myself and those I had chosen to be friends prior to being incarcerated. I believe that God has a plan for me and has helped me understand how he works in my life. I have 100% put my past behind me and let God lead me into my future success.
219. In what ways does the blaming of outside forces strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?
I believe the more responsibility and individual accepts for where he stands the more he empowers himself. Men who take action with deliberate purpose to always strengthen their mind and spirit will always come out on top. Blaming outside forces as a failure will only keep you in darkness. People do not extend respect as easy to those who make excuses. I believe in all areas of life and I realize that a man strengthens himself when he faces his harsh realities and makes changes to lead to a better life. No one is perfect and an individual that makes changes from his mistakes will do well in life.
220. How do your relationships with others influence the people closest to you?
I see relationships to the extent that they will enhance my growth inwardly and outwardly. I first give all the love and respect to my wife who has done so much to keep my children and my family a part of my life. My children also have strengthened me by the continuous love that they show me because they hold nothing against me. My children have realized that although I have made mistakes, they do not have to hold it against me. They know that we have a future together and that this experience will only be a part of our past.
221. To what extent does living with transparency, or as an open book, influence relationships?
Living with transparency enables an individual to hold his high with dignity. Man may have made decisions or face adversities in many ways but to the extent that he lives in a manner that allows him to grow and expand he strengthens his relationship with others. In my case I have been able to grow my relationship with God and others. If I were to stress off the past I would be a very angry and bitter person and I believe that would weaken my relationships.
222. How would behaving one way with one group of people and another way with others strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?
The answer to this question is quite obvious. After this experience integrity is very important. When an individual interacts with others in different ways he breaks his foundation of strength and confidence within himself. That leads to a road map with no destination. In the eyes of others this could end up in a downward spiral of lack of trust with others and their belief in you. An individual must be strong in all his relationships on trust and honesty.