“what we can change is our perceptions, which have the effect of changing everything.”
when you go through your daily life amid the hustle and bustle what do you notice? when you ride the train or subway to work during the day do you notice the people around you? Do they look happy, exhausted, worried? Or if you drive does the autumn leaves turning color catch your attention? Do you see the homeless person who stand on the street corner holding a cardboard sign asking for help with shame in his eye? Do you see only the negative, or can you notice the good as well? At work do you take in the fact that while you were at home low pay laborers have come in and cleaned the office from top to bottom? Do you see more than what is on the tiny screen on your cell phone? I’ve been on Texas death row for over two decades now and I am very observant and aware of my surroundings. I notice all kinds of things, with my eyes, with my nose. I even feel vibrations of people coming up the stairs with my feet on the concrete floor. When you are locked in a 12ft X 9ft. solitary confinement cell for a minimum of 22 hours a day, (On the weekend it’s 2h hours a day!) you learn to “see” with more than just your eyes. I see all kinds of things here. I notice who is kind or who is self-centered, who is positive and focused always trying to make the most of the situation. I see who is negative and who always complains never seeing the tiny blessings that flow our way on Texas death row. I am aware of who goes to recreation all the time, and who never comes out of their cell. Who only goes to recreation to ask for something he wants — coffee, Ramen noodle, candy etc.. I sometimes see men around me who inspire me to be a better person and more often than not notice what not to say and what no to do after I hear someone doing or saying the wrong thing in our society here on death row. I also notice the Universe working in my life for the good in a real and active way as our holiday season begins in the USA. For those who know me and follow my epic saga, you understand that 2019 has been the most difficult year in my life having lost my mother in February. So much hardship has come my way that I did not know if I was going to bounce back. But I have and this year as I prepare my Christmas mail I got back to living my life in gratitude. Writing dozens of cards and letters to friends all over takes time and effort and as I write these messages of gratitude and well wishes for the holiday I am in a thankful mind set because this is why I send out Christmas mail. I want to express to everyone in my life and have given me love and support that you have made a difference and I’m grateful for all that you do for me. I’ll tell you something life has continued to have its highs and lows because that’s just the way it is sometimes and when I find myself in a valley, I focus on myself and get back to what I know – physical exercise and spiritual practice in the form of prayer, meditation and visualization. And one of my affirmations is, “I will do what I need to do not just what I want to do.” This includes sending out Christmas mail. Because who would have found fault in me if I would not have gone through the effort after all I’ve experienced in 2019? But I made myself do it because it was something I needed to do! And an amazing thing happened as I threw myself into the task of writing messages of love and gratitude in each card and letter. I changed my perceptions in my life and got back to what works – living each day in gratitude! By living in gratitude I refocused my view on my life in general and I see how blessed I am. I have lost much this year but I’ve also been given mush. Best friends have gone absent in my life but new friends have stepped and helped me when I needed it most. And I am blessed to have so much love and support in my life. I think back to when I was in the pit of despair not knowing if I would ever make it out of the space where my heart was breaking over and over. The only thing that saw me through that terrible period in my life was the love and support of my amazing circle of friends. That was my lifeline, that was what kept me from drowning and what continues to make me strong and able to endure whatever life throws my way.
“What you take without gratitude makes you a thief.” Unknown
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my journey is that life is what you make of it regardless of the circumstances. And what is absolutely amazing is that if I am able to live my life in gratitude, even Texas death row can be an environment that will push me to develop, grow, thrive and manifest into my best self and reach my truest potential. That is almost unbelievable but it is true. And it is all possible through gratitude. Being thankful, appreciative and grateful for your blessings has that kind of life changing power.
So this is where I am at as we begin the Christmas season in 2019. I am blessed to have been able to stitch my heart back together again, to gather the pieces that were my life and having put what’s left back into place, I start my journey once again and I finish 2019 strong. And closing this year strong means that I am starting 2020 even stronger and I love being able to say that! There is still a lot of unknown in my life, there will continue to be chaos and losses and all that will cause me pain but sometimes that’s just the way life is. All I can do is accept it and keep pushing forward because what is to be in life will be. And what will continue to keep me focused, centered and strong is the love and support everyone has for me. For this I want to say I am grateful — I give you my sincere thanks and appreciation for your friendship because without it, I would have given up long ago.
This holiday season I will take special time to sit and enjoy life and be grateful for all my blessings. while I listen to American football games and cook Christmas feasts to share with friends, and take a few days for myself to relax and read a few good books, I‘ll do this with you in mind and with gratitude in my heart. I also wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year
Charles D. Flores No:999299