Idalee – When Do We Heal?

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Earlier in the year I found this artist, Idalee, on SoundCloud and put his music on my list, and then forgot about it. I listened to it again today and did a more in-depth search on him. I related to it more than I realized. Music has been part of my life since the 2nd grade. I always knew, without a doubt, it was who I am. Like him, Iso had an affinity for drugs and it almost managed to kill me like it almost killed him. I don’t know where it came from.

Why did I want to do drugs? Because I was scared of people, and because I knew there was no reason why anyone would want to be around me. I had no self worth, no confidence. My inferiority complex was deep. Drugs helped me pretend I was stronger – more outgoing – likeable. I came out of my shell and could be the person I wanted to be. But I was young and stupid and thought nothing bad would happen to me – as most youth do.

So this song – When Do We Heal? – has to begin with knowing we deserve to heal. And that healing has to be spread to others – without being judgemental. Everyone has their own healing. No one is born perfect.

I started healing in 1988, when I was 34, when I started studying Nichiren Buddhism. I needed to study my life. Why did I feel the way I did about my life? What was my purpose? How do I change the parts of myself that needed changing? I absolutely do not believe in a God “out there” that plans our life and loves me,too. Healing is up to me. I can’t all something else to do it for me. That is my choice and I don’t think people should follow my choice nor should they try to choose for me our tell me I’m wrong.

Over these years of study I began to understand where my music comes from and my purpose to create. The older I get, the stronger the need to express myself with music becomes. It has the power to aid in healing. To put these feelings into a solid form and then hear it back and never even remember playing it, is awesome. I just close my eyes and it comes out of’fingers. I feel the pain of others. It overwhelms me. I cry. Any deep emotion – happy, sad or anger makes me cry.

My music led me to the prisons. It was a place full of broken people, many with no one to care. I understand that sometimes good people screw up big time, but that doesn’t mean they are worthless. There are many reasons why people end up inside and why some don’t. Beginning my journey, ten years ago into understanding the people in our prisons and the torture they are given to demean them until they are broken is so wrong. This knowledge gave my music a purpose. Instead of writing music to become the next Stevie Nick’s, as I was told, I learned that reason never works.

I now write for people. I give my music as gifts. It is the most I have to give of myself. The older I get the more it means. It doesn’t have to be loved by the masses. It needs to only affect one person, hopefully in a positive way. Below the video I am going to add a recent piece I’ve published before. It catches in my throat because it says exactly what I mean. “Picking Up Broken Pieces”

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About Idalee

Heal: An in-prison music video by Idalee In honor of Prison Fellowship’s 40th anniversary, singer-songwriter Idalee has gifted us his new song called “Heal.” It’s a song about #grace and #secondchances. It begs the question, #whendoweheal? Prison Fellowship partnered with Idalee to take the song into prison, where he performed “Heal” with a band of incarcerated men. The result was this amazing music video/documentary. Take a look and SHARE it with your friends. Then head over to idalee.com/heal to grab your free download of the song! Posted by Prison Fellowship on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

WHY I EVEN CARE ABOUT PRISONERS

It’s become pretty common knowledge that American prisons are overcrowded, over-criminalization locks away too many people, and mandatory minimum sentences are setting our culture back. They’re big problems and there are more than a few opinions on how to change this. I’m not really gonna talk about that now. Through performing music in prison and shooting video with inmates all over the country, I’ve really cared most about a true second chance afforded to those men and women released back to society – which is over 90% of incarcerated people. I care about them getting help on the inside and a fair enough playing field for them to get to work when they get out. I didn’t go to prison myself. Could have. Easily. But I didn’t. But I’m aware that there was only one variance between what I did – I’d be there too. Regardless – I feel like I got a second chance at music after the accident. I got a second chance to do what I wanted to do with my life – to contribute – to create. For those who TRULY work for a second chance – I want them to get it.

Picking Up Broken Pieces Inside AdSeg

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June 3rd, 2016

Hello mom,
I received your letter today and boy, that sure was one long letter. I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can. I will also give you my true thoughts. I’ve really been sitting and thinking about my future. So many things just pop into my head, even when I don’t want to think about it. Please know that I’m okay. Sometimes I just go into a shell to get away. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t. But I’m fine, okay, so don’t worry.

(Sonni’s note: But I do worry. No matter how strong someone may think they are, if you spend time in solitary for an extended period of time you can’t help but be affected by it. Sometimes you have a grip on your head when you’re alone and sometimes you don’t, and it gets to you. I have studied extensively the effects of solitary. Unless you have been there no one can know – including myself, what it is like to go weeks, months and years with no one but yourself to communicate with. No physical touch, no words except orders, no one to talk to about these things in your head.

I had a few rather callous conversations with people who don’t understand and are quick to place blame. “It’s his own fault. He put himself there.” Nobody blamed anyone else, so why are they so quick to make sure you know that. Strangers and family. They think, he is in prison, he shouldn’t be making any mistakes, so it’s his fault. Don’t you think he know that? Do you think he should have learned to behave 100% of the time and never give in to emotions.. The inmate must never forget they are to blame.

Jamie has had some very tough times this last ten plus years – for a variety of reasons – some are because of things he has done and some are because of retaliation from prison guards who have let their authority go to their heads and there are no repercussions for the things they do to inmates. They think, even if he is being continually mistreated, he is supposed to remailn calm and don’t contradict guards when they accuse him of doing something he didn’t do. Jamie fills out grievances that are never filed. He is carried down a flight of stairs face first with the guards hooking their arms through the cuffs on his wrists and ankles after having a seizure, because the guards are too lazy to get the board he is to be carried on, strapped on his side in case he has another seizure. . . . .

But he is not to get mad? He is supposed to stay in control and be polite no matter what they do to him? But he is a human being. We all have emotions. Even with an animal, if you treat him bad often enough he is going too bite you. So here we have a human being – someone I know very well and he is expected to do something you yourself would not able to do. You might think you could, but you couldn’t.

Someone said to me, “But you would think by now, after ten years, he would have learned!” Does that mean, no matter what is done to him he is supposed to stand there and not react in any way, always staying polite. Never should he ever reach the point where he can’t take it anymore. Maybe he should crawl into his head so far that he can’t find his way to normalcy when he gets out? How is he supposed to interact with other people when it’s been driven into him that who he is, what he thinks and how he feels really has no importance.

I tell him constantly his life has value. He won’t have a clue what to do when he gets out, but no one who knows him will have much patience with that. They won’t help because they have no clue what solitary confinement is and they will expect that since he is a grown man he should know what to do. Honestly, no one gives a damn what happens to him. He is going to have to prove himself to them before they trust him enough to even be nice. Why should he have to do that?

If he had been a drug addict or a violent person who hurt someone or had a string of convictions that says this guy is trouble – stay away from him; I could understand their skepticism. Except for this, he has not one conviction on his record. Was he perfect? No, but then neither was I. I did things in my youth that could have gotten me prison time had I got caught. I know lots of things people who didn’t get caught for things they did. Have I made them prove themselves to me? I’d like to flush his family down the toilet.

When I read his letters there are times when I can tell he’s in trouble – not physically, but mentally. He tries to stay strong in his letters to me. But he will also apologize to me when he thinks something happened and he should have been in better control. It’s okay. tomorrow is another day. Start over and focus again on your future. Imagine where you’ll be and the
things you want to do. What have you learned that can help other people

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I’ve been asked, “Why is he back in ad seg again. What did he do?” He probably reached the end of his rope one day and got angry. You aren’t allowed to get angry. Everyone single person has gotten angry and yelled at someone. What if you weren’t allowed to ever get angry and you had to push it down deep inside. Could you do it and NEVER fail? You would just quiet your mind and not react – month after month after month? No, you couldn’t, and then they would give you more time in adseg. It is a lose/lose situation
Many inmates spend years locked up alone. They never get out. How does the prison do it, because it is against the law now to punish someone with more than fifteen days of solitary? By creating more cases. It takes a long time to get out of the lower classifications of prison. Solitary, ad seg (G5) and often G4. If the guards can’t find a way to sentence you with more time, they will just make something up. Do you think they wouldn’t do that? The more people that are locked up like that, the less they have to do. If you were paid what guards were paid you wouldn’t want to do much, either. Besides, they have to endure heat, too. But they get to go home at the end of the day. Still, it’s s sucky job, so amuse yourself and go pick on some inmates. No one will care. Guards stick together just like cops.)
I got a letter from someone who reads your blog. She said her son just got 20 years. She asked me for some pointers. I told her that family support is very important. ( something his own family will never understand) I also gave her some do’s and don’ts to give to her son. She said she was thinking about getting him an attorney, one who used to be a felon. Bad move. I told her to be careful. Make sure he works for a firm so he is legit. Some are just out to get your money because you are vulnerable.

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Beware this picture is 30 years old!

So you want to play gigs again. Really! that sounds cool. I think you still have what it takes. I’m sure you are asking yourself, how could I say that? I’ve never heard you play. Passion. It’s because you have a lot of passion and I know that must be in your music. I know you can do it. Go ahead and start gigs again and do something for me while you do it. Enjoy yourself. That’s all for now. I’ll be waiting on you.

(Listen to this piece – really listen to it. Close your eyes.  Put your head back . Tell me what it means to you. Can you tell me what I’m saying?.

I had quit writing music about twelve years ago. I had no more reason to write. I had convinced myself my years of playing professionally were over. I was still teaching, but i played with headphones on so no one would accidentally hear me. I was told my playing might bother people.  I had also been sick for a long time and couldn’t sit up for long. I had nothing to write about. As I began this blog I wanted to play music again. As I healed I started playing my piano more and more. Something had changed, though.  My entire thought process for writing had become something else.  I stopped writing songs and crawled into the music. I started out writing music for Jamie. Music is emotional. Going through these years of keeping him going brought something into my music that wasn’t there before. Now, probably only one day a week, I want to find a nice piano bar or restaurant that would like beautiful music in the background. My days of fronting a band are long over. Now, as you see posts that have music on them you will understand a little more why I insert them.)

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