What I Learned in Prison. ~ Kisha Calix

Via elephant journal
on Nov 28, 2012
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 “It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are.” ~ E.E. Cummings

In May of 2012, I walked through the prison gates to teach life skills to inmates.

If you had told me back in 1999 when I ended my six year career as a military policeman that one day I would teach life skills to inmates, I would have called you crazy. Working in a prison was not part of my plan.

Sometimes the plans we make don’t happen the way we initially wanted them to. When things don’t go our way, we have two choices: we can either let it destroy us or let it strengthen us. This decision will help define who we become.

Regardless of where we are in life, we have a choice and that is what I have learned while working in a prison. My realization may not be impressive to you, but let me explain my thinking.

When I first entertained the idea of teaching inmates, I assumed that the majority of inmates would take my class simply to have something else to do rather than the usual. But what I quickly realized was some inmates will still choose to remain in their “prison” rather than change. Perhaps this isn’t as shocking to you as it was to me, but seeing that someone would choose not to change, learn and grow was somewhat disheartening to me.

I learned that both inmates and “free people” can live in “prison.” While an inmate literally lives in a prison, a free person may live in his or her own version of a prison. Abusive relationships, unhealthy lifestyles, miserable careers, toxic friendships can all make us feel like we are behind bars.

I can empathize with anyone that chooses to stay in “prison” simply because of the fear to change. Of course, they won’t call their situation an inability to change due to fear, but a failure to change is due to fear!

Don’t let fear define or destroy you. Let them strengthen you.

Look, we all have fears. All of our fears will never go away completely, but you can learn to dance with your fears.

I know making a change can sound scary, but call upon the hope inside of you. Dream a little more and use your imagination. Choose to believe. Have faith! Remember your strengths and use your resources. Everybody has experienced at least one success and everyone has resources available.

Yes, you may have to “put on your thinking cap” and investigate what is available to you but you do have options. Yes, you may have to make sacrifices if you want to make changes in your life or transform your entire life, but if you can make it to the “other side,” the reward will be that much sweeter.

So, if you are in a prison, literally or figuratively, I pray that you let it strengthen you. God gave you the ability to choose. Will you choose joy or sadness? Pleasure or pain?

When something bad happens to you, what are you going to choose? Will you let the bad thing become your identity, let it destroy who God made you to be, or let it strengthen you?

Some changes can be very easy; I can show you how. The question is: Do you really want to change?

I know the choice can be tough. I had to make that decision myself. I chose a different way of life and with God’s grace I have been able to live a different way of life. Sure, there are many ways to “get to the same place” and some inmates or “free people” don’t need a life coach, but if you are stuck or just tired of being sick and tired, then do something about it!

I wish you passion, peace and purpose on your journey.


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin


 Kisha Calix is a Certified Life Coach.  She provides confidential coaching and consulting services to individuals and companies to optimize their potential.




Editor: Seychelles Pitton

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45 Responses to “What I Learned in Prison. ~ Kisha Calix”

  1. Jim Henderson says:

    Life’s journey is often difficult for many although for those who want to improve their road ahead, positive transformational changes are indeed possible through investigation, sacrifices, direction, friends, family and coaching.

  2. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for your reply. I think the key words in your comment are "those that want to improve…" Tranformation requires the willing 🙂

  3. Jeff V. says:

    This article reminded me of something I've always lived by: "Being hurt is something you can't stop from happening, but being miserable is always YOUR choice." Great Article

  4. Kisha Calix says:

    If it wasn't for a few people, this article would have not been possible so I must thank a few folks… Charlie thank you for introducing me to my point of contact at the prison, Reverend Bolden. Reverend Bolden thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach Life Skills at the Correctional Center. I also want to thank the men of women that participate in my class… thank you for making the choice to attend and lastly, thank you God for your grace!

  5. Kisha Calix says:

    My book titled H.O.P.E. (How One Person Evolved) will be released next year. It's a story of pain, loss, betrayal, lust, love, hope, faith, passion and purpose. It's a memoir of reinvention. It's also a "How-to-Manual" on transforming YOUR life. A step-by-step process on how you, too, can change. Reserve your copy today but contacting me at [email protected]

  6. Raiyan says:

    Very inspiring …made me stop and think.

  7. Jodi says:

    Great Article Kisha. and Yes, so true, we all have choices– where do you choose to live? I choose happy 🙂

  8. joanne says:

    Thank you, Keisha, for including me on your "share" list. Your article is very inspirational and for those of us who have had to face some very heart-wrenching moments, the decision to not allow it to affect our life and demeanor is a very difficult one. I did not know you have written a book and I certainly want to be in line to purchase it when it is released You have been such a blessing to me! I wondered why God placed me in our MC group with so many young people. Now I know–He wanted me to glean all the wisdom He placed in your hearts. Joanne

  9. Hello there, You have performed a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and for my element recommend to my associates. I’m positive they’ll be benefited from this internet site.Should you like change your life permanently, look at our site…

  10. Kisha Calix says:

    So, it make you "stop and think?" Thats great! I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts… I am glad it inspired you as well. Did it inspire you to take some sort of action? I'm curious 🙂

  11. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for your compliment Jodi. If you would like to read some other things that I wrote about, please check out my blog: kishascorner.com Thats awesome that you answered my question, LOL! I choose happiness too… actually I choose Joy (see what I mean on my blog). I hope to see you there…

  12. Susie Scarborough says:

    Everything you wrote is so true. I've experienced personally being in emotional and intellectual prisons…mostly because I lived unaware of my imprisonment. I'm grateful for people in my life and light bulb moments that brought me to see truth and decide to make choices for change. Thanks for your thoughs, Kisha. Well-said!

  13. Kisha Calix says:

    You are welcome Joanne. I too have experienced some very, very, very, did I say very 🙂 heart-wrenching moments in my life… we ALL have. YOU ARE RIGHT, it can be very difficult to not allow those difficult times to affect our demeanor or our life in a negative way… So, how do we face those heart-wrenching moments? Do we try to PUSH those negative moments away and deny it… only to experience the pain again and again later? Do we try to convenience ourself through positive thinking that we are stronger than those negative times only to be disappointed? Or do we “dance" with those challenges/fear? Do we have the ever so powerful presence of God in our heart and soul… allowing us to better love, grow and contribute? How do we take ACTON to let our heart-wrenching moments strengthen us rather than destroy us? Those are just a few of the questions I ask and answer in my book… I also provide action steps to help those living in heart-wrenching lives. I will make sure you get a copy! P.S. YOU are a blessing in my life too!

  14. Kisha Calix says:

    Oh Susie, I like how you said, "you were unaware of your imprisonment." THAT is soooo accurate of so many people. A lot of people simply don't know there is another way of life–they are simply unaware. Thats where education is sooo important… and thank goodness God puts deep desires in our hearts so maybe, just maybe, that unaware person will learn something along their path as they try to fill their own desires… maybe they will experience lift bulb moments that will help them see new choices & new decisions… maybe they learn about their options and decide to change. Your reply makes me think of a great quote we all know: "Knowledge is power!" BUT, even better is how my mentor, Tony Robbins, has quoted it "Knowledge is NOT power–it's potential power. Knowledge that you APPLY with the HEART, THATS real power!"

  15. Mary Ann Estopinal says:

    Kisha, your article is so true, especially for me. I have found it difficult all my life to make choices, but when I do, I usually feel free! Thank you for writing it & sharing it.

  16. Mary Armand says:

    Kisha, very good article. I love your insight and uplifting outlook. I am also very encouraged by your ability to reach out to prisoners. A people group that our society does not esteem. Keep on going on that path less traveled!!

  17. Kisha Calix says:

    Mary Ann, thank you for your reply. I LOVE that feeling freedom that you mentioned when it comes to making decisions! Making decisions that create freedom brings peace. One thing that helped me make better decisions faster was to learn and live by my values… I am not saying that is your situation. "Cheers" to freedom. May we all have peace in our decisions!

  18. Kisha Calix says:

    Ya know Mary, my ability to reach out to prisoners may seem like a HUGE deal for a lack of better word but its not really… I'm simply trying "to be the change I want to see" like Gandhi said. I have seen the effects of those without business skills or self-leadership.  Those that made poor choices due to unemployment idleness, lack of job skills or difficulties when transitioning into the "next stage of life" after a major life change. I am keenly aware of the difficulties people face if they lack skills and tools. I am so thankful to be on this "path less traveled" because working as a LIfe Coach has been the most rewarding, most effective position I have ever held, where I think the biggest, most positive, pro-active difference for individuals and society, has been. I LOVE my career!

  19. Kisha Calix says:

    So true. May I add God to your list? 🙂

  20. Kisha Calix says:

    You are so right Jeff. You picked something great to live by!!!!

  21. JD Morgan says:

    You rocked it Kisha! I love it. Good, the great, and the exceptional!

  22. cherie says:

    You did an awesome job keisha!!!! You Go Girl!!! I would love to check out your book next year!!! <3 ya girl!!!

  23. Kisha Calix says:

    Awe thanks JD. I am glad you really like it.

  24. Kisha Calix says:

    Cherie, I am excited that you want to read my book. I will let you know as soon as its released.

  25. Damian D says:

    Great perspective!! I feel the same way! I wish more people read your words, take your advice, and change their lives for the better!!

  26. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for your comments Damian. It was nice chatting with you today via Facebook.

  27. jak says:

    Well said. Staying where we are, as we are and not moving forward is definitely a consequence of fear! Thanks for sharing your realizations and desiring to help others conquer fear in order to grow! You are a treasure!

  28. Kisha Calix says:

    Thanks Jak. I appreciate your feedback and compliment. I look forward to sharing more of my realizations via Elephant Journal in an attempt to help others grow. I hope you keep reading and replying 🙂

  29. Shelia T says:

    Well said! Hopefully, more people realize, in most cases, we hold the key to our own prisons and seek your help.

  30. Kisha Calix says:

    Sheila, we really do hold the key to our own prisons. I, like you, hope people stop being their "own worst enemy" by seeking help… Giving others the tools to focus on their gifts is the most rewarding work I have ever done!

  31. Lisa Walsh says:


    I believe that the majority of us can say that we have our own piece of prison in our own lives. As you said, we can choose to stay at the level of where we are or we can , with the help of life coaches, friends, family and most of all, The Lord, we can choose to live a healthier and more productive life. It’s not always easy and I can attest to that, but I pray that my choices are productive ones. I want to thank you for being exactly who you are and I look forward to your book and our time together. Much Love My Friend!

  32. T.H.C. says:

    Love the article. A very good topic.I told a friend of mines that prison kinda saved her son. I told her if he was here in the streets he would probably be dead. He's in prison going to school and from what I hear he's very smart. God allows somethings to happen to us for various reasons. Glad u let God use u in the prison ministry. Be blessed.

  33. charlie O. says:

    Wow. What can I say. I knew I was on point when I introduced you to Rev. Bolden. You have a special gift and I so glade our paths crossed. I look forward to reading your book.

  34. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for the love Lisa. I appreciate you taking the time to read the article and reply. I look forward to our time together too! See you soon friend 🙂

  35. Kisha Calix says:

    Thanks for sharing your friends story of her son… I completely get how you said he was kinda saved by being in prison rather than on the streets. I hope her son keeps learning when he is out of prison too cause learning is a continuous process– you are either growing or dying. It's so exciting to see those that choose to open their minds and hearts… and when they are a blessing to others, it's a beautiful thing. We always have a choice to learn and grow regardless of where we are at… we always have choice… it's our God given choice. My book titled H.O.P.E. (How One Person Evolved) will be released next year. It's a story of pain, loss, betrayal, lust, love, hope, faith, passion and purpose. It's a memoir of reinvention. It's also a "How-to-Manual" on transforming YOUR life. A step-by-step process on how you, too, can change. Maybe your friend would like to reserve a copy for her son? If so, contact me at [email protected] Peace.

  36. Kisha Calix says:

    🙂 Thanks Charlie! I can't explain the gratitude I have for you for believing in me! I am soooo glad our paths crossed too! I can't wait to hand you my book!!!!

  37. Great article! Thank you Kisha, for sharing it with us. It reminds me of a film I saw not long ago, it was about teaching a meditation technique for prisoners so they can feel free even though they are in prison. So that's the other side of the story. People can be free even in prison. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  38. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for your reply. I would love to know the name of the movie if you recall. I look forward to sharing more of my work. Thanks for reading!

  39. Kisha Calix says:

    Jodi, on April 14, 2012, I began a blog called Kisha's Corner in an effort to connect with people and create change… If you enjoyed my published article titled, "What I Learned in Prison," then you will enjoy my blog. I hope to see you on my "corner." http://www.kishascorner.com

  40. Kisha Calix says:

    Jak, on April 14, 2012, I began a blog called Kisha's Corner in an effort to connect with people and create change… If you enjoyed my published article titled, "What I Learned in Prison," then you will enjoy my blog. I hope to see you on my "corner." http://www.kishascorner.com

  41. Kisha Calix says:

    T.H.C., on April 14, 2012, I began a blog called Kisha's Corner in an effort to connect with people and create change… If you enjoyed my published article titled, "What I Learned in Prison," then you will enjoy my blog. I hope to see you on my "corner." http://www.kishascorner.com

  42. kevin says:

    Life reminds me of how meticulous Jeff Gordon (Nascar champion) must be about tweaking the smallest details of his racing car because it greatly affects its performance. The little things make a big difference. So, as in life we need to tweak our habits to improve our performance through coaching, seminars, books, and other means of self-improvement.

    By improving ourselves, we free our friends from enduring our regretful comments, blasting anger, and other abuses making us a better friend and person.

  43. Linda C. says:

    Great article Kisha – it does come down to our choices about everything. I like how you stated "I chose a different way of life and with God’s grace I have been able to live a different way of life. " That to me is it in a nutshell – it's only with God's empowering presence working in those who allow Him to work (yet another choice) can one make the choices necessary to not live "imprisoned" lives. Thanks for sharing this insight Kisha!

  44. Kisha Calix says:

    Thank you for your reply Kevin. Your words remind me of a great quote… "It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped," said Tony Robbins.

  45. Kisha Calix says:

    Choices:) Yep, and not making a decision is in itself still a decision. You are so welcome Linda. Thanks for reading and replying. May all of our decisions be filled with love, peace and joy.