Lovette: My name is Lovette, I’m 49 years young, I’ve been at Bedford since 2013, and I’m glad to be here!
Diane: It’s nice to finally be in person. Tell me who you are.
Lovette: Thankfully, I’m a living, breathing, thriving human being. An empowered woman. A woman, a mother, peer… I’m just thankful.
Diane: And what brings you joy in here?
Lovette: Helping people. Helping people make it through this difficult thing called incarceration. Bringing a little joy into their atmosphere. Sharing my experience, sharing what helped me make it through the difficult days. Just being there as much as I’m able to, even in spite of my own circumstances.
Diane: What do you do to bring joy here?
Lovette: Most of all I love to be present. I like to crack jokes. If I see somebody down, I like to come and try to cheer them up. I like to talk to people to hear their stories. I like to listen. Sometimes people just need somebody to listen to them. It gets very lonely being incarcerated, just to know that you have someone that can be there for you in these trying times.
Diane:Would you be able to describe to us the person that came to prison before and Lovette now?
Lovette: Well, Lovette- when she first touched state grounds was very frightened. She was very abandoned, she was very lonely, she was very mentally incapacitated almost. She was not doing well at all. She was suffering from a lot of stress. She was facing estrangement, you know, I was estranged from my family due to my crime and I was not in a good space at that time.
Diane: And who are you today?
Lovette: Today I’m a transformed individual. I was able to utilize different means in order to get myself back on track- in order to get in touch with who I am and my emotions,to pull myself out of that dark place that I once was in. I’m very thankful for that, and I’m very thankful for my experiences that help strengthen me, that help fortify me, that help give me purpose, meaning…just a means for me to not only help myself but to help my fellow peers.
Diane: Would you say there was a moment of transformation?
Lovette: Yes, it was like I had an epiphany. It was like the lightbulb came on. It was just a shift in my whole life. It was a turning point. It set me on the right track.
Diane: Will you share it with us?
Lovette: Yes! I basically was sitting alone with a pamphlet that one of the chaplains gave me, and I started doing an inventory. I started saying to myself, “You know what…” I started writing down on paper all the things that I was grateful for. All the things that I had. All the blessings that I had. Then I was like, “Oh my gosh, here I am, dwelling on who doesn’t come to see me. Who doesn’t this- who doesn’t that. But lo’ and behold, I had this huge list of all of the blessings and the good things. So let me start dwelling really on the good things!” and like I said, it was like an epiphany. Poof! It was wonderful!
Diane: Will you share some of those blessings with us?
Lovette: Oh my gosh, number one: I’m grateful to be alive. I’ve had hard times where I’ve felt like I wanted to not live anymore, but I said, “If I take my life, that’s like a domino effect. It affects others, too. Let me fight through and just hope that good things will be on the other side. I’m fighting to live, fighting to make it through.” I’m very thankful for all the blessings, especially in this environment. I’ve got a roof over my head. I’ve got somewhere to lay down. I have food. I’m thankful for the tablet program. I’m so thankful because it could always be worse.
Diane: Is there something that you would like to share?
Lovette: I would like to share that I’m very thankful for San Quentin. I’m thankful for the work that’s being done there. I just feel like this may be the starting point of something really fantastic. I believe prison reform is really coming along. I feel that me, being on the inside, I have a lot of insight, and I contribute to that in many ways. I feel we all have parts to play in truly wanting to be able to rehabilitate individuals. This is not the end of the story- it is only the beginning. I really feel good about that.
Diane: Thank you for recognizing that and being willing to share. Without you in here sharing your voice, people wouldn’t be able to learn. So, from the bottom of my heart- and we have a staff of 10 men inside San Quentin so I’d love to have a staff or a team in here who is sharing voices and doing everything that they do in there- and in other prisons too, obviously.
Diane: Looking ahead, how would you like to use the gifts that you have? How do you think you could use those?
Lovette: I would like to be able to share my gifts and talents with the most individuals possible. I would like it to have a butterfly effect. I think that goodness, positivity, resilience, caring, spreading around kindness no matter what the situation is- that will always be a wonderful thing.
Diane: Do you want to talk a little bit about your writing process?
Lovette: Usually I get inspired by a lot of different things. It could be something someone says. It could be a concept that I really want to delve into, like currently I have what I call- I call them Rosshill’s Realisms, and they’re basically wise sayings. I just kind of let my experience here influence what I’m going to write a lot of times. It’s very enjoyable for me and I get a lot of joy out of the creation process.Some of my writings take longer than others, but for the most part, they just kind of come like that! I’m very thankful.