by Steven Dybvad

I have many amazing women that I love and care for in my life, today is a special day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!! I hope you have a nice relaxing day, filled with love, enjoyment and family.
Now that I’ve already sent my gifts out that I carved, I can write about them without blowing the surprise. I’m talking about my soap carvings. For my mother, I carved a flower sitting on two leaf pedals, and then I painted it. And for my grandmother, I carved her a cross on top of a pile of rocks, also carved from soap and painted it as well. Then I boxed them up and shipped them home. My mom already looked at them, said they’re beautiful and she loved them. I look forward to making many more soap carvings, I really enjoy it, when I finish, and they don’t even look like soap after painted. Right now I’m carving a depiction of Jesus.

by Steven Dybvad

Yesterday multiple people, including me were given conduct tickets, having to report to the sergeant to enter a plea for said tickets. When I was told to report to the sergeants office for a ticket I had no idea what was going on, I was highly upset while waiting in line to be seen, knowing that I do everything in my power to avoid problems, or conflict, I consciously follow the rules every single day in order to maintain a higher quality of life and a successful future upon release. Many of the men in line were also saying that they had no idea why they were standing in line either. Once I spoke to the sgt., he read my ticket out loud, it stated that one of the guards reviewed past video visits that I’ve had with family, pointing out that I was not wearing my state issued blue shirt. Apparently this is a rule that we were never made aware of. This is however a rule that I would have followed if I was aware, but a silly, ridiculous rule none the less. The kiosk from which we have our video visitation is in the middle of the day room, a room that we inmates do not have to be dressed in our state blues for, meaning that at any given time, when an inmate has a video visit, there are inmates walking around in camera view that have no state blues on. Fortunately for all of us, the srgt. Also saw this as a silly rule and a ridiculous handout of tickets, made by a rookie guard, with nothing better to do with his time on the clock. All of our tickets were thrown out and made null and void. Something as simple as a conduct ticket could keep me from getting released six months early, to a halfway house. This just goes to show how easy it is to ruin a clean record as a model inmate if one isn’t constantly making a conscious effort to follow the rules.

by Steven Dybvad

All the weight that I gained in the county jail continues to give me problems. From less than 150 lbs., underweight at the time of my arrest, to 265 lbs. in just one year, gorging myself with food every chance I had, with the intention of being big for prison, also replacing my addiction to substances with more food. Even though I’ve been skinny my entire life, gaining weight was very easy, losing it has been one of the most difficult tasks, working out and watching what I eat, every single day, with no immediate results. I’ve come a long way, losing almost 100 lbs., maintaining 175lbs., which is my optimum weight. I just have some serious love handles to get rid of. What’s funny is that underneath all the loose skin around my torso, I’ve got a six pack poking through. It just looks really weird, loose skin over six pack abs, not to mention the permanent stretch marks I created from being fat. I bust my butt every day to achieve a great body and health, it’s really paying off, but I still have a long way to go, just like everything else in life, success is a never ending goal, working hard to improve ourselves all along the way. This has become a focus in life that I enjoy working toward. I look forward to doing whatever it takes to be a better man, father and son, for the rest of my life. Like we’ve all heard so many times before, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”.

by Steven Dybvad

Personal best. Today I broke my record distance for miles ran;- 6.25 miles, 25 laps is the farthest I’ve ran yet this year. I could have continued running even further, but I ran out of time, having to make it back to my unit and get in the shower before locking down for count. Slowly but surely I’m working hard to reach my goal of averaging ten miles a day, however it is proving more difficult then I first thought it would be to reach such a distance as ten miles every morning. My friend, Kurt has been nursing a sore hip this last week or so, making my run a little more boring and lonely, but also enabling me to steady my pace and run further. Kurt started running at the very end of last summer, so he just has a little catching up to do with me; however he has made some amazing improvements. Last year he could only make it a few laps around the track before running out of air, now he’s running three and four miles at a time with me. Kurt has a tendency to run faster than me, causing the both of us to wear out a little quicker, which is why I say it’s been a little easier to steady my pace and increase my distance without him. At the end of the day, I’d rather have my running partner; we give each other the push and motivation we need to work harder.

by Steven Dybvad

My mother and my son are coming here to visit me on Saturday. It feels like an eternity since I last saw them. I miss my son and daughter so much, I feel more and more like a stranger to them, uniformed of their lives and occurrences. Before I came to prison, my son, Taylor and I were attached at the hip, we did everything together. After his mother and I separated, I wasn’t able to see Taylor as often, but when we did see each other, it was like nothing changed with us, we were inseparable. Now I feel as if I’ve torn apart my baby boys’ heart. We still embrace each other when he comes to see me, but I can sense a silent wall between us, I know I hurt that precious little boy, by coming to prison for five years of his life and of course my daughter, Caitlin’s too. Caitlin is growing up so quickly. She was born just one month after I turned seventeen. For so many years of her life I’ve been irresponsible, using substances, unwilling to grow up. Caitlin’s’ mother and I split up shortly after her birth, leaving me with more time to hang out with friends, party and get into more trouble, instead of get my act together and take on the responsibility of a father. I wasn’t ready to grow up. Let me make one thing clear, I love both my children the same, I just wasn’t smart enough to spend more time and energy with my daughter and now she doesn’t seem to need me. Every child needs their father, I’m just trying to paint a picture for the readers and I’m sure it makes me look like a monster, because that’s certainly how I feel writing this. It’s just that Caitlin is so grown up now, about to graduate from high school and start college in just a couple of months. I hope and pray every single day that I can form a closer bond with my daughter after my release, doing whatever I can to strengthen our relationship together and be the father I never was to her. My addiction to substances has hurt so many good people in my life and continues to hurt to this day and for years to come. All I can do now is fight to change my future and the future of my two beautiful children, who still need a strong, stable and sober father to look up to.

by Steven Dybvad

More ridiculous threats from staff. Up until a few days ago, nobody knew about the family day coming up next month. Family day, here at Madison, is when we inmates get to have our family come out here for a full day of walking around the compound, opposed to a couple of hours in a room, unable to get up from our seats. Most of the prisons in the state of Ohio don’t offer such a privilege and the staff here know it. But is threatening everyone to take away such a privilege in order to enforce minor rules necessary? The other day, staff posted a sign on the wall, downstairs by the guards’ desk, stating that any inmate who does not keep their beds made during the day will have their family day visit taken away. So basically, “if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” lol. This is how we were notified that family day is coming up. I’m not sure how our prison authority can come up with such a ridiculous solution to such a problem as small as keeping our beds made. I make my bed every single day, it’s the very first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’re inmates, adult human beings, not two year old children that have to be reminded to brush our teeth before going to bed. There are many ways to get things accomplished with inmates in prison and I certainly don’t agree with threats being the most effective way.

by Steven Dybvad

Last night I had a great conversation with my good friend, Kurt. After dinner we walked the track, talking about family, future, goals, addiction and many other things that contribute to the changes we’re both making for a better future. I never thought that I would consider another inmate as a caring and trusted friend, but with Kurt I do. Having someone to talk to and share personal information with in prison is very rare. I truly believe that God brought this man here, not only for me to help him, but for us both to help each other, strengthening our lives and goals for our future upon release. I have no doubt that Kurt and I will be good friends for the rest of our lives.

by Steven Dybvad

There has reportedly been a bunch of rumors going around about some major changes taking place, here at my parent institution, Madison Correctional. Apparently the prison has a new contract, to install a second fence around the minimum security side, enabling them to make this level two, medium security side (where I currently reside) into a level three security prison. The second fence around the minimum security side allows them to move all of us over to that side. Many of the inmates on this side are convicted of murder, or have a lengthy sentence, or a past charge of escape, requiring them to live in a prison with two fences around it. Often when I hear about rumors like this, I brush them off, knowing that prisoners love to gossip about nonsense that will never come true. Now I’m hearing these stories verified from more reliable sources. Several guards have spoken to us of these changes, but often they also contribute to farce rumors. There is one guard, who is daughter of the deputy warden, confirming that these rumors are in fact true and the changes will be taking place as early as the end of this summer. Now of course I continue to take everything I hear with a grain of salt, all I do know is that I have prepared myself the best I can for whatever life throws in my path and God will guide and protect me through my journey, just as he always has.

by Steven Dybvad

I just got an email from my daughter, Caitlin. She doing all sorts of very important and life memorable things, like getting ready for Senior Prom. Caitlin was also telling me about having just a few short days of school left, then she’s graduating, something I won’t get to attend and Caitlin will always remember her father was in prison for. She even told me that she already has a date for when she starts college in August; I don’t even know where she’s going to college at. My drug addiction and my imprisonment has separated me from the most important people in my life, my children. Missing out on so many years of their lives will hurt for an eternity, but more importantly I know that it’s hurting my poor innocent children, who deserve a better father then the one that I’ve been over the years. This is just a few of many reasons why I continue to bust my butt each and every day, to improve not just my life and future, also the life and future of my children. It will always be remembered and never forgotten, the wreckage of my past that continues to hurt the people I love most, and that really hurts deep. I often ask myself, WHY COULDN’T I HAVE WOKEN UP SOONER THEN THIS?!!???!!!……

by Steven Dybvad

I went down to the horticulture class the other day to speak with the teacher, in an attempt to pull information about the next list of students that will make the it into the upcoming course. I pled my case, stressing the importance of learning horticulture and how I plan to implement this knowledge after my release from prison. The teacher appeared to be a nice man, helpful, but unfortunately he said that he didn’t have access to the new list of students just yet and to try coming back in another month. I really hope I make the list this year; this is my last and only chance to take a course and certification in horticulture. What better opportunity to learn something that requires a year of education then now. I have a rare opportunity to learn, without the stress and fast passed life of the real world, where people have to maintain employment, supporting families, keeping up with so many responsibilities that make it very difficult for a man my age with children to find time for an education. Of course it’s possible, people do it all the time, this is just a better chance for me to focus all my energy on learning, just as I have been doing with so many other things in here.

by Steven Dybvad

I’ve been working diligently to complete the preface to my book. I’m almost finished, ready to send it home for my amazingly supportive family to retype and ship out to my publisher, Justin Paperny. According to my parents, my book should be completed and ready for purchase sometime this summer. Writing a book is such an accomplishment for me. From a lifetime of drug addiction, having flushed away so many opportunities for a successful life and future, missing out on so many cultural experiences all over the world, to finally doing something with myself, something of sustenance, something that has meaning and purpose, possibly helping others in similar situations as me to change their own life around. Over these last few years, I’ve made drastic changes, recovering from the grips of deadly, addictive substances, with no hope or even thought for a better future. In the very beginning of my stay at the county jail, my plans for imprisonment consisted of getting tattoos, drinking hooch and using other substances, possibly joining a gang if I had to in order to stay safe. All that changed after the drugs left my body and the fog lifted from my head. Caught up in the grips of addiction, I couldn’t see how messed up my thinking was, I saw my life as ruined beyond repair, I saw five years in prison as a death sentence, the final nail in a coffin that was my future. All that crap has drastically changed in my life.

by Steven Dybvad

While in the county jail, begging my parents to get me a good lawyer, and rescue me from my own self-destruction again, instead they searched and searched for other options, a way to help me help myself and save my own life. That’s when they discovered the Michael Santos Foundation, and the Straight A Guide To Success. This is when my entire life began to change. I was already starting to wake up from a drug induced stupidity, desperate for a change, willing to try anything that could possibly change the outcome of my future. My parents gave me Justin Papernys’ phone number, a representative of the Straight A program, publisher, and close friend to Michael Santos. After talking with Justin, assessing whether or not my desire to change was genuine, he decided to take me on as a client, sending me books and assignments, urging me to create a daily blog to hold myself accountable to, keeping a record of my journey through prison, showing my family and possible future employers documented proof of the changes I made throughout my journey, setting minds at ease and giving myself a fighting chance at a successful future. Since that first conversation with Justin, almost three years ago, I’ve held up my commitment to change, completing every task assigned by Justin, maintaining a personal blog and account of my life in prison, every single day, holding myself to a much higher standard of living, with my future in mind, in every decision I make, big or small. I made a promise not just to my family, but more importantly to myself, to a sober life, free of any addictive substances, and now I have three awesome years of sobriety. I told myself and my family that I would stay far away from getting any tattoos, joining any gangs, or for that matter breaking any rules made by prison and by law and I’ve held up to that promise. Living everyday sober, with my future after release always in mind has strengthened and improved the ethics, morals and values that my parents worked so hard to raise me with. Now I have so many ambitions and aspirations for my future that I find myself having to write them down on paper just to keep track. Living this way every day strengthens my ability to live sober, healthy and goal oriented, thus ensuring the success of my future outside of prison. Prison has saved my life.


Copyright 2017 The Michael G. Santos Foundation