by Steven Dybvad

Saturday, June 1, 2013.

It feels great to be completely finished with my straight a guide workbook assignments. I’m so ready to make new goals and take on more projects.


Say what doesn’t feel good, missing yet another one of my son’s birthdays. Taylor turns eight years old today and the only thing I was able to do was send him some drawings I made in a birthday card from the commissary. This continues to eat me up inside and I just can’t imagine what it’s doing Taylor but, most of all, things like this are reasons I know that I’ll never again return to a life of crime and addiction.


Sunday, June 2, 2013.


Yesterday was difficult for me. All day I was thinking about my son, on his birthday, without his father. I remember some of my birthdays from his age, this means that Taylor will also never forget. Were hurts even more is that he still has two more birthdays to go without me, and Caitlin has three more birthdays. The decisions of my past continue to cause more pain, on days like this I find very hard to forgive myself and move on. I also think that maybe the pain of losing my on Norma may be increasing the trauma in other areas in my life. It’s very hard to find any kind of closure. Being stuck in this cell with writing is my only outlet.


Monday, June 3, 2013.


Yesterday I tried to get a hold of Justin Paperny on the phone to let him know that I completed my assignment, on time, as promised. I also wanted to touch base with him and get a bearing on where to go from here. I was unfortunately unable to get a hold of him, but, we have already discussed what I’m going to do now. As far as goals, so I’m not at all lost by far.


Since I couldn’t get a hold of Justin, I took the time to call home, check in with mom and dad, and see how well everyone is recovering and the loss of my dear sweet and Norma. Dad answered, told me that I had just missed my mom, along with my daughter, Caitlin, who just left the house in route to my son, Taylor’s birthday party. Dad told me that everyone is doing well considering the circumstances of our latest family tragedy. I was very pleased to hear that they’re all moving forward with life, working hard to bounce back. I just hope that Taylor had the best birthday possible.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013.


Today’s one of those days, I’m just feeling crappy. Everything seems to be getting on my nerves; petty issues that wouldn’t usually bother me are getting under my skin. My prison time remaining is constantly running through my mind, I’m not even halfway through my sentence yet. I have many more birthdays and holidays to miss out on, more loved ones could pass away, and so much more, the list just goes on and on. On days like today I just wish I could reboot my system. Even today, after having more than two years of healthy sobriety, I find it so hard to deal with reality. I guess this is what it’s like to be in normal, functioning, responsible adult. All I can do now is write down my troubles on paper and pray that God carries me through the day.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013.


I’m doing a little better today. I think that maybe a little of my troubles might have originated from my conversation with my father. Let me explain this as best as I can, because we didn’t have any kind of an argument, nor was he scolding me in any way. It’s just that I respect my father so much, his words hold so much validity that they resonate in my mind. Dad has a way of pulling my head out of the clouds, back down to Earth. He never bites his tongue, or sugarcoats his words. I’ve learned to appreciate his words rather than oppose them, as I’ve done for far too long in my life. I realize that I’m so affected by what he says because he speaks only the truth, and often for me, the true reality of my past and present circumstances are painful, and will unfortunately continue to cause more pain in the future. I finally see that this is a form of my father’s love, I’m thankful for this love and I’m very fortunate to have someone like him to bring me back to reality. Thank you dad, I love you.


Thursday, June 6, 2013.


The intensity of my daily workout routine continues to increase, never decreasing. Sometimes I get discouraged. But, I never give up. This is where my addictive compulsive personality takes effect in my life. I get very impatient, expecting more immediate results. Often I feel like I should be losing more weight and gaining more muscle tissue quicker. Then, to top it off, I often get injured or sore to the point where I can’t do anything at all until I hear a lot. I see so many muscular men on the yard and wonder why I’m not getting their but; I know that I’m getting there, its slow process, not to mention my body is also recovering from a lifetime of abuse.


Friday, June 7, 2013.


There’s a big list of inmates getting security reviews this month and I’m quite sure I’m on that list. I have zero doubts about taking every single step that’s necessary to get my security lowered, thus moving on to a much better prison. But, I’m still very concerned that I won’t qualify to the severity of my conviction. One thing is for sure, I’ll stop at nothing to prepare and plead my case to the prison counselors, pointing out my personal accomplishments that aren’t listed on my prison record, such as my blog, book working in my daily accountability log that shows my hard work in changing my life are good and avoiding the negative behaviors that commonly go hand-in-hand with the prison machine.


Saturday, June 8, 2013.


Every day I pray for my family safety, and every day. I worry, wondering if everyone is all right, hoping that the latest local tragedy on the news isn’t anyone I know.


My choices in life as cost so much pain, and will continue to cause more pain, I often find it very hard to forgive myself and move past it, but in the same breath, I know that this form of negative thoughts gets me nowhere, so I progress, move forward, give myself a kick in the rear end, and then I remind myself how far I’ve come in life, and when I take a real good look, the difference is night and day.


Sunday, June 9, 2013.


I’ve been getting so far with my jogging on the track, I just can’t wait to get transferred to a better prison, with the track paved in concrete, or black top, instead of this heavy sand, where it’s easy to twist an ankle if you’re not paying attention. On average I run around 10 miles a day. I look forward to seeing how far I can run when I have more than just an hour and a half outside. It’s also amazing how much easier it is to fall asleep at night when I work out hard during the day. Ever since I stopped taking any kind of psych meds more than a year ago, it was impossible to get a good night’s rest, but now, since I’m always working out, getting to sleep is effortless.



Monday, June 10, 2013.


The office is continuing with more security reviews today, I haven’t yet been called down, but I know it will be soon. The anticipation is unsettling. My review could very well go either way, not because of my behavior, or prison record because that continues to remain untarnished. I could possibly be stuck here for another year due to the severity of my level I felony conviction, and just knowing this bothers me to no end. Nevertheless, I know that whatever happens out of my control, I will continue to make responsible decisions as a rational adult, with my future always in mind with every single choice I make, and that in itself places my mind at ease.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013.


Working out so therapeutic for me, it helps me get through difficult days, and glide through a normal day; I would be a big ball of pent-up emotions without fitness.


I am so charged up about seeing the caseworkers for my 12 month security review. I so desperately want to get to a better prison, one where I’m not confined to my cell 22 hours a day. My mind and body is telling me I need to get around and be more active each day, so much that I often contemplate getting a job so I can get out of the cell and move around. But, I know that that would be a bad idea in prison such as this one, were trouble is around every corner, multiplying my exposure in here would very likely put me in a situation out of my control, resulting in a rule infraction, or some other blemish on my perfect record and that’s just not worth the risk.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013.


Here we go again! Once again I have yet another pinched nerve or some other similar kind of extremely sharp pain in my upper back, so much that it’s affecting the motion of my neck. Now I have to take it easy again, unable to complete my daily fitness routine. I’m so frustrated, it seems like this is happening way too often to me. I know that part of it’s because for the majority of every day. My body is forced to be stuck in this tiny cell, 22 hours every single day, unable to move around and stretch like a normal, healthy human being should be able to do. Times like this I just want to scream at my body, tell it to wake up, and get healthy, like I’ve been working so hard to do for the last six months. The matter how much pain I’m in, I’ll never give up, but for today, I guess I have to lay on my rack and hope I heal up quick.


Thursday, June 13, 2013.


Wow! I can’t believe my back feels better already after just one day a painful rest, I feel better, pain free, ready for some push-ups and running. In the past, having a painful injury like the one I had yesterday, I would be out of commission for at least a week. It looks like my hard work and unwavering dedication to health and fitness is paying off. After all.


I never seem to get used to the cell shakedowns. Although I don’t take it personally, it’s very frustrating when a guard comes into my living quarters and tears up every personal item I own, sometimes mixing my belongings with my cellmate’s leaving us to clean up and reorganize after the guard playing demolition man leaves to tear the next cell apart.


Friday, June 14, 2013.


I hope everyone in my family is recovering well and moving forward with life. I haven’t talked to anyone in a couple of weeks, and today seems to be one of those days that I just miss them a little more than usual. I’m so excited about getting started on my first book, going through some printouts of my blog, and finding my best work to go in the book. September is my deadline goal that I established with Justin when he was here visiting with me, that’s just 3 1/2 short months away.


Saturday, June 15, 2013.


This morning I run a packet of information that my mother just sent me, the packet contained all the details of my on Norma’s death, funeral, counseling of my family, and more importantly celebrating the memories of her life. This information was extremely helpful to me, forward enables me to feel the pain of her passing and connect with my family in a way that I’ve been unable to do for myself before this. I was very pleasantly surprised to get a pass for a visit with my family tomorrow. I’m so excited to see their faces, receiver warm embracing hug, kiss, and catch up on the latest topics. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them because of all of the difficulties in dealing with my on Norma’s passing.



Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Today was a great day! I got to spend time with my precious son and my mother. It’s never easy to talk about serious issues when my son, Taylor is there but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Time spent with my children, connecting as often as we can is of the utmost importance. I only wish I could get more time to spend with my daughter, Caitlin.

by Steven Dybvad

Monday, May 13, 2013.


I’m spending a lot of time in deep thought and prayer. I’m very concerned about my Aunt Norma’s health and the effect it’s having on my family, mainly my mother. I know how deeply affected my mother gets when our loved ones are in turmoil, and it pains me as well. I’m just so bothered knowing that she’s constantly worrying about her son, doing time in the penitentiary, along with her sister, battling with cancer. I just don’t want anyone in my entire family to ever have to worry about me again, I will fight hard, with all of my might, to ensure my family’s piece of mind, when it comes to me. I only hope that through all this mock, everyone was able to have a decent Mother’s Day.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013.


I just got back from an unexpected appointment with the prisons dietitian. I was extremely pleased to see that I’ve lost another 10 pounds since I last weighed myself just about a month ago. That comes to a grand total of and 80 pound weight loss since I first arrived here at Lebanon, just eight months ago. My hard work and dedication to great health and fitness is undeniably paying off. The dietitian commended me on my commitment to better health, stating that it’s easy to gain weight, but difficult to lose. I agree that it’s harder to lose weight but, the process in itself a fulfilling experience that I will never forget.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013.


This year seems to be flying by so fast; I only hope the rest of my sentence moves with the same illusion of such rapid speed. I know that the increase in my daily activities has a lot to do with how much time seems to be flying by, which is why my goals are ever-changing, setting the bar higher and higher as a course of action that I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life.


My son, Taylor’s birthday is coming up, on June 1. Taylor will be eight years old. All I can do is send him a card, and draw him some pictures and it eats me up inside. This is just one of many reasons that I’ve made a conscious decision to change my life around, be successful with the rest of my life, and never return to prison again, or abandon my children for that matter.



Thursday, May 16, 2013.


So much dust, dirt, and crime, so many mice and cockroaches, it’s enough to ruin anybody’s day. Now that it’s getting warm outside again, I’m starting to see roaches everywhere. Last night mice kept waking me up, from the sound of them crawling on everything crinkling paper, or bags. So, my cellmate and I got a hold of some bleach and chemicals from a guy that works in the laundry room, and decided to do a super cell, clean, critter extra mint today. I was horribly disgusted at the sight of uncovering thousands of cockroaches from several different nesting areas in our cell. Big and small, they all started the scattered everywhere. As we both tried to kill as many as possible by squashing them with their shower shoes. It’s a wonder were not constantly sick from these poor, unhealthy living insects.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Today I continue to mourn the loss of my amazing on Norma. I am at a terrible loss of words. There’s been so much that’s been running through my head since my father told me on the phone last night. I think I handled myself well, when dad told me on the phone yesterday, and even though something inside of me already knew that she had passed away, I was in a bit of a shock after being informed. I told myself I was going to go upstairs to my cell and cry for her but, all I can get out is a prayer. Today, on the other hand, it’s all starting to set in; I never get to see my favorite aunt, ever again. Not only that, I don’t even get to attend her funeral and say my goodbyes, because of my poor, selfish, criminal minded decisions. I didn’t get to show her what a great man, I can truly be, but, I know that she’ll be in heaven, with grandpa, looking down at all of us and smiling. Like grandpa, Aunt Norma is no longer in pain; she’s in a much better place now. What bothers me more than anything is how hard this is on the rest of my family. My healthy grandmother has lost another child; my mother has lost another sibling, her only sister, who I know she was so very close to. My cousin Aaron lost his mom, and I just couldn’t imagine losing mine. My entire family is grieving the loss of a wonderful woman, holidays and get-togethers never are the same. Most important of all, we should all be remembering to celebrate the life of Norma Chandler. Norma was a special person, with so much love in her heart. Her smile, her character, and the unique sound of her intoxicating laughter could light up the room and move any party. This is why we are sad; she will be missed because she was amazing.


Monday, May 20, 2013.


Today is another rough day. I can sense the pain in my entire family is going through from losing Aunt Norma. I just wish I could be there to grieve with them, offer them a shoulder to cry on, comfort one another, and perhaps even shed a few tears myself.


I feel on edge today. Petty problems, issues, silly trivial things I would normally concern myself with are getting under my skin. All I can do is close my eyes, take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and remind myself that everything is going to be fine, grieving is a process, I just need to continue to utilize healthy outlets like writing and working out. These ROM motions are still very foreign to me, and dealing with them is even more difficult when all I have is myself, here in this lonely cell. I am more pained at the fact that I can’t offer any kind of support for the rest of my family, during this time of need, when family is needed the most.


Two years later, my past criminal decisions still haunts me and my family, this is not an easy pill to swallow.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013.


As my family and I grieve the loss of a loved one, many others are suffering unexpected losses, men, women, and children died tragically in the devastating tornado that tore through Oklahoma. My thoughts and prayers go out to all these people and their families, as they continue to search for survivors. Beneath the rubble.


I vividly remember writing in December of last year about all of the horrible occurrences that happened in 2012, one after the other, from hurricanes to mass shootings, it seemed like, I thought to myself, it just can’t possibly get any worse than this. So I wrote about my optimistic hopes for 2013. Well I was so wrong. The world isn’t the same. It was when I was a kid. It scares me to think about what life has in store for my children and someday their children. From pollution on the earth polluting our brains with Internet fell, we have become so calloused and thoughtless about what we’re leaving behind for the next generation. When does it stop? Where does it start? As individuals, we have to take responsibility for our actions and do our part to change and make a difference.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013.


Today, aside from running more laps than ever in a single day, along with the rest of my daily fitness routine, I’ve been trying to finish up some of my best drawings for my son, Taylor. Taylor’s birthday is next week, on June 1. This is one of three more of his birthdays that I have to miss out on. Tears me apart when I think about things like this, but, on the brighter side, I know that after my release, I’ll never ever miss another single one of his birthdays, or my daughters, or anyone else’s for that matter. Such trials and tribulations of my incarceration that used to get me down and depressed in the past, now give me the continued strength and motivation to work harder and ensuring the success of my future.


Thursday, May 23, 2013.


I believe that by now, my family may have already laid my on Norma to rest. My heart is with them all in these emotionally difficult times. My entire family so very close to one another, I can only imagine how hard this must be for all of them. So, I sit here in silence, saying a prayer, thanking God for ending all the pain that Norma felt here on earth. I know that she’s in heaven, reunited with other family members. We’ve lost, and smiling down on all of us, and for that reason alone I feel great comfort in knowing that everything is going to be just fine. I only pray that the rest of my family can begin to feel same way.


Friday, May 24, 2013.


Today just seems to be one of those days. I don’t know what I could possibly write about. I just kind of feel down in the muck today. I’m trying to feel the pain and mourn the passing of my on Norma. Prison has in a sense calloused me and desensitized my grieving, by being separated from family and society for so long, I’m unable to gather with my loved ones an attempt to grieve, say goodbye, and try hard to move on. It says if it hasn’t happened yet for me, in a way time has stopped.


Saturday, May 25, 2013.


I still haven’t talked to my mom on the phone since I last spoke with dad about aunt Norma’s passing I’m going to call her tomorrow morning when they let us out of our cells for day room. My biggest concern about talking to my mom is empathizing her strong emotions will trigger the emotions that I’ve somehow suppressed, causing me to cry in the phone room. This is unfortunately something I cant afford to do in here, crying shows weakness, for that reason alone, I must contain myself; no matter how much I want to grieve with my mother.


Sunday, May 26, 2013.


Speaking with my mom on the phone was a little easier than I expected. Thankfully my father talked to her about trying to keep her composure during our phone conversation. I desperately wanted to cry with her, feel the pain, perhaps able to feel just a little better afterword, I could tell that she wanted to do the same, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her either. But, we both did fine, having a good conversation about the rest of my family, the latest news and what’s happening with everyone else. I miss my family very much; I just can’t wait to be a functioning part of my loving family, once again, and forever more.


Monday, May 27, 2013.


I miss my family very much. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen my daughter, Caitlin, and I still can’t stop thinking about how she’s doing. That old saying out of sight out of mind just isn’t true when you love someone, especially when it’s a daughter, or a son. Thankfully I have great parents. The spend plenty of time with Caitlyn, and they tell me all about her. But, sometimes the more I hear about her, the more I miss her. Taylor’s birthday is on Saturday, just another special, important day. The Taylor will always remember that daddy wasn’t there. My addiction has pushed me so far away from my children, guilt of my bad choices in life. Just eats me up inside. Another of many huge reasons to continue to change my life around. I look forward to the day that I can begin to rebuild our relationships from outside of these walls.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013.


Today was another day that every single inmate from three different cellblocks had report to the yard so they could spray pesticides in the hallways outside of our cells. To me this seems pointless, because the bugs never die. The cockroaches thrive in this prison. This is made it quite difficult to get to the store, which is today, instead of our normal Monday store time, because of Memorial Day being yesterday. Looks like we may have to wait another day, oh well, no big deal. It was very interesting to look around the yard at the men never go outside and laissez absolutely have to, like today, when they spray for bugs every three months.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013.


I just came back from pass for a dentist appointment. I went in thinking that they were finally going to get some cavities filled that they had promised to take care of last year. To my utter disappointment. They told me I was scheduled for extraction. In fear of losing more teeth at this point in my incarceration. However inevitable, I reluctantly had to decline. My health has become so important to me that I’m concerned about having such a major medical procedure done in this filthy environment. Not to mention I can’t stand the thought of walking around with no teeth. It’s not as much the vanity issue for me right now as it is for maintaining a sense of safety and security around inmates. This is a little difficult for me to explain, all I can say is that the more masculine I can look, the less likely that another inmate with a reckless character is to test me. So for that reason alone, I shall try to hold onto my bad teeth until I’m closer to the end of my sentence, or at least for as long as I can.


Thursday, May 30, 2013.


Crunch time, I spent the last couple of days working diligently to finish my work book assignments by the end of the month, just as I promised Justin Paperny when he came here to visit. It is one of my goals to make absolutely sure that from now on I can be trusted as a man of my word. My word is very important to me, it’s the same as honesty, if I don’t hold up to my word, that I’m being deceitful, and living dishonestly is a key part of what got me here. Line creates guilt; guilt sends me on a further path of self-destruction, as well as everyone else around me. I refuse to ever go back down that path again. I’m in love with the path I’m on and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Friday, May 31, 2013.


Just as promised Justin, I’ve completed my work book assignments, and now I’m ready to start piecing together my first book, I’m so excited!


After being sent back inside from yard recreation because of the rain, I finally got a hold of my dear friend, Peri it was great to hear her voice, catch up on the latest issues, and talk about health, fitness, and food, a few things we both really enjoyed. I’m so very fortunate to have a friend like her in my life, although I’ve known her nearly my entire life, were so close that she might as well be family. Peri’s daughter, Gretchen is the closest thing to a sister that I’ve ever had.

by Steven Dybvad

Wednesday, May 1, 2013.


Back in action and feeling much better. My back is still sore but, it is indeed improving. This was my second day back out on the yard since the rainy weather and my back injury. I feel as if I never had to take a few days off of jogging and working out. My hard work and dedication to a healthier lifestyle is certainly paying off.


Last week, before I hurt my back, I had to make a decision to distance myself from certain individuals that I was once working out with. For safety and security reasons I won’t get into any details. Although I can say is that I refuse to take a single step back from my growth and recovery by compromising any of my morals that I have worked so hard to regain in my life and future as a man with a strong, ferocious will to do better.


Monday, May 6, 2013.


I used to enjoy the rain outside but, now it’s really annoying to see it raining outside, because the rain keeps us from going outside! So, instead of jogging on the track, counting the miles I run each day, I have to jog standing in place in my cell. Today’s just another rainy day, of course it never slows me down, or deters me from working out, and it’s just a small thorn in my side, one of many thorns acquired from day-to-day life in prison.


I think about my on Norma and her battle with cancer, all of the time and I pray for her constantly. This is been very hard on the entire family; I can really see it taking a toll on my mother. I just wish there was something more I could do. I’m just glad that my mother doesn’t have to worry about me, on the street, using drugs, possibly overdosing, or doing something for drugs that could get me killed. I’m really starting to see clearly how much heartache and pain. I was causing my family.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013.


Oh, what an ugly forecast for the weekly weather here in Ohio. Looks like I’ll be jogging in place, here in my cell, at least for the rest of the week. I just can’t wait to get transferred to another prison, where inmates are able to go outside all year long regardless of rain or snow. Not to mention that most of the other prisons in the state of Ohio have tracks that are paved in either black top, or concrete, opposed to the dirt track here at Lebanon, where the dirt is composed of mostly sand and gravel, making it difficult to run on whether it’s dry body.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013.


I never thought that I’d be saying this, until after I started setting regularly increasing goals. But, now I can very happily say that all of my workout repetitions have reached beyond the thousands, daily. Everything I do, whether its push-ups, crunches, squats, or curling my bag of books, I do 1000 a day, in sets of 25, or 50. I’m so much happier and healthier, ever since December of last year, when I decided my New Year’s resolution would be to focus all of my extra time and energy on improving my health, permanently, and for the rest of my life. And it’s not just fitness that I’m committed to, it’s also what I eat and put in my body altogether. I’m always watching what I’m eating, I’ve stopped eating noodles, I watch my sodium intake, I stopped eating beef he meets like summer sausages, and switch them for tuna and chicken, I don’t ever eat sweets anymore either, I find myself reading the nutritional facts on every package, I only wish I could do the same with the food in the Chow Hall.


Thursday, May 9, 2013.


I’m getting so frustrated with the seemingly constant injuries to my body. My lower back just started feeling better. A couple of short days ago, now I must have done something to my upper back because I’m paralyzed with pain. I can hardly move around without feeling sharp, throbbing pain. My upper back hurts so much that I can’t even move my head, in order for me to look around I have to move my entire upper body in the direction I want to see. This is so frustrating to me because my health is been so important to me, and these injuries are affecting my daily fitness routine, or anything else for that matter. Even sitting up to read or write is very difficult for me right now.


Friday, May 10, 2013.


I’m still so entirely frustrated right now! My back is in so much pain, I can’t do a single thing right now, I shouldn’t even be writing this, and I feel bad writing. I’m in so much pain, I hurt. Well I’m lying completely still on my bed. I finally broke down and took some ibuprofen around an hour ago and yet I feel no different.


Saturday, May 11, 2013.


Last night I received a hall pass for a visit with my mother tomorrow, which is also Mother’s Day, so I called her this morning to check and see if she would really have the time to come out here because I knew she’d be trying to cram many other things into her schedule like visiting her own mother, and sister, who is battling with cancer. I was upset to hear that my Aunt Norma, her sister might not survive the battle. Mom said she was going to spend time with them and come and see me tomorrow, but I asked her not to come and see me, she needs to spend all the time she can with her sister. Besides, I don’t think I could live with any more guilt something were to happen to Norma while my mom was in a prison, visiting with her son. My greatest fear of being incarcerated is losing a loved one, never to see them again, or even attend their funerals. But, right now, I’m more concerned with my mother’s well-being; she just doesn’t need any more on her plate. I’ve caused her so much pain and stress that I never wanted to happen again. So I sit here in my cell, praying to God to heal my Aunt Norma, and comfort my family’s restless hearts, hoping that everyone can have the best Mother’s Day possible tomorrow.


Sunday, May 12, 2013.


To all of the mothers out there, I wish you a happy Mother’s Day! I’m happy to know that my sobriety has not only allowed me to be able to remember special days like this one, but, also, to have enough care and awareness to take enough time to at least mail out cards to loved ones, and time for them to read them on, or before the special days. Reasons like these continue to give me the strength and motivation to keep improving the quality of my life, every day, setting more goals, reaching them, and preparing for my future in every way possible. Ever-increasing my chances for success, never to return to crime, substances, prison, or even an early death.

by Steven Dybvad

Monday, April 1, 2013.


Finally, for the first time in my life I have the manly chest and arms. Of course my body is a major work in progress. But, I can already see and feel major progress in my strength, muscle mass, stamina, and just my all-around daily health. I feel such a daily satisfaction in my unwavering dedication to change. Three months ago, in December of 2012, I made a resolution to changing my health and body and I stuck to my guns, I haven’t given up. Since then, and I feel so good about my life that I have no doubt that I will never go back to living unhealthy.


Upon hearing the Chow Hall for lunch today, I noticed that there were people dressed in suits and skirts, males and females from the outside world. They were scattered around various tables, mingling and eating with us, even our new Warden was at a table, eating with the inmates. No wonder the food was just a little extra tasty. I’m not sure why exactly they were here; all I know is that I heard there from a state office in Columbus. Unfortunately, nobody was sitting at the table that I ate at to talk to.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013.


I just returned from a hall pass to go get some legal mail, at least that’s what the past said. I had no idea what I could possibly be receiving from the courts, but this time I remain calm and rational until I could find out what was really going on. When I finally got to the mail room, I quickly found out that had nothing to do with legal mail. What I found out was that the new Warden issued a restriction on all-time magazines for this month. I had to sign a form, allowing them to either dispose of the magazine, or send home. I was told that the warden placed a restriction on the time magazine specifically for just this month because of the article on gay marriage, with two men kissing on the front. Now I’m not going to speak on my beliefs about this subject as it has created such a controversial uproar in our nation right now. But, I am very curious to know whether or not it was right for the warden to issue such a ban on up-to-date information that we should have the right to be privy to.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013.


I can feel it a lot of animosity and frustration building up inside of me towards my cellmate. In the past, I’ve tried to not write about other inmates on my blog, per suggestions of Justin Paperny me and the possibility of repercussions. However, I do think I’m a fairly good judge of character I’m confident that I can write within the boundaries of a variable recursive action against me. Besides, I write in this journal, every single day, not just for others but more importantly for me, to help me grow in my ways, and find a positive and healthy release about. So, first of all, I know that there are other more herbal individuals that I could be locked in a cell with every day but this guy is really starting to get under my skin. He is so extremely passive; he just won’t speak up about a single problem. I also love to keep to myself. But, I don’t do things in spite and I speak up if I have an issue that needs to be addressed, otherwise how else will a problem get resolved, right? He seems to be getting more and more sneaky, I have caught him and some lies. He starting to take things from me when he knows all he has to do is ask me, things such as coffee, sweetener packets, envelopes, etc., all of which cost me money for my budget and can quickly add up over time. His hygiene is terrible and it’s getting worse as the season is warming up, so does the smell. I’m just so upset!


Thursday, April 4, 2013.


I pray every day for God to alleviate these frustrations with my cellmate. Yet, he continues to live rent free inside of my head. Even when I’m working out, or jogging in place, this issue continues to poison my thoughts. I know very well that this isn’t healthy for me and I just need to let it go, that’s why I continue to pray for God’s help, because this is difficult for me. I have an abundance of my own problems that I should be focusing on and it seems like this is slightly stunting my growth. I say slightly because I’ve come so far in my recovery and that I am so much stronger because of my efforts, allowing me to be more resilient to such nonsense.


Friday, April 5, 2013.


I finally just got one of my kites back that I had submitted for alcoholics anonymous, all the way back in August of last year. The only thing that was written as a response on the kite was letting me know that I’m on the waiting list and they could still take a long time. The only frustrating part about this whole thing is that the list is only this long because a lot of individuals are signed up for recovery classes to shave time off of their sentence, opposed other people, such as myself, who truly want to recover and improve the quality of my life.


Saturday, April 6, 2013.


My cellmate and I finally had an adult, man-to-man conversation, and it feels so much better in here. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I’m really starting to understand what it means to be a man, and how great it feels to have a sense of self-worth, self-accomplishment, and just a deep sense of peace and serenity with myself in the direction my life is headed.


Wow! Yes! Hooray! Today is the first day that they open the yard and I took full advantage of it to work out and do the physical activities I’ve been dying to do like jogging in circles, instead of in place. Jogging on the track is much more intense than jogging in place, just as I thought it would be.


After my job, I noticed three guys from the block doing the work out together. They seem like some decent guys, so I took a risk and asked them if I could join in on their workout. They were happy to take me in. Today they are working on the lower body. We were doing squats, thrusts, bear crawls, and crab walks across the field and back, over and over, it was endless, those guys pushed me to the point where my legs failed on me. Now I can hardly walk, let alone you’d make it up the steps to my third-floor cell. I feel great. I haven’t been this physically exhausted in years and I can’t wait for more.


Sunday, April 7, 2013.


Oh man, I am so so sore, I can hardly walk to the chalice all. I had to hold onto both rails just to make it down the steps without falling flat on my face. But, it was well worth it, and yes, I did force myself to go back out on the yard today. Today we worked out on the pull up bars, focusing on her upper body, doing an assortment of dips, pull-ups, push-ups, and various other upper body workouts. Now my whole entire body is sore and I love it!


We have mice all over the place in here; they don’t even bother me as much is the cockroaches. What’s really weird is that some of these guys are keeping their tails tied to a string and caring them around his pets. Now I’ve seen it all.


Monday, April 8, 2013.


I never thought that I could overexert my muscles without having to lift weights. But, I did. I’m so very sore right now, so sort hurts. I can hardly stand up, let alone walk down the steps into the Chow Hall; I simply have to force myself to move around. The longer I sit, or lay down on my back, the more my muscles begin to tighten and lock up on me. People are getting impatiently stuck behind me on the steps because I have to hold onto both rails in order to keep myself from falling down. This is not hurt my constant motivation for healthier, stronger, more physically fit way of life goes, although I do feel an uncomfortable amount of pain, I know it’s a good healthy pain, as a result of my hard work, and it will only get easier for me as I continue on my journey to the healthier way of life.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013.


I think that God point me in the direction of my new workout buddies. Ever since the first day I started working out with them, when the yard first open, they’ve all been periodically stopping by my cell door to make sure I’m going to join them again on the next day’s work out. Even though I’m already completely dedicated to physical fitness it’s nice to have that extra support from others, not to mention my much-needed interaction with people doing positive things to strengthen our lives.


I’m loving the smell of fresh cut grass, clean air, and looking at my Rosie red cheeks in the mirror, from the sun shining on my face. This time of year is a really big reminder of what I’m missing out on as a free man. This is also a reminder of how much I’ve grown as a man. This time last year I was so depressed about the life I’ve given up that I just couldn’t really even think about anything else other than how sad I was, but, now, I use these thoughts to my vantage, by telling myself to continue moving forward in my growth process, so that I never have to even worry about returning to this horrible way of life.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013.


Today’s a day, I finally get to meet Justin Paperny me, and I’m so anxious and excited! There are many things I’d like to talk to him about, I just hope that I can remember most of the topics of conversation because, unfortunately the prison won’t allow me to bring any papers to the visitation room. Regardless, I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful visit.


What a great visit! I’m so thrilled and honored that Justin was able to take the time to fly across the country to come and see me and my family in person. We had a great conversation, talk about my progress, and set up some new and exciting goals. It was so gratifying to see someone who has given me so much direction in life, and to hear him knowledge how much he seemed growth in my work is indescribable. It’s satisfying when I hear it coming from a man who I respect so much. This is just one of yet another great celebration in progress that Michael Santos reminds us all to take time for in a recovery. To future success.

Thursday, April 11, 2013.


Yesterday was a big day for me. I feel, in a sense, refreshed with a new setting on my compass for life. My batteries never died. But, I still feel recharged and ready to take on these next three years with a new and improved direction, going on to the life that I’ve set in motion.


Unfortunately, the yard is closed today due to the rain, so I did my usual self. Fitness routine, and somehow I’ve injured my lower back, it doesn’t feel like a serious injury but, my back is definitely sore. Whenever I think about a soreness, or injuries. Lately, I don’t think so much about the pain as I do about its effect on any of my future workouts. For example, I was going to work out a second time today after lunch, now I think I should probably take it easy for the rest of the day. I only hope the soreness improves in time for tomorrow’s work out because I can’t stand to miss a day.


Friday, April 12, 2013.


We just had a shake down in the block. Cell by cell, the guards tore through, demolishing everyone’s personal belongings all along the way. This is a result of anonymous inmate frustrating the guards on duty. Some sick individual defecated in the showers and left it there as a gift for others. Since this individual wasn’t caught in the act, the only repercussion that was logical to the guards on duty was to tear ourselves apart. I’m not upset about the shakedown, for this is just another inevitable part of prison life, what I don’t enjoy is having to completely reorganize myself. At least a guard was nice enough to leave my shelves glued to the wall. What’s most upsetting is living in fear of stepping into a pile of feces, left behind in the shower by another grown man.


Saturday, April 13, 2013.


Of course, as to be expected in Ohio, after a few, short glorious days of warm weather. It has turned cold. Now normally this wouldn’t bother me but, just a couple of days ago the prison shut off the hot furnace and switched it rectally over to cold air conditioning. So now, on top of the cold, 20° temperatures outside, we have an air-conditioning vent that might as well have icicles hanging off of it. It was so cold last night that I hardly got any sleep. The day after tomorrow is supposed to be back in the 70s, and soon I’ll be writing about the unbearable heat again. I guess that’s Ohio for you. As so famously stated if you don’t like the weather Ohio stick around. It will change.


Sunday, April 14, 2013.


My mother came to visit me again today. It was a very pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting her because she said she was exhausted from a busy week, plus she’s going to spend some quality time with her sister, my aunt Norma, who is still going through hard times with cancer and chemotherapy. I only wish I hadn’t done so much damage that my mother could comfortably focus on her sister’s well-being and know that I’ll be fine missing out on a visit. I worry about my on Norma to, and I pray for her every day. I could see how upset and emotional my mom is about everything and I only wish that there was more I could do to comfort her and put her mind at ease.


Monday, April 15, 2013.


This week I’ve set a new goal for my workout routine. Now, instead of working out once a day, and twice every third day, I’m doubling everything. So, from now on I’ll be working out twice a day, and three times every third day. I’m very excited to do this I have absolute confidence, with no doubts that my new goals are attainable and well within my reach. My strength and stamina increases with every day, making my regular routine easier and easier, enabling me to set new goals and constantly giving me a satisfying sense of accomplishment. The goals, coupled with new goals I’ve set in place with Justin Paperny me, eats away at the monotonous feelings that I would normally have. Due to this prison life.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013.


A great big change in my workout is going to take some serious adjusting. I’m constantly taking ibuprofen from all the soreness. I know that over time I’ll get better and stronger. But, it’s a very grueling process. But, still very rewarding. I worked out twice and myself before making it to the yard last night for my third workout with my three other fitness partners. This really did me in, trying to keep up with three other individuals, especially after already working out twice was next to impossible. But, the guy stuck with me and pushed me to keep going and that felt great. My body, once again, shut down from muscle failure, and once again, today, I’m intensely sore, but this time. I’ve already finished one fitness session in attempts to loosen up those sore muscles.


My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people in Boston affected by the tragic bombing yesterday. It’s very difficult to watch some of the scenes from yesterday’s incident on television. But what’s more disturbing is the fact that whoever did this is getting exactly what they wanted, total news coverage and mass publicity.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013.


Since my increase in daily activity, I’m now constantly feeling very hungry, sore, and tired. Sometimes all I can think about is food and it’s driving me crazy because I’m trying so hard to lose weight and get fit. I know that I’m already eating enough healthy food throughout the day; my brain is just stuck on food, the same way it used to be stuck on drugs.


Well finally I got another try monthly appointment for a checkup with the Dr. The last time I saw the Dr. was early January, and I weighed in at 210 pounds. I’m hoping I lost at least about 20 pounds. Fingers are crossed.


Thursday, April 18, 2013.


I’m very pleased to announce that lost 18 pounds I weighed in at 192 pounds compared my previous weight of 210 pounds in January. I still think I could lose a little more weight if I work harder each day.


So much tragedy on the news this week, all over our great nation. How could one possibly think with a positive mindset with all of this negativity about a world on every channel, every newspaper, magazine, and all over the World Wide Web? I feel great sorrow for all of our children being raised in all of this confusion.


Sunday, April 21, 2013.


I’ve added curls to my workout and man, can I feel the burn! I have enough books and magazines saved up to fill up my knitted laundry bag. I’m not sure how much weight it is total but, it takes both of my arms to lift. I’m glad to have thought of this because nothing else in my routine really focuses primarily on my biceps.


The thought of being surrounded by germs in this. Unsanitary place is really starting to get to me. I’m constantly cleaning everything and washing my hands after everything I touch. It’s starting to make me paranoid, I just don’t want to get sick, or catch anything. Being sober for so long really starts to make me think about all variable future repercussions to any and all of my actions. I’m happy to get this extra six cents back in my mind, it’s just a new, foreign responsibility that takes some adjusting to I just need to find a happy medium opposed to being so extreme.


Monday, April 22, 2013. Regardless of my constant pain and soreness from working out every day, I’ve stopped taking ibuprofen completely; just because I know it’s unhealthy to take so many pills. Plus, I also realize that if I’m masking my pain and soreness with pills, I could potentially hurt myself even more by over exerting an injured body part.


I just can’t seem to go through the day, making any single decision without being horribly concerned as to whether or not said decision will have a direct or even long-term effect on my health and future. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing but, it is quite cumbersome, and a burden. I know I have no choice but to bear.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013.


My outside running is improving tremendously. I find so much peace and running. All of my worries just seem to disappear when I’m on that track. I only wish I could do it more often, for longer amounts of time. Unfortunately, our chances for outside yard recreation are greatly dependent on the weather. If it rains, or the temperature drops below 60°, we have to stay inside. So this year, I’m actually looking forward to the warmer temperatures, allowing me for a steadier, more consistent cardio routine of jogging on the track, allowing me to increase my distance, speed, pace, time, and strength. I think I’m a great deal more prepared for the hot summer, considering I weigh 70 pounds less than I did last summer. All that extra weight made it so ridiculously uncomfortable for me; I refuse to let that happen to me anymore, ever again.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013.


I just picked up a book from the property room that Justin Paperny ordered for me, after our visit together, through The book is called Atlas shrugged and I’m quite anxious to read it. I’ve tripled my daily reading time in order to finish the really good book that I’m currently reading unbroken written by Laura Hillenbrand, the same author that wrote Sea biscuit, and believe you me, it’s a great book, based on a true story that will captivate any reader. I look forward to submitting my reports.


Thursday, April 25, 2013.


Bugs, mice, dust, dirt, germs, invisible bacteria, everything is starting to get to me. I’m starting to feel like Howie Mandel, with his germ phobia. This prison is just so old, dirty, and disgusting that I can’t wait to get transferred out of here.


I remember, as a child, before I got hooked on the party scene, using drugs, I have very similar paranoia of dirt and germs, and now it seems, the longer I remained sober and of clear thought in mind, the more mild lifestyle and train of thought returns. The life I lost for so long I thought would never return is slowly coming back to me and I love it. I would much rather have a constant fear of germs, and a constant fear of when or how I’m going to get my next fix.


Friday, April 26, 2013.


I’ve been trying really hard to strengthen my lower back through stretches and crunches but it just isn’t feeling any better. If you weeks ago I injured my lower back while working out on the yard with the guys. Since then, it only seems like its gotten worse. Being stuck in my cell for 22 hours every day, with no way possible of setting up straight just doesn’t help my problem. The reason that I can’t sit up straight in the cell is because the only thing to sit on in here is my bad, and on my bed, like now, well I’m sitting here writing, I have no choice but to hunch over because my cellmate’s bunk bed above me is so low that I would get my head in any attempt to set up straight. Needless to say, I’m having an uncomfortably difficult time just trying to finish this Journal entry with the amount of pain. I’m currently in. Fortunately for me, I don’t feel this pain and soreness when I’m up, moving around, working out on the yard. So I try to stay as active as possible, every chance I get.


 Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today my back still feels horrible, if not worse than yesterday. I can’t wait to get outside, get my body moving, and try to work out some kinks. Unfortunately today. This evening recreation, which means that I have to wait until about 5 PM to go out of the cell for two hours and according to the news, this is about the same time that it’s supposed to start raining, which means that they might not even let us outside. Just yet another great reason for readers on the verge of making poor decisions to think twice, before winding up in prison like me.


Sunday, April 28, 2013.


Very rarely do I ever take a break, or go a day without completing my usual routine. But, today I’m certainly going to make an exception for myself. Over the past several days, my lower back has been progressively getting worse, and today I can hardly sit up. I’ve been constantly stretching and working out every single day but, I fear that I might be permanently damaging my back by not giving it any time to heal. So, I’m going to give it a single day of rest, and that’s today. Amazingly, through all this pain and soreness, I still refuse to ingest or Medicaid, by using any unnecessary chemicals such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. My health still remains to be my number one priority in life.

by Steven Dybvad

251.        Leadership means setting a strong, sturdy example that others will want to follow.


252.        My life is been one huge lesson of trial and error, teaching me many things along the way, giving me a great deal of experience, enabling me to have the ability to show others a better way to live and lead by example.


253.        Leadership begins with a very strong code of morals, values, ethics, and a great deal of conviction in what we please.


254.        I believe the first we have to follow and learn from other strong leaders, emulating the life they live, or have once lived, before we can begin to lead others.


255.        By knowledge in the effects we have on others, maintaining accountability log, seeing growth in others, and just holding up to our own personal standards of life.


256.        A vision is essentially an attainable aspiration. To have a vision means to have desires for greater future, with reachable goals, ambitions, and the constant motivation to get there with detailed planning.


257.        The best way is by maintaining and constantly updating a structured accountability log.


258.        Leadership requires structure and discipline, having accountability tools are like having a compass and map, with destinations.


259.        A strong leader would not only utilize these tools, also shows others and encourage them to participate, just as Michael did.


260.        Leading by example is practicing what we preach, doing what we say, and showing others how to live instead of telling them.


261. Tab leading with integrity is standing up for what we believe is right, unwavering, never changing, and even in the face of adversity. Integrity is priceless.


262.        Living life selfishly is a terrible way to live; selfish decisions got me where I am. The place. Other need for my own, for me, is to change and grow for the better. The think of others is to think responsibly and to have a conscience.


263.        Positive behavior in prison can bring much hope and greater awareness to the people we connect with, enabling them to provide us with the help and sponsorship needed for us to grow.


264.        I personally depend on people like Michael Santos, Justin Paperny me, family members, authors of autobiographies about people who have been where I am in life and turned it into a life of success.


265.        Again. I admire Michael Santos Justin Paperny me, my father, my mother, my cousin Aaron and many other highly successful individuals.


266.        Plainly and simply, to emulate the lives of my leaders is to be successful beyond the shadow of a doubt, I know that my future holds success because this is the life I’ve chosen.


267.        Every day. I’m committed to executing the goals I’ve set in place for myself, ready to create new and better goals, and constant change for the success of my future.


268.        From exercising leadership my positive way of life can branch out to others through word-of-mouth, building a strong reputation for commitment far beyond these prison walls. People begin to stop judging me for the choices which led me to prison and begin to see me for the life I’m living now.


269.        The straight a guide his are influenced my prison adjustment tremendously in every facet of my day-to-day life in prison. The guide is allowed me to maneuver through prison strategically, improving my skills and values, creating better goals and renewing my aspirations.


270.        Everything that I learned and practiced today is an orchestrated effort to prepare me for my success upon release. Every scale that I learned, and practice within these prison walls can be extrapolated into the world outside.


271.        I will never forget the joy, happiness, and renewed sense of hope that the straight a guide is not only provided for me but, for my family as well. This guide is taught me to hold myself accountable, to a higher standard constantly renew my goals, raise the bar higher, and reach for my aspiring dreams. These skills can and will be carried on into society and for the rest of my life. This guide is my compass, and without the skills. It has taught me I would be lost.

by Steven Dybvad

223.        My financial literacy. Today is horrible; I desperately want to get a grip on this for the sake of my future and the future of my children.


224.        Standing finances are detrimental to the quality of my success upon release.


225.        I believe the opportunities are endless, as long as our heart is in.


226.        I know that the cost of my imprisonment as a major financial burden on the state of Ohio, as well as my family and children.


227.        The stock market is a direct link to an explanation of what companies are thriving, as well as declining in value. Having an understanding of how stocks work is a crucial component to investors.


228.        Improving the skills will help me to make smarter decisions.


229.        My financial future burdens my thoughts, every hour of every day. I worry about how I will support myself and my children and how much I’ll be able to leave behind for them after I die.


230.        Insuring my chances for successful, drug-free life after release is the first of many dedicated steps that are I preparation for my retirement.


231.        Understanding and complying with US tax codes are a part of being a functionally contributing US citizen. The wiggle deceitfully around the tax codes is to break federal laws, going completely against the law abiding life that I’m working so hard to attain.


232.        Entrepreneurship is taking this successful business aspect of life into my own hands, becoming my own boss, and running my own company. This is one of my great aspirations.


233.        Aside from our horrible economy, I believe that people jump at the American dream of running their own business without having a full understanding of all of the requirements in running a business successfully.


234.        To run my life like a business, I have to learn new skills, and what better way to do that than to follow those who already paved the road to success in emulates their lives.


235.        I have some of the greatest role models in the world; it just doesn’t get much better than that.


236.        A veritable smorgasbord of markets, too long for me to list. My life isn’t over just because I have a criminal history; I just have more limitations, which would take less time listing those.


237.        A great deal of more valuable resources than the average inmates being released, not because I’m better in any way, but, because I’ve worked hard to gain such resources, trust in others, along with an extremely supportive family.


238.        Not only is impossible for me to project what, it also is very disturbing because I desperately want to have a good grip on the financial earnings of my future.


239         whatever my earnings may be, I know that I’ll be reaping the rewards of my success 10 years from my release date.


240.        Right now the best I can do, like Michael Santos, is educating myself through reading books and following the stock market. Unfortunately, there are no classes available for me to take in here.


241. Academic credentials can only be helpful, there are so many things that I want and need to know in order to nurture and grow a sustainable financial literacy.


242.        These skills would enhance my opportunities in every way.


243.        These are all excellent social skills a can only help to increase the chance for more opportunity and broaden horizons.


244.        Self-help books inspirational stories of other people that have change their life around the incremental steps they’ve taken to get there, educational books, and many others.


245.        by utilizing financial ethics and values that my parents have spent a lifetime instilling in me. Also, by taking up some necessary educational courses at the local college, not specifically for the purpose of getting a degree but, more or less for the skills and knowledge for my financial future.


246.        Investment decisions are extremely important, I plan to make educated, responsible investments is often inasmuch as I possibly can in order to cure a better future for myself and my children.


247.        Savings, 401(k), stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.


248.        These resources will be the foundation and sustaining my life future.


249.        Calculated risks that don’t involve breaking the law of the only kind of risk cell even consider for the rest of my life.


250.        Another problem with the criminal justice system can never be a possibility for me; ever again, I refuse to even think with that sort of mindset.

by Steven Dybvad

200.        Like Michael, since my arrest, and after my lasting sobriety, I also see the whole world in my relationship to it from a completely different perspective. My relationship with others in the world is much closer, and with the ones that are closer, I will continue to work with and nurture until they are closer, and then continue to nurture and maintain these relationships for the rest of my life.


201.        I finally realize and understand how deeply my decisions affect and influence the lives of others.


202.        God is much like my moral compass, ever guiding me in the proper direction of good choices and behavior.


203.        When we form a bond with people, we become attached, taking on similar characteristics. We begin to share common goals, likes, and dislikes, otherwise relationships won’t bind, or strengthen, and it’s just human nature. This is why surrounding ourselves with strong, healthy, positive, successful individuals is critical to the success of our future.


204.        I believe that thinking on a massive scale like this is a fantasy. As a man striving to do better, all I can focus on is the power. I have to change and rewrite my own fate and the influence I have on my family, children and loved ones.


205.        I desperately want my children to see clearly and learn from my own personal mistakes, and follow me. And the choices I make from this point on, diligently working to atone, become a successful man, one that they can idolize.


206.        Living with integrity is essential. Without integrity, I would have already fallen another victim to the prison machine. My integrity has stabilized my morals and values, it is Me standing straight, unwavering in the face of adversity, and the constantly ever present pressures of conforming to the evil ways of normal prison life, that go completely against my healthy, morals, ethics, and values that my parents have spent a lifetime trying to instill in my life.


207. To confront adversity with dignity is to flex the strength of my integrity.


208.        I’m in a high-security prison, with ruthless criminals and very little time for exposure to them. Each day, for that reason I form no bonds with other prisoners.


209.        Staff members know that I stay far away from trouble, they see me as no threat, and they leave me alone, this is very comforting and satisfying for my everyday lifestyle, here in prison.


210.        Probation officers, as well as supervisors will see an undeniably understand, through their past experience with many other inmates, that I’ve worked diligently to nurture only good relationships with positive people.


211.        I worked very hard to remain in constant, consistent contact with others, hopefully influencing them by showing them the hard work and efforts. I’ve put forth and continue to put forth to changing and improving the quality of my life and future.


212.        Through letters, along with my blog, I can continue to reach out beyond these walls.


213.        Maintaining relationships with set individuals can only damage and decrease my potential for success upon release; this is why I’ve severed all ties with such people.


214.        Grooming, hygiene, keeping up with my personal of parents shows others the level of respect that I have for myself. Personal appearance creates impression on others, thus influencing relationships.


215.        That my writing skills are increasingly good, they will be noticed by more and more individuals, people will then see the value and potential and connecting with me, increasing my chances for more opportunities.


216.        I remain in contact with important individuals through hard work in writing, reading, and correspondence.


217.        My relationships with others are healthy ones, only with individuals that will continue to have a positive impact on my life and future.


218.        I would lose a great deal of respect, confidence, as well as causing relationships to crumble. I must always take responsibility for my actions and choices I make in any situation. Removing myself from any bad situation is of the utmost importance.


219.        Taking responsibility for my life in any situation is a crucial step in success.


220.        Good relationships with healthy individuals influence continued healthy relationships with many others affected by our lives.


221.        Living transparently truly shows others, what kind of man I am giving them a greater understanding of me, tearing down walls that would have once separated us.


222.        Finished with living life as a deceitful chameleon, changing who I truly am inside for the sake of pleasing others, or getting my way.

by Steven Dybvad

174. In my case, I must sever all ties some of my past relationships and work hard to make other relationship stronger, as a recovering addict, many of my past relationships revolved around people harmful to my future, only strengthening my deadly disease of addiction. My relationships with family and healthy friends crumbled all around me. It will take me a lifetime of hard work to salvage and men those broken relationships. But, these relationships are of the utmost importance. Healthy relationships with strong, supportive individuals are detrimental to my recovery and future success of the rest of my life.


175.        Constant communication, three letters, cards, phone calls, and blogging has been a way of nurturing my support networks and working to atone this far.


176.        Strengthening my support network, as well as branching out will only help me in my adjustment to society, enabling me to firmly plant my feet successfully upon release, opening up more opportunities for a new life.


177.        By mailing cover letters out two important members of society that are in some way pillars of the community. Keeping a firm hand on a support network outside during my term will allow me to keep a grip on reality, stabilizing my life in here, strengthening my everyday living inside, helping to keep me from falling victim to the prison machine.


178. Tab people in general are very susceptible to being influenced by their surroundings. There’s a saying, I sometimes use and will never forget, if you hang around barbershop long enough you going to get a haircut. Well lack of an outside support network would make inside of these prison walls. My barbershop, it’s my responsibility not to let that happen.


179.        Successful individuals embrace ethics, morals, values, goals and aspirations the necessary for improving the quality of life that I indeed also profess to embrace.


180.        I’m currently reaching out to healthy family members and friends. I’m also in the process reaching out to important respectable, local figures that are pillars of our local community, in an attempt to establish relationships, thus furthering and expanding my future support network.


181. Tab having a strong support network can open a great many doors and create new opportunities, enabling us to fulfill our dreams.


182. Tab I think it would be easier to answer. How my support network isn’t helping me. Without the support of my family, friends, and mentors, I would be just another inmate, falling victim to the prison machine.


183.        I am faithful to the core of my support network; it seemed only way I’m going to grow as a man and change for the better, all in, or all out.


184.        Like Michael, I’m preparing cover letters to send out two important figures in my local community, in an attempt to establish a bond with people that could help me in my future and also those individuals want to see an ex-con like me being released into the community change for the greater good.


185.        These people are extremely important, and it’s just as important for me to establish a bond with these individuals in order to increase my future opportunities for success upon release.


186.        These people are Justin Paperny me, Michael Santos, my mother and father, individuals I’ve read about that have been in circumstances just like me and change their lives around completely. Also influence my life, along with positive political figures that make a difference in our nation’s communities. My goal is to reach out to more and more people like this, ever expanding my influences and increasing my opportunities for success.


187.        All of these individuals’ interests revolve around the success and quality of their future, along with everyone else involved in their lives.


188.        I do make them aware of my aspirations, through writing and communication.


29.          Well, because I continue to live my life as an open book here in prison, my growth and adjustment continues to make it positive and hopeful impression on the people in my life.


190.        Like Michael, I intend to continue reaching out beyond these prison walls, sending out cover letters to important, influential members of my local community, with the hopes of cultivating mentors that want to see prisoners like me, being released back into the very community that they live in, make a huge difference with my life.


191.        My behavior and daily activities, speaks volumes, it shows the people around me that I am diligently working to change my life around, without even having to talk. My actions are more powerful than my words have ever been.


192.        I believe this question is referring to. Acquaintances with inmates inside of prison, and if that is the case, I don’t have acquaintances in here, specifically because in the very small amount of time out of my cell. Each day, I can’t possibly assess who is making a personal commitment to a successful life upon release.


193.        With my current frame of thought, practicing my values, ethically and morally, the only possible way I could receive a rule infraction would be by way of an impossible avoidance of conflict with a guard, or another inmate. At this point, I believe that I’ve earned enough trust through hard work, at least for my support network to trust and believe that said situation was in fact unavoidable completely out of my control.


194. Who you know can have an amazing effect how we move ahead in life, whether it be getting a good job, or moving up the corporate ladder, or just improving the all-around quality-of-life, knowing good healthy and important individuals essential.


195. My actions have shown and continue to show that I refuse to be affected by the ever present negative influences here in prison and beyond these walls; instead I choose to follow successful individuals like Michael Santos, who is paved the way to a more fulfilling, law-abiding way of life.


196.        Like Michael, writing letters reaching out to important pillars of our communities, like political leaders, college professors, community volunteers and supporters is just a few of many ways to broaden our support network.


197.        The more that we have in place, ready to prepare us for our release, the easier transition, increasing our chances for faster, long-lasting success.


198.        Continuously documenting my daily journey through prison, coupled with regular, consistent contact with my support network, always holding myself accountable is how I intend to continuously nurture and protect my ever-growing network.


199.        Personal accountability logs and a healthy dependency on my support network to hold me accountable. Through my sobriety, my morals and ethics are increasing and strengthening regularly, not allowing me to ignore or abandon my goals and responsibilities.

by Steven Dybvad

164.        Before my introduction to the straight a program, I was indulging in murder mysteries, science fictions, and minimal spiritual readings. These days, I will only read books that focus on improving quality of life or real-life story of another person who has risen from their downward spiral in life and change completely for the better.


165.        The books I read inspire me, give me direction and guidance for future success.


166.        I try to go through each day, considering everything I do with great thought and detail of its effect on my future and success.


167.        Often when reading, or even writing, I keep my dictionary at hand, if I come across an unfamiliar word. Often I will write down the word, the definition, as well as use it in the sentence. That I will practice using those words in my blog as well as in my everyday life.


168.        The our God, or secret language of the prison class is highly complex, layered with multiple definitions for both confusing prison guards, as well as other inmates. This is not a class of language would ever be healthy for my future success in the real world, and for that reason alone, I would prefer to be left in the dark understanding or adjusting to said lingo.


169.        This jargon conflicts in so many ways and is constantly associated with criminal behavior and were no way help my social life upon release.


170.        And individual’s enunciation will convey social status, education, and could single-handedly attract or repel others.


171.        Grooming habits can say a lot about a person and how seriously they take the rest of their lives. I vividly remember reading how Michael wrote about the importance of staying clean, groom, well-dressed, and presentable, with the comfort of being prepared for a chance of running into any great opportunity, never knowing who we might meet, yet always being ready.


172.        Documenting our prison journey is proof in the pudding. It shows our growth and maturity over time, reaching our goals and aspirations, showing our dedication and commitment to making a better life, successful future, solidifying any doubts that someone else might have had about us and our commitment to change.


173.        Writing reports on the books I’ve read, it gives my direct opinion to others and also gives others a sense of my own morals, ethics, and values, enabling them to have a better understanding of the way, I think. In a way, writing book reports is like communicating with others, thus improving on my skills, and preparing me for success upon release.

by Steven Dybvad

126. I live each day in pursuit of emulating the life Michael once lived in the penal system. Each day, I read, I write, study, work out, pray, and continue to remain grateful for the blessings in my life.

127.        Structure is very important. Structure allows us to function at a higher level of daily accomplishments, with regular assessments of our progress and goals.

128.        My activities correlate with my vision for life upon release. My vision is to live a healthy, sober, successful life, as a good man, father, son, husband and role model for others. I already live as one every day in here, for I’ve made up my mind and have made a pure conscious decision for the rest of my life.

129.        Fitness, drug and alcohol recovery, therapeutic book reading and writing, spiritual growth, building stronger relationships with family and healthy friends and everything else that will enrich the quality of my life after release.

130.        Just a few of the many activities pursue noble from in prison that will enhance personal strength are reading educational books, writing in journals, to family, maintaining accountability logs, signing up for classes in recovery and education if available, nurturing relationships with family and friends through communication, physical fitness and many other similar activities to perform if someone wants it bad enough.

131.        Hanging out with others, playing card games, gambling, smoking, tattoos, drinking, drugs, falling into the wrong crowd of people, and just slacking around in any of life’s aspects or a weakening of fact.

132.        Educating our minds will always open opportunities for our future, as well as reaching out to positive and successful role models.

133.        Activities very similar to the same activities that we can ask and also, and will threaten one’s prospects for success upon release.

134.        Every single activity. I participate in, is done with the thoughts of what repercussions or immediate effect such as activity will have on my future. I’ve come to realize that I should make a single decision without fully understanding the outcome.

135.        I minimize my exposure to weakness and threats by not involving myself personally with any inmates or, the prison mechanics of the machine.

136.        My decision-making process has completely changed, a 180° turn since prior to my imprisonment. Much of it has to do with my sobriety and working knowledge of the straight a guide.

137.        S. W. A. T. Is one of many tools that have, and continue to help strengthen my techniques for successful future.

138.        There’s low risk in physical fitness, with a high reward of good health.

139.        Reaching out to others, learning from their experiences. By getting to know them personally. His example of high risk with a high reward of growth.

140.        Just sitting around prison, doing nothing each day is a low risk, with zero. rewards.

141.        Participating in the very same activities that wound us up in prison in the first place is a classic example of a very high risk with absolutely no rewards.

142.        My day-to-day life in here falls under number one low risk with high rewards. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

143.        The straight a program has done more help in guiding my life for self-improvement than I ever would have been able to do by myself; it brings structure and much-needed discipline into my world.

144. I’ve given a great deal of thought into this question, and I continue to think about how I will support myself and my family financially, and he continues to worry me. The only thing that brings me peace is a loving support of my family and faith in knowing that God has great plans for my life that is beyond comprehension.

145. All I can do, as and incarcerated man, with an extensive criminal record, is improve every aspect of my life, strengthening my morals, ethics, and values, making myself a healthy, trustworthy, respectable, contributing member of society, thus improving my chances for any future prospects.

146. Refer to my answer to question number 145.

147.        I know that a college education would be great for me in many ways more than just to help me gain employment. With more education, I can also live a richer, more fulfilling life.

148.        Academic credentials are highly influential on an employer’s decision to hire an individual for a more professional position, with better pay.

149.        A man with an education is more valuable than an uneducated man; it’s just that plain and simple.

150.        The enrichment of all aspects of life.

151.        I’ve lived the fortunate life, blessed with numerous opportunities. My mother raised me to be great with people, it’s my drug use. That has caused me to ruin so many golden opportunities, over and over again.

152.        As I said, I have had a great many chances for success is beyond measure, but what flush them all away for an overpowering untreated addiction to substances.

153.        I believe that in life, all great success begins with a valuable set of communication skills.

154.        Improving my communication skills has allowed me to reach out to many great people beyond these prison walls, and nurture my relationships into closer more tightly knit ones, thus securing myself a more stable environment for my future release.

155.        First impressions will either make or break any future opportunities for success. Good communication skills can only increase our chances to make a great first impression.

156.        In the same reasons that Michael chose to always stay clean-shaven and where neatly pressed close in prison, one never knows who, or what a day ahead. Intel’s. Even while in prison, the next golden opportunity could be just around the corner, so we might prepare ourselves, right here, right now.

157.        We can take classes, educating ourselves, reaching out to good people like Michael Santos, doing what we can to emulate their life as a positive role model, read educational books instead of storybooks, write letters to people, and many other things.

158.        Writing every day, keeping up with my blogs, sending letters and cards home to my family and friends, along with selflessly trying to keep up with important days like wishing them a happy birthday, or a Merry Christmas is just a few of my deliberate steps taken to improve my communication skills.

159. Great communication is one of the most important skills to almost every employer, enabling a person to maneuver quickly up the corporate ladder.

160.        Through study and a regular practice of writing, learning new words and utilizing them.

161.        The prison experience can either demolish a man’s social communication skills, causing their language to digress, by falling into the average life of many inmates, victim to the prison machine or one can take the high road, investing every day of their life to change.

162.        Great question. Just like physical fitness, developing communication skills is a way of flexing our brain muscles, honing in on our mind and body, becoming more familiar with ourselves, knowing our limitations, and improving on ourselves, thus enabling us to reach higher, to do better, and continue moving forward.

163.        Reading, with the purpose means that we are reading to learn, opposed to reading for entertainment, such as fictional murder mysteries.

126. I live each day in pursuit of emulating the life Michael once lived in the penal system. Each day, I read, I write, study, work out, pray, and continue to remain grateful for the blessings in my life.

by Steven Dybvad


105. without the order and direction. I’ve come to find in the straight a program there would be chaos. Since then I’ve done great things for my future and my family, I’ve established a structure goals and tasks that will ensure success in my life after prison.

106. Not just a certain type of decision. But, every decision that I make continue to be well thought out and orchestrated with the knowledge of it linked to direct results of my future, whether it be long-term or short-term.

107. The more beneficial progress and I can squeeze into my daily schedule; all the more prepared I’ll be for my release and the level of success. then follows.

108. Personal relationships are very important and highly influential in our prospects for success. A bad relationship with a negative person could potentially send us in the wrong direction, where is a good relationship with a healthy, positive, successful person can help give us the boost we need to continue moving forward in the right direction.

109. Open, consistent correspondence is important to nourishing and maintaining a healthy relationship from behind prison walls. Unfortunately Mel is the only option for prisoner to cultivate a healthy relationship. But, a positive bond with good people will undoubtedly lead to visitation on their behalf whenever possible.

110. Michael made a conscious decision to change his life from inside prison and make every preparation necessary to secure a promising successful future after his release. Michael utilized every available resource in and outside the prison walls. By minimizing his exposure to inmates and dedicating every hour of his day to making progressive changes, Michael created a rare and unique reputation for himself, not only within the system but also with much of the staff, and with important educated figures, with excellent backgrounds that go far beyond the system. This level of quality connections allowed Michael to maneuver his way through the system like no other.

111. The decisions that I’ve made since my family introduced me to the straight a program is not only completely changed my life, but it’s also saved my life. My decisions to change became more grounded and stabilized with each passing day. The ethics, morals, and values that lie dormant for so many years in my life continue to wake from the dead with the time that goes by.

112. Many of the prisoners that offered their profiles to Michael each lead different lives following up their convictions. Even though their decisions and choices may have been a little different, they shared a common goal, a successful future and productive life beyond prison walls. I do my best to live life in prison. Similar to the once model prisoner, now free, Michael Santos.

113. I was fortunate enough to learn about Michael straight a guide program prior to my arrival to prison. I already had some solid guided goals in place, helping me to pair. I read all of Michael’s books, studying his many trials and tribulations, goals and accomplish mints. I also read and studied the many prisoner profiled in Michael’s books, learning a little from each of them, enabling and guiding my current journey from behind these prison walls.

114. This is hard for me to answer. I have to admit to myself and come to terms with the fact that I may have to work hard, at more than one intense, low-paying job for the rest of my life, and less I’m blessed with a great career opportunity, or come up with an entrepreneurial idea that an investor can see a promising growth in profit, etc. As a convicted felon, I must be honest with myself and my possible future. I have great faith that I will do great things with my future and success. But, I must remain hopeful and also planned for a different life that only I created for myself.

115. Every decision I make is made with thought and care, in a calculated effort to plan for my future. My past is shown that if I want to live a positive, fulfilling life, with love, ethics, morals, and values for myself and my entire family, I must always think before I act, set attainable goals and reach them. Each day I spend in prison consists of building a better future.

116. I’m reading Michael’s books; I noticed that the majority of Michael’s interactions with other prisoners were done in the lower security prisons, where violent acts and getting caught up in someone else’s problems were least likely to happen. Prior to Michael having his security level dropped, he minimized his exposure to the prison atmosphere by spending most of his time in his cell, or working in secured office areas. This is currently the way I have to live life in prison, for I currently reside in a high-security prison, one of the worst in Ohio, where bad things happen every day. In order to get my security dropped I’m living day to day very similar to Michael’s.

117. By minimizing my exposure to the negative influences of the prison machine, I don’t interact with men in this high level security prison. Although by reading books about people like Michael Santos and Justin Papperny who have change their lives from within prison walls, I found a new direction, and have had the guided luxury of establishing new goals in the images of my role is.

118. I’m interested in anyone genuinely wants to improve their life. Health, knowledge, morals, and ethics are just some of the qualities that would attract me to an individual. Unfortunately in this high-security prison, social relationships with individuals are chance. I’m not willing to take. Just like Michael, I will wait until my security level is dropped, and I get moved to a better prison.

119. I’ve been carefully guarded enough to know that I won’t be forming any kind of relationship with an individual that would in some way hinder any aspect of my aspirations. I spent a lifetime gravitating towards negative people; it’s high time for a new path in life, a life with people that care about my future just as much is me.

120. Red obviously held onto reservations of his past, he wasn’t able to draw a line in the sand and cut off all ties with the negative individuals of his past life. Something about his old way of life still attracted him, if Fred was truly ready to change his life around completely; I believe that absolutely nothing could have stopped him from doing so.

121. By living by a better set of values, and documenting each day, a prisoner will not only have a valuable set of tools to persuade prospective employers, and also show them proof of the higher set of standards one lives by.

122. The way in which we talk and present ourselves as a major influence on how others will perceive us. First, interpretations can either open doors for our future, or slam them shot.

123. Our personal grooming, along with the way we present ourselves is a direct extension of how we grew more life and how seriously we treat the rest of our world around us. Like it or not, many individuals from all walks of life, do judge a book by its cover.

124. A 100% commitment means to completely dedicate all aspects of our life to the program. Its 100% commitment to this program is a lifestyle in itself, we have to walk, eat, sleep, live, and become this program.

125. Acquaintances? In this high-security prison, with very little time out of ourselves, each day, I am extremely guarded with having any associates, at least until I moved to a lower security prison, just like Michael Santos.

by Steven Dybvad

97. Accountability logs can only be helpful in providing more opportunities for success. If utilized correctly. Structure is very important for recovering from our once criminal way of life. I believe some people need more of a push from someone else supposed others, especially drug addicts like myself. I can have the perfect accountability log that won’t do me a bit of good if it’s tucked away somewhere collecting dust. That’s why it’s very important to reach out to healthy individuals that are aware of our particular circumstances and are willing to check in with one another from time to time to make sure we are still on the right track. Ultimately, we are solely responsible for the positive changes in our life, but help is out there and we should each be humble enough to ask others that are willing to provide such help and hold us accountable for our accountabilities.

98. Well, first of all, probation officers were also only human, and some of them might have been doing their job for so long that many prior convicts may have clouded their hearts, minds, and as a result see each of us, just as hopeless as the rest. Recidivism rates as well as my past experiences with probation officers only proves my point. Although some probation officers do still see hope in others and truly want to see us make a change for the better I’m sure that those individuals are willing to go the extra mile to help the people that want to help themselves. There is always hope in humanity.

99. Many individuals feel that raw honesty be very refreshing. I refreshing. I mean, by showing transparency of our prison, adjustment and drastic changes for successful life were showing them lawyers and support networks that we mean business and can be a valuable asset if given the chance to prove ourselves.

100. Accountability logs provide the data needed to assess progress and determine whether or not were on course. Every man of success relies upon accountability logs to maintain excellence. Stockbrokers follow quarterly reports; professional athletes compare statistics documenting performance community leaders keep pace with political news, updates, etc.

101. Universities follow the same guidelines as many other people like Michael; universities evaluate student’s records of their grades in progress prior to applying.

102. Creditors, like universities evaluate financial history in order to conclude the value, in extending a loan.


103. I think that first and foremost, one must see value in something in order to make a decision to invest.


104. My response to these prior questions only validates the importance of maintaining accountability logs; they are very important and highly useful for all aspects of life.

Copyright 2020 The Michael G. Santos Foundation