Craig Payton/ Personal Journal Entry: What The A’s Mean To Me.

by Craig Payton

Originally written 12-1-11

Below I would like to expand in my own words on what the 7 A’s of the Straight A Guide represent to me.

ATTITUDE

My attitude derives from focusing on Now.  Dwelling on past mistakes is not helpful.  Worrying about my future is also not a resourceful use of my energies and likewise does not advance any goals towards improving my future.  I firmly believe that maintaining an attitude of possibility creates opportunity, or at least enables one to recognize and be open to opportunity when it arises.

I also agree with M.Santos overall description of Attitude.  The typical attitude of prisoners does perpetuate the system which seems designed to foster recidivism.  The attitude of taking positive action, of even realizing that such action is possible and vitally necessary is what seperates one from the miasma of defeatism and apathy.

ASPIRATIONS

I have aspirations.  In light of my current circumstances this may be the most difficult topic to drill down into for me personally.  At the same time is is probably the most important topic to come to grips witgh.  My futuer goals and achievements and success will flow from the aspirations I set.  At the moment I know that the most useful tactic will be to break down my aspirations into achieveable incremental goals.  Such incremental goals should be accomplished by realistic yet ambitous timelines.

Current Aspirations:

Education.  I am contemplating returning to college through correrspondence courses in order to complete an undergraduate degree.  Currently I only have some old credits from the 1980′s and have completed no degrees.

Education Step 1.  Research correspondence learning for prisoners.  Interview anyone with such experience to obtain first hand advice about the necessary steps.  Goal Interview two or more people between 12 -1-11 and 12-15-11.

Fitness.

Meet or exceed goals set forth for 100 day challenge as detailed in fitness log.

Network – Known.

Goal – Reach out daily to family and at least one other friend or acquaintance.

Goal – Complete Straight A guide in 60 days (this goal was later amended to part of my new years goals to complete by March 1st.  It seems this goal was a bit unrealistic, but let us see how far I can get by then.)

Goal – Start blogging by New Years

ACTIONS

Actions flow from aspirations.

I have taken action in the following areas;

1.  Fitness.  Through doing regular exercise.

2.  Education.  Started college research.  Continued ongoing study of Qigong (most easily defined quickly as Chinese Yoga)

3.  Network.  Daily email writing.  Expanding my contact list.  Making phone calls.

4.  Marriage + Children.  Staying in contact through emails, phone calls and letters.

5.  Spiritual Integration.  Inspirational reading.  Conversations on spiritual topics.  Meditation.  Taiji and Qigong practice.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Up to now I have been mainly accountable to myself.  I am clear that a  primary function of posting on the Straight A Guide site is to create and foster contact with the outside world and through being clear about my aspirations and goals those observiing may help motivate my accountability.  This means making known my aspirations, goals and incremental steps towards them with attendant timelines.  Through accountability I will be more motivated to take steady consistent action towards my goals.

AWARENESS

This topic has two aspects in my view.

1.  Self awareness or environmental awareness.  To be aware of your environment means understanding the challenges it presents now and in the future.

This awareness may also be described as mindfulness which is another way to describe meditative practice.  In this case the practice of maintaining awareness througout your daily life.  Part of this is to be mindful of your values, aspirations and goals at all times.  In this sense being aware means being vigilant towards slipping into unconscious action, thoughts and behaviors.

External awareness on the other hand means reaching out into the world to allow more people to become aware of you through your activities.  The tool of the Straight A Guide website provides a way to supplement and actually take charge over the narrative set forth by the prosecution, Judge and pre trial investigation which constitutes the only data most prisoners have for outsiders to learn about and therefore majudgmentsnts about prisoners.  This tool empowers the individual expressres in his own voice who he is and what he intends to do to rejoin society in a productive capacity.  To create a narrative which only starts with the charges and criminal behavior but carries on into the present with ongoing narrative of your efforts to achieve success despite the severe limitations of the BOP systems which give only lip service to providing programs to assist prisoners in achieving success upon release.  Creating this narrative is not an attempt to manipulate but to demonstrate ones path out of anti social activity and towards contribution to society.  Upon release my intention is to earn not only for my family and myself, but also to find ways to contribute to community, society and culture as a whole.

ACHIEVEMENT

This means to take stock of the results of ones aspirations and actions to recognize what has been achieved.  To understand what has been achieved in order to move the bar on your aspirations to enable one to reach for new goals.  Recognition and even celebration of incremental achievements provides momentum to continue towards further achievement.

APPRECIATION

The Attitude of Gratitude.

This is the quality of recognizing every day that for which you have to be thankful.

Family, friends, inner strength, intelligence, discernment, health, knowledge, mentors, virtuous people.

I find it helpful to take some time first thing in the morning and set the proper tone by practicing gratitude for what I do have.

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