April 2, 2014

A successful prison routine requires a constant assessment: Am I on track for the goals I laid out? Am I following through on the commitments I made to my support network? In my case the answer would be yes. One could even argue that I spend too much time thinking, dare I say obsessing, over the many tasks I have yet to complete. But I would rather spend too time thinking about it then not enough.

Let’s assess my day today to see if I am on track. Early in my term I set a goal of waking early. Doing so allows me quiet time to think, to read, and to plan my day. Today I woke at 6:00AM.

After my morning routine that heavily focused on introspection, I went to breakfast. Nutrition is a value. This morning I had oatmeal, banana, and coffee. My body feels stronger thanks in part to my disciplined diet.

Contributing to the compound or community in prison is a value to me. As a result I do my job with gusto, never complaining. This is my home, albeit temporarily, and I must do my job to contribute. Today I worked from 8:00AM to 1:00PM. I did it well.

While I will admit there are some days I would rather spend my afternoon with family or on the golf course, I have stuck to my afternoon exercise routine. Exercise, of course, is a value. I told my family this term would add more than 10 years to my life. Giving up smoking, eating healthily and exercising are the reasons why.

Following my exercise routine, I showered, then read and wrote this journal until 5:30. Writing is not as hard as it once was. It is coming more naturally to me, like flossing or brushing my teeth. Then I called home and used this email system. Again, I was pursuing my values: Family, writing, working.

Around 7:00PM I contributed to and cooked an amazing microwave meal with four of my fellow prisoners. My wife is going to be inspired and amazed by my creativity when I am back home cooking! Other than working in the chow hall, I do not spend a ton of time there. That’s okay. I enjoy cooking in the dorm as much as possible.

Early in my routine I would wrap up my day by playing cards or watching tv. While some useless and mindless things should be allowed in any person’s prison term, I am decidedly against those activities. Why? As I wrote in earlier blogs, my only objective is to work on tasks that will help prepare me for the challenges that await my release. Every second playing hearts or spades is a moment that could be spent improving my writing skills. Every moment spent watching the Kardashians is a moment I could be reading leadership books by Maxwell or Covey. Useless activities have no place in a successful routine. The next time I am tempted to do so I will simply remind myself of the promises and commitments I made.

My day wraps up around 9:00AM. Then I wake the next day to do it all over again.

Early in my term I identified my values: family, health, fitness, integrity, community, deliberateness and more. Based on today I know I am living faithfully to those values. Because of that I feel stronger, ready, and more prepared for the challenges ahead.

Andy Rothenberg


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