Fourth Quarter Report–2009

By · Thursday, January 21st, 2010

It feels good to have completed the fourth quarter of 2009.  On the first day of this year I set clearly defined goals, and through my daily journal entries, along with the three previous quarterly reports that I published, I kept readers current with the progress I made toward each.  Now, on the last day of 2009, I’ve pulled the list of goals from my folder so I can report on my overall accomplishments.

The first goal that I listed was that I would devote a minimum of 40 hours each week of the year toward preparing for my career as communicator upon release.  Certainly, I’ve devoted significantly more than 40 hours each week. During the year I wrote Earning Freedom, a manuscript that chronicles my process through my first 22 years of imprisonment.  Although I finished the first solid draft during the third quarter, the editing continues.  This project will contribute in significant ways to the career I lead when I walk out of prison boundaries, and I spent several hours each day during the fourth quarter working to advance the project.   

Besides writing and polishing the manuscript, I consider all my other activities as integral part of my preparations for release.  This includes my exercise schedule, the books I read, the efforts I make to build my support network, and my daily routine, especially sleeping early and beginning my work before 4:00 am every day of the year.

On the first day of 2009, I wrote that I would read at least 25 books in 2009.  I did not consider that reading 25 books during the year would be an insurmountable number.  Since I read more than 50 books during each of my early years in prison, and more than 40 books during the latter years in prison, I expected to breeze through 25 books in 2009.  But adjustments that I made to my schedule once I began the writing project hindered my ability to reach this modest goal of reading 25 books. I only read and wrote book reports for 21 books during 2009, adding seven books to the tally in the fourth quarter.

Since I expect to continue my focus on writing during 2010, I’m reducing my quota of books to read even further for the New Year to 20.  Each book I read, however, will have some relevance to my career upon release. In addition to reading 21 books in 2009 I also stayed current with world events by reading my subscriptions to Time, Newsweek, and my favorite magazine, The New Yorker.

In setting my 2009 goals, I wrote that I would run an average of at least 50 miles each week, expecting to surpass the 2,600 miles in ran in 2008.  During the first quarter I ran 788 miles; I ran 806 miles in the second quarter; I ran 830 miles during the third quarter; and during the fourth quarter I ran 804 miles for a total distance of 3,228 miles during the year of 2009.  More importantly, I ran every day of the year. Physical fitness represents an important goal for me, and I’m proud of this record.

During the fourth quarter, I also began keeping a tally of my pushups.  My purpose in doing so was to hold myself accountable.  It’s one thing to tell my wife that I want to emerge from confinement in excellent physical condition, but it’s another thing to take regular, measurable steps toward that end.  In the fourth quarter I recorded 20,170 pushups, and made a commitment to record 100,000 pushups in 2010.

Besides physical fitness, writing, and preparations for the contributing life I intend to lead upon release, the fourth quarter of 2009 has been a consolidation and conceptualization. When I write “consolidation”, I mean that I’ve taken time during the fourth quarter to appreciate the many blessings of my life.  Although I write openly about my activities in prison, Carole and I have the blessing of a support group outside that I’m not at liberty to write about.  Nevertheless, those in the group work hard on my behalf, and we’re both grateful for their efforts.  As of now, however, I’m not able to write about unresolved issues that, potentially, could influence our life.

The fourth quarter has been a time of “conceptualization.” I’m moving into the last 10 percent of my imprisonment phase, and acknowledging this latter stage of the journey requires that I create a new plan I can follow as I navigate my way through it. I must use every day effectively, and during the past three months I’ve ruminated over my various options. 

In my Values and Goals for 2010, I outlined some broad strokes to follow as well as some specific goals to achieve during the next year.  I invite readers to visit my daily journal and my future quarterly reports to hold me accountable.  It feels good to begin a New Year, one that will bring me another step closer to home.

I appreciate the support I receive from so many and reaffirm my commitment to prove worthy of that trust.


Michael G. Santos

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