Journal Entry: Melinda Bixler-02/24/2024-Endless Evolution

Journal Entry

From the time we are born until the end, we are evolving. Like it or not, we are forever changing. As infants and children our change is biologically visible, and our emotional and developmental growth is rapid. At those early stages of life, most of it’s happening TO us versus because of us. In adulthood, we’ve (hopefully) realized that our personal change and growth is no longer dependent upon others, but the result of our own choices and actions. We become responsible for our life and many circumstances. For this reason, during our developmental years, we need influences who reflect positive examples – responsibility, accountability, respect, confidence, and healthy relationships.

There are periods of our lives in which significant change takes place such as the death of a loved one, marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, and yes, prison. All of these are powerful chapters of life that force change. The thing about change is that we get to decide how we handle it.

In here, it’s easy to see how people can become jaded, and discouraged. I see countless examples of how this place, imprisonment, influences a people in negative ways. What I learned from one of my mentors, Michael Santos, has been priceless. Undeniably, what he’s taught and modeled has changed my life. Rather than putting my life on hold while serving my sentence, I view this as an opportunity. I’ve invested my time in personal growth. I practice improving areas of weakness such as setting boundaries, consistency, assertive communication, self-discipline, and personal accountability. And, it’s put a healthy perspective back in my life.

Michael spent 26 years in prison and invested every day in becoming better. He created a plan, and each day was his opportunity to move closer toward the success he desired upon release from prison. For 26 years, he woke up and lived deliberately with a purpose. This is what I’ve tried to do as well. I can waste the time or invest it. I’m investing.

From small to significant, every event can result in continued evolution. It usually depends on what we choose and our willingness to put in some honest work. Surprisingly, many people aren’t willing to do it. They want freedom and a better life, but they resist accepting responsibility and embracing the correlation between their actions and results.

Recently, I heard a few ladies talking amongst each other. These particular ladies are known for poor behavior and interpersonal skills. They break rules, ignore directives and are extremely disrespectful. In one way or another each of them has said, “I’m not like this when I’m at home. This place and these people make me this way.” Most of us know that’s not true. No place, no people can “make” us a certain way without us allowing it. Occassionally I’ll converse with someone who says things like this and challenge her thinking. This was not one of those times, but when I find the right opportunity, I’m hopeful we can have a conversation about their role and how it contributes to their circumstances.

Yes, each of us can let this experience harden our heart, lose faith in humanity, and interact from a place of anger and bitterness. In that case, we are relinquishing control and allowing the environment and others to reshape us. Or, we can become an example for others, someone who’s kind, polite and extends grace. A person who shows compassion, but doesn’t allow others to deflect personal responsibility for their life. I choose to use this experience for introspection, self-betterment, and planning for a successful future. This period will be a distant memory some day. But the affects of it will last the rest of my life. I want to leave better than I came in, and I will.

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

–Marcus Aurelius