Self-discipline has never been my strong suit, but it’s a significant area that I’m focused on improving. Most of my adult life has been sprinkled with instability and in large part because I lacked self-discipline. One example of that is, like most Americans, I commit to eating healthier and exercising more. I take off with enthusiasm and optimism for how much better I’ll look and feel. I’m consistent for a while and then…boom, there’s birthday cake, vacation, or some other celebration so my plan goes out the window. There’s certainly nothing wrong with indulging at times. Rather than allowing myself a day of indulgence and return to the plan, I take a deep dive and resume old habits. The thing is – I always feel better when I’m eating healthier. And even small changes in my activity level result in feeling more energized. Instead of aborting the entire mission, self-discipline will help maintain consistency and replace old habits with new ones. I know I will feel so much better. Like Nike says, Just Do It! This is going to become one of my new mantras! After going through this experience, I’ve learned the significance of self-discipline. My lack of it certainly has never worked to my advantage. Many of the friends I chose in the past also lacked self-discipline and that’s never a helpful combination. Now I have several influential mentors and important people in my life who are strong examples that I didn’t previously have. I’ve learned that although I was a sprinter on the track team and lived many years of my life with that mentality, most things require running a marathon with other runners who push me to do my best. The first time I really gave this idea any thought was during one of my first meetings with my criminal attorney. Void of experience with the criminal justice system I was filled with endless questions. It was the beginning of the journey, and I was consistently asking him what the end would be the consequences. I wasn’t expecting the process to take three and a half years and I know he wasn’t either. However, Covid hit our nation hard just two months after my arrest creating significant delays in the entire process. My attorney consistently said, “Melinda, this is a marathon, not a race.” Although I consider myself to be a quick learner, he repeated this to me countless times before it sank in. Now, I repeat his phrase often. I want to sprint, yet the variables of life don’t move at my speed. It’s doubtful that my attorney realizes how powerful those few words were; however, I reflect on them often. I reflect on my life, the multiple failed marriages, the perpetual financial roller coaster, and the anxiety I’ve allowed to have way too much power. In some fashions, all of those failures were a result of my lack of self-discipline and acceptance that most positive things in life aren’t a result of a sprint or a fluke accident. Stability and fulfillment are benefits of self-discipline I desperately need. I know that making this principle an innate part of me is going to take time and deliberate mindfulness. I feel confident that with the support of positive influences, therapy, and my commitment to self-improvement, I will make big strides (pun intended). By taking one step at a time, I’ll create a consistent pattern by which each step will result in bigger strides. Although I wish I’d learned this lesson decades ago, I’m grateful to be learning it now.