P WasecaI was sitting on a park bench on Monday afternoon enjoying the nice weather when a very lovely black woman came dancing and singing around the track. She would do a few dance moves (she was really good btw) then she would bust out in song, then back to dancing. I watched her with a smile on my face, and when she got closer I said, “Wow, you seem really happy!” She said, “Oh, I am really happy! I’m just singin’ my song and enjoying the Freedom God has given me.” I said, “It’s great that you feel so free in Federal Prison.” She stopped and very seriously said, “God put me in here because he loves me, I put myself in prison out there and God wanted to stop me from hurting myself so he gave me a chance to be free in here.”  It made me think what an opportunity we have to find real freedom in Federal prison.  Sometimes we mistakenly think of freedom as doing what we want to do when we want to do it.  Real freedom lies in being able to choose our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and ultimately our actions. Knowing the best choice and having the discipline and freedom to make it is a valuable thing! Being in prison brings a simplicity that can give a person the opportunity to get their freedom back. Of course there is evil in prison, you still have to have the desire to be free.

One of my favorite things to do in Federal prison is eating with people whom I haven’t met before.  Often times the conversations are rewarding, and usually quite entertaining:) This week I ate lunch with someone new each day, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The first woman I ate lunch with told me, “I do things all the time just to screw with these officers heads.” I said, “Really, like what?” She said, “Like the other day I walked out of the kitchen with a pop tart in my pocket just to see what the officers would do.”  I started laughing remembering the women at Dublin walking out of the kitchen with their bodies packed with food. I asked the woman what the officers did about the pop tart, and she told me, “They didn’t even notice, I walked right past them!” I said, “Really, I guess you got them pretty good then.” She said, “Yup, I sure did.  You should see what I do to them on April Fools Day!”:) The next day I ate lunch with a woman who told me she has been in prison for 20 years and hasn’t ever had to work in the kitchen. She was quite proud of herself so I asked her how she’s done it.  She said, “Every time they try to get me to work in the kitchen I tell them it’s not a good idea because I will rob them blind.” I said, “Wow, you’ve got them right where you want them then don’t you.”

I ate lunch with a lovely older woman a few days ago. To start our conversation I asked her if she thought she would leave prison having accomplished something of value? Her response was, “Well I’ll say so, I’m re-writing the entire Holy Bible in poetry.”  I said, “Wow, that’s a lofty goal!” She told me that she’s already gotten through Noah and would like to show me her work sometime and I’m looking forward to it.  Last night I had dinner with a group of little old ladies and said, “If all my friends from the free world could see what mild mannered sweet little women I’m eating dinner with tonight they would wonder why the Federal government is locking up all the nice grandmas in our country.”  One of the gray haired women who is here on a tax charge said, “Oh I’m not in prison Honey, I’m on a mission, I’ve been able to support many young girls in here who needed someone to love them.” I smiled and told her that I thought that was a great attitude. Then the woman sitting across from me started giggling and said, “Why don’t you ask Ms. Bessie here why she’s in prison.” Ms. Bessie was the nice older black woman sitting next to me. I got a little worried and assuming the worst I said, “Don’t tell me you’re in here for murder Ms. Bessie?” She laughed and said, “Oh no, dear! I’m here for threatening my pre-trial officer.” I said, “Really, that sounds serious! What happened?” She told me she was on pre-trial release fighting her case for a white collar infraction and got tired of her pre-trial officer telling her if she didn’t check in she was going to put her in jail.  She told me that she was doing a radio interview and stated on the air that her pre-trial officer had better watch herself and that if she wanted to put me in jail she knew where to find her.  I laughed really hard and said, “Well that didn’t work out so well for you, how long have you been in here now?” She said, “I’ve been here 5 years Dear, but they won’t ever break my spirit!” Note to self, “Don’t ever threaten your pre-trial officer.”

This week has been much better for me!  My leg is doing much better and I am so grateful for your prayers!   I receive so many of your comments and kind words, know that your love and support has been an invaluable gift to me as I’ve walked through some very hard times in Federal prison. Everything will be filed with my motion on Monday and  it will be in the judge’s hands. I will keep you all updated and I’m trying very hard to stay positive. I’m grateful for the protection that has been provided by my Father in Heaven. Even though I hope the judge will uphold the law and vacate my guilty plea, I know that regardless of the outcome my Father in Heaven will give me strength to continue moving forward and make the best of this experience.  I was moved into a room with a new woman recently, she’s from Columbia and she’s a great roommate! She’s clean, organized, and committed to learning and improving herself while she’s here.  She’s done a great job of learning English and we get along really well! I’m also excited that I was able to get a job as a career resource center clerk in our re-entry department.  Waseca has a really great re-entry department and I’m excited to be a part of it! We teach classes and offer resources to help women get housing, enroll in college, and we have a great search engine to help the women find jobs and prepare for life after detention. I guess life is as good as it can be away from my family? I miss them so much.  Sometimes I think I won’t make it through another day, but one day at a time I get through it. Thank you again for your love and prayers! You are all my dear friends, and there aren’t words strong enough for the gratitude I feel for the support you provide. I love you all and appreciate your friendship.
You’ll be hearing from me again soon:)
Love Portia