A letter recently arrived from a friend who is active in criminal justice reform. He mentioned that he is impressed with the progress I’ve made in self awareness. I believe most of that self awareness has come through my spirituality. My religion is a big part of my life, and I am also active in the 12 step programs. Making an inventory of my mistakes, and taking responsibility for them is a big part of it. Humbling myself and learning from others is also helping me. Ultimately I know that I have a loving Father in Heaven who guides and protects me, and will continue to do so. I have met some remarkable women in prison, and I’m grateful to call many of them my friends. Most of the women I meet here weren’t big movers and shakers in the free world. But I spent a lot of my life thinking outside accomplishments defined me, and  felt extremely empty on the inside. My time in prison is helping me figure out what’s really important. I don’t feel sorry for the women I’m incarcerated with; I love them, and have compassion for them. I am also learning to have compassion for myself.

RDAP(Residential Drug and Alcohol Program) has been good for me, I am learning new things about myself in the program. Like any program though it’s up to the individual to work it; I want to heal and grow so it’s helping me. I used to think I wanted to change women’s lives in prison, now I’m grateful that they are changing mine. I am the lucky one! Who I become while I’m in prison is the most important thing I will do here. I think that’s true about the free world too. The things I accomplish won’t matter in the end. Finding my own value, and helping others find their worth is my highest priority.

Our family has changed and grown while I’ve been gone, sometimes when I see how much my kids have changed my heart hurts. Then I think about how much I have changed while I’ve been gone, and feel only gratitude. I know that I am spiritually connected to my husband and children, and we are healing and growing together. The spiritual experiences I’ve had in prison have changed me, I am not the same person that self surrendered to a prison in Dublin California over 3 years ago. It has been a painful journey for me; filled with self pity, regret, and anger. But today is independence day, and I am a free woman! More free than I ever remember being in the free world:) I went to the prison kitchen today and ate a burger with some really great ladies. We said a prayer together, and thanked our Father in Heaven for the good in our lives. Yes today I am a free woman! I hope you have a great 4th of July, and thank you all for following along:)