I’ve been at Waseca Federal prison 4 months now.   I’m finally getting comfortable here.  Being put in the SHU at Dublin was a bit of a setback for me; it reaffirmed my fear that a prison can do whatever it wants to an inmate.  I’ve been more cautious here, and stayed to myself.  I don’t talk about my blog, and I’ve kept my distance from staff members.   I got too much attention at Dublin, and don’t want a repeat of what happened to me there.  I’ve made efforts to be kind to others, but when it comes to friends I’ve kept my circle small.  I was asked to be a compound photographer recently and wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved because I have a great job and thought that maybe working as a photographer would bring added stress.  It’s been my highest priority here to work through past trauma, and stay in a place of peace.  I’m glad that I decided to take the photography job because it’s helping me open up to others again.  Last week I made a reflector out of used potato chip bags and worked my magic behind the camera:)  Friday night I photographed families in visiting, and Saturday I took inmate photos on the compound. Word got out that I have photography skills, so when I got to work on Saturday there was already a line of women waiting to have their picture taken. Being involved in activities that help women feel better about themselves has helped me with my own healing.  The women I work with in Re-entry were excited to have me teach classes here, and started a sign up sheet for an,  “Explaining Your Conviction”, class.  Thirty women signed up in one day without any formal advertising!  We told the women that we weren’t offering credit for the class yet, but they still wanted to participate. I thought it was great! My co-workers asked how quickly I could be ready to teach. I said, “I’m ready now, lets do this!”

I watch the news occasionally and I have to shake my head! We have two presidential candidates in our country that are guilty of more serious crimes than me.  What am I sitting in prison for? Even if what the government said about me was true, my crimes would be less egregious than those of the two people that want to lead our country. Last week I watched while the director of the FBI declined to investigate a top executive at Wells Fargo Bank for fraud; the executive made millions taking advantage of the banks customers.  When a referral was sent to the FBI, they decided not to open an investigation? Early in my dealings with the Feds I asked my lawyer why the prosecutor thought the banks were victims in my case? I told him that I was in the middle of these deals but I didn’t structure them.  The banks were aware of the details, and bankers and appraisers determined the values with bankers ultimately signing off on them.  How could they be the victims?   I asked, “Why don’t the Feds go after the banks?” My attorney responded that the government bailed the banks out, they aren’t interested in indicting banks.  Another one of my lawyers indicated that mortgage fraud is the indictment of the day; sometimes it’s gun cases, sometimes it’s drug cases, right now it’s mortgage fraud, it’s arbitrary, not personal.  He continued that the government pursues the low hanging fruit because it’s easy and makes them look like they got the bad guys.  I said, “Well it’s personal to me. This is my life!” The lawyer’s response was, “You’re right it’s not fair.  The facts aren’t that important to them but when the government gets involved they are going to get their pound of flesh.  All we can do is minimize the damage.

I used to think the Federal government was the Goliath that I was trying to overcome.  I believed that they’re bullies! They locked me up for a mental evaluation, abused me, then argued how unstable I was.  I had to plead guilty, or be forced to take schizophrenia medication. Did the government know about the trauma that I experienced or that the conditions that I was being held in were causing my instability?  Well they know now, so why would they argue to keep my plea in place?  A few days ago I was sitting outside and my thoughts were different. I said to myself, “The government wasn’t the Goliath, my own weaknesses were the Goliath that I needed to overcome.  My problems have to be caused by me because I can’t fix them unless I’m responsible. If I think the problem is caused by anything other than myself I’m giving power to the problem. The thought was liberating!  If I take responsibility for my problems, then I can solve them! My problem might be the way  that I’m responding to something or maybe it’s the way I’m looking at a situation.  There’s always something that I can do differently if I want a different result. For years I wanted to explain to the FBI what really happened in my case. I wanted to say that I knew that I had made mistakes, but you don’t have all the facts.  In the words of Hillary Clinton, “I may have used poor judgment, but it wasn’t criminal”.  I wanted the Feds to recognize that there were others more culpable than I, that I wouldn’t have done any deals if I thought they were illegal and that the banks involvement made me think they were above board. Today I don’t care what the FBI or prosecutors think. The truth is written in my heart! I know who I am, and I know where I stand with my Heavenly Father, and the rest is just details.

I ate lunch with a sweet woman today who has been in prison for 18 years, she is leaving in December and seemed very much at peace. I asked her if she would share with me the most important thing she has learned while she’s been in prison. The one thing that got her through. The woman responded that the most important thing you can have in prison is faith. You have to have faith!  It is a natural law. When you believe God will help you, things always work out.  As I walked away I thought to myself that maybe the miracle isn’t that God can lift us out of difficult circumstances but maybe the miracle is that He can lift our burdens while we are in difficult circumstances? It’s the difficulties in life that bring the most growth! I have personally been carried through impossible situations over and over again. I have experienced the miracle of having my burdens made light and I know that my Heavenly Father is causing all things to work out for my good and I have faith that all will be well in the end. Until we meet again my friends, I love you, and thank you for following along