Waseca FCI is beautiful, I’m becoming quite the prison connoisseur these days.  I’ve been in prison or jail in 6 states now, all for buying and selling houses?  I really didn’t think I was that important but I guess someone’s got to keep the prosecutors in a job:) I’m not sure if I agree with the government’s view of justice?  So back to Waseca, it really is a beautiful place!!! There’s a wonderful paved track that goes around a great big park covered in green grass, trees, and flowers.  There’s color everywhere and even the fence is pretty because there are trees and grass planted behind it. There’s a garden that the inmates work, and a dog training program here. This morning when I walked around the track, women were out walking their dogs and it was amazing! There’s a much different vibe here than Dublin.  I walked 10 miles yesterday and 10 miles today, when I got back to the unit I had a big blister on my foot, I guess I’m going to have to take it easy:)  Yes, this place is nice, it feels like being on a college campus. They feed us really well here.  A salad bar every day with fresh fruit and vegetables, and a soda fountain in the kitchen! When I arrived and saw sugar and condiments sitting out in the kitchen I laughed because If this stuff were sitting out at Dublin the inmates would clean them out.  Most of the women in Dublin are poor.  They have really rough family lives and have had to learn how to survive. They don’t have microwaves or day rooms here so you can’t really cook your own food but there’s no need because the food they serve is great. For me, having such a beautiful facility is much more valuable than microwaves or TV’s, but I doubt many of my friends in Dublin would be willing to trade:)

Even though this place is beautiful, Dublin will always be my favorite prison (Assuming that having a favorite prison is possible) I learned to humble myself there and to appreciate a sunrise and sunset.  I learned to be grateful for everything  that I have and most importantly I learned how valuable we each are to our Heavenly Father. When I arrived at Dublin many of the inmates behavior was offensive to me.   In time I learned how important it is to be a light to others, not a judge. I had so many good experiences in Dublin and  I have so much love for the inmates and staff at that prison. It makes me sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friends and it’s my hope that some family members will send in my blog posts and let the women know how I’m doing and how much I love them all.  My sweet friend and former room mate Karin was a soldier in the 12 step recovery program at Dublin.  Karin was the person on the compound who would always seek out and love the one regardless of their situation.  I love you for that Karin!  Sweet Pam was such a great example of discipline and service.  She did a great job of running the rec program and always encouraged others to live a healthy life.  I will miss all the women that I worked with in education, especially Zasha and Karla.  Both of them taught me the importance of education and I learned many things from their example.  Oriana was the first kind smile that I saw in Dublin.  What a beautiful woman with an incredible spirit, she is and always will be a dear friend.  Truly, I loved all the women in E/F.  My friend Too Tall and many others are so dear to my heart, you are missed greatly! The person from Dublin that I will miss the most is my sweet friend and room mate Alondra.  She is only 28 years old but she has already suffered more than anyone I know but always has a positive, happy disposition. Alondra and I worked hard to keep a spirit of peace in our room in the E/F unit.  She is Catholic, I am Mormon and we found common ground in our faith in God to sustain us through our trials. We both worked in education and each day she would come home from work and tell me how excited she was that one of her students was learning a new concept or getting ready to take the GED test. She spoke positively and encouragingly about others and taught me how to be grateful for everything God puts in my life.

So many wonderful people at Dublin will be missed.
So many wonderful people at Dublin will be missed.

My Dear Friend Alondra, if these words find you, know that I love and honor you and know how grateful that I am for your influence.  You are a light to everyone you come into contact with, thank you for your sweet spirit and presence in my life. I know that God is with you sweet girl and that He will keep you safe. You embody everything good in a person and I will pray for you.  Even though we are far apart, I feel your sweet spirit close to my heart.

Another person I owe a debt of gratitude to is the staff member I worked for. She was always above reproach in dealing with others and set a great example. Each day at work my boss took time to help me make sense of my life in prison. She taught me what people think doesn’t matter but who you are on the inside is what matters.  She also taught me tolerance of others beliefs and most importantly she taught me to treat others with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances. I remember watching my boss talk to an inmate who spoke very little English.  The woman appeared to be very poor and uneducated and my boss spoke to her as though she was the most important person in the room. I watched her ask another inmate to translate for her and took great care to make sure the woman understood exactly what her options were.  So many lessons of love, patience and empathy.  Yes, I will always love the people I met in Dublin!  At Dublin I learned to look for the best in others and that I am in control of everything that really matters, my circumstances don’t determine my happiness.  I overcame many of my fears there, and learned to completely trust my Heavenly Father.

In my few short days at Waseca I’ve already had some cool experiences.   Many of the women here are from the South, so the nicknames are different. Most sentences start with an exaggerated, “Guurl”.  Some of the nicknames that I’ve picked up here are “Baby Doll”,  “Sweetie”,  “Honey” and “Mercedes.”  I met a nice woman at the track yesterday who asked, “Guurl, how come you’re always walking around alone?” I responded that I don’t feel alone and that there’re about 1,000 women on this compound.  She asked my name and I told her it was Portia.  She said That is the perfect name for me and then asked how I was so  beautiful in prison?  I told her that my husband makes me feel like a queen and makes me feel beautiful. She said, “I’ll bet he does”, and then asked if he is going to stand by me through this? I said that he was  and she said, “Ya, I guess he would because your so pretty.”  I laughed and said, “It might have more to do with our 20 years of marriage and 5 kids.”  She smiled and said, “He’s probably glad you’re in prison so he doesn’t have to worry about losing you to someone else.”  We both laughed at that, then she asked me why I seemed so happy.  She said, “You seem so happy, don’t you know you’re in prison?” I said, “If my choices are to be in prison and be happy or to be in prison and be unhappy, doesn’t being in prison and being happy seem like a better choice?” She agreed.  I told my new friend that I enjoyed meeting her and then went on my way around the track.  All in all my life is good here.  I miss Dublin and hope someday that I will get the chance to go back. (Maybe as a volunteer, not an inmate:) But either way is okay.  This is a new adventure and I intend to make the best of it. I’m so grateful for the prayers that have been offered on my behalf this last month. Your love and support has sustained me through many difficult experiences, you are the good people that make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you for your love and support