My prison sentence began at a Federal Correctional Facility, (FCI) in Dublin, CA. The FCI houses women convicted of many different types of offenses; some are even serving life sentences. It’s a very diverse place, and I grew a lot there. After a year in Dublin I was transferred to an FCI in Waseca, MN where I spent 3 years. I grew to love Minnesota, but it was difficult to be so far away from my family. In January I was transferred to a camp in Victorville, CA to finish my sentence. I like living in a camp, we have a lot more freedom here, and we’re only locked in housing units at night. I also enjoy leaving the compound for work. I’ve liked each of these places for different reasons, and I’ve learned that my environment doesn’t determine my happiness. Right now I work at a penitentiary during the day that houses high security male inmates. A penitentiary looks like a vault; there are no windows to look out, and it’s mostly cement. We call it the PEN, and I clean the lobby and help prepare meals for the men that live there. One of the officers at the PEN recently told me not to believe everything I hear about correctional officers, I told him I would agree if he wouldn’t believe everything he hears about inmates. I’ve learned some new skills at the PEN; I think I’m more prepared then ever to handle a natural disaster:)

After talking to a friend this morning, I got up to leave and she said: “Please don’t go Portia, it makes me feel good to talk to you. I’m tired. I’ve been gone so long, and I just want to go home and start my life again. I miss my son, he’s grown up now, and I want to spend time with him.” She should be leaving for a halfway house in July after serving a ten year prison sentence, and continued: “It’s not fair what they did to you. You should be out of here by now, and I’m scared they might do the same thing to me. If that happens I won’t be able to handle it like you did. I will be a mess!” I said: “Listen friend, I have an amazing future, and I wouldn’t trade any of my blessings to leave prison a few months earlier. If you could ask for any three things and knew you knew you would get them would leaving prison right now even be one of them? She said: “Yes it would!” I said: “Ok, lets say you could ask for a perfect career that would allow you to support yourself; a loving relationship with someone who would treat you with respect, and great future for your son. Would you give up any of those things to go home a few months earlier?” I paused as she became tearful, and she replied: “I never thought about it that way. No, I guess I wouldn’t.” I told her: “Staying a little longer isn’t going to change an amazing ending for me. I don’t have faith in the BOP, but I have faith in our Father in heaven, and I believe He wants to bless you with all of those things. We will be with our families soon, and this is just a moment, so let’s make the best of it!”

I’m excited to go home; but I know that being in prison is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I get to decide how my story ends, and the ending will be decided in large part by how I respond to adversity. I won’t let anything get in the way of an amazing ending, and when I get to the ending maybe I’ll find out that it’s not the ending at all, just the beginning of a brand new story:) I hope Utah is ready to have me back because I will be there soon! I love being able to share these moments with you, and thank you all for following along:)