A woman I hadn’t met before approached me a few days ago and said, “Hey Portia, I just want you to know that my family reads your blog out there. My daughters told me that they really like it because it gives them comfort to know what prison is like. They told me to tell you thanks for writing, it helps them to know there are good people in prison.” It made me feel really good to hear some good coming from this experience! I started writing after I was sentenced, and have found a great deal of purpose in it; I consider it a gift from my Father in Heaven because I have no formal training or education in writing, so I’m learning as I go. I write from my heart, and feel connected to the outside world through my blog.
I’m a die hard when it comes to walking on our track. Come rain, shine, or freezing weather I’m out walking. When I went out yesterday it was pouring rain and some of my friends yelled, “Louder, you’re crazy to go out in that weather, you’re going to get soaking wet!” When I got to the track it was really coming down but I started walking anyway and kept my eyes to the ground. I set off at a very determined pace and was the only person outside except around 10 other brave souls who were pumping iron at the covered weight pile. I was deep in thought when I came around the corner of the track and noticed the women from the weight pile were walking towards me. It scared me a bit so I stopped and took my headphones off. They were all just staring at me and then one of the women walked right past me. I turned around to see where they were going and saw the most beautiful rainbow that I’ve ever seen! The women were all walking towards it and I couldn’t believe that I had walked right through the rainbow and missed it! The weeds in the field have turned into grass from all the rain and the sun came out making the colors so vivid. We all just stood together in silence, admiring our Father in Heaven’s miracle. We have very little color in prison, seeing a rainbow like that felt like the heavens opened up for us and it was magnificent!
I had a great experience teaching this week. I started by telling the women that we would be having an open discussion about our convictions. I pointed out that this might be painful for some of you but it’s my hope that this class will help you change the way you see yourselves. Next, I shared some of my personal experiences and a sweet woman in a wheel chair at the front of the class started crying. Her neighbor ran to the bathroom to get her some tissue and comforted her. I thought about how blessed I am to count myself among these women. Then I asked for a volunteer to come forward and explain their conviction. The volunteer became very emotional as she shared the details of her conviction. I applauded her for her courage and told her that I thought she did a great job. Someone raised their hand and asked how she would ever get a job? She asked, “How will I ever convince an employer that I’m an honest, hard worker?” I responded that there is no secret to convincing an employer. Just become an honest, hard working person. I asked, “By raise of hands, how many of you think that you will be able to get a job when you get out of prison?” About half the women raised their hands. I continued, “Come on Ladies, of course you will all get jobs! You are all remarkable women! Do you know how lucky you are to be here right now?” One of the women laughed and said, “Ya we’re real lucky, how do you figure that?” I said, “This is the beginning of the rest of your lives, you have so much potential. You’re lucky because you’re at Dublin, and Dublin’s a good prison but more importantly, many you have survived incredible trauma and you’re still standing. You are here doing the most important thing you will ever do, you are here to change your life.” One of the women asked, “How do we change our life?” I said, “To start with you need to do your very best at whatever job you have in here. If you were assigned a job in the kitchen, you need to rock the kitchen. You need to be honest in here, not because you might get caught but because you value yourself and your integrity. Get up early in the morning, live a successful life in prison and you will have a successful life in the free world. Each of you can leave here a champion if you decide to.” Everyone clapped their approval.
Prison has it’s ups and downs and sometimes it feels like a big waste of time. Sometimes I feel guilty because it’s too easy. I told my roommate that I feel like a guest of honor in here; They cook for me, clean for me, and I get to read and exercise every day. Of course being separated from my family is painful, and prison isn’t exactly posh, but I am grateful for the good in my life today. I love my job, and I love many of the women that I meet. If I look for the good, I find it and I remind myself daily that God has a plan for me. I have learned to surrender the outcome of my life, to just do the best I can each day. I worried a lot about my future in the free world. I was always planning and working towards something. I have decided that we under-bless ourselves with all of our planning and that if we just do the best we can with each day, the future will take care of itself. I love to write and I love to teach, both things I didn’t plan. I know our Father in Heaven has a much grander plan for each one of us than we can possible imagine. I am finding purpose in Federal Prison