Week Twenty Six

Getting There

Christmas has come and gone.  It was very rough being without my children and family this year, but some of the girls here did everything possible to make it seem like Christmas.  The catholic group put on a caroling sing along on Thursday night.  They had English carols, Spanish carols and even one in French and one in Hebrew.  It was a nice little get together and helped get us in the Christmas spirit.  On Friday we received our Holiday bags, filled with chips, cookies, etc.  We spent the rest of Friday afternoon trading to get exactly what we wanted.  Needless to say, I won’t be shopping for snacks anytime soon (except for my Ritz crackers and peanut butter, can’t live without those these days).  The kitchen staff also gave out cookies and hot chocolate that afternoon.  The cookies were baked by the culinary group and were pretty good.  I went in expecting a cup of hot chocolate, but was handed a packet of Swiss Miss.  Oh well, it was 80 degrees that day, so I really didn’t want hot chocolate at that moment anyway.  I will save it for the next time the temp drops – gotta love Florida weather.

We asked Santa for sweet, adorable (eye candy) guards for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (we are sure they are hiding some over with the men).  Instead we had the Dynamic Duo.  They both started over here a couple of weeks ago.  Junior has started to calm down and realize that he does not have to be a jerk, he is dealing with non violent women, not the men at the Pen.  He is not bad looking, just needs to smile every now and then.  Ponytail is the lead.  He is not bad looking either, but needs to stop smoking.  I mentioned before that they have to walk down aisles and be judged by 100 women in each unit.  It does not help them any when they leave a trail of stale smoke so when they turn the corner, all of the women are fanning their noses.  I am not sure what is up with his haircut either, but if he were to take care of those two issues, he would be a lot better off, a smile here and there would be nice too.  I do like that he is very “by the book”.  You know what to expect with him.  One of the biggest issues here is there is no consistency between the guards, which can get very annoying. Our Christmas dinner consisted of Cornish game hens, mac n cheese, collard greens, sweet potato pie and pecan pie.  I didn’t try the collard greens or sweet potato pie, but the rest was good.  On Christmas Eve, my Spanish friends cooked dinner and invited me to join them.  It was actually really yummy.  I did ask what was in the “cake” and was told to just eat it….so I did.  It was pretty good.

Not sure how New Years Eve will work here, since lights are out and quiet time starts at 10:30.  Doesn’t really matter, I am usually asleep before midnight any other year.

As I am writing this, I realized that today is my 6 month anniversary here…ugh.  I miss my kids so much, especially my little guy.  I am missing most of his 3 year old year, missed his Christmas this year and all of the excitement around it.  Fortunately I will be home before he turns 4, I will be on home confinement then, but it doesn’t matter, I will be with him and my girls!

Still working on my smile project…it isn’t going very well so far.  I am starting to think some people are just plain grumpy.

Thank you to everyone who sent me Christmas cards, it was great hearing from you, I miss all of my family and friends so much!  I still mourn everyday for the ones that I have lost through all of this, and hope that one day, they will forgive me and remember the real me, not the one that screwed up.

Have a great week!  Time is getting shorter!

6 more chicken days!
3 more visit weekends!
2 more blanket exchanges!

Julie

Week Twenty Five

No More Pity Parties Allowed

Another week is over.  This was a rough one, and I decided to throw myself a pity party from Thursday to Saturday.  I was upset that I had not heard from anyone in a few days, and went into a “nobody loves me” mood.  On Saturday, my Bunkie had decided she had had enough of my pity party and told me to snap out of it.  My happiness cannot depend on other people, it needs to depend on me.  If I spend all of my time waiting for others to make me happy, I will never be happy.  She is right, I need to stop arranging my life around everyone else.  If I don’t hear from them, I don’t hear from them.  Everyone is busy, especially this time of year.  I only have a few weeks left and I don’t need to spend it moping around, so I have decided to start a smile experiment.  On an episode of “The Middle” a few seasons ago, one of the characters, Sue, had to conduct an experiment.  She decided to see if smiling was contagious, and started smiling and saying Hello to everyone around her.  So now I am going to try it.   The girls around me all smile back, and most of the female officers smile and say hello when they walk by, but a lot of the male officers just either nod or ignore us all together.  For the next 7 weeks, I am going to make a point to smile and say hello to every officer I walk by.  The two males that work in the kitchen and the new camp administrator are my main targets.  I am tired of getting nodded at, grunted at & half smiles.  I have been trying it off and on over the last few days, and have not been successful yet, but I am determined to keep trying.  We have a couple of new guards that need to learn to smile also.  They come in looking tough, and forget that they can smile, say hello and still be “in charge”.  So I will smile and say hello to them each time I see them too.  I figure by the time I leave here, they will all either think I am over friendly, a little crazy, or trying to hit on them.  I am lucky to have a counselor and case manager that are always ready to say good morning and smile.  It is nice having them around, they make it just a little bit friendlier around here.

There are lots of activities scheduled between now and New Years to choose from, starting with Bingo last night.  I didn’t win anything, but still had fun.  Hopefully there will be enough to keep my mind off of everything I am missing at home.  I did hear a song this week that I really liked.  It is “Joyful, Joyful” by Casting Crowns.  I love the way they took one of my favorite hymns and made it more contemporary.

I hope everyone has a great week.  I will write again closer to Christmas.

Julie

7 more chicken days!
3 more visit weekends!
2 more blanket exchanges!

Week Twenty Four

I have been at Camp Coleman (aka Club Fed) for 24 weeks now.  I am still amazed everyday by how the justice system works, and how many people are here, that could be on home confinement, saving the government $37,000 a year per person (not including their medical costs).  Is it just me, or would that be a nice way to help the budget?  Put them on home confinement, on a monitor (that the inmate would pay the costs of) and have them work, pay taxes and start paying their restitution.  I have met several people that when they arrived here, had to leave a full time job, which was helping to support their family, and they could have been paying back what they owed, during all of this time.  Now they will leave here, pray for a job, and figure out how to get their family out of the hole they are in, and pay off all of their debts.  Chances are they will end up on some sort of government assistance, which is more money out of the budget, while they try to get back into the real world.  I hope President Elect Trump looks at this system while he is trying to get the budget figured out.  Take the first time, non-violent offenders out of these camps and save the government some money.  Now I guess I should not complain, I don’t have to cook, do my laundry or even clean the bathroom, so in the end, this was just an extended vacation for me.  I am starting to get nervous about going home.  I can’t wait to get there, and will probably drive my children crazy wanting to be with them all the time, but after being here for even the short time that I have, there will be some re-adjustments when I get home.  I have one friend that is going home in a few months after 5 years and another that will be soon after 11 years.  I just can’t imagine having to re-adjust to the world after 11 years of being out of it.  And as I have said before, they are not prepared.  A lot have no computer skills except for sending emails, very limited life skills, since so much has changed in the last 10 years. They have never seen Facebook, Twitter, etc., don’t know the difference between an iPhone and an Android, and you should have seen me trying to explain a Roku & streaming Netflix and Hulu instead of cable.  There is so much out there they are going to have to learn.

I received my first couple of Christmas cards and was so excited.  It is great hearing from people I have not seen in months.  It appears we can leave them up during the week too, so our cube is starting to look a little Christmassy.  My aunt sent me a copy of December’s Southern Living magazine and we have been drooling over the cakes and cookies in it…I cannot wait to get home for a real piece of cake with thick butter cream icing…yummy!!!

Next week is graduation for our Threshold class.  We get to wear caps and gowns and invite some of our friends (from here, not home 😦 ).  I have taken more away from that class than anything else here.  We did have a long discussion on forgiveness, and how can we ask for forgiveness, if we still have not forgiven people who have hurt us.  We also learned that just because you forgive someone, does not mean you have to start spending time with them, it means you let go of the anger in your heart, and allow yourself to go on with your life.  We wrote a letter to someone forgiving them, and were told we could mail them if we wanted to.  I did not have the address for the one I wrote, but I do want to say, that I have forgiven my father for not being there for me and my brother, not putting us first in his life and not seeming to care.  He has 6 grandchildren, his own blood and as far as I know he has only met two of them.  I am sad for not having him in my life, and that my kids do not know him, but I am no longer dwelling on it.  It is his loss, and I will not let it effect me anymore.  That was a tough one…but it does feel good to let it go.  I still have more to forgive, but it is a start.  I have been very lucky though.  When I was 5, my mother remarried, and my new stepfather took over.  He became Dad.  I never referred to him as a stepfather, and he never referred to us as his stepkids…we were his kids.  Through all of my issues and troubles I have caused, he has been there.  He could have very simply said, she isn’t my kid, but he never did, he always just wanted to do what he can to help me.  That is a blessing that a lot of people in my situation do not have and one I appreciate very much!

I am getting closer to going home!  Still praying for a miracle to get me home sooner.

Have a great week!
Julie

8 more chicken days!
4 more visit weekends!
2 more blanket exchanges!

Letting Go

I have been spending a lot of my time letting go of things from the past.  It is not easy, there are things that still haunt me, but when they do, I try not to focus on them, and instead focus on what is important….my present and future.  I was listening to the radio this morning and there was a quick message from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  The speaker was talking about events from your past that continue to bother you.  Things that tear down your self confidence and tear down you as a person.  She said that when something like this comes up in your head, you need to tell yourself….Yes, this is part of me, but it does NOT define who I am or who I am going to be.  This is going to be my new mantra, whenever I am down and those old things come to haunt me. I am going to be okay when I get home, it won’t be easy, but I am going to be okay.

Julie

Week Twenty Three

Bah Humbug!

Another week is finished.  The ladies here decorated our front lobby area.  It is amazing to see their creativity, especially with limited supplies.  The most impressive is the “fireplace” they created out of cardboard boxes and our counter area.  My Bunkie and I said we are going to take cups of hot chocolate and sit in front of it.  It is too hot right now for the hot chocolate, hopefully it cools back down in a few days. Unfortunately, all of this is only working to make me more depressed about the holidays.  I am still working on the kids gifts, which is keeping me busy, but I am bummed anyway.  I don’t get to take my little guy to see Santa this year, wake up with him and the girls on Christmas morning and watch their excitement as they open their presents.  I don’t get to see my entire family for our Christmas Eve get together.  I have not missed a single Christmas Eve with the family since we moved back to Florida 41 years ago.  Some of the ladies that have been here for several years are “watching out” for those of us missing our first Christmas.  Sadly, there are many that this is just the first of several Christmases they will be missing.  We only get a few basic cable channels, so there will be no Family channel 25 days of Christmas.  I did go over to Rec on my movie day and was able to watch “Christmas with the Kranks”, always one of my favorites, but it still wasn’t the same.

I sent mom & dad a Christmas card that I cross-stitched.  One of the ladies here (78 years old!), makes cross-stitched cards all the time, and my Bunkie took lessons from her to learn.  When I told her I already knew how to do it, she handed me a book, and said to pick a card.  Then gave me the supplies to make it, and supervised me turning it into a card.  She was very sweet, and wouldn’t let me give her anything in return for the supplies she gave me to make the card.  It was nice to be able to make them something.  I wish there was something I could make that would make up for all of the problems I have caused them.  Something that would truly thank them for everything they have done for me and my kids.

I am almost done with my Threshold class.  We accomplished 6 months worth of work in 3 months, going to class for 3-4 hours a week instead of 1-2.  They actually have a graduation ceremony for this program (in 2 weeks), with caps & gowns.   It is apparently a big deal to complete the course.

No song again this week.  I just can’t handle the 24 hours of Christmas music, so I have been just flipping channels while I walk.

Have a great week!

9 more chicken days!
4 more visit weekends!
3 more blanket exchanges!

Julie