Lauren Johnson, Conspire alum, continues her series on incarceration, recovery and life in general

Oprah Winfrey spoke of a vision board. The idea behind that vision board is that if you can imagine something specific then you are open to receive the possibility and opportunity as it comes your way. You can recognize it when it comes. She gave the example of buying a car. Once you buy a car, then every where you go, you begin to see that kind of car. It isn’t because that model became really popular after you purchased it, it is because now you recognize it when you see it. It is a concept that I can see play out in my life constantly.

Visualization and planning can bring us closer to where and who we want to be. In only a few short weeks we will be ringing in a new year. This is a great time to contemplate, to visualize and to plan. Reading the article that Kat posted about the woman who was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for lying on a food stamp application to put food on her table really sent it home for me, that the things I want to change really do have a far reaching impact. Honestly, I think the law is silly but in the back of my mind I think that if it came down to it I could go to a food bank. Well, I could if I had a car and gas in it, since we don’t live close to a bus route. I am resourceful though, but why would we make one of our most basic needs be so difficult to access? Doesn’t make any sense. So it is time to really sit down over the next few weeks. After Christmas passes the week that brings the new year in is often a week of nostalgia, contemplation and wonderment at where the journey will lead next. I don’t want to leave too much of it to chance though. So I better get busy on a vision and a plan!

I have been seeing many inspiring things around me lately. It may be because I am looking for them more than usual but whatever it is, I like it. On the evening news tonight there was a story about how a 22 year old woman strong armed Bank Of America into reversing their decision to charge more outrageous bank fees to its customers in just 30 days. That is awesome! I like the idea that anyone can make a difference!

Molly Katchpole started an online petition to get Bank Of America to repeal its decision to charge a $5 purchase fee to its customers.( Signatures began pouring in and now the change has been made. Please note that Bank of America is one of the Big Banks that received a government bail out.

I think that this is significant, especially at a time when the Occupy movements are popping up all over the U.S and abroad. As with many of you, I have been hearing a lot on the news and in other media outlets about these protests. As best as I can figure it out, the Occupy movement stands for the little guy. They want to end corporate greed and the motto, “ We are the 99%” means to me that if we stand up for changes to be made then we can do it do what?. Especially when we are the majority. I have heard other examples of the Occupy philosophy explained that they want a redistribution of wealth – Robin Hood kind of thing if you will. That sounds good in theory, but the reality of it doesn’t mesh with me! I think that we all have to work for what we get.

Dave Ramsey had his own rant about the whole thing. I think Dave makes a lot of sense. (

In his opening line of his letter to the Occupy Wall Street, he asks some really good questions,

after he echoes the protestors cry:

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Yeah, that’s great. But what do you want? What are your goals? What are your demands? What result are you looking for?”

(Ed. note: A respectful rebuttal to Ramsey’s letter can be found here.)

I think that is a good starting set of questions. I think those are questions that Molly answered straight away before she put her plan into action. That is how things get done! That is how change is made.

I have mentioned on here that one of my first orders of business with my new voter registration card is to work towards having Texas opt out of the law that began in 1996 restricting anyone with a drug related felony from receiving government assistance such as food stamps. With that goal in mind, I have made some phone calls and gotten some preliminary results! I have found out this last week that Representative Elliott Naishtat from central Austin has championed this issue and filed a number of bills and plans on filing another one this legislative session. In the spring of 2012, the representatives will begin to prepare for the 2013 legislative session, which is when I will really begin to work on this issue rather than talk about it.

When I spoke with the lady who walked me through how things happen, she sounded very excited to hear from me. The idea was tossed around that I may be asked to tell my story to aid in getting the bill passed. (Un)fortunately I don’t have the kind of story that many more unfortunate people do have.I do have a voice that I plan to use to explore the what if’s for my life and the reality of lives of others. It may be a year away but I am developing the plan to create the effect that I want to see. What happens when I accomplish this task? I start developing a plan for the next thing on my vision board!

-Lauren Johnson


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