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Burning Man Global Leadership Conference: Sparking a New Citizenship

For many of us, when we think about the muse that is Burning Man, it is already an awe-empowering radical way of life.  On the contrary, maybe for some, the idea of Burning Man is a huge turn-off, due to the seemingly irrelevant time-wasting that takes place once a year at Black Rock City.  Whatever your opinion of this culture and this movement may be, I believe that nothing could begin to encapsulate the magic that took place at the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in April, 2017, Oakland, CA.  Every doubt in my mind I had about this organization was nipped. Every concern I had about this community was addressed.  And every excitement I conjured up about this mission was accelerated.  Let’s review:

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As a huge proponent and supporter of Burning Man, Burners Without Borders, and the regional Burning network, nothing could have prepared me for the extent of what the Burning community is up to concerning social justice, activism and environmentalism.

Many of us saw the #StandingRock popular opinion of Burning Man, painting Burners as festival maggots who were just showing up to party… but few people saw the infrastructure and composting toilets in the news that Burners Without Borders brought to the table. Everyone sees the party, but who is actively looking for the epic goodness?  Epic goodness is what the GLC had to offer…  Imagine 600 of the world’s most creative, smart, hard working and sincerely kind people all together in one room for a weekend, exchanging ideas and educating each other.  Here are some themes that came out of it, for me personally:

If it’s not fun it’s not sustainable!
Have radical hope
Be in the ‘WE’ mindset
Have clear transparency
Better documentation
Allow for multiple entities to participate in the conversation (whatever the topic may be)

When I first walked into the conference, the activity at hand aside from registration, was packing lost-n-found backpacks with donated personal care items for the homeless.  Participants were encouraged to take the back packs out on the streets and be prepared to merely offer what’s in them to anyone who looks like they might be in need. What a point of contact with the community, and an excellent foot to start off on.

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The conference was then set up like most conferences are, with speakers and break-out sessions.  To give you an understanding of the depth of these sessions, a few of the stand out topics of the
GLC break-out sessions were:

•Operation Acculturation: Project Citizenship
•Radical Transformation in Reactionary Times
•Making in the Service of Art, Innovation and Social Good
•Environmental Sustainability and “the Man”
•Defending Decommodification: Intellectual Property Basics
•Scaling Sustainability: from the Playa to the Planet
•Compassionate Response to Community in Bereavent
•Government and Organizational Evolution
•Participation or Politics: How Burner Citizens Handle Communal Effort in a Partisan World
•Supporting Conflict Resolution From Start to Finish
•Design Thinking: Transform Ideas into Action
•Co-Creating Socially Conscious Real Estate Development
•Consent Culture and Community: How are you building it?

My very first (and favorite) session I attended presented by Kostume Jim (Jim Glaser, founder of Kostume Kult) was entitled: Activism! Organize and Mobilize.   The focus was on bringing the burn to the rest of the world with an activist approach, using cacophony society tactics such as enticing/scaring congressmen into doing what’s right using via theatrical gorilla performances (i.e.: Billionaires for Bush Performance Artists collective).  The Occupy movement came out of this sort of work.  Jim emphasized that burner activists are not alone, that this is a place where sociology meets art and that this is an artistic messaging movement start to get the word out.   If you have never heard of the cacophony society, read up!

SO, how do we bring about more activism with ease? Ground rules:

1 With efficiency and flexibility
2 Speech first, discussion after
3 Make it a community project
4 Non-Partisan- establishment types (Bernie types vs anarchists)
5 Non-argumentative
6 NO political correctness
7 Keep it ethical

A tangible example of an event/activity Jim is trying to head up is assisting inner city people IDs so they can vote.  It’s unconstitutional to have a voters tax, and by making people have Drivers License’s to vote we are violating that freedom.  Another idea: create a Fare Force…  “an activist hive mind project where we conceptualize media stunts, act them out and then try to make them go viral. Cacophony for causes,” Jim says. We are talking about mixing cacophony society and experimental marketing, and then taking that content from those events and showing the world via video and social media.  What crazy and interesting messages can we do at bigger protests?  “Focus on millenials and counter fake news,” Jim says.  Jim and his team are also working on a cause-connectivity app, sort of a tinder of social causes.   And they are always looking for leaders/volunteers to move this movement.

In another talk, Cory Mervis who used to work for Donald Trump spoke about how to reach people just like him. It was a powerful conversation about radical inclusion, a principle we all cherish.  Harley k Dubois, the Chief transition officer talked about what “it” is, the magical thing we all are here to “get” and transformational experiences, which we are all here to create.  We have quite a network, and quite a mission, and how we have quite the task of spreading this goodness.

There are over 286 regional burner sanctioned events arounds the world, but burning is not just limited to Burning Man.  The 10 principles are a way of life, a participation in creating our own world.  And according to Harley, “We are the adults in the room… we aren’t the hipster stoners in the green room, we are the producers of the world.  Burning Man has become mainstream, and grown, we haven’t sold out, we have arrived, and we are here to own that space.”

We heard from Christopher Breedlove many times throughout the weekend about BWB: Burners Without Borders, a community driven non-profit group of self-etsbalished burners who saw a need and wanted to do something about that need in their local communities in the name of burning.  As I mentioned before, BWB showed up at Standing Rock and built compostable toilets in a time of great need.  BWB is also working with international refugees to design solar powered lighting systems that lead refugees where they need to go upon arrival to foreign countries. Another exciting project, turning shipping containers into tool libraries in third world countries where underprivileged communities can rent the tools they need to fix their homes/cities and civic issues.  This is a program designed to empower these communities to be radically self-reliant, and the shipping containers are a huge hit.

BWB has 22 active chapters, 81 working projects and 22 partner organizations. In 2016 there were 2,186 volunteers, 14,322 hours, over 47k raised.  Three types of projects: 1 Homeless outreach, 2 Food collection and distribution , 3 Intentional park beach cleanup. Any one can start a working group in any city and add to this movement.  BWB is cultural sensitive, while also pushing the envelope when it comes to the Burner world.  BWB is that container of those who want to do the work. Corpus christy picked up 16,000 lbs of trash. Chicago’s Chididorod raised $15,000 for BWB projects.  You can join the Heartland BWB chapter here.  Or look on Facebook for your local chapter.

Another speaker, Ryan Wisling gave a talk on the Permaculture action network, Permaculture action days and their involvement with artists who are interweaving their art and social action concerning the environment, artists like The Polish Ambassador, The Elephant Revival and Rising Appalachia, pairing carbon farming and sustainability with their musical events.  He also told us about the approved Tiny home village initiative  in Denver, Co for the homeless.

Saturday’s sessions began with a presentation about Catharsis on the Mall, a DC Burner event in November on the National Mall, full of healing and education.  Check out this video about what amazing work they are doing:

The same group of gentleman presenting Catharsis on the Mall were all wearing red hats, FREEDOM HATS, which community member Halcyon describes here:

Katalunda Dee gave a break-out session about Respect 101: Defining and Understanding the Language of Race and Privilege and the US, asking the difficult questions such as why is burning man so homogenous?  “Privilege is invisible if you have it.”  We are a word-of-mouth community, and we tend to bring people we are comfortable with people who are like us and share our values and our comfort levels.  We learned about the Empathy gap: distance between something bad and how much you care about it.  As a group we talked about micro-aggression: low level statements made from place of privilege that we may see as innocent but can be offensive. The presentation stressed that freedom of speech means you’re free to say what you like but you are not free from consequences.  The goal was to heighten our cultural awareness just by having the discussion, and the emphasis we took away was education!  Our mission should be educating outside communities who may not be familiar with the burner concept and lifestyle, but who may still be able to benefit from our goals and mission.  Outside reading suggestions included:
Kimberlee Crenshaw- Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color.
Also: Racial bias in perceptions of others pain by Sophie Trawler, Kelly M Hoffman, Adam Waltz.
Lastly, the well known: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy Macintosh

Maryanne Goodell, Founding Board Member and Chief Engagement Officer of the Burning Man Project, spoke about her goals to take burner principles out into the world.   “We are the connective tissue,” she says.  “We are a platform for social change”.  She said it is important to make eye contact when talking with anybody, in or outside the burner community and empathize.  She also announced that the 2015 annual report is now available online: http://annualreport2015.burningman.org #transparency

Mark Hammond, a burner who Ran for Utah legislator in 2016 shared his story on coming from Mormonism to Burnerism to Political activism. Barry Ivan Silber’s intro cued us to his remixing thinking a tool: Toloposogo.  That means when looking at an issue, use the Tolosposogo to analyze any situation: Where are we going TO, LOoking where we are, POssibility actions we can take, SOlutions, GO take steps to action, O=obstacles analysis.

These were just a few of the sessions I happened to attend that moved me.  There was SO much more happening. Post convention, Mia Quaflirello published this article about several women leaders from the GLC we should all know. We were surrounded by brilliance, and I personally was blown away.

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Something I learned during the convention, is that the word “Radical” means forming the root.  It is our mission as Burners to change the root.  To nurture the root.  To always be pushing the envelope, pushing ourselves and our societies to be better and more humane.  Thank you GLC for the opportunity to learn and grow as a human and as a burner.  We’re off to a great start!

Sincerely,
MissConnection

PS, if you want more, check out this guy’s video recap here:

 

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Global Leadership Conference 2017
www.burningman.org

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Citizen Lobbyist Training

I attended a Citizen Lobbyist Training in Topeka, Kansas on Tuesday, March 14th, and walked away with several skills I felt useful to share with you here.  This particular training was a precursor to a Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capital.  

The goals for the day were to:
• To learn specific tools about preparing for a meeting and communicating with these legislators on advocacy day.
• To establish a relationship with KS Representatives and Senators and maintain communications with them in the future.
• To receive action alerts on key legislative issues
• Organizing and participating in local meetings with elected officials to address these specific mental health issues

The training started off with an emphasis on developing our stories.  The theory is that real stories change hearts and minds, and that there is hope in telling a story of recovery or change.  Emphasis was put on not overwhelming anyone with too much information, and to always ASK at the end for the legislators support. A ‘story’ consists of an introduction, what happened, what helped, how you are different today, what is the need or problem, what will help others, and the ASK.

We were given examples of emails to send legislators when setting up the initial meeting, which exhibited: a subject line, a salutation, stating the issue and position, making it personal (optional), adding story or talking points (optional), making the ASK (either on the specific support, or asking for a meeting), a thank you and a closing.

Example:

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We developed our 30 second elector speeches, which again included the introduction, issue and position, why it’s personal, the need or problem, what will help others, and the ASK. A similar model of a phone call was also demonstrated.

Example:

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When preparing for the actual meeting of the legislator, we first developed our tool preps for the meeting, which included a briefing sheet, stating the issue, the ASK, the need and talking points plus solution, and committee members and sponsors to references. The backgrounder on the particular legislator that you are meeting with is also key in making sure you are knowledgeable about the work.  Lastly, we developed meeting scrips as a jump off point for practicing how the meeting might go beforehand, which helped tremendously with confidence levels.

By the end of the training, I felt confident enough to reach out to my legislator, Representative Abe Rafie, district 48, and I set up a meeting.  We sat down for 15 minutes the following afternoon and had a wonderful conversation about health care and his intentions to represent his community moving forward.  Why I did not stick with the script verbatim, the practice and preparation gave me the language and knowledge to draw upon during the meeting.

Example of a script with  Legislator Abraham Rafie: Welcome

Lead:  Hello, I’m Sara Glass and I’m a constituent from Overland Park .  I am a representative of Poetry for Personal Power, a non profit organization dedicated to health care advocacy, messaging and peer support.

Legislator: Pleasure to have you here…

Lead:  First of all, thank you for your time. I greatly appreciate the work you have done concerning abortion regulations and crisis intervention. I’m glad to see that means a lot to you.

Legislator: Appreciate your comments… why are you here?

Lead:  I’m here because I want to ask you to protect mental health services and increase the mental health budget.  Expanding Medicaid kancare, mental health 20/20 restoring the $20 million cut in grant funding.

More families than ever are seeking help from mental health centers. But with budget cuts, people can’t get the mental health services they need.  9% of Kansans are uninsured and 53% of individuals served by community based mental health coalition are uninsured. That is a terrifying thing to be uninsured.

Specifically when children can’t get help for mental health conditions, they often fall behind in school and families struggle. When adults can’t get treatment, costs shift to jails, emergency rooms and hospitals.  More than 1/10 youth and 1/17 adults live with a serious mental illness.  You and I both know that mental health care is an investment in our future health and productivity.

Legislator: I’ve always  been in support of mental health, but it’s going to be a tight budget this year and there are serious revenue shortfalls.  We’ve got to get spending under control.

Lead:  Statistics say you will actually save money in the long run as far as keeping people healthy if you put preventative healthcare in the forefront of the healthcare system, priority wise.  We can keep people out of the emergency room and hospitals if we address these critical mental health issues NOW rather than wait until they are an even bigger problem.

Your support would mean a lot to me and my family. Many of us have been victims of addiction and depression.  Having a safe place to go and someone to talk to about these issues would have made all of our lives much easier when I reflect back on the trauma I have seen… elaboration on story here…..

Legislator: Thank you for sharing your story. It is stories like yours that help illustrate the need for mental health care.

Lead:  Preserving mental funding will mean that mental health services are there when people need them and it is an investment in health and productivity.

The people of our state need your vote to protect mental health care.  Can we count on your support in expanding Medicare and Mental health 20/20 legislative ?

Legislator: You’ve made some excellent points today and I’ll keep them in mind as we’re working on the budget. I know how important mental health services are.

Lead:  Thank you so much representative. I appreciate you taking the time to hear about these issues.

Legislator: It was a pleasure to meet with you.

Lead: We’d like to leave you wth this fact sheet of your files.

 

END SCRIPT

I have since then followed up with a thank you note and followed Rep. Rafie on social media, as to keep up with what he is doing in the future.

The training was followed by actual practice at the Mental Health Advocacy Day at the capital, and this was a great experience for my first real attempt at political advocacy.  Poetry for Personal Power had a table and passed out information, and we learned about other organizations as well all working to better the mental health situation in Kansas.

I was asked to perform a spoken word piece at the rally during the day, which you can watch below:

I want to give a big thank you to the Kansas Mental Health Coalition and everyone involved with the training and advocacy day.  I cannot stress enough how empowering this training was.  If you would like information on future trainings, email me directly at Sara.serendip@gmail.com, and keep your eyes on the KS Mental Health Coalition website.  (There are also trainings in Missouri too, just let me know if you want more information)!

-MissComposed

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The Face of Brutality

This piece of writing is dedicated to any man or woman who has undergone a traumatic and possibly abusive relationship.  Maybe you didn’t have anyone to talk to?  Maybe you said too much… either way, we all must relish in the strength of knowing that we are not alone.  People make mistakes, missed judgements and snap decisions can lead to unhealthy behaviors; we are all human.  This is a compilation of an ongoing story of so many, and the stigma that we must keep quiet has got to end.  Here’s to being honest, finding true love in your self, and learning to let go. 

It’s supposed to hurt, that’s how know it meant something” -Peter Pan   

The first time I saw your face,
I looked into your eyes and felt safe.
You were strong.  Stronger than me.
You could protect me.  Keep me safe.

So I took my heart and my head and I placed them in your arms, because frankly I was so tired of carrying all this weight alone.  I wasn’t afraid.  I was confident… wide open. I was secure in your abilities and in my judgement.  Brutally honest.

I looked into your face, and I felt…. comfortable… and while yes there were scars of track marks from relationships come and gone, I never thought I’d be the one cut so deep.  Cut off.  Cut out.  Cut up.  Upper cutted.  Under cut.  Cut. Down.

One day.  Your face changed.  It started taking on different shapes.  At the beginning there was the way you looked at me with love, and what I took to be kindness. And then the kindness turned to tension. Jealousy. Distrust.  Skepticism. You started looking at me with rage. Brutal. Sheer. Mad. Unjustified.  Anger.  Not reasonable.  Not comprehendible.  Not fair. Not mine to own. And I still thought I had to face you. My brutal best friend.

Your lips that were once soft as silk ran sharp.  Your ears stopped listening. Every story I told was meddled and warped into your own version of this illusion.  You lied.  So many times…

I stopped looking you in the eyes.  They were unreal, though they still hid your spark deep down, your mouth spoke otherwise.  Your actions told differently.  I could see it in your eyes.  How blinded by your own scars you were.  How even you couldn’t hear how terribly you treated me. And I reacted just as poorly. I pushed just as hard. I yelled just as loud. I fell just as far.

I stopped looking you in the eyes and started looking at your hands.  The hands that grabbed me and held me, down, against my will.  The hands that scribed message after message of impurity and manipulation. disgusting.  The same hands that once held me so safe  became the face of your brutality.  Your hands shattered what was left of any chance we had in love.

Your face still looks safe… an illusion that causes me to doubt my own self so hard that I refused to face reality.  Your hands feel safe in the way a mother screaming at her child to stop crying feels like comfort.  Safe in the way that’s the only safe I’d ever really known.  But it was an illusion.  And I finally caught  glimpse of reality, before it was too late.

It took at least two years of redefining my self worth to see that there are other faces.  Other eyes to see and ears to listen.  Other hands to hold, other arms to feel safe. That my OWN security had to come from within me, and not within your arms or Fæsbök.

And from this day forward, I will more than eagerly walk towards my future with gratitude, knowing that because I met you, I now understand what the face of brutality looks like; and I will never again look away in love.


MissConflict

Art, Poetry, Sacred Space

Mountain Earth

I study the mountains
like I study the curve of a woman

Like the way I stare deep into your eyes
looking to lift the disguise from your gaze

Like how we listen to old stories the
the mountains tell it…

Every rock and groove a lifetime of moves and slip.

Each hill a gift to the present.

Every dry river bed has a past documenting the history of lifetimes,
and oh, how I’ve missed you.

<3,

Miss Constance

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www.themissconception.com

Art, Happenings, Poetry, social justice

Poetry as Personal Power

What helps you get through tough times in your life?

Poetry for Personal Power is a Midwest based non-profit organization designed to do the virtually unheard of.  Poetry for Personal Power, or P3 for short, provides health care messaging via community prevention info that manifest through paid gigs for sponsored artists.  Essentially, P3 has been allowing artists to use poetry and music to address mental health and wellness in the community, in order to improve the community at large… and it’s working!

Specifically focusing on  youth audiences and underprivileged communities, P3 hosts workshops, poetry readings, performances, and events of all shorts to get young people talking about mental health and wellness and what it means for them to deal with the struggles and complications of life.  Also known as peer support, P3 strives for a 70% hospital reduction rate, while intimating health care advocacy and research.

“What helps you through adversity? We are now in our seventh year with over 150 events per year, 75 sponsored artists and advocates in 7 regions, and research and peer support programs in full pilot trial modes! We are building a national replication process to share health care messaging, promote resilience in nonprofits, and increase the number of peer support programs. We are becoming an evidence based resilience messaging campaign with sponsored artists. We are also increasing Wellbeing Impact in host organizations with sponsored advocates.” -Poetry for Personal Power Website

So how can you get involved?

In 2017, the Kansas Mental Health coalition (KMHC) has a $120K grant to teach artists how to become citizen lobbyists. They are looking to pay stipends to people to learn to use arts and advocacy together to support social justice. Poetry for Personal Power and KMHC are doing a free one day training on March 14 for artists and advocates. P3 would like to invite anyone to attend, especially youth or young adult advocates. You can apply here to attend that training: http://kansasmentalhealthcoalition.onefireplace.com/event-2168073

Also, Poetry for Personal Power has a $5,000 grant to support youth and young adult artists from Kansas who want to become tobacco prevention advocates.

You can apply here: http://poetryforpersonalpower.com/artist-entrepreneur-supports/event-replication-application/

If you are interested in the Poetry for Personal Power initiative, you can always email corinna@poetryforpersonalpower.com for more info, or text 816-392-6074.

One of the best parts about Poetry for Personal Power is that the organization is actually paying artists to facilitate these actions and events.  You can check out artist profiles on the website here.  Get involved.  Get excited. And get ready, because P3 is about to revolutionize the way we look at healthcare, via ART!

Always,

MissCompassion

Art, Poetry

Concept of Insanity

Hello.

I would like to introduce you to myself … and all of my friends.

You know, the ones there living up inside my head, and they would tell you that they do believe that…

I have gone mad.

Started talking to myself imagine that imagining the cracks in my head are crumbling past corruption, mass destruction in-between my earlobes.  What’s if, my story goes untold?  If the path doesn’t unfold?  WHAT IF…. my brain starts to erode before it ever takes hold?

What if I am nuts?

The future so unclear.  I was always taught not to live in fear.
Keep it sweetly sincere and yes, I know, I am I am fucking WEIRD.

I mean look at me

I’m almost 32

and have what to show for myself?

Except an abundance of these memorized narcissistically sized ramblings considered a hobby. Who really cares?

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and doing the same thing over again and doing the same thing over again and expecting it to end differently, and I would say that true insanity doest ever end at all.  It just keeps going on and on and going on and on and going on like a black hole stuck

Overwhelmed and brainsick with what I COULD be, what society thinks I should be, what my degree said I would turn out to be… well sorry ma, but confined lines just won’t do this time around. I’m through feeling crazy because I’m too racy to do it the same old way you say.  Same old sing-song… ding dong ding bat, I’ve defiantly gone mad.

Dementedly disturbed by all of these nouns and words and verbs I’ve yet to compose formally, the message is intensely clear so maybe immensely sheer when most of the time I can’t remember what I just said, I am an idiot at best, densely depressed but at the same time, the intensity suggested of my highly demented state has got me smitten with my own fate.

Maybe the best of them are crazy by default…

and a lot in life can be a lot of life that doesn’t have to make sense.  When you press two opposites together they are often more interesting than the present tense….

My digressional defense mechanism have become so unusually chatty, daftly unsound.

I like to think, that when a screw goes loose inside the mind, does it matter if anybody is really around to witness such maniacal madness.  Because if you don’t see it, you can pretend like it’s not happening.  Ignorance still torn between the two sides of my split person, personally, what a buggy fucking mess.

Call it art!

Asinine and insane as all nonsensical hell erupts.

I’ve got a one-up on the unusual. Shining on like a crazy diamond.  Allowing the delusional to override on auto pilot down the rabbit hole on a crazy train.  yes, my screws are loose.  Might as well let em all hang out together….

And though I don’t remember exactly which crazy night when or where or why I went mad in the first place, now that this crazy bitch is gone… there’s no looking back.

_MissConfused_

Uncategorized

Are we there yet?

What happened to the age of Aquarius? 2012 dang came and went…
and there was just an eclipse last week.
It’s almost a full moon, and we’re clearly on an upswing
in this new age of accomplishment.  Have we leveled up?
Straightened the hellbent?

Certainly in many ways, sometimes everyday, sometimes not for months,
either way…
I thought we were on a path to enlightenment, a group effort towards heaven-sent.

G-d comes from within I was told.
So why is this new age babble getting so old

People keep giving me all these crystals
I still feel like, at times, they are worthless.
Other times, I hold them and pray, sure of it.
That’s why I started writing poetry
to figure out what in G-d’s name is really going on!

It feels like something is in retrograde all of the time,
sometimes I have control of this power of manifestation,
other times I’m totally dazed and confused in relation
to my cycle and how it syncs up with the moon and
how certain people can read my mind at times you might call it lunacy.

I call it divine intervention.

I do look at my horoscope when it’s conveniently in front of my face,
like in a newspaper, even when it’s out of date, it usually makes sense.
WHAT CAN IT MEAN?

I’ve got ten minutes to meditate, trying not to think of all the things I should be doing instead of sitting still.  I’m lucky if i can find 10 minutes a day to clear my chi will
the meditation still work if I have a hula hoop in my hand, and that’s kinda like meditation right?  Does that qualify? A moving mediation, music my alibi.

I think it’s kinda fun to OM.  Let’s try it?  All together, collectively, online…

Did you feel that, did our collective vibration just rise?

Or just drop by a slight percent since the screen is glaring on my eyes?

And this water turned into wine, I’ve been drinking nightly for quite some time, is it lowering my mastery or healing my soul-shine?

Is whisky a sin? according to the bible – where exactly does that come in?

Spirits are fine, even Maryjane makes an appearance in the oldest book of time and now pharmaceuticals are a dozen for a dime not mentioned in the original lines we wrote…

I wonder if every word is the word of god spoken and we were just obsessing over the first one we made, because it was so new and brave, then broken. An attempt to translate this reality for yours and my sakes’ so we could all get on the same page
and though we are different races maybe we could all remain believers in our own faith?

I just don’t know anymore… which way to look.  Which book to read. What tale to spin.

So the only place left to go…
is within.

_The Immaculate MissConception_