Friday, June 24, 2016

The All Consuming Love

Love. The Merriam-webster.com dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person; attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship; and a person you love in a romantic way.”  Reading this definition still doesn’t tell me what love is or what it feels like.  Defining love is like defining God.  It can’t be done; it can only be experienced.  Each person experiences love differently; therefore, each person has a different definition of what they think love is. 

The ancient Greeks spoke of love in six different categories.  The first is Eros love, which is the physical, romantic intimacy between two lovers.  Philia is the love of deep friendship and the bond that is developed between people.  It is sacrificing for your friends, being loyal, and sharing your emotions.  Ludus is the playful love when people are flirting, joking around, dancing, or laughing with friends.  Pragma is longstanding love such as the love between a couple who have been together for years.  Philautia is love for self, though there is a healthy and unhealthy version.  The unhealthy is associated with narcissism and being self-obsessed.  The healthy version is one where you have a great capacity to love.

And then there’s Agape, which is selfless love, the love that we extend to all people.  C.S. Lewis called it ‘gift love’ or the highest form of Christian love, although it also appears in other religions.  Paulo Coelho stated, “Agape is total love, the love that devours those that experience it. Whoever knows and experiences Agape sees that nothing else in this world is of any importance, only loving. This was the love that Jesus felt for humanity, and it was so great that it shook the stars and changed the course of man’s history.”

I didn’t really totally understand Agape love until I lost my little boy (Toy Poodle) several years ago.  He was my child and his death absolutely devastated me (as it did with any of my ‘kids’).  One night, I was lying in bed so distraught with grief that I just didn’t care about anything anymore.  I didn’t care if I left the world that night just so I could be with him.  I wasn’t suicidal and wouldn’t have done anything to harm myself; it was just my frame of mind at that moment.  Then it came to me.  Nothing mattered.  Nothing.  I saw all the nonsense occurring in the world and I could only ask ‘why?’  Soon, another epiphany...  Nothing matters except for the meaning that you give to it.  I was able to stand back and see the world like I was watching it on a movie screen.  And then the greatest Divine thought came to me.  Nothing matters but love…the pure unconditional, perfect love of the All-That-Is, and we are all connected as Divine beings in this play called life.  In that moment, I saw it and I felt it.  I got it!  It helped me see the world in a different light, and that light overcame the darkness.  I still grieved and bawled me a river of tears for months to come for my boy, but as far as humanity and our world, I got it!

We’re seeing a lot of hate, bigotry, anger, violence, and ignorance in the world right now; a lot of it is being promoted by the media, politicians, and religious leaders.  And that’s sad as it makes it seem so much larger than it is.  But there’s something greater brewing!  We are now seeing love start to swell in more and more people all over the earth and we’re allowing our Divine light to overcome any darkness in the world!  Mainstream media may not be reporting it, but we are seeing it on social media!   Countless people are uniting together as one heart filled with unconditional love for all people.  We know that united we stand, divided we fall. 

We need to learn Agape love, not only for others, but for ourselves!  If we really, truly loved ourselves unconditionally, we could never, ever cause any harm to anyone or anything!  It’s the love that all our great Spiritual Masters taught us!  Love one another, and love your neighbor as yourself!

Ram Dass said, “Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being.”  And Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.  I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 24, 2016.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Love And Compassion Are Necessities, Not Luxuries

Sigh…  Another senseless massacre in Orlando with the shooting at a gay nightclub killing fifty people and injuring countless others by a homophobic lost human being...a being that was filled with so much hate towards another group of people because of fear.  (Hate is a byproduct of fear.)  With easy access to guns, he slaughtered a group of beautiful souls. 

What’s even more sad is the number of people who are celebrating these deaths just because they were gay.  Many Christian preachers are even celebrating and some were actually telling people to go out and kill those in the LGBT communities.  And that’s even sadder.  This is not the Christianity that I believe in!

I used to be homophobic.  I believed that gays were going to hell because that’s what my religion taught me…until I learned otherwise.  I’ve told this story before, but I’m going to tell it again.  In 1980 while living in California, I was in my ‘if you don’t believe the way I do, then you’re going to hell’ belief system.  However, sometimes Spirit gives me that loving, yet firm smack on the back of my head to get my attention, and boy, did Spirit get my attention!

I had gone to a Hungarian dance with a friend of mine, and when we got there, I saw a tall person standing in the circle of dancers.  My friend told me that this person was a transsexual.  I was horrified and commented, “That thing isn’t even human!”  So we left.  To this day, it pains me that I could say something so mean and hateful towards another human being. 

Later, I had gone to the Hollywood bookstore, got into a conversation with the store clerk, and he began to tell me his story.  He was a man, became a woman, and was in the process of becoming a man again.  He had been put under too much pressure by a religion to believe that he was committing a horrible sin by doing so; therefore, he gave up his truth and relented.  Then a guy I knew walked in with a woman, and while in conversation, I learned her story.  She was a man, became a woman, and because of the pressure of religion, was going to become a man again.  Here I am freaking out being in a room with two freaks, trying to find a way to escape, when my friend suggested we all hold hands and pray.  So here I am holding hands with a freak on each side of me, while I’m freaking out, and then I got that loving spiritual smack on the back of my head.  I heard the words just as clearly as if someone spoke them.  “Karen, these too are my children and I love them just as much as all my children.”   I didn’t change my beliefs right there and then, but a seed was planted.

When I moved back home to Indiana, I started reading Shirley MacLaine’s books, and the greatest thing she taught me was to keep an open mind in ALL things.  It was then that I began my adventure on a serious spiritual journey.

When I moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue an acting and dancing career, I began meeting people who were gay.  I found them to be wonderful people and many became my friends.  When I moved to Cookeville, I met more gays and acquired more amazing friendships.  I even met and have become friends with a few transgenders.  I overcame my fear of a group of people who may have been different than me, but I opened my heart and have been blessed because of it.

When Jesus said his greatest commandment over all others was to love one another, he wasn’t kidding around.  He made no exceptions, and I have taken that commandment to heart and try to live it.  It’s not always easy.  I have to watch my thoughts when I find myself hating the haters, but I know that they are living in fear just like I had been before I learned otherwise.

My heart and soul goes out to the victims and their family and friends of this horrific tragedy.  Whether we’re Christians or of another faith (or none), the best thing we can do is show compassion as our Spiritual Masters taught us.  This could easily have been a large church or anywhere else.  These were our sisters and brothers and when something horrible happens to anyone, it happens to all of us.

The Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  And Buddha stated, “If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”  Magnificent words to live by! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 17, 2016.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Your Past is Not Your Identity

In a scientific experiment, Julius and Vincent were born fraternal twins from the DNA of six fathers in order to produce the perfect child.   Julius was the healthy and perfect baby while Vincent was much smaller and more fragile.  The mother was told that Julius died at birth and wasn’t told about Vincent at all.  Julius was raised by a professor on a South Pacific island.  He was loved and nurtured, highly educated, and sheltered from the world.  Vincent was placed in an orphanage, believed that his mother had abandoned him, and he didn’t get the love and attention Julius received.  Later, he ran away and became a con artist, doing his best to survive. 

When Julius turned 35, the professor told him that he has a twin brother, so he leaves the island to find him, discovers him in Los Angeles, and tells him that he’s his twin.  Vincent doesn’t believe him and abandons him.  Julius is tall and handsome and worked out; therefore, he was in excellent health.  Vincent was short, homely, and overweight.  Julius didn’t give up though, and continued to pursue and convince him.  After numerous humorous adventures, Vincent finally accepts that they are brothers, they become good friends, and Vincent changes his ways under the loving nurturing of his brother and their girlfriends.

This was the movie “Twins” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Julius and Danny DeVito as Vincent.  It’s a comedy, but at the same time, it is a great message movie and really made it clear as to how we can become who we are.  We are all products of our upbringing, culture, beliefs, and experiences.  Because Julius was loved and nurtured, he grew up to be happy and had a healthy self-esteem.  Vincent, growing up an orphan and never receiving love or nurturing, therefore, turned to crime and had poor self-esteem. 

There’s a true story in Tony Robbins book “Awaken the Giant Within” of two brothers close in age who had an abusive alcoholic father serving life in prison for murder.  One brother also became an alcoholic and ends up in prison; the other became successful and had a loving family.  Both were asked separately, “Why has your life turned out this way?”  Both gave the same answer, “What else could I have become having grown up with a father like that?”

We are all influenced by our past.  Some of us grow up with wonderful lives; no complaints.  Others go through horrific experiences that could destroy the best of us.  Neither way guarantees how we will be as adults and both stories above are good examples.  Julius had a great childhood and grew up to be a well-adjusted adult.  Vincent had a horrible childhood and ended up being a dysfunctional adult.  In the second story, both brothers had a horrible childhood; one grew up dysfunctional and the other well-adjusted.

So what’s the difference?  Our choices.  We always have choices.  Some people don’t believe they have choices, which is also a choice.  Our pasts shape our beliefs about ourselves, our lives, and our world, and that’s the key right there.  Once we become aware that we can change our thoughts and beliefs, then we can overcome most anything.  There are some exceptions such as severe mental illnesses, extremely traumatic events, etc., but there are stories of even these overcoming their pasts.  (Most children are also exceptions to this.)

What happens to some people is that their past becomes their identity and they don’t know who they are without their past experiences.  They’re afraid of who they could be without them.  It takes courage to step into the unknown not knowing what the future may hold, but when we do, we can overcome most anything that has held us prisoners of our past.  Nothing has meaning except for the meaning that we give to it, and we can change the meanings from our past and can become stronger and better human beings because of it!

We also have to stop the blame game and take 100% responsibility for our own lives.  Every person is only doing the best they can with what they know at the time, and many are living what they were taught or from what they experienced.  You can either be a victim of your past or a hero of your future. 

James Cisneros said, “Everything we are currently experiencing in our lives comes about in order to assist us in evolving to a higher level of consciousness.  Even what we now perceive as bad, sad, negative, or upsetting is here to assist us in seeing life in a more peaceful, forgiving, and loving way.”  And Byron Katie stated, “What you’re believing in the moment creates your suffering or your happiness.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 10, 2016.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Power of Thoughts to Change Our Lives

This may come as a surprise to some people, especially those who know me, but I used to have periods in my life where I would wallow in some pretty heavy stinkin’ thinkin.’  (Still do sometimes!)  Even though I appeared to be a positive and optimistic person on the outside, inside I was constantly tearing myself apart and didn’t have such a rosy outlook on life.  I wanted people to believe I did because I didn’t want to bring anyone else down or make them feel bad. 

It really wasn’t anyone’s fault.  Today, I totally believe that my soul came here to play a role, and that everything I went through was what I chose to go through on this adventure called life.  Looking back, I see how all those experiences, what I perceived to be good and bad, made me who I am today, and I pretty much like who I am.  It’s with who I am not that I still struggle with because there are still so many things that I’d like to do in life and changes I’d like to make in myself.

Is it easy?  Not always.  Our life experiences can be powerful forces in controlling how and what we think.  Sometimes our body chemistries can also have an effect.  I will never say that because I could do it, so can anyone else.  But because I and others could do it, it means it is possible! 

What were some of the things I did to help change my thoughts?  I learned that my identity isn’t who I am out there, but it is who I am within.  I needed to learn to stop trying to please everyone else when they try to tell me who I should be, what I should look like, what I should wear, or how I should act.  This meant that I also had to stop worrying about what other people think! As Terry Cole-Whittaker said, “What other people think of me is none of my business!”  If you can understand this, then you learn that when people try to bring you down or control you with their negativity, then you discover that it’s all about them and not about you. 

I had to stop comparing myself to others.  We are all unique individuals and no one is any better or any worse than anyone else no matter who they are or what status they hold in life.  I had to change what I said to myself in the mirror.  Instead of saying really horrible things and picking myself apart, I instead would tell myself that I was beautiful and magnificent (as we all are!).  It didn’t matter whether I believed it or not at the time; what mattered was that I said it.  Before I went to sleep, I would tell all my body parts that I loved them starting at top of my head and going all the way down to the tips of my toes, and would include all my organs and even my little fat cells!  One of the most important things was that I had to learn to love and accept myself just as I am!

It’s also important to watch what we say to others about ourselves.  Women in particular are pretty good at deflecting compliments, but we need to learn to just say thank you and not find ways to negate the compliment.  And watch those negative affirmations we tell ourselves and/or others such as “I’m poor, I’m sick (or getting sick), I’m not good enough, I’m not worth it, everyone hates me and would be better off without me, and any other self-defeating words (whether they appear to be your reality or not).

Here are some suggested positive affirmations you can use to work on changing your thoughts in order to change your life:  I am beautiful/handsome!  I am magnificent!  I am miraculous!  I am worthy!  I am loved!  I am healthy!  I am wealthy!  I am the best there is and it has nothing to do with anyone else!  And if negative thoughts occur?  Immediately stop the thoughts and replace them with something positive and loving!

Will your thoughts change or change your ‘reality’ overnight?  Probably not.  For most of us (including me!), it takes a lot of consistent practice, but it can and will change your life for the better!   

Buddha said, “You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”  Wayne Dyer stated, “Change your thoughts, change your life.”  And James Allen wrote, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so shall he be.”  (For a free download of his book, please go to http://asamanthinketh.net.  I highly recommend reading it!) 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 3, 2016.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Awakening Your Consciousness

Over the years and through my travels, I have had many opportunities to meet and know a large diverse group of people. When I lived on a reservation in British Columbia, I learned about the Native American culture and their spirituality, and they became my family.  When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, I met so many amazing people in and out of the entertainment business and found them to be decent and caring human beings.  Before I moved to L.A., I was told by several people, including my minister, that I was going to go straight to hell for moving there and that all people in ‘Hollywood’ were evil.  Except I had a different experience in that most everyone I met and got to know were really wonderful human beings!  I learned a great lesson in that you’ll find what you’re looking for and I found the good in people.

Since then, I’ve lived in numerous states, and have enjoyed expanding on my diverse friendships.  I continue to meet and make friends with such a variety of human beings, and those include all colors, races, religions, cultures, LBGT’s, and so many more.  As you know, I love diversity!  My life has been so blessed and enriched because of all the people I’ve met and known in my life, and it doesn’t matter where they come from or what they believe. 

I was fortunate in that I had these experiences, as there are many who don’t have the opportunities to meet and know so many.  There are also those who refuse to get to know others because of any perceived differences.  It’s so easy for fear and hate to dictate who we meet and know, and then people are fighting, arguing, and going to war just because of their differences in beliefs. 

Once people start dehumanizing and demonizing an individual or groups of people (races, religions, etc.), it becomes very dangerous and we’re seeing a lot of this in our current religious and political realms.  When the oppressors treat people as sub-humans, this can lead to horrific atrocities because people will justify their fear, hate, bigotry, and ignorance by believing that since these people are sub-humans, then they have no right to the same rights as the rest of us, or in its extreme, to even have the right to live.  

After arriving on this continent, early Europeans committed genocide on millions of Native Americans and moved thousands to reservations.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 100,000 Japanese men, women, and children, most who were American citizens, were forced into internment camps on the American west coast.

In Nazi Germany, Adolph Hitler believed that Germans were racially superior and soon committed genocide on millions of Jews, Gypsies, disabled, religious dissidents, mentally ill, homosexuals, and others he didn’t agree with. 

In 1994 in Rwanda, Africa, the Hutu’s committed genocide against the Tutsi’s and as many as 800,000 people were slaughtered because of ethnic hostility.

These are just a few examples of the atrocities committed against man-kind all because of a difference in beliefs.  Haven’t we learned anything from our history?  Today, we’re seeing political and religious leaders demonizing and dehumanizing Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, LGBT’s, disabled, homeless, mentally ill, women, and many more.  When you get enough people riled up in hate, bigotry, ignorance, and violence, anything can happen.  We’re already seeing many of these groups being oppressed, harmed, murdered, and laws being made against them.  It’s not a far stretch to think that another genocide could occur in our future if we don’t do everything we can to prevent it.  My heart goes out to all those who are experiencing this brand of hate and discrimination and I hold them all in the collective consciousness of unconditional love.

The other side of this is that there are billions of people out there who are not steeped in hate.  We’re following the teachings of the spiritual masters of our religions in that we are to love one another (no exceptions), we’re showing kindness and compassion to each other, helping those in need, and are working to bring peace to our world!  We’re raising the consciousness of all human beings as well as to our planet!  We can either join the collective consciousness of fear and darkness, or we can choose the collective consciousness of love and light.  It’s our choice.

Eckhart Tolle said, “The awakening of consciousness is the next evolutionary step for mankind.”  And Neale Donald Walsch stated, “We’re seeing a higher level of consciousness and many more opportunities for people to challenge their present ways of thinking and move into a grander and larger experience of who they really are.”

“If you knew how many hearts are healed and how many lives are transformed throughout the patterns created in every choice, you’d follow your heart in every breath and bless the world wherever you go.”  Matt Kahn 


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I'll Laugh With God Anytime!

Recently, I read a great book titled, “Why Is God Laughing?  The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism” by Deepak Chopra.  I love reading spiritual novels which are fictional stories, yet contain a lot of spiritual truths to them.  Many that I read are based on the author’s real life experiences, yet they use their imagination to enhance the story’s plot while weaving in the lessons they actually learned in life.

“Why is God Laughing” is an uplifting read on spirituality and gives us ten reasons to be optimistic even in a challenging world.  It also teaches us why laughter from the heart is a very healthy response to life.  As Epictetus said, “It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

It’s about a fictional character named Mickey, who is a successful comedian, yet just as human as the rest of us.  When his father dies, he goes into a deep despair turning to alcohol to try to deaden the pain.  At one point he was passed out on the couch when he heard his father, Larry, coming through the TV.  After his initial shock, he began having a conversation with his dad, who started explaining what it was like after he died.  He said he didn’t see God, but he heard the voice of God.  Mickey asks him what God said and Larry replied, “He didn’t say anything.  He was laughing.”  Mickey asked if God was laughing at Larry, but Larry answered, “He wasn’t laughing at anybody.  This laughter was everywhere.  It filled the universe.  It was pure joy.”  He added, “Everyone should hear that sound.  Kiddo, it would make all the difference.  Until the world laughs with God, nothing’s going to change.”

One day Mickey meets a mysterious gentleman named Francisco who ends up changing his life forever.  Through riddles from Francisco, and by having Mickey experience different scenarios, Mickey begins to look within for his answers and discovers the truth of who he really is. 

At the end of the book, Chopra gives us ten principles that Francisco imparted to Mickey and explains them in more detail.  Chopra states, “As realization grows within you, there is no limit to what you may become; the only certainty is that you will be transformed.” 

These principles are as follows:  1) The healthiest response to life is laughter.  2) There is always a reason to be grateful.  3) You belong in the scheme of the Universe.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.  You are safe.  4) Your soul cherishes every aspect of your life.  5) There is a plan, and your soul knows what it is.  6) Ecstasy is the energy of Spirit.  When life flows, ecstasy is natural.  7) There is a creative solution to every problem.  Every possibility holds the promise of abundance.  8) Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.  9) Evolution leads the way through desire.  And, 10) Freedom is letting go.  As it states on the book’s inside cover, “In the end, we really don’t need a reason to be happy.  The power of happiness lies within each of us, just waiting to be unleashed.”

I can imagine that some are having a hard time imagining God laughing, but why not?  Laughter is very healing!  Personally, I consider laughter to be the music of the Universe!  But how can God laugh when so many people are suffering here on Earth?  Even though we see so much suffering, don’t we still laugh?  It doesn’t mean that we don’t care.  We still love and help our fellow beings.  It’s a hard concept to understand, but once we do, we realize that we humans take ourselves way too seriously, and that in itself is a hard concept to understand when we do see so much suffering.

Laughter is a very spiritual emotion and is one of the greatest gifts from God to us.  It’s everywhere if you just listen.  Osho said, “If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear God also laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing…trees and stones and stars with you.” 

To give laughter is a wonderful gift you can give to others.  As Lateef Warnick stated, “The greatest life one can have is of service. Give joy, happiness, bliss, laughter, wisdom, prosperity, love, and light to others. By doing so, you tap into the Infinite Source within ensuring that you will never have to do without these ‘treasures’ yourself!”

Whether you believe God laughs or not is up to you, but for me?  I’ll laugh with God anytime, and I’d be willing to bet God has a really great, infectious laugh! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 20, 2016.


Friday, May 13, 2016

The Soul Is the Truth of Who We Are

There was a great movie called “Cocoon” that’s about aliens disguised as humans who come back to earth to retrieve twenty of their friends who were kept alive in pods which were left behind at the bottom of the ocean.  They retrieve the pods with the help of a human boat captain and put them in an abandoned indoor swimming pool.  Next door is a retirement home where several elders find out about the pool and decide to go for a swim.  Seeing the strange pods, they decide to swim anyway.  The elders and the aliens soon meet, and along with the captain, they all become fast friends.  It’s a beautiful movie about friendships and people coming together in spite of any perceived differences. 

One scene made a huge impact on me.  The captain was on his boat with the aliens, and a female alien was in one of the rooms.  As the captain watched her from outside the room, the woman reached behind and unzipped her ‘costume’ causing the human disguise to fall to the floor.  The captain was shocked to see that underneath was the most beautiful light being. 

When I saw that scene, I had a great aha moment!  That must be what the soul is like!  Every single being on earth has this soul light within because we were all made from that same light Source (God or by whatever name you use).  Within us, that beautiful light emanates and glows.  When we are aware of that light which is made of pure, unconditional, perfect love, we can let that light shine outwards towards others, and we can connect with the light of all those around us and in the world.  We know that we are all connected because we are all made of the exact same substance, the same substance that makes up the stars and everyone and everything around us.  Billy Fingers said, “Imagine your cells as billions of stars sparkling inside of you.”  I love that image!

When I first came to this realization, it taught me not to judge, that we really are all created equal, and that when we hurt others, we are only hurting ourselves.  When we take off the labels we use to define us, we realize we really are a soul.  The soul has no color, race, religion, gender, nationality, etc., and there is no separation.  Marianne Williamson said, “The soul is the truth of who we are.”

The adventure is that because we are souls living in a human body and we have no memory of who we were before we came here, we get caught up in so much of the human drama that makes up our lives, and then we acquire those labels that end up defining us.  Once we become conscious of the soul within and our connection to others, we then can no longer be a part of hurting anyone else for any reason.  As Deepak Chopra stated, “If we could learn to live from the level of the soul, we would see that the best most luminous part of ourselves is connected to all the rhythms of the universe.  We would truly know ourselves as the miracle-makers we are capable of being.”   If we could all really see each others’ souls, there would literally be peace on earth. 

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 states, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.” 

Jesus and all the great spiritual masters in all genuine religious and spiritual teachings knew this eternal truth as well as our connectedness with each other.  We are bound together by these loving souls that are within each and every one of us.  Trudy S. Vesotsky said, “Your soul is the extension of a higher source, its love for you is greater than anything you can experience outside of yourself.” 

I love the term Namaste` which means, “My soul honors your soul.  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.  I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you, because it is also within me.  In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one.”

We can all become more enlightened when it comes to our souls.  As James Blanchard Cisneros said, “Enlightenment is not a change into something better or more, but a simple recognition of who we truly already are.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 13, 2016.