Sunday, December 21, 2008

Movies That Touch Our Lives

Every once in a while, a movie comes a long that touches you to the core of your being. I’m talking about message movies. They come in all varieties: drama, comedy, dramedy, sci-fi, and horror. Movies are my passion anyway, but as I get older and wiser, I am finding that the movies that I enjoyed yesterday are not necessarily the movies that I enjoy today.

I used to love action films. Still do to a certain extent. Recently, I have found, though, that the extreme violence is a bit boring and unnecessary. I find that I now prefer to rent the action films so that I can fast forward through the violent scenes, yet still get the gist of the movie.

I have seen many message movies over the years, probably too many to mention. The first one that I saw that had the most impact on me was “Billy Jack” (and later it’s sequels). It influenced me so much that I lived on an Indian reservation in British Columbia for a summer and made many life-long friends (though I’ve always called them my family). (http://www.billyjack.com/)

Another movie I remember that really affected me was “Pay It Forward.” For a school project, a young boy develops a system of kindness. If you perform a kindness for someone, then rather than them paying it back to you, they would pay it forward to three other people, who would pay it forward to three other people, and on it would go. There are now countless “Pay It Forward” groups across the world. (http://www.payitforwardfoundation.org/)

I also really enjoyed “Bruce Almighty” starring Jim Carrey, and “Evan Almighty” starring Steve Carrell. I just love Morgan Freeman as God. If I could imagine God looking like any human, it would be in the persona of Morgan Freeman. He makes a great god (if I could imagine what God would look like and how he would act)! (http://www.brucealmighty.com/ & http://www.evanalmighty.com/ )

Two movies I saw just recently were “Seven Pounds” starring Will Smith, and “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey.

“Seven Pounds” was a very sad, feel-good movie. Every scene was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, and you didn’t see the whole picture until the very end of the movie. Therefore, I cannot tell you what it was about or it would spoil the movie for you. What I can tell you is that it has to do with one man’s struggle with the meaning of life, and how he found the compassion to help other people, while being a very tortured soul himself. (If you cry easily at movies, you might want to take a box of Kleenex.) In a recent interview with Oprah, Will Smith said that "if you’re not making someone's life better, then you’re wasting your life." In the same interview, he said "the difference between depression and joy is purpose." (I think I'm going to start calling his quotes "Willism's.") (http://www.sevenpounds.com/)

After I saw “Seven Pounds,” I immediately went in to see “Yes Man.” I did not want to go home feeling so sad (though a good sad), and thought a comedy would do the trick. I really enjoy most of Jim Carrey’s movies, but I’m just not into what I call “silly comedy” movies (his or anyone else’s). Some of his are quite thought provoking in a funny way, and this was one of them. Jim’s character spent his life alone and miserable because he was always saying no to people’s invitations. One day, he went to a seminar where people are encouraged to say yes to anything and everything. Of course, Jim’s character pretty much at first tosses common sense out the window to do so, but as the story unfolds, he realizes that the real motivation is to say yes to life. It really makes us think how we pass up so many opportunities in our lives, and how our lives might be different, even better, if we did say yes to life more often. (http://yesisthenewno.warnerbros.com/)

There are many, many more movies out there such as “Forrest Gump,” “Star Wars,” “What Dreams May Come,” “Field of Dreams,” “Joe Somebody,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Beyond Borders,” “Radio,” “Mr. Deeds,” “The Terminal,” “Click,” “K-Pax,” “What the Bleep Do We Know,” “The Secret,” and countless others. You can add your own favorites.

As more and more actors (as well as producers, directors, etc.) are finding themselves on their own spiritual journey and finding their purpose in life as a life of service, they are making more movies with messages. Movies that touch people’s hearts, and may even have a hand in changing the collective consciousness of the world for the betterment of humanity.

Movies can be inspirational, informative, entertaining, thought provoking, and heart wrenching. Some of the most popular movies today are the animated movies, made for children, including the children in all of us. They all have positive and empowering messages, too, which are great for anyone of any age.

Therefore, for the critics out there who think that all movies are destroying our world….think again. If you look for the good movies, you’ll find them. And they can influence people for the better and change lives.

For a list of message movies, I found a good site at: http://www.plannedlegacy.com/newsletter/movies-with-feeling.html

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Spectacular Awakening

Wow! There sure is a LOT going on in the world lately! It boggles the mind! I really believe that we are going through a spectacular awakening and a thorough spiritual and earthly cleansing.

In an earlier posting, I mentioned that we have been going through a spiritual awakening for a while, and are continuing to do so. People all over the world are coming together in love, peace, and harmony. Thousands of websites, organizations, charities, and blogs will witness to this. People all over the world are reaching out to each other in a collective consciousness for the greater good of all. There are countless speakers who travel the world over spreading their message of a better humanity and a better world.

We are also going through another kind of awakening; this one being a national / global awakening. You can’t help but notice the chaos that is occurring the world over. The economy is in great turmoil and not just in America. The banking, housing, health, and government agencies are in great distress. Thousands of jobs are being lost, with businesses cutting back and/or closing. The health industry is a complete mess.

There are so many people who are going through the most awful ‘stuff.’ They are having serious health issues, and many have lost their jobs or their companies are cutting back their hours. People are losing their homes and many have to forgo health care in order to just be able to pay for other necessities. It just wrenches my heart!

I have also said in past postings that I really believe that good comes from everything if you just look for it. So, what good can come of this? Our new President is taking charge and working hard to find solutions to all of these problems. Corruption in countless corporations and agencies is rearing its ugly head and the corrupt are being weeded out. It is coming to light what isn’t working, so that we can find answers to what will work.

Health care is finally having to answer for its history of greed. There is no reason for anyone in our great nation not to be able to have health care without having to go broke to do so, or to not be able to have it at all. The medical and pharmaceutical industries have become so greedy that they care more about money than people’s health. How many people have had to suffer with illnesses and or even died because they couldn’t get the health care that they needed?

The auto industries are being forced to come up with the newest technology and to keep up with the times by offering an energy efficient vehicle. Banking industries are being forced to clamp down on giving loans to people who cannot pay them back. (Some people file for bankruptcies, right after the other, and they still get loans!)

The oil companies have also been greedy by continuing to make billions of dollars in profits at the expense of the American citizens. They have way too much power, and I really believe they are part of what’s keeping us from moving forward with the technology to break us from our dependency on oil.

Again, there are always exception in everything, so I want to honor those who do not take part in the greed and corruption, regardless of where it is found, and who are honestly trying to do good.

Personally, this all has been a great wake-up call for me. When I look around me and see how bad so many people have it, including people who are close to me, it makes me count my blessings. I have a lot to be thankful for. Sure, I could make a long list of things that I am not happy with, but it wouldn’t do me or anyone else any good. Besides, I prefer to focus on the good and the positive (but I do have my dark moments!).

There is a great website called Totally Unique Thoughts (TUT.com) and every day, “the Universe” sends out a motivational message. The one I recently received seemed very fitting. It said: “I can imagine that from your perspective, it must seem like some truly awful things happen in time and space. So if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to weigh in. You live in a world of illusions. A world that springs from a much deeper and far greater reality. And while at times the illusions are indeed ugly, with your physical senses you only see the tip of the iceberg. If you could see the whole, you'd discover that the unpleasantness was only the tiniest piece of a most spectacular puzzle that was created with order, intelligence, and absolute love. You'd see that contrary to appearances, in the grandest scheme of things, nothing is ever lost, no one becomes less, and setbacks are always temporary. And you'd understand that no matter what has happened, everyone lives again, everyone laughs again, and everyone loves again, even more richly than before. Hubba, hubba - The Universe”

There are countless websites where people are doing what they can to bring people together all over the world. A great website that a friend recently sent to me really impressed me. It’s at: http://www.playingforchange.com/ . A gentleman by the name of Mark Johnson created “Play for Change.” He believes that people all over the world can be brought together with music. What he did was so amazing. Please check out the website and offer them your support.

Even Will Smith (actor) gets it. He was on Oprah recently and I was so impressed with him. He said, “I've made a decision that nothing in my life is going to be without purpose. I've grown to a place where I realize the only way to really be happy is to live in service to humanity." I agree. We’re here to be happy, enjoy life, and be of service to our fellow beings. I really believe that this will be a part of the awakening. People really are starting to awaken to the idea that we really are a part of each other.

If all this chaos had not happened, would there have been any change? Or would we have stayed on the path to continue to destroy ourselves and our earth? Louise Hay says, “All is well.” No matter what happens from here on out, all is well.

We have a great, wonderful, and exciting future in store for us if only each and every one of us will do our part. Don’t wait for someone else to do something good. YOU can make a difference right where you are. Please join in the collective consciousness for a better tomorrow for everyone the world over. Namaste’.

Friday, December 5, 2008

To Be Healthy, Or Not to Be Healthy…That is the Question.

I received a call from a good friend of mine this morning. Her dad, who is also a very dear friend, just found out that he has a tumor in his colon (I think it was his colon). Last week, we found out that my mom has to have back surgery. Another good friend of mine is sick with some infection and came close to having pneumonia. And another friend of mine had to fly out west because her son was in the hospital and is in intensive care.

Richards Simmons and me on a Richard Simmons cruise. He really does care about people's health and is one of the kindest, sweetest people you could ever know.

It seems like so many people are having really serious health issues around the holidays. I notice this every year. My theory is that the stress of the holidays, all the junk food we eat, and the weather getting cold plays havoc with our bodies. This year is especially rough because of the economy and other national/world issues that have people worrying.

The past couple of weeks, I have really been trying to work on my own health issues and it’s been rough. Getting that phone call about my friend just really, really got it into my brain that taking care of your health is serious business. But how many of us really do care for our own health? It’s said that we take better care of our vehicles than we do our own bodies.

There’s a saying… “Eat right, exercise, die anyway.” Some people will say that eating is too much of a pleasure for them, so why give up their favorite foods? We’re going to die anyway. Except I would invite you to think about something. Very few human beings do NOT die of old age. We die of age-related illnesses such as heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, and the like. Dying of a heart attack is not dying naturally. Dying naturally is your heart just stopping on it’s own because it was too old to carry on. Not because the arteries were so clogged that the blood couldn’t do get the flow to the heart. Or because the body was going through so much stress that it couldn’t take it any more. Deepok Chopra says that if we could live to a healthy old age, we would live on average to 120 years old. On top of that, we are taking way too many prescriptions. The number of people who die from prescribed medicine is an outrage! (I’ll make it clear… I am very thankful that we have the medicines and medical technology that we have, but it would be so much better if we could find an alternative way of health first. Very few doctors are knowledgeable about nutrition. It’s not even a required course in most medical colleges, and if it is, it’s very short. We should be focusing on prevention, and not giving meds just to treat symptoms.)

The question comes down to when we die, do we want to die peacefully and in good health? Or do we want to suffer for days, weeks, months, or maybe years with some debilitating illness or disease? Personally, that’s not the way I want to go, and if that means giving up my favorite foods such as chocolate, then so be it. I know some people will argue that chocolate is good for you, particularly dark chocolate. I would argue that it’s not the chocolate, but an ingredient in the chocolate, which you can just as easily get elsewhere. I don’t know about you, but I can’t have just one piece of chocolate. I’m like an alcoholic when it comes to sugar and chocolate. There’s no eating in moderation. (Also, when it comes to these kinds of studies, we really need to follow the money and see who sponsored the study. You would be surprised how studies can be manipulated.)

I never understood that moderation concept either. Not too many people can eat in moderation. I think it’s just an excuse so people can eat their favorite junk foods. Can an alcoholic drink in moderation? Can a drug user use in moderation? Can a smoker smoke in moderation? I think not. So why should people be expected to eat in moderation when it comes to food that isn’t healthy for them.

I read a LOT about health. I am a vegetarian and about 90% vegan. I rarely, if ever, eat canned foods, processed foods, animal products (with the exception of eggs in baked goods), and I watch the ingredients in what I do eat. I also try to eat products with the least amount of preservatives as possible. Once in a while, I do have to have a small, low cal pizza (like Lean Cuisine or South Beach) or a small ice cream, but not very often. And I’ll be honest. Right now, I still eat too much sugar and chocolate. I wish I didn’t and I’m trying to get it out of my system. Sugar is very addictive and is considered an actual poison by some in the health communities. Hearing about my friend has made me much more determined to succeed. And I need to exercise more. Okay, I just need to exercise; still working on that part. Part of the reason I haven’t been is because I am so fatigued from the sugar!

There are so many wonderful books to read on health. I really like the “Fit for Life” series by Harvey Diamond; “Quantum Wellness” by Kathy Freston; and any health books by Dean Ornish, Marilu Henner, Richard Simmons, Jack LaLanne, and Paul and Patrician Bragg. One book that really made an impression on me was “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. You would be shocked to hear the differences between the Chinese’s health and ours in America.

So, it really comes down to this: You either care about your health….or you don’t. If you care about your health, you will do whatever necessary (as long as it’s healthy) to get healthy. I’m not saying it will be easy and it may even be a life-long struggle for many, but at least you’re trying. That also doesn’t mean that because you are doing everything right to be healthy, that you will never get sick. There are also a lot of other factors out there. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the toxins we breathe or consume, stress, and genetics. Know, too, that just because you have someone in your family that has something, does NOT mean that you’re going to get it. You can still avoid it by living a healthy lifestyle.

I like to think of this way. Playing with our health is like playing Russian Roulette. Every single thing you put into (or on) your body is like putting a bullet into a gun. The trick is to having as few bullets in the gun as possible. So think of that the next time you go to consume something unhealthy.

The foods I find the healthiest and safest are foods from Mother Nature herself. Foods that are not messed with by man. Organic if possible, though organic can be expensive right now. Mother Earth knew what she was doing when she knew what our bodies needed.

One more thing… Stop taking diet pills and eating diet foods. I have wasted more money on this junk and hold them partly responsible for my body being so screwed up (even though it was my choice to take them). Look at the ingredients on the diet foods and you will be shocked. Some of the “health” bars are full of sugars and preservatives.

As the holiday season comes to a close in a few weeks, I would really like to invite you to seriously think about your health and how you take care of your body. (I’m including myself in this…believe me.) The saying that we should “eat to live, not live to eat” really is true.

I wish you the best of holiday seasons (regardless of your beliefs) and wish you the best, and healthiest, of new years!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

If you look up the true history of Thanksgiving, it was nothing like it is celebrated today (pilgrims, Indians, feast, etc.). Regardless of the history or what truly happened, Thanksgiving is a time to remind us to give thanks. Granted, we should be giving thanks every day of our lives, but so many of us forget to do so....until the day of Thanksgiving.

With the national and world crisis that we are in today, giving thanks takes on a whole new meaning. So many of us may wonder what do we have to be thankful for? Sometimes we have to start with the very basics. Can we see, hear, walk, talk, breathe, do we have a roof over our head, food to eat, clothes to wear, do we have a job, a family, pets..... We can start with the basics and build from there.

With my own unemployment situation, I am very thankful that I had my parents to help me. I have roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, a car that runs well, friends, my health, I've been able to keep my bills paid because of the unemployment that I did receive and the money that I have in savings, and so much more. I really have nothing to complain about. There are many, many people who are a whole lot less fortunate than I am. I also live in a country that offers me many opportunities to build the life of my dreams if I so choose. Pursuing my motivational speaking career gives me something to look forward to and to know that all is not lost.

Yes, I can get to thinking too hard on what I "don't have" and get pretty down and feeling sorry for myself. I'm like everyone else. But I also have learned how important it is to count my blessings and I have many (even if I have to start with the basics and build from there).

So, on this Thanksgiving, I would invite you to count the blessings that you do have and be grateful for how many you have, if nothing else except to be above ground. There is hope for the future. For all of us.

I wish you a life of love, peace, happiness, and prosperity now and always.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One Nation - One World

Wow! What an election! Can you believe that it’s finally over? Our first bi-racial President! Barack Obama! (And, yes, he is bi-racial even though most consider him to be African American.)

Regardless of whom you voted for (and I honor and respect whomever you voted for), you have to admit…America made history in this election, and in more ways than one. All candidates ran a tough election and people were pretty passionate on all sides of the political spectrum. Some people are very disappointed that their party didn’t win and I understand that. What we need to remember is that the elections are now over and we have a new President and Vice President. We are ALL Americans; therefore, we need to be working together for the greater good of our country and of our world.

Personally, I am very excited that Obama is our new President. All politics aside, I really believe that he is going to lead us into the new awakening in our country, in our world, and as a people. He really does want to cross the great divide and bring people together, and for our government to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

We have the wonderful opportunity to take ownership of our country. To be a part of one of the greatest times in history. To be part of the exciting change. But we have to take personal responsibility to do our part in order to heal the wounds of the past and to be the greatest vision of who we can be. We can make America the greatest nation in the world once again. I want to make it very clear that I have always thought America as a great nation, but we’ve taken some serious hits over the years and lost respect of so many in so many nations, as well as our own.

Even though we need our government to help us in so many ways, we still need to do our part as Americans. How can we, as individuals, do this? I can hear some people saying, “I am only one person! What can I as one person do?” Mother Theresa was one person. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one person. Gandhi was one person. All it takes is one person to change the world. The great thing is that you don’t need to be a Mother Theresa, a Martin Luther King, Jr., or a Gandhi. You can be great right where you are. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I think so many of us feel inadequate. We don’t feel important enough, or powerful enough, and we don’t think that anything we can do will make any difference anyway. We have our own problems to deal with. Let others handle it.

Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I’m here to tell you that you can make a difference right where you are, regardless of how big or small that difference is. You can make a difference one on one. It comes back to committing random acts of kindness. Smiling at people. Offering a friendly greeting. Complimenting people on something. Not just people you know, but complete strangers. Open doors for people. If you see someone who needs help with something, offer them your assistance. Send cards to people whether it’s a get well, birthday, thinking about you, or other occasion card. You don’t even have to know the person. Assist with a local charity. There are many of them in your area. There are so many things you can do to make a difference; all you have to do is look. If all you can do is send blessings to people as you pass them by, or bless them in your prayers, then that’s good, too. Every little bit helps.

When I’m out shopping, I look for ways to help someone. It doesn’t take much to touch someone’s life in a good way. Just smiling at someone, and maybe giving them a big, friendly hello, can make a huge difference in someone’s day. You never know someone’s frame of mind. That may be the only kindness they’ve received that day, week, month, etc. Now, be aware that you may not always get a thank you in return, but the gift is in the giving, not just to get a thank you. There have been times when I may have been in a really lousy mood, and someone showed kindness to me. It really changed my frame of mind and brightened up my day!

There’s one very important person who could really use your love, kindness, compassion, friendship, and understanding, and is one of the last people to receive your gifts. That person is you. We tend to treat others a whole lot better than we treat ourselves. We need to learn to be our own best friend. Think about it. The person you are going to have the longest relationship with is you. Lighten up on yourself. Speak to yourself with kindness and compassion. You can only do the best you can with what you know at the time. When you love yourself, then it’s a lot easier to love others. I’m still working on this one myself, but I am now aware that whenever my ego’s voice is screaming for attention, my Spirit will calmly and gently reassure me and let me know that all is well and that I am loved. We’re all works in progress. Just start with one step at a time.

As we go into the year 2009, let’s all join together in the collective consciousness of love, peace, harmony, and compassion, and love and accept all people, regardless of their race, religion, color, nationality, politics, or walk of life. We’re all on this planet together. Let love be your guide and take part in the miraculous new awakening that is upon us. And, who knows…maybe, just maybe, we will see world peace in the not so distant future.

(Please see the picture of the world with the connected lands shaped as a heart in the right-hand column. I found this on Dan Millman's website [he wrote "Way of the Peaceful Warrior]. I emailed and was told that someone had sent it to him, therefore, neither of us knows of its origin.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Incredible Human Spirit

Earlier today, I was watching a program on the History Channel regarding the 1989 Californian earthquake that caused such devastation. My dad was there at the time and it wasn’t until a day-and-a-half later that we were able to find out if he was okay or not. This was the time before cell phones were so popular and all the landlines were down. The hotel where dad was staying didn’t have any power, so he slept in the car all night. The next day, he was fortunate to get a flight out and called us from the hotel when he got there. Talk about relief!

What amazed me about this, though, was the number of people, just like you and me, who stepped forward to help. Many even risked their lives trying to help complete strangers. Whenever I see something like this, it brings tears to my eyes, and gives me such a wonderful feeling about our country, our world, and the human spirit.

We saw it happen during and after 9/11. People drove or flew from all over the world to Ground Zero to lend a hand, many risking their lives, and many ending up with serious physical illnesses after working in all the toxins. We saw it during and after Katrina. Again, people came from all over the world to help. Many across the country opened their homes to complete strangers and their pets to give them a place to stay until they could make other arrangements. I’m almost in tears now just thinking about it. We see people helping during and after the floods, tornados, fires….

Do we see this incredible human spirit when there aren’t any tragedies? Not as much. Yes, there are still thousands and thousands of people who go out of their way to help people, to save their lives, and ask nothing in return. But for some reason, people are complacent with their lives and live in their own little worlds the rest of the time. Now I do want to give credit to all the police, firemen (and women), EMT’s, and all the other rescue services that help people, even at the risk of their lives. They are under-appreciated and under-paid. (The next time you see someone in this type of service, give them a friendly “thank you for all you do!”)

We are now at a cross roads in our political arena and it’s time for people to once again step forward and show that incredible spirit. Regardless of whom you are voting for, it is time for Americans to step out of their comfort zones to help our fellow human beings (as well as our animal brothers and sisters). Now is the time to join the collective consciousness toward world peace, of ending famine both in the U.S. and abroad, to aid the homeless who want to get back on their feet and become a contributing citizen to our society, to help those who are ill and not able to take care of themselves, and to answer the call of being our brother’s keepers.

Now, here is the tricky part. Some people say that they don’t want government in their business, and yet they want the government to take care of the things they don’t want to worry about, such as feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, taking care of the homeless, the jobless, etc. For those who say they don’t want government in their business, I ask you, when was the last time you took in a homeless person and helped them get back on their feet? When was the last time you fed someone who was hungry (strangers)? When was the last time you helped someone who lost their job, helped pay their bills, and helped them to find employment? When was the last time you paid for someone’s medical bills because they were unable to do so on their own? This also goes for the people who complain about those who help overseas, but not in America. If that is important to you, help someone here who needs it. Oh. The government should do that? See? I said it was tricky, didn’t I?

We are now at a great spiritual awakening. People all over the world are finding that normal life isn’t enough and they feel like they should be contributing something to the greater good. People are quitting their normal, every day jobs, and going into jobs of service in order to help their fellow man, whether it is in America or elsewhere. People are learning just how connected we all really are regardless of our color, race, religion, walk of life, or where we live.

The hungry child in Africa is just as important as the hungry child in America, Mexico, China, Jamaica or anywhere else in the world. There is absolutely no reason why anyone in any country should go to bed hungry with the amount of food that is grown on this earth. Think about the food we waste just here in the United States. So many people in some countries are literally starving to death, and yet in the U.S. we have people paying others to keep them from eating!

There is no reason why anyone should go without medical care because they cannot afford it or cannot afford to pay for insurance. What happened to caring for the sick just because they needed it? Yes, people do need to make a living, even those in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, but if these industries really cared about people rather than a profit, there should be a way to do both.

There is a lot of hate in this world. There is a lot of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance in this world. But there is also a lot of love, compassion, understanding, and kindness in this world. The difference is that you just don’t hear about the latter. Our news is so hate-minded that all you hear about is the crime, the death, and the destruction. But if you could just hear about the people who go out of their way to help each other, everywhere from a simple act of kindness, to acts of great courage when risking their life to save a stranger, don’t you think it would change the way we think and live?

A friend at Unity and I were discussing the news at one time, and he came up with a great idea. He said he would like to start a network called GNN, Good News Network. The only news would be good news. News about people helping people. People helping animals. People helping the earth. People really living love, peace, and compassion. All over the world. It may not get the viewers at first, but I would be willing to bet that it would catch on and would gain a following.

A great man once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy during his inaugural speech January 20, 1961). I am printing his entire speech in the posting below this one. I had looked it up just to get the correct quote above, but I ended up reading the whole speech and it brought tears to my eyes. This speech is just as much needed today, as it was when Kennedy gave it in 1961. I would highly suggest reading it in its entirety.

We are at a great crossroads in our history, in our lives, and it we have the choice as to where we want to take our country and our world. As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Or as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And Mother Theresa was once asked if she would come to an anti-war rally, and she replied something along the line of, "No, but if you have a rally for peace, I will be there."

You may not have the time or be able to help on a grand scale, but you can help right where you are. Spread random acts of kindness. Speak kindly to people, even if they are strangers. Say a friendly hello to everyone you can. Whatever you can do to come to the aid of your fellow men and women (and animal)…that is how you change your world. It begins with each of us.

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You
Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy - January 20, 1961

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom - symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning - signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge - and more.
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.
To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom - and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required - not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge - to convert our good words into good deeds - in a new alliance for progress - to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbours know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.
To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support - to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective - to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak - and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course - both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.
So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.
Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms - and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah - to "undo the heavy burdens -. and to let the oppressed go free."
And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation" - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Printed from http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/speeches/John_F_Kennedy/5.htm

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We're Already Magnificent!

For the past several weeks, there has been a subject I have wanted to write about in my blog, except at the same time, I have been in a spiritual slump. You know when you have those moments when you feel fat and frumpy? Okay, you men may not be able to relate to that, but women, you may know what I’m talking about. It’s when you just feel out of whack. Unbalanced. Feeling a little off. Maybe a little hormonal. That’s where I’ve been. It’s not a bad thing. We always have to honor our feelings no matter what those feelings are. Sometimes you just have to step out of the way, and let them run their course. One thing I always know for sure, though, is that if I wait it out, it will pass.

But this fits perfectly into what I have wanted to write about. Who we really are spiritually, compared to who we feel, believe, and are told we are on a human level. I am hoping that I can communicate with you clearly so that you can understand what I am trying to say. I understand it myself on a spiritual level, but on a human level, it can be hard to explain and even for me to understand.

I have often wondered why so many (and I’ll go so far as to say the vast majority) of us have such feelings of insecurity, low or no self-worth or self-esteem, feeling inferior, feeling like we’re never good enough or that we’ll never be good enough, and why we end up experiencing so much unhappiness in life. It’s like we just vaguely remember feeling something so different (great and wonderful and loved), but we can’t quite put our fingers on it. It’s also like when you try to remember something and it’s on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite get yourself to remember.

If we didn’t know on some level that there is something greater than what we are feeling, then we wouldn’t be feeling so bad about feeling bad. Feeling bad would feel normal. But we know that it isn’t normal (on a spiritual level). The question is, how do we go about getting those good feelings back?

When we are born, we are born as pure, unconditional, perfect love. We know our magnificence. We know how wonderful, spectacular, intelligent, and miraculous we already are. And, we remember what we knew before being born into human form.

I really believe that before we came to earth, while on the “other side,” that we chose the life we wanted to live. We chose the planet we wanted to live on, we chose our parents, family members, the country we are born in, our race, religion, color, sex, the kind of experiences we want to experience, etc. I believe we got together with other souls and scheduled our contacts with each other. So, everything about our lives is pretty much laid out before arriving here. I know this may be hard to wrap your mind around, but please hang in there with me. (And it’s okay if you don’t believe this. Neither one of us is right or wrong. It’s just what we believe.)

While on the other side, we know our magnificence. My goodness! We’re hanging out with the Supreme Being (whatever you wish to call Him/Her/It)!!! How much better can it get!?! “Life” is good on the other side. We know no sorrow. We’re happy all the time. We’re content and at peace with ourselves.

Then we’re born. Just coming into this world is quite a shock to our little systems. Most likely, we’re born into a cold room, bright lights, and people talking loudly, if not yelling. Someone grabs our little bodies, they may spank our little behinds, and they are vigorously rubbing something all over us, poking something up our nose, checking us out…. Quite a difference from where we came from!

Then the adults get a hold of us. At first, most, if not all, of our needs are taken care of. Food, diaper changing, love…. But then as we get older, we start hearing the words: no, don’t do that, stop that, you can’t have that, don't touch that… And as we get even older, for some of us, we hear the extreme: you’ll never amount to anything, you’re a sinner, you’re stupid, you’re fat, you’re ugly… (Their parents did the same thing to them, and on down the line, so we can’t outright blame our parents. They were only doing the best they could with what they knew.)

Not only do we have our family members telling us what we can and cannot do, or who we can or cannot be, we also have society pressuring us to be who and what they think we should be. Women get this the worst. We are pressured to be thin, pretty, no wrinkles, we have to wear certain fashions, perfumes, etc. (How many commercials or ads in magazines are geared towards men pressuring them to be thin, handsome, telling them what they can and cannot wear, or heaven forbid, have wrinkles?)

Now, here’s the tricky part in trying to explain what I know on a soul level, but find it difficult to explain on a human level. It’s like knowing there is something deep within our subconscious minds, but for whatever reasons, we can’t remember. We already ARE magnificent! We already ARE wonderful, fabulous, spectacular, miraculous beings! We’re already perfect! (Or sometimes I like to say perfectly imperfect.) We always have been and we always will be. We have just forgotten. Comparing it to computers, we’ve allowed the adults and others to delete the programs that we came here with that told us who were really are, and reprogrammed them with all their human nonsense. From what I see on TV, even though the programs may have been deleted, the computer experts can dig down into the computer brain and still find what was originally on the programs. (I sure hope I’m explaining that correctly.) And THAT’s what we vaguely remember.

Does any of this make sense on any level? I’m struggling whether or not to post this because I’m not confident in the fact that I was able to explain what it is that I was trying to say. But if this gets people to thinking, maybe they can understand it on their soul level even though it can be confusing on the human level. If so, then it was worth posting.

(If you want a really good website that reinforces your magnificence, I would highly recommend taking a look at TUT.com and subscribing to the Notes from the Universe. Here is an example:
“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things. Yet still, they began their journeys. You are so poised for greatness, The Universe”)

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Answer to PDM's Comment

Hi PDM!

Thank you for your comment and those are very good questions. PDM asked, "There is no right or wrong? What is sin? Does it matter what GOD thinks? Do we have to answer to a higher authority?"


It's so interesting how we have different beliefs and people are very passionate about what they do believe. And that's quite all right. I respect and honor your beliefs and they are right for you. Believe me, I struggled over the idea about there not being any right or wrong. When he first told me that, I thought he was crazy.

If you believe one thing and someone else believes the opposite, who is right and who is wrong? Most humans will automatically make the other person wrong, yet the other person is thinking the same thing in thinking that you are wrong because you don't agree with them. I mentioned earlier that the only way we make someone else wrong is when they don't live up to our expectations of the way we think they should think or be (or believe).

The original meaning of "sin" is to miss the mark (Greek), or to make a mistake. Somehow, back when the Bible was being written, it got turned into doing something wrong or evil, and against God. That is the current interpretation that most Christians (an non-Christians) use, which is okay if that's what they choose to believe.

And what does God think? Every single religion will tell you something different. And every single religion has their own beliefs. Personally, I choose to believe in a God who loves us unconditionally. God gave us the gift of free-will and He honors that gift. A God who loves us with pure, unconditional, love will love us no matter what we think. That is the God I choose to believe in. Not some old man with a long beard and white robe who sits up in the sky disciplining us, making something bad happen to us, or striking us dead when we don't do what a particular religion tells us we should do or not do. I used to believe in that God and my life was run with fear and guilt. Now that I believe in a God who loves us unconditionally, I no longer live in fear, and I have no guilt. Many churches and religious people will use fear and guilt to control you to believe what they want you to believe. Please do not make a snap judgment of this; really think upon it.

Do we have to answer to a higher authority? Again, every religion has their concepts of what that higher authority requires from us. Whose higher authority? The Baptists? The Catholics? Muslims? The Dalai Lama once said that his religion is kindness. If all religions would choose that as their creed, think of how much better we would all get along.

I would highly recommend reading "What God Wants, A Compelling Answer to Humanity's Biggest Question" by Neale Donald Walsch. I would also recommend taking a look at Bishop John Shelby Spong's website at http://www.johnshelbyspong.com/. I heard him speak last week at a retreat I attended. This man is very highly intelligent and is an expert on the Bible and Biblical history. You might find a lot of answers there to the questions you are asking. If you are passionate about what you believe, you may have to read these with an open mind because they will challenge your beliefs (and again, whatever you believe is okay). Even though I am very open-minded, they gave me food for thought, too.

Thank you, PDM, for your questions. They are questions that every human being thinks about at some point or other in their lives. And everyone comes up with their own answers. I could tell you everything that I believe, but they more than likely will be different in some or all areas from what you believe. And no way will I say that I am right and you are wrong because you don't agree with me.

I wish you nothing but the best, and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness. Kalina

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One People, One World, One God

This past week, I went on a wonderful spiritual, mountaintop retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, N.C. The conference was sponsored by the Unity Ministers of the Mid- Atlantic States (UMMAS) under the Unity Church of which I am a member. This was my fifth retreat, and as usual, it refreshed and renewed my soul to the deepest part of my being. Every year, I meet more people and make new friends.

I just love Unity and I love its teachings. I’ve gone from being raised a born-again Baptist, to being Pentecostal in my early 20’s, to believing in nothing in the early 80’s, and then finding Unity in the early 90’s. I do want to make it very clear that Unity is my personal choice. I in no way am telling anyone that because they believe something different than me, or go to a different church than me, that they are wrong. It’s just that we believe differently, and that’s okay, and I respect and honor your right to believe whatever you believe. Bill Bixby, who played the father on the TV show “Eddie’s Father” many years ago, once said to his son on the show, “What a person believes…is” and I never have forgotten that.

Before I go on to explain why I love Unity, I’d like to relate an experience I had many years ago, which really helped drive it into my brain that whatever anyone believes is okay (as long as you aren’t harming anyone, of course). I had gone to an American Indian Sweat Lodge event in Chicago, probably in the early 80’s. After the sweat, the Ceremonial Singer said something to me that really made a huge impact on me, though I wouldn't realize it at that time. He said, “You know, there is no such thing as right and wrong.” I replied, “What do you mean there is no such thing as right and wrong?!?! Of course, there is! What about murder? Stealing?!” With patience and kindness, he said, “What if that person killed to protect his family? What if he stole to feed his family?” He gave more examples as I argued with him, but I was determined that I wasn’t going to believe anything he said. But let me tell you, I could NOT get out of my head that conversation. I pondered it for two weeks straight, and at the end of that two weeks while I was sitting at work, it was like a light bulb went off on top of my head and I had one of those “aha moments.” I got it! I really got it! There really is no such thing as right or wrong, good or bad. Only one’s perception of what is right or wrong, good or bad. Ahhhhhhh. I like to say that "the only time we make others wrong is when they don't live up to our expections of the way we think they should think or be."

Back to Unity…. What I love about Unity is that it believes in the best of all religions, and does not judge anyone based on race, religion, color, or walk of life. We teach love and kindness. The teachings are based upon Jesus, the Christ, but we also teach the best from other beliefs. Our members come from a variety of backgrounds: Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Buddhism, and many more. We have members from various walks of life. We have quite a diversity in race and color. And ALL are welcome and accepted as they are.

Unity also encourages you to find your own beliefs. We have no doctrine. We do not believe in hell or the devil (though we will not tell you that you cannot believe in him if you so wish). And just to give you an overview of Unity, the following are Unity’s Foundational Principles: 1) There is only one ultimate power in the Universe. We call this power God and its nature is absolute good and absolute love. 2) Humankind was created from absolute good and our inherent nature is also good. We call our inherent goodness the Christ. 3) Our thoughts and feelings combined have great creative power. Whatever we consistently hold in consciousness manifests in our lives. 4) Prayer and meditation are essential elements of the spiritual life because they keep us awake and aware of our oneness with God and all creation. 5) It is not enough to know the Truth; we must put that Truth into action in our lives. We must live the Truth we know. The personal characteristics of the above are trust, self-esteem, empowerment, inner guidance, and integrity.

According to Charles Fillmore, son of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the founders of Unity: "Unity says that true religious growth is a ’do-it-yourself’ project ... One might describe Unity as a religious philosophy with an ’open end,’ seeking to find God’s truth in all of life."


It never ceases to amaze me how many people hate in the name of God. (Stay with me here.) Many religions are just as guilty of this. I know that they’re believing the way they think they’re supposed to believe, or believing what they’ve been told to believe. (Been there, done that.) They hate (and/or judge) anyone who doesn’t believe the way that they do. (Also been there and done that.) Look at how many hate gays or Muslims. Or Democrats or Republicans. I’m sorry, my friends, but unless someone is speaking and teaching love, it is NOT of God. God is pure, perfect, unconditional love; nothing more, nothing less.

It especially bothers me when I hear ministers preaching hate. We’ve had several in the news during the current election processes. Candidates are spouting off religious accusations of who is a Christian and who isn’t. Personally, I don’t care what my President believes as long as he/she lives in the spirit of love and kindness, as long as he/she wants what is best for the greater good of mankind and the world, and as long as he/she doesn't try to force his beliefs on others.

When it comes down to it, we ARE one people, we ARE one World, and there IS only one God. And until we can come together in unity (sorry, I couldn’t resist; grin), we will never have world peace. If we want peace, if we want unity, if we want to get along, then we “must be the change we wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi) And that means treating our fellow beings with love and kindness, and the way we would like to be treated, regardless of their race, religion, color, or walk of life. We need to take personal responsibility for the way we treat others. We’re all in this world together, my friends, so why can’t we all just learn to get along?


Namaste'

(Pronounced "Nam-a-stay") is a Sanskrit (Hindu) greeting used every day in India, and now in the western world. Namaste’ literally means “I bow to you.” There are other definitions given to the word, but I particularly like this one:

“I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you, which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”

(If you are interested in finding out more about Unity, please go to:
http://www.unityonline.org/aboutunity/whoWeAre/faq.html or see the links under my favorite websites.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Afterthought on Thoughts

In my last blog, I mentioned how I was bombarding my brain with positive thought books and CD's, as well as trying to think only positive thoughts. Then WHAMMY! I got wang-tangled out of the blue by a bad bout of bronchitis that put me down for almost two weeks. Probably the worst I've ever had. I could only ask, "what's with thaaaat?!?" I don't think I had even entertained the idea of getting sick for one nanno-second.

Then I had another thought, which a friend confirmed in an email she had written to me. Maybe the bronchitis occurred because I had a lot of inner 'stuff' that needed to be released and it just happened to manifest itself as bronchitis. Hmmmmm. Or, another thought that popped into my head was, "maybe a germ is just a germ." I'm hoping it was a deep, inner cleansing. Maybe I'll never know.

I have been reading a LOT of books over the years on the power of our thoughts. I am determined to get this thing figured out. Some people can get it easily and begin manifesting their hearts desires without any problems. Then there are others who try as hard as they can and nothing. Nada. Nil. (At least not yet.) I'm still trying to work out why some can do it right off the bat, and others seem to go for long periods of time without seeing any of what they want to manifest. Maybe I'm trying to hard.

I like to compare it to learning to use a computer. If you've never used a computer before, the task of learning can be quite daunting, if not frightening. For one, what do you do with a mouse if not let your cat play with it? Turning on the computer. Going into Start and choosing programs. USING the programs. I've learned a lot about using computers over the years, but I still have a long ways to go. Some people just have the brain to figure it out. For others, it's like learning algebra. Some of us have to learn one step at a time and repeat as necessary. Same with learning to manifest. One step at a time.

Several years ago, I made a really nice, large vision board. Very colorful. Has pictures of everything I want to experience in my life. There is a lot on there that hasn't manifested as yet, but there are a few things that have. I had pictures of cruise ships. Since then, I've been on two cruises (with Richard Simmons, no less!). I had a picture of a dolphin. I swam with the dolphins last year. So, things are happening. But for SOME reason, my timing and the Universe's timing just aren't the same. I don't know whhyyyyy. Grin.

In the meantime, I still choose to think positive thoughts. I still choose to believe in the goodness of people and the world. I still choose to be happy and enjoy life as I know it. And I still choose to dream the dream. I'm expecting and looking forward to great and wonderful things. I can feel it! I really can! It's like the day before you go to Disneyland. You're all exciting with anticipation. But in my case, I'm not sure what's coming tomorrow, but I know that no matter what it is, it will be good (even when it's not). Getting healthy and fit. Having a successful speaking career. Writing a best seller motivational book. Visiting the islands of Hawaii. Going on an African picture taking safari. Having my dream log home on at least 1,000 acres. I put it all out there to the Universe. Now all I have to do is wait for Her to do Her thing (while doing what I can from this end; but not worrying about it).

I am at a point in my life where I really want to be of service to all living beings (human, animal, and otherwise). I learned a long time ago that if you change your attitude to what can you get, to what can you give, it changes your whole perspective on life. Life is hard on a lot of people. If I can help lighten someone's load, even if for a few minutes, then I've accomplished something.

So, my dear readers, please be aware of the thoughts that are passing through your head. You have a choice as to what you think and how you feel. You always have a choice. Even if you feel you don't have a choice; that is a choice. I do want to make it clear.... I don't have this "power of my thoughts" thing down pat. I still have a long ways to go myself. I'll probably be working on it for the rest of my life. I still struggle. I still hurt. I still cry. But I know that whatever I think or feel, it's my choice.

The main key is to learn that we ARE deserving of all the good things in life. We DO deserve to be abundant in all things. We deserve to be loved. After all, we are the Universe's children. Would a loving parent want anything less for their child?

Go for your dreams. Be happy. Be you. The magnificent and wonderful you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our Thoughts Are Our Reality

Lately, I have been bombarding my brain with positive thought books and CD’s. I am determined to get rid of all the negative programming I have accumulated over the years that reside deep into my subconscious, and replace it with new and improved programming. The scary part is, I don’t know what all resides deep within the files of my subconscious. There are files in there that I don’t even remember having. Some are so old that I’m sure they are moldy and full of brain mites.

The first book I read several years ago that had a great impact on the importance of our thoughts was “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz. The serendipity of finding that book came about so magically, that I knew I was meant to read it. I am a big fan of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres and Ellen was featured in an issue of the Oprah Magazine. As I read, I discovered that “The Four Agreements” made a big difference in Ellen’s life as well. The next day, I received a mailing from the One Spirit Book Club and they had a special on “The Four Agreements.” You don’t need to tell me twice; I immediately ordered it.

“The Four Agreements” is a simple book, yet it contains very profound and powerful information. For those who are not familiar with these writings, I include them for you here:

Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.


Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Since then, I have tried my very best to live the agreements. The one that made the biggest impression on me was “Don’t Make Assumptions.” I had making assumptions down to a tee. If someone didn’t look at me the way I thought they should, my mind automatically thought they were either mad at me or didn’t like me. This agreement made me investigate the bigger picture. Maybe they had their mind on something and didn’t even notice me. (I’ve done that to people myself.) Maybe they were having a really bad day and just didn’t want to talk to anyone. Maybe they were intimidated by me. The question I learned to ask myself was, “Do you know that for a fact?” For example: They don’t like me or are mad at me. “Do I know that for a fact?” Well, no. “Could there be something else going on here?” Well, yes.

My next step would be to not take it personally. As the agreement states, nothing others do is because of you. No matter what it is. The interesting thing is, they’re making assumptions about you, too. And it’s all based upon their own beliefs, upbringing, and environment. It’s their own thoughts and you have no control over what others think; nor should you.

Then I would always just try to do my best, even with my own thinking. You can only do the best you can with what you know at the time. I’m still going to have moments where I think negative thoughts, I’m still going to let people get to me and I call them *#^% * (I would say these in my mind, of course), and I’m still going to have moments where I get really down on myself. But like I’ve always said: “You may not be able to stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can stop it from building a nest.” In other words, you may not be able to stop a thought from entering your mind, but you can keep it from staying there. You can immediately stop and replace them with positive thoughts.

Therefore, this takes me to the next agreement. Be impeccable with your word. As I’ve written before, I’ve learned to despise gossip. I’m also very sensitive to not bad-mouthing anyone. Yes, I have friends who I will sometimes vent to and they to me (we all need a friend whom we can get it off our chests), but I try to just get it off my chest and let it go.

I also try to find good and kind things to say about and to others. You’d be surprised at how you can brighten someone’s day by just complimenting them on something. I especially enjoy doing this to complete strangers. Or even just smiling! Smiles are free. Granted, you may not get a smile in return, but remember that what they think or do has nothing to do with you. You do your part, bless the person, and leave the rest to the Universe.

There is another author who expanded on the above, and that is Byron Katie. She has a process that she goes through to help heal people’s emotional wounds. You have a thought and she asks, “Do you know this to be true?” “Do you know this to absolutely true?” “How do you feel when you have this thought?” And the kicker, “Who would you be or how would you feel if you didn’t have this thought?” (I would highly recommend her books. Her website is listed on my blog of favorite websites.)

I do have to mention that I know some people will ask, “What about reality? Thinking positive and looking for the good is not reality." I say... Reality is our thoughts. Thoughts are our reality. It’s your choice as to what reality you wish to experience. Nothing has meaning except for the meaning that you give to it, and you have the choice to give it whatever meaning you want. I remember watching the TV show "Eddie's Father" many years ago, and the father told the son, "What a person believes, is." I never have forgotten that.

One thing that I do or don't do is watch the news or read the newspapers. I may glance through a paper to see the headlines, and may watch a snipit of a news program if it's something important, but other than that, no news. I figure that if something major happens, someone will let me know. Besides, I refuse to worry about something that I have no control over. This absolutely doesn't mean that I don't care what is happening, but if there's nothing I can do about it, why worry? I can only do my part in sending out positive thoughts/energy and blessings.

So, my friends, it really is all about our thoughts. Our thoughts will make us happy, sad, healthy, ill, wealthy, poor, talented, idle, and everything else that we can think of. I would like to invite you to be aware of the thoughts that are going on in your head. Bombard your brain with nothing but positive thoughts. Loving thoughts. Compassionate thoughts. Not only for other people and things, but also towards yourself. You are a beautiful, magnificent, awesome, and powerful being!!! And so it is.

(For other positive thought websites, please see my favorite websites.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Okay to Be Happy!

There is a speech that I give called “It’s Okay to Be Happy.” I first performed this speech during our Toastmasters’ contests, and it is my favorite speech. Today, I’d like to go into a little more detail on happiness.

Have you ever noticed how being happy seems to get a bad rap? It’s in our Declaration of Independence “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” So, why is it that when someone appears to be happy, people tend to come down on them, and why is it that there are so many people who are anything but happy?

People who know me know that I am basically a happy person. I have a very happy-go-lucky personality. I pretty much smile and laugh all the time. I don’t know how many times I’ve had people say to me, “Are you always like this?” “You’re just too perky.” “How can you be so happy?” Yadayadayada.

I do want to make it very clear that in no way do I consider myself any better (or worse) than anyone else. I still have my down moments, and there are times when I get so down and depressed that it’s all I can do to get out of bed in the morning. I’m just as human as anyone else. One thing that I’ve learned on my spiritual journey is that we have a choice. We can either choose to be happy….or not. We don’t have to be happy with our circumstances, but we can be happy in our circumstances. (Read that again, please.)

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books written on the subject of happiness and how to be happy, and they’re flying off the bookshelves. But as a society, we still tend to have an issue with people being happy and/or acting happy.

One thing that really helps me in my choice to be (or act) happy is that I look at others around me who are having all kinds of heavy-duty-life-doo, and I realize how good I really do have it compared to some people. I learned to count my blessings. I choose to look at the good that is in my life and the good that is around me. And if/when I am having a really bad, depressing day and I can’t think of anything to feel blessed about, I start with the basics. I can see, hear, talk, walk, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, a car that runs well, food to eat, friends, pets, family….. If you start with the basics and build from there, by the time you’re done, you should have writer’s cramp.

There is one book I read that really made a very strong impression on me, and showed me how important it is to count our blessings. The book is called “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Iligabiza. Immaculee is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. Most all her family, friends, and relatives were brutally murdered with hatchets. She was able to escape to a minister friend’s home where she and seven other women hid for three months in a small bathroom, three foot by four foot wide. The minister couldn’t even let his family members in the same house know they were in there. The bathroom was in his bedroom and he pushed a large movable closet in front of the door. Every day, hundreds of Hutu’s would go through the house looking for them. They couldn’t make a sound the whole time they were in hiding. The minister slipped them food when he could. When Immaculee went into the bathroom she weighed 115 pounds; when she came out, she weighed 65 pounds. The only thing that saw her through this horrific ordeal was her faith in God. She is now married, has two children, and is a spokeswoman for the United Nations in New York. I would highly recommend reading her story.

The point is, you can always find someone who has it worse off than you do. I used to keep a picture of Immaculee on my desk at work, and then when things got bad in the office, I would look at her picture and remember how good I really do have it. It worked.

I’ve been reading a lot of spiritual books lately (as well as listening to CD’s), and a couple have really had an impact on my brain. Books by Jerry and Esther Hicks, and books by Mike Dooley. (Mike’s web is at TUT.com. I would recommend checking it out and signing up for his “Notes from the Universe.”) These books are very positive and really help to get into a happy frame of mind. They stress the importance of keeping nothing but good and positive thoughts in your mind because you will attract what you are thinking. And it’s not just about the thoughts, but about the feelings you are feeling with those thoughts. It’s okay to be happy! It’s okay to feel good! We should strive for those frames of minds constantly throughout our days and our lives. Laugh! Giggle! Dance!

It’s also important to know who we really are. We are children of the Universe (God, Allah, Spirit, or whatever name you choose.) Know and believe that you are magnificent! You are a walking miracle of life! A friend of mine, J.D. Hart, has a Tennessee Lottery commercial currently running, and at the end of it, he says, “Harness your inner awesomeness!” (I just love that!) And don’t let anyone tell you that you are anything less!

Also watch the words that you speak; not only to yourself, but to other people. Gossip is poison. Bad-mouthing is poison. Constantly complaining is poison. What people don’t realize is that when someone is gossiping, bad-mouthing, or constantly complaining, it reflects more on the person speaking the words than the person they are speaking about. I’ve made it very important to me not to be around gossip or that kind of negativity. I remember when I was working and when someone would come into my office to gossip or bad-mouth someone, I would then say something positive about that person in return. Or I’d try to get the person to see the bigger picture. Soon enough, people learned just not to speak negatively about anyone or anything around me.

Again, that doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone in the least. I’m not perfect. (I like to think of all of us as perfectly imperfect. Grin.) I just choose the way I want to think. I choose the words that come out of my mouth. I want to build people up; not tear them down. I read once in a book about near death experiences where the author who had an NDE say that the one question he was asked after he crossed over was, “Did you love enough?” When I get to the end of my life and I cross over and get asked that question, I want to be able to say that I did my best.

Make happiness, joy, laughter, and a whole lot of good feelings a priority in your life. You’ll find that your life circumstances will tend to follow the way you think. It’s Universal Law.

For a list of my favorite websites, please see the right-hand column of the blog. Here you will find websites to some of my favorite authors: Mike Dooley, Sharon Warren, Jerry and Esther Hicks, Byron Katie, Neale Donald Walsch, and more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Celebrities Are People, Too!

Today, I would like to write about something that has been on my heart and mind for some time. It’s not really a “spiritual” subject, but it does come under the heading of not judging. That subject is “Celebrities.”

I’ll begin by sharing with you my own experiences with the entertainment business and why it is such a passion of mine. Back in 1979, I left home for Hollywood to follow my bliss of becoming an actress. I didn’t have a place to live, didn’t have a job, didn’t know anyone; it was just me, my car, and about $1,000 in my account. My poor parents. I was in my early 20’s going off into the wide blue yonder of uncertainty. They didn’t want me to go, but I was going regardless.

Before I left, I couldn’t believe the number of people who said that if I moved to Hollywood and became an actress, I was going straight to hell. My minister even told me this! Hollywood was sin city and all celebrities were evil and sinful people, they said! Fortunately, I didn’t believe them and went on my merry way.

At the time, Motel 6’s were $9.95 a night (can you believe it?), so I stayed a couple of nights at a hotel until I could find a cheaper place to live. I found the YMCA and moved in. Of course, I had to listen to some man singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the top of his lungs every night at midnight. I knew I couldn’t last long here, so I began looking for a place to live. I had been trying out some churches (this was in my holier-than-thou Christian days) and someone knew of a 92 year old woman who had a two room apartment in the back of her house off of Sunset Boulevard for $125 a month. I met with her and moved right in.

While in L.A., I worked as a temporary office worker and had many jobs, meeting some really nice people. My favorite job was at the Musician’s Union. (It remains my all-time favorite job to this day.) I met so many wonderful people there, including a woman who became my “Hollywood Mom” by the name of Norma Painter. We still keep in touch to this day and I love her dearly.

While working, I began attending acting workshops to learn my craft. And I began meeting many, many wonderful people within the entertainment business. One of the jobs that I had was working in the office at Sherwood Oaks Film School, and I took classes in the evenings. We would have acting conferences taught by some of the biggest names in show business, and I had the pleasure of meeting most all of them. Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack), Charleton Heston, Jack Lemmon, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, and most of the cast from MASH, Happy Days, Lavern & Shirley, Taxi, many of the behind the scenes people from Star Wars, and many more. With only one or two exceptions, ALL were very kind and decent people. (Those exceptions may have just been having a bad day.) I kept in touch with Jack Lemmon and Martin Sheen over the years, too. Still do with Martin Sheen. (And that’s not to say that we were friends; just acquaintances.) The one person I didn’t meet was Clint Eastwood. I was too shy. (Me? You say? Shy? Ha!) He ended up leaving with some blonde and I can’t help thinking, “it could have been me!” (JUST KIDding!)

Then, when I moved to Nashville in the early 90’s, I had the privilege of meeting many people in the entertainment business, including the country music scene, and took acting classes from Alan Dysert (Sean Cudahy from “All My Children”) and Ramon Estevez (Martin Sheen’s son). Everyone I met was absolutely wonderful.

I've since gone on two cruises with Richard Simmons and we keep in touch. He is one of the kindest, most caring people, just like so many others whom I've met.

I tell this not in any arrogance, but to make a point. Celebrities are people, too. Most are just doing a job; a job they love and are passionate about. Unless they are promoting a film or a cause, they don’t want the tabloid attention. And not everyone is on drugs, nor are they alcoholics, or sleeping around. The biggest thing I learned was that you find what you're looking for, and I got to meet and get to know so many really wonderful people, both in and out of the entertainment business.

What was interesting was that before I moved to L.A., I was living in a small town of 3,000 people. I found that the same things that were going on in some of Hollywood, were going on in that small town, only on a smaller scale. The only difference may have been the amount of money people made, and the fact that when someone in the entertainment industry got caught doing something, they ended up in the papers. The people in the small town didn’t.

One gripe you hear most often is how much celebrities make. Just in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) alone (just one of the entertainment unions), there are well over 120,000 members! Only a small percentage make the big bucks. What most people don’t realize is that no matter how much the celebrity makes, it’s the studios and suits who make most of the money. Look at this way…. If you worked for a company that was making one million dollars a month, and they only paid you $100 a month, would that be fair? That’s one of the reasons why some celebrities who are on successful shows make so much money per episode. You can bet that the suits are making a whole lot more. So, why shouldn’t the actor get a nice slice of the pie? This goes for sports figures, too.

Plus, a lot of that money goes to their agent, manager, accountant, publicist, staff, and the government in the way of taxes. Yes, that may still leave some of them with a lot left over, but I feel they deserve it. Many, many celebrities give a lot of time and money to charities, too, but we just don’t hear about it, nor should we. (Would you want people to know how much and to whom you gave your money?)

When people complain about the money that celebrities make, they need to remember that there are a LOT of people outside the entertainment business who make just as much if not more. There are people who will allow their names to be used on a Board of Directors list who will make millions just for the use of their name, and they don't have to do a thing. Many CEO's make millions, if not billions, of money just for being the CEO.

I also feel that it’s a shame how far out of hand the paparazzi have gotten. NO, the celebrities don’t deserve to lose their privacy. They should have the same protections of the law as any other citizen of this country. Children and private property should be off limits, and the paparazzi should be required to keep a certain amount of space between them and the celebrity when taking pictures. They should definitely not be allowed to chase them in cars. . I ache for them when they have to go through heavy life issues in the press, when their children are frightened because of stalkarazzi’s, and when these same paparazzi will say or do anything to get a reaction out of a celebrity or their children. NO ONE deserves that. (One story goes that a photographer tried to trip a well-known celebrity who was carrying her child just to get a reaction from her.)

One more point…. I think many people have gripes about celebrities making so much money and have fame because the person complaining doesn't. Personally, I’m happy for their success. I am for anyone who achieves success on any scale no matter what they do in life.

The next time you find yourself sitting in judgment of a celebrity, try to remember that they are just doing their jobs. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have any TV to watch, movies to see, or music or radio to listen to. Also remember that it is a very select few out of the whole who are constantly in the public eye (Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, etc.). Their behavior is what perpetuates the negative image that the public has of all celebrities, and that's sad.

So, let’s give celebrities a break and remember that they are people, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Midnight Dream - Part II

This is the conclusion of The Midnight Dream. You might want to read the previous blog first to read Part I of the dream. And on with the journey....

The Midnight Dream - by Karen Langford - Copyrighted 1989

As my feet touched the ground, the Force left me there alone in a seedier part of town at night. As I looked around, everything was quiet and barren. I wasn’t sure if I was to stand still and wait for something to happen, or if I was to start wandering around. Dreading what might come next, I began walking down an alley that was before me. I remember thinking...in real life, there is no way I would walk down a dark alley at night, but since this was a dream, what’s the worst that could happen to me? When I got halfway down the alley, I heard a rustle to my right, which startled me. As I turned to look, I found two little huts made of cardboard and other scraps of material. Over the handmade entrances were shreds of blankets to act as doors. I had the feeling I was to look in the huts, so I cautiously pulled back on the blanket of one to take a peek inside.

Lying among old, rumpled up newspapers was a man fast asleep and snoring. He was dressed in ragged cloths and hadn’t shaved in quite a while. I don’t think he’d had a bath in that amount of time either. Apparently, he sensed that I was there and woke with a start. He grumpily yelled, “Hey! What are you doing here?!?! This is my home! Get out!” Frightened, I backed out quite quickly, and as I did, I stumbled over something behind me and fell. When I looked to see what I had fallen over, I found a dead body. It was the man that was in the hut I had just left. He had frozen to death in the alley. Panicking, I got up and ran to the back of the alley and out around the buildings.

As I rounded the corner, the sight before me caused me to stop and stare. I had come upon a large area cluttered with homemade houses made out of scraps of material, cardboard boxes, anything anyone could get their hands on to make a shelter. People were dressed in rags and other clothes that people discarded after they had gotten their use from them. Metal barrels were set throughout the compound with fires going in them to try and bring warmth to the area. I hadn’t realized how cold it was until I saw these people all bundled up.

Before my thoughts could go further, several children came running out from behind one of the huts. They were yelling and laughing while chasing each other in a game of tag. They didn’t seem to notice how miserable their living conditions were.

The adults were different. Most were depressed and beaten. You could see it in their eyes and in their expressions. Again, as in the bar, I began to see and feel these peoples’ pasts. I had often wondered why these people just didn’t go out and get jobs. Anyone could get a job, right? Wrong. One man lost his job because of cutbacks in his company and wasn’t able to find work in his field. He wasn’t skilled in some areas or was over-qualified in others; therefore, he was unable to find work, though he tried. Because of lack of income, he was unable to pay his rent and was thrown out of his home. Without a job, he was unable to find housing elsewhere. Consequently, he ended up here.

Again, the others shared the same, but different, disheartening stories. All had reasons for being homeless. High cost of living, unable to get work, some were mentally ill and were put out on the streets by the institutions. Some were drug addicts or alcoholics. Couldn’t something be done to help them? We’re the richest country in the world and we can’t feed or house our own poor? It’s pitiful enough to see adults living like this, but what about the children who have no say in the way they live their lives?

Tears began to fall down my cheeks, but before I could think much more on these people, I was being whisked away by the strange Force that was taking me on these horrible journeys. I was still thinking about the homeless when I found myself in a hospital ward full of people; all men. Some of the men were bed-ridden and barely moving. Some were in wheelchairs. Others walked with crutches or limped on their own. Many were missing arms or legs. Some were burned beyond recognition. Again, all had eyes that were so sorrowful and void; it was as if only their bodies were in that room and their minds were off somewhere unknown.

One man in particular was lying so still in a bed I wondered if he was even alive. His right arm and leg were missing and he had a bandage wrapped around his head. I began to feel this man’s pain so much that it became almost unbearable.

As I looked at him, pictures began to flash in my mind as to how he came to be in so much despair. I saw a group of men running through a dense jungle. It was still daylight, but because of the density of the trees and foliage overhead, it was dark enough to where the men had difficulty seeing where they were going. I had the feeling that they were being chased by someone, but I couldn’t distinguish who might be after them.

There was tremendous gunfire and you could see the flashes from the guns as they went off. Men began dropping from being hit by the hot, speeding bullets. Big flashes of light began to pop like huge light bulbs as grenades or bombs exploded among them.

I was right amidst the fighting, and yet everything was happening around me keeping me untouched. As I stood horrified watching the nightmare before me, a movement caught my eye just to the right of me. When I turned to see what it was, I saw two men running. The look I saw on their faces was one I never wish to see again. It was horror, panic, and fear all in one.

Before they could get very far from me, there was a big flash of light and a deafening sound. At that point, time slowed almost to a standstill. In the flash of smoke, I noticed objects flying into the jungle, but at that moment, I couldn’t quite make out what they were. Then I heard a sickening scream, followed by a gurgling and moaning.

When the smoke finally cleared, the first thing I saw was a pair of boots on the ground sitting side by side. It was then that it occurred to me...the objects flying through the air were parts of a body. My eyes tried following the sounds of the moaning and came upon a body lying on the ground in massive pools of blood. The man had his right arm and leg blown off, and it looked like part of his head was missing. He just laid there staring at the boots. He had just seen his friend blown to pieces.

That thought and the sight before me caused great upheavals in the pit of my stomach. I knew I had to throw up, but nothing would come. When I thought I could take it no longer, I found myself being pulled upwards, high above the trees where I could see the fighting still going on below me. I kept climbing higher and higher into the clouds and into the darkness of the universe. Even though I was no longer looking at the sights I had just witnessed, I couldn’t get the pictures out of my mind. Just when I felt myself about to pass out, I found myself back in the hospital ward looking at the man I had just seen torn apart moments earlier. I wanted to go to him, tell him I understood and that I cared, but I couldn’t move. I could only stand there and stare.

The men in that ward all held so much pain; not only physical pain, but the emotional pain from all they had seen and been through. Pain that would be with them for a very long time to come. I wanted so much to be able to do something, anything, to help take that pain away. But there wasn’t anything I could do.

I was briefly able to see and feel what some of the other men had experienced. Some had seen their buddies killed or maimed by children planted with grenades or bombs, and some had to kill children in order to keep from being killed themselves. Some had seen things so horrifying that merely putting them into words just wasn’t enough. Many lost their wives and children through divorce because they couldn’t take the separation and loneliness of war.

They didn’t know why they were fighting other than the fact that they were doing their duty for their country. They didn’t know who they were fighting, as many times it was hard to tell who were the good guys and who were the “enemies” until it was too late.

People were always saying that the Vietnam Vets were causing their own problems or using Vietnam as an excuse for those problems. They looked down on the Vets because it was an unpopular war, and even though they were doing what was lawfully expected of them, they were being treated as if they were criminals. Some are being treated that way to this day. Many are still living the war even though it’s been over for years.

Just as I was beginning to get all riled up over the injustices of the Vets, I felt myself being lifted out of the room. I didn’t know how much more pain, suffering, depression, and despair I could endure. I hoped my dream would end so that I could just forget it and go on. But I had a feeling this was one dream I would not be forgetting for a very long time.

Instead of landing in another situation, the Force and I seemed to be flying around the world. I could look down and see cities and towns. It was breathtakingly beautiful. But suddenly, pictures again started flashing before my eyes. Instead of any individual situation, I was seeing many. It was like seeing a slide show, only the images were appearing over each other as they were changing so fast. Even though I couldn’t make out the pictures clearly, I was able to see and feel the pain behind each one.

I saw the drug addicts and the reasons they turned to drugs. I saw the husband who beat the wife and kids, and the pain of his own childhood. There were the overly obese people who ate to try to forget their pain, or those who didn’t eat to try and change their pain. I saw those who withdrew into themselves and ended up in asylums or committed suicide because they couldn’t handle their pain any longer. I also saw the people with AIDS, both children and adults, and the pain it caused them and their loved ones.

Then it dawned on me. I was seeing all those that we humans judged just because they were different from us, or whose problems we didn’t understand. We de-humanize them, humiliate them, and pretend they don’t exist in order to justify our own feelings toward them. We say they’re bad people and that they don’t deserve our love, compassion, understanding, or assistance. They got themselves into their situations, let them get themselves out.

We sit in judgment because it gives us an excuse not to love them; so we don’t have to have compassion or understanding for what they’re going through. We can sit in our own safe, comfort zones and not bother with them.

It was then that I happened to notice tears were silently falling down my cheeks. They were tears of sadness. It occurred to me that the tears weren’t so much for all those in my dream, but more so for myself. Had I really been so judgmental to all my fellow human beings? Had I really held so much disdain for those that were different from me, or for those I didn’t understand?

Only a moment had passed, but to me, it seemed like hours. Was I dreaming? Or had everything I just experienced actually happened? Maybe both were one and the same. Either way, I learned a big lesson that night.

Soon, I found myself waking up. I guess I wasn’t surprised to find tears still falling down my cheeks onto my pillow. I don’t know how long I lay there, but sleep would not come upon me again. It wasn’t long before I saw a glimpse of sunshine coming through my bedroom windows. The birds were singing their morning melodies and it was the most beautiful sound I had heard in a long time. In fact, everything that morning seemed to be more beautiful than I ever remembered! Life was more beautiful!

As I lay there thinking about everything that happened that night, I realized that there is an awful lot of ugliness in the this world; crime, starvation, disease, war.... But there is also a lot that is beautiful. We can either focus on the ugliness and make ourselves and others miserable, or we can focus on the beautiful and enjoy the life that we have. I think that what it comes down to is attitude. Your attitude can make or break you. It can also make or break the world we live in.

There’s so much that I can do nothing about, but I can start with myself. I can learn to love people more and to have more compassion and understanding for what they’re going through. I can learn not to judge people no matter how different they are from me, or how different their beliefs are. People are the way they are for whatever reasons.

Love, compassion, and understanding. That’s all it takes. We are all one with each other, with the earth, and with all living things. When we hurt someone or something else, we are only hurting ourselves.

Yes, this is a true story. And it has changed my life forever.