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.