Sunday, January 1, 2017

How to Get Around a Biased Media

The media is biased. This is something I've heard a lot of people complain about of late. This is something I always knew. When I took journalism in college, the first thing my professors taught me was that the "news" is sensational. Its not about publishing what's fair and making sure everyone knows every little thing that has gone on. Its about publishing what is unusual, the type of things that you don't see day in and day out. If cars are stolen all the time, publishing a report about it won't make the local paper but if someone stole a cop car, went on a 289 mile joy ride at 150 miles per hour, closing down all of our freeways, thus thwarting plans for the president to visit the city, which ends in a show down and the death of three cops and a 2 year old bystander, that's news. At least, its news unless something more interesting happened in the same day. The media's job, just like anyone else's job is to sell headlines, get people's interest and make people watch or read what they deem is interesting.

People get shot all the time but if a cop gets shot, that's bigger news. If someone is caught on tape doing or saying something shocking or offensive, that's an instant seller. A video of cops beating up a man for no reason is gold. A video of a politician caught on tape bragging about sexual assault is bound to get the attention of every media outlet out there, much more than  him stating that he gave to a particular charity. All politicians give to charity so that wouldn't make the news.

Unfortunately, if there is an interesting day or week, something you thought should make the news won't. Maybe there was a huge protest that you saw or participated in but it didn't make the news because there was an airplane crash and that is a much bigger story. Maybe you were swindled by a parking cop or someone stole your identity. You want the media to hear your story but it never made the news because there was an attempted assassination on the President.

That being said, the news is obviously biased. Everyone is biased. There is no such thing as objectivity. My novel, "The Enlightened Ones" was written in third person through the eyes of many characters specifically to show the reader how impossible it would be for any media outlet to get the gist of what really happened. Everyone's story is so different that there is no real objective source of news. One person might see one side of a story and completely miss another. If you want a really good idea of what is going on in the world, the media is a very poor source, so stop expecting it to satisfy your need for truth. Turn off the news and stop blaming the media for not giving you what you want to hear. There are other sources to help us understand what is going on in the world and here they are:

One day I was having a religious discussion with someone about Buddhism and it confused me so much that I finally just borrowed an Oxford lecture by a professor of theology on the entire history of Buddhism. This same thing happened with a friend of mine who was Hindu and was discussing yoga. I realized how little I knew about his culture so I borrowed another 10 hour lecture on the history of Hinduism. Getting such a comprehensive understanding opened my eyes so much that I didn't have to ask anymore questions. And let me just say, there is soooooooo much more to these religions than what we think we know and what we don't know, only hurts us.

There was a time when I was so confused about the terrorist situation and what was happening in the middle east that I borrowed several books on the history of the middle east, the history of America's role in the middle east and I also read the novels "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" which explains the history of Afghanistan in a much more interesting way than any non fiction book. After this, I gained more clarity about the situation than watching the news ever could. The news only told me what was happening that day, assuming I already know the decades of history that lead up to that moment. A snippet of news is not enough to help us understand anything so if you really want a good source of subjective truth, you have to investigate for yourself.

Ask Professionals or Experts:
The mainstream media is one of the worst places to get information on health or science. These articles are written by journalists, not experts. They write what they research but they lack the scientific background to understand a study or current finding. Often, they write what is sensational or contradictory to what is the general consensus. For example, if meta analysis (a way of taking many scientific studies in one study and analyzing their efficacy) shows that smoking is, say bad for circulation and suddenly a contradictory study that shows the opposite is released, you'll hear about the one contradictory study. Why? Because that is sensationalistic. That goes against what the thousand other studies concluded. It often doesn't matter how accurate the controls of that study were. Most journalist aren't educated enough in a particular branch of science to know what types of measuring tools work better than others. You won't hear about the many contradictory studies that might have been conducted more thoroughly and if an academic expert speaks up against it, it just causes more controversy which will make more news. Dr. Oz once caused an unnecessary scare that apple juice could kill you despite the fact that most other doctors will say that his logic is sensationalistic and isn't based on real science, just from the fact that there's some cyanide in apple seeds, but not nearly enough to kill anyone. The news thrives on what scares the public because what is scary sells headlines, that doesn't mean its the best news so check with a real doctor if you're worried about medicine. In fact, some studies have shown that you're better off reading the blog of an expert than any mainstream news dealing with science or health, and don't take the advice of some celebrity about your health just because they made the news. You're much better off learning from someone who has made a living off of helping people in the field and has genuine experience in the subject than from someone who is just trying to get attention and sell ratings.

Check Your Source:
We have more opportunities now than ever to get accurate news. Experts now have blogs and there are journals online you can subscribe too on any subject of your interest but check your source. Is the author a true expert? Do they have experience in the field? Do they have a degree or appropriate accreditation in the subject they are tackling? If they have left no source, then you know they are an amateur. Check the journals and studies they site. I always do. If they add footnotes and extra books, here's your chance to learn more. if they quote someone's twitter, its so easy to go on twitter to see if that quote was real. If there is controversy over a speech, I just go and find a recording of the speech so I know exactly what was said. You can't take gossip at face value, so check your source to the best of your ability and with search engines such as google available, this is getting easier and easier.

Get a Life:
There is something frightening about hearing someone complain about the news day in and night, as if they spend every waking hour, looking for news sources. Much of how I see the word isn't based on what I see on the news but what I've learned in my education, my accreditation in my field and what I experience in real life. I've lived in many places and have seen many things. I also open myself up to people. I like to hear what they have to say. What's their story? I love talking to older people who have lived through wars and many economic cycles. They tell me stories that you can't get in the news. I used to take long walks in the city and see demonstrations and protests. I'd talk to strangers and sometimes witness crimes and strange behaviors from the cops. Much of my view of the world comes from what I've seen and heard, more than what I hear in the media which is always a secondary source. Please don't hide behind a secondary source. Go out and talk to people. Do some research for yourself. Make friends outside of your religion or political affiliation and treat them with respect so they aren't afraid to show you their perspective. Get out in the trenches and get involved in a charity you believe in, demonstrate or go to a protest that is important to you. Show up to a neighborhood council meeting and find out what people are talking about and what they care about first hand.You will get a much more objective view of the world when you open yourself up to it and stop hiding in your comfort zone. These days, they are even setting up social networking to coincide with these meetings so people can participate even if they are busy and can't make it to the location.

Take Time to Reflect:
This is important. Turn off everything. Put down the books and let your mind wander. You may find that your instincts and even your rational thoughts will notice what doesn't seem right and this will help you ask more questions and follow up with  more intentional research which sure beats watching the same hypnotizing propaganda over and over again. This will also give you time to rest your mind and emotions so you don't get overwhelmed. It will help you come to terms with your own values and how you fit into all of this nonsense. It might even help you find a purpose and inspire you to realize what is most important to you and how you can contribute to your community and your world.

A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing
In conclusion, what I'm offering might seem like a lot but if you turn off the news and ignore the shallow memes, this affords you more time for deep reading and investigation. It will also make you a more satisfied and happier person. The shallow media will always leave you unsatisfied if real information is what you want and usually a little learning gives us a false sense of reality. Yet, there's this sense of insecurity because we know something's not right so don't waste your time on it. As Henry Thorough famously said, "Suck the marrow out of life."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Identity, Labels and the Search for No Self

Someone was telling me about how their new psychologist talked to their kid. She asked him how he identifies himself. The child didn't know what the psychologist was talking about so she asked him what race he identified himself with.
I marveled at our obsession, here in the U.S,. to create an identity for one's self. I once read that it has to do with the evolution of the economy. If you live in a society where most people are getting enough food and shelter, the only way to get them to spend more and stimulate the economy is to create an economy of identity. People who identify themselves as Star Wars lovers will buy more Star Wars toys. Those who identify themselves as dog lovers, will buy more dog paraphernalia and so on and so forth. In fact, marketing experts specifically count on us to have an identity. They create demographics such as "working mom over the age of 40" and make ads geared specifically to that.

There has been so much talk of identity lately and its seeped into our politics. I wonder if it is a subconscious reaction to all of the identity based marketing that has been geared to us and all the child pscyologists who have insisted that children figure out what they identify with. 

We are almost forgetting that there is more to life than having an identity. The Buddhists spend their lives practicing what is known as the art of "no self." Their whole philopshy is based on relinquishing identity. I onced asked a friend of mine who is a Buddhist monk why Buddhists don't believe in identity or a self and he said that believing in this holds us back. Having a self puts boundaries on what we could learn or what more we could be. You can't be enlightened if you are attached to the notion of having to find a self. I always marvel at how Buddhism became the "religion of no religion," and even if I studied Buddhism extensively, I could never call myself a Buddhist because to do so would be to identify with something. This just goes to show how difficult it is to relinquish one's identity. Famous motivational speaker Anthony Robbins is always talking about how you have to change your identity. He says that if you see yourself as a helpless victim, you always will be. 

Beyond that, I can't help thinking that there is so much more to us than our demographic. I'm not just a working mother over the age of forty. I'm more than a writer. I'm more than my hobbies, my political or cultural affiliations etc. The other day, I was looking through my social networking stream and thought, There are an awful lot of memes and posts that are anti something or another. I've seen posts that are anti Israel, anti Palestine, anti liberal, anti conservative, anti Clinton, anti Trump, anti religion, anti atheist, anti science, etc. etc. These anti statements tend to come with very generalizing and often fallacious stereotypes.

In the 70s there was a huge anti disco movement on the part of those who loved heavy metal. It became cool to identify with heavy metal but only if you hated on disco. Lord forbid someone loved both styes of music. It became very apparent to me that finding one's identity can be dangerously polarizing. If I am this way, I am separate from anyone who isn't this way as well. We box ourselves into our own little groups and push away those who "don't get it." 

We see this in the publishing business as well. You're book must identify with a genre because we have to make sure that the public is getting what they want. All romances must have a happy ending. Lord forbid we surprise anyone and make them question their identity. Screw all the great artists and writers who thought this was the goal of literature and art. In our effort to categorize our literature, we have suppressed people from writing something truly original. 

We forget that most spiritual philosophies think that the highest state of awareness is to connect, not to polarized, to love, not to hate. Finding one's identity is an act of desperation, a way of finding a place to belong in a lonely world. But the search for no self, is an act of pure humility. It also takes courage to let go of the security that clinging to an identity can have. As I have demonstrated in my novel, "The Enlightened Ones," sometimes we wake up and realize that everything we have clung to was wrong. Our identities give us a sense of security, but often its a false sense of security, one we're willing to kill for. This is why the art of no self takes courage. It means that we have to look outside of who we think we are and see who we really are. It means we have to shatter down the walls of our own perception and accept the fact that we could be wrong. It might even mean relinquishing the stubbornness of war for the humility of peace. 

The other day, a friend of mine posted the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. He wrote something about how more veterans agree with the song than we may care to think. In the song, John Lennon sings, Imagine there's no countries, religion, possessions, etc. He said there would be nothing to fight for, nothing to live or die for, nothing to hunger for etc. Some might listen to this song and think that Lennon is being intolorent of religion or patriotism. Perhaps he's putting down our materialistic economy. But perhaps what my friend was hinting at was that after being in a war and watching people fight and kill over their country, religion, stuff, or identity, you realize how silly it all was in the end. You wonder how important it was for us to cling to an identity as if any threat to it is worth killing for. Is it really worth killing for? How important is identity, really? I will have to ask my friend to elaborate.

So what if we do stop identifying? What if we put our strong held beliefs aside and say, I'll listen because I'm not so scared that what you have to say will change me. What if we embrace other groups and cultures? What if we stop trying to find a national cultural identity and instead ask ourselves what is the best choice for all of the country in today's ever changing world? Wouldn't that open us up to more solutions and resources? What if we stepped back and started accepting everyone, not just those who we identify with? What if we saw all life as equally important? It would shatter our shields. It would make us stop fighting for what is best for us and start sharing with others. It would evolve us from being two year olds in the "mine" stage to being something truly transcendent. 

Of course, many have told me that they're not ready for that kind of higher thinking. John Lennon said, "you may say I'm a dreamer." Many would say that he is because he did have a lot of material possessions and he wasn't exactly the best father. We're all hypocrites. We're all flawed, and we have to accept that and question ourselves always. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves that there's so much more to the universe than our identity.

So, I'll leave with this thought. Why is it that the greatest love stories consist of lovers who fall in love with someone who's supposed to be an enemy or someone from the other side of the tracks? Perhaps something deep inside us does want to transcend above the boundaries of our identity or we wouldn't love these stories. Although we are so obsessed with finding our identity, there may just be something else deep within us that wishes to seek love somewhere beyond it. Perhaps all of this seeking to belong has just made us feel more trapped by the conventions of such belonging.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why Discrimination is a Big Deal

When I was attending a conservatory in New York, I was so busy working to pay my way through school that I barely had time to socialize. I also lived an hour and a half away from the city, but one day, my roommates and I decided to join the regulars at their regular bar. 
It didn't really work out because they wouldn't serve my two roommates. There were all kinds of issues, but in the end, we concluded that it was because they were black. I left with them but everyone else stayed. Our other white roommate didn't see what the big deal was. She said it was the only chance she had to hang out with them. That was more important to her. I understand that discrimination isn't as important of an issue to some as it is for me but the thought of patronizing that bar sickened me.

When I worked as an office manager at a recruiting firm, I remember recruiter's straight say to me, "my client won't hire that person because he doesn't like blacks or middle easterners." This happened often. Even though it goes against the 14th amendment, it still happened and no one batted an eye. Yet, being one of those people who despise racism, I held my tongue and took my anger out on a log of "office racism" which is stored in some floppy drive somewhere. I don't work there anymore. I may post this log one day, if I ever get to finding it.

Recently, the issue of race relations, discrimination against women and negative stereotyping against Latin American and Muslim immigrants and even any immigrant not of European decent has been brought up. There have also been a handful of bloggers who have said, "what's the big deal? Its not that bad." I've heard this many times in my life from people who have accepted that discrimination is a fact of life. There are always those who will try to segregate, insult and keep down anyone who is different. So what's wrong with me? I had to look at myself and ask, "am I wrong to think that discrimination is wrong? Is it a big deal?"

I'm reminded of a passage I once read in Ghandi's autobiography where he was segregated from being able to ride in the nicer part of a ship because he was dark skinned. This was when he was in South Africa. He was so appalled by this and ended up doing a lot of work in South Africa to help end segregation. However, the first reaction his friends had was, "its okay. That's the way things are here. Its their culture. What's the big deal?" Still, Ghandi didn't back down. He started huge social movements to end inequality and is credited with freeing India from England without having to go into war. 

When Rosa Parks refused to sit in the colored part of the bus because she was black, everyone kept telling her, "What's the big deal? Why don't you just accept your place and sit where you belong?" The thing is, sometimes it is a big deal. There will always be a tipping point where people who are oppressed just because they look different will rise up. History has proven this time and again. Had Martin Luther King Jr. not started a civil rights movement, very similar to what he learned from Ghandi, a civil war between blacks and whites in the United States was eminent. Already, riots were breaking out all over the country over civil rights and the war. Members of other black organizations such as The Black Panthers were gearing up for all out war. White supremacists such as the KKK were doing the same thing from their side. But MLK's movement, like Ghandi's movement  managed to overturn segregation without starting a civil war which would have devastated this nation.

Yet, what if civil war didn't break out? Overtime creating a culture of hate towards a particular race, whether they rise up or not will lead to no peace. Look at the Holocaust and the atrocities enacted by German Nazis when Hitler declared that the Jews were no good. He appealed to the country's suspicions against the religious minority who immigrated to Germany, looking for peace. This focus on hating who is different lead to a great war to wipe out Jews and anyone who was "not like them." The most destructive and horrific  world war in history got started because a man who's slogan was "Make Germany great again" decided to lead a country by focusing on people's natural fear and hatred of those who were different.

When the founding fathers of this country decided to withdraw from English rule, they wrote in the 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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The founding fathers made equality and fairness the main function of our government and ingeniously set it up in order to make America safe from laws and leaders that would pass laws which favor inequality.

The sad thing is that many laws that go against this fairness and against our very Bill of Rights and Constitution have been voted in by the people. This is no surprise as discrimination is not uncommon. If it weren't part of human nature, it wouldn't exist but over time, many of these laws have been shut down by the supreme court due to them being unconstitutional and dangerous to everyone's equal right to the pursuit of happiness. 

One of these laws was the search and seizure law which was passed in New York after 9/11, making it okay to do random searches on anyone without a warrant. While some people felt the law kept them safe, what it did was target innocent Blacks and Latinos. 
Also, this law goes against the sixth article of the our county's Bill of Rights:
The right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

Eventually, the law was put down by the courts, but this didn't stop Donald Trump for stating that this law is what we need to enforce on the inner cities when asked, during the debate, how he would improve race relations. Already, relations with cops in the inner cities are mired due to unreasonable searches and excessive force. Riots and shootings have already broken out because of it. How would passing this law, which goes against our bill of rights and constitution, help create peace? It would only increase the civil unrest that is already happening. It's a discriminatory law that will hurt this country. 

When I moved this country, I was put in public schools or the first time. I was in Catholic school up until then. I was very surprised to learn that there were other religions and I was honored to go to school with people who shared different cultures. I had so many questions for the Jews, Muslims, Protestants etc. I was open and wanted to learn. I made friends with people of many religion and ethnic diversities. My parents are not white but they are citizens of this country and are college educated. My father is a true American who always talks about and believes in the precepts of this country. He carries a pocket copy of the constitution with him at all times. Both my parents pay their taxes and have been very active in their community as I have as well. 

When I read blogs from people and read tweets by Donald Trump saying things like ALL immigrants are morally debase, rapists, criminals or whore out their daughters, I'm appalled. My Dad didn't even let me date till I was eighteen. People always say, "oh no, I wasn't talking about you." But they were. I'm an immigrant and they said ALL immigrants. 

Trump has tweeted that most criminals are Black or Hispanic. This is not true. I have so many good friends who are black and Latino who have never broken the law. I know people who are not black and Latino that have been in jail for criminal activity. Similarly, there are many blacks and Latinos who have been falsely put in jail just because of the color of their skin. Can we please look past our superficial need to profile and stereotype people and give everyone their constitutional right to pursue life, liberty and happiness and to remain innocent until proven guilty?

To quote the constitution:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I know that discrimination is popular, that many laws have been voted in by the people that do discriminate. The Gay Marriage law is one of them and I spoke out against the law. In fact, after I released my blog opposing the law (which also got me kicked off Facebook) it was taken to court and deemed unconstitutional. You can read the blog here:

Why Same Sex Marriage is a Civil Right

By speaking out, I'm protecting my little utopia. I live in a city where people of all ethnicity's get along. I'm often invited to events in other churches, temples and mosques. I once had a cab driver tell me how weird and wonderful it is that he is best friends with someone who should be his enemy if he were back in his old country. When people speak foul towards gays, women, immigrants, blacks or other religions, they're speaking foul about my friends and family. Such talk spews hate, hurt feelings, thoughts of war and violence where there was once love, openness and solidarity. 

Discrimination is a big deal, because war and hatred is a big deal. Preventing laws that go against our inalienable rights is our way of keeping peace in our world before things get out of hand.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Odds of Finding True Love

My mum once told me that finding a good husband is like winning the lotto. I started breaking down the odds in my head and she's pretty much right.

The first thing you have to sort out is if you are attracted to someone who is also attracted to you. 90% of the time you like him more than she likes you or vice versa. Then when you do find that 10% who feel the same way, you have to sort through other factors. You may be attracted to each other but do your personalities get along? Is that person already taken? Are they trustworthy?

You might find some amazing attraction to a very magnetic serial killer. Ted Bundy was a very attractive man who could get any woman he wanted. I know many women who thought they found their dream man, but after marrying him, they realized they entered into an abusive relationship and vice versa.

If you do find someone who isn't already spoken for, who is just as attracted to you as you are to him and she is trustworthy, you have to see if he actually satisfies you in bed.

And after you finally found all of these things in a person, there's the whole commitment thing, which I guess boils down to her feeling the same way about relationships as you. If you're polyamorous and he's monogamous it won't work out. If you want ten kids and she doesn't want any, it won't work out. Then you have to wonder if he can even live with you because you can be very attracted to someone, have great chemistry with her, want the same things out of life, and have great sex and still have days when you just can't stand to live with each other for some reason or another. Maybe you're OCD and he's a hoarder. The odds just get slimmer and slimmer.

But here's the thing: if you do find someone who matches all of the above, you're a fool if you don't hold on to her and never let him go. So many things can still get in the way, like our own insecurities, doubts or faults. If this is so, you better get yourself to a therapist and work that stuff out. Don't let the way you feel about your mother or father or whoever else in your past get in the way of something as rare as true love. But that's just something else that gets in the way of it all, ourselves.

The odds are so astronomical.

I suppose this is why so many relationships don't last. Its so easy to ruin a good thing and so hard to find it in the first place.

Looking on the bright side, I guess many do find true love despite the odds, which is a miracle in itself.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Who am I to Beleive I Can See Outside The Realms of my Limited Perception?

I was taking a nice, calm ride in my car on a Sunday morning and I started pondering the limits of our senses. I was looking at some optical illusions earlier and it amazed me how some shading and other tricks can make us see things that aren't there or completely miss things that are. Plus there are many studies show that if we are likely to completely ignore certain visual cues if not introduced to us at certain developmental stages of our childhood. We are so limited to our experiences and therefore, in our thinking and philosophy.

Then I started thinking that maybe everything I experience in the outside world is all just a part of me, much like what seems real in a dream is just our imagination running wild in our sleep. I was thinking all the people I know are just extension of my own psyche and it occurred to me that even those who have treated me wrongly are only parts of my psyche I haven't comes to terms with yet.

It make sound like a self centered theory, to think that the whole universe revolves around me and after all my blogging about how we're not the center of the universe. But what's so selfless about thinking that we're separate from each other? I think I'm more likely to act with compassion towards others and the environment if I think of everyone and everything as a part of myself. I can comprehend it being differently but truly, my mind isn't capable of seeing passed that. All my experiences are just limited sensory responses occurring within the boundaries of my mind's operating system.

Random Deep Thoughts on Humanity, Cruelty and Humility

I was riding in the car, trying to find some music to listen to and it occurred to me how strange it is that we have this need to listen to patterns and rhythms and how this seems to be an innate human condition. Then I recalled the fact that birds also make beautiful music. Then I recalled a study that found that plants grow better when played soothing music too and realized that plants too have this innate need. If our need for music is a recognition of patterns and mathematics, I suppose it is a sign of our ability to think logically. Yet if birds and plants also recognize such patterns, they too must be highly logical. In fact birds such as crows and ravens have a rich vocabulary of their own. So how foolish is any human to assume that we are the only sentient beings on earth just because we don't understand the language of other animals? The more we learn about our universe, the more we realize that we are not in the center of it.

So I was listening to an anthropologist explain why he sided with the theory that humans killed all of the large ice age animals. After all, they died out after the great migrations, after humans came to their lands, and their fossil remains have spears in their ribs. Plus, those animals survived many other ice ages where the temperatures changed drastically. (Yes I'm a nerd) Basically most animals were quite tame then. If you go to the Galapagos islands, you'll see just how tame animals were in an island where no humans existed. You can walk right up to them and they won't run or scatter. We basically killed all tame animals. If not, we made them into farm animals. To this day, we're still making animals extinct. We are not only the top of the food chain, we are the most savage beast that ever lived. We have wiped out thousands or more species of animals and plants since we appeared on this earth. Yet we have the gall to call someone who we think is a brute, an animal? We are the true savages.

With all this talk about how children are innocent and have to be taught hatred, I happen to know that there is a natural part of many of us that is vengeful, dominating and determined to survive even if that means destruction of something else. We are capable of great sympathy and also great cruelty and the only thing that can stop us from allowing the cruelty to take over is to admit that we are capable of it. Often the cruelest sects of humanity are the ones that judge others for their cruelty and refuse to admit that they too can be cruel. I think this is why I tend towards philosophy. A person who thinks knows that they can be wrong. One who is dedicated to learning and mental growth is not set in the idea of always being right and trying to dominate all who are "wrong." Learning has taught me to question my current belief and compassion has made me realize that I too am capable of hurting others. We all need to take pause if we are to stop ourselves from destroying ourselves

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Point of No Return

This subject came to mind after reading some posts, the subject of the point of no return. This was a concept that was first introduced by General Sun Tzu in "The Art of War." The idea is how to get human troops to make the ultimate sacrifice without retreat. He said to lead them so far into battle that to retreat would take as much or more energy than to move on and fight. I've used this in my life a few times, mostly in my youth like when I left home to go find myself. I burned my bridges and made it harder to go back than to go forward. This helped me become a new person and tear myself away from psychological fears that kept me back.
Though these days, I find I always have something to fall back on. Adulthood and parenting makes us crave security and our fears become our armor. After all, those who retreat are more likely to survive, just not likely to feel any glory or greatness. Still, as much as advise people not to burn their bridges, there is a distinct advantage to doing so.

Sometimes you have to quit that job and even tell your boss to fuck off so you know you'll never fall back on it. I've seen some people always go back to their old safety nets, making it a great excuse to give up attempts to go elsewhere; but if you cut that net, you just can't do that. You have to keep moving forward. There's also a strange lift, like another option you don't have to stress over, another burden or life you don't have to be anymore.

You'll hear stories of people selling their souls, musicians who signed contracts they never should have, losing money and having the nerve to move on. Yet if they didn't make that first sacrifice, that all or nothing deal, they would still be home, living a cushiony life, their dreams far off in the distance. That five year contract you sign may seem like forever, but once you've served your time, you have the world at your feet. You'll know things you would never had known if you had a loop hole of escape. But you have to commit to this new life and that's the bottom line. Change is hard and even though we want to, many of us won't change unless we absolutely have to. We'll stay in unhappy jobs and marriages. We'll watch our dreams disappear into the distance while we hang on to our life rafts but we won't burn our bridges. We'll always go back to the cushion of our past, no matter how disfunctional it might be, its home. 

When the thought of staying the same overcomes the fear of change, we light that fire and watch the past crumble away. Sometimes our minds regret it but our gut emotions are too strong. We have to grow, we have to let go, we have to look forward to who we'll become. And sometimes, after the battle has been won or lost, we find that somewhere in those burnt ashes of the past--after the new vines grow over the old ruins--there is something left for us to go back to after all, but when we do, we know ourselves just a little bit better.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Writing Cure

I finally started reading the book, "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman after hearing it being referenced to so many times. I was moved by studies that showed that writing down traumatic events can cure PTSD. At first we might write some horribly negative stuff, but after some time, we start to rationalize it and work through it. This made me look back at my own life and the traumas and challenges I have suffered in the past. With all the negative things that could have messed me up, I was lucky to have parents who encouraged the love of reading and who let me read whatever I wanted. This love of reading anything, be they horror stories, banned books, comic books or classics fostered an enjoyment for literature and an enjoyment for the act of writing. So when the shit hit the fan, when I had to move several times, deal with abuse, puberty, poverty and many other things I don't feel comfortable going into detail about; my main way of dealing with it was to write.

While my friends did drugs, to self medicate, I wrote. Looking back, I remember feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and hopelessness but instead of self destruction or medication, I always turned to writing and I do believe that is what has saved my life. I wrote poems, plays and stories. I told my diary she was my best friend and used to miss her terribly if I didn't get to confide in her. She was something I could trust, something that would never judge me harshly. Through her, I could vent my anger, be nostalgic and throw out ideas good or bad. I could create worlds of escape, find solutions no one else could think of, and move through trains of thought that led me back to sanity. I could scribble till my mind went numb, write down affirmations or shout out prayers in capital letters. I could set goals, make wishes, weave dreams and learn to forgive and love myself.

My advice to anyone who wants to take up writing is to write anything, anything at all. Don't censor yourself. Let your writing be unconditional and if you know someone who is a writer, respect their boundaries. Don't be jealous of their diaries and don't read them. You wouldn't force their therapist to tell you things that was meant to be held in confidence. If you don't like what they write, understand that you will never understand some things. They might write something overtly sexual to help deal with issues of sexuality they have. They might write something disturbingly scary to help deal with a traumatic event they witnessed when they were young. They may write about an ex lover to help themselves figure out how to be a better lover  in the present or future. They may write about politics or religion to help deal with their own confusion about society or metaphysics. You can never know why they write, if its made up, an exaggeration or satire. They may write whole novels that completely befuddle you but it helped them let go of something.

There are billions of books, stories, poems, plays and all of them came from a great mind just trying to find sanity. Hopefully, as we share our creations, we'll help others find theirs.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Time Travel and Transcending Time and Space with the Mind

Black holes have been a fascination for me since I was a little girl, enjoying books such as Samuel DeLany's "Nova" and movies such as "Event Horizon." The movie "Interstellar" really blew my mind, employing the latest optimistic ideas of black holes as proposed by expansive modern cosmologists.
Its actually the notion of time travel, alternate universes and relativity that fascinates me, having had some vivid and specific dreams come true, I've had an dark obsession with the idea. 
I believe there are universes in our minds, black holes and singularities in our psyche where all known rules don't apply. There are quantum particles, radiation, imaginary time, relative time and places where the past, present and future happen all at once.

Recently, I think I've come to terms with my musings on time travel, realizing that time is just an illusion and the present moment is all that matters and all that really exists.  I've also come to the conclusion that anything could happen and if the future is uncertain and we are jumping from one probabilistic future after another, grace can only be obtained by finding ease in every situation and not by testing our power to see what we can and can't change. No matter what paralell universe I'm in, the real question should be, did I live it to the fullest or did I spend all my time wishing I was in another parallel universe?

If I ended up with someone else fifteen years ago, would life be better? Would I have different children or would I be alone? Would I love them as much as I do the ones I have now? Of course I would. I wouldn't know about the alternate reality I am in right now. What if I chose a different career path? Who knows where I'd be now. 
This is when knowing about every choice and every probability that could ever exist in our lives can lead to nothing but drama and suffering. I'm starting to realize that true maturity comes from learning to be happy with whatever choice I make and whatever time and space I happen to encapsulate.
Once we realize that time is an illusion and that the present is the only moment that exists, the idea of changing the past and future becomes absurd. When one realizes this, one is enlightened. 

Only someone who has great control of their mental faculties could possibly use his/her mind to time travel. By then it wouldn't matter because what does changing the past or future matter to one who is already enlightened and one with everything? The only reason we want to change the past or future is because we have attachments, egos and other such issues. An enlightened being has no issues. Someone who is ruled by the ego might want the power and glory of time travel. Someone with emotional attachments may want to go back in time and right a wrong or change something they are resentful about. 
One who is enlightened doesn't have to worry about any of these things because in order to obtain great spiritual and mental strength, he/she must let go of the ego and of emotional attachments. Therefore, if learning to transcend time and space requires complete control and mastery over one's mental and spiritual faculties, the whole striving towards wanting this power comes to a halt once we have it. We no longer want to use it.

This is how I came to terms with realizing I could dream the future as a little girl. I wanted to see if I could control my visions and figure out if I could truly know which dreams were of the future or if they were just dreams. What if all my dreams were just alternative realities, portals to lives I would have lived if a I made a different choice? I used to go crazy trying to figure it all out. Then I realized, I could just let it go and enjoy the adventure.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Wolf and Whale Spirit Animal... Shamanic Journey Log continued

If you've been keeping up with my writings, you may know that I have been using Shamanic journeying a lot this past year to help me meditate. You can read more about it here:
I've been logging a lot of my journeys and most of it has been in my private journal but I have shared some insights with my readers. Much of this past year has been about exploring what the raven had to teach me and she's helped me find out of box solutions to many problems. She's also encouraged me to keep journeying and uncovering the many dimensions I have failed to notice in my past. This blog is dedicated to the whale and the wolf who I have spent a lot of time also trying to understand.
At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to come to terms with two different sides of my personality that seemed to be at odds with each other. I put the goal out there and it seems that I found the solution through my soul searching. The wolf, who I briefly met during my journey with the raven has helped me with this immensely. I see the wolf all the time and I don't have to be in a trance to find her. She appears anytime I'm about to do something stupid--my protector. 

There are times when I hated her for it. I must admit that due to my upbringing and some genetic trait, I have always butted heads with authority figures--always the non-conformist. For some reason I saw the wolf as that, some authoritarian part of me who nagged me to be good. But through more self awareness and meditation, I realized that the wolf was only protecting me from elements that would prevent me from being the person I truly was and truly wanted to be. The wolf knew my soul, even though my own conditioning or immaturity sometimes failed to follow the path I have chosen. The wolf and I have done some bonding, some real human to animal bonding. I have not thanked her enough for saving me, for scaring away those who wanted to pull me down from a higher place into the gutter. I realized that there's a difference between letting go and being stupid; and giving into temptation is only fun if its a temptation that gels with my truest desires, and not the desire of a dysfunctional culture or flawed idea.
I’ve become more affectionate with the wolf and I realize that she is my split personality. Really, she’s only trying to protect me. She knows what my higher power really wants. Given my background, I could have ended up really messed up if it wasn't for her. I've found peace with her and peace with myself. I realized that the only reason why I've wanted to do some of the stupid shit she has saved me from, is because I wasn't loving myself enough. At one time, she was just an image who swore to protect me. Now I pet her and play with her. We have a relationship that I'm learning to nurture.

The Whale Log:

I met up with a group who practices Druid Shamanism. We did a journeying meditation inside a chamber of the Stone Henge (another story). I went into one of the chambers, having no idea what would happen but my subconscious roots brought me back to my spirit animals and I found myself swimming in an ocean. At some point, I convinced myself that I could breath underwater. Then a huge whale came. It must have been 30 times bigger than me. I latched on to its enormous body and let it  move me through the ocean. It was an amazing ride, through calm waters, powerful tides and over immense waves. The water had a strong power to move me but I also had the ability to swim and move within it. The whale indicated to me that my emotions were the same way. I could allow the water to move me, motivate me, inspire me but I also had some control as I mastered the art of swimming and diving. It was up to me to decide how to control the immense power of water.  The whale swam to a giant beating heart in the middle of the ocean floor and I latch on to it. This is all I remember.

Journeying has given me a method in which to speak to the wiser parts of my subconscious or perhaps even the consciousness of nature and the universe. It has helped me find courage and clarity in an ever changing and confusing world and it has helped me come to terms with parts of myself I didn't always know how to face. I think that if we are ever to get passed the places where we are stuck, we have to search deep down inside ourselves and explore the shadows that many dare not enter. I realize that it isn't everyone's path but I respect all paths that anyone takes to becoming a better person and overcoming one's obstacles.

For more adventures into my subconscious, check out my experience with the dragon, who taught me about oneness, here:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Four Definitions of Love

Everywhere I look, people are confused about "love" but as I grow older and wiser, the true meaning becomes more and more clear to me. So today I thought I'd clarify some confusions about love by sharing the four main types of love that people talk about. You can read about them and decide for yourself which love you are feeling and which kind of love is worth fighting for.

There is the love of infatuation. This is what some call a genetic trick of the mind to get us to spread more sperm. It is the love that poets write about the most because poets write about what they don't understand. This is a blinding, obsessive love that we have no control over. It is not evolutionary. It rules our subconscious and lower senses and it confuses us completely. It doesn't make the world go round but it does help propagate the species. It is like a fairy serum that keeps us drunk to reality. Infatuation is something we all go through, a right of passage that could lead to either healthy, genuine love; or narcissistic love. Its something that just happens, something many wish would happen to them. Often, it happens at the wrong time with the wrong person.

There is narcissistic love. This love makes us think that another person is an extension of ourselves. We extend our ego to them and believe that anything they do is done to us. Co-dependent love is the same as naracissitic love because it comes from insecurity and lack of having a sense of a self of our own. When one believes that his only role is to serve another, that he is only good for providing for his lover or being his house wife or husband, he is not admitting that there is more to him than a role he plays for her. When one expects the other person to be there for her only and to be a servant, she is basically saying that she is not whole if he is not identifying himself with her. One becomes so obsessed with filling a role, that he feels trapped and ceases to grow. There is a lingering feeling that something is missing. This is the love of people who suffocate one another and people who stalk one another. This is the love of people who kill one another out of jealousy. A narcissistic lover can't be happy if there isn't someone there to constantly feed his ego. A narcissistic lover can't empathize with her lover or think selflessly about what is best for her lover because she is too wrapped up in her own needs. This kind of love does not make the world go round. It is a prison, a selfish love that destroys the self and the self of the other.

There is genuine, committed love. This is when love ceases to be a noun and starts to become a verb. Love is something one does, not something one feels. This is when one looks at another person and decides to be there for him, through thick or thin not because one has to but because one wants to. This is a love of choice, not something that just happens. Genuine love is also respect, sacrifice and compassion. One looks at another and wants her to be the best person she can be, not just for him but for her sake, for the sake of how she will serve her family and society. We know that love can not grow if we do not evolve with it. We provide attention, nurturing and time as one does when one tends to a garden so it can grow in a healthy way. We do not see this nurturing as a chore but as a rewarding meditation and an act of joy. In doing this, the relationship grows spiritually. This kind of love creates healthy bonds, healthy children and healthy communities. It takes a strong self to show this kind of love because commitment takes risk. One knows she could lose the other at any moment but she decides to love him anyway and allow him to be free to be who he is. Putting one's narcissistic needs aside requires him to be a better person so he evolves as a result. Because there is freedom to be who one is and enough maturity for development, one feels constantly fulfilled and happy. This kind of love helps the world go round because the time one puts into it brings its own reward. It develops maturity, wisdom and growth.

There is universal, spiritual love. This is when one looks at all things deeply and with respect and kindness. This love is the philosophy of people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. This love branches out to all people equally and has no prejudice. This kind of love successfully won the civil rights movement, has ended the cycle of violence, has rescued endangered animals and has inspired communities to help others who are in need. This love warms the heart and elevates the soul. This is the love of forgiveness. This is a love we should all strive towards. Not only does it make the world go round, it creates positive evolutions and higher states of awareness. It is the key to enlightenment and the true bliss we think we want when we are hit with love of infatuation, only spiritual love is not an illusion but universal truth, a profound realization and the highest goal of the soul. Like, committed love, it takes work, tending and commitment. It is something we do to make the world a better place, not something we are entitled to. This love is what keeps us from destroying each other as a species

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I'm the Evil Twin. ;)

When I was in college, I dated a man who seemed to be obsessed with pagers. Pagers were all the rage back then but I didn't own one. He kept saying things like, what do you think of pagers? Aren't they annoying? Do you have one? You don't? Are you sure? It was the weirdest thing. He also kept asking me about my whole name and if it was a popular name in my native country.

When we came to the end of our romance, right before we broke up, he asked me sincerely if I was seeing someone else. When I told him I wasn't, he confessed that he had a friend who was dating a girl with my exact same name. He described her to look just like me and we went to the same college. He said the only difference was that his friend kept saying that this girl was "hot for his jock" and that his friend kept having to page her. "I don't have a pager," I said, finally realizing why he kept asking me about them. By then, I think he finally believed me but that didn't matter because I had lost interest in him. I'm not good with boys who beat around the bush and can't be direct. Apparently, this had been bothering him for a while.

But the real subject of this blog is my doppleganger, the other girl who looks just like me. I know she exists because people always go up to me asking if I was at some party or telling me they saw me at a store or gym where I never was. People I have never met before act as if they know me. My overactive writer's imagination has entertained the idea that I have a twin and we were separated at birth. Due to some error, we were both given the same name. My mother said that when I was born, she got discharged from the hospital as fast as she could. She said that babies with pale, pink skin like mine were rare. Someone suggested that maybe I really was stolen. Maybe my mother saw us twins and decided that it was too much for one mother to have and that should at least get to take me. I knew my twin was out there somewhere.

The other explanation is that I have split personality disorder and that I go out and do things without remembering. This is why people say they've seen me at places I haven't been and why I date guys I've never heard of. Its possible.

I do like the twin idea, though. My writer's imagination thinks of what I could do when I finally meet her. We could take a vacation from our lives and trade places like "The Prince and the Pauper." We could show up to functions we don't want to be at. We could make weird youtube videos and tell everyone we used technology to make it look like there was two of us when there really wasn't. I've entertained ideas of making love to my twin, to finally feel what its like to be with myself the way my lover describes it to me, to touch breasts that are just like mine and kiss lips that are just like mine. Oh what fun we would have together!

I can't really say I've made an effort to go out and look for her. A google search revealed to me that there are many woman with my exact same name and they all look a bit like me (Lacey Reah is my pen name) Still, its fun to imagine and maybe one day I can write a story about my split personality or my mischievous twin.  :D

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Early Memory of Compassion

One of the earliest memories I have is living in Manilla. I must have been less than 4 years old because that’s how old I was when my parents moved away. I remember there being many stray animals that we tried to bring inside but my parents always caught us and told us to get rid of them. My dad always claimed to be allergic to animals. I even remember hiding a kitten or puppy behind the couch but my mum yelled at me to get rid of it.

I remember the torrential downpours and thunderstorms, nothing like the dry weather we get in Southern California. I remember some newborn kittens lying in our porch. I remember there being two of them and they were wailing in the wet rain. They were so tiny, only inches long. My brother and I watched and I wanted to save them. I remember how desperately I wanted to save them but my parents strictly forbade it. I watched them suffer from the shelter of our door. My brother and I put a handkerchief or napkin on top of them and watched as it disintegrated in the rain. Eventually, our parents made us go to bed. When I came back the next day, the orphans were gone.

I can recall it as if it were yesterday, the feeling of being small and helpless. I know that compassion is innate. I felt it when I was so young. My sense of compassion and curiosity was bigger than fear and apprehension, though I learned to fear things a few years later--even animals. I recall the feeling of wanting to save something smaller than me, of wanting to nurture something, even though I was so small and helpless myself. But I couldn’t do it because there was a larger authority forbidding it. I went against all of my instincts because a larger authority told me “no” and I had to obey.

I was just a child. These days, I’ve quit jobs and risked my own reputation to do what I felt was right. I hate the feeling of helplessness. I’m an adult now. I don’t have to bow down to someone larger than me. I can do things for myself. Yet, I see it all the time, adults allowing bad things to happen because some authority figure tells them not to do anything. It happens in companies, clubs and in science experiments. Our greatest sin is our fear of judgement, of authority and of other people. Because of this fear, people get beaten, raped, cheated and killed. Witnesses stand by and watch helplessly when they could do something. They don’t. They’re afraid.

This is why I’ve made it such a point to conquer fear. Without courage, no other moral has value. Action takes courage. You can’t do what is right or what you want if you are afraid. You can say you are a good person as you watch your peer rape someone in front of you without the strength to stop them. Without courage, what good is that supposed goodness?

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”
--Maya Angelou

I wrote another blog on this subject many years ago here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No Dancing Allowed

I moved to New York City in 1997 without a penny to my name and with the fool notion I would get a job within a week and pay my way through school. I managed to succeed with a lot of hard work and very little sleep. Those were the golden years of the city. The internet boom was just about to start. Mayor Gulliani just came into office. The broken window policy was being enforced and crime rates were at an all time low. Meanwhile, the economy was getting better and time square was being transformed from a theatre district full of sex and strippers, to a tourist area with stores, restaurants and larger, more mainstream theaters, thanks to the Disneyfication of the area.

I witnessed a lot of alterations during those years. I still saw a lot of crime and homelessness but I saw a lot of excess and wealth as well. One memory that sticks out for me was the "No Dancing Allowed" rule that was starting to be implemented in bars and clubs everywhere. It sounds like a joke now and it sounded like one then as well. The city came up with a cabaret license and unless your club or bar owned one, dancing was strictly not allowed. There were "no dancing" signs posted everywhere. Some of them were very anti Gulliani. They stated, "no dancing allowed thanks to you know who."

I checked out one of these bars, which was known for its music and it had one of those anti Gulliani signs posted. The funny thing is, the music the bar was known for was New York swing music which is basically dance music. People started showing up to swing dance. They started swinging their arms and legs, grabbing their partners and twirling them around with furious glee. It was not your typical romantic dance, or even a fun dance. It was a rebellious dance. I saw staff members walk up to dancers and tell them to stop dancing, that it wasn't allowed. How did they respond? They danced faster, harder, in the face of all authority. It was fun to watch, fun to experience.

How, I wondered, can you put a license on dancing? How can you tax a person for tapping their feet or moving their hips? It was the most absurd law in my mind. Yet there it was; a law against dancing, smack dab in a world renown performing arts capital. Oh, and the rebels; they didn't protest calmly or march angrily. They danced hard, passionately, defiantly.

I can very much relate to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novella, "My Lost City." I lived in the ghetto, partied with the rich and watched the city go from rags to riches, to rags again. I only lived their for five years. By the year 2000, the economy was booming. Everyone had a job and everyone told me to take advantage of the good fortune while it lasted. By 2002, the market crashed badly and we had been bombed by terrorists. If New York had a personality, it would be Bi Polar. One day its gritty and poor, another artsy and rebellious. On one day its wealthy and opportunistic, another its retreating into fear and prejudice after the greatest terrorist attack that every hit the U.S. bombed thousands of its dwellers. I saw it happen but that's something else.

Before the darkness, there were good times, almost an innocent time -- if New York city could ever be thought of as innocent. I remember young, energetic people dancing hard and fast, rebel dancing over an absurd law. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Thought You Were Different

I remember this very well so it must be significant. I was at a college party where there was lots of music, pot and clicks. I can't say I felt entirely comfortable there. I sat down and started talking to some guests at the party and we formed a little circle. I think they felt as uncomfortable as I did at the seemingly entertaining milieu of the place, when really there wasn't anything interesting going on. I just wanted to talk to people who weren't just trying to look cool and for a brief moment, I found them. As the party progressed, I did something quite stupid, as we sometimes do when we are young. Then someone who I barely knew, someone who I just met at that party said to me, "I thought you were different."

It was a passing comment, something someone I can't even remember said in the middle of a very complicated night but I remember that most of all. I never took the time to ask myself why this was so significant until now. I remember feeling quite offended. Who was he to say he thought he knew me? He talked to me for maybe fifteen minutes at the most? I can't even remember what he had talked about, what his name was or what he looked like but I remember him saying that he thought I was different.

So today I'm wondering if a stranger could really "know" a person as he said he did. And who are we to say we are different? We are all special, yes, just like everyone else. Maybe I didn't want to be different or maybe I did. I never understood people who wanted to be like everyone else. I recall a line in a movie where the hero said that he just wanted to be like everyone else and the love interest said, "so you want to be petty and dishonest?"

Or perhaps what really got me was that this man who barely knew me turned out to be wrong. I did something to disappoint him. I wasn't different after all. How horrible is that? I was very embarrassed about what happened at that party but looking back, I doubt anyone really cared, except maybe for a good reason to gossip. Yet here was someone who barely knew me that I managed to disappoint. Could a perfect stranger care in this deep of a level? Maybe I care what people think of me after all. I thought I didn't. I didn't care what people thought because most people just want to judge or gossip but here was someone who thought I was different, who had expectations of me. He wasn't a parent or a teacher or any other authority figure, yet he had expectations. Why? Even now, as I use this subject as a thesis and as a focus of contemplation, I still don't get it.

I was raised to be very independent and growing up, I did everything on my own. I never thought it noble to care what other people thought. I have always had that John Wayne, cowboy, Wolverine mindset. Raw individuality always became me and its only now that I have a family, a business and a career that I see the importance of other people in our lives. Perhaps this is why I'm reflecting on what happened. Maybe its time for me to look back and see how my more mature self views what this young man said so long ago.

Maybe it does matter when someone sees something special in us. Maybe other people's expectations can make a difference. Maybe, looking back, I did get help along the way although I thought myself so independent. While I followed my heart, struck out on my own, payed my way through school and lived the dream, there were some people who encouraged me. There was my high school acting teacher who simply told me I was a genius. My high school English teacher told me I marched to my own drum. My boss who hired me even though most kids who were bum poor, paying their way through school dropped out and moved back home within a few months. When I told him I was having a hard time reaching some merchandise on the top shelf of the stock room, he simply said, "I don't think there's anything you can't do." I didn't care much for my boss, but I'll never forget that he said that. I remember when someone says that I am the person I want to be and I guess it does mean something now, when my clients tell me I've changed them for the better. So, when I disappointed this young stranger at a party, I guess I never forgot that either. Truth is, I disappointed myself. I am different... but we are not our mistakes. We are who ever we want ourselves to be and we have to keep reminding ourselves of this.