Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Rescue

On Thursday May 9th, 2013, I was driving to my final Healing II class out of a 4-class session. I was in high spirits because it was our graduation night. The classes have been amazing and changed my life for the better.

As I exited the 405 at Hawthorne Ave to enter Torrance, CA, I noticed my lane ahead was blocked by a stranded motorist who was putting gas in his truck. Everyone was moving around him to the right lane and the cars in the right lane were letting us over, one at a time.

As I maneuvered my way around the stalled truck, I got a glimpse of a person laying on the ground, half on the curb and half of their torso and legs hanging out into the middle of the busy intersection. From the angle of the person, I couldn't tell if it was a man or woman, or if they were dead or what. The person's head was covered by both a coat and an arm. It certainly didn't look good that this person was laying there like that. The car in front of me got dangerously close to the person's feet. A surge went through my body, I had to act. I had to do something.
(NOTE: This is NOT the person that I saw, just a similar example to how he looked dead laying in the street)

Before I tell you the extraordinary events that followed my decision to act, I want to share with you something else...

Back in March, I stumbled across a video on Facebook that shook me to my core. It is a video that I wish I could un-see, but it is forever seared into my memory. The video is color surveillance footage of what appears to be a marketplace alley somewhere in China. You can see a small toddler wandering in the street. Suddenly, a truck hits her and stops. Instead of getting out to check on the child or help, the driver continues to run her over with his back tire, slowly. As if watching that wasn't gut-wrenching enough, I began to sob as I saw THIRTEEN people walk or bike AROUND her bleeding body. A second even larger truck runs her over again. I had such a physical reaction to watching the video that I nearly threw up.
How could this be? How could people walk around a bleeding child that is still flailing her little arms and appearing to still be alive?? Eventually, a woman sees the child and drags her out of the street, leaving a large blood trail. Later, another woman rushes over and grabs the child. It's later reported that the little girl died of her injuries and it showed the mother crying hysterically and collapsing. I cried for the child, for her mother, and for that whole country really. I wish I could have been there to save her. This video lit a fire under my ass at the same time. It has added to my motivation to start waves of change in people to reenact compassion and helping efforts. If that country's citizens have gotten so out of touch that people pass by bleeding children, it could happen here too.

Here is the video, but only if you can handle it:

Flash back to today. I saw the person's feet nearly get hit by the car in front of me, and my heart just about leapt out of the window, because the image of people driving around the body of the little girl flashed into my mind. How long had the person been laying in the street like that? How many people had driven right past this body? I pulled into the first parking lot nearby, put my purse in the trunk, put on my wings, and went to investigate the person laying in the intersection. Why did I wear my wings? Because people need to see the messages that I have taped to the back of my wings to back up my actions of what I was about to do. The message taped to the back of the set of wings I put on says, "Be Kind. Help Others. Be Giving."

I passed a man who was holding a "Payday Loans" sign, and his huge sign accidentally clipped my wings as he swung it around. He apologized and then watched me as I approached the body on the ground. As I got closer, I could see it was actually a rather large man. He looked to be over 6 feet tall and over 200 lbs. I only weigh 100 lbs, but I was determined to help. He looked dead, and homeless. I put my hand on his shoulder, gave him a little shake, and gently asked him if he was okay. He sort of opened his bloodshot eyes and kind of mumbled something inaudible. I proceeded to grab his legs, one at a time, and swung them up onto the curb. My efforts were impeded because the man's back was up against a metal street sign, and the way he was laying at an angle to the metal pole made it very difficult to keep his legs from falling back into the street. As I was struggling with his legs, he kept rambling things I couldn't understand and he'd swing his legs back out into the street. I decided I would then try to coax him into getting up out of harm's way, but he was clearly wasted drunk; an empty vodka bottle laid next to him. I kept trying to get his body out of the street, when suddenly a man on a Harley motorcycle pulled up beside me and asked if I needed help. I said, "Yes!" so he parked nearby and came to help me. The man who'd been holding the payday loan sign also came over to see what was going on. Between the three of us, we managed to talk the homeless man into letting us help him. The homeless man, while trying to rant about something, also seemed to almost break into tears. He put his arm out, and I motioned to the Harley man to help grab his other arm. With Harley man on his left, and me under his right arm, we hoisted him up, and he walked to a safer area. I thanked the Harley man and the sign man, and started to walk back to my car. The sign man walked along with me and starting talking about how he used to be like that: homeless and strung out on drugs, but he'd gotten himself clean and was trying to work, but that he'd still have to go panhandling after his shift to make some money to eat dinner. Now, I haven't been in the best shape financially since the cost of living in LA is so high and my health costs related to my busted foot and skeletal misalignment have kicked my butt, but my heart went out to sign man (he later told me his name was Dante) and I went to my car to fetch $10 to give to him. He looked like he almost cried when I handed him the money and he had to compose himself. We talked for awhile, and before I left him to head to my class, he said to me, "Girl, you're an angel, and you don't need them wings to prove it."

I couldn't be there in that marketplace alley to save that little girl that day, but I could help save a man today from suffering a similar fate.

Go forth and look for ways to help others.

~Mandelyn Reese
The LA Street Angel


Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Calling

Video version of me explaining my calling:

My name is Mandelyn Reese, The LA Street Angel. Maybe you haven't heard of why I am wandering around Los Angeles and other cities in an angel outfit. I can say it's attributed to a "calling" that one can only fully understand when they have experienced one also. But I will do my best to describe mine to you.

I moved to Los Angeles from San Antonio, TX back at the end of June 2012 to be with a boyfriend (that I ended up breaking up with pretty early on). On my second day living here, I went to an outdoor sandwich shop in Marina Del Rey with my friend Claire, whom I've known since kindergarten. Claire had flown in with me to hang out for my first week here. As we were sitting outside, eating our sandwiches on the nice patio amongst many patrons quietly interacting, I began to feed the birds with my sandwich crumbs. As I fed the birds, other people began to notice what I was doing, and began to participate. A business man, who was wearing what appeared to be designer snakeskin white shoes, got up, went to get some bread, came back to his bench, and began to happily feed the birds too. Then a woman and her child came to join in: the little girl began running around happily amongst the birds and we all were chatting peacefully. My friend Claire looked at me with a certain curiosity and said to me, "Mandy, you have a ripple effect on people."
Claire and I cruising on the 405 in her rental car the first week I lived here :)

After we drove away from the sandwich shop, I remember The Calling just hit me like a bolt of lightening, and I suddenly blurted out to Claire that I felt like I was supposed to be out on the streets with posters about kindness. She looked at me like I was nuts. It was priceless. We casually discussed it as she drove, but it wasn't until after she flew back to Texas, that I really began diving into that calling. It was like I had downloaded what I was supposed to start doing. I developed the idea to dress in white like an angel because most people would recognize that outfit as a messenger of peace. Ironically, I got this calling upon moving to the City of Angels. In case you didn't know, here is a little trivia for you: The city name Los Angeles means "The Angels" in Spanish. However, the city's original full name was "La Ciudad de la Reina de los Angeles" which means "City of the Queen of the Angels".

I began ordering wings and outfits online and preparing my posters. I had no idea what was going to happen or how people would respond to me, but I took the leap of faith and acted on my calling one day: August 17th, 2012. On that day, I walked out to a random intersection near my apartment in West LA in my angel outfit, in full view of a busy Starbucks with an outdoor patio full of people, and stood there trembling. I was new to the area, had no friends, and was debating whether or not I was crazy for what I was doing. But it was a calling that hit me so hard, beyond space and time, that I couldn't deny or ignore.
One of the pictures taken on my first day doing the Angel Project


I would like to share with you a great analogy that I've taken from one of my favorite movies, "Angus", that is one way of looking at my plan and what I'm doing with the Angel Project:

Angus: "I'm trying to prove that within every normal system, there exists an aboration. Something different. When a small, abnormal element is forced into a larger, normal system, the element will either be rejected, or destroyed. But it doesn't have to be that way! If the element is BRAVE; If the element can hold out long enough, and face the torment of the system until the system's energy is depleted; If the element can look the system in the eye and say, "I'M STILL HERE A$$HOLE!", then the system with HAVE to change, adapt, mutate. And if this happens, then it will prove my f**king point!: There is no normal."
Climatic Scene about "Being Normal":

~~So how that paragraph applies to my Angel Project is that I am a small, abnormal element, who sees that change is needed in the world, and I want to be brave and take a stand. I want to do my best to infiltrate this jacked up system with messages about matters of the heart and mind amongst this world's citizens.

Another great movie quote I'd like to share is from a movie called "The Faculty", in which a small town school is taken over by aliens in an attempt to take over the world. The quote is this: "If you wanted to take over the world, would you take out the White House, Independence Day style, or sneak in the back door?" (Independence Day is another movie about aliens blowing up the white house and trying to take over the world).

~~How this applies to my Angel Project is that I want to help effect the everyday people, even if just one person at a time, because getting people re-connected and being kind and helpful to each other again is where change has to start. Basically, I'm planting the seeds of goodness into each individual who is exposed to the simple, universal messages of love, kindness, peace, happiness etc... And that relates to my final quote for this passage:

“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”

― Lao Tzu

~Mandelyn Reese

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Miracle at the Post Office

I would like to share with you an experience that meant a lot to me; it's about acts of kindness by strangers that really touched my heart.

January 2012, I had to run to the post office to send a birthday gift to one of my close friends.
Now normally, such a task wouldn't be that big of a deal, but you see, I had a fresh boot cast on my newly injured foot along with crutches. I had a stress fracture in my right foot and it was very difficult to get around on the crutches. It was tough enough trying to carry my purse around on my shoulder, much less a package. I ended up having to switch to a backpack purse during the time I had my crutches.

After almost busting ass just going down 3 stairs from my front door to to my car, my roommate put the package in my car for me. Driving was difficult since my gas-pedal foot was a clod-hopper, but I managed.

I drove the 5 minutes to the nearby post office, and once I parked, I realized I had no idea how I was going to get to the front door with the package and open the door. This was a bigger ordeal than I had anticipated! I opened my car door and fumbled with my crutches. I decided that I would use just one crutch to wobble in on while holding the package under my other arm. It was an epic struggle and hurt a lot only using the one crutch.

I made it up to the front door, and someone opened it for me, thankfully. I walked in, and was shocked by how incredibly LONG the line was!! It wasn't any special holiday, and it wasn't even NEAR a holiday. I couldn't figure out why the line was so bad; I snapped a photo of the line on my cell phone because it was like the twilight zone.
I was standing there gawking at the line, struggling to keep my balance, because it was painful to put all my weight on my uninjured foot, when an old woman in front of me offered to hold my package and stand in line for me while I waited in my car. I gratefully accepted her offer, and I checked with the guy in line directly behind me to make sure he was cool with saving my place in line, and he agreed. So I wobbled back to my car and sat there with my car door open and my crutch leaned up against it.

As I sat in my car waiting, out-of-the-blue, another old woman appeared next to my car door and asked me if I needed help. She actually startled me a little since I was in deep thought about how kind it was that the people inside the post office had helped me like that. I explained my predicament and told her about the people inside who were holding my package and place in line. The second old woman said she would go check on the status of my package for me and let me know. After a little while, she poked her head out the front door and waved at me, so I grabbed both crutches and went in while she held the door open for me. I was able to go right up to the counter because the guy let me back in front of him in line, and the old woman put my package on the counter for me.
Because of the kindness of strangers, I was able to complete my task and get my friend's birthday present in the mail on time.

On my drive home, I broke down into tears because I was so grateful for their random acts of kindness that day. That incident really made me want to help others even more.

"Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you."

~Mandelyn Reese