Sunday, November 17, 2013

Questions to Ponder

It feels like everything is a test. What do you do and choose in those pivotal epic moments in life?
Do you act? Do you lie? How will you respond in a crisis situation? Will you do the "right" thing? Will you fall for the temptation? Do you choose career over love? Can you be patient? How much pain can you tolerate?

It only gets more challenging as each veil is lifted, layer after layer. The tests get tougher to bear, over and over again until you get the lesson.

What is the truth? Really the only thing you can really trust is your own personal experience. Can you ever really trust others? You can be presented with so many different beliefs, ideas, and do you decide what you ultimately end up believing? Is it because you were raised with certain beliefs that make you think they're true? Is it because people you love or respect gave you the information? How can you ever really believe what you see and hear in the media, books, and from other people? Do you just have to "walk blindly" and go with what "feels" or "sounds" right? But if thoughts create feelings, how can you even trust your gut then? Sometimes it seems like feelings create thoughts. Or is your gut just responding to subconscious thoughts? Do thoughts and feelings work interchangeably then, creating each other sporadically? Where do thoughts and ideas come from?

You know how when people have a heart attack, the emergency services workers put paddles on the person's chest and zap them with a violent volt of electricity to bring their heart back to life? With that in mind, where does the shock of electricity come from that activates the heart of a fetus?

Can we even fathom the scope of how much our pasts affect our present? Including past lives that most people aren't even aware of and that no one can recall all the moments of? We can't even recall every detail of everyday in our present lifetime. We remember the most epic moments that were special or wrenching to us.

It's so easy to backpedal when things get tough. It's so easy to give into temptation.

Why is lying so easy for some people and hard for others? Why is lying sometimes so easy at certain times compared to others? If one of the commandments is "thou shalt not lie", should you still tell the truth when you're faced with a life-or-death situation? Such as my story about "Bravery and Mace"? Is it okay to lie to save yourself from harm or an attacker? How come the truth can feel and be so gut-wrenching to tell others? How do you know which is the right choice when telling the truth can cause your family to turn against you, people to want to harm you, and people to talk harshly about you? How much of the truth is right or appropriate to tell? Why should or why are we required to tell the truth to our court systems when they are determined to condemn us and take away what little freedom we have left?

Freedom is an illusion. We're all in chains, just not all of us are behind bars.

~Mandelyn Reese

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Good deed gone...wrong!

During my first week living in Los Angeles (end of June 2012), my friend Claire and I were running around Los Angeles in her rental car exploring and running random errands related to my arrival in this new Wonderland. (If you haven't yet read my blog about "The Calling" it would explain Claire and my how my Calling struck me on the 2nd day.)
 Claire and I my first week in LA in her rental car

At one point, Claire decided to stop at a CVS store to pick up a few things before we went to the beach for the first time, just to lay out in our bikinis on towels in the sand. I had a boot cast on my foot still from my January 2012 stress fracture. I had been in and out of that damn boot since the injury. My foot kept having flare-up pain, and the packing and moving to Los Angeles made my foot throb, so I put it back in the boot. When we parked at CVS, Claire got out and seemed to haul ass into the CVS. Maybe it just seemed like she was hauling ass because I was slow and limping along behind her. You can read about my foot injury in this blog: "The War Vet"
                                                             My boot-casted foot

A homeless man was sitting right next to the entrance to the CVS with a backpack. He was looking down at the ground solemnly, looking really weary and worn out when Claire passed him. But once I caught up and began to approach the entrance, he looked up at me and asked, "Do you have any food or something to spare?"  He caught me off guard, and I just said "No, sorry" and went along into the store. As I wandered around the store, I thought about the homeless man, what he had asked me, and the way he had asked it. There was something in his voice that made me believe that he was genuinely hungry. He wasn't just your everyday guy asking for money. He had asked for food, and it sounded like he meant it.

I went to the grocery area of the store, and located a ham sandwich and bottle of water in the refrigerated section. I bought the food items, some sunscreen, and a new blue Los Angeles towel to take to the beach. As Claire and I exited the store, I handed the bag containing the sandwich and bottle of water to the homeless man, saying, "Here ya go." His reaction was worth so much more than the food. He looked so surprised, and happy when he peered into the bag. He looked up with big bright eyes and exclaimed, "THANK YOU!.. THANK YOU!". Claire saw the whole thing.

The next day, Claire and I walked next door from my new apartment building to a little shopping center nearby to check out a little thrift store on the second floor, just to see what they might have. I found a wall shelf that I wanted to buy, and the lady took a long time to ring me up because it was a new register and she was trying to figure out how to use it.

While I patiently waited for the register lady to ring me up, Claire disappeared out of the store to go explore the rest of the shopping center or something. Once I took the elevator down and ran back into Claire, she reported a crazy story:

She said that she'd come upon a homeless man hanging out in a walkway near the stairs, and she'd decided to buy him some food. She'd gone into a little convenience store in the shopping center and bought him a sandwhich and, get this....A BEER!!  I was like "Omg Claire you bought a homeless man a BEER?! What were you thinking??" LOL
She looked down with a mixed look of shame and dismay, and added, "A cop saw him with the beer and gave him a ticket for having it on the premises!" OOOOMMMMGGGG
Talk about a good deed backfiring!

Lesson: Don't buy the homeless any alcohol, for more than just the obvious reason!

I know Claire meant well with her action. My opinion is that I felt really bad for the homeless guy. He can't even enjoy a gifted cold beer on a hot summer day without a cop harassing him. I wish the cop could have given the guy a break. How's he supposed to afford paying a ticket when he's homeless anyway??

This incident caused an interesting ripple affect. One could argue that my good deed for one homeless man indirectly led to an unfortunate incident happening for another homeless man!

~Mandelyn Reese
The LA Street Angel

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kindness, such a simple word

I was asked to write a blog about kindness for World Kindness Day, which is November 13th.

Kindness. Such a simple word. Kindness can be a lot of things. It can be holding the door open for someone else. It can be pitching in or paying for someone else's tab if they're short on money for their bill. It could be as drastic as saving someone out of a burning car. Kindness says you care.

Kindness is one facet of love. Love is the highest trait of Spirit and Soul. Spirit is what is in everything and connects us all in the universe. Soul and Ego are what we possess inside that makes us our own unique specimen within the whole. Love comes from Spirit, which is pure. Hate comes from a contaminated mind. We are taught and exposed to fear and hate. When you are kind to someone else, it sends the message to them that you are aware of them and care about their experience. I wrote a few blogs already on some Acts of Kindness that I personally have done. You can find them here: Random act of Kindness ; Day of Giving ; The Rescue ; Doing the Right Thing ; The Epic Healing

The main reason I started out trembling on a street-corner in Los Angeles dressed like an angel to promote kindness on a posterboard, was to get people reconnected; to be kind to each other again. Common courtesy seems to be fading, along with caring about the welfare of other people. If this continues to degrade, more chaos and hate will result. Why don't we all start realizing that we're like one big ant bed of humanity on Earth, but we're so disconnected and disorganized despite being such a highly-advanced species, that we're destroying our home. Earth, nature, and other species are suffering because of our ignorance and lack of cohesion.

Everywhere you look are people who are stressed out and going through all kinds of difficult things in their life. If you took any one person, you could probably make a movie out of their life story. We ALL go through tough things, we all go through scary things, we all have moments where we don't understand why life is treating us this way. Life in this realm is meant to teach you things as a soul entity through a human experience. You have been given a body that is your soul's vehicle for this lifetime on Earth.
Maybe you've heard the expression "Life is like a game of cards." In so many ways, it is. You are dealt a hand of cards: your body, your family, your characteristics from both your DNA and how you are raised. "Nature versus Nurture"...both result in who you are today. Life and other people can hand you additional cards throughout your existence in the form of events that happen, and opinions and advice from others. But ultimately, it is how YOU play your own cards. You are gifted with free will. It's your choice how you deal with, perceive, integrate, and react to the things that happen to you and the information you receive. Appreciating the things you DO have is the first step to more happiness coming from within yourself. The happier you are, the more you can share it with others around you.

Where kindness comes in, is understanding that everyone is going through the same basic thing: struggling through life to learn their lessons and evolve, and to be considerate of others around you. Creation and cells are in constant evolution, everything is always changing. It doesn't matter how rich or how poor someone is, they can be going through hell on earth. Every journey is unique. Even identical twins born at the same time will have two different journeys. They won't have the same relationship or bodily experiences. You never know the full extent of what someone else is going through; what is happening in their life or mind. Their mind is what is shaping their experiences beyond what life presents to them. Each one of us is a unique specimen on this earth, just like each speck of sand is unique when placed under a microscope; yet all together the body of sand creates a beach. All people are a species of humanity. If we were all blind, our physical differences wouldn't matter so much, we'd relate so much differently and really "see" more into a person's soul.

Kindness says "Namaste". The literal meaning of Namaste is "I bow to you", but in the spiritual community, when you say it to someone else, it means "I honor the place in you where Spirit lives. The light in me acknowledges the light in you". We're all struggling to find our way, our purpose, our meaning. Some people have just lost their way. Some people have no idea who they really are. Some people have been so abused, that their minds don't function optimally. Some people have medical conditions from either birth defects or accidents during life that alter their life experience. Everything has a purpose, everyone has a meaning.

I got really deep on this subject, but to wrap things up for now, I'd like to encourage others to be more aware of the plights of the people around you. Put your cell phone down more often and really BE in the moment. Pay attention to your surroundings. You're missing out on life and possible human connections that are meant to further your journey.

Remember to say "please" when asking for something from someone else. Remember to say "Thank you" when someone does something for you. Kindness and gratitude will do more for you in the long run than selfishness and rudeness. Be a nicer driver: don't honk unless you absolutely have to, and if you do, make it a short little beep. You affect everyone around you when you honk, not just the person you're honking at. I know I've been startled numerous times from other honkers who lay on their horns excessively or meanly at someone else. Use your blinker/indicator turn signals when you drive, that is a very basic common courtesy! Look for ways to help others around you. If we all show more kindness and work together more, we can evolve as a species in a more positive way.

Mandelyn Reese
The LA Street Angel