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This is hard for me, as I’m about to reveal an unflattering little truth about myself. As it happens, the American Idol audition bus is in town and filming auditions for next season at our state capitol, which is where I work and take my daily walk. As I was walking today at lunchtime, I passed a young girl near the location of the auditions, clearly happy and enjoying herself. The second time I passed her someone was filming her, and as I walked by she looked at me and said, “You’re going to see me on American Idol, just wait!” Now, of course to her face I wished her good luck, but my actual thought was, “Yeah, honey, in your dreams.” Immediately, I was ashamed and appalled. This is a young adult going for her dream. Why shouldn’t she feel this way? She has courage and probably talent, and is certainly more confident than I ever would have been had it been me. So I had to ask myself: “when did you get so cynical?” After thinking about it, I realized that I’ve been thinking that way for quite awhile. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a kind and compassionate person; I feed the homeless and stray animals (I now have three cats and I don’t even like cats that much); I go out of my way to avoid conflict; I have always supported and encouraged fellow artists; and I would never say anything so unkind as the thought that went through my head today to anyone’s face. But, somewhere along the way I’ve become hard, bitter, a pessimist, and that’s troubling, as I was always a pretty optimistic person growing up; usually happy, always looking on the bright side or finding the silver lining. The awful truth is that so much of the world is a harsh, negative place, and I think I’ve let that change me. I don’t want to be bitter and negative. I want to see the beauty and potential in people. So I’ve made a vow to myself to change my thinking, to stop every negative, unkind thought in its tracks and counter it with a positive one. Because the world can be so harsh and negative, it’s what we need: to lift each other up in encouragement and light. Join me?