Before I ever went to a community college, I had to make up several deficits in my learning. I had to take remedial math as well as remedial English. I passed both and was then permitted to take regular classes which include journalism studies and just as important, the school’s extra-curricular activity of working on the college newspaper.
I began as a reporter for The Communitarian. The paper used my by-line on every story I wrote, and by my second year at DCCC, I was named editor. Well, I believe my military training must have kicked in because I started to publish an edition on a weekly basis. You were lucky to have it published once a month until I took over.
I got a new pair of hearing aids, and a new world of sounds has opened to me!
I wore ‘em outdoors during a walk on my 10,000-steps-a-day journey, and the first thing I noticed was the sound of birds chirping merrily in the trees I walked under. They had to have been communicating with each other because as soon as one stopped chirping, another one seemed to follow up in response.
The following is Gabriel’s Message as channeled by my good friend Cyndi Smith:
Your soul does not completely fit inside your body. Some of your soul remains in Heaven in what you call your higher self. Much of it is here inside of you but the part that overflows your body is called your aura.
The authentic human voice is a thing many writers strive to capture. Few can claim to have succeeded. Contos, however, very much has earned that badge of honor. The text is home to an authentic and powerful narration that still, in its honest humanity, grounds itself in the humble approach to one man’s life and what that life means.
I don’t often cry over books. It’s not that I can’t, it’s just something that very rarely happens.
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Vietnam War Recall”
Like many other young men of the time, author Michael Contos found himself in the military, headed to a turbulent region of the world to protect democracy. After completing Officer Candidate School, Michael was deployed to Vietnam to lead a platoon of infantrymen on missions while evading the formidable Viet Cong forces. Here, he describes the worst day of his life that led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a debilitating condition that would threaten to consume his life and linger for decades; a day so jarring that he would not talk about, even with his family.
Upon returning home, his experiences in combat haunt him, so he seeks the help of spiritual leaders to help relieve the symptoms of PTSD. The story is told in the first person through flashbacks, introspect, and excerpts from the author’s blog. Through the narration, readers get a glimpse into the personal turmoil that many of our veterans face after combat.
The best part of this book is the intimate and emotional description of PTSD; a young leader, not afforded time to grieve or debrief from his experiences, lives with the nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety that seem to permeate every facet of his life. These intense feelings are captured clearly by the author. I also love the way the daily humdrum of military life is portrayed, and the descriptions sure bring back memories for this veteran. The cadences, the euphoric feeling when you realize your parachute is perfect, and the anticipation of the return to the United States (DEROS) is very real indeed! A little humor, typical of military camaraderie, is also peppered into the pages of the story; I had to chuckle when I read about some familiar but important advice: never crap alone in the field!
Although the messages are powerful, the book does seem a bit repetitive at times. Other than this, there is nothing negative to say about the story, its purpose and voice are truly a gift to an audience who does not truly understand the realities of war and its crippling effects on our young servicemen, not only the ones who gave their lives but also those who returned bearing unseen scars. I happily give Vietnam Recall: The Best and Worst Days of My Life4 out of 4 stars for these reasons. The book appears professionally edited and is divided into chapters of appropriate length.
I particularly recommend this book to readers who love historical accounts of war and those who seek insight from a primary source about mental illness. Those with family members in the military will appreciate the insightful glimpse into the psyche of those who have chosen to defend our way of life. There is some moderate profanity, along with explicit descriptions of trauma and wartime peril; those sensitive to these topics may not want to read the book. For all others, the book is a penetrating account of one man’s journey towards healing and peace. All who read this story will undoubtedly be moved by the author’s gipping words as he relives the most difficult moments of his life. He speaks for the countless others, who remain silent.
It took me more than 50 years, but I finally published my Vietnam War story and the toll it took on me after leading a combat infantry platoon as a 21-year-old first lieutenant in the US army.
I self-published with the help of editors who wrote the back cover description. They used a mug shot I had taken some ten years ago while attending a PTSD meditation clinic at Omega Institute for veterans and their families. The clinic introduced me to different forms of meditation that allowed me to eventually deal with the trauma and view the war experience in a more benign and compassionate light.
“Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading →
It was Saturday morning, May the 19th of 2012. I awoke that early morning feeling well rested. Since the beginning of the new year I had started working Monday thru Thursday, having Fridays off. In the past, when working a full week my Saturdays were spent sleeping in and catching up on the many hours of sleep lost during the week. Continue reading →
My second wife stopped breathing shortly after they placed her in the emergency vehicle en route to a hospital some eight years ago. The day was six-months to date of her first bout with an emergency wagon when she fell in our Conshohocken, PA, home suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
She remained in a coma for more than five days then. This time, however, they were more certain that she would not recover from her latest, unplanned date with Miss Fate. A nurse or a social worker at the Hospital suggested I contact a priest to say the last rites for Wendy. Continue reading →
My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Parkwhen I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.
At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.
Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading →
Julie traveled all the way from Chicago and came to the Lotus Flower Island with a question about her life’s purpose. By the time she left the privately owned spiritual retreat, there was no doubt whatsoever that she found the answer she was looking for.
She’ll return to this rustic hideaway hidden away off the mainland of South Korea and, remain there, devoting herself to serving others from around the world who are searching for similar answers. Julie’s newfound happiness will be in helping others suffering from too much technology and not enough love. Continue reading →
I’ve been to some ten different Buddhist temples in the mountainous regions of Korea taking in the rustic, centuries-old magnificent works of art and spiritual creations of man. I felt uplifted when entering doorways that millions, perhaps billions, of others walked through in search of peace and calm on their way to a potential enlightenment.
None however, have inspired more of a majestic feeling inside than the new WON Center in Seoul, Korea, where a bolt of soft and pure lightning once again struck me with what I can only describe as a divine presence that’s humbling and elevating at the same time. Continue reading →
Korea awaits me next week as I travel more than a thousand miles to find myself and discover reasons why I am still here on planet earth.
Yes, I’m joining a group from Philadelphia, New York and Chicago that will fly to Seoul, South Korea, to take part in the centennial celebration of the WON Buddhism founding by its master on April 28th, 1916. Continue reading →
Describe three sources of inspiration in your life that keep you aiming to be a better you.
— Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s Free 21-day Meditation
My calling in life is to help others come closer to the Light. I firmly belief that we all came from the Light, and that we all want to return to it. I want to share my experiences with the Divine so that others can see how Love’s energy can raise from life’s difficulties a simple schmuck like me.
If I had a magic wand I would wave it and remove all of the hate in our land. It would take away the hurt all felt throughout the ages of man from the beginning of time when Cain killed his brother and when a stupid Esau sold his birthrate to his brother Jacob for a lousy bowl of soup. Continue reading →
One doesn’t have to go on a diet to lose the excess weight of a lifetime of living. All you need do is to lighten your mind, get rid of burdens carried from childhood when the trauma of difficulties and missteps caused you to stumble and lose faith in your God-given direction.
“Lighten up,” is what someone told me once, and that is exactly what I have tried to do after experiencing Holotropic BreathWork and listening to the new “Weight Loss” meditation offered by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra today. My struggle has ended and from now on, I will be harmony with me, myself and I. Continue reading →
My host in Freiburg, Germany, escorted me and her husband on a shamanic journey as we laid on the carpeted floor in their guest room and she guided us to the “lower world.” She drummed for a good 15 minutes, never letting up the beat as she walked around us covered by blankets with eyes closed and our hearts open. Continue reading →
The shaman applied pressure with his fingers and thumbs to the side, back and front of my skull. He told me to let him know if he caused me any pain.
I felt some discomfort, but it wasn’t intolerable and so I said nothing and let him continue the process as I sat in a chair in front of more than a hundred people attending the symposium on “What is Healing? – Archaic Traditions Meet Ways of Experiencing Modern Consciousness Exploration and Psychotherapy.” He was the principal speaker, having taught the participants to dance and sing in two large circles in the room where we had met. Continue reading →
Don’t take my word for it. Scientific research has discovered that the active conditions of anxiety and agitation causes unhappiness. Becoming quiet and stilling the mind lowers blood pressure and relieves the stress that’s produced in our busy lives. Continue reading →
I feel like the character in a comic strip who has had a cloud over his head with nothing but calamities and obstacles blocking his every move. No matter what he did, he’d be thrown off stride, be it from a torrential rainfall or an avalanche along a sunshine-filled pathway. Continue reading →
I got the best sleep I’ve had in years last night and I owe it all to treatments I have received for not only what ails me, but what has been blocking my lower brain from connecting with my upper brain.
For the past five days, nothing greeted me when I got out of bed.
There was no ache, no pain, no reminder of how bad my back has become after so many years of walking, running and standing on this earth. Not to mention, jumping out of an airplane five times, landing badly my first parachute jump and hiding it from the military instructor who would have kicked me out of jump school had he suspected I injured myself. Continue reading →
I’m enjoying life and and feel a peace and calm I didn’t know I’d ever experience again. It’s like falling in love for the very first time. I look forward to each new day filled with hope and a smile for whatever life presents to me. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, I envisioned what the coming year would be like in a “Vision Board.” I got together with a small group and pasted magazine pictures and bold 48-point type letters to a cardboard placard showing what we would like to see enfold in 2016.
I placed the Vietnam War book at the top, adding lots of spiritual and meditative symbols along side of it. On the bottom line I pasted “Love to Travel” and displayed two large pictures of my son and I on a cruise to Alaska some two years ago.
Little did I know then that writing about the war would take a backseat while my traveling plans would enlarge and grow immensely! Continue reading →
The word, “Contoveros” in Latin means “Singer of Truth.” I didn’t know that as a child when I learned that it was my father’s real last name. Someone at Ellis Island shortened it to “Contos.” One of my wives once told me that the new word means “Short.” Continue reading →
“Think before You Speak”reads the sign that my new best friend gave me for Christmas. She thought of me when seeing it, she said. She knew how many problems I have had with boundaries. Or, rather, lack of boundaries. Continue reading →
Reiki, the universal life energy, opened me to one of the most vivid dreams of my lifetime last night. And as my Reiki teacher once told me, “Write down your dreams . . . There could be a message in store for you.” Continue reading →
“What am I doing here?” I asked myself as I sat in a cushioned chair with some 50 other people early this morning on the last day of 2015. I was here at the invitation of a woman I hardly knew, a minister, that enticed me to join the world in a planet-wide prayer for peace. Continue reading →
I experienced something scientists have labeled “Post-Traumatic Growth” twice in my life and some forty years apart. Both led to major changes in my life and a new look at life like I never had imagined it to be. Continue reading →
I didn’t know how much joy there could be in grief until sorrow encompassed me and a warm flow of unconditional love spread throughout my entire being. Someone I knew experienced a death in her family and it hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks when I learned of her demise . . . Continue reading →
Mental illness scares the shit out of me. The very term conjures up images of some crazed guy with wild, straggly hair and a demon-like smile of malevolence. Steven King kind of comes to mind when I think of someone who might be a little touched in the head. A Stephen King character, that is. Not Stephen King. Continue reading →
I love my cousin Betty Ann. She’s a few years older than me but I warmed up to her just as my adolescent hormones started to bubble up as I visited her at her farmhouse in New Jersey years ago. Continue reading →
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
Brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
— Marianne Williamson
( My good friend MaryCatherine shared this and I am shining it for you!)
I know very little about New Age holistic energy and healing. Yet, I believe that some force beyond my understanding has arisen in my life and I’ve become the beneficiary of something mystical. Continue reading →
When was the last time you read a book where you had to stop to digest what you just took in because you wanted to savor what you felt?
And then while resonating with it, you get a warm glow about yourself; you feel lighter, more connected with the world and so happy that another person can put into words what you know is so true? Continue reading →
Why is it that I find myself sticking my foot into my mouth everytime something good comes my way? Why do I screw things up so badly? What curse have I created in some past life for me to resolve through some kind of karmic debt that I must repay in this lifetime? Continue reading →
Reflections opened a new world of understanding today. Years after a traumatic event, I can look back and see things in a totally different and healing fashion.
I couldn’t do it when the shit was happening. It hurt too much.
Even five or ten years after the trauma, I’d get sweaty palms and a sped up heartbeat when thinking about the worst day of my life. I couldn’t dwell for too long without having to relive the God-awful experience. Continue reading →
I fall to my knees everyday and give thanks for at least three things that I am totally grateful for. I usually include my son and at least one of our cats, but also acknowledge the advent of a new day as well as a nice new warm bed and the person who invented the heater to keep all of us warm. The cats included! Continue reading →
No matter where I go, Philadelphia will always go with me. I’ve taken the old neighborhood to combat in Vietnam as well as to the wailing wall in Jerusalem. I let it shine in the courthouses of Philadelphia and the one and only house of pleasure I visited in Panama.
Yeah, I’m from Brewerytown, an old German-based section of Philadelphia that families of beer-makers settled in a small enclave of the City of Brotherly Love. Brewerytown is near the Philadelphia Zoo on Girard Avenue and not too far from the Eastern State Penitentiary where Al Capone once lived in a section called Fairmount. Continue reading →
I remembered what love once meant to me and I thought I’d share it with those of us who might have forgotten it.
I’m talking about the love that hits you upside the head when you’re not looking; the type that won’t let you think of anyone else besides him or her; the love that you wish your lover would feel but you’re too afraid to hope for a schmuck like yourself. Continue reading →
I believe that all of us are placed on this earth for a purpose, and the aim for us in life is to find out what that purpose is!
We don’t usually seek the answer right away. Most put it off until some calamity forces us to find answers to life’s most important questions. Why am I here? Why am I in this body? Who am I, really? Continue reading →
“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, and more desolation. Some of these young men think that war is all glory but let me say . . . war is all hell.”
American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman
“Unclean” is what my second wife said about an aspect of my spiritual journey that I shared with her. I must have scared the hell out of her because she looked shocked and confused. I didn’t mean to hurt her or make her upset.
But the words she used went straight to my head before I dealt with it in my heart. Continue reading →
I grew when meeting four people Monday who helped me expand my consciousness in ways I had never knew existed before. Someone introduced me to the Fifth Dimension, while another invited me to a New Age exhibition in Bucks County where light-workers of all shapes and sizes would introduce newbies like me to new and exciting pathways to Nirvana. Continue reading →
Death doesn’t seem to scare me as much as it used to. I mean, I see it as a transition, and not an ending. In some ways, it will be a welcome “new adventure” if you think about it in spiritual terms.
No, I’m not talking about heaven and hell like the Catholic nuns and priests preached to me as a kid at St. Ludwig’s Roman Catholic Church where I served as an altar boy and wanted to be a priest until I discovered girls. I’m talking about a transition to a “way station,” a place where your spirit — or soul — ascends to meet with higher spirits or what some might call Ascended Masters. Continue reading →
You wanted more and I couldn’t give it to you. I was seeking love, romance, and someone I could be committed to. You simply saw me as a “one-night stand.” Someone you enjoyed being with for an hour, a night, or just one day in the life of two ships like us meeting briefly on a night at sea. Continue reading →
Musical refrains from Rock & Roll songs helped get me through the Vietnam War. I didn’t know all the lyrics of the songs, only those short parts where I’d stop what I was doing and raise my voice in unison with the lead singer. Continue reading →
Reiki melts away stress. That’s how it works on me. I feel parts of my body easing up, relaxing and “collapsing in” on themselves, if that is possible or, rather, imaginable. I liken the feeling to the green-colored Wicked Witch of the West who, when splashed accidentally with a bucket of water by the Tin Man trying to douse a fire engulfing the Straw Man, the personification of evil in the Merry Old Land of Oz declares, “I’m melting. I’m melting.” Water melts away the bad, and Dorothy is proclaimed all that is good. Continue reading →
Summer always served as a “new beginning” for me when I was in the army. I got drafted on the Third of June and did my Basic Training in the hot, dry air of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I can’t tell you how many push-ups I did during the two-month training session as the meanest drill sergeant I ever seen brought fire to my poor soul by running me everywhere and cussing me out to force me into fighting shape. Continue reading →
Much of what I know about war was what I learned while playing as a kid. You know, using a stick or a broken branch from a tree, I’d pretend it was a rifle to shoot the bad guys who were out to get me and the rest of the good guys in my old neighborhood. Continue reading →
When I write, I try to tap into the child within. I try to “feel” something that I can share with another, be it humorous, educational or shocking. I have stories to tell from my past that brought me to this point, and I think they may help another to feel what I feel and to take action even if that action is simply to refrain from acting or even thinking.
All of my legal career involved defending someone charged with crimes or offenses against the law. I worked 20 years as a lawyer, trying more than a hundred jury trials, winning more than half of them.
But to be honest, my first taste of arguing the law came not as a defense lawyer, but as a prosecutor, one appointed by some colonel to bring charges against a buck private who broke a law and faced a summary offense for some minor infraction.
Closing my eyes, I open all my senses to group meditation!
The smell of lavender and a hint of myrrh greet me as I walk into the meditation room. I had not expected my sense of smell to be the first one to experience such a warm and inviting welcome. I should not have been surprised. The olfactory system is the first sensory organ I usually use, and I’m not too proud to state I am usually lead by the nose. Continue reading →
I believe that I have become a “spiritual soldier of fortune” and would travel anywhere my heart beckons me to learn, to pray and to find answers about the universe.
I got an inkling of this calling when I was a teenager. It came about when I was 18, just out of high school and experimenting with grass and LSD. Timothy Leary enticed me with his message in the 1960s, advising all to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” I turned on and tuned into the message, but couldn’t afford to drop out because I was from a working class family that saw work as a way out of poverty and into the middle class. Continue reading →
If you didn’t know it by now, science supports the claims made by Abraham about the Law of Attraction and how it could help revitalize your life from this moment on.
That’s the word I got attending a workshop when a physicist met with Esther Hicks and explained how aligning with the Source, rather than resisting it, is based on the law of physics. “We knew that,” Abraham said speaking through Esther Hicks. Undaunted, the young man of science said that he realized it only after studying what the Law prescribes for all mankind. Align yourself with what you truly want in life and keep positive thoughts on achieving your heart’s desire. If you can imagine that happiness your achievement will provide, start with feeling that happiness now. Don’t wait for a result. Feel it in your gut, yor marrow, your very soul. Continue reading →
“You don’t need to work when you are meditating,” Abraham told a young woman who was called to the stage to question the spirits about issues she was facing Saturday. She was among some 15 persons who shared the “hotseat” at the Renassaince Hotel near Philadelphia’s International Airport for a workshop.
The message resonated with me and I hope everyone of the more than 500 in attendance took it in and will try the 15-minute exercise once a day to see how easier it can be to get in touch with the Source energy within. Continue reading →
I met Abraham up close and personal yesterday and I learned the universe had called me to study the Law of Attraction as voiced by Esther Hicks, the one who channeled for the spirits guiding us back to the Source within. Continue reading →
Ever wonder what you can do to be more like the person you always aspired to be? You know, the one you hoped you would grow up to be, but didn’t get the chance because life seemed to hit you upside your head and throw you off course? Continue reading →
I dreamed a lucid dream for the first time in my life last night.
I’ve tried to experience a lucid dream– one where you tell yourself in the dream that you are dreaming — for more than five years after reading about dream interpretations by Carl G. Jung, the eminent psychiatrist who studied with Sigmund Freud. Continue reading →
I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I know that it’s my fault. I walked out on you believing I could get along without you, without your guidance without your help. Without your love . . . Continue reading →
Seeds planted in the 1960s have flowered, and the Age of Aquarius has finally dawned on the world, awakening many of us to a new way of living, a new way of forgiving. The first signs of this new enlightenment began in the 1990s as the Berlin Wall fell, God revealed secrets in the Celestial Prophecy and the mystical Wisdom of Kabbalah was made known to non-Jews and all women, regardless of age or religious backgrounds. Continue reading →
The person who had the biggest impact on my life was my second wife. She had a 157 IQ, but never once acted as if she was better than me. She easily got angry at injustices, and would on occasion lash out against the hypocrisy of politicians, while helping the underprivileged and the rights of women in a male-dominated society. Continue reading →
A Viet Cong sniper was trying to kill me. Some motherfucker hiding in the trees, the bushes, the triple-canopy jungle had just shot at my platoon. I thought he was shooting randomly, despite the debris from the ground, grassland and other tiny bits of rock that struck me from a bullet’s ricochets.
No. he was aiming at no one but me! It’s taken me more than forty years to figure that out. Continue reading →
A spirit touched me today. Or, rather, the spirit touched the pair of jeans I had worn the day before and left on a chair after removing them before going to sleep. When I awoke and put the jeans back on, I got the surprise of my life. Continue reading →
The guru then made the following announcement, quoting the feminine deity: Moor Jani:
We all have the capacity to heal ourselves as well as facilitate the healing of others. When we get in touch with that infinite place within us where we are Whole, then illness can’t remain in the body. And because we’re all connected, there’s no reason why one person’s state of wellness can’t touch others. Elevating them and triggering their recovery. And when we heal others, we also heal ourselves and our planet.
The train ride from home to the hospital was one of the longest trips of my life. I just knew I was going to die. I figured that the surgeon could not remove all the cancer during my operation 10 days earlier, and it finally struck me: I am a cancer victim!
The doctor never called me with the results from the operation in the Veterans Hospital of Philadelphia. I spent five days and four nights there, mostly recuperating from the surgery. When I left, I had hoped to hear from the physician, but she didn’t call. I believed she was afraid to give me the bad news over the phone. Continue reading →
Good enough is the lazy man’s way to enlightenment . . . There’s nothing more to do . . . Your job is good enough . . . Your spouse is good enough . . .Your life is good enough . . . Your meditation practice is good enough. . . You don’t need anything more, and what you now have is good enough. — This is all according to a young monk, – Ajahn Khemavaro, who spoke on Impermanence, in a 2008 presentation, “Everything Will Be alright.” Continue reading →