Writing Naked

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“You have quite the internet presence,” said the woman on the phone who interviewed me six months ago for a part time position.  “Well, this is complicated,” she continued. “I think you are exactly what we are looking for, but I’m not sure what I think of what you write. The topics you write about, you know? Granted, it’s not fair to judge you based on your writing vs not having the same criteria for all the other applicants. It’s just I’m more comfortable hiring someone whose beliefs and ideas are unknown to me.”

I put down the phone in stunned silence. I told my hubby what happened. He said, “Well, you obviously are not getting that job.”  And he was right. “Just let it go,” he said. That was six months ago.

I did think, well, if she thought the content of my blog and web sites were controversial ( I don’t see the controversy), wait till she reads my novel. They would have fired me for sure, if I’d been hired.

Yes, I do have quite the internet presence, but hey, I’m out there trying to connect, trying to make a business, trying to share my inner sanctum with others who might benefit. I think it’s altruistic, in some respects. Does it make me vulnerable to scrutiny? Yes, and I knew this when I finally got the courage to write and put it out there. So what is the problem?

The problem is… this is the first thing I have written in six months. All editing, plotting, character development, research and blog writing came to a crashing halt. You don’t want to see me when I’m not writing. It’s not pretty. This is devastating to me and I am the one who is keeping me stuck!

“Do you stand by your writing?” hubby asks on the one hundredth conversation about the same topic.  Of course I do. “Then this is a no-brainer, just start writing again and don’t let anyone slow you down.” God love him, he doesn’t get it.

I walk around in this state of malaise, passing by the proof of my novel on the desk, the dust covered storyboard of the next novel in the works, and think – is this what life is all about? That’s when I know I’m in deep doo-doo, when I realize my daily writing has become a once in a six month event and I’m contemplating the meaning of life – again.

It’s easy to tell my clients to do reality checks on those insidious thoughts and hidden emotions. It’s even easier to help my expressive writing clients work through their writing blocks and put their life on the page.  Oh, therapist, heal thy self. It’s not like I don’t have the skills.

This is where the nude writing comes in. I thought my problem is that I felt vulnerable and exposed as a result of that ridiculous phone call six months ago. Even though I was already willingly vulnerable and exposed, having it brought to my attention somehow changed things.

Hmm, I often tell my clients to embrace that which causes us pain instead of hiding or running. So, I’m embracing feeling vulnerable and exposed. The next step is called flooding. It’s where you find a situation where you feel really uncomfortable with what ails you and work your way through. I can’t currently think of any situation other than writing this blog naked to feel totally exposed and vulnerable. So here I am writing again!

Am I naked? Hell no! Its sixty-four degrees in this house and the heater is not on! Do you think I’m insane?  Which brings me to my last point, the imagination is an amazing tool. In a world of pure imagination you can conquer just about anything – and you get to keep your clothes on.

Finding Balance in a Hectic World

“Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.”

These are some of the lyrics to A Day in the Life by The Beatles and written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1967. Even back then the essence of a life on fast forward was established. If that was fast forward, today we are in hyper-speed. People are burning out, relationships and families suffering and our best friend is sometimes Facebook.

People often ask me how to balance all the crazy movement in their lives. They have too many responsibilities for too many things or too many places to be, without enough time to get there. Perhaps, not enough time to finish projects either at home or at work. The list could go on. Any crisis or transition in life upsets the apple cart and chaos happens.

My answer, altered a bit per person, is basically the same. Easy to tell you, yes I know, but developing these with practice into your way of thinking will ease your troubled mind and fatigued body.

Here is what I tell them:

 

Pay ATTENTION, be AWARE, have ACCEPTANCE
Pay attention to you. What are you doing and why? What is driving you to have the schedule or responsibilities you have? Are you a person who can’t say no to something? Are you trying to impress anyone, a parent, a boss, a significant other? Are you afraid of the consequences if you slow down? Are you over compensating for something else or trying to give your kids things you never had and believe they must have? Are you caught up in the idea of more means better? What drives you? What behaviors are you doing because of that drive? Is it realistic and healthy or is it killing you?

Be aware. Notice the behaviors you do over and over and get negative results. You stay up too late and can’t get motivated in the morning for example. Are you a creative, right brained person trying to fit into a left brained system without tools to help you compensate? Do you always get a double espresso and curse yourself for feeling jittery and snapping at people? Do you sign the kids up for too many activities and fine you live in your car and everyone is always exhausted? Do you believe you have a crystal ball or can mind read and try to base your decisions on faulty logic? We all have mindless behaviors. Behaviors we do all the time that cause us more harm than good. Be aware of them. Take a few moments every day (doesn’t have to be long) and mindfully explore a different, better way of doing something. Also, be aware that everything you think, feel and do are because of you and not someone else. Take total responsibility for your actions.

Have acceptance. Accept this is who you currently are and this is your life. It is yours of your making. Even if things have happened to you that have shaped your life, it is still yours. Accept what you can’t change and strategize a way to make the best of what you have. Harping, complaining, griping and gossiping are all maladaptive, often harmful behaviors. They typically accomplish nothing but more negativity and skewed realities. Remember the Salem witch trials?

Stop judging yourself or others for mistakes, thoughts of should have, ought to, must, have to, bad, good, stupid, idiot are all judgment words with lots of power. You don’t need them. They don’t help you or anyone else. All they do is add negativity and weight to your already haired life. You have a problem, accept it and be proactive in solving it to the best of your ability with what you have at this moment. This moment is all you have. The next moment may not be here. It’s now or never. You don’t like what someone else is doing, let it go. Getting angry and yelling at the driver ahead of you for going slow is your problem not theirs. Yelling at them won’t correct the fact that your behavior made time so tight an incident will flip your apple cart.

In essence, what I try to teach is to be mindful not mindless. Celebrate each moment. Find something good in everything even if on the surface, even if it’s not evident. If concentration camp survivors and prisoners of war can find enough positive thoughts to keep them sane, so can you.

Take five minutes today and sit someplace quiet, preferably with nature. Observe with your eyes, ears, nose and skin. Really pay attention to the stillness in the storm of our current society. Believe it or not, it is possible to have degrees if not complete stillness in our culture. You have to want it, look for it within you by becoming aware of who you are and what you want. Deciding what is really important to you. Be aware of the conflict between what you really want and what you are doing. Accept this is who you are and what your life is like now and start to strategize to make mindful decisions about it.

It’s your life and your responsibility. Own it, live it. Life is short and no one can take it with them.

ATTENTION, AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE, BE MINDFUL NOT MINDLESS, LET IT GO

Do You Believe in the Supernatural? If You Are a Christian, Your Answer Better Be Yes

Jesus said, Leave all Behind and Follow Me

The definition of Supernatural is: The manifestations or events attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. Another name for supernatural is Paranormal.

(NOTE THIS IS NOT A DISCUSSION ON IDEOLOGY VERSE THEOLOGY.  It is not a discourse on scriptural analysis.)

What does the supernatural have to do with Christianity, everything. Without the supernatural there is no God, prayer, miracles, and the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament mean nothing. They are all fairy tales in a reality where there is no such thing as the supernatural.

If this is the case, then why are so many Christians afraid of stating that they believe? It’s like having a big, pink elephant in the middle of the room. You cherish it, care for it and when someone asks you about it, you say, what pink elephant? I don’t believe in pink elephants.  That’s absurd!

I often come across people who claim to have never had an encounter of some kind with a supernatural event. I think this is sad as it tells me; they have never experienced the joy or healing of the spirit of God – the answer to a prayer. I have to wonder why these people pray in the first place if they don’t believe in supernatural events. Why go to church and sing songs, recite stanzas, and listen to someone preach about things that don’t exist?

Yet people do these things every Sunday and still say to me, there is no such thing as the paranormal. Many have judged me, dismissed me or were weary of me because I have no problem standing up and saying, yep, I know there are things out there I can’t fully explain, a reality I only see glimpses of, the God realm.  To me, God is not dead and has never stopped talking or interacting with humans. Isn’t that the Christian way?

There is a difference in the way Protestant and Catholics handle some aspects of dealing with the supernatural. Specifically I am addressing the ideas of hauntings, possessions and poltergeists. The thoughts range from; all of this is demonic trickery, spirits visiting or lost in purgatory, to God’s allowing of souls to return to deliver messages of hope or visions to the living.  Either way, do note, it’s all the supernatural. It all boils down to, God is so far above what we as humans can possibly comprehend, that anything is possible.

Therefore, in order to be a Christian, you have to believe in the supernatural, the unbelievable. (If you need Biblical verification, check below this article. I have put together all the passages I could find in the Bible demonstrating this very cornerstone of the faith.  Change that, it is not the cornerstone, it is the entire building.)

According to U.S. Catholic magazine, belief in the invisible and the visible is necessary and sprits are a part of the tradition. This article entitled, Paranormal activity: Do Catholics believe in ghosts? By Tim Townsend, further states, “Ghosts confirm, rather than refute or disturb Catholic theology of the afterlife.”  This is a quote from Boston philosophy professor Peter Kreeft.

If it makes you feel any better, according to recent polls over half the people in the United States believe in spirits and supernatural events. Those are the people willing to acknowledge the big, pink elephant in the middle of the room.  The others have conversations like,

“Well of course I’m a Christian. Jesus died and was raised from the dead for my sins and salvation.”

Then you do believe in the supernatural?

“No, absolutely not. You don’t really believe in that stuff, do you?”

I sigh.

Why are people hiding their light under a bushel? Is it fear of retribution from society? It can’t be fear from God, because that completely goes against the stance of there is nothing supernatural out there.  You can’t fear what does not exist. You can’t believe a man two thousand years ago died and came back to life if you don’t believe in the supernatural. It’s not rocket science.

The theologian, John Newton is stated as saying, when someone claims to have seen a ghost, “it is highly complex… I certainly see no good reason, all other factors being equal; to deny that someone who claims to have seen a ghost has not had a genuine experience of some sort. The question then is what sort of experience has occurred.” (from the article of Tim Townsend in U.S. Catholic)

Should Christians denounce and run from supernatural occurrences? If we did, there would be no more revivals, no being born again, no faith healing, no answers to prayers, no angels visiting, no visions or dreams from the almighty, no concepts of heaven or hell, no worries about demons, nothing to draw our attention toward the unknown, the magnificent yet unseen forces at work, no light of God in any form. In fact, if we ran, if we denied, are we like Peter and the rooster that crowed three times?

Stating a belief in the supernatural does not mean you understand what mechanisms are at work or the meaning behind such events. People have been arguing, fighting, maiming and committing horrible atrocities on each other over such questions.  This group separates from that group and dogmas and doctrines are written. Each schism pushes the family of God further apart.

Do you believe in the supernatural? It’s that simple. Can we agree to disagree on the language used and philosophical bent pertaining to a society of ants trying to comprehend the nature of the shoe coming down upon us? If you really think about the fact that God created all and has the ability to form so perfectly the laws of nature, DNA, molecules, why would any of us be so arrogant as to assume we know the reasons why? We are not that dissimilar to the ant.

Do you believe in the supernatural? Can you grasp that the chair you are sitting in is nothing more than a complex array of billions of tiny atoms moving so fast you see them as a chair? Science can talk to us on the nature of a chair. What it can’t do, is take us back to the very essence of belief. Something started it all and that something is beyond their ability to understand in the laws of nature – it’s supernatural.

Bible references:

There is an unseen entity, all knowing, all seeing who created all of reality, seen and unseen (God)

  1. Enoch did not die, but ascended to be with God, Genesis 5:19-24
  2. Noah’s flood, Genesis 7:9-12, 17-24
  3. Judgment of the Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1, 5-9
  4. God speaks to Abraham
  5. Sarah’s conception of Isaac, Genesis 21: 1-8
  6. Angels blind the Sodomites Genesis 19:9-11
  7. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah Genesis 19: 15-29
  8. Lot’s wife turns to salt, Genesis 19:24-26
  9. Moses speaks to a burning bush and claims he is talking to God, Genesis 3:1-15
  10. Ten plagues of Egypt Genesis 7-13
  11. A pillar cloud led the Israelites by day and a fire by night Genesis 13: 21-22
  12. Parting of the Red Sea, Genesis 14: 21-29
  13. Manna from heaven, Genesis 16-17
  14. Moses speaks climbs Mt. Sinai and God gives him the Hebrew letters and the laws of God, Genesis 19-20
  15. Miriam is made leprous and is healed, Numbers 12:10-15
  16. Aaron’s rod blossoms, Numbers 17:8
  17. People are healed by looking at a brass serpent ,Numbers 21:6-9
  18. Balaam’s donkey speaks ,Numbers 22:21-35
  19. The Jordan river divides like the Red Sea Joshua 3:14-17
  20. The Arc of the Covenant and the fall of Jericho Joshua 6
  21.  Angels appear, Judges 2:1-5, 3:8-11, 6:11-24
  22. Gideon’s fleece, Judges 6:11-40
  23. The story of Sampson ,Judges 14 -16
  24. The ghost of Samuel appears from the dead 1 Samuel 28:15-20
  25. Elijah is fed by ravens, 1 Kings 17:2-6
  26. Elijah raises a widow’s son from the dead ,1 Kings 17:17-24
  27. Elijah prays for rain and God sends it, 1 Kings 18:41-46
  28. Elijah parts  the Jordan river, 2 Kings 2:13-14
  29. Elijah raises a child from the dead, 2 Kings 4: 32-37
  30.  Elijah heals many, 2 Kings 4
  31. Elijah feeds hundreds with 20 loaves of bread and 20 ears of corn, 2 Kings 4:42-44
  32. Elijah does not die, but is carried off to heaven in a chariot of fire,  2 Kings 6
  33. Isaiah has visions,   Isaiah 1-6
  34. Jonah story, Jonah 1-4
  35.  Warnings to not contact the dead ,1 Samuel 28:3-20; 2 Chronicles 10:13, 14; Isaiah 8:19-22

NEW TESTAMENT

  1. Angel appears to Zacharias, Luke 1:11-19
  2. Angel appears to Mary, Luke 1:26-38
  3. Angels appear to shepherds, Luke 2:9-15
  4. Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost Matthew, 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3: 21-23
  5. Temptation of Jesus and Angel ministry, Matthew 4:11, Mark 1:13
  6. Jesus turns water into wine,  John 2:1-11
  7. Jesus performs miracles ,John 2:23
  8. Jesus heals the sick nobleman’s son, John 4:46-53
  9. Catching an over abundance of fish, Luke 5:6
  10. Casting out unclean spirits,Mark 1:23-25, 4:33-35
  11. Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law,Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:30-31, Luke 4:38-39
  12. Jesus heals the sick, Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:32-34, Luke 4:40
  13. Jesus heals and casts out demons, Matthew 4:23-24, Mark 1:39
  14. Jesus heals a leper,  Matthew 8:2-3, 1:40-42, Mark 5:12-13
  15. Jesus heals a paralytic,Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:3-5, Luke 5:18-20
  16. Jesus tells the apostles to test all spirits that come to them, 1John 4:1
  17. Jesus heals an infirmed man, John 5:6-9
  18. Jesus heals a man’s hand, Matthew 12:9-13, 3:1-5, 6:6-10, Mark 3:1-5, Luke 6:6-10
  19. Jesus heals many people, Matthew 12:15, Mark 3:10
  20. Spirit wanders, lost, in his home and brings seven other spirits with him.  Matthew 12:43-45
  21. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant,Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10
  22. Jesus raises  a dead boy, Luke 7:11-15
  23. Jesus cast out demons, Matthew 12:22
  24. Jesus calms a storm, Matthew 8:23-26, Mark 4:35-39, Luke 8:22-24
  25. Peter things Jesus is a ghost,  Mark 6:49
  26. Jesus cast out demons and puts them into swine, Matthew 8:28-32, Mark 5:6-13, Luke 8: 28-33
  27. Jesus raises a royal girl from the dead, Matthew 9:23-25, Mark 5:35-42, Luke 49-55
  28. Healing the woman with the blood issue, Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
  29. Healing the blind ,Matthew 9:27-30
  30. Healing the sick, Mark 6:5
  31. Casting out demons from deaf mute, Matthew 9:32-33
  32. Healing the sick, Mathew 9:35, 14:14
  33. Jesus feeds 5000, Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:35-44, mark 9:10-17, John 6:5-13
  34. Jesus is transformed and confers with the spirits of Elijah and Moses, Luke 9:28-36
  35. Jesus walks on the sea, Matthew 14:25, Mark 6:48, John 6:19
  36. Healing of many Matthew 14:35-36, Mark 6:55-56
  37. Healing Canaanite woman’s daughter, Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30
  38. More healing, Matthew 15:30-38, Mark 8:1-8 and 22-25, Luke 18:35, Mark 11:12-14;20
  39. Voice from heaven John 12:28-29
  40. Jesus restores an ear, Luke 22:51
  41. Veil of the Temple is torn from top to bottom, Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45
  42. The dead rise, Matthew 27:52-53
  43. Jesus rises from the dead, Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-9
  44. An angel appears before the women Matthew 28:1-7
  45. Angel appears at the sepulcher, Matthew 28:5-8, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8
  46. Angels appear to Mary, John 20:11-13
  47. Risen Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9, John 20:14-17
  48. Risen Jesus appears to the women , Matthew 28:9-10
  49. Risen Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus , Mark 16:12, Luke 24:13-35
  50. Risen Jesus appears to apostles,  Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-31, 21: 1-25
  51. Jesus eats food to prove he is not a ghost and tells them the difference between a ghost and him., Luke 24:35-40
  52. Risen Jesus helps with miraculous catch of fish, John 21:6
  53. Jesus ascends into heaven,  Acts 1:6-9
  54. Angels appear to apostles, Acts 1:10-11
  55. Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost comes to apostles, Acts 2:1-4
  56. Speaking in tongues, Acts 3:1-11
  57. Peter heals the man, Acts 3:1-11
  58. Angels release apostles from prison,  Acts 5:18-20
  59. Stehen sees apparition of Jesus,  Acts 7:55-56
  60. Casting out of unclean spirits, Acts 8:7
  61. Philip teleports via Holy Spirit to another city, Acts 8:39-40
  62. Jesus apparition continues to appear, Acts 9:3-7, 9:10-16
  63. Saul gains his sight ,Acts 9:17-19
  64. Peter heals a cripple Aneneas, Acts 9:32-34
  65. A man, Dorcas, is raised from the dead, Acts 9:36-42
  66. Cornelius receives a vision,  Acts 10:1-8
  67. Peter receives visions,  Acts 10:9-16
  68. Angel gets Peter from prison, Acts 12:7-10
  69. An angel kills Herod ,  Acts 12:23
  70. Peter heals and casts out demons, Acts 14:8-10, Acts 16:16-18
  71. Apparition of Jesus, Acts 18:9-10
  72. Paul performs many unusual signs,  Acts 19:11-12
  73. Eutychus is brought back from the dead, Acts 20:9-12
  74. Apparition of Jesus , Acts 23:11
  75. Prison doors mysteriously break open and Paul and Silas are freed  Acts 16:25-26
  76. Apparition of Jesus to  500 people, and James  Acts 15:6-7
  77. Paul has a vision of heaven   2 Corinthians  12:1-6
  78. The entire book of Revelations

 

Reference:  Do Catholics believe in ghosts by Tim Townsend http://www.uscatholic.org/articles/201309/paranormal-activity-do-catholics-believe-ghosts-27887

 

The Journey of an Writer and a Novel – The e-book Release of Death in Disguise

The Journey of an Writer and a Novel – The e-book Release of Death in Disguise

 

 

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Death in Disguise by D.Hill The New Release of My First Novel Now on Kindle Books and Soon Amazon.

“You cheating son of a bitch! Muriel screamed at him. .. This is the first line of my novel Death in Disguise…. It took me ten years to get that on paper to my satisfaction. Why? Not because I had writer’s block, no I actually wrote the first rough draft in several months – ten years ago. It was because no matter how many times I changed scenes, sentences, fleshed out characters, I was AFRAID it was not good enough. So it sat on a shelf.

Everyone talks about writer’s block, but not many talk about writer’s fear. Perhaps one is a sub-category of the other. It was fear of rejection that kept my story on the shelf. Not fear that some publishing house would reject me. That is part of the process and I didn’t mind that. It was fear of… this is my first attempt out the door and if it is not a proper representation of what I think I can produce, what I want to produce, I’m screwed.

Over the past ten years I’ve written profusely and have a lovely array of binders containing double spaced, red inked, drafts of novels no one has ever seen. There was a problem with this, envy. I was, still am, envious of musicians who perform, artists whose work hangs somewhere, anywhere. Basically, anyone who creates and the public, even just their friends and family, gets the opportunity to share their creations. A writer does not have such availability unless they are read somewhere. Usually, that means by being published.

Yes, there are probably thousands of people who write and have no desire to have anyone’s eyes see their final product. That’s great, but that’s not me. It took taking a series of classes called, Writing from the Heart, a class designed to decrease if not eliminate fears holding writers back, to propel me through a quagmire of my design. What was it that bound me? Perfection.

I was a performer growing up and if you have ever been a performer or athlete you know the importance of doing better than your best to stay alive. Somewhere along the line, doing better than my best became doing it perfectly. Either no one ever told me perfection was not possible or I did not listen. I believed that perfection was obtainable if I applied myself accordingly.

When I performed, if I didn’t win top award or get audience response like I thought I should, I could review what went wrong, rehearse and practice more, harder until I got the results I wanted. In writing this is not so easy. In the first couple (hundred) drafts, I was the only eyes looking at the work. There was no coach telling me the weak points, the boring points. Sure, I could have hired an editor, but I didn’t have the money. Not having extra money, in my mind, meant it better be the best it can be before a professional editor saw it.

I thought, I could get family and friends to read and just tell me what they think. Give me constructive criticism. Some said they would, but never did. Others went as far as to take a copy or download the file, but forgot they had it. It was devastating and I took it personally. Thoughts like: is that all I mean to them, they really must think I write horrible, they don’t support my passion, they don’t care. The depression that followed was sometimes unbearable. The depression was caused by ME!

It took me years to relax and say, so what. The people not wanting to read or saying they would and choosing to not read, that is something with them, not me. Most of the time I doubt there was anything malicious to their behavior. I made it malicious and I allowed it to affect my relationships and thoughts. There are many reasons a loved one or friend would choose not to be involved or read something a writer has written and I had to learn to respect that and not see it as rejection.

I got lucky when my parents asked to read one of my drafts and …. loved it. I think to their surprise. I gave them another one. By the end of the year they had read all the drafts on my shelf. I eagerly listened to their critiques and chose the stories they enjoyed the most. One of my daughters came forward and agreed to do some edits. She read the story and said, “Mom, I couldn’t put this down.”

I guess it is along the lines of what Jesus said. Something about a person needing to leave their home in order to be recognized and listened to. I’ve heard this in various ways, not just writing. Nurses telling me their families don’t listen to them because, they know them, grew up with them. How can you possibly know as much as this stranger who has the same or less experience. I digress.

What this has taught me is another lesson about myself and my desires with my writing. It was not enough for me to have others read my work. I wanted people in my intimate circle to be a part of the experience. If you don’t write you may not understand this, but writing is such a passion, such a part of the soul of the writer. Writing is like screaming in the forest at night and hoping someone hears you. “Listen to me! I want to share this with you!”

Once again, I had to reassess this. Family and friends can be supportive without reading. I came to realize they do this all the time. I could relax again and move on. I decided to publish the Indie route. Not because I didn’t think I was good enough for a large publishing house, but I wanted to have complete control over the process. It was a steep learning curve and I wanted to know it all.

I created this baby, why not be there to design the nursery and do the actual delivery? I guess by nature I am a DIY (Do it yourself) person. Expand the brain cells and learn new skills. Challenge myself and face making possible mistakes. This was a big jump from harboring in my room afraid of not being perfect.

I can still hear a certain writing mentor in my life’s journey poo pooing an x-student when their first novel was published. There was a scrunching of the nose, a wave of the hand and the comment, “Well, she could have done better.”  Each step of my journey I heard those words. Ah yes, wanting to impress the mentor, the coach. Make them proud! Bull shit!

Those words spoke volumes about that mentor’s frame of mind. It was not about celebrating another writer’s victory over fear and pushing his/her self to release their creation to the world. Once I realized I didn’t have to impress anyone, I could release those words and be free to create and share.

That is where I am now. My E-book Death in Disguise by D.Hill just came out on Kindle and will be out on Amazon in paperback in 90 days. It’s a murder mystery that takes place in the 1950’s.  I’m ecstatic! I think. Now I face a whole new set of demons I place in my own head. Is there ever an end? Sure, If I make it so.

If you write or want to write, my advise to you is evaluate the thoughts you tell yourself about you, your writing and your expectations about people in relation to your writing life. Then write! Just do it! Remember, there is no such thing as perfection.

Here is the back cover synopsis of Death in Disguise:

Kelly Anders is a beautiful woman with a secret that kills. When she disappears from the scene of a 1955 brutal murder everyone is stunned. Especially her boyfriend, Al Brodrick.  Her disappearance spawns a gruesome spree of sexual assaults and mutilations leaving the small police force of Highgate Falls baffled and town’s people terrified. Accusations fly as Highgate Falls realizes things are not always what they seem.  Al Brodrick joins forces with retired FBi agent, Ira Jonesson, and the local police to stop the predator from killing again and to find Kelly Anders – if she is alive.

 

 

Death of a Church

Death of a Church

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There is a little church on the corner of This Street and That.

It’s been there more years than anyone can recall.

There is a grumbling inside, a dark cloud of doom.

Folks say, “Do things our way or this church will fall.”

 

They don’t care how many years this building has stood,

About generations passed or yet to be.

They care about ego and doing things their way,

They stomp their feet, complain and refuse to see.

 

They judge people and ways different from their own.

Sabotage attempts to be fishers of men.

Refute the teachings, grace and love taught inside,

Turn God into god while still praying Amen.

 

Spout threats and make-believe truths to make their irk known.

Submission from oppression seals the church fate.

Parishioners too shocked to believe what they see.

How could their own be capable of such hate?

 

For some it’s internal hate, for others the world.

Some need attention, power, to be in control.

Others site tradition is the issue at hand.

Regardless, control of church became the goal.

 

Parishioners pray, take sides or leave the conflict.

I hear them ask questions, answers only God knows.

They think their church is love and embodies God’s grace,

Unchecked power taints good seeds, kills them, nothing grows.

 

Plot to get rid of the man in charge and succeed.

Rifts deepen, paranoia breeds, people search.

Where is God’s love? What should we do? Where should I turn?

The victors say, “Hey God, don’t mess with our church.”

 

If only things could be the way they were before.

But there is no such thing as the good old days.

What they miss; their blind ignorance and perceived bliss.

Preferring spoon fed faith, unquestioning ways.

 

Jesus said, love God, love all, judge not, spread the word.

Some folks in church say, love us, we are the boss.

Our way supersedes all; it’s our club and our rules.

Jesus is a has-been on an old rugged cross.

 

There was once a church on the corner of This Street and That.

It’s now a center, soup kitchen and a home.

No one fights over when to meet or who does what.

There is love, healing and a sign that reads, shalom

What Makes a Good Ghost Story?

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Orb and Reflection Originally Thought to be Paranormal – Harper’s Ferry, WV

We had another oddity in our household last night. Maybe it was over active imaginations or we bumped into something paranormal in the night. In this house, it could be either or both.

It is not unusual for me to get bolted awake about 2:30 – 3:00 in the morning on a regular base. Sometimes, it becomes annoying enough to stay awake past the 3:00 hour just to prevent the jolt.  Tonight I’m staying awake to write this blog and straighten my office.

I think I have mentioned in the past that this house has some unusual things happening from time to time. Things that paranormal researchers would call residual haunting such as snippets of conversation in the same location between two people we can’t see.

Then there is what they call intelligent haunts. There is a woman that has whispered my name in my ear.  On one occasion I was outside trimming bushes that same voice demanded I go back in the house. It startled the he—out of me. I went inside to find smoke spewing everywhere in my kitchen. Then there was the time my mother was visiting and awoke to find a woman sitting on the bottom of the bed. The woman smiled at her and vanished.

Three other oddities are seeing shadows of people darting around corners and this blue haze about four or so feet tall in a bedroom doorway.  Our animals will also suddenly come to attention and studiously watch nothing (usually in the same location) and track it across the room and then resume their normal activities. We try to distract them without luck. Sometimes they growl or their hunches raise – there is nothing there. The third is that the smell of cigarette smoke will come out of nowhere (no one in the family is a smoker), linger around me, though others coming near me can smell it, and then disappear.

The last and the most prevalent thing, is what they call poltergeist activity. Things that move on their own and we can’t figure out why. The most common in this house has been closed doors opening and then slamming shut.  The most bizarre to us was the night when the dining room chandelier started swinging, increasing its arc back and forth. The grandkids were seated at the dining room table quietly watching when one asked if it was going to fly off and hurt someone. Feeling ridiculous, I said, “Stop moving the chandelier.” It stopped without slowing down. Leaving two little girls asking their grandma a lot of questions she could not answer.

Last night the door that divides the downstairs from the upstairs opened. This door frequently is subject to erratic opening and shutting. We had company one night and the door quietly opened all the way. A moment or two went by and it quietly, slowly closed again. Everyone looked at me and I just said, Oh well.

We’ve tried experiments with air flow, windows open or shut and the air conditioners on or off without discovering the answer. We have learned that my cat has learned how to put her paw under this door and with persistence, pop it open so she can visit me in the office.

I bring all this craziness up because earlier that morning we were sitting in the dining room talking about the battle at Gettysburg and comparing it to the ones at Anteidem and Fredericksburg. Like typical, the talk eventually got back to the topic of ghosts, specifically ghosts and Gettysburg. Most specifically the books, TV specials and ghost tours compliments of author and researcher, Mark Nesbitt.

My one daughter tells me she is afraid to look out windows at night and almost refuses to take another ghost tour because a story Nesbitt documented on his tour. It’s called, The Story of Blue Boy. He is a phantom child who froze to death outside a dorm at Gettysburg College and continues to appear by looking in a second floor window. That’s a powerful ghost story.

I got to wondering how many fears result from experiencing the tale of the paranormal activity instead of actually having one. I started asking around and was a bit surprised at the answers.  People who are afraid of mirrors, opening elevators, looking into binoculars, open closets, quija boards, cemeteries, sleeping alone, sleeping without covers, sleeping in the dark, looking out windows at night, answering the door at night,  dolls, clowns and walking down the streets of Gettysburg or the battlefield at dusk or dawn to name a few. All because they heard, read or saw a reenactment of a ghost story not because they have had an experience.

What amazing power.  I’ve seen people on ghost tours look increasingly uneasy as the tour progresses and I know people who have stayed awake all night with the lights on after reading a Steven King novel. Is it fear of the unknown, the out of control, potential lack of safety or the telling of a great tale?

According to the Center for Religious Studies, over 70% of Americans believe in something supernatural. Be it ghosts, angles, demons, miracles, curses, God, heaven, hell, Satan and so on. Are we taught to fear or mock and ridicule instead of embrace and explore? As quantum physics unfolds new theories of the cosmos that render credence to the ability for other dimensions and planes of existence to occur, will our fears lessen? Or as long as the story teller provides the right atmosphere and hits just the right nerve, we are forever in their grasps no matter what we believe?

Social scientists will tell you ghost stories are sweeter if the society that breeds and reads them is in a state of flux. Uncertainty in the world brings a need for understanding and demonstration of our fears of the unknown manifest in the ghost story.  Or is it, the more upheaval, the more energy and the phenomenon manifests itself more readily making society more sensitive to the paranormal and the ghost story?

Wait a minute, I hear something odd. Okay, no problem, it’s just the door between the downstairs and upstairs. Damn cat. No wait, it just slammed shut. I don’t think she has that skill.

There is a rhythmic creaking of the stairs like someone heavy footed is slowly coming up the stairwell. Everyone should be asleep. Its 3:05 a.m. and even if someone is awake why would they be wearing heavy boots?

The hair on my neck tingles and I shudder at the chill in the air. It’s a nice night; there shouldn’t be a sudden chill from anywhere. My heart races and my hands sweat.

There is another creak outside my office door. I get up from my desk and reach out to take hold of the knob, but hesitate. Do I really want to know what or who is on the other side? It can’t be anything harmful, can it? I’ve never been harmed by these things before, but what if this is different? I take hold of the glass, door knob and slowly turn.

What makes a good ghost story? Is it the retelling of personal events in order to find others with similar experiences? Is it evidence in a world where we know so much, that there is so much more we don’t understand? Or is it all the above and then some?

The door opens; the air is thick and oddly sweet and my hair is still on end. I’m all alone or am I?

Sweet dreams.

 

Wish Upon a Star, You Can go Far. Sit on Your Butt, You’ll Stay in a Rut

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Everyone at some point in their lives dreams about what could have been or should have been. They look back upon their life and say things like, how in the hell did I get here and with these people?  

 The answer is simple to say, but hard to accept. For the most part, they chose the elements of their life that brought them to where they are currently. (This is not to state catastrophes and events thrust onto someone are chosen by the victim! No, no, no, but everyone has choices concerning the aftermath of such events.  That’s a different topic.)

 Why do we make the choices we do? We think it’s in our best interest at the time, that’s why. The problem arises when we make choices without examining what truly is in our best interest. Many of us wander through life, dreaming, but never taking ourselves seriously enough to invest time into evaluating our choices with the life we really want. Then one day, we turn around and wonder how we got where we are and why do we feel so miserable.

 As we grow, we develop a picture of what our perfect world would look like. Then, hopefully, we spend our lives making choices to get us as close to that perfect world as possible. We do this because when our real world closely aligns with our internal, ideal world, (quality world) we feel good.

 So, okay, here you are in a relationship that does not match your ideal world. You work in a job that is so far off base from your interests, talents and desires that you hate getting up in the morning.  You look at yourself in the mirror and say, who is that person looking back at me? Now what?

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   Step one: Do you know what your ideal life is? If not, start figuring it out. Play with the idea of having a magic wand and there are no limitations. Forget the idea of, why do this, I can’t accomplish this anyway. Just do it.

 Step two: What does this ideal world say about you? Do you see patterns? Do your dreams show you feeling powerful, more accepted, more creative? This is important because while you may not be able to get your exact ideal life, you can find good substitutions to get those same needs and wants met.  Let’s say, you want to be a surgeon, but you don’t have the education or time for medical school. You realize you want to be a surgeon so you can help others in the field of medicine. Become a phlebotomist, a Red Cross volunteer or first aid officer at your company.

 Step three: Look at the choices you are making in your life. Do they line up with getting closer to your ideal world? Why or why not? Identify the areas in your life or choices you are making that push you further from your ideal life.

 Step four: Get more information about other choices you could be making. Talk to people who appear to have similar ideal lives. Read books and cruise the internet for more information. The more information you have about what you want, the easier it is take steps to make it happen.

 Step five: Set goals for yourself. Remember not all goals are external. For example, today, instead of dreaming I was married to Johnny Depp and being pissed at my spouse, I’ m going to find out what qualities in Johnny Depp I admire and see how my spouse lines up. Or, deciding – my spouse has great qualities and my ideas about Johnny Depp are based on fantasy and not reality. I really wasn’t that crazy when I married my spouse. He’s pretty special. These are internal choice changes.

 An external choice change might be, my spouse ridicules me, threatens me and I don’t want or need to live like this. I’m going to investigate what it takes to get a divorce or what is in my community to help people like me.

 Think of goals as the set points. They are your rudders helping you steer through life.  

 Step six: Evaluate! Evaluate!

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 What is it you really want?

What are you doing to get it?

 Is it working? Why or why not?

What can I do different?

Set goals and do it!

 No one has to spend their lives sitting in a rut. We create the ruts and put ourselves there. Choose to get up and wish upon a star. You have what it takes. Just do it.  

Come on Get Happy!

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The world of social work and psychology are always doing research and trying new approaches to help individuals and the world survive, thrive and bloom. These processes come in waves and the most current wave is in the area of Happiness or Positive Psychology. Trainings and new book offers arrive in my mailbox almost daily on understanding, using and living in the realm of happiness.

 I thought I’d share the information I’m getting. Some of this is, in my opinion, common scene. Other pieces of information, on the surface, may appear new, but with reflection I think you will find you knew this all along.  Here is the information:

  1. Happiness is considered 50% genetic, 40% within our power to achieve through activities and positive thinking, and 10% environmental (we experience something that brings us joy, laughter and pleases us).

2. Stay connected to people, places and activities that bring you positive energy appreciate and validate you.

3. Realize that everyone has problems. The key is the mind set: problems are temporary and solvable.

4. If you can’t get out of a bad situation, change your attitude. Play positive and uplifting thoughts, memories in your head. Listen to music you like. Be involved in activities that offset the situation. There are great stories from POWs using this technique to survive in captivity.

5. Stop focusing on what could have been, what should be or should have been. Stop trying to escape your problems and meet them face on.

6. Express your needs and concerns positively and take ownership of them. An example: When you forget to pick me up, I feel abandoned. Instead of I’m pissed at you for forgetting to pick me up or how dare you forget to pick me up.

7. In relationships, focus on WE instead of ME. Always ask – Will what I am about to do or say bring our relationship closer or pull us further apart?

8. Every morning, stop before starting your day and be grateful for what you have. Name them in your head. Your house, inside climate control, your car, family, food, clothing, fresh water, a job…

9. Acceptance, that you are not perfect and neither is anyone else. Have compassion toward yourself and patience and acceptance toward others. (This does not mean you have to agree with their behaviors or choices. It is honoring them as a fellow human being trying to make it).

10. Remember you can’t read other’s minds; you don’t need to judge their actions or  take them personally. Example:  He didn’t accept my idea. I know he’s out to get me and this is part of his plan to make me look like a fool. I’ll show him.

Give these a thought or two. My wish to you this day; may this St. Patrick’s Day bring you a renewed sense of happiness.