Category Archives: Misc.

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

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.

This is Halloween – Almost

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Turning a cheep mask into a life-sized pirate head

It’s almost Halloween time! You may not realize this because it’s only September 12th but that is beside the point. I saw my first woolly caterpillar and a yellow leaf, the county fair is in town and all this means it’s almost Halloween.

 Since moving to my current home (which is located on a main road) Halloween has become an amazing event. Reminiscent of my childhood where entire neighborhoods joined in the fun and everyone had a good time. So, we are one of the only houses around me that decorates the way we do, but that’s okay. It will catch on.

The first year (this will be our fourth Halloween here) we had no idea what to expect. I bought a couple bags of candy, we all sat on the front porch and an hour into the night; we ran out of candy. We ran out of the individual serving size bags of chips and cookies I’d bought for school lunches. We ran out of cup-a-soup and little bags of oatmeal. I sent my hubby to the local convenience store for more candy. By the time he got back we were out of pens, pencils, complimentary hotel shampoos and soaps and those little soap pellets you put in dish washers.

The second year I thought, you know, I may not be Walt Disney, nor do I have the money the Disney Company owns, but this is a golden opportunity to entertain the masses, get in touch with my inner child, blossom in creative absurdity. I decided to make our Halloween theme, Pirates of the Caribbean bohemian chic style. This meant all my supplies had to be re-purposed from something else.

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Pirate Body In the Making

I worked my arse off, sewing, stuffing, sawing, gluing, painting, dyeing, designing and redesigning. The neighbors would gather around as each piece was tacked up outside wondering what the h-ll I was up to. Then the hurricane hit and everything was in shambles. Crap, not a problem. I can fix this. I can make it better!  And I set out to do a miracle.

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Ripping apart the old to make new things

Halloween night, everything was great. We had the sound effects and lighting set up, family members dressed as pirates to mingle with the fake, life-sized ones. And then it snowed! I looked at hubby and said, “Well, I guess we left the Caribbean and are now the Pirates of the Aleutian Islands. “

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An unexpected snowfall

He didn’t think anyone would show up. Actually, I think since we bought twice the amount of bags of candy that year, the good stuff, he was hoping not many would show. Based on the candy count on the bags, we greeted about 500 children Halloween night!

People were lined down the street, came in cars, blocked the road, and got their pictures taken with the set and with us.  Parents came to me and said, they could never afford to take their kids to see anything like Disney World and this was probably the closest thing they would ever get to it. I was humbled – it really wasn’t that great of a display. I didn’t want the night to end.

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Pirate first mate close up with canon

Last year I was doubly psyched. We had a reputation and with the basic set elements already built, I could focus on a story-line, learn how to make more complex elements and how to make my life size pirates move! Before we got any of the set out on the front lawn and porch, another hurricane came through. It did enough damage that Halloween was cancelled.

Despite all the damage, I couldn’t let Halloween just die. Kids had costumes! We had candy! So, I put out just a few things, we got dressed in our pirate best and waited in the dark, cold, wet night. We saw about 20 kids and happy parents welcoming anyone who was still able to make normalcy on a weather worn week. I was totally bummed but psyched for the next year – this year.

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Post Hurricane Pirates Scaled Down

It’s almost Halloween time! This year I’m combining my two favorite Disney rides, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. And, well, depending on how things go, maybe throw in a couple odd things here and there to beef up the humor aspect.  SO…..

This is what I have done so far.

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Sheets, truck liner rubber spray and a great hat

This picture is of my grim reaper. It’s made of sheets I got from the Good Will, a coat rack, a plastic wrapped and tapped mold of my daughter’s head filled with crack filler, and four cans of cheap, truck liner, rubberizing, paint. Total cost = $15.00.

Next I realized I needed large tombstones but they needed to have a pirate-like theme to them. So, here are my tombstones so far. They are made from warped, plastic shelving left over from our flooded basement (compliments of the hurricane), dilapidated ceiling tiles from same basement, accessories from old Halloween costumes I found and from the Dollar Store, caulking, and my favorite item in the world –duct tape. They still need to be painted and made to look like stone. But I think they are coming along nicely.

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Building Tombstones from Flood Damaged Items

I’ve also made new hands for my pirates. In past years I just stuffed winter gloves but I couldn’t do anything with the hands. So, this year I gave them a skeleton of wire so I can manipulate the fingers. They have a long way to go before completion.

If people are interested in this, I thought I would continue to keep everyone updated on the drama of my un-Disney, Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Haunted Mansion Halloween display as we count down the days.

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Treasure chest made from discarded tub, found fabric and dollar store accessories.

Has anyone seen the weather forecast for October 31st? Hurricane? Yes or no?

Sex and Pancakes

ImageI like to watch reruns of Comedy Central’s episodes of Colbert and Jon Stewart. Last night, like every night, I ate dinner and curled up on the couch to watch an episode of what I call the Colbert/Stewart hour. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, they make it better.

In this Colbert episode they spoofed the theft and black market of Canadian maple syrup comparing it to a Mexican drug smuggling cartel.  The reporter, a staunch maple syrup virgin, continued refusing offers to taste the luscious, feel good Canadian maple syrup. He knew if he had just one sip, it would be his demise into a life of addiction, seedy living, underworld crime sprees and the loss of all he claimed as good.

Finally, temptation was too much and as suspected, he couldn’t stop at just one taste. The result, pancakes, lots of pancakes rolled just right in order to deliver the sweet, dripping, tantalizing, golden liquid into his mouth. Life as he knew it ceased and was replaced by the horrific decline one can only find in syrup addiction.

It happened all at once. The cravings, forgetting to go to work, forgetting to bath, secret meetings in dark streets to get more syrup, brushes with police, arrests and attempts at all cost to get more syrup.  As Star Trek actor George Takei would say in a way only he can say it, “Oh my!” That is what I felt and wondered if I too had a syrup addiction. Nonsense, whoever heard of such malarkey? But what was that feeling I just couldn’t shake?

I turned to my hubby who was seated on the opposite couch and said, “Damn, I wouldn’t mind having some pancakes with syrup. Do we have anymore King Syrup?”

King Syrup is rich, thick and teases you as it emerges from the bottle. It is almost tantalizing to watch. Taste buds go into overdrive.

You can’t buy King Syrup in Florida where my retired parents now live. When I go visit, my father’s first request is always – make sure you smuggle some of that King Syrup. My dad knows and so do I.

I didn’t give into the desire for pancakes and syrup. I had a piece of toast with peanut butter and a blue Solo cup of milk. I spent some time writing and then went to bed. Only sleep would not come. I got up. Keeping the house lights low, I fired up my Kindle and played a couple rounds of Bubble Mania, a game where the object is to free little kittens from bubbles and hear them yell, “Wee!”  It’s usually very gratifying.

The bubbles weren’t popping in the right order because my brain was not thinking about kittens stuck in bubbles. It was thinking about the two-third empty bottle of King Syrup sitting in the kitchen, waiting, longing to be consumed. I start to sweat. Mark and change that to perspire. I think it sounds more feminine.  Anyway, I tell myself, I don’t have to give into a syrup temptation. I’m above that.

I’m out of kitty-freeing bubbles so I returned to the bedroom and listened to my hubby snore and the rumble of the air conditioner. Sleep is slow in coming and very fitful.

At 8:00 am, I awakened violently and the first thing slinking around in my brain is the thought, PANCAKES!

I yanked my sorry arse out of bed and grabbed the Aunt Jemima box. You just add water. Instant pancakes! There they sat, three golden brown, almost perfectly round discs, dabbled with just the right amount of butter. I set the plate on the table pushing aside the work flow for the day and all their distractions.

Pancakes had my full attention. With a smile on my face I picked up the ¾ full of King Syrup and wondered if it was the good stuff from Canada. The label said it’s from Fredonia, NY. Is that close to Canada?

I watched the syrup slowly leave the safety of the bottle to flow onto the golden discs in patterns of my design. I let it soak into the pancakes a little bit, but not too much. It cheapens it when the pancakes are soggy and all that remains of the original syrup is horribly mutated.

I consumed my pancakes slowly, rolling my eyes and trying to convince my mind I was experiencing what the reporter in Colbert experienced last night. It didn’t work.

I had consumed 1,000 empty calories with no real payback. I had to think, where did I go wrong? Oh, now I get it. What I really wanted was not syrup, not pancakes, but the feeling of being filled with joy to the point of forgetting the world. It was a need to feel abundantly loved, treasured, needed and fulfilled.

I could be talking about sex. I could be talking about anything that would fill that need for love and belonging. A part of me knew from the beginning that pancakes and syrup were not the answer. So why did I go through this?

Because I had a need unfulfilled and as I watched Colbert a seed was planted in my brain. A seed that although logically I knew was ridiculous, my needs great enough, other ways failed enough, that syrup made sense.

Is it any wonder sometimes that our behavior can become so wacky? Our thinking so out of touch with the reality around us that we gravitate toward someone, something, to get a need met. Thinking, this is in my best interest but knowing it is not.  Thinking, these are my choices, what the hell?

If only we can get our brains to flag us and yell STOP before continuing. Especially when we know what we are about to say or do is not in our best interest. We would all feel healthier.

Sometimes, our situation is one where all our choices will be negative and we have to choose the least negative. Colbert/Stewart, pancakes/syrup, needs/wants was not one of them. My brain for whatever reason did not yell stop! Now I need to figure out why?

Are you self-aware enough to know when to yell STOP? Can you tell before you think, feel, say or do something whether it is in your best interest to do so? If you find yourself gorging on a plate of pancakes dripping with syrup and it’s just not cutting it, re-evaluate why not.  You’ll feel healthier in the end.

Bon Appétit!

Technology Failed Me!

ImageThat was the line my daughter hit me with when she came home from work.  It was an interesting comment since I had just finished this blog on that very topic but was still looking for a title. I’m going to plagiarize her comment.

I hate technology.  Designed to make my life easier but in long run I think it makes it more complicated.  The goal of this morning was a simple task of outlining a curriculum for class this afternoon.  I fired up the computer, started the voice recognition and sat down to do some dictation.  The computer acted as if it had never heard my voice before.

  I re-calibrated the microphone and started from scratch.  The machine continued to act as though I’m was speaking Greek.  This meant for every sentence I typed, I had to go back and find the correct words the voice recognition replaced for mine.  On days when I have a lot of time this is not a big deal.  Today was not one of those days.

 Now I can hear you saying, why didn’t you just type?  The answer is because I have a bum arm and am supposed to let it rest.  Consequently, me and the voice recognition system went round and round.

 I finally got it running fairly smoothly and sat down to type.  I completed my paper and hit print.  We have a Wireless Network in my house.  That means I can be on the second floor hit the print button and the paper will print on the first floor.  This did not happen.

 Last week something happen with our router and the wireless stopped working. Since then, I’ve been dragging my laptop to the printer so I can connect the two by cable.  Yesterday we thought we’d fixed the wireless router. So this morning when I hit the print button I expected to go downstairs and find my prints waiting.  What I found was nothing.

 I trudged back up the steps and checked my laptop. A message read, can’t talk to the printer. I think, so much for the wireless fix.  I unplugged the equipment from my laptop and take it downstairs to try again.  Nothing happened. I can’t get the printer to function at all.  I think, there’s a new printer still in the box on the second floor, I’ll quickly set up that one.

  I found the printer and set it up. It’s the exact same printer as the one downstairs so it should not have been a problem.

 I hooked my laptop with the new printer and hit print. Nothing happened.  I realized there was a disk that I’m supposed to install.  I figured since they were the same printer I would not need additional software. 

 I popped in the disk and hit install.  An error message occurred.  It read, no drivers found, installation unsuccessful.  It directed me to click on a link for more information.  I did this and It read, you ding-a-ling you should not have your laptop connected to the printer while trying to install printer software.  I didn’t know that.

I unplug the laptop from the printer and tell it to reinstall the disk.  The computer cranks away and another error message pops.  It read, if you really want to print do a dos-e-doe, twirl around, clap your hands and agree to sell your first born child.  After you sign that you agree with this try to reinstall the software.  So I signed and waited.  Another error message popped.  It said, I’ve decided we’re not printing today, so sorry for your bad luck.  

 I decided to write the information I typed onto paper. I’m in the process doing this when the computer tells me it’s going shopping to get software upgrades.  There’s no time to think about the idea. It simply said goodbye and my screen went blank. I can no longer access my document.

 I restarted the computer and it informed me it has to install all the upgrades it found before it abandoned me.  Estimated time before I can use the machine is ten minutes.

  Fine, I needed to eat lunch anyway.  I heated up some leftover spaghetti from last night’s dinner and ate while standing at the kitchen sink.  After all I only had 10 minutes before the machine allows me back to work and there was a lot I needed to do.

 Everything complete, I restarted the programs but couldn’t find my file. I looked everywhere. It was as though I never wrote it.  I suppose it’s possible I never saved the document; however, I typically save papers every so many paragraphs.  In my frustration maybe I forgot this time.

 After I searched files for about a half hour, I felt like throwing the printer and the computer out the window.  Logic stepped in and instead, I put on my shoes and went for a drive.  What I needed was a change of scenery.  I decided the comic book store was the place to go.

 At the comic book store, they were playing electronic music reminiscent of the group Tangerine Dream from the seventies.  The store had lots of eye catching, multi-colored paper covers to greet my eyes.  Titles that splashed the exploits of superheroes, imaginary universes and action, adventure films surround me.  Familiar friends like X- men, Wolverine, Ironman, Star Trek, Star Wars and Dr. Who were only a few.  The guy behind the desk was more than interested in shooting the breeze for a few moments.  

 Those few moments in a pop-culture environment with conversation having nothing to do with reality was exactly what I needed.  Feeling refreshed I headed home to tackle my technology nightmares.

 Back upstairs in my office I once again looked at the printer, laptop and thought, I’m going to give this one more try.  Once again I tried to install the software and once again the computer complained.  It told me to click this, click that, say three Hail Mary’s and eat a strawberry yogurt with granola.  I’m not going to let you print. I’ll show the machine who is boss; I’m going to turn this over to my tech squad, hubby, when he gets home.

  I returned to using the voice recognition program with another project.  Like earlier, it continues to be uncooperative. Instead of typing sentences like, I’m going to drive to the store to buy milk.  The voice recognition program typed… and runs were minimal.  These were not the same sentence.  They didn’t even sound the same.  I don’t get it.

 Maybe the moon is waxing or waning or maybe we are getting sun flares causing my equipment to run amok.  I don’t know but I do know if I lived in an imaginary reality like in a comic book, I would find a way to have machines do their master’s bidding. Not the master trying to figure out how to communicate with the machine or the machine doing what it wants when it wants.

  I worry sometimes about the level of dependence humans have on machines. Office machinery running amok is one thing, but I see those commercials for cars that park themselves and find myself concerned.  I hate technology sometimes. I don’t know if I’m ready for a world more dependent on machines.  Then again, machines probably aren’t real thrilled to work for people like me – technologically challenged.