Sunday, May 30, 2010

Health and Writing

Being an author is a very sedentary job, but there are other jobs that require sitting for hours.  How many do you spend at the computer every day?  I got the idea to offer some tips for testing your health from the new issue of Reader's Digest.  Don't groan, just go with me for a minute.

I have to be honest.  Once I finished, I considered titling this post, "It's been nice to know you," but I'm going to try to force myself to limit my sitting time and add in some activities, even if it's walking around my condo complex.  You might decide to make some changes, too.

In an attempt to meet deadlines, keep up with my blog, attend chats, etc, I often skimp on good meals and go for the easy snacks that I can stuff myself with at my desk.  I know that habit is not good for me OR my computer.  Potato chip crumbs make keys stick, and when you spill a glass of sweet tea on your keyboard, that's a nightmare.  Can you say "sticky?"  It's so much easier to grab something bad than to prepare something good, but as with all bad habits, there are consequences.

Iron deficiency is a common ailment among those who don't eat properly, but I had no idea that the clue is in your hand.  According to RD, "Iron is your body's energy mineral, grabbing and delivering it to cells throughout your body.  If you don't have enough, you can develop bone-weary fatigue, concentration loss, even shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat."  Here's a quick way to check your own iron level.  Spread your palm wide and check the creases.  Pale lines are generally an indication of reduced circulation near the surface due to low iron.  Gums and the insides of your eyelids are also determining factors.  See your doctor for a hemoglobin or hemocrit test if you detect a problem.

How, I can relate to this one!  Off-rhythm heartbeats.  I recently was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) and it's scary.  Did you know that it's responsible for up to 140,000 strokes each year in the US?   Many people who have this disorder don't even realize it. Boy, I did.  My heart was beating over 150 times a minute and in no particular tune. A night in the hospital and meds I'll take for the rest of my life resulted from one attack. It's not pleasant, but necessary and I prefer the inconvenience to the alternative.  A-Fib isn't just about an occasional missed beat, rather extremely irregular rhythms.  The onset is caused when the upper chamber of the heart quivers and throws off the beating chambers as they try to keep up with the irregularity.  The danger is not so much in the beat but the pooling of blood this causes which leads to clots.  How do you know if you have a problem?  RD suggests "toe tapping."  Find your pulse on your neck or wrist and tap your toe in sync with it for a minute.  If you find it difficult or feel you have uneven beats, mention it to your doctor.

Do you creak?  I'm usually a stiff mess when I finally decide to heft my butt out of this chair, so this one really hit home.  Healthy blood vessels are flexible, and widen and narrow as needed throughout the day.  When arteries stiffen: aging, extra pounds, plaque on artery walls, sedentary lifestyle or diabetes, you put yourself at risk for fatal strokes and heart attacks.  Great...I fit most of the criteria except for diabetes.  To judge how supply your own arteries are, try this:  Sit on the floor with legs straight out, toes pointed toward the ceiling.  Bend forward from your hips and stretch your arms toward your feet.  Try to touch your toes.  NEWS FLASH:  I can do it.  My fingers even surpassed my toes a bit, but the problem I had was getting up again.
If you find you can't, then add some stretching exercises to your daily routine and limber up a bit.

Oh Lord...the Measure your Middle test.  Those with an oversize waist risk early death, even if you aren't overweight.  Well, I qualify, and I am overweight.  I promised myself I'd never weight this much again, but I'm stuck between a rock in a hard place after having stomach stapling nineteen years ago.  But, on with the test.  A bulging middle is caused by 'visveral' fat, a thick, yellow fat in the abdomen that pumps fatty acids and inflammation causing chemicals into the blood.  The risk of premature death is 79% for woman and double that for men.  A big middle is hard on the heart, so what do we do?

The next time you are naked, stand in front of a mirror (oh yuk), circle your waist with a tape measure (I don't own one so I tried the one in my husband's tool chest...don't do it, it won't work and it hurts when it flings back into the case).  Move the tape down until the bottom rests at the top of your hip bones (I can't find mine).  Don't hold your breath or cinch the tape too tight.  Write down the number.  For men, a measurement of 40 and up is considered high risk.  For women, 32 is the danger threshold and 35 is high-risk.  Oh me!!!

The goods news, if you can find any in this topic, is  visceral fat is more metabolically active than fat elsewhere on your body so exercise and plenty of produce, grains, fish and mono-saturated fat from olive oil and nuts will help rid you of the inner tube around your middle.

I'm skipping their two-second depression quiz, because all of the above sent me spiraling into the depths. Sorry if I've ruined your day, too, but these are all things we need to know or be reminded of. I thank Reader's Digest for stimulating me to consider I need to make some changes if I want to hang around and see my Spencer grow up.

I recently ordered RD in the large print, and I so love it.  Yes, it's a sign of aging, but even my husband who is Dyslexic says the larger print helps him read better.  Happy stretching, my friends.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ripley's Believe it or Not!

I don't believe it. There can't be that many people in the world desperate for attention for achieving the heights of stupidity.
I watched an episode this morning while I had my coffee and toast. I know I should have switched channels, but I was glued to the screen, disbelieving the lengths people will go to to achieve a world's record. And why? Sure, I want to sell the most copies of any one book in history, but there's a method to that madness. But why have the longest fingernails in the world? Who would want a twisting, turning mass attached to each finger that makes wiping your own butt a major deal. How do they anyhow?

I figure when you're dead and you choose burial as your choice, you'll spend long enough in a wooden box. Why would someone want to spend 140 days in a coffin-like container, buried seven feet down in order to break a world record? Of course, he had an air tube that let to the surface, large enough for food and waste to be passed, and he decked out his digs (no pun intended) with electricity, lights, and pictures of his family, even had a little TV... and let's not forget that he left just enough wiggle room so that he could do a few push ups each day. Towards the end of his stay, he got lonely, but he holds the world record now. Like I care. In my opinion, he holds the record for being an idiot.  The sad news is that his son is prepared to defend the family title.

Of course, there are things you can't help hold the record for... like being the tallest or shortest, but who wants to be known as the fattest? Myself, I try not to get close to that record.

How about owing the ugliest dog?

Or having the world's longest hair?

Yep, there are even records for the person who has the longest nose hair, ear hair, and even the ugliest person.  I'm going to spare you pictures of those.  :) Just think of all the energy these people put into gaining a world record.  Why would you want a long hair hanging from you nose to prove your worth? Excuse me, but I don't get it.   Do you?

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's 2 a.m. and There's Nothing to Eat in This House

Special thanks to Jim Whitaker for allowing me to share his humor here:

Am I famished. It's two o'clock in the morning – I haven't eaten anything since around midnight and that was just a pickle loaf on rye sandwich with a side of rice pudding – and, although I'm not third-world hungry, I'm at least Scandinavian hungry, however hungry that is.

Grab the flashlight and let's sneak over to the snack shelf in my covert panic food pantry. Let's look here … aahhh! … oh … why is there a cat on the snack shelf? Scat! 

 Here's what we have from which to choose the makings of our 2 am gastronomic calamity:

OK, we have potato chips … mesquite barbeque flavor, North Carolina barbeque flavor, South Carolina barbeque flavor, Eskimo barbeque flavor, peanut butter and jalapeño flavor… Eskimos do too barbeque… loaded baked potato potato chips (isn't that like flavoring a steak with drippings from your cheeseburger?), don't call them plain anymore they're "classic" potato chips, lamb and mint potato chips (maybe better save those for Easter), ketchup flavored potato chips (now that's the only flavor on a chip that makes sense), yogurt and green onion flavor, smoked salmon and capers flavor… well, we've hit our limit on the chip flavors once we got to fish. 

OK, we have crackers, wheat, saltines, unsalted tops saltines making them just tines, chicken flavored (have you ever considered just where the cracker and chip people get the meat flavoring for meat-flavored products that normally aren't meat flavored? They may be just one step ahead of Purina.), chicken soup flavored, meatloaf flavored, snack crackers (the crackers that explain themselves), oyster crackers, animal crackers (if an oyster can have its own cracker…), graham crackers (argue about that really being a cookie later, it's 2:15 in the morning, for crying out loud), melba crackers, goldfish-shaped cheese crackers … well, here we are at fish again.

OK, we have dried fruit, just add water. 

OK, we have granola bars, the box is empty, a casualty of the earlier-in-the- evening raid on the snack shelf.

OK, we have cookies … sounds like something we should enable … walnut balls, chip and dip cookies with real crushed potato chips as the salty surprise (must be from the bag the cat was sleeping on), oatmeal raisin, coconut chew, Skoal mint chew (health care reform politically incorrect cookie but really habit forming), chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, chunky chocolate chip, ultimate chocolate chip, peanut butter chip chocolate chip, cherry choc … no wonder Santa Claus is so jolly …olate chip, sugar cookies (who put those Ugly Betties on this shelf?), vanilla cookies with chocolate filling (bipolar Oreos), fortune cookies (it beats handing one of those physic hotlines your cell phone number and fortune cookies are 78.6 percent more accurate), animal crackers (I have absolutely no problem with animal crackers ... why are we "normal" eating rhino cookies yet considerd strange if eating dog biscuits?

Ho-hum. Not much variety there, huh?

If you keep it quiet, I'll take you to the "other" snack shelf – the one nobody else knows about. It's a secret. Well, at least it was until 15 words ago.

Here we have …
Nine Lives seafood gourmet … the cat's been here, too … 

We have chocolate covered ants. Wait a minute, those are just ants. Making off with my chocolate. Environmentalists, turn your heads. Nobody steals my chocolate.

We have canned fried squid imported from Singapore.

No?

Grilled spiders from Cambodia. Oh what a wicked web …sorry.

No?

Deep-fried Twinkies on a stick imported from wherever they're not outlawed now by some persnickety local government with "our best interests" in mind because we can't think for ourselves.

No?

Crocodile tips in mushroom sauce from Australia that some persnickety local government should have banned.

No?

Pocky from Asia.

I don't know what it is. Here, you try it first.

No?

Steamed chestnuts from Great Britain. Ah, they smell like a favorite suit fresh from the dry cleaners. Or maybe prior to the dry cleaners.

No?

Maruka ikaten. 

Yes, I know what it is. Fried cuttle fish. We're back to fish again. 

You're awful picky for 2:27 in the morning.

It's just as well, though. Snacking now would ruin my breakfast. We're having chunky chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. And there's a salty surprise inside, too.

P.S. After my wife read this column and somehow learned about the snack shelves, she's demanding to know just where they are located. Well, I'm not divulging until she reveals to me the clandestine spot where she hides the sugar-dusted double fudge dipped strawberries with watermelon-kiwi bubble gum centers.

So she ain't gonna find out where lie my secret stash. I'll probably have to bribe the cat with maruka ikaten so it'll keep its big mouth shut.

Jim Whitaker is the author of "Hill of Beans" and a Columnist for Staff Writer Cynic Online Magazine.  You can find his book at:
www.whiskeycreekpress.com, at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who's American Idol?

The Idol has been named. America has voted.  Are you people on crack?  *lol*  No... probably just a bunch of gum-chewing, bubble-blowing teenage girls who thought Lee was to die for and couldn't wait to text in their vote.

Crystal Bowersox blew Lee Dewyze out of the water every single week.  The girl can sing, and she's unique. Maybe it's that "uniqueness" that made her unsuitable to be a representative for American Idol.  There are images to be maintained, after all. 

Okay, in all fairness, Lee is okay, but he sounds like so many other artists already out there, there was nothing distinct about him.  He may be somebody's idol but I think he's better suited for selling paint.  Crystal is my choice and I think America got it wrong. 

Does the title really matter?  She got the exposure she needed to get a record deal.  And look at Taylor what's his name...that gray-haired goon who won a few seasons back.  He never went very far, did he?  Those who don't finish on top often seem to fare better than those who do...except of course Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler.  Jennifer Hudson hasn't done bad for herself, and she didn't win.  What happened to Ruben Studdard and the girl with the name like a cereal, I cant recall?  It's all rigged anyhow.

 And why do we need celebrity judges who confuse the hell out of the contestants? Make it your own!  You took on a song too big for you!  You were a little pitchy!  Dog!  Randy Jackson really needs to grow up.  No one I know wants to be called "Dog."  How can you learn anything from four people who generally don't agree and issue conflicting advice?  Why not just have a big dartboard where the celebs sit and have Ryan Seacrest throw a projectile at it and go from there.  Speaking of Ryan...has he gotten a little too cocky?

Of course, I have no right to complain because I didn't vote.  I cheered from my living room.  Does that count?  But last night, I turned off the TV, stormed into my office and typed something similar on Facebook.  Too bad I forgot about the time difference and blew the surprise for those on the West coast who read my post.  I apologize.  I took it down as soon as I realized I'd given away the ending.

Maybe it was payback for the previous night when hubby and I were watching Celebrity Apprentice.  Sitting on the edge of chairs, waiting for the Donald Trump to make his big announcement, the broadcast cut to a commercial.  Okay, so you expect advertisements, but not one that said, "be sure and join Jay Leno tonight when  the new Celebrity Apprentice, Bret Michaels, is his guest."

I think my days of watching Idol are over, although I do believe Ellen was a breath of fresh air...unlike the other females on the panel who turn "cougarish" the moment a good looking youngster steps up to sing.  Give me a good episode of Survivor any day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

TV and Books

Sometimes you see something on TV that prompts a comparison to writing novels. Authors are always supposed to start off with a hook that reels the reader in, and keep the story interesting, no matter how many twists and turns it takes.

This morning, I watched the episode of Miami Medical that I'd recorded, and WOW, whoever wrote that script knew how to pack an hour with things you never saw coming. Here's a small summary:

Opening scene - Four people golfing, one girl, three guys. All young. The shot of one guy lands in the water, and he has to play it where it lands. He takes off one sock and shoe and steps into the shallow pool. WHAM! From nowhere, an alligator drags him into the water, tossing him around like a piece of foam. Now, that's a hook!

In the hospital, a doctor finds two tickets to the Black Eyed Peas taped to her locker. People begin jockeying for the second ticket.

Next, the three others attempt to rescue him by beating on the reptile with their golf clubs. In the fray, one guy hits the guy next to him in the head, and the girl slips and hits her head on a rock. The scene ends with them staring a calm waters...all have horrified looks on their faces.

Next scene - hospital: They managed to pull the young man from the water and get him to the ER/Trauma room. They all look a little worse for the wear they've been through and are advised to see the ER staff to help with their cuts and bruises. Enter the footless man's wife, who evidently has a past with one of the other fellas. The alligator is captured and killed and delivered to the hospital, where the attending physician fishes around in the gator's guts until he finds the foot. Yeah, I believe that.

Carrying on: The girl is admitted for her head injury, and the doctor notices a rash on her arm. It turns out to be narcotizing fascitis, the horrible disease that eats away one's flesh. Her father wants the doctor to amputate her arm if it means saving her life. She, on the verge of a golfing scholarship at Stanford, doesn't want to lose her arm, and at the stroke of midnight, she'll be eighteen and can make her own health decision. Ohhh, the tension. so as not to keep you hanging, she loses her arm.

Meanwhile in the waiting room, one of the young men appears to have fallen asleep, but won't wake. The doctor calls for a gurney, rushes him to surgery, and he dies.

The original footless guy has his foot reconnected,and is back in the room with his happy wife, eating soup. The doctor is crying in another room over the young man who died, and the attending physician is making a move on the blonde doctor who successfully replanted the severed foot.

In the end, two doctors who wanted to attend the black eyed peas, meet the doctor with the tickets in the parking lot. The concert is long over, but they have warm beer and a CD. As the episode ends, they're all singing and dancing in the hospital parking lot, and none too softly. Shouldn't they know that a hospital is zoned for quietness?

Actually, I thought there was just a tad too much in this one episode. How in the world can they top it?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tough Decisions....arghhh!


I think I just filled out the most difficult piece of paper I've ever had to complete--an advance directive.

I've been asked so many times at the doctor if I have one on file, and I've had the forms for over a year, but never could bring myself to fill one out. Today I did, and I filled out one for my husband, too. Now I have to find two people to witness our signatures or pay a notary. I have such mixed feelings about my answers.

Funny, when your in your thirties and forties, you don't think about things like this, but as you realize that most of your favorite TV re-runs feature people who are dead, you get a big slap of reality. I'm about to become an official senior citizen and despite how young I pretend to be, I'm not a spring chicken anymore.

I don't want to put my children in the position of having to make life or death decisions for me, but then I had a horrible time making them for myself.

How do you know how you'll feel when the time comes that you need life-saving measures? I had to decide if I want doctors to help me maintain an acceptable quality of life even though I might be permanently unconscious, suffer confusion to the point where I am unable to remember, understand or make decisions, or worse... if I become dependent on someone else for all activities associated with my daily living.

Do I want CPR to restart my heart if it stops. This usually involved electric shock and I've been shocked before and didn't like it at all. Do I want to be on a breathing machine, or a guinea pig for new treatments? Do I really want tubes to deliver my food and water? Right now, I think not, but I value my life so much, it's hard to make a conscious decision that whatever happens, I don't want anyone to save me.

As if those decisions aren't hard enough, I also need to leave instructions about burial arrangements, hospice, etc. I'm in a quandary. I have claustrophobia, so the idea of being in a box six feet under makes it hard for me to breathe just thinking about it. The idea of being charred doesn't appeal to me either, but those are my choices. I choose cremation, but only if they make sure I'm really dead.

Then the last part is organ donation. I'm hoping I live long enough to wear out my organs, and I've never liked anyone seeing me naked, so that affected my decision there. I'm giving my corneas. They should be okay because I'm having my cataracts removed in December. I know this sounds like I'm not taking this serious, but if I don't crack a joke here and there, I think I might cry. This is tough. I just keep telling myself that I'm sparing my kids the hard decisions, but dang...I don't want to make them either.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Writing Historical Fiction

 This comment in a review I received prompted me to blog about the topic:

 White Heart, Lakota Spirit was a delightful break from my normal contemporary reading.  While at times I felt the story was a little slow on the plot it picked itself up fairly quickly. 


So...what classifies a fictional book as historical?  Facts pertinent and true to the period that are included in the story to help the reader visualize and move into scenes that are not modern day, and to do it with ease. Transitions shouldn't be obvious or draw the reader out of the story.  It's not an easy chore, but the secret is peppering enough of these tidbits into the story to make the novel interesting and real without overloading the reader with a history lesson.

Do these added facts slow the pace?  Sometimes.  Readers who enjoy contemporary novels may consider the the facts unnecessary, but in order to meet genre requirements, period information is essential to the story.  I imagine a story based on the old west would be pretty boring without a little knowledge of the history of that era.  I'm going to pick some tidbits from my latest release, White Heart, Lakota Spirit, and demonstrate.


“That bacon sure smells good.” Grace changed the subject. She noticed the tin pot still on the wagon sideboard. “Want me to get the coffee ready for brewing?”

Of course, Grace could just ask the question, but I want the reader to picture the women in the middle of the prairie, traveling in a wagon.

The air inside the tepee grew hot and stagnant with the door flap closed, but Green Eyes sought solace from the sorrow that gripped the entire village. The morning fire lay in a heap of gray ashes, but veiled sunlight filtered through the smoke hole, providing light enough to see. Occasionally, one small ember with the circle of stone sizzled to life, but quickly faded.

This could have been written without such description, but my attempt was to give the reader a glimpse of what the character sensed living in a tepee.

Green Eyes stared at the cocoon-like wrapping holding her father-in-law’s body. Following tradition, his relatives had already dressed him in his finest clothing, put feathers in his hair, and decorated his face. Somewhere beneath the tanned animal skin in which his adorned body was rolled were the prized possessions he’d take with him to the spirit world. The leather thongs holding the skin around him would secure his body to the sacred scaffolding.

 This was probably the truest example of adding historical facts that honestly don't propel the story, yet gives the reader an idea of the Lakota Traditions governing death of a tribal member.  Does it slow the pace a bit.  Sure it does, but without these facts, the story would be just another romance novel set in the old west.


A heart-wrenching wail from the widow interrupted Green Eyes’ pleasant memories of her friend. Singing Sparrow knelt, flailed her arms in the air, and then collapsed. Her forehead rested on the lodge floor. Her piercing cries continued. Smudges of caked blood remained around the self-inflected gashes on her arms. Mourning was a tiring process. The poor woman looked exhausted.
Green eyes understood the custom of cutting one's hair or sacrificing adornment as an expression of grief, but not body mutilation.  To show her own sorrow, she had chosen only to cut the fringe from her dress.  She hoped her shorn doeskin showed respect enough for the dead.


Okay, I think you get the picture of why these facts make a historical story an historical novel.

White Heart, Lakota Spirit is available at Moongypsy Press.  It's soon to be at Amazon, but last check, it isn't appearing yet.  Here's the video:














Friday, May 14, 2010

Welcome, Anne Patrick


First of all I’d like to thank Ginger for having me on her blog today, and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my new book. In Out of the Darkness, ex-FBI Profiler, Alex Michaels, is forced into hiding by the serial killer who murdered her twin sister and left her with a career ending injury. Meeting up with an ex-pro football player who is also facing an uncertain future, Alex makes Royce McIntire an offer he can’t refuse. Settling into her new life, Alex has no idea the killer is hot on her tracks along with the team of FBI agents who failed to protect her before. When they all catch up to her, not only is her peaceful life shattered, but once again her life is in jeopardy.

Here’s an excerpt:

The house was dark as Alex Michaels drove onto the lawn. She slammed the gearshift into park, pulled her gun from its holster, and jumped from the car. She swiped frantically at the tears as she stepped cautiously to the front door and grasped the knob. Please God…Please don’t let me be too late. Her grip tightened on the 9mm as beads of perspiration formed on her forehead. Inside the entryway, she reached out with her left hand to flick the light switch.

The knife came out of nowhere.

A sharp pain, followed by a burning sensation, seared up her right forearm. Her fingers went numb and the gun clattered to the floor. She jabbed with her left arm, her clenched fist coming in contact with the jaw hidden behind a black ski mask.

The intruder retaliated with a punch to her right cheek that slammed her body back against the door. The room swirled, her knees grew weak. She struggled to stand on solid ground. With a fistful of hair, her head was jerked back as the attacker’s knee rammed her rib cage, forcing a gush of air from her lungs.

She cried out as her knees buckled and she dropped to the floor. Another blow to her rib cage knocked her back onto the floor. Her left arm pinned beneath her, she raised a bloody right arm toward the intruder and stared in horror at her hand dangling lifelessly.

With the full weight of his body pinning her, she writhed beneath him trying to free her left arm.

“Fight me, Alex. Show me you’re not as weak as the rest.”

“I swear I’m going to kill you.” Using her feet as leverage, she rolled against him but she was no match for his strength.

He laughed. “Come on, Alex. Your sister put up a better fight than this.”

A sob escaped her lips. She could still hear Cassie’s cries for help and her bloodcurdling screams of terror.

“Sorry you didn’t make it in time to say goodbye. But you’ll be with her soon enough.”




Out of the Darkness
, a ‘Sweet’ Romantic Suspense, releases this month from Champagne Books. To learn more about me and my other releases, please visit my blog or my website.

Thanks again, Ginger for having on your blog!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reincarnation, Parrots and Female Fishermen

Jim Whitaker
"Hill of Beans" Author, Columnist,
Staff Writer Cynic Online Magazine has kindly allowed me to share his email to me:


When I was a kid I thought reincarnation was when you returned the evaporated milk can to the store and they refilled it. Come to think of it, reincarnation is something like that.

Reincarnation is the belief that when you die your body decomposes but your soul, spirit, essence, psyche -all right, whatever you consider you have - lives on. Then you are reborn in another body or form. If you’ve lived a wicked or at least non-exemplary life, you may return as a slug in a salt mine, a hopelessly tone-deaf wannabe on American Idol “performing” in front of Simon, or some other unenviable creation suffering in just retribution for your previous life indiscretions. That’ll learn you. If you’ve been first-rate, though, you get the reward of coming back in a higher status of life. Maybe you’ll be Simon. That’ll learn you, too.

So I got to thinking – now there’s something that’ll weaken the nation. A lot of people tell me what I am, but I wondered what I supposedly have been. Funny, I don’t remember any previous lives, just some of this one. Between you and me, I can barely remember what happened yesterday or even this morning.
What was I writing about just now anyway?
Oh, yeah.
In fact, researchers say, very few people overtly remember their past lives at all. Recollections of earlier experiences have to be coaxed out of them under hypnosis. Which makes me ask the question: If you can’t remember in your present life the lessons you learned in a past life to help you do better in this life and a future life, what’s the point of living the past life? There’s a sentence with a past life all its own.

Regardless, I wanted to know – without the hypnosis, thank you – so I used an online past life analysis generator. Hey, that’s what they call the thing.

You type in the date you were born. Then you hit the “Press for Diagnosis” button. Sooooo…
I was female. That’s OK, except I was born in 1650 in the territory of modern Central Russia. Somehow being a female 357 years ago in Russia isn’t very appealing. No offense intended to females or Russians. It’s just not my part of the world and too far on the other side of the 19th Amendment.

On the brighter side, uh-huh, I was a warrior, a hunter, a fisherman or an executor of sacrifices. I’m either killing people or I’m gutting fish all day long. Who could ask for more? Offense intended to executors of sacrifices.

Not liking the diagnosis, I surfed to another site. This one gave me a “mirror.” Instructions told me to gaze into the mirror and say “Mirror, mirror in front of me, what is it that you see? Tell me who I was before, was I rich or poor? I’m…” you get the drift. 

Then comes a warning: If you don’t say those words to the mirror, your reading may not be accurate. Why do I think that whoever is on the other side of that mirror is having a real good laugh? I’d never say those words.

“Are you talking to your computer again?”

“No, dear.”

Anyway, I clicked the mirror.


Hey, I used to be the University of Phoenix online.

Oh, something to look at while I’m waiting.

Here we go. I “may have” used to be a politician, leading and fighting for the rights of others. What? No graft? No payoffs? No kickbacks? No interns? That’s enough of that website.

Perhaps, I decided, I’d get more satisfying results pursuing a future life. What will I be next time?

This assessment asks a series of questions such as how you treat people, are you likable, how vain you are, how social you are, how you react to criticism, if you return what you borrow from neighbors, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Perhaps it was the question about borrowing from neighbors. I answered that I never borrow from neighbors until after dark while their dog is asleep.

A parrot. According to the test results, I’m going to be a parrot.

A regurgitating vain birdbrain fit for a cage and bombarding old newspapers. What an insult. Those people who set up this analysis? Why, I’ll hunt them down and I’ll fight them. I’ll gut them like a fish. I’ll …

Oh, excuse me, I must have been thinking about something from a past life.
*************************************************************************************

I'd like to thank Jim  for allowing me to use his offering today as it fit so nicely with my topic.  As promised, I said I'd share with you another "ghostly" experience:
My grandmother passed away and I traveled to Southern California for the funeral.  My granny had shared a home with my mom and on the night of the funeral, Mom and I were trying to recoup from such a traumatic and emotional day with a little television.  My grandmother loved "Ben Gay" for her aches and pains.  I'd almost say it had become her fragrance of choice.  Mom's TV was upstairs in the loft, and I decided to go downstairs for some ice cream.  Halfway down, I passed through a aromatic fog of Ben Gay that burned my eyes.  

"What are you putting Ben Gay on," I called back up to mom.

"What are you talking about?" she responded.

The cloud dissipated as quickly as it had formed, and I suddenly knew that Granny was checking in to make sure we were okay.  I slept in her bed that night, between the sheets that she always sprinkled with talcum powder, and I knew there was no place I'd rather be. 


I offer my thanks to Dave Donelson for his creative genius, and ask that he forgive my "borrowing" of his appropriate artwork.  :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Healing Words

So, if you've been following the story, you already know about Astro-Soul and the purpose of the organization.  So, remember, I accepted an invitation from a friend involved in AS to attend a "healing."

I sat spellbound most of the evening, although I really couldn't personally identify with the amazing things happening right before my eyes.  I realized that in order to accurately judge the validity of claims being made, I needed to involve myself  in a healing.

When my time came, I moved to the center chair between two members of AS, one being the facilitator and the other offering her body as a means of communication for the dearly departed.  My co-worker and friend assumed this role and I'm glad because she offered the greatest proof that I wasn't involved in a sham.

Let me preface the end result by stating that for years, I 'd suffered a neck ache that  came on at the strangest of times, and apparently for no medical reason.  The pain was often unbearable.  As I sat on the couch, waiting for others to finish their turns, I felt that familiar ache starting.  My friend delved into the depths of relaxation, allowing the spirit who adhered to me to speak through her.  I have to say that the voice was totally different than the one I was used to hearing, and the mannerisms were nothing like my subdued friend.

The spirit who communicated with the facilitator and myself claimed to have known me in a past life...one when I was a man and we worked together laying stones on castle turrets.  That life ended when I fell to my death, and the spirit assumed responsibility for not catching me when I lost my balance.  Through guilt, this person failed to cross over, instead clinging to my energy because of friendship and familiarity.  Once the facilitator asked him to search for the light and he saw it, my neck ache disappeared and to this day, I've no longer been bothered with that same discomfort.  Some may say it's all coincidence, but I say it's real.

The first healing made me want to know more, so I agreed to do another, but...of course, in keeping with my "hook" to bring you back, I'll share that tomorrow, so be here or miss out.  *lol*  I'm loving how everyone is sharing tales of their own.  There are spirits among us, and I have a few more tales to convince you.

In the meantime, have a look at my friend's website.  Margaret has her own spiritual gifts to share.  I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed the above picture from her site.  :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Got Spirit?

Before I move on to sharing the outcome of my Astro-Soul healing, I thought I'd first share this TRUE story I wrote about what happened when my dad passed away.




My mother and father purchased their family home in Southern California and raised my younger siblings there.  I was already married with a child of my own and a second on the way.  My father had been in poor health for some time, and despite having a pacemaker implanted, he suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack.  Before his death, he agreed to turn the existing carport into a one-bedroom apartment for my grandmother, and with the help of my uncles, she finally had a lovely home close to her daughter. This may not seem like an important point at this stage of the story, but it plays a role later on.

My father passed away doing what he loved best, watching television in a bedroom that my mother had made into a comfy den.  After finding him face-down in the shag carpeting, Mom was haunted by that image for months.  Her usual happy demeanor faded, and she became withdrawn.  Together with my sisters, I approached Mom about selling the house and making a new start.  Clearly the place was filled with too many memories, good and bad.  Despite promising my father before his death she would never sell, she reluctantly agreed.

My mother was an immaculate house-keeper and the home was nicely decorated. To avoid scaring away potential buyers, we encouraged Mom not to divulge that someone had passed away in the house. We weren’t trying to be sneaky, just logical.  I think by law, now you have to come clean.  It wasn’t long before someone made an offer.  A lovely lady who took in foster children purchased it and wanted immediate occupancy.  We all hurried to get Mom and Granny moved as quickly as possible.  Then began the problems...

Mom wanted to move closer to my brother, and at that time, there was a housing boom in progress in his area. At almost 70 years old, she camped out overnight to be first in line for one of the few houses left for sale in the development of her choice.  The purchase of her new home was contingent upon the sale of her existing home because my father left no provisions for her support other than a small Navy retirement.

Before the sale on the family home could be finalized, Mom discovered that a building permit had not been drawn on the apartment.  After much worry, as is my mother’s nature, and what seemed to be endless paperwork, the problem was remedied.  But then her real estate agent informed her state law dictated a residence must have either a carport or a garage.  Now she had to invest money she could ill afford in something she’d never enjoy.  She sighed with relief when it was completed.  We all did.  Surely everything was in order now.

Planning her move, she arranged for a rental truck, and all her children took time from work to help.  Two days before the scheduled move, the agent returned with more bad news.  Her current property didn’t have an easement to use the only driveway to the house.  The original owners had taken out the front drive and put a gate in the back leading to a cemented parking area and the NEW carport.  The businesses behind the house refused to grant her access after twenty-five years.  Mom had to go to court to fight for her rights and luckily won the case. I shudder to think what would have happened if she hadn’t.  All the problems can be captured in a few short paragraphs, but in reality it took months before everything was resolved. Luckily the purchaser wanted the home enough to persevere, and the developer holding the deed to her new property showed the patience of job and gave her a time extension even though her new place could have sold many times over. Mom was finally able to make her down payment a few days before someone else ended up with her new home.

After literally losing half her hair and at least twenty pounds from stress, my mother appeared in ill-health and had returned to her depressed state.  Once we relocated her, we assumed she would bounce back, but instead she suffered guilt from selling after promising my father she wouldn’t. She was certain all the hassle happened because her broken oath to him.  As the weeks went by, she became more excited about the new house and less involved in her negative thoughts, until…

The woman who had purchased my mother’s old house called.  She wanted to know some things about my father and hoped Mom wouldn’t think her insane.  My mother found it very strange as they had never conversed about him at all.  Erma, the new tenant revealed to Mom that my father’s spirit lingered in the house, and cited the exact places he’d frequented most—the kitchen stool where he had his morning cereal, the bedroom and the den, which according to her, remained ice cold despite the warmth in the rest of the house.

On certain occasions, Erma’s dog refused to enter the bedroom, growling as if someone strange was in there.  Mom was totally shocked that Erma knew exactly how my dad had spent his remaining days, but when she said, “I know this is a very inappropriate question, but could you tell me about your late husband’s bathroom habits… especially, if he rested his hands in a certain spot?”

 I’m sure Mom gasped. My dad had always had a weight problem, and up until his death was a big man. The bathroom had a window ledge above the toilet where he always leaned.  Mom had used only a valance above for décor because of his habit.  Of course, she had to know why Erma would make such a strange inquiry. Erma’s response was, “I was taking down your valance to put up curtains of my own, and a voice behind me asked, ‘Now, where am I going to put my hands?’”  That was confirmation enough for Mom that Dad was still there.

My dad lived with Erma for a few years and she didn’t appear to mind.  It seems that she was used to being a cross-over point for departed spirits, and wasn’t frightened by them.  My mother never made a trip back to the old house although I’m sure it crossed her mind on many occasions.  Erma called one day and told her that Dad had at last gone to his final rest and was at peace.  She had finally convinced him it wasn’t his place anymore and he should follow the light. 

As for my mother, I had my doubts about her strength because my Dad had always been the pillar of our family.  When he passed, I expected her to become helpless and dependent on her children, but I was wrong.  The quiet, indecisive woman I remembered from my youth became determined and verbal.  She stood up for her rights, and despite all the obstacles put in her path, she faced each and overcame them.  When I expected the least from her, she delivered the most. We still joke about the time Dad lived with another woman for a while, but Mom just reminds us how very thankful we should be for the nice lady who showed my Dad the way home.  I’m sure if he could speak to my mom, he’d tell her what an amazing woman she is.  She’s eighty-five and still going strong, and I swear she’s going to outlive her kids.  

Be sure and come back tomorrow for more about Astro-Soul, my experiences, and some more personal encounters of the weird kind. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Do You Believe in Spirits?

The paranormal genre is all the rage right now.  Most of it fiction and fantasy, but there are those of us among you who believe the paranormal is indeed fact.  Normally, one wouldn't go around confessing to dwelling among the spirits, but there are those who, for whatever reason, have been gifted with the ability to deal with the "other realm" without fear and with the intention of helping earthbound spirits find their way to the other side.

Years ago, I worked as a clerk in a nursery/landscaping company, and my co-worker was an awesome woman.  She and her sister, a local school teacher, belonged to a group called Astro-Soul.  Listening to my friend talk about the training sessions and their goals for assisting lost spirits fascinated me--so much so that I agreed to attend a "healing." 

I'm not sure what I expected, but I did know that both Pat and her sister were upstanding members of the community and I trusted them.  I'd worked with Pat for over a year and knew her quite well...her speech, her mannerisms.  I think because of my exposure to scary TV shows, I believed I would walk into a dark room with a crystal ball and get immediate goosebumps.  The opposite was what I found.  The "healing" was held in a friend's house--in a light and cheery living room where a card table and four chairs sat in the middle.  In the center of the table was a simple crystal bowl filled with water.

Before I relay my experience further, let me tell you that Astro-Soul is still a viable organization.  My interaction happened over thirty years ago, and it wasn't until a gifted friend shared her website with me, that I remembered my "healing" as though it were yesterday. As proof that the good work still goes on,  I found this on their Internet site, listed as their goals:

Understand the relevance of Past Lifetimes to this Lifetime 
Unfold a deeper working relationship with your Spirit Guides 
Develop your metaphysical sensitivity 
Participate in in-depth healing sessions    

My understanding is the members undergo training sessions that allow them to relax into a trance state, thus inviting a spirit to use their body for communication purposes.  Okay...so I was skeptical.  First, I couldn't image inviting a spirit to share my body, and I wasn't even sure I believed in "ghosts."  But that wasn't my function at this meeting.  Through the process I was to determine just how many "people" actually came to the meeting in my car although I declared I came alone. *smile*

At the beginning of the session, our hostess explained that though we may not see or hear the spirits that cling to us for various reasons, they are drawn to us because we represent someone familiar and provide comfort.  We all consist of "energy" and this is what a spirit represents--an energetic field that can drain our own.  That made sense. I walk around feeling drained all the time, so by that theory alone, I must have a bunch of  "clinger-oners."

I watched a few healings take place, where a guest sat at the table with two trained Astro-Soul members.  The guest was asked to place their hands over the water while one of the members served as interpreter and the other, a receptor. (These are my terms...not the organizations...in my attempt to explain what I perceived.)  I was engrossed in what I witnessed, but it was hard to make a connection without being a participant and relating the results to my own experiences.  So, I paid the nominal fee. (Yes, they do charge because the money goes back into the organization to continue the ability to enlighten others.)

What happened was amazing and made me a believer.  Of course, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow because this blog is running way too long to keep a reader's interest, and if I've learned anything about being an author, it's always leave a hook.

I invite you back tomorrow when I share what I found out about my past lives.

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