Saturday, May 6, 2017

Open Letter: I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION

Dear Friends and Voters,

It's been awhile since I've blogged, and many of you have read, seen and probably hidden my political posts on Facebook.  Yes, I'm outspoken, politically vocal and unapologetic for it at this point in my life.  I decided this morning to write an open letter to post to my blog and Facebook because of the recent passing of the healthcare bill by the House of Reps.  Sure, everyone is saying it will die in the Senate, but we all know the GOP will not stop trying.  There are several reasons this bill is a shit show of epic proportions, but I'm tackling one, one particular pre-existing condition listed - sexual assault.  It bothers me so much that I decided to be blunt using a very personal experience.

Statistics are a good argument, but can be easily ignored because they don't put a personal face on the issue.  Sure, you've heard 1 in 4 women has been sexually assaulted.  Meaning, unless you live off the grid with all males, you are likely to know someone with this "pre-existing" condition.  If you are reading this and thinking, well actually, I don't know anyone who has been sexually assaulted -- WRONG!  You know me.  Welcome to the group of having a friend or loved one who has this pre-existing condition.

My story is tragic, but not special or uncommon.  Before I begin, lets address the stereotypes that make many of us justify the uncomfortable reality of sexual assault.  Lets face it, we rely on them because it's often too painful to admit this happens so often in our society, after all, we are Americans, the best of the best, right?  We have to blame someone...sadly, our culture likes to shove this on the victim.  So, before anyone makes assumptions I'll list the stereotypes and then the facts to put a face on this story -- my own.

1.  I was not under the influence of anything.
2.  I was not in a place I shouldn't have been.
3.  I was not putting myself in a risky situation.
4.  I was not dressed inappropriately.
5.  I did not lead anyone on.
6.  I did not associate with the wrong people.
7.  I didn't lie, exaggerate or make it up.
8.  I did not live in a bad neighborhood, or was neglected by my parent.
9.  I was not promiscuous.
10.  I should have reported it right away.

The facts:

1.  I was a child.
Picture of me during those years...
2.  I was in my own home, may own bedroom, and I couldn't leave.
3.  I lived in a middle-class single family home neighborhood, with close relationships with my neighbors and lots of friends.
4.  I had a wonderful, attentive mother who loved me to death.
5.  I went to church with family friends, b-day parties, dance classes and sleep-overs.
6.  I dressed like any 4-5th grader would.
7.  All my friends were from 'nice' families, made up of educators, paralegals, stay-at-home moms etc.
8.  I was a virgin (obviously).
9.  I didn't know who to tell.  I was scared, confused and ashamed.  I didn't want to be taken away from my home, my mom, friends - I didn't understand what was really happening and I was silenced with terrible lies.  Fear is a strong reinforcer to ensure silence.
10.  My mother was sick at the time with cancer and given a very low chance of surviving.  I was terrified and she was helpless.  She trusted those closest to us and believed we/I would be taken care of, so before throwing blame in her direction -  Stop.  She was just as much a victim as I was.  She was 90 lbs. at the time, and fighting the worst fight of her life - a terrible cancer diagnosis.

I was in elementary school when the sexual abuse occurred.  The predator lived in my home.  I loved him, trusted him and thought he was a good dad-figure.  Why wouldn't I, he adored and spoiled me with toys.

This girl looks like the others...but she's suffering abuse.
Me in elementary school
It began when my mom got sick, which coincided with my maturing.  I became a surrogate for affection that my mom was unable to provide.  This kind of abuse isn't sudden, but something that is manipulated overtime, gradually and is very confusing to the victim.  This is what predators do.  Yes, only a sick person would do this to a young girl with a sick mother, using the threat of her death as a tool, using guilt as a manipulation, using attention as a weapon and fear of having no one as a way to silence.  I won't go into the horrid details, but by now I'm sure you get the idea.

I don't want, "I'm so sorry this happened to you," or "I wish I would've known."  Although that is the normal reaction, it doesn't do much now.  What I want is for you to fight and vote, because it matters.

At 15 years old and after a break up with my first love, I attempted suicide.  I could not handle the abandonment, especially, after submitting to a sexual relationship for love and security.  I thought this is how it worked, I do this and you love me.  Period.  My emotional reaction to the break-up was mocked by peers, his family members and even parents of friends who I admired and trusted.  I became the kid parents didn't want their girls hanging out with because I had 'problems.'  I was labeled crazy and weird.  My ex-boyfriend teased me and spread rumors - he toyed with me to continue to get sex.  He'd call me on the weekend and say he loved me, was sorry and wanted me back (he had a new girlfriend at the time) and promised he'd break up with XYZ.  I believed him, I loved him.  Come Monday, he'd be at school with his girlfriend, ignore me and laugh.  No one believed me, and I do mean NO ONE.  This lead to a nervous breakdown - a complete udder breakdown.  I was hospitalized.  I was stigmatized.  I was abandoned by every friend and family member except one, my mom.

PSTD was not diagnosed because despite everything that happened, I still had not told a single person.  No, my mom did not know.  Everyone thought I was a dramatic teen with emotional issues.  Part of this was true, to some extent.  While in the hospital, the doctors wanted to do a pelvic examination.  Remember I was 15 yr. old and a sexual abuse victim.  I absolutely freaked out because the doctor was male.  I fought, I screamed, I refused.  This should have been a HUGE sign for the medical staff.  Instead, I was threatened and locked up.  I wasn't allowed to have a single item in my room and was threatened with restraint if I didn't comply with tests.  I received no psychological counseling.  I was in a locked floor that included juveniles accused of murder.  I was terrified and cried all the time.  My depression and anxiety were off the charts and my desire to die increased.  I received no phone calls, cards or letters.  All the things my abuser said would happen, happened.  I was taken away from my mom, locked up, stigmatized and in my head, not believed.  Of course, I hadn't told anyone, but at 15 yrs. old I thought they should all see my pain and sympathize or 'figure it out.'

What I learned from this experience was to lie, pretend and don't say anything.  I lied about being depressed, I lied about being suicidal, I lied to get the hell out of that awful place and back to my bedroom.  I pretended I was fine.  I learned to be hard, numb and indifferent.  I toughened up.  I also learned how to become less appealing to repel sexual advances.  I changed my looks from preppy to more punk.  I learned how to release the pain I felt inside, the pain I couldn't let anyone see.  I didn't know what cutting was back then, it wasn't a thing - or not one I ever heard of; however, I self mutilated just the same.  I picked and dug at my skin.  First, it was in places I could conceal and would prevent me from allowing anyone to get close (in a sexual way), it was a barrier against natural desire.  I dug my thighs and rear end.  I told my mom and friends I was allergic to toilet paper, soaps, detergent, fragrances etc. and they believed me.  In the summer, I'd say I got attacked by mosquitoes and the bites itched and I broke them open.  I used makeup to cover up.  They believed me.  I started picking at my face.  I did it when anxious, depressed, both of which got so bad, I was picking in my sleep.  I'd wake up with blood on my sheets and pillows.  I blamed it on teen break-outs, acne, reaction to make-up, face wash, soap etc.  They believed me.  I went to dermatologists that gave me topical medications and told me not to pick at pimples.  I was being treated by doctors for something I did not have, but they never questioned or suspected.  Yes, I was embarrassed.  Yes, I hated having to spend time using all types of makeup to cover up and hide the damage I was doing to myself.  Yes, I hated myself for doing it.  No, I couldn't seem to stop.  On my own, I tried cutting off my nails, putting socks on my hands when I slept at night - even taping oven mitts to my hands.  Nothing worked.  I knew I needed to talk to someone, and I wanted to so badly - but, noway was I going to because I was never going back to that horrible hospital again.

From high school on my relationships suffered.  They'd start out good, but there was always that moment when I was touched a certain way and triggered.  When this happened, the relationship suffered and would eventually end.  After the birth of my daughter, I fell into serious depression and my insomnia got worse.  I had horrible nightmares and flashbacks.  It was so bad, that I finally sought counseling.  I confessed to her father (my partner at the time) what happened to me all those years ago.  The councilor diagnosed me with PTSD and said the birth of a girl triggered the reaction, nightmares and flashbacks.  I was terrified of how to protect her.  This is more common than people think.  My mom was upset and confused about what was happening to me.  FINALLY, yes, at 23 years old, I told my mom what happened.  She was devastated.  She asked the same questions that most people would, including why didn't I tell her?  Her guilt was palpable and it caused me extreme pain to see her blame herself - but that's what parents do, that is what society does.  I worried about her seeking revenge, I worried about being pressed to go after the man who did this to me.  Part of me wanted to make him pay, part of me was terrified to ever having to face him again.  BTW, he is still alive, still free, and has never faced any charges.  He is a grandfather and living his life.  It makes me sick, and I also have guilt that my silence most likely has caused other girls to suffer the same fate. But, that's another story for another time.  I did contact some people to find out my legal options and also, a family member of his, but that's another story for another blog post.  What I do know is:  these type of predators don't stop being predators.

Nevertheless, the relationship with my daughter's father failed.  Although he knew what happened and why I reacted the way I did, the issues I had with intimacy and my depression/anxiety became too much for him.  He thought there was a magic pill or a certain amount of sessions that would make me better.  He referred to me as 'broken.'

At 26 yrs old, I married.  I refused to have more children.  I couldn't go through it again.  I was honest about my abuse as a child.  Like before, my relationship suffered due to intimacy issues.  I continued to pick at my skin despite trying so hard not too.  I didn't go to any doctors, because I married one and figured he'd be able to help me.  Since I worked in a hospital, I didn't want anyone to know or find out by seeing my medical records.  I figured he could prescribe anything I needed.  However, the shame never left me and I was constantly reminded by him that I was damaged.  Every problem in our relationship was blamed on me because of my past.  He blamed my upbringing and my mom for what happened and any issues we had.  I believed him, after all, he was a doctor and I was broken to some degree and I had triggers and issues.  My picking, mutilating my skin continued.  I tried every beauty product to fix or cover it up.  I tried facial treatments and light therapy.  I avoided activities like swimming or ones that caused me to sweat because I feared my make up coming off and exposing my horrible shame.  My kids wondered and questioned, my husband told them I had mental problems.  He belittled me, he shamed me and people believed him.  My anxiety was so severe I began to have panic attacks, heart problems, OCD, IBS and lost a dangerous amount of weight.  I developed fears and phobias: like heights, flying, leaving home, being in crowds.  Most people have them, but mine became severe.  I couldn't go up escalators without closing my eyes and hanging onto someone, I'd go weeks without leaving my home or getting out of my car, if I had to pick up the kids. I'd drive to the grocery store, but couldn't bring myself to go in.  I'd panic and drive home.  I went to medical specialists to get 'fixed.'  I was prescribed heart meds, sleeping meds, given hormone injections, brain scans, stress tests, GI tests and several blood tests.

He blamed me for every problem in our marriage.  Going so far as to justify having sex with me when I was sedated with sleeping pills.  They caused a kind of amnesia, so I was not certain if it was real or I dreamed it.  After a few times, I realized what he was doing.  I was terrified to take my sleeping pills and would stay up as long as I could.  I slept during the day and was blamed for not doing enough around the house and being a lazy housewife.  And yes, I classify what happened to me as marital rape.  Given my history, it's disgusting he would do this to me.  I suffered yet another person I loved taking advantage of me, without consent.  However, he blamed me claiming he had needs and I wasn't meeting them.  I thought, "Well, maybe it's ok, he gets what he wants and I don't have to really remember."  Crazy huh?  This is how I was living.  I was being raped when sedated.  While in this state, and while he was doing this to me, I was seeing husband's face change to the face of the man who abused me as a child.  And, if you are thinking how could a husband knowingly do this to his wife that suffered sexual abuse as a child, or why would he want to do this to a person who is asleep/sedated?  Yep...that's a really good question.  He's more of a monster than anyone knew or would believe, and trust me, no one believed me.  I mean NO ONE.

After 18 years of this, I was on the verge of another break down.  I learned my husband was having an affair.  He blamed my intimacy triggers, medical issues and PTSD for his affair.  It was my fault.   I believed him.  He said I needed psychological help.  I believed him, so made appointments.  It actually did help and after a few sessions, the counsellor suggested my husband join us (marriage counseling).  I was hesitant, but agreed.  It was awful.  He blamed me and my mom for everything, he manipulated the sessions, he lied over and over.  One session, I actually was so hysterical I walked out.  I couldn't take anymore.  He lied about continuing the affair, he lied about everything.  I was a wreck, but eventually I found evidence of his affair (the smoking gun).  No one believed me and he explained it all away to anyone who would listen.  He is a fantastic manipulator.  No one thought this wonderful man would do such a thing.  My kids thought I was crazy and felt so sorry for Dad.  I got mad, and I had enough.  Something snapped.  I said NO MORE.  I didn't care if no one believed me and despite the heartbreak I was feeling because of what my kids were being told, I filed for divorce.  I had to have faith my kids would eventually see the truth.  I was broken, but not because of me, but because of an accumulation of life long trauma.  I risked it all to save myself.

At 42 yrs old.  I left my home.  I had no job and my kids were mad and thought I was nuts and my soon-to-be ex convinced them I was the bad person.  It didn't take long for my daughter to see through the bullshit.  I had the painful task of telling them what happened to me as a child.  I told them the truth about their Dad's affair.  I didn't want to upset them, but after withholding the information to protect them, I knew I had to tell my side of the story.  It took my son longer to come around, but eventually he did, and realized Dad's role.

With help from my mom, I purchased a cute little home and the court ordered my ex to pay for further education.  I went back to school, got my Master's in Forensic Psychology, went to the appropriate doctors and was honest about the level of depression and anxiety, despite my reservations.  I was worried about stigma and shame, but knew I had to be strong and acknowledge my PTSD.  I acknowledge I have major depression and an anxiety disorder.  I'm now a Behavioral Therapist, I know what this means.  I know that it is not something I asked for and that it's not something I can muscle through or get over.  Of course, I still feel some shame and embarrassment that I have to take medication, but I'm working on that.  I do take medication, everyday.  I've gotten proper counselling for PTSD from sexual abuse.  I still pick at my skin when stressed, anxious and tired.  I have severe insomnia that I also continue to take medication for and will likely have to for quite some time.

Now, at 45 yr sold, I'm in the best relationship of my life, it's strong and forever.  I no longer have triggers with intimacy, and I've got a true partner I can trust.  I've learned so much was not my fault and acknowledged victimization throughout my life was also not my fault.  I've learned what a healthy relationship is and how to maintain one.  Since I've taken charge of my own life, both medically and mentally, I'm more confident and I'm no longer scared to put this story out there.  It took 45 years.  I'm not 'fixed.'  I am me - flaws and all.  I can't change the past, it will always be with me and it will continue to remain a challenge, but I now have the tools and support I need.

I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION.  It is documented in my medical records because I sought the help I needed both medically (medications) and mentally (mental health counselling).  This health bill scares me, not just because of the pre-existing condition clause, but because I momentarily felt this lump in my gut of regret for being honest with my doctors and accepting help.  My initial thought was I may have screwed myself by having this in my medical records.  WTH?  I'm the healthiest I've ever been and this bill has me regretting it because I'm worried my insurance costs will go up, that I won't be able to afford it or worse, not be able to get insured at all!

Sexual assault as a pre-existing condition will likely devastate 1 in 4 women.  They may not seek help.  They likely have similar stories to me.  If you think you don't know a person who has been sexually assaulted, you do now.  Go vote, go fight - RESIST.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Only Get One Chance to Make A First Impression: Mackay Mansion

With easy access to online reviews, businesses and those who represent them, need to be diligent because a bad experience can do serious damage. The old rule that a person who has a negative experience will tell at least ten people has gone the way of the rotary phone. Social networking has increased the spread of 'word of mouth' exponentially!  With a single tweet, Facebook post, Tumblr, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Urbanspoon or any of the other hundred apps and sites that allow reviews, a bad experience can reach thousands in seconds. Also, don't forget about bloggers! You never know when this fine creature is lurking at an establishment. Beware! They can be your best or worst friend depending...yep, on experience. 

Undoubtedly some bloggers live to rant, while others try their best to present an informed review. I'm guilty of both when the mood presents. However, I do try my best to stay objective and fairly optimist. BUT...yes, here comes the big old BUT...when an experience is just downright irritating, as a blogger, I must and I do mean MUST share the horror. If for no other reason than to prove that you never know who is in your presence or listening. 

This brings me to my recent visit to Virginia City, Nevada. As many of you may know, I travel the country and world researching, investigating, using improper grammar and touring various historical places with paranormal claims and locations with interesting myths and/or legends. When the opportunity arose, I gladly coupled my visit to the University of Nevada (homecoming game) with a tour of Virginia City. For those driving from Reno, I recommend ditching the GPS and taking 395 N. to Hwy 50 (towards Dayton). If you depend on the GPS you will end up on a very scary switchback mountain road that will make everyone in your vehicle car sick. Trust me, you don't want to make this mistake! 

Any great tourist knows you can't visit Virginia City without seeing The Old Washoe Club and Mackay Mansion. I did both, but will talk about the Washoe Club in a later post. Let me first start off by saying, the Mackay 
Mansion is in theory worth seeing. At the grand admission price of $5, it sounds like a steal. However, the guide leaves much to be desired. I had barely stepped through the door when I was assaulted by political opinions and bad Obama jokes. I'm not an Obama fan, but even I was offended! Besides, I wasn't there to debate and gripe about our government supported historical sites or politics.  

If you're eager to see the entire house, you'll have to wait.  First, you'll be ushered a few steps to the old vault. Sounds interesting, but be prepared to be stuck in here starring at a few photos, the toilet, and cleaning supplies while the guide tells long-winded stories that obviously interest him, but probably not many other people on the tour. Again, you'll be subjected to opinionated banter, a few racist comments about how the entire country of China visited a few weeks ago, and plenty of cutting sarcasm. 

Thankfully, when this claustrophobic entrapment is over you'll get to see the drawing room. A photo of Mrs. Mackay is on the mantle, but you won't hear much about her---she gets completely passed over.  Instead, it's all about Ellin Mackay and Irving Berlin. Admittedly, this is a love story worth learning more about, but the crack about the two unidentified upperclass white people being Obama's parents on the wall, was unnecessary. If I wanted to listen to a bad standup comedy, I'd stay at an off-strip casino in Reno. I certainly don't mind humor, and corny jokes are unfortunately always part of guided historical tours, but the dig was brow-raising. Still, I smirked it off and moved on. After all, no serious harm--just not my kind of humor, right?

The best part of the tour is when it becomes unguided. I'm not certain why, but at this point guests are left alone to wander upstairs and downstairs. Savor the freedom and take lots of photos, paying particular attention to the bedrooms. Despite the guides' claims that paranormal activity in the house is bullshit, we  captured a faint white mist in Mrs. Mackay's bedroom. Even Johnny Depp is convinced the Mackay Mansion is active! While filming Dead Man, Mr. Depp claims a little girl dressed in all-white paid him a visit. 

Perhaps, this is a good time to note if you are visiting the mansion because of ghostly curiosity or haunted myth and legends, DO NOT mention this to the guide. Do not ask paranormal, haunted or ghost-related questions. He has strong opinions about those who research, investigate or inquire about the dead. Even though not everyone who does this is in it for the money, the guide will boast that they all are - every damn last one of 'em!  Apparently, we are all just a bunch of nuts stuffing our pockets with greenbacks. Yep, we are making millions off the dead. What!? Of course, I quickly paused to check my bank app on my smartphone to see if millions had been transferred into my account, sadly no...still waiting. May I recommend sticking to topics related to mining and charitable causes (apparently, Mr. Mackay was a saint) to avoid a very uncomfortable situation. 

At this point, I'm still nodding hoping I can discreetly take my blood-boiling body out the back door to the garden. Fresh air will clear my head. Oh no, he followed us!  Fine, I innocently asked if he ever had a paranormal experience at the mansion. It was a reasonable question given the hype surrounding the property. A simple, polite yes or no would have sufficed. Incredibly, I was subjected to a barrage of ill-will towards Amy Allan from the Dead Files and the owners of the Washoe Club. The guide was upset that the show (The Dead Files) didn't pay the Mackay Mansion owner more money. Did I hear that right?  Was this guy for real?  Didn't he just say he hated people who made money off the dead and then turns around and complains that the show didn't pay enough? Oh, it gets better...he then goes on to say that he's had several paranormal experiences (not at the mansion) that would make those so-called-investigators and experts cry. Astounded, I wonder what his qualifications are? He offers up being a poet-laureate with ties to Mark Twain as credentials. Confused? Yeah, me too!  Somehow his dislike for Amy Allan, Ghost Adventures, and the owner of the Washoe Club is directly tied to political corruption, greed and his desire to bring back prohibition (since that worked so well the first time). Where did that come from, you ask? Well, this guy will tell you on the tour he hates two types of people: those who make money off the dead and those who poison people. Okay, I'm not pro-poisoning, but I needed clarification on what type of poison we are talking about--- turns out it's alcohol. That's right, the worst of the worst -- bartenders, bars and anyone who serves the sinful, deadly spirits (non-paranormal kind). He did note that smoking a bowl was okay because it helped cancer patients. At this point, I'm wondering what exactly is in the water at this place!  Am I still on a historical tour?

I'm not easily offended, but I must say I lost my cool after enduring political slams, racist implications and unsupported slander about people and other local businesses, not to mention the absurd poison tangent. I said a few choice words before abruptly walking away from the tour. For me, it was concluded with no tip, thank you very much! 

I salvaged the experience by focusing on having the opportunity to visit the actual home. I'd sincerely advise the owner of the Mackay Mansion to reconsider the tour guide. If your goal is to keep people away and discourage historical haunted history and insult guests, you've hired the right man for the job!  I tour places for a living and this was the worst guided tour experience I've ever had!  I really hate to discourage anyone from seeing the mansion, but I just can't recommend it. Save your $5 bucks and go have a drink with the crew at The Old Washoe Club. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Look At the Hours

Why do we read horoscopes? Mostly, to understand our self and others. But, why do we need star charts to do this? Wouldn't simple self-examination and observation work? Logically, yes, but sometimes we can't always 'see' what we need to in order to understand, or take the best path. Ultimately, we all strive to understand, to solve that puzzle that is what makes humans, well...human. 

Astrology is used as a divine method to extract meaning regarding an event at a precise point in time. Why does it matter? Probably, because as humans we are constantly asking, 'Why am I here? What is my purpose?' We can't help but wonder about the bigger meaning of life, whether it's our life or life in general. What makes you, youIs it DNA, fate, environment, culture, latitude and longitude or the cosmos? 

I don't tend to read my daily horoscope predictions because (here's the Charlie confession) I'm afraid.  'Afraid of what?' you ask.  Not of what I can't change, but more of it influencing my day. But, isn't that what it's supposed to do? Yes, I imagine so. However, I don't like second guessing.  I might avoid a change or risk based on some words I interpreted -- and those could have been interpreted right or wrong based on my current mood. Most horoscopes are optimistic in tone, but that doesn't mean I'll take it that way. What if I miss out on something simply because my moody behavior added sarcasm to the printed word?  I'm sure my reasoning has something to do with my sign lol.  I might have fallen into a black hole of over-thinking????


Despite my fear of reading daily 'advice' or 'predictions' ironically, I do read everything else associated with astrological signs: compatibility, personality traits, business and general silliness. I find these aspects to be amusing and sometimes, useful. And, if I'm being honest, I find it fun to see if I can guess a person's sign. I must say, many are pretty spot on.  


Even though I'm a Taurus, I've noticed not every characteristic of this sign truly fits me. I figured most descriptions are generalities based on a broader point in time. Horoscopes are unable to be specific because other elements of astrology, such as ascendants and rising signs, are needed for more detail. A full horoscope reading requires a person's exact date, time, and location of birth. 

Well if this is the case, I HAD to gather the required info. and get on with it! I came across this little blog that talked about rising and moons signs.  I thought, "Hey, maybe I need to take this a step further to get a better reading of me."  Okay, yeah, I know 'me,' but I wanted to see if the stars did. Curiosity got me wondering just how accurate I could get by narrowing down the precise time and location of my entry into this world.  Would I even understand it?

Up for a challenge, I dug out my birth information and began constructing my astrological chart. Below is my summarized personal experience/chart. I found by going a bit deeper into the understanding of astrology, I did get a specific and unique depiction. By discovering my rising and moon sign, I was provided with a more complete portrait of who I am. Sure, I already knew all this stuff - but confirmation is always comforting. Besides, reflection is never a bad thing - I find it rather grounding.  


Cosmos of Charlie -5:47 pm A Precise Moment in Time


Rising Sign is in 01 Degrees Scorpio
You tend to be quiet, reserved, secretive and, at times, quite difficult to understand. Others notice your deep emotions and feelings and wonder how to draw you out. Stubborn and tough, you fight for any position you believe in. You are very resourceful and formidable when you become angered or upset about something. You enjoy living life at the cutting edge -- for you life must be experienced intensely and totally. Quite courageous, you are willing to take calculated risks. Easily hurt by others, you often strike back with bitter sarcasm. Sensitive and curious, you are concerned with the deeper mysteries of human psychology. Once you have become interested in any subject, you pursue it with total fanaticism.

Sun is in 27 Degrees Taurus 
You are known for being patient, slow moving and careful -- you love to prolong and savor enjoyable times. You appreciate and need comfort, ease and warm surroundings. Be careful of a tendency to become placid and self-satisfied and to overeat (especially sweets). You require strenuous situations in order to grow and mature properly, even though you try to avoid them. Affectionate, even-tempered and slow to anger -- when you do become emotionally upset, you are also slow to forgive and time must pass before your calm returns. You demand real results from any situation -- abstractions are very difficult for you to comprehend. Very artistic, your hands love to mold and shape things. You portray an earthy, physical sexiness that others find quite seductive.

Moon is in 01 Degrees Leo
You always want to be proud of yourself and will never do anything that will make yourself look bad. You need the respect and admiration of others and enjoy attracting attention to yourself. Everything you do tends to be self-emphasized and self-exaggerated. Very stubborn, willful and independent yourself, be sure to allow others who are close to you the similar right to "be themselves." Your need for love, affection and reassurance, and your tendency toward vanity, allow you to have your head easily turned by flattery. The more insecure you are, the more you tend to be a showoff. You love games and sports as a matter of fact, you would usually rather play than work. Be careful of a tendency to be snobbish and uppity -- it does not become you. 


When I pull it all together, it does provide insight into my tendencies and characteristics.  Of course, it's not 100%, but I was a little amazed at how my chart turned out.  I wasn't shocked by the Scorpio rising, but having my moon in Leo was surprising. That certainly explains the variation I show from certain typical Taurus traits. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What the Brady Bunch Taught Me About Hawaii



Having an opportunity to visit 'exotic' island paradises was not a conceivable possibility for a young midwestern kid during the 70's. Well, not for this kid.  Everything I learned about other cultures came from the three fuzzy channels on our TV. Oh, you laugh, but sadly Fantasy Island and Scooby Doo were big influences in my early multi-cultural learning. Shameful...I know, which brings me back to "The Brady Bunch." For those who don't know, this was a popular show in ancient TV times.
In a particularly educational episode, the Bradys go on vacation to Hawaii. Silly Bobby Brady accidentally removes an ancient tiki from an unknown burial ground. Tsk...tsk...Bobby.  Immediately, a string of accidents plagues the Brady family during their vacay. After listening to a wise islander (basically, a tour guide), the Bradys conclude Bobby's naive actions unleashed a curse. The only truly sensible thing to do was to return the tiki. Poof! Accidents stopped occurring. The Brady clan learned a valuable lesson about Hawaiian superstition and so did the wide-eyed, prime-time viewers.

Even though this was just a television show, the episode writers had some understanding of Hawaiian myths, superstitions and legends. Residents strongly respect nature and believe in not disturbing spirits, which are felt all over the islands. Unmarked graves are everywhere and it's not unusual for human remains or bones to be unearthed during construction.  If this happens, by law the project must stop. There are a group of archaeologists and a Burial Council that are called to deal with any remains.


Too bad for the Bradys that they didn't have Internet back in the day, but the travel brochure should have included the #1 thing not to do when visiting the Hawaiian islands. Unless you want to suffer a curse from Pele, the goddess of wind, lightning, fire or volcanic inferno, DO NOT take a rock, sand, pebble, shell, or tree branch out of Hawaii. AND, really seriously do not even think about snagging a lava rock as a souvenir. Mailing these items back to the island may not necessarily lift the curse.  Many visitors have tried this tactic, but once you piss off a goddess, I'm thinking you're going to be in trouble for a long time.  My advice: Whether you're a skeptic or believer, just don't do it - respect the island and the beliefs of the people who reside there. 

Many of the islands superstitions are influenced by three distinct cultures: Chinese, Japanese and Filipino. While touring, if you pay attention you will see signs of it just about everywhere you look. Many structures, gardens, and furniture are arranged in ways that promote positive and beneficial energy to the surrounding environment.Feng Shui or Fung Shui, is not simply a trendy ideal, but rather has existed as a way of life for generations. If you visit a local residence, check out the bedroom. Okay, so that's a little forward, but sneak a peak if you get the chance. A true local is likely to arrange their bed so that their feet will NOT point in the direction of the door. It's believed a spirit can literally grab you and pull you by the ankles out the door. Also, never sit with your back facing a door. Everyone knows that's the easiest way for negative forces to penetrate a person. 


Moving on to the Japanese... they gifted the belief in what is referred to as the "choking ghost," a spirit that sits on your chest and chokes you while you are sleeping. Not pleasant and is probably the mostly reported paranormal experience shared and reported to police.  Also, the belief in "Bachi" (bad karma) is prevalent. While dining out, make certain you do NOT let your chopsticks stand in a full bowl of rice.t would be considered unlucky if you let your chopsticks stand in a full rice bowl unless you enjoy misery.  Also, and this is really important, do NOT cut your nails at night. Whew! I'm glad I learned this before I made the critical mistake. Cutting nails is now a day-time activity.

Influenced by the Filipino culture is the belief that everything comes in 3's. Just to be safe, avoid all things of three. This is actually harder to do than one would think. For instance, when taking a photo with 3 people, it's believed that the unlucky middle person will die first. I know there are going to be many Instagram users who just freaked out. I confess, I did know about this particular superstition prior to taking this photo of me with my children (see below).  I figured we couldn't avoid the three factor, so if it true, I'm planning on going first anyways.


Some other things to look out for are black moths and wailing dogs, neither of which bring about anything good. Both signal more death is coming. Also, if you clip your nails (night or day) you MUST properly discard them or an evil spirit will take them and curse you. Yep, again with the nail clipping.

To mainlanders, these superstitions might sound bizarre, but nearly all natives will tell you they've experienced some kind of phenomena. It's not uncommon for a Kahuna or church leader to bless an event, construction or home to prevent bad luck. Whether you believe or not, I advise being informed so you don't insult anyone, especially, Pele. She is not a goddess to be messed with! If you must have a shell or rock, buy it at a stand and it wouldn't hurt to ask if it has been blessed. Otherwise, stick with bringing home a t-shirt or sarong.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lightning Strikes Multiple Generations

Is there an organic explanation to why we attract what we fear most? This is a question the Olsen family has been asking for years. The old saying goes that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but this provides little comfort to the members of a family that appears to attract strikes by lightning spanning four known generations. Unfortunately for them, it has been proven that lightning can indeed strike the same place twice. Lightning has absolutely no memory and has as much chance of striking any place despite its previous actions. But, what is the likelihood of it hitting moving members of a familiar line multiple times? According to National Geographic, "The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000." 


Apparently, if you're an Olsen, your odds seem to be much greater! After examining and mapping the family tree, something mysterious was revealed. Since 1899, ten members of the Olsen family from Illinois have been struck or nearly struck (within feet) by lightning. 

In May of 1899, at the age of 23, Christ Olsen was killed during a visit to his fiance's home. Oddly, years later in 1921, Ollie, Christ's brother was struck and killed at the barn door while checking on animals during a storm. Understandably, their sister Christine lived the rest of her life in fear. In 1941, Christine's worst nightmare came true. While caring for her grandson, Bill, Christine's living room was struck by lightning. Thereafter, she'd race to the car hoping the four rubber tires would insulate her from another strike during a storm.

However, that's not the end of the stormy strangeness. Two decades later, in 1961, Bill the now grown grandson and his daughter were barely missed by a ball of lightning that struck his kitchen. Five years after that incident, in 1966, Bill's cousin Connie was walking to her sister's car after leaving work when she was zapped by lightning. Despite the hit, Connie survived. Four generations later lightning is still attracted to the Olsen family. When Bradley Hampbel visited his grandmother, he was nearly struck by lightning that hit a nearby barn door. A black chard mark reminds him just how close he came. 

Is there something organically inherited, passed down the genetic line of Olsen's that makes them more likely to attract lightning? Is it a curse, something supernatural or mere coincidence? Who knows, but the events do seem extraordinary.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ghost Club

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It all started in a little place called Cambridge in 1855 when a group of gentlemen from  Trinity College began discussing ghosts and psychic phenomena. The official coming out, or formal announcement of The Ghost Club appeared in The Times (London),1862. As far as we know, The Ghost Club is considered to be the first organization of its kind to include respected academic figures. Not only did they openly share and exchange ideas on psychical abilities, but members also participated in paranormal investigations. 

Spiritualism came into vogue during the Victorian era in response or rather rebellion to Puritan ways. Many Victorians were inclined to abandon conventional religious teachings for a more enlightened way of thinking. It's thought that the writings of Charles Darwin, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the reputable physicist, Sir William Crookes played a role in influencing the turn in thought. 

One of The Ghost Club's earliest members was Charles Dickens. I can only speculate that discussions from these gatherings had some creative influence on his story-writing, including the classic tale, The Christmas Carole
The founding members actively investigated places considered haunted and people claiming to have psychic ability.  One of the group's earliest investigations turned out to be the debunking of the Davenport Brother's spirit cabinet. Even though they proved it was a hoax, it was never officially published in The Times.

After Dicken's death, The Ghost Club dissolved until it was revived on All Saints Day in 1882 by Alfred Alaric Watts and Reverend Stainton Moses. At the same time, another group formed, The Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Some people in the community, including Reverend Stainton Moses were members of both organizations. The fundamental difference being that The Ghost Club remained a secretive and selective group of true believers in the paranormal, whereas, SPR was made up of individuals dedicated solely to the scientific study of psychical phenomena.  

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Although The Ghost Club did not allow women, it did attract some of the most original and creative male minds including Sir William Crooks, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Nandor Fodor, Sigmund Freud, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Price, Bligh Bond, Yeats and inspired author Arthur Grey's fictional short story, "The Everlasting Club," which was published in 1919.


All historical documentation of The Ghost Club's existence barely escaped being destroyed.  During an 18 month wrap of the club's meetings, and due to the  confidential nature, members suggested that any trace be erased. However, the British Museum agreed to keep the clubs material secret until 1962. 
Despite deaths, internal disruption and changing of club presidents, The Ghost Club still remains. The club continues to meet monthly at the Victory Services Club in London and yearly investigations are scheduled.

Judging by the number of television reality shows and movies in the current market, you'd think interest in all things paranormal was a fairly new trend. However, this is not the case.  With increased circulation into the mainstream, a lot of misinformation and exploitation regarding paranormal phenomena continues. I truly hope the good will outweigh the bad. Perhaps, it will generate continued scientific research, influence creative thought and heighten the general acceptance of things that we can't readily explain.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's All Relative: Understanding Psychic Energy


Intuitives, Sensitives and Psychics: What's the Difference?

Throughout my travels, research and everyday conversations, I've
experienced a variety of reactions from people when paranormal terms sneak into the discussion. Either the people I'm speaking with will show polite interest and curiosity, or I get the rigid scorn of skepticism and crossing of the arms. Most are cautious and are trying to determine if I'm a total nutter, a crazy woman, or perhaps, credible on some level. Previously, I was reluctant to discuss anything paranormal with people outside of my immediate, trusted circle. Let's face it, no one wants to be thought of as a weirdo or mentally unstable. Even those who are more open to the possibilities still have preconceived notions or images about the paranormal. This is understandable since by definition it is outside the norm. I admit, I still lean towards the side of cautious skepticism and don't believe everything I personally hear, see or even feel. I choose to study, interpret and analyze certain information to determine (not always successfully) from, where and why it's being relayed. 

I realize that if I trip while walking, it's probably because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, or if I taste something bitter, it's because a random spice got mixed into my food. However, there are times when the five senses can't provide the immediate answer, and this is when I pause and take a moment. This is where my passion for awareness, further study and answers thrives.

More times than not, the term psychic conjures images of 1-900 infomercials, neon signs in shady neighborhoods, wrinkled grandmas with crystal balls, voodoo ceremonies, circus acts and the local nutter who dances around in a field wearing bright colors and loving trees. What!?  I only do that on the solstice. LOL. We can thank the creative cons who have successfully exploited sciences inability to definitively prove the existence of other sensory abilities for such universally shared imagery. 

My attempt in discussing this is to hopefully break down the basics defining intuitives, sensitives and psychics by putting them in the simplest of terms to show the science and fluidity behind the extra-sensory abilities of people.  In reality, these levels of a 'sixth sense' are not abnormal.  At the lowest level we all possess intuition, which guides survival of our species.  

Without getting too metaphysical, philosophical or scientific, I'll begin by stating
we (humans) are inherently designed to sense and react to all forms of life and the physical world. It's been proven that we live in a world of streaming, "Energy  that cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another."  In fact, Albert Einstein is the most famous mental intuitive in history. He understood this concept better than anyone. What we have labelled as psychic phenomena is merely energy that carries or holds vibration, intelligence and emotion. Energy is flowing, connecting and withdrawing all around us. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it is not there. It is the unseen nature of what is. This 'stuff' has already been or is on its way to being physical. 

We've been biologically equipped with functions to aid us in our environment. Think about smell, sight, hearing etc. We hardly give much thought about these physical senses, so why do we second guess the possibility of other inherent tools? Doesn't it make sense that by design we'd be outfitted with more? Think about these other (sixth or seventh) senses relating to wisdom and strength, we just access them differently than we do physical senses such as taste or smell. 

To better understand the different psychic types, I've broken down three: Intuitives, Sensitives and Psychics.  By doing so, it might appear that lines are drawn between categories, but this is only for explanation purposes.  As people accept and develop abilities they may evolve from one to another, or they may not. It is a fluid process and sadly, not much is understood about why it occurs.  Many theories and solid bases are being established, but nothing absolutely conclusive has yet to be proven (as far as skeptics are concerned). If you are a person who possesses abilities you already have your proof. You know what is absolute, but it is difficult to transfer this knowledge to the current scientific community. 

Intuitives have the ability to understand or know something immediately and without conscious reasoning. They possess a knowing, or receive intense impressions through feeling or emotions.  Meaning what they are experiencing is more than just an instinct, but rather an overwhelming wave that is impossible to ignore.  Also, some intuitives experience physical body aches, pain or nausea. Most impressions come though as thoughts, conceptions or ideas. Being intuitive may be frustrating because it's difficult to explain to others how you know what you know, without having previous knowledge. 

Sensitivesor sometimes referred to as highly-sensitive people (HSP) are more receptive to electricity, electrical fields or waves, sounds, smells, moods, emotions and extra-sensory conditions and presences. They may not be able to explain, understand or communicate what they are sensing, but they know it is happening. It seems there is a biological difference in sensitives that allows their nervous system to process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly than the average person.  It is also thought to be hereditary. Manchester Paranormal Investigation (MPI) states, "It is estimated that approximately 15-20% of humans have nervous systems that can be described as highly-sensitive. Sensitives are spiritually, mentally, or emotionally attuned to things outside of the ‘normal realm of consciousness’." 

Psychics have the ability to access at will extra-sensory information and knowledge. It is simply a more refined and developed form of intuition and sensitivity. 

Sources MPI and Discover your Psychic Type by Sherrie Dillard

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