Thirteen things about 2016 (or how I spent my year)

holiday-season

So here we are at the end of 2016 and another new year is beckoning. As usual, I’m not sure where the time has gone. Here are 13 thoughts, ideas, and happenings that affected my life in 2016. What are yours?

  1. The nickname for 2016 should be Grim Reaper. Sure, lots of people die every year, but it seemed this past year hit us in the gut with the losses of people who affected us on a deep level.
  2. Paul and I purchased our first-ever RV in January 2016. You can keep track of our adventures at our Ghouls on the Go website or at our Ghouls on the Go Facebook page.
  3. In February 2016, we began living and working in our RV full-time. We did some traveling, but not out of the state of Colorado. That’s the main goal for 2017.
  4. Our elderly cat, Isis, crossed the Rainbow Bridge near the end of 2016.
  5. Received my acceptance letter from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to resume my studies in 2017 and finish up my degree in Applied Communication.
  6. Spoke with another university and made plans to apply for their MS of Forensic Psychology program after I graduate from UCCS.
  7. Began writing several new books in 2016, one titled Write to Dead, another is Camp Horror, and the other is a Super-Secret Writing Project. I’ll reveal the title and subject matter of SSWP at a later time.
  8. Continued taking online college courses throughout the year via Coursera, FutureLearn, edX, and Khan Academy.
  9. Earned several official certificates of completion from my online college courses this past year, including courses on Psychology of Popularity, The Addicted Brain, and Dog Cognition and Psychology.
  10. Shed more weight for a total of 87 pounds – thus far. I am not dieting; instead, I have changed the way I eat so I concentrate on consuming more fruits and veggies. I still eat desserts, snacks, and basically whatever I want (within reason).
  11. Was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and sciatica in fall of 2016. A painful development, but with physical rehab and the proper medication I should be okay and able to live a relatively normal life for years to come.
  12. Learned that I am more at peace when I’m out in the forest and in nature than I am in the city.
  13. Discovered I have a knack for improvising in the kitchen and coming up with simple, tasty recipes that can easily be prepared and cooked in an RV – even without the use of a stove or an oven! A cookbook for RVers is forthcoming.

Here’s wishing you and yours a fantastic 2017!

 

Trying to process it all…and failing

My brother, Leo, sent me a photo of my mom sleeping. It looked like a 19th century death photo—not kidding. I’m still trying to process it. She isn’t coherent and isn’t able to communicate with me over the phone. She is having massive panic attacks and is combative with staff. She no longer recognizes my brother and I doubt she knows who I am anymore.

I’m sorry to be a downer, but I can’t not mention all this, because it’s what’s happening now and it’s my mother. I cannot not discuss how devastating this is and how it’s affecting my every waking moment. How I know I need to be at peace with letting her go because she needs to transition peacefully, but how I’m not ready to lose my mother.

She adopted me, raised me, made me who I am in so many ways. But in the end, to love her is to want final peace for her. When she is gone, a big part of me will go with her.

I want to thank my loving, sensitive husband for being with me at this time and helping me through this. He is an angel incarnate. Such a gentle, understanding soul. I love you, Paul.

Dropkick that jerk from your life, girl

Paul ran to Walgreens a little while ago and there was a guy outside who’d apparently been thrown out of the house by his girlfriend. Paul heard the guy talking shit to his friend sitting in the car and saying he was gonna “kill that bitch” because he had to sleep out in the cold.

Of course, this is a primary example why Paul & I have kept more to ourselves over the years. Stuff like that — brutish, thuggish behavior — fills us with incredible anxiety and we just don’t wanna be out and about in the world around people like that. It seems society is getting meaner and more thuggish by the day. Almost as if anti-intellectualism and lack of education is worn as a badge of honor and is something to brag about.

In my view, if this is the way that guy is, then I’d say his girlfriend not only needs to kick his ass out of house, but out of her life as well. Why women get with these assholes is beyond me. Not a fan of the shit-talking, macho man type. Better to be single than be miserable with a jerk like that.

Is there a demonologist in the house? Yes, there will be soon.

Ancient Abraxas gem

Today I turn 49, and I have a different sort of announcement to make. I’m excited about it, and Paul is completely supportive as well. In short, I am embarking on the path of becoming a demonologist. Yes, a path of study and research I have already touched upon before and considered for a long time; however, I never voiced it to anyone (not even Paul).

The path is a natural one for me, given the experiences in my life with studying various religions, pursuing a minor in philosophy (with particular emphases on religion and the philosophy of death/dying), and a long history with the paranormal (both the study of it as well of the investigation of claims).

If you’ve been on my FB page for a while, you already know that, although I was raised Presbyterian and my adopted dad was originally Mormon, I’ve been pagan for 30 years and have been pagan clergy for over ten years now. In the past, I have acted as a High Priestess and performed numerous rituals. I’ve also been an avid practitioner of various forms of divination most of my life, casting my first astrological horoscope at a young age and progressing into studying numerology, cartomancy, graphology, palmistry, tarot card readings, and runes, among others. I’ve always harbored odd fascinations and was, undoubtedly, a weird kid. Needless to say, I have grown into a stranger adult! But I’m okay with it. This is who I am.

Ironically, although Paul was raised Catholic and I wasn’t, he often jokes that I’m more Catholic at the core than he is because my inherent guilt often eclipses his. I also enjoy watching Latin Mass on the Catholic Channel. I find Latin an enchanting and magickal language. Also, as mentioned before, I enjoy rituals, and many pagans who are drawn to Wicca start out as Catholics. I’m not Wiccan, but I USED to be. Perhaps I was Catholic in a previous life. One never knows!

But, I digress…

When I was seven years old, I wanted to be a nun—how’s that for a surprise?! When my daughter was about three years old, she matter-of-factly informed me that she had been a nun in her previous life and had died in a fire. This girl had never been to church, had never been around nuns, and did not grow up in a religious household, mind you.

Paul will also tell you I have a longtime, odd fascination with nuns. All very strange for a veteran pagan who loves rituals, finds the Catholic church interesting, is drawn to the architecture of Catholic churches, has a Mother Mary figurine to the left of her computer (a nod to the Divine Feminine), but gets livid over how human involvement in organized religion has caused it to be used as a tool for violence, and other such perversions and crimes against human beings. If you want to screw up a belief system, hand it over to human beings so they can use it for THEIR selfish, myopic purposes, and not for Divinity. This is one of the reasons why I have issues with organized religion, first and foremost.

You also may know Paul and I have been team leads for a paranormal investigation team for eight years now. If you’ve been reading closely over the past couple years in particular, you will have noticed that I’ve mentioned that, since the age of about ten, I’ve been fascinated with occult subjects—exorcism in particular (yes, at such a young age I was reading about such things; I’m glad my mom didn’t hinder me from reading about things I was curious about).

It’s possible you’ll also recall my dream from a while back where I saw the word “Abraxas” written out in heavy, black script. Until I saw the word written out in my dream, I had no idea what it meant. Needless to say, I was taken aback when I researched the term. It depends on the source, but Abraxas has been referred to as both a god and a demon. The info on Abraxas is extensive, if you ever read up on it. The dream has puzzled me for a while, but it also inspired me to explore the history behind it as well.

In essence, here is my main point: I’m finally ready to reveal to all of you where this has been headed, and how I plan to combine my ongoing studies in psychology and spirituality with a special emphasis on demonology. It makes perfect sense to me, given my extensive history with the paranormal and occult. Rather than a sole framework of the Judeo-Christian belief system, I will be approaching my demonology studies from a more expansive vantage point, gathering information from all cultures and time periods (as well as analyzing famous case studies). I will not limit my approach to one theology, as I feel that would do the subject an injustice. It’s important to delve into this intense subject through a wide-angle lens, if you will.

So, there you go. A long explanation, but it’s a big decision for me and this is how I want to share it. Sometimes when you’re drawn in a specific direction, you have to honor it, which is what I’m doing. It’s not a decision you make lightly or without a tremendous amount of thought. I have mulled this over for quite some time. This path requires studying psychology (which I’m already doing, and have done for years), theology, mythology, folkloristics (yes, it’s a real term), and science—yes, science.

Instead of simply dropping a quick sentence like, “Hey, I’ve decided to become a demonologist,” I figured there needed to be more of a discussion. This is a good way to address the reasoning behind my decision upfront. Mind you, you may approve or disapprove, but neither will affect my decision. I’m simply letting you know that, should you see me post interesting bits of historical info or thoughts, there will be a reason why. If this sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, I’m giving you a heads-up so you can unsub or ignore those posts. What you decide to do is up to you, of course.

Now that I have that out of the way, thanks in advance for reading this announcement, and for your support!  Back to our regularly scheduled program.

😀

Inspire kids — it can shape the rest of their lives!

You know what’s awesome? Receiving a message from your high school journalism teacher — the woman who played a big role in me becoming a professional freelance writer, editor, and published author. Her name is Lana Smith, and she is one of a few mentors in my life who absolutely shaped the person I’d become and what I’d do for a career.

I began in journalism class at Widefield High School (in Colorado Springs) when I was a wee sophomore, went on to become the advertising manager and, eventually, the editor-in-chief for the WHS Gladitorial.

My first paid article appeared in the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper when I was 17 years old. I started writing in elementary school and have never stopped. I was blessed to have teachers and parents who encouraged me every step of the way.

Always support your kids in their passions/interests. It’s *incredibly* important to do so. Hearing from Lana today really made my weekend — and my week!

[Article] Pointers for Recovering from Having an Employee Out on Maternity Leave

[Article] Pointers for Recovering from Having an Employee Out on Maternity Leave

How do you recover when one of your employees is out on maternity leave? Check out my article on Small Biz America for a few tips. 

Sitting with (another) suicide

Found out some terrible news about an online friend. In fact, this person was on my LiveJournal friends’ list. I This person committed suicide, and that’s the second person I’ve known who has committed suicide in the past year. Still trying to digest this news. The weird part is that his brother is on my FB friends’ list and is also a former h.s. classmate of my husband’s. I knew about the suicide when it happened, and I was sad for his brother’s loss. It tugged at my heart and made a lump form in my throat. I couldn’t imagine losing one’s brother that way.

What I didn’t know — until yesterday — was that the person involved was also an LJ friend. You see, I knew his first name, but didn’t know his last name (or had forgotten it). I didn’t realize it was THAT person. We hadn’t exchanged any comments for some months on LJ because, well, I am not on here as often as I used to be. So the news hit me again as I realized this was a person I knew and had communicated with as well. This person was brilliant, funny, educated, and talented. The world has truly lost another amazing person. Once again, I wish I could rewind time, change history, stop what eventually happened (the suicide).

Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of my old friend Harold’s suicide. That one I’m still coping with…and will be for a while. Our parents knew each other and hung out together in the 80s. Harold and I flirted with each other and even made out a bit in 9th grade. I think we crushed on each other quite a bit, but were too shy to become full-blown boyfriend/girlfriend. We reconnected again and dated briefly before Paul and I got together in 2005.

I don’t know what else to say, which is odd for me. Just a lot in my head about all of this. It’s one of those things that I need to sit with, silently, and ponder.