Monday, February 24, 2014

The Seed of Hope in Despair

One of the themes I've been most driven to explore is despair. Oh, I've felt it…and recently, too, caring for a child that is chronically ill and feeling like a failure as a parent, struggling to live my dreams against ALL odds…trying to fight the doubts and fears that plague any of us when we step out of our comfort zone…losing people we care about, and love…Failure can make you feel despair. Fear can. Hopelessness can. Loneliness…Loss. Loss of SELF most of all.

But one thing I've realized is that there is an incredible POWER to despair…a reconstructive power that begins when realization dawns that you have hit ROCK BOTTOM emotionally, maybe even physically…and have absolutely nowhere else to go but up. Yes, you can choose to stay down, lay down, even die. But most of us won't do that, because even in the deepest, darkest moments, we have an inherent urge to survive…and a capacity to see and feel joy even when we have nothing left. Even when we are empty.

I think there is an amazing force behind despair and emptiness…a cleanliness to your life and a clarity that did not exist when you were filled with anything, even good things. Feeling empty is an impetus point for going out into the world and bravely choosing what to now fill yourself with. Despair is an end point at which you finally can turn onto a different path, a different road with a different outcome, because you've been to hell down that one road and you won't go back for anything.

I have always wanted to write about despair, and I think in some small way, all of my fictional works, even my screenplays, have featured an element of being lost, of being despairing, of being empty and having one's back fully flattened against the wall of life. My stories, and my characters, always involve coming away from that wall stronger, with a fighting spirit that overpowers all fear and doubt and lack of courage. Even the more humorous or lighthearted fare has involved a character feeling lost, alone, empty of hope…shoved against a flat surface, told that this was indeed the end of the road, and then pushing off that flat surface with newfound "pissed off-ness" and a refusal to take any more crap from anyone.

Life is filled with both joy and despair…and mostly it's filled with in-between stuff that comes nowhere close to either extreme. But I fully believe that it's the extremes that fuel us and shape who we are…and drive us forward into the abyss of becoming.

Despair may feel like the most unempowering place to be. But to me, it is where all the power in the universe is suddenly placed at our feet…reverent to us...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Identity Shift Ahead!

Wow, so within the next year and a half, my longtime dream of being a novelist will come true. I am currenly working on a number of projects, from children's to YA, that will be released over the next 18 months and it has really got me thinking about how we identify ourselves to the world…and to ourselves.

I've always been "a writer," having been published since my teens, and yes, paid for it. But over the last twelve years, I've focused on non-fiction, oh, writing a few scripts here and there, but mainly putting out a steady stream of non-fiction books. I began to view myself, and be viewed by others, as a "non-fiction author" who does a ton of research and writes books about everything from the paranoramal to science to metaphysics and all points in between. Someone who does a lot of radio interviews, speaks at events and writes articles for magazines about…well…non-fiction.

So now I find myself feeling a little shaky and off center, but in a great way, because the doors that are opening are doors I've wanted to open for a long, long time. But my identity…will I now view myself as a "fiction author" and "storyteller?" Will others change their view of who I am and what I do?

I guess in the end I am just as I have always been…"a writer." I am expanding my reach now and moving into a format that I may not yet be known for in terms of my public persona. I just hope that readers accept me for who I am, and who I am becoming.

I know I do.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

3 GATES OF THE DEAD by Jonathan Ryan

Hey, I have a friend and colleague named Jonathan Ryan who is releasing a book in October.
It's called 3 GATES OF THE DEAD and promises to be a real thrill ride!

Here's a synopsis:

Conflicted with his faith in God and the hypocrisy of the church, Aidan Schaeffer, a young assistant pastor, is in a constant state of spiritual turmoil. When Aidan learns that his ex-fiancée is the first victim in a string of ritualistic killings, he finds himself catapulted into an even deeper fight. Tormented by demonic threats and haunted by spirits, Aidan throws himself into investigating Amanda’s death; all the while supernatural forces have begun to attack the people around him. The more questions he asks, the more he is drawn into the world of a mysterious Anglican priest, a paranormal investigation group and a rogue female detective investigating the murders. As the gruesome rituals escalate, ancient hidden secrets and an evil long buried threaten to rip apart Aidan’s world.

The book will be available in both digital and print format from Premier Digital Publishing and will be available at all book outlets, or visit http://www.premierdigitalpublishing.com.

Jonathan is an amazing talent and I am excited for his book launch!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't Tread On Me…And I Won't Tread On You


            Like a lot of women, I often have a problem with people taking advantage of my kindness, generosity and caring, even with my ability to get things done fast. That seems the case with so many of my female friends, and hey, I’m not just saying it’s the OTHER gender that takes advantage...because women take advantage of other women, too. Even their friends and family. It happens to everyone at some time.

            So I thought about why this is the case. Why do so many people think it’s perfectly OK to behave like this, and are these people even aware they are doing it? My conclusion is, they don’t know. They are not aware. Perhaps it’s how they were raised, to believe they were entitled to others doing everything for them. Perhaps they are just lazy and arrogant and believe they shouldn’t HAVE to work hard when there are others around to do it for them.

            But perhaps...just perhaps...taking advantage of another person masks a very deep-seated fear of inadequacy and insecurity in one’s own abilities to do things, to be successful, to go for it. Hey, if someone else can go for it FOR you, why bother? But if you want to become a strong, self-sufficient person with a solid identity and the ability to pursue your own life vision and make your dreams and goals come true...you cannot do it through another person. Because in the end, it will be THERE vision that manifested, their hard work that is rewarded, their goals that are achieved, and once again you will be able to tell yourself you could have done it all if

a)    you had more time
b)   you had more money
c)    you had more energy
d)   you were older, younger, prettier, hotter, sexier...
e)    yadda yadda yadda

            I’ve taken advantage of others, yep. I admit it. We all do. It’s a human thang, you know? But I’ve had to really ask myself lately WHY. Was it because I wasn’t aware I was doing it? Hell no, the twist in my gut told me I was doing something wrong. Was it because I couldn’t do for myself what I thought the other person could do for me? Hell yes, because I let me own fears and self-doubts constantly sabotage any efforts to do it myself (so hard to admit!). Was it because I was lazy? Oh, maybe sometimes, sure. Was it because I was scared shitless to try it on my own because...
I MIGHT FAIL?????

          Hell to the yes. And when I got real and admitted that truth, I realized that other people could never make my life better, or make my dreams come true, or solve my problems for me. I also realized that people take advantage of me because I allow them to. And by putting up new boundaries and standing up for myself and realizing I am worth being respected and cared about, I hope it doesn't happen much anymore. I hope I never take advantage of anyone else either. I will do my best to try to avoid being at the giving end as well as the receiving end.

          Do unto others comes to mind. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Time Travel…or Not To Time Travel (THAT is the question…)





            Everyone wants to find a device that can send him or her back to the past or into the future. Everyone wants to go back in time and either fix something, relive something, or take a whole different approach altogether; or jet into some future period of time to see if everything they DIDN’T fix, relive or re-approach works out ok.
            It’s natural for humans to want to control time. We seek to control our space, why not the passage of time? Yet what few people contemplate when they fantasize about time travel are those pesky paradoxes and ethical questions, such as: if you went back and fixed the past, might you somehow be breaking the future? Or how about this one: If you make a tiny change to your own past, how are you affecting the pasts, presents and even futures of everyone you came in contact with, because, let’s face it, we are all tied into the same fabric of existence. We are all links in the chain of cause and effect. So change your cause, and you may be changing the causes, and thus, the effects, of so many other lives.
            What gives you the right?
            Imagine a whole new branch of law...time travel law. A whole new field of ethical studies...time travel ethics. People suing others in court for changing their present, altering their future, all without their consent. It could happen, should we somehow master the technological and scientific aspects of time travel, and find a way to breach the limitations of light speed and bypass the existing laws of physics that keep us grounded in the present. At least as of now.
            Time travel is within our grasp, albeit theoretically at this point. But with the exponential increase of knowledge and progress, it’s only a matter of, pun intended, time before we figure out how to get from here to there...or maybe from now to then. Experiments with particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, outside of Geneva, Switzerland, may lead to proof of particles that can outpace light speed, or proof of wormholes that can act as shortcuts through space/time and get us from Point A to Point B, even if Point B is in the past, or the future. Meanwhile, the world of quantum physics is constantly pushing the outside of the envelope of our understanding of the bizarre nature of the most fundamental energy and form, and how perhaps at this level, we have already achieved time travel, albeit minutely.
            Regardless of when we finally master moving through time physically, we still have to face the fact of those paradoxes that ask if we can, indeed, go back in time, kill our Grandfather, and still exist to write about it in the present. Or whether we can alter the future without it also “reaching back” in time to alter the present, and the past... Hell, it’s almost like pulling on tiny threads in a patchwork quilt, and wondering if the whole damn thing will unravel, despite your best intentions to only get rid of that pesky thread.
            The ethical question of whether or not any of us, individually or collectively, has the right to alter and mess with the chronological order of things, will no doubt be debated even once we have achieved physical escape velocity, whether by Tardis or by tube, via black hole or wormhole or rip in the fabric of space/time...Who will decide what can be changed in terms of history, and what is not to be messed with? Who will determine the extent of our alterations and warn those who may be affected by our desires to fix what we alone deem broken, or what we alone regret?
            It just doesn’t cross too many minds, this question of “do we or don’t we,” probably because we all know we will, if we can. That’s the human spirit, for good or for bad. If we have the opportunity, even knowing the risks, we’ll go for it.
            Perhaps the most successful Fortune 500 companies of the future will be led by lawyers devoted to time travel cases. Imagine the Law Office of Delorean and Tardis.
            It could happen.



Read my latest book with Larry Flaxman, THIS BOOK IS FROM THE FUTURE: A JOURNEY THROUGH PORTALS, RELATIVITY, WORMHOLES AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN TIME TRAVEL – out now!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Boxes, Bars and Chains



“Boxes, Bars & Chains”


            Life lessons often have a way of sneaking up on you. When you least expect it, you experience one of those flashes of insight, one of those big, bold, life-altering “ah-ha’s” that you absolutely HATE to see coming, DESPISE when you’re in the midst of it, but are oh, so GRATEFUL for when you’ve learned from it and seen the light. I recently had one of those “ah-ha’s.”  I learned that it isn’t very comfortable in the comfort zone; that I don’t feel very safe having a safety net; that nobody can 

guarantee a guarantee and that a sure thing is never really for sure.  I also learned that I actually prefer 

life this way!
            I found myself over the last few months doing something people in recovery programs refer to as “isolating.”  Others refer to it as “cocooning.”  Basically, it’s holing up in your nice, comfortable little world and rarely venturing out into the sun. I didn’t really do it on purpose, but I did find that when you work at home, as I have been for the past ten years, it’s very easy to get used to being alone.  I soon found that I wanted nothing more than to just be left alone, to stay inside, at home, where it was safe and nothing out of the ordinary was asked of me.
At first, this way of life felt very safe and cozy. Rarely did I feel the need to take a risk or step outside of my comfortable little bubble. I could wake up each morning pretty certain I would be able to face the day with the least amount of energy or concern. But after a few weeks of this, I started to notice a growing sense of low-grade anxiety bubbling up inside, and before I knew it, I was spending most evenings in a complete state of utter agitation, wondering why my life wasn’t progressing and why nothing was happening.
            I was stagnating; trapped in the cage I had set up for myself. What had first seemed such a safe and comforting way to live was making me sick, and crazy and highly irritable. I realized that there really is no comfort in the comfort zone.  What happens when we cocoon and not allow ourselves to break free from our self-imposed boxes, bars and chains and spread our glorious wings is this: little things start to look big and intimidating; trivial events take on gigantic and stressful proportions. New ideas seem too frightening to even consider. Even having lunch with a friend becomes something to stress out about.
            We start to lose faith in our abilities and talents. We stop saying “ I can” and start thinking “I can’t.” We don’t try anything new, we don’t dare. We avoid new people and experiences at all costs. Basically, we start believing our own bad press.
            Yet we don’t really feel good, or happy, and we sure don’t feel productive. Half of us wants to continue to stay inside and play it safe. The other half wants to get out there and take a leap off a cliff and dive into life head on. It feels like there’s a Civil War going on inside our bodies; or like two teams of picnickers are playing tug-of-war with our innards.
            As Anthony Robbins, the great motivational speaker, always says, we finally get to the point where the pain of what we are doing is greater than the pleasure.  That’s when we need to do the following three things to help us break out of our boxes, bars and chains.
1)    Become aware of each moment. Living in the present gets us off autopilot and back into the driver’s seat of our own lives. We spend way too much time regretting the past and dreading the future. No wonder life intimidates us into hibernation.

2)    Take a small risk every day. Do this to rebuild confidence. It can be something as small as inviting a friend out to a new restaurant, driving a different route to work, or saying hello to a total stranger. Just do something, every day.

3)    Be authentic. Be yourself. We sometimes cocoon ourselves out of fear that others will see us and not like whom we are, so we hide our glory, our beauty. We are all unique and we deprive others of our specialness by hiding our light under a bushel. Remember the butterfly and the snowflake; no two are exactly alike. Take back your power!

            The next time you feel like you’re cocooning, isolating and backing away from your own life, try these three things. Get quiet, right where you are, and become aware of the moment. Think up a small and fun risk you can take every day to prove to yourself that you really are capable. Be who you are, not who anyone else wants you to be. And then vow to live from that Truth.  Try them for a week and see if you don’t feel your inner confidence and energy growing stronger and stronger. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to step out into even bigger challenges and greater accomplishments.
Before you know it, you are once again an active force in your world, out there doing the things that bring you joy, success and a feeling of fulfillment. More important, you’ve learned to expand your comfort zone to anywhere you are. That’s the ultimate freedom, and the great lesson, that comes when you learn to break through those self-made boxes, bars and chains and feel comfortable in the skin you’re in.
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Evil Doll Phobia!!!


Who knows better how to torture you than your sister?  She knows what you like, what you dislike, what you fear most.  As a small child, I had an overactive imagination and a curious fascination for all things frightful, like monster movies, scary stories and “The Twilight Zone.”  But the one thing I feared most was my older sister Angella’s prized possession, her beautiful “Simone” doll.  I was sure Simone was pure evil, with her long silvery hair and perfect features, and that cold, hard stare that followed me around the bedroom my sister and I shared. And Gella, as we called her, loved to take advantage of my doll phobia at any chance she got. Whenever I would annoy my older sister, or get in her way, or behave like little sisters often do, Gella would simply smile a knowing smile and remind me that Simone was watching me, so I’d better behave!
            Evil Simone reminded me of that doll in that “Twilight Zone” episode, the one named “Talking Tina” that was determined to kill Telly Savalas. And no matter how hard Telly tried, he couldn’t get rid of that doll. He even tried to burn it, crush it, chop it up, but the doll lived on, and in the end, it was Telly who suffered the consequences. So whenever Gella really wanted to put me in my place, she would sneer and repeat the line from that Twilight Zone episode, “My name is Talking Tina, and I’m going to kill you!”  This so terrified me that I often resorted to turning Simone’s head around to face the wall so the doll couldn’t watch me as I slept at night! 
Gella loved to watch me squirm in fear as she recounted all the ways Simone would punish me if I didn’t submit to my older sister’s wishes and whims.  Often, I would be so terrified, I would secretly lock Simone in the clothes closet. The next morning, Gella would chide me about how angry Simone was for being locked up all night, and how the doll planned to get revenge.  I would be so afraid of Simone’s wrath, I would get down on my knees and beg the doll for forgiveness and lavish it with praise. All the while, Gella smiled in the background, knowing she had me, her goofy little sister, under her thumb. She loved to make me scared, it gave her a feeling of such power!
But the great day of equalization came when my sister and I both received a special gift from our grandparents: two paintings of scruffy children with big, round eyes… the kind that followed you everywhere and seemed to plead for attention. Both of us girls hated those awful, intrusive pictures, which our mom had promptly hung on our bedroom wall. Now, Gella also knew what it felt like to live in fear of ever-watchful eyes, and together, we plotted to destroy the paintings, turning them towards the wall and locking them in the closet when we thought our mom wouldn’t notice. 
Eventually, we both outgrew our silly little girl fears, although the last time we saw those paintings in the attic of our grandparents’ home (somehow the paintings had made their way back to their original owners!), neither one of us could hide our displeasure. To this day, I am still fascinated with all things scary, even if they do give me nightmares.  But there is one thing I refuse to have in my home. Dolls. Thank God my only child turned out to be a boy!
And as for my older sister, Gella, she still loves to remind me that Simone is still out there somewhere waiting, watching, plotting my demise, and that I’d better behave… or else!