This Too Shall Pass

Here I sit, in my bed, typing away, on Quarantine Day 7.

Don’t worry. I don’t have COVID-19. At least I’m pretty sure I don’t.

For the past 24 hours, I’ve been having strange symptoms: a general unease mixed with a tightness square in the center of my chest that comes and goes. I saw a homeopathic doctor who told me I have bacterial bronchitis; not anything viral and probably brought on by the damp weather, mixed with allergies. Still, I’m doing to responsible thing and isolating myself from the husband and my mother, only allowing Boo a few head-scratches and Pippy to lay next to me. You know, just in case.

I’ve really been thinking about how much our mindframes have changed since that first case in Wuhan, China. How rapidly our world has become something akin to a disaster movie. Last week, in fact, I was being told that it would be my last day at the library “until further notice.” Looking around at my colleagues, I had become so emotional, realizing I didn’t know when I would see them next.

That’s what we’re all faced with: an uncertainty of how long this all will go on.

Today, I found hope. I rediscovered my strength. All thanks to a little book called Rediscovering The Saints by Matthew Kelly.

“We are capable of so much more than we think. You have no idea what you are capable of. None of us do. God is constantly trying to open our eyes to the amazing possibilities that he has enfolded in our being.” 

Whether you’re Catholic, nondenominational, pagan, or other, these are words to  remember in this stressful time.

Remember: you are strong. Believe that we’ll get through this. That, someday soon, all this craziness will be something in history books, a story we can tell future generations with an air of thankfulness that it’s finally over.

Trust in God, in the current of impermanence that flows in our universe.

This too shall pass.

Normal vs Abnormal; Anxiety or Something Worse?

A flurry.
Inside my chest.
Instead of my heart,
Butterflies.They escape a cage.

Two nights ago I settled down to sleep. Only for that sweet relief to be paused by my heart literally fluttering in my chest for a few seconds. Honestly, I’ve had this happen to me before — it is, in fact, a common thing for all humans — so I waited. My heart went back to its normal rhythm. I thought nothing more of it.
The next morning, I called my doctor with the aim of getting some advice on how to deal with stress. The struggle to get an appointment with my family physician ended with me confessing to chest pressure and heart palpitations. Thusly, the nurse suggested I immediately go to the emergency room.
*sigh*
Although I do realize she had to legally suggest that, I was still frustrated. I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack. I don’t have underlying conditions. My biggest physical problem? A 26 year old girl who is progressively losing her 50 – 60 excessive pounds. I consider myself lucky.
Through a series of pokes, prods, and stickies, the doctor examined me. She stated at the beginning of her evaluation that she, too, thought it was anxiety related, but wanted to check my overall health anyways. She tested me for all the “emergenices”: heart problems via an EKG and X-ray, the possibility of thyroid problems or blood clots via a blood test.
Everything was normal. Perfectly healthy. The doctor prescribed me some temporary anxiety medication to “take the edge off”. She said that it was rare for a 26 year old female with no history of heart disease or ANY underlying conditions at all, to have a heart attack.
Well, at least I walked out of the hospital knowing that I wasn’t going to be surprised by anything. My main concern was the thyroid test. I had been misdiagnosed before with a thyroid disorder and really didn’t want to go down that path again.
As a Spiritual friend told me a couple weeks ago, “You are very sensitive.” She was implying that I was an Intuitive. I think, in some ways, I have always known that. I’ve always been sensitive to the environment around me. Whether it be the emotions of those closest to me, allergies, having a respect of other’s lives before my own, and, of course, my own paranormal experiences.
Honestly, I had a pretty good handle on letting go of stress these past couple months. I was happier. I let it EXPLODE outside my body and never return. However, losing Choy has put my emotions in flux. The loss of my boy struck me, so strong, that it broke me to my foundation. Add my previous worries, whether they be about my future finances and writing career or about two [sometimes] intense anonymous family situations, and it’s no wonder I have anxiety.
This hospital visit was a wake-up call. God telling me to “quit putting off writing, your meditating, your Betterment Development, and–
giphy (3)

(Not saying that Shia is God or anything, but he does have it right.)
So. I work on me. Write. Meditate. Travel. Rebuild.
Father Steve spoke in his Homily this weekend about Mary letting go of her own worries. Of leaving them in God’s hands. What a strong woman! The moral of the story? “Don’t try to control everything.” As Father Steve paraphrased. Follow in Mary’s footsteps: give it to God. He’ll take care of you.
The death of Choy, has, in some ways, left me emotionally vulnerable. I want to hold everything close to me, protect it, and keep my own control involved. Not that I don’t trust God, I always have and always will. But… I guess it’s just a coping mechanism that I need to change.
“A normal reaction.” My doctor said.
Well… let’s work on strengthening my abnormal.

Coping with Loss; Impermanence at its Best.

Let’s see. It’s been:

  • 3.5 months since leaving Dollar Tree
  • 1.5 months since New Orleans
  • 1 month since the work on the property commenced
  • And… one week since my kitty died.

This summer has been a flurry of emotions. Some excitement, some sorrow. Eventful, to say the least.

Last Monday, my bathroom’s remodel was completed… and arborists started to cut down our Blue Spruce trees.

However, the big shocker came with this beautiful boy:

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I still… I can’t believe he’s gone. He was seven years old and full of vibrancy. By 11:30 that night, he had passed on.

The first 24 hours were brutal. I slept, only from sheer exhaustion. I had been hysterical for almost four hours. He was my boy, I was planning on grooming him later that week, taking him to the vet to get a lump checked, cuddling with him every night, seeing him the next morning, and just like that… GONE. No signs. Just a groan and then, like that, he was with God.

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The act of change, of death, brings into question my own mortality. Sure, I’ve lost family members (some also canine, rabbit, and feline). However, never has one hit me this hard. Usually, and not out of disrespect, I say “I know they’re happy. So I’m going to continue. I will one day see them again.” Because I believe that.

Choy was different, though. He was an unexpected blessing to my life, and left so suddenly. He was, in no truer words than my brother’s, “A gentle giant.” He was such a force to my own heart that sometimes I now think “But I don’t want to wait to see him again. I want him back!”

I always understood death. A friend of mine complimented me, when I talked about death in a college lecture, that I “had a maturity about death.” I still believe this is true… but I also believe that there’s that one death that knocks us down — derails us — and we have to fight, for a long time, maybe even every day for the rest of our lives, to keep going.

I still look to the positive.

That helps. It always will. It’s my method of coping.

  • I know Choy is happy. So I will be happy for him and continue on. However, I will never forget him.
  • I loved my old bathroom. However, I’m excited to experience this new one.
  • The Blue Spruces were a tragedy. However, a beautiful Oak was discovered in the middle of the decay. She now has a chance at life… and will soon have a few brothers, sisters, and cousins surrounding her.

Within the last couple days, mom and I sat down and watched a beautiful 1993 film called “Little Buddha” with Keanu Reeves and Bridget Fonda. Basically a movie where this American boy and two Indian children are thought to be reincarnated souls of Lama Norbu’s teacher, Lama Dorje. The plot is woven around the origin story of Siddharta, who later becomes The Buddha himself.

Through this movie, I learned the concept of Impermanence. Wikipedia explains it as such:

“Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is transient, or in a constant state of flux.

More can be read about it here, via Urban Dharma: “The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence”

Death is imminent. Loss is a given. Change is constant. And, for some strange reason, that gives me comfort. Maybe because I know that, in this world, we are always in movement. Even when we try not to be. The world beyond, the afterlife, Heaven, is what awaits. Peace. Adventure. Freedom from life’s restrictions.

Choy, I will always miss you, always remember. I’m glad you’re happy. That you’re playing with loved ones over there. And I am glad you are without pain. Check in on us from time to time, ok? I know I’ll be checking in on you.

Post-Midwest Writers

Honest to God, I loved this conference. Man, it’s been SO LONG since I was in a writer’s workshop. Literally, I haven’t gone to one since college. Three years ago. And I discovered that I was really out of practice with some writing techniques. So I re-learned some new and old pointers (for example: passive vs active sentences and avoiding “to be” words) and I got to socialize + network with some very talented people. Writers, agents, and otherwise.

Aaaand…. I pitched to an agent. Haaaahhhh… I was so nervous. But she was SO ATTENTIVE AND KIND. Annnd… yeah. I’m working really hard to finish my book. Because. Things happened.

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I also decided that I’m going to build an official website and send out a… bi-monthly newsletter. I believe. Still planning.

All of this will come to fruition after Nashville next weekend. *pinches nose*

If there are any writers out there looking for a warm, welcoming, helpful, affordable, and FUN conference… CHECK OUT MIDWEST WRITERS. I really suggest it. It’s… just amazing.
Click here for more information: Midwest Writers
Tomorrow I begin my loooooong four hour trek home.
I will catch you all back in Wooster!
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Post-Ghost Hunting at Mansfield Reformatory PART 1 – Paranormal Background + Meet & Greet

Okay, gang. This has been a long time coming!! And I’m finally posting about it!

My trip to Mansfield Reformatory! 

Part 1: Paranormal Background + Meet & Greet.
(Because this would be reeeeallly long if I put everything in one post!)

A week ago my friend Allison and I made the 40 minute journey to The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio (commonly referred to as “Mansfield Reformatory”). And… man… was it creepy. And awesome. And… jarring… and beautiful.

The night began when this picture was taken, at 5 PM, at the steps of Mansfield Reformatory. It was my third public ghost hunt with TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society a.k.a. “Ghost Hunters”), and I was ABSOLUTELY EXCITED for it!! For investigating with them and for the location!

I had been wanting to visit this place again for maaaaany years. I kid you not, it was more than a decade since I had been here. I went with my parents on the Shawshank tour during the day. Which it was a very nice tour to go on and I loved seeing the movie set pieces.

**Fair warning: here beginneth my ranting about TAPS and how I got interested in the paranormal (Thusly entitled “Background”)**

This was before I had gotten into the paranormal. It was around the time that I had first been immersed in “Scariest Places on Earth” (which, nowadays, is a show I’m very skeptical of). It was when I had started to realize that ghosts were not just fiction… but a reality. Back when I was afraid to sleep in the dark, and wouldn’t dare sleep with the covers any lower than my chin. When the sounds of a house settling stirred the deepest horrors of my imagination… when the sounds of mice making homes in my bedroom wall made me fear monsters were coming to get me… (I never had a real definition of what “get me” was, by the way, I just knew I didn’t want it.)

So fast forward to October 31, 2010. I was in my college apartment, at Otterbein University, just aimlessly browsing the internet, and listening to the TV in the background. I don’t exactly remember how, but I came across a TV show called Ghost Hunters Live. Now I was still interested in the paranormal, especially considering the experiences I have had since my Grandpa Nolletti died, and it was Halloween. So I thought “Why not? I’m not doing anything special tonight…”

And down the rabbit hole I went.

(PS – I miss the Live shows. PLEEEEASE BRING THEM BACK SYFY!!)

Now, in present day, my interest in the paranormal has grown… and my fear has diminished. In  my four years of being a fan, TAPS has taught me how to “debunk”. That the creaking of my house was really the wood settling… that a strange noise in the forest outside was probably a fox… that the scratching in my wall was actually mice trying to make a home… and now, when I’m sweating in the summer night, I can fully kick off my covers and not worry about monsters coming to get me.

But, on the flip side, I wanted to experience the paranormal and learn more about it. Because, as I said, I have had experiences I cannot explain. And I want to know more about the afterlife. And I want to talk to other people about their experiences. It really is a fascinating conversation if you only just let yourself have an open mind!! Whether you believe or not.

Which is why I like Josh Gates so much, too, because he has self-proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in ghosts, because he hasn’t found concrete evidence of them. But what he’s really after is talking to people, and the story.

(“The only thing that matters–” AH!! Down, Mort Rainey, down.)

Okay, so thus endeth the “Background” section of this post. NOW we return to this place:

At 5 PM I take this shot as Allison and I are walking up to Mansfield Reformatory. It is a beautiful shot, and a beautiful place. Though I can understand the stories of how inmates felt dread when they were sentenced to serve time here… “Dracula’s Castle” indeed!

We walk in the building, present our tickets, and stand in line in a hallway leading up to the Bull Pen… and where the Meet & Greet and lectures/Q&As are going to take place. Me? I’m standing there trying not to focus on the fact that in less than 30 minutes I will have met Josh Gates and I’m actually kind of terrified of how well that will go over.

God bless Allison and a woman (I never got the name of) from distracting me. We talked about the paranormal, paranormal investigations, haunted locations (Zoar, Ohio and Hill View Manor specifically), Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures while we stood in line. (Note: whenever you’re at a public ghost hunt, no matter your personal beliefs, you always talk about the paranormal in some way. It’s just another way to learn a person’s story. And I love it.)

Then… the moment hit me… the moment that I would meet Josh Gates, get to see him face to face, have him finally autograph my copy of his book, and I would get to say… something. But what? I didn’t know what to say. How do I convey to a man how much I appreciate his existence? And that it’s not meant to be creepy, but a compliment? How do I tell him that he’s just plain… awesome?
I said it in a Facebook post perfectly to a friend who didn’t know who he was:
“This is Josh Gates. He used to host Destination Truth on SyFy. Now he’s creating a new show called ‘Expedition Unknown’ on the Travel channel. He has self-described himself as a ‘professional vagabond, international monster hunter, and paranormal Hardy Boy.’ (Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, Foreword). I describe him as a kind of Indiana Jones figure too. He travels the world to investigate legends and myths, talking to natives about their experiences. He’s been to all 7 continents, 92 countries, and 49 states. 
 
But what I really like about him (and yesterday at Mansfield proved it to me) is that he’s an awesome, kind, funny guy who has experienced a lot of the world and loves to share the passions of travel and adventure with others. He actively encourages people to explore outside their comfort zone. Oh. And he’s a movie geek too.”
 

Then, suddenly, I was at his table, next in line, and I pushed my fears out of me. He’s human, after all. Even if I didn’t magically become best friends with him in the next minute, I was going to do what I do best: be myself. Josh looked up, smiled, and we said hello to each other. Then I handed him my book to be signed.

The conversation proceeded to go as follows:

Me: “I love the book and show. Sad it’s not on but excited for the new one!”
Josh: “*as he’s signing* Aw, thanks!”
Me: *pause* It’s an honor to meet you.”
Josh: “Aw, that’s really sweet!”

Lesson learned: be yourself. What others think of you is their problem, not yours. But most of the time people will love you and accept you for who you are. I accomplished two milestones in that moment: I finally met Josh Gates, and I FINALLY have one of my most favorite books in my library autographed. Both make me EXTREMELY happy. Yes, as a fan, I kind of wish to be one of those special people that end up becoming friends with the celebrity they admire most in this world, but right now I’m just happy to have met the guy.

Some more photos that I (and Allison for the ones I’m standing in) took at the event:

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