samjshelley

A ghost story

As I sit here, in the distance I can hear kid’s screaming.  It is Halloween and the kids are treat-or-treating.

No one has yet to approach our door.   I guess it looks like no one is home.  The TV is off and the lamp isn’t that bright.  The glow of the laptop is the only sign of life.  I am sitting low on the sofa so the glow must be obscured.  I do not mind though, it is time to write.

Here is a ghost story for my readers to enjoy this Halloween.

I once attended a TAPS Ghost Hunters event in Philadelphia at Fort Mifflin.  The fort is known in the city as a paranormal hot spot. I did not know what to expect or even if ghosts were real.   But I was curious after seeing them on TV and this was a chance to find out for myself.

During the Civil War the fort was used as a prison.  They kept the prisoners in an area called casemates.   This is where they stored the ammunition during the Revolutionary War.   A few prisoners were hung, and it housed several hundred confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

I was not able to stay the entire night, so when I arrived I made sure to head with the group going into the casemates first.   You had to walk through some narrow passages to get to the area.   It was a dark and dreary area.   I found a bench and took a seat.

A person in the group set up a mag light for a flashlight experiment.  In the experiment you turn off the flashlight, and then you twist it so that with a light touch the light will turn [...]

“Meditate?! No way, I couldn’t do that!“

That is a summary of the typical response I usually receive from folks when I talk about meditation.    I can understand their response.    Most folks believe that it is difficult, or have some excuse why it’s not for them.   I know when I was an undiagnosed bipolar the mind was out of control, and I would have looked at you like you were crazy.

When I talk to people I mention my simple meditation methods, and they still think it’s too difficult for them.   I never learned formal meditation techniques when I began to look for relief from suffering.   I read a little blurb in a book that simply talked about being relaxed, sitting comfortable,   and keeping still.     That’s it.   I have practiced other techniques; where you have to sit a certain way, the posture needs to be in proper alignment, you have to have your hands in a special position, and using proper breathing techniques.    It was complicated!  A complicated process will taint some opinions on meditation.  They made it more difficult than it needs to be.  A simply technique is enough to develop inner peace.

Here is a recent conversation I had with someone.

“Have you tried meditation?”

“Meditate?!  No way, I couldn’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“I could never sit still.  The mind is too busy.”

“Okay, it’s not that hard.  Do you want me to show you how simple it is?

“No,  it’s not for me.”

“Okay that’s fine, tell me what do you like to do?”

“I like to jog.”

“That’s great!   Tell me about your jogging.   What are you thinking about when you jog?”

“I think about how John is going to call me to ask for money.   Or about somebody that made me pissed off.  Or wondering what kind [...]

“Tell me about yourself”

What happens when you hear this from a person that wants to know more about you?   You mind will tell a story of you.     The story will be shaped according to the setting or the environment.  If you are at a job interview, you will most likely talk about your education or similar past job.  If you are at a parent/teacher conference and the teacher wants to know more about you.  Your story will be shaped to tell how good of a parent you are or bragging about your child.    There is nothing wrong with these stories, but how did these stories come about?

The mind creates a perception based on prior things that happened throughout life.    As a baby,   you had no story of you.   You couldn’t even talk.   All you could do was be an observer.   You looked to your parents to understand the world.  If they saw a spider and screamed, you learned that behavior.  If you see a spider today you might scream.   On the other hand if they said “hey look at that!  It’s a daddy long-legs, isn’t that interesting.”  You would not scream; you would find it interesting.

Experiences in child hood that we do not remember have a large impact on our life.   When I began therapy I never understood the reason why they were so interested in my childhood.   I was never taught that our brain is like a computer.  It takes all of our experiences throughout life and builds a program.  This program is frequently accessed to interpret the world that we perceive.

Growing up I was a very sickly boy, from these experiences I learned that I had to go to a doctor to fix me.   To [...]

Recovering from multiple sclerosis

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis(MS) in 2004.

This is a disease that impacts the nervous system in which the myelin sheath around the nerves is damaged.   The sheath around the nerves is necessary for sending signals to the various parts of the body.  This causes impairments to the senses, movement and cognition along with any other body functions in which nerves are involved.    Imagine the body as an electrical system and the wires become damaged, then you pour water on them and the electrical system begins to short out and fail.

I was diagnosed with relapsing and remitting form of this disease.     In this form you have a relapse or reappearance of your MS symptoms,  and then you remitting or return to your “normal”  baseline.      MS had a significant impact on my life.   It caused walking and balance issues,  tingling sensation on the whole left side of the body,  extreme fatigue,  and many other unpleasant affects.

I was taking a MS injectable medicine to prevent a relapse from ocurring and that was effective.   In addition to medicine for muscle spasms,   urine retention,  and fatigue.   I needed a whole lot of medicine to survive MS,  not to mention all the medicine I needed for my bipolar disorder.  I also needed a cane on occasion as I was disabled.

A primary tool to recovery from MS was yoga.     There are many different types of yoga with many different branches.     I will discuss the exercise portion of yoga or asana’s.   The other branches helped with my mental state (bipolar).   Before I was going to a traditional gym;  lifting weights and cardio machines.  Typically in a gym you are isolating a specific muscle or muscle group.    In asana [...]

Breaking free from the bipolar mind

As a young boy,   I was deeply introverted and kept everything to myself.

I suffered many anxiety attacks as a child. In one instance I lost a quarter of my body weight.    I had intense thoughts about everything.    A majority of my thoughts were self-critical which only added to my beliefs that I wasn’t worthy of anything.   I can remember my classmates calling me four-eyes and a nerd since I wore glasses.    This added to my already self-critical thoughts on how I should be.   I was unable to accept who I was and the world was not offering kindness.   I had no self-esteem and I saw the world as a very harsh place.

The harsh view of the world only added to my suffering with anxiety.      These anxieties lead to a diagnosis of Bipolar as a young adult.   I had suicidal thoughts at times which resulted in being hospitalized.   Around 15% of folks commit suicide from this disease.

I suffered for decades with intense thoughts that were creating my own hell on Earth.     The thoughts had completely taken over my being and I had no inner peace.   One day, I discovered meditation and found inner peace.

In the beginning meditation was difficult.    I could only sit for 5 minutes a day, before my thoughts convinced me that it was a “waste” of time.   I had plenty of things to do besides “wasting” my time.   I knew that for me to escape the  mental prison of thoughts I had to continue with a meditation practice.     After a few months of practice the mind was growing quieter and a new sense of peace arose.

Meditation gives you space or separation  from your thoughts.    When you have space [...]

Writers conference: “Push to Publish 2013″

I attend the “Push to Publish”  writers conference.

This was my second conference for writing that I have attended.

The conference was set on the campus of Rosemont College.   This was my first time visiting this school,  and it was a lovely campus.

At the conference I was hoping to find an agent who saw the value in my project,  perhaps I did.   I won’t know until they receive my query letter and a little sample of my work.  I will either get a rejection letter or a welcome letter.

The conference was a bit of a personal disappointment as no one immediately feel in love with my work.   They loved my story but the project needs some work.   The house is built now I need rearrange the furniture.

After the conference I realized,  as a first time novelist,  it’s not about you.  It’s about getting feedback about your project.  You want your project to really stand out,  and make it the very best you can.    Everyone is here at the conference to help us achieve our goal of becoming a published author.  They are not out to get you.   They went to best for you.

I did receive some great feedback from other authors,  editors,  agents and attendees.   I did hand out a fair amount of business cards since I realize that it’s about making connections.    Many of the attendees did not have business cards,  which is too bad as I would have liked to see how some of them developed their story.

Hanging out after the event at the “happy hour”  was a great opportunity to connect with  folks.   I spent some time talking to the keynote speaker, Michael Martone.   He  offered some good advice on my project.   [...]

By |October 13th, 2013|Writing|0 Comments|

New author page on facebook

I look forward to you visiting my author page.

https://www.facebook.com/idontdwell

By |October 11th, 2013|News|0 Comments|

Website updated

I have installed complete the install of a new website theme as the last theme was difficult to manage.     There is more work to be done.

By |October 8th, 2013|News|1 Comment|

Remembering Gandhi

Today marks Ghandi’s 144th birthday.

A testament to his non-violence nature  is that today’s also marks the day for International Day on Non-Violence.

He knew that violence accomplished nothing.    People think that  violence can  accomplish something.   All it does is provide the satisfaction of the ego that you are “right” and they are “wrong.”    For the folks that are “wrong”  they are rewarded with unnecessary suffering due to your mind wanting to be “right.”

He said this quote ;”You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

So before you strike out against another man/woman,  stop and realize that you are part of the ocean of humanity.    We tend to think we are separate from each other but when it fact we are all made of the same stuff and at the core of our being the consciousness is the same.  Our mind is blind to this fact and continues to cause us to believe in our egoic thoughts.  Our ego keeps the illusion of separation and you become better than another.

No one is better or less than yourself.    We are equal.

Wishing you peace and love.

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Writers Conference

Yesterday,  I went to my first writers conference. (Conversations and Connections hosted by Barrelhouse)

The day started off great,  I took the train to center city.   When getting off the train,  I went looking for an exit because it was an unfamiliar stop.   When walking around there was a homeless man standing in front of a Dunkin Donuts.    He was asking for money for breakfast.     I said,  ”Sure,  I can help.  ”  Then proceeded to talk to him and gave him $5 dollars then we parted ways.  I was heading for the exist and this new friend went into the store.   Folks often think that the homeless are trying to get money for other things then basic needs,  I haven’t found this to be true.  They merely want what we all long for, respect and compassion.

The conference was at the University of the Arts on Broad St.

There was a good crowd with  over 100 folks.    Throughout the day I went to a few panel sessions;  Agents,  Writing about Difficult Subjects,  and Submitting to Editors.

Over lunch there was a Speed Dating with Editors,  this is where you get 10 minutes to show your work to someone in the business of writing.    You cannot choose who you sit in front of,  they randomly place you with someone in your genre of writing.      I was non-fiction,  so little did I know at the time that I was just placed in front of the editors of Story Quarterly.   Three folks led by Paul Lisicky.   I showed them a bit of the first chapter of “I don’t dwell”   They loved the project and gave a lot of [...]

By |September 29th, 2013|Writing|0 Comments|