Goodnight, 2016

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I can honestly say I’ve never been this excited to say goodbye to a year and welcome in a new one.

This year has had so many ups and downs. I’ve cried over celebrity deaths and personal ones. I’ve helped welcome new life into the world. I’ve let old friends go and welcomed new ones into my life.

I’ve watched my country divide itself further and further and I honestly don’t see how reconciliation is possible. But hope dies last, and I will fight for love and acceptance until my dying breath.

And two things happened this year that changed me forever.

The first was the Aspiring Writers Workshop with Madcap Retreats. I am a stronger, more fearless writer because of this experience. I’m perfectly willing to burn my work down until only the good remains. Before this, I clung to every scrap of writing even when it wasn’t working. And I have made lifelong friends after getting to know the talented, welcoming people who also attended.

The second was the Strange Escapes: Ghosts of Christmas Passed event held in Gettysburg, PA. Again, I made new friends and I found a new passion to explore. My life isn’t weird enough yet, but I’m hoping 2017 will change that. I want to be braver and put myself out there more to experience new things. Change comes slowly, but I’ll get there.

And finally, there are things brewing in my personal life that I can’t talk about yet, but I hope that soon I’ll be able to share them with you.

So… Goodnight, 2016, and goodbye. I’ll miss the parts of you that were good, but mostly I’m glad you’re leaving.

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If it’s safe, say yes

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The view from Devil’s Den, Gettysburg

Ghosts. Spirits. Hauntings. Whether you’re a skeptic or believer, you probably have some strong opinions on the subject, but I’m not here to convince you of anything. I’m just going to relate a story.

When I was in college, my dorm suite was haunted. Other people might have explained it away, but my roommates and I believed that the creepy things that were happening weren’t caused by living humans. We believed so much we had my friend’s father, who is a Russian Orthodox bishop, come to the school and bless our suite. After that, the activity stopped and that just solidified my belief.

I spent this last weekend in Gettysburg, PA at a paranormal conference organized by a company called Strange Escapes. It was a weekend full of ghosts and theories, battlefields and talks, and wonderful camaraderie. It was soul-filling in a strange way and I got to see my writing friend, Christie, which just made the weekend even better.

The most eye-opening talk for me was given by John Tenney. I’ve been mulling over two things he said since Sunday.

The first was that he doesn’t like the word “paranormal” because these experiences are shared by so many people that they are more normal than not, but most people talk about them in whispers. This was mostly just an interesting tidbit that slightly realigned how I see things.

The second he said was that if someone asks you to do something crazy, and it’s safe, always say yes. And he proceeded to tell us amazing stories of things people have asked him to come see.

My life has been pretty routine lately. Work sleep work sleep ad nauseum. I haven’t been saying “yes” to many things lately. Maybe this one line spoken from the front of a crowded lecture room in amongst the weird ghostly happenings of the weekend, is the thing I needed to take away from this conference. I need to hang on to the sentiment and learn how to say “yes” more.

I’m back in the “real world” now and it’s a little jarring. There’s a definite lack of magic in the way I carry out the humdrum of my daily life and this conference really showed me how unacceptable that is.

I want to live a weird, wacky, amazing life. And acknowledging that is the first step, so I think I’m on the right path.

I’ll write more about the actual conference at some point, but this has been what I’ve been thinking about since I left yesterday.