MY NOVEL–
READING THE SIGNS: A PARANORMAL LOVE STORY

Ted Jones, campus chaplain and English Professor in downtown Denver, doesn’t need more problems. His life has been full of them. More than a few of the clergy seem to think of the church as a sex club, and those who administer the English Department are vipers. Yet, at the beseeching of the spirit of an old woman who appears floating near the stained glass window of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Ted soon becomes involved with Sharon, the deceased woman’s grown granddaughter.

Damaged though she is, Sharon responds, trying to return the steadfast love that Ted offers. After her grandmother died, she lost that capacity in herself and couldn’t find it in any of the people who professed to love her.

Although Sharon and Ted’s trials are multiple, their love forms the crux of the novel. Such love reaches beyond time and space as we normally conceive them, to involve intersecting planes of existence that touch both past and future.

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While fiction, and centrally a love story, it is essentially true. My experiences teaching at CU Denver and the Episcopal Cathedral stick very close to the facts.

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The novel ends with a vision of meeting Sharon on the fields of eternity:

For a moment, my earthly sight blurred with tears, I glimpsed Sharon and me. We stood on fields of gold, there, where chronos meets kairos, and earthly time rolls into eternity.

Link to Amazon Reading the Signs page. Here you can examine the cover and read some pages of the book.

Signed copies are also available from me. See WRITING page of this site.

“Readers like to be upset, excited and bowled over,” Adams continued in his 2015 interview with The Guardian, remembering his early literary preferences. “I can remember weeping when I was little at upsetting things that were read to me, but fortunately my mother and father were wise enough to keep going.”

Of course, not all mothers and fathers are. Many want to shade their kids from the harsh realities of life, a natural instinct hardly worth criticizing here. Some children come face to face with loss regardless ― be it physical, financial, psychological. They are forced to understand grief and resentment firsthand. They are forced to understand that hard work and persistence and focused belief don’t always yield epic outcomes. But others, nestled safely, are not.

Fiction, thankfully, can give us the gift of empathy. The kind of empathy your protective parents might not be able to impart.

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Healing, for patients and doctors alike, goes much deeper than fixing a physical problem, Puchalski said. For patients, it can mean “finding a sense of coherence and hope despite facing end of life or chronic illness.”

To facilitate that kind of healing, Puchalski said, doctors need to “back away from the computer” and really listen.

“We use all too many words in health care,” she said. “Out of silence, patients can share what’s going on deeply. They can cry and feel they’re really deeply listened to without judgment. You can fix a fracture but it’s very difficult to fix suffering without that kind of compassionate care.”

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New Year’s Thought
January 1st, 2017

A big culprit in so many thorny issues facing us is religious dogma that keeps people from really seeing and from there getting ourselves and others in balance. As long as we remain dogmatic, locked in manacles of the mind, as the poet William Blake termed it, we make everything worse, not just for others but for ourselves.

I was thinking the other morning on my way home from yoga of the Two GREAT COMMANDMENTS, which, as Jesus said, are the summation of the Law and the Prophets: 1. Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind. And, 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. To love others rightly we must also love ourselves. Many people do not. To get right we must sort ourselves out with love and kindness, and wisdom.

That’s where good books, and good counsel, can really help.

I’ll end the year with this poem from my collection, The Necessity of Symbols,

20/20

Threading from spool to spool
to spool, frost spins
old stories out
over my windows.

Shrunken cherries left by blackbirds
who’ve read the signs and fled
lie discarded on the lawn.
Like motors, hearts turn—
and turn again—
but refuse, make noise—
absolutely refuse
to start.

Ice covers the city
like a freezer-burned pie.
The fruit trees—no matter their kind—
bear only ice.

Oh stabat mater—Jesus—
stoop—
take the cobwebs from the gashes.
Let wounds brighten.
Let us bear fruit
fit for golden bowls.
Thomas Ramey Watson

In a healthy relationship, partners support one another but are perfectly capable of leading their own lives. In a codependent relationship, an enabler constantly comes to the rescue of his or her partner and consequently encourages negative or unhealthy behavior.

No one tends to see themselves as the enabler in a relationship. Most would rather see themselves as a natural-born caretaker or simply a supportive spouse. But recognizing that you’re an enabler is the best way to change the toxic dynamic.

Below, marriage therapists share six signs you’re the enabler in a relationship ― and how to put an end to unhealthy behavioral patterns.

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Happy relationships don’t happen by accident. It takes two emotionally healthy, loving people who are committed to being the best partners they can be.

 

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The boy, who could barely open the PAW Patrol toy that was given to him, hugged the man and asked him several quick questions.

“They say I’m going to die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” the boy asked.

Schmitt-Matzen then told the boy that when he got there to say he was Santa’s No. 1 elf and he’d be let in.

Near the end of the visit, the boy asked one last question: “Santa, can you help me?”

“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”

Schmitt-Matzen said he ran past the family and the nurses’ station crying — questioning whether he was cut out to be Santa.

 

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Therapists often see couples facing a very real dilemma: After years and years together, one or both partners no longer feel as “in love” as they were before.

Is it possible to fall back in love? Absolutely, but it takes time and effort from both spouses. Below, marriage therapists offer a short list of advice they give couples at this crossroad.

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The greater is the gap between what love calls you to do and what you actually do, the deeper the depression you can fall into. The way to find joy is to leave the cage, not to make it prettier. Why do you think the waiting rooms of psychologists and psychiatrists are filled with successful people who realized after twenty or thirty years of work that money, a career and a house in the suburbs do not bring peace of mind and joy of heart?

They keep hoping that by changing the external conditions of their lives – earn more money, be in a better physical shape, have another partner or travel more – will change how they feel. It never works because the emptiness is not around them. The emptiness is within them. And the only way to come back to life is to acknowledge that little voice rising from your heart and begging you to return to love, to return to truth.

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How much of an impact does emotional intelligence (EQ) have on your professional success? The short answer is: a lot! It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

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If a friend told you his wallet was stolen from his back pocket while he was in a strange city, what would you think? You might feel sorry for him and offer him sympathy, but you may also think, “He shouldn’t have been carrying his wallet in his back pocket in a strange place.” Though that’s a normal way to think, it’s not necessarily reasonable: wallets are stolen all the time, regardless of where they’re kept. The urge to blame the victim in that scenario stems from the just world fallacy, which is the idea that every action has just consequences. Optimistically, it says everything happens for a reason. But from a more cynical point of view, however, it says you get what you deserve. This isn’t true, of course: bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it all the time, and vice versa. But this idea seeps into many areas of everyday life, from parental advice to jury verdicts. To avoid making this mistake, stick to the facts, and try not to judge a situation based on information you don’t yet have. Learn more about the just world fallacy in the videos below.>

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Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

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