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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Please help me launch this project by preordering copies on my website, using PayPal or another method (personal check, MO).  Paypal buttons will soon be up on the Writing Page.

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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.

I think this will be the cover.

Your partner should bring out the best in you, inspire you to grow and make you laugh like nobody’s business. If that’s not happening, you’re probably with the wrong person.

Below, experts share nine signs the person you’re with might not be right for you.

More. Good article.

The phenomenon of art born from adversity can be seen not only in the lives of famous creators, but also in the lab. In the past 20 years, psychologists have begun studying post-traumatic growth, which has now been observed in more than 300 scientific studies.

The term post-traumatic growth was coined in the 1990s by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun to describe instances of individuals who experienced profound transformation as they coped with various types of trauma and challenging life circumstances. Up to 70 percent of trauma survivors report some positive psychological growth, research has found.

Growth after trauma can take a number of different forms, including a greater appreciation for life, the identification of new possibilities for one’s life, more satisfying interpersonal relationships, a richer spiritual life and a connection to something greater than oneself, and a sense of personal strength.

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The physical rebuilding of a city that takes place after an earthquake can be likened to the cognitive processing and restructuring that an individual experiences in the wake of a trauma. Once the most foundational structures of the self have been shaken, we are in a position to pursue new—and perhaps creative—opportunities.

The “rebuilding” process looks something like this: After a traumatic event, such as a serious illness or loss of a loved one, individuals intensely process the event—they’re constantly thinking about what happened, and usually with strong emotional reactions.
It’s important to note that sadness, grief, anger, and anxiety, of course, are common responses to trauma, and growth generally occurs alongside these challenging emotions—not in place of them. The process of growth can be seen as a way to adapt to extremely adverse circumstances and to gain an understanding of both the trauma and its negative psychological impact.

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At a recent Cure Alzheimer’s Fund symposium at the Harvard Club of Boston, Tanzi noted that without a cure, more than 100 million people worldwide are expected to have Alzheimer’s in the next 25 years, which will bankrupt health care systems. Alzheimer’s, he said, is not your grandfather’s disease. The buildup of amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and inflammation–telltale signs of Alzheimer’s–can begin when one is in their 30s. It’s a slow progression leading to the 10 warning signs:

• Memory loss that disrupts daily life
• Challenges in planning or solving problems
• Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
• Confusion with time or place
• Difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships
• Problems with words in speaking or writing
• Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace steps
• Decreased or poor judgment
• Withdrawal from work or social activities
• Changes in mood and personality, such as chronic depression, anxiety and fearfulness

Alzheimer’s, Tanzi said, is not just the end stage, but a journey to the grave, a slow death by a thousand cuts. Chief risk factors, he notes, include: family history, head injury, Alzheimer’s marker genes, gender, age, and stroke/emotional trauma. I’m hitting for the cycle on risk factor with a generational family history of the disease, two traumatic head injuries, clinical depression, and the marker gene APOE-4.

“You’re not getting out of this,” my doctors tell me.

More.

Dr. Paul Puri, a psychiatrist and TV writer, also joined the conversation explaining how mental health is getting more respect on TV. He explained:

“We’ve really seen the movement from peripheral, secondary or supporting characters to the primary characters and the leads displaying not just more subtitles to it but really the experience of what it’s like to be going through different forms of mental illness — or what the writers think mental illness is or want to represent about it.”

More.

They’re among a fast-growing number of travelers doing more than lying on beaches and roaming through museums. They’re seeking spiritual encounters, from private healing ceremonies with a shaman in Peru and Sufi meditation sessions in India to monastery stays in northern Thailand and Christian pilgrimages to Fátima and Lourdes.

Travel companies report that the number of people taking “faith-based” vacations is up as much as 164 percent in the last five years, even at a time when surveys show that the fastest-growing religious category in the United States is no religious affiliation at all, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“In the absence of belonging to an organized religion, I still think there’s a universal desire for people to connect with deeper things,” said Ben Bowler, the Australian founder of Monk for a Month, which offers Westerners long stays in Buddhist monasteries in Thailand. “They’ve already been to the beach on holiday. So when they get the time and resources, they think of doing something more meaningful.”

In addition to that search for a higher purpose — especially among retiring baby boomers — observers speculate that all kinds of factors are driving this wave of spiritual tourism, including anxiety caused by economic and political uncertainty, the popularity of Pope Francis, the looming 500th anniversary in 2017 of the Protestant Reformation, and the once-in-10-years Oberammergau passion play that will be staged in 2020.

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As I continue to teach and lecture among my colleagues around the world, I have become increasingly aware that most psychotherapists train and practice within a paradigm that sees patients’ problems as rooted in pathology. These therapists wait and watch for a symptom to see how it might fit into a a category of identified disorders. That neatly solves the problem for the therapists, but not for the patients.

For nearly four decades, I have sat and listened to people who present their stories and their anguish. I still marvel at how unique are many of their problems and how well these problems also function as solutions. The more I explore a situation to find out what is right rather than what is wrong about it, the more creativity I discover and the deeper is my conviction that the human spirit is way ahead of the human mind in its genius for adaptation.

While an understanding of the science of psychology is the accepted basis for treating patients, a wider appreciation of the human spirit informs my practice. A therapist’s job may be less to cure a problem than to identify, respect and even revere how it solves or rectifies life’s dilemmas. And whenever I am able to cast a so-called problem in a positive light, the person gains a reinforced respect for himself and for what his or her spirit is seeking to achieve. And so do I.

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They say there’s no bond quite like the one between man and his best friend, after all, and while science can’t yet say for sure whether puppy love is real, it certainly looks a lot like love, both in the behavior and in the brain.

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Jennifer Granneman writes:

[Extroverts] actually feel energized when they leave [a concert] and won’t need any recovery time. So, why do I react so differently than my extroverted friends to the same situation? The answer has to do with some key differences in the way introverts’ brains are wired.

More.

The Mystical Side of Music
December 14th, 2015

Ali Z. Hussain writes:

Lately, I have noticed that the only moments during the day when I can maintain an absolute silence is when my fingers are hosting my feelings and the piano in a conversation. Perhaps one might be inclined to think that this is the reason why my lips are sealed shut, because my hands are the ones participating in a dialogue with the instrument. Perhaps that is so, but I think there is another subtle power to music that only becomes evident once we compare this medium of communication with its writing counterparts, prose and poetry.

For Muslim mystics, such Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-ʿArabi (d. 1240), prose is the ideal medium for communicating divine law; a body of knowledge that requires a definitive and non-ambiguous set of terminology and syntax. On the other hand, it is poetry alone that can satiate the passion of the mystic to express the ambiguous and perplexing nature of the mystical experience; where clear boundaries of the law give way to the paradox of the supra-rational. We may posit this distinction as one where prose operates within the realm of the intellect, with its abstract concepts and categories and where poetry rules supreme in the land of the qalb (heart) and rūḥ (spirit); where a constant taqallub (fluctuation) and murāwaḥa (vascillation) is the definitive state of reality.

However, anybody familiar with Ibn al-ʿArabi’s thought and the larger discourse on cosmo-ontology and saintology in Islamic mysticism knows that there is yet another ‘beyond’ to these two realms of the intellect and spirit. In the human microcosm, this third aspect of the laṭīfa rabbāniyya (lordly subtlety) that forms our cognitive faculties is called al-sirr (the secret). Alongside the intellect, heart, soul and spirit the secret constitutes the human communication center with the divine; it is God’s throne in our being and is, sine qua non, the divine trace in the human body.

More.

One in five Americans experience a mental health problem in any given year. Yet many people suffer with their symptoms in silence. The stigma that continues to surround mental health problems prevents individuals from getting the help they need.

It’s a common problem I’ve seen in my therapy office. People often waited years to seek help. Even though their symptoms were treatable, they were afraid to tell anyone about the symptoms they were experiencing.

More.

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.

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

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