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.

[N]ew research, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that while social deficiencies are one aspect of autism, this stereotype is nothing more than a myth. In fact, individuals with autism are far from indifferent to the suffering of others.

“It’s a common but very unfortunate misunderstanding that individuals with autism do not care for other people, or that they don’t love other people,” Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president of medical research for the research and advocacy organization Autism Speaks, who was not involved in the study, told The Huffington Post. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

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We live in a loud and distracting world, where silence is increasingly difficult to come by — and that may be negatively affecting our health.

In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern plague,” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”

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It disrupts decision-making pathways in the brain, neuroscientists find.
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A new study from neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh finds that anxiety disengages the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that’s critical for flexible decision-making, as well as attention and higher-order thinking.

“Anxiety is a mental health issue that affects our day-to-day life, including our decision-making,” Dr. Bita Moghaddam, a neuroscientist at the university and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. “By understanding the biological processes that make this happen, we can hopefully come up with better ways of treating this aspect of anxiety.”

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In the depths of the Great Recession, Paul Ryan worried that the social safety net was becoming “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency.” Unemployment had spiked not because of a financial crisis, but because the poor had suddenly decided in unison to be very lazy. Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment was nearly as dismissive as Williamson’s vitriol.

But this only explains why the rabble are abandoning their well-heeled overlords in the GOP. It does not explain why they have embraced a xenophobic authoritarian instead of, say, the Democratic Party.

The most comforting rationale for Democratic true believers is that these voters are racist and ignorant and hostile to Democratic policies on social issues. That’s part of the explanation. But the full truth is a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow. Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of People? documents a half-century of work by the Democratic elite to belittle working people and exile their concerns to the fringes of the party’s platform. If the prevailing ideology of the Republican establishment is that of a sneering aristocracy, Democratic elites are all too often the purveyors of a smirking meritocracy that offers working people very little.

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Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t always mean sitting in lotus pose with your eyes closed. In fact, most people are unaware that you can practice meditation virtually anywhere — sitting still is not a requirement.

The true beauty of meditation lies in the fact that you can make your practice perfectly suited to your personal needs. The benefits are also undeniable: Studies show the practice can prevent disease and reduce inflammation, be an effective form of treating depression and increase happiness levels. It is even thought to prevent signs of aging in the brain.

Everyone can take advantage of meditation’s perks, regardless of whether or not they want to sit in one place. Below are five types of meditation you can do on the move:

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[T]raveling will certainly make you more worldly, force you to think in different ways and help you to embrace unique cultural practices. All of which will ultimately create more neurological connections in your brain, making you quicker to react, think through logic and work through problem solving more efficiently.

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You’re only as smart as your experience, and if you don’t challenge yourself past your comfort zone — you’re setting limits on your potential that need not be there. Both new experiences and doing things you already know — the hard way — will keep your cognitive skills sharp.

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We evolved to have a biological clock to help our bodies adapt to Earth’s daily cycles and research suggests that nearly every organ in our bodies follows this hidden, biological timekeeping: Our hearts, livers and digestive tracts all have their own internal schedules to help us perform at our very best.

It seems that we need regular sleeping and eating schedules to keep our organs synced to one big, biological clock

Our bodies have an optimal time to sleep, but also to eat, think and exercise. What’s more, disrupting that natural timing could lead to certain health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.

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Surprising new research suggests that indulging in upbeat fantasies may exacerbate symptoms of depression in the long run, even if it gives a boost to one’s mood in the here and now.

“It’s not that positive thinking is bad, or that negative thinking is good,” said Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University and one of the scientists behind the research. “The idea is that we need to use positive thinking and fantasies in a way that is appropriate for what we want to use it for.”

If your intent is to reach a goal that you associate with feeling happier or more fulfilled, Oettingen said, it’s important to leaven your positive fantasies with realistic thinking about obstacles that stand between you and that goal.

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Some pieces of marriage advice we’ve heard time and time again: Never go to bed angry, make sure your spouse is your best friend, be transparent about your feelings.

But at this point, we’re ready for a fresh, unconventional take on how to stave off divorce. Below, relationship experts share six surprising pieces of advice.

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You can do this by pacing yourself when you’re under pressure, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, eating healthfully and taking time to decompress on a regular basis (with meditation, rhythmic breathing or other relaxation techniques), says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center. “During a stressful period, have a plan that calls for breaks as you go through it” so that you’re not revved up 24/7. Indeed, the body’s “fight-or-flight response can be deactivated quite effectively through diaphragmatic breathing and guided visual imagery,” Buse says. “Someone who has high levels of stress at work could simply take 30 seconds to focus on their breath between meetings and appointments and try to avoid the build-up of stress that could happen over the course of a day.”

If it’s too late for a pre-emptive approach, you can mitigate the let-down effect by helping your body de-stress slowly. “Just like you have a cool-down period after exercising, you want your body to have a tapering down of stress,” Schoen explains. The key, he says, is “to keep your body slightly revved up to keep your immune system from downshifting abruptly” when the stress ends.

The best way to do this, Schoen says, is to seek the right intensity of physical and mental stimulation. For physical stimulation, “moderate exercise in quick bursts – such as jogging or walking stairs for five or six minutes at a time, several times a day – can help,” Schoen says. For mental stimulation, do challenging math problems, crossword puzzles or computer games, or play chess under time pressure for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, he suggests. Do these activities for three days after a stressful period – “that’s the critical window,” Schoen says – and you’ll improve your odds of emerging from the aftermath of stress feeling good, not sick.

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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.

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

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