Coming This Fall

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A lot has changed since I last announced that I was writing a paranormal romance. I had the story all planned out; unfortunately, once I got into it, the characters had a whole ‘nother idea. In fact, the characters pretty much wrote the whole thing for me. Now, it’s just up to me to get everything finalized. (You know, edited, proofed, rewritten…all that ‘fun’ production stuff ; )

Anyway, here’s the synopsis for “The Past Rekindled,” the first book in my paranormal romance series about Terra McGinley—techwriting guru by day and tran’zr by night.

Synopsis:

I’m Terra McGinley…technical writer and tran’zr (short for transitioner to the afterlife). With Death out to get me, I don’t know what to do or who to trust.

My new tran’zr partner is tall, dark, handsome, and completely annoying. While he’s checking the rule books and noting every little infraction, I’m helping people move on–even if it means bending those rules a bit.

In the real world, I’m stuck working with my high school crush. Although he hurt and betrayed me back then, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if we had gotten together. Is it too late, or should I take the risk?

Short Blurb:

Finding love is the last thing on Terra McGinley’s mind as she divides her time between writing how-to procedures and escorting visitors to the astral plane. But when one of her charges contacts Terra and her new partner for help, they encounter Death, who has his own plans for Terra. Now she must decide who she can trust with her life and her heart – past love or new partner?

One of the issues I haven’t yet worked out is whether to use my current pen name – TA Sullivan; or my real name – Tricia Sullivan. There’s a whole controversy over using different pen names for different genres. Some say it’s better because it helps your audiences identify with you for a specific type of book. However, there’s a whole other group that believes once you have your brand established with a name you should stick with that.

I’m not sure which school of thought I identify with; however, I do know that I have a completely different issue that I keep tripping over. There is already an established author with the name Tricia Sullivan. (In fact, she and I were nearly collaborators on my first book–a different story.) I’m not sure if the duplication of names would be to her benefit/detriment or mine. So, in keeping with my current indecisiveness, my wonderful book cover designers have allowed me to put both drafts out here for your perusal. Let me know what you think…do you like it, hate it, have no opinion about it?

To say I’m excited is an understatement. But then, every time I get one of my books done I’m excited. Each book is a labor of love, because I love the book, but I also love my readers. So, I want each reader to love my creations as much as I do (an impossible dream…but then again, who knows. And that’s why I #keepwriting. ; )

 

 

 

 

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What’s your label?

Labels, nick names, pet names, and icons—those small descriptions identifying someone’s perception of you, or the way in which you identify your perception of someone else 

Okay, I can hear you all going, “Huh?”

Did you ever meet someone and say to yourself after speaking with them for a few minutes, “Man, he’s a real techno-geek…”, or “Wow, she’s a real airhead…”? Well, those are both examples of labeling or assigning icons to someone based on your perceptions.

And before you start telling yourself that you would never do something like that, think back to your own childhood and your own relationships with your family…uh-huh, that’s right. Everyone does it, even your own parents and siblings. What were you? “Little Troublemaker”? “Little Man”? or “Maybe Dad’s Little Princess”?

That was my icon/label, which probably was fine up until I reached the age of about six, from then on it didn’t fit, but my parents never noticed, and I’ve been fighting against their mindset and label ever since.

Read on and maybe you’ll understand a little more…

* * *

As my brothers and I came back together to take care of my father, during my mother’s illness, I found that the familial patterns they tried to reintroduce just didn’t fit. You see, once I reached puberty, I was never comfortable with my family. It seemed as if they were always expecting someone else—someone more “traditional”, more “dutiful”, more “amenable”, and someone more “pliable”. Instead, they got me (whatever that was).

Because I was uncomfortable with the “roles” they had devised for me, I left home quite willingly as soon as I could (which means as soon as I could escape to college and away from parental controls). From then on, I only made brief forays into the world of family—weddings, funerals, Christmas, and an occasional Thanksgiving. Each time I went home with the hope that it would be different, and each time I was disappointed and frustrated. (Talk about being a slow learner;-)

After every short exposure into the familial experience, I would still find my father thinking of me as his “little princess”, my mother trying to turn me into a “mini-her”, my oldest brother trying to play macho-protector (“my hero”), and the middle child (my other brother)—unsure of his own role—convinced that I (like all women) should be the epitome of the 50’s woman—a combination of the Stepford wives and the mother from the Donna Reed show.

Every time I left one of those family gatherings it would take me several days to work through the anger, disappointment, and frustration, which left me jittery and stressed, with a headache and upset stomach.

Why couldn’t they just see me for who I was? Why did they continually try to push me into some ridiculous, outmoded (and in some instances, not even close) mold or make we wear some outrageous label that didn’t even come close to describing who I really was?

I had never been a traditional female, so my middle brother’s attempts to make me fit his ideal of the typically, traditional female and their roles in society and the family always frustrated and angered me. But since I saw that he did that with every female, I didn’t take it completely personally, so it didn’t bother me nearly as much as my parents’ labeling did. The same was true of my oldest brother. He felt (and still does) that his machismo and bravado were the way to win women’s attention and affection, and once “won over” they were to be protected from everyone else. This included mothers and sisters. Therefore, this was another labeling that I could more or less ignore, since it was applied to all females and not just me.

No, it was the labels directed solely at me that troubled me the most, and filled me with such frustration and anger.

My mother’s continued attempts to turn me into a miniature of herself probably angered me the most. Although we shared some similarities in physical features (short, stocky—what some might call dumpy—with reddish, blonde hair), our personalities were complete opposites. Yet, no matter how much I tried to make her see this, she absolutely refused to recognize me as an individual. (See the entry, “Killjoy”, to understand a little more about my mother’s personality traits.)

The more she held on to this icon, this label, this perception of me, the less I wanted to visit. I wasn’t that person, and I was tired of trying to pretend that I was. If my parents couldn’t accept me for what and who I was, then I didn’t want to see them.

I can see now that my father never fully understood why I cut myself off from the family, but has merely assigned that period to “the troublesome growing up period” I was going through. (He doesn’t seem to notice, or maybe he just doesn’t want to, that this period lasted for nearly twenty years.)

 * * *

When I met my future husband’s family, they had no expectations of who or what I was. So, there were no “icons” or molds that I had to fill—other than that of “woman my son loves”. And since that icon came easily, we all got along wonderfully. We began spending all our holidays with his family, or at least as many as possible. Why? Because I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t, and neither did Dale. His parents hadn’t assigned a role to Dale other than “youngest child”, and since that defined him, as well as his actual position within the family, it was also an easy one for him to “live up to”.

Visiting with his family was a wonderful release. There were no two-day decompression periods. No anger submerged inside like landmines, ready to explode at any moment, but unseen by those who unexpectedly triggered them. It was just a joyous time of friends gathering, talking, playing board or card games, laughing, having a good time, then going our separate ways again. His parents and family simply accepted me for who I was (although my father-in-law did have a tough time getting my first name right), but their only label was “youngest son’s wife”, which allowed me to be whomever and whatever I wanted to be.

As for my family, well, it never improved. Even after getting married, they still tried to fit me into their old molds. It didn’t seem to matter how much I had changed or grown, or how many years had passed. None of them could seem to move beyond the old labels. After several years of poor interactions with my family, my spouse even came to agree that it just wasn’t worth all the aggravation.

And it wasn’t just me who was being given these badly fitting labels. Because my mother kept insisting on trying to make me into a miniature of herself, she tried to assign an icon of “miniature daddy” to my husband. Although quiet like my father, my husband is not really that much like my father; in fact, I think they’re really quite different. My father was more of a man of action, while my husband is a man of study. My husband prefers to read and study and think about a task or problem before actually doing something. Now, that’s not to say that my dad didn’t think or plan what he was going to do, but he was more prone to simply dive in and give an idea a try, while my husband will study the idea from every possible angle first.

When my mom died, my husband and I had been married nearly twenty years, and my family and I were almost completely estranged. I had tried so many times to reconcile, but my parents (my mother especially) wouldn’t, or couldn’t, move beyond their originally labeling of me, so I chose to stay away most of the time.

At my mother’s funeral, however, there was a slight shift—not much, but a little. I realized that it had been primarily my mother’s influence that had kept the original labels in place. Now, without my mother there to enforce the labeling, my brothers, but especially my father, were willing to let me move beyond my original icon to something a little closer to who I was then.

It wasn’t perfect, and we still had a long way to go, but it was a welcomed, and long overdue, adjustment to their understanding of just who and what I was (and am). It’s been nearly seven years since my mother’s death, and my dad came pretty close to accepting me for who I am before he died. Because I no longer care to fit any preconceived notions of who I am or what I’m about, we actually argued and verbally sparred, and that was okay. I think my dad actually enjoyed this sometimes, because it helped keep him feeling young. After all, if you know everything, and everyone always agrees with you, then there’s no more learning, and without learning, what’s the point?

So, I kept my father guessing, and sometimes myself, as I shifted my role as I saw fit. And since neither of us never knew from moment to moment who I was going to be or what I was going to do, it became very difficult to assign me an icon, because it’s hard to give a name to a moving target.

(For more information about icons and families, see the book, Michael on Life and Relationships.)

Be one with the world

All things recognize the oneness of the universe except man. You may think nothing of injuring a tree in your back yard in North America, yet the message of what you did is carried from your backyard across the world. So, when you travel to Sumatra, the trees there will recognize you and will either fear you or resent you, thereby making your simple stroll a harrowing trek with their need to protect themselves.

The same is true of animals and insects. Injure a cat, bird, or even an ant, and see if nature doesn’t find a way to either pay you back or keep you from doing anymore harm, somehow. They all know that they are part of something bigger. They all know that every action taken has a repercussion somewhere within the webs of energy that bind us all together. It is only man who places himself in a bubble of separateness; who closes himself off to everyone and everything else.

Instead of letting the information in, instead of allowing themselves to be one with all the universe, man chooses to live in a bubble of separation. Occasionally, cracks appear in your bubble, and information seeps through. Most of the time we choose to ignore this anomalous knowing; other times, we accept the knowledge, but find ways to explain it that still allow us to keep our image of separateness in tact.

A few of us, though, choose to lower that bubble and revel in the knowledge that comes from being no longer separate. We allow ourselves to “hear”, “see”, and “experience” all the input, all the information that comes from the universe around us—the stars, the plants, animals, insects, and other people.

Some people who welcome the oneness are looked upon as extraordinary, perhaps they have outstanding gardens where all things grow for them because they seem to know just what the plants need and when to apply it. Others become so intuitive with the animals that they become like Dr. Dolittle in their ability to understand and care for the animals. Others just seem to know or sense things about the people around them.

In each instance, it’s because they have released themselves from the restrictions of being separate. They have chosen, instead, to be one with all there is, to accept everything and everyone as they accept themselves.

It’s not magic, and it’s not make believe. There really is a part of our brains that causes us to experience the feelings of separateness in our world. It’s the spatial section of our brains. It provides each of us not only with a sense of location within a specific space and time, it also provides us with a sense of being us, a separate and unique being. However, when those with a heightened sense of intuitiveness were tested, the scientists found that instead of activating a new and different portion of their brain, what they had done was turn off their spatial functions within their brain.

They released the barriers that kept them separate from the rest of the world, and this allowed them to then open themselves up and “hear” and “know” everything that anyone and anything heard and knew. They could become like the beings in the movie Avatar, tapping into their world at a deeper level, tapping into their world and locating just the information needed to answer the questions asked of them (where is my daughter’s harp that was stolen?), or seeing the future possibilities emerge from all the probabilities, so that they can help someone make easier, less traumatic life choices. 

It’s a removing of barriers; a lowering of the bubbles of separateness that we all put around ourselves that lets us become one with our world, with our universe. It’s not a special section of the brain that needs to be activated, or triggered, but a common section which we all use that we need to turn off.

Some researchers found that simply by repeating the phrase, “I am one with the world”, helps lower that barrier that keeps you separated from everyone and everything else. So, try it…say it with me (but mean it), “I am one with the world…”; now believe that phrase. See yourself as one with the world; then let that bubble of separateness around you explode outward as you flow outward and find yourself one with the universe.

The eyes have it

It’s just a small difference really, but in that small difference can lie day and night, life and death, or the whole world. The small difference I’m referring to is in the words that people use and the way in which they put those words together. Change a word here or there, and it changes the whole intention of the message. Or simply move a word from the start of the sentence to the end of it, and you’ve now said something completely different.

I work with words every day; I’m a wordsmith, so I should know all about the tricks and manipulations that can be done with words. Yet, when you’re on the receiving end of manipulated messages, it’s not so easy to see where the words have been substituted or how exactly the intention of the message has been subtly shifted. Also, sometimes the deliverer of the message doesn’t realize that the message has been shifted or changed; they are honestly repeating what they heard or were told. Other times, the deliverer may honestly believe what they are saying is true, so again, the keenness of the words isn’t completely understood by them, but is doubly felt by you.

Word manipulation…it’s the difference between a doctor saying “Do this and you won’t die…” and “Do this and you won’t die as fast…”. The first statement is a very positive message. It says “you’ll be fine…trust me.” While the second message says, “You’re dying, but we might be able to slow it down…”. That second message, if heard and truly understood, can be pretty shocking if you had no idea that you were that ill.

The words used to deliver the messages are very similar, but the underlying meanings are completely different. Many of us don’t hear the underlying meanings, so we don’t even notice their differences. In fact, many of us are lucky to pay attention to the primary message and notice the subtle differences there. I think it’s because we don’t really listen. We hear, sure, but we don’t listen. We take in the words, but then we translate them into a message that we find acceptable. It may not be the same message that is actually being stated, but it’s one that we want to hear.

But then that’s the power of words. We can twist, shift, and manipulate them to say almost anything, and we do. Whether we are crafting the initial message or receiving that message, we shift the words to suit ourselves. And if we don’t like the underlying message, we ignore it; we pretend that it wasn’t there.

And while images may be worth a 1000 words, even they (nowadays) can be manipulated so that the original 1000 words they represented say something else.

Yes, with all this manipulating and reworking of the words going on, it can sometimes be hard to know just exactly what it is someone is trying to tell you. So how to tell what the true message is? How do you figure out what someone is really trying to tell you? While listening closely is always a good idea, the best way is to read their eyes. The true message that a person wishes to convey comes from their soul. So, to know what they want to really tell you, read their eyes, because the soul never lies.

Is it real?

I’ve gotten a number of comments regarding my postings of my planing activities suggesting that I’m either crazy or simply having very vivid dreams (since most of my planing does take place during my sleep periods). Others have asked me how I can be so positive that these activities are real and not just dreams, nightmares, or figment of my imagination—something happening simply in my mind (see It’s All in My Head).

My best response is simply, “because these incidents are much more real than this world in which I’m posting my blog.”

Think about your dreams for a moment, or can you even remember any of them. Maybe a snippet here or a fragment there, right? Dreams usually fade quickly, although sometimes it can take almost a day for some of the really vivid ones. You might be left with a few vestiges, maybe a memory of an emotion, but that, too, usually fades within a couple of days.

Dreams don’t linger for very long once you awaken, and nightmares are no different. Turn on a light, and nightmares inevitably run away, much preferring the dark recesses of your mind than the bright lights of activity.

These incidents of mine that I write about don’t fade once I awaken. They don’t scatter like rose petals from a dying bouquet. Instead, they’re more like memories, which do fade, yes, but only after weeks, months, or years, not moments or hours. And like memories, some of my experiences of planing can be retriggered by a smell, a word or phrase, or even by a color or image.

Dreams don’t do that, not even memories of dream can do that. There’s a certain musical phrase from Rhapsody in Blue that gives me a “flashback” to a jazz club and the pianist there who died while playing that tune for himself and the remaining wait staff way past closing time. There is the smell of jasmine that brings to mind the memory of a young lady murdered outside her apartment down in North Carolina.

These sounds, these smells trigger an emotional response, an emotional response that I associate with these incidents, these people and places. That’s what memories are—triggers to emotional incidents that we catalog and store. And when I’m acting as a planer, my emotional chakra is more open than when I’m functioning as a “normal” physical being. Emotions make very strong memories, stronger than anything else.

Think about it for a moment. Bring up any memory—happy or sad, good or bad—and you’ll find that the main thing you remember is the emotions of those involved. Perhaps you had an argument with your lover. You may not remember what was said, or even who started it, but what you remember is how you felt and how your lover felt, and how what they were feeling made you feel.

Maybe you remember the first time you saw an infant or a puppy. But again, what do you really remember? Do you remember exactly what the infant or puppy looked like? No, but you remember how you felt…you remember the gooey, oh-so-loving, just-wanna-cuddle-you-to-death feelings that threatened to overflow your whole being.

So, while I may not be able to bring back something tangible that I can point to and say “There, see I was really there. It really happened.” I do have memories.

I may not be able to “prove” to the skeptics that what I do is real, but when it’s their time to leave, I’m sure they’ll be glad to see me, or someone like me—even if we’re not real 😉

Time is a state of mind

Time. Everyone uses it. Everyone uses clocks and watches to measure it. Yet, do we really understand it? Do any of us really understand why time even exists? Or why it seems so important to us?

I think Einstein came closest to explaining why it exists when he said, The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. It means that without time we can’t see cause and effect, and without cause and effect, life (as we know it) doesn’t make sense.

  • What was, now is, and ever shall be (Scripture)
  • Time is an illusion. (Douglas Adams)
  • There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now. (Eugene O’Neil)
  • Time is a created thing. (Lao Tzu)
  • Time is of your own making. (Angelus Silesius)

The above 5 quotes pretty much explain what time is:  part of the illusion of reality that we each have created for ourselves. Scientists also describe it as part of our reality. They call it the fourth dimension, combining it with space to find a location for events and objects (reality, in other words).

We all have our time machines. Some take us back; they’re called memories. Some take us forward; they’re called dreams. (Jeremy Irons)

This last quote is the most profound. It points out just how much of time travel is a mental activity. It requires no machines, no complex formulas, no devices of any kind. If you want to be there during the building of the Tower of Pisa, then you merely need to extend your thoughts, your imagination, your mind to that moment and that place.

Perhaps you want to fly to the stars, experiencing life as an explorer of galaxies. Again, focus your thoughts and your dreams and go.

Life is what we create for ourselves. Our past, our future, and our nows, all exist in our heads, in our thoughts, long before they exist in any reality. What people call daydreaming or even night dreaming, is just another way of exploring other realities – realities in which we walked with Buddha, helped build the great pyramids, or sailed the galaxies.

I’m not saying that every dream is a visit to the past or future, or even a visit to an alternate now. Some dreams are exactly what they appear to be—messages from our own minds regarding the pitfalls we are creating for ourselves. But sometimes, those “dreams” are the memories of other places, other realities, other existences that we visited, that we created for ourselves while during the sleep cycle of the body we wear now.

Sometimes these realities are built in the ether of the transitional planes, but even then, it doesn’t make them any less real. Just because it all seems to be in your head, doesn’t make it any less real.

Every reality is real, because every reality is what you create for yourself. Even those we considered mentally unbalanced are creating a reality for themselves. And just because that reality is considered beyond “normal”, doesn’t make it less real, nor does it make it wrong. Every reality, no matter how bizarre, serves a purpose for the person who created it.

Time travel, like reality, is a state of mind. As long as your mind is fixed in this here and this now, then so are you. However, if you fix your mind on another time, or another time and place, then essence (the soul) will find a way to make it real for you, whether through dreams, astral visits, or through your own imagination.

Many of us use books or movies to aid us in our “travels”, but whether you use these aids or simply “experience” the reality of it on your own, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you understand that no matter when you are, it’s always real.

Being gracious

I was driving my friend home from chemotherapy, and out of the blue she said, “You know, the day I found out about this, was the day I was set free.”

What?! How can having a disease like this be liberating, I thought.

She went on to explain that by finding out she might only have a little while to live, it made her reprioritize things, and one of the things that got left off the list was politeness. “I don’t have time anymore to waste on fear, and politeness is just being afraid that you might offend someone.”

Oooookay, I thought, although I’ve never seen that definition in the dictionary, but I suppose you could see it that way.

She went on, “How many times do you stand and listen to someone you don’t really want to because you’re too polite to just walk away, too polite to tell them you’re busy, or too polite to tell them you just don’t care?”

I gave a half shrug. She had a point. I am one of those who will simply keep my mouth shut while someone yammners away at me because I don’t want to be impolite. But is that fear? Maybe it is, I thought, because I’m always saying ‘I’m afraid to hurt their feelings by telling them to leave me alone or that I don’t really care…’. So, instead, I just let them take up my time and yammer away at me.

“But what about being polite and gracious when someone comes to visit?” I asked her.

She looked at me and asked, “Is it someone you really want to visit with?”

“Well, not always, but I still feel as if I need to be gracious and a good host. I mean, I can hardly just tell them to go away because I don’t want to visit with them.”

She was quiet for so long that I thought perhaps she had fallen asleep, after all, the therapy did tend to wipe her out. Finally, she answered though, “If I don’t like someone or don’t really want to see them, I would treat them the way I would prefer to be treated: honestly. Rather than leading them on and letting them think that I really care or that I’m really their friend, I would tell them. But there’s no reason you have to be less than gracious about it.

But graciousness is different than politeness—graciousness comes from empathy and caring, while politeness is a mask that covers up how someone truly feels.”

At that point we got where we were going and the discussion was forgotten, at least by my friend. But I haven’t forgotten about it. In fact, I’ve thought about what she said a lot during the past months, mostly as I watched how others acted—smiling and saying “no problem” when, in fact, there was a definite problem, or acting as if they care when someone is talking about their pets or family when all they really care about is finding an excuse to get away.

I finally decided that I, too, would become liberated—liberated from the falseness of politeness. Now, I no longer sit still while people yammer at me about things I don’t wish to listen to. Now, I no longer give them the false impression that I care, when I don’t. However, I’m always gracious about it. And if someone seeks to establish a relationship outside of the work place and they are not someone I wish to be social with, then, again, I’m honest but Gracious.

While, I’m not 100% sold on the difference between polite and gracious, I am no longer afraid to be honest with myself and with others. But being honest with someone doesn’t mean you have to be rude or hurtful. Therefore, I always make sure I’m gracious while being honest, because my friend was right – it is much more liberating to be honest with ourselves and others than to pretend we care when we don’t.