Storyboard

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My storyboard.

A storyboard is supposed to be a visual representation of a script, play, novel, comic book…Whatever the venue, the storyboard is the writer’s visual guide to plot, characters, scenes, the entire banquet.

Some years ago, I remember Rob telling me about the storyboard at LucasFilm that dealt with Indiana Jones. It was, he said, probably fifty feet long, with multiple paths jotting out from each entry. In comparison, my storyboard is kindergarten.

The yellow cutouts at the tops of the first, second, and fourth columns and midway down the fifth column are part headings.   I just added that fourth part last night because I realized that the event happening at the end of part three s actually plot point two in the story. If this were a movie, PP2 would be the event that pivots the story in a new direction – usually the last thirty minutes or so of a film.

The yellow index card on the far right is the pitch. It reads: A serial killer. An animal communicator. A homicide detective who talks to the dead. When the lives of these three individuals slam together, nothing is what it appears to be.

 U Я miNe started because of a conversation with my agent in August of 2014. I played around with the idea of a dog walker who is being stalked by a serial killer. Nothing too original there. But the dog walker is a young woman who communicates with animals- the dead and the living – and whose relationships have gone south because of it. The detective investigating this whole thing is the only son of famous mediums , who communicates with spirits to help him solve his cases. His personal relationships have suffered because of it.

I use a different colored Post-It for each viewpoint character. Green belongs to the dog walker, Laurie Brautigan, 27. Lavender is for the detective, Nick Finley, 33. Hot pink is for the killer, Gabe Angeles. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have written this novel from the points of view of the dogs involved in the story – Maia, a Border Collie mix who belongs to Laurie; Dusty, a Rhodesian Ridgeback who witnessed the murder of his human, Donna O’Connor; Randy, an aging Golden Retriever who belongs to Laurie’s closest friend, Colleen Larson; and Fiddler, the lab mix that belongs to the killer, a dog who is the love of his life. Now THAT would be original.

It might also be impossible to write.

That said, the dogs in the story are the ones who ultimately determine the ending. These dogs illustrate what animals can do when their instincts are harnessed, directed, and focused, and there are humans around them who can interpret their actions. There’s even a hamster in this story who witnessed the murder of his human and yielded his testimony to Laurie.

For me, the storyboard has become more essential over my thirty years as a novelist. I like that I can turn my head to the right and see the scenes laid out in order, all so tidy – and meanwhile, the kitchen in my actual home is falling apart, dishes piled in the sink, the fridge screaming for food. I like the fact that my storyboard is my anchor. It may not be a fifty-foot-long archetype like Indiana Jones, but it’s completely mine. My world, my good guys and bad guys, my love story, my psychic magic, my weirdness in hot pink, green, and lavender.

On these various squares of paper, I jot notes about the high points in each scene/chapter. It’s a great way to uncover your weaknesses as a writer. You look at those notes and think, Huh? Nothing happens. What am I doing? Way back when, someone at LucasFilm told Rob that a conflict must happen on every fifth page. In terms of a movie script, that’s every five minutes. When I discover I haven’t done that, I go back and rewrite.

The irony with this storyboard, though, is that I created it after the fact, during my rewrites instead of while I was writing the first draft. Back in October, about a month after I decided to go ahead with this idea, I decided to alter my structure. Instead of doing alternate point of view chapters, I did longer sections with a single viewpoint. I thought it worked.

But when my agent read my summary and the opening, he called and we talked about the story. He felt it lacked tension. “Trish, this is a stalker story, a kind of horror story. You need tension on every single page. Try it with alternate chapter viewpoints.” He made some more suggestions, I went back to the manuscript and realized he was right. I tore apart the manuscript and began rebuilding it, a step at a time, with the help of the storyboard.

This is my fortieth novel and doesn’t include novels I have ghostwritten or novels that have been sitting on my closet floor for twenty years. Isn’t the process supposed to get easier with practice? While some parts of the creative process of writing have gotten easier, other parts seem to have become more challenging. One thing I’m absolutely sure of now is that with my next novel, I’ll START with the storyboard; it won’t be a revision postscript. I will also do what I’ve done with most of my novels and DIDN’T do when I started this one: write the pitch for the story.

 

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Big Sur- Cabin by the Sea

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One of the first posts we did in February 2009 when we started our blog was called Big Sur- Cabin by the Sea. It happened to Dr. L. Daryll Amstrong and illustrates, I think, what can happen when we feel strongly connected to a particular place. It remains one of my favorite stories.

This synchronicity happened to Dr. L Darryl Armstrong. It beautifully illustrates what can happen when we feel strongly connected to a particular place.
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Several years ago during the first days of establishing our business, I had the occasion to work on the west coast and visit a friend in Carmel. Having always wanted to tour the area, especially Big Sur, and to get a massage at Esalen one day, I trucked off to just spend some time driving and exploring the coastal highway.

By chance I happened upon a real estate sign noting a house for sale or rent, I don’t recall which. The “house” was actually a large cabin – 2 stories that hung off the side of a cliff with the most remarkable view of the Pacific Ocean I have ever seen from a private residence. It was obvious someone had spent a great deal of their personal time and money carving out this homestead. I was mesmerized, and could imagine what life might be like in a “cabin by the sea”. Every time since then, when I have been out that way, I have driven by the cabin. These days it has a fence on the road and a gate but you can still get a glimpse.

A few years later, late one evening, I crawled on to a Southwestern flight headed home to “my own cabin in the woods” on Lake Barkley in Kentucky. I don’t recall where I was flying from, maybe Phoenix. Anyway, I got my always enjoyable exit row seat and stretched out because I was exhausted.

I normally “hibernate” on a plane and rarely strike up conversations as I prefer to read, work or sleep. The plane was not very full but sure enough this fellow chooses to sit in the exit row with me. For some reason I was drawn to his smile and immediately liked him. Eventually my southern hospitality overcame me, I guess, and I offered him a drink since I had plenty of coupons and he smiled and offered me one as well.

We chatted and I found out he was from California. We started talking about how we both liked certain areas (I mentioned Big Sur, Carmel, Monterrey) and when I got to the story about the cabin on the side of the road overlooking the ocean he got a strange expression on his face.

I thought nothing of it. I just continued describing the setting and how much I would love to live there with the view and the peace and quiet despite all the inconveniences. He finally said something to the effect, ‘You know, I understand how you feel. We obviously both work hard and have a lot of stress. It sounds like when we get home we are both ‘hermits’ in parts of our lives. I have always enjoyed my peace and solitude as well. Let me show you where I live.’

And this man, whom I had never met and yet instantly took a liking to, reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a photo wallet. And yes, you guessed it. This was the man who owned the cabin I have always cherished in my mind. We were both surprised yet it seemed as if a “loop” had been closed because I left the plane that night knowing that someone I could share mutual empathy with enjoyed the “cabin by the sea” as much as I did.

 

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Ghostly Road

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It’s not unusual for someone to report seeing a ghost in an old house or building or a graveyard. I’ve also heard of hitchhiking ghosts, the most famous are the stories of a young Elvis in his uniform hitchhiking to Graceland…and apparently getting rides. Elvis stories, though, are often fan-based, which no doubt raises red flags for many.

This story from the British Isles (Pembrokeshire, Wales)  is unusual for a couple of reasons. The ghost appears on the side of the road and darts in front cars. It happened at least three times in four days in February, all three incidents happening on the same stretch of road, and all apparently reported to the Paranormal Chronicles website. So if these stories are real, and not made up by the website for our entertainment, how many more incidents have occurred recentlly that weren’t reported?

The site says this about the reports: “The road has witnessed some terrible and tragic accidents over the years and one can speculate that if there is a paranormal world veiled over our own reality that local drivers are witnessing chilling and disturbing hauntings replayed in the darkness.”

It’s also interesting that at the top of the map, probably the north side of the haunted stretch of road, is Merlin’s Bridge. Nice.

For the full stories of the sightings, take a look here.

Thanks to Jane Clifford for alerting us to this story. Jane, who lives nearby the road in question, says this about it: “I didn’t know about these stories about that stretch of road that’s spooky locally, and yet have avoided using it for over 30 years…never liked it!”

 

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Chances Are…

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Bernard Beitman,  a visiting psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, has been studying meaningfuly coincidence for decades and has recently completed a book on it. We’ve written several posts about his work. Recently, he posted the following piece on his website and we asked him if we could re-post it here.

Probabilities are a favorite tool of skeptics, who often go to considerable lengths to explain away a coincidence even when they have experienced it.

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David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University and David Hand of the Imperial College of London are among several statisticians who believe that they have solved the coincidence problem.  Probabilities! Any event that can happen will happen given a large number of instances. If a coin is flipped an infinite number of times, there will sometime be a run of 100 tails in a row.

Life is not usually a series of coin flips except for lotteries and competitive games—someone has to win and occasionally the same person wins. Coincidences are defined by being low probability events, but there can be other contributions beyond probabilities to their appearance. These include: subconscious intentions and behaviors, group dynamics, yet to be discovered scientific forces, and mystery.

The faithful have an answer not only to mystery but to probability. Their explanation is God who works wonders in mysterious ways. As the faithful are the first to declare—they do not know how God works His wonders. They simply have faith that He does. Faith is belief beyond the need for causal understanding.

Statisticians and the Faithful tend to use coincidences to affirm their beliefs about the nature of reality. Just as people who own a kind of car or drink a kind of beverage are confirmed in their choice by advertising for their car or drink, coincidences can be used to feel supported in holding your cherished belief.

The statisticians and the faithful have only part of the truth, not all of it. The famous story of the elephant and the blind (in the dark) men trumpets this more accurate view.

In the common version of the tale, which originated in the Indian subcontinent, the blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is made of. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. The person feeling a leg says it is a tree. Another feeling the side, says it is a wall. The tail feels like a rope, the tusk feels like a spear, the trunk like a snake, and the ear like a fan.

Like the blind men, those who feel certain about their knowledge of coincidence must recognize that each holds only a piece of the truth.

I invite my statistical and faithful colleagues to join with me in the search for a clearer understanding of the place of probability and mystery in the study of coincidences.

 

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Intentions, Desire, Manifestation

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In the early years of our blog, Natalie, a psychic medium from Down Under, used to comment frequently. But she’s the mother to five kids from two marriages, and eventually had to give up blogging. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and I’ve always been intrigued by Natalie’s studies and quests as a medium. She seeks creative solutions to the challenges she faces.

The story she recently sent illustrates the power of intent and desire – magical thinking!

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I just had the weirdest experience! I have been feeling pretty disconnected here in my new area and have been praying for a friend. I had the feeling she was going to be a mum from the school, with older daughters, who actually wasn’t really looking, or interested in making a friend.

Haylie (One of Nat’s daughters) has been put in a class this year where she knows nobody and has had some settling issues. She also invited herself to a little girls birthday party last month (cringe) and we went along. It was really awkward at first, but I sensed this was the lady who was going to be my friend. She has two older daughters and the little one in Haylie’s class. The Mum very much felt ‘right’ to me, even though she was very closed.

Fast forward three weeks to today. I had to go to the supermarket for a few things, but didn’t want to go, as I was tired and had been up all night last night feeling very anxious and praying lots about my life. One of the prayers was help me find a friend, the other one was help me rid myself of this crushing internalized shame that blocks me in my work.

So, I get to the shop and run into the Mum. She starts chatting about her little girl and confesses her daughter is very sensitive and feels a lot of shame if she gets into trouble at school.

I say, “That’s a coincidence, I have just been watching some You Tube clips about healing toxic shame.”

Then she pipes up with: “Actually, I’m learning how to write, and I wrote a piece this morning, about a fortune teller whose beautiful heart was being crushed by toxic shame.”

I exclaimed: “I’m a fortune teller, a medium, actually, and I am being crushed by toxic shame!”

After the initial surprise and shock, we then described a vision we had both seen, of the Light trying to permeate the layers of experiences in the fortuneteller’s heart. This all happened in about two minutes in the soap aisle. I don’t even think she knows my name, but I am now convinced more than ever, she is going to be my new friend.

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I wrote Nat that I felt there was another synchro here, that they met in the soap shop. I mean, really. What is soap if not a substance that washes away stuff?

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St. Patty’s Day

 

The other day when Rob and I were at the dog park, we noticed clusters of clovers were cropping up and he said, “Hey, let’s look for four-leaf clovers.”

So we moved around, hunched over like Diogenes looking for an honest man. We spotted a lot of old dog poop that proliferates when the snowbirds are here with their pooches – and don’t pick up after them – but no four-leap clovers. It reminded me, though, that St. Patrick’s Day was just around the corner and suddenly, a motherlode of memories about this day slammed into place.

When I was in college in Utica, New York we used to celebrate St. Patty’s Day with a lot of drinking and partying and oh my, if you didn’t wear something green, you ended up buying drinks for everyone. Back then, St. Patty’s Day was about green beer and fun.

In the years since, I’ve come to think of the day as a celebration of life, of luck, of serendipity, and yes, perhaps even synchronicity! This video, I think expresses the essence.

 

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A Dangerous Method

We’ve probably all thought at one time or another how great it would’ve been to be a fly on the wall when something momentous, outrageous or historical happened. In the world of psychotherapy, one such incident was a dispute between Freud and Jung, when the two argued about the validity of psychic phenomenon and something  strange…seemingly paranormal and definitely synchronistic happened.

So with the movie, A Dangerous Method( 2011)  directed by David Cronenberg, we have a chance to be that fly, at least in a fictive sense. Here’s the trailer of that scene in which Freud (Viggo Mortensen)  lectures his student (Michael Fassbender) about ‘paranormal nonsense’ and a cracking sound is heard from Freud’s bookcase. Jung is almost ecstatic and predicts it will happen again…and it does.

 

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The Twilight Zone

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I’ve found that hair salons are great places for things other than getting your hair cut – like hearing synchronicity stories. Angie, one of the stylists at the salon I’ve been going to for twenty years, is very tuned into synchros and we’ve used her stories before. One of the best was a series of transformative synchronicities that occurred during a transitional phase in her life that we wrote about here.

So today she told me that her daughter is pregnant with her second child, which is due October 17. “A Libra,” I said. “Make sure she pays attention to the time of birth so I can look at her chart.”

“I’ll remind her,” Angie said.

“What sign is your daughter?”

“A Virgo, just like me.”

“And her husband?”

“A Leo. Now you want to hear something weird, Trish?”

Well, sure. Always.

Angie’s mother was born August 25 – early Virgo – and her father was born August 10, so he’s a Leo. Angie’s daughter, Teresa, was born August 25 and her husband was born August 10.

Sometimes, this parallel with birthdates can happen with perfect strangers. We write about one such instance in 7 Secrets of Synchronicity that involved our friend, Carol Bowman, an author and past-life therapist:

Carol was visiting her mother in New York’s Hudson Valley, a small town, not much there. She had gone to the grocery store for basics. While waiting in line, she noticed the Asian woman behind her had a toddler in her cart, a cute little girl. Carol asked the woman how old her daughter was.

Asian woman: “She’ll be two next month. She’s an Aries.”

Carol: “My Aries daughter will be thirty next month. Aries kids are a handful, aren’t they?”

Asian woman, laughing: “That’s for sure. And I’m married to an Aries.”

Carol’s antenna twitched. “Me, too!”

So we can imagine these two women in line at this dinky store, suddenly aware of some sort of connection, both with Aries daughters, both married to Aries men.

Asian woman: “I’m a Libra.”

Carol understood that something odd and fascinating was happening. “I’m a Libra, too. What’s your birthdate?”

Asian woman: “October 14.”

“That’s, uh, my birthdate, too.”

Yes, it sounds like an episode out of the Twilight Zone, weird music and all. But the upshot was that Carol handed the woman her business card and said she would be conducting a past-life workshop in the area in June. The Asian woman said she would definitely attend

What are the odds?

 

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#23

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During one of our recent radio shows, the person interviewing us asked about clusters of synchros and we got into a discussion about number clusters. One of the most interesting, which we wrote about in 2009, involves the number 23.

In Tangiers in the early 1960s, William Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, knew a certain Captain Clark who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. Clark boasted that he’d been running the ferry for twenty-three years without incident. That same day, the ferry sank, killing Clark and everyone on board. That very evening, Burroughs was thinking about this gruesome event and turned on the radio and heard about the crash of a New York-Miami airplane. The plane was piloted by a Captain Clark. It was flight 23.

The synchronicity apparently shocked Burroughs enough so that he started compiling a list of synchros involving the number 23. In 1965, his friend and fellow author Robert Anton Wilson also began putting together a list of oddities about that number. One of the personal synchros he noted concerned his daughters. They were born on August 23 and February 23. Wilson wrote about the number for the Fortean Times in 1977. His article appeared in issue – yes, you guessed it! – number 23.

Here are some other synchros involving the number 23. In science and math:

During conception, each parent contributes 23 chromosome apiece to the fetus.

Euclid’s geometry has 23 axioms.

23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers and add up to another prime number.

It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.

Every 23rd wave that slams into a shore is twice as large as the average wave.

The first lunar landing was in the Sea of Tranquility, 23.63 degrees East. The second lunar landing was in the Ocean of Storms, 23.42 degrees West. The first two landings were Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 – 11+12=23.

The earth rotates completely every 23 hours, 56 minutes.

The axis of the plane Earth is 23.5 degrees.

The human biorhythm cycle is 23 days.
The pattern of DNA shows irregular connections at every 23rd section.

Humans have 23 vertebra running down the main part of their spines.

The Harmonic Convergence occurs every 23,000 years.

Geosynchronous orbit occurs at 23,000 miles above Earth’s surface.

September 23rd is the Fall equinox.

23+23+23=WWW, the World Wide Web (W being the 23rd letter of the alphabet)

In Hollywood and with movies and TV, the number also plays a role. Take X-Files. The production company, Ten-Thirteen -10+13 – adds up to 23. 10-13 is the birth date of creator Chris Carter. For fans of X-Files, remember that abandoned nuclear silo where a UFO is being held? 1013 is the number on the silo. In another episode, Mulder goes to the apartment of a recently deceased man and the number 23 is on the door.

In the popular TV series Lost, which builds on layers of synchronicity, there are a number of oddities involving 23:
Oceanic Flight 815 – 8+15=23
The gate number from which the flight departed
Jack’s seat on the flight was 23A
Rose and Bernard were sitting in row 23
Hurley stayed in a Sydney hotel on floor 23
The reward for turning Kate in: $23,000
One of the numbers in the sequence of 6 that won Hurley the lottery and opened the hatch: 4 8 15 16 23 42.
Even if the repetition of 23s in the series is intentional, it’s nonetheless the sort of weirdness that would have interested both Burroughs and Wilson.

In 2007, a Jim Carey movie, The Number 23, met with lukewarm reviews, but the premise is intriguing. Walter Sparrow, an amiable dogcatcher, becomes obsessed with a murder mystery novel that continually circles the number 23. The characters in the novel who become obsessed with the number invariably end up dead. Carey’s character believes the number parallels his own life and that the author is writing about him.

And all this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with this number.

 

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Views and Visions of Synchronicity

Here are a couple of quotes on synchronicity. The first is by Carl Jung and is something I (Rob) might say to skeptics on certain group sites, and then get called for ‘passive aggressive’ behavior by the web police. But sometimes you just have to say it.

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This one speaks for itself!

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The Magic Teapot

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Several years ago, we wrote a post about a fascinating synchronicity involving a teapot hidden in the bowels of an old house in Minneapolis. The man who lived in the house had purchased, on a whim,  a teapot in a second-hand store, even though he didn’t drink tea very often. The man, Gabe Carlson, was also a member of a group of people who had an odd hobby. They liked to explore old shuttered buildings—department stores, banks, whatever—places that were condemned and boarded up. Kind of a spooky past time. They weren’t ghost hunters, they were urban explorers of the past, of the old and abandoned.

So shortly after Gabe had purchased that teapot, he realized that he had never explored a hidden passage beneath the house where he lived. He lifted the hatch and with a flashlight crawled underneath the floor. He came across an old rotting blanket with a lump beneath it. He peeled away the blanket and found a teapot. He carried it out, cleaned it up, and was astonished to discover that the teapot was identical to the one he’d purchased in the second-hand store.

The event was a game-changer for him. He began studying synchronicity and altering his views about reality. We used his story in The 7 Secrets of Synchronicity. It’s a good one. But, amazingly, it’s continuing, and now Gabe is actually on the sidelines as a new player in the ‘teapot’ synchros is coming forward.

But before we talk about Jacqueline’s teapot synchronicity, we have to introduce a psychiatrist into the story. That’s Gibbs Williams, who has written a book on his view on synchronicity. Unlike many mainstream scientists, Gibbs accepts the reality of meaningful coincidences. He rejects the idea that these experiences are random and meaningless. However, his perspective is quite a bit different than mine and Trish’s, as I’ll explain.

Recently, on a synchronicity Facebook page, Gibbs analyzed Gabe’s teapot synchro. He asked Gabe a number of questions, then made his analysis of the experience. It’s lengthy and you can read it here. The bottom line is that, not surprisingly, Gabe’s experience conformed to Gibb’s take on synchronicity, which is a reductionist point of view.

Gibbs rejects the concept of a collective unconscious or an underlying reality where everything is connected, a realm that exists outside of the everyday world of cause and effect, what we refer to as the birthplace of synchronicity. He calls that a fantasy. From his perspective, it’s all about the personal subconscious.

Okay, fine. He can believe whatever he wants. His perspective is not the point here. That’s where Jacqueline come in. She responded to Gibbs’ assessment of the teapot syncho in this way:

“The point of synchs is that the inner and outer worlds become ‘as one’. Not really to be interpreted either as ‘you creating your reality’ or as an ‘external god’ throwing signs at you. The point of synchs as I experience them is that the inner/outer dichotomy is healed as well as inner conflicts being resolved.”

She no sooner started typing her comment when up came an ad for a business called The Magic Teapot. Was that a Facebook bot following her trail on the Internet and providing advertising links? Or was it a ‘random’ ad, in that case a clear synchro? She noted that she didn’t use the word teapot in her comment. And, when she followed up with another comment, using teapot several times, no such ad appeared. (See that post at the end. It’s kind of funny.) Furthermore, she says she has never seen a local ad on Facebook.

But, it didn’t stop there. It was as if the universe said to her, “Okay, you’re not sure about that synchro, then how about this one?” She went to the Magic Teapot site and the first thing she read was about a market in Jedburgh. Just prior to going on Facebook, she had looked up a website that was seeking volunteers to help out on a reforestation project, something she was interested in. To her surprise, a friend of hers was the director of the project…and the project is based in Jedburgh.

Skeptics, of course, can dismiss all of these incidents as mere coincidences or Facebook technology. But clearly they were meaningful to Jacqueline. As someone else noted, “Maybe the universe is using Facebook to teach us all a lesson here on how our thoughts create our reality. We are attracted to things that we think about, consciously and subconsciously. Intuition is the glue that gets birds of a feather to flock together. When something resonates with our heart, I think our souls send out flares or rockets and connects ourselves to common universal consciousness.” Well said, Michael Collett.

I can’t leave this out…Jacqueline’s attempt to produce a local ad about teapots.

TEAPOT ADVERTS IN MY LOCAL AREA PLEASE : > >>> HERE , SEND ME TEAPOT ADVERTS HERE .. MAGIC SUPER TEAPOT ADVERTS PLEASE JUST HERE >>>>>>>>>>> i AM WAITING MR FACEBOOK ROBOT SPIES .. SEND ME LINKS ON THIS PAGE TO TEAPOTS NOW!!!! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE ..

 

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Kathy Doore: The Lady of Markawasi

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Several years back, Rob’s co-author for The Fog,  invited us to lunch to meet Kathy Doore.  I can’t remember where this lunch took place, but I do remember Kathy’s passion for Markawasi, Peru.

This mysterious place has been on my bucket list since that first lunch, when she gave us her book about Markawasi. Bruce and his wife, Lynn, signed up for a tour with Kathy to Peru. Unfortunately, health issues prevented her from leading that trip and it was postponed to the following year.

Kathy and I got to be friends. We would meet for lunch periodically at the Macaroni Grill, and she would invariably have coupons that would entitle us to a three-course meal for ten bucks apiece. These lunches usually lasted a couple of hours and were never trivial or superficial. She wasn’t the sort of person who talked about her manicure or her love life or even much about her personal life. For her, it was always about ideas concerning consciousness, the nature of reality, synchronicity, UFOs, the paranormal in all of its strange and often bewildering manifestations.

For me, a Gemini writer, Kathy was a treasure trove of speculations. She was right up my alley, a woman with whom I could talk about the weird and the strange and who sat there nodding, understanding, Yes, yes, I get it.

During one of our lunches, she told me about her experience in a fog on Lake Michigan, in which she talked to her dead father and experienced a time displacement that paralleled Gernon’s in the Bermuda Triangle years before. I had my iPad with me at that lunch and did her astrological chart. The transits looked great, with Jupiter expanding her work opportunities and Saturn bring in solidity, a foundation.

But as I was telling Kathy about these aspects in her chart, I remembered what my mentor, Renie Wiley, had told me years before about Jupiter transits. Yeah, this planet is about luck and expansion and all the good stuff. But often when it forms a positive angle to a particular planet, it offers the soul a way out.

“Wow, Trish, I hope all this stuff unfolds,” she said. “Because I’ve been feeling that I may be passing over, that what I came here to accomplish is done.”

One evening, we had Kathy over for dinner and she sailed in with the makings of a killer salad and Rob made some delectable dish and we drank wine and coffee and talked for hours. The only reason she left was because she had an aging cat to tend to.

The last time we saw her, it was at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, where she, Bruce and Lyn, Rob and I went ghost hunting.

This morning, March 5, we heard from Bruce Gernon that Kathy, who’d had emergency intestinal surgery late last fall, was in hospice. Lynn, Bruce’s wife, called us this evening to tell us that Kathy had died. She was 61. She was estranged from her brother, had a couple of distant cousins, a few close friends. She died alone in hospice, died as she had lived, a mystery, a riddle, a private woman, an enigma.

Her legacy is that she brought the mystery of Markawasi into western consciousness. She was proof that each of us has something unique to contribute to the larger collective of humanity.

I won’t say RIP to you, Kathy. You were, after all, a Do-er, and that won’t change in the afterlife. You’ll be galvanizing souls on the other side and your passion will forever prevail!

 

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Dark Matter Radio

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Trish and I will be on Dark Matter Radio Network this Friday, 8 p.m., talking about our book, Synchronicity and the Other Side. We recorded the show for the Inception Radio Network on Monday. We had a lot of fun, Laurel Blythe Tague, Phd, was a great host. She’d read the book and knew the material…better than us in a couple of instances!
The recording was initially broadcast in Chicago, and the re-broadcast will be out of Minneapolis, 1130 AM. But also available for streaming…

http://darkmatterradio.net/

Friday night 8pm EST/5pm PST

Click on the Play icon near the top of the page to start the stream.

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Bill Cosby?!

2014 American Comedy Awards - Press Room

I don’t usually follow celebrity scandals. But the allegations against Bill Cosby, sometimes referred to as America’s Dad, deserves some sort of commentary.

To date, 16 women have publicly stated that they were raped – and/or drugged and raped – by Cosby. Two or three…okay, you might think they were after a lucrative settlement. But SIXTEEN?? This is the sort of number that demands an investigation of some kind. Unfortunately, many of these allegations happened in the 70s and 80s and fall out of the realm of the statute of limitations.

From the Washington Post:

The accusations, some of which Cosby has denied and others he has declined to discuss, span the arc of the comedy legend’s career, from his pioneering years as the first black star of a network television drama in 1965 to the mid-2000s, when Cosby was firmly entrenched as an elder statesman of the entertainment industry, a scolding public conscience of the African American community and a philanthropist. They also span a monumental generational shift in perceptions — from the sexually unrestrained ’60s to an era when the idea of date rape is well understood.

The saga of the abuse allegations is set in locales that speak to Cosby’s wealth and fame: a Hollywood-studio bungalow, a chauffeured limousine, luxury hotels, a New York City brownstone. But it also stretches into unexpected places, such as an obscure Denver talent agency that referred two of Cosby’s future accusers to the star for mentoring.

The allegations are strung together by perceptible patterns that appear and reappear with remarkable consistency: mostly young, white women without family nearby; drugs offered as palliatives; resistance and pursuit; accusers worrying that no one would believe them; lifelong trauma. There is also a pattern of intense response by Cosby’s team of attorneys and publicists, who have used the media and the courts to attack the credibility of his accusers.

What seems very clear in this whole thing is that Cosby believed himself to be untouchable, beyond impunity, and that some of these women were incredibly naïve, accepting his attention, the pills he offered, the wine. The women were ambitious and OMG, this was the famous Cosby and maybe he could pull some strings…

The other thing that is quite clear in all this is that because Cosby is so famous, such an icon and philanthropist, law enforcement looked away. He has never been charged with anything, except in a civil suit that was settled in 2006. Martin Singer, Cosby’s attorney, issued a statement recently about the whole thing:

“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity,” he said. “These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”

What Singer doesn’t address is that the attitude of law enforcement in the sixties and seventies, and perhaps even now, is that the woman must somehow be at fault. She must have enticed the rapist, come onto him, seduced him first, showed her boobs, did something that inflamed the man’s insatiable libido –  and rape was the logical end result.

This argument is so patently absurd that it defies rational explanation. Rape is the most violent transgression against another human being – except for murder, but at least with murder, you die. You don’t suffer for years afterward, reliving every horrible second, wondering what you might have done differently. Rape is a violation not only of a woman’s body, but of her soul, her spirit, her very humanity. Rape is a Neanderthal’s response to the power structure. It’s the man’s demand in Cave of the Clan Bear to “assume the position.” It’s about physical and psychic power gone awry.

Again, from the Washington Post:

If his accusers are to be believed, the earliest allegations against Cosby remained hidden for decades, private artifacts of an era when women were less likely to publicly accuse men they knew of sexual misdeeds and society was less likely to believe them. But they have flared periodically throughout the past nine years, both because of changing attitudes and, particularly over the past month, because of social media’s ability to transform a story into a viral phenomenon almost impossible to suppress or control.

The allegations represent a stunning reshaping of Cosby’s legacy. Cosby built his fame on a family-friendly comedic persona. He has lectured black youths about proper behavior. He has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom and been lauded for making the largest donation ever by an African American to a historically black college, Spelman College in Atlanta.

Now an ex-NBC employee, Frank Scotti, comes forward with his role: he often stood guard outside Cosby’s dressing room.

So is Bill Cosby several people? The comedian, the avuncular advisor to black youth and a serial rapist?

I haven’t found any synchros yet in this story, but given the media attention I’m sure there are some. The problem is the story disgusts me. When I wade through all the material, looking for the synchros, I feel disdain, sadness, revulsion – not only at Cosby, but at the structure of American life, where celebrities are revered like Olympian gods.

No telling where Cosby will end up. A number of his shows have been cancelled, but he recently received a standing ovation in Melbourne, Florida for his standup routine. We Americans are the kings of denial. We don’t like it when our celebrity gods are revealed to be dark forces, liars, perverts. It’s when our schizophrenia as a nation,  a people, a collective reveals great schisms.

 

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What Would You Do If…

These conversations are rarely pleasant but  in the greater scheme of things are probably necessary.

Rob: What will you do if… I die tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month.

 Rob and I were in the car when he said this, returning from a trip to Whole Foods. For our international friends, Whole Foods is an organic market  where so many samples of foods are set out that you can graze your way through lunch and dinner free of charge. We go there once a week or so because they carry foods that no one else does. Strange conversations seem to occur to and from Whole Foods.

 “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. “You planning on checking out?”

“Well, no, but would you know how to access our bank records?”

Not long after we got married, Rob took over finances. I was always tardy on paying bills, I am terrible at math, our credit sucked. I was happy to turn this over to someone else.

“I would go immediately to your  computer. I would figure it out.”

Not long after Rob and I first met, we had a reading with a Cuban psychic named Aura. She lived in a small apartment in Miami’s Little Havana, didn’t speak much English, and her predictions turned out to be startling accurate.

She told me I would become Rob’s second wife and would be married to him for a very long time. She said I would write many books under an abbreviated “genderless” name (TJ MacGregor) and that we would be creative partners. All that is true. She said I would die when I was 74 – don’t know about that one yet!- and that Rob would marry for a third time, but his second wife wolds always be the love of his life. I really liked that part.

So when Rob asked this particular question, my thoughts immediately went way back to Aura. “I’ll kill you if you die first,” I said. “That’s not how Aura said it would happen.”

It’s not that I believe 74 is the checkout date just because a psychic way back said it was.  What was important was the idea of it all, the way our lives ultimately play out.  I always suspected that my mother would die before my dad did but was sure of it when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her way of exploring the afterlife without actually having to die. My dad was more intellectual in that sense,  he had to be able to mentally connect the dots first.    And he eventually did and died five years after my mother did. 

But the exploration Rob and I have taken during our 30 years together  has been radically different from that of our parents. We have explored and written about many  aspects of psychic phenomena. So it’s not death that either of us fear. I’m not even sure if fear figures into it.  We all die. Death is  the ultimate unknown.

If consciousness researchers are right , then we choose our deaths in the same way we choose the circumstances of our birth and it may nor may not have anything to do with genetic predisposition. Free will. Choice. When we came into this life, we knew where the chips lay. And at each step in our journeys, we make choices, we exert our free will.

When you talk about this stuff openly, it comes down to this:

Trish: If you die first, I wouldn’t stay in our house.

Rob: Me, neither.

Trish: I would move closer to Megan.

Rob: Let’s go eat that vegetarian lasagna you bought for lunch.

And so this very strange and important conversation ends over food, what we will eat for lunch.

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Appreciation & the Dog Park

Many spiritual texts talk about appreciation, about how it’s a powerful aspect of mindfulness, of living in the moment. So when Rob and I arrived at the dog park the other day, I asked myself how I could appreciate the dog park.

Okay. First off, our golden retriever loves coming here. This place is where he gets to run free – no leash – and to hunt for squirrels along the fence and to chase balls and Frisbee that Rob throws him. This park is where, during the hot summer months, someone brings plastic kid swimming pools and all the dogs plop down in these pools to cool off. The dog park is where you, the dog, are allowed to be, well, a dog.

Noah has a routine once he enters the park. I can appreciate that. I have my routines, too. His routines involve smells; mine involve words. Both get us to that same place.

Some days, Noah is interested only in squirrels, parallel to the days when my interests are primarily with whatever I’m writing. Other days, Noah is strictly focused on the ball or Frisbee that Rob tosses him. Or, he wants to mingle with  dogs and could care less about ball and Frisbees.  On those days, I tend to receive more emails, Twitter followers, more Facebook friend requests.

Then there are the days when Noah throws his weight around, 110 pounds of muscle and speed who dislikes Boxers, German Shepherds, and large poodles who get in his face. On those days, I tend to feel impatient or irritated and he reflects it.

On this particular day, though, Noah was most interested in sniffing his way along the periphery of the fence, as he’s doing in the above photo. He’s presumably hunting for squirrels, and Rob and I followed him.

The acacia trees were in full, glorious bloom, the branches hanging low enough so that I could actually touch the flowers. One of these blossoms captivated me and I stood there a few moments, touching it, admiring the colors, appreciating the perfection of it all. Then I snapped a photo of it with my phone and it became the thing I appreciated most about that day.

A week or so later, we were at the dog park after a big thunderstorm and heard the squawking of wild parrots. They apparently like the seeds in one of the trees that provide shade for the humans and I snapped this photo:

So now my daily habit is to find at least one thing to appreciate. When I do that, my perceptions are altered and everywhere I look, I see something or someone to appreciate.

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Animals in Our Lives

I take a lot of photos of our pets and the other animals in our area and in our travels. Some of them make me laugh out loud, others drive home the point that animals live so completely in the moment that their capacity for joy seems infinite. Here are some of my favorites:

That’s Noah, retrieving the morning newspaper

Copper, our neighbor’s cat, looking quite regal in the yard fountain

Nika and Noah, chilling together

Nika and Noah, true love

Simba and Powder, sniffin’ butts, kitty style

Nika, helping Rob drive

Megan & a goat by side of the road in Costa Rica

Hey, humans! Wait for us! Florida Keys

Cuban tree frog paying homage to frog pastie on Rob’s office window

Ball!

Black goose & Megan, Orlando

SQUIRREL!

Stephanie, the macaw of Arenal, Costa Rica

Megan & the sparrow hawk of aruba

Kali, the conure

the owl in the Amazon whom we rescued for a tube of lipstick

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Cabin by the Sea: Big Sur

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In going though our early archives, I ran across one of my favorite synchronicity stories. We originally posted this on February 25, 2009. This synchronicity happened to Dr. L Darryl Armstrong, It beautifully illustrates what can happen when we feel strongly connected to a particular place.
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Several years ago during the first days of establishing our business, I had the occasion to work on the west coast and visit a friend in Carmel. Having always wanted to tour the area, especially Big Sur, and to get a massage at Esalen one day, I trucked off to just spend some time driving and exploring the coastal highway.

By chance I happened upon a real estate sign noting a house for sale or rent, I don’t recall which. The “house” was actually a large cabin – 2 stories that hung off the side of a cliff with the most remarkable view of the Pacific Ocean I have ever seen from a private residence. It was obvious someone had spent a great deal of their personal time and money carving out this homestead. I was mesmerized, and could imagine what life might be like in a “cabin by the sea”. Every time since then, when I have been out that way, I have driven by the cabin. These days it has a fence on the road and a gate but you can still get a glimpse.

A few years later, late one evening, I crawled on to a Southwestern flight headed home to “my own cabin in the woods” on Lake Barkley in Kentucky. I don’t recall where I was flying from, maybe Phoenix. Anyway, I got my always enjoyable exit row seat and stretched out because I was exhausted.

I normally “hibernate” on a plane and rarely strike up conversations as I prefer to read, work or sleep. The plane was not very full but sure enough this fellow chooses to sit in the exit row with me. For some reason I was drawn to his smile and immediately liked him. Eventually my southern hospitality overcame me, I guess, and I offered him a drink since I had plenty of coupons and he smiled and offered me one as well.

We chatted and I found out he was from California. We started talking about how we both liked certain areas (I mentioned Big Sur, Carmel, Monterrey) and when I got to the story about the cabin on the side of the road overlooking the ocean he got a strange expression on his face.

I thought nothing of it. I just continued describing the setting and how much I would love to live there with the view and the peace and quiet despite all the inconveniences. He finally said something to the effect, ‘You know, I understand how you feel. We obviously both work hard and have a lot of stress. It sounds like when we get home we are both ‘hermits’ in parts of our lives. I have always enjoyed my peace and solitude as well. Let me show you where I live.’

And this man, whom I had never met and yet instantly took a liking to, reaches into his brief case and pulls out a photo wallet. And yes, you guessed it. This was the man who owned the cabin I have always cherished in my mind. We were both surprised yet it seemed as if a “loop” had been closed because I left the plane that night knowing that someone I could share mutual empathy with enjoyed the “cabin by the sea” as much as I did.

 

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Neighbors

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This is a post about appreciation.

In the summer of 2000, during a Mercury retrograde, we moved to our present home. The move itself was pretty much a disaster, trying to close on two homes on the same day and to move all our stuff. It included several thousand books, pets, and my dad, who was in a wheelchair at the time, with Parkinson’s. Our neighbors were a single mom with two young boys.

Megan and the oldest boy became good friends, but his mother had some strange concepts about animals. In the five years they were our neighbors, she went through numerous pets – dogs, birds, rodents – and discarded them as though they were Kleenex.

Her last dog, a gorgeous German shepherd she’d imported from Germany, lost out when a guy moved in who eventually became her second husband.  She stopped exercising the dog and his hips went bad and she simply had him put down. A few days before she and her new husband were going to move, she told me she was going to release her son’s guinea pig into the wild. I told her that was cruel. The guinea pig had never been wild. I convinced her to give me the rodent and I eventually took it to a pet store and it was sold to a family that really wanted a guinea pig.

After they left, a new family moved in and for nearly 10 years now, they have been the best neighbors we’ve ever had, anywhere, ever. Annette is a Gemini, like me, born on the same day as my friend and script co-author, Hilary Hemingway. She’s a nut, like me, about animals. They have two dogs and two cats, mice, fish, and two snakes. Her husband, Kevin, is a commercial airline pilot and can fix anything. Their son is probably going to be a famous biologist some day and their daughter is a gem, who periodically drops by to ask for something good to read.

When we go away, Annette and her kids take care of our cats. When she goes away, we take care of her critters. But I don’t do snakes. They creep me out. I mean, I’ll do them if Annette and her family are going to be gone for an extended period, but it’s not my favorite thing.

Annette is an identical twin and she and her sister have had some stunning synchros over the years, especially in the telepathic area, and we’ve posted some of them and used a couple of their stories in our synchronicity books.

Annette, like her daughter, is a big reader and has pretty much exhausted the MacGregor library. She has a great eye for what works in a novel and I’m going to give her this current novel to read after Rob goes through it. A fresh perspective can’t hurt.

There is something comforting about meeting up with someone you like in the space between your yards, and sharing stuff from any given day. When we meet between our houses, our dogs invariably play, with Noah chasing Fergie, their German short-haired pointer, around the yard, the two of them playing tug-of-war with a stick, a Frisbee. Quite often, Annette’s orange tiger cat darts into our house for some catnip and Copper looks so much like our orange tiger, Simba, that I mistake one for the other.

What I have learned from good neighbors is that you never know where the friendship will lead. Given my political leanings, it’s strange that Annette is the only Republican woman with whom I have any interaction at all. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of politics, but in terms of kids, animals, and life in general, we seem to be on the same weird page.

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Fevered: An Airport Synchro

FeveredNewBGYellow

In going through the archives on our blog, I came across another one of our earlier posts about a synchronicity that happened to Rob and me in an airport in Caracas, Venezuela. It blew us away.

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Here’s a story from 1988 that has always fascinated me. Trish and I traveled to Venezuela, where she was born and raised, and visited the Gran Sabana, one of the most fascinating wilderness regions of the planet. I remember carrying a big clunky Radio Shack laptop computer into the jungle, and finding time to work on the re-write of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the novel adapted from the script.

Our adventure among the soaring buttes, waterfalls and forest went by too quickly and we soon found ourselves back in Caracas. At the airport, we headed to customs where we were surrounded by guards with machine guns. Colombian drug dealers had begun using Caracas to export cocaine and the government was cracking down. The guards were particularly interested in the man in front of us. He was a tall, middle-aged Venezuelan, who wore a dark, three-piece suit and carried a briefcase. They told him to open it up. Slowly, the man unlatched the briefcase and the guards leaned forward to see what was inside. Everyone seemed really tense.

We were right behind the man and had a good view. Surprisingly, there was only one item in the briefcase, something I found quite astonishing. It was a paperback copy of one of Trish’s novels, FEVERED. Of course, the man had no idea that the author was standing right behind him…and we didn’t tell him, either.

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Name Synchros

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David Wilson at Crossroad Press recently emailed us his latest story bundle. This is a term used for ebooks that are bundled together and sold for an incredibly low price. Murder of Mysteries is a compilation of 20 novels, including several of ours, for $2.99. In order to get exposure, we put it o our Facebook pages, tweeted it, and so on. I also asked my friend Hilary Hemingway and her husband, Jeff Lindsay, if they would put the flyer on their Facebook pages. Now, here’s the synchro:

Jeff wrote the Dexter novels. Dexter is a blood spatter expert who works for the Miami Dade police department. He’s also a serial killer. For anyone who hasn’t seen the TV show or read the books, Dexter’s full name is Dexter Morgan. He has a sister named Deborah Morgan. If you look at the list of authors on the flyer, you’ll see the name Deborah Morgan. Rob and I got a good chuckle over that. I emailed Hilary about it and she replied: Wonder how often she is asked about her bro?

Name synchros. You gotta love them.

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