Friday, June 26, 2009

Your Cosmic Tractor Beam

There is a law of dynamic attraction in the universe where like attracts like. If being positive didn’t simply feel good on its own, this magnetic quality of “good draws good” is the other reason for adopting a permanently upbeat attitude.
I want to take it a step further. Being yourself—authentically you—is one of the most difficult challenges of being human. No man, woman, or child is an island. We need to belong, and the truly happy person has not just friends and family, but community. All these levels of connection are essential to joy.

Yet we so often give parts of ourselves away to meet the energy of others in the middle, like politicians who tone down their stances and beliefs in order to appeal to the most voters. Our blending behavior creates a bigger zone of safety and acceptance in our minds. But does it really?

Holding Back: A Survival Strategy

I feel especially qualified to talk about holding back your true energy or resonance to blend in. I’ve had training since childhood. I was adopted when I was three weeks old, and my parents were very different from me in a number of essential ways. We just weren’t wired the same. Yet, they were so loving; I didn’t even realize it until I grew up! Mom and Dad made me feel like I truly I belonged, and I was willing to sacrifice some of my individuality for that sweet prize. As I started coming into my own in my twenties, I was stunned to find out that my way of being, based on their programming, was far different from who I really am. My poor mother didn’t know what hit when my move to California, the women’s movement, the ‘70s and my first group therapy experience all conspired to steal her daughter right out from under her—or the one she thought she knew and had molded.

To be fair, my adoptive parents’ differences from me were also a big plus. I am naturally a non-stop thinker—very mental. They were down-to-earth, practical, and totally heart people. My development would have been lopsided, had I grown up in my birth family. My birth mom made my constant cogitation look like child’s play! (I was reunited with my family of origin in my late thirties, and I have a perspective that not many people enjoy of being able to see which parts of me came from nurture rather than nature.)

Still, “not being you” can harm you in the end.

Drawbacks of the Quick-Change Artist

With all my talents for blending in, I had a knack for finding the wrong relationships, whether friends or prospective mates. There was nothing wrong with these individuals—or me. We were just mismatched at an energetic and evolutionary level. I was not putting out who I really am, but rather, morphing myself, like a chameleon, to fit the energy of the people I wanted to please or whose lives I wanted to be a part of. Frankly, I didn’t think there was anyone like me out there! Never having met people on my beam, I didn’t believe they existed.

What I didn’t understand: I could not draw to me anyone like me because I wasn’t being me.

"Banding” Together

Ultimately, I learned that as energy beings, we emit a frequency of our true selves that is like a radio wave. When we’re “on,” being our essential selves, people on the same bandwidth are drawn to us. When we are broadcasting our frequency, others on the same or nearby frequencies pick up on it and hone onto our signal like a tractor beam.

This all happens in the ethers. It’s invisible—you can’t see or hear it while it’s happening—then presto! Some new person pops into your life that’s an obvious member of your soul family. We hear the expression “putting yourself out there.” That’s what it takes to make energy-based matches with like-minded, compatible people. Only it’s not so much a matter of pushing your energy outward. It’s more about being centered in who you are and allowing the universe to draw in the relationships you need.

It’s so human to make the same mistakes over again. If we’re growing, we make them at higher levels, getting the same lesson more clearly each time. I still morph myself—sometimes all but turn myself inside out—to fit in. It often happens unconsciously, when more kindred spirits aren’t available to play or when I don’t know a person or group well enough yet to realize we’re on a different frequency. Then, of course, there are all the many things we can want from someone or a group of some ones that interfere with being in integrity: love, sex, career advancement, fun.

Recently, I became aware that I was being a contortion artist in some relationships and had to reassess my participation. When I decided to let go of what was becoming negative for me, draining, and far from an energetic match, I created the usual void left by surrender.

While I was still making the decision to let go of my latest energetic mismatches, someone literally honed in on me when I returned to my own center and self. Out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a reader of one of my astrology articles that I had written 17 years ago, a perennial favorite. Soon we were e-mailing like mad and could not believe how much we think alike and share the same views of Spirit, the world, and how to live in it. It was simply exhilarating, and a true testimony to why it is so important to be true to yourself. It takes courage and trust. It’s worth it! This “chance” encounter was the catalyst for creating my second blog on astrology, named after the article that had touched him so deeply, “The Radical Virgo.”

Energetic Shift

In the larger sense, the shift we all need to make is to do less and be more. We are called human beings, not human doings. While I know the importance of frequent meditation—how it strengthens our energy field and helps us resonate to our core selves, I still have a hard time with the discipline of doing it. I even try to “do” when the practice calls for me just to “be” there. Show up, sit in my meditation spot, and close my eyes. What could be simpler? But “human doings” can’t seem to accept that our value is inherent. Too easy? How the human mind loves to complicate things.

If you’re a helper and a person of compassion, my closing thought is for you. It’s an expression I’ve heard about what it is to really help others—and ourselves.

It’s not what you do; it’s who you are.


Photo Credit: BEAM © Navarone

Thanks to Leslie Smith of
Inner Sanctuary blog for first publication of this article.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Feisty" Eileen Williams Wins Blog Comment Contest Drawing

She doesn’t need a contest to prove she’s a winner. Still, Mary Eileen Williams from the San Francisco Bay Area and The Feisty Side of Fifty blog has won our Spring Blog Comment Contest! If you’re a baby boomer and don’t already know Eileen’s blog, delight yourself by clicking on the link in this paragraph—or the Fabulous, Fifty & Flaunting It photo, which takes you to Eileen’s Feisty Boomer Boutique at Café Press.

Even though her name was drawn from a hat, by the law of averages, it’s no surprise Eileen would win as one of the most loyal and frequent contributors to the Comments on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. Eileen wins a copy of
Capital Crimes: 15 Tales by Sacramento Area Authors, including my story, “Digital.”

Thanks to everyone who commented during the spring season. With enough reader interest, we might just do it again. Let’s make Constant Comment our cup of tea on this blog!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pancakes Pop

My dad was a blue-collar mechanic who worked long and hard hours for a building demolition company in Chicago. Since he usually worked six days a week, Sunday was our one, quality Day with Dad. Sunday/Dad’s Day was enhanced for me when he made us pancakes.

By way of contrast, my mom was a beautician—as opposite as you could get. While she was making people pretty, Dad had all he could do to scrub the grease off himself from his literally dirty work.

Both were very nurturing, but Dad gave most of his TLC in a traditionally male way—acting as household handyman, fixing our cars, doing lawn work, and speaking words of encouragement. After all, this was the 1950s where women were women and men were men.

Yet when Dad broke ranks with that rigid role model and made us pancakes, it really stood out for me. There was something much bigger going on than the fact that they tasted great! He was a one-trick cook, but those flapjacks were downright magical.

Looking back as a seasoned adult, I finally understand. It was the mere act of getting out of his comfort zone, giving my mom a break, and being flexible in showing his love that make the pancakes so fantastic. This is the same guy who would joke, dripping irony (and maybe a little grease), “I’ll do your hair,” when our any member of our otherwise all-female household was having a bad hair-day. All I could envision was my hair set on bolts and screws, the tools of his trade.

Love does whatever is called for, gives in whatever way is needed at the moment—and at Sunday breakfast, pancakes and fatherly love merged into one symbol of flexible and unconditional love. Whether it was watching him flip them (he was good!) or tasting the yummy results, pancakes and maple syrup will always be my sweet Dad to me in an unforgettable communion of continuity.


Photo: Dad in 1980

Thanks to Betty Lynch of
My Country Kitchen for prompting this memory by asking for “dads in the kitchen” stories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Blog ReBirthday!

Celebrate Spirited Living

Broader Scope, Same Cool Insights
As promised in my
Reconstruction Zone
post, today is the rebirthday of this blog. Welcome to the new Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights!

Once aimed primarily at baby boomers, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights now emphasizes practical spirituality, women’s issues, and the development of our intuitive gifts as guidance, what some people call “women’s intuition.” Not just women have or want to develop their sensitivities; men on this wavelength are welcome here with enthusiasm.

There are no age limits on a lifestyle that runs the full gamut of emotions and experience. This blog is about full-tilt living. The directions for finding our way and getting the most out of life involve learning to read the signs: synchronicity or meaningful coincidences, symbols both waking and dreaming, and how to weave those universal or cosmic hints into a synthesis of “getting it.” I call that the sort-it details.

I get regular key word searches leading to this site from people who are asking the question, “What are hot flashbacks?” What a perfect time to define the title terms of this blog.

While a hormonal transition may have intensified my “hot flashbacks,” menopause was only a triggering mechanism. Many readers assume this phrase refers to “the change,” but that’s incidental. I had hot flashbacks before, during, and after my hormonal crash. (Whew!) Here’s the hot ‘n’ cool of it:

Hot Flashbacks – Moments in your past that light up in your
mind and yell at you at the decibel level of a four-alarm fire,
This incident is significant!

Cool Insights – You “get” in the present: the pattern, purpose, or meaning of the experience or experiences that your mind has lit up for you.

Hot flashbacks and cool insights go together, hand in glove. They are those light bulb moments that lead to deep understanding, as well as personal and spiritual growth.

Since I’m changing directions midstream, I want to share why. Here’s the back-story about what brought me to this new slant. You’ll find—no surprise!—it was a hot flashback and a cool insight.

Too Close to See It
I started this blog at the suggestion of a literary agent to complement my memoir, also called Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. The agent thought a blog would be a great way for me to start gaining an audience for my writing in this genre. (Memoir was new to me.) I had many loyal readers of my past articles in astrology, flower essences and on other spiritual development tools and topics. I saw myself going more for a mainstream audience—seeking new readers who didn’t know me by prior reputation or works.

Like most memoirs, mine has episodes from various eras of my life, dowsed with the humor that helped me live through them. My book has three parts: Hormonic Convergence, about the cancer scare and emergency hysterectomy that took my already smoldering intuition over the top. While crashing into surgical menopause spread the bonfire of my sensitivities, the real flames I discovered were in the theme of my life—passion. Flashbacks on Passion is the middle section about my most formative life experiences involving passions of every kind from the heat of young hormones to right work—writing, my life’s passion. Sexagenaria recounts my struggles as my physical fire began to wane somewhat. In this section, I pondered how to keep the fires stoked to live a sizzling life all the way to the finish line.

With the book ending as Social Security was in sight for me and given boomers are a huge percentage of the population, this stage of life seemed like a logical focus for this blog. I figured other boomers would want to share discoveries about how to explode the old Old. (Consider the alternative!) Besides, boomers buy a ton of books and are “the” sought-after demographic with money to spend.

In the end, the universe had other plans for me. The details are too long to get into here, but I got crystal clear direction that I was missing the point of my own book. My GPS or God Positioning System works with those same tools I mentioned: synchronicity, signs, and symbols. It keeps “telling me where to go.”

I wasn’t supposed to give up my spiritual orientation in writing about my life or life in general. Spirituality has been my area of expertise for decades. In fact, there are existing posts on this site where I’ve talked about it plenty, but I just didn’t “get” that this was the point. My inner guidance? Come out of the closet, put it out there, and draw my core audience. Wow. So close to it, it went right over my head.

There was also a practical consideration. Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights was not growing at the rate I’d hoped as a boomer blog. Prior to the nudge I got about changing this blog’s focus, I got an unexpected inspiration to start an astrology blog. I had been away from astrology in any formal sense since 2002. When The Radical Virgo overtook Hot Flashbacks in hits and unique visitors less than three months after I launched it, I could not ignore the light bulb: I play the symbols. It’s my gift to share. That’s why Hot Flashbacks is rededicated to seeing, hearing, and feeling those directions that are right in front of us—you know, the kind I had missed myself at the beginning of this blog.

Even though I finished my book almost a year ago, I have been dragging my feet on pursuing publication. Now I’m glad I did, because this redirection is right for Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights—both the book and blog.

New Quote, New Slogan
While I’m redefining this blog and defining some of the terms bandied around on it, I’d like to do the same for the new slogan:

Live a Spirited Life! Look both ways for signs at the crossroads.

We encounter many crossroads every day of our lives. Some of them add up to huge intersections, where we get to make big decisions about our life’s direction. We simply need to look around for the hints at every crosswalk. The signs are posted. Some of them, I’ve already mentioned and will define further:

Synchronicity. Synchronicity or meaningful coincidences show us how life is supposed to hum. When synchronicities are popping, life is in harmony. They are direct signals that you’re headed in the right direction. You run into that person you haven’t been able to get out of your mind. The lyrics to a song on the radio “solve” a dilemma and dissolve your angst. You need a good repairperson for a major household disaster. Before you can even ask around for emergency referrals, a trusted friend starts talking about a great worker who just finished a project at her house. Oh, and he exceeded all expectations at the right price.

Signs. Many signs in life direct us to full, rich living, if we have the eyes to see—and if you’re a little nearsighted at the moment, don’t worry. This type of vision can be developed. (For some tips, read these previous posts:
Insighting a Riot and Believe Everything You Hear.) There are many types of signs—dreams, waking symbols that come to you—and of those you seek out. Symbol systems such as astrology, tarot, and other oracles can enlighten you when you’re looking for guidance.

Sort-It Details. We’re lucky when insight comes spontaneously, like combustion, but in real life, getting the point of our experiences usually takes a lot of self-reflection, thought, and analysis.
Journaling is one of the key ways to do it, but, hopefully, this blog will be a forum where we can share how we “go figure.”

Spirited Living! One of my favorite parts of
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster memoir, is the scene where life literally brings her to her knees. She discovers her personal, direct relationship with God and apologizes in advance to people who don’t see Him/Her/It in exactly the same way. Same here. I like to use terms that are as generic as possible when talking about spirituality, knowing how loaded language can be around people’s beliefs. I respect all paths and take wisdom wherever I find it. My personal orientation is universal, yet personal—kind of like Tevye talking to God directly in Fiddler on the Roof. Even if you don’t believe in anything bigger than the human spirit, the same fire leads to lively living.

Quote: Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. I discovered the Kierkengaard quote in the Hot Flashbacks banner by synchronicity: Someone had posted it on Twitter. What a testimony to why we look back to understand the past to live well in the moment and create a positive future.

Bringing It Down to Earth
One of the most important factors in looking Up for guidance is bringing the information back down to earth. That’s why grounding and practicality are my guideposts when I “play the symbols.” I write on this blog about everyday life: how we can get the most out of what we experience. How to live well, play fair, and enjoy our stopover on this beautiful planet.

If we forget this, dabbling in all this “sign language” can leave us looking like a caricature of what I call a smiley-faced metafoofoo—someone who speaks in tongues of platitudes but hasn’t woven the principles into making their life work better. I’m all for feet on the ground and “value added.” I write from the synthesis of using the tools of spirited living. Often I don’t even mention them. I just share the results, like the answer to a math problem, without all the figures and head scratching. The tools are always in the background, but the bottom line is how they make life better.

Boomer Features
I’ll keep a recurring “cool saging” feature for the generation I’m proud to be a part of. After all, much of what I know is because I have lived long and have had a wealth experience as teacher. In addition to these occasional posts and keeping a Boomer Links List, I’m a founding member of
Boomer Authority on Twitter. I have volunteered to monitor posts on the topic of spirituality.

It’s Not About the Stage of Life; It’s About the Stage of Light
Welcome readers young, older, and in-between. If light is your goal—both ongoing learning and lightening up with humor—I hope you’ll find plenty of juice on this blog. I seek to create a light socket, a power source. Thank you for being part of my transmission grid!

As we share here, may we spread a lot of light and Spirited Living.

OK, light’s covered--candles are lit—but we can’t have a rebirthday party without gifts:

The past is a gift; it has the answers for the future. That’s the present.


Photo Credit: SIGN BOARD ©

Comment Contest! Don’t forget the
Blog Comment Contest
through Friday. Comment to enter a drawing for a women writers’ mystery anthology, including Joyce’s humorous offering, “Digital.” See sidebar for special, additional prizes to the first three people who comment on this rebirthday post.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ten Laugh Stops Online

Speakers and entertainers are told to leave ‘em laughing. Same goes for writers and people in general. I’m all of those, so I’m taking heed. And when I’m done with this article, I want you to be “he-he-heed” along with me!

This week, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights blog leaves one phase of its history for another, moving from an emphasis on baby boomers and onto spirited living and the subtle signals we get right before our eyes about how to make our lives work. In this evolving door, I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going, but I could use some laughs at this crossroads. I figured you could, too.

Since research is one of my passions, I thought I’d put together a Top 10 List of fun places to stop when you need an insanity break, a feel-good respite, or a belly laugh. Bookmark these sites and send me your laugh track!

. Swami Beyondananda - Steve Bhaerman has been making me laugh as the Swami for two decades. He’s outrageous as ever. Take a flying carpet ride with the guy whose comedy has been called “irreverently uplifting” and has been described both as “comedy disguised as wisdom” and “wisdom disguised as comedy.”

Jeff Dunham – He walks the fine line between the sweet guy next door and his politically incorrect alter ego, voiced through his puppets. Jeff’s friends in his suitcase give voice to what we’re really thinking in our heads half the time but would never say out loud. He has single-handedly resurrected ventriloquism and brought it to new heights as a comedic art. Time magazine calls him the #1 most popular stand-up comedian in the US. If you haven’t met his “dummies” Peanut, Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba, or Jose Jalapeno (on a Steek), you are in for some bust-a-gut moments as you watch video clips on his site or some even more outlandish ones on You Tube.

Stephen Colbert – Is it just me, or is this guy his own straight man? Sample tweet from his Twitter feed: “New haircut makes me a more aerodynamic typist. Now up to 10 wpm!” Follow him on Twitter or watch some of his videos.

How Laughter Works – One of my absolute favorite sites ever, this amazing article on How Stuff Works covers what laughter is, why we laugh, laughter on the brain, what’s funny, laughter and health, and much more. You’ll learn that the physiological study of laughter has its own name – gelotology. (Is that because when we laugh hard, our bellies wiggle like gelatin/Jello?) This could be the most fun biology class you’ve ever taken.

Jib Jab - What’s not to love about a site where you can plaster your face on animated characters and watch yourself boogie and cavort like you were a kid again? Jib Jab’s political videos are beyond a hoot.

TVLand’s Classic Shows – I started with “I Love Lucy,” then noticed the whole treasure trove in the navigation bar, many with full episodes available online. Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, The Jeffersons, the Munsters. Pop some popcorn and don’t get too much grease on the keyboard!

A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor – I think he’s one of the funniest men on earth. In addition to public radio, you can hear MP3 clips of the shows and enjoy a virtual trip to Lake Woebegone “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” If you ever can catch one of his broadcasts dedicated to jokes, don’t miss it.

Laugh In – Yep, I’m a nostalgia nut! I thought this was just about the silliest, goofiest show ever, and here are some clips to prove it.

Blazing Saddles – I’m not sure there has ever been a funnier movie written, except for—possibly—Young Frankenstein. (Do I love Mel Brooks?) I think I’m still crying from laughing 30 years later! Blazing Saddles was so outrageous in its day, and it still is, debuting in the movies things we’ve never heard before on a soundtrack. Here are some clips to take you back …

Saturday Night Live – From the early days of Bass-o-Matic and other outlandish commercial parodies to Tina Fey’s more recent portrayal of Sarah Palin, this show has something for everyone. I still rent DVDs of the early years and the original cast.

Enjoy these laugh stops. Please comment and share some of your own!


Photo credit: THE JOY OF LAUGHTER © Studio

Monday, June 8, 2009

“Love from Both Sides,” An Interview with Author Stephanie Riseley

Today, Stephanie Riseley stops by Hot Flashbacks Cool Insights as part of her blog tour to introduce her new book, Love from Both Sides. Her timing couldn’t be more perfect as I prepare to shift this blog on June 17 from a baby boomer focus toward spirituality, women’s issues, and especially the development of our intuitive gifts as guidance-- that thing some people call “women’s intuition.”

Stephanie is here to share one of the most unique flashes of intuition of all time--how to continue to commune with a loved one after death.

Stephanie, I’d like to start our time together by quoting one of your five-star reviews. I believe JM Shepherd’s description on Amazon is the perfect introduction to you and this book:

To call Stephanie Riseley’s Love from Both Sides amazing is like calling Niagara Falls a stream. This book is astonishingly ahead of its time. In the midst of her stunning grief, real-life hypnotherapist Stephanie Riseley is revisited by her newly dead husband, Dan. This is supported by similar episodes between Dan and his son, Sam.

Certainly, in your work as a hypnotherapist, you’ve probably encountered people who have had similar experiences … but what was your first reaction when it started happening to you? In a big way?

Stephanie: I thought I was delusional, of course. But because my background is from UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, and I’m an expert at “coding out” mental disorders, I kept checking myself – and I seemed quite sane. What helped me most, however, was that Sam, Dan’s son, had been telling me for four months that his dad was talking to him – and he was. Dan just couldn’t get near me, because every time he did, his energy triggered such an intense longing and loss that it sent me falling back into mourning-hell, until four months after he died, when I was so exhausted from the pain that I finally got angry. And because of that, my energy shifted, and Dan’s energy was able to break through the mourning. That was the beginning of the “communication.” And what might help readers now is to
skim the first four chapters online.

Give us some nitty-gritty. What did you and Dan talk about—and what larger lessons about life and death seeped into your conversations?

Stephanie: Love from Both Sides is the conversation between a newly dead husband (who has a good sense of humor) and his flipped out wife. When Dan died, he’d just spent four years trying to start an internet business, and he’d hocked our life up the wazoo. (Nothing un-American about that it turns out, yes?) So he was gambling, and he lost – but I paid the price, because when he died, I was left with nothing. No retirement, no savings, no insurance. I was 53, and I was like a deer in headlights. Everyone thought I would become a bag lady, and I did too! So, mostly Dan constantly assured me that I had the skills to get myself out of this, if I could just stay calm. Fear, he said, is toxic. It’s a virus – it’s contagious. So he was able to give me the “larger lesson” that allowed me to see the situation as an opportunity to develop my skills. Which, amazingly, I did! And the reader witnesses a transformation and a hard fought progression as I go from “flipped out widow” to “free at last” myself. It was a quite a trip!

Joyce: I hear you not only talked to your husband, but became acquainted with your over soul. Tell us about the over soul concept, what it was like to get to know it, and a few key nuggets of wisdom you gleaned from this new relationship.

Stephanie: Everyone has an over soul – and that’s just a word to describe who “you” are in that other “reality.” It’s all conjecture, because we’re talking about something that can’t really be described because of language. As the Taoists say, “Those who say don’t know. And those who know can’t say.” Or as Dan would say, “It’s like Wittgenstein – too big to talk about.” (He was a philosophy graduate student at the University of California-Santa Barbara in the late ‘60s.) But there’s a chapter in the book called, “Who the Hell is Enoch,” and one night I was sitting there channeling Dan, when he just stopped. And I said, “Are you still there?” And he said, “Yes, but I’m just afraid you won’t give me another chance.” (This life wasn’t the first life where he’d said one thing, and then done another!) And at that point, my own over soul, Barushe, just got furious with his over soul, Enoch. It’s was all so weird and but fascinating. And what was even weirder for me, was that once I got in touch with my own over soul, he told me I had “agreed” in the In Between (Heaven or what Buddhist’s call the “In Between”), to be a conduit for information, and that I had the wiring to “take dictation.” And so years before I finished Love from Both Sides, I sat and took dictation, and “typed” three “Cobalt Blue Books.” They are completely channeled – they’re on my website:
www.StephanieRiseley.comExcavating to the Core – A Seeker Soul’s Guide to the Authentic Self, is the first. Moment by Moment – A Seeker Soul’s Guide to Joyful Exuberance was second. The third is The Seeker Soul’s Guide to Sensational Sacred Sex.

Joyce: I liked what another reviewer said: Some people might fault you for continuing mental conversations with Dan for so long, but what grieving person wouldn’t want to connect with a lost loved one? I’ve talked to my lost loves, and sometimes I get answers from them in their voice in my mind; but you, of course, have taken that dialogue to a whole other level.

Is there a down side to communicating between worlds?

Stephanie: What you experienced was real, Joyce. And Love from Both Sides helps validate people’s “weird” experiences. So many readers have written to tell me of their own husband/wife/lover coming back to them, connecting, and then making love to them. But because it’s so strange, it makes people feel shame or just crazy.

The downside? Channeling can be a huge energy drain, and because to that many channels develop major health problems. Jane Roberts, who channeled the wonderful “Seth” books, died while channeling the last book, The Way Toward Health, which is ironic, yes?

Joyce: Very. Speaking of energy, you mentioned there was a big, energetic surprise to these communiqués that few people have talked about up till now. Are you willing to give us just a little preview of what your subtitle means—just enough to make us to run right out and buy the book?

Stephanie: That energies, spirits, ghosts… whatever you decide to call them, those essences that emanate from another dimension can physically connect with those they’ve just left. Which means, believe it or not, that they can have sex with those they love, and they do it all the time. Once again, I get the e-mails to prove it. And in my case? Dan was so flirtatious and funny… and in some ways, more seductive as a spirit than when we were married. But mostly, “Love from Both Sides,” makes it possible for a “shift” in thinking, because the reader experiences sex as the sacred energy that it is.

Joyce: Readers describe the experience of your book as everything from healing to hilarious—very engaging and emotionally evocative. Is this kind of communication for everyone, or do you think it takes a certain kind of personality to do it—or appreciate it?

Stephanie: Everyone has the “wiring.” But just like everyone has the ability to play a violin, not everyone will become an Itzhak Perlman. But like playing a violin, “connecting” takes patience and practice, and if you practice, you’ll get good at it.

Joyce: As a memoir writer myself, I have to say you knocked it out of the park for unique subject matter in our genre. What will you write about next?

Stephanie: I’m writing about what’s going on now – in our age group. It’s wild. I know – I’m a therapist. Now that the kids are grown, we’ve done our share, we’re ready to really own our power – and for women I think “Owning Your Inner Courtesan” and becoming sexy and powerful could be fun to write about. So much new research into sexuality done by women (finally!) proves that what turns women on is simply being adored, worshipped and desired. (Read
What Do Women Want in the New York Times Magazine, Jan. 25, 2009.)

In my hypnotherapy practice, I help people connect with their “inner selves,” power and sexuality, because I help them lose weight and get healthy. Living in a healthy body makes people happy, and if people get happy – they get healthy! From my perspective, there’s nothing more important right now – especially for people in our age range, because there will be no medical care available when we need it. There are just too many of us, right? So, it’s really up to us to take responsibility for our own health. And that’s why I love what I do – I make people happy and healthy!

Joyce: I know you have a great sense of humor, so I hope you’ll hear this with my playful intent. I described you and your book to someone as, “She talks to her dead husband, but otherwise, she seems completely normal—fun and cool.” One of the things I most want to accomplish, as I shift my blog focus, is to share any phenomena that’s new to people in a grounded way and to assure them these things aren’t woo-woo or crazy.

Unusual experiences have been a way of life for you and me, but not everyone. How do you think we can best share them so that they are likely to be well- received and make others less fearful of developing their own sensitivities?

Stephanie: There is simply an explosion of the kind of material around. Who hasn’t noticed that religions are having a nervous breakdown? And because of that people are seeking alternate ways to connect with the “divine.” I was just at the Louise Hay’s, “I Can Do It” weekend, and there were so many scientists speaking. My own teacher, Brian Weiss, MD., is a Columbia /Yale educated psychiatrist, whose many books validate the existence of Past Lives, and the power of Past Life Regression. Or you could read Bruce Lipton’s, “The Biology of Belief,” if you want to ground yourself cell biology, and how the power of the thoughts can heal your body. It’s all good. We’re living in time of shifting belief systems – and it’s exciting!

Joyce: Lastly, where can we buy Love from Both Sides?

Stephanie: is the big gorilla in book sales right now, Barnes& has it, too – and Barnes & Noble carries it online as well as on many of their store shelves.

Thank you so much for honoring us with a visit on your blog tour. I can tell you, Love from Both Sides just ascended to the top of my summer reading list.

I never asked you or your blog tour team how you found Hot Flashbacks, but my
cosmic tractor beam is clearly on overdrive. Thanks for beaming yourself into my world and rocking it!

Stephanie: Thank you, Joyce! I’m looking forward to the comments!


Stephanie Riseley is a Certified Hypnotherapist. She helps people unleash the power of their own subconscious minds to help them achieve their goals. She also does Past Life Regressions, and she trained with Brian Weiss, MD. She holds a Master’s degree from UCLA, and an undergraduate degree from UC- Berkeley.

Stephanie will respond to comments on this post.

Comments reminder: Don’t forget our blog comment contest through June 19! Readers who comment on this post only will be entered into a drawing for Stephanie's book, Love from Both Sides.

Comments on other posts will be entered into a drawing for Capital Crimes: 15 Tales by Sacramento Area Authors.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stoner of Another Kind

Forget Cheech & Chong, Up in Smoke, and the days when many boomers were “tokin’.” I hardly knew the word stoner or the middle word of my generation’s slogan: Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Recently, though, I found out that I’m a
Lucy Stoner. That’s a Stoner of another kind. A Lucy Stoner is someone who practices the radical idea Lucy Stone put forth and lived in 1856. She chose not to take her husband’s name in marriage.

Little did I know how much this same decision, which is so right for me, would bother other people. In fact, it has been bothering people since 1974. That was the first time I married and decided I’d forego the custom of changing my name. I’ll never forget, when keeping my name came up in conversation. People would actually refer to me as “one of those.” It was hurtful and alienating to have such a personal choice riddled with assumptions and separation by people who barely knew me. Worse yet, they seemed to decide, on the spot, that they didn’t want to.

I’ll admit, my original motivation was feminism. I was grappling with a new vision of women, and I was angry at past wrongs by men in society-at-large and in my personal encounters. I was in my twenties, that period I call psychological adolescence. I felt powerless, and I felt that giving up the core of who I am—what I am called—was like Delilah cutting Samson’s hair. I tend to err on the side of too much merging, and to become Mrs. Him seemed like a sure path to losing Ms. Me.

I am not alone in these feelings, although those with the courage to act on them are in the minority. Ninety percent of American women take their husband’s name in marriage. I was delighted to learn of the
Lucy Stone League in my research for this post, which advocates name equality:

“A wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should take hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost.”

–Lucy Stone

Name Customs in the US and Other Cultures
Many people don’t realize that a woman is under no legal obligation to change her name upon marriage in the United States. It’s simply a tradition. If you decide to go for it, has a good summary of the legalities involved in name changes, which most often are accepted without paperwork in the States. However, in reality, changing your name is a real chore. Just imagine the number of credit cards, library cards, bank accounts, and frequent buyer cards that need updating. These are just some of various entities, personal, professional, or legal, who know you by your original name. It is complicated enough that has advocated a centralized name change service. WikiHow has a wonderful article for those who decide otherwise: How to Tell People You’re Keeping Your Maiden Name. Consider the irony of one of their bits of wisdom in light of woman who started it all:

“Traditions are not set in stone.”

While assuming the husband’s surname at marriage is the custom in most English-speaking countries, it is by no means the only game on the globe.
Naming customs vary widely, my favorite being in some Russian and Slavic countries where the bride and groom declare which surname they will use during the wedding ceremony, often not the same one. Even if she uses her husband’s name, a Russian woman adopts a feminized version that makes their names not quite a match. In a split with the normal male-centered approach, Chinese family names are often formed (begin) with a sign that means “mother” -- a way of honoring their moms long past.

Some countries, like Belgium and Canada, require women to retain their maiden names on official documents, what we might call their “legal” name. Many use their husband’s name socially.

This was a surprise to me: Islam requires that Muslim women do not change their family name upon marriage, as this might suggest a transfer of property ownership. Under Islam, the woman retains her family name and identity as per Islamic law. (From Wikipedia Naming Customs, cited above)

A Decision Complex, Personal and Symbolic
Like many things I do, the reasons behind keeping my name are multi-layered and complex. Some of them were buried so deeply, I’ve had to excavate to dig out my core feelings and motivations.

The Power of Symbols: As I discussed in my post,
Identity Crisis, I strongly identify with the symbols within my name. Paying attention to symbolism is my main spiritual navigation system and larger curriculum for learning. This alone would be reason enough to hang onto my name for dear life.

There’s another reason: my identification with my adoptive family. They gave me their name. I am who I am largely because of them. There is something primal and hard to erase about being born “back then” of an unmarried couple and without what society considered a “legitimate” name. It has made being a Mason a gift I don’t take for granted and don’t want to give back.

When I found my birth family, an acquaintance asked me if I planned to change my name back to my true original, the one I had for three weeks before adoption. I thought she was crazy! I could not even imagine such a thing. Twenty-three years later: I adore both my birth and adoptive families, and there’s no doubt that both nature and nurture formed me, but when it comes to the person that evolved into Joyce Mason, my sense of stability draws on the love and roots in that household that still has a name hold on me.

Toward True Name Equality
I believe we need to honor a woman’s decision—or a man’s-- to be called whatever name s/he wants. (I recall a couple I knew in the ‘70s. He took her name because his was very ethnic--hard to spell and pronounce. Hers was simple and all-American. It worked for them.)

An independent, close friend of mine chose her husband’s surname as much more solid than her original. Her maiden name’s meaning is not a positive affirmation for her. Another woman told me she felt self-confident enough that she would not lose herself; so, she didn’t mind using her husband’s name. Heaven knows it’s easier in a culture where the vast majority do. Sometimes I honestly wish I could, just to make it easy on myself. I don’t mind at all when relatives assume or call me by my husband’s surname or address cards Mr. and Mrs. Tim has 58 first cousins. I have barely met some of his relatives. They only know me as his wife and due to distance, that’s likely to change. In this context I’m happy to be flexible …

… but in the world and in my closest relationships, I need the name that resonates my true self. My vibration. It’s also the name I “made for myself” in several professions. I’m proud of it.

I adore my husband, and I don’t think what I prefer to call myself has anything to do with how bonded and loyal I feel toward him. He would tell you I’ve passed that test many times. Like any other happily married couple, we are two people who share one love. There’s an invisible force field binding us together that I doubt any man, woman, or naming device could put asunder. Still, he’s a man with pride, also sensitive to culture and “what people think.” He has balked numerous times at being called Mr. Mason, when people automatically assume we share the same surname. When it happened last and he got irritated, I couldn’t help but say, “Now you know how it feels.”

Frankly, it’s a pain to have to explain that I do not use my husband’s name. The pain comes from people’s assumptions. We all know the old saw about when you assume, it makes an ass out of U and me. Still, as a sensitive soul who both needs to be me and needs to belong; I often feel the sting of the asinine.

The alternative doesn’t work for me. My husband’s name is great—on him. It belongs to him, and it sounds good on him. Women celebrities have retained separate surnames from their husbands as the norm. No one thinks twice about it or forgets who belongs or belonged together: Burns & Allen, Bogey & Bacall, Stiller & Meara.

I was so relieved when Maria Shriver, another Lucy Stoner, became the First Lady of California. Who could blame her for not wanted to be or spell Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger? I also don’t blame her for not wanting to give up her identity as a member of one of America’s political dynasties on both the Kennedy and Shriver sides of her family.

There is approximately the same percentage of Lucy Stoners in the married population as people who are gay in the population in general—10 percent. All we “minorities” want is for people to know that we are more like you than different from you. The parallel is hardly far-fetched, because there are those who think a woman who keeps her name is a threat to the institution of marriage itself, the same argument used against gay marriage. With the US divorce rate at 50 percent for first marriages and increasing with episodes of serial monogamy, I can’t help but observe that heterosexuals have managed to botch it up all on our own. I doubt that the small percentage of gays in the population, even if they all chose to marry, could do our statistics much worse. Same with “subversive” name keeping.

Self-expression and diversity are assets to treasure, ones we have in abundance in the American culture regardless of economic fluctuations.

I am in no judgment of others who choose to be a Mrs. and even bask in the honor.

I simply ask for the same understanding—not to be Ms. understood.


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