The moon is watching over me.

image credit: Miljoshi and Fresheneesz

The moon was new on Friday night. Right now, it is a waxing crescent. I care about this because I’ve been using the lunar phases as my new measurement of time. When the moon was last new, I committed to two daily tasks: meditating (for at least 10 minutes) and  using two online trackers, (one to monitor my mood fluctuations and one to keep account of my routine chores.)

I’m a veteran of dozens of organizational systems, from Getting Things Done to I keep lists for everything, including my 101 things in 1001 days list. (Which is now about 6% complete.) It feels like my entire adult life has been about learning to manage my time and energy … which is not unusual for a bipolar. My biggest obstacle to effective self-management has always been my resistance to routine and repetition. This is a problem for a mother, a home school facilitator and a writer.

Common wisdom dictates that it take 21 days to establish a new habit. Or six months. Or a year and a day. Depending on what self-improvement guru you subscribe to. Obviously, there is no magic number. The key, I believe is to choose a time frame that makes sense to you.

I use Google calendar religiously. I track many of my practical goals in terms of months, weeks days and hours. Some personal tasks though – like meditation and mood management – don’t seem to want to fit inside those neat, even boxes you can find in a daily planner.

So. For the entire last cycle of the moon – from new through full and around to new again – I managed to persuade myself to honor my commitment to my two goals – even when I was dead tired. It helped that I could step outside, breathe, and look up into the sky – where Luna was showing me how far I’d already come.

In the current cycle, I will add daily yoga or walking into my day. I’ll let you know how it went, when the moon goes dark again.

Possibly paranormal experiences through multiple generations. (Part I)

Last night, as the midnight NaBloPoMo deadline approached, I was completely caught up in a rollicking game of Catch Phrase. Unwilling to step away from the game, I begged my great-niece to write a blog post in for me. She is the only  person in my family who shares my fascination with creepy things. (This fact amuses me because she is also my namesake – her middle name is Renae.)

She had no idea that I was going to ask her to do it, nor any familiarity with my blog. Of course she knows I’m a horror writer, and that her mother and I are preparing to do paranormal investigations together – so she wasn’t too startled by the request. She did have to think on her feet though, because I gave her almost nothing to go on. I merely pointed her at my blog, told her to read a few entries to get a feel for the theme, showed her how to add a new post, and let her go.

I was surprised by what she wrote … but not shocked.

I suppose I was about Chammi’s age when I experienced my own nocturnal visitation.

(Forgive the picture quality. This a snapshot, taken with my cell phone, of a snapshot taken when I was 14.)

I remember coming awake slowly in my twin bed, turning from my habitual fetal position onto my back. As usual, my nightgown wrapped uncomfortably around my legs. (I still hate to feel constricted or constrained when I’m sleeping.) I decided to get out of bed – I suppose intending to stand up and straighten out my bedclothes – but when I opened my eyes, I froze.

A figure was leaning over my bed. Its featureless “face” hovered inches above mine. I did not get the sense it was a solid thing. I did not feel any malevolence from it. When I think of it now, I conjure a mental image of a tall, willowy, feminine … presence. And I think of the color blue.

Like Chammi, I didn’t scream or freak out. I think I just went back to sleep. Of course it could have been a dream. I dreamed a lot when I was a child and teenager. Most of my dream images were recurring. (There was one in which I saw the shadow of a wolfman on my bedroom wall, another in which I bounded through an endless meadow.) The Blue Lady, though, I saw only once. Like Chammi, I can’t exactly articulate how or why I became convinced that this single event was not a dream – if it wasn’t, however, I don’t know how to explain it. It doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any of the most common paranormal categories. (Ghosts, apparitions, poltergeist, grays, etc.)

The phenomena which seems most similar is called sleep paralysis – which occurs when a person retains a type of consciousness even though the brain/body is in a REM sleep state. It can occur either at the beginning or end of the REM cycle (when falling asleep or waking up.) Sufferers of sleep paralysis report sensing an evil presence or feeling watched; feeling pressure on the chest / suffocated; being unable to move (which is accurate – the body does enter into a paralyzed state during REM, so that the sleeper doesn’t injure themselves or others during dreams;) feeling panicked or threatened; and seeing hallucinations.

Guest blogger: Chammi (14) relates a night visitation experience.

Hello, I am Chammi. I am a guest blogger.

Renae is my aunt and is spending time with family, and asked me to do her blog.

I was sleeping soundly one night, and woke up feeling as if something was watching me. I hadn’t quite woken enough to open my eyes yet, but when I did I was startled. There was a young female standing there with one hand outstretched towards my cheek.

She had very long silky hair, a very dark shade of brown. She was wearing a night gown of sorts, lined lace trim. Her eyes were puffy and red as if she had been crying for days. She moved slow and mechanically out the door, not bothering to open it. I figured I had been dreaming and wouldn’t remember it in the morning so I shrugged it off and went back to bed. I knew that it couldn’t have been a dream, for when I awoke I still had it burned to memory.