Browsing Tag


Abuse, Guest Posts

My Last Halloween

October 31, 2016

By D. Michael Whelan

When I was younger, I loved Halloween. I think it was getting to play dress up, pretending to be something else, something of your choosing. Every day of my life I was pretending to be something else just to stay safe. I was pretending not to be gay, because my parents knew, but warned me what would happen if I told anyone else. I was pretending everything was okay at home. That home wasn’t actually a warzone, where I had to match wits with a mad woman, just to be allowed to eat, sleep or stay inside. Beatings were unavoidable, but I became a master at figuring out how to work with them, so they inflicted minimal damage. I learned how to figure out my mother’s moods and what made her tick. I was strategic, sometimes making sure the beatings weren’t big, but when she was on the edge I knew she would have to blow completely in order for me to be safer as the night wore on.

See, I was always pretending. I was always lying. I was always someone else. I was the bright and lazy student, because not doing your homework because you were playing one of your mother’s psychological games did not fly. I was the student who didn’t appreciate his parents, because whenever the police were contacted about said abuse, it just made things worse. I was defiant, but only because I intended to survive. I was a liar, but never a liar about the things people thought I lied about. I was too crafty, too good at lying – people never knew what I was lying about. They never did either. Continue Reading…

death, Family, Guest Posts

The Cemetery.

October 29, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jane O’Shields-Hayner.

As a red-blooded American girl I grew up with a, pardon the pun, bone deep fear of cemeteries. My cousin Marcia, six years older than I, told me there were skeletons under the beds in the big old two-story house where I lived with my parents, my grandparents and my aunt Vivian. It was a decidedly spooky house to begin with, with old unused rooms and dusty beds never slept in, wearing the same sheets they had for decades. There were shelves full of books, unread in my lifetime and deep, dark closets that went to who knows where under stairways and slanted eaves. Remnants of the years my family spent as ranchers were present throughout this house: kitchen towels made from feed sacks and tack for horses, tools for marking and castrating cattle, which looked like torture devices to me.

It was twilight, always, there. Electric lights were used mostly at night. They hung on chains as small, pear-shaped pendants, or under one-bulb glass shades. Wood frame windows, with layer upon layer of peeling paint let the sun in, but just barely. The pomegranate bushes and apricot trees, untrimmed and old, bounced back most of the light before it entered those windows, so the sunlight happily found another direction to shine, rather than into this old, dusty house.

Inside the dark, foreboding closets there were wood-bound metal trunks and dusty coats hanging, and who knew what lay behind them. My father, a kind man by nature, once disappeared into one of those dark, untraveled closets under a stair with a two by four, and came out with a dead rat and a bloody plank.

Continue Reading…

Delight, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Lessons From Elves. Guest Post By The Flying Yogini.

November 2, 2011

The following is a guest post by the amazing Flying Yogini.


I am seeing life from the brighter side today.  I am seeing the sweet, the small and the simple as magic in a way I have not in a while.

You see I live in Connecticut which is in the midst of its third major weather-related disaster of the year.  We started in January with epic amounts of snow, while wonderful to me, were positively paralyzing for the state.  No one went to school, no one could go anywhere and the damage was wide-spread.  Then came Hurricane Irene which sent 500 thousand of us into the dark.  Many of us were out for days (almost four at Chez Nancy) and many also did not have water or plumbing because of our wells and septic systems.  Then on Sunday we got hit with the giant Winter Storm Albert which dumped 12″ on my yard and more on other parts of the state.  This storm broke October snowfall records going back to the Civil War.  Not surprisingly, over 24 hours later close to 700 thousand people still do not have power!

This weekend was full of Halloween events which got cancelled.  School got cancelled.  Halloween parties at school got cancelled and in many towns, Halloween got cancelled period.  There was no trick or treating, there was no power, no costumes and frankly no sweetness.  There was a darkness hovering over our area that was more massive than the power outage that appears to be staying for a while.  Mother Nature apparently had other ideas for how we should all be spending October 31.

My amazing elves, a.k.a. my kids, had resigned themselves to not having Halloween.

We were among the immensely fortunate ones this time who did not lose power so we invited friends who were in the dark over to stay warm.  The elves got to play in the snow with their pals, they had special play dates with best friends and used our Halloween pumpkins for snowmen heads.  Most towns around us banned trick or treating because it was too dangerous and so the elves knew that the chances we would get to go were slim to none.  When  I said “looks like trick or treating is off the table this year,” they just shrugged and accepted this as the reality.  Life had gotten in the way of candy and surprisingly they were okay with it.

Then at the last-minute some streets got cleared, some friends got power and we got a plan.  The elves costumed-up and we raced over to hit a few houses.  It was cold, dark and there were utility workers checking wires around us,  but it was fun! We got home from our short jaunt and my eldest elf counted his candy. He told me:  “Mom, I only got 25 pieces this year which is less than half what I normally get.  But the truth is I do not care.  I really just had a great time dressing up in my costume and going with my friends.”

This elf with the sweetest of teeth saw the little bright sparkle that came from the opportunity that had opened for him.  It no longer was about his candy but rather about those who were with him and the fun of doing it in the first place.  He looked on the shiny side of the Halloween coin and saw that his richness came from bliss of the moment rather than the numbers of wrappers in his bag.

I share this story because it so beautifully demonstrates how magical life can be if you allow the little things to outshine the big ones.  The adventure becomes the reward and the end a bonus on top of it all.  My elves did not care if their bags of candy were full or if they were empty.  They got to go with their friends to a few doors, dress up like Smurfette and a Patriots football player and feel like kids.  They got to see the little bright side of life and felt its shimmer even in the very dark October night.

So my elves and I remind you to reach deep into your inner bag of goodies and pick the smallest thing you can find and give it a little polishing rub.  Notice how it sparkles and allows the otherwise dull items near it to shine.

And next time you feel you cannot find even  a fleck of light inside, step into the shoes of my elves on Halloween.  Remember that the true sweetness lies not in the biggest candy stash but in the journey to get them in your collecting pumpkin.  Find the joy in the little and suddenly everything around you will be big with brightness.


You can find Nancy Alder aka The Flying Yogini anywhere her magic mat takes her but I suggest Facebook and Twitter first. Her website is But of course. All yoginis fly, don’t we?