If you missed Chapter 5 you can read it here.

I wandered through the rest of the day at school in an almost dream like stupor.  Never before in my entire life had a dream felt so real.  Was it a dream?  If it was how did I explain the bite on my leg?

I decided to skip 4rth period for many, many reasons, and instead went to the library.  I spent the hour reading everything I could find on dreams, meanings, interpretations, etc. Some of what I read was really scary.

One author theorized that our dreams could even manifest in reality.  Could that explain the bite on my leg?

When school was over I walked home.  Step by step I took everything in.  Normally I would listen to music.  Daisily drifting along, not really paying attention to my surroundings. Not today.  Today I noticed every rock, every tree, the way Mrs. Waterman pranced around her house in her underwear oblivious to the fact that her blinds were open.  Everything.

When I got home a feeling of both excitement and dread started to creep up from the pit of my stomach.  Twisting and turning my emotions into knots like a pair of headphones that have sat at the bottom of your bag for weeks.

I stood there, in front of my house staring at the front door.  Should I go in?  Of course I should go in.  Why wouldn’t I go in?  It was my house afterall.  But standing there, looking at it, something felt wrong.  Something wasn’t right.

I shook my head, steadied myself and walked up to the front door.  This was silly.  It was just a dream.  A really powerful, confusing, emotionally scary dream, but it was still just a dream!

I had almost gotten myself under control when I looked down at the door handle, and for the first time noticed that the front door to my house was slightly ajar.

I froze, not daring to move.  It wasn’t until my brain and body started screaming for oxygen that I realized I had been holding my breath.

With a gasping breath I somewhat steadied myself and pushed open the front door.

My home was exactly the way I remembered it.  Clean, put together, and all the furniture in the right place.

I walked inside and called out to see if anyone was home.  The house remained unsettlingly quiet.

Carefully I crept into the kitchen looking around.  Was someone suppose to be home? What time would mom be getting back from picking up my sister from ballet?

I sat down at the kitchen table and took a heavy breath.

That is when I noticed the envelope sitting on the table with my name on it.  It was an old envelope weathered and yellow.  My name was written on the front in what could have only been a calligraphy pen of some sort.  Given the droplets of ink it might have even been done with an old ink and quill set.  Picking it up and turning it over I noticed a crimson wax seal.  I could make out the shape of a Y pressed deeply into the wax.

What the hell was this?

I broke the wax seal and pulled out a piece of weathered old parchment.  The handwriting was written in the same beautiful calligraphy as my name on the front of the envelop.

It read “Declan, by the time you read this you will have returned to your own time.  I am sure you are confused, and I am sorry for that.  Events are in motion, and I don’t know why but YOU are at the center of them.

iStock_000012456491SmallIf you are reading this at the time and place I think you are the world is coming close to an almost catastrophic event.  One that will change everything.  You have been given a small glimpse of what is to come.

I am still working out how, but it seems that you may be able to stop it, or at least warn people it’s coming.  However that time has not yet come.  You need to let events unfold naturally, and some of them are going to be very hard for you to get through.  I’m sorry for that.  There is no other way around it.

In a few short hours I believe you will join me here, again.  I am making preparations to show you the things you need to know.  When it happens please follow my instructions this time.  Our time together is very short and very brief.

In the meantime make yourself a sandwich.  Enjoy your time with family.  We will talk soon.

Sloane

P.S. Sorry about the dog bite, but I had to wake you up before the sun came up.”

 

 

Do you remember what it was like growing up as a kid?  Most of us would really have to think about it to remember the absolute freedom that came from being a child.  As children we didn’t have to worry about religion, gender roles, homosexuality, or race.  We saw the other little children as playmates, friends, and equals.

As a child there were no expectations, and I certainly did not have to worry about being “too nice” with anyone.  I could just be myself.  We all could.

That is when the travesty of life happened to all of us.  Adults.

As children we are fresh, new, and everything around us is a wonder, but as we age the adults in our lives feel it’s necessary to “teach” us what it is to be a man or a women.  It’s important to them that we follow the same set of social constructs that were taught to them including political affiliations, religious views, how to dress, what music to listen to, what shows to watch, and how to behave.

With all of this enormous pressure we begin to change.  We adopt views and opinions more out of obligation than we do actual belief.  We allow ourselves to be defined by the expectations of others, and so our life is molded from the outside in.

This outside definition of who I was suppose to be, and how I was suppose to act was very difficult on me.  I constantly questioned everything, and wanted to know why certain things were just accepted as truth.  This unwillingness to “conform” made me a lot of enemies, and earned me my fair share of beatings on the elementary school bus.

By the time I entered the 8th grade I had been beaten up enough times that I was ready to “conform.”  I wanted to be “normal” whatever that meant.  I was starting at a new school in a new state, where no one knew me.  I could be anything I wanted to be, and I wanted to be the kind of guy who had a girlfriend.

Now it is safe to say that my first relationship I was the “nice guy.”  I held her hand at nice_guy_11lunch, I brought her roses that I had picked from my Dad’s garden, I carried her books to class, and basically put her needs, wants, and emotions in front of my own.

I was a doormat.

Needless to say that relationship didn’t last long.  We broke up, and she moved on to another kind of boyfriend.

He was rude, mean, started a lot of fights, and generally ignored my previous girlfriend. And yet she hung on his every word.  Followed him around school like a puppy.  Fought hard for his small affections.  In fact she seemed to even like that he ignored her, and treated her like an accessory.  It seemed to make her work that much harder.

The classic case of “nice guy” vs “asshole.”

Growing up no one wanted to be the “nice guy.”  It was akin to being dumped in the friend zone.

So misguided as we were “nice guys” like myself would try to mimic “assholes.”  This never worked out well in our favor, and often ended up in disaster.  Leaving us even more confused, misguided, and lost.

For many years I would ping pong back and forth between nice guy and asshole, and with each relationship I would learn, often painfully, things about each side of the spectrum.

  • Nice Guys

Nice guys will often put others needs and emotions ahead of their own.  Sometimes even at the cost of their own dignity.  Their partner takes advantage of them, breaks all their limits and boundaries, and when the nice guy has finally had enough, when they finally explode, they have no idea how to communicate with their partner. In their mind expressing their limits, boundaries, and expectations would mean a loss of love and abandonment from their partner.

Nice guys do not like being treated like shit.  In fact they resent it, and hate themselves for putting up with it.

In most cases they stay quiet, withdrawn, angry.  Walls begin forming around their emotions and heart.  All the while living with a heavy heart, and broken spirit.

And do you know where all of this comes from?

Not being able to express the kind of love they both want and need.

  • Assholes

Now I have already told you that I was the “nice guy” in several relationships.  But truth be told I have also been in relationships where I was the “asshole.”  These relationships generally were on the heels of one of my “nice guy” relationships.

189584-Bitch-Asshole-CycleI had been treated badly by someone I cared about, so I needed to balance the scales.

This never worked out well for me.

I would form connections with women, but I would never let them into my heart or my life.  I kept them at a distance, and dissociated any emotion with sex.  I was fake.  I lied about who I was, and despite the fact that I was now getting attention from sometimes some wonderful women, I was still falling victim to the same issue I had as a “nice guy.”

I wasn’t expressing the kind of love I wanted and needed.

Sure I wasn’t a doormat anymore, and I certainly had boundaries in place, but there was no authenticity to the relationship.

So what did I learn from being both a “nice guy” and an “asshole?”

In any relationship it’s important to communicate the kind of love you want and expect.  You can’t be a doormat, and you certainly can’t be an asshole.  You need balance.

It’s true, by telling your partner honestly the kind of love you want and need may in fact mean the end of your relationship.  It may cost you the person you love either because they or unwilling or unable to provide you with the kind of love you want and need.

It’s also true that by being open, honest, and communicating you may open a vulnerability within your protective boundaries.  A vulnerability that your partner may exploit or use to their advantage.

But what if they don’t?

What if you are open and honest and they don’t leave?  What if you expose yourself and they don’t use it against you?

It’s in that moment of perfect understanding and clarity that you could have everything you have ever wanted and needed.

Don’t get me wrong.  Relationships take work, and time to build, but it’s my opinion that when a person finds that balance, expresses honest empathy, sets up realistic boundaries, knows their own worth, and choose to be neither a doormat or an asshole, that it could lead to something amazing.

 

Writing is almost a form of meditation to me. When I feel my body start to tense or my muscles refuse to relax I know I have gone too long without putting pen to paper.

Writing prompts have been a wonderful source of creativity for me.  It’s just a small push, and nudge in the right direction.  Just something to get me started, and let my creative juices start to flow.

For the last year I have been posting writing prompts on my blog, and this past week one of my Twitter followers The Good Witch emailed me a short story she had written from one of my prompts.

I’d like to share with all of you now.

The air quickly left his lungs after hearing the truth. How could his father have lied to him all these years? How could he now reveal his true identity of being the man who raised him but not the man who gave him life? His lungs desperately tried to inhale but the weight of the situation left him drowning in air. His body felt heavy and just to lift his hand up to cover his mouth was as if he were stuck in a rip tide. He couldn’t control anything around him. He couldn’t move his legs in order to run away for they felt as if they were buried in cement. He could hear his heart beating in his ears and his throat closing up if only to prevent him from vomiting after the initial shock.

His eyes filled with tears as he closed them. How could this be the truth of his world? Everything he knew from before came crashing down. Now all he could feel was his body floating and drifting deeper and deeper down in a sea of air that consumed him.

So “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” came out this past weekend and as expected, the world is going nuts! Now I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but one complaint I’ve heard that really stuck with me was that once again, J.K. Rowling made the Slytherins look terrible. Having no context for that statement, I simply must assume that in some way, the villains of this new story are from Slytherin. And you know what? That really bothers me.

I’m not a Slytherin, I’m a Ravenclaw. But one of my brothers is a Slytherin. And one of my best friends at college is a Slytherin. They’re not bad people, they’re not evil, so why does J.K Rowling keep making them the villains?

I get it, because Slytherin has, technically, produced more dark wizards than the other houses, we assume that makes Slytherin the go-to bad guy. But if there’s something that the real world (and J.K. Rowling at times) has taught me, it’s the dangers of classifying an entire group of people under the same umbrella. And Harry Potter fans, the demonization of Slytherin house needs to stop.

Okay, so Salazar Slytherin himself was an elitist snob. And sure, some of that elitism may have continued to be a pervasive attitude within the house over the years. But aren’t we all elitists for something? Maybe we’re elitists for the college we attended, our favorite sports teams, our country, our states, even our religions. I attended UNC Chapel Hill, and I don’t care what you say or who you are, if you support Duke, you’re the enemy. (See? I’m a Tar Heel elitist but I’m not evil….unless you went to Duke, then you might have a different opinion.)

So let’s look at some of the members of Slytherin house that we know the most about who are decidedly NOT evil. In doing so, I think we’ll notice a trend.

harry-snapeFirst up, we have Severus Snape. In hindsight, everyone loves Snape. (I admit, I do too.) We all love a redemption story. But let’s not forget, the important part of a redemption story is, in fact, the REDEMPTION. Yes, Snape was a Death Eater, but after his involvement with dark magic had essentially sentenced the woman he loved to death, he realized the mistakes he’d made. He would spend the rest of his life, and ultimately his death, making up for the mistakes he made in his youth.

Does Snape’s good-guy status excuse him for his cold and sometimes cruel treatment of his students? Of course not. But once we know his history, we realize that his cruelty came from a place of self-loathing and regret for past mistakes. When you don’t respect yourself, how can you respect others? And his particularly cruel treatment of Harry? Harry was the child of the man who bullied him mercilessly for seven years at Hogwarts and the woman he was in love with. And it was his own desperation to fit in that led him to alienate Lily, his only real friend.

And yes, Snape showed favoritism to the Slytherin students. Slytherin was his house, of course he favored them. Contrary to popular belief, McGonagall showed favoritism to Gryffindor students. Take Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for example. After catching Harry breaking rules and riding a broom without teacher supervision, McGonagall put Harry on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Because McGonagall wanted HER house to have the best Quidditch team, she bent the rules for Harry, telling him that he better train hard or she “may change [her] mind about punishing [him].”

dracoNext up, there’s the Malfoy family. The Malfoy family were elitists in an entirely different way. They wanted money and reputation. They looked down their noses at anyone who was less pureblood or less wealthy than them. And anyone who snubbed them as Harry did to Draco on their very first night at Hogwarts? They treated with contempt and disdain as a way to make themselves look better.  As Voldemort’s reign of terror got more and more out of control, they become less and less comfortable with the way events were playing out. And in the end, none of the Malfoys could bring themselves to stand with Voldemort. They realized that their wealth and reputation were not worth sacrificing their lives or family for.

Then there’s Sirius Black’s brother Regulus. He followed the same path as many of his schoolmates probably did. He became a Death Eater. But eventually he realized that his decision to follow Voldemort was a BAD idea. In fact, Regulus was smart enough to figure out that Voldemort’s biggest secret was his creation of horcruxes. Regulus then embarked on a mission to hunt and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes, a mission he would give his life for. Although he never managed to destroy a horcrux, Regulus serves as yet another example of a Slytherin sacrificing his life in an attempt to prevent evil from prevailing.

horacceFinally we have Horace Slughorn. The Slug Club was most certainly an elitist group. Slughorn only invited those students with the greatest promise of fame and fortune to join. Slughorn enjoyed the perks of being a “favorite” teacher for some of the most famous and successful witches and wizards of his day. He was a brilliant potions master who felt great remorse over his teaching a young Tom Riddle about horcruxes. From then on, he always ardently refused to join the Death Eaters.  And in the Battle of Hogwarts, Slughorn fought valiantly with the Order of the Phoenix to bring Voldemort down.

I could easily list more great (not evil) Slytherins who deserve better than to be labelled “villains.” However, that would turn this post into something more akin to a novella, so if you’re interested in learning more about some of the great wizards Slytherin house has produced, head on over to this link

Every single one of these Slytherins were imperfect and made mistakes. But what sets them apart from the other houses was their ability and willingness to acknowledge their mistakes and do something to change them. Slytherins seem to have an amazing ability to feel remorse and to learn from past mistakes that just doesn’t seem to exist in the other houses. It’s a quality to be admired.

And let’s not forget that Professor Quirrell, a follower of Voldemort, was a Ravenclaw. Peter Pettigrew (aka Wormtail) was a Gryffindor. And even Dumbledore, who we learned had a history of dark magic and a thirst for power, was a Gryffindor.

The Sorting Hat was right in his song during Harry’s sorting ceremony:

“Or perhaps in Slytherin

You’ll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.”

“Any means” can be used for good or it an be used for evil. Although there were many Slytherins, like Voldemort or Bellatrix, who chose to use dark magic and evil to achieve their ends, there were also Slytherins like Slughorn or Regulus Black or Snape who were willing to give their lives if it meant defeating Voldemort.

slytherinI don’t know why Rowling’s writing seems so contradictory in regards to Slytherins. I don’t know why they’re the perennial bad guys but also some of the most brave and self-aware people in the books. I don’t know why Rowling gave Snape such a beautiful backstory and yet right before the Battle of Hogwarts had all three of the other houses turn on the entire Slytherin house because ONE Slytherin wanted to turn Harry over to Voldemort. There’s so much I just don’t know about how Rowling perceives the Slytherins and why she writes them the way she does. 

But one thing I do know, is that there’s a lot we can learn from the Slytherins. They’re brave. They’re wicked smart. And they learn from past mistakes in attempt to become better and stronger people. So I stand with the Slytherins. Do you?

Recently Wil Wheaton did a life reset, and started writing about it on his blog.  I’ve been following his progress with great interest, and have been happy to see his results thus far.

I am always happy to see someone succeed at making positive changes in their life. Change is hard, and it is not something we will only have to face once. So after almost a year of taking a break on goals and ambitions I have decided to follow Wil’s example and do a hard reset of my own.

reset

I will be honest I am not looking forward to the next week or two, because, as I used to tell my clients, the first week is always the hardest.

Here is the breakdown of my goals…

  1. Fitness & Health – Improve my overall health through proper eating, exercise, and sleep.
  2. Money – Improve my money by creating a budget, tracking all expenses, and saving 10% of all income.
  3. Creative Projects – Add to the world in a positive way by creating good groups, events, and activities.
  4. Writing and Reading – Read and write more.
  5. Associations – Improve my inner circle by looking for good friendships, and improving existing friendships.

Now I know what you are thinking…Most of these goals are a bit, vague. Not to worry, with each goal I have written specific and measurable steps that will help me accomplish the overall idea.

For example…

Fitness & Health

  1. Complete 156 workouts – Workouts must last longer then 30 minutes.
  2. Start eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  3. Sleep 8 hours per night – For the moment hours of rest are 12-8.
  4. Meditate daily – Using the app HeadSpace.

I apologize, but I won’t be sharing the steps of each goal with you here.  Some of them are private, and only between me, myself, and I.  However I will be grading myself each week, and giving small “accountability” posts each week.

It is my hope, that by doing this I can improve the quality of my life.  Something I have very much been in need of for some time.

So wish me luck, unto the breach, and away I go!

51d9s9T3yZLPurchase I am excited about: I have been rewatching all the Harry Potter movies, and as you can imagine it’s gotten me into a very Harry Potter mood.  So in the spirit of Hogwarts I am planning on decorating my bathroom in such a way that Moaning Myrtle would want to move in.  That being said I am very excited about my latest purchase, and look forward to traveling to The Ministry of Magic.

Facebook’s most popular post this week: Coming up with good Facebook posts is always a challenge. I often go through old journals, saved photos and memes, and other idea inspiring resources to create good posts.  This week’s most popular post came from a mixture of a book I am reading this week, a meme I had saved on my phone, and a few random thoughts bouncing around in my head.

Most popular Twitter post: If you follow me on Twitter you know that I use it as a way to express anything, and sometimes everything that comes out of my brain.  This week I mused on how gullible people can sometimes be. Especially when talking about statistics. Check it out here.

Favorite Tumblr Post: I spend far too much time indoors.  I need to go outside more often, explore, and see the creativity, and beauty of the world around me.  THIS image reminded me of that.

Favorite Pinterest post: Over the last week I have been thinking a lot about relationships, and how so many of us put up with abuse, neglect, and are taken advantage of.  Sadly I have had many such relationships like this in my life recently, and it is a pattern of behavior and abuse that I am just not willing to put up with any longer.  So you can understand why THIS image spoke to me like it did.  If you really are important to someone they will show you.  If not, they will ignore you.

If you are looking for other ways to follow me on social media don’t forget to follow me on SnapChat.  It is wild and crazy, but I do my best to keep you all entertained.IMG_2578

PokemonGo has not even been out a full month, and its impact can be felt worldwide with an estimated 9.5 million daily users.  To put that in perspective that is more people than the total population of New York City.

tumblr_mh74nokblu1r3ifxzo1_500So what is PokemonGo?

Pokemon is owned by Nintendo.  The idea of the game is for trainers to travel the globe in search of Pokemon.  Pokemon are creatures that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and levels of cuteness.  Once a trainer has caught a Pokemon they can train, evolve, and use their Pokemon to battle others in arenas, and simulated battles of power, magic, and brute strength.

Pokemon has been around for a long time, and been featured as a TV show, Nintendo video game, and a collectable card game.  Now, with the release of PokemonGo iPhone and Android users can play the game in virtual reality.

The game requires users to walk, run, move and explore the world around them.  As they do so they can discover wild Pokemon, catch them, and visit training gyms, and battle their Pokemon against other users Pokemon.

Pretty simple right?

So why is there so much hatred, outcry, and utter disgust over the game?

In the last week I have seen every kind of negative post that you can imagine on social media surrounding the game.  Things like…

  • Concern over children walking into busy streets
  • Players walking into businesses without buying anything
  • Child predators can use the game to kidnap kids

The list goes on and on and on.

Now I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion, and a game this popular is certainly going to have its naysayers.  But I can’t help but feel that the majority of those people complaining about PokemonGo are simply doing it because it gives them something to hate.  A soapbox to stand on, and receive attention from.  An opportunity to flex their bully muscles, and appear concerned for the welfare of their common man.

I call bullshit!

From my opinion PokemonGo is one of the most ingenious games to come out in years.  It tackles one of the biggest, and growing concerns of epidemic obesity.  Which has been a growing problem in, at least the United States, for years.  For the first time in many a year children, and adults are getting off the couch, going outside, and being active!

Major parks are FILLED with people again.  Playgrounds are sometimes stuffed to capacity. Walking trails are being used.  Running groups are being created with a cross platform of playing PokemonGo while exercising.  This is brilliant!

And yet, there are still people out there complaining about this game.

Probably the same people who complained about kids staying inside, and playing video games all day.

PokemonGo has the potential to change the way gamers play video games.  It has the possibility of changing the way businesses interact with their customers.  It has the potential to help both child and adult get out and explore the big world all around us, and I personally think that is a good thing.