Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Being Haunted

Most think being haunted requires a creaky old house where a person died unexpectedly. The shock of a fall, suicide, or murder traps them between our world and the next. They believe these lost souls spend their days shackled to a place and a moment in time.

That’s not always how it happens.

My house wasn’t haunted. I was.

A while ago, a high school friend recounted her experience with shadowy ghosts in their turn-of-the-century home. I envied her. I thought it would be cool to see something so extraordinary. I wondered if I would scream and lay awake night after night knowing I was watched by sleepless souls.

Be careful what you wish for.

My own experiences started with a trip to Wisconsin around 2002. Since the drive back to Colorado would take eighteen hours or more, we planned to get an early start. My husband, Danny, set the alarm for 4:30 AM and we went to sleep in the twin beds in my parents’ Victorian home built in 1901. I woke up around 4:10. Since I had to get up in twenty minutes, I decided to stay awake. A thunderstorm brewed outside and lightning flickered. Then one of our kids opened the door to the bedroom. A dark silhouette of a child could clearly be seen against the hall light. Whoever it was walked into the room and between the beds. Something was very peculiar about this shadow. I tried to focus on a face, but couldn’t see one.

I sat up. “Who’s there?” I asked, “Kelly or Courtney?” As I reached out, the shadow disappeared. I looked at the space between the bed. Not even a child could fit between. I lay back down. My heart remained steady as I recounted what had happened. It didn’t make any sense. Someone was there and then disappeared. I hadn’t imagined it. I was wide awake when I sat up. I looked at the clock again. 4:20.

“Danny. Are you awake?”


“I think I just saw a ghost.”

“I think you did too,” he said.

“Why? What did you see?” I turned toward him, fully awake now.

“When you asked if it was Kelly or Courtney, I saw light fly toward the window.”

Excited, my heart really pounded. Was it a ghost? What else could it be? I dressed and walked across the hall.

“I saw the door to your bedroom open and thought you were getting up,” said Courtney.

Crazy or what?

The other bed was empty. “Where’s Kelly?” My heart skipped a beat. I had seen enough horror movies to know what happens next.

Steps fell on the stairs behind me. My shoulders relaxed as Kelly joined us in the hallway.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs,” he said. “I saw a light streak up the steps.”

We all experienced something strange that night. My brain couldn’t comprehend what I saw, so I wasn’t frightened. That would come later.

I assumed that would be the end of it until the next time we visited Wisconsin. My parents’ house had to be haunted. Not so.

Months later back in Boulder, I heard a shuffling in my bedroom and woke up. A woman dressed in black lace with a veil on her head stood on the other side of the bed and locked eyes with me. Her pale face wore a severe and angry expression. I sat up and yelled, “Danny! Look!” but she faded away.

A few nights later the same sound woke me up. I opened my eyes and gazed up at that woman’s scowling face looming above me. She stood right next to my bed. I could hear the crinoline shift underneath her skirt as she bent down toward me. I gasped and covered my head with the blanket.

These unexplainable occurrences always happened upon waking in the night because of a noise they made. Afterward, I would stare at the ceiling and wonder why me? My house couldn’t be haunted. We built it in 2000. We didn’t excavate an ancient Native American burial ground nor was a graveyard nearby.

Sightings would come in waves of three or four then there would be no activity for months up to a year. Then it would start up again. Doors would bang. Twice I saw bright orbs of light on the wall where none could reflect. A plant hanging from a hook would swing.

I continued to question what I was seeing until my night at The Stanley Hotel.

When my sister, Patty, her friends from Wisconsin, and I spent a night there on Friday the 13th, I told them nothing would happen. For one thing the date was so cliché. Come on. Friday the 13th! In the years I’d experienced ghosts, I could never summon them like they do on TV. When they wanted to be seen, they would wake me up. There was no way they would appear. Ironically, I was the only one who had seen them and the skeptic of the bunch.

There was a group from a ghost-busting TV show who also stayed at The Stanley that night. When I asked them what I was seeing if they weren’t ghosts, one of the hosts told me I was experiencing sleep paralysis. But I was neither asleep, nor paralyzed. A woman overheard us talking. After they left, she told me I was seeing ghosts and explained they are most often seen right after waking before we are fully conscious. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Everything that could happen in that haunted hotel did happen. Looking back, people probably held séances to summon the dead. It wasn’t sleep paralysis that pulled my coat down to the end of the closet or that banged overhead all night. It was unexplainable. Paranormal. Ghosts.

Days after my Stanley experience, someone pinched me when I lay down to go to sleep. It happened for the next three nights. I figured it was one of the ghostly children who ran the halls that night. In a photograph taken at the time, a huge orb appeared next to me. I’m still not sure how I feel about orbs in photos, but it’s there nonetheless.

At one point someone told me I should take classes to amp up my ability. What??? I was intrigued, but didn’t want to become obsessed. Nor did I want the responsibility of a medium. That was a life for someone else.

It was the banger who finally ended my interest in ghosts.

It, (I sensed it was a man) would bang on the dresser, the TV, then the ceiling. It had a peculiar sound to it. More like a snap than a tap. Danny said if he went to bed first it wouldn’t start until I came into the room. Yes. He heard it too. It would end after 11:00 then start up around 4:00 AM. I tried talking and then shouted at it to leave us alone and then gave up. This went on for almost three years. I even have a recording of the taps and knocks.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I really needed my sleep. I remembered something about salt. Armed with crystal bowls and a container of Morton’s, I placed several filled dishes around the bedroom. In two weeks the banger stopped. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

At the Colorado Gold Writers Conference, I met someone who worked at a psychic center. I told him my book, The Foreboding, was based on some of my own paranormal experiences. He said I was in a minority of people sensitive to ghosts. Once I signaled my fascination and started to see them, I became a beacon to other entities. That explained why I’d several different ghosts over the years. Once I shut the door with the last ghost, they left me alone.

It has been almost three years since I’ve witnessed any paranormal activity. It occurred to me it should be considered normal. I didn’t hallucinate them, nor do I have sleep paralysis. Energy can’t be destroyed so where does it go when we die? I would say with some conviction sometimes it sticks around. We call them ghosts.

But remember what I learned. Trapped souls hunt those who can see them in the middle of the night.

Would you like to have a paranormal experience someday?

Be careful what you wish.

Have you ever seen or sensed a ghost?

31 Days…

31 days...

31 days. Slanted October light slices through the trees, casting shadows that creep across the withered landscape. Trees groan when wind claws brittle leaves from their branches. In shades of gold and blood-red scarlet to tawny brown they pirouette and spiral high in the sky, then sigh in resignation and finally rest upon the ground to rot. The same cool breeze touches my skin with icy fingertips sending ripples of shivers along my backbone. I wrap my arms around myself for warmth.

31 days. Each one of them a transition. Summer’s finale explodes in a burst of color. It’s the landscape’s last farewell to a fallow season of frenzied production. While plants prepare for months of rest, winter gathers its strength. It flexes with every stolen minute of daylight. You can feel its looming presence in the gloam of night while it waits, its cold breath on your neck.

31 days. The lengthening darkness brings back memories of spooky tales and giggles shared in youth. Corn mazes open along the highway. Crowds gather for haunted historic tours in cities and towns alike. Haunted houses advertise creepy adventures created to thrill and incite shrieks. Many long to recapture the feeling of fright night. We may buy a pumpkin to carve on Halloween night.

31 days. October 1st is the beginning of the end of the year. Only three months remain. Then the holidays will arrive with high expectations. They require planning and preparation, inducing stress. But October’s expectations are low. It’s a simple month. A month of enjoying walks while leaves crunch underneath our shoes with the acrid smell decomposition in the air. A month of enjoying the harvest, apple cider and pumpkin-spiced everything. A month of watching birds flock up and take flight in undulating shapes while geese fly in arrows pointing south. It’s a month of golden lighting and brilliant sunsets. Sometimes snow flies in an early winter surprise.

31 days. It’s time for scary movies, psychological thrillers, Hitchcock, Poe and King. The tingles race across our arms as our heart’s rapid pace quickens. We may have seen these films many times, but the best diabolical villains will still steal our breath once more. We may watch in terror or for amusement, but most of us will watch at least one of them. As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, we get into the haunting mood.

31 days. I’ll prepare for Halloween night by decorating. I’ll pull out my dead guys to freak out the mailman and hang spider webs in the hall. Lights will be hung in haphazard lines outside the house and pumpkins will sit on the doorstep. Once again my kitchen will be transformed. The strobe light and fog machine will be at the ready. It won’t be long until little goblins come to call.

31 days. On the 31st, I’ll don my Morticia Addams outfit, paint my lips and eyes. I’ll tee up scary music and turn up the speakers. Bags of candy will sit in the three-legged kettle near the door. I’ll peek out the window and wait for the doorbell to ring.

31 days. The month will end. We’ll lose an hour and our days will plunge into darkness. Winter will come. From a blaze of color to dazzling white, we’ll all adjust to another season as the year comes to a close.

But for now, I’ll enjoy October’s 31 days. I hope you will too.

What do you enjoy about October?


Exciting Book News and a Big Leap in the Right Direction

InExciting Book News and a Step in the Right Direction one of my first classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, the meditation instructor told us to ask the universe the ultimate question. “Who am I?”

I asked, “Should I be a writer?” I mean, I spend a majority of my time writing blog posts, screenplays and books. My first book took years. What if I’m supposed to be doing something else with my life? Kind of a frightening thought, right?

After our last class and an amazing experience over four days in Whistler, BC, I met my daughter, Courtney, at a restaurant. While we chatted over lunch, my phone buzzed. It was noisy and I couldn’t hear the caller. The number was similar to my oncologist’s and I thought someone was calling from the RMCC. Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. I’m three years out and had scheduled a six month checkup for a few days from then. Anything related to cancer makes my heart stop.

“This is Pamela Nowak from RMFW. Your manuscript, THE FOREBODING, has been selected as a finalist in the Colorado Gold Contest.

OH! Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!!

“Wow. I can’t believe it! Thank you so much!” She gave me the details, we hung up, and I told Courtney.

Shocked and excited, I had to go outside to DANCE!

Exciting Book News and Big Leap in the Right Direction.

Courtney took this shot through the restaurant’s window.

The universe heard me loud and clear. I’m on the right track. This is my debut novel and the result of a huge learning curve. I think of it as my thesis from five years of intensive study through all kinds of classes, including the school of pervasive and incessant rapping on my pointed head.

This coming Saturday night, September 10th, six of us will stand up in the front of the room and the winners will be announced for best action/thriller. Sure I’m nervous, but honestly, I already feel like a winner. Haven’t you heard that overused line a million times on awards shows? It’s the truth. No matter what place it gets, I’ve already won.

THE FOREBODING is a finalist! How cool is that?

6th place or 1st, my husband, Danny, will be there to record another happy dance.

How do you react to good news? Do you think you’re on the right path?

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Appointment? Wonder Why We Wait So Long?

Wonder why we wait so long for appointmentsThree months ago, I made a doctor’s appointment. Later, I decided to fill my day with them. Why not blow one day instead of three? I scheduled another at 10:30 and my last at 4:45.

I arrived at the doctor’s office on time. This was the first appointment of the day, so I thought I’d get in and out quickly. I’d have plenty of time to run errands before my next.

The minutes clicked away as patients seeing other doctors came and went. Maybe I didn’t allow enough time for my next appointment. My palms began to sweat while I caught up with blog comments on my phone. I waited and waited and waited as my gut tightened.

Thirty minutes later, I considered downloading a book to read. The nurse called my name.

After hustling into the examination room, I stripped naked and donned one of those lovely tie-in-the-back gowns. Then I sat up on the table and waited and waited and waited again. I stared at my purse and longed for a book to read.

Another THIRTY MINUTES passed.

Finally, my OB-Gyn arrived. Whew! He had checked out my old fibroids with walkers and seeing eye dogs the last time we met and also performed an endometrial biopsy. The first time it had been so painful, I almost bolted from the room. I had been nervous about this appointment and didn’t want any more problems. After a thorough examination, he told me that my uterus had shrunk. The seeing-eye dogs have left the building. YAY!

It’s all good now. Only routine exams from now on.

While I raced to my next appointment, I had an AHA moment.

THE MOON. Of course! It was a full moon the night before. My doctor probably delivered babies all night. I would think that many doctors’ offices are filled after that particular phase.

I made it to my second appointment since they were running late too. No surprise there. At 4:45, I prepared for a long wait at the hair salon and it didn’t disappoint. No matter. I wrote a new chapter for my book.

Early the next morning, I had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon with a follow up about my knee and broken wrist in January. The moon continued its crazy spell on people and the x-ray order was screwed up. I should have brought War and Peace.

From now on, when I book ANY kind of appointment, I’m going to make sure the moon is in its fingernail stage.

What do you think? Have you noticed a correlation? I bet you will now!

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Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

How think more creatively

Most of us would like to think more creatively. I would. As human beings, we dream every night and play out all kinds of creative scenes. Writing is my thing, so I want my mind to be filled with new thoughts. I love it when new characters, scenes or plot ideas pop into my head, but I wish they would appear more often. With such an over-active mind, how do I do that?

In one of my first meditation classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, I learned that up to 90% of our thoughts are old and repetitive.

Wow. I consider myself a creative thinker, so I was horrified that much of my time is wasted.

The instructor explained there are many kinds of old thoughts. The most common are negative. We play out scenes where we have felt loss or have been wounded long ago. They’re on a loop. We replay them over and over again. There is nothing we can do about these scenes. They happened. They’re in our past. Most of the time these loops make us feel bad, guilty, or fill us with regret. Not only do we hold them in our minds, we hold them in our muscles, our gut, our heart, our bones. It’s not healthy.

We think about the people in our lives that don’t understand us.

They can live in the present, but the memories imprint and then we regurgitate our latest conversations. They may be one of our acquaintances, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Their negative impact can hold us back in some way when their unkind words make us doubt ourselves. We don’t need more doubt. We have enough as it is. Everyone is on a path, but these people seem to trip us up. These “viral” loops in our brain make us feel inadequate. For some strange reason, we continue to regurgitate them anyway. We add them to our already heavy load. We are sensitive human beings.

On top of that, we have worries and fear.

Oh, my God. They are the worst. We all have them. They live in our future. We make plans and try to control what happens. A certain amount of planning is important, but what if the expectations become huge? It can paralyze us. I have held off sending emails that could further my career in writing because of the fear of a typo, an awkward sentence or a rejection. Instead, I hesitated and had to build up my confidence before pressing send.

There is also the fear of choosing the right path. What if we made a wrong turn somewhere? We may have faltered, twisted and turned around, or may have been seduced by sparkly things along the way. How do we know?

resolutions illustrationAll of these thoughts weigh us down. They take up the majority of our time. In order to free up space for creativity, we shouldn’t think about something that happened last month or ten years ago. The negative people in your life? They aren’t worth your time either. Obsessing about the future doesn’t help since it’s more out of our control than we think and it never turns out exactly how we plan, anyway. So make your plan and move along.

Sound easy? It is.

I say this because I stumbled upon part of this technique before the yoga adventure.

When I received a request for my full manuscript, I was so excited! Then I panicked. Over the previous two weeks, a few new ideas had popped into my head. There were a couple inconsistencies that needed to be fixed. Since they had bubbled up at weird times during the day, I hadn’t written them down. I couldn’t remember what they were. I was leaving town! I had a doctor’s appointment at 2:00! It was noon! I had two hours!

What would I do?

My stomach knotted while all kinds of negative thoughts popped into my head. I didn’t have time to sit and read through 370 pages, but I wanted to send it as soon as possible. Timing is everything.

I stared at my laptop on the kitchen counter and then I looked down at the rug. It was worth a try. After getting comfortable on the floor, I took a deep breath and tried to clear my frantic mind. I concentrated on my breath (this may sound weird), and stared at the insides of my eyelids. I took several deep breaths and thought about my main character. Then I drifted over (and I mean barely thought about), a few plot points and BAM! Those five corrections popped into my head.

Instead of thinking, I freed my mind and listened.

This happened because I calmed myself and stepped away from the source of stress. Breathing does that. In two three, out two three. Over and over until the heart rate slows and our brains fill with oxygen.

In the case above, I had thought about these corrections before, but only momentarily. I had been in that creative space when they were formed, so I had to get back into that level of calm and relaxed thinking in order to bring them back.

If you’re facing a brain block, sometimes it gets worse if you try to force it. That’s when we are using the wrong part of the brain. I don’t believe good books get written with the cerebral cortex. It’s too logical. Creative thinking has to come from that dreamlike state where the book flows like a movie. I write what I see in my mind’s eye.

I set aside time to write creatively and try to hit between 1000-2000 words. If I’m having a problem settling down, I do what I did when I panicked. I slow my breathing. I think about my last scene and the characters. I try to come up with the most interesting event that could happen, the worst-case scenario, or a way to reveal something new. Then I start writing.

At the festival, I learned another way to become more creative. By letting go of all those negative, unwanted, or unneeded thoughts, the brain can flow to new ideas . The process of letting go makes room for them.

Imagine them as black smoke deep inside your bones, your muscles, your gut. Breathe them out. Get rid of them. You don’t have the time for old negativity.

It’s funny, how it feels weird to let them go. It’s as if we’ve clung to them for protection, but they don’t protect us. They hurt us. They keep our wounds open, so they don’t heal.

The first three days of the festival, all of my old wounds broke wide open. It was scary, at first to be so vulnerable. I had to think about them, so I could finally release them.

Negative memories and thoughts hold us back. They undermine our confidence. We’ve learned our lessons. We don’t need reminders of misunderstandings or mistakes. They need to go back to where they belong. In our past.

resolution illustrationI thought I had to go out and fix everything by doing, but I was wrong. I needed to accept who I am and chill. Everything will ebb and flow the way it’s supposed to if we trust we are on the right path and keep working hard toward our goals. We need to quiet our minds, so we can listen to our sub-conscious thoughts, stop forcing everything to solve problems, and be.

We are human beings after all.

Are you able to let go of negative thinking? How does the creative process flow for you?


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Another inspiring post for you!


Fear of Earworms on America’s Birthday

flags at front door

Usually, I’m totally psyched about America’s Birthday. I’ve always looked forward to the 4th of July, but this year something is lurking in the back of my mind.

I am very afraid.

It all started a few weeks ago. I had an earworm. That’s not unusual. Many of us have experienced a song that got stuck in our heads, sometimes lasting for days on end.

You wake up and it starts. Later that morning, you hum the tune while in the car. The same song pops into your mind while taking a shower and at that point you may sing along.

Days later, the earworm becomes obnoxious. It torments you.  Attached like a shadow, it won’t let go. It makes itself at home. It finds a fold of gray matter, dons its headphones and tunes into one song. It smiles and stretches out. Then it does the unthinkable. That dang worm presses, REPEAT.

Most earworms don’t bother me. I’ve had old church hymns stick in my craw even though I hadn’t heard these particular songs for years.

fear of earworms on america's birthday

This was different.

I have no idea why this particular song stuck in my small cranium, but it did. Maybe I heard it sung during the NBA playoffs or the beginning of a Rockies game while flipping through channels. I don’t remember.

The Star Spangled Banner became my earworm. No lie.


It became so ridiculous, I started singing the goofy lyrics we made up when kids to make it more fun.

“Jose, can you see?…”

I know! While on our Epic Road Trip, I tuned into Pandora’s pop music list and it finally disappeared. Whew!

Now it’s the Fourth of July. I’ll actually hear it sung several times today. The thought of it seeping back into the dark folds of gray matter and stretching out like a parasitic house guest, makes me cringe.

It’s not that I don’t like the song, but I’ve probably heard it in my head a hundred times in the last few weeks. I’m over it.

I’m not sure how I’ll cover my ears and my heart at the same time. I might bring noise-canceling headphones.

This video is safe. It’s instrumental. Ha!


Happy Birthday, America! I hope you all have a safe holiday. Cover your ears, just in case.

What was your worst earworm? How did you get rid of it?

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Ready for a Wild Ride?

road tripping across the west

I’m ready. My bags are packed and the drinks are on ice. Soon, I’ll be on the road. My husband, Danny, and I will travel almost thousand miles in two days. We’ve driven more miles in less time, but plan to stop along the way.

What kind of adventures are ahead? There will be quite a few. Follow my wild ride over the next week, and you can tag along!

This is my 500th post. Woohoo! That’s a lot of Wild Rides…

Do you plan to take any road trips this summer? Where would you like to go? Any tips you’d like to share?