Real Women Have Curves (and other ridiculii)

As human beings we are predisposed to be opinionated; to be judgmental. When we see something that doesn’t fit in with our opinion of ‘right’ we tend to believe the other person must be in the ‘wrong’.  I don’t believe there are many of us who could actually say that we do not think or have thought this way at some point in our lives. Afterall, we all have life experience… and our opinions on how life should be lived “correctly” are based solely on our own personal experiences. The fact that we can recognize this thought pattern however, can be enough to change our perspectives.

In many cases we do not voice our opinions/judgments of others. The thoughts stay lodged in our brains; filed away on some imaginary tally sheet for future reference. With the popularity of social media sites, however, our thoughts are being heard like never before.

Every day we are bombarded with posts and news about our peers, celebrities, politicians, etc. Most if not all of the posts are written with the opinion of the author being the deciding factor in whether or not the information will be positive or negative with very little focus on the facts.  We as a society have gotten to a point where we even search for our own motivation and validations within judgmental memes and photos. How many times have you seen a post with the line: “A real man [fill in the blank with whatever the author is or prefers]”, A real woman has [fill in blank with whatever the author is or prefers]”?  I was always under the impression that the X and Y chromosomes decided whether you were a “real” man or woman (and with today’s technological advances, even that is no longer true), not our peers.

Why is it we as a society feel the need to be “right” and deem others “wrong”? The only logical explanation that I can see is that as a whole we are a society of insecurity. It is a hard truth to swallow, but isn’t all logical explanation? Think about it. It is important to us to feel that the way that we choose to live our lives is the “right” way. It’s important to feel that the values we hold dearly are also held dear by our peers. It is important to feel as though we are accepted by others. We are constantly looking to prove ourselves to everyone else and if it takes showing others that you are ‘better’ than someone else than so be it. At least you aren’t the butt in this joke, right? Survival of the fittest? What happened to United We Stand, Divided We Fall?

As we struggle to constantly prove ourselves to everyone we fail to remember that the most important person that needs to accept us as we are… is us. Once we accept ourselves for who we truly are, the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly, it’s possible that we won’t feel the need to make judgments of others for how they live their lives.

It takes less than a second to realize when you are making a harsh judgement of someone else but to reframe the thought takes much more effort. The next time you find yourself thinking negatively of someone for their appearance, financial situation or shortcomings try to stop the thought. Remind yourself that you may or may not know this person’s entire story. Try to put yourselves in their shoes. How would you feel if you were on the other end of the thought? Ask yourself why you are concerned with another person’s life choices. Is it because you actually admire a trait they have that you do not? Understand that your negative opinion of this person does not benefit you in any way… the little jolt of self esteem when you determine you are worth more than another human will be very brief. Consider the fact that every one of us in the entire world has a few things in common. The hierarchy of human life only exists because we allow it and we don’t strive to improve it.

Opinions will never cease… but judgments can. The more often we are able to catch ourselves in a judgmental thought and evaluate it, the less frequent they will become. I challenge everyone to try it (myself included). Let’s try to love ourselves and understand one another rather than prove our dominance. How much better could everyone’s lives be without seeing/hearing/feeling the negative thoughts on a daily basis?

All That She Is…

It’s LJ Idol competition time again! I took a ‘bye’ last week due to time constraints but I’m back! (I’m allowed 2  more byes during the course of the competition). This week’s topic is “Build A Better Mousetrap”. My fiance gave me a great idea of how to use the idea of a mousetrap and change it into something much less literal. So this week I’ll once again be reaching into my past with the paranormal and my favorite ‘haunted’ hotel 🙂 What souls might be ‘trapped’ there? Read on to find out!!

She’s a beautiful thing, really. A timeless masterpiece. I cannot look at her without having to catch my breath. Sure, she’s starting to show her age, her exterior beginning to fade and crumble… she is afterall 117 years old. But, she’s beautiful.

The first time I stood outside of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, FL I could feel the energy pouring from her. I entered the doors to the sound of a grand piano playing and the excited chatter of well-dressed tourists. As I roamed the halls, passing the bustling ice cream shoppe, the numerous ballrooms and large staircases I felt as if I had been transported to another era. The Biltmore, though catering to all of the modern amenities that we are used to, remained an elegant slice of history that refused to be forgotten. I was in love.

I was there that night for the first of many ‘ghost tours’ I would go on. Unlike many ghost tours, this was not just a history lesson or led by someone dressed up in a silly period costume. This tour was put on by a group of paranormal investigators out of Orlando, FL that frequently did tours and investigations of reported haunted locations within central Florida. The group shared photos that members of their tours had taken and let us know of some of the more allegedly active places within the hotel. (On that first tour I took an odd photograph that I’ll place at the end of this entry. I won’t say what I find odd about it… you can judge for yourself.)

After a few months of regularly attending tours the group was offering an overnight investigation. This was the night that I’d affirm my beliefs that the Biltmore hotel had not only captured my heart but also trapped something within it’s walls that many could not see.

My aunt Martha attended the investigation with me along with a group of about 10 other people. We entered onto the 4th floor of the hotel that was closed off to the public. Behind the locked doors, in pitch blackness, laid the skeletal remains of a once booming hotel. The floors were bare of carpet, in many places the wood planks were broken or missing. Dust lined all of the walls, toilets and sinks were filled with rust and the doors to the rooms were removed from their hinges. It could have been the atmosphere, or something unseen, but the feeling of suppression in the air was stifling.

Walking down the silent hallways with only the light of our flashlights to lead the way we went into each room. Snapping photos and carrying voice recorders… all hopeful that we’d find some sort of evidence of a spiritual realm. After about a half hour of exploring the west wing of the fourth floor it didn’t seem there would be much activity. We reconvened in the center of the hallway for an EVP session before heading to the east wing. As we stood in a circle, our backs to the gaping doorways of the empty rooms we began to ask questions.

“Is there anyone here with us?”

“Why do you stay here?” 

We began to hear random noises from down the hallway. A knock here, a scratch there… it seemed there was movement happening all around us. Members of our group began to say that they were feeling the temperature drop. That’s when I had my first experienced of being ‘touched’. I clearly remember the pressure against the back of my thigh. It happened very quickly. I assumed my aunt was trying to quietly get my attention but as I turned to her, her arms were crossed and she was looking toward the end of the hallway. I turned to look behind me and noticed I was standing directly in front of an open doorway. Moments later, a self-proclaimed medium in our group said “There are children here.” She claimed that there were small children walking around us and she began talking to them. As I began to think about the positioning of where I had felt the pressing on my leg and the size of the area I became very convinced that I may have been touched by the energy of a small child. In my mind I could easily envision a child standing behind me and peering out from behind my legs to view what was happening in the center of the circle. It certainly could be my imagination running away with me, but for me, it was and is still reality.

The night continued on with many more interesting experiences though none directly affecting me.  The ‘medium’ in our group claimed to channel the disembodied spirit of a widow who committed suicide upon hearing her new husband had been killed in an accident. I am quite skeptical when it comes to ‘psychics’ or ‘mediums’, but it is hard to deny that a person who begins sobbing uncontrollably is feeling an overwhelming emotion. To experience someone feeling this emotion in total darkness, in an empty shell of hotel hallway, the sound of her waling bouncing off the walls can be unsettling to say the least. Another group of people investigating the hotel were investigating the tunnels that run below the hotel and heard a very loud scream which they were able to capture on a recording. There were stories from some of the investigators of being pushed as well.

By all accounts, if you believe in the supernatural, it would seem that there are many souls that still reside at the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, whether by choice or by entrapment. The most unsettling part of this tale for me however, is the current state of the hotel. The hotel has been closed since 2009. Developers say that it will cost millions to repair and preserve the historic icon. Many developers want to demolish the building and build homes on the land.  This hasn’t sat well with the community nor those of us who love her and numerous groups have fought the developers on every level. I pray these groups continue the fight and that I, one day, will be able to enjoy her and all that she houses again.

Photo of a hallway from my first tour (this hallway was not closed off to the public, tho under renovation.) This is an enlarged image so it is a bit grainy, but I have not added any filters. Also, I am not referring to any orbs in the photo… I do not feel orbs are very often proof of anything other than dust, moisture in the air, or bugs.
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Random photos from The Belleview Biltmore Hotel:
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