Paranormal

RECAP: Ravens & Crows with Daryl Marston 11/15/18

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/liveparanormal/2018/11/16/darly-marston-on-ravens-crows-on-liveparanormalcom

On Thursday, November 15th, 2018 at 8pm ET, I had the pleasure of having Daryl Marston of The American Ghost Hunter Show & Breaking Paranormal on the show. We talked about some great stuff including his work with ParanormalWarehouse.com, hauntings during the holidays, and even shared a few laughs about different shenanigans that occur during paranormal investigations!

How I Survived My First Paranormal Investigation with Diabetes

This may not be a big deal for some, but it was to me. I was diagnosed with diabetes in July 2018. Still trying to figure out exactly what type I am.  Thankfully, there’s a glimmer of hope in solving the mystery.

Anyway, since my diagnosis, I’ve had to be extremely cautious of what I put in my mouth. I flip-flop between eating keto, dirty keto, reduced carb, etc. since looking at a carb seems to spike my blood sugar. I took a brief hiatus from ghost hunts and other paranormal investigations since my blood sugar was going crazy as I was adjusting. My first paranormal investigation as a diabetic wasn’t until September 29th, so I had time.

The biggest change for me was how much more I had to prepare before the investigation. Packing equipment and making a plan is tedious enough. But then I had to consider the following supplies:

  • Glucose tablets
  • Glucagon Kit
  • Blood Sugar Meter
  • Snacks
  • Caffeine
  • Water
  • Stress Level
  • Insulin
  • Oral meds

You’ll often see sweets and salty carb-centric snacks at a paranormal investigation. I couldn’t eat any of that. The food I was going to eat was going to have to be protein centric. I did end up eating some Pringles chips since that didn’t spike me as much as regular potato chips. But besides that, it was all beef jerky, boiled eggs, etc. Also, I couldn’t eat anything with sugar, and it’s no longer an option for me to get energy.

Speaking of energy, the other issue was caffeine. I could drink coffee, but I had to be really careful because I didn’t want to cause chaos in my blood sugar numbers. I usually drink Diet Coke for caffeine anyway. But, if I don’t drink enough water these days, my sugars will spike. So, I have to do a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part Diet Coke. Obviously, this also causes an inconvenience as it makes me have to use the bathroom a lot. If I started to spike, I had to chug water.

I had to also make time to take my medications. I actually forgot to take a round of oral meds, which could have been a disaster. I ended up remembering later than I wanted, which pushed back my round of insulin. So, for the future, I’m going to have to set an alarm for myself.

The other issue I was concerned with was what would happen if my blood sugar dropped. I had to let one of my team members know where they could find my meter, glucose tablets, and medication. I also have to train them all in using a glucagon kit. In the event I had to be taken to the hospital, I made sure that my prescription paperwork was on hand. It was weird to have to do so much prep work just for myself.

Also, stress can cause blood sugars to rise. Besides the investigation, my team and I were also putting on a fundraiser for the Trivette Clinic and I found myself in the middle of a spike and a dizzy spell right as the event was starting. I made friends with the wall and anything that was nearby I could use for balance.  Fear can certainly stress anyone out, but luckily, the Trivette Clinic isn’t haunted by anything that is volatile or malevolent so I wasn’t afraid.

Lack of sleep can also mess with my blood sugar. Considering that ghost hunts typically happen at night, I had to do a check whenever I started feeling off.

Besides a few spikes and running high, I survived. I’m annoyed that I have to have such a contingency plan from now on. But it’s better to make this plan now instead of having my team members not know what to do should I pass out or I spike to a dangerous number like 600. 

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, or crazy blood sugars (for now).

Ghost Hunting Tips for Newbies

Congratulations! You have decided to step into a unique world of mystery, suspense, and even a little spook. Probably one of the most popular questions I get as a seasoned paranormal investigator is, “I’m going on my first ghost hunt, what do I do?” I love helping people prepare for their first ghost hunt. It’s almost like a right of passage! If you google what to do for your first ghost hunt, you’ll find a lot of good stuff. I’m not trying to trump on anyone’s good advice. But, I do have my own little “to do” list that will help you have the best time you can have!

Respect

First and foremost, respect the location you’re investigating. Respect the deceased that you’re trying to communicate with. Follow the rules of the venue and the group that you’re in. The quickest way to get kicked out of a ghost hunt, let alone some angry spirit coming after you, is to be disrespectful.

Self-Assess

Before you commit to any sort of ghost hunt, you need to decide what you want out of the experience. Do you want to get scared? Do you want to learn some history? Do you want to try to find proof of the afterlife? Are you trying to contact someone in particular? Just answering simple questions like this can help you gain a better understanding of what you want out of the experience. If you’re someone who gets scared easily, read reviews of the location before you go. Read some of the legends and experiences people have had. Is this something you can handle? If not, perhaps looking into a more benevolent location might be better. If you feel you’re ready, then you know what your limits are and when to give yourself a break.

Know Where You’re Going

Being familiar with your location is key before going on a ghost hunt. If the company you’re working with wants to keep it a surprise until the night of, all hope is not lost. Ask them what kind of environment you’ll be ghost hunting in. Is it a house? Will you have to hike? Will you be outside? If there’s any part of the ghost hunt that will take place outside, then be sure you’re ready for whatever weather is on the forecast that night.  Not only that, but find out how the roads are. There have been times I’ve almost damaged my car from driving on rugged terrain in my little sedan when my ride buddy had a jeep left at home. If the location is going to be in the dark night in the woods, then flashlights are a must. Closed-toe shoes are also a must. Speaking of the woods, going through any bushes and trees will warrant wearing some jeans just so you avoid any poisonous plants. I also advise people to not wear all black if they can avoid it. I’ve heard of many ghost hunters getting hit by cars at night because the driver couldn’t see them since they were wearing all black.

Tech

This is another area where I get a lot of questions. I always tell people that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. Part of the ghost hunting experience is collecting evidence, or as I prefer to call it, data. It means you could be recording audio on a recorder, or taking video of your experience. The one thing that people forget is that if you take in 4 hours of data on your audio recorder and 4 hours of data on your camcorder, you have 8 hours worth of data to go through. If data collection is what you want to do, that’s fantastic. If the thought of this is daunting, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do tech-free just so you can have that experience.  Some of the earliest ghost hunters only had a pen and paper to jot down notes.

Pack Smart

If you’re going on a ghost hunt that will last longer than 4 hours, you might need to pack some food provisions to get through the night. Everyone will usually default to packing sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks. However, that will cause your blood sugar to spike, and then you’ll experience a crash…which will be counterproductive if you want to stay up for several hours. Protein-filled snacks, veggies, and water will be necessary to get through the evening.

Food aside, packing flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit should be in any ghost hunter’s survival kit. Even if the location is indoors, you never know when you might get a scratch or miss your footing and get injured.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential to enjoying the ghost hunting experience. Sure, eventually you’re going to get tired. But if you push yourself beyond being sleepy, you will start to see and hear things that aren’t really there. Sleep deprivation can cause some interesting hallucinations and can be similar to the feeling of being drunk. It could compromise your ability to understand your surroundings. Something simple and logical could get interpreted as something paranormal. If you feel tired, there is no shame in taking a cat nap. I try to get at least eight hours of sleep the night before an investigation along with a nap during the day.

Research

This can go in two different directions. Some people want to research the location as much as possible before an investigation. They do this so that they know exactly what is going on at a haunted location. They will know the names of who is reportedly haunting and be able to use contextual questions to establish communication. Meanwhile, other people don’t want to know anything before going in. This is so that they don’t “taint” themselves with previous information. Many with psychic abilities may opt to do this.

Abilities

If you feel like you have psychic or mediumship abilities, then you’ll need to prepare for another aspect. Numerous times, I’ve noticed people get overwhelmed during an investigation. When I talk to them to try to help them, they reveal to me that they have abilities and they got overwhelmed by the experience. To avoid this, if you’re completely new to the world of having abilities, I recommend that you learn how to ground and shield. There are some great articles to help you learn this.  Having the best understanding of your abilities before your ghost hunt will be key to you having a good ghost hunting experience.

Ask the Right Questions

With each ghost hunt, you’ll probably hear a few suggestions for questions to ask. But, there is a trick to asking the right questions that will create a welcoming environment for communication. You want to keep questions simple, but also smart. One of my pet peeve questions is, “Do you know you’re dead?” Something as simple as asking for a name is better. Knowing the history of the location in terms of important dates in its existence (ie: wars, presidential inaugurations, world events, etc.). Stacking questions can create problems as well. That is when you ask several questions in the same stream of speaking. An example of a stacking question would be, “What’s your name? Where are you from? How old are you?” If asked by themselves, these questions are fine. But asking them in the same line of questioning, it will result in confusion. Finally, be sure to leave 10-15 seconds of silence after each question to give the entity time to produce an answer.

Be Safe

At the end of the day, you want to be safe. That is the number one priority in any ghost hunting experience. You don’t want to try anything that could compromise your health and safety.  You have most likely signed a liability release form, which means that if you get injured, then you’ll have to cover those expenses yourself. While it may be tempting to climb into the attic or ignore the “Keep Out” signs in order to explore another part of the haunted house, a lot of things could happen. The floor might give out, you might inhale bat guano, or you encounter an unexpected injury. Ultimately, you want to put safety first.

If you have any other tips for a successful ghost hunt for a newbie, please share them in the comments!

Death: A Faithful Companion

You would think that after surviving a car accident over 10 years ago, I would be well aware that one could die at any moment. But instead, I think that accident made me feel immortal in a way. What were the odds I would survive that accident? I should have died. But I got by with several broken bones, a surgery, and months of physical therapy. Yes, I had a weird experience on that night, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, I hadn’t thought about my own death that much. Even when I’m looking for ghosts, that’s someone else’s death…not mine.

For some reason, in 2013, as if that year wasn’t messed up enough already, it hit me.

I’m going to die someday.

With this newfound fear, and yes it is a fear, it has changed the way that I approach paranormal investigating. First, I really REALLY want that confirmation that there is life after death. Second, when I pass I want someone to talk to me like I’m a person and not a blip on a gadget. Third, I can feel death looming around me when I’m investigating or in some location where a lot of death has taken place.

I’m not saying that death is a conscious being that is following me around. But there has been a consistent vibe that I’ll feel when I’m in a location that has seen a lot of death. The vibe has been the same from the time I walked into my mom’s trailer after she died to visiting a location like Old South Pittsburg Hospital where people passed. I even get that feeling when I’m a Duke sometimes, knowing that there are people dying every minute and there are bodies in the morgue.

I visualize death as a personification of the life I’ve lived. As I survive each day, a page is added to my book of life. I see death as this faithful companion who is with me and on my mind each day; reminding me that it’s waiting for me.

Of course, I was also raised Christian and taught to believe that we will indeed survive and go to heaven once our time here is over. I want to believe it…I truly do. But between my interactions with some not-so-perfect Christians and seeing how unfair life can be (example: kids dying from cancer), I question my faith all the time. If there is a heaven, awesome. If not, what is waiting for us? In this case, death is the door…the door that remains unlocked and is waiting for us to open.

I just hope it’s not nothingness and ceasing to exist. But, I feel like it is likely identical to falling asleep. You don’t know you’re asleep, and you’re not aware of yourself. You don’t remember when you fell asleep, just like we will likely not be aware when death finally does come to collect the debt.

This Little Light of Mine

If you know me well, which most of you do, if you had to name two things I love it would be theatre and the paranormal. Theatre has been a part of my life for over 20 years, and it isn’t going anywhere soon. The paranormal found me, so to speak, and it’s been at the forefront of my mind since I was a kid. Regardless of where I end up in life, those two things will always be important to me.

I will say 99% of the people in these communities are amazing and fantastic. But that 1%…not so much. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It just means our personalities are quite different and it wasn’t a good mix. However, that 1% has gone out of their way to hurt and break my spirit it seems. Like, they need to put me in my place.

Why does that 1% get more attention than the other 99% who are amazing to me? Maybe it’s because I once trusted them? I need to stop focusing so much on the people who have hurt me. I’ve noticed a pattern with those who end up hurting me, and it usually goes along like this:

  • They aggressively insert themselves into my life to become my friend
  • They do a lot of favors for me
  • In turn, they expect me to go to bat for them in ridiculous circumstances because of said favors
  • When I can’t deliver or don’t meet their standards when I do go to bat for them, they leave quite dramatically
  • Thus follows about a year’s worth of petty drama and a one-sided pissing contest

Now that I’ve noticed the signs early on, I’m usually pretty good at picking this up. When this happens, I divert myself away from the person as soon as possible. But what happened to giving people chances? Nope. Not doing it anymore.

I’ve put myself out there to the extent now that my light faded for a bit. But, it’s time to let that shine. If that means certain people aren’t invited to the party, so be it. I’d rather have just 1-2 friends who are awesome than 50+ friends who take advantage of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities for their personal gain.

Let your light shine, and don’t you dare let someone else put it out.

Remember What is Imminent

I love cemeteries. Not in a spooky sort of way, but instead I find them a fascinating place. As you walk the grounds of a cemetery, there are hundreds of people beneath your feet. These people used to be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, husbands, wives, and friends. They each have a story of their own to tell, and many of their stories have been whisked away by the cruelty of time.

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Grave marker in the road at El Campo Santa cemetery in Old Town San Diego.

When I go to a cemetery, I’m pretty solemn. I take time to look and pay my respects to as many people as I can. Why? For they have embarked upon a journey that I am so nervous about; death. As we know, death is imminent. It’s going to happen to all of us, but we don’t know when or how it will come to us. Perhaps it will be a car accident, or a bout with a serious illness. Who knows?

Death not only makes me uneasy, but becoming anonymous in time also makes me nervous. I’m already well aware of how insignificant I am in comparison to this vast universe, but I still want my story to be known after I’m gone. I’m sure the people interred and buried in the cemeteries probably had similar thoughts while they were alive. And yet, here they are, with their names on headstones with few words to tell their story.

Different cultures view cemeteries in their own way, and I find it beautiful. In some places, you’ll find people having picnics and letting their kids play among the headstones. In other places, you’ll find people in mourning and solemn. Both are okay.

One of my favorite places in San Diego was Pioneer Park. There, you’ll see a clump of headstones in the back corner of the park, along with some suspicious sinkholes throughout the lawn. In classic “Poltergeist” dramatics, they moved the headstones but not the bodies. In Old Town San Diego, the El Campo Santo Cemetery is one of the oldest in the city, and it was shrunken down when the road was developed. This meant they paved over the bodies. All that is left to mark where the bodies lie are spikes in the pavement and sidewalk.

Pioneer Park, San Diego

Pioneer Park, San Diego

So where does that put us in the timeline of the human race? Are we destined to be remembered for the first 50-100 years of our life, and then doomed to be paved over with a road above us with a simple spike to mark our location, or even have our tombstones moved and our final resting place turned into a park. But by the time that happens, our immediate family and even a generation or two of descendants might not even care. We will probably stop caring at the moment of our last breath because, hey, we’re dead. If consciousness doesn’t survive, then that’s it. We’re just a body. If our consciousness survives and we indeed have an afterlife, will this bother us?

After moving to Raleigh, NC and having southern cemeteries more accessible to me, I found a world of difference in how this part of the United States deals with death. For example, Oakwood Cemetery is massive. Then there is City Cemetery and Mount Hope Cemetery, all created to help deal with the growing numbers of bodies, and to give people a final resting place who weren’t treated well or respected in life. The design is quite beautiful and dramatic, and something I hadn’t encountered in the cemeteries in California where your final resting place might be a sacrifice to urban development.

As a paranormal investigator, I find cemeteries to be really quiet, and not at all very haunted. If you were a ghost, would you want to stick around your final resting place, or would you want to go out and explore the world, maybe even scare the bejesus out of a few people? When I take people on tours, I try to uphold cemetery etiquette as best I can and keep everything as respectful as one can be. At the end of the day, we still have to respect people regardless of whether they are alive or dead. It means being discreet if you want to try spirit communication, not messing with the tombs or headstones, moving flowers, screaming, yelling, drinking, debauchery, etc.

Whatever adventure lies ahead of us after our time of living has completed, I hope it’s as peaceful as cemeteries make it seem.

3 Years Ago I Thought My Life was Ruined

“I’m gonna take a deep breath.
Gonna hold my head up.
Gonna put my shoulders back,
And look you straight in the eye.
I’m gonna flirt with somebody
When they walk by.
I’m gonna sing out . . .
Sing out.”
On this day, three years ago, someone who I thought was a friend did something awful. About a month after I moved to Raleigh, before July 23rd I found myself newly single because my ex couldn’t take the drama anymore associated with my job. Then on the evening of July 23rd, 2013, I found out on Facebook fan page that I was now unemployed after a month long of silence and dealing with a gag order placed on me, taking the brunt of some God awful online bullying, and thousands of miles away from any support system I had. I thought my life was completely ruined. I was sitting alone in an apartment full of boxes and I couldn’t stop crying. After taking phone calls from people checking on me, I had to pick myself off the floor. Music had always been a form of therapy, and the first song I found myself listened to was “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. In the midst of my tears, I told myself that I would get through this and be a stronger person from the experience. I was at my lowest point. My mother came into town within a day to help me through it. I cried every day over the whole ordeal for a good 6 months. I gained weight. I nearly gave up on myself.
Well, it’s taken about three years, but I’m finally okay. After losing that job, getting publicly mocked and slandered on Twitter by grown adults, becoming nearly homeless, and having people who SWORE to be my friend turn their backs on me, it ended up being the best damn thing that ever happened to me. It was in that moment that I made the decision to continue to work on my book, and take it one day at a time. Things were so bad that I considered suicide. But for my mother’s sake, I made a promise to just take it one day at a time and find an outlet to work through the feelings of pain, betrayal, confusion, and self-loathing. Had I not worked on that book, The Haunted Actor, I wouldn’t have become a published author with The Haunting of the Tenth Avenue Theater. I wouldn’t have met the incredible people from the con scene, and I wouldn’t have met the incredible women who make up my team in NC. I lost a lot on July 23, 2013, but I have gained so much since then. I never thought I could live off of full-time writing, but it has happened. I never thought I could find love again, but it has happened. I never thought I would be living off of my passion for theatre, but it has happened.
“I believe I have inside of me
Everything that i need to live a bountiful life.
With all the love alive in me
I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree.
And I’m thankful for everyday that I’m given,
Both the easy and hard ones I’m livin'”
Was the journey easy? No. I lost my mother about a year and a half ago. My mother was my biggest cheerleader, and I still feel the void every day. It’s not getting any easier, I’ve become more accustomed to the loss and getting used to it.
On Saturday night, July 23rd, 2016, I got to see The Color Purple on Broadway. It feels like this chapter of my life has come full circle, and now I’m celebrating. As I watched Danielle Brooks rock it as Sofia, Cynthia Ervio sing her heart out and receive standing ovations, and Heather Headley (a Broadway legend) sing within a few feet from me, I thought about a lyric from the show, “Look what God has done…” and savored every minute of it. Then, tonight, I’ll be seeing Hamilton, which has become a show that has meant so much to me. Hamilton has really hit it home for me that we have a limited time here, and I need to do something big to positively impact the world around me. Whether it’s telling the stories of people around me through writing and acting, or helping those less fortunate through volunteer work and donating to charity, the story I want to leave behind holds love, truth, friendship, and family.
For the first time in three years, I can afford to go on not just one, but several vacations. I’m back on track with my student loans, if not better than before. My income is better than it ever has been before. My team is doing great, and overall, things are so wonderful. Had I not had that devastating moment three years ago, I wouldn’t have the incredible blessings that I have today. I’ve learned a lot, cried a lot, bled a lot…well, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve made so many new friends and have a family here in NC. From my team members; Beth, Amy, Maeve, Amanda, to the theatre community, they have all blessed my life so much.
If you’re going through an awful time right now, while it may not seem like it, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve also learned that the people who try to work against you finally get their comeuppance. You may not like the timing, but it eventually happens. The universe has a way of evening things out to restore balance.
“But most of all
I’m thankful for
Loving who i really am.
I’m beautiful.
Yes, I’m beautiful,
And I’m here”