paranormal investigating

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!

Ghostbusters 2016: My Review

It seems that my thoughts on the latest “Ghostbusters” movie has been waited on with bated breath! I will also say that this is one of the rare times that I have made an effort to see a movie on opening weekend. I did this mainly for the fact that I didn’t want to wait to see the movie, and the two “Ghostbusters” movies are my absolute favorites. In other words, I’m a “Ghostbusters” fan girl. Yes, I’m a paranormal investigator and I love “Ghostbusters.”

First, are any of the “Ghostbusters” movies true to actual paranormal investigating? Of course not. There are a few nods to the actual practice of ghost hunting, but it’s an exaggerated portrayal to what we actually do. No, there are no proton packs. No, we can’t actually contain a real ghost. No, we don’t have the uniforms. We have t-shirts, but not the suits.

"Ghostbusters" 2016 - Columbia Pictures

“Ghostbusters” 2016 – Columbia Pictures

Okay, now that we have that out-of-the-way, I want to say this: THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME! When it was first announced that there would be a reboot of the classic movie with an all-female Ghostbusters team, there was massive skepticism. I will admit that I was uneasy about the idea. After I saw the trailer, which featured a lot of slapstick comedy, I became a little more excited, but I was still worried that the movie wouldn’t meet my expectations. Already, women in the paranormal field have a really hard time, and female-driven movies have a hard time in the entertainment industry as it is.

Let me tell you that this movie is fantastic. While it is a reboot, it is unique all on its own. There are cameos from the original “Ghostbusters” cast, and there are enough nods to the original that satisfied my inner fan girl. I got a little choked up seeing Egon’s cameo, but I won’t spoil it for anyone. It was refreshing to see Melissa McCarthy in this strong lead, as well as see Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones. But the standout star to me was Kate McKinnon, who was the perfect blend of Egon and Venkman. I can’t forget Chris Hemsworth as the HILARIOUS receptionist who isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, but he is so adorable and endearing that you can’t help but love him.

In other words, go see this movie! It is worth your ticket price and your time. Whether you like the paranormal or not, you will be entertained and talking about the movie long after you come home from the theater.

Also, make sure you stay through to the end of the credits. There is an end credits scene that will make any longtime Ghostbusters fan squeal with delight!

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments and vote in the poll!

St. Albans & ConCarolinas Coming Up!

I’m happy to announce that I will be investigating the St. Albans Sanatorium with my team, the Association of Paranormal Study, tomorrow night. For several years, I’ve been fascinated with this location and the history behind it. Along with CORE, we will be joined by our Meetup members. Keep an eye on my Facebook pages like Alex Matsuo and my team’s Facebook page. Live tweets will also be sent from @alexmatsuo and @AssocParaStudy!

And next weekend, I will be heading to Charlotte, NC for ConCarolinas 2016, where I will be attending as a guest for the third year in a row! My schedule will be posted soon, and I can’t wait to see everyone!

The Performance of Ghost Hunting, Part I

This is a two-part post about my studies into the relationship between performance and the act of ghost hunting.

Ghostlight-30_webA performance is typically defined as an event where there is someone who is presenting something, and there are a group of people observing. This definition of performance is not limited to only theatres or television and movies. A performance can take place at nearly any time of day at any kind of location. Performances can happen at school with the popular crowd, and they can happen at ghost hunts. Scholars have written thousands of book on performance studies and there are even degrees dedicated to the discipline. As a society that is ever growing and changing on a regular basis, there are so many different types of performances out there that appease almost every person out there. From traditional musicals that warm the heart, to the heart-wrenching dramas that influence someone to call their mother to tell them they love her, to the soul shattering avant-garde performance that makes you analyze what it means to be human….performance is an essential part of our existence that is necessary in order for us to survive and thrive.

Before we dive into the performance of ghost hunting, let us take a moment to consider the relationship between performance and spirituality. The earliest roots in theatre lie in ancient Greece in something called, “ritual reenactment”. Back before theatre and performance was established, the ancient Greeks wanted to honor the gods by telling stories of their greatness. This initially began as “oral tradition” where someone would dramatically tell stories of the gods, with an audience watching. The audience would then become performers themselves and spreading the stories around like wildfire. With ritual reenactment, these early performances including singing hymns and performing some kind of movement.

To keep this along the lines of being the abridged version, the villages and tribes began to compete with each other by adding costumes, live music, and written texts in their performances for the gods. One could argue that the original audiences were the gods, and the transition from performing for them to performing to fellow humans was one of the breakthrough moments in the creation of live theatre. Overall, theatre is a very spiritual experience, which the philosopher Aristotle argued that it was needed for the purposes of catharsis, meaning the purging of emotions. If you have ever cried during a movie, you had a cathartic experience. Catharsis was seen as a necessity for cleansing the soul.

With the thought in mind that theatre was originally intended to be spiritual and for the gods as a gift, is it a surprise that there are rumors about theatres being haunted in the first place. Some of my favorite cliché ghost stories come from the urban legend of haunted theatres from the spurned woman in white who lost her chance to be on the stage to the Macbeth curse causing shenanigans in each production, there is a strong connection there. Until the media came into existence with television and film, theatre was the vehicle for expressing society’s belief in the paranormal, and you can watch that belief evolve over time by just analyzing the plays from each time period.

I suppose that the title of this article can be misleading, as it is not an article on how to perform a paranormal investigation or ghost hunt, there are enough of those books out there on the market. Instead, it is a venture into a theory that theatre people, whether they are actors, tenant, directors, dancers, etc. they are inadvertently capturing the attention of the ghosts and causing a performance from both the living and the dead. Artistic people are interesting enough on their own, and I would not be surprised if a ghost chose to attempt communication with an artistic person over someone whose not. I will say that artists are very open-minded to the world around. Could they be lifting a psychic wall around them and making them more vulnerable to having some sort of communication with the other side? If you were dead, and you couldn’t find a way to communicate with the living, and you found someone who could hear you, wouldn’t you do whatever you could muster up to catch their attention? The answer is probably yes. But this isn’t a performance. That is the lost seeking out a solution. When the situation is reversed, and there is someone trying to communicate with a deceased person, the ghost isn’t able to communicate in the way that they used to in life, so they have to pull out the dramatic displays in order to get their point across. I would imagine that this is an extremely frustrating endeavor.

The most obvious example of performances in ghost hunting is in paranormal reality shows that became increasingly popular in the early 21st century. It is a far cry from ritual reenactment and the once cathartic experience that was the performance space. I think perhaps the reason why for this widespread popularity was the fact that the paranormal is an unknown area of knowledge. You can’t get a college degree in paranormal studies and many people who do come forward with experiences in the public eye are portrayed as being insane and not to be taken seriously. At the end of the day, these production companies need to make money. You make money by drawing in an audience, and you keep that audience by continuing to make your show entertaining. I won’t say that the “paratainment” business has sullied the investigation field, but instead, has brought exposure to the paranormal and hopefully making people more open-minded about the existence of ghosts. In the last ten years, there has also been a dramatic rise in the number of ghost tours at numerous haunted locations, where a group of people will go ghost hunting for a night while locked in a building with a guide. The paranormal reached a new height when it came to monetizing the potential interactions with the dead, which many people pay big money for. But because the factor of money is now included in the experience, I have to wonder if along with tickets being paid, if there was an expectation of goods to be delivered (such as a paranormal experience). In turn, does this turn ghosts into entertainers? And if so, what does this mean for the ghosts at the Tenth should Jeff decide to move forward with the guided ghost tours?

I would like to say that my investigations and research into the building have not subjected the ghosts into being put into a situation where they are being asked to perform tricks, since I don’t expect them to ever perform for me. If they choose not to communicate, while I may be disappointed, I acknowledge that it is their right to not talk. But another researcher from the outside looking in may have a different opinion. Where is that fine line between requesting communication and asking the ghosts to essentially perform tricks? I suppose that it is all in the eye of the beholder and the ghosts that are being placed in that situation. If you were to ask me what my long-term goal was for the Tenth, it would be that someday the most prestigious researchers in the paranormal and psychic phenomenon visit the Tenth. I would love to be able to secure the building for a weekend (at the very least) and let these researchers loose in the building and see what comes of it.

Performers, in terms of actors, dancers, musicians, and artists, seem to be completely different people compared to business professionals or those who don’t consider themselves to be artistically minded. For example, let us go back to the Ganzfeld experiment, which is the sensory deprivation experiment that leads to the altered state of consciousness. There was a study conducted in 1992 where the American Society for Psychical Research used twenty of the most gifted students from the Julliard School in New York City and put them through the sender-receiver experiment. The results were extraordinary because there was a success rate of 50%, which was double the success expectation rate. The facilitators of the experiment, Charles Honorton and Marilyn Schlitz then used eight musicians for the remainder of the experiment. Six out of the eight students either had direct hits or a 75% success rate. Again, these are extraordinary results. The theory behind this success rate was due to the participants; especially the musicians have a dissociated state of mind. Very much like meditation, being dissociated is very much like the feeling of being on autopilot and disconnecting from the outside word. According to John G. Kruth, the executive director of the Rhine Research Center, jazz musicians who often improvise their music will go into this state as they play, channeling the environment around them as they make up their own tune. What would happen if we allowed a bunch of actors to go in and ghost hunt for a night? What kind of results would come up from the night? If we go by the results of the study of the Julliard students and the Ganzfeld experiment, it seems as though there could be potential of a productive interaction with the ghosts.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for part two coming later this week.