1000 Moons

Some Girls Wander by Mistake

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No one ever touches the weird girl!! Ever……..but here I was being rubbed for luck, hugged, and even patted on the back. When did I join the human race?

 

Well, apparently it happened on July 11th, 2017, the day I won $1000 a week for life. Here’s the story published in The Hamilton Spectator : Stars Align for Hamilton lottery winner

 

That lucky lottery ticket was not only a gift from the Universe, but also a VIP pass into a bizarre, unknown and maybe even privileged world I had yet to meet.

 

All anguish and worry I first held about people finding out was quickly forgotten after receiving message after message with kind words and praises from people who were close, family and even some acquaintances  that I hardly knew. I even had a couple of congratulatory Facebook posts from a couple of my music heroes.

 

The only way to explain the elation I felt was to say it was looking down at my own funeral and hearing the lovely eulogies and heartfelt odes. Even now, I wonder if this was the true gift to me…..Can we be honest? I have suffered from depression for most of my life and sometimes my thoughts are very dark. This was the first time, without calling for help that I knew, in my heart, how much people cared. Sure, I’m positive there are some people rolling in their grave cursing me, cemetery dirt encrusted on their rotten teeth. Well those who think I’m undeserving should really be having a party right now with my inner voices. But thankfully the majority of what I heard was sweet, warmhearted and loving. For that, I am most grateful!

 

I quickly realized is that not only were the people in my circle kind, they were also curious. I started this blog to talk about my experience winning cash for life, as well as to keep a journal of the adventures to follow.

 

 

Much luck and love to you and yours.

 

 

 

I have always been intrigued by wolves. Books, such as Women Who Run with the Wolves inspired me, tales, such as the Capitoline she-wolf, intrigued me, and of course there were all those werewolf movies I grew up on! There’s no doubt I was eager to visit a wolf pack that was within a day’s drive from my own home.

 

The Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre is a 3.5-hour drive from Toronto, just south of the Algonquin highlands, and in one of the most spectacular woodland settings I have seen. The centre has made an extreme effort to keep the environment as natural as possible for the wolves, with 15 acres of forest for the pack to roam. Having said that, once you are there, it is never guaranteed that you will see the wolf pack, but they do feed them near the observation deck, so eventually they will return. They also have live video feeds from different areas of the wolf enclosure (in worst case scenario). So, the best thing to do is to make a day of it, if the wolves aren’t there in the morning you can come back later and check again. The beautiful landscape, plethora of lakes, and close proximity to some very cool graveyards make it an ideal location to explore.

 

We were lucky, the wolf pack was right in front of the observation deck and very active when we arrived!

 

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“To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul- hope you like what you see.”
-Aldo Leopold

 

When my eyes locked with the golden eyes of a large black wolf my heart almost stopped and every hair on my body stood up on end~ hackles arched! It was a mixture of excitement, fear, respect and love all rolled into one heavy knot of anticipation lodged in the pit of my stomach.

 

When I say we met eyes, it should have been impossible, since the observation area is a large round room encased with one-way, ceiling to floor, sound-proof (or so we thought) windows. You are able to hear the wolves interact with each other through speakers in the room.  But, my friend and I were surprised when a wolf would turn to look at us right at the snap of a shutter. They could not only sense we were there, but I believe they could pinpoint the exact location of my pounding heart if they wanted to. I believe that they were so aware of human presence that when a group of children ran up to the glass, the wolves would saunter closer to the window, pacing the area in front of the children while picking up old bones and noshing them with pleasure. This is not to represent the wolves as savage beasts, but only to display their vigorous power as predators. The encounter felt wild and untamed, in the most beautiful way.

 

 

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We visited in early March, which was mating season. The wolves were very playful while challenging each other in demonstrations of tenacity. The alpha female would nip any other female wolf who encroached on her territory, later the scolded wolf would creep back, tail between its legs. One wolf would pin another wolf down, choosing to sit on top of him and look around feigning boredom, as the other struggled to get up. Their social interaction was so hilarious and interesting that my friend and I were giddy as we watched their antics.

 

I had mistakenly been calling the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre a sanctuary, but in truth they don’t take in rescue wolves, since introducing wolves to this wild pack could be deadly. The centre also tries to have as little interaction with the wolves as possible, this makes things, like taking pictures very hard, since even allowing someone to wash the outside glass would threaten the natural environment. This had me wondering where the wolves came from, as my feelings are very torn about zoos and I’d hate to think these wolves were placed there only for our personal entertainment.

 

Upon further investigation, I found out that these wolves are the direct descendants of the wolves that RD Lawrence, famous Canadian naturalist, conservationist, and writer featured in his novel In Praise of Wolves. They had been owned by a photographer, Jim Wuepper, and were being kept in Marquette, Michigan since 1977. RD Lawrence had a part in relocating the pack to Haliburton in 1992 when the owner could no longer take care of them. In this way, the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre was a sanctuary, but one that has been committed to the same pack of wolves.

 

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The Centre has done a fabulous job in creating a museum which is attached to the observation area. The museum focuses on biology, history, lore and the image of wolves in popular culture. You could spend a lot of time going through the collection and there’s even a small theatre in the space.

 

I was surprised to see so much iconic werewolf imagery at the centre, as I know many wildlife associations believe that this perpetuates a negative stereotype of the animal. For myself, I have always viewed the creatures of horror as something to be respected, and not to be killed, as usually that’s where a horror movie takes a dark turn…right? It is humans that can’t leave something wild and untamed alone.

 

Another interesting point came up when I was watching the RD Lawrence documentary Canada’s Best Kept Secret. An interviewer asks him what he would tell his critics who accuse him of anthropomorphism, Lawrence denies that he puts human traits on wolves, instead he says that we can see ourselves in the traits of wolves. His main thesis always revolving around our existence with nature being one, and not exclusive of animals.

 

It is interesting to think that these horror tropes that are often used speak for our instinctual side, something we try to bury within, but yearn to release. I believe I embraced a small part of my inner wolf on this visit and it is with that thought that I state:

 

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”

The Wolf Man (1941)

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘VN_PG_DTAT_ATF’); }); Amusement parks like Disneyland and Disney World are magical havens full of endless fun, but they sure generate some creepy urban legends. Luckily, you can just ignore those kinds of stories and enjoy your favorite theme parks in blissful ignorance. But could you imagine a park where those legends sit at…

via Singapore’s Haw Par Villa Is Probably The Most Bizarre Theme Park You’ll Ever See — Tips For You

Upon landing on the Garden Island of Kauai, Hawaii my skin was caressed by the soft breeze of the Pacific Ocean, the aroma of fresh plumeria drifted upwards from my lei, overtaking my sense of smell, and my sight was dotted with the slogan “aloha” against the gorgeous techicolour scenery. Aloha was emblazoned on everything, from road signs, to t-shirts, to jewelry and bags. I knew of Aloha as a greeting and had only heard of the “aloha lifestyle”, an elusive feeling that I believed could only exist in a tropical place, not the frozen netherworld of Canada. Naturally, my first question was, what does Aloha imply? I mean, it’s not like we have epic proportions of merchandise that state “hello” or “goodbye” on them, there had to be more to it.

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Reminds me of a certain Halloween costume last year! Crazy coincidence, no?

Having friends who live in Hawaii allowed me to have an inside account of the word Aloha and the expression was defined to me as meaning “the breath of life”. The greeting is officially translated as “may you have everlasting breath”. In traditional Hawaiian culture, people would greet one another in a custom called honi, two people would join their noses together and breathe in the essence of each other. Forget about personal space, it is all about being able to share yourself on an intimate level.

It is said that when Captain Cook and his crew first discovered Hawaii they would reach out their hand to greet the Hawaiian people, from then on foreigners of Caucasian descent in Hawaii would be known as haole, meaning “no breath”. Newcomers were said to lack the essence of life, the aloha, if you will. Although there is much argument about this term these days it does make for an interesting story. And to myself, it really excited my Romero zombie type loving side, metaphorically are we forever linked to the Dawn of the Dead zombies, bumping into each other, as we stumble through our shopping centres purely consuming, and not living?? Perhaps we are.

Not to get too off topic here, but it sparked my undead heart and brains just a little bit, so in writing on Kauai I wanted to focus on a few of the legends and lore, as well as the darker tidbits of the area that I stayed in. A quick google search will help you find the fabulously wild, beautiful spots and noteworthy beaches on the island, but here are a few of the less talked about histories and mythologies for those who enjoy the shadow side of magnificent paradises.

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Wailua River State Park

I was staying in the Wailua homesteads area with a longtime friend from Grade 8 and her house was just a short distance from Wailua Beach. There was so much history and spots of interest in this area that I hardly needed to venture anywhere else. Although, we did take short day trips to Hanalei Bay, Shipwreck Beach and I had a wonderful surf lesson at Kalapaki Beach. It should be noted that Kauai is very drivable and many tourist sites are accessible by car and within a couple of hours drive of eachother.  But even if I hadn’t explored outside of the area I believe I would have been able to spend my two weeks getting lost in the lore and legends of the small area surrounding my accomidations.

The most iconic structure in the area of Wailua is the ruins of the Coco Palms, a once decadent hotel that boasted many of the 1950’s and 60’s Hollywood a-listers as guests. The famous Elvis Blue Hawaii wedding scene was filmed on the grounds of the Coco Palms. Here is a picture of the remains of the grounds that I was able to see.

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Coco Palms grounds

The lavish hotel also became part of the sets Pagan Love Song, Miss Sadie Thompson and Voodoo Island. Check out his picture of Boris Karloff with a mock up of the Voodoo Island set featuring the Coco Palms.

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Boris Karloff

Unfortunately, the hotel was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, but there are current plans to rebuild this hotel to its former glory. Check out more about the Coco Palms on the Something Interesting blog, it’s so fascinating.

One would not have to venture far from the Coco Palms resort to realize that the entire area is not only steeped in Hollywood legend, but also Hawaiian lore. The Wailua River is a stone’s throw away from the Coco Palms and is home to one of the islands most infamous gods, the shark god Kuhaimoana, who lives at the mouth of the river. It is said that Kuhaimoana would pose as a human while tending a tarot patch upriver, if anyone passed him he would ask where they were going, if they replied fishing he would wish them luck. Once the people were out of site, he would turn back into shark form, swim down the river, and warn the fish in the area. Talk about marine neighborhood fish watch.

The Wailua area and Wailua beach have many important heiau (sacred sites), these were sites for governance and rituals. I did come across one of these sites, Kukui Heiau, the site was used as a place of spiritual retreat and there are legends of canoe voyages across the pacific to this spot.

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Kukui Heiau

What I thought was interesting was this sign asking people not to meditate or sit here. I can’t help but think of our North American tendency to use a space for our own purposes, so instead of taking a few crystals out and sitting in the space for a bit (which was really tempting) I let myself be humbled and refreshed just by the beauty of the spot, and it was worth it.

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Lydgate Park

It is also said that the sands of wailua beach, by Lydgate Park, were used as burial grounds, as with many areas of the island sand burials were common. Kings, queens and higher-ranking individuals were usually given cave burials but others were buried in sand dunes. You may not run across any skulls while lying on the dreamy ocean shores anymore, but you can always check out a more modern cemetery. The Wailua cemetery is just as lush as you might imagine a Hawaiian graveyard to be.  What a gorgeous place to be laid to rest.

On one of our road trips we stopped at a look out to gaze upon the valleys that line the Menehune fishpond. I had heard rumors of UFO sightings in this area. I didn’t capture anything on my camera but supposedly some people have ended up with pictures of birds perching on an invisible object, hovering over the mountains of this area. While gazing upon the wondrous peaks and valleys we were overwhelmed by a loud rumbling sound that came on quickly, then dissipated. At first I thought this was a helicopter, but my company, a trained helicopter pilot, confirmed that this definitely wasn’t a known flying object.  Hmmmmmm

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Menehune Pond

It wasn’t until returning home that I realized that the Menehune pond was named after the Menehune people, a legendary breed of mischievous little people that are said to roam the forest. The Menehune are between 6 inches and 2 feet tall and only work at night, preferring not be watched. Sometimes they are said to use arrows to pierce the hearts of angry people to make them feel love instead of hate. Perhaps that is why you meet so many happy people on this island, if the beauty, ocean and essence of life don’t make you happy the little people will. Most people will never catch a glimpse of the Menehune, but it is said that they love cliff diving and if you hear splashing at night it could be the them.

This is not the only strange sound you may hear at night in this area! If you hear the sound of chanting or drumming in the middle of one of the nights honouring Hawaiian gods it could be the Nightmarchers.  The nightmarches do not actually march, they float, the stench of rotten flesh and sound of a conch shell blaring could be your first signal of the approaching group. They are the dead, risen from their graves, making their way to one of Kauai’s sacred sites, torches ablaze. If a mortal were to look upon them, they would take this poor soul with them, causing their untimely demise. It is said that you must face the ground, showing proper respect, if you do cross paths with the nightmarchers.

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nightmarchers

Even though I am one to seek out these unusual occurrences, I do believe I can call myself lucky to have been spared the experience, as I do not trust myself not to look.  You know what they say, curiosity killed the self-proclaimed cat lady.

What I found was the most unusual thing about my tip to Kauai, Hawaii was that this was one of the only trips that I had not planned to be seeking out the paranormal, yet everywhere I went magic unfolded, or I would stumble upon ground where a legend was conceived. It was almost impossible to take a beach vacation here without feeling a magnetic pull of a timeless vortex of sand, sea and lore. And what is life without realizing your own mortality and unique history within the context of human experience and the legend of the land you roam? In that way, I can indeed say that I felt the essence of life and the aloha spirit brush against my soul in a powerful and unforgettable way.

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So, it is with a pure heart that I wish Aloha to you and yours!

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I was recently fortunate enough to attend The Andrew Bray Energy Awaken trip to Havana, Cuba. The expedition is it intended for those who work with energy, whether through crystals, meditation, reiki or other forms of divination. I was intrigued, as my usual thoughts on a guided spiritual vacation instantly go to vipassana meditation retreats, where you join others in silence for days (or sometimes even weeks) in which I can see the benefit but I have not had the desire to try it. Yet, I was yearning for the calmness brought by the waves of the ocean and I was desiring the kiss of the sun in the middle of the long, cold Canadian winter and I wanted something more introspective than what an inclusive resort could provide.

Upon attending an information session for Energy Awaken I learned that there would be yoga and meditation in the morning and then day trips to various locations that hold sacred energy with stops to taste local cuisine, listen to live cuban music and sample the local rum and cigars. All this in a tropical setting, with accommodations beside the ocean, seemed like the perfect balanced vacation, with a chance to rejuvenate, as well as an opportunity to play so I signed up,

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Bullet holes on the wall of Castro’s firing squad site

I am not a reiki practitioner, I do read cards, practice meditation and use crystals. But I was intuitive enough to realize that the ‘energy” part of the trip was whisked into a whirlwind of activity, I quickly learned that while being jostled from one site to another that this would not be your ordinary retreat type vacation, there was so much to see and do. From the firing squad site of Fidel Castro to the second-largest cemetery in the world~ Colon Cemetery.

 

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Colon Cemetery, Havana

 

I was overwhelmed with the history and energy we were experiencing daily and before getting a chance to absorb the enormity of these experiences we’d be off to dinner. The days were colder than normal for that time of year and it rained a lot. I only made it into the ocean once for a quick dip before an excursion (and was stung by a jellyfish!). One night, after being absolutely entranced by a performance put on by Santeria dancers I had a complete meltdown. This was unexpected, I haven’t experienced a panic attack in years, but I could not shake the feeling of being overwhelmed.

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traditional Santeria dancers

By the end of the trip I was addressing so many issues with my own personality that I felt caged inside a carcass of skin and bones who just wasn’t me. It wasn’t that I was experiencing bad energy, it was that I was experiencing so much intense energy and I realize now that I don’t always have the that means for coping with this appropriately. No crystal was going to save me now!

Upon returning home, after the plane landed, I understood that I had received the retreat that I needed while turning on my phone which had been off for the entire week. On a whim I had decided not to use my cell phone in Cuba (ok maybe not a whim, but due to the ridiculous travel cost of my cell phone carrier). That is how I’ve always experienced Cuba before, so that’s what I thought to do, even though the last time I was in Cuba was before Facebook and instagram and I had a flip phone. I believe I was the only person in the group of 12 to have experienced the journey without the connection to home. This was the first time in many years I’ve had to stand and face my feelings and acknowledge them in the raw, for good or bad.

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beauty in ruin

My anger, frustration, judgment, and even awe was shaped through an unmediated filter. Sure, I’d taken pictures but I was denied the constant feedback from my peers. I now realize how much I crave that contact but I also realize that this is my crutch. I can look at past situations and see how instead of facing the conflict I would turn to my social network and gain positive approval. If you are part of my social network I want to thank you, as I realize you have helped me through thick and thin, for better or for worse, and I hope I have been rock for you as well, as I also know now how important my network is to my inner world.

I didn’t get what I expected from this trip but I definitely got what I needed. Can I somehow learn to use these breaks from the online world for more positive self reflection and to face my demons? I’m not sure, but I know that I will give it a try from now on. Giving myself weeks, days and maybe a full moon or two to take a rest from my network and ground myself. As I returned home with more gratitude in my heart, I have started having vivid dreams again (or just remembering more of them) and I have also been less concerned with checking my messages so frequently.

First cellphones, then vipassana!!! ..feeling very confident going forward.

Who says retiring is easy? You would think so when leaving a job in search of a new path and embarking on a life of leisure.

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Retirement Bowling Party: Capes Required

I use the word leisure because I believe that when you are doing something you truly love surely the word “work”, as an adjective, doesn’t apply. I have more than a few desires, some require effort, that I am eager to try.  But there I go, defending myself for retiring again!

What I didn’t realize until now was how much the job I did for a living was intertwined with my identity. I mean, I used to sit back and imagine what I would do if I didn’t work (mermaid tale, beach, vegan cooking classes, fancy hat club etc), but that daydreaming doesn’t usually include time for self-reflection, self-analysis, the discovery of who I really am, or how others will see me differently and maybe, in some cases, treat me differently. These were things I couldn’t possibly have imagines (or didn’t want to).

When I introduce myself at a party people often ask..”and what is it that you do?”  they are not looking for the answers~ beachcomber, international woman of intrigue, observer of the extraordinary or lady of leisure.  On a few occasions, I have heard people describe themselves through their hobbies. “Hello, my name is Peter and I Iike to eat laundry detergent”, but usually people save this personal type of information for a second encounter, at least.

Institutions even push your career as identity when you are just a small child. The school system is always asking for full reports on what you want to be when you grow up and why. Who you want to be is never asked. I believe it’s good to have goals, but are passions and dreams, that don’t consist of a pay cheque, valid as well?

Well…I may not have known what I wanted to be, but at least I knew who I was and had the stuff to prove it.

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Even the very idea of a name suggests that you are connected to your history and your family’s history. For example, many of the European last names from the middle ages on were occupational in nature, such as John Smith, describing a smith of some sort. Well it’s about time we got over these medieval notions. Ideas that have followed colonizers and the elite into different nations and communities. These names have nothing to do with who we are today and it’s a rarity that we ever follow in our father, or mother’s footsteps (no matter how much they want us to).

In some pagan circles, adults are initiated with a magical name. This name might only be used within the circle, but others may choose it for their online avatar. Is this name not a closer representation of who you are now than your given name? This is not to discredit ancestor worship, as I believe this is an important part of ritual, but believe these history’s live in our hearts whether we choose our ancestor’s name or not.

With interdisciplinary studies becoming more accredited and hobbies turning into tools to lead “instafamous” lifestyles that pay, we have to polish off our monocles and realize the multifaceted nature of the human entity. It is a rare person that stays at the same job, or even in the same field of work for their whole life.

Since leaving work I have also realized that I’ve been conditioned to please. It’s like Pavlov’s dog. Reward me, tell me I’m great and I’ll be forever yours. Jobs can provide a sense of self-esteem, pride and suggest areas to improve on, which are calculable through an outside lens and hierarchy. Leaving my job on my own terms forces me to set up my own value systems for how I judge my life and what I do. It is here that I believe self-care, self-reflection and positive reinforcement should become daily habit (or work, sometimes).

I’ve often talked to people who were scared of retiring and, though mostly sympatheticly, I would wonder “well what are we working for then?”. I also had the great opportunity to work in an artist-run centre where I met many retired people who make art and are now living their dream, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Their drive and eagerness to pick up new skills made me ask myself why “retirement” is such a dirty word in our culture. Why fear it? Own it. Heck, why don’t we give our self a new name at that time, and not Enid or Rosemary, how about “Thea the Seeker” or “Duchess of Felines” (whatever you like!).

In my own experience, when I told people I was retiring early, many were very disturbed at the idea.  Well, I’d like to dismiss the notions of retirement as your one-way ticket to Netflix comatose or Tim Horton’s meet ups. Your self-work, self-care and discovering your new path is just as important. Hence my blanket fort, filled with every book I’ve half read over the last three years and a few new ones.

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Hey! Whose blanket fort is this anyway? 

This is not to say that I won’t work anymore. I am just giving myself time to explore my interests and reflect on my past as I move forward. And there couldn’t be a more perfect time than January, when “Janus” the god with two faces looks into the past and toward the future. As a person who has previously crammed every moment of every waking hour with work, activities, volunteering and hobbies I’m opening up this new chapter in life with calm, peace and freedom in my heart.

 

After the happy dance, beyond the sweet tears and excitement, and after the celebration and revelry came the rainbow hangover and I fell into a pit of my own demons! I thought winning money would give me freedom, but it turns out I was being held back by my shackles of my mind.

I’ve devised a list of the biggest symptoms.

1. Paranoia
Before the story was published in the paper I was determined to keep my secret, even though I knew all it would take was a google search on my name to find out, as I knew the lottery office had posted it online. It’s procedure, they publish everyone who wins over $10,000

I’ve heard the stories, everyone’s knows the ones ~Friends showing up from the past, unknown people claiming to be family members with strange illnesses, embezzlement and even threats.

I was sure everyone knew! In fact, I was sure everyone was plotting against me. Strangers would come in to work and they’d state “I’m having a lucky day!” well I would get defensive. “What’s that supposed to mean?!” Oh yeah, I knew they knew and I was going to catch them before they pulled any shenanigans.

Surprisingly, as I mentioned in the last post, when the news broke everyone was kind and supportive, with only a few jokes about lending money. I think I am safe!

2. Panic
It hit me like a virus. Heart palpitations, feelings of faintness and chest pains.
This is the first time in my life I was scared to die! All of a sudden all these possibilities were opened up to me and I didn’t want anything to happen to me before I got to experience it all. My panic not related to any strange adventure I would have, it was related to not having those adventures! Have you seen me? I am a child of the dark, I live across from the cemetery. I can’t even say how much the fear of death affects my whole counter culture existence!

Even though I may have a dark soul, I spend a lot of time working on mindfulness, but this is usually to escape my thoughts of the past. This is the first time I had to tell myself to slow down and not get too excited about the future. It was under some serious prodding that I gave my job a year’s notice. They were great about it, but honestly, every day is like molasses, which is slowly drips through a sieve. I have bought three 2018 calendars already and I am so excited to start counting down the days to Freedom 45.

3. Worthlessness
I know this is strange- for once, I was actually worth something on paper, but my mind had a hard time accepting this windfall.

I grew up with very little and I have worked very hard for everything I have. I had three jobs while putting myself through University. I lived with several roommates and went without for many yeaqrs to save a down payment for a house, in a city that at a time nobody wanted to move to, choosing to commute to Toronto in ungodly desires. Now, the area I moved to is becoming very popular and I thought this was lucky enough!
So when I won, I had a hard time believing that I deserved it. Free money every week? Me? I was asking “why not them?” every time I saw someone buying a lottery ticket. I sat up for nights wondering why and I could not help thinking I am supposed to do something special with it. What is special enough? Can I be that special?

I realized that having a relationship with money is like any other relationship. You know when your friend gets into bad relationships constantly and then when they meet a nice person they just cannot accept it? They find every reason in the book not to be with that person! The theory is that they feel they are unworthy of a good relationship.

Good thing I can’t break up with it. It will be coming to me every week, so I have to get used to it. It is probably good I didn’t win a large fortune at once, as I think I would have to get rid of it as fast as possible! Oh yeah, castle, jaguar….private jet to Hawaii with all my friends. I would blow it.

4. Manifestation
Ok seriously, if I can manifest this what will happen to my enemies?!!! I am seriously trying hard not to think bad thoughts, of any kind. Just try not to think bad thoughts!!!…..that’s when the worst ideas come!

It will take while to control this power, but I have a feeling I’m going to learn to love it.