Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Positive News of the Week


DNA Memory Device

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73 Year Old Scales Mount Everest

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Woman Marries in Church Where Her Funeral was Held

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Unexpected Treasure

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Art of Zen Leadership


Many times as we discuss our thoughts, theories, and beliefs with friends and colleagues there is a reaction of "that sounds good in theory but how does one put it into practice?"  Here we share an excerpt from a new release in our Career Press line called The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly by Ginny Whitelaw.

The Zen Leader does not encourage you to just "be peaceful."  Nor does it suggest that you work harder, faster, or ignore the pressure.  Quite the opposite: the book is about using the pressure to propel "flips" in consciousness that create transformational leaders, leaders who create the future with joy and enthusiasm, rather than drive themselves and their people to exhaustion.

Here we share Chapter 2: From Tension to Extension


From Tension to Extension

I’m not tense,” Rob protested at my suggestion that he seemed about ready to explode. He was edged forward in his chair during our coaching session, right leg vibrating six beats a second, shoul­ders up around his ears. I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a quick picture of him, setting it down on the table between us (love that technology!). “Take a look at this picture and tell me what vibe you get from that leader,” I say to him. “Intense,” he responds. I encourage him to keep looking. “Has his mind made up...not listen­ing...nervous...a time bomb.” Exactly.

That’s what tension does: it makes us small, edgy, and nervous. What’s more, most of us don’t even recognize how much tension we’re carrying, and how much that tension locks us into a cell of our own making. Try this experiment: Sit forward in your chair, press your feet into the ground, make fists of your hands, tense your forearms, and bore your eyes into this paper is if they were burning lasers. What do you notice? Almost certainly you notice the paper. But do you notice what’s happening out the window? Probably not. Do you notice how tension spreads through the whole front of your body, making every­thing tight? Is the feeling expansive or small? Connected or separate? Experiences vary, but most of us find this is a fast track to our most iso­lated, tense, and defended self.

Now flip that around. Let out a deep sigh of relief and sit back in your chair. Let your eyes drift into peripheral, 180-degree vision by extend­ing your arms to your sides, palms up and open, and seeing both hands and everything in between. Let your arms drift down comfortably, and imagine a line of energy flowing down the backs of your arms, and out through the backs of your fingertips. Check out the feeling: Is it larger than before? More flowing? More connected? Yes, you may say, but it also feels less sharply focused and...well...less productive. And therein lies a key tension in leadership: it’s easier to trust what we can control and get done using tension than it is to trust what comes when we let go, and let extension operate.

This simple flip between tension and extension shows up not only in the body, but also in emotions, thought processes, and everyday lead­ership behaviors. In this chapter, we explore how sustained tension can lead to barely managing, career derailment, and burnout, whereas exten­sion is based in the much more sustainable rhythm of drive and recovery. Extension enables the awareness and sensitivity that lets us transform situations, rather than crashing into them with unsustainable change ef­forts. Extension gives rise to natural durability in our energy, and in all that it creates. Building on the flip of Chapter 1, we look at three “laws” of energy management that flip tension into extension and allow the transformational Zen leader in us to spring forth.

Tension Produces Movement—Until it Doesn’t
Tension is not all bad. The truth is, we couldn’t move a single muscle without it. In its simplest form, in the simplest animals (and even a few plants), tension is a contraction: fibers sliding past one another, like the closing of a fan. When the ends of those fibers are connected to differ­ent parts of a body, tension pulls those parts closer together. Relaxation, like opening a fan, lets them return to full length. Alternating tension and relaxation, a body can start to wiggle and move, from the simplest, squirming paramecium, to the complex human body. Every muscle in our body linking every bone of our skeleton operates on this principle: When it tenses, things contract; when it relaxes, things move further apart. We also have muscles, such as the heart, that oscillate with their cycles of tension and relaxation to move our blood. Tension produces movement; that’s not a bad thing.

The start of trouble is when tension doesn’t let go—when it “for­gets” how to relax. This happens in muscle fibers when the little tracks that allow fibers to slide past one another get stuck. These tracks require energy (like lubrication) to operate, and without it, they simply freeze, like a sliding glass door stuck slightly off its track. As a muscle gets more fibers stuck in this condition, its starts to feel harder, less supple, and it takes more energy to get it moving at all. As one of my Zen teachers, Tanouye Roshi, used to say, “The body of a baby is soft and pliable. The body of a corpse is stiff and rigid. We’re somewhere in between.”

Just where we are “in between” has a great deal to do with our energy. The more we are like a baby, the more energy flows smoothly through our body, the easier we move, and the more energy we have available to add value in the world. The tighter we are, the more that tightness traps energy, keeping it from getting to all the muscles that need it, leading to a vicious cycle of more tightness that requires more effort to overcome in order to make movement possible. Think how much energy it takes to open a slightly stuck sliding glass door. In effect, when our muscles are somewhat stuck we have to do the same thing—put a lot of energy into overcoming our own resistance!

Worse yet, we’re not even aware of it until symptoms are acute, and we don’t know why. We only notice how tired we are by the end of a day, how persistent certain aches and pains have become, or how we don’t have the energy for another project, a difficult conversation, or patience with our children. This tension doesn’t affect merely moving our bodies through space. It affects everything: our emotions, thoughts, and behav­iors. Coping mode exactly expresses this stuckness, registering its voice of no. Not moving. Blaming others. Remaining the victim.

Stuck tension in the body weighs into every decision regarding whether we have the energy to act freely in the situation and add our val­ue. So when we talk about tension as something to flip out of, we’re not talking about the healthy cycle of tension and release that’s at the heart of life’s movement. We’re talking about habitual tension that doesn’t re­lease fully and, in time, ossifies body and mind.

This habitual tension can reside anywhere in the body, but if we were to locate a fundamental source—the primal contraction—it would be in the deep muscles lining the front side of the spine. You can see this primal contraction in the simplest sea creatures that curl up when pro­voked, or little inchworms that become instant circles when they sense a threat. This biological version of “circling the wagons,” be they seg­ments of an inchworm or our own vertebrae, is a coping mechanism of animals large and small. In humans, we see it in the extremes among the most downtrodden and depressed, hence phrases like “huddled masses” and “curled up into a fetal position.” But in more subtle ways, we all carry some of this tension, which you can experience (not that you’d want to, but to make the point) if you feel into your body’s response to deflating news or an emotional sock to the gut. In fact, these deep, frontal muscles are great at storing pain and difficult emotions, as anyone who has experienced deep bodywork to release these muscles could tell you. Body therapists call these muscles “core” for good reason.

It doesn’t stop there. Because tension contracts muscles, held ten­sion distorts the body, and then the opposing muscles have to start working harder to compensate. Generally what we experience as back pain originates from over-taxed muscles in our back compensating for over-tight muscles in our core. Tension begets more tension, most of which passes beneath our conscious awareness—until it painfully doesn’t. The early warning signs are mostly benign: headaches, stiff necks, sore backs, achy shoulders, gastrointestinal discomfort, elevated pulse, high­er blood pressure. But most busy people (including myself for a good deal of my life) power through those signals with an aspirin here, an antacid there, so of course the symptoms have to get worse to get our at­tention. And why are we putting all this tension into our body? Because it’s the natural companion of coping mode. Whenever we’re in the grip (even the phrase suggests a contraction!) of anger, indignation, worry, or any of the faces of coping mode, tension is both the byproduct and exactly what holds it in place.

The Price of Tension for Leaders
“Contain the vein!” laughs one of the more vocal team members when asked what it’s like to work for Elliot, a senior vice president of product development known for his angry outbursts. I’ve been Elliot’s coach for a couple of months, and I’m meeting with the people who re­port to him to see how they handle his volatility. “We watch him closely,” the person went on, and when the vein in his forehead starts to pulsate, we know he’s about to blow.” They’ve made it something of a joke—“Contain the vein!”—and when the vein is well-contained, Elliot laughs along with them. He knows he has “a temper problem”; it was why the company suggested he work with a coach in the first place. What he doesn’t know is how much the team members shade what they tell him, protect themselves in partial truths, and carefully pick when to feed him information so as not to set off the vein. The more I talk to the team, the more I see how they’re managing Elliot, rather than him leading them.

Energy is contagious in general, but a leader’s volatility is doubly so, first because it signals danger and fear and, second, because it comes from the very person to whom others look for safety. At a deep, brain­stem level, a question we’re always asking about leaders is, “Do I want to follow you?” A leader’s volatility quickly spreads tension in the land and raises doubts.

In addition to volatility, there is a host of ways leaders pay the price of tension, perhaps best characterized by psychologist Robert Hogan, and applied to leaders by David Dotlich and Peter Cairo.They identify 11 ways that leaders under stress sabotage their effectiveness or derail their careers—a catalogue of coping mechanisms. For example: 

  • The cynic who’s always trying to find fault and cast blame 
  • The worrier, who agonizes over every decision or plays it safe 
  • The center of attention whose insecurity demands the spotlight 
  • The arrogant one who must be right and long ago stopped listening 
  • The perfectionist determined to get reality under control.

If you were playing a game of Charades and were asked to portray any of these characters (try the exercise to the right) you would instantly find that to act it out, you would start tensing your body in specific ways: a furtive, eye-darting look for the cynic, a puffed up chest for the arrogant person, and so on. These gestures are not accidental; in the game of Charades we might exaggerate them to make them more visible, but even when held inside, these same subtle tensions are at work.

From the research that Hogan and others have done, we know that everyone has potential derail­ers that are more likely to surface when we’re under stress or low on energy. In other words, these coping mechanisms function at a macro level much the way our muscles func­tion at a micro level: like sliding glass doors that can get stuck or derail when energy is scarce. The cost to the human being is a vicious, ener­gy-draining cycle. The cost to leadership is that it stops doing anything productive.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we stop doing. If we simply paused when we sensed our tension or tiredness, we would do less damage and return to a relaxed state more readily. But, no, we tend to keep on go­ing—we’re so busy, after all, and there’s so much to do. Besides, the first thing lost in our spun-up tension is the clear-flowing awareness that could see we’re digging our hole deeper. Spun up in tension, our mind can lock onto a particular goal and lock out the bigger picture: Hit this target, catch this flight, get through this agenda item. Or, if we’re less focused, before we get through one item, our mind has daisy-chained onto anoth­er and we leave a frenetic trail of half-doneness. In our tension, people can become objects to use, a means to our ends: Get this person to do what I want, ignore that person who doesnt serve me. We listen less and push more, focusing on tasks, numbers, and speed. We may find ourselves taking whatever we can get, spewing anger, shading the truth to an oversight committee, or turning a blind eye to corruption. In the grip, our aware­ness shrinks to a fear-driven dot of self, and we feel somehow separate from the chain reactions we’re setting off. Leaders in the grip create small, brutish worlds.

Leading With Extension
If tension makes us smaller, extension makes us larger, or, more ac­curately, returns us to our natural state. Extension doesn’t mean we’re always reaching for something. Rather it is the absence of contraction and the presence of openness, sometimes simply called presence itself, which plugs us into the free-flowing energy of the earth, of the universe. This may seem like wishful, woo-woo thinking to the pragmatic leader, yet throughout the story of humanity, this profound connectedness has been the wondrous skill of great warriors, the compassion of saints, the insight of mystics, the wisdom of shamans, the genius of great artists, the gift of healers, and the prescient intuition of great leaders. It is the Zen leader in you, rolling through life like a huge boulder, according the myriad changes—acting with gravitas and complete agility with what­ever is going on. This agile gravitas is you leading with extension.

Extension is the opposite of being stuck. It is a mind and body flow­ing naturally with the circumstances. Our self-in-our-skin is not so much the source of that energy as an open conduit for it, adding our unique value as it passes through. Far from being some kind of miraculous chan­neling, this state of openness is our most natural, unstuck self. In the absence of tension, there is simply nothing to block the flow.

Having said that, it is also inevitable that we get stuck on things, big and little: a song we can’t get out of our head, a replayed snippet of conversation, a recurring fear—the mind is easily trapped in eddies of thought. Thoughts whir around like blades of a fan, and if the same thing isn’t repeating, one thing leads to another. “Have to follow up with Jane...she never got back with me...I hate it when people don’t get back with me...what’s this other irritating e-mail about?...oh, I’m late for a meeting...where did I leave my notes?...” Add some emotion to the mix, as in a dollop of fear about making our budget, or a sprinkling of nervousness about speaking in front of a group, and we get even more tense, more stuck.

So to say extension is our most natural state is not to say tension is somehow unnatural. It is part of how we’re put together, and accepting the whole picture of who we are—coping and transforming, tense and extended—allows us to more easily relax into our transformative, ex­tended selves. For if we berate ourselves for getting stuck in tension, all we do is create more tension, plunging ourselves into our own civil war. Just as acceptance is at the cusp where coping turns to transforming, it also flips tension to extension. The actions that flow through extension come out “clean”: They don’t leave a scent of ego or smallness. As free expressions of the Zen leader in us, they create openings in the world and free up others as well.

If you need an image of a leader who has exemplified this contagious openness, Nelson Mandela would certainly be a good one. In smallness, he could have sought revenge for 27 years spent in prison. But instead he extended forgiveness and opened a spirit of forgiveness throughout South Africa. He could have appropriated his power to the needs of his ego, as so many political leaders have done. But instead he applied it in the spirit of service, inspiring a similar spirit in everyone from rugby players to businesspeople. Writer John Simpson, attending a banquet in honor of Mandela some years ago, watched how this openness irresist­ibly drew people to Mandela: “It was the way he looked you straight in the eye and spoke just to you—to the person you wanted to be, perhaps, rather than the one you actually were.”2 John saw the contagious spirit of service when his South African wife spontaneously greeted Mandela. Mandela stopped and listened as though no one else mattered and time stood still. After she finished he said, “We need you back in South Africa. When are you coming home?” Who could resist such a leader?
Openness begets openness, freeing others to be more of who they are. Leading with extension extends our value into the world.

The Zen Leader Flip 2: Tension to Extension
You can make a mini version of this flip in any moment—as you had a chance to do at the start of this chapter. But to make it a way of life and leadership, you need energy. So here are what I’ve come to call the “3 Laws of Energy Management.” If you follow them, you’ll have energy to burn.

Rhythm, not relentless. Waking and sleeping, inhaling and exhal­ing, even the beat of our heart reminds us: as biological systems, we’re made to operate with rhythm. Stretch and release. Drive and recover. From the work of Yerkes Dodson in the early 1900s, extended by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz,3 we know the best way to manage our energy is on and off, not on and on. I often ask leaders, “What do you do when your iPhone shows a low battery?”

“Plug it in. Recharge it,” they say. “What do you do for yourself when you’re at low charge?”
“Keep going!” they laugh.
But they get the point. We often take better care of our iPhones—a little piece of technology that will be in the trash heap in a few years— than we take care of our priceless, ir­replaceable selves.

As Loehr and Schwartz empha­size in their work with “corporate athletes,” this pulse of drive and re­covery is also the key to full engage­ment.4 Steady stress pushes a system to habituate and run down over time. Pulsing it keeps the system in a state of fresh activation. What’s our equiv­alent to plugging in or recharging? What we do may vary, but invariably, energy comes through the body: we have to do something physically renewing. A best practice combines brief (two-minute) breaks every 90 minutes or so, with longer breaks (30 minutes) for meditation or exercise once or twice a day. You may already know of the perfect pulse practice for you, but if you’d like a good suggestion, see the Centering mini-break at the end of this chapter. You can also download further ideas for mini-breaks and renewing activities from www.thezenleader.com.

In addition to creating this macro pulse in our day, there is another kind of rhythm we can sense in the day itself. This is more subtle, and requires a good deal of sensitivity. If you’d like to try it, stand outside for a couple of minutes, open your senses, and take in the day. Slowly clap your hands at about a walking pace, making the pace faster and slower until you come to a rhythm that somehow takes less effort to maintain.5 This is the energy or rhythm of the day. If you pace yourself to it, you will find your energy going much further.

As I said, this rhythm is subtle, and I, myself, missed it for many years because of my hurry-up habits. I thought if something is done in half the time, that’s twice as good. I see this habit in leaders who move through their day so quickly that others can’t keep up. People get into a refractory state to protect themselves from a whirlwind leader, while the leader gets frustrated that messages aren’t being heard, delegation isn’t working, and people aren’t following. “Slow down,” I now tell these leaders. “Find the rhythm where people can move with you, or you’re going to be stuck doing everything yourself.” The easiest rhythm to find with a group is the rhythm of the day we’re all experiencing together. If you can sense this subtle pulse and let it be a soundless drumbeat underlying your actions, you will notice your energy is better supported, and others are more able to move with you. But don’t take my word for it; sense it yourself.

Down, not up. The second law of energy management is already deeply embedded in our language and common sense. We have numer­ous expressions for what happens when we’re tense, and the image is always of ener­gy rising up: spun up, upset, uptight, hotheaded. Flip that around and you find expressions like settle down, calm down, pipe down, ground yourself, and the image is always of energy dropping down.

In our physical bodies, this principle plays out when we let energy drop down into our lower abdomen, rather than rise up into our heads, as in Figure 2.1. Even as you read these words, notice your breath and relax any tension in your shoulders and rib­cage. Invite your breath energy to drop more deeply into the lower abdomen. This area, what the Japanese call “hara” and what we likened to the bulb of a large thermometer, is the center of our most powerful actions, our nucleus for balance and natural control. “Natural control” is not a forced, taking-matters-into-my-own-hands kind of control, but rather a confident centeredness that reads the situation, senses the openings for change, and uses them appropriately. This deeper-than-conscious intu- ition that appropriately and spontaneously extends our energy comes from hara more readily than from the head, because in the head it can get second-guessed and caught up in all the whirling fan blades. Developing the hara gives more opportunity for this spontaneous Zen leader to arise. The Centering mini-break at the end of this chapter is a great practice for developing your breath and hara. Breathe deeply to and from your hara, and energy will naturally de-velop in this center, along with the intuition to use it well. 
Out, not in. 
You know the importance of this energy direction from Chapter 1, but now you can experience the physical essence of how to send your energy out, not in. Try this: Raise your left arm out to your side. The front of your arm—the flexor side—is what tightens when you make a fist (see Figure 2.2a). Relax your hand and feel a line of energy running along the back of your arm—on the extensor side—running through the back of your hand and out through your fingers (Figure 2.2b). Similarly extend your right arm, and make the same flip to a line of energy running along the back, exten-sor side. Feel into your spine and similarly relax the muscles along the front of the spine and extend slightly along the back of the spine, feeling a lift through the back of your neck, the rims of your ears, and out the top of your head. Sense this line of energy extending down through your legs, gen­tly extending the balls of your feet into the earth.6 Now dial back the gain on all of this until you just barely feel these lines of extension and you have the idea of this third law of energy management: out, not in. This extension manifests physically by relaxing of the front, flexor side of the body and extending through the back, extensor side.

“Out, not in” gives a natural direction to our energy. It aligns our actions along a vector emanating from inside out, and directed toward where we want to go. As we’ll see, leadership vision, mission, and goals are but practical expressions of this sense of direction. In combination with a sustainable rhythm and centeredness, this flip into extension gives us more energy, better aligned. Who wouldn’t want that?

Putting It to Work: More Energy, Better Aligned
Applying this flip in your life and leadership makes everything else possible, for it is the fuel you run on and the authentic extension of that energy into the world. The reflection questions that follow, which I of­ten ask leaders in development programs or coaching sessions, will help you connect with your own wisdom regarding what best practices will support you in building energy, and what you know about the vision or purpose to which you’d apply it. Before starting, you might take a mo­ment to relax, open your senses, center your breath, and ever so slightly open the back-side extensor channels. Once you’re centered, even if you’re not sure what to write, read the questions and start writing with­out hesitation:
1. What is an early warning sign for you that your energy is low?
2. What could you do in a two-minute recovery break that would help you most?
3. To better pace yourself in the rhythm of the day, which of these do you generally need to do most? (A) slow down, (B) speed up, (C) stabilize, or (D) better focus your energy.
4. If you could prescribe an energy-renewing activity you could do maybe 30 minutes per day that would help you in whatever way you just identified, what would be your best prescription to yourself?
5. Write down six things you do—inside or outside of work—that make you feel most energized, satisfied, and “on purpose.”
6. Write down six things you know about what you’re creating and wanting to create through your presence and leadership.
7. Looking over the previous two lists, craft a statement that cap­tures your leadership vision or purpose. Write a second sentence that captures a key way you will go about it (for example, an important strategy).

We know that vision, purpose, and strategy are important for inspir­ing and aligning followership. But perhaps now you can also appreciate that only transformation-grade energy (as opposed to coping) gives rise to a vision, purpose, or strategy worth following. Even within us, more energy, better aligned, feeds a virtuous cycle. With more energy, it’s easier to remain unstuck; there’s more lubrication for the tracks of our internal sliding glass doors. When we’re unstuck, energy naturally flows to rejuvenate us. When that energy is aligned toward a vision and way of working, it’s better focused and less drained by distractions and irrita­tions. Finally, when our vision and way of working arise from what we find intrinsically energizing, we get more energy as we go.

The flip from tension to extension is the physical realization of mov­ing from coping to transforming. Being able to build and align energy is also the foundational tool for sustainable leadership and all the flips to follow. If you’re ever stuck, drained, frustrated, tormented, indignant, frightened, defensive, dull, or depressed, come back here.

Flush with energy, we’re ready to dive deeper into the complexities of leadership today, most of which can be characterized by a single word: paradox.

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw is both a leadership expert and a roshi (Zen master) in the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen. Cofounder of Focus Leadership, she has taught and coached in countless programs to Global 1000 leaders, in part through her affiliation with Oliver Wyman Leadership Development and Columbia University’s Senior Executive Program. Formerly Deputy Manager for integrating NASA’s Space Station Program, she has a PhD in biophysics as well as a 5th degree black belt in Aikido. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Creature of the Month - The Hairy Trolls by Nick Redfern



During the course of my long and winding research in the field of Cryptozoology – which is defined as the study of unknown animals, such as the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman, the Chupacabra and Sasquatch – I have come across a number of near-mystifying reports of so-called “wild men” and Bigfoot-type creatures seen deep in the woods and forests of the British Isles.

And, while I am not at all sure that the following case is directly linked to the controversies surrounding Bigfoot, unknown apes, or even ape-men, in Britain, it does involve the sighting of unidentified, hairy humanoids in the very depths of the country. And, so, I can only conclude that here is just about as good a place as any to relate the admittedly odd details, such as they are, given that they relate to an encounter with what the witnesses, who preferred to speak off the record than on, described to me as definitive trolls!

 Doubtless, the arch-skeptic or debunker would conclude that this determination on the part of the family not to discuss their case on the record is an indication that I have been the victim of an audacious hoax or a practical joke. And, while such a scenario can never be outright dismissed, I can only state that having now spoken to the husband and wife concerned on several occasions by phone, and twice in-person at their present home in Stoke on Trent, England I do not doubt the veracity of the case or of their honesty and sincerity. But, that does not mean I can make a great deal of sense of their experience, either. With that stated, I urge you to read on.

It was in the early hours of a winter’s morning in 1975 when Barry and Elaine, a married couple then in their late twenties and with two small children, were driving towards their then-Slitting Mill, Staffordshire, England home after attending a Christmas party in the nearby town of Penkridge. As the pair headed towards the small village (its population today, four centuries after its initial foundations were laid, is still less than three hundred), their car’s engine began to splutter and, to their consternation and concern, completely died. Having managed to carefully coast the car to the side of the road, Barry proceeded to quickly open the hood and took a look at the engine – “even though I’m mainly useless at mechanical stuff,” he states.
   
There did not appear to be any loose-wires, the radiator was certainly not over-heated, and a check of the car’s fuses did not provide any indication of what might be the problem. But, as the family was less than half a mile or so from home at that point, Barry made a decision, as he explained: “We had a picnic blanket in the boot [a British term for trunk] of the car and I got it out. I got back into the car and I said to Elaine something like: ‘Let’s cover you up and the kids with the blanket.’ They were in the back sleeping and [were] only four and six at the time. So I said to [Elaine]: ‘You stay with them, and I’ll run back home and get your car, pick the three of you up, and then we’ll leave my car here, and we can get someone out from a garage to look at it tomorrow.’”

At that point, however, their plans were thrown into complete and utter disarray. According to Barry, Elaine let out a loud scream, terrified by the sight of a small figure that ran across the road in front of them at a high rate of speed. She explains: “I just about saw it at the last second, and then another one followed it, and then a third one. The best way I can describe them to you is like a hairy troll or something like that. We had some moonlight and they were like little men, but with hunchbacks and big, hooked noses and not a stitch on them at all. Not a stitch, at all; just hair all over them. I’d say they were all four-feet-tallish, and when the third one crossed by us, you could see them at the edge of the trees – wary, or something, anyway.”

 Copyright John Bauer, 1915

Things became very hazy indeed, says Barry: “We both know from memory that they came forwards, towards us, very slowly to us, and I’ve thought since that they were interested in us or wanted to know who we were. They came very slowly, and it was a bit like we were being hunted, to me. Elaine was hysterical; and with the kids with us, I wasn’t far-off, either.

“But that’s all we remember. The next, it’s all gone; nothing. Neither of us remembers seeing them go, and the next thing it was about two o’clock and the car started fine, then. It felt like something had happened to us, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on, you know what I mean? But the memory thing is the biggest problem, even now. What was it? I did have a dream later about them surrounding the car, but that’s it, really. But they were there and we did see them, right up by the Stone House [Author’s Note: A reference to a large, old abode that sits on the edge of the village of Slitting Mill and that dates back to 1584, two centuries prior to the emergence of the village in the 1700s].”

Barry states that, to this day, and now both in their mid sixties, both he and Elaine still feel very uneasy about the loss of memory that they both experienced back in 1975, but he is keen to affirm that: “I know, and we know, that we both saw them. The kids don’t remember a thing, thankfully. They were horrible little things. All that hair: Trolls, goblins, something. But they were there and they were real.” Neither Barry nor Elaine have ever experienced any further such incidents or encounters with the unknown, but they have never forgotten those disturbing events deep in the heart of Slitting Mill on a chilly, winter night all those years ago with a strange band of hairy trolls.


Nick Redfern works full-time as an author, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. He also contributes regularly for UFO Magazine, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal Magazine. His books include The Real Men in Black, The NASA Conspiracies, Contactees, and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, all published by New Page Books. Nick has appeared on numerous television shows, including the BBC’s Out of this World; History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. He lives in Arlington, Texas and can be found online here.


Nick Redfern’s new book, The Pyramids and the Pentagon, will be published in June by New Page Books.


The Movie Premieres this weekend but don't you want to know about the 
REAL Men in Black?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weird News of the Week



Man has iPod Surgically Attached

Click here to learn more


3 year old joins MENSA

Click here to learn more


Dolphinese Sounds available via new speaker system

Click here to learn more


Full bodies found for Easter Island Statues

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Monday, May 21, 2012

A Time of Spectacular Change by Lisa Barretta


Without a doubt, we are experiencing a time of spectacular change.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live in a world where there was no separateness but only diversity?  How about a world where you could not only experience physical reality but also be privy to feeling and sensing the energy blueprints that exist in the higher dimensions beyond the 3-d landscape of your life. As a civilization, we have been in an ongoing acceleration process headed for the long awaited shift into the next evolutionary jump for mankind. Our new expanding consciousness is in step with the expanding Universe and opens up new frontiers to be explored as we respond to the latest cosmic frequencies that will ignite all of our extrasensory senses. Yes, you do have extrasensory senses and in The Book of Transformation, I tell you how we are already genetically hardwired to become a specie beyond the homosapians, which means wise man to become homosentients, meaning aware or conscious man. Your extrasensory senses beyond your physical senses are about to become more acutely attuned as we shift both globally and galactically through the Photon Belt, toward the Galactic Center. We will be downloading all of our “new cosmic apps” leading us to surpass our own technology. How is that for an upgrade package?

As we go through our personal metamorphosis many things will seem different than they once were and an awareness of how the material world is both very limiting and illusionary will make it easier to let go of the old belief systems that hinder ascension to a more evolved life.  As our consciousness expands our attachments to the material world are being redefined by a new reality, one of energy and light. What you feel will surpass what you think you see as you experience you existence beyond the three dimensions of height, weight and mass.

During this time of transformation, many people experience phases where their lives are extremely hectic and confusing along with careers and relationships that seem more challenging than ever. This is a very common occurrence because basically we are not used to functioning in energy this high. We seem to be going in circles not knowing quite what to do and feeling overwhelmed. As you transition, crown, and finally re-birth into being able to access your higher consciousness you will see how the third dimension was like a box which served as an incubator as we evolved into a higher civilization. Our physical body and energy essence, the spirit, are now merging into one more refined frequency, giving us the opportunity to be more illuminated and enlightened.

Species survive by adapting to a changing environment. Our relationship with time is also changing because in the world of frequency the limits of hours, minutes and seconds are not experienced the same way. Third dimensional reality separates past, present and future but the new time /space paradigm has no time constraints. As we morph and change into our evolutionary advancement we will also find that we can more easily tap into past lives (which are really parallel lives) along with the ability to recognize the nonverbal Universal language of synchronicities, intuition, number patterns and energy to help us create a life of infinite possibilities. I felt that there was a need for a book filled with information that would convey a clear and concise understanding of how to tune in, what to expect and how to adjust to the new frequencies that ignite awareness. There had to be something to serve as a New Coming of Age manual to guide you through your cosmic puberty so I diligently wrote The Book of Transformation.

As we shift and go through our ascension process, it will be necessary for us to understand what it means to be extrasensory and recognize that the Chakra centers are our psychic energy hubs. These centers pull in and distribute the vibrations around you and send off warning signals when you start to pull in too many negative or lower frequencies. Many people don’t even know that they have energy vortexes or Chakras because all of this very pertinent and empowering information has been kept secret or made  to look like esoteric, fringe beliefs for fear that we would uncover our true genetic make-up. The time has come to disclose our Alien ancestry and realize that we were designed (yes, we are a designer specie) to be extraordinary beings. It is important that as we spiritually mature we learn to handle our extrasensory, telepathic, psychic spiritual attributes responsibly so we can eventually be socialized into the other galactic communities.  You didn’t think that we were alone out there in the Universe, now did you?

This empowering shift that we are going through will help us remove ourselves from victim consciousness and see how things don’t happen to us but rather because of us.  Your intentions and thoughts are the new coloring book and crayons for bringing about your personal experiences of created reality. Our new auspicious relationship with the cosmos is one of authentic truth and light.  No more lying-we will all be more intuitive and psychic and one can only imagine how this attribute will affect relationships.. Have you been spacing out? Are you often feeling confused and not centered?  This is happening because you are becoming more energy sensitive and adapting to being extrasensory, telepathic and clairvoyant. You will be finding out that it is normal to be paranormal. The portal to higher consciousness is now open for all who choose to ascend. Wait until you start seeing spirits on the other side of the quickly thinning energy veil that once separated our dimensions of consciousness.  Spirit entities, Ascended Masters and guides will make themselves available to us as we merge into the world of higher energy.

We have been preparing for this new energy shift since the harmonic convergence of the late 1980’s which ushered in a period of Earth's "cleansing" and global awakening to love and unity through divine transformation. We are now going through the detachment from the old beliefs of religion and materialism and advancing toward a new consciousness of spirituality and energy. In hind sight we can see that all the kids we once thought of as ADD and candidates for Ritalin are really our evolutionary precursors, the Indigo, Crystal and Rainbow Children who came into the world at this time to lead the way into a more authentic existence. .As long as we understand that a frequency change is going on, we can get through this, but it's not always an easy journey since you may experience some physical, emotional and mental discomfort as you go through your spiritual awakening. Anything in your life that does not match that high level of vibration coming in is being transformed or cleared out so that you can have a more peaceful, lighter and loving life.

The coming end to materialism as we know it gives way to an insight as to how people will redefine themselves by looking for more creative and authentic careers, choosing simplified life styles, eating organic foods (food also has a vibration), embracing holistic health care and striving for relationships that are based on love instead of fear; compassion instead of possession. Maintaining our new homosentient body requires the use of integrated healing modalities to keep energy levels up and running.  Metaphysicians and light workers will take on the role of doctors when it comes to treating our energy body and we finally realize that any true healing must be resolved first within the layers of the vibrational body.

You just have to look around and see the current state of the world economy to realize that we are now being challenged to let go of the heavy, material things that we can’t drag into a lighter side of life.  Without a doubt, we are experiencing a time of spectacular change. We are living during a time that holds the potential for us to ascend. Our transformation will release all of our darker energies that are threaded together on fear so we can re-boot our energy fields with the lighter, more illuminated energy of love.   I guess it is safe to say that as we transcend the limits of the third dimension and move toward higher consciousness, enlightenment will become the new “Sexy.

Lisa Barretta is a practicing astrologer, intuitive counselor, certified Reiki practitioner, and author of The Street Smart Psychic’s Guide to Getting a Good Reading. During the past 30 years she has developed her client base strictly by word of mouth. Her client list spans North America, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East. Lisa resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Check out her new release The Book of Transformation

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Positive News of the Week


Paralyzed Woman Completes Marathon

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Long Lost Brother Found through Craigslist

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Microsoft Kinnect Helps Detect Autism?

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Ballerina Defies the Odds

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Maya Calendar Discovery A Game Changer for Doomsayers by James A. O'Kon, PE

The announcement of a sensational discovery of murals and calendar calculations, at the ancient Maya site of Xultún in Guatemala, is a boon for Maya archaeology and a real “reversal of the field” for doomsayers, who predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012. The newfound calendar calculations indicate a Maya calendar with a longer length of time equal to 17 baktuns rather than the 13 baktuns cycle that ends on December 21, 2012. A baktun is 144,000 days. The 17 baktuns equal a time period of time of 2,500,000 days or 6850 years, a longer time span than the 5126 years in the 13 baktun cycles. The current 13 baktun cycle ends on December 21, 2012. The new found 17 baktun cycle extends the Maya time line for an additional 1124 years to the year 3136 CE. The Xultún calculations do not identify a specific date but indicate that the Maya had all intentions of  extending time into infinity, and December 21, 2012, is only a place mark in time.

The “doomsday” date of December 21, 2012 has been heralded by media hype to be the prediction of doom and gloom. Few people realize that the date of December 21, 2012, which is the end of the 13 baktun cycle, has been found on only one monument, in all of the Maya cities. The date is inscribed on a broken stele at the site of Totuguero near Tabasco, Mexico. Nowhere else in the approximately 40 to 50 thousand Maya monuments with carved hieroglyphics has this date been observed. The dates on certain monuments extend farther into the future, such as the inscription at the site of Pakal’s tomb at Palenque. Pakal’s tomb is inscribed with his birth date plus 20 baktuns to the date of October 13, 4772 AD which indicates that the Maya had all intention of extending time far into the future.

The calendar calculations and murals at Xultún were uncovered by William Saturno in 2011. The unprecedented discovery was a fortuitous find when a graduate student, Max Chamberlain, noted vestiges of paint on the interior walls of a Maya structure. Further excavation of the stone-filled chamber revealed the first Maya murals ever encountered in a building that was not a palace. In addition, it contained the oldest calendar calculations yet discovered. The structure has a 6 foot by 6.5 foot interior space. The murals were miraculously discovered to be in excellent condition. The murals had been protected from looters by the interior stone fill, but primarily their preservation was due to the advanced building technology of Maya engineers. This building system protected the building and it’s interior. The structure consists of a vaulted Maya arch (which I describe in detail in my book) which is constructed of a durable composite of cast-in-place concrete and stone. The outside of the structure was waterproofed by a coating of exterior stucco and an interior stucco plaster coating covered the internal walls and also served as a painting surface for the murals and calendric hieroglyphics. The east wall, which was painted with the mathematical calculations, had been plastered and re-plastered several times, indicating that they were apparently used it as a surface for painting calculations. The 40 square foot room was also installed with a built in stone bench, indicating that it was probably a studio for scribes and astronomers.

In addition to the calendric calculations, the mathematical tabulations include the 260 day ceremonial calendar, the 365 day solar calendar and lunar cycles, the 584 day period of Venus and the 780 day period of Mars which are located nearby the calendar calculations.

The use of this wall as a writing surface conjures up images of Albert Einstein calculating higher mathematics on a black board with chalk, or a modern physicist writing on a white board with an erasable marker. The Maya calculations were painted over layers of plaster that had covered previous calculations and the visible calculations are made in black paint with mathematical errors corrected in red paint. It appears that great minds have worked in the same manner for millennia.

This ancient “white board” calendar painted in 817 AD is a major find. Prior to this discovery the only  Maya calendar was found in the Dresden Codex, an 11th or 12th century Maya book that survived the Spanish Conquest. This 9th century find at Xultún and the Dresden Codex were both based on earlier Maya books that had deteriorated long ago. David Stuart, an archaeologist and specialist in reading Maya glyphs, who deciphered the Xultún glyphs was quoted as saying “it’s very clear that the 2012 date, which is the end of 13 baktuns, while important as a turning of a page in time, the 14th baktun is going to be coming, and baktun 15 and baktun 16. The Maya calendar is going to keep going and keep going for billions, trillions, and octillions of years into the future.”

It appears that Saturno and Chamberlain knew they had a significant find, but they surprised the world and pulled a “Howard Carter”, the archaeologist who discovered King Tut’s tomb in Egypt. They uncovered an unprecedented archaeological treasure trove. Their find was not gold and jewels, but an immense archaeological breakthrough that will rewrite archaeological theories by unveiling the new calendric calculations and murals in this new venue.

The pair will go down in history not only for discovering an intellectual archaeological find, but also for reversing the playing field on the media hype and doomsayers who predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012. The doomsayers have predicted the end of the world by a variety of causes: collision with a dark planet, reversal of the poles, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, to name a few. The Xultún evidence gives needed relief to millions of worry warts concerned with the end of the world. It also means that when you wake up on December 21, your only fear will be that there are only four more shopping days until Christmas.

James A. O’Kon, P.E. is a professional engineer with decades of experience designing award-winning projects. He has also spent 40 years investigating Maya engineering feats and lost Maya technology. His investigations have taken him to more than 50 remote Maya sites. He has delivered numerous scientific papers to scientific symposia dealing with Maya technology. He was inducted into the Explorers Club as a National Fellow for his work on Maya technology. A resident of Atlanta, he is currently an expert witness on construction failures and a problem-solving consultant to global corporations when he is not in the rainforest. Learn more by visiting his website.

The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology is now available.

Further Reading:
National Geographic
MSNBC

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A.D. After Disclosure: When the Government Finally Reveals the Truth About Alien Contact

What is the Government Hiding? 
How will they and the world react when disclosure finally happens?
For more Information about A.D. After Disclosure, Click Here

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weird News of the Week


Mysterious Hum Only Canadians Can Hear

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Bandages that Dissolve On Your Skin

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Rescue via Bouncy House

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Everglades Python Invasion

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Positive News of the Week


A Waste Free Land

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Boss-Free Zone

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A Deeper Love

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fall 12 New Releases

We're excited to announce that our Fall 12 catalog has just arrived and with it we have 13 new releases to keep on your radar.  Find out more by visiting the individual book links below.


Ancient Mysteries

by Philip Coppens
October 12 Release

Analyzing the historical and archaeological record, best-selling author Philip Coppens demonstrates that there is substantial evidence that civilization is far older, far more advanced, and far more special than is currently accepted. Clearly, our history books have left out a great deal!

by Erich von Daniken
November 12 Release

Evidence of the Gods offers the best and most impressive evidence to date, along with concise explanations for the images, to bolster the case that von Däniken has already been making quite convincingly for years.

by Scott Alan Roberts
February 13 Release
From the Serpent, Nawcash, in the Garden of Eden; Atum, the Egyptian snake-man; and Quetzalcotl, the feathered serpent god of the Mayans to the double-helix snake symbol of Enki/Ea in ancient Sumerian literature, the serpent has been the omnipresent link between humans and the gods in every culture.

In The Secret History of the Reptilians, Scott Alan Roberts investigates and examines the pervasive presence of the serpent in human history, religion, culture, and politics.

New Thought

by Carla Wills-Brandon, PhD
November 12 Release

To live our lives to the fullest, we must relieve ourselves of the false notion that death is the end. Departing visions help us do this.



by Dr. Jennifer Howard
December 12 Release

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the missing “how to” for getting unstuck and moving past your problems and into a richer and more meaningful life, creating lasting change, and making a difference. It’s a roadmap to living your most happy, most authentic, most amazing life.


by Sahvanna Arienta
December 12 Release

The Lightworker’s Source is a much-needed guide for newly awakened or even fully conscious Lightworkers to reveal their authentic selves and find fulfillment in the lives they are destined to live. You will be inspired by true stories of fellow Lightworkers who have awakened to the divine intention of their own lives, and learn to develop practices to enhance your own Lightworker gifts.

by Susan Shumsky
January 13 Release

By using simple prayers and affirmations, we can experience immediate healing, comfort, and solace. We can gain self-empowerment, inner strength, and wellness beyond our dreams. Instant Healing is for all those who want to transform their minds and the atmosphere.

by Dr. Synthia Andrews, ND
February 13 Release

The Path of Emotions explains how emotions are the key to mind-body communication, translating information from subtle energy realms into useable guidance. Understanding and harnessing the power of emotions will help you make better decisions, heal your past, and create the life of your dreams.



Health

by Matt Mumber, MD & Heather Reed
Foreword by Dr. Andrew Weil
September 12 Release

“Sustainable Wellness describes a larger medicine, one that includes the tremendous healing power rooted in the natural world and our own internal resources. This is the next step in the evolution of health care.”
—Dr. Andrew Weil

Whether you’re looking for improved physical health, better ways to manage stress, or just a greater sense of inner peace and wellness, Sustainable Wellness offers a simple but powerfully effective plan for transformation.


Paranormal

by Nick Redfern
September 12 Release

From the legendary Loch Ness, Scotland, to the slopes of Mount Shasta, California; from the dark depths of the Solomon Islands to the heart of the Kremlin; and from the magical landscape of Sedona, Arizona, to the turbulent waters of the Devil’s Sea of Japan, The World’s Weirdest Places reveals the sheer astonishing scale of strangeness that dominates our planet.

by Dr. Bob Curran
October 12 Release

Dr. Bob Curran visits the Louisiana bayous, the back streets of New York City, the hills of Tennessee, the Sierras of California, the deserts of Arizona, and many more locations in a bid to track down the vampire creatures that lurk there. Join him if you dare!

by James D. Stein, PhD
December 12 Release

The Paranormal Equation presents an argument for the existence of supernatural phenomena based on the mathematics and science discovered during the last century. It also explains why supernatural phenomena must exist if the universe satisfies certain conditions—conditions which are accepted by many working scientists.


UFOs/Paranormal

by Micah Hanks
December 12 Release

The UFO Singularity finally reveals what UFO phenomena can tell us about greater-than-human intelligence, and offers provocative theories of where such intelligence might originate.
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