Hello Everyone,

October 2015

I love October, not just because it is my birthday month but because the air changes, the season changes, the time changes.

It is when we must embrace the fact that the time change will have us seeing the dark sooner. A time when the trees begin to let loose the leaves, orange, brown and yellow leaves flying about.

It is the time when the ghouls and horrors are seen in decorations, shows, movies and parties.

It is the time when we say farewell to the summer heat, smile toward the cooler weather and wonder of the winter to come.

Happy October! May there be light within you to shine upon the earlier darker hours. May the ghouls and gremlins that ring the door bell make you smile and partake in trick or treat.

May you embrace the change in season knowing... it will bring us back to Spring soon enough.

I have added a tab - Whisper my words, which is a link to my site where I post stories, poems, AndMore events and the Watcher's Journal. Take a peek and enjoy.



September 28, 2011

Inspiration me...How to handle stress like...

Well...in a perfect world maybe.

How do you handle stress?

I had two ways - just two.  One was a best friend.  I could go to that person and their zen like way would just melt away the stress.  I depended heavily on that friend, yet the times I could not get that zen made me realize it was temporary at best.

Another is my trips to upstate NY.  My Uncle and Aunt - Serenity and Tranquility.  But there was a time when I had no car and could not get there.  The stress would just eat me away.

I take milestones as a way to reflect.  To see what has changed well and what needs to be changed as life is an ever changing series of moments.  My new milestone is turning 45 in just a week.

The greatest thing that I needed to change is how I handle stress.  I started by eliminating that which I could not control so that I could then focus on the things I could.

I remembered the book  Biting Back by Claudia Cunningham which I read at the beginning of the year.  I used it's examples to see who had to be removed or pushed back.

I eliminated the need to talk to people about what stressed me.  The overabundance of opinions is added stress.

I then started to make new friends - like minded friends.  Awakening my spiritual side.  The writer in me.  The blogger.  The thinker.  Therapy at the tips of my fingers while stroking a keyboard.

I set guidelines on how much drama I would allow (not much these days).  Then I took a good long look at the goals I had set in the last 5 years and how many I achieved.  Not much.

I began to think about those goals and began to reset realistic ones and added a few more.  The whole time knowing that isolating myself for this time was best.  Sometimes when you are so close to the stress, to the ones causing it or even you causing it by connecting with those that do not reciprocate; you lose yourself....Stress!

At the end of this inner quest, where I stand with my new goals on the day of that milestone, I will at the very least know how to handle stress.  Handling it without relying on others.  I am almost there.

The hard part is breaking away from the self made crutches.  The second hard part is walking into the stress, right smack in the middle to face it.  Set aside the ones that can be controlled and eliminate or push back the ones I can't, until stress-free I can adapt.  

There is a practice that has helped me - meditation.  I light a candle and meditate at times thinking of nothing at all, others thinking of a peaceful mountain.  Warm winds flowing and my sitting at the top... stress-less.

People keep saying 40 is the new 30, 45 the new 35.  I say Bullshit!  45 is 45, I love each year I age.

I said something to my Aunt recently that shocked her.  "I love aging, seeing each year arrive and pass knowing there is an end to it all".  Sounds morbid, but I don't say it in such a way.  I think when we see ourselves as immortal as never aging, never dying we don't set goals.  We don't define ourselves in a good manner; be productive.  We just save things for next year.

I know and welcome an end one day.  Hopefully not soon but when it comes my greater hope is that I did not allow stress or depression stop me from living.  I hope that I did not allow foolish fantasies and the chase for love from people that can not and will not reciprocate stop me from living and living a stress-less life.

If I can reach any milestone...may it be that one.  Until then the dogs may just have the right idea.

September 22, 2011

Social network police

I guess this will be my first rant if it can be called that on social networking.
I have spent a few days reading things that give me a chuckle but at the same time makes me say...I am not wrapped within your voice - don't say WE.

1.  There are the Policy police, these are the postings that will give a policy of their terms on how they will circle or uncircle (hmmm doesn't sound right, but I will continue to use the word), Unfriend or unfollow.  Seriously...I just do it.  No policy.  If I have someone circled whose material offends - bores or just doesn't interest me - I with no malice just uncircle.  It's not personal, nor do I take it personal.  It's been my habit with Twitter.  I rarely get passed 450 for that reason.  I go on these sites for a reason...well many reasons.  It feels odd to see something like that on my stream...a diatribe of what it will take to see what a person posts.

2.  There are the complainers, these are the commentators that will read a post then complain about what they read, how it was written, why it was written. Again...uncircle,
 Unfriend or unfollow - it's easy.

3.  The dictators, these are the WE people.  They make a list for those they call Newbies stating what will be and not be tolerated.  On free social networks.  On several bullets I notice 'we aren't here for that' 'we don't want that here'.  I am not that part of WE.  Simply because I may want to see what someone is showing whether it be pictures, gifs, items they made and are promoting with a link or any other post that crosses my stream.  If I don't like it....wait for it.....here it comes....UNCIRCLE,
 UNFRIEND or UNFOLLOW.  I have nothing to sell that doesn't mean I am not interested in seeing someone show their work even if it is for sale.

4.  The warfare on social sites.  I read blogs, articles, news updates, jokes - pretty much a ton of stuff a day.  On many sites.  It's a preference not a defining moment of a human being.  I have many friends and family that are just happy with FB and Twitter and good for them.  I have new friends on the new G+ social network and good for them too.  I really don't feel the need to pressure or judge anyone for the choice they make on what social network they 'choose' to be on.  After all...it's communication.  Kudos for anyone communicating regardless of the social network they do it on.

So...I will not post all day long, some times I just read.
I will 'share' 'like' and 'retweet' pretty much anything that is of interest to me and find it interesting to others.
I will ALWAYS share-like-retweet any authors writing, pretty pictures, news updates or rib cracking jokes.
And if I offend any policy....wait for it....here it comes....uncircle,
 unfriend or unfollow me.

It's a choice.  Isn't it grand to have one.

September 21, 2011

Inspiration me...I miss you Dad, Happy Birthday

Today my dad would have been 75.  He passed away 4 1/2 years ago.  They say time heals all wounds, I truly don't believe that.  The pain of losing him is as harsh today as the day he died.

I spend a lot of mind time thinking of him.  He always had good things to say that kept one thinking.   He had one of the best sense of humor of anyone I ever met.  He loved comedies, ham and egg and telling jokes.

Here are some of things he taught -

If you have nothing good to say - say nothing.  (Still working on that one, but I have gotten better)
If a man doesn't respect you once, he never will.
Don't dress to please another, please yourself the rest will follow.
If you don't have a sense of humor life will be harder on you.
Kiddo, let go of your son when it is time.  It will be hard, but do it.
Don't stay mad at your sisters, you don't get to pick new ones.
Forgive your mother.  She's your mother.
Always tip the gas attendant near home and work, a woman may need help and they will remember you and say yes.
Never complain about food before they serve you. If you complain don't go back.
Don't make a scene, have your disagreement in private.
Love yourself, when someone stops loving you, you will still be loved.

Most of the above he said throughout my life, however much was said the last 2 years which were his hardest.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you and miss you.  My heart aches for your jokes and smile.

Tu hija, Graciela

September 16, 2011

4 things to keep in mind when blogging

I read blogs...ALOT and I have noticed some things that for the most part lacks etiquette.

1.  Follow me! Follow me!
Having followers is great.  It tells you that your hard work and written material are liked and hopefully shared.  But are you following back?  Are you even taking the time to see who your followers are?  Do they have a blog?

Step outside of your blog box and see what others have to say.  Check out their sites as well you may be pleasantly surprised. Perhaps their site is not to your liking...how would you know?

I'm not a numbers person, heck my blog doesn't even have a follow me link.  I rather subscribers - come look when you like and leave when you like.  Most of my followers subscribers are from my International penpal profile and have been reading for years.  However, I have seen blogs that are looking to increase their numbers in followers whether for a cause listed, contests they are participating in or to spread important news.  Be kind and meet your followers and visit their blogs.

You don't have to follow all, you may be surprised at some real fascinating writers.

2.  Got your Widgets on?
I am a Google Plus fan.  Although I keep my Facebook page active I am rarely on.  I have hundreds more in G+ than Facebook.  Add all ways for someone to LIKE or + your blog.  Keep updated with social networks and add their widgets so more visitors and followers can spread the word.

3.  You talkin to me?
I don't always comment but I have a pet peeve of commenting and noticing a stream of comments where the blogger has not acknowledged, responded or appreciated them.  I often think - Why bother? Are they even reading it?  A quick note is all it takes most especially if the comment is in the form of a question.

4.  Spread it like Country Crock butter!
Love a blog? Got a chuckle? Spread the word link.  Don't be so greedy, let someone else know about a great post, article, blog, story or better yet tid bits of a book (love me some of those).  Add a note so your followers know why you recommend the link/blog.  I do it all the time and it's not time consuming, heck in Twitter you only have 140 characters. Short and sweet is best.

Well...that's it.  I have to go and read me some blogs!

September 15, 2011

Inspiration me...Who are those whispers

Years ago I went through a horrific time.  Someone close had not only torn my belief in others but in myself.  I wrote a poem (Who are those whispers that I hear) and won a contest.  The irony was a bit much - winning cash for misery.

I find myself torn by many and yet still not as torn as when I wrote that poem.  Hopefully this one will not be in the same depth, for it is with my writing that I speak my confessions...

Who are those whispers

Who are those whispers that I hear
bringing forth a dark fear
Chanting woes of those close
causing such tremendous throes

Stop those words of malice and deceit
my faith in them knows no retreat
Whisper not the warnings hushed
leave me now for I am crushed

Who are those whispers that I hear
let not my love for them die here
Sing not of their unloving ways
for my hearts song will always pray

2011-Gracey Castro

September 14, 2011

My Little Book Review...The Dark Path by Luke Romyn

Just look at that cover!  I kept hearing the Twitter buzz that is usually seen from my Tweeps on books to read.  I saw this one and thought I was too chicken sh*t to read it.  I sent a tweet to the author saying as much and he simply said 'You'll be fine'.  I had been reading his blog with growing interest.  He has a way with words and one blog in particular I read to my son.  A Zen type of writing, on occasion some witty and out right funny posts.  Nothing apart from a small hint on his profile bio would lead you to believe that he could create a story so dark and so cruel.  I put on my big girl pants and entered began the story.

The story...
Enter The Dark Man - he is truly that, a dark, cruel remnant of a man called Vain.  An assassin who shows no mercy simply because he has none.  Some of the things he does will leave you quivering if you can picture it while reading.  He doesn't care about anyone or anything.  His past made him what he is a killer like no other.

Enter Priest - Vain is given the task which he accepts begrudgingly to save a boy whose life would save the world.

Enter boy - Sebastian an innocent whose life gives the world hope and whose death gives Evil reign.

Enter The Four - Is it good versus evil?  Evil versus evil? Evil with a conscious versus evil?  Perhaps you will figure it out.  The Four spring forth from the pits of hell and are hell bent (couldn't resist using those words) on getting Sebastian and raising their Master.

Can Vain save the boy?  His own tormented and dark soul?  Was it wrong to choose him?  He travels a path that will either lead to complete and eternal darkness or hope for the future of mankind.

My take...
I can't tell you how many times sounds of anger, shock and torment was made while reading this book.  Always on my commute to either the distress or enjoyment of fellow passengers.

Vain managed to take my emotions and rip it in half.  I never knew when I felt angry, sympathetic or shocked the most.  It seemed each chapter was well prepared to bring up each emotion at will.  Luke Romyn did not just create a story, he created multifaceted characters that will leave you invigorated...exhausted...in awe.  Truly he must have dipped a sword in ink to write this.

I can't remember a time I read a book and was truly saddened to get close to the end, knowing there would be no more pages once I got there.

You will turn each page and travel to places you never thought of, hell alone will make you sweat while reading and you will be left as exhausted as those fighting their war.

I can't recommend this read enough!  Truly it has opened my palette to yet another genre.

Get Your Read On and get this book!

Don't take my word for it.....check out these reviews:

Bitten by Books - http://www.bittenbybooks.com/15659/the-dark-path-by-luke-romyn/#more-15659

Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6780666-the-dark-path#other_reviews

Barnes & Noble Customers - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-path-luke-romyn/1102625034

I'm not big on rating with numbers, but as someone pointed out...sometimes that's what people look at first.  So no stars, I heart this book...

More about the Author - http://www.lukeromyn.com/

Purchase this book - http://www.lukeromyn.com/purchase

You can follow me on Twitter to find out what books are on my read list - @gracey_castro

September 12, 2011

The Young Today...Intolerance or fact?

Certain things people say I have had going through my mind lately:

These kids today feel entitled.
The young today respect no one not even themselves.
Lazy, disrespectful and with no ambition. The whole lot.

Each time I would shake my head at the intolerance.

But I have to admit I don't see much of the contrary.

Like the one that has no self respect and therefore has even less for their parent/s.  Thinking that just because they are a legal age they can do what they want.  Even though they can't fend for themselves and at the end of the day; on most days they revert to childlike behavior to get what they 'want'.  Notice how I didn't say what they need.

No respect, they complain about how bad they have it.  I remember my parents waiting for each of us to be at the legal age where we could work in the summer.  They would take some of the money for 'rent'.  We didn't have a choice, if it was summer we worked a part time job, we didn't go out unless the chores were done and we watched out for one another.

Let's see how bad our parents were.  We learned to be responsible.  We didn't have time to get into trouble.  We learned finance early on.  The measly bucks they took?  Heck, it didn't even put a dent in the rent.  My parents would save it and give it back when we were strapped for hangout cash.  Not to mention the hundreds extra from their own pocket for clothes, food and necessities.  They taught us how to save for a rainy day.

My sisters and I babysat during the winters.  Easy cash.  It's been years since I hear of a teenager babysitting.  Heck, I rarely see one work.  I am not saying 'the whole lot', but more than there should be.

But the sad thing is I am not just talking about teens.  People in their twenties and well into their early thirties are a hot mess.  No respect for themselves or others.  No responsible acts.  Kindness??? FORGET IT.  I see them pushing the elderly to get a seat on the train.  I see them drink into oblivion then say with a straight face they don't have a problem.  I see them piss their money away then bully their parents into giving them money, some will just scam or manipulate them.

I recently told someone in their twenties that they were a scammer.  The reaction was just appalling.  A shrug of the shoulders, a tilt of the head and a smile.  That's what they are proud of scamming and manipulating others for what they want instead of earning it themselves.  It just makes me shake my head at the train wreck of a future that is ahead of them.

I asked another in their early twenties, what are you most proud of?  Their answer?  Getting my parents to pay for my car insurance.

I asked one in their early thirties, what have you accomplished for yourself to expect someone else in your life.  What have you to offer?  What makes you think you are a 'catch'?  The answer? Are you ready for this?......wait for it........here it comes........I want it.

They act like they are well above their years.  Looking down to those even younger when they themselves have yet matured.  Handing out worldly advice about anything under the sun when their own lives are a mess.  I especially love it when they try to give advice on parenting, that just cracks me up.  Don't have kids, act like a kid and expect real parents to take advice from them.

Their future seems frightening to me.  Their lack of knowledge and basic skills out of school is terrifying.  This is our future!  I hope they are the least of the numbers, but my eyes say otherwise.

I wish I could say that I have some optimism, but it seems you can't get through to them.  And..when you think you have you find that you've been had.

I pray for those that have smartened up.  The ones that are making a life for themselves enriched with kindness, respect and healthy doses of self esteem.

I pray even harder for all the rest.

September 09, 2011

My Little Book Review...Becoming, Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy

Becoming - Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy Book One- a young adult fantasy romance novel by Raine Thomas

This book was buzzing tweeting around for a while.  Finally, I decided to check it out and purchased a download.  The very first page left me thinking 'Oh yeah, this is going to be good', but I have been wrong before.

NOT this time!  Daughters of Saraqaels are 3-orphaned girls that surprise the reader and themselves.  I spent some time thinking 'What are they?'  They live with humans, look, act and grow as humans but you are led to believe there is more.  Estelorians now come in and the book's suspense increases.  Raine Thomas takes you on a journey and does not release you until you finish the last page and even then you are left wanting more (thank goodness for books two and three).

Ah...but I stray, here's the recap - no spoilers as I really think the page turning mystery of their lives is worth the wait.

The book initially tells you of Amber and how an unexplainable power surge comes from within her every 3 years.  She goes on with life growing with a fear that the surges get stronger and more dangerous.  Obviously this causes Amber to be guarded and cautious.  Luckily she has Gabriel, an orphan as well who aside from having a southern accent described to melt you, he also has Ambers complete trust.

At 18 the power surge hits and it's much stronger.  On a trip with Gabriel they end up meeting the remaining two Daughters of Saraqael, Olivia and Skye, oh and Aurora the cat (you'll love her).  One step ahead they already knew more than Amber of their own gifts and the reasons for them.  Amber soon learns she is half human and half Estelorian and a new journey begins.

If you are looking for the latest vampire or werewolf craze, you won't find it here.  Raine Thomas takes on a whole beautiful idea of existence on another plane and allows you to visit.

This book surprised me for a few reasons, one of which is the genre.  But I have opened myself to it and will continue to 'visit' the three sisters and their quest to safe their species.  You will get action, emotion, heart racing events and some hot moments with Gabriel and Amber.  This book will reel you in and take you for a ride to this plane and.....another.

Find Raine Thomas on Twitter - @raine_thomas

Next on my reading list - The Dark Path by Luke Roymn, my first horror book (me scared).

If you are running out of books and have not been getting your READ on, follow me on Twitter to get to know some new books and authors.  I have some great ones on my follow list.

I have joined a Book Club Circle on G+ and will also be reading KOP.  No reviews for Book Club reads but if I mention one and you are interested in learning more of it, let me know.

Remember!  Get your READ on!

For more on the book check out the authors site:   http://rainethomas.com/books/becoming/

An interview with the Author from The Book Hookup:   http://thebookhookup.com/2011/09/08/interview-with-raine-thomas/

September 02, 2011

AndMore...Yup, there's more. Irene, I despise you.

I haven't written an AndMore in a while, if you thought nothing has been going on...think again.  I just haven't had the time.

I now despise that name.  If you are reading this and your name is Irene, get off my blog (only kidding...sort of).  That lunatic bitch wind along with a sewerage issue backlogged my sister and mom's house.  Displacing them since the storm.

Imagine spending a couple of days cleaning shit water.  On occasion you were saved and could smell urine instead.  Everything in the basement which was filled with over 4 feet of sludge water had to be thrown out.  Refrigerator, stove, washing machine, dryer, etc.  But me being me there was something to entertain me., their neighbors.

Neighbor one - is an elderly woman whose daughter visited prior to Irene and was stuck there.  She is a nurse and spent the whole weekend in her scrubs, nailing, taping, bricking (I KID YOU NOT) and sand piling the house down.  She removed pictures from the wall, I mean she acted as though they were moving out.  All to no avail - they got 4 feet of sludge water too.  The irony is she wore for the clean up, scrubs, elbow length rubber gloves, face mask and boots.  She had to open the basement door (one of those slant ones) from the inside and walk across the basement through that sludge in scrubs.  HELLO?????

Neighbor two - not to be outdone with the damages, she got about 1/2 foot of water on one side of the basement, her house is on a slant - I guess her basement is too.?.  She bitched like she got 10 feet and if anyone tried to make light of it she was ready to rumble.  She sat outside for hours griping.

Neighbor three - they call him grizzly, I haven't seen him I can only guess why.  He chose this time of disaster to point out to his neighbor (#two) that her gutter is not structured right, therefore when it rains it creates a puddle that leads to his basement.  I guess that's his way of finding how to get someone to pay for his 3 feet of water damage.

Neighbor four - he works for the Post Office, he looks a hundred, his wife looks in her early fifties and they have teenage kids.  The hunched manner in which he walks makes me wonder if it's the weight of realizing he had kids too late and he is too tired.  He built a WALL around his yard; a fucking wall that blocks out my sisters side of the yard from his.  The fence is a bright white monstrosity.  This wall did not keep the water out, but his house being on the highest ground only gave him about a foot of sludge water.  He's not complaining too loudly...the government owns his ass.

I decided to start a little petition for my sister and her community.  The city is back peddling on the sewerage issue hoping home owners will go to FEMA for a low interest loan on something they should have fixed prior to any storm.  While the DPW manager walked behind us we began to ring bells and take names much to his chagrin.

Some of these neighbors have lived along side one another for more then 20 years.  They know pretty much a lot about each other but they don't know one another.  I found that interesting to say the least.  They were most eager to sign the petition. Honeslty...they should have done this years ago.

I have never been a type of neighbor to want or need to meet my neighbors.  But this event and all that came after made me think...Why not?  It takes a community to build one and it takes a community to protect one.

Could we have gotten to a point where we alienate ourselves and thus it gives towns, politicians and others the confidence to screw the public?  I think so.  Actually, I believe so.  But on another note, it was really nice to meet these strange and yet funny characters, most of which were most eager to chat.

Since then I walk around my own neighborhood and speak to people.  At first they are reluctant or even suspicious (than again I pretty much can intimidate a shadow).  Once we get on to talking it's quite lovely.  I have been invited into homes and had tea or refreshment.  I can say that I belong to a community and not just living in one.

Are you part of your community?  Do you prefer to talk about your neighbors or with?  In a disaster can you count on them, can they count on you?  If you had to clean shit out of your home...would they lend a hand, would you?

I may despise Irene but I appreciate the awakening within she has given me.