Monday, October 25, 2021

The Stanley Hotel - A Ghost Story

It was a beautiful spring day and my friend was coming for a visit.  We decided to go to Estes Park for the weekend.  We talked as we drove up the mountain, he asked if this was where “The Shining” was filmed.  It was a glorious day - blue sky, beautiful scenery and a perfect way to begin our trip.

As we approached the overlook of Estes Park with the Rocky Mountains rising up in the background it was a spectacular sight.  We drove toward town and noticed a striking building on the hill.  Neither of us knew what it was, so we decided to investigate.  As we drove closer, we marveled at the perfectly manicured grounds and then saw the sign “The Stanley Hotel”.  We agreed that we had to see this but that it would be too expensive to stay there.
As we entered the property, the massive white gates opened to a large patio.  The lobby was beautifully decorated with leather chairs surrounding stone fireplaces, antique tables with fresh flowers brightened every corner, it was warm and inviting.  We inquired about the rates and were surprised they had a special price for the night, so we decided to stay.  After checking in, the desk clerk informed us that the hotel was haunted and that they had ghost tours in the basement after dark.  We thought it was amusing and a good tourist attraction but declined. 
As we climbed the stairs, we noticed the air changing, it became heavy and dense.  The brightness of the lobby faded as we walked toward our room.  We opened the door and immediately were struck with the closeness of the space.  Not only was it very small but there seemed to be no air circulating.  We decided immediately that this would not be comfortable and asked to change rooms.  They moved us to a large, beautifully appointed suite with a great view of the mountains. 
We enjoyed a luxurious meal at the restaurant and continued to marvel at the wonderful surroundings.  We planned on going into town later and do some sightseeing but never left the hotel.  Throughout the evening, several people approached me saying I looked like someone they knew.  When I went downstairs to the rest room, I felt a chill in the air.  The entire time I was there I felt as though I was being watched, it made me very uneasy and I hurried back to our table.  My friend laughed when I told him and reminded me about the ghost tours, it was funny and I quickly put it aside.   
It was getting late so we decided to go back up to the room.  As we talked, I felt a draft of cold air and looked to see where it was coming from.  I saw an apparition of a man step through one of the doorways and disappear.  Just then, my friend asked if someone was behind him.  Standing over his shoulder I could see the faint outline of a young girl.  We both were stunned, not sure what was happening.  Slowly we began to speak, this felt like a child’s spirit nothing malevolent or frightening.  Suddenly, the energy changed dramatically, the room filled with cold air and a bright light flashed across the room and splashed on the bureau mirror.  It felt as though dozens of very angry people were trying to get into the room. 
It was 2:00 a.m. and seemed strange to check out in the middle of the night but we could not stay.  We were relieved to see a friendly night clerk at the desk. She informed us that this was a regular occurrence and that she had seen some extraordinary things herself. We talked to her for some time and then she told me I looked very much like a woman who passed away many years ago.  We drove back down the mountain in silence; years later I still think about what we encountered in that strange and dark place.  I have never returned to the Stanley or to Estes Park.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Creative Writing for Fun and Healing

I have loved words and written in one form or another most of my life.  What felt like a small, isolated world became rich and full of grand adventures on the page.

My early experiences were in making up stories for the lives of my dolls and the make-believe places that they lived.  I would take inspiration from the books I read and create an entirely new story.

Somehow, putting those words down on paper made them feel more real. 

The Beginning

I was in Junior High when my English teacher asked if I wanted to write a short article for our school newspaper.  Even though I was writing in my diary almost daily, it never occurred to me to write something that someone else would read.  The thought terrified me.

With a lot of help and encouragement I wrote about some of the civil rights events that were going on at the time.  What I realized was that writing it down and sharing it helped me release some of the anxiety I was feeling.

True Expression

Over the years I continued to write – diaries, journals, short stories and even the beginning of what I thought might turn into a book someday.  I didn’t want to share any of that, those were my deepest thoughts and feelings.

Writing gave me the confidence to express my true self without worrying about criticism or praise.  I was able to let my feelings flow from the pen to the paper and it always felt like a relief to let it out.

Over time, I found that writing had become my pleasure as well as my personal therapy.  Everything I was feeling – happy or sad, went on the page.  Sometimes it was just a scribbled note while I was sitting at the doctor’s office.  Anything to just get it out of my head.

Do it for yourself

As I began to share some of my writing with my family and friends, I received a mixed response.  Some offered support and others were very critical.  Neither felt satisfying.  Going through that made me think about why I was really doing this.  Did I want acceptance and acknowledgement or did I just want the outlet? 

Like anything else, I needed to try some things on to see what felt right.  For me, writing was a very personal expression and I learned that if I would just do what made me happy, that was all I needed.

I didn’t want to write for a living, or be a famous novelist – I just wanted to write whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Start Small

Ten years ago, my daughter suggested that I start a blog.  It sounded interesting but I had a lot of apprehension about sharing anything publicly on the internet.

I was such a private person that I wasn’t even using social media yet.  After giving it some thought, I decided to dip my toes in to see what it felt like.

Blogger offered a free, easy way to get started, so I decided to give it a try.  If I didn’t like it, I could just stop and take the blog down.

At first, I published very short, generic thoughts and comments.  I had always written long-hand so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this new electronic format. 

I liked that I could see what posts people were reading and where they were from.  It fascinated me that I could connect with people all over the world through my simple blog.

New Avenues

As I became more comfortable with this new medium, I explored some of the avenues that were available.  I could write reviews of products and services, articles for magazines, even eBooks if I wanted to.  The internet provided so many resources, the options were endless.   

Then I saw a post asking for guest bloggers with Sixty and Me.  I wondered if this was something I could do.  It was an opportunity for me to write about issues that mattered to me and share it with a community of people my own age.

I appreciated the different topics and viewpoints on the website and decided this was something I wanted to do.  That was 6 years ago and it has been such a wonderful experience. 

Have Fun

What was important to me was to continue to stay true to myself.  I found my voice in the world and now it’s all about enjoying the journey.
Do you like to write?  What is your favorite medium?  Do you want to be published or are you happy just doing it for yourself?  Share your stories and join the conversation.