Tag Archives: non-fiction

Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: Judas by Peter Stanford

Judas   I have never made it a secret that I have a great deal of empathy for this haunted apostle who was either the biggest traitor of all time or possibly a key figure in God’s overall plan, but I usually avoid reading a lot of books about him. My reason for this is simple…You can lay out every conspiracy theory out there, find a bunch of ancient writings, but in the end, we’ll still never know the truth.

This book was a little different though. Instead of offering up DaVinci Code level thoughts on the subject of Judas Iscariot, it instead offers up a history of how Judas has been portrayed in history, art and popular cultural. Stanford gives us a WONDERFUL look at this individual, what we know, what we don’t and the conclusions that have been drawn over time.

Although I chose this book because it didn’t purport to be a “be all and end all” account of Judas, I actually learned something. Stanford said commented that if you start looking at Judas based on the accounts of the gospels, you are starting from the wrong place. In actuality, the first writings that mention the events surrounding Jesus’ arrest are Paul’s letters, so that is where you have to begin and Paul never actually names names. Only the gospel writers do, but the story grows as the books are written. Though all four gospel writers name the same person as Jesus’ betrayer, who is he? Where did he come from? What was his function in the movement? Why does he get the equivalent of a last name? These are the questions that can’t be answered, yet historians, writers and artists have been willing to fill in the gaps which form our overall opinion of this guy and what ultimately happened to him.

When it comes to a religious history book, I think Stanford hit the nail on the head with this one by simply reporting the facts without offering extraneous opinions. You will learn that Judas’ reputation has evolved and changed with the times, is based somewhat on non-sacred writings such as The Divine Comedy and includes some of the most recent references to Judas in pop culture such as Lady Gaga’s single, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ.

I highly recommend this book not for what it doesn’t say, but what it does. This was incredibly well written, non-exploitive and I look forward to reading more of Stanford’s work in the future. Buy it or Borrow It.

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Buy It, Borrow It, or Bag It: Our Great Big American God by Matthew Paul Turner

God book   If I were being totally honest with you, I have to say that the first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. There was something about that scrubbed up family on the front that reminded me of my younger days when attending church was a dress up affair complete with white gloves and a kid-sized pocketbook. What I found inside would not be to everyone’s taste.

Turner takes readers on a journey through the evolution of Protestant faiths in America, how the puritans came to the “new world” to escape religious persecution and how they determined what the American concept of God would be. This book does not touch on Catholicism, LDS, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, Amish or anything outside of mainstream Protestant faiths (e.g. Baptists, Presbyterians, Christian, etc.) It covers some of the “rock stars” of the evangelical movements who traveled from town to town to convert the masses and to spread the gospel message. Many of them do not fair very well in the retelling, but I was pleased to see that Billy Graham did. Turner is very kind to the minister that my father and grandparents regarded so highly.

In the end, I am glad I read this book, but at times it did get tedious. I would no sooner crack up at Turner’s text, and then be back in the 1700’s at the time of the Revolution and I expected it to be funny all the way through. If I had to do it all over again, I would have borrowed it from the library rather than actually pay for it, but if you are a religious history buff, you might enjoy it. Borrow It.

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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: It’s Your World by Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea    Note: This review is based on the book and the author only and is not designed to be an endorsement or detraction of anyone connected with the 2016 Presidential race.

Once upon a time, there was a book about the various ways kids could get involved and improve the world around them. Like a lot of kids, Chelsea Clinton read it and was inspired to due her part. As the daughter of an Arkansas Governor and ultimately United States President, Chelsea was in the extraordinary position to actually travel the globe and see the various issues affecting our world today and be able to share those experiences with the next generation. The book is full of unique initiatives, facts, and personal anecdotes, but it is best read by an older teen as it is not what I would consider “light reading.”

Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely applaud Ms. Clinton’s efforts and think it is a well-written volume, but it could have used more white space instead of a direct narrative, more tables, and less explanation. When I was reading chapter two for over three days, I think it’s safe to call it “too much information” and there were times that what I read saddened me so much, I had to put the book down. It’s not that I have a problem with reality and do not feel that it should be highlighted, but it’s hard to feel like you can do something when you are too bummed about it.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen Chelsea use a lot of the new e-book technology to blend text with video and other interactive options that would have kept a reader engaged better than a huge volume of words. I think readers would have been a bit more mesmerized by it, it would have been a book that could have easily been updated and would be one that I think many teachers could have adapted and incorporated into their classroom curriculum. It was a great effort, but is really only for the diehard teen humanitarians. Stick with the original book Chelsea herself read and bag it.

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Buy It, Borrow It, or Bag It: This May Seem Crazy by Abigail Breslin

Breslin    JSYK…the first thing I have to say about This May Seem Crazy by Abigail Breslin is that I am well-aware I am not her target audience. As a 43-year-old mother of two grown sons, I am about as far away from Breslin’s teen girl readership as one can possibly get. Still, I was given a signed copy of the book and because I am the kind of person who tends to read a little of everything and likes to keep up with what kids think and feel, I decided to give it a read. It is interesting to note that I actually learned a couple of things along the way.

From what I understand, Breslin is an avid blogger and her book definitely reads like a cross between a one-on-one conversation with a girlfriend and an extended diary entry. She shares relationship advice with young girls peppered with personal anecdotes of situations gone wrong and what she has learned from it. This book is not particularly deep, does not include a faith component and is at times hard to follow. It is full of acronyms (many of which I had to look up), OMG-type interjections, rhetorical questions and stream-of-consciousness storytelling. I am not going to lie, I did get a headache at one point, but that’s OK…If I were 15-years-old chances are I would understand everything she said and how she said it would make perfect sense to me. Since I am not, I won’t pretend that it did.

Evidently, Breslin is an avid blogger and her book certainly reads like a cross between a one-on-one conversation and an extended diary entry. There are a lot of acronyms (many of which I had to look up LOL), plenty of OMG-type interjections and stream of consciousness storytelling. I have to assume if I were 15-years-old, everything she said and how she said it would make perfect sense to me, but since I’m not, I won’t pretend that it did.

The book focuses on relationships with guys, girlfriends and all that she has learned from both. It is scattered, a bit confusing and at least once I had to wonder where her mother was, but I don’t want to presume she wasn’t around. If you have a daughter who is a fan of Breslin’s and has wondered what it’s like to be friends with her, this book is about as close as she is going to get, but I would not make a huge investment in what is essentially a shallow read. Borrow it and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tingle Tuesday: ASMR Dependency and Immunity

ASMR image1      Is ASMR harmful in anyway? Can you become addicted to it? What happens when it stops working? These are all questions we have seen on various message boards so allow me to put a few concerns to rest. When the whisper community/ASMR community began, it was all about helping people relax and get to sleep at night. This remains the primary goal of ASMRtists everywhere; therefore ASMR is not intentionally harmful in any way.

That being said, safety is always the key word when indulging in any practice that operates on a subliminal level or has the ability to put you to sleep or in a hypnotic trance for a period of time. If you are knew to the ASMR phenomenon, here are some top tips and rules to keep in mind:

  1. Do not try and trigger your tingles while operating a car or heavy machinery.
  2. Screen all videos/audio content prior to using them for ASMR purposes.
  3. Use foreign language content judiciously. (Hey, I am triggered by it myself and most ASMRtists are just offering something different, but keep in mind although YOU may not know what is being said, the subconscious might and I am aware that there was one ASMRtist who was being very derogatory in their FL content. So, just be aware. )
  4. Screen content prior to allowing your children to watch it. This seems fairly obvious, but it bears mentioning.
  5. Discuss any concerns you have with your personal physician.

As far as we know, it is not possible to become “addicted” to ASMR however; it is possible to develop an unhealthy reliance on it. Allow me to explain. If your love of ASMR content is preventing you from enjoying a full life outside of a computer screen, then you may want to do something about that. Any psychologist will tell you that substituting a real life for a virtual one is not healthy, but be assured it’s your behavior not the content doing that to you. I am of the opinion that although ASMR can help you get through the rough times when you are in need of a good night’s rest, it is often most effective when you are doing everything you can to have a normal, happy, healthy life. Remember, it is a supplement, not a way of life and you lesson the chances of ASMR immunity when it does not become an everyday occurrence.

ASMR immunity is something that comes up frequently and essentially refers to those moments when your go to videos stop working and no matter what you do, you cannot seem to get the ASMR tingles to occur. Rest assured this is very normal and typically comes from over exposure to the same video and ASMRtist. When we get used to their voice, their actions or if we have watch the video so much we have it memorized it can negate the effect. For some, the solution is to find a new ASMRtist while others take a break for a while and then come back to it. If you have experienced this yourself rest assured there is nothing wrong, and more importantly, the condition doesn’t last forever.

Untile next time, tingle on,

J-

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Read this blog post at: www.thewaterwhispers.com

Read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR: http://www.amazon.com/Idiots-Guides-ASMR-Julie-Young/dp/1615648186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432674500&sr=8-1&keywords=Idiots+guides%3A+ASMR

 

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Tingle Tuesday: Fission and ASMR

Fission   This is another debate that comes up frequently on ASMR message boards and in social media. Is it the same thing as goose bumps or the feeling you get when you hear a really great song on the radio? I have a feeling I am going to tick a lot of people off with my assessment on this subject, but I’m just going to go for it: it’s all in the same family of feelings.

It distresses me that as a community, members frequently bash one another because of their goose bumps or fission feelings that “aren’t” technically the ASMR feelings we have accepted as our own criteria. If I may step on a soapbox for a minute, these feelings are very valid and can help folks discover their true ASMR triggers. Telling someone “no, it’s not the same thing” essentially shuts them off from that discovery and is a disservice to the continued understanding of this area of the mind.

We tend to accept on premise that ASMR probably has something to do with a release of dopamine and we know that the chills experienced during music illicit the same brain response. We also know that ASMR often feels like goose bumps without the raised skin effect so are we not shooting ourselves in the foot by alienating other conditions rather than learning from them?

When I began writing the ASMR book, I spent a lot of time reading about things that are seemingly unconnected to ASMR. For example: “Why do people watch things?” “Why are certain sounds more pleasant than others?” These queries did not always lead me to relaxation sites but often led me to education sites such as “How do people take in information? Sight, sound and touch” and audiology sites that explained head space, the inner workings of binaural sound and biological concepts that I should have memorized way back when.

Because we still know so little about ASMR, it is vital that we examine as much information as we can from a variety of fields of study without prejudice. Finding similarities as well as differences will lead us to better information that will help researchers develop more ways in which to study the phenomenon and give it widespread credence throughout the entire scientific community.

Until next time, Tingle On,

J-

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Read this blog post at: www.thewaterwhispers.com

Read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR: http://www.amazon.com/Idiots-Guides-ASMR-Julie-Young/dp/1615648186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432674500&sr=8-1&keywords=Idiots+guides%3A+ASMR

 

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Tingle Tuesday: Could there be an ASMR therapy center?

ASMR Angel    This is a question I see asked online frequently and one that is often eluded to in ASMR role play videos: Could there ever come a day when there might be a real life ASMR center where people could go and get their tingles on through the services of an ASMRtist? (Note: I can only answer as someone who lives in the United States. I can’t vouch for the possibility in other countries.)

Technically speaking, we already do when we go to a spa or a salon and have our tingles triggered by a professional aesthetician, but if we are talking about a traditional branded storefront with a menu of ASMR services and a handful of ASMRtists ready to perform them…well, I think that is still a long way off. Don’t get me wrong. There are ASMRtists who offer personal consultations through Skype and I think in time, there may be more ASMRtists who will offer live ASMR demonstrations and book one-on-one appointments through a network of referrals in order to meet a demand for this kind of service, but an actual center? That could take a while. (In the meantime, we may have to contend ourselves with some online storefronts such as ASMR Angel’s “Penny’s Posh Picnics.”)

The primary reason I say this is because there is no way to regulate it and it will not take long for someone to shut it down, someone to get sued and a myriad of other problems to arise. I’m not trying to be a “Debbie Downer” about this, in fact…I think it’s a great idea, but from a practical standpoint, there are problems with the business model.

Years ago I was watching a segment on ABC’s 20/20 in which reporters were looking into “hair braiding” salons, which were being shut down left and right because the stylists were not licensed cosmetologists. Now these people were not cutting, straightening, or dying anyone’s hair. They were only braiding it and yet some entity wanted to shut them down or for the individuals to invest several thousands of dollars to get a license. While this rule varies from state to state and I am speaking in generalities here, I can only imagine what people in power could do to an ASMR center.

ASMR not only continues to be widely misunderstood by some, but as of this writing it has not been accepted by the clinical community as an official “alternative therapy.” With no research on it and the various practices used in the ASMR video segments, can you imagine anyone in power allowing this to go on as a legitimate business? Many ASMRtists fake real medical exams ands other services that require very real licenses in the real world. Sure, we could argue that people could sign a waiver and must acknowledge that the ASMRtist is not a medical doctor, but I just see too many people having BIG problems with this.

Of course there are those make up people at the mall who seem to be able to get away with helping clients apply products without a license and no one seems to mind them, but somehow I suspect that they would look at an ASMR center differently and have issues with it until someone creates some kind of training and certification program that can be offered, standardized and regulated. There may still be some raised eyebrows, but it would be a start toward creating the mainstream ASMR storefront in time.

Until Next Time, Tingle On!

J-

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Read this blog post at: www.thewaterwhispers.com

Read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR: http://www.amazon.com/Idiots-Guides-ASMR-Julie-Young/dp/1615648186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432674500&sr=8-1&keywords=Idiots+guides%3A+ASMR

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Tingle Tuesday: Finding the “Whisper Community”

Whispering     Like a lot of ASMR experiencers, I stumbled onto the online whisper community and their trigger videos by accident although I was more or less “involved” from the very beginning. Ever since Connie gave me that biofeedback tape, I was on the lookout for material that could cause the same relaxation response inside of me. I would seek out relaxation tapes/CDs at my local bookstore and at the library, but the selection was often limited.

I can’t pinpoint when I first turned to YouTube in search of relaxation videos, but I can say that my search to find something to settle my brain intensified in 2008 with the passing of my mom. If you have never lost your last parent, then you cannot imagine the desperate feeling of loss that comes along with it. I felt alone in the world. I couldn’t sleep. My entire biological schedule was turned around and I struggled to get used to the new “normal” of being an orphan. As I suspected, there were a lot of videos to choose from including self-hypnosis, guided visualization, meditations, affirmations, etc. but many I sampled had music that distracted me, poor sound quality and vocals that grated on my nerves rather than soothed them.

Frustrated, I noticed a strange looking video in my suggestion queue that promised a whispered hypnotic video for sleep. Is that what I think it is? I wondered

Morbid curiosity possessed me to click on it and before I knew what was happening, I was staring at a young woman who was sitting on her bed whispering at her camera. “What in the world?” I mumbled confused as to what I was watching.

Every molecule in my body told me to exit the video, but I couldn’t. There was something strangely compelling about it. Suddenly my queue was full of “whisper videos” as well as videos that promised clicks, taps, hair brushing and an assortment of other noises.

Though some people may have thought me crazy, I was like a kid in a candy store. I had no idea why these people had made these videos or exactly what the intended point of them was, but it was as though the person behind them knew instinctively what would work on me. Was it possible that they felt it too and actually made videos to create that feeling?

It appeared so. After several days of exploring this new medium, I found videos that actually mentioned the brain tingles I had felt over the years. It was wonderful to be validated by something I hadn’t talked about with anyone before. I mentioned what I had found to my husband and was surprised to learn that he had no clue what I was talking about. I mentioned the Alphabet Game, hair brushing and other activities that had put me to sleep in hopes that he could commiserate, but he said he’d never felt it.

“Oh come on,” I said, convinced he was pulling my leg. “You’ve never felt a weird tingly sensation in your scalp that’s kind of like goose bumps but…not?”

“Never,” he promised, shaking his head.

Later on I showed him one of the videos I had been watching. I can’t remember who made it now, but it was of an unseen person brushing their hair. He seemed a little perplexed by my new source of entertainment.

“Let me get this straight,” he said. “You watch this to get a funny feeling in the back of your head and then fall asleep to it.”

“Well….yeah,” I commented. “I don’t know, it’s as if when they do it to themselves, I can imagine what it would feel like if they were doing it to me.”

He took a deep breath. “Well, there’s nothing odd about watching someone on YouTube brush their hair, I guess. So, does this feeling have a name?”

“Not really. A lot of people just call it the ‘head tingles.’”

He stifled a laugh. “Well, here’s hoping that they come up with something more official than that in the future.”

Until next time, tingle on!

J-

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Read this blog post at: www.thewaterwhispers.com

Read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR: http://www.amazon.com/Idiots-Guides-ASMR-Julie-Young/dp/1615648186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432674500&sr=8-1&keywords=Idiots+guides%3A+ASMR

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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: Hand To Mouth by Linda Tirado

Handtomouth   I cannot say enough about this book. I honestly think it should be mandatory reading for everyone who has ever wondered why the “poor” act the way that they do. Like everyone on the planet I have ridden that line between being a “have” and a “have not” and I spent more than a few years as a “have some, but not nearly enough.” While I have not have to navigate the ins and outs of the welfare system, food stamps and other assistance programs, I have endured low wages, having too much month at the end of the money and knowing that there are people in this world who just don’t get it. What’s more, they tend to talk out both sides of their mouths pretending to understand when really…they don’t, they never have and never will.

What is interesting is that now that I have become a writer, there are some people in my life who must think I enjoy some kind of J.K. Rowling level of fame….yeah, not so much. If they only knew how I am a few pay checks away from being in Tirado’s circumstance, it would blow their minds and I applaud her for being so forthcoming about the information and telling it with just enough “piss and vinegar” to make it an enjoyable read. Are the poor merely terrible decision makers or are the odds stacked against them to begin with? You’ll have to be the judge when you read this, but I guarantee you will have a lot more empathy for those you may have looked down upon at one point and time.

I am sure there are some people who are convinced that the scenarios described in this book are extreme circumstances, but in reality, they are more common than you think. I used to work in a place that distributed grocery gift certificates around Christmas each year. At one point, the powers that be decided to do away with them altogether until enough employees pointed out that without those gift certificates, many couldn’t afford to have a turkey for their holiday meal. During my tenure at this location, I saw the gift certificates dwindle from $14 to $13 to $11.25 (yeah, I am not even kidding) to $10 until not only would it not buy a turkey, the whole thing struck me as an insult. The CEO was driving around in an unmistakable  purple corvette for God’s sake and he couldn’t approve enough money to help out with a turkey purchase? There was a lot of grumbling last year, not to mention an editorial in the local paper (such a talented writer LOL) and lo and behold the next year the money was jacked up to $15. My question remains, why did it take such an uproar for someone to notice that people can’t get by on $10.

I felt a kinship with Tirado as I read her book and I know you will too. I truly hope that she is allowed to use her voice to raise awareness for the plight of poor people and shake the social conscious of the idle rich so that we can begin to help people get off of public assistance, enjoy a job that pays a decent wage and be able to put a title something away for a rainy day. Seriously…read this book, you won’t regret it! BUY IT, BORROW IT I don’t care how you get it, but read it and be the change you want to see in the world.

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Tingle Tuesday: A Biofeedback tape leads to a discovery

outdoors-woman-headphones    Connie was a colleague at hospital who became a dear friend and mentor of mine. In fact, if I had a list of women who have had a profound impact on my life, her name would definitely appear somewhere in the Top Five. She had a way of opening my eyes to new concepts and in an indirect way she was directly responsible for my discovering ASMR. (In fact, if you look closely, I dedicated my portion of the ASMR book to Connie!)

One spring, I contracted an irritating cold that hung on longer than necessary and as a result turned my days and nights around. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I were still on night shift, but I was working in the mornings and was dragging throughout the day only to find myself wide awake at night. Frustrated, I said to Connie, “How am I ever going to get my body’s schedule straight?”

She thought for a moment and then said, “Have you ever heard of biofeedback?”

I shook my head.

She went onto explain that that after injuring her back, she too had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. In order to help her out, her doctor made her a tape of biofeedback suggestions to help her relax. She promised to bring me a copy of the tape the next day in hopes that it might help.

From the way she described it, it sounded a lot like the guided visualizations my professor had used on my self-hypnosis class and at that point I was willing to try anything so I agreed. The following day, she brought me the tape and made me promise not to listen to it while driving. “I’m serious,” she cautioned. “You could wind up in an accident.”

I thought she was being a little overly cautious, but agreed to wait to listen to it until I was at home. That night, after getting the kids to sleep, I lay down, slid the cassette into my Walkman and put the headphones over my ears. There was that hum of white noise that occurs when someone records himself outside of a professional studio and then I heard the doctor’s voice, which caused my brain exploded in those familiar tingles I hadn’t felt in quite a while.

“Is it possible for you to become a little more relaxed?” He asked.

There was nothing special about his tone. It was just…calm and over the next 10-15 minutes, he led me through a variety of deep relaxation exercises as well as some guided imagery to help ease my mind and urge me into a peaceful slumber. Some of the suggestions were obvious such as imagining a babbling brook or picturing the branches of a tree spreading out above me, but others were a little…well, weird and caused me to throw all of my energy into places I’d never put it before.

“Can you feel the corners of your mouth touching?” He intoned. “Can you imagine the space between your eyes?”

Although I knew it wouldn’t make sense to a lot of people, I was hooked. When I built up a resistance to the doctor’s voice, I sought out guided meditation tapes at the local library hoping to find that perfect blend of vocal timbre and suggestion. It wasn’t always easy. I didn’t care for a lot of the background music included in some of the tapes and sometimes it all seemed a little “rehearsed.” The thing that seemed to set apart that original tape was the fact that I could actually hear how amateurish it was. I could hear the doctor readjust himself in his seat or change the microphone from one hand to the other and oddly enough…it added to the experience.

It felt amazing to know that the funny feeling in my head was some kind of biofeedback response and that a doctor had “discovered” a way to tap into it. Little did I know that I had inadvertently hit the top of a very big iceberg, one that when I looked below the surface would change my life forever.

Until next time, tingle on!

J-

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