Monster Mash – Favorite Halloween Song

It wouldn’t be Halloween if I didn’t hear Bobby Boris Pickett’s 1962 classic song Monster Mash playing on the radio. Listen here in stereophonic! This song was #1 on the charts in 1962 for two weeks, and played at my first Halloween Sock Hop at school in the 1970’s.

Optimizing Yourself – Week 45 – Oct 28 – Nov 3, 2013 – Listening Is An Act of Love

LIstening is an Act of Love

Listening is an Act of Love

Listening Is An Act of Love

M. Scott Peck –“The Road Less Traveled”

For this week’s optimizing yourself exercise, I am going to actively listen to people, without getting distracted with other things.

Dr. Peck says one of the most important ways you can show people you love them is by listening to them. By investing the effort to pay attention to them, we extend their spiritual growth as well as your own. It is a two way street, where both the giver and the receiver benefit.

I am going to actively listen to the people that are speaking to me this week, and I will let you know how it goes next week.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Ann Singing Hey Jude With Paul McCartney in Vancouver

Ann singing Hey Jude with Paul McCartney

BC Place wrapped in British Flag

In a knock one off my bucket list moment, there I was, almost a year ago, being summoned by Paul to sing “Hey Jude” with him as one of the “ladies”.

Paul was the bassist in The Beatles, who performed on The Ed Sullivan show in New York on my 2nd birthday on Feb 9, 1964.

The band gobsmacked North America with their music, songs, and being themselves, and became one of the best rock groups of all time.

The first time Paul performed in Vancouver, was with The Beatles at the former Empire Stadium in August 1964.

And 48 years later, in 2012, he finally returned to Vancouver to sing Hey Jude with me.

I Want to Hold Your Hand was the first Beatles’ song I heard. My mom and I would sing it while holding hands on our way to the grocery store. I was 4.

The first dance I learned was the twist, inspired by their song Twist and Shout. I remember twisting my hips from side to side when the song played on the radio. I was 5.

Paul McCartney's childhood home in Liverpool

Paul McCartney’s childhood home

My husband is a huge Beatle fan, so in 1984, we visited Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles. Our tour stopped at the childhood homes of George, Ringo, John and Paul, and the barber shop in the song Penny Lane and went to Strawberry Fields.

We crossed the famous crosswalk in Abbey Road in London, went to EMI House where the Beatles recorded, and sat on the steps of Paul’s MPL Studios like a couple of apple scruffs waiting to see Paul, to no avail.

Ann crossing Abbey Road, London

Ann crossing Abbey Road, London

In 1987, Paul announced a concert at The Kingdome in Seattle, and my husband and me, and another couple drove to Seattle to see him. Paul’s charisma shrinks the crowd, and draws you closer to him, turning a football field into an intimate club. The place radiated with love for the man. It was the best concert I had seen… up to that point.

When Paul announced his Vancouver concert in 2012, I was fortunate to get 4 floor seats for my husband, myself, and two of our sons; our other son was away playing hockey.

As we drove into downtown Vancouver on the night of the concert, the outside of the beautiful BC Place Stadium was wrapped in a Union Jack of moving colored lights, with tens of thousands of fans inside, who had waited patiently for years for Paul’s return.

The 71 year-old rocker dazzled us with a non-stop, 3 hour parade of timeless classics. He poured out his musical love to the crowd, filling the air with the soundtrack of our lives.

From the first song, Paul made a personal connection with us. Then, after he sang a beautiful acoustic version of Blackbird, he said “put up your hand if you’ve tried to play Blackbird with it’s difficult chord changes”, and 20,000 people put up their hand. I felt like he was talking to me, having spent hours trying to make the difficult chord changes for that song on my guitar.

Then the highlight of the night was when he asked me to sing “Hey Jude”, as one of the ladies. He said I sounded “so sweet”, and gave me a hug from the stage (see attached you tube video). My youngest son filmed the video, and he pans the camera to his Dad on the left, who is in a trance like state as Paul has asked him to sing “Hey Jude” with the “fellas”, as Paul calls them.
At the end of the second encore to wrap up the show, Paul sings “The End”:


A fan posted about “The End” “To make a 2 minute song with 4 lines in it and having the most powerful message in those four lines you have to be the best band in the world!”

That four line song became an anthem to a generation, and that 3 hour concert, which left the audience in awe, had to be the best concert in the world.

photo credit – Union Jack News

Review of Week 44 – Optimizing Yourself – Satisfy The Mind to End Food Cravings

Mind stops food cravings

Your mind stops the craving

For this week’s optimizing yourself exercise, I became conscious of my eating habits. I normally eat a limited quantity of food during the day, then crave snacks in the evening. Deepak Chopra says when you reach for a snack, stop for a moment and ask yourself why you are eating it. If you are not too physically hungry, are you bored, or stressed, or something else?

I tried this technique this week and found that stopping to think about my snacking helped. A few times I changed my pattern, and went away from the kitchen and satisfied my mind by listening to some soothing music and I forgot about food.

photo credit: Hillary Stein via photopin cc

A brief history of Halloween Celebrations

Halloween scene

Halloween Jack o’ Lanterns light the night

On Halloween, I see more of the supermarket than the supernatural.  With my cart full of pumpkins, candy, decorations, and costumes for my kids – and of course my dog Rocko, I contributed to the scary amount of over $8 billion dollars that was spent on Halloween in North America last year.

Halloween was once a magical night for children to dress up as ghosts or superheroes and trick or treat for candy, but has been transformed into an all ages celebration, where adults wear scary masks, not to ward off spirits, but to drink spirits, (pun intended),at the bars and clubs hosting Halloween parties.

I have always felt excitement and anticipation on Halloween.  The anticipation as a child, waiting for my Mom to make my gypsy costume on the night of; as a teen, taking my niece and nephew trick or treating; as an adult, sewing my party costumes; and as a parent, hosting sleepovers with my kids and their friends watching Halloween videos and trading the frightening haul of candy in their pillow cases among themselves.

Halloween fun

Kids ready to trick or treat

Origins of Halloween:

The Asian version of Halloween is The Hungry Ghost Festival, held in the 7th lunar month, usually around July 15th, which the Chinese have celebrated for over three thousand years, coming from The Buddhist tradition, which has a superstitious twist.  Many, but not all Chinese, believe in ghosts, and offer food and gifts to appease their deceased ancestors, and those who have left their physical bodies to return to earth for the day.  They also burn incense to ward off bad luck and cleanse the spirits.  The month long July celebrations take place in many locations, including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

An old Chinese saying is: “If you believe in ghosts there will be ghosts, and if you don’t believe in ghosts, there won’t be ghosts.

When I taught ESL for a few years, some of my Asian students talked about ghosts.  And, they were not the type to tell tales, especially tales from the crypt.  One student said he saw a spook in the library stacks back home in Korea, and another one told me about the village apparition that appeared outside his apartment building in Korea.

Confucius, the revered Chinese philosopher, born in 551 BC, said: “Respect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them”.

Hungry Ghost

Hungry Ghost Festival

In Mexico, the Aztecs celebrated The Day of the Dead for over three thousand years.  When it merged with Catholic philosophy, the date was moved to All Saints Day Nov 1 and 2.  The Aztecs historically used skulls in a ritual honoring death and rebirth, but the skulls used now are made of wood or sugar.  They believed the dead returned to earth during the month long event.

Today, in rural Mexico, people bring flowers and candles to the gravesites of their loved ones, then sit and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.  Many Mexicans in Mexico and America build altars in their homes dedicated to the dead, and place flowers, food, pictures and candles on them.

Halloween is also connected to the Celtic Festival of Samhain, or “summers end” in ancient Ireland, which was held on the Celtic New Year, Oct 31st; the last day of fall, before the start of winter.  The post- harvest land looked like death, with bony skeleton like tree branches poking through the fog, and they believed it was the time when souls from the otherworld could most easily enter their physical world, and they lit bonfires to cleanse the souls.  In the middle ages, Catholic missionaries renamed it “All Hallows Eve”; (All Holy Eve), the night before All Saints Day.

Samhain summer's end

Samhain summer’s end

For thousands of years, people have held celebrations at the end of the harvest, before winter comes, and have been curious about spirit.  Halloween is a harvest of candy and fun for kids, a huge party for many adults, and a boon to the economy.    Ann Hoy


sources:   Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach,, Hong Kong Tourism,, Hungry Ghost

Photo pin/flickr/creative commons.

photo credit: <a href=””>Professor Bop</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>  – Photos – photo pin/creative commons

Optimizing Yourself – Week 44 – Oct 21 – 27, 2913 – Satisfy the Mind to End Food Cravings

The mind is the key to loosing weight. When the mind is satisfied, the body quits craving too much food

Deepak Chopra 

Since my diet hasn’t been going too well lately, I am going to take Deepak Chopra’s advice and try a different approach and focus on satisfying my mind, so my cravings for food at night will stop. I will let you know how it goes next week.

Review of Optimizing Yourself – Week 43 – My Imagination Paints My Dream

This week I wrote in my dream journal and felt a good vibe.  This is what my dream feels like:

I am walking down a street that is made of stones and feels bumpy beneath my sandals. The sun warms my back as I touch the soft petals of the hibiscus flowers in the blue flower boxes outside the store windows.

I feel healthy and happy and energetic.  I am doing what I love – walking and writing and reading and sitting outdoors and learning a lot of new things, while meeting interesting people.

The villa I am staying in has cypress trees growing near the windows providing cool shade in the evening.  I can reach the branches and feel their spiky texture through the open window.

I am cooking the vegetables that I pulled from the garden outside the kitchen, and serving them at a big table outdoors made of stone mosaic that has been smoothed by the elements over the years.  I am sitting in a comfortable

wicker chair and sharing the food and laughter with my friends and family while the children laugh.  My dog’s soft furry head is resting on my foot.

Optimizing Yourself – Week 43 – Oct 14 – Oct 20,2013 – My Imagination Paints My Dream

Paint your mind's dreams

Paint your mind’s dreams

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream”

Vincent Van Gogh

For this week’s optimizing yourself exercise, I am going to paint my dreams in my mind.  I am going to dream in colors of  ocher and magenta, feel the beauty in the painting’s texture and tone, and imagine that I already have my dream.  They say that what you can conceive, you can achieve, so I am going to write down my dreams in a dream journal each day, and take a few minutes to meditate on them.   I will feel the clothes I am wearing, see the location I am in, and taste the food I am eating.  We are all artists painting dreams in our minds, and  if we dream  with no limits, our positive thoughts can create our own masterpiece, that is uniquely ours.  I will let you know how it goes next week.

Review of Week 42 – Optimizing Yourself – Don’t Worry About What Others Think

This week, as I didn’t worry about what others think, I was able to be myself.

Ester Hicks says that many of us learn at a young age to care about what other people think. We learned if we pleased our parents and our teachers, we got their love and felt good, and if we didn’t please them, we didn’t get their love, and felt bad.

By staying on my own path, and loving myself, I don’t worry about other people’s approval. I let other people’s thoughts belong to them, not me, and I take responsibility for myself and how I feel.  

By not trying to control other people’s thoughts, I give up the need to control them, and we can both be ourselves;then we are both free.

The Embodiment of Faith


A Catholic's View of faith

Mother Teresa Embodied Faith


As I travel along my spiritual journey, I explore the subject of Christianity and touch on the Catholic faith, as I am familiar with it.

I became a Catholic upon my baptism at 2 months old.

For children, Catholic masses can seem long, especially high mass.  When I was 4 years old, with my dangling feet swinging back and forth below the church pew, I learned the meaning of eternity, as I was told to sit quietly during the mass for over an hour in all my rambunctiousness.

When you are born into a religion, you learn what to believe.  But  I was also curious about what other religions taught.

I attended Anglican and Baptist church services (both Protestant) with my friends, to see how they worshipped.  I learned that they taught similar messages to the Catholic faith.

Faith in Jesus is the route to salvation for all Christians, but Catholics also believe good works have merit, and there is a place called purgatory separating heaven and hell.  Protestants believe adherence to Scripture has more merit than good works.

Catholics, like all Christians, believe that God so loved the world that he sent us his only son Jesus to give us everlasting life.  Salvation hinges on your faith in Jesus, not your religious or church affiliation, as many people in the world do not have access to churches.

As the Dalai Lama says, all religions are good, and are all based on love and compassion.  I do not view the Catholic Church as better than any other church, but it is what I know, so am using it as an example.  It taught us to be humble, forgiving, compassionate and loving.  The overriding message was:  “to be a good person”.

I respect all religions.  They may not be perfect, but they are run by humans trying to build a human family to follow the wishes of God, and they help a lot of people in need.

photo credit: <a href=””>FredMikeRudy</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thankful for the harvest of my life

“Gratitude is an inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is following that impulse”.

Henry Van Dyke

In our farming past, Thanksgiving was a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the winter season.

Today it is a holiday where many people share a traditional turkey dinner and pumpkin pie with family and friends.

To me, it is a day to say thanks for everything I am and have, and all the wonderful people and animals in my life.  I have abundant love and health and joy in my life, and the more I count my blessings, the more blessings I attract into my life.

I hope your Thanksgiving is extra special!  Ann

photo credit: photopin/thanksgiving

Week 42 – Optimizing Yourself – Oct 7 – Oct 13, 2013 – Don’t Worry What Other People Think


“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

Wayne Dyer

I am changing the category“bettering yourself” to “optimizing yourself”  this week as “ there is no end to better” as Georgia Nicols, my favorite astrologer says.  Optimizing is to make the best or most effective use of my resources, and that is more fitting.

For this week’s Optimizing Yourself I am going to focus on being independent of what other people think, and continue on with my day.  Their definition of me is limited in the same way that my definition of them is, because it’s impossible to understand or know everything about another person.

I will let you know how it goes next week.

Don't worry about what other people think

Other’s thoughts of you don’t define you

photo credit: <a href=””>Fire Monkey Fish</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>