I am a Tiger

I am a tiger

I am a tiger: lyng lazily in my cage, watching life march by.

  • Soft and cuddly, warm and furry, colorful and bold – catching your eye.
  • Lumbering and slow, yet fleet and fast when in danger.
  • Pacing back and forth, twitching my tail, impatient in anger.
  • Loud and fierce, roaring in pain, scaring you away.

I am a tiger: dozing lazily in my cage, keeping life at bay.

Is there an Other Side?

a northern cardinal perched on a wooden fence

Have you ever wondered about whether there really IS an “other side,” a place where people go after they die?

I was raised Roman Catholic, so I was taught about the 3 options:

  1. Heaven, where good girls went
  2. Hell, where bad girls went
  3. Limbo, where babies go if they die before they’re baptized

A pretty gruesome explanation on the surface, and one seemingly contrived to manipulate “good” behavior through fear. It worked on me for a while and, over time, I designed my own theory about afterlife.

I’m also open to other perspectives. For instance, my brother believes ghosts exist and come from the other side, whether to even the score, say hello, or carry out their own nefarious purpose. I’ve never [knowingly] witnessed a ghost but I don’t DISbelieve they exist. I’d just like some proof before I embrace the concept.

Back to my theory about the other side.

I don’t hear my parents’ voices in my head nor do I see transparent versions of them in my room at night. Yet I’m convinced that when other people speak certain phrases Dad used to say or when I see a Mom-shaped shadow on the ground at my feet, my parents are reaching out to me from Heaven. Or wherever it is they are these days.

Same thing when I’m playing with my dog Angus and unconsciously call him Delaney (my beautiful boy who died 10 years ago). Or when I drive by that diner where George and I used to eat lunch in the summer. Hot dogs and homemade potato salad: not a meal our co-workers enjoyed!

Serendipity can easily take credit for these events. It can also claim responsibility for the sun bursting through the cloudy skies hours after we buried my mother.

I was driving back to the cemetery because I still couldn’t let her go. When the sun turned the world yellow I felt this … presence, this expansion inside my chest, this … I don’t know. I just felt my mother beside me, inside me. Like when I was a kid sitting next to her chair in the living room and she’d place her hand on my head and tell me everything would be okay. Like that.

Sure, you can insist that people don’t live after they die and provide me with tons of biological evidence. You can quote psychologists and psychiatrists who say our minds work in unaccountable ways and that so long as we think and talk about the people we love, they’re alive in our minds. I know all that, and even agree with you.

But you can’t tell me people, including Delaney, aren’t still out there somewhere–not and have me believe you.

Let’s talk about signs.

Cardinals are commonplace where I live and although everyone in my family has seen many of them, I’ve only caught the occasional glimpse–until last week. I took a break from a short story that wasn’t coming along the way I wanted. Actually, I was short storying because I was having issues with my novel. I sat in the back yard with my flowers, did some deep breathing, and tried to regroup. A bright red cardinal interrupted my meditation, flitting from fence post to flowerpot to tree branch and then repeated the circuit like he was high on speed.

I immediately received a silent message. Only problem was: I had no clue what the message was or who it was from. Not being a fan of birds, I knew nothing about cardinals other than males are red, females aren’t, and you see a lot of them at Christmas. I recognized  the bird’s urgency, so I returned to my office after he flew away and did my writer thing. But first, I researched.

Aside from the Bible, which refers to a cardinal being a symbol of hope and restoration, Roman mythology considered the cardinal a messenger of Jupiter, king of the gods (Zeus, in Greek mythology). Native American traditions embrace the belief that totem animals (animal spirit guides) accompany us through life, and that each individual travels with a primary animal guardian. Native Americans attribute cardinals with devotion, loving relationships, courtship, and monogamy. Some tribes believe they are associated with other characteristics, as well.

Regardless of whether the spiritual association is historical, religious, or spiritual, cardinals represent hope, new beginnings, and faith. Most believe they are messengers from a soul in heaven. A common saying is: “Cardinals appear when angels are near.”

My father’s favorite color is red. His name means “world ruler.” He was the biggest pusher of positivity. In his later years, he was my go-to person when I had a writing slump. (FYI, I dedicated my book, Taking the Mystery out of Business, to him.)

That afternoon I cranked out two short stories.

Don’t tell me there isn’t an “other side.”

Writing Exercises

blue orange black green white adidas soccer ball on green field

Last week, I mentioned I’ve been dabbling in flash fiction as part of my regular writing exercises. This week, I’m on a roll creating short pieces using prompts. This piece is the quick result of using the following five words/phrases: soccer ball, sidewalk, car, blanket, hot coffee.

At this moment, I’d rather do anything than chase a soccer ball around a field, kicking at opponents and crashing into teammates.

Sidewalks are much more conducive to civilized ambulation than grassy fields are. Who in his right mind wants to dash around beneath the scorching sun–on display like an energetic version of a roasted chicken on a spit at the grocery store? Yes, instead of turning in at the gates, I believe I’ll stroll past the field today and engage in a more cultured form of exercise.

Hmm. Now that I’ve decided to play hooky, I think I’ll bundle myself up in the back seat of a car–complete with a flannel blanket and a cup of hot coffee–and allow myself to be chauffeured to the beach instead.

–Pele, on a bad day

What writing exercises do you use?

3 Updated Resources for Insurance Professionals

As anyone who attends my insurance CE webinars knows, I love to share new and updated resources on a variety of insurance topics. Many are subjects of the classes I develop, write, and teach. Others simply catch my interest.

Here are URLs to 3 different resources I stumbled across recently and thought you might find interesting.

2023 Guide to Cannabis Markets

The Insurance Journal magazine provides a wealth of information not only in its magazine but also on its website and via free newsletters. In its 2023 guide, you’ll find carriers that offer insurance programs for clients in the cannabis industry, information about proper dosing for edibles, and other tidbits. You can also subscribe to free newsletters that focus on topics that include Insuring Cyber, Health & Benefits, Agencies for Sale, Research & Trends, Property.Casualty Products and Services, and more.

InsurTech Center

Insurance Technology is transforming our industry. Don’t fall behind when it comes to understanding and implementing tools that will help you grow professionally. PropertyCasualty360 is a great print magazine and online resource that addresses a tremendous number of subjects. Its InsurTech Center has separate areas on its website devoted to, among others, Artificial Intelligence, Analytics & Data, Information Security. You can register for newsletters here.

Insurance Fraud

Although I shouldn’t be, I’m constantly amazed by the creativity employed by fraudsters. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has a great website that includes scam alerts, excellent detail about how insurance fraud works, free webinars, and podcasts.

Did you know that scammers posing as life insurance agents are scouring obituaries and then approaching grieving individuals after their spouses have died? Here’s the deal: The fraudster claims the deceased spouse purchased a huge life insurance policy ($1 million or more) and wanted to keep the policy secret. However … the most recent premium needs to be paid before the grace period expires if the deceased spouse/beneficiary wants to submit a death claim. Obviously, there is no policy. Click here for scam alerts and other highly beneficial information.

Flash Fiction and Short Stories

a drink in a glass with green leaf

My hiatus from blogging is now at an end, thank goodness, and I’m dabbling in different types of writing–including flash fiction.

Since November, when my life got a little crazy for a while, I completed a novel and sent it off to a number of agents and publishers. It’s receiving good reviews but not good enough to convince a publisher to buy. Yet.

I’ve begun a new novel, have returned to writing short stories, and am having a lot of fun creating flash fiction. I’ll be submitting some of the shorter pieces to publishers and sharing others here on my blog.

Here’s the first installment of flash fiction. I used a prompt for this piece, which included writing for a total of 10 minutes: 2 minutes each for:

  • A mint
  • A flower
  • A pair of shoes
  • A calendar
  • A phone

Tea Party

The tea tasted awful–like the spearmint leaf floating on top had been soaked in motor oil before being brewed–acrid and brown rather than perky and green.

Perhaps Lorna had allowed the plant to flower, sucking from the herb most of its tingly flavor and imbuing it, instead, with a tang reminiscent of a pair of shoes worn without socks in the middle of summer.

I pulled up the calendar app in my phone and entered a note: Do NOT revisit Lorna’s house for refreshments.