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5 Truly Haunted Places Worth Visiting This Halloween

5 Truly Haunted Places Worth Visiting This Halloween

Halloween is just about here! This happens to be my personal favorite holiday of the year. As a kid, it meant being able to run around with my siblings and friends and gather more candy than we could possibly eat. We were able to dress up in silly costumes and actually wear them in public. So much fun!

The true meaning of Halloween was lost to me at the time though. The name Halloween is a derivative from the original western Christian Allhallowtide or Hallowmas season. It consisted of All Saints Eve which is now Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. This started October 31st and would go through November 2nd. The long and short of it is that it was meant to be a time to remember the dead.  It was believed that the veil between the living and the dead was thinned and in order to prevent being recognized by the wandering souls/spirits people would wear masks or costumes. This is eventually how Trick or Treating came to fruition. It can also be tied back to the Celtic Roots of Samhain. In the spirit of both what Halloween is today and All Hallows Eve, I have put together a list of places that are claimed to still be occupied by the dead.

1. The Most Notorious Haunted House in Ohio – Franklin Castle

Officially called the Tiedemann House but called Franklin Castle by locals. In the late 1800’s, the Tiedemann family moved into the large home and were quickly struck by travesty. Hannes Tiedemann’s mother and one of his daughters passed away within a few weeks of one another. Over the following three years, three more of the Tiedemann’s children passed away, which is when the renovations began. The story goes that Hannes started the renovations to keep his wife’s mind off of the deaths of her children.

By 1895, Hannes wife passed away from liver failure. He remarried shortly after which started the whispers questioning the truth of how she may have died. Which also begs the question about the validity of the children’s deaths as well. Whether there was foul play or not, there are some very unsettled spirits in this beautiful home. In 1968, James Romano and his family moved in and immediately experienced strange things in their new home. James contacted the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society, a local team of ghost hunters, to investigate the Castle and the story is that one of the researchers ran screaming from the home. The Romanos then turned to a Catholic priest for help who refused to bless the house because of what he felt when he stepped onto the property.

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Several people have attempted to take on the Franklin Castle and failed. Today it sits in disarray with boards covering the windows hiding the eerie presence within.

2. Belleview Biltmore Hotel Haunting

In 1897, a railroad tycoon Henry Plant built a grand hotel. The history is a little convoluted but there is no denying that this gorgeous hotel has several spirits that roam the halls and rooms. There are too many personal accounts of actual sightings and strange happenings to be denied. One man claims to have heard someone tell him to go f-himself and another invisible presence identified himself as “Walter.” Later he claims to have seen a woman dressed in traditional 30’s attire in a hallway and when he walked to her she vanished. As he went to walk upstairs he heard a woman’s voice say, “Don’t go up there. They are mad at me.”

The electrician for Bellevue Biltmore claimed his tools kept going missing and kept encountering freezing spots, in spring. While working on the Starlight Room he was shoved and told to “get out” by someone who was visibly not there. One man claims that a small boy ran into his room followed by his laughing toddler son and the first boy disappeared right in front of him. Accounts of people being pushed when no one was there, doors closing on their own and countless others are rampant at Henry Plant’s old Hotel.

Unfortunately, the 118-year-old hotel coined “The White Queen of the gulf” has now been demolished to build 28 town homes and 104 condominiums. Preservationists tried for years to save the historical hotel but eventually it was cleared for demolition. The question now is will these new homes be plagued by the spiritual history of the White Queen or will they have moved on?

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3. Clay Haus Hauntings

The Clay Haus is now owned by Betty Snider who has renovated the old home and turned it into a family restaurant. Complete with German and American food, homemade desserts and a side of ghosts? Betty, her family and guests have all claimed to have had strange experiences there. Knocks that come from the other side of the fire escape, and people walking down the stairs that disappeared. The Snider family seems to cohabitate well with the other residents. They even claim that they think the spirits are happy that they cleaned the place up. Stop in for some home cooking and see for yourself.

4. The Winchester Mystery House

Born in 1840, Sarah Lockwood Pardee was from a well off family, went to the best school, spoke four languages and played the piano. In 1862, she married the son of the governor of Connecticut and the manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle, William Wirt Winchester. They had a happy life together and then that ended. In 1866, their infant daughter died of marasmus. Sarah went into a deep depression. Fifteen years later her husband followed her daughter in death. The story is that Mrs. Winchester sought help from a spiritualist who told her that her family and her fortune were being haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. She was told that these spirits caused the deaths of her family and that she was next.

She was then told the only way to end this cycle of death was to move and build a house for the spirits. As long as she never stopped building, her life would not be in danger, in fact, building this house to appease these spirits would even bring her eternal life. So she did just that. Mrs. Winchester moved away and promptly began building a beautiful home with people working around the clock to appease the spirits and save her life.

With virtually unlimited resources due to the inheritance she had accrued after the death of her husband, the mansion grew and grew in size and beauty. Upon her death, the mansion was over six acres, contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.

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The house is now open to the public which has allowed for some very strange accounts of supernatural activity. All of the caretakers claim to hear footsteps and breathing in what are visibly empty rooms. Things like doors being locked and unlocked and lights being turned back on as they are closing up the house for the night.

Complete with a ghostly man still working and walking around with his wheelbarrow in the basement, this old mansion surely has one of the most interesting histories and some of the most intriguing lingering spirits.

5. The Haunted History of The Lalaurie House

Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Lalaurie House is known as one of the most frightening locations. In 1832, Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife, Delphine, moved into their Creole mansion in the French Quarter. The family was both respected and admired for the lavish social functions they conducted and their extreme wealth. What was kept from the outside world was the extreme cruelty and mistreatment of the slaves by Madame Lalaurie.

She kept her cook chained to the fireplace. A neighbor noticed the frequency of slaves that came and went from the Lalaurie home without explanation, and she also saw Madame Lalaurie chase a young slave up her stairs with a whip. The little girl climbed to the roof and jump off, to her death. Madame Lalaurie had the child buried in her yard. As more and more stories of things like this circled the Creole society, the Lalaurie family’s invitations were declined and the family was avoided.

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Later, a fire broke out at the Lalaurie home and it is suspected that the cook started it. After putting the fire out, the firefighters found a secret barred door in the attic that held behind it the most repulsive deranged acts you could imagine. The New Orleans Bee reported that there were over a dozen slaves chained to the wall, strapped to makeshift operating tables or in cages meant for dogs. Human body parts were scattered around, even human heads in buckets, lips sewn shut and stomachs cut open. The list of extreme psychotic brutality goes on.

Once word got out, a mob formed around the Lalaurie house but the owners were never seen again. The house remained vacant for years. From 1837 through the 2000’s the home has gone through several different owners who have tried to make something of the once beautiful home but were plagued by screams of agony at night and apparitions of slaves that still lived in the home.

In the late 90’s, in the midst of yet another remodeling skeletal remains were found beneath the wooden floor of the house. Who knows how many more small graves are scattered among the home still undiscovered.

With the history of any home built in the 1800’s I would be sure the take measures to make sure it there were no skeletons in my closet, very literally, before buying it. If buying homes with history and some permanent residence is your thing, or you simply want to experience supernatural activity first hand GPR radar and an EMF reader will be your best friends.

After hearing about the gruesome deaths of past residents and chilling accounts of people’s experiences since, you can be the judge. A night in one of these buildings just may make a believer out of you. If not, it is one way to remember the dead and experience something unique this All Hallows Eve.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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