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5 Truly Haunted Places Worth Visiting This Halloween

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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.

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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