What to remember on a not so good day…

What to remember on a not so good day…

These past eight weeks I have been part of an online course called Soul Shift Lift hosted and taught by Rachel Macy Stafford, otherwise known as the Hands Free Mama. She is a best selling author and formal special education teacher. Her class has been uplifting, life changing and eye opening in so many ways. This class will continue to teach me things for the rest of my life if I continue to pay attention and be present.

One of our journal prompt assignments was to write an encouraging letter to ourselves to read when we might be feeling defeated in self-doubt or just otherwise overwhelmed. I think the story of 2020 is definitely something that has left us all feeling a bit overwhelmed and out of our comfort zones. There is so much to grieve this past year, but even in grief there can be learning, growth, gains.

Below is my letter to myself. If you are a familiar friend and reader you know I write letters to myself on my birthday reviewing the year and what I accomplished and what I hope to achieve in my next birth year. Therefore, this post might feel a bit similar, but it has a more day to day type message. I hope this letter brings you comfort and encourages you to write your own heart-warming letter to get you through your own troubling times.

Dear me,

Having a tough day? First, take a deep breath. Feel the air fill your lungs. Let your mind focus on the rise and fall of your chest. Breathing is a gift.

Now remember, you, just like everyone else, are a miracle. Your creation is a gift from God to yourself and all the lives you touch.

Remember how your children smile when they see you. They share their triumphs and troubles with you because they know you love them unconditionally. You are the reason they know that is true.

Remember that because you choose faith over fear you continue to bless others healing and hope. You believe in miracles and you share that faith and belief with others. You bring hope.

Do not forget to give yourself grace. I know you feel big, deep emotions and live a wild and open existence. That is okay. That is more than okay ; it is enough. Rest assured in the fact that you can only offer love; you cannot control the outcome or what other people think about you. And it isn’t your business or job to impress anyone else.

I also know you want to run and hide. Please don’t. Please just take this breath, remember, and then return to living your life. The past matters only to guide your learning, but what you are doing right now is more important.

You have right now.

You are loved and have love to give.

You must chose love. Even it hurts. Even if it is scary. Even if you tremble towards it. You must choose love.

You are worthy and wanted.

You are not a mistake.

You are purposefully made.

You are not damaged goods.

Show up. Do your best. Just try that is all you can do.

Your light is worth shining, your story is worth telling and your loved ones need you.

Keep going.

I believe in you.

Love,

Me

*Dear reader, know I am wishing you comfort and that my heart is with you in your journey. I hope that this letter brought you back to your own center and reminded you that you are enough just as you are and that this world needs exactly what you have to offer. Have a good day. *

What I have learned about life after death…part 5

What I have learned about life after death…part 5

These past several days, California has seen dry lightning storms that have set our entire state ablaze. And we have more coming.

I have clients and friends who have packed up and left their homes, not knowing what they will return to. While other family and friends are in the “warning” zone. My heart and soul are aching with them. We are literally living in a smoke-induced fog. This on top of COVID and every other struggle that people face in everyday life is just what this year is about, I guess. 

It is hard to imagine that there is a God or heaven when everything around you is literally burning to the ground. When the skies open up and strike down bolts of electricity that set your world on fire, it is difficult to imagine that there is love in heaven. Or that God is good. 

There is one thing I know for sure. After working for spirit for nearly a decade, God is real. God is love. God is on our side. God is good.

I know it doesn’t always seem that way. We are not supposed to live this existence without pain. I know that is terrible news. But it is the unfortunate truth.

Humans are fragile. We are temperamental, breakable, fallible creatures. We can hurt one another. We can kill one another. To top that off, the elements of our planet are strong and untamed. However, humans are supposed to have a human experience.

But humans are also resilient, faithful, caring, empathetic creatures. I have personally watched people not only stand back up after being hit with senseless tragedy but move one step forward day after day. Not always because they want to, but because life keeps moving them forward. But still there can be heart-wrenching pain. And where is God in all this seeming chaos?

I think we need to know amid the chaos that there is something glorious waiting for us. I think we need hope right now. I think we always need hope. And getting to know God has given me that hope. So let me share with you what I have learned about God so far.

What is God like? 

I am sure you have noticed I use He, when I speak about God. God is genderless. God is infinite. God is vast. God is in everything and every place. God is the supreme being. 

Now, I have written before, spirits will not disclose everything about God. But they do let me know a thing or two. 

God can look however she wants. I haven’t seen God, but I know that God is encompassed in a glow of warm, golden light. 

We can talk to God on earth and in heaven. God hears us. She knows our hearts and our most intimate dreams. She speaks directly to us in our human form. You can hear Her in the deep knowing of your own soul. God has an open door policy in heaven, and anyone can speak with Her. She listens to your objections, ideas, concerns, anger, fear, unhappiness, elation, and disappointment as if She has no other care in the world, and you are all that matters. Because simply you are. She can do all this and still manage time, space, heaven, earth, and still have time for everyone else. 

God knows every fault and every perfection. God knows you even if you don’t believe in Her. I am not going to lie, I get the distinct impression it counts if you believe in Her, but I also think that God gets it. Religion is created by humans and thus can be flawed. God knows that to believe in Her doesn’t require you to visit an institution that doesn’t believe in you. Because while She delights when you believe in Her, the thing she delights most in, is Her belief in you. 

God is with you. And not in a placating, hurry up and move on with it way. And most certainly not in a tough-love way. God sits in the pain with you. She can carry so much anguish. She will gladly let you boil over, fall apart, and She isn’t opposed to screaming or throwing things. She gets it. She has seen it all. The truth is God isn’t a stranger to loss; God is a fixture in loss. God is neck-deep in the thick of people’s suffering. God is the one who cries alongside you. God’s heart breaks with yours. God never stops carrying, lifting, coaxing, supporting, nurturing you. God never stops whispering hope. Never. 


God is what we find in the quiet stillness of our hearts before we stand back up. When our knees are too weak to stand on our own, She sends us helpers. The people that offer their hands to lift us back up; God sent them to us. Or even those that carry us across the burning hot coals of our pain. Yes, those are God’s earth angels. God is found in grace of our own forgiveness. God is not the tragedy, God is the rising. 

God has a fantastic sense of humor. There is so much laughter in heaven. And God loves irony. She is not past making something bite you in the ass. Her absolute favorite thing to do is to make you do something you said you NEVER would. She gets a kick out of that. 

God’s divine nature can be a mystery, but I don’t think it was meant to be. She is mighty, all-knowing, and works endlessly to create beauty in all things. She wants to be our best friend; our one and only. She wants us to know her as well as we know ourselves.

She is not hellfire and fury, but she can be angry and disappointed. She doesn’t forget a single thing you have done, but she always knows that you can and will do better when you know better. 

Her light is never-ending. Her heart and intentions are pure. She can also do hard things. Sometimes, she can break you if she has to. She does this so that you can see all your beautiful parts and put yourself back together in a new way. All this is for your benefit, to glorify your life. She is always building you, creating you, and reworking you to have the best and most wonderful life. But you have to meet Her halfway. If you don’t do your part, then you won’t reap any benefits.

God is not evil, mean, or spiteful. God doesn’t hurt you or drill you with lessons. Sometimes bad shit just happens. Earthly human lives can have ridiculous, pointless events. Children die. Houses burn. We lose. God doesn’t want our ultimate destruction.

One way we cope is by seeking meaning. We look to find reasons. I say to hell with reasons. But purpose, purpose can help heal.  Purpose can carry us and leave us less hollow. God likes purpose. 

God absolutely has favorites. You are Her favorite. Always. Every day of the week, no matter what you have done. Because God believes in Her heart of hearts that you can rise to be precisely how She created you to be, the best version of yourself. God is absolutely head over heels for you.

God is welcoming and warm. God is a nurturer, healer, confidant, creator, artist, hope filled architect. When things don’t work out; She is ready. She has patience in spades. Her inability to give up is astounding. 

She is waiting for us all to return home. When you get there, you are enveloped in Her warm embrace. Her voice is the balm for your soul. The aroma of Her essence cascades across you, and you feel home in a way that you never thought you could. Then She smiles, and you become weightless, new again. Life begins when she creates your stardust covered soul. She watches you leave Her. And shines with pride while you grow, learn, live, evolve. And life begins anew when you shed your skin. She greets your stardust soul and wraps you up like you never left. She loved you always. She knew exactly what you needed and wanted you to live. And you finally remember, She was with you all along and that everything will be okay forever and ever. Amen. 

What I have learned about heaven so far…part 4

What I have learned about heaven so far…part 4

When I was about four, my grandmother took me to church with her. I remember walking up to the building as everyone entered. You had to park on the lot below the church. On the outside, it seemed enormous. The doors were so big, and wide I hadn’t ever seen a house with doors that big anywhere else. It was modern in a 1960s sheek way. The roofline was slanted. There was a big round window. It didn’t look like what my imagination conjured up as a church. It was not the typical white building with a cross on top. And it was missing a big ol’ church bell.

I remember feeling like I didn’t belong because everyone seemed to know everyone there. I could hear their hellos and see their head nods at one another. But my grandmother had taken my hand in hers, and I felt safe. As people entered, they dipped their hands in little dishes of water and dabbed it on themselves. In front of us, there were more big doors. As we entered those doors, I stared at all the shiny, caramel pews. Off to the side I noticed another room. It had a big window. It seemed to house all the mothers, children and babies. 

“Why do they have a separate room for the children?” I asked her. I was worried that I would have to go stand in that room. 

“They have the babies in there if they cry, so they don’t disrupt mass.” She answered me.

We walked in, and everyone started kneeling before they entered the pews. They made gestures with their hands over their faces and chest, and then they proceeded to sit down. My grandparents did this every night when they said grace at the dinner table. I remember thinking, do I do this, too? Do I have to know how to do this to sit down? Will everyone know I don’t belong?

I knelt, but didn’t make the hand gestures. Then followed my grandmother into the pews. I wasn’t sure about this place. It was too quiet. A little too shiny. And why was the place where God stood so far up at the front?

But then, I looked up.

On the wall was a cross. Hanging from it was a man.

I should have been scared because the man looked sad and hurt. His head hung down at his chest. But I knew this man. Everything about him felt familiar. I knew the energy of this man. This man felt like God. The God that didn’t stand way out in front of everyone, but right next to them. And up really close. The God that whispered and whirled behind the spirits that spoke to me. This man felt like home. I immediately liked him.

I started to worry about him. I didn’t want him to hurt. I didn’t like the way his head hung down on his chest.

While I was thinking this, right before my eyes he looked up. He came to life! He looked up at me. He smiled, and winked. I smiled back. My four-year-old brain did not doubt for one minute that this man had somehow come to life, smiled, and winked at me. His smile and playfulness let me know I was right where I was supposed to be, and he was just fine. I immediately settled into the pew. I was no longer worried or scared.

After the service, which included a lot of kneeling, peace be with yous, and more kneeling and chants that I didn’t know the words to, I asked my grandmother about the man on the wall. She said, “Oh, that’s Jesus.”

“Oh,” I said. I knew a little about Jesus. I knew that he was God’s son. My mom read stories from the Children’s Bible to me before bed sometimes. My four-year-old heart burst with pride that day. Jesus was my friend, and he liked me. Church felt like a place where I could find Jesus and we could be friends. 

Then, as time went on, that memory became something I convinced myself I imagined. Jesus doesn’t talk to four-year-old girls. Jesus doesn’t smile in church, and he most certainly would never wink! Oh, the blasphemy! 

So, I laughed at myself for imagining such a thing. 

And as time passed, I started wondering what was wrong with me. Why did I hear voices? Why did I see things, people that other people didn’t see? Why did I know when someone was sick? Why did I know when someone was going to die? How was it possible that I saw ghosts everywhere? How was it possible they could talk to me? Why did all this happen, and why had God made me so broken? Certainly, Jesus couldn’t like me very much. Certainly, I wasn’t the type of girl who would get into heaven.

I spent years in self-doubt. I spent years denying what I felt, what I saw. I spent years in hiding.

And then something miraculous happened. A nine-year-old little spirit boy, named Matthew, whose name just happens to mean gift from God, started visiting me. He would wave and smile. He would run around my son as he played. He would pop-up out of the clear blue in the front seat of my car and say, “Hi.” And he would give me the same dream, over and over, for weeks. Waking me up and then waving and smiling at me. He never let up. Until one day he said, “I need you to talk to my mom.” And finally, I caved. I couldn’t say no to his nine-year-old face. Seeing Matthew had made me feel like maybe Jesus does smile and wink. Maybe, I wasn’t crazy after all.

So I found a way to talk to his parents. 

It wasn’t easy. It took a long time for me to believe what I was seeing was real. It took decades. And in that session, with Matthew’s parents, it took minutes that felt like hours to settle and just start sharing what a little spirit boy wanted me to share. 

Even after that meeting, I was afraid. 

What happened couldn’t have been real. This doesn’t happen to regular people. This isn’t something I can talk about. This will ruin the reputation I have built for myself. This will ruin my family. I need to stay quiet, the voice in my brain would admonish me. And even though I helped, Matthew was still in heaven. Why do little boys have to die?

So, I trapped my feelings, my gift, deep down inside myself. But Matthew kept showing up. He didn’t care that I wanted to hide. He wanted to talk to his family. He said he was alive, healthy and happy. Finally, one day he said, “This is what you are meant to do. You can’t change it. You need to tell people.” 

And I listened. I knew it would change everything. Even though I still wanted to play small, I knew this was how I was made. I knew deep down I wasn’t broken. Instead, I had been fearfully and wonderfully made, exactly this way, on and with purpose.

So, I told people. I still didn’t tell everyone. I still made excuses. I still do sometimes.

But mostly I tell everyone now. Mostly, I embrace who I am and how I work. And most importantly, now I know that Jesus smiles in church. Jesus shows up and smiles at four-year-old girls so they will feel like they belong. Jesus winks and smiles to validate that deep down, we do know what God feels like. Jesus shows up for everyone. We don’t always see him because we are too busy dismissing him. We are too quick to say that it isn’t real. That can’t be true. But he shows up anyway.

It’s true. That’s why I am sharing all this. It’s true and real and possible. There is a heaven. Our souls live on. Our loved ones, and ghosts in general, they want us to know they are cheering us on, loving us, and waiting to reunite with us. They want us to know they are alive, healthy, and happy.

So, I know you may not believe me. I know that this might make some people think I am crazy, but I don’t care. Jesus likes me. Jesus thinks I belong here, and he is glad that I am sharing what I know with you because frankly, he likes you, too. 

So what is heaven like, really? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions…

What is available to us in heaven? 

Heaven is filled with possibilities. If we live our lives well, and by that, I mean to treat ourselves and others to the best of our ability, then we have lots of options for what happens in heaven. I like to call it a menu of services because souls show me that they have options and choices based on what they accrued during their human lifetime. One soul literally showed me a menu and that they were choosing items off it. Hence, menu of services. Why not take them literally? Maybe it’s really like that.

I know I am going to open a can of worms here, but we can’t buy this menu of services. Not with money. Not with tithing. Nope.

We can only achieve choices for a wonderful heavenly life through action. Love is action and so we must be active in being kind, helpful, respectful, and living the life we are meant to live. So some of you out there angry and spewing hate in 2020, well you need to shape up! Period. Or no soup for you!

What do I mean when I am talking about accruing things off the menu of services? When I talk about accrual, I am talking about how we earn additional heavenly privileges by being the best version of ourselves. First, and foremost, we need to treat others as we would want to be treated. That is truly the golden rule and incredibly important. Also, we need to say yes to our passions. When we say yes to our passions and our hearts, we find our purpose. And if we live out our purpose and we do it while being good to ourselves and others, then we accrue these heavenly options.

When we help others in need, we accrue. When we use our manners, we accrue. When we are faithful, we accrue. Not blind faith where we leave others out and cast damnation and judgement. The kind of faith where we love God and the earth and all of the creatures we inhabit this space with. When we do all this we accrue. When we keep boundaries that protect ourselves from harm, we accrue.

So what can you do with the “points” you accrue? You get to order up choices and amenities off the menu of services. Seriously, it is like you get Motel 6 accommodations versus Ritz accommodations. Want to be a size six? No problem. Want to be a blonde? No problem. Were you happiest at 26? Then bam…you are forever 26. Want to travel the world? Done. Want to live your next life without as much pain? Check. What to choose the way your heaven looks? Check. You can live in a house or spend your days in a forest. You can visit any place in the world or never leave your old town. Want to meet up with your entire family and all live together in heaven? Done. Want to work in the nursery and cuddle babies in heaven? Sure thing. It is all up to you and what your soul most desires. 

When we get to heaven, where do we live? 

In heaven, technically you live there.  However, say that you pass away before your spouse, and you really want to stay close to your spouse on earth. You were married for forty-five years, after all. So you can still live in your old house. Now, that doesn’t mean a soul is stuck or unhappy or not in heaven. Heaven surrounds and encapsulates the same space earth exists in, so a soul can be here and in heaven at the same time. Or you can recreate the place where you are happiest in heaven and live there. Or maybe you want to live outdoors. Or maybe you are happy being a soul and a soul lives in the universe, not in a traditional house. So you just exist. There are so many options. You can even live in a different time. Souls can walk down memory lane literally and live and exist in a different time period. Souls in heaven can truly relive happy memories from their past lives.

What do souls do in heaven?

There are plenty of possible answers to this question. Each soul is unique. Each life is unique. Both of these things determine what a soul might do to entertain themselves in heaven. 

Some treat heaven like retirement and finally rest and recover from the busy life or handwork that they endured on earth. They take trips. They visit places they always wanted to see. They sit by the ocean or lounge in their backyards on their favorite lawn chair. Others need to keep busy. For these souls, there is an endless amount of things to do in heaven. 

There are jobs in heaven. Souls can work in nurseries where baby souls are created and nursed until they are delivered to a womb. There are spirit guides who watch over humans on earth and try to keep those humans on the right track. We do have free will as humans, and we can take a million different paths in life. Still, there are specific experiences our souls are supposed to have in a lifetime. So there are souls in heaven, guides if you will, that try and help lead us to those experiences in the least painful possible ways. 

Some souls help new souls transition into their new life in heaven. Some are warriors who help in battles here on earth. Others are peacekeepers and send peace and tranquil energy down to earth. Some work with souls in heaven as counselors and run the heavenly twelve-step atonement program. Others work to become angels. Some just like to be and are involved in what is going on with their families here on earth.

One of the favorite things that I love to see is when souls show me how prayers reach heaven. It is literally like mail coming in through a post office. They catch the prayers you send. Then they answer them or they split them with other heavenly loved ones and they get to work seeing what they can do to help answer your prayers. Or not answer them; because maybe what is best for everyone. Either way, they get working to take care of those prayers. Of course, God has the final say in all things, but your heavenly loved ones can advocate on your behalf. It truly is a group effort.

To be continued…

What I have learned about life after death…part 3

What I have learned about life after death…part 3

Have you ever been somewhere and thought; I have been here before? Or have you ever met someone and thought, have we met? Even though you knew you hadn’t, something inside you knew you had.

Our souls have memory. And our souls can have multiple human experiences. Yes, that is correct, I am writing about reincarnation. Over this last decade, I have had thousands of conversations with spirits. These spirits have shared many things about life after death. One reoccurring piece of information is that our souls can come back to earth again after our bodies die.

And not just one spirit has relayed this information. Hundreds of spirits have mentioned it. Our souls can return here to earth. Many souls do come back. In the last entry in the series, I wrote about a soul being sent back without a choice. This is so that the soul can finish developing to its highest potential. This is one way that our souls can return to earth to have another crack at the human experience. Yet another way that a soul can return is to choose to come back. 

Yes, dear reader, a soul can choose to come back and live a human life again. This choice can be reached for several reasons. For example, maybe during your time in heaven, you learned that you were terrible at accepting things you could not change. So you decide to come back to earth, and into a life where this lesson will repeat until you get it right. Or maybe in your lifetimes, you have died in childbirth repeatedly, never having the opportunity to raise a child, so you enter a life on earth again to be a mother. Or maybe, you have specific skills that could help bring humankind some peace, so you decide to come back and help keep the peace on earth. 

Relationships can also be the source of reincarnation. For example, several years ago I spoke to a soul who passed as a young teen. It was a tragic accident. He died, saving his sister’s life. This same soul was in a hurry to get back to fill the void in the family. He reincarnated quickly into the soul of a cousin’s son. He just had to be back near his family. Now, God oversees all of these plans. There are no haphazard freeways, without signals or stop signs. These re-entries into human life are part of a master plan. But just like free will here, there is free will in heaven, and sometimes a plan can be modified or change course due to what is necessary for a soul to reach its’ highest potential. Sometimes what is happening on earth can affect a choice, and sometimes what is happening in heaven can affect a soul’s choice. Everything is interconnected.

When we reincarnate, it is also possible to become an animal, insect or a tree. There is no rule that our souls have to eternally be human. Animals also reincarnate, and a soul that was once a dog can become a cat or a horse. As a soul, you can choose if you want to reincarnate. However, this choice and the accommodations of the next life are based on how well you lived your last human experience. All decisions are approved by God, the divine power over the universe. 

Some people also ask, do we have to come back? If you have developed to your highest potential and your soul wants to remain in heaven, then you may stay in heaven. Some souls seek to become angels, spirit guides or just want to remain peacefully in heaven to continue their spiritual development. 

Some clients have asked if our souls reincarnate, how are we reunited with our loved ones in heaven? Great question. This is where things can get a bit tricky. As I have discussed before, our soul’s ratio that inhabits our human body is roughly eighty percent. Our souls are vast and can exist both in our bodies and in heaven at the same time. I know, mind-blowing, and hard to accept. Our souls are always connected to heaven. Our souls can also be connected to other souls here on earth. Souls whether in or out of a body are communicating and knowledgable of what is happening to them. We can live an entire human life with no conscious awareness that our soul is connected to heaven and all that is beyond. In fact, we can be an atheist, without any spiritual beliefs at all, and this connection to heaven is still taking place. 

What this means is that a soul can inhabit a body on earth and also be available to the souls of others in heaven. This is good news. This means that you will always have the chance to connect to a loved ones soul when you transition to your heavenly soul state. Souls can see and know where everyone they love is at all times. They can also be in two or ten places at once. This does take energy so they don’t do this constantly, but it is possible. 

Reincarnation also seems to be impacted by the relationships we have. These relationships can be soul related or because our human experiences were intertwined. To explain further, souls can choose to come into this life by choosing the people/souls they want to be connected to. Often children who have passed tell their parents that they chose to be connected to them in this lifetime. Unborn children who were aborted, miscarried or are on their way to earth, often also talk about how they chose their parents. I know for some people this seems completely outlandish. Those who were raised by abusive or neglectful parents must think there is no way I chose this! And quite possibly you did not. Those relationships could be tied to things that your soul wanted to learn or understand from a human experience. Or bad shit just happens; this is also true. Hopefully we grow from it and find purpose. Just to be clear souls do not deserve or ask to have pain in their lives. God holds you in your pain and walks with you as you fight your way free of it or learn to carry it in a healthy way.

Our souls live on and on. Souls don’t die they are always evolving. They may retire to heaven, or they may keep trying out different human experiences until they reach their highest potential. We are always reunited and tied to our loved ones that we cherish. Some people have asked about harmful relationships and what pieces of those carry on or affect our souls. I will talk about this more in the next chapter of the series. 

What I have learned about life after death so far…Part 2b

What I have learned about life after death so far…Part 2b

The previous post and the discussion about heaven allowing everyone in leads to the question I get all the time if there is a God and heaven, then is there a hell?

This is where things might get a little hard to swallow for some. God forgives everyone all their transgressions. Even serial killers. Even pedophiles. Everyone is forgiven. But, and there is a big BUT, there is work to do on the other side if you have treated people wrongly. All is forgiven, but not forgotten. What does this mean exactly?

When souls die that have behaved poorly in this life, I like to call them developing souls, they are taken to a holding room. In fact, souls have shown me that these developing souls get a glimpse of heaven in all its glory. But they don’t get to stay in that glorious area of paradise. They are pulled aside into this waiting room and told that they have work to do before they can participate in heaven without restriction.

This waiting room is all white. Developing souls are placed in front of a wall that becomes a screen. On this screen, their transgressions are played back. When these images and moments are played back, the soul experiences these moments, not how they felt them in life, but how the person they harmed experienced them. This is to help the offending soul understand and have more awareness of what their actions caused. These images and experiences can include decisions that may have harmed themselves as well. For some, that may seem like hell, but this room is a part of heaven. These images will be replayed and experienced over and over again to these developing souls until they understand and feel remorse and empathy for the pain they caused here on earth. Developing souls continue to see and feel the harm they caused here on earth until it literally soaks in and becomes empathy and compassion.

These developing souls have to atone for their poor choices and bad behavior. Can God be disappointed in our decisions? Yes. Can God be angry with us for harming other people and souls? Yes. But God truly is like a parent in a healthy parent-child relationship. God sets boundaries and rules for our benefit and hopes that we follow them. He tries to teach us and steer us toward his way of loving your neighbor as thyself and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Through all this, He understands that during a human experience, our souls can make mistakes. Often these are teachable moments, learning experiences that will help us when the lesson comes around again in our lives. But if we continue to fail time and again, we will have to answer for that disappointment and the hurt we caused when our bodies die. 

Before these developing souls can move onto the other parts of heaven, they must agree to a rehabilitation program. The way spirits describe this program reminds me of the twelve step program used in Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, this may be where that idea came from. We have soul memory, so a soul must have remembered what happened in heaven and thought if it works in heaven, it can work here, too.

What happens if the developing soul can’t or won’t choose to complete the heavenly twelve-step atonement program? 

There is a period of time that souls can stay in that holding room. If they stay past the point of their welcome and cannot find remorse or empathy to God’s satisfaction, the developing souls will be sent to try again. 

This is where reincarnation can come into play; they might get kicked back to earth in a human body to try again. I will write about reincarnation in another piece with more detail, but this is one area where reincarnation can take place. These developing souls don’t get to choose how or when they come back or what type of life they will be provided; they are sent back to face their twelve-step atonement program here on earth. 

What happens if the developing soul chooses to work through their transgressions? 

First a developing soul, must accept their negative choices and take responsibility for their part in the harm that was caused. Then they must agree to follow the program and God’s will. Then they begin a journey to remove all defects of their poor choices and character.

Once that is complete, the developing souls are given a heavenly mentor, whether it is an angel or spirit guide (I will touch on the difference between these two things later), and they work through the remaining steps of the program. What types of tasks are included in the twelve-step atonement program? For example, developing souls may have to follow and try to help a person on earth who struggles with addiction. Or they may have to help a person repair their destructive behavior. 

How do they do this? All souls with positive intentions in heaven can influence the opportunities presented to us with God’s blessing. They can whisper to our intuition and amplify the best version of our soul so that our best choices are louder than any other option that comes forward in our minds. Still, again we have free will, and we can choose whatever we want. But these souls, on the other side, will work to help us. Developing souls in the atonement programs will guide other positive influences into the life of the human they are helping. Developing souls try to do what they can to help that person here reach their highest potential. 

Another step in the program requires education. These souls may also have to go to classes; yes, there is school in heaven; to learn about how to improve their behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and responses for when they come back to earth. Often this is an unlearning of destructive behavior and the reinforcement of positive behavior. It also is therapeutic and allows the developing souls to heal the hurt that caused them to become so destructive in their life here on earth. As they heal in heaven, that opens pathways for more healing here on earth in their ancestors and loved ones. And then their loved ones heal here on earth, and that healing allows for pathways of more healing in heaven. Healing is a full circle experience.

Another step can often be where a medium or another type of channel comes into place. During the healing process, developing souls must apologize for the harm that they caused here on earth. Therefore, a developing soul will find ways to send apologetic messages to loved ones here on earth. They want to confront their behavior and acknowledge their responsibility in causing pain and harm here on earth. 

These developing souls continue to work and learn, growing spiritually, and emotionally. Then they may choose to come back to earth in a body and work through lessons again in order to complete them to their satisfaction and enter heaven the way developed souls do. They want to achieve healing and forgiveness. They want to be a better version of themselves by the end of the process. 

There is forever a mark or scar, if you will, on a soul that has caused series pain and trauma. These souls don’t wear it like a scarlet letter, but our stories are a part of our soul, and we carry them wherever we go through time and space, heaven and earth. This is so that we remember the lessons and retain the spiritual growth of all our lives. Souls are built to completely understand one another, so your story will always be visible to other souls. This isn’t a terrible thing as heaven is a place with more awareness, compassion, and love then heavy-handed judgment. 

I have come into contact with a few developing souls in my lifetime. These souls can show themselves to us on earth. They do not have free reign or limitless visitations like other souls.

When I was about three, one chased me down the hall of our house in Washington State regularly for the entire time we lived there. It was dark and menacing. It could change shape and look like a wolf with gnashing teeth. But I believed that my bed was bathed in the light of God. I could literally see it, and once there the spirit could no longer affect me. I also prayed for it to leave. It would have to leave once I said those prayers.

Another time, when I was about nineteen, there was a serial killer whose victims reached out to me while I was on vacation hear where they were buried. The man who killed them had died in a motorcycle accident, and he started to visit me. He did not want me to help the girls he murdered. He was dark and brooding. He would visit on and off for roughly a year, trying to bully me and cause fear. If I prayed he could not stay. If I was afraid of him he would grow stronger, but when I lost that fear, when I met him with love and prayer he could no longer visit me.

These souls are often the reason ghosts and hauntings get the scary reputation that they have. These souls make up a tiny percentage, likely 1%, of all spiritual encounters. I think that often these are also considered to be earthbound spirits. People think they are stuck here on earth. They are not. They are interacting with people on earth, trying to wield power. They feed on negative energy, i.e., fear, worry, anger, resentment, etc. If you meet these souls with love, prayer, and without fear, they will leave you alone. You may have to keep asking them to leave, but they will. I also always recommend salt barriers, holy water, and priest visits to help clear unwanted, undeveloped energy from a space. You may have even heard of other techniques, like burning sage, that also works well for this kind of spiritual presence. But these encounters are relatively rare. These undeveloped souls have no real power over what happens here because they have not completed the atonement program. They try to seem brooding and scary because they want us to be afraid. That fear becomes energy that can fuel them. It is often how they also operated in life. But take away the fear and replace it with love and light; they have no way our power to stay.

I told you that it might be hard to swallow that horrible humans get a second chance as a soul, but I think you have to believe in miracles to believe in things like forgiveness and life after death. I think that you have to believe in miracles to keep your faith and hope alive. People all over the world, throughout all times, have built religion out of the faith of a higher being and the miracles that they saw in the world around them. And I think most of us believe in second chances. I think we want people or souls to be held accountable, and they are. But there is also a force in the holy spirit that wants redemption and love to exist in all things.

Faith and religion are important. I think God is more fulfilled if you are faithful, but God is also going to love you regardless of your belief in him or miracles. What really matters is how we treat one another. We are judged for our actions here and held accountable. We are made to atone for them in the next life. It truly matters who we are here. Our character and actions extend past this life.

God is love, hope, and possibility in motion. Heaven is real, and it is all around us. Heavenly souls are supported, loved, protected, and have continued growth. God and our loved ones in spirit want us to know about what comes next. It is something that has been shared throughout the ages and will continue to be shared. Our human experiences can change and alter our heavenly experiences.

In the next post in this series, I will explore reincarnation. 

To be continued…

What I have learned about life after death…part 2A

What I have learned about life after death…part 2A

If you have been reading along, dear reader, then you have a general idea about the end of life and what is happening to both soul and body. 

Then let’s shift our attention to what happens when our soul goes through the light and enters heaven. 

To do that, I have to talk about God, and faith, and miracles. So if you are faint of heart when it comes to these topics, maybe make sure you haven’t eaten recently so you don’t throw up a little in your mouth. Or go over to Instagram and scroll through your friends memes instead. I get it sarcasm can be my jam on occasion instead of serious, sappy stuff. But if you show up here, you also know that depth is where I live. Any way…we were talking about what happens when we get to heaven.

In my experiences with spirit, there is discussion of a higher power. Spirits describe God as a supreme being who oversees all and is the keeper of the master plans in all forms of life. All life comes from this source, and it is the ultimate power in the universe. Even heavenly souls look to this source for guidance and solace.

Spirits won’t tell me a lot about what God looks like, but they convey an awful lot about how God feels. God is love. God is light. God is acceptance, compassion, and boundaries. God truly loves us unconditionally and wants what is best for us. God has created all things, and God doesn’t believe in exclusion. God is forgiveness and immortal. God is awareness without severe judgment. 

God is not hellfire and fury. Don’t be too disappointed, I know there are days I want a wrathful and vengeful God, too. The pain and trauma that can be inflicted by humans is unfathomable and sometimes even I want that punished by a God who is fire and brimstone. God does see all things and God never forgets. I am not saying God holds grudges, but God is aware of what you have done and who you are. God is watching listening and ever present.

However, God is a being that can be reasoned with and accepts requests in the form of prayer. God doesn’t require belief in order for you to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. God loves you even when you don’t or can’t love God. God loves you even when you don’t or can’t love yourself. God loves you even when you don’t or can’t love others. God pours love into you until you find that you can and will try to love again. God is the hope, resilience, and strength that is in the depths of your soul. God is what bubbles up when you sit still and remember what you are made of and choose to rise.

Some people find God in church communities and that can be a marvelous, resplendent thing. But, sometimes you can’t feel or see God inside those walls. Sometimes you aren’t even invited in. Some churches exclude and make people feel small or unworthy. That isn’t God’s plan, and even though He may be in the people who assemble there, he could still be difficult to see for those that are excluded. God may seem absent because of the hate or exclusion, but God is there trying to change the hardened hearts of the world. He is trying to whisper more love into their hearts. God is no exceptions; all are welcome. 

But do not worry if you struggle to sense God in your life; there so many places you can witness God. It just takes practice and patience. 

You can witness God…

In the giggling, bubbly laughter of children at play

The way sun warms your face on a clear, crisp day

In the excitement and wonder of birth 

In the soft whispers of your heart as your toes touch the dusty earth

In a long, full fresh breath

In the quiet stillness of death

In the fresh, sweet aromas of a home-cooked meal and the sustenance it provides

In the way a seedling sprouts in your garden or how a squirrel plants a nut just wherever its’ instinct decides

In the way, a breeze ripples through the redwoods and makes it seem as if they are conversing about the creatures in their branches 

In the light of the sun as it dances

In a long embrace

In the salt of your tears as they stream down your face

In the sound of the ocean; crashing and calm all in the same motion

In the long-forgotten corners of the deepest, darkest parts of the world

In each other’s eyes

In a helping hand

In a smile

In despair

In a prayer

In love

In hope

Even in moments that all is lost, God is there with you wrapped around your soul with all His might.

God is here.

God is there.

God is everywhere.

But God also doesn’t shrink away from those bad or awful things that happen to us. God is there, holding us and comforting us through the storms of our lives. He never leaves us even when we rage and fight against him. God never gives up. God never tires. God is forever and ever tries. 

If you noticed, I am using the male pronouns to describe God, but I get the distinct impression that God is genderless. God is all things. God is possibility. God is both male and female. God is neither male nor female. God is all things all at once. God is everything. 

We all go to heaven, and God is our biggest cheerleader. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves and never loses hope that this is possible. God loves us so deeply and completely. There is nothing like this kind of unconditional, never-ending love. It is all-encompassing. And it NEVER fails. Never. 

There are two pieces to the rest of this blog post. The first piece describes what happens if you lived a positive life, what entry to heaven is like. The second piece will explain what happens when you die if you caused harm and torment here one earth. Therefore, I have broken into two posts. The second part will appear tomorrow. But you aren’t surprised I had trouble with brevity, are you? I mean, really, it is me writing this piece after all. 

Scenario one, you lived a great life, and your body has died, and your soul ascends into heaven. 

What do I mean by great life? You lived by the golden rule as best as possible. You were kind. You did your best. You made healthy choices, and overall made a positive impact on the world and in your own life. That doesn’t mean you didn’t make any mistakes. God expects mistakes. God likes mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.

Anyway, for these developed souls, the entry into heaven is a quick and painless trip. Your body is almost instantly restored to the happiest time of your life. You are welcomed by family, friends and other souls you are connected to from past experiences. You get to take a tour of all heaven as to offer. You are shown that you have access to your loved ones on earth. I mean how could heaven be genuinely wonderful if you were separated from the people you love? 

Heaven and earth are connected. Souls in heaven have a view into the lives of human souls and often visit. Visiting privileges have rules, and I will talk about that a bit later, but developed souls can visit their loved ones on earth. Heavenly souls see their loved ones on earth. They hear the thoughts their loved ones think about them. They can hear you if you talk to them. Even better, heavenly souls can experience the emotions their human loved ones feel. Our souls are meant to experience one other completely and once you are in heaven it is possible to just that. 

I have been asked if a soul can be in two places. Absolutely. Souls are vast and can spread across time and space. They can be everywhere and completely present all at the same time. A mentor of mine, James Van Praagh, once explained that the ratio of the amount of your soul that is in your body is the same as the ratio of your pinkie to the size of your body. So, our souls are much, much greater and much, much more vast than the container they can inhabit when we are having a human experience. 

When newly departed souls come through to me in sessions, they share that they can choose a job in heaven. Farmers can have land and grow crops. Nurturing souls can work in heavenly nurseries and hold new souls about to be sent to earth as babies. If you were a baker,  you can bake. If you were a vet, you can take care of the heavenly souls of animals. 

While other souls become counselors, guides, or aspire to be guardian angels. Others are peacekeepers and work to help calm the angry hearts in the world. You may think this sounds strange, but our souls are God’s helpers, and they work alongside God. They align with God’s plan to help create opportunities and pathways for the souls having a human experience to reach their highest potential and the highest good. 

Child souls who have passed due to cancer or other illnesses choose to help welcome souls whose bodies died the same way theirs did. They befriend these souls and become their heavenly companion. Why do they do this? 

Well, souls do grieve their deaths if they are untimely, painful, or sudden. Sometimes they need to work through and process what happened to them and what is happening to their families back on earth. The souls that have come before them on the same path often serve as counselors, confidants, and mentors.

Souls that have come through during the sessions I have with clients have also described different privileges in heaven. I don’t think there are different levels of heaven. Still, I believe there are advantages that are afforded to a soul like Mother Teresa’s versus someone who committed petty theft regularly. I call these things a menu of services. For example, souls who lived a good life, like those I described earlier, can decide what they look like. These souls chose what they get to see and do in heaven. In addition, they have a free pass to visit their loved ones here on earth. What is more, they can design outfits and places that they frequent in heaven. They can be any dress or pant size they want. They can chose their age. They can relive past happy memories and are extremely at peace. I have seen spirits having parties, golfing, fishing, gathered around tables chatting, playing in the kitchens of their childhood homes, standing next to their dream cars, and sitting in their favorite chairs in the homes they lived in on earth.

These souls are also very active in their loved ones’ daily lives if they want to be. They can visit. They can offer comfort and support. They can send signs to the loved ones on earth (you can read more about signs here, and I will write more about it in this series). Souls in heaven love the people that are still on earth and often try to interact with them. They want you to know they are there. They want you to have peace. 

Overall, the menu of services is longer and more robust for those who did the best with their lives on earth. But you can continue to work towards growth and development in heaven and earn more privileges there. Heaven is a place for our souls to recharge, exalt in joy, reconcile our pain, heal, and reconnect with our loved ones. We all meet again in heaven. Heaven is where our souls can exist the way they were meant to when they were created. Heaven is home.

Tomorrow I will talk about what happens when you cause harm here on earth. Heaven is different for those developing souls. Until then, be well y and thank you for reading.

To be continued…

Life After Death – What I have learned from spirit so far…part 1

Life After Death – What I have learned from spirit so far…part 1

As a spiritual medium, it is common for me to hear all kinds of questions regarding life after death. I am sure you have questions. We have all thought about our mortality and the hereafter at some point.

People have asked me all kinds of questions. Things like…

What happens when we die?

What do we look like after we die? 

What is heaven like? 

Do we reincarnate? 

How do our heavenly loved ones interact with us in our earthy lives? 

What is God like?

Is there even a God?

Do spirits eat? 

What does the food taste like? 

What advice does spirit have for us here on earth?

Do spirits send signs?

Over the past nine years, and hundreds of sessions, I have learned about heaven and what happens after our bodies die. As I have written before, I believe this information is something that needs to be shared.

Most importantly, death is not something we should fear. When we hear the word ghost, it shouldn’t conjure scary images. Hearing the word haunted shouldn’t give us a shiver. The majority of ghosts are our loved ones and ancestors. Every place is technically haunted. There are spirits everywhere, and God is in all things, so there is an element of spirit in every place. And the majority of these spirits are loving, well-meaning visitors.

My goal over the next several blog entries is to share answers I have received to these life after death questions. I hope they bring you comfort and make the idea of ghosts, spirits, heaven, and all things spiritual a little less scary and instead more comforting.

Let’s start with what happens when we die because, well, that seems a good place to start.

Spirit describes death as merely their soul leaving their human body. The body stops working no matter the type of death, and their soul ascends to heaven. Souls whose bodies die have to leave their bodies. They are seldom given a choice about the matter. People that have near-death experiences see the beginning of this process but can return to their bodies, as it is not their time to enter heaven. Near-death experiences happen and are remembered for the same reason that mediums are able to speak to spirit; so that this knowledge is shared and comfort can be given about what comes next.

When we die, we are not alone. Death isn’t something we experience in a vacuum, no matter how we cross over to the other side. Through my sessions, I have witnessed murders, accidents, suicides, sudden deaths, and slow deaths due to illness. Each time, there are souls from heaven that surround the person who is dying. So, even if another living person isn’t present, a dying person is surrounded by souls from heaven.

Our loved ones who have passed before us, whether we knew them in life or not, are there to greet us and help us cross into heaven. They gather around for a time before we pass and help to get us to the next life. It is often the person we most hope to see that comes near to us as our body shuts down. Sometimes in violent deaths, angels surround the soul and separate the soul from any physical pain or harm that is happening to the body. The soul is freed from experiencing the actual bodily harm. The soul is aware of what is happening and what transpired, but they do not feel the physical pain as they die.

In a more peaceful situation, there are often heavenly visitors over time that come and prepare the person dying for what is to come. When your body stops working, your soul is carried into the light and lifted up into heaven. I use the word up, but heaven is all around us; somehow, we are a part of heaven already, but when we die, our soul experiences all that heaven has to offer. Heaven seems to be a Garden of Eden suited to each soul’s best interests.

Many people have described seeing a light when they have near-death experiences or encounters with heaven. There is a light. This light is different from any light seen on earth. The light is bright, warm and surrounds heaven and our existence as a soul. The light is the boundary that separates heaven from earth and encases heaven in its glow, bathing heaven in unending light and love.

One of the most common circumstances that I encounter is the guilt that a loved one feels for not being present when their loved one passes away. In these cases, spirit shares with me that it is all the other moments that matter more than that one moment in time. They remember all the times you were there for them, and they are not sad or disappointed that you were not physically there with them when they died. Often some souls want to be alone to cross over and wait for a loved one to leave the room to make their departure into the next life.

Spirits of your loved ones know that you love them. They can feel it in heaven, and they know your thoughts about them. I know that can be scary if you don’t have good thoughts, but they know what you think of them. It isn’t a secret any longer. In healthy relationships, the loved ones who have moved on to heaven know you think of them and wanted to be with them when they passed, and that matters to them just as much. They understand.

Once you leave your body, you move to heaven automatically. There is no such thing as an earthbound spirit. Heaven is automatic. Everyone is in. I know this seems like it can’t be possible, but I will talk about it more in future posts.

While there are common things about death, being surrounded by heavenly loved ones, the bright light and entering heaven, there are unique experiences, too. Each soul shares how they felt about what happened to them and because we are all unique souls these feelings are unique, but overall they are happy and believe they are where they are meant to be. Disembodied souls feel loved, protected and free from pain and other earthly burdens almost instantly.

The important thing about death is we don’t have to fear it. Our loved ones in heaven are waiting for us. We can rest assured that as we comfort those who are getting ready to make the journey to heaven, we can be in the room with them, or they can truly be in our thoughts and prayers. Once they are in heaven, they know that you were with them physically or in thought. What matters most to them is the time that was spent together throughout their lives. Death isn’t the end; it is the beginning of a soul existence; it is just the physical death of our body. Souls live on and can continue to be active in heaven and in our lives here on earth. Love doesn’t die. Souls don’t die. There is more to life than the human experience.

To be continued…

The Baggage of Expectations

The Baggage of Expectations

Do you ever pray and wonder if you’re heard?

Do you ever look out at the world and wonder what kind of God created humans who can hurt one another the way we do? 

It doesn’t surprise me that ancient Greeks thought multiple gods were warring with one another and using humans to their folly because there are days that would actually make much more sense. Because right now God’s plan seems a little sideways. 

Sorry, God. 

I know you believe in us, and we got this, but there are a lot of people dying and a lot of people hurting and angry. 

It seems like a lot right now.

And then I think we start to wonder what is expected of us and are we measuring up. And I wonder why I expect so damn much of myself. Why do I put so much pressure to measure up? And who created the scale I try to measure up to?

Truth be told, expectations can suck. These past few days, I have been in a spiral of blah. It is what I typically call my not enough-ness acting up. I have been sad, a little lost, and just feeling like no matter what I do, it isn’t enough, and this spiral just so damn repetitive because there is so much that needs to be done both on big and small fronts. 

Some of the thoughts rolling around in my head…

I am not pretty enough. 

I am not thin enough. 

I don’t know enough about marketing to grow my business; therefore, I don’t know enough.

I am crazy because I cannot prove what I do. 

I am not spending enough quality time with my kids.

I am not keeping the house clean enough.

I am not learning enough or doing enough with this time.

I am not helping those that need it enough.

I am not speaking up enough.

I don’t have the right words or ideas.

I am not being a good wife.

I am a horrible friend. 

No one likes me, for me.

My house isn’t clean enough. 

I didn’t do enough today. I watched too much T.V. 

My inner voice is killing me and I am not going to make it and then I feel guilty because really what do I actually have to complain about. I have it pretty great.

UGH! The negative self-talk is endless, and while I am better at not listening, it is still crippling some days. Today was one of those days. I cried a lot.

So I thought maybe I needed a pep talk. And if I needed one, maybe if I wrote it out, it might help someone else, too.

As a recovering perfectionist, I want to deliver a standard of excellence in all I do. However, I spent years, decades believing that what I DID defined who I was, and I could ONLY be good or successful if what I DID was good or successful. Over the last decade, I have diligently and consistently worked to make sure that I do things well.

That has never seemed to be enough because regardless of what I do, there is an emptiness that remains.

For instance, even though I work out – I stress eat and not the nutritional goodies my body needs. Therefore little difference.

Regardless of reading and studying and doing well in college, I now work a job with no measure of proof. People see me as a con artist, a phony, a fake, a liar, and it hurts. Now, I know word of mouth, repeat business, and glowing reviews are measurement, but for a hard-nosed perfectionist like myself, not good enough.

And even when I do well and have a lot of clients, I can never get in enough appointments, and if I do, then I am sacrificing my family and emotional well being, and it is just a vicious cycle or not enough-ness.

And don’t get me started on being enough as a wife and mother. I know it could be worse, but I am failing on the regular. I could go on and on how I could do better there.

I know you are waiting for the pep talk … me, too!

It all starts with a memory…

This past fall, I met one of my favorite writers, Rachel Macy Stafford, at a retreat. As I stood in line to get a copy of her book signed, I wondered what I should say; what I should ask. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, of course.

When it was my turn, we exchanged pleasantries. I am sure I rambled about nothing important as I am socially awkward. 

As we were wrapping up, I told her I was aspiring to be a published author myself. Awkward, right? I am sure she gets that all the time!

She suggested I blog. I told her I did. She asked if anyone read it; I said, yes, but that my words often catch somewhere deep inside me, and they have a tough time escaping even though I am compelled to write.

I asked her if I should keep writing. 

She looked a little taken aback. 

At first, and for several months I would think this was because I asked a dumb question and made a horrible impression. And likely wasted her time because how many people talk to her about the same exact thing I was! After a few moments, Rachel answered that if I was helping one person, I should keep writing. One person was enough to keep going. To keep putting words out into the world.

I thanked her and quickly moved on so that the next person could move up to have their book signed. I always feel like I am in the way and a burden. Learning it is okay to take up space is something I constantly struggle with.

Rachel’s response rattled around in my head for days, months even, because when I became part of her launch team for her new book, Live Love Now, it was still present in my mind. After it was released, Rachel posted how she watched as the world responded to her book and that numbers were not her friend. And her response to my question all those months before crept back into my mind. 

She wasn’t taken aback by my question about how to keep motivated because it was dumb. Instead, she was taken aback because she didn’t know exactly what to say because she struggled with that thought, too. She worries about getting her message out. How will people respond? Will people read it? Will it do well? She cares! Duh! We all do. We aren’t that different.

Thank you for staying with me the pep talk is coming; at least I think so…

Motivation and inspiration are great. They are the spark that ignites us, these things can be the fire that launches us to grow. Downside, motivation, and inspiration are fleeting and sometimes hard to come by.

How we achieve success, how we become productive, the secret is consistency. 

Writers write every day, even if it is terrible, even if it never gets read by anyone else. They keep writing and writing and writing until something clean and clear and golden emerges from the page, and they know they have something to share. 

Fit people, work out, work out, work out. They do something to keep their bodies moving, and they don’t stop or quit. It is routine that they move their body and so they stick to it. 

Neither of these things is easy, and that is why not everyone does it. It takes time, dedication, and consistent effort to produce results. And for most of that time, no one notices, and if they do, it isn’t to say, “Great job, keep going!” It is usually to say, “Why do you keep doing that?” or “Come out to eat with me.” or “Can’t you just skip your workout today and come out with us?” We can easily be derailed. And criticism comes easily from both in our heads and out in the world.

But it isn’t motivation that keeps us going. It may get us started or be used to propel us forward, but the day in, day out continuation comes from something more profound.

It is the joy, the love, the feeling we get from doing the things that matter most to us. It is knowing in our hearts that we are the best versions of ourselves when we complete or have these activities in our day. Whether cooking, cleaning, writing, creating, running, weightlifting, nutrition, advertising, engineering, we do the things we love because there is a call deep inside of us that we answer day after day no matter what might stand in our way. And it is the consistency of showing up even when we don’t want to, even when we aren’t feeling it that catapults one into success.

So I don’t know how to motivate you to do something. And I am not sure that motivation will keep you doing that something, either. But I do know if you commit to something if you want it because it makes a difference to you and you alone, you will continue to do it day after day no matter what. You will make time for it. You will put yourself through the work for it. You will show up and get it done. And what is more, you won’t stop.

You may struggle. You may get caught up in what others think. You may get caught up in what you think. Expectations of what could or should be are a trap! 

You may tear yourself down before you decide to stand back up. You may stop and start again. But it is the constant motion toward doing what you feel you are supposed to do that matters.

Do you try your absolute hardest? 

Do you give it all you have? 

Do you work and learn and grow through it? 

Are you showing up in a way that is kind, helpful, generous, trustworthy, respectful, vulnerable, and open-minded? 

If so, then that is enough. You are doing what you can with what you have been given, and that is enough. That is all anyone can ask of you. Keep going. Keep creating. Keep being you. And if you stop, if you rest, if you fall, if you forget, keep trying to find your way back. Keep getting back up. Keep going toward who you want to be. You will get there, and everyone stumbles along the way. And stop thinking about what could or should be. What you did and what you do is enough. 

The truth is we just have to be okay with who we are. We have to drop expectations and just accept who we are. We have to search for joy and hold on to hope.

Weird, but yesterday, I ran my fastest 5k in a long time, and my average pace was 11 minutes and 11 seconds; 11:11, that is not a coincidence,  (I never said I was fast). Then to top it off, the song that came on at the precise moment I finished my run was No Judgment by Niall Horan. 

I have mentioned before that I turn my playlist over to God and pray that a message comes through. It has been weeks since I feel like I have had a response. But I keep running, keep praying, keep listening, and yesterday with an average pace of 11:11 I hear…

When you’re with me, no judgment

You can get that from anyone else

You don’t have to prove nothing

You can just be yourself

I think that all this isn’t okay, but we are going to survive it. We have one another and ourselves, and we are enough to get through the storm. If we consistently show up as ourselves each day and do our best, it is enough. Even if we feel like our prayers aren’t heard; they are. We will get an answer back. We just need to keep going and take each moment as it comes and handle it the best way we know how. 

Love to you and yours,


 

Separate

Separate

It is odd that we have this new rule about being six feet apart. It is surreal and yet somehow so familiar. I think I have been six feet apart from people all my life.

Was my feeling of distance from other that spawned my feeling of being unworthy of connection? Or were my differences so apparent they created spaces so vast, I came up with unworthiness as an explanation to make sense of it all.

Simple things have always tripped me up made me feel inadequate because who I was didn’t fit into conversations, cliques, or communities. I looked like anyone else; I sounded like anyone else. And in fact, in some cases, I dripped with privilege, so I felt guilty about my feelings of not belonging when the ticket in seemed to be written on my skin. But my heart, my soul, felt something so foreign in the spaces around me.

Simple things like small talk, introductions, managing finances, being a guest in someone’s home, helping with chores, driving, giving directions, cutting tomatoes, baking a pie, calling to make reservations make me feel so small and incompetent. They seem like impossibilities to me sometimes. Ridiculous, I know.

It is easy to convince myself I will mess it up. Say something wrong. Not be heard correctly. Choose the wrong location. I don’t know how to stand in a way that makes other people feel comfortable. My thoughts spin when numbers come up because they make no sense to me at all. Percentages and budgets come up, and I start to sweat. I don’t like going to movie theaters or loud, crowded places. Fear grips hold of my tongue daily because I refuse to say something silly and look dumb. Cooking becomes an obstacle to surmount because I am sure dinner will turn out burned or taste awful. Listening to others is okay, but will I say something that eases their heart or makes them feel more comfortable; not likely. Parties are not a source of fun and excitement for me; I dread them and have to prepare for hours to show up and look relaxed. How do you look or seem relaxed? I am forty-two and still don’t know. In all things, I believe I will make a mistake that causes discomfort to someone else, even if it is a minor discomfort.

Even when we could be in contact with one another, I longed for connection. I wanted to be seen. And yet at the same time, I feared being seen. There was something better about being unknown, misunderstood that left me feeling more comfortable as if I was born to be lonely and isolated. That seemed to make more sense even if the logic didn’t compute. Because I know we are better together. I know we need one another to thrive.

Now, with shelter in place, the separation is visible. And the longing is still there. Even though there are times, I think I am built for a life behind walls.

The good news is there are moments that people text to check-in, stop by with flowers or ice cream, send a card or a book, or even to just pretend to be gnomes in our yard, and it changes our composition. My heart swells so quickly and becomes so full, tears well because I think there is no more space inside my body that can hold the love I feel showered upon me. And in those moments, I believe that my atoms were created to be loved. That somehow, they are love. That love is all there is inside me and around me.

How is it that visible distance can somehow make me feel closer to people than I ever did before? How is it that it can also bring up the loneliness in my heart in a way that it echoes throughout the day? Somehow it can do both.

I want to be a refuge for the people I love and for myself. I think I can do both. I want to do both. But my awkwardness and insecurities have always kept me six feet apart, sometimes even more. Maybe through the quiet, this shelter in place creates, there will be time for reflection that will allow me to emerge from it a softer place to land for myself and those I love best.

Tara Westover, author of Educated, wrote that, “[g]uilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.” And it is guilt that is strangling me in so many ways. Guilt that I take up too much space, that I will mess things up, that I am not enough, and I have lost too much time to do what matters, but maybe time is being handed back to us right now. Perhaps it is slowing so that we come out the revolving door with less guilt, or none at all and ready to embrace each other and ourselves in ways that will matter more. Sometimes the end isn’t the end at all. It is the beginning. Maybe we will get to create something new and better out of all of this.

Maybe…but I don’t know…I hope so…

Until tomorrow…

When the Light Goes Out

When the Light Goes Out

His natural, thin-lipped, wide-mouth grin carried so much sunshiny warmth I felt like I had just been placed center stage; in the spotlight. His shoulders were broad, yet slender and tilted forward in a slight hunch. The charcoal gray T-shirt that hung loose on his frame was light and the fabric seemed sheer and soft. No graphics littered the front; just a weathered and worn look that gave the shirt a little edge; making it seem casual and cool at the same time. Justin’s* demeanor and magnetic charm drew me in and made me feel like an old friend at once.

And almost as instantly, my body began to feel as if every ounce of life had been drained from it. There wasn’t any remnant of will to live left in any corner of my being. My arms became leaden weights, and I couldn’t muster the strength to lift them. My legs felt weak and unable to sustain an upright posture. The core of my being felt as hollow as a drum. My voice became suppressed, caught in my throat. It felt useless and strangled. My heart rate began to slow and my vision seemed to turn my perspective bleak like new contact lenses were covering my eyes unable to be removed. I knew Justin couldn’t go on for one more minute. The uselessness of life and the anguish in his heart turned into a roaring wave that was capsizing his life beneath it. His first words were, “I’m sorry. I just didn’t have anything left. I couldn’t stay.”

That Justin had chosen to leave this earth shattered my heart into slivers so small I was going to need a microscope to gather them all back up. Unfortunately, I am not sure all of the shards will ever be recovered. Even more, regrettably, this isn’t the first time I have felt this way. It is too hard to fathom how this light could go out; leave earth and leave the dark, vast blackhole of longing in its place. There will never be a day that someone Justin knew won’t look up and hope to see his light shining here with them. Never. It will forever be missed. A light extinguished too soon.

So many sweet souls have visited me, and their humor, charm, easy-breezy souls feel like a long, loving embrace. And it always takes my breath away that their lives were ended on their terms or by bad choices that left them vulnerable to leaving this world early. 

Suicides are impossible. How do you ever reconcile a life taken so swiftly? So forcefully? With forethought? What do you do when the light goes out?

It’s one of those deaths that leave so many what-ifs in its wake. It feels so preventable. It feels so upside down; the sheer force of trying to turn back time to prevent it leaves you breathless and dizzy. I am not saying other deaths don’t feel this way; it is just one of the types that tears a whole in my being and I feel like a tattered flag that will never fly again. After holding court with these souls, I am so devastated by the wake of grief that is felt here on earth for the loss of these souls; it takes days sometimes months for me to shake off the chill it leaves in my body. This also happens with souls that have been murdered, taken too soon due to cancer, and so many others. This particular cause of death is just raw right now, because of a session earlier this week.

There are roughly 129 suicides a day and it is the second leading cause of death in kids ages 15 to 19 according to the Association for Suicide Prevention.* It just seems so startling to think that the rate keeps increasing and we just aren’t entirely sure why. And so many lives are affected by this it is staggering.

After years of speaking to souls like Justin’s who chose to cross over, I still have no decent comforting words. Souls lost to suicide rip every last piece of hope from my heart because all I want to know is why? How does the God I believe in allow this? God, I adore you, but if you have a plan here, I am pretty positive I can’t understand it. It is so unfathomable, and nothing fills the hole or the guilt quite effectively. I have such a strong urge to try and rectify it, and that means keeping the soul here, helping them find peace here.

Maybe it stings so severely because this could have been me. My life has not been immune to suicidal thoughts. It isn’t this way now, but as a teen I remember how my life hung by a thread most days.

Each soul that I have encountered that has played a part in their demise is at peace in heaven. They are in a place where their pain is quiet, they feel loved, welcomed, they have a sense of home in a way that was hard for them to grasp here on earth. And while that floods me with gratefulness it also drips with misfortune because they leave so much love behind here. So many people that wanted them to feel peace and comfort here on earth.

Justin felt no different. The peace that flooded through his being was immeasurable on a human scale. He radiated pure joy. 

I know that some feel that souls that commit suicide are doomed to eternal damnation. 

But these souls sure don’t feel that way to me. They relay through thoughts, emotions and words that God loves them. Forgives them. That they do all the things souls in heaven tell me they do — reunite with loved ones, visit places all over the world, help other souls, visit loved ones on earth, find everlasting peace.

Sometimes they speak of the ability to take classes on how to better handle addiction, pain, depression so that if they do reincarnate, their souls are free of having to repeat that particular lesson over again. They send signs of hope to family here on earth and are well-adjusted to their fate. They want forgiveness from those the love here on earth. They feel immense remorse for the pain they caused, but few believe that there was an alternative to what happened to them. They use the word inevitable. These souls also share that they feel that there was a call for them to return to heaven; that God was somehow also responsible for their assent heavenward.

But all of these messages time and again still leave my heart feeling barren, vacant, devoid of solace. There is an emptiness that crawls up my spine and into my mind and makes my skin crawl with a pain I can’t entirely escape. Silent tears escape my body for days as it works to release this aching sorrow.

The people here on earth who are suffering the grief of suicide are left with questions, guilt, doubt, and broken hope. Why? How do we move forward and find meaning? I think the answer is going to be unique to each griever. It will match the impact of the physical life lost. It will only be understood by that mourning heart. 

Efforts to thwart suicide are valid. Lives can be saved. Why it doesn’t always work; I guess I will have to have blind faith. God knows what He is doing. Honestly, though, it still isn’t enough. My faith fails to cover the bill sometimes. Sorry, God. I love you, I do. I believe in you. I just can’t always understand, and this gift to communicate with spirits doesn’t seem to give me a more in-depth insight. 

The only thing that is helping me pull myself together tonight is the slight possibility that the messages I am able to translate from their loved ones help my clients. I guess, maybe just maybe, God uses people like me to aid in the healing process. To help loved ones know that there is a heaven, and that love connects us. It cannot be destroyed or cut short. Not all is lost.

Maybe people like me help others understand or have faith that their loved ones are not just dust, but are also alive; risen.

Perhaps it is a comfort to know that their loved ones have found a way to thrive in a place that surrounds us so they can continue to lift, guide and nourish us until we all meet again.

Maybe it is helpful to know that our God is a forgiving God, not a vengeful, punishing God. Our God is a nurturing parent who makes sure we understand and face the consequences of our own actions, but doesn’t kick us out on the street. Doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves independently, but is always guiding us to the best version of ourselves. He is always guiding us and welcoming us home. And there is never an end to His love.

It still isn’t enough to help alleviate the loss of suicide, but maybe something is better than nothing. The cracks in my heart will remain. I am not sure Justin’s bright smile will ever fade from my memory. His soul shines a radiant light on all it touches even if it is seemingly gone from here; it still exists in heaven.

Most importantly, if you feel like you need help, please get it.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about how you can help visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/  or https://afsp.org/.

XO-

*The name Justin has been changed to protect his identity and the identity of my clients.

*Data for these statistics comes from the article: 9 Things All Parents Should Know About Teens and Suicide: Talking about it can be hard, but it’s so important. By Anna Borges.

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Unhinged

Unhinged

Have you ever felt that how you were wired was somehow wonky, and you were never going to understand or fit the mold that you were supposed to?

Several months ago, fourteen, in fact, I wrote the following passages, and even with time to reflect, I am frozen, still. I can’t even breathe right now, thinking of how I am unable to find love in my heart for narcissists. I am trying to understand how they are and why they are, to have some sort of empathy or grasp on what is salvageable in them to care about. But I can’t even like them, not even a little bit. They cause too much damage, leave too much rubble in their wake without concern. Is this because my own wiring is wonky? Is there something wrong with me?

It is ludicrous to me; defenders of said narcissists, they call from the ashes still afire around them, that the narcissist that burned them never intended to harm them. That the narcissist has remorse and is hurting, too. I can’t even. I know egomaniacs can choose to have empathy about things that happen to them. I know narcissists are capable of compassion; in some cases, it just isn’t essential to them or their survival.

So, here I am months later, still wondering how to live with a more Jesus like heart. I guess I will just be flawed in this way forever. Mostly because it seems absurd to have a positive emotion for the narcissist that has hurt someone I care about. And I am not sure I will ever be able to find a way. Maybe releasing this into the world and learning how others handle and cope with narcissists in their lives will lead me to a path of hope and understanding. 

Tara Westover wrote, “Was it really fun and games? I write. Could he not tell he was hurting me? I don’t know. I just don’t know. I begin to reason with myself, to doubt whether I had spoken clearly: what had I whispered and what had I screamed? I decide that if I had asked differently, been more calm, he would have stopped. I write this until I believe it, which doesn’t take long because I want to believe it. It’s comforting to think the defect is mine because that means it is under my power.” 

Is this what we do to ourselves, make ourselves believe one thing because it is what comforts us the most? Whose reality is real? What is acceptable? 

Hurting people is the worst thing you could do. But we have all done it. I think it is patterns of bad behavior that become the true test of character. It is those patterns that define and create a landscape of who that person truly is. And you can forgive or try to understand that person, but you don’t have to continue to let that person’s behavior upset your balance. If it is continually causing you hurt and suffering, then the person doing harm is someone you need to distance yourself from. I don’t think you can think clearly or make decisions about what is good and true until you are clear from that behavior and manipulation.

And this is where my thoughts keep turning when I am left alone with myself during this quarantine. And somehow even though I think that I am right about creating distance and safe spaces from narcissists, I am still the villain, because I cannot find redemption in someone I believe is a narcissist and quite possibly a sociopath. And so here we are…my words from fourteen months ago still rolling around in my head…

The storm outside matches the insides of my heart. Hail, sheets of rain, howling wind that makes the walls rumble. It is as if this storm knows the rage inside my heart needs to escape. It can’t be contained there much longer.

Pain isn’t my strong suit. Even though I love to hide, pushing my feelings down, stuffing them into oblivion can only last so long. The only way to conquer pain is through it. It has to do its work, and you must go through it.

Denial, I am good at denial. But no more. I have chosen this life out loud to cut the crap out of my life literally. No secrets, no shame, no perfection, no lies, living out in the open as it is. What you see is what you get.

And then there is love. Love can be a complicated thing. It turns people inside out and makes them believe the impossible. I used to think love was a good thing. I am not so sure love by itself is a good thing. Sometimes the impossible is a bunch of deceit. Sometimes we love a toxic, narcissistic soul that takes and takes and takes, leaving us with lies, emptiness, and love unreturned. So why should they be allowed a seat at your table? I am all for everyone should have a seat; until that someone is cruel and doesn’t care about the table or anyone else that is seated there.

Seeing through people’s souls is a sixth sense I cherish. I don’t abuse it; I only use it if you want to get close to me or the people I cherish. If your insides don’t match your outsides; if your soul is besotted black and you reek of self-serving arrogance, you don’t make my cut. But if you are who you present yourself to be and your actions match your words, I most likely will never let you go.

And yet, I haven’t been good at love lately. If I am being hurt, I step away, pull back. Biting my tongue isn’t easy. I don’t know why I should have to when I care about you and want what’s best for you. And people I admire pick their own people to love. They don’t care what my bullshit radar says. And I have to accept that. Releasing my protective grip is near impossible. My heart crushes and seizes under that kind of pressure.

But unconditional love, love without exception means you can’t use a bullshit radar. You have to love people as they show up. And in most cases, I can handle that. Most cases. But if you are a cruel, selfish, liar, who causes pain and heartache without a thought, you are out. In fact, door slammed, one chance, and you lose. Redemption is inconceivable.

Can you be incapable of loving unconditionally? Do you get forgiven if you can’t watch your loved ones get hurt by someone over and over again? If you slam a door shut and lock twenty deadbolts and then board it up for safe measure, are you the bad guy?

And forgiveness…I can’t even get close to talking about that yet. Sometimes you reap what you sow. Too bad, so sad. Sorry, not sorry. Oh, and good riddance. If you hurt someone I care about, that is how I feel about you. If you hurt me I will likely get past it, but you hurt what is most precious to me then forget it; you are dead to me. Worse than dead. Lost. Dust. Nothing.

It’s all too much this morning. I decide to run. I have to get out of my own head. But I can’t breathe. It’s like I keep sucking in poison. Fury has toxic, suffocating fumes. I walk with rage. A long stride, swinging arms, an intent glare. The dark, swirling sky and constant mist matching my mood with perfection. And when I can’t take my own thoughts anymore, I sprint again. Trying to focus on my stride. The way my feet land, toe heel, toe heel, and then again I am breathless and weak with resentment.

Why? Why? Why? And the thoughts swirl endlessly and viciously through my mind.

Stuttering across my consciousness is a conversation with a client. A client, who I believe is psychic; incredibly intuitive, described herself as crazy. I have described myself as crazy, too. But at that moment, pungent acidity bubbled up in me and then almost as instantly calm washed over me; “crazy isn’t knowing something before it happens,” I told her.

“Crazy is intentionally harming another person. That is crazy. I will never be able to understand or rationalize how someone does that.” And there it is. And this is how I will become the villain in this story. I will speak up. I will shout against shame and stand tall against the person who should be sorry in all of this but isn’t capable of that emotion. Only narcissism sits in the place where a heart should be.

Maybe I will work through this. Perhaps I will be able to invite liars to my table one day to appease those who can, but my heart seems to refuse.

We protect ourselves from pain unconsciously. It is a survival skill that we will instinctively move away from danger both physically and emotionally. But what if someone you care about, a friend, a family member, keeps running toward that pain. Don’t you cry out for them to stop? To watch out. Is that what this is? I don’t know for sure.

They always say write when you are passed something, over it. But what if you never get over it. What if watching someone you treasure suffer from someone else’s cruelty creates a jaded, vengeful bitterness in your own heart that cripples you and makes you the villain in the story when you were only trying to help. All I know is I am tired of being quiet. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. And if trying to help you keep your eyes open makes me the bad guy; then que será, será. I don’t know who else to be. I don’t know how else to be. Maybe this is the role I am supposed to play in this story. The girl who can’t keep her mouth shut. The girl who cries, “wolf” only the wolf is deadly real, but you love the wolf, and it breaks my heart to see what that wolf does to you. What that wolf has done to you and what that wolf won’t hesitate to do to you again.

Love is tricky. Complicated. Sometimes maybe impossible to understand. And sometimes, when you adore someone, you think it is worth it to be the villain. You don’t care what you lose to save someone you think deserves better. Even if it means losing them. I would rather tell the truth. I would rather be myself, then hide and watch you suffer because that is what you want. I can’t pretend like everything is okay. Like everything is the same. The whole damn village is burning down, and the person who lit the match shouldn’t be able to build it up just to burn it down again. And if that is what happens, I can’t watch. I can’t stay quiet. Maybe one day I will love with unconditional abandon, but this isn’t who I am right now. Right now, I am still angry, still wanting justice and transparency. And somehow the villain.

safe inside

safe inside

There are many things the shelter in place has me feeling grateful for…that is the least we can do right?! Feel grateful for the ability to shelter in place while others are losing and risking their lives to keep us fed, healthy and cared for.

Each of the kids, minus my fifteen year old, has taken a long walk with me. Learning about their friends, their hopes and dreams, what they love to do, and what they think about has been a fantastic luxury in all of this. This precious time is something I need to find a way to preserve. I want to make sure when things go back, this time with each of them one on one is preserved, that it remains something that happens weekly in our lives. It is sacred.

My daughter has grown into such a wonderfully funny, independent spirit. She loves people as they are, but has a strong love for order in chaos, she likes to take charge and has a fierce self-esteem. She is becoming quite comfortable in her skin, but there are still stresses and fears that linger in her heart and what a gift that she felt comfortable sharing them with me.

C-man has incredible comedic timing and his sarcasm is on point. My job is just to help navigate what is appropriate for a nine-year-old to say out loud and to whom. He loves to laugh, dance, sing, and is so artistic. His understanding of historic events and his recall for what happened is astounding. Listening to him talk is a full time job, because he can talk about anything and everything. Getting to know and understand his heart has been a breath of fresh air.

Z is such a unique combination of tender and tough. He loves video games, science-fiction, reading, sports, and his memory is a steel trap. This past few months he has been learning about football players and basketball players. He is understanding stats and starting to recognize talent. Z is a true athlete; he understands instinctively what to do physically with any sport. Strategy and skill blend so well together in his head and then he is able to play that out on the court or field. It was surprising to me to know he feels so self-conscious on the soccer pitch. And he understands the link between that confidence and how it affects his play. Children are sponges!

I will get my oldest to go with me, but until then as his mother I go to him. I check in; I don’t nag to much, I encourage involvemennt and he has been playing outside with his siblings, joining in family conversations, sharing his gaming and online chats with his friends, and his concerns and feelings during all of this, so that works for me, too.

Marriage is a trickier thing. Our love for one another is so strong; it definitely stands the test of any argument. But being stuck together can really exaggerate what makes you crazy. It has also made me incredibly grateful I have a husband that loves his family and makes them a priority. He is incredibly supportive of how all this has affected my business and my need to put the kids first. I am so fortunate to have such a great teammate in all of this.

So, I am choosing joy and gratefulness even in a time of uncertainty, even if there is a little bit of fear in my heart. It is the best we can do, the best I can do right now.

my head is getting the best of me

my head is getting the best of me

Remember always that the quiet girl who wanted to put good into the world, the one who is shy and scared, but full of faith; she is who you are. That girl is worth something. She has value. Keep trying to find her and love her so that she won’t feel so lost, so lonely. My biggest goal is that ten years from now, heck one year from now I want to walk into a room and feel like I belong here, feel enough, capable, funny, wise, warm and engaging. I hope this year you find a balance between what you do and who you are and how you handle that so that goal becomes a reality. You should never have to apologize for the space you take up in the world.

I wrote these words earlier this year; in a letter to my future self. Boy how a little shelter in place and a bit more time to reflect allows a mind to turn on itself. My inner voice has been my biggest critic my whole life. I know I am not alone in that. It is something other people grapple with as well. Apologizing for the space I take up or what I bring to that space is constant. In fact, I have described the feeling as my not-enough-ness and even say it has the ability to act up again. Like it has a mind of its own. This shelter in place has tested my ability to counter act that not-enough-ness feeling on the daily.

Is what I am doing with the kids enough? How can I help when our family has also taken a financial hit with me having to switch up and work from home while taking care of the kids? How can I reach out more when I literally feel like I don’t have anything to talk about or the right words to help soothe a friend’s aching heart? How do you show up when are not physically supposed to? Why don’t you know more about the virus, what the president is doing, politics, math, history, science, etc? Why aren’t you taking up a new hobby? Why aren’t you trying something new? Why are you so tired? I never seem to know enough, even if I try. Why try when your best never measures up?

Yes, I am a pro at self sabotage. I don’t even understand it. I have never understood it; I even had a therapist that basically didn’t know why I couldn’t counter act it because I had so many logical ways of talking myself down time and again.

I have been exercising. I keep trying to tidy things up, or clean things, even if they seem to get dirty and need cleaning ten minutes later. I have been trying to get enough sleep, but my brain is having a hard time allowing me to fully rest, especially since the days seem to be less busy without all the driving from place to place and four overlapping schedules of activities. But again, I struggle to keep this up. I have good days and bad days.

I know we are supposed to be breathing deeper and enjoying the down time since we have the privilege of doing so; and I am. But my brain kicks up another notch and is getting after me for not reading enough, not being with my kids enough, not writing enough, not cooking, not baking, not cleaning, not whatever-ing enough. “Why did you watch so much T.V. today?” it nags at me.

“You are so lazy, no wonder you are fat.”

“You are useless.”

I try to watch the news and keep up to date, but there are things that are covered that literally make me sob and the kids then start asking why I am so sad and then I worry about keeping them upbeat and motivated. So I limit my intake.

I have deleted social media from my phone, but then I feel like I am not available to those that might need me. I log on occasionally and find myself unfollowing people because I get so overwhelmed and angry and hurtful posts, posts where people are arguing to boost their own pride. I sweat sometime people complain just to complain. It is nauseating. But then I feel like my heart is callous and I should be more understanding of everyone’s voice.

It is a non-stop barrage of unworthiness in my head.

So, yesterday, I decided to chose joy.

Not just chose it, reach for it whole-heartedly.

I took a long walk instead of my usual run. I phoned a friend. I left video messages for other friends. I cooked breakfast for dinner, a family favorite.

I watched John Krasinski’s Some Good News, twice. I might watch it again and again. It is below, you are welcome.

I watched The Tonight Show from Home with Jimmy Fallon and his quarantine from home remix with Justin Timberlake made me laugh out loud. It was just what a I needed.

Then I watched bloopers from the Office.

And read to my kids before bed. They decided to have a sleepover and all sleep in the family room. I literally fell asleep listening to their laughter.

It may seem impossible to chose joy, to reach for it, but even if your heart is heavy, even is you are crippled with worry over finances, even if your heart is grieving, you can reach for joy. It might be a soft blanket, a fresh patch of grass in the sunshine, a deep breath, a nap, a friend’s voice. Even if it doesn’t seem possible, there is joy to find; reach for it. Please find it.

And even if you think; oh, that girl speaks from a place of privilege what does she know? You are right. I have so many privileges I was born into, but I earned things in this life, too.

And if you are struggling, if you are in a place of need how can I help you find joy? Or how did you find a piece of joy for yourself? Enlighten me, help me understand how to help you better or other spaces to find joy. I want to know, learn, understand.

Wishing you a little piece of joy today and every day.

Inside Voice # 1

Inside Voice # 1

Struggle – verb: to proceed with difficulty or with great effort*

“You could never understand my pain.” This is a common phrase I hear a lot.

I think deep down a vast majority of us feel unseen, unheard, and misunderstood. We search for connection, but feel like no one could ever understand our pain, or losses, what we have been through. And to an extent that is true. How we experience things is unique, but what we experience can be universal. Right now is a prime example. The world will remember this pandemic. We are all going through it. How we experience it day to day is unique to us, but so much of the what is happening to us is the same. Yet, it must be human nature to compare because we can’t seem to help it.

A few days ago, I was listening to Brené Brown’s podcast, she was interviewing David Kessler, an author and grief expert. During the interview he started talking about how people compare grief. For example, a grieving mother’s pain is greater than a grieving daughter’s pain, and he basically said that we can’t compare grief because “your grief is the greatest grief.” Why? Basically, he postured that the greatest grief is our own because it is the most significant amount of suffering we have endured up to that point in our lives. That truth resonated through me like a I had been hit with a tuning fork.

It has been so difficult for me to write about what I am feeling and experiencing during this time because of all the suffering I know other people are enduring, all while my family is safe and healthy. But listening to David Kessler reminded me we are all grieving something because as he defines grief, it is the loss of something, the death of something, it reminded me that we are all feeling loss. Some may be missing the loss of the school year, the loss of normalcy as we knew it, we are all learning how to cope with Shelter in Place (SIP), or with whatever we may be faced with in new ways. And what we are living through is one of those defining moments that there will be forever a before and after. We will say things like, “remember when we used to shake hands and hug strangers everywhere before the pandemic.”

Our first responders and essential workers are awe-inspiring, self-sacrificing humans whose stories are lifting me up and breaking my heart on the daily. We cannot thank them enough for what they do to help the rest of us. There isn’t a day that I am not thinking about their ability to put others first and what they must be encountering on a daily basis.

There are times I want to keep things light and funny, but I think about what people are grappling with, and it seems like if I do that, I am not being considerate enough. I want to address the death, loss, and gravity of the situation, but I get so overcome with emotion, I can’t seem to pick myself up off the couch and genuinely go into a downward spiral of despair, and that isn’t going to help anyone.

So, I wanted to start this post by acknowledging that I understand that there are so many people across the globe who are suffering and struggling and the people that are assisting others, saving others, and are on the front lines have my utmost and deepest gratitude. But to document this authentically for myself, I may have to keep things a bit lighter moving forward, even if this post stays a bit heavy.

Also, I want to recognize that the shelter in place isn’t safe for everyone, but I think it was the best choice for the majority of our population. While that doesn’t negate the danger, some people who are in abusive situations may be facing I think those in the hardest-hit areas of the country would definitely agree that shutting things down was the right choice. I think it’s funny that we feel because we are in a democracy that we were automatically given the right to chose what is best for us. We want that right, but just like a parent, sometimes our leaders have to make difficult decisions that they think are best for us. It is easy to throw stones, but I am going to side with our governor on this one. I think Gavin Newsom did what he thought was best for our state and the people in it, and I don’t think it was an easy choice. I think it was a weighty choice and continues to be a difficult one.

On to more mundane topics of discussion.

What is my family doing in all of this?

I did shut down my in-person office visits. I have been doing sessions over the phone. It has been good, but also more taxing than usual. The energy it takes out of me seems more daunting than it was previously. I am sure that is because of my own energy, my clients’ energies, and then doing what I do all mixed together. Plus my sensitivity to the hurt that is in the world right now, and there is a lot of crying on my end by the end the day. It is also hard when people ask the impossible of me. There are people who have no boundaries and think I have all the answers, or that spirit does, and that just isn’t true. There are no definite answers, there is only what is best in the moment, and we have to find that for ourselves, no one in this world or the next, besides God, can give us that. We can find comfort from others, but we can’t find definite answers to the universe. At least I don’t believe that is possible in this existence.

My husband has been working from home. He likes his commute, and he is definitely working 9-5, but I think this week, it is getting hard for him to not be in the office with some of his co-workers.

The kids are doing really amazing. I am so impressed with their resilience.

My oldest son is so on top of his schedule, his classes, and what is expected of him at school. That part has been effortless. He is even trying to learn a little Japanese. Some mornings, he spends trying to relearn how to play songs on his keyboard and strums his guitar at various times throughout the day. However, his need to play video games with his friends for hours on end has been harder to manage. We have non-screen time hours, and that has helped, but I still think he is on his devices too much; it is just hard when that is also his social outlet. How can you reduce his contact from his friends even more than it already is? He is such a responsible kid. I am hoping we can help him understand balance during this time.

My daughter’s transition to distance learning was reasonably seamless. She was already at a school where everything was digital. Her school is paperless, so textbooks are online or digital, and classwork is submitted digitally already. She was up and running within days of the SIP (Shelter in Place) order. Her phone and iPad were all propped up on her desk, and she was typing away while working with classmates on assignments on day one. Obviously, she is definitely having a more difficult time with the social aspect. She misses her friends and wasn’t planning on returning to that particular school in the fall, so she is rethinking that now that she missed out on the closure of the year. We are just playing it day by day. We have both shed tears over her heartbreak that she won’t get to finish out the year with her teachers, classmates, or on the peaceful campus. I am pretty sure she also misses the food. Our home lunches don’t quite compare to the farm-fresh, chef-curated meals her school offers. She has had some Zoom calls with friends and played on Houseparty the other day with two girlfriends. But she is still lonely.

For the twins, I threw my teaching hat back on and downloaded several units from Teachers Pay Teachers and have been teaching writing, math, science, and reading activities. I also have a geography unit we will likely start in the next month or so. I struggle with the online games and practice, but I am trying to incorporate that as it is part of what their teacher is assigning. We have also been baking, doing science experiments, some art projects, playing outside, bike riding, and walks.

The oldest of the twins is having trouble with his anxiety. We have been working on tools and techniques he can use to self soothe. They seem to be working, but it crushes my heart that he worries so much for being only nine years old. I have been open and honest that adults are feeling the same way he is. It is natural to be worried, this is the first time many of us have ever faced anything like this, but we list what we are doing to keep us all safe, and that seems to help.

The younger of the twins is less anxious, but finally, let out some sadness yesterday as he misses his friends and soccer. We even had a family discussion about how you just need to cry sometimes so you can release that emotion. It can help you feel a little better. Both boys have Messenger kids and FaceTime, so they have been able to connect with classmates over this time period, but I know it isn’t the same.

Of course, when the younger kids said they would have liked to have been over at Noni and Papa’s (my mom and dad’s) when this started so they could have been stuck there for months, it hurt my heart just a little. I told them they would miss me, and one of the twins said, “Oh, we have messenger kids mom, we would have talked to you that way.”

I am trying to make it fun, but I guess not enough apparently. But that is the plight of being the parent, you just aren’t appreciated or cool until they understand what being a parent is like.

To keep my own sanity, I am reading. Thankfully I have been a part of two book launches. The first Jen Hatmaker’s Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire. (You can preorder it here.) The second, Live, Love, Now by Rachel Macy Stafford. (You can preorder that book here.) Both have been uplifting, introspective reads. I am also reading, Little Fires Everywhere and watching the series on Hulu. That has been fun. I may have also got a little caught up in Veronica Mars, which is way too young for me, but the Good Place ended and I miss Kristen Bell. What’s a girl to do?

I have been exercising. But like I told my one of my friends the other day, if I hadn’t created the habit of working out before the SIP, it would have been hard to start because my unworthiness gets the best of me in times like this and motivation vanishes because I just think I will be fat and ugly forever and nothing will help! I know that those are unkind things to say to myself, but in the past, those words and the energy to combat them leave me depleted. Then exercise seems insurmountable. So if you feel guilty for not working out right now, stop it. Just stop it. Whatever you can do is enough.

Writing has been a struggle. I want to be a writer so much, but the voices in my head that tell me I am not enough, even though I can quiet them everywhere else, here in this writer space they remain unchecked.

  • “You have nothing valuable to add.”
  • “You are too wordy.”
  • “You haven’t had enough pain to write in a way that resonates.”
  • “You aren’t entertaining enough.”
  • “You aren’t honest enough.”
  • “When you do tell the whole truth, you hurt people’s feelings.”
  • “Just shut up.”

I can hear you through the internet; I know I am not being nice to myself. I get it. I promise. And on top of that, I asked a friend to answer herself with love the other day after painting hurtful words her brain was shouting at her, I guess I need to do the same.

  • “Your experience is worthy enough to share.”
  • “Your words can take up the space they take up.”
  • “You can be a writer with any life experience; talent isn’t measured by pain.”
  • “Your words are enough; if people like them great. If they don’t, they don’t. Helping one person is more than enough, even if that person is you.”
  • “You are a solid gold truth-teller; it is your default.”
  • “You are kind, and you are honest. Your words always have the best intentions, and that means something.”
  • “Write – let your heart be free on the page.”

And so there you have it. I will write a little each day, show up here authentically and offer what I can. It’s all any of us can do.

It is my sincerest wish that you are well and finding ways to cope with the new normal.

Sincerely,

Finding Answers in the Redwoods: A Perspective on Grief

Finding Answers in the Redwoods: A Perspective on Grief

Lately, I have been praying a great deal about what I should be writing about. I know I haven’t been corresponding to you all as frequently as I should. Maybe you haven’t even missed it. I guess I worry about that too much. If there is an audience. That they dwindle or are bored of my words. Which is why the book I was writing has sat untouched for months. And the end of the year, which was my deadline to finish, is far gone.

As with anything more significant in my life, like a calling, writing is one of those things. I can’t ignore its pull. There is a voice that keeps telling me I am supposed to write. And the prayers I pray asking what I should write about; the answer keeps being whispered back to me. I am supposed to write about death.

Talk about a topic that no one wants to hear about. The topic probably stops me from writing sometimes too. It can be too much. In Western Culture, we avoid death. The bad news is it can’t be avoided forever. Some people have less loss in their lives, while others are bombarded with loss. But the one thing we all have in common is that it will happen to everyone at some point.

We also push past grief or side step it if we can. Rush it; try to ignore it. Maybe it is because we think we can outwit it; hide it; escape it. None of those things seem to be true, at least not long term or without significant side effects.

It can be an awkward topic even if you do want to approach it or understand it.

It never occurred to me that it would become such a center point of my existence. I guess I started out like most people do, trying to deny it.

Day in and day out, I work to breathe life into death. It is always my goal as a faith-based spiritual medium to do God’s work and light the way into the darkest corners of our grief and loss so that hope can grow there. But it doesn’t change the fact that our lives continue to be wrapped in it.

One thing is certain, grief doesn’t end. Just like love never dies; grief never ceases. We miss our loved ones and long for them our entire lives.

I think it was Anne Lamott that said, “But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the biggest losses in your life?” Isn’t that the truth? We never get over the biggest losses in our lives. They shape us, move with us, are in us.

Grief does evolve; I think that might be true.

Last fall I got to spend some days among the Redwood Trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains and they reminded me of grief. They reminded me of us.

Redwood Trees are giant, long-living creatures that tower over everything in a forest, and they force you to take them in. They are hard to ignore. From their strong aroma to their massive size, to the needles and cones that fall from them, you are forced to recognize them, just like grief.

Redwood Trees are also mostly fire-resistant. Did you know that? I didn’t before that visit. Of course, repeated fires can cause damage and create hallows called “goose-pens” that are found around the base. Grief definitely damages us, but we survive, whether we want to or not, and continue to grow around the pain even though the marks of it remain on our surface or maybe even at the root of us for the rest of our lives. Grief goose pens, if you will.

Grief like a Redwood is majestic in its own right because grief is love. Did you know that the germination of Redwood Trees from their seeds isn’t very high? The fastest way to grow a new Redwood Tree is from a stump sprout. Because their root systems are so strong these stump sprouts have a better chance of success because they can easily connect to that strong underground root system. That underground root system is like love. So even though grief looms in our life, seemly crippling us, new roots will shoot up all over and force us to keep moving on, changing our emotions. That is love at work. Love for our heavenly loved one, love for those here that keep us going. Giving hope to new moments in our life. Allowing us to honor and promote our deceased loved ones in the new ways we begin to show up in our changed lives. It is because of them we can grow.

Sometimes grief can wrap us in a fog so dense it is seemly endless. Lonely. But what we often don’t know until this fog of grief has lifted, even if temporarily, is that the harder moments prepare us for the beautiful moments where the most radiant amounts of joy find us. And these intertwined grief-stricken and joy-filled moments create their own forest of memories. Memories that sustain us in the physical world where we breathe life into our loved ones. We carry them with us wherever they go, and so they go on. Grief isn’t just pain, it is a legacy of love that will last for hundreds of years. Just like a Redwood Tree.

Redwood Trees have shallow root systems and these roots can grow to be hundreds of feet long and even intertwine with the trees around them. Just like us. We may not be able to see those surface connections in grief, but we become intertwined with those around us who are also experiencing that loss and pain and we stand along side those that witness our losses and stay connected to them forever.

Redwood Trees do die and they can tumble to the ground. When a Redwood Tree falls it can take other trees with it. Some have described the grunts, cracks, crashes and groans of a Redwood Tree falling as a symphony. What happens when a Redwood Tree falls is that it begins to allow for extra light to reach the forest floor. New trees can begin to grow from the fertilizer that becomes of the decomposing tree. Animals can find homes in the newly fallen tree. The tree may no longer be standing and “breathing” among its peers, but it still provides nourishment and opportunity to the forest it belonged to. Just like us. We will see the dead tree, our lost person, everywhere we step for almost all of our days, but that loss allows us to incorporate that person’s beliefs into our lives or creates a new perspective for us so that we can shine light on others to help them grow and flourish in ways we may not have understood before.

We share stories of our lost loved ones with our friends and family, and they share those stories. Our loved ones in heaven are given new life as they travel through these memories and continue to become a part of new experiences.

We will never stop missing them, but we will go on. We will hurt, but we will grow. And they will live on in us, our stories, and by how we remember them in our actions.

Death is scary. Loss is awful. But lives are beautiful. Legacies are legendary. We can breathe life into the spaces and hollows that grief leaves and learn to live with our losses in a way that can make life sweeter and more full.

I guess, I have to keep writing and talking about death. Life after death both on Earth and in Heaven. I pray it lifts someone up in their pain. I pray they feel heard and loved through their deepest moments of sorrow. I hope that what I do, what I write about makes someone feel a little less lonely. That they maybe can see through the fog of grief for a moment. That they know it will never be the same again, but it isn’t the end either. There are beginnings to still be had. Miracles to see and find. Life continues and death is inevitable. But there is something beyond this place and our souls continue to stay connected to one another. Just like the magic and mystery of a Redwood Forest there is something deeper and indescribable about how life and death intertwine.

Until next time,