My Blog

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,

Contently Complete with My Contradictions

Contently Complete with My Contradictions

I would rather be comfortable than fashionable. Even though I feel prettier with makeup on the days I don’t wear it, I am happier. I chose to wear leggings over jeans. Simple is better. Tennis shoes over heels any day.

Despite being able to present in front of large groups of people, it is way more natural for me to be quiet and separate from other people. Yet at the same time, I love helping people and I want to make friends.

I am an optimist, but sometimes the weight of the world and all that happens is too much to hold in my heart and I want to cry and cry.

While I adore my children and want to be around them, I am not good at playing games or coming up with fun crafts to do. My kids are my life. They are my everything and what makes me happy. They are my why.

I probably watch too much T.V. and spend too much time on social media.

I want to be a successful business owner, but I also am okay with the way things are right now. Having extra time to be with my family after a decade of working in a fast-paced, high-demand, high-stress job that required me to be at the ready around the clock has taken its toll, and I am not prepared to jump right back into that.

Being a wife is fantastic and makes me so very happy, but I also like peace and quiet. While I love taking care of others, sometimes I want to be taken care of.

I am more serious than funny.

I overthink everything and still struggle with my confidence.

I wish people were kinder with one another.

Sometimes what I do makes it hard for me to be around other people and really connect.

Writing is where I feel most at home, and yet I am scared to share my voice and terrified of putting my words out into the world, and yet somehow, I keep doing it.

I have said this before, but I literally suck at small talk and my memory is mush these days. I want to be able to converse, but it isn’t easy for me to do this with people outside of work.

I would rather be home than anywhere else.

Why do we keep pushing to move faster, do more, one-up what we did the last time?

There can be room for improvement, but I also think we can just be, and that is enough.

In my jumble of contradictions, I think it is okay. I just want to be who I am and love my skin. I want to wash away mom guilt, and this drive to be made for more, and just be me. Content, confident, and appreciative of each day. Content with my contradictions and completely settled and happy with what is.

So that is where I am now. Just trying to keep things slow and uncomplicated. Content, appreciative in who I am.

Open Letter 2020

Open Letter 2020

At the beginning of last year I wrote a letter to myself, you can read more about why here. Accountability is important and it truly did keep me on course most of the time.

I wanted to do it here again, so I have these to look back on, plus it is my own version of therapy. My goal is that this helps you as well. I always write to reach just one soul that might feel like me so they feel a little less lonely, maybe a little more inspired to be unapologetically themselves and maybe this letter will hit the mark.

I wish you all a happy, successful, healthy 2020.

Dear End of 2020 Michelle,

I wrote this to you in a time when my soul felt bitterly broken, for that, I apologize. I tried so many times to write this from a place of hope, success, cheer, but alas, weeks passed, and my heart still feels achy, torn, defeated. Depression does that to you, no matter how hard you try. No matter how much work you put in. No matter how illogical it may seem, your brain sabotages you to believe you are nothing, worthless. Even though I hope that isn’t true, it sure feels like it with a force I cannot shake. And I finally decided that writing the truth is essential because I am a truth-teller, and that is what it is. So this letter is not as uplifting as I would have hoped, but I still want it to guide you, and I hope when you read it back, you are in a place where you have risen above, a place where you have found peace and strength in who you are now. 

You threw a birthday gathering for yourself, which is a huge accomplishment, and I am so proud you didn’t cancel even though you wanted to. It was good to see a room of people show up for you. Hugging each one of them felt like home. It is necessary that you continue to be the kind of friend you want to have, even when you struggle with it. Believe me, I know you still struggle. At the gathering the topic of friendship and worth came up. You were rocked to your core when you said how hard it was for you to feel like you do things right and immediately everyone’s voice raised to shut you down in seconds. This is hopeful, and I want you to try and focus on the idea that people don’t see you the same way that you see yourself. I know that is extremely difficult when several of your friends you had to work so hard to get them to notice you to begin with, but that happens. Even if you feel invisible, you are seen, respected, and loved for who you are.

I know you think people care more about what you can do, speak to spirits, than who you are. I know you struggle with that so immensely. I know that you love what you do, but it doesn’t define you. It isn’t who you are, and those that can’t see the difference aren’t worthy of your heart. You are not what you do. You are not your calling. It chose you and you answered that call because of who you are, not the allure of that calling. It puts a barrier between you and those around you that are connected to you because of it. But there are people that love you for who you are. Remember that and seek them out, they will not abandon you, and they won’t care if you are a quiet, homebody who likes to read and stay in her jammies. In fact, those things make them love you more.

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.

2019 was a good year, you should be proud. You run a successful business that has grown exponentially via word of mouth and you do it all scared. Each day is leap in faith. But I know how much this wonderful job, this calling, means to you. It is vital to your human existence, because at the end of the day all you have ever wanted to do in this life is help people and be a mom. 

Both you have accomplished. But I know it’s beating you down. I know each loss weighs on your heart. Each person you carry with you and can’t seem to shake how loss feels. It catches in every breath, shades every moment of joy, and leaves you feeling so lost and empty because there is so much pain. This pain is a continuously exposed nerve ending, and there is nothing it doesn’t touch. I know there is nothing else you would want to do in this world, but I also know this is not the job you asked for, it was given to you, and you have done your best to rise to every challenge. I know you do not feel worthy of being chosen and that writing these words makes you feel as if you will lose it all because you sound ungrateful and that is the farthest thing from the truth. You just want to keep going and find a way to carry the load so it doesn’t break you. My wish, my hope is that right now at the end of 2020 you are reading this and have found a way to carry that sorrow and loss that is brought into your heart over and over, day in and day out in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling hollow and less than. I know you have struck out with every therapist you have contacted. No one will see you because of what you do. You have risen above judgment before. You have found a way, and I know you will figure this out, too. You are not forsaken, remember in every moment whose you are. HE will not forsake you. HE led you to this spot, and HE will see you through.

As a mom, you have grown so much. You catch your tongue and temper and meet most moments of chaos with peace. You have spent this year truly learning your children’s hearts. You are ready and watching to see how they greet you. Almost always you drop what you are doing to meet them at the ready and listen. You spent time with them. Work came second, and in your workaholic heart, that has been an enormous adjustment. You define yourself by how much you accomplish, and while you like the new pace of life, you feel like you didn’t do enough. Remember that whatever time you spend with your family is more than enough. You saw soccer games, watched dances, made family dinners, read books, had movie nights, game nights, listened to stories, baked together, laughed together. All of that time is what life is about. It is more than enough and it will be the one thing that fills your heart and soul completely.

As a wife, you have put your marriage as a top priority and work from a place of grace with your husband. You are always grateful for all he does and work to make sure he knows it. You spent time together and shared your heart openly. You have seen how he has responded with so much love and openness. You are one lucky girl he chose to marry you and has been by your side every day for nineteen years. What a beautiful life and marriage you continue to build with one another. 

Regrettably, you didn’t finish your book or start a podcast by the end of 2019. It eats at your soul that you let fear stop you in your tracks. That you allow what is hard and seems insurmountable leave you voiceless. The book is now done. You have a clear plan to publish and that is enough. You feel satisfied and hopeful that you completed what you set out to do. The podcast isn’t on the radar anymore, but you published a blog post bi-weekly most of the time, did more quick little videos via Facebook and Instagram, and again that is enough. You like keeping it small and being out of the limelight and that is okay. Small steps filled with great love is always enough. And in doing this you kept what is most important sacred to you and at the forefront; your family. This season is about them, time with them, and you can set anything else down that doesn’t make that the focus. They are worth more than any book, any business, any podcast, they are your world and time with them is priceless. So if you took time and space for them and for you, so you could be better for them, then great job, keep up the good work. WAY TO GO! When you have everything that is good in the world at your fingertips, and you have that in your family, that can be enough. Don’t let yourself or anyone else tell you differently, even Rachel Hollis.

You did keep up with your workouts. Working out is your jam. I know crazy, right?!

You have found lifting weights to be fun and ran 2 5ks officially, more than that off the record. You did your two 10ks this year. You ran six whole miles without stopping, something you never thought you would do again. YOU ARE A WARRIOR GODDESS, AND YOUR BODY CARRIED YOU THROUGH THOSE MILES – think about that every time you don’t like the way something fits. You have strength, stamina, and are working toward your best physical self. It is great that this year you got your check-ups, you took a better look at nutrition and shed that last 20 pounds. I am so proud of you for putting yourself on your checklist and knowing that taking care of you means you can take better care of others.

I know you are a recovering perfectionist and that the call of the Western Culture screams that you have to do more to be enough, but I am so proud you are listening to your heart and finding that the greatest, most valuable moments, are the ones that come in every day simple things. You read all the books, you cuddled with your littles, if you felt like laying in bed a little longer you did and were grateful for the luxury. You filled your year with moments and memories and there will never be anything bigger or more meaningful than that.


Sincerely,

Beginning of 2020 Michelle

Love never dies…

Love never dies…

A few weeks ago, our house was in the throws of ordinary sickness. But it can still be exhausting. I had spent two nights mostly awake, caring for sick children. One with croup. One with the stomach flu. And as I dragged myself out of bed with a stuffy nose and groggy head, it took all my effort to slapdash an outfit together and make myself presentable.

I had an appointment that had been booked out for about twelve weeks. This particular client had met with me before, but she reached out to me when her mother was dying. I felt it best to wait before meeting with her, her sister, and her father. She contacted me again after her mom had passed, and we set a date to meet a bit before Thanksgiving.

All of my sessions are important. Still, in this case, we have mutual friends in common and past history, add to that the holidays, and she had just had to sit with her dying mother, a relationship that is so important to all of us; I really wanted to make sure this went well. I said an extra prayer for strength since I was slightly sleep deprived then set off to meet them.

They arrived and after introductions I walked them back to my office. I was in awe as they each found a place to sit in my little office. The steely strength that only love can build rested securely in each one of their souls. Grace be to God, their loved one arrived and started to describe herself, heaven, and deliver messages for each of them.

The sheer power of her spirit was astounding. The depth, earnestness, and ardor these four people had for one another was breath-taking. To witness this kind of fortitude in a premature loss like this one, at this time of year, was definitely atypical.

It rocked me awake. On this Eve of Thanksgiving, this session brought me right into the present. What I witnessed about love that day, I am sharing with all of you; in hopes that it will sustain you the same way it does me.

I sat in awe and wonder as I delivered messages from their beloved, who had been in the afterlife for roughly three months. This spirit was so at peace. So full of hope and love. She was the most content spirit I have ever spoken to this quickly after transitioning to heaven. When I asked her how se was okay, she told me it was faith that let her feel so calm and content. When I shared this with her family they were not surprised. They said she had been like that through her entire illness.

This mother who gained her angel wings came forward not to share things she wished she had said because she had said them all. She spent every day loving her family and rested in a deep faith that whatever happened to her would be okay. She spent her days focusing on her family and nourishing them with memories and warmth. So whatever we are doing right now, if it isn’t that, we need to make more time for it. You won’t regret it. You don’t want to miss your people more because you didn’t make the most of the time you had here.

Love is the strongest element in the universe. It is built out of kindness, compassion, trust, and hope. Love doesn’t die. Our bodies may stop working, but our souls continue on, and what comes through is love. To bear witness to the love that existed across the boundaries of heaven and earth during this session was life-altering.

We get one chance at this life, the one we are given. And we grieve a great deal of the time we are an adult. We grieve relationships, people, opportunities. We mourn the past, present, and future. We focus on the hustle and bustle and monotony of life because we must. It is how we persevere.

What happens though if we live in the present? What happens if we act from a place of love and believe in miracles? What happens if we live right now?

Love happens. We can feel and experience things we never thought possible. Of course, it doesn’t allow us to escape pain; in fact, grief is love. They are two parts of a whole.

This family who sat in my office grieving and navigating a new normal had more composure, compassion, and gratitude for one another than I commonly see. Why? Because they spent the time, they had together physically making moments. Saying the things that they wanted to say. They counted on one another and honestly shared and showed up for one another. And they continue to do that.

They live in the present with their loved one in heaven. She is a part of everything, even though it hurts, even though it is hard.

Grief is a fingerprint, and no two loses, even for the same person, are alike. Unfortunately, you can’t go around grief, you can’t go under grief, and even if you try to avoid it, you find yourself face to face with it eventually. The only way to deal with grief is to go through it. Whatever time or path that takes will be unique. However, one thing I find to be a commonality are those who find a way through often ask for help, say what they need, face regrets head-on, and genuinely use love as their center and grounding force to guide them. Both with the loved one in heaven and the surrounding people they have here. And they live in the moment. They take life moment to moment. Just like the family, I was able to visit with on Thanksgiving Eve.

Love is worth it all. Love truly wins because it never dies. It is what allows you to experience one another across heaven and earth. It is what binds us together through it all.

I know this season can be hard. I miss my people, too. We will never get over our loved ones. We carry them in our hearts, minds, souls, and we grow around the holes they leave behind. Those holes are where love has left its impact.

Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about being able to witness miracles day in and day out. Awe of what love can help us endure leaves me speechless.

I hope that you find a way to live in the right now. To love your people both near and far with a vulnerability that allows you to say the things that will matter across space and time and leave you without regret. My wish for you is that you believe in miracles and have hope that anything is possible. Your words, thoughts, love it all reaches heaven. Your loved ones are with you if you can find a way to believe that their love will guide you through your grief.

Your angel loved ones are sending the little hummingbird that shows up on a cold December afternoon. They are the energy displayed by the two flickering lights on your Christmas tree, even though the rest of the strand is fine. They are visiting in a vivid dream where every detail is remembered. They are present in the smell of their favorite aftershave or perfume. They are showing you they can still exist past what life holds for us here. To give you hope to show you a way through, to let you know they miss you, too. To remind you, they will never leave you, and love never dies.

Keep going through it; even though the light at the end of the tunnel is heaven when you will finally have peace and everyone is reunited; there is still joy, life to be lived, hope, fun, and things to look forward to on the journey through, here on Earth. It is different because it will forever be through the lens of loss, but that doesn’t make it less than; it just makes it different.

May you have peace in your heart this holiday. May you have family, friends, and loved ones to help guide you through and the faith to believe the signs they send you along the way are real examples of their love because love lasts forever.

Bless you this holiday season in whatever life may hold for you.

What I don’t talk about…

What I don’t talk about…

As a spiritual medium, I get plenty of questions asked of me. But the one thing people consistently ask me is if what I see scares me.

The answer to that question is mostly no.

What I primarily talk about with people are the best parts of what I get to experience daily. The parts where there is healing, love, and light from Heaven seeping into our Earthly lives. The part where loved ones from Heaven share their stories and bring laughter and smiles so that their loved ones here can cope just a little bit better with the loss.

But the truth is, sometimes it is just a bit too much. Sometimes I don’t understand why I see what I see, or why spirit tells me what they do.

People think this ability is some on-demand satellite dish that I have some control over. It is not that way at all. Spirit says what they want when they want, how they want, and I am just a conduit for that energy and message. I can’t just dial up Heaven and ask whatever questions I want. I can’t just ask a soul to show up and tell me things. There is a method to this, and it is that they are in charge. They send people to me, and spirit knows who is coming to see me, and spirit has a set agenda of what and how they are going to communicate. They are the boss of it all. And above that, there is God. There are rules to what souls can share. We aren’t supposed to know everything.

The awareness of this gift all started with unexpected impromptu visits. They have diminished a bit because spirit now knows I have office hours, but there are still unexpected visitors.

Even when the visits are expected, the messages that are delivered aren’t always easy to receive.

Spirit often conveys how they died, and not all death is smooth. I have witnessed murders that were video recorded, been asphyxiated with a telephone cord and hit in the head with the receiver, stabbed, assaulted, then murdered, shot, hit by cars, in car accidents, slipped and fallen off a cliff among other things. Felt Parkinson’s, Cancer, pneumonia, several drug overdoses, liver failure, strokes, aneurysms, septic shock, total organ failure, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, and the like. This part is often not explained in detail during a session if I can help it. I try to get enough of the information so that I can relay some knowledge to my client and leave out the parts that aren’t necessary to relive. And spirit is gentle with me, only showing me enough so that I understand. There isn’t physical pain associated with these visuals. Still, there is an emotional aftershock as some of these incidents leave an imprint on my soul. How could they not? And it is scary. I can’t believe what human beings are capable of. But some of it I have relived first hand. It is brutal.

This started a long time ago, but I am not sure I will ever get used to it.

When I was about three, I started having dreams I didn’t quite understand. They were of places and people I had never met. Often I would awake, and there would be a visitor in my room that I recognized from the dream. Only one such visitor has ever been able to take that dream and turn it into a healing message for their family. That is Matthew. Other than that, for 38 years, I have had hundreds of dreams that I can’t turn into a healing message or even sometimes make sense of myself.

Just like with anything else to do with spirit, these dreams come one at a time, in clusters, or not all and always on spirits’ schedule. They seem to have no rhyme or reason as to why I am given the knowledge or visit.

Needless to say, even now as an adult, I like light to be present enough when I am sleeping that if I am awoken, I can make out what type of figure is in my room. I am not afraid of the dark, just averse to it. I want to be able to identify the beings in my room when I am jolted awake. My kids literally scare the ever-loving crap out of me because I always expect a ghost. So I guess I am the opposite of most people. I am less scared of the ghosts and more frightened by the actual, living, physical beings that wake me.

Recently, these dreams have been acting up again. Turned themselves up a notch. I think these spirit visitors are preparing me for something, but I don’t know what yet. And for some unexplained reason, I feel compelled to write it out here on the Internet.

First, I dreamt of a missing child who was murdered. That one was connected to a session I had, so I dismissed it. Then a few nights later, I dreamt of an elderly man who was also killed. He even gave me his name, which to me, is a big deal because names don’t always come through for me. I Googled him, and he has since been found as well as the parties responsible, so I wasn’t sure why he wanted to show himself to me. These things just happen to me, and I am not sure what to do with this knowledge.

And then a visitor started showing up and is still around me. He first showed himself by touching my arm in the middle of the night and saying, “You know I wouldn’t have died if I had, had my cell phone.”

It was so clear, in my sleep state, I actually thought it might have been my oldest son, but I knew within seconds that the voice didn’t match his, but the height and build did. And the visitor wasn’t visibly present to me once I was fully awake. Still rattled, I knew it wasn’t my oldest son, but checked on all of my children anyway. They were all sound asleep in their beds. It took me hours to fall back asleep. Who was this young man? Did he just die? Was there something I could do? Why did he pick me? Did I know his family? Was he going to come back? Did it all even really happen, or did I imagine it?

Then a few nights later, I dreamt of a basement in a house near what looked like a sort of man-made lake. There were water skiers and jet skiers out on the lake, and the house was sort of up on a hill. I knew I wasn’t in a place I had ever been before, but I was being led through this property by someone who lived there. I knew the house had access to this lake and that it was one of the features that made this individual that was taking me on tour love it so. He loved the water. Then he showed me an orange dirt bike up on blocks in the corner of the garage. There was something a little odd about that. I think he wanted to use it, not have it sitting there. But it stuck out to me because you don’t typically see dirt bikes on display in houses.

Then I woke up. I knew someone was with me in the room, and I looked down at the foot of my bed to see a young man with long hair swept across the front of his forehead and smiling the best smile. He was so young, maybe nineteen or twenty. I was trying to catch his name, he said something and all I could make out was andy something. Instantly I knew he had been murdered. And then he vanished right before my eyes.

I thought maybe he would be connected to a client that was coming to see me and tried to put this dream and visit out of my head. But I knew his sweet face would forever be imprinted on my brain.

The next day as I was picking my son up from soccer practice, I started listening to Culpable, a podcast my husband recommended for me. I had just finished Confronting, and he thought I might be interested in this one, too. I was driving and thinking about dinner, homework, and what was left on my to-do list, so I was paying attention, but it was also just so sad that I think I was just half-listening until there was a description of a basement. Somehow this basement was so vivid in my mind. It was like I had been there before. And at the end of the description, the interviewee states in the corner of this basement up on blocks was an orange dirt bike, and chills went up and down the back of my spine.

I turned off the podcast and just decided not to listen anymore. The young man from this podcast might just be the person visiting me. But that couldn’t be right, could it? Why would he do that?

As I lay in bed later that night talking with my husband and telling him about the experience, he doubtfully listening with a hint of you are losing your marbles type of vibe, so I reached over to my phone and Googled Christian Andreacchio. I dropped the phone when his image came up. It took me at least ten minutes to halt my trembling body and pounding heart.. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the young man that had been sitting at the end of my bed.

I didn’t want to go to sleep. I didn’t want another dream. This wasn’t something I could do anything with. I tossed and turned.

Several days went by, and I refused to listen to the podcast again.

Then something told me that it would be okay if I started back up. I wasn’t going to be able to get the messages to anyone, and if I didn’t want him to visit, I could just ask him not to, right?!

Well, as I was jogging uphill and listening to another episode, Christian’s uncle is being interviewed, and he is talking about trying to find Christian’s phone. I immediately blurt out, “He didn’t have his cellphone. They took it from him.” Yes, I audibly said this one my run. I talk to myself. No surprises there.

And in the next few minutes of the podcast, it is revealed that Christian’s phone was found in someone else’s custody. And immediately, I knew why the spirit in my room had said, “You know I wouldn’t be dead if I had, had my cell phone.” It was all just for that moment. He wanted me to know without a doubt that it was him that had come to visit me. It was all just so I would know at that moment he had been speaking to me all along. He isn’t releasing new, unknown information to me; he was just trying to validate himself to me in a way I would understand who he is.

My husband thinks I am crazy. Heck, I think I am crazy. I don’t know why these things happen. Even after almost four decades of these types of things happening to me, I don’t know why.

And I have listened to several real crime podcasts, and I watch Cold Case Crime shows, and the victims in those shows haven’t come to visit me. Just this sweet, young man. He is the first.

I know it is hard to believe. I am having a hard time believing it myself. But tonight, as I listened to another episode in the car, his mom read an open letter, and Christian appeared in my front seat and held my arm while she read the letter. “Tell her I heard it,” he said. He is nodding at me as I write this.

It does scare me. It does worry me. What am I supposed to do? What does spirit need of me? I don’t seem to be able to provide it. I don’t seem to be able to understand it. I don’t seem to be able to release it in a way that makes a difference.

I guess the best thing to do is to listen. I listened to Matthew finally, and that led me here. What do I know? I just have to continue to be the messenger and deliver what I believe to be accurate and let the rest sort itself out.

My heart aches for this family. My heart aches for Christian. My heart always aches for those souls whose lives are lost in such senseless ways.

I guess I can just be there for him. Listen as he needs me to and hope I do what he needs.

But these are typically the things I don’t talk about. These are the pieces that don’t fit into the puzzle. Maybe if I talk about all the things, perhaps that will matter somehow. Perhaps it matters to them. I have seen and felt their deaths. They are not alone. I am with them in their last breaths. I am with them as they show me their stories, and when they need me to talk about it, I guess it is time to start talking about it.

I can tell you they are okay. Every one of these souls that have had unspeakable things happen to them have been radiant, kind, well adjusted. They are happy and loved. They are at peace, just wanting to help their loved ones here.

I do say that death is my best friend. Maybe it’s true, maybe these souls just need a friend, and I am here to listen. If that is the case, I will keep listening. I will share what I know and hope that helps them to do what they need to do. And now, I guess I will talk about the things I don’t usually talk about, and continue to speak life into death, even when I don’t understand why. Maybe I don’t need to.

Thanks for listening,

Flipping the Questions: Opening Up to be Unapologetically Me

Flipping the Questions: Opening Up to be Unapologetically Me

For weeks, okay months, I have struggled with this deep gut feeling. It sits in the pit of my stomach and reaches up to my heart, where it rests. I call it loneliness, it feels like emptiness. A hollowness in my soul that no one will ever see me; no one will ever connect with me. Like I will be unfriended and voted off the island my whole life.

Yes, I know some of you are thinking I am being dramatic. It is possible, I am extra feely after all. In this motherhood gig, we spend all our time focused on tasks to complete; juggling schedules. We drift from our partners and become ships passing in a fog of life, like heartbeats in the wind. (Thank you Brian Paulson, sweet husband for that line). In this life gig, we get lost and confused and turn ourselves inside out, trying to figure it out.

My loneliness feeling began to cultivate in July. It just so happened that is when a blog post by Rachel Macy Stafford came across my FB newsfeed as I distracted myself from my life. It was called I Will Go With You: Encouraging Kids to Look Beyond Themselves When Stuck in a Place They Cannot Thrive. The words in the article found my wounded little girl heart and lifted it right up to the surface. Rachel’s message reminded me I wasn’t alone.

Something bigger than myself compelled me to reach out to her. Maybe because at the end of the post, I noticed that she was going to be at 1440 in Scotts Valley. This is about 40 minutes from my house. I sent her a FB message, and she responded. Y’all it was the stinking 4th of July, and she wrote me back. I was stunned. I was honored. I was touched. And a little bit of magic happened; that vacantness in my soul felt like someone had taken up room.

I looked into scholarship opportunities. I was able to get one to attend the Soul Shift class that happened there this past weekend.

Of course, life continues to happen, and from that moment in July to October, I have only receded further inside myself and away from my friends. It is hard to get together when you are all living lives that take you in different directions. We easily give up that time together to pour our energy into our families. So while I had seen my friends and texted them, I still felt like I just wanted someone in my life on the daily that I knew would be there to smile at me in the hallways of life. And my friends were not the problem. I thought I was the kind of friend, the type of person who just didn’t make enough of an impression, who didn’t reach out enough, that maybe I wasn’t friendship worthy enough for that kind of friend. Which, of course, are the kind of thoughts that force you into retreat mode.

I thought this class might help me with my connection issues.

At first no dice. At new things I dive into myself. And even though before class started, a group gathered around me at the fire pit, um duh, that means you put off a vibe that you are welcoming. Then during the first session I was seated next to a wonderful woman who talked for the both of us and didn’t seem to mind; I still stayed safely inside my quiet comfort zone of unworthiness.

But let me just say that when I walked in, I was greeted by Amy Paulson, and she is the most fantastic human ever. She instantly connected with me because we have the same last name, and the front desk personnel had almost given her my name tag. She greeted me like an old friend. Her presence at this conference invited me in and whispered to my heart, “Stay.”

There were definite ups and downs in relation to connection during the retreat. All of which were in my realm of perspective and control.

Saturday, I spent the day inside my shell. I was like a timid turtle viewing the world from just inside my safest space. Afraid I didn’t belong. Scared there wasn’t space for me in this place or this world where I would ever feel connected, enough. From this space though, I was able to determine that these women and one man, were like me. They were all craving connection from like-minded souls. They needed rest and restoration for their weary, lonely souls.

So Sunday morning I prayed. I prayed for God to send me where He needed me to be. I asked that He use me as a vessel for love and light. I ask that He guide my words so that I may offer His peace and love into the world. I asked Him to use me for His good. And of course, as is likely when you ask to be used by the greatest good in the world, miracles do happen.

How could you not find peace surrounded by these beauties?

I was led to a space in the room where I met a woman who had five children. We had the best conversation and instant connection. She asked me to eat lunch with her. Relief and gratitude filled my heart. I was chosen by someone else to share precious time. My lonely soul needed that desperately.

At lunch, two other women joined our table. The connection was magical. I discovered at the lunch that two of the women had lost someone dear to them just a few weeks earlier. Not only did the light inside of me help remind them that their loved ones were close by; I made them laugh. Laughter inside of grief is a ray of hope; a reminder that there is a way through; a way to grow around that grief and carry it with you. God had answered my prayer and placed me just where I needed to be.

We said our good-byes and talked about our takeaways. Amy came up in my mind. She had greeted me and left such a distinct impression on my heart with her photography work, with her personality, with the ease at which she stepped into life and invited others to join her. It dawned on me that the best people, the people that welcome you in are almost always unapologetically themselves. Amy also reminded me of why I started this journey to live out loud. She also thinks of her children, her daughter, especially when she feels uncomfortable or out of place. How would she want her daughter to feel? What would she want her daughter to think? And those are the things she tells herself.

As we parted ways at the end of the retreat, my mind started to recalibrate to regular life. Instead, of settling back into old habits, I began to try and embrace the things that I learned. My soul did, indeed, start to shift.

I decided to call my dad on my way home. He is inspirational, real and always upbeat. His take on the world puts my mind in a positive place. This Sunday conversation was no different. It was soul healing. It was his insight that helped me draw the inferences through all the ideas that had bubbled up as a result of the retreat. So as the old questions encroached on my newfound happiness, I refused them. Instead, I began to turn and twist them into new questions that might help me find and rekindle connections in my life.

What if I don’t deserve the space I take up?

What if I not only deserve the space but am placed here with purpose?

What if I am not enough?

What if I am enough?

What if I am not a good mom?

What if I am the best mom for my children?

What if I am not meant to be a friend?

What if I am a good friend?

What if I fail?

What if I try?

What if I am too much?

What if I am just what this world needs?

What if I was unapologetically me?

What if I not only deserve the space but am placed there with purpose? If I am here on purpose then I have to show up. I have to be my best self and offer that to each situation I face.

What if I am enough? I always say I was born this way on purpose for a purpose. That means that I am exactly the way I am supposed to be. That means I am enough. And even though I am a work in progress, I am enough. Plus, all humans make mistakes. One practice I have implemented in my life are do-overs. It was years ago that I made the mistake of not greeting a friend the way I wanted because I was distracted and upset by my fighting children. Well, as soon as the children were settled, I found that friend, apologized and did the greeting over. From that moment on, I knew that each moment was a new shot, a second chance to get it right, or just a new moment to soak it all in. I can be flawed and enough.

What if I am the best mom for my children? It has come to my knowledge since becoming a medium that we chose our parents before we even get here. So it would follow that my own children wanted me as a parent. If that is true, then I am the best mom for my children. They knew I wouldn’t be perfect of course, but they also knew my love for them would never cease. They knew I would never stop trying to help deliver the nourishment they needed for their bodies, minds, and souls. And of course that would mean that I am the best mom for my children.

What if I am a good friend? This one is tough, because there are so many times I want to show up for people, and I talk myself out of it, or my own life wobbles like a top sputtering out of control that I don’t get the thing done I wanted to do for them. I am late to remember birthdays. I hesitate to ask for help or offer it. But I have good friends. How could I have such stellar people in my life if I wasn’t offering something in return? Maybe I am a good enough friend. I am going to work to be a better one and not talk myself out of showing up. But I am good enough as it stands today.

What if I try? Well, this one is an easy one for me. If I try, I have no regret. Regret is so much worse than trying and failing. I will take trying over regret any day.

What if I am just what this world needs? Even writing this, this truth sits a bit heavy with me. But if I was born just this way and I believe in divine timing, then it would follow that I am just right where I am supposed to be. Doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing at the moment and miraculously it is making a difference. In this crazy world I know we forget that if we do our best and help just one person that we have done what we set out to do. Just reach one person. The ripples that come off that action in their lives and our own create a catalyst of good in the world. Those ripples extend farther than we can imagine and create more ripples we may never even see.

What if I was unapologetically me? What if?! What if I showed up and felt like I belonged? What if I didn’t overthink everything I said? What if I allowed myself just to be? WHAT IF? Can you even imagine what that would feel like? The best people live their lives this way. Amy Paulson, my dad, Rachel Macy Stafford, all the people that influenced me the most last weekend and in my everyday life are unapologetically themselves. So I have decided I no longer am just striving to live out loud telling my truth, being vulnerable, I am going to strive to be unapologetically me. It is going to be a process, but I can’t wait to see where that will take me.

What I want you to remember, dear reader, is that you can shift your soul, your perspective, your heart at any moment, too. Each moment is a new moment, another chance, a fresh start. And it is a process, we can lose footing and our way and start over again. There is no end and no beginning; we are always becoming, growing, and if you keep showing up, believing you are supposed to be there just as you stand today, the good and acceptance that will flow into the world from that will be enough.

Meeting Rachel – she is as beautiful inside as she is outside.

You are enough.

You deserve the space you take up.

You are a fabulous parent and partner.

You are not alone.

You are worthy of friendship.

You will not fail; you will learn; you will soar; you will become unapologetically you.

Sincerely and unapologetically,

It isn’t just our town.

It isn’t just our town.

Before I was born, Ted Bundy killed Deborah Kent. My dad knew her and her family. They always kept the porch light on for her. Years and years, they kept that light on for her waiting for her to come home. She never did. I know when I heard this as a little kid, I learned that bad things could happen. People were capable of bad things.

When we were little, a few blocks over from our house in Colorado, an entire family was murdered with a hammer. Not long after that happened a friend from school’s mom disappeared. Her picture was on a poster that hung near the door of our local supermarket for several months. Again I learned that the worst things you can imagine could happen and they could happen close to home.

In February of 1993, my family visited the East Coast. I was fifteen years old. My dad was there for work, and we made it a family trip. One of our stops was the World Trade Center. As we entered the building, something felt off. The bottom floor had glass walls and in the middle was a hallway with a line of elevators on each side.

I remember counting them at the time, but the exact number of elevators escapes me. We waited to enter one and then nearly forty people crammed into the elevator; I think we counted thirty-eight. Because yes, I counted them. That sinking feeling in my gut escalated as I counted each head, and it started to feel more like panic. I turned to my dad and said, “Someone is going to attack this building. You can’t get out. There is no way to get this many people out. Someone might blow it up.” Things like this sometimes escape from my mouth before being able to squelch them down.

He looked at me strange and tried to calm me down. I took that look as the cue to stop that kind of talk. But I didn’t feel any better. The feelings of uneasiness kept gnawing at me. We saw the view, came back down and continued our sightseeing journey. No more unsettling feelings visited me as we went to other attractions. So, I forgot about it.

Two days later we were in Maine, and the first attack on the World Trade Center was on the news. A bomb had exploded in one of the parking garages. My parents looked at me with disbelief. I was crushed. I didn’t understand that the feelings I had were real. That somehow, I knew. Again, I learned that bad things happen. The worst is possible. People can hurt one another.

I remember coming home from high school one day and the news was on. I watched as students were streaming out of a high school to safety. When the town name popped up on the screen, I was shocked. Littleton was home to one of my favorite theme parks as a kid. I had been to Littleton several times, and my friends lived a short distance away from there. I knew that town. I had passed that town on the freeway 100 times at least. I called friends to check-in. This time, I learned that even kids could do the bad things adults had been doing. And it can happen close to people you love.

I remember watching Scream 2 in my first year of college. I hated the first one and had to sleep with the lights on for a week, but my boyfriend and his friends wanted to go. So I went; I was mostly dragged, but I went. There is a scene in the movie where people in the theater are killed. I recall being so angry. I walked out of there telling my friends and boyfriend; they shouldn’t support a movie like that, something like that could happen in real life. They laughed off my concerns and said I was crazy. Movie theaters continued to not feel like a safe place for me. I lived in Aurora, where the Multiplex Theater shooting occurred. It was my home town for five years. It was where my best friend lived. It was a place that even far away from it at the time, I considered home. Again, I called friends and made sure they were safe. People still thought it was something that couldn’t happen to them. People thought this wasn’t something that would be typical. That it wouldn’t keep happening. That day I learned it not only could happen it would. Because bad things did happen. And they did happen again. In fact, they happened again and again and again.

I know I am not alone with stories like these.

And then this Sunday it was text messages and calls to my son’s phone that alerted me that this was happening again. Not far away, not in a place that used to be home, but 8 minutes from our house.

We were not at the Garlic Festival this Sunday; in fact, we only go sporadically. We have lived in Gilroy for nine years. I grew up in Morgan Hill and often attended the festival as a child. I have volunteered there. Last year, my oldest son helped set up and take down tents for the Chamber of Commerce. I don’t think you can live here and not have volunteered there at some point. It is the lifeblood of extra funding for schools, charities, scholarships, and foundations in our community. The festival weekend is always on my oldest son’s birthday and hence why we are sometimes there and sometimes not. Depending on what he wants to do to celebrate and how much we are preparing for those festivities often dictates our attendance. But, my history has made me feel edgy around large groups of people. That can sometimes dictate my participation at events like this as well.

This year, though, it was my youngest son’s soccer team that had us in Santa Cruz, and not at the festival. My oldest still spent every day prior helping set up again this July. It has become one of the events he looks forward to every year. He was supposed to be there Sunday taking down the tents with his friends. Something told me to tell him no. Tell him he couldn’t go. So, I did. I told him we wouldn’t make the extra effort to get him there. No, he couldn’t hang back with friends and catch a ride. Just no. He didn’t understand my adamant no and neither did I really. But I honor my gut feelings without reason these days.

I have talked to others and heard stories over the last several days of similar gut feelings. Why aren’t we all built with those? Why didn’t we know what the gut feeling meant? Why did this happen? Why does it keep happening? Why is this our new normal? Why do our kids have to be heroes? Why do our teachers have to shield our babies from bullets? Why?

Those are rhetorical questions, of course. There is no right answer and maybe no answer to some of them.

I am scared. I am devastated. I am still reeling. But, I am not surprised.

No, I have seen, heard and watched the terror we can bring down on each other for my entire life. Senseless violent acts have littered my entire existence. What happened Sunday in Gilroy isn’t about this town or one individual; it is about us. It is about our country, us as a people. What happened here can happen to your town, too.

It is a complex problem these mass shootings, there is no one answer, but a multitude of things that we need to resolve, examine, fix. And I am not going to make this post about the solution, but about the reality that this is happening in small towns. And it isn’t about the solution because I am done debating. I want action. And what we need to face is that when people say things like, “I never thought this would happen here.” Or, “Stuff like this doesn’t happen in small towns.” those statements just are not true. We need to stop being delusional. We need to stop ignoring the obvious. It is happening. It will happen again. It isn’t stopping.

Gilroy, California

* Sebring, Florida

* Aurora, Illinois

Blacksburg, Virgina – Virginia Tech University

* Virginia Beach, Virgina

Newtown, Connecticut – Sandy Hook Elementary

Killeen, Texas – Luby’s Cafeteria

Parkland, Florida – Stoneman Douglass High School

Littleton, Colorado – Columbine High School

Aurora, Colorado – Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater

*Source – https://abcnews.go.com/US/deadly-mass-shootings-month-2019/story?id=63449799

These are just a few of the small towns where this has happened. I am not even counting the big cities in this, and they count. Las Vegas, Nevada and the shooting that occurred there, I had friends there. My aunt and uncle live there. Oh, it counts. But I have heard it can’t happen in a small town so many times in the last few days, that I am just addressing that at the moment.

Some of these incidents in these small towns occurred as long as 28 years ago and some as recently as less than a week ago. This is what we can come to expect if we don’t start examining and changing our behaviors, laws, and societal standards.

This is our new normal. We need to face the reality that this will happen in your home town. It is precisely why every school in America has code red drills. Every town is preparing for it. But not every town is preventing it.

This will be something our children face in their lifetime or that we might face in our lifetime. There can be no more “this will not happen here” statements.

It happens in tight knit communities, big towns, small towns, homes, apartment complexes, churches, movie theaters, malls, parks, schools, it will and can happen anywhere. It will because it has. Start thinking like that and maybe we can start changing that reality. Perhaps we can actually get lawmakers to take action.

I saw the fear on my son’s face as he received call after call and made call after call to check and make sure his friends, his girlfriend were okay. That they were unharmed. I watched the terror when one of his best friends didn’t answer and the thought of her death flickered across his eyes. We shouldn’t have to see that. Our children shouldn’t have to face that thought. The past few days on Facebook I am reading of friends’ children who ran for their lives. Who huddled in corners wondering if this was how they were going to die. This needs to change. We can do better.

I watched my own children huddle on our floor and wait for the sounds of sirens and helicopters to stop. I watched my children the next day hear a balloon pop and all look at me with fear. What do we do mom? Their faces said. Do we run? Do we drop to the ground? Is it time to worry?

I stayed calm for them, but I am telling you all it way past time to worry. It is way past time to be calm. It is way past time to say this isn’t going to happen. It is way past time to think it can’t be your town. It is way past time to think it can’t be your child. It is way past time to debate. It is way past time to make this about politics. This is about our safety. This is about the welfare of the people in our country and nothing changes if nothing changes. It is way past time.

When I think about Gilroy, it is the best community in the world, but I am not ready to go out and put on a brave face. My heart is still hurting. I am not prepared to pretend that we can just say we are strong. I am not ready to go back to life as usual because life as usual means there is a genuine possibility this will happen again. It could be here. It could be in your home town. Why? Because it happened in ours. This is not just our town where things like this happen. It is in every town.

I am shattered. I am scared. I am reeling and I wasn’t even there. But I am not shocked. I am not surprised. This is what has been happening for decades. 

It makes me cry and sick to my stomach to read and hear first hand about how this is affecting my friends, their children, our town. I can only begin to imagine the devastation this has done. I know there is Gilroy strong and people are trying to look forward and already trying to heal; I understand the need for that. But I also think we need to slow down and talk about Gilroy hurting. What are we rushing for? I am not in a hurry to get back to status quo that wasn’t working. That isn’t working. I want to take stock and figure out what to do next. We can move past it as a people, but we need to remember and use that memory to fuel action, fuel the changes that have to take place so this doesn’t happen again. We need to recognize this is now the reality. This is now what we should come to expect until we start doing something differently.

I am heart-broken. I am grief stricken. I am disconsolate.

But I will not rest until there is a different reality for my children. I will not rest until there is different reality for your children. I will not stop bringing up this topic or voting for people who are going to make real change, or donating money to causes that call for change, because if we are complacent if we think someone else will handle it, it won’t change.

We need to be a voice. We need to speak up. And in this I am hopeful. In this is where I find strength. If we can come together and write to our politicians and talk to our kids, and look for signs, and work to really see one another I think we can be better. I believe our future can be brighter. I believe there is light in this darkness and I think we can find our way out, but it can’t be done by sticking our heads in the sand and thinking it won’t happen again. It won’t be done by holding to party lines. It won’t be done by clinging to our rights or our fears, we have to put the welfare of all above our own when it comes to gun ownership. We have to be ready to be uncomfortable and have serious conversations. We have to be willing to hear it might be our kid that needs help. We might have to face hard truths, but it is worth it. It will make a difference. And together if we really want change it is possible.

I don’t have the answers, but we can start by some of the ideas below, and if you are doing something I haven’t listed tell me, I will add it to the list.

The bottom line is hurt people hurt people, this is just that on a massive scale. Let’s start with the easiest thing first. See one another. Be kind. Be helpful. Think about others and how your actions affect other people.

Write to an elected or to all your elected officials: https://www.sccaor.com/contact-your-elected-officials/

Donate. Educate yourself. Join groups that want to change the gun safety regulations. Here are a few:

https://everytown.org/

https://momsdemandaction.org/

https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/

Talk to your kids. This article on the Parents Magazine website seemed to have a comprehensive overview: https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-gun-violence/

I also liked this article on USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/08/stem-school-highlands-ranch-how-to-talk-to-kids-about-guns-shootings/1138840001/

Educate yourself and your kids on the signs someone might be exhibiting before they act. This website has a downloadable guide: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/prevention_programs

I know I didn’t touch on everything. I know we have a lot of ground to cover to make this better, but I want to start here. I want to start where I am and maybe after reading this today you will, too. And that gives me hope.

Working for a better tomorrow,

Michelle

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

“When am I going to die?”

“When is __________ going to die?”

“Should I have another baby?”

“Am I going to have another baby?”

“Are we moving?”

“Should we move?”

“Should I be married to my husband?”

“I am thinking of switching careers; is it the right thing to do?”

These questions are none of my business! In fact, I think I visibly cringe when people ask me these things. Friends ask, clients ask, and they aren’t asking for my opinion; they want access to the divine plan. And I wish I was making this up, but people literally ask me when they are going to die or a loved one might die. I loathe this question as I do the others. BECAUSE THEY ARE NONE OF MY BUSINESS! WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW OR WE WOULD KNOW.

For some energy workers or healers, maybe that is how their gig works, but for me; I work for God. That is my gig. And the divine plan is only revealed through Him. Since I am not Him, I do not have access to this plan. I don’t want access. My purpose is to allow you to connect and find a deeper faith that your loved ones are still with you.

Spirit, your loved ones, aren’t sharing the future 411 during a session with me either. They may share this with you. But that isn’t what they chose to share during a session with me, because again, it is none of my business. The information they do share is their opinion about what is currently happening in your life.

For those of you that ask these questions…there is no answer key. There is no right or wrong. The only thing we must NOT do is hurt other souls. We are to follow that golden rule – treat others as you would want to be treated. Treat ourselves well. Do our best moment to moment.

You, on the other hand, have all the answers. And you have access to HIM through faith and your own soul; so you will have much more information about the future and the decisions that you need to make than anyone else. We forget that we have to rely on ourselves and what we know to be true. We get to journey through this life, and we have to live for an eternity with the decisions that we made here; and we know ourselves better than most, so it is up to us to access faith, listen to our own soul and make sure we make the decisions that are going to suit us best.

We are a soul having a human experience.

And when things happen to us as they will; life is truly out of our hands in many ways, we have to surrender control. We then can only rely on what we can control. Ourselves. So you can follow your own intuition; your own faith, and make your own next best decision. No one can make that for us. Including spirit. It is up to us. End of story. No one else has to live with our choices the way we do. And when we chose to have faith, follow that internal compass that is our soul, and allow faith to be our guide, we will always find the answers that we need.

The good news is for those of you that are recovering perfectionists like myself or maybe even still a perfectionist, there is no wrong choice. Just treat other people well, and if you make a choice that doesn’t agree with you or you don’t like, guess what? You can remedy it. You can try again. You can do something different. You can make a new choice. You are not stuck. Each moment is an opportunity.

So trust yourself. Look within and move forward. You got this!

Until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

What happened when I chose faith over fear

What happened when I chose faith over fear

Recently I was asked to speak at event organized by one of my favorite business owners, Ahnna Goossen. She owns Yoga Bella and the Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic in Gilroy. The evening was a beautiful event that included Qi Gong instruction (there is a class each week at Yoga Bella) and sound healing with the amazing Dallas at S.I.M.M. If you have not experienced a sound bath you are missing out. There are classes at Yoga Bella every other Tuesday with Dallas and I highly recommend trying one. The night ended with a quick little Q & A with yours truly.  I have linked to Yoga Bella and S.I.M.M.’s webpages above so you can check each of them out. Ahnna will be doing a monthly workshop showcasing different speakers and healers. I for one, can’t wait for the next one.

I thought I might share here some of what I shared that night.

For years, and I mean decades, I literally ignored my calling. I hung up on it and blocked it repeatedly before I shifted my perspective and allowed me to become who I was meant to be.

That perspective shift came when I decided to choose faith over fear. I decided to listen to the whispers of my own heart and be my authentic self. I decided to write, and I became a truth-teller. In becoming a truth-teller, I had to tell the truth about what I saw and felt around me.

In deciding to tell the truth, it allowed me to open up and listen to an eight-year-old spirit boy who told me that I was meant to help other spirits like him. And that led me down a path where I decided to believe what I knew was true about God and embrace that He doesn’t make mistakes, he built me this way on purpose with purpose, and I am His vehicle. I deliver the messages He wants me to provide. And that has led me to where I am today. I have chosen faith over fear.

Does that mean that I am going to know what comes next instantly? No.

Does that mean I am going to be the best at what I do right away? No. But with hard work and dedication, I can be great at what I do. And so can you.

Does that mean everything will be perfect every single day? No.

But it is worth it to live outside of your comfort zone and believe that you can do hard things. Believe that you can have the life you want. The rewards outweigh the negative experiences. I can speak from experience on that. There is good, hard, harsh, ugly, and incredible, amazing, miraculous, joy all in the same life.

How do we choose faith over fear?

We listen to our feelings. That doesn’t we mean we ignore logic, it just means we trust what we know and believe to be true in our hearts. The more you listen, the louder that voice gets.

We do things afraid because fear is a liar that will keep us small.

We believe in the impossible. Do you know how many times I have heard that I was crazy, that I am going to hell, that it is impossible to talk to spirit, I have lost count and stopped counting?

Sometimes we want validation before we leap. And like my good friend Heather says, “Validation is only for parking baby!” She might not add the baby, but she is feisty and fun, so I added it for her. We can’t wait for validation, we have to believe those whispers in our heart and have faith we know what we know for a purpose. We feel what we feel for a purpose.

I read something Bob Goff said, which was, “God isn’t surprised we want more confirmation. He just hopes we don’t get stuck waiting for it.”

It is okay to be looking for that confirmation and to appreciate it when we get it, but we can’t sit around waiting, stuck, doing nothing that serves our purpose until we get the affirmation we need. And most of the time we just have to believe we know what we know and that is good enough to take the next step.

We also tend to believe that there is a right path and a wrong path. The truth is there is only one path, a path of life. We have free will and get to decide what we do next, but just because we take the long way or make a mistake doesn’t make it wrong, we are learning along the way. As long as we are not hurting ourselves or others, we are on the right track. That is the only genuinely wrong thing we can do; hurt another soul. And when we do that we have to do what we can to make it right. But I digress. There are nine hundred billion million (yes, I am aware that is not a real number) ways to get from point A to point B in life, and the joy is in the journey. When we surrender and have fun with not knowing what is next, but just allowing ourselves to do the next best thing moment to moment then we usually end up right where we need to be precisely when we are supposed to be there.

Here is what happened when I decided to choose faith over fear and surrender my control. I learned that

  • Heaven is all around us, not some distant far off place. We are a part of heaven.
  • Spirit delivers messages to their loved ones in a myriad of ways and is continually speaking to us whether we think we are hearing them or not. Signs are all around us; you just have to believe in them.
    We are built to understand one another. Soul has a language all its’ own. A soul doesn’t need words to communicate, and that means that our spirit loved ones can communicate with any living thing to get our attention. They are energy, and they can use that energy to connect with us in a multitude of ways. It also means our souls are communicating with one another here. Just because we are in a body doesn’t mean our souls stop talking.
  • Love never dies. We don’t die. Our bodies stop working, but our souls go on and on and on.
  • I can do hard things, and my purpose is to be my most authentic self no matter what. Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.
  • I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

What happened when I started working for spirit; I witnessed miracles. Are there tough sessions? Yes. Are their clients I can’t help? Yes. But like I said before the positive experiences, the lessons learned, far outweigh the negative.

  • My client Donna was able to understand why her daughter’s car crashed the night she died, and finally, this last year visit her daughter’s grave on her 26th birthday and play her favorite song “When the lights go down in the city” and know that her daughter heard her. Donna knew that she could reach her daughter anytime she wanted. Something she hadn’t done in all the years since her daughter passed.
  • Helped my client Lauren connect with and grieve her mother. In fact, her healing led to her building a new business this past year. If you haven’t heard about Cranes for Kristina, you need to check it out. Her Business Facebook page is here. Lauren turned her pain into hope in the form of her beautiful origami cranes and is changing the world every single day she is out in it breathing.
  • My friend Katrina didn’t believe in ghosts. She believed in heaven, but not that spirit was here communicating with us. While we were in grad school, her uncle started visiting me. When I told her what he looked like she didn’t believe it was him until I said, “He didn’t what to tell me this, but he said a tree was involved in his death.” And having never told me about her uncle LaDon being hit and killed by a falling tree branch she nearly dropped the phone.

Fear will bind you to believe in only what you can see. It will keep you in other people’s comfort zones, and there is so much more to life than what we can see and the societal norms we are bound by. My wish for you is that you find your center, your truth-telling, authentic badass, self. That this more profound connection to yourself and your faith lead you to follow your dreams and the life you want to live. That it guides you to a more fulfilling understanding of life and allows you to surrender to living in the moment and making the choices you know to be best for you. Choosing faith over fear leads you to become who you always knew you were.

Until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

5 Things You Should Know Before a Reading

5 Things You Should Know Before a Reading

After hundreds of readings, I still get so many questions about what to expect at a session. I thought it might be helpful to compile some things you should know if you are going to book a session with me. The five items below will help you understand what may or may not happen in a session.

1. These sessions are about healing:

Spirit wants us to know they are still alive and thriving. That they are at peace and good things are happening for them. They want us to know they are okay.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected:

Spirit is going to talk about what they want to talk about. They have an agenda and are present to deliver messages that you need to hear. Be ready to talk to someone who might not have been on your list and be prepared to listen to things you may not have expected to hear. Just a heads up.

3. Seeing a medium is not about proving spirit is real or seeking specific information:

Many people come to me and want advice, want to know the future, and want specific validation…this is NOT how spirit works. When people seek an appointment with a medium for these particular things; they are often disappointed. However, many times, these things are given. It is usually in an unexpected way, so go to an appointment with an open mind and heart. You will be pleasantly surprised.

For Example: There was a woman that came to me, and we spent a good twenty minutes in a group session talking with her father. He missed her greatly and told her many of the things he had seen since he passed. He shared messages about family that he was concerned about and even gave her some advice about what he could see happening emotionally with her. When we got to the end of the session, she said, “I just don’t know if I can believe that was my dad. This whole time I have had his ring in my pocket and I told him that he needed to say I had it for me to believe.”

Well, bummer! That is the number one mistake that you can make. Spirit isn’t coming through to prove to you they are real. They are coming through a medium to tell you things THEY think are important. You have to believe of your own volition and if you don’t, well then you don’t. Nothing they say or do is going to change that.

The moral of this story is, mediumship is not a validation tool. If you go on a mission for answers, you will likely be disappointed. But if you go to an appointment with an open heart and open ears, you will get what you need. Spirit always supplies you with exactly what you need. That is just how the universe works.

Another Example: In a session several weeks ago, I met with a woman who wanted to hear from her sister and brother. As I shared messages with her from spirit; her mother, a spirit, waited patiently. Then the spirit mom asked if she could speak. The client I was meeting with said, sure. Her mother went on to share that she was sorry and that she was working on being a better soul. She continued to say that when they met again, she hoped that her daughter would be proud of the progress she had made.

My client was shocked that her mother had even shown up! She couldn’t believe that her mother was admitting that she needed to work on herself. This message gave my client a great deal of peace. She came ready to listen, didn’t know what to expect, and felt she was given so many meaningful messages and even some from her mother, who she thought wouldn’t show up at all. Moral of the story: be ready for the unexpected.

4. You are the interpreter and I am just the translator – spirit messages don’t always make sense on the spot:

You know those magic 8 balls? Yeah, those balls that you tip upside down ask a question and get a vague answer? Sometimes a reading can be like that. Spirit comes ready to talk about specific things on THEIR agenda, it might align with yours and it might not. They may also say things that don’t seem to make sense or even seem that significant, but to them, it is precisely what they want to share at that moment.

For Example: I was at a reading, and a grandmother came through. She described a pile of books and talked about how books were essential to her. Come to find out she was a librarian. But her whole message to her granddaughter was to please use the bookmarks that she gave her; dog-earing the pages made her crazy! No joke. So, you have to just be ready to get what you get.

Another Example: When you go to talk to spirit, there are certain things that they won’t help you with. You are here on your own journey to make your own decisions. I have had people come to me and ask if they should have another baby, leave their husband, move, go to a specific college, etc. Guess what? The only person or soul that can answer those types of questions is you! This is your life and your journey. If spirit doesn’t bring this stuff up on their own; and they won’t directly usually, then it is absolutely none of their business and something you need to figure out.

5. Know the difference between a Medium and a Psychic:

Mediums can be psychic. Make sure when you are booking an appointment if you want to talk about the future that you are seeing a psychic or a psychic medium. That would not be me. I have chosen just to practice mediumship. It is my experience that spirit can only showcase our opportunities or possibilities. Everything I have seen has led me to believe we have free will, and that means we could do something that spirit didn’t count on. And our lives are attached to a million variables and those can change in a way spirit didn’t expect. So, with that being said, even if spirit brings up the future, it is just to highlight possibilities that exist in that exact moment.

However, it is always my hope that meeting with me aids in the grieving process and brings comfort and peace.

If you do book an appointment with a straight up medium like me, come with an open heart and mind. Spirit will share with you precisely what you need to know at that moment. If you are willing to hear what is being shared, then there is always something to gain. Write things down and reserve judgment until later.

Spirit gets you there if you decide to show up. I firmly believe that. So if spirit sends you my way, I look forward to seeing you.

Until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

How to live with a ghost…my thoughts on how we can coexist with energy

How to live with a ghost…my thoughts on how we can coexist with energy

Can you imagine being kicked out of your house?

The place where you watched your babies take their first steps. The home where you celebrated holidays, birthdays, and took pictures of your babies as they ventured off to graduations, dances, first dates. Your grandchildren laughed and ran through the halls, sharing cousin secrets and playing board games well into the night before they had to go back to their parents.

Your husband of 48 years carried you over the threshold of this house and then you carried box after box of your belongings and carefully crafted them into a home. You cooked your first Thanksgiving turkey here, hoping to impress your mother in law and it turned out dry, but everyone savored each bite and knew you spent hours in the kitchen. It became the center of a running joke for years to come until you became the master of the kitchen and everyone counted down the days to sitting around your dining room table to celebrate a holiday.

The bedroom at the end of the hall is where you slept beside your best friend for 44 years. He always made you laugh, even when you were upset with him. It is where he passed away while you held his hand and hospice managed his pain. It is where you took your last breath before you met him in heaven. You spent your final moments on earth in that room with your two daughters, your son, and five grandchildren, six if you count the one on the way, as they circled you and shared their most favorite memories. More than peace filled your heart as your eyes closed one last time.

And now there is a new family inside your home. One you have grown to love. They have made this their forever home and have decided to put their own spin on it. You are happy they love this home as much as you, but you want to visit your memories and now this family is telling you to leave. They cannot see you, but they feel you. And how can they not, your heart, your soul is embedded in the fibers of what makes this house a home.

They are doing everything to cleanse your energy out of the home. They have saged, cleansed, and even politely asked you to stay away. You now have to hide in the far corners of the only other place besides heaven that feels like home — the one place where all your earthly dreams came true.

Most of us don’t think an awful lot about who came before us. Maybe a bit if we are learning something in history and studying for a test or filling out our family tree. The majority of this planet was inhabited before us. I know I am Captain Obvious right now, but it is an important detail we often neglect. The one time we do start to think about it is when we can feel another energy in our space. Now the energy itself doesn’t make us uncomfortable, I am not talking about Alcatraz level energy, but just knowing something is there we can feel, but cannot see, can leave us thinking we need to clear out that energy.

Yes, I know some people say that spirit gets stuck and you need to get them to leave and go into the light. I do not believe that spirit gets trapped. I believe all spirit is welcomed into heaven. (Don’t get too worried about this topic just yet, there is a post to come about what that means because obvi Ted Bundy is not hanging out with God like they are best buds, but I bet God loves Ted like He loves all his children as only a Creator could.) Or maybe you just watched The InBetween on NBC, and you think that all spirits that visit have the ability to drown babies and are angry, haunted souls; absolutely not the case in the least. Souls have people they love here. They would miss us and heaven wouldn’t be heaven if we were severed from those we love most, not ever seeing them again, right? Right. And those that have lived the best they could and treated people well have access to visit; it is one of the perks of heaven or so I have heard.

I know, I know, you are dead so why do you need to visit your house, you have heaven. First off, spirit isn’t stuck here and hanging out in your home because they like you; usually, it’s because they like the space and are visiting a memory or just visiting the space itself and they way it made them feel when they were here on earth in a body.

Now they may have also decided they like you and like the way you are caring for something they love. So they may have formed an attachment to you as well. And I think we need to look at these relationships positively. Lisa TerKeurst, wrote the following in her book Uninvited, “[r]elationships don’t come in packages of perfection, relationships come in packages of potential.” Spirits that come and visit us are typically loved ones, family, friends, people we knew, but sometimes there are spirits attached to the space we choose to live in and they visit there as well. This can be the home or the land. But these relationships, even one-sided, can be helpful to us. And as such we should look at these relationships as packages of potential. Spirit is often trying to communicate something useful if you feel their presence. It could be merely letting you know you are watched over to something more urgent; for instance, you need to pay attention to your surroundings. Maybe there is something that needs to be replaced or fixed on the property. Perhaps there is a particular type of weather coming they want you to know about. They might be offering assistance in the form of the energy flow of the home itself and maintaining the property and it’s positivity. They could even be watching over your health and the health of the loved ones in the home. It could even be something as small as waking you up to go sleep in your own bed instead of in the chair with the T.V. on.

I know that spirits can be scary. We can’t see them; we don’t typically understand them and our bodies generally respond with a flight fear response because that is what would keep us safe from an unknown entity. We initially act out of fear, like prey, but that is our survival instinct kicking in. Spirit almost always is visiting with the best intentions. My advice, is that we need to look at most spirit, like most people, most spirit is good and wants what is best for you. They come with healing, happy, helpful energy.

Therefore, I think we need to make peace with the energy around us.

What can you do? Here are a few things I do a few things to make the energy in the space feel at peace. I pray. I know you might be an atheist. It doesn’t matter. All prayer or intent is captured by our Creator. So pray anyway, ask the universe, or God, to protect your space and bathe it in white light. Imagine the light flowing around every corner and every space in the house. Into the dark corners of the hall closet, and wrapping the walls inside and out. Take a minute to see this light fill every space. Then begin your prayers. Pray that God, or the Universe, only allows energy into the area that has the highest intentions. That the energy inside act as peace and comfort to all who enter. Ask that these positive energetic vibrations be maintained and protected. Most important use your words in the prayer and make sure you believe every word. That is important. It is key. If you are faking it here, energy will know it and it won’t listen. Like energy attracts like energy, so make sure you are filled with positivity and belief while you do this exercise.

The energy of the space should be cleared and at peace after you have finished. Mind you, I do this pretty regularly if not daily, you may still have some energy that is in the house you don’t recognize. If you are comfortable trusting the universe or God that the energy in your home is meant to be there, then you are all good. But if for some reason you still feel uncomfortable there are few more things you can do.

First, you can say in your head or out loud the rules you have for any energy that inhabits your home. It is your home after all, and your space now which means you can impart your rules on said space. These rules might include no unwanted noises, touches, or awakenings at night. It could include only loving thoughts in the space. You get to decide what you want in your residence, so use your specifications in your words and be clear.

And if that still doesn’t make you feel comfortable and you think you are dealing with something that isn’t listening or mindful of your needs; you can resort to a full clearing of energy. For me, that is asking with love that the energy leave the space, be firm and ask out loud. Remind the energy that they are loved and there is a place for them, but since they do not follow your rules, they cannot stay. I like to tell them if they decide to follow the rules and have good intentions they can always come back, but rules are rules and if they don’t follow them then they cannot stay. Remember, you have the power to ask the energy to leave and keep it at bay; it is your space and your rules. Ask God or the universe to keep this energy away. You can then place salt around the outside of your home. It is a deterrent to undeveloped energy and a visible symbol that only white, pure, loving energy is allowed in the space. It will create a barrier. Salt is also a natural collector of negative ions, in a scientific sense, and is great to keep out to thwart unwanted energy. You can also purchase himalayan salt lamps for use in your home. This will help to continually keep the energy in the home clean and fresh.

In addition, you can get holy water and bless each window in the house by dipping your finger in the holy water and making a cross on each window. As you do that pray or have intentions that only loving energy, pure white light, may be reflected and encased in the space. If you feel more comfortable having a priest or clergy member do this, you can ask. It isn’t as crazy a request as you might think. People ask this of priests more often than they admit.

If you want more ideas on how to cleanse a space and enrich the loving energy of an area, click here to link to an article by The Energy Muse Blog. I especially love the helpful hint of keeping selenite in the home. I have some in my office and at home. Selenite is a crystal. It is gypsum or soft calcium sulfate crystal that is white and slightly transparent in appearance. It has been known in ancient times to heal and bring one to the highest, best version of their self. It is used today for many of the same purposes and is a useful crystal to have near by to keep energy pure and clean.

Lastly, keep up the practices mentioned here of only allowing positive energy in your space. This means boundaries in the physical world as well, make sure you keep the same rules for humans you do for spirits because everything is energy. And most important, YOU have the power to make a space your own. It is up to you and your ability to believe that you can.

In general, I think we should always enter a space with love and positivity in our hearts. I have taught my kids that they should always leave a place better than they found it. It is up to us to have compassion in our hearts and look to the potential of spirit relationships. Especially if we are living in a place they inhabited before us. We can and should coexist as the first option. As with many Native American belief systems we need to respect and learn to live in harmony with all living things, seen and unseen. Spirit is usually there to help not harm and they are just passing through. There for a visit. If you can find harmony with that then you just might find more positive energy around you than you expected.

Best wishes until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

Fissures and Finding Truth

Fissures and Finding Truth

So many times this week (I know it is only Wednesday) I have wanted to literally drop to my knees no matter where I am and just have everything stop. I want to have a moment. A moment when nothing is happening. I want to stop time.

My not enough-ness is acting up again. The emptiness is filling me up and swallowing me whole.

What would happen if I dropped to my knees and time were to stop?

– Maybe there would be the foresight to see the balls that were slipping or already dropping, and I could run and catch them before they fell or grip them tighter so they wouldn’t slip.

– Maybe I could suck the words back into my mouth. And the noxious fumes of regret wouldn’t fill my mind and make me sick of myself.

– Maybe my babies would be visible to me for just a split second longer, and I could unlock the mysteries of their minds so that I would know better how to be there for them.

– Maybe I could hear something I am missing that would be the answer to my unworthiness. It would fill me somehow, so I could continue on without so much distaste or frustration.

– Maybe strength would fill me enough to show up more. Allow me to speak my truth and feel it’s ampleness.

But, I can’t drop to my knees and stop time. I would just be some crazy lady on the sidewalk on her knees.

I think harmful thoughts make us feel hallow. These devious thoughts enter your soul and make space by separating the positivity inside you so that the goodness that makes you whole feels impossible to connect back together again. The space they create causes an echo that allows the harmful thoughts to continue to ricochet over and over again across the chasms of our minds, seeping into the tissue, matter, bloodstream and eventually finding a home in our hearts. And then these thoughts nestle in with the tenacity of a prickle from a thistle so that it actually hurts to remove them.

Today on my run, as I felt myself wanting to drop to my knees to stop time, I handed my playlist over to God. I do this a lot. I hit shuffle and say, “Okay, God, speak to me.” Somehow it never fails. Lauren Diagle reminded me that I am not hopeless that God is carrying me, that he will always carry me, that is inevitable. Nichole Nordeman reminded me that I am a promise even if I have forgotten. Let me just pause for a second to let you know this same playlist holds roughly 100 other songs by non-Christian artists these popped up first, right after I handed the playlist over.

Anyway, the words I was hearing stopped me in my tracks. Right then and there I looked up at the heavens and asked God to take away my unworthiness. I told Him I didn’t want it anymore, it didn’t belong to me.

We carry our emotional burdens too long. We forget to set them down. Sometimes we keep them so long we think they belong to us even when they don’t. We forget we are born enough, the not enough-ness comes from somewhere else. It isn’t ours to carry.

Of course, I come here and pour all these messy feelings out and put them into cyberspace, but this is where they finally run free. I let them go. This writing, this release allows those harmful thoughts to escape so that I can shrink the space down and the parts of me, that goodness can reconnect and make me feel whole again.

I spend too much time hiding. Being authentic means, you have to be open and real for everyone to see, and that often leads me feeling overexposed, so I run and hide. I do the work I do and then run and hide. Sometimes this unworthiness sneaks up while I am hiding and leaves me feeling more alone. More lost. And I think I need outside light to fill me back up. And then just like that God opens me up a bit more. And it is when this happens that I start to set things free. Then my own light begins to shine out again. Then and only then, do I stop feeling so empty.

We all have to set our load down and let the things that poison us go free. We often feel better if we know that when we let something go, it won’t hurt anyone else and what better place to free it then out into the open where the God of things and the Amazing Universe can scoop it up and turn it into something healing.

So now, instead of hitting my knees out in the open, I will hit my knees in private and in prayer. God always seems to find a way to let me know He is there; He is listening, and all will be okay. In fact, this was on the car window as I made my last turn toward my house as if to say, “Yes, you are on the right path, and I have got you. I have your unworthiness, and it is free from you.”

IMG_1100

Now to just keep moving forward and living life the best way I know how. As Anne Lamott says, “Life feeds anyone who is open to taste its food, wonder and glee; it’s immediacy.” We just have to find that joy; choose life and take the next step whether we are ready or not. Or even turn around and take the picture of a back of a car that you think God is using to speak to you. All the best of us are messy and crazy!

Even when we want to hide, we have to find a way to be more open and let our light shine out so our unworthiness can escape and finally leave us. And that is when we remember the truth. The truth is we are not hopeless, we are full of possibility, we are worth exploring, and we are something to celebrate where ever we might be on our journey.

Until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

Secrets, Lies and Bossy Bossers

Secrets, Lies and Bossy Bossers

I tell people I am a recovering perfectionist. Quintessential oldest child, I wanted to set the example, follow the rules, make more rules to follow, and do it all with ease and perfection. People pleasing was how I thought you were supposed to live your life.

Rules are easy. There are clear boundaries you have to follow. I was good at rules. I did as I was told all the time.

Fear is strong. I was terrified of failure, disappointing others and not being accepted. Fitting in meant a great deal. Unfortunately, I was not super great at that. But I could look the part and just try to be as small as possible so that I would be plastered against the wall and blend in. I blended in so well in most places I was almost invisible. And I kept my thoughts to myself. I said as little as possible about myself or what I thought. That was better. Smile and nod, little girl, smile and nod.

It is no surprise that I failed miserably at life in the first half of it, because that is not what life is about.

Life is messy. Life is learning. Life is meant to be lived, and done any way that suits you best. But life is not meant to be lived in secret, or by the rules you think others want you to follow.

I wish I could tell you why we tell ourselves false stories. I think there are too many reasons, really.

I wish I could tell you why we lie to ourselves. I think are too many reasons, really.

I wish I could tell you why others feel they can tell us what to do. What do those bossey-bossers think they know that we don’t? 

But at the end of the day the one thing we lose when we listen to the false stories, lies, the things others tell us, and we keep ourselves secret; the only thing we lose is self respect. And it is a great loss. What we think of ourselves matters way more than what anyone else will ever think of us.

What the world loses is also great. It loses the gift we would breathe life into if we would just believe and be our authentic selves. 

Each of us has the ability to change our own small corner of the world. Each of us has the ability to make one life better. Each of us has the ability to be satisfied with our time here. 

Our purpose, our light begins to shine the day we let ourselves be. The day we drop the false stories, let go of the lies, and stop listening to what other people tell us should be. 

At a recent retreat, I was asked to look at a picture of myself and describe the girl I saw. This wasn’t a new activity for me, but this time the words that came tumbling out left me wanting more of that girl in my day to day life. Of course, the girl in the picture was three and she was already beginning to hide secrets about herself and live a life she thought others expected of her, but there will still pieces of her soul that were visible to the outside world.

That three-year-old girl never apologized for taking up space. She posed for pictures in ruffled shirts and plaid jumpsuits. Her laugh filled her soul completely. She loved her sister so much she didn’t hesitate to wake her up, take her hand and lead her downstairs to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons together in their feetsy pajamas. She played Barbie’s like it was her job and her imagination had no limits. Impromptu dance parties were her jam and she was an epic dancer. She loved to learn and couldn’t wait to go to school, where she knew without a doubt she would find a very, best friend to share her time with.

The last few weeks I have been striving to let this three-year-old dreamer call the shots in my life. She is pretty right on when it comes to what makes me happy. She is the girl that laughs out loud with my kids. It is her idea to bake things and try new recipes. It was also her idea to be silly and take funny snapchat photos. I love laughing at them!

She also brilliantly tells me to quiet down and listen. When I do that, my people come to me. I have had more conversations with my husband in these two weeks than in the last few months. She is also the mastermind who tells me to reach out and hold my husband’s hand. She also insisted the other night it was okay to cuddle my teenage daughter, and to my surprise my teenage daughter loved the cuddle and started talking and talking. It was like magic!

What would your three-year-old dreamer tell you to do? What would you do if you could be fearlessly authentic? What if you stopped listening to the bossey bossers in life? What do they know that you don’t? Nothing! Nothing at all. They usually have it all wrong. They like control and life isn’t about that.

Try it today. Listen for that three-year-old dreamer voice and see what kind of magic opens up in your life.

Sincerely,

An open letter to myself…

An open letter to myself…

The rain came down yesterday. Puddles litter the ground and this afternoon’s storm is imminent. In fact, the call came through while I was at breakfast with a friend that all after school meetings and activities are cancelled, except high school athletics. So I am still waiting to hear from my son’s soccer coach if the game is on this afternoon.

I know it probably sounds silly to most of the world that California towns shut down at the threat of a thunderstorm; it seems silly to us, too but the roads flood fast when it rains here. These mandatory shut downs (not government ones – I am not getting political here) get our family home and cozy. It stops time for a brief moment and I couldn’t be happier. But that isn’t what this post is about.

As I sit here on my planned writing day with papers strewn about and a copy of Hands Free Mama by my side, I am still struggling to complete this post. It is one that needs to be written so I am compelled to keep at it.

This last year, I was introduced to a woman named Michele, by her dad. While that may seem ordinary, it was anything but. See by the time we met, via phone, her dad was already in heaven. (If you haven’t heard how we met you can read my post about it here). I still feel like he continually links us. Whether it is her seeing me on a morning run or an online post that shows how close we live to one another, we still find ourselves being connected.

She has this great online FB community where she writes motivating posts to help others live their best life. You see how we like each other now, right?

Well, one of her most recent asks, was for us to write a letter to our future selves. She said that we had to write a letter to ourself in the future expressing a sense of accomplishment for all we completed the past year. I originally thought this would be easy. But here I sit. With the letter still unfinished.

Writing about my success; that is complicated. More than complicated; arduous. A part of me still can’t think I am a success because I feel like I will jinx the good stuff I have going on in my life right this very instant. And I was taught to be humble, so saying “Hey look what I can do,” makes me cringe. I know you are reading an online blog about myself; the irony of this is not lost on me. So I get that you are thinking this can’t be that hard. But it is!

On the flip side, I could easily list off the things I have failed or what I want to do different next time or how I want to be a better at whatever. But to write a letter to myself about how proud I am of me; that is trickier than it sounds.

However, I think it is important. What we put out into the universe comes back. What we want for ourselves; what we see for ourselves; well that becomes our reality. So this exercise isn’t just for fun; I think it is necessary for my growth over the next year. I am doing it and sharing it in the hopes that maybe you will do the same for yourself. Maybe you will work at manifesting your own dreams this year.

Okay here it goes…

Dear End of 2019 Michelle,

There is so much I have to tell you. I know, no surprise there; we both know how long-winded I can be. 

First and foremost; I want you to know how proud I am of you for holding steady this year. When things got hectic or tough you remembered to consistently show up for yourself. And when life knocked you down you dusted yourself off and tried again. I know how merciless that bully in your head can be; and the fact that you never let her get the best of you; you should feel so satisfied. I am glad that failure wasn’t an option for you.

I know your job is life-breathing for you. You are helping people and doing what you are meant to do; but I also know it is breath-taking in both good and bad ways. Aren’t you grateful that you kept your faith, even on the days when appointments were heavy or they didn’t go your way; aren’t you glad you looked up and remembered whose you are. Always keep that faith. Always remember that God has your back. He is holding you and He held you, even when you thought you were alone or He couldn’t see what was happening. I love that prayer to you isn’t a word or a thing it is an action and you put its power to use. When all else fails, faith seems to center us. 

Girl, this one was hard. You left so much sweat on the floor of 2019. You lost all your extra padding and gained some sure-fire muscle. Look at you! You finished two 5Ks and made sure that you took time to better your health each and every day. But you also enjoyed food and gatherings and didn’t let it over run your life. You found a beautiful balance for your health and your sweet tooth. I bet you feel good in your clothes and are glad to have more energy. Well done, but remember don’t stop. This is lifetime work. Keep getting after it; you have got this.

In, the work world, you did a great job. You are the owner of a successful business. And you decided to take a risk and finally finish that book. The bravery it took to send off your completed manuscript to publishers was impressive. Hang in there. No matter what happens you wrote a whole book and shared it. You should feel content. That is enough. More than enough. Great work. And to top it off you started your own little podcast. You go girl. I know, I know the things that come out of our mouth. We can’t help it. The point is we are not on the sidelines any more watching other people’s dreams come true or hiding our own potential. You are out in the arena making your own dreams a reality and it takes my breath away to see you like this. Remember when we took out that picture of us at three. Remember that smile. You started all this to find that girl again and now you are her. How’s that for success? Let that settle in your bones and savor how that feels. 

Most importantly, you soaked in the sun, spent time watching the sky in wonder, gazed out at the stars, studied your babies’ precious faces and listened to their hearts until you knew them as well as your own, and  you were there for those that needed you most. You took the time to laugh, listen and love. You were present and made your people a priority. Don’t you feel like you added treasured moments to your life? 

All in all you had a productive year where you were a participant in your own life. You put blood, sweat, tears, laughter, love and adventure into 2019. I know you are grateful and blessed for all you have experienced; don’t let that pass you buy. Soak it up. Let it linger on your heart. It’s okay to take a moment and just be. I also know, you will think about what was lost or missed. Try and remember what is, is and what will be, will be. You did what you could. You did the best with what you had. You never gave up. You are the best you, you have ever been to this point in your life and I love you more today than ever. 

Sincerely,

Beginning of 2019 Michelle

Notes on a life well lived

Notes on a life well lived

Dozens of self-help books litter my bookshelves from Anne Lamott, Gabby Bernstein, to Shauna Niequist. I have also read Marianne Williamson, and I can’t quite stomach Rachel Hollis, but I have read more than half of Girl, Wash Your Face; sorry people she is way too overzealous and tough love for me. Brene Brown’s Gift of Imperfections entirely changed my life, and I have watched her Ted Talks more than once, and even taken her online course. I follow Glennon Doyle Melton and Jen Hatmaker. I have listened to speeches and audio books by Zig Zigler and learned how to give elevator speeches by reading Terri Sjodin. One common thread among all the things I have read, listened to, watched or studied is about how to live your best life.

When I started this blog six and a half years ago, it was a way for me to log my journey to be my best self, mainly how to live my best life. Since today is my birthday, it has me reflecting on this a bit. In addition, there is quite a lot of talk about resolutions as we have just entered a new year.

There are some common threads when it comes to living your best life based on what I have read or studied. One, you have to show up for yourself. You have to participate in your own life. Two, you need to make good, healthy choices, both physically and emotionally. Three, you need to take risks and follow your dreams. And lastly, you need to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. While those things all sound fabulous on paper, I think it is often difficult to capture that in day-to-day living.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I get caught up on age. My own that is. While, people tell me that age isn’t a big deal; I logically understand that, but when death has been intertwined with your existence on this planet since as far back as you can remember it is hard not to examine mortality. I mean my job is to deliver messages from spirits in heaven to people here, so I think about life and death on the daily. Age sits on my mind in good and bad ways. So, I logically understand age is a frame of mind; I am not worried about aging; I just know that is how we measure time here and time as a human is an invaluable, precious commodity. Point of my ramble, I am 41 as of today and legit, I am halfway through my life, and I still want to make sure that I am living my best life.

What the heck does a life well lived mean to me? How do you have a life well lived in reality? What does that look like? And can it mean different things every damn day?

Let’s take a look at question one – what the heck is a life well lived mean to me? While I shared some components of a life well lived a bit at the top of this blog, a life well lived is going to be different for everyone. What that means to me will not be the same for you. Some of us need to have achievements and careers and awards. Some of us don’t need any recognition but instead need meaningful connection. The point is I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer here. For me a life well lived means doing the best I can each day to be present, make meaningful connections with the people I love, offer myself grace instead of criticism and learn instead of staying stagnant. I want to make healthy choices, and I want to help other people. If I have given my best and loved my people, then I have lived well.

There is no one size fits all answer to what makes a well lived life

For me, and this also seems to be popular in the self-help world, living your best life means loving yourself. That is one area, I can say I have improved immensely since I have started this blog. This girl is not perfect, but she is kind, loyal, generous, trustworthy, sincere, honest, hard-working. Of course, there are still areas that need improving. I am a stress eater who is addicted to caffeine and I struggle with being the kind of friend I want to be. For example, approaching people to have small talk is seriously still the hardest thing I am faced with every single day. But it is okay, I have that knowledge, and I do what I can to be better about it. That is enough.

And last but not least, I think a life well-lived includes eating chocolate and reading books. Those things are in my life well-lived. Some people need to travel or drink coffee or run or drink wine; I need chocolate and a good book.

How do you live a life well in reality?

Well, that is the real question, am I right or am I right?

Drumroll please….

one damn second at a freaking time.

I know I am a genius.

Copy of There is no one size fits all answer to what makes a well lived life

But really, in real life living a good life might look like this…

You are already running five minutes late to get your kids to school, and child #4 still has yet to brush their teeth, comb their hair and find their shoes regardless of your constant, calm, thoughtful reminders. You know that you should continue to be easy-going and choose your words carefully, but instead, you lose your cool and raise your voice. I mean really, you can’t believe how many times you have had to ask, and there is no way you are going to be on time at this point. And that matters because people should show up on time for important things; it is good manners. Manners are important. Anyway, you lost it. You are only human. You feel awful by the time you actually drop off said children because yesterday you may have made it through the same scenario with grace, calm and incredible restraint, but today your hormones are different, or you slept less, or you ran out of your favorite K-Cup or the dog got sick on the carpet or everything fell apart in your life, and you just cannot handle one more little thing, and you got snippy. Well, you are human, and you need to let that moment pass, apologize for your mistake, admit you are human and try again in the next moment. That is all you can do. Because in a life well-lived my friend, things are flawed and messy. Little things can seem like big things at the moment, and we mess up.

Or a life well lived may look like this in reality…

You are nailing it; you ditched the to-do list, and you got a load of laundry done (because keeping things organized and tidy is important to you in your life well-lived categories) you took a run (because health is important), you played a game with your family, made a home cooked nutritious meal and you are on top of the life well-lived world. I mean you were present and connected to your child at the moment when they said, “Mama, everyone should be happy.” And you just teared up at the profound innocence of that statement. You are the boss of a life well lived. Congratulations.

However, the next day, your morning falls apart, the repairman comes late, you miss your conference call, your late getting the kids from school which they proceed to tell everyone you talk to that day, soccer practice runs over, and you have to hit a McDonald’s drive-thru because you cannot skip eating but have precious little time before baths and bedtime. Seriously, high-five yourself, because you got through that day. The kids are fed. The repairs were made. Everyone is home safe. Life goes on. Try again tomorrow. That is a life well lived in reality, my friend.

Copy of There is no one size fits all life 2

That is just how it goes, and you know what? You are doing it right; everyone has those days, and if they don’t I am pretty sure they are lying, or they have an assistant, a nanny, another assistant, and they are outsourcing other things, and they are still lying. But I am not saying this to be judge-y. I want you to understand that a life well lived, in reality, isn’t going to fit any self-help book wish list when it is actually happening. The truth is everyone has bad days; even those living their lives like a boss. True story.

What does that look like, a life well lived? Answered above. It is different all the time. Depending on the moment, depending on the day. But it should feel like gratitude and grace. Wonder and joy. Life is also going to hurt and be difficult. A life well-lived includes feeling all the feelings, showing up when it is hard, success and failure, mistakes, messiness, do-overs, loss, and love. I think it is more important to feel life than to make sure it looks any particular way. A life well-lived will look different to me than to you, but it will feel the same of that I am pretty sure.

And can it mean different things every damn day? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Some days a life well lived means sitting on the couch curled up with your family watching a movie and ordering take out because you just can’t do the things. Or maybe you are hiding in your cloffice trying to get your act together because everything you have felt that day has literally brought you to your knees, and you have to find a way not to let the pain you have witnessed and felt that day bleed so deep into your existence that you stop in your tracks and never start again.

So, as I enter my forty-first year, I want to settle into these bones and keep doing what I have been doing for the last six and a half years, living my life well. Embracing my flawed self with each new day, stretch outside my comfort zone and live beyond my fears. To show up and be present in my life. But to always offer myself grace when I can’t.

Copy ofThere is no one size fits all life 4

If you have read this far, I hope for my birthday, I hope today, you do something nice for yourself. Take a moment to enjoy where you are right now. I know I will.

Love and light,

2016-09-11_0905