Friends In Unexpected Places

I’ve worked in a few hospitals, and as you might imagine, they are just full of the spirits of the deceased.  People pass suddenly, people pass silently, and people pass into spirit surrounded by their loved ones at the end of life.  Some move on right away, but some stick around for a while.

One night I went off to take my break.  Since all the other break/sleeping spots were full of napping co-workers, I chose an empty room and stretched out on one of the beds.  Not something I normally did, nor something I repeated after this night.

He rose up out of the floor as soon as my head hit the pillow.

“That’s my bed.”  He hissed, crouched at the foot.  His hands reached and clutched at the covers, but he stayed hunched down on the floor.  I could only see half his face, long and grey, with wispy, flyaway hair.  His eyes were incredibly sad.

“That’s my bed.”  He repeated, with more conviction now.  “Get out of my bed.  It’s mine.”  He seemed to be struggling weakly, and with this odd doubling of my vision, I was suddenly seeing two scenes.  The darkened room as it was, with the covers still neatly tucked and pulled tight, and overlaid on that, a vision of a rumpled bed.  With exposed sheets pulled down over the end of the bed, and my hissing friend on the ground, tangled in them.  His legs were so wound up in them that he couldn’t get up.  I tried reasoning with him; it had worked before with other spirits.

“Look, I just want to rest here for a bit.  I won’t bother you, and I’ll be gone soon.”

“No, it’s my bed!”  He was adamant, and now looked petulant.  “I want to get back in it!”

I sighed, and got up, wandering off down the hall.  “Fine, it’s your bed.  I’ll leave it to you.”  I told him.  But as I walked off, he looked frankly puzzled.  A few minutes later I was back in the room, there wasn’t another place to go rest and take my break.  I dragged a chair over to the window so I could prop my feet up.   I slouched down and told the spirit curled on the floor,  “Okay, it’s your bed, but I need to rest and this place is it.  So, I’d appreciate it if you’d be quiet and keep to your bed.  I’m going to nap!”  So help me, he shut up, still with that puzzled look on his face.  The rest of my break passed uneventfully.

I didn’t talk with my co-workers about my encounter in the room at the end of the hall, but one night the discussion of ‘worst death you’ve ever seen’ came up.  Yeah, late night talk brings up some morbid subjects, but I was so new I had nothing to contribute.  Not so my fellow late-nighters.  One described finding a patient on the floor, tangled in bedding.  She pointed and said, “It was in that room at the end of the hall.”  Of course it was.

A few nights later, my new friend found me, as I was trying to nap in one of the break rooms.

“You saw me, you talked with me.  No one does that.”

There would be no sleeping this night; grumpy spirit had turned into chatty Kathy.  He wanted to know how, and he wanted to know why.  He would find me most nights that I worked, even if it was just to pop in and say ‘hi.’  He told me he found talking to me “comforting.”

Several times I told him, “You know you’re dead, right?  You are stuck here in this hospital, and you don’t have to be.  You can go into the light, move on; you can go home.”  He refused.  At one point, I asked him, why not?  Then, he did something completely unexpected.  I was lying down on a couch, and he moved so that he was standing at my head.  Very gently, he placed both his hands on the crown of my head.  It went instantly cold.

“You’re the only light I see.”  He sounded a little sad when he said it.

It was a very odd moment for me.  He wasn’t trying to harm me, he wasn’t trying to do anything at all, but I could sense he’d become fond of me.  In that odd instantaneous communication that sometimes happens between a spirit and myself I saw what he meant.

He couldn’t see the light; he didn’t know which direction was home.  I was the one bright spot in his afterlife because I was the only one who acknowledged his continued existence.  Any other living person ignored him, either willfully or because they just didn’t see him.  I knew then, that it was incredibly lonely for him, and it broke my heart.

“I am not the light you are seeking, I’m just someone who knows you’re still a person and is not afraid to talk with you.”  I told him.  “It is your choice to go, or to stay here, but you do not need to be this lonely and sad.  You can go home, you can go into the light and be with your loved ones again.  But you have to turn and look for it.  Your loved ones will be there to help you find your way.”  We had this discussion a few times over the course of the months I worked there.  He was afraid, initially, to look around.  Being stuck on a hospital floor was boring and lonely, but it was at least an existence, of sorts.  To try and search out the ‘light’ and ‘home’ that I spoke of was an unknown, and scary.

The reasons a person gets stuck on the Earth plane are as varied as human existence.  While it is true that everyone has spirit guides, it is also true that conditions here in the physical realm can cause them to lose sight of you.  Any number of mental or physical conditions (drug abuse, depression, are just a couple I can think of) can make it difficult for those in spirit to find or connect with those they love who are still incarnate here on Earth.  In an ideal world, when a person’s body dies, their guides and loved ones in spirit are right there to help them with the transition.  But, as we all know, death (and life!) situations are not always ‘ideal’ and a spirit becomes Earthbound.

That’s where I come in; as a psychopomp, it’s my ‘job’ to help get the Earthbound unstuck.  Working closely with my guides, once I’ve established contact with a spirit I can reconnect the Earthbound spirit with his or her own guides and loved ones.  The best way I can think of to describe this is, I ‘light them up’ energetically.  This energy goes out like a beacon that draws in helpful spirits and guides.  I should emphasize that this is always at the Earthbound’s choice, and I have some very powerful guides and allies who ensure that everyone plays nice.

My night-shift friend did eventually find his way into the light, he waved happily as he crossed over.  The love and light he projected in thanks was beautiful.

Have you ever feared or dreaded something, only to find once you were on the other side of it, it wasn’t frightening at all?  What used to scare you, that now is dear, or familiar?




I Also Train Dogs

I have been fortunate to have two (soon to be three) very rewarding careers.  In my first career I trained animals, all kinds of animals:  sea lions, wolves, birds of prey, cats big and not so big, even a porcupine.  I also taught dog obedience classes.  It was a great career when I was younger, and didn’t have a mortgage and retirement to think about.  The twenties and early thirties are great for that, but eventually the realities closed in, and I had to leave a career I loved for one that was a little more lucrative.  I also hated where I was living, but that is a whole ‘nother story.  However, for close to ten years I was up to my elbows in animal hair, dead fish, dirt, dust, water and…animal doo-doo, lots of it.  I loved every second of it, and I was pretty good at it too.

People often to ask me, ‘can you train my dog?’  To which I answer, ‘yes, but that’s not what’s important.’  What is important is this:  Can YOU train your dog?  It takes more time, and more patience than you would think.

House training a dog is often a make it or breaks it for a pet owner.  No one wants a dog that constantly makes a mess in the house.  Poor house training is a top reason for relinquishing a dog to a shelter.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a dog owner say things like:  “He’s doing it on purpose.”  “She’s knows she’s not supposed to make a mess in the house, but she does it anyway.”  “I found a spot of pee on the carpet and he looked so guilty, he knew he’d done wrong.”  All those nickels added up, would mean I could quit my day job, I’d be rich already.

I'm supposed to what?

Your dog does not know he’s not supposed to urinate or defecate in your house, he just knows that the pee and the poop in the house is bad.  Read that one more time.  Now, let me try it another way.  She doesn’t connect the action (urination, defecation) to the product (pee,poop) once the action is done and over with.  This is why it is so essential to catch your dog in the act, because once the physical, bodily action is over and done with, the dog doesn’t understand why you’re yelling at him and holding him over the results.  All she knows is you are very angry about that mess on the carpet.

Let me give you two scenarios.

You come home and smell it.  There’s the evidence in a cold little puddle.  Fifi is in the other room and you find her, drag her over to the wet spot and tell her “BAD DOG!”  several times, very loudly.  Your neighbors wonder who you’re screaming at, again.  You pick her up and throw Fifi out into the back yard, telling her “Do it out there, not in here!”  Griping angrily you clean it up and eventually let Fifi back in after being outside for several hours.

I just don't get it.

Yes, Fifi ‘knows’ it’s her pee, she can smell that it’s hers.  What she doesn’t ‘know’ is where she’s supposed to pee, that part hasn’t been made clear to her or she wouldn’t be having accidents.  What she does know is that when Mom or Dad comes home, she is going to be in big trouble.  So when you walk through the door, and Fifi is hiding, or cowering and ‘looks guilty’ yes, she ‘knows’ she’s going to get in trouble, and that you’re going to hold her over her cold, stinky pee, scream and yell and throw her out.  You haven’t paired the action with the proper location, you’ve paired the results with being punished.  Fifi doesn’t know urination is bad, but she does know the puddle of pee will cause her big problems.  This is often why owners say their dog will ‘hide’ where they urinate.

Scenario Two.  Your puppy, Rex, has been doing well with house training, but he still has accidents when no one’s watching him closely.  So you keep Rex close, and watch him like a hawk.  Soon enough he squats and starts to ‘go.’  You growl “NO!” loudly and scoop Rex up and carry him outside.  Placing him on the grass, you begin to speak soothingly and tell Rex “Here’s where you go potty, here’s a good boy.”  Soon enough, Rex resumes his interrupted action and you praise him wildly.  “What a good dog you are! What a smart boy!”  Rex wiggles with giddy puppy enthusiasm and you leave him outside with a toy to distract him while you go inside to clean up his accident.

It is appropriate to scold a dog when you catch her in the act; you are telling the dog the action is incorrect in that particular place.  The next step then, is that you have to follow it up with praising the dog for eliminating where you want her to; generally this is outside.  Many owners skip this step, and this just leads to further confusion on the part of the dog.

A puppy is like a baby, very cute and precious little sense.   Because they grow so quickly, many dog owners make the mistake of trusting the dog too soon.  It takes a minimum of one year for a puppy to be considered reliably house trained.  I don’t care how good she is, I don’t care how well she’s done and how few accidents, you cannot give a puppy under one year of age freedom of the house without supervision.  You are setting yourselves up to fail.

What can you do?  Be prepared to watch your puppy like a hawk for that first year.  Plan to take your puppy out every 15 to 30 minutes to give them the opportunity to ‘go’ if they are in the house and romping around.  Plan ahead and have a crate ready for when you cannot be paying attention every second.  The good news is, puppies need lots of play and lots of sleep.  You can safely crate your puppy for a few hours and not have to worry about finding little surprises later on.  This gives you and your puppy a break, and you a chance to get things done without a little ball of fur scampering around your feet.

I am a good puppy, aren't I?

Doesn’t that sound like a lot of work?  It is!  But it is also a ton of fun.  After all, who doesn’t love spending time playing with puppies? It pays off in the long run too.

My husband and I got a yellow Lab puppy four years ago.  She is a darling dog, and very much Daddy’s girl.  My husband and I do not have fights, but we came closer that first year of our Lab’s life than at any other time in our marriage.  He had never raised a puppy in his adult life, and I was atypically inflexible in considering his suggestions; we were going to do it my way!  Who’s the animal trainer?  Naturally, that did not go over well with him.  Fortunately for our continued happiness, the Lab is now 100% reliable in the house and he has quite generously admitted, “You were right to be so strict with raising her.”  Music to my ears!

What are your puppy raising adventures?  What dogs do you share your life with?  I can’t imagine not having at least one in my life.

Paranormal, Spirituality

The Science of Spirituality



The skeptic and the believer; two sides of the same coin.

I listen to Coast to Coast AM.  I was even on the show recently; as a caller on their annual Ghost to Ghost, Halloween show.  I was the last caller of the night, and I told this story about a haunted youth hostel.

To have an encounter with a ghost presupposes the idea that there is life after death.  But is there?  The arguments for and against are many and varied.

Obviously, I stand on the side of belief.  For me, it goes deeper than just a belief though; it’s tied into my being, my experiences are real.  For me.  And really, in the inner landscape of my spirituality, that’s what ultimately matters, right?  Same for you, too, no matter which side you stand upon.

Since I am a big enough fan that I pay their membership fee, I download the podcasts of Coast to Coast and listen at my leisure.  This means I frequently listen to months-old podcasts, immediately followed more current ones.

The guest  on August 7th was Matthew Alper, and he stood on the side of the skeptics.  He said more than once that he did not accept that there was any survival of consciousness past the physical death of the body.  And he quoted a whole slew of scientific experiments and studies.

Spiritual center hasn't made onto the map yet...

I did find the premise of his book interesting, that we as humans are hard-wired to have a sense of spirituality, that there is a ‘spiritual center’ to the human brain, much as there is a language, or vision center.  I am intrigued enough by his position to want to read all he has to say about it.  Because I find it perfectly intriguing that he would find overwhelming evidence for a spiritual center.  I don’t agree with his presumed mechanism, but I do agree that we have a center in our brain, a definite physical thing.  We differ in that I believe it is there to sense the spiritual realm.

Today, I’ve been listening to a show featuring Dr. Vernon Neppe and Dr. Edward Close,  from November 2.  They are the authors of Reality Begins With Consciousness.

They also have very convincing, scientific articles, studies and research that support their point of view.  Which is, briefly, that consciousness exists separate of our physical bodies, and survives physical death.  Interestingly, in both shows, the guests used temporal lobe seizures as a point in favor of their arguments.  Yeah, it was funny to me too.

Obviously, I found the good doctors’ views more palatable, since they also track with mine.  But, in all fairness I have not read either of the books, my insights come from listening to how the guests presented themselves on the air, and reading their websites.  Both books are on my reading list, now.

But it started me considering; what a funny animal the human is, that we can look at ‘scientific evidence’ from two such diametrically opposite viewpoints and each be convinced that the ‘science’ supports our own worldview.

Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Is it a lack of experience with spiritual, or I will say, numinous matters that convinces the skeptic?  Or is it perhaps an overabundance of otherworldly encounters that drives another to eschew all contact, denying the experience of their own senses?  In other words, ‘locking it away.’  Each can have their own inner reasons for claiming there is no life after death.

Conversely, where does the believer get his faith?  What convinces a psychic that it’s more than ‘just her imagination?’

It’s all in the individual’s perception that the distinction lies.  Each one of us perceives the world just a little bit differently than the next.  Haven’t we all seen examples of people with a narrow focus?  Or with a more widely encompassing viewpoint?  The challenge to us as humans is to expand our awareness, to try and see things from another’s perspective, to engage our empathy and see the world from outside ourselves.  It’s in making that step, that forward motion to understand another that we work towards a better world.

No matter which side of the spiritual fence you stand on, I think we can all agree to that, right?

So what do you think?  What has convinced you?


Who’s Worth Watching on Wednesday?

Since October I’ve been participating in an online course in blogging, branding, and social media taught by Kristen Lamb.  It’s been eye-opening to say the least, but it’s also been incredibly helpful.  Along the way, I’ve found myself in the company of some pretty amazing people, my WANA1011 classmates.  I am so new to writing that I had no idea writers formed such warm, supportive communities, but I am so very grateful to have found all of you.

Through the magic of Twitter and Tweetdeck I have learned the use and usefulness of the hashtag.  A lowly character, formerly reserved simply as a symbol for the pound now it commands those out in the Twitterverse.  For example. we now have #FF for Follow Friday and, #WW for Worth Watching on Wednesdays.

First, I want to introduce you to three wonderful ladies:

Debra Kristi:  She’s a geek; she loves science fiction, Joss Whedon and Farscape!  A girl after my own heart!  Plus, there’s the whole talking to dead people thing.  Debra writes from the heart, and her topics cover subjects a variety of topics; from finding inspiration in small objects to home arts and crafts projects.  You’ll want to check out her blog!

Deborah J. Hughes:  I followed a link on Deborah’s Facebook Wall to Kristen Lamb’s blog.  The rest is history.  I was already following Deborah’s adventures with the paranormal.  She writes clearly and convincingly about the supernatural, and has written a novel that echoes her own her experiences.  A writer to watch.

Diana Murdock:  Her posts are lighthearted, sometimes…gut-wrenching others, but they will all make you feel something.  I love it when a writer can do that, take you on a journey and make you empathize, make you feel what they’re telling you.  Well done, Diana!

The WANA group is chock full of talented writers, here are some who are definitely worth watching. #WW.

Myndi Shafer:  fun, quirky observations on life.

Angela Peart: thought-provoking questions to ponder.

Gene Lempp:  a weekly series called Designing from Bones crafts stories from humanity’s history.

Lynette M. Burrows:  she had me with her post on A Wrinkle In Time.  Brought back such memories!

Although he’s not in the WANA group,

Chris Hutchins:  Very worth watching.  A talented singer/songwriter and musician he is also an engaging author.  Check out his blog, and his book, Odd Looking Chickens.

I hope you’ll check them out and give them a read.  Who would you recommend for #WW?


Is It A Ghost?

I’ve run into two types of paranormal activity associated with the spirits of humans who’ve died.  First, there are the earthbound spirits I’ve been detailing so far; these are beings who cling to life, and the earth, and have the intellect to interact with those of us still incarnate.  These are what we usually think of as ghosts.  However, not all apparitions are necessarily aware of us humans on the Earth plane or trying to communicate with us.  Some of them may not even see us or react to our presence, but go about their actions as if we were the ones not there.

Commonly known as residuals, these are powerful emotional leftovers of events or trauma that took place in a particular locale.  Residuals replay over and over a scene that is seemingly ignorant of current surroundings.  For example a phantom stagecoach is sometimes seen crossing the 57 freeway in Southern California.


I encountered a residual haunting when I walked through two men fighting.  I was visiting a county fair that had an old farmhouse on its grounds.  I didn’t have any of the typical sensations of a nearby spirit.  The day was bright and sunny and my friend and I were having fun poking around the old house.


We came into a large open room, a gathering space not a bedroom or kitchen.  There was no furniture, only windows, a fireplace and a chandelier.  I walked into the center of the floor to peer up and get a closer look at the dangling lamp.  Between one moment and the next several things happened at once.  I became very nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded.  I couldn’t see my friend but two men stood facing off against each other.  It was as if I was between them but they couldn’t see me.  They were arguing.  I could hear the yelling but couldn’t understand their words.  They were close to each other, pushing and then grappling.  Each man carried a gun and they fired almost simultaneously.

The cramping and nausea had me nearly doubling over and I really was feeling like I was going to faint.  I called my friend over and she had to help me out of the house.  Once outside, the nausea evaporated along with all my other symptoms, and never returned.

“That was weird.”  She looked at me, concerned and I told her what I’d seen and felt.  We both shivered not knowing exactly what had happened.  We continued to explore the fair but stayed far away from the old farmhouse.

What sort of ghosts have you encountered?  Was it a true haunt or a residual?

What’s your scariest paranormal experience?



I Married Han Solo



"Over my dead body."

Yeah, you know you’re jealous.  Yes, Han Solo is mine, all mine!  Too bad ladies!

What is it about the bad boy?  Or, excuse me, you know the word as well as I do…scoundrel.  Didn’t you’re heart just melt in ‘Empire’ when he held Leia’s hands and whispered those lines?  “You like me because I’m a scoundrel.  There haven’t been enough scoundrels in your life.”  Mine did.  But, Han Solo is a scoundrel with a heart of gold.

I never understood why some girls fell for Luke Skywalker.  (Sorry Luke, besides Jedi aren’t supposed to get busy, right?)  I mean really, from the minute I laid my ten-year-old eyes on that tall Corellian pirate, I was lost.  He’s the badass smart ass who saves the day.   Sure, Luke blew up the Death Star, but he would be toast at the hands of his Dad if Han hadn’t come back to the fight to knock Darth Vader’s TIE fighter out into space.

Han stays with the Rebellion, because of Leia.  Because of love.

Every woman. Okay…almost every woman wants to be the one to reform the bad boy and turn him to good.  Isn’t that the plot of so many romances, no matter what the subgenre?  We love it, we eat it up.  Yes, my hand is raised just as high as yours.  Guilty!  Han Solo is smooth and sexy, how could Leia not fall for him?

We love the romance hero and project ourselves into the plot to let a little of the extraordinary into our lives.  How many times have you pictured yourself in the role of the heroine on the pages, swept along on the adventure?  That is the hallmark of the best storytelling, losing yourself in the tale.  You want to find some of that magic for yourself.

I fell in love with my husband because he is smartass, a badass if he needs to be, and yeah, he does have a heart of gold.  I’ll tell you a secret…he babytalks our animals, all of them:  the two dogs, three cats AND the chickens.  How could I not fall in love with him?

So who is your Han Solo?  Or pick your favorite romantic hero.    He may not be a smuggler piloting a starship, but if you’ve found each other, if you love each other and your lives together, then you’ve found your hero.

How did he win you?