Can You Be More Spiritual But Also Have a Real Life?

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Spirituality and Real Life are not mutually exclusive. You can intertwine the two to enrich your day-to-day life, and expand your consciousness.

I talked about mindfully following the breath in this post. The breath is the foundation. When life gets in the way – and it will – just come back to the breath. Maybe you’re wondering though, “how can breathing make me more spiritual?”

We are spiritual beings. We carry within the spark of Divine Creativity. But we also gotta pay the bills and get to work on time.

This division between so-called real life and spiritual life is a harsh one. Endless memes and jokes are made about those who follow a spiritual path. Usually making the spiritual person look flaky, or crazy. I might say that this is by design, but that’s for another blog post.

However, you’re here, so I’m going to guess you’re looking for some insight into things you’ve been experiencing.

You’re not crazy.

That’s right. The world is going through some serious shit right now, and it looks like it just might tear itself apart. I might say that this too, is by design. That is also for another blog post.

Right now, you just want some tools to help you navigate between the outer world’s needs and distractions, and the inner world’s messages and insights. Because I’ll bet that inner world is getting a whole lot more insistent. That’s why you’re here. Maybe you’ve seen and heard things all your life, maybe this is just the beginning for you.

Have you read some of those memes and blog posts and wondered if you were that flaky? You don’t feel like you’re any of those negative stereotypes. You manage your real life – bills, kids, school, job, but you see, or sense, or know, things at the most random times.

You dream, and then it comes true. You can tell when someone’s lying. You feel everyone else’s emotions exquisitely. You wish you had better control, or you wish you could turn it off. When you read about how people ‘manifest’ this, or ‘intuit’ that, do you wonder, how? Do you think they’re special? Do you think they have some uber-cool gift, and that sort of power is beyond you?

That is bullshit.

You are a Divine Spark. You carry part of Spirit within you, and you are a powerful, creative spiritual being.

I get it. It’s hard to keep that in mind when you have a bajillion other distractions. That ‘real life’ means you need to put food on the table, and a roof over your head, and get the kids to school on time. Instagram, selfies, that all-important status update.

But, I’m guessing, if you’re reading this, that you are looking for something.

So, I’m going to tell you a secret.

You will never, ever find it Out There. It is within you. It always has been. You just don’t want to believe it, because you find it so hard to believe in yourself. Because you’ve been told over and over and over again that you are worthless, that you are nothing, that you are just a sack of meat on a speck of dust spinning through an uncaring Universe.

That too, is bullshit.

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Don’t take my word for it. Discover it for yourself. There’s the path, but you have to walk it. The bad news, there ain’t no shortcuts. Anyone who says different is likely trying to sell you something.

The good news. You are in control. You decide how far, how fast, and how much. Start slow. Walk away if you need to, and come back when you’re ready. I’m not the first to say this, but this is true:

It doesn’t matter if you trip and fall, it matters that you get back up.

How do I know? I’ve been that person. I have walked away from practicing. I’ve been forced away by life events, I’ve been too tired, too depressed, too lazy, too into Game of Thrones to want to go sit, and breathe, and meditate. I felt pretty guilty about it too, and not very spiritual.

Until I figured out, I do not have to spend 60 minutes morning and evening in silent, cross-legged contemplation. I mean, that’s nice, but really? Do you have time for that? Hell no. Grab that time when you can, and make it work for you. Do not wait for some magic, spa-like moment to grab your Zen and get spiritual.

You Are Spirit. You just need to look inward and find that spark. Practice in the in-between spaces and times, when you have just a few seconds to take a mindful breath or two. Why? Because Spirit is timeless, and Spirit is always listening. Spirit does not care if you only connect for a breath or two; only that you connect.

 

Meditation Now!

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We get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that it’s easy to let spirituality slip to the side, if you even consider it for half a moment. Most people say they don’t have time to exercise, let alone the luxury of contemplating their own consciousness and place in the Universe.

Think you don’t have time to meditate? Think that spirituality is only something done on Sunday? Think again. You are a Divine Being in your own right. You carry within you a spark of Divine Creativity. You need to own that shit.

You can talk to Spirit at any time, in any place. The trick is, can you hear the answer? You can, I promise you. All it takes is a true desire and a willingness to open your heart to the answer. Want to know the best part? Spirit is infinitely patient. You do this work at your pace.

Obviously, the more diligently you work at any spiritual practice, the swifter and more dramatic your result will be. But – this is your journey. Take whatever time you need.

First, Naming. I use Spirit and Divine – I like the way they feel, and the positive emotions that come with them. You use whatever personal Name that you are comfortable with.

Next, Practice. To establish a personal connection to Spirit is not difficult. It only takes seconds, but it does take practice. No one ever got good at anything after one or two tries. So, practice, practice often. You’ll find it has all sorts of unexpected benefits – lowering blood pressure and stress hormones to name just two physical benefits. The spiritual payoff is immeasurable, and the joy of discovering those rewards is kinda the point.

Places to practice. Any place and time you have a few moments where you can pause, and take a few deep breaths. Closing your eyes, and twisting your legs into a lotus are not required. Need some ideas?

  • Doing the dishes.
  • Waiting to pick the kids up from school.
  • Waiting in line – anywhere.
  • In the shower.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Sitting at a red light.

Get creative. Let yourself play. Feel a little silly. Let all those negative thoughts, like “This can’t work!” wash through you. Don’t try and suppress them, just let them pass and keep practicing. You’ll find after time, your ego realizes it’s not silly, and stops sending them.

Does Spirit listen? All the time. Does Spirit answer? Yes. Practicing is how you learn to be able to hear that reply.

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All You Gotta Do Is Breathe

So, what’s the first step? Easy, just breathe. Do it now.

  • In
  • Out

How’d that feel? Was it fast, or slow? Where did the breath go in your body? Your upper chest? Your belly? Could you have taken in more air? Did it feel like a sip or a gulp?

Meditative practice starts with following the breath because it is a direct linkage to your subconscious brain. Unless you turn your attention to it, your autonomic nervous system works diligently night and day, pumping your blood, digesting your food, and working your lungs. By following your breath and consciously regulating it, you are sending signals back to the brain that are then passed on to the rest of the body.

And this is important because?

The autonomic nervous system controls ‘fight or flight’. It interprets everything you see and hear based on whether it’s a threat, or not, and then yells, “Battle Time!” or “Run Away!” causing your heart and lungs to work harder and faster, plus a whole bunch of other biologic reactions. Millions of years of evolution have made it a highly efficient survival system. It is not however, adapted for our modern world. The noises and stresses of normal urban life cause us to live in a state of near-constant readiness for battle or escape. The effects of this are clearly reflected in the near-epidemic levels of diseases such as high blood pressure.

Control the breath, and the message you’re sending to your brain is “We’re chill. No saber tooth tiger is about it eat us.” Your brain then tells your heart, organs and muscles to kick back and enjoy some downtime.

The more often you do this, the better it is for your body, and this has been supported through research.

How to Breathe.

It is literally our first action on the planet. You probably think you’re pretty good at it, since you’ve been breathing all your life. Think back to that In and Out breath earlier. Now, you’re going to do it again. This time, though, you’re going to do it mindfully.

  • Close your eyes.
  • Empty your lungs by pulling your belly towards your spine and letting it push the air out. Don’t force it, just exert a gentle pull.
  • Pause, count to three.
  • Inhale by pushing your belly outward. Imagine the air rushing down and filling your belly as it pushes out. Only after your belly is full, allow the air to fill the upper part of your chest.
  • I like to do a slow count of eight – count to four and fill the belly, count to eight and fill the chest.
  • Then, hold the breath. Feel it circulate through your body. Visualize it as swirls of energy, or streaming through the blood. Watch it flow and fill you.
  • Release the breath. Again, pull your belly toward your spine, and exhale slowly, with control. Empty your lungs completely.
  • Hold briefly with your lungs empty. Pay attention to how your body feels without the breath in it. Visualize the breath leaving your body. You might want to imagine it taking away things like stress, or pain, or worry.
  • Then repeat the cycle.

I like to use a count of eight for each portion of the cycle:

  • The Inhale
  • Hold
  • The Exhale
  • Hold

But use whatever count works best for you at that moment. If you’re sitting at a red light, maybe it’ll be a three-count for two breath cycles. If you’re in the shower, try an eight-count for ten cycles.

What matters is that you do it. A lot. In the bathroom for a few minutes? Seriously. Brushing your teeth? Waiting to order your chai latte or caramel macchiato? Take some breaths.

Here’s the catch. Come on! You knew there’d be one.

For each breath, think only about the breath. Nothing else. Focus entirely on that air moving in, through, and out of your body. Any thought that pops up, just let go of. And they will pop up.

  • “What should I make for dinner?”
  • “What did he mean by that text?”
  • “Should I binge Stranger Things or Oroville?”

Just let them go, and bring your focus back to your breath.

And practice. Did I mention how important it is to practice this? Do it when it feels weird, or clunky, or awkward. No one is looking at you funny. Just do it. You will get past that clunky, awkward stage.

Practice until it becomes second nature for you to mindfully breathe multiple times a day. Even if it’s just for one breath.

Pay attention to how you feel before, and after. Are your shoulders a little looser? Your belly less tense? What physical changes do you notice, but also, what mental changes do you notice? What effects do you notice the longer you practice?

Mindfulness, attention to breath, and attention to your responses will help you learn focus and concentration on your inner workings and energetic shifts. Messages from Spirit can come through loud and clear, like a bullhorn. More often though, they’re subtle. Learning to discern what is “you” from what is Spirit will be that much easier if you are already familiar with the ebbs and flows of your own energetic systems.

3 Easy Ways To Get Psychically Clean

Remember this?

 

She wasn’t dusting or scrubbing. She was cleansing the house energetically and releasing beings that were stuck in that physical location.

“Oh, that’s just a movie!” No. Sticky, dense, negative energies – and entities – are very real, and can attach themselves to you. Anyone who wants to engage in paranormal activities needs to be aware of this. If you’re already in the field, you know this.

Cleansing can be as simple as wafting a smudge stick, or as complex as a full exorcism. Exorcisms are best left to the professionals – shamanic practitioners, priests trained in exorcism, mediums who can speak to the spirits. However, personal energetic hygiene is just as important as washing your hands.

What Needs To Be Cleansed?

You dust, vacuum and mop, what else needs cleaning? People’s emotional detritus tends to collect and hang out, in living spaces, in public spaces. Pretty much anywhere you can encounter leftover emotions. We all leak negative emotions. Have an argument? A crying spell? Pissed because your boss yelled at you? Those emotions have energy, and the stronger the emotions the more likely they are to linger like so many emotional dust bunnies. If enough of them build up, they can start to take on a sort of life of their own. If the emotions or events are traumatic enough they can start to act like spirits or other supernatural entities.

Anyone, ‘sensitive’ or not can pick up on these lingering psychic dust bunnies. Depending on your level of discernment you may recognize that these emotions are not your own. Nausea, headaches, sudden, unexplained sadness – all of these can linger and reattach to you! You don’t need to be psychic to cleanse, but you do need to be clear on what you’re doing and how you’re going to go about it.

Here are three ways you can cleanse your aura and living spaces. Use them all, or find the ones that resonate best with you. With each though, your intention, your attitude and your mindset are all critical ingredients.

Thoughts Are Things!

Remember, when dealing with the spiritual and astral realms your thoughts make and shape the energies, so use them wisely. None of these techniques will work if you simply go through the motions. You must engage and be present when using any of these. Also, before using any method, prepare yourself.

  • Pause
  • Breathe
  • Calm your mind

 Set Your Intention

This is essential. Say, think, or visualize that any negative or harmful energies be released, dispersed and returned to the Earth for renewal. Hold onto this intention as you are cleansing.

When your mind is calm and your intention firmly in mind, begin. You can use these methods individually, or sequentially. Using more than one has a cumulative, or additive effect. I usually try and get a sense for what I need, and if I need more, I do more. There is no harm in overuse of any of these practices!

Smudge

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Smudging is the burning of sacred plants to clear out negative energies. Sage is the most commonly used, and nearly everyone will say “Burn some sage!” if paranormal activity is mentioned. But, it’s certainly not the only choice.

Sage is easily available; smoke shops and metaphysical stores carry it pre-bundled and ready to use. However, others, like palo santo wood, cedar, sweetgrass, and frankincense have all been used to clear spaces for centuries. Each one acts to cleanse, but they all have additional properties to be considered before using – protection, healing, blessing. Read up on your choice before smudging to ensure it’s in alignment with your intention.

Smudging is essential housekeeping if you actively participate in spiritual practices or seek out paranormal activity.

Trust me on this. I have made this mistake too many times to count. If you are in any measure psychic, or you investigate the paranormal – cleanse your aura and your space regularly. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in how you, and your home feel. You’ll also be amazed at how much your discernment and psychic abilities increase when you consistently clear out the “junk.”

So what does it mean to smudge? You light the sacred herb, and brush the smoke around yourself – top to bottom, front and back – and visualize the smoke dissolving any negative attachments. You can trace the herb bundle itself around your outline, or use a feather to waft the smoke over you.

To cleanse a house or other building, walk clockwise around the space, brushing the smoke towards the walls. Pay extra attention to corners, especially if they’re a little cluttered (like my house!), doorways and windows. Imagine the brushing dislodging the attachments and the smoke gathering it up and carrying it out of the space, really see it going out windows or doors.

Also pay attention if burning ash drops on to the ground. You may want to carry a small, fireproof tray to catch ashes as you walk. Make as many circuits of the room as you need until you feel the energies lighten. Continue moving in a clockwise direction through your entire home until you have cleared each room.

Smudging is excellent for:

  • Regular energetic cleansing.
  • Clearing new items that you bring into your home.
  • After guests leave to remove any lingering emotional traces.
  • After you’ve ‘had a bad day’ or are feeling as if you have attachments clinging to you.

Smudging is not typically how you get actual spirits to vacate. If you’ve got a resident entity, you will likely need more, and that is beyond the scope of this article.

Showering

Well, duh! But this isn’t your quick, jump in-and-out rinse. This is a longer, deliberate ritual to wash away negative attachments from your body and aura.

My latest career was in nursing. I have, in the past, worked with people who hated me. I have had daggers glared at me. I’ve been called every name in the book. Usually by people having the worst day of their life. Not their fault, but the emotional energies still bombarded me. By the end of my shift, I would feel loaded down with the psychic weight of every hateful thought directed my way. I could sense them sinking their hooks into my aura. Left there long enough, they would burrow in until they merged with my own energies.

Waving a smudge stick didn’t always dislodge those emotional daggers, although that was usually my first step. If I needed more muscle because it was a particularly bad shift – or if I’d neglected my energetic cleansing for a few days – I would charge the water coming out of the showerhead to remove the attachments.

To charge the water:

  • Bless the showerhead and water.
  • Visualize that the water is filled with pure light.
  • This light can be white, silver, blue, lavender, or whatever color feels most appropriate to you. But make it bright and strong.

As you scrub, visualize removing the energetic attachments. Or you can state affirmations, such as “I now remove any attachment that does not contribute to my highest healing good.” Visualize them swirling away, being carried down the drain and out to the sea where they will be dissipated and renewed.

As a Reiki Master-Teacher, I will Reiki the water and showerhead, and I can tell you that water is bright! You should use whatever energetic methods, prayers or blessings resonate with you. Whether you are initiated into an energy healing modality or not, realize that your visualization, your thoughts and intentions, carry a potent energy of their own. Use them to bless the water, and cleanse your aura.

When you are done, visualize sealing any holes in your aura, healing any tears, so that your energy field is whole. Picture your aura as a smooth, protective barrier that completely envelops you.

Grounding

This is a perfect spot to sit and ground!
This is a perfect spot to sit and ground!

Grounding is one of the easiest cleansing techniques, but it is powerful for all its simplicity. All you need to do is get your body in contact with the Earth.

Not standing in your high heels on concrete. Not sitting on the steps of your condo or school. (But, if it’s all you’ve got, then gotta do what you gotta do.)

Nope.

I mean get out and get in touch with Mother Earth. Take of your shoes, and get your toes in the grass, or sand, or dirt. Sit against the trunk of a tree and rest your palms against Her. Any spot where you are in full contact with the Earth, will do – a park, the beach, out on a hike. Minimize the man-made ‘stuff’ between you and Her and try to have some of your skin touching the skin of the Earth, even if it’s just your palms.

Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Visualize yourself connecting to the Earth through your soles, palms, anywhere you’re in contact with Her. Open these connections wide and release anything that does not contribute to your highest healing good. Use affirmations similar to “I release any and all attachments…” as you did in the shower. Really see these attachments dropping off you and down into Mother Earth.

Synchronize your breathing to your visualizations. As you exhale, imagine the attachments falling away. As you inhale, visualize clean, renewing energy flowing up into you through your connections to Mother Earth. Sit as long as you need to feel clear and refreshed.

Don’t feel bad! You’re not polluting! As with the shower, think of it as putting those attachments into a giant recycling bin so they cannot move on and attach to another person. Mother Earth and the sea are vast, and readily absorb those energies, cleansing and renewing them.

Try all three techniques. Play with them! The real beauty of energy work is finding your best modality. Take your time; be observant of how you feel and what you experience. Adjust and adapt as you need to, just be sure to keep your intentions clear at all times.

Let me know which ones work best for you!

Our Pets and Reincarnation

I had a totally different post planned to put up, but then I found this trailer on Twitter. Have your tissues ready.

I watched this and thought it one of the most heartwarming trailers I’d seen. It’s based on the book of the same title by W. Bruce Cameron and it spent 52 weeks on the NYT Bestseller list! So I was more than a little startled to see some haters calling this trailer “horrible” and “depressing” and “worst dog movie ever” because, you know, the dog dies.

Sorry. Spoiler alert. But maybe the title of the blog post was a clue?

The hardest thing any pet parent has to face is the loss of a much loved pet. The very worst part of letting an animal into your life and heart is the sure knowledge that you will eventually bid them farewell. I’ve done this more times than I want to think about, and with more species than your average pet owner.

There was Pagan, and Domino.

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Magic

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Honda

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Harpo

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Akela

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And that’s not even half. Each one takes a piece of your heart when they go, you feel like that spot in your soul will never again feel right. I have been so fortunate to have a deep bond to many, many animals, to experience the love, communication and understanding that looks magical to an outside observer. I know I’m not alone in this. I know that I’m not the only one to have a much loved pet return to me either, both in a body and in spirit.

What if the premise of A Dog’s Purpose were true? What if our pets (and us too!) come back to experience life after life? The above-mentioned haters also found this tragic. I’m sorry for them. I think it’s beautiful. It means we, collectively, never truly die. That we get do-overs, and a chance to explore every delicious, beautiful, and yes, painful, facet of life.

Reincarnation as a spiritual concept is found throughout many ancient, sacred texts. Even the Gnostic Christians claimed that reincarnation was the true, secret teaching of Jesus. The number of people who believe in reincarnation is staggering. Just counting those who claim to practice religions with reincarnation as a fundamental tenet you’re looking at about 25% of the human population. Even some quantum physicists are now saying our consciousness moves into another universe when we die. First Law of Thermodynamics, right?

But that’s humans. What about animals? Do animals have souls? Just ask that of anyone who’s had a pet that they loved and lost. You can read about how my cat, Magic, came back to visit after I lost her to bone cancer. The internet is full of stories about how the spirits of pets come back, both as ghosts and reincarnated into new, furry bodies.

But how do you know? Truth is, I can’t offer up any proof that would satisfy a cynic.

Answers to the most perplexing questions in spirituality are at their core inexplicable. They must be experienced. They must be lived. It doesn’t matter how many holy books you read, how many churches you sit in, or how many drum circles. They can guide you, point out a path, but you’ll never really know unless you make contact with the numinous.

I have. I know that everything has a soul. A spirit. That spark of the divine that is never extinguished. From the trees in my yard, to the cat curled in my lap, to the wolf puppy that greeted me with recognition in his soul. We had known each other in lives past.

How? You have to be willing to still your mind and listen for those subtle clues. You have to be willing to put in the time to practice – whatever method you choose. Yoga, meditation, dance, journeying all can help you with quieting the mind so you can hear the messages from your soul. More than that though, you have to trust the knowledge that comes to you.

That is the hardest part. Trust. Your mind will want to tell you you just made it up. So will science. So will some of your friends. You have to trust the message and put it into practice in your life. There is a certain element of surrender with this, because sometimes it’ll probably be pretty scary. Not in the ‘you should spend all your money on this stock’ sense. No, this trust usually involves risks of the heart.

Sometimes your heart will break. Sometimes the one you love will leave you. But what if the purpose of life is to experience love in as many different forms and varieties as possible? That’s pretty difficult to accomplish in just one lifetime.

Maybe dogs are the lucky ones. They have so much love to give, and we have so much to learn, that they voluntarily return to us again and again, helping to open our hearts and teach us about unconditional love. And loss. And how to love again after heartbreak.

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Dragged Into Compassion

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I think it was the Dalai Lama who said “Compassion is my religion.” It really resonated with me. I tried my best to follow it, in what I thought were trying times.

There was a co-worker who really tested my resolve on the path of compassion. This was an all-around unpleasant person – to me, to other co-workers, to the clients who came into the office. Often while wearing a false smile and speaking in an over-the-top sugary voice that just screamed condescension. But, in the end it was an excellent lesson. I came to see this person, not as pure evil – and I really, really wanted to paint them into that role! Rather, as a being in deep, never-ending pain. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain ran so deep that lashing out was the only behavior this person had left.

It was sad really. I got to the point that I all could see was this person’s pain. I was very proud of myself for getting to that place. I thought – “Hey, this compassion thing is easy!” HA!

Here’s the thing. Don’t boast to the Universe. She will take you at your word and make you prove it.

I haven’t been around much. Here, posting my bloggy offerings, on Facebook, or Tweeting out to the Twittery peeps, I’ve been gone more than I’ve been around. I should’ve been though. I should’ve been all over cyberspace, sharing my love of all things paranormal and spiritual with my fellow fringe dwellers because I haven’t worked since February 29th. I had big plans to make my time off my big push to really get my blogs dialed in tight.

So instead… The Universe had other ideas.

Right before Christmas, my mom had a stroke. Not a bad one. She could still walk, talk and do all the things that were “normal” for a feisty 80 year-old. But she kept having them. Then other issues cropped up and by March 1 we were both having surgery. I got my shoulder fixed, and she got part of her guts taken out. Twice. Both of us.

And if that wasn’t enough, my siblings had not one, not two but three ICU stays and major back surgery shared between them.

The cherry on top, mom passed away the day of my sibling’s back surgery. Yeah. It’s been a fun year. I had more stress, more pain, more family fights than I had ever dealt with before. And that was just the beginning.

I wanted to say Fuck It! I think I did a couple times. No, no I’m sure I did. But again, the Universe had other plans. Each time I wanted to smack a sibling, or yell, or beg mom to get up and move, because otherwise she wasn’t going to get better, I heard a tiny voice inside me whispering.

“Let go. Let go of that anger. Just love them. That’s all they need. That’s all you need.”

Okay, sometimes I had to go cry, or take deep breaths, or meditate, or all three, but I did it. I let go of the anger. I focused on the love. I held onto that compassion. My previous experience with that co-worker made an excellent practice ground.

You know what? It feels amazing. It’s fantastic, freeing and so very blissful. I know it sounds so freakin’ New Age fluffy bunny but when you let go of anger and just hold onto love, magic happens.

There is a calm that comes over you when you view negative actions through the lens of compassion. So often we react to perceived insults, but is that what was really meant? The truth is, when you see the other person’s motivation is pain and grief, it opens your heart.

It’s not easy. But it is worth it. The Universe is very forgiving.

She’ll give you plenty of opportunities to practice, and reward you generously when you succeed. Baby steps are better than no steps. The real trick is, don’t beat yourself up when you lapse back into thinking “That rotten bitch!” Stop. Breathe. Center yourself and remember something about that person that made you smile. Then, smile. Even if it’s only for a second. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels.

Try it. You have absolutely nothing to lose and so very much to gain.

 

 

Life Lessons in Unexpected Places

I loved the movie Galaxy Quest.

 

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I loved it in all its cheesy glory. I mean, we all know what it wasn’t, right? It wasn’t exquisite art or high drama. It wasn’t an Academy Award contender. It was quite unashamedly escapist entertainment.

Every cliche, every nod to some other sci-fi production, they all generated that warm fuzzy nostalgia. It was supposed to make you feel good, to laugh. But could there be something more hiding within?

Never give up, never surrender.

That’s been my mantra for the last few years. I finally got the surgery I needed for an on the job injury. So now I’m sitting at home with my left arm in a sling, off of work for a few months, and about to dive into what is sure to be an excruciating course of physical therapy. With voice to text and the WordPress app on my tablet I may never type again.

Quick word of advice. If you are about to have surgery on a joint like a shoulder or knee, take the pain meds. Take them around the clock. Don’t try and be a tough guy. Do what the doctor says, even set an alarm for the middle of the night. Trust me on this one.

But this was a fight every step of the way. Ultimately one I couldn’t fight all on my own, I had to hire an attorney. I did question myself all along. Was I doing the right thing? Why did I have to fight so hard for treatment that was so obviously necessary? Was there something I wasn’t seeing?

Sometimes life throws situations at us for a reason. Sometimes we are supposed to struggle because we are supposed to learn something.

There were lots of points where I could have walked away. And that is exactly what the companies opposing me wanted, because it would mean they didn’t have to spend money and fulfill their obligations. They worked very hard to try and convince me that my pain and my injury were not worthy of their consideration. They marginalized and minimized me.

Giving up would have meant a lifetime of pain and increasingly restricted physical abilities for me. That’s not high drama or exaggeration. After being injured my activity level, my ability to enjoy my hobbies gradually degraded. I went from being an active person who gardened and exercised to one who sat around most of the time. I gained weight. I became depressed. For the first time in my life I could not exercise or physical therapy my way out of an injury.

I did a lot of soul-searching and did a lot of meditation. I realized I had a choice. I could give up. I could walk away. That was certainly the easiest path at least in the short-term. At several points along the way my obstacles seemed almost insurmountable. My challenge, my lesson was to overcome those obstacles and take that harder path.

I refused to compromise on my quality of life. I fought for me because nobody else would. When I had exhausted all the options I could see I had to know when to ask for help. I won’t deny there was a certain gritty satisfaction in shoving all their marginalizing and minimalizing bullshit right back in their faces.

It was not an easy lesson. But it was a valuable one. It’s also one that is still evolving, but I am already stronger for it.

Never give up, never surrender. Not on yourself. Not on your dreams.

What have you had to fight for? When have you had to overcome insurmountable odds?

Finding That Christmas Spirit

SnowWebb

Even the little critters have decorated for the holidays. My spider friends have glammed up their homes with crystals and turned their webs to delicate lace.

I’m not much of a Christmas person; for most of my professional life Christmas and other holidays have simply been another day on the job. I have lots of nostalgia related to Christmases past but the religious aspects are not part of that past or my personal spirituality. And for the last few years, well, I’ve been something of Scrooge; the Day Itself has passed me by with barely a nod of recognition.

It was almost the same this year.

You might have noticed a lack of posting on my part lately, here and on Facebook. It’s been a crazy couple months:

My mom has been sick since November and a couple weeks ago she had a stroke. As strokes go, she was very lucky and has only very slight residuals. But I did go to southern California to see her and help out. As much as I wanted and needed to be with her, well, SoCal is not my happy zone and it was an uncomfortable time for a whole bunch of reasons. Including a whole host of paranormal ones.

At the same time my sister ended up in ICU with a raging case of pneumonia.

And just yesterday, my reliable vehicle threw a rod. I guess I really should’ve given Fate a safe word. She apparently thought I meant “screw with everything all at once” when I said I needed some changes in my life.

Fate:  “Hey, cool! Here’s a metric buttload of crap for you to deal with!”

Me:  “No, Fate, no I meant I want that whole bestselling author thing I’ve been working on, not fuck up my family.”

But, as these things often go, what seemed like a total chaotic shitstorm at first turned out to be a challenge and an opportunity personally. I’ve found peace with parts of me and mine that needed some serious attention. I’ve found some new, unsuspected strength and resilience.

Most important, I’ve regained the Spirit of this season that I’ve been lacking for quite some time. I decorated, for the first time in years and it felt great. Now as I sit here on Christmas Eve looking at my beautiful tree I have so many things to be grateful for:

I have my health, a wonderful husband and sweet home filled with pets.

My mom and my sister are healing and getting stronger.

Cars are fixable.

I might not have a whole bunch of money right now, but I am wealthy with the love I am surrounded with.

A friend recently pointed out something that I really took to heart. My Scrooginess in the past has been based on my disgust with an overly-commercialized and hyped Christmas. I just wanted to ignore it as much as possible and get through it to the other side. I Bah-Humbugged my way through it and even took a twisted in glee in my bad feelings.

“Not this year.” My friend said. She told me that it was important to celebrate the Season so that we can fill our hearts with Peace and Love. It’s not about buying the latest doodad, or seeing who spends the most. This isn’t a competition. It’s a way to practice opening our hearts and having compassion for all. Even if it’s only for one day, you need to really feel it, and carry that feeling with you throughout the coming year.

Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?

How do you celebrate the Season? What traditions do you hold to, or what ones have you developed? I would love to hear how you share the joy of this time of year.

Cat Ghosts And Halloween

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. No I don’t mean Christmas!

Halloween! Yep, you’re all nodding your heads and smiling right now. If you’re a paranomo-phile (yes, I made up that word) you love this time. The veil between the worlds thins out and we all hope for that contact, a brush with the beyond. Maybe you’ve lost someone special and you’d like just a little touch to show you they’re okay.

That’s what happened to me.

CMagic

In the week or so leading up to last night I’d been seeing little black flashes out of the corner of my eye, especially in her favorite spots; on my shoes, on top of the couch. Magic was only 14, but I wasn’t ready to lose her. Oh, I suppose you never are ready to lose one of your fur kids. It feels like they take a piece of your soul when they leave. I’d lost Jasper two years ago but while Magic and her older sibling Sage were older kitties, they seemed to be in excellent health. Until I noticed she was losing weight, then I felt that tiny lump under her jaw. So little, I thought Sage bit her while they were playing. Except it got bigger, and in just under a month I was crying at the vet over my sweet little girl. She had bone cancer, a very fast, aggressive one. It had already destroyed her jaw. As soon as I saw her x-ray I knew I wouldn’t be taking my little girl home and I had to say goodbye.

Every scrap of clinical and spiritual knowledge in my extensive experience couldn’t ease my breaking heart. It was the right thing, the compassionate thing to do. I knew her little spirit was only transitioning over, and as she passed I watched her move out of her body and into the loving arms of my spirit guide, surrounded by my other departed pets. But I still missed my sweet editor kitty, and how she used to lay on my hands and “help” me write. My writing corner is just a little colder in the weeks and months since she passed. It hurts still to sit and work, and tears often spill when I prop my feet up on the foot stool under my desk where she loved to sleep while I worked.

This is how she helped me write.
This is how she helped me write.

But this week, I’ve felt her near, seen her little black body flash from place to place. She tapped on the shower door like she used to the other night, making it shake and rattle strongly, and I saw a black spot dash away around the corner. But as I sat down to write a Halloween blog, wondering which topic I should address I swept my feet up onto my footstool and pushed a heavy little furry body onto the floor. Magic wasn’t exactly a svelte kitty.

I see and sense spirits on a daily basis, but actual physical encounters with them are rare for me. As with every other time I have physically touched a ghost I didn’t think it was a paranormal encounter at first. My first thought was, When did Sage start sleeping in Magic’s old spot? I actually got up out of the chair and poked my head under the desk, calling to Sage. And before the skeptics can say he ran out the other side, my desk sits in a corner and the only way out from under it is past me. The space under the desk was empty.

I knew my little girl had come to visit again and my heart felt just a little lighter. Magic has been the most present of all my departed animal companions. About 4 or 5 days after I put her to sleep I was sitting on the couch crying, when amazingly, I felt paws press into my arm and phantom weight settle onto my shoulder. She loved to cuddle and would often snuggle onto my arm and shoulder where it rested on the arm of the couch. I waited a few moments, breathless to see if the weight would fade. Instead a slight vibration buzzed on the skin of my shoulder through my shirt. My ghostly kitty was purring! Although her body was gone her little spirit was still very much present and very happy to cuddle with me one more time.

Have you ever wondered if your pet has a soul? They do. Our animal companions are beautiful spirits, and to share a life with them is a magical blessing indeed.

Ghost Hunting Part Two – The Ghost That Followed Us Home

The tour guide was only half kidding when she said “We aren’t responsible if any of the ghosts follow you home.”  It brought back memories of The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.  I could almost hear the sonorous tones of the heavy male narrator’s voice from the ghostly Disney ride override the tour guide uttering the same phrase.  She added cheerily, “but if they do, please call us, we’d love to come investigate!”

No need, the ghostly lady in the back seat wasn’t the first to hitch a ride with us, and I’m sure she won’t be the last.  I can see and talk to the dead, and help them cross the veil to the other side if they are earthbound.  Hub and I were almost home when she made her presence known.  Thin, willowy, but too heavily scarred by sorrow to be called beautiful, the dead lady kept looking longingly at my husband from where she perched behind him in the car.  “My husband?  Where is my husband, and my baby?”  She asked repeatedly.  She was confused, didn’t understand how she was suddenly in this strange carriage, didn’t completely understand she was dead, and far out of her own time.

It took a little effort to get her attention, she was fixated on Hub, mistaking him for her long dead husband.  I reached out, snapping my fingers in front of her face and calling sharply to her.  When I got her to finally look at and respond to me, I got her story in an instant.  Husband and baby both sickened and died.  She wasn’t sure of what, just showed them to me as feverish and coughing.  She answered “Marie” when I asked her name, but kept reaching toward Hub with her insubstantial hands.  Her pain was a tangible presence in the car, she’d died of a broken heart.

“He’s not your husband.  He’s mine.  Your husband and baby are dead, and you are too.”  She turned big, pale eyes to me, uncomprehending.  “You are dead.  You’re a ghost, stuck here on the earthplane.”  I told her.  By this time we had arrived home.  Hub got out of the car, leaving me alone in it after he parked it in the garage.  Just me and the ghost.  Outside the car door, my chickens began to stir and cluck uneasily in their darkened henhouse.  It felt dark and heavy in the garage, as if the lights weren’t bright enough.

“I miss them so.”  She whispered.  “Why can’t I find them?  How did I get here?”  She was full of questions.  I don’t know how other mediums communicate with spirits, but I find it easier and truer if I stick to emotions and images with minimal words.  I show them what I mean.  So you’ll have to forgive me for translating some of those images, emotions and thoughts into sentences.  It makes an easier read and description of something that is sometimes difficult to transpose into words.

I also work very closely with my guides and guardian spirits.  I ask them to come close and aid the spirits I work with, easing their transition across the veil to home.  There in my garage, sitting in my car, I called in my guides and asked them to help locate this woman’s loved ones on the other side.  Marie continued to stare around the car and darkened garage, she was starting to get frightened and tune me out.  “Where did the man go?  Is that my husband?”  She continued to fixate on Hub.

“Hey, Marie.  I need you to listen to me for just a moment.”

“No.”  Indignant.  She didn’t want to listen to some random woman, she wanted to find her family.  I could understand that, but she wasn’t going to find them at my house.  “Why should I listen to you?”  Disbelief, scorn.  She sneered.

“I can try to help you find them, Marie.”  Again she turned those big, pale eyes on me.  Anger showed in them.  “You don’t know my husband.  I don’t know you.  Where am I?”  She was starting to get agitated, the atmosphere in the car darkened more, and it was hard to see out the windows.

When the spirits get upset, the only answer to their fear or anger is love.  I powered up my heart chakra, and offered her pure spiritual love.  I showed her I held only compassion for her and real desire to help.  “I want to help you, I want to try, and my guides want to help you too.”  Her expression of anger slowly melted, as she took in that I meant what I said, and that I wasn’t affected by her anger.

In Reiki II, my class learned a technique called the Bridge of Light.  It is a spiritual energy bridge offered to one who is about to die, or to spirits who have not yet crossed over.  For the dead, and the dying it eases their transition, and connects them with loved ones already on the other side of the veil.  I showed Marie the bridge, and offered the energy to her.  I offered her additional Reiki energy to help her heal her psychic wounds, and to help her retrieve the parts of her soul that she’d lost along the way.

Anger and mistrust dissolved.  “Truly?”  She was afraid to hope.

“Yes.”  I told her.  “And my guides mean it too.”  Marie touched the Bridge of Light with one foot, and her whole being lit up.  She took two steps, and smiled tentatively.  Her lips stretched wider as she followed the path laid out on the Bridge, aided by her own guiding spirits who met her and welcomed her before she’d traveled halfway across.  Her spirit lit brightly as the missing parts of her soul flew home to join her as she fully crossed the veil.

With an nearly audible pop, the atmosphere in the garage lightened.  It had a bright and sparkly feel, and the hens uttered soft coos as they settled back into sleep.  Marie blew me a light kiss and a thank-you as she joined her family on the other side.  I smiled and got out of the car.

“Everything okay?”  Hub asked as he threw the ball for our Lab to chase.  It glows in the dark, so she can find it at night.  I took a deep breath and looked around our yard, then back into the garage.  No ghosts.

“Everything’s just fine.”  I told him.

I'm pretty sure Marie was hiding in this room on the tour.
I’m pretty sure Marie was hiding in this room on the tour.

 

Weird Weekend – Modern Ghost Hunting Part One

Hub and I went on a Ghost Tour last weekend.  I love that sort of thing, and his daughter gave us a gift certificate for the tour for Christmas.  We were lucky it wasn’t raining, but cold and foggy, which gave the perfect atmosphere.

Just the history part made the tour worthwhile, but we made multiple stops at various famous downtown Seattle landmarks.  Like the Smith Tower.

SmithT

Security guards tell of hearing furniture being dragged across floors above them, even in rooms where there is no furniture.  Shadows are seen flitting across monitor screens, security cameras catching movement on supposedly unoccupied floors.  In both cases, when the guards investigate, no one is on the floor.

We went into the lower level of the Merchant’s Cafe, the oldest restaurant in Seattle.  I immediately felt the presence of many spirits, especially in the bar area and the bathroom.  I saw a lady, dressed in vintage clothing stroll down the hall to disappear into the bathroom.  I followed, snapping pictures, then returned to hear the tour guide saying how a woman is often seen going into the bathroom.  I wanted to say, ‘Yes, I know’ but kept quiet.  The bathroom pics were not that impressive, although a faint orb is visible in one.  I had better luck with the bar.  I got a few funny looks from others on the tour, but I whispered to the spirits that I knew they were there, and I was going to take some pictures.  If they would like to appear in the pictures, that would be much appreciated.   I took two pictures with nothing, then got this one.

Orb3a123012

I know. Dust motes, it’s the quickest and easiest explanation.  Hub cleaned the lens thoroughly before we left for the tour, and it was closed unless I had it out taking pics.  I did get quite a lot of orb pictures, actually, and they are never in the exact same spot, so I’m quite sure it’s nothing on the lens itself.

I know.  It doesn’t preclude floating motes in the air.  With the three orbs in the picture above, I’m not 100% convinced they have a spectral origin.  These next two though, I’m pretty sure I captured the spirits who inhabit these portions of underground Seattle.

Orb1a123012

 

Orb2a123012

They are so bright and shiny, and I was actively communicating with the spirits in these locations at the time.  The only alteration I have made to these two pictures is to crop them to zoom in on the orbs.  The bar picture is completely untouched.

This was only my second time actively trying to communicate with spirits and capture it digitally.  I’ve had great luck so far and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.  While nothing overt happened to Hub or I on the tour, I did make contact with several of the ghosts in the locations we visited.  Including the one that followed us home.  Stay tuned for that story!

My next time out, I’m going to try and capture some EVP’s.  What ever I get, I’ll be sure and share.