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.

Why Do You Believe in the Paranormal?

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Losing Mom wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part is dealing with the aftermath. Trying to keep siblings from gouging each other’s hearts out ranks right up there in the Top Two Most Difficult Aspects of Losing a Parent. Then there’s cleaning out the mountains of debris and accumulated detritus crowding Mom’s home of close to 50 years. And oh boy, could she pack it in! Every crevice and cranny was stuffed, quite literally to the rafters, with…everything. I found report cards from every grade. Every. One. The silly notes I passed between friends at school. Faded art projects. And while I have no desire to actually keep the majority of the stuff I unearthed, it still gave me a pretty serious pang to have to throw it all away.

Now comes the paranormal part…

Mom’s house is 1500 miles away from the home I live in now, in Seattle. I was last there a couple months ago, after Mom passed, to help with cleaning and to pick up some items. I stayed in my old bedroom and listened to the sounds of the house around me as I lay awake late at night. This creak, or that sigh as it shifted in the wind, and the clicks and whirrs of the appliances and heating system were all so very familiar.

Also familiar was the sound of Mom’s footsteps as she’d walk down the hall to the bathroom. Her tread was light, but still thudded softly on the thick carpet of the upstairs hall. And there – the squeak of the loose floorboard right outside my room. Two nights in a row, I heard those footsteps, and that distinct squeal that could only be the sound of weight pressing on that creaky spot. The first night, she even paused outside my door, and tapped on it softly.

Did I get up and answer? Nope. I’m ashamed to admit that when the absolute reality of life after death smacked me in the face at 1 a.m. I was afraid. Not of Mom. I wasn’t afraid of her spirit standing there on the other side of the door.

Nope.

It was a purely visceral reaction to the validation of everything I believed. The fear was because I sorta held onto a bit of doubt about – everything. That night, that tiny bit of doubt was obliterated.

Even after decades of paranormal experiences – physically running into ghosts, communicating with them, and having those experiences validated by other sources, I still held onto a tiny kernel of skepticism. And I was okay with that. I was okay with the dichotomy of believing and not believing. My own Schroedinger’s Cat scenario – both real and not real. I could tell people, “Well, this happened, but…” As if that ‘but’ gave me, and everyone else, a way to dismiss what I was legitimately experiencing.

Hearing Mom walk the hallway, just like she did in life, erased forever any lingering doubt I might have had. And that was just a bit terrifying.

It was also freeing. I no longer had to cling to that little kernel. There was simply no other explanation for the sound of her footsteps, and the creak of the floorboard than the presence of her spirit walking past my door. Period. And if her spirit was real, then it suddenly made everything else I’d seen, or heard, or felt, just as real.

The second night, Mom once more stood outside my bedroom door and gently tapped. This time, I talked to her. She was concerned about some family stuff, and I reassured her. She wanted to let me know she was okay, and still around. I told her I was grateful she came back this night, after I was so afraid the night before. We had a good talk, comforting, and she faded away. I knew she wouldn’t be back.

And that was okay. Because although her body was gone, her spirit lives on. I no longer have any doubts about that at all.

Tell me, what made you believe? I would love to hear your stories!

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Where Can You Find Ghosts, Aliens and Bigfoot? Paracon!

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On Saturday, Oct. 22, I drove out to Concrete, WA for Forest Moon Paranormal’s first Paracon. Concrete is tucked in the mountains near the Washington-Canada border, at the base of Mt.Baker. Multiple UFO sightings, an active Bigfoot population, and the town of Concrete itself is extremely haunted. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect location for this event. And it is unbelievably beautiful. I mean really, just look at this!

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Paracon = Paranormal Conference, in case you were wondering. It was my first, and I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping to hear some interesting speakers, maybe learn something, and this Paracon really delivered.

Every speaker that I heard did such a great job of presenting their topic, answering questions, and being available to talk with anyone. I got there late, so I missed the Bigfoot presentation, and only caught the very end of the UFO talk, but here’s what I did hear.

Ghostology 101 with S.J. and Russ Wells of F.O.G. Paranormal.

A thorough, basic primer on the how-to’s of paranormal investigation. Their discussion included definitions of common paranormal terms, safety considerations, and some really amazing pictures they’ve taken on investigations. What I really liked, and haven’t seen in many paranormal groups, was the respect and compassion F.O.G. maintains for their human clients AND the spirits they find during investigations.

S.J. and Russ have been investigating the paranormal for well over 30 years. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, and are experiencing paranormal activity you would like investigated, contact S.J. and Russ at F.O.G. Paranormal

Tying the Paranormal Together with Christina George.

Christina George is a paranormal investigator and radio host with Paranormal Connections. Christina’s talk centered on the idea that all paranormal aspects are linked. Historically, this idea has not been popular in the para-community. The ghost investigators didn’t have much to do with the UFO peeps, and neither had anything to do with Bigfoot crowd.

Christina has over 20 years in the paranormal field, and has found that people who experience the paranormal often experience all of it – spirit contact, seeing UFO’s, developing psychic abilities. So if you’re going to investigate, it makes sense to expand and investigate all of it. Otherwise, links and commonalities that are vital to understanding these phenomena can easily be missed.

Experiencers: The Importance of the First Hand Account with Dave Scott of Spaced Out Radio.

Dave shared his personal experiences – with ghosts, aliens and Bigfoot. More than just telling his stories, Dave’s presentation illustrated something that everyone who’s had a brush with the paranormal thinks at one point or another – Am I the only one who’s experienced this?

No. You’re not. You’re not crazy, you’re not alone. And it is critical to get out, find like-minded folks and share what you’ve seen. Many experiencers never speak up because they’re afraid; of losing family or friends, of being ostracized, even of losing their job. Dave pointed out that even in paranormal investigations, the person’s individual experience is sometimes cast aside as unimportant – because it cannot be measured, or otherwise validated. This is inherently wrong. Our experience is crucial; what we see, what we feel, must also be recorded and shared.

He did point out that it’s important we do this in a safe environment. But those places are out there. The three groups I’ve mentioned are all a really good place to start.

I was so impressed with all the speakers. The common thread through all the presentations was one of respect. Respect for people telling their stories. Respect for the beings who trigger the phenomena. Respect for other investigators. There was a definite sense of cooperation and camaraderie between all the participants and speakers. I have been experiencing the paranormal my whole life, but I am a total newbie when it comes to trying to network with others who have. The people at this Paracon were all welcoming, friendly and it was a huge relief to be able to talk and share openly.

I have to give big kudos to Eric Cooper, his wife Issy, and everyone who worked so hard to put together and pull off this event. Eric is the founder of Forest Moon Paranormal, a paranormal crisis team. Forest Moon is one of the few groups I’ve found (the other being F.O.G) that considers the spirit’s well-being when they are helping clients affected by paranormal activity.

What so many people forget is that ghosts are people, usually people who have suffered a terrible, traumatic event in addition to dying. These spirits are often in pain, frightened and confused, which can cause them to lash out in anger. As I nurse, I can attest to the fact that living humans do this – I’ve seen it first hand. Humans in fear and pain, whether they’re alive or dead, deserve to be treated with compassion and respect to help ease that fear and pain. The good people at Forest Moon and F.O.G. never lose sight of that when they respond to a client’s request for help.

This event will be back next year. I know I’m planning on being there.

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TV I Love – Westworld

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Wondering what to watch in this long, cold stretch until Game of Thrones returns with the summer? I have one word for you.

Westworld.

I never saw the original movie with Yul Brynner, so I came to this with no expectations or preconceived notions. I knew the basic premise – robots in an amusement park of the future – but that’s about it.

I have been blown away.

The actors are all fantastic! The entire cast deserves high praise for their portrayals. Of course, Anthony Hopkins always delivers. Ed Harris is chilling, Thandie Newton is delightful, and the list goes on.

The writing is smart, and the story compelling. It raises questions about the fundamental nature of humanity. Sure, if you want, you can just watch the surface action – killers and robots in a mock Wild West. Or you can follow where the writers really want you to go, and examine concepts of consciousness and the meaning of life. Deep, right? I love it!

Westworld will draw you in and hold fast. Three episodes in and already I’m counting down to next Sunday. Watch this one. If you’re hungry for complex story lines, characters you’ll love (and love to hate), and a show that makes you think and feel, you don’t want to miss Westworld.

Check out the trailer. Don’t let the “mature” label scare you. If you’ve watched Game of Thrones you won’t see anything that’ll shock 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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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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Haunted Hiking Trails

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I love hiking! Ok, so I don’t backpack into the back country. Yet anyway. But I am so fortunate that here in the Puget Sound I have access to so many different types of hiking trails to explore.

Being out in Nature forges a connection between you and the Earth that you just can’t get in the city. The energies of the water, the trees and the animals all combine in a way that can only be described as magical. It’s good for you on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

If you’re at all sensitive to these subtle energies, you very quickly realize that you aren’t the only one out there on the trail.

Hauntings don’t only happen in the city. The spirits and energies of the dead can be found anywhere people have been, even if no one lives there now. Haunted forests, trails, ghost towns are found around the world.

I know what you’re thinking. “I want to go to there.”

You can start here, with this article. It says it’s a list of most haunted hikes in every state, but a number of them are abandoned asylums or other facilities that appear to require more like a short walk from the street rather than a hike through some wilderness. But maybe that suits your hiking style – no judgement here! They all have suitably spooky histories attached. In my home state of Washington they list the Iron Goat Trail, site of an avalanche that caused two trains to derail. Now I know my next hiking trip.

So maybe you pick a spot from the list above, or maybe you google “Haunted Hiking Trails in California” (or Rhode Island, or  – you get the idea) and set off on your adventure. Here’s tip Number One.

Don’t build up a great big set of expectations. Don’t count on the fact that you’re going to see or feel all the stuff from the descriptions. Because that’s one of the best ways I know of to not experience the paranormal.

Yes, some people have big encounters – physical, audible, visual – that are stunning. And yes, some places are notorious for consistent encounters. You may very well be that lucky; and if you are I want to hear about it!

Typically though these energies are subtle, and you need to practice tuning in to them. We can all do it to a certain degree. But it does take a conscious effort. The following can help you refine your paranormal senses.

Quiet your mind. Easier said than done, right? Thoughts creep, flit and fly through our minds constantly, and often we are not consciously aware of them. Thoughts resist being stilled and will work doubly hard to get your attention; especially when you first start practicing. Meditation is an excellent teacher of quieting the mind. It’s a skill you want to work on every day, so that when you are out in the field, you already know what to do and how to achieve that quiet mind.

Open your senses. More than what you see, what do you hear? Is there a smell that doesn’t belong – pipe smoke in an otherwise empty cemetery? Perfume in an abandoned cabin? Avoid attaching a judgement or analysis to what you experience such as, “that must be the miner’s pipe” or “the wife must’ve worn that perfume.” Did you feel a touch on your hair? Or feel someone brush past you who isn’t there? Be aware of, notice everything going on around you.

Go beyond your physical senses. Do you feel an emotion that seems to well up from nowhere? Or a thought that pushes at you from outside your skull? Again, avoid judgements and simply experience it. Or – do you get a sense of rushing or prickling inside your skin, like energy moving from one spot to another?

Wait patiently. You must be willing to sit in a quiet space for some period of time. Spirits do not appear on schedule like a show. This isn’t Ghost Theater. Sit. Breathe. Quiet your mind. Open all your senses. What do you experience?

Hiking a haunted trail gives you a twofer. You can connect with the nature spirits AND commune with the departed. Even if the haunted area does not bring forth ghosts, you can still use all of the above to reach out and connect with Nature. Water, Earth and Sky spirits are all around you. Can you sense them and hear their messages?

Is there a downside?

What do you do if the spirits you connect with aren’t entirely friendly? If you’re going to embark on psychic adventures you should probably have some psychic defenses. Because not everything out there in the other dimensions wants to be your friend.

Read about steps you can take to protect yourself next.

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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?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild And Weird, But What Happened To The Mayan Apocalypse?

Oh the best laid plans…you know the end of that quote.  I had all these plans to get so much writing done on my time off!  Blog posts queued up, WIP work, but darn reality anyway, threw me for a huge loop.

On the 19th, I woke up early to blood spattered all over the downstairs.  No kidding.  It wasn’t exactly a bloodbath, but someone had a big problem.  My 13 year-old male kitty, Jasper, had a ruptured abscess.

I know, ick!  He’d given no sign of having any issues, so it was a complete surprise to me.  I had a crisis and a meltdown.  I thought it was something way worse and I was convinced I was going to have to put him to sleep.  I cried a lot, then my brain kicked back into gear and I was able to get Jasper a little more cleaned up and a better idea of what was going on.  By the time Hub got home from work to help me get him to the vet’s, I had stopped crying hysterically calmed down, and figured out that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought.  Note to self:  It’s better to think things through before going straight to “He’s gonna die!”

Kitty came home from the vet’s that night, and I said many grateful prayers while I watched over him.  He was pretty weak the first couple days, and it’s a good thing I did have time off.  He wouldn’t eat or drink on his own.  He would drink water if I gave it to him in sips from a syringe.  He nibbled delicately at the baby food that I presented to him on a spoon, but would turn his head away after a bare half-teaspoonful.  Which meant I was spending an awful lot of time on the floor of my bathroom to keep him hydrated and fed.

Sleeping is what he's best at.
Sleeping is what he’s best at.

Now we’re in the home stretch, and he is well on his way to a full recovery.  Yay!  Stitches come out Wednesday and my two weeks of keeping Jasper isolated from the rest of the animals can finally end.  His brother, Sage stands outside and paws at the door, missing his wrassling buddy.  Sister Magic, on the other hand, has appropriated Jasper’s favorite sleeping spot in his absence.  It will be good to finally be able to get things back to quasi-normal.

Then, it was the holidays.  Meh.  I just was not that into them this year, the commercialism seemed overdone and tacky.  I wasn’t even sure I would put up a tree, I was in such a bah humbug mood.  But Jasper on the mend seemed like the best present I could ask for, and I began to feel a bit more celebratory.  So when Hub put up the tree on the 20th, I put up the ornaments.

I did end up decorating the tree once Hub put it up.
I did end up decorating the tree once Hub put it up.  Can you find Han Solo and Gene Simmons?

Then, there was visiting with the grandkids.  Let’s just say, I never knew how much fun it was to run and scream and race through the house wielding an inflatable sword while chasing down a three year-old.  It got better when youngest grandson would abruptly slide to a halt and reverse course to dash after me, screaming just as loud.  I let him catch me and beat me up with his own inflatable weapon… a mallet with who on it?  Thor of course!  Joy!  I haven’t had so much fun since I was a kid!  Writing anything was a distant second to running and playing with small children I haven’t seen in months.

But what about that Mayan Apocalypse?  Big Nothing? Or…?

Oh Mayan Apocalypse, you were hyped and feared, but where were you?  No asteroid slammed into the Earth, no massive pole shift rearranged the continents and, to my utter disappointment, no aliens appeared in the skies above.  Worst of all, NO zombies!  So what was it all about?

It doesn’t matter what everyone else said.  In short, the Mayans said this was the end of one age and the start of another.  Sure other ages had ended in cataclysms, but this one was different.  This one was about a spiritual change.  You can read about it yourself, in this interview with a Mayan Elder.

There were lots and lots of expectations and predictions about this date.  What was I expecting to happen though?  Nothing so Earth-shattering.  But I wanted to observe the solstice and the galactic alignment as a sacred day, so I took the 21st off.  (And I wanted to be home, just in case there were zombies!)

The winter solstice is a time of rebirth, renewal and sparking the sacred fire of creativity, and I treated it as such.  I did a little something that day of everything I want to achieve in the coming year; writing, gardening, eating better and exercising, taking better care of myself and opening myself to greater spiritual growth.

It worked.  I felt the shift within, and I felt my meditations, my awareness step up to a new level.  I felt that influx of energy from the universe and knew that everything I wanted was within my reach.  More, I realized that the only one holding me back was…me.

I’m not saying I’m suddenly this perfectly aligned, spiritual being.  Ha!  The one thing about this date that got left out of all the hype:  December 21st marked the shift, the end of one age and the start of the next.  It was never about instant enlightenment or instant change, but about one cycle ending and another one beginning.  ‘Beginning’ being the operative word in that sentence.  We are at the very start of something wonderful, but all change comes with a measure of chaos and upheaval.  This next cycle is about raising our consciousness, about tapping into all those wonderful abilities that are latent or sporadic and bringing them fully to fruition.   We have a very long way to go, but I feel confident we can all get there.

I found this meme making the rounds on Facebook:

Apocalypse

I take great joy and hope from watching old, outdated systems of thought and behavior die away to be replaced gradually with ones involving more humane treatment of our ecosystems and ourselves, greater awareness of Spirit, and greater realization of just how powerful we really are.

How did it go for you?