crazy love: gifts from a dead husband

At lunch with friends in Scottsdale last week, I shared something I’d not revealed to anyone else: I took off my wedding rings in early January. Mike died almost 6 1/2 years ago. I don’t have any interest in trying to re-create the magic we had with anyone else and I’ve worn my rings since the day after his funeral thanks to a leering man I encountered in one of my grief-induced book store runs.

But I’ve been aware of those rings for months now in a way I had not been in the previous years, and so I took them off. Then I felt bad and put them on. One of them spins around on my finger and I’m always hitting things with the lump on the palm of my hand. I took them off again. I heard his voice: “We are forever, baby, rings or not.” So I took them off yet again.

It crossed my mind this might be time for a tattoo. Maybe one in white, so subtle: the initials JMC, and on the other side of my ring finger, always. Because he and I are for always and whatever way our shiny little aspects of the Whole show up together in human life — whether husband and wife, mother and daughter, sister and brother, friend and friend — our souls are connected always by big Love. We are one soul (hint: we all are).

I ultimately discarded the idea of a tattoo though I am certain Mike would have loved it. He’d tattooed a colorful parrot in a sunset on the left side of his chest after we bought our Mexico house. It was a celebration and also a cover-up for a post-divorce crying rose inked by a one-legged biker named Lefty.

And then late one night I saw something that caught my eye. It was actually called a “lovebirds” ring. What? Mike and I laughingly called ourselves lovebirds. We had a history of comparing ourselves to mourning doves. For years a pair of doves nested on the window ledge of our back room. Their solicitousness with one another was so sweet to watch. They fed each other, built their nest as a team, shared care of the hatchlings. They mate for life. If we’d ever envisioned spirit birds for our relationship, it would have been those doves.

So there it was at midnight, a silver ring with etched birds. It was perfect, with a back large enough for an inscription. I felt led to that ring and it jumped out at me, so as I was sharing this ring-related off-on-off-should-I-shouldn’t-I dilemma with my friends, talking about the complexity of the decision to take off my rings, there was Mike with a musical message.

I had just finished telling the story — literally last word, just closed my mouth — when the music at Pita Jungle switched to “Crazy Love.” It was one of our very special songs. Van Morrison’s version was a favorite. Lisa said, “do you hear that?” And I could suddenly hear it with a clarity which had been missing in the previous hour’s background noise. That’s how they work in spirit, drawing our attention to the messages they send.

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles

And the heavens open every time she smiles

And when I come to her that’s where I belong

Of course. It was perfect. Just the confirmation I needed that rings/no rings, we are inseparable.

As I sat in my car before leaving the restaurant, I wanted to hear that song again, so I found it on Spotify, listened closely to the words, and remembered my sweet husband. It was a strong connection with him, heart to heart.

And so what next? On the heels of Crazy Love, just to be sure I was paying attention, and because Mike always made me laugh, a hilarious John Prine song called “In Spite of Ourselves.“ Though we were John Prine maniacs, Mike and I, I’d not heard this song in two decades. There’s no John Prine on my Spotify list.

As is the case with spirit, the words could not have been more perfect.

In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow

Against all odds, honey, we’re the big door-prize

There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes…

Our loved ones are constantly trying to get through to us, to let us know that we are not alone in a life which often seems long and sometimes lonely. There are messages all around us, messages out of the Crazy Love that makes separation impossible.

They are, truly, still right here. We can’t always feel their presence while we’re wearing these human suits, but we can be on the alert for and welcome the messages that they send. In Spite of Ourselves — and the obtuseness that’s inherent in wearing a human suit — they’ll continue to send gifts to us like breadcrumbs dropped in a forest; little markers leading us back to them, back to our true Home.

I know my baby was delighted for me that afternoon. I imagine he made that lovebirds ring jump out at me. I know he maneuvered things so I’d hear those two songs which had such meaning. And just to be sure I didn’t miss it, a few minutes after leaving the parking lot, Crazy Love played again on a random playlist not my own, by an artist I never listen to. Well done, Michael.

What I’ve received from Mike so often in the last year or two has been a sense of delight, his joy in my getting better. I can’t forget his laughter last April as I scattered his ashes on a beach in Mexico. “This is great honey, but you know that’s not me.” All of our people rejoice when we begin to recover because they know the truth: “In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow.”

Mike-O, my sweetest heart. Thank you.

mediumship: why I believe

Let me tell you a story. Listen with the openness we had as children, when we all willingly believed in what is mysterious and magical, for this really is a tale of magic and the transformation that comes with knowing it is real.

Today is the 49th anniversary of the day my mother vanished forever. I wrote about my mother’s disappearance at an old blog called Big Ass Belle. The details of the story aren’t that important. Essentially, she vanished on a cold Sunday morning, a few days before Christmas of 1969. It was a singular event in my life and in the lives of my family members. There is tragedy and heartbreak in losing one so loved to death. And it is a different kind of tragedy, an endless heartbreak, for someone to go missing for 49 years.

There was before, and there is after. In years after, leading up to the subject of this post, we were never able to really let go, to grieve and move on, and we marked the transitions of life and the passage of our ordinary days always wondering. What happened? Where could she have gone?

Often, I would look at my father when he was still living and think “it’s not possible she could still be alive.” He left us at Christmas six years ago, 95 years old, and even in his state of dementia, he would still touch my arm and look at me intently. “What do you think happened to Audrey. Do you think she’s still alive?”

She would be so old, and surely in ill health, alone and lonely, and troubled by the same demons that drove her out the door that frigid December morning. But if not alive, then where could she be? Where is her body? Wouldn’t her secrets be finally revealed in death? For 20 years, I’ve fought to keep her on my state’s missing persons list, the oldest case in Oklahoma, but nothing has come of it. Nothing.

In 2010, my very smart, rational, science-minded sister, then 66 years old, happened into a small spiritualist encampment in Florida called Cassadaga. There she encountered mediums and psychics, for it’s a small village devoted to the mysterious arts and whether you are believer or simply a sightseer, they are there, a flock of working spiritualists, and they are quite busy.

Wandering through the village, a skeptical Karen encountered a medium standing on the front porch of her cottage. “I think you’re supposed to come in,” she said. And so my adventurous oldest sister entered the medium’s lair, was seated, and before she could even speak, the woman drew back, looking alarmed, and exclaimed, “oh, oh, there is someone rushing at me, she is pushing everyone aside.”

Everyone. Yes. I know the images that will evince for the skeptics among us, the very idea that we are surrounded by the spirits of those long gone, that they can be invoked simply by a willingness to believe they are there. And yet it is possible, I now know this. With certainty. It is possible even when we cannot set aside the flood of disbelief which automatically wells when someone says these things aloud. As with Karen, we have only to show up, skepticism in tow. Our people in spirit will do the rest.

But even if we can’t bring ourselves to a state of belief which is, after all, not much more than a suspicion, it changes nothing. It happened. Someone in spirit was so eager to communicate with my sister that she rushed that medium. Disbelief and skepticism don’t change the fact of it. Actually, I should say that disbelief and skepticism don’t change the facts which were subsequently revealed by that spirit, who turned out to be our long lost mother. She gave us answers to questions we’ve had since that ghastly day in 1969.

What happened to Audrey? Why did she leave us? How could she have stayed away, never to have reached out, not once? And most importantly, we at long last knew she was no longer alive — in human form — which is a comfort when the loss of someone is so unfinished.

Like my sister, I am also reasonably smart, and science-minded, but also artsy and romantic, so my interpretation of events may be suspect. I want to believe, I admit it. I love the idea of the unknown becoming known and I inhabit my own imagination as if it’s another, very real, world. But Karen is not that way. She’s rational, down to earth, one who requires proof.

That one, the utterly rational sister, conversed with our mother, of that I’ve no doubt. There were dozens of proofs, literally dozens. A complete stranger in a part of the country where none of us have lived before knew details of my mother’s pre-internet disappearance she couldn’t possibly have discovered. Karen’s appearance before the medium was not preceded by an appointment, or signing in, or any of the myriad ways a bit of information can be given and research obtained. The trip to Cassadaga was done on a whim.

Karen’s appearance was unheralded and the medium a stranger. At the time, it seemed to me impossible that one can speak to the dead, but it happened and it’s real. The medium revealed everything: where she lived when she left, and why she vanished, what was happening to her at the time, where she went and with whom, and most importantly, that she had died in 1993.

I know the skeptics out there are scoffing. The mere fact of our being human carries with it a disbelief in things unseen because it’s more comfortable that way, to believe only in truth we can verify and experience with our five senses.

But that it was my mother, I know without a doubt. I know it as solidly as I know that my eyes are brown and my once red hair has gone silver, that I am living and breathing in Tulsa on a sunny, cold afternoon in December. I am equally certain that most reading this will still not believe, though maybe the truest part of you may whisper before sleep tonight, “what if?”

What does it mean to really know that our loved ones don’t die? That they continue long after their human suits have disappeared? Prior to this encounter of my sister’s, I was terrified of mediums. My fear of death ~ and hell ~ was so extreme, I couldn’t even consider a reading. What if the medium said I was going to die? But this was astounding news from my mother was convincing and it had come through a medium.

I rushed right out and booked an appointment with the same one. And then I sat on it, giving in to fear again, for over a year. When I finally marshaled my courage to sit for the reading, it was a truly healing experience and the first of what would become many, because Mike died six months after and daddy three months after that. Grief once again felt ruinous, but this time I confirmed very quickly that my sweethearts were not dead.

In the Cassadaga reading, my mother needed to know if we could forgive her for walking out in 1969, if we could let go of our pain and anger and years and years of wondering, of not knowing, of never being able to grieve for her. She asked for our forgiveness and we gave it.

In subsequent readings with the amazing mediums, Nina Cree and Sandy Soulsister, I’ve had life-changing, astonishing conversations with my mother. I recognize now that this initial loss, my mother’s disappearance, was the foundation of the life I have today. That agonizing event was the sand in the oyster of my life (her words) and while I attracted a lot more sand and grit on my own for a period of years, that event was the beginning invitation to change in the most divine ways. The sand, the grit, has been turned into a pearl of the greatest beauty.

On this day 49 years ago, my mother vanished. Nineteen years ago today, my brother-in-law died by suicide. It’s also the winter solstice, which I have celebrated annually since 1993, a ritual which put to rest years of winter sadness. It’s also the birthday of a dear friend, Valerie, another accomplished medium and spirit artist, and the day my sweet niece Kylie was born.

Life just goes on. It evolves. We get sand and we make pearls. Or not. It’s a choice and I can attest to the fact that it helps to have the input of our loved ones in spirit, to recognize that there really is more to this life than what we see. That’s such a lonely state of being, thinking this is all there is. Knowing there’s more is delicious.

I am grateful, but really, something beyond that. There has to be another word. A devastating, heartbreaking event in 1969 led to some really, really ruinous years after, and ultimately to this life of peace, joy, love, and KNOWing. No fear of death anymore. No fear of anything. There is a sense of certainty about the universe, this life, and what I now know comes after and that is very, very precious. My mother is well. I hope you are too.

audrey

the experience of sharing a death

ghost

I’ve just listened to an excellent podcast, an interview with William Peters, founder of The Shared Crossing Project.  

I’ve long wanted to share a death with someone, so will be taking End of Life Doula Training in San Diego next year. I missed sharing the crossing with my friend, Brenda, in May, and I wasn’t home in time for Grace, who died two weeks after Brenda.

What really struck me were William’s words about seeing our loved ones’ souls leave. I got one of those full body waves of chills, what we call “truth shivers.” William said, “someone might say, ‘I saw my father’s soul leave his body.'” And I have said that, using those very words, in the six years since my father died. Daddy quit breathing and then his face firmed up and reformed in such a way that he looked as if he were 40 again. There was an instant of seeing him as he was, as his ageless soul departed his body, and then it was gone, leaving the softness of a being no longer animated by spirit.

It was the most remarkable experience, a gift, really. If we could all participate in this kind of thing, it would go a long way toward eliminating the fear of death that so many of us carry.

Trust: something real departs when the body ceases to breath, and it continues. Sharing this today because I think it’s really, really (REALLY!!) important to talk about death in order to move past fear. John Lennon said “death is like getting out of one car and into another.” And we’ve done it hundreds, thousands of times before. Fear less in this life. All is well.

look! an apport! (wait, what’s an apport?)

AAA magic

If and when we open our eyes to the fact that the world we see around us is not all there is, magical things begin to happen. In the overall scheme of the universe, they may not actually be magical. They don’t really just begin when we open our eyes. It is more likely that we become newly aware of what’s been going on all along. But to our human eyes, accustomed only to the material world we experience with our five senses, it seems that magic is definitely afoot.

My first experience with the thing called an “apport” ~ that is something apparently  materializing out of thin air, an event which qualifies as physical mediumship ~ was in the kitchen of the house I’d shared with my husband for 20 years before he died.

Mike and I had a beautiful little house on a beach in Mexico where we planned to live out our lives together. It wasn’t a sprawling villa. Just a small cottage in a tiny fishing village on the northern coast of Yucatan. We loved it. It was our dream. But when he came home from Mexico after a year of working there, he was very ill and subsequent medical treatments gone wrong ensured that we’d never go back together and our dream was terminal.

Fast forward a year and a half to his death on September 23, 2012. By the time Mike ceased to breathe, we’d owned that house for three years. We had a car parked in the garage which was now registered to a dead man. Mexico’s bureaucracy is complex, and my minimal skill with Spanish made it even more so.

The house sold quickly, in a matter of days, the February after his death. Closing was set for May when I’d transfer our dream to a Norwegian ballet dancer who thought it might be his dream going forward. In order to empty the house, I planned to go down a month in advance and I was going to have to deal with the sticky wicket created by a car three years overdue for a renewal of papers and worse, registered to Mike. Who was dead. That created a bit of excitement among the Yucatecan bureaucrats, an excitement which eventually spread to and infected the usually blasé civil servants in Mexico City. Even those in government were puzzled as to how to proceed.

Working with an agency in Merida, Yucatan, I gathered documents to support the fact that the car belonged to me by default, that I would be shipping it out of the country ASAP, not cruising off to Mexico City or Puebla, appealing as that sounded. I paid in advance all of the fees necessary, provided every bit of documentation, asking three times if I needed the original title. Each time I was told no, that a copy would do.

Two days before my departure, the agency called to say that the original title was, in fact, necessary to extract the car. I had already searched the entire house repeatedly, plus my office at the warehouse which housed my business, and every box of papers stacked on a shelf in the garage. I gave particular attention to stashes of mail. I scrutinized the contents of an antique mail rack in the kitchen at least ten times. I took every single scrap of paper out of it and thumbed through each one. Over and over.

I was out of the house when I received the call and it shook me. There was no way to make this happen. The replacement of an original title from the state takes a minimum of two weeks. Getting the paperwork straightened out to ship the car back to the states was estimated to take three weeks. It was too much. The timing was impossible. I turned around and headed home in a state of panic, crying, wishing for Mike for the millionth time since he left me. Once in the house, I let the dogs out, tried and failed to get a deep breath, then headed through the kitchen to the hallway leading to the office.

As I passed through that door to the hall, my eyes were drawn to a paper hanging from the mail rack I’d searched ten times before. It was barely stuck in the rack and, I swear, it was sort of wafting in the breeze from the open back door. The paper had the look of an official document but it was upside down. I remember thinking, “impossible! I’ve been through this stuff too many times!” But yes indeed. I pulled that waving document from the mail rack and it was the original title to the Nissan.

Let me say again: I had been through this three-level mail rack holding no more than ten documents and our passports. It wasn’t as if it had been buried in a banker’s box full of papers. It was simply there where it had not been. It was an apport, and one which saved my sanity at the time.

I instantly started crying ~ happy tears this time ~ and thanking my husband. I knew he’d sensed my distress and made this happen. After the stone dead antique clock he set to ticking and chiming shortly after his death, this was probably the most dramatic physical evidence I’d received of his ongoing involvement in my life. To that point. Because there was more to come, as there always is when we open our hearts and minds to the fact that life goes on.

My second apport came on a trip to Morocco funded by the sale of that little Mexico house. I received pennies all along the way, one of several signs I get from Mike regularly. I mean pennies in strange places, like entirely empty airport bins which come out of security scanning with my shoes AND a shiny piece of copper that wasn’t there going in. That kind of strange place.

But the apport came in a riad in the middle of the spice market in Marrakech. Our lovely room at the Riad Azoulay was entirely enclosed and we were on the second of three floors in the small hotel. Though the courtyard was open to the sky, our room was not. After a leisurely lunch in a little cafe, my friend and I returned to our room for a nap. I decided to take a shower and suddenly, as I was drying off, *plink.* Something hit my toe. It was a tiny copper coin. Out of nowhere. In an enclosed room. An apport.

The third occurred in Florida in December of 2016. Having traveled there for a month for my friend, Brenda, to take a workshop with medium Mavis Pittilla, she and I were just floating around the state, having a ball, seeing our friends, experiencing life in the loveliest way. After the Mavis workshop, a few of us had gathered in Sumter Landing in the Villages before saying goodbye. I had my little deaf dog, Boo, with me, and people were petting her and having fun with my baby. Out of nowhere, a white feather floated down and landed practically on Boo’s back. I’m pretty convinced she’s an angel, so it was no surprise to me and that was NOT the apport. It was just a nice hellooooo from spirit.

Feathers haven’t really been one of my signs, but two days later, I had dropped Brenda somewhere and I took Boo to the dog park. I locked up the car, walked her to the park, spent an hour there, then walked back. I opened my closed-tight windows-up car to find a white feather in the middle of the seat of my Honda. THAT was an apport. Something that was not there appearing out of thin air. No other explanation.

And finally, in May of 2017, as I was leaving Tulsa to go to Phoenix for Brenda’s surgery, a set of critically important keys was lost. I was showing my Tulsa house for sale at the time and the keys were nowhere. I had a small bedside table with a single drawer and I occasionally dropped them in there, but I searched that drawer again and again. The keys were not there. They weren’t anywhere. Having an obsessive mind, I couldn’t let it go. Where were those keys? What was I going to do without them?

That thought was plaguing me as I landed at the Tulsa airport. I dropped my bags upon entering the house and immediately went to that bedside table. And *poof* there they were. What a relief. Not only did that set have important house keys on it, but a treasured gift from a friend (“LOVE”) and a very special antique key which had been proven to open every single locked old piece of furniture we encountered at one auction after another when I was in business. Auctioneers across Oklahoma and Arkansas would often stop the proceedings and ask Mike to open this cabinet or that one. It was hilarious, and that tiny key, having lived in my husband’s pocket for ten years, was something I cherished.

How do these things happen? When we understand that despite all appearances, nothing we see before us is solid, it makes seems a little more possible. We all learned this for the first time in third grade science. The solid desk from which I’m writing is in actuality a massive number of atoms in motion. Yes, it appears solid, but no, it is not.

Going further into science, and taking a look at the work of quantum physicists, it seems that not only is nothing solid, it’s possible that nothing even exists until we give it attention. Physicists have proposed that the universe, the all that is, is nothing more than a giant hologram, and it is only when we look that we brings things into being. The classic example is buying the hot pink car because you’ve never seen one, and on the way home from the dealership there are dozens. Attention. Intention. Focus. These may be what make the universe what it is.

So what are we if not solid? We are light. We are energy. We are pure, glistening, vibrating love temporarily clothed in people suits. Anything is possible from that field. Anything. And so we create, and our loved ones in spirit who are not actually separate and distinct, create for us. There is magic in this world aplenty, and one of the most magical things is to come to really truly know that there’s only one of us here. Don’t feel lonesome in that. It is everything. It is love. It is heaven, our home.

So what about you? Have you had something entirely impossible actually happen? Pennies out of thin air? Feathers where none could exist? I’d love to hear your story about it all. Sharing the magic increases it exponentially. Tell, please.

spirit comes in feathers

A few nights ago, I got a text message from Brad, my friend Brenda Baker’s son. If you don’t know her or if you’ve not read of her here before, Brenda is my dear friend who died of bile duct cancer on May 9 of this year. She’s been very much present ever since, so when Brad said, “I have an interesting bird story if you have time,” how could I refuse? I called him up.

The interesting story he wanted to share was really pretty crazy, yet his voice sounded light and happy. Brad was sitting in the office in the front of his house ~ which used to be Brenda’s house ~ the night of Thanksgiving. It was nearing midnight and he was doing something online with lights off and the blinds closed. Suddenly, *POW!* something hit the window, hard, just a foot or two away from where Brad was sitting. It was startling, to put it mildly. The house sits at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Having spent months and months in the front bedroom of that house in the last year of Brenda’s illness, I can attest to the fact that after 7 or 8 pm, 50th Drive is a ghost town

Being a young man and smart, Brad thought it best to investigate, but first he picked up a pistol just in case. What, after all, would be banging on the window on a quiet street at midnight? Brad opened the front door a few inches, peeked out, and was instantly overwhelmed by the onslaught of heavy feathered body and wildly flapping wings. A “really big” bird hurtled through the few inches of opening and shot into the house.

A bird in the house is a long-time nightmare of mine and Brad was just as unenthused as I’d have been. He was stunned to see the big thing flying erratically around the great room, finally coming to rest on the far wall, where it clung to the smooth stucco before slipping down behind the television. Brad couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing, so he rushed to look and, yes indeed, there were dark little bird eyes shining up at him in the dim light.

Though I don’t want one in the house, I am an avid bird person and I had to know what kind of avian critter would exhibit such odd behavior. There are mourning doves by the hundreds in Brenda’s neighborhood but they rarely fly at night. The two most common nightflying birds, owls and bats, are easy to identify and Brad knew it wasn’t one of those. As I quizzed him about the bird’s appearance, he just repeated, “it was big, really big.”

And so commenced the extraction, with Brad thinking all the while, “Mom, really? Did you do this??” As a show of “I’m here!” it’s funny, extraordinary, and it fits with two other instances in which Brenda has sent somewhat irritating or alarming messages to her son. In each of those cases she later confirmed to our friends who are mediums that she did indeed make the lights dim in the kitchen (no, son, you don’t need an electrical overhaul. I just dropped in to say hi!) and sure enough popped the bathroom lightbulb off its base as cleanly as if it had been cut (ta-dah!).

Why would someone in spirit send a sign like this? It’s not every day a big bird knocks on the window, then rushes the front door the instant it’s opened. In Brad’s case, I wondered if it took that to get his attention. He wants to believe his mom’s with him. He feels her at times. But the random penny or butterfly or rainbow isn’t enough for him. Enter the big personality of Brenda on her cherished son’s first Thanksgiving without her, and the dramatic, wildly flapping evidence of “I am really here, son!” If she was trying to get his attention, it worked.

As soon as I heard this story, I recalled the experiences of two gifted mediums, Suzanne Giesemann and Susanne Wilson, both of whom work with Dr. Gary Schwartz, a prominent afterlife researcher at the University of Arizona. On two separate days, before they knew one another, both of these tested, highly evidential mediums received messages describing how spirit is able to use creatures in the natural world to get our attention.

No, that’s not your mother sprouting feathers and beak, hurling herself at the window and flapping through the front door. But it is your mother (your child, husband, sibling, beloved friend, all of our loved ones in spirit) using the creature to connect with you. The spirits told each of the Sus/zannes, on two separate days, we control the birds with their permission. It’s kind of like remote control. And the birds think it’s fun! (You can read more of that here, in Susanne Wilson’s book, Soul Smart, page 83.)

This blending of consciousness sounds like madness if we’re thinking that, as humans, we’re a cut above the average feathered creature. But the truth is, we are the creature and the creature is us. I am you, you are me, we are all The Divine, in its many incarnations, and knowing that ~ really knowing it, gut-and-heart level ~ is to know with certainty that there is no death, no separation, and thus no permanent loss of love.

How does it work for Brenda to take over a bird and send a message to Brad? The quantum physicists would suggest it’s a matter of intention. Brad’s grieving, Brenda knows it, and the wish to comfort him manifests in feathers and raps sharply at the window. Message delivered and, in this case, received.

There’s one mind, one energy of love in the entirety of what we think of as the universe and beyond. It is infinite, everywhere present in all things, always. Separation is not possible except in our humanness. It’s why our minds can be trained to get out of the way so the consciousness of a living being can connect with the consciousness of one we think of as dead. Mediumship is simply expanding consciousness beyond what we think is real ~ these human suits we wear, our busy little brains ~ and joining with all that is.

So oneness, consciousness, whatever. It sounds nice in theory, but can we trust it? Since Brenda departed in May, her friends and loved ones have been getting signs from her and having those messages regularly confirmed by Brenda with evidence that she was behind them. Though I was sure that this crazy bird was sent by my friend, I wanted certainty, so I texted Suzanne. She’s the most skilled medium I know and she connects with Brenda regularly. “When you get a chance, Brad had a really bizarre encounter with a bird. I think it was Brenda but maybe you could ask? I’ll tell you the details after.”

That wasn’t the time for a confirmation. Nothing came through from Brenda. I told Brad to trust his gut and I was, for once, trusting mine too. That was my message in this, when you know, you know. I knew without doubt it was her. And then today, an email from Suzanne. Brenda turned up to affirm that she did indeed send that bird.

Suzanne said, “She had me laughing out loud as she took credit for the bird and showed me the remote control.  She acted silly and apologized for just getting the hang of it … She showed me it was as if her guidance of the remote control had gone a little crazy and the poor bird ended up behind the television.  All the while Brenda is loving that it’s working, but a bit freaked out that the bird has crash-landed behind the TV.”

This made me laugh out loud, because Brenda and I used to talk about the birds and the concept of directing them by remote. We’d mimic holding remote controls in our hands, driving birds into walls, windows, cars. Oops! It was a source of much hilarity in the year before she became ill. That she was having trouble getting the hang of it also echoes a statement she made a day or two after she quit breathing. Though a student of mediumship in life, she found communicating from the other side a bit of a strain. “It’s as hard to learn communication here as mediumship was over there.” Clearly she’s mastered it now, but this new thing of driving birds? She hasn’t exactly nailed it. Not so far.

And yet the love that flew through that door was felt. I heard a tone in Brad’s voice that I’ve not heard since before Brenda got sick. It makes me weepy to think about it now. There is such a gift in knowing our loved ones continue. It doesn’t entirely remove the pain of loss, but it helps. It’s a promise. “I’m still right here, still with you.” That sound ~ of hope, of coming to believe that she’s not truly gone ~ I’ll hear that tone in his voice forever. It resonates deep in my soul. It’s the sound of love and trust, of a broken heart beginning to mend.

We are so very deeply loved. That will sound like a cliche until we actually get it, way down deep. And usually, when that happens, the very thought makes the heart swell and the eyes get teary. The love that is Everything revels in the wonder and beauty of all of us. We are constructed of that Love and we ~  you, me, all of us, even that fat flapping bird ~ are the direct result of Love expressing itself with so much joy it can’t be contained. It’s a wonderful, mysterious, magical world. Trust that. Let it settle in. I hope your heart expands. I hope your eyes leak.

excitations of love

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What if the universe is a hologram? What if everything that now exists or ever did can be called into presence given sufficient attention? According to the physicists, attention affects our reality. We’ve all experienced this to one degree or another. Buy a hot pink car because you’ve never seen one and suddenly they’re everywhere. That’s one small example.

But was given more meaningful example of this magic two years ago when I realized I didn’t know my maternal grandmother’s last name. I googled, then fell down one of those internet rabbit holes which are the curse of the curious. And suddenly there was a great grandfather I’d never heard of.

Hello grandpa Charles! It was quite a surprise to see a photo of this man standing next to my grandfather, a young face I recognized right away. Two days later I had a reading with the wonderful spiritual artist and medium, Valerie Kwietniak. In that reading, Valerie felt the presence of a male and with further discussion, it became clear that it was my great grandfather.

Let me say again: I knew nothing of him, yet there he was, showing up in a reading. Was he called into being by my attention? It seemed very strange.

About a year later, my friend Sandy Soulsister, another gifted medium, offered to do a Zoom reading for me to see if we could make contact with some of the more than two dozen children I’d cared for who’d been killed. In particular, two teenage boys, Rico and Adrian, had never left my heart or my thoughts though they’d been gone since their violent deaths in the early ’90s.

The reading was a great success. Both of my boys came forward with evidence, messages, and so much love. And then, nearing the end of our time together, there was an excitation — a swirl of energy — and suddenly bubbles and orbs and prisms and sparkles were everywhere. Sandy said, “Lynette! Are you blowing bubbles?” Shocked, I looked more closely at the screen and I could see them too.

What looked like bubbles were orbs which zoomed across the screen and ascended en masse in a curtain. Then there were prisms of light and tiny sparkles darting out of the bookcase behind my chair. At one point, my eyes were drawn to the space just past my screen — in my real life room — where one twisting prism flashed before me and was gone.

Were these excitations of the pure love that we are? The energy in that two minute light show felt like it. Were all of those little lights conjured up by the children I had cared for after their deaths and before, then sent to express love or possibly gratitude? That astonishing reading created as many questions as any I’ve ever had, but one thing was certain: the bonds of compassion and love and caring that connected me to those dead children years ago still exist.

My friend Brenda has said, “I am Brenda for you because that’s how you recognize me. But that’s not who I am.” When called upon by her many friends, the Awareness picks up that old suit of Brenda clothes (which carries with it the story of her life), shakes it out, steps inside, and voilà! Brenda is present once again for those who know and love her. She’ll be that for as long as we need her to be.

In fact, Brenda is and always will be present in her true form. There is only One of us in this universe, in all of existence. We are all aspects of that magnificence. All of us. As teacher and evidential medium Suzanne Giesemann has recently and beautifully described it, we are the effervescent bubbles of an irrepressible love. Pure joy, an exquisite love so divine it can’t be contained, and thus it creates, and in the creation — that excitation — we come into being.

She describes us as shiny little bubbles reflecting to those around us a story: dancing, playing, experiencing one another and ourselves in all of the aspects of our humanness. We’re living right now what we think of as real life, and while it is very, very real in this instant, in the end it appears to be little more than a lucid dream shared by those of us who still breathe. My Brenda’s first words: “I just woke up! They really are people suits.”

Someone else I know (a trustworthy, highly ethical medium) who’s channeled Jesus was told by that presence, “you know me as the Nazarene so that is how I come to you. But that is not who I am now.” What? How could Jesus not be Jesus anymore???

But truly, how could any of our loved ones disappear? It’s a constant fear of grieving people. What if they won’t come to me, my dear ones? What if they’re gone forever?
Many grief stricken people have found comfort in the book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, in which Annie Kagan describes how she learned to connect with her bad boy brother in marathon meditation sessions. But quite a number of those same folk are driven to throw it across the room when, as the story unfolds, Billy’s presence begins fading as he reunites with Source. (Spoiler alert: he returns, rising out of the holographic ether. It’s a great book.)

I read it that way too the first time. It was as if Billy were being wiped out, erased. In reading those words, I was wrecked to think that Mike, my soulmate, the love of my life, could disappear. In fact, in being absorbed by the Universe, Billy was being revealed for what he really is: That, the One, All That Is, Awareness.
You are that. Me too. We all are.

Billy didn’t disappear. He dropped the charade that he was Billy. Yet those we love in spirit will always show up for us in the way that we know them. Eventually, when there’s no one left in this dream who remembers that particular excitation of love, maybe that energetic wrinkle of the universe is ironed out. Maybe it’s a kind of cosmic housekeeping. Imagine if all of the thought-bubble-energies of every living thing which had ever existed were still actively vibrating? It could get awfully busy and cluttered.

And yet, as evidenced by my great grandfather, and by those nearly two dozen dead children called forth by Sandy, by Brenda’s wisdom and the words of the Nazarene, and by Annie Kagan’s brother, Billy Fingers, once the thought or the request is sent out into the ether, the energy of it calls upon the One to don that old suit of clothes, that story, and make an appearance. Thus there’s Brenda. There’s Mike. The great grandfather I’d never even heard of. There are all of the stories we know in this time and place of our lives present once again.

There’s such comfort in this certainty: they will always be available when the stories of us need the stories of them to keep moving forward, to heal from grief, to feel the love again of those we’ve lost.

The universe is a hologram. It’s all there, ready and waiting for a spark of energy — a thought — to create; for some aspect of the One to shine forth. We’ll all go Home one day, dropping our costumes, waking up from the dream, and then we’ll finally see our Self as the blindingly beautiful One that we are.

You are blindingly beautiful right now. This instant. I see you. I hope you see you too.

With love, Lynette

*And here’s a little magic with this post: I’d started half a dozen pieces and nothing seemed right coming on the heels of the grand Emergence2018 conference in Salt Lake City. I have been thinking about this disappearing thing ever since seeing the movie Coco. There is such a lesson in that film but it’s always seemed a little backward: disappearing after we die is a very good thing, not the sad event depicted in Coco. Having coffee with friends Monday afternoon, I looked up to see this in the window. Question answered: write about (never) disappearing. Write that all is always well. Because it is.

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forgiving the unforgivable

Years ago, about seven months after my husband died, I was driving across town on a glorious spring day, top down on my little car. I was thinking of the circumstances of Mike’s illness and death, of the countless instances of extreme neglect and serious errors which led to cardiac arrest, subsequent kidney failure and, ultimately, a resistant, hospital-acquired pneumonia that took his life a month after his sixtieth birthday. I was filled to overflowing with anger and sorrow and guilt. Could I have prevented his death? Did I fail him?

To say that life seemed unfair and unjust is an understatement and I could not get over it. Mike was dead and I was as stuck as I’d ever been in my life, with rage my constant companion. Hatred of the doctors who neglected my husband reached the level of obsession. I couldn’t find a way out of the agony of living in my own skin. I couldn’t control my thoughts and even sleep was a torture, with constant nightmares replaying the horrific night I watched my husband stop breathing, helpless to save him.

As I drove that afternoon, I could feel the warmth of the sunshine and the wind in my hair, seasonal experiences I adore, but they were meaningless. I wanted revenge and punishment for those who’d harmed Mike, and for one particular doctor, the most terrible long-lasting suffering. That this kind of thinking was foreign to me prior to these events increased my distress. I’d become a stranger to myself.

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Seeking distraction, I turned the radio to the local NPR station. The Moth Radio Hour was broadcasting stories of the experiences of ordinary people. A man was speaking about his daughter, about how he and his wife had adopted her as a result of their work in the civil rights movement. As I listened to the words, the story turned tragic. By the time Hector Black’s voice cracked recounting his tale, I was crying so hard I had to pull over. Safely parked, I devoted my full attention to him. I was riveted by the tragedy of his life and then by the aftermath.

And the aftermath, astonishingly, was forgiveness. As he described learning to love the man he felt had destroyed his life forever, I began to experience tingles and then shivers all over my body. As Hector Black described hugging a murderer in prison and extending forgiveness and love, the top of my head opened wide and a dark mistiness swirled out of me. What was it? Suffering? Rage? Unforgiveness? I have no idea, but something real lifted out of my body in a stream, a cloud, and when it was gone, I felt a lightness I’d not experienced in years.

As Hector Black ended his powerful story of forgiveness and love, I realized that all of the hatred which had consumed me was gone. I felt peace for the first time since the devastating night Mike was abandoned in ICU two years before. It was extraordinary. Some things are simply beyond words and this is one of them. I was living in unrelenting emotional pain so intense it was physical, and seventeen minutes later it was gone.

So nice story, right? Lucky me. But why share it when it was purely a gift? Is it possible to create something like this? I know that my transformation that sunny afternoon truly was a gift of grace. I was so deeply mired in a murderous rage (and I mean that literally) and so nonfunctional as a result of PTSD, I was certain that I was irretrievably damaged. I was daily living a looping replay of what happened to Mike in the hospital and I was powerless to stop it. Decent sleep was impossible and during my waking hours, I developed richly detailed fantasies of how I would kill the doctor who ruined our lives. Detailed. The rest of my life was just a haze of rage and weeping and grief. From that disastrous state, I was rescued by a spiritually transformative experience, an STE. But again, so what? I didn’t do anything to make that miracle happen. It’s not replicable for someone else.

A few years after that remarkable experience, I discovered the magic of silence. No music, internet, or television. Only silence, meditation, writing, and BEing for a minimum of 24 hours. It’s never become easy. I still rebel against it at times, but I do it because it changes me and wonders have come from this practice.

In that first summer of silence, I picked up Colin Tipping’s books Radical Forgiveness and Radical Self Forgiveness and, as a result, decided to spend two quiet days working through the process of self forgiveness. I’d been released from the need to forgive others by my STE, but I was left with myself. Radical self forgiveness became my focus.

I’ve always been 1000x harder on myself than on others but we’re all different in our forgiveness needs. And while I’m no stranger to making amends, having worked the 12 steps for over thirty years, there were still bothersome memories that would rise up like smoke, memories of bad behavior, how I had harmed others. And coming fast on the heels of the memories, the old uglies of self judgment, self criticism, and, at times, that most wretched of the self-punishments, self loathing. The word even sounds grotesque and the sound doesn’t even come close to how it feels.

I was 59 years old when I commenced that work. I was ready to end the rehashing of the past, once and for all. I hadn’t a clue how to make that happen, but I longed to be free. My state of being at that point was increasingly aware, filled with love, and coming to know my own divinity. My newly polished little soul was crying out for these splinters of unforgiveness to be gone. And so the book, Radical Self Forgiveness. I spent two days of silence reading it, working it, following every step and recommendation, and finishing with a fire and a release. COMPLETE release. COMPLETE self forgiveness. It was stunning.

Radical forgiveness of self or others is a step by step process of recognizing the Truth about who we are. (And I’ll give you a hint: despite the way this life looks and feels, the separation inherent in living with this human suit, there is no other.) New thought people will have an easier time with Tipping’s books, but anyone can follow the process with an open heart ~ or enough desperation ~ and relief will be the end result.

Why do any of it, this hard work of letting ourselves and others off the hook? For freedom. For joy. For peace and love and true happiness. Because lack of forgiveness leads to judgment, which leads to separation, and that is not how we’re meant to live. It doesn’t feel good, not at the core. Our souls know better.

Every spiritual path stresses the importance of the natural qualities of the soul, the Bible’s “gifts of the spirit,” being one version. Forgiveness is the red carpet to knowing who we really are. Beloved. Cherished. Connected. Never Alone. That’s the true marvel of life, that one, that we are never alone when that’s so often how it feels.

So there are two stories here, one of forgiveness unasked for, a gift of grace, and then there’s a different kind of forgiveness, the result of a major effort and a lot of work, but readily available to all. Both experiences led me to freedom and with that, the deepest, most delicious gratitude. I shared the first for the hope and for Hector, and the second because it can take you there, to peace, to transformation.

I know there are people who sail through life untroubled by their own behavior or that of others, and if that’s you, goddess bless. Carry on. But even if you don’t struggle with forgiveness, maybe you know someone who does. And maybe you can pass it on, that there’s hope. Hector Black’s story is worth listening to just for the beauty of it, the proof that despair can be transmuted to love. But if your eyes ever pop open at 3 AM, the result of a memory which causes you heartache, remember this: forgiveness saves lives and bestows upon the forgiver the gift of a life worth living. It is life-changing and available to all of us, a treasure we can give ourselves.

Here’s Hector on The Moth talking about how it is possible to forgive even the unforgivable and what happens when we do. Love really is the answer. It is. Always.

(And a little magic with this post. On Sunday, I asked my guides what to write about this week and I heard “forgiveness.” Monday a friend sent me a message which said, in part, “Forgiveness is here for you now. Can you partake of it?” I can. I hope you can too.)