My reading with Susanne Wilson a week ago has me wondering about my life lessons. What am I here to learn?  One of the themes that keeps recurring my life is my need for validation. I suspect there is something around that, but I’m still not quite able to put my finger on it.

When I was younger, I was called “the sensitive one” by my family. I need lots of validation, attention, affection. These are things I did not get in my family as that’s just not the kind of family I was born into.  I learned how to cope without the human touch I needed, the “atta boys”, the pats on the back, but the craving never went away.

One of the great things about being a Dad was having two little ones who depended on me and who I knew if I said “I love you.” to them, I always got an immediate and sincere “I love you, too.” right back.  I’m seeing now in a very real sense I was very dependent on those girls.  I was guaranteed at least a huge and a kiss good night every night when they were here.  Ahhhh..  those were good days.  I got my needs met big time.  With Kayla off at college and Shayna passed from the physical realm, there is a majorly big hole in my life right now.

As I write this I realize that I write for multiple reasons. Some of it is catharsis, some of it is to carry on Shayna’s legacy, some of it is to help others.  But, every time I post one of these entries, I wonder “Am I reaching anyone?  Is this doing any good?  Does this even make sense?”  I hit the “Post” button, then I keep checking for feedback, Likes on Facebook or even better, a comment.  When I don’t get any feedback the self doubt comes flooding in.

So, there is something about this I think I’m supposed to learn, but I’m not sure what it is.  There is independence, codependence and interdependence.  None of us is an island. As much as Americans value our “independence”, we are not and cannot be independent beings. It’s not who we were made to be.  Codependence isn’t good either. It’s the other extreme.  We do have to learn to get value from within ourselves, to trust ourselves, to believe in ourselves.  Not all of our validation can come from outside.  Interdependence is the understanding that we are all connected, we are all One, we rely on each other. I get the feeling I’m wobbling between independence and codependence, trying to find that balance that is interdependence.  I’d like to get that lesson right this time around.

When I started to break away from church teachings about 15 years ago, I had no idea of the ride I was in for.  I was told Christianity had “always” taught these things- a literal six day creation, eternal hell for non-believers, one life per person (no reincarnation), etc. etc.  Step outside of those things and you were not following church teaching and Jesus would disavow you.  Wow, the things I have learned since then. I titled my blog “The Beautiful Heresy” because of my belief in universalism and how it is counter to what most Christian churches now teach. That was just the tip of the iceberg.  

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that we are reincarnated. Again, this goes against current church teaching, but before you pick up a rock to stone me or get my cross ready for crucifixion, do a little research. Google “church reincarnation pope” and learn when the church decided reincarnation was not part of orthodox Christianity. Would you be surprised to find out it was over 500 years after Jesus died?

History records that the early Christian church believed in Reincarnation and of the souls journey back to oneness with God. This all changed by Imperial decree some 500 plus years after the death of Christ.

Emperor Justinian in 545 A.D. was able to apply the full power of Rome and his authority to stop the belief in reincarnation. He forced the ruling cardinals to draft a papal decree stating that anyone who believes that souls come from God and return to God will be punished by death. The actual decree stated:“If anyone asserts the fabulous preexistence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema. (The Anathemas against Origen), attached to the decrees of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, A.D. 545, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2d ser., 14: 318).”

And, BTW, if you just read that and thought “Pope…. that has nothing to do with me.  I’m not Catholic. The Catholic church isn’t my church.” Well, your church, the protestant church, didn’t even exist at this time. If you were Christian, you were under the Pope. Your church wouldn’t exist for another 1,000 years.

The afterlife research seems to point overwhelmingly to the fact that most of us live not one or two lives, but many lives.  There are some different theories on just how this is accomplished. Either our entire personality is reincarnated each time returning in different bodies and different times,  or (the one I’m leaning towards), just as each of us is a part of the infinite, we each are an Over Soul or a Whole Self. For each incarnation, a piece of us comes to Earth (or wherever) while the Over Soul remains in the spiritual realm. The Over Soul has the sum of the experiences of each of our lives, while us as individuals return to the Spiritual Realms at the end of our bodily existence.  

Either way, reincarnation makes a lot of sense out of things that don’t make sense otherwise. If you’re a Christian, it’s very likely your parents were Christians.  Is it right that for the one and only true test of what will face you after death is whether or not you were a Christian and some are born into Christian families while most are not?  Why are some born crippled, some born rich, some born poor, etc. etc.?  Doesn’t it make more sense that we are all born in a myriad of circumstances, getting to experience the advantages and disadvantages of each?  It does, but many can’t accept this because their religious dogma has told them it is anathema.  It goes against the very teaching of your church. Well, if you had been born before 545 AD, you would have been right in line with the teachings of the church.  So while I might be crazy and I might be a heretic, I’m not crazy simply because I believe in reincarnation.  Most of the religions of the world have taught it in some form, including the religion I was born into just long before I was born into it.

When Susanne did the psychic medium reading for me a few days ago, to my surprise she mentioned pennies, that Shayna would be sending us pennies. Dimes have been our thing, but I decided to keep my eyes open for pennies.

Today as I am about to leave the house, I feel something in the bottom of my shoe. It’s kind of annoying, but not unbearable. I’m in a hurry, running late, but I have to know what it is. As I’m sitting in the car, I remove my shoe and pull out a piece of paper. It’s a penny wrapper. A few years ago we bought coin wrappers to wrap the coins in a giant Coke bottle we throw spare change into.

How that penny wrapper got into my shoe? Well, who knows? I’m watching you, Shayna.

Day 252- The Middle Path

The Middle Path is a recurring theme in my journey home. When I first heard of it, it immediately appealed to me. The term is based on the life of The Buddha who started life as a rich prince who not only never experienced poverty or sickness personally, his family kept him sheltered so that he never even saw it. Then in his young adulthood, he saw poverty and sickness for the first time, accidentally. He went to the other extreme and decided the way to improve himself was through becoming an ascetic. He left the palace and became a beggar, owning nothing and taking a vow of extreme poverty, denying all earthly pleasures. After a while he realized that wasn’t the way to enlightenment and he decided on the Middle Path, a road of neither hedonistic pleasures or extreme asceticism.

The discovery of the Middle Path has application to my (current) model of life, the meaning of life and the afterlife. I started life as a Christian fundamentalist. I was told that life was a one question test, pass/fail. “Do you believe in Jesus?” Answer that question correctly and you got to go to an eternal life of bliss. Answer incorrectly and you would be tormented forever. One question. One life. One shot to get it right. And it was a binary choice. No in-between. Heaven or Hell awaited us all. This is what they said, but it was a little more complicated than that. The church I grew up in taught asceticism was part of this choice. If you truly had chosen Jesus, your life would reflect it. No drinking, no smoking, no playing cards, no dancing, no movie theaters, no… (I could go on, but you get the picture). If you were truly a disciple of Jesus, life on Earth would be no… fun. It was more about what you did not do than what you did do.

Then, just as I was about to turn 40 and this nonsense nearly drove me insane, I discovered another path. Christian Universalism. Universalism removed one of those binary choices. There is no Hell. Yippee!! We all get a get out of jail free pass. Some Christian Universalists believe Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all and applied to all, as Paul would seem to teach if you really read his writings with fresh eyes. Others believe that God was never angry and Jesus came to show us that. Either way, bliss awaits us all immediately upon our crossing over. I had to answer the inevitable “Is Hitler in heaven?”, the #1 question asked of universalists, in the affirmative. “Yes, even Hitler is in heaven.” Ugh… The good news is life is no longer a pass/fail test with eternal consequences. But, what is the point? If all of us immediately go to heaven upon death, what are we really learning here? What are we doing? What’s it all about, Alfie?

Today, my model has evolved into what I call the Middle Path. I say my model because of course, none of us has the complete picture. Like a scientist, I have a hypothesis, an idea, and I test it with the data. I am no longer content to just take the words of a few men who lived thousands of years ago and whose words were added to, subtracted from and many volumes just plain discarded. I prefer to look at al of the data. What does modern science tell us about life after death- Near Death Experiences, readings from mediums, past life regressions, life between life regressions. We are blessed in the 21st century with a wealth of data from which to build a model. I’m sure this model will change, but it makes much more sense than the first two.

Unlike my first mode, life is not a one time shot, a binary choice between eternal bliss and eternal torment. This life on Earth is more likely one in a series of lives. As some have called it, this life is but a thread in the tapestry of your soul. Unlike my second model, this life is not without meaning and choices without consequences we will face in this realm and in the Spirit Realm. We aren’t immediately enlightened upon death, receiving all knowledge and either merging with the One or being escorted into eternal bliss. Life isn’t just about enjoying our time while we are here, even though there are some pretty attractive distractions to keep us entertained. Oh no. Life is more like a school or a spiritual boot camp. We plan these lives, including their hardships to either work off karma (one school of thought) or to grow our souls (another) or some sort of combination of the two. When we return, not only do we face a Life Review where we judge ourselves based on how we did against our goals, we plan subsequent lives based on what we did or didn’t learn. If you screw it up, you’re likely to send yourself back to repeat the lessons you missed. Who wants to do junior high over again?

I could go into much more detail, but for the purposes of this entry, this is enough. The first two paths or models were woefully insufficient to explain the meaning of life, the purpose of the afterlife and what we were to do while we were here. They didn’t explain “evil” or pain. They gave little incentive for self-improvement. They were grossly unfair. What is emerging is a much more satisfying and motivating model. It’s one that has turned me from a victim in my life, into the architect and an active participant. Many times these days I wonder why I chose this path, but knowing me, it’s easy to believe I did. I’m the guy who when he went to college chose Chemical Engineering because I wanted to be challenged. Doh!

I’m sure my model will continue to change. I’m not 100% satisfied with the karma thing. But, I am convinced it’s coming closer and closer to reality. And it’s a reality that is finally starting to make some sense.

It’s rapidly approaching the end of March. Spring has officially sprung and, for Ohio, we’ve had an early Spring. The flowers are blooming, the birds are coming back, even the grass is growing, but in our house, things are going the other way.

Grief comes in phases, waves and spirals. When you think you have passed one of the phases, it circles back around and presents itself to you in another way. I thought I had accepted Shayna’s passing many months ago. I remember being shocked the moment a friend of mine, a former pastor, said it could take up to two years to reach acceptance. I thought “Well, I’ll beat that. I’m just about there already.” No. There is intellectually knowing that something is true and there is truly accepting it and they can be two very different things. We think we’ve accepted something only to find out later, we haven’t really.

I’m very pleased, amazed and proud of the way both Ty and I have made it this far, but it doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges and there aren’t challenges ahead. It was difficult enough adjusting to life without Kayla. Kayla and Shayna together were the light of our house. Even though Shayna was the one who did most of the cutting up, it was the magical combination of the two of them that really brought things to life. When Kayla went to college a year and a half ago, it was a major adjustment for the three of us. Shayna leaving us so suddenly has been impossible to adjust to, at least to this point.

I’ve been with Ty for 29 years now. I’ve been with her through ups and downs for both of us, but nothing like this. I’ve seen her go through the slow loss of her father and finally having to let go. I’ve seen her going through the slow loss of her mother. She has seen me go through my battles with depression and anxiety. We have always been there for each other; neither of us completely down while the other one was also. This is totally new territory though. Being there for each other is difficult when we can barely manage to be there for ourselves.

Both of us have been hitting the books hard, studying as much as we can. Ty has turned to meditation and prayer. I can see her transforming into a much more contemplative person, something I frankly never thought I would see in her because it’s just not who she is- or so I thought. She is studying subjects she never had bit of interest in because it’s become necessary for her survival and she is a survivor.

So many changes at once are difficult to process. We’ve gone from full calendars to barely anything on the calendar for days at a time. Just yesterday Ty said she would have to find something to do today to get out of the house. She needs social interaction to thrive. Dinner times were always special for the four of us. Dinner was tough enough to plan for three of us. Now that it’s just two of us, neither of us feels like planning or making dinner most nights. There has been a lot of eating out and prepared foods. When I say we need to get back to planning meals, I get a shrug from her. There’s just not a lot of interest in that right now. Normally, I would be getting impatient at this point, trying to fix her, trying to get her back to “normal”. However, at least this time around in this cycle of life, I’ve got enough wisdom to know I can’t fix everything. Some things we just have to let be and get through. There are times when I just have to accept what is for now and wait it out.

As the world around us blooms, the animals and nature come to life, I feel both of us turning inward in a kind of reverse Spring. After this many years and being an empath anyway I’ve learned to sense Ty’s moods. I can’t tell what she is thinking, but I’m pretty good at telling what she is feeling. I’ve always been the fixer, but I know there is only so much I can do as a human being. I know there is only so much she can do. Both of us are doers though. Ty’s frustrated that life isn’t fun anymore. She doesn’t want to just go through the motions for the rest of her life. I don’t blame her. But, for me I guess part of acceptance is accepting that things will never be the same again. This is the season of life that’s going to be tough.

My parents are pushing 80. Ty’s mother is dealing with dementia which never gets better, only worse and with knees wracked with arthritis. She’s not happy where she’s living, but she can’t live anywhere else. Zoe is 11 years old. Every morning when she raises her head, we’re glad to have her for another day, but we know that won’t last. We’ve got some hard days coming and there’s no way around that. I think that’s weighing heavily on both of us as our bubble of the illusion of safety and stability has been popped and we face the fragility of life on planet Earth and are learning to hold loosely onto what we have here and to focus on the things that actually last.

The key for me right now is to not try to project too far into the future. Neither of us wants to live like this, but it is what it is. Neither of us is, by nature, patient people. We push through. If we don’t like something, we change it. We worry if it this way now, what if it’s this way forever. I know I can’t do that now and in fact that is counterproductive. I just have to trust and lean into this and take it one day at a time.

I was privileged to have been given a gift of a reading with the Susanne Wilson.  Here are my notes from the reading/

Susanne Wilson Reading 03 24 2016

I can finally reveal that today I have a reading with psychic medium Susanne Wilson. The path that led me to this is a pretty wild one. Maybe the world of people studying afterlife stuff is a pretty small one, but I have met some amazing people who have helped me tremendously. First I met Mark Ireland whose father was one of the best psychic mediums of all time. Long story short, Mark and I corresponded, he helped me and he asked me to participate in a certification program he was doing so I got a reading with Alyson Gannon which was amazing and I have documented here.  

I also met Roberta Grimes.  Through Roberta I became familiar with Susanne Wilson (who is connected to Elizabeth Boisson who is connected to Mark Ireland.  A friend gifted me the reading with Susanne four months ago. At the time, Susanne’s waiting list was six months, but they had an opening in April, just five months. A couple of weeks ago the spot for today opened up (moving me up another month).  Around that same time I began running across Susanne in a couple of PodCasts and then just a few days ago, for the first time, I ran into her on Facebook, but I didn’t contact her knowing this reading was coming up.

I will document the reading which is going to take a little while because she gave me so much detail in the hour we spent on the phone. I will say this now though.  Psychic mediums are definitely for real. There are some who are sincere and don’t know what they are doing. There are a lot I’m sure. There are some who are purely scam artists doing cold readings or Googling people.  However, there are some who are truly and extremely gifted.  I think it’s like playing the guitar. Almost everyone can learn to pick up a guitar and pluck their way around on it. Many say we all have some psychic ability.  That’s probably true. We all have some level of intuition or gut feel. We all have that feeling when someone is staring at us or there’s another presence in the room.  We all get hunches.  But, some people are born with a knack to play the guitar. With practice they can get very good. And a precious few are born with the ability to just pick it up and start playing.  

After my reading with Susanne, I know more than ever that Shayna is alive and well and still with us. I know that I will see her again.  And, I know that all is as it was meant to be and we are on the path that we set for ourselves as painful as it is.  

The books I’ve been reading, the people I’ve been listening to, most of them are anticipating an upcoming shift in consciousness of the planet, an evolutionary leap that will fundamentally change how life is on this planet. This centers around us finally, as a planet coming to (or returning to) the belief that we are eternal and this is only a temporary experience. There was a time when the majority of people believed this, but it was before the time where we had developed the technology that has the potential to drastically change living conditions on planet Earth with plenty of food and everything else necessary for us all to live rich, abundant, long lives. The problem now is we still have a perceived scarcity due mostly to the inequitable distribution of money. If we could only learn that we are all one and that this life is not all there is, perhaps we could share and massively shift life on this planet in a way that we would hardly recognize.

At the natural pace of evolution, this would take a very, very long time. I think we are moving in that direction, but slowly. However, there is this thing called punctuated equilibrium where things go along very slowly and then a massive shift will occur. Some believe that once a certain percentage of people on the planet shift their consciousness, and not a large percentage, it will raise the consciousness of the whole planet.

I don’t know if this idea is simultaneously occurring to many people or if they are spreading it amongst themselves within a subset of the general population. I do know I hear it more and more often and I find it fascinating and exciting. There are people who are actively working to bring this shift about. They are working quietly, behind the scenes and most are not articulating their goal if they are even aware of the goal. It could be an exciting time to be alive and some think this will happen within the lifetime of many of us on the planet today. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Always remember….

Just about everything I have read on how to improve your life starts off with or at least emphasizes an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the key to tolerating bad circumstances, to improving those bad circumstances, to hang in and appreciate good circumstances and to attracting the things you want in your life. Gratitude is the key to raising your vibrational level/consciousness. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Today I am listening to a PodCast for parents who have lost children. The guests are a famous medium and one of the cofounders of an organization that helps parents after they have lost children. The thing that is different about this organization is they actively encourage parents to “go there” and talk about the afterlife. They promote the idea that your departed child isn’t really departed, but is still here with us, part of the family. They encourage people to seek the help of mediums and to try to communicate with their children directly via looking for signs and other methods. This is all great stuff. There’s just one problem. Trying to generate this attitude of gratitude when the worst possible imaginable thing has happened isn’t easy.

They say that grief brings your vibrational level down. Anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, all of those feelings will drop your vibrational level like a rock. Well, damn. I know I still have a lot to be grateful for. I know that I have still been greatly blessed, but I am depressed right now as I have ever been in my life. I allowed the girls to become the center of my life, my heroin if you will. I was addicted to them, gladly. They brought not only meaning to my life, my motivation for getting up in the morning, for running the business, for just being here; they brought joy and color to my life. One of my favorite times of the day would be at bed time just listening to the two of them chattering away in the hallway and then telling each other they loved each other in the special words they had invented that were only ever spoken between the two of them.

The house just isn’t the same without Shayna and Kayla here. The energy level has dropped about 90%. Ty and I do the best we can, but when Kayla is away at school, I find myself counting the days until she comes home to at least raise the energy level some. There are days, like today, where I’ll spend the whole day in the house except for the hour that I go for a walk.

I know the key to having this attitude of gratitude is to turn your eyes from what is missing in your life or what is going wrong to what is going right. What is going right is, for most of us most of the time, so much more. And, I guess for me it still is. However, this is the biggest hole in my life that has ever been ripped that could ever be ripped and right now it’s hard to not sit and stare at that hole remember the days when it was whole and look forward to the day when it will be whole again.

Whenever I get into one of these funks, a scene from Young Frankenstein from over 40 years ago pops into my head. Dr. Frankenstein and Igor are digging up a body to use to create his monster. Dr. Frankenstein complains “What a filthy job.” It’s dark, they’re in a cemetery, they’re covered in dirt. Igor turns to him and chirps back “Could be worse.” “How?” “Could be raining.” At that moment, the skies open, thunder cracks and the rain pours down. Every time I’m tempted to complain that scene comes back to me and at least mitigates the situation.

The first step to solving any problem is first recognizing it is a problem. I know I’ve got to crawl out of this rut. And I know the way to do it is to focus on what I have, not what I don’t have. The next hurdle is simply to do it.