I’ve been having a running debate with a friend about whether they are special. This person makes a living doing something most of us can’t do- they communicate with people on the Other Side and deliver those messages to loved ones. I know many mediums and most say that we can all do what they do. Maybe, maybe not- eventually, with training and practice. Today? No.

I have another friend who is a voice instructor. He claims that if you can speak, he can teach you to sing. I wish I lived close enough to take him up on his challenge. I’m pretty sure I’d be the exception to his rule. I love music but I can’t sing a note.

This is the thing. While we all have some innate abilities, we are not all the same when it comes to the amount of talent we have or how we have developed it. Duane might be right that he can teach me to sing. But, it’s safe to say I was not born with the talent of singing nor have I developed it to this point. While it might be true that all human beings are intuitive to a certain extent, it’s also true that the vast majority of cannot communicate with the clarity and accuracy of professional mediums.  Some people communicated with spirits their whole lives. Some have had experiences that leave them with enhanced abilities. Almost every medium I know trains to develop the talent they have.  When it comes to what we can do today, we are not all the same.

As I was debating my friend, I found myself agreeing that we are all the same, as they were saying. They insist they are nothing special. They say we can all exactly what they can do. However, while we are all the same, we are, at the same time, all unique. The image of a snowflake came to mind. Snowflakes are all basically the same in that they are made of ice crystals. They are similar in size. They are cold. They fall from the sky. But, each snowflake is formed in a way that makes it different from all the others. Same stuff, different configuration.

We are all of equal value. We are all immensely powerful beings, beyond what most of us can fathom. However, we have different abilities and we are each in different places on our journey. I was told this week the difference between a “higher level” spiritual being and a lower level one is how much each remembers/realizes their true Self. We are all inherently the same. Rising to a higher level isn’t a matter of getting better, it’s a matter of knowing and accepting who you already are. All the same, and all different, at the same time.

 

Imposter syndrome (also known as imposter phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I’ve dealt with the imposter syndrome my entire life. It was only in the last twenty years or so that I learned there was a name for it and others feel it as well. It’s common. Maybe everyone has experienced it at some point. I think it hits perfectionists and high achievers more than others. It manifests as “The Voice”. The first time I can recall this was back in my early days of Christianity. I was told that God had created me defective and hated me for it. He wanted to torment me eternally. The only way to escape this fate was to love him and obey his every command. I pretended to love him. But, how are you supposed to love someone who only loves you for what someone else did (Jesus)? I was terrified of being exposed as an imposter for the next thirty-five years. The Voice told me I would be exposed soon.

Then, there was my career in sales. I’m naturally shy, or so I thought. I took up a career in sales to make more money and to force myself out of the shell I found myself in. I was good at it. I made the 100% club every year I was at IBM. I left IBM and made even more money. But, every time things turned for the worse, which they will in any long sales career, The Voice said: “Maybe I was never any good. I’ve been faking it. Now I’m being exposed for who I truly am.”

As an entrepreneur, I started my own company from nothing. It’s sustained our family for seventeen years now. We’ve gone from selling other people’s products to developing our own line, to (finally) landing our first distribution deal. Yet, I often feel like I really don’t know anything about running a business.

When people started suggesting I consider life coaching all I could think of was what a joke life coaching is. Life coaches are for wealthy people who have too much money and too little self-esteem. Then, I saw a couple of life coaches and realized the value they could have. A few sessions helped me tremendously. But, could Brian do this? My whole life I’ve felt drawn to the ministry. Pop, my paternal grandfather, was a pastor. His parents were pastors. It runs in my family. I didn’t have the traditional Christian beliefs to serve as a pastor in a church. That was out. When Tywana and I did pre-marital counseling at the Vineyard and I stood up in front of people about to get married teaching them the skills that would improve the odds for a successful marriage, I felt right at home, much more than I ever did in sales. That’s a form of life coaching and I loved doing that.

Can I charge people for what I do for friends for free? Isn’t being a life coach a bit like being a prostitute? You charge people for what you’d give away in a relationship. I gladly spend my time helping people. I’d do it for free, for anyone, anytime, anywhere. The problem is, in this world, you need money to live and no one’s giving away money for free. We have to charge for our time.

I started to reflect on much of my typical day. People call me for advice all the time. As an example, just yesterday, I spent over an hour on the telephone with one friend who was so pumped up they just needed someone to listen. I got in a few “Uh huh”s. But, it was really about them getting it all out.  Another friend sent what had to be over a hundred Facebook messages as I’m being a sounding board for her. A third friend and I had a long conversation when they needed some advice on something of a spiritual that had just happened that they didn’t understand. For her it was a brand new thing. After the years I’ve spent studying this, my expertise was valuable to her.  Hours of my day are spent helping people out, being a sounding board, giving advice, sometimes frankly Googling things they could Google themselves.

Six weeks ago I took the plunge. Five people had told me I should do this, including three people who are already life coaches. I purchased a life coaching course. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I was going to educate myself. I set a goal to have the course completed in a month. I completed it a week before my self-imposed deadline. Then, it was time to work on the website. I decided to build it myself. It’s not nearly complete. But, one of my friends saw what I was doing and asked about my new business venture. She wanted to hire me. Then I felt it again. Imposter syndrome. The Voice started. “Who are you kidding? You’ll never get this website finished. You can’t build a website on your own. What do you know about advising other people? You took a course now you’re an expert on life? What will we talk about? Will she find any value in our conversation? You should just stop this now before you embarrass yourself. You know people will think you’ve gone off the deep end completely” I thought about calling her and telling her “Nevermind. I’m not doing this.”  Besides, I wasn’t ready. The Voice started whispering excuses “The website’s not nearly finished.” But, the purpose of the website is to let people know who I am so they’ll hire me. It doesn’t need to be ready. “But, my scheduling system, I haven’t even started on it. How will we schedule the appointment?” We schedule it the old fashioned way. Pick a date and time and put it on the calendar. “But, I haven’t organized all the materials from the course. I want to re-write all of the material and put it online so my clients can fill it out on their computers.” The answer to that was to just send her what I had. The next client can get the re-written, automated stuff. I told myself to stop making excuses. Everything is good enough now. We can continue to work on perfecting it.

I pressed forward. I told that inner critic to shut up. If I set my mind to this, I can do it. I’ve been doing it for free most of my life. There’s nothing wrong with charging. I spent two or three hours yesterday helping other people out. This is time that  I’m not working on my own business. I have to make money. There is nothing wrong with exchanging time for money, as long as the person paying the money finds value in it.

As the time for our appointment approached yesterday evening, the nerves came back again. The Voice, starting to give in said: “At least I’m not charging her for the first session. If she hates it, she can make up an excuse and we’ll just pretend it never happened.”

When we got on the call, it started coming naturally to me. I scheduled a 30-minute initial consultation to get a feel for what she was seeking in a life coach and for me to explain to her what I think I can provide.  40 minutes into the call, I started to wrap it up. I did a very soft close. “Should you choose to work with me, these will be our next steps… Just take some time and think about it and let me know.” She said she definitely wants to go forward and would contact me in the next week or so.

After the call was over, I felt fantastic. And, I was proud of myself. Six weeks after setting the intention, I had completed the course, started the website, and taken my first appointment. This is what I want to do. This is what I’m equipped to do. I’ll continue education to learn more techniques. But, it’s really about communication skills, empathy, and life experience I think. I have all of that. I can help people and I can make at least some money along the way. The Voice telling me I’m an imposter will have to just shut up for a while.

A father recently called me and opened the conversation with “I think there’s something wrong with me.” I’ll call him Donnie.  His son was murdered six months ago.  People in his family are telling him he is doing grief wrong.

He continued “I know a father’s love for a child is different from a mother’s.” It took all of me not to interrupt him.  I restrained myself and practice my listening skills. I could tell he wanted to get a lot out.

His family, of mostly women, are questioning his love for his son because he isn’t mourning the way they are, with wailing and gnashing of teeth. They are still holding vigils, staging protests, wearing t-shirt with “Little Donnie” on them. They are, using his words, “stuck”.  He told me he believes his son is safe with God. He trusts that his son is happy. He trusts in God’s promises. He then told me about his son’s life, filled with womanizing, drugs, and gang banging. There were times he didn’t see his son for years at a time, times when he worried about his well being. From his perspective, his son is safe now. No harm can befall him. His family takes his attitude as indifference to his son.

He went on to tell me that he misses his son all day, every day. When he drives past the location where his son was murdered, he stops and takes some time to visit with his son’s spirit. He told me how he was the one who had to handle his son’s funeral arrangements by himself. He didn’t have the time to mourn properly. He had to make the money to pay for the services, choose the clothes his son would wear, plan the funeral, etcetera. He had to get shit done.

When it was my turn to speak, we talked about how men are socialized. How many of us were told, “Men don’t cry.”? We both heard “You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about.” It’s difficult for us to cry in front of others. Speaking for myself, I know that my inability to express emotion in front of others is not innate. It’s not who I was when I came to the planet. It’s the result of years of conditioning living in a family that doesn’t express emotion, positive or negative.

I had to push back on the notion that a father’s love is different than a mother’s love. Women will tell us they have a special bond with their children because they carried them, as if the umbilical cord is still attached. This is an unfalsifiable theory. I cannot know the bond a mother has with a child, just as a mother cannot know the bond I have with my children. I do know that my life was forever changed the first moment I laid eyes on Kayla and again when I first heard Shayna cry. I know that a father feels responsible for the safety and well-being of his children. I know that bond is permanent. And, sadly, now I know that bond extends across the veil that we all cross from this world into the next. Men may not express our love for our children the way women does, I believe largely due to conditioning.

Since Shayna passed, I know that the tears come more easily for me. There are times when I wonder if I’m “over” the grief. I’m not sure that I want to be “over” it. I can get through a conversation about Shayna now without breaking into tears. I do it all the time. However, just yesterday, the sight of a little girl, 19 years old, the age Shayna would be brought a tear from my eye. She had survived the Parkland shooting a year ago only to be taken by PTSD. She took her own life. As I looked into her eyes in the picture, I could feel the pain she felt. I could feel the pain I know her family feels now.

I assured Donnie that there’s nothing wrong with him. I could feel the love he has for his son. I could also tell he genuinely believes his son is now safe, something every parent wants to feel and something he did not feel when his son was in this world. He did what he had to do in the days after his son passed. At the suggestion of someone, he joined Mothers of Murdered Children after his son was murdered.  He could quickly tell these people were obsessed with being “stuck” reliving their children’s deaths over and over again, never healing. He told me he was confident his son wants him to be happy. He wants to be happy. I advised him to not let anyone add guilt to his grief. We all grieve differently. Six months in, he feels like he’s in a pretty good place. I warned him though there will be triggers. Grief never goes in a straight line.  He’s probably still in the shock phase. But, he’s doing remarkably well and is dealing with his grief in his own way.

Helping Parents Heal has very few fathers involved. Less than 20% of the people at our first conference were fathers. The percentage of men in our regular meetings is even lower. This is the first father who picked up the phone and reached out to me for help. Hopefully, there will be more.

We may interact with our kids differently. We may grieve differently. However, a father’s love is a bond that cannot be denied. Men, don’t let anyone tell you that you love less or grieve less because you do it your own way.

 

One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.

 

I’m sorry, Albert. Brilliance in one area doesn’t equate to brilliance in all areas of life. Setting only lofty, long term goals without a step-by-step plan to get there is a recipe for disaster. You’ll end up frustrated on a daily basis. Worse yet, you might simply give up because you feel like you do nothing but fail.

My philosophy is taken from the movie “What About Bob?”  If you’ve known me for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve heard me say it “Baby steps.”  Life is all about baby steps. Set short term, achievable goals that are strategic and lead to mid-term goals. Those mid-term goals will eventually get you to the lofty heights Einstein was talking about.

A football team doesn’t try to take the entire field on every down. Touchdowns are normally achieved by a series of first downs. Woody Hayes, the venerated Ohio State University football coach, loved to say “three yards and a cloud of dust”. The offense has a strategic plan, taking what the defense gives, and eventually, they score touchdowns.

Today marks several milestones for our family. Kayla has her biggest job interview to date. She graduates in a few weeks. She’s been admitted to grad school. The interview is for a job in counseling this summer, her first professional job. These achievements are a result of years of getting up and getting done the tasks before her for that day. I’m incredibly proud of her for continuing on despite setbacks and hardships.

Yesterday, I got the final-final purchase order for the distribution deal I have been working on for Treasured Locks. I started working on this deal nearly a year ago. There were many roadblocks along the way. Back to the football analogy for a moment, there were many times we were sacked. There were a couple of fourth and longs. There were requirements I thought we couldn’t possibly meet. Last fall, I gave up. I told them we could not do the deal. But, we recovered that fumble and continued the drive. Next week, we will finally ship our first order. Even this first order is just another beginning.

Two days ago I started construction on my Grief 2 Growth website. Six months ago I began saying affirmations that I intended to lead to new business opportunities. I didn’t know what those opportunities might be. I created these affirmations to lay the groundwork. Through a series of events, the vision started to come into focus. About a month ago someone suggested I take a life coaching class. It was about 20 hours of material that I needed to try to somehow fit in with the daily operations of Treasured Locks, volunteering on three different projects, and my part-time consulting work. It was a lot to ask of myself. The instructor likes to say “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I set a goal to finish the course by the day of Shayna’s Shamrock Shuffle, the second weekend in March. To achieve that goal, I broke the course down into chunks and tried to get in a couple of hours every day. After I’d finish my session working on the course, I’d look at how many hours I had left, divide it by the number of days remaining to my deadline and set a new goal for how many hours I had to do each day. I finished it the Friday before the race. I wanted to start on the website on the first day of Spring. To get there, I needed to choose a platform and learn about it. This required doing some research and finding a consultant to work with. All of these were short term goals, some that took less than a minute. But, they led to the mid-term goal of making that launch date. Wednesday was the first day of Spring and that was the day I bought the template for my site and began construction.

“Einstein was wrong” is a catchy headline. I have a confession to make. He wasn’t totally wrong. We can reach for the stars. We should bring out our highest potentials. We are capable of things that many of us don’t dare dream of. We will never achieve these goals without doing the hard work it takes to get there, a lot of it is not glamorous. There are times when we will feel like we are running in place. There will be times when we will suffer setbacks. Make a plan. Know there will be adjustments. Make course corrections. And, never give up. You’ll get to where you want to go or at least to where you were meant to be.

Thanks to those of you who tried to listen to me on the radio program I was on last week. I have the audio file now. So, if you’re interested, here it is:

The official race title is the Shamrock Shuffle. But, for my family, it’s the day we get together to memorialize Shayna.  For us, it’s Shayna’s Shining Stars Walk. During the gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. we all think about Shayna. Some of us talk about her. Some of us avoid talking about her. This day is all about Shayna. Just as she would have it. Before Shayna passed we were somewhat associated with the Shamrock Shuffle, a 5K and 10K for charity. One year her Girl Scout troop did a project at the event and they asked me to be the photographer. But, since she has crossed over, we have used the event to raise money for her scholarship fund. Our neighbors, family, and friends contribute and over forty participate.

Tywana’s whole family, with the exception of her brother Eric, tries to make it into town for the race. Kayla comes down from Toledo for the weekend. From my side, only my brother Brent’s family comes- he, his wife and his four children. Last year, my cousin planned a party for our fathers the day of the race. This year, another cousin’s wedding was in Dallas on the same day. I’ve chosen to be here for Shayna’s Day instead of attending these events. This year, for the first time, Tywana’s sister and her family can’t make it. My brother has gone to Dallas for the wedding. Normally, we have a house full of people sleeping over on the eve of the race. This year it’s just Kayla and her boyfriend spending the night.

We have the traditional pasta party at our house the night before the race. Kayla is working late. So, she doesn’t get in until around 10 PM.

In spite of the no shows, we have 42 people on the team this year. Race day weather is iffy, as is the tradition. It’s Ohio, in March. At race time it’ about 35º without a hint of sunshine. There’s a light breeze. At least it’s not raining. Before the race we meet several members of the team at the clock tower for a photo. There aren’t enough at the house to get the traditional photo on the steps. Four of the Shayna Six, as a few of Shayna’s friends call themselves now, show up in their purple Smith t-shirts. Four years after her passing and a year after their graduation and they still show for her.

As the time for the race draws near, we line up for the start. I put in my earphones and get ready for the start. There are 2,300 people here. But, I walk alone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. When I do the race, I commune with Shayna. The runners sprint way out ahead of me. The people socializing during the race are behind me. I speed walk in the middle of the pack, thinking of my girl, grateful that forty friends, family, and neighbors spend their money and take their time to help us remember her even four years after her leaving her body.  I take each step bringing me one step closer to the finish line and think of it as one day closer in my journey back to Shayna. I wish she could be here. But, then it dawns on me if she were here, we wouldn’t be here. I’d still trade all of this to have her back though. She’d be a freshman at my alma mater, OSU.

After the race, we head home and have breakfast. I make waffles for the crew. Everyone leaves early leaving just Kayla, her boyfriend, Tywana and me.

We watch a movie and it’s time for bed. Kayla goes to let the dogs out the front door and comes back and asks “Do hummingbirds come out at night?” I tell her I don’t know since if they did we couldn’t see them. I’ve never seen one at night. She then says that she saw a hummingbird hovering on the front porch as she let the dogs out. This is early March in Ohio.  Hummingbirds are rare here, even in the spring and summer. They migrate South during the winter. There is no doubt it’s still winter. There should be no hummingbirds here. I haven’t seen a hummingbird since at least September. I’ve never seen one at night.

This morning, I take my seven-mile walk. I spot first a female cardinal, then a few minutes later a male cardinal. They both cross directly in front of my path. Several minutes later I look up and I see a heron high overhead. I see herons very rarely here. I think I’ve seen four in over twenty years, all within the last several months. Shayna sends birds to us as signs often. A hummingbird in March, two cardinals, a heron all in less than twenty-four hours. Thanks, Shayna! I hope you like what we did for your walk this time.

This is a heron.

In the last couple of days, the New York Times has published a hit piece that featured a medium that is a client of mine, Thomas John. I do some work for Thomas handling some of his customer service and social media. John Oliver produced a hit piece on psychics and mediums, he particularly went after mediums. What both of these pieces have in common is they were created by people who believe that psychics are all frauds and mediumship is impossible. When you start out with the premise that something is impossible, what are you likely to find?

I’d like to address these pieces in particular and skepticism in general. Skepticism is a good thing. That’s why the phrase “healthy skepticism” exists. If someone offers you a brand new Mercedes Benz for $5.00 a month, you’d do well to be skeptical. The wilder the claim, the more skepticism that’s warranted. Yes, if someone says they can speak to your dead grandmother, in today’s materialistic world, you probably are going to be skeptical. When it comes to psychics, like most other professions, there are good ones, bad ones, and there are out and out frauds. I personally would never see a medium without a referral. I ask for referrals for handymen, why not for mediums? But, there is a big difference between skepticism and cynicism. A cynic will not be convinced no matter the evidence. I had a guy tell me that there was “no evidence” for the afterlife. When I referred him to the work of Dr. Gary Schwartz, Dr. Julia Assante, Dr. Julie Beischel, et al, he took one glance and said he wouldn’t even consider anything that dealt with mediumship. So, you ask for evidence and when presented with it, you say “Well not that evidence.” There was a guy I heard in an interview say that there was no reason to believe that NDEs exist. He wrote a whole chapter in his book about the fact they aren’t real. When the interviewer asked him if he had done any research on NDEs, he said he had done none. In his preamble to his piece, John Oliver said something to the effect of “We could have looked at both sides of mediumship, but there is only one side.”  He went on to say the only reason to do a piece on mediumship is to make fun of it. The New York Times article featured information obtained by people who believe all mediums are fakes. It was offered without rebuttal or any counterpoints, even by the people who were featured. Is this what passes for journalism?

Before I go too much further, I want to say I am a huge fan of John Oliver. I do not miss his show. He provides comedic and insightful takes on a variety of subjects. I am biased. I work with many mediums on a regular basis. I had two medium readings just last week. I know people studying and teaching mediumship. I’ve had amateur mediums tell me amazing things they could not possibly have looked up, with no motivation to lie. I know that mediumship is real based on my experiences. But, let’s examine this objectively.

In the John Oliver piece, he selectively chose the worst possible moments from some celebrity mediums like John Edwards and Sylvia Browne. The moment with Sylvia Browne is when she mistakenly told a mother that her daughter, who had been kidnapped, was dead. The daughter was alive and watching the program. He showed John Edwards making some very vague statements in a gallery reading. I’m not a fan of either medium. I don’t know much about them. But, I do know if these moments were truly representative of their work neither would have risen to the positions they were in. All mediums have bad moments. None are perfect. I’ve witnessed many gallery readings. I saw one of the most sought after and best mediums completely bomb in one. He had an awful night. But, I’ve seen some amazing things in gallery readings as well. I’ve seen Thomas John live. Some of his readings are phenomenal. Some are pretty routine. I worked the door for him the night he was in Cincinnati. I saw him arrive. I know he was alone. I set up the sound system so I know no one was feeding him information in his ear. I had invited people to attend. He didn’t know any of them were coming. Their names weren’t on any list. And he read one of them. Through personal experience, I know no one was feeding him information.

In the NYT article, the claim is that Thomas finds information on social media before an event. This is known as “hot reading”. Today, we can find a lot about a person via just a telephone number, if they have ever typed it into Facebook, or a name, if it’s unusual enough. I’m not going to go into the details of that particular reading. But, be aware of this. In a gallery reading when there are 50-100-200 people in a room, no medium I’ve seen work goes up to a specific person with a message. Typically, they will get a general impression at first. They might get a section of the room. The information typically goes from general to more specific as the medium hones in on the energy of the sitter and the loved one in spirit. In a room, you’ll have a few types of people. Some want to grab every reading, trying to make the details fit their loved one.  Some are reluctant to take anything.  This frustrates mediums to no end as they try to shush the hijackers and get the reluctant ones to take their information. And, for some reason, often people with similar circumstances will show up at an event. As the details are coming in, they will often fit two or three people in the room. This is known as piggybacking. There may be multiple people in the room who know an Andy who died of cancer and had a connection to Michigan for example. In these cases, the medium must keep getting more specific information to differentiate.

In the John Oliver piece, they also showed a local “psychic” somewhere who was set up by a local news team. They looked her up, met her at a Denny’s and showed her a picture of a boy she claimed was dead and in Heaven. The boy was sitting in the booth behind her. This is entertaining. And if you pick a “psychic” out of the Yellow Pages, I’d say there are better than 50:50 odds this is exactly what you’d get. But, it tells me nothing about whether true psychics exist. I wish they’d try this with some of the people I know.  I know mediums who work with the police and families to find loved ones. If they were all fakes, the police would stop calling my friend Carolyn Clapper. They call her because she gets results.

Thomas John was accused of hot reading in the article. I can not prove this isn’t true. But, I can say this. Back in May of 2018, six months before I started doing any work for Thomas, I asked Thomas if he would do an experiment for me. Thomas had done several readings for parents of a group I belong to. He was accused by someone of doing hot readings. This person stalked me, emailing me day after day telling me they could prove Thomas was cheating. A friend of mine works for Thomas. I contacted him through her and asked if he would submit to this. I would set up a reading for someone unknown to him or anyone else. It would be via Zoom. He would not be given a telephone number or a name. Tywana and I chose a sitter not associated with our organization. I didn’t even know her story because I had only met her once. I know there was no possibility of a hot reading in this case. The video was to be posted on YouTube regardless of the results. I have to add that I see Thomas’ schedule and I know that if he’s doing hot readings on all of these clients in all of these events, he, first of all, has to have a time machine because there are only twenty-four hours in a mortal’s day. And, he must have the best memory of any person on the planet.

Another technique cheaters use is cold readings. This just takes good observation skills and a mind that can deal with probabilities. For example, in a gallery reading when you say “I have someone’s grandmother here.” If there are 50 people in a room, you’re going to have at least 25 grandmothers in spirit. “You were very close with your grandmother. She’s so proud of you.” None of these should be counted in a reading as a “hit”. They apply to too many people.  I was doing a reading last week and the medium said “I have someone here connected with your mother. I think it’s your grandmother.” I’m a 57-year dude with a ton of gray in my beard and she was looking at my face. I do have some friends who have living maternal grandmothers. But, this is pretty vague. Then, she said, “She’s like an extension of your mother.” More specific. Not everyone was close to their grandmother. But, my grandmother did live with us for about 15 years. We do have a unique relationship.  This is more specific. Maybe, this would be evidence she has my grandmother. She went on to say she has a son with her.  OK. Again, I’m pretty old. The medium didn’t know my name or that my grandmother even had a son. She said my grandmother had a lot of kids. She did- 10. Now, we’re getting somewhere. Then she said there’s a lot of sadness around his death. We’re back to the general. Of course. Then, she said, “I see a tragedy.”  Her eyes grew wide and she said: “Was he murdered?!”  This is how mediumship often works. Now, she could have cold read me easily to guess I have a grandmother in spirit. More often than not, we feel close to our grandmothers. I don’t know how many people would say they were like a mother to them. I wouldn’t say this of my paternal grandmother. All of this could be dismissed as cold reading. The fact that my uncle was murdered, the police didn’t thoroughly investigate in my opinion, these are not things you’d guess.

If you’re going to test mediums and/or psychics, you need to test them properly. And, Dr. Gary Schwartz, Mark Ireland, and Dr. Julie Beischel, just to name three, have. They have set up protocols to rule out hot readings. The doctors have published scientific papers documenting their results. Drs. Schwartz and Beischel have set up protocols to eliminate cold reading.  Mark chooses experienced sitters who know how to keep their cards close to their vest and uses a strict scoring protocol to eliminate vague guesses from being counted as hits. The medium I sat with last week scored over 90% even after I went back over her sheet and brought her score down after further reflection. Dr. Beischel is with the Windbridge Research Center. I encourage you to check out her work if you’re a skeptic.  Read. Dr. Schwartz’ book “The Afterlife Experiments” I work with Dr. Schwartz, in a way. I get to talk to him occasionally. He goes to ridiculous lengths to eliminate any possibilities of alternate explanations other than actual communication with the departed. And, he goes to insane lengths to avoid any possibility of cheating, even inadvertently.

In the case of Thomas John, he has offered an explanation, other than hot reading, for what the people who set him up experienced. If you’ve read the NYT article and buy into it, you owe it to yourself to watch his video. He has posted this video to his Facebook page.  After the article came out, another medium friend of mine wrote to me and offered what she thinks could be an explanation beyond the explanation Thomas gave. Someone once contacted me about her because they thought their reading with her was “too good”.  They assumed she must have looked her up on social media. That’s the thing about mediumship. Even when you have one of these amazing readings, you wonder “How did they do that?”. Some people will reach for any explanation other than the one staring them in the face- they actually are communicating with your loved ones. if you want to be a pseudo-scientist, don’t forget Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation that requires the least amount of assumptions is the one a responsible scientist will go with.

I have friends who are mediums. Many of them go out of their way to know as little as possible about their sitters/clients. They don’t want there to be any concern that they are doing hot readings. And, they don’t want to bring anything into a reading they could have possibly learned another way. Of course, there are fakes and bad psychics, John Oliver and NYT, but I can tell you from my personal experience and based on the research of people mentioned above, there are very real psychics and mediums. To the skeptics, I say, “Examine the evidence yourself.” To the cynics, I say “You do you and have a nice day.”

I sat for a test reading with a medium- Danielle Hope Wolfe. Danielle may have been told my first name. But, she had no other information about me. She set up a Zoom meeting for us to meet and Mark Ireland emailed the meeting information to me. I did not know who the reading would be with until I joined the Zoom and saw her name. I did not recognize her name.

The reading was about an hour. Right out of the gate, she felt my maternal grandmother coming through. She knew she had been like an extension of my mother. My grandmother lived with us from the time I was around the age of 6 until she passed when I was 21. She knew she had had a lot of children (10). She felt one of her sons with her, said his death felt tragic, then exclaimed: “Was he murdered?”. She knew about the frustration with the police. I felt they didn’t do much to solve his murder.

When Shayna came through, she described her as beautiful and angelic. She used that word repeatedly. Then, she asked if I had a daughter in spirit. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, Tywana bought a painting of Shayna, as an angel. It’s hanging in our family room.

 

She said she saw me kneeling over Shayna praying. She saw me kneeling at my bed praying. Praying over Tywana. All of this happened the day Shayna passed. I took her from her bed to put her on the floor (a hard surface) to do CPR. I prayed as I knelt over her. When the paramedics arrived. I knelt and prayed in my bedroom, with Tywana, as they worked on her. This was the last time I knelt to pray.

She knew approximately how long it had been since Shayna has passed. She estimated five years. It will be four years in three months.

When she sensed Shayna in spirit, she told me she shifted the reading to be more of messages than evidence. Even though she was being scored, she threw that out of the window. We had a conversation and she gave me a lot of healing messages and encouragement. She knew I was a writer. She knew I was writing a book. She has written a book and gave me tips on writing and publishing.

She saw “Princess and the Frog” in her mind’s eye and asked me if Tywana’s name is Tiana. No one has ever gotten that close to Tywana’s name. She saw me standing in front of men guiding them in marriage, in a church. Tywana and I participated in the pre-marital ministry at the Vineyard for several years.

She did get a couple of things wrong. She thought we have four children. We only have two. But, I am one of four and my brother has four. She sensed that Tywana or I have a brother in spirit. Even though one other medium insisted I have a brother in spirit and asked me to ask my mother if she had had a miscarriage. I do not know of a brother in spirit. (correction- this is why it’s important to have someone else listen to your reading. When Tywana listened to the recording, she reminded me she has a brother who was stillborn over 40 years ago. Her mother was pregnant with triplets. Two were born alive. I forgot about her brother in spirit). So, she was right about that, too.

Overall, I gave her a score of 86% accuracy with 12 bonus points, bringing her final score to 98%. More important than the percentages though was the reading had more than enough evidence to convince me that she was genuinely connecting coupled with healing and encouraging messages and a genuine conversation.

Recently, Jon Oliver published a program about psychics and how they are all fakes. Tellingly, at the beginning, he admitted he wasn’t going to go over the pros and cons of psychics because there are no arguments for any of this being real. He selectively chose examples where psychics were stunningly wrong or just flat out faking it with cold or hot reading techniques. It was a hit-job and a pretty poor one that that. I’m a fairly experienced sitter. There was no possibility of a hot reading (looking things up) in this situation because there was zero contact between Danielle and myself up until the moment we joined the Zoom call. Cold reading is not going to give you the fact that my uncle was murdered, that I’m writing a book, Tywana’s name, or the fact that I taught in a premarital ministry. And, these are just some of the highlights.

 

 

In case you can’t read the above it goes like this:

Irene: As I’m reading Brian’s post in the car “wondering where the lions are” by Bruce Cockburn is playing…….Check out the lyrics

Brian: OK. This I really weird. The night before last, I had a dream that a bobcat was stalking me.  I don’t ever recall dreaming anything like that before.

Irene: “Sun’s up, huh, looks okay. The world survives into another day. And I’m thinking about eternity. Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me. I had a dream about lions at the door. They weren’t half as frightening as they were before. But, I’m thinking about eternity…”

Irene: Graceland played before this so I guess it’s safe to say the kids are with us?

Brian: As it (the bobcat) came at me, I was backing up toward the door wondering if I could make it inside before it pounced. “I had another dream about lions at the door” is a line in the song.

Irene: Holy crap!  Love when the girls work to get a message to the right parent.

Ty: Wow… so connected

Irene: Rich girl playing now! That’s Carly laughing.

Brian: Yeah. I woke up thinking “That was a weird dream.” I also dreamt a pack of dogs was approaching me, in another dream. But, I distinctly remember that bobcat dream.  I’ve never heard that song. I’ll have to play it.  That is so crazy.

Irene: It is amazing!!!!! Thinking about eternity.

Ty: It really is. Peaceful.

Brian: Which post were you reading? 

 (time goes by)

Brian: Look at what Jamie Clark posted 13 minutes ago. About the time we were talking about this.

Irene: Your blog about the reading with the new medium.  And Brian I was nudged to tell you about the song… So crazy and awesome.

Michelle Clare is a medium recently certified by Mark Ireland’s certification program. Michelle is interested in working with Helping Parents Heal and was kind enough to offer a complimentary reading to me.

Michelle is an intuitive life coach as well as a medium. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading with her as it had an abundance of evidence to show she had a true mediumship connection. Some mediums just deliver vague fluffy messages. Some will just reel off evidence. The best mediums balance evidence with messages of love and hope. In addition to making the connection with Shayna, she gave me useful guidance about my life that brought me peace.

She began by saying Shayna is very high energy, very bright. She said that Shayna sends many signs, feathers, coins, dream visits, etc. She mentioned license plates and said that she thought I might not have noticed those. (She was spot on with the coins (specifically dimes some of which seem to magically appear). I told her I would have to look for the license plates.)

She then said there is a car connection. She said maybe someone was getting a new car or just got one or something. (This is also common in readings with Shayna. She was six weeks short of being 15-1/2, the age in Ohio when you can get your temps. In a mediumship development exercise I was in last weekend, Shayna came through with the car connection to one of the people trying to pick up on her. This comes up in almost every reading.)

Then she said “You’ve almost become a life coach for other people.” (This struck me because my friend Kat Baillie directed me to a life coaching course a couple of weeks ago. I had never spoken with her about becoming a life coach. Taking this as a possible sign, I bought the course and started taking it. A couple of days after I started, I had a meeting with George Kao. I am enrolled in a program with George called MasterHeart on building authentic businesses. This was the first time I had spoken with George one-on-one. Unprompted, George mentioned that he thought I would be a good life coach. A couple of days after that, I had a meeting with a life coach, it was a session that she offered just to get feedback on her services. She said that she thought I was already doing life coaching. So, Michelle was the fourth person in less than two weeks who said either they think I am a life coach or should study life coaching. Three of them had no idea I had just enrolled in this course.)

Michelle told me that Shayna was telling her Tywana and I are more than Shining Light parents. She said we are more like beacons. She said that Shayna says she looks like her Mom.( I’m looking at a picture taken just a few weeks before Shayna’s passing. It’s Tywana, Shayna, and Kayla. Same high cheekbones. Striking resemblances.)

Michelle mentioned water and the ocean. (We don’t live anywhere near the ocean or water. But, the girls loved the ocean. They wanted to go every year. They would stay in the water for hours and hours. Michelle mentioned a crane, which has no significance to me. She said Shayna mentioned Florida. We took a couple of trips to Florida, one to Disney World they were 8 and 11 and one to Destin.) Michelle said in a future trip to the ocean we will find a white feather, possibly from a crane.

She said Shayna has an electronic connection with me. (Shayna loved technology. She always wanted the latest phone. She loved video games. She and I were the ones who would play together for hours. She sends me signs through my phone. I told Michelle about the time my computer was down mysteriously for two days. It simply would not boot. All of the files were there. It wasn’t a hard drive crash. I tried troubleshooting for two days. My Mac consultant said it was time for a new computer. Then, just as I had given up on it, it started working again. That was over a year ago. I relayed this story to Michelle. About then is when my image on the screen froze. Michelle couldn’t see me through the Zoom conference we were using. I tried shutting down other programs, but my entire computer had locked up. I couldn’t even shut things down. This went on for two or three minutes. Then, I got the message “Your internet connection is unstable.” I use Zoom several times a week, sometimes several times a day. I had done a Zoom the day before. I did a Zoom the evening after. It’s usually very reliable and stable. But, just as we were talking about Shayna sending signs electronically this happened. Then, it was back to normal and we continued the reading.)

Michelle said she was getting the initial K. Then, without hesitation, she said the name Kayla. She said she feels Shayna is around Kayla all the time. If Kayla isn’t a sister, she said, Kayla is as close as a sister. She felt like a best friend.

She went on to say Kayla has some mediumship skills. (This is absolutely true.) She said in spite of the fact Kayla’s connection to Shayna is so strong that developing those skills would clear up their connection even more.

She asked if Shayna had a blood disorder. (She did not. But, she did have an autoimmune disorder- rheumatoid arthritis. She asked if Shayna passed from this. I told her no. She could not get the cause of Shayna’s passing. This is not unusual Shayna doesn’t usually give it.)

Michelle tells me she has been hearing a song “Peace Be Still” by Lauren Daigle. (I’ve never heard of the song or Lauren Daigle.)She tells me that the theme for our conversation today is peace. Shayna is praying peace over us. She says when Shayna crossed over, she felt peace, love, and compassion immediately. Michelle is getting an overwhelming sensation of love as Shayna lets her know what it feels like. (As I complete this write-up three days after the reading, I realize this is another one of those things that didn’t make sense at the time but does now. Tywana and I were watching TV last night. For the first time ever we watched some of “World of Dance”. We switched from that to watch a movie. When the movie was over, “World of Dance” was still on and a couple of the upcoming dancers looked interesting. So, we decided to continue watching rather than watching something we had recorded like we normally would. A group came on and danced to a song by Lauren Daigle. It wasn’t Peace Be Still. But, I had intended to listen to the song. Due to the craziness of the week, I hadn’t had the chance. People often claim mediums are doing cold readings or hot readings. Some surely do. But, when they come up with hits like this- future things- someone explain that to me. I had never watched this television program. That had to happen. I had never heard of Lauren Daigle and only recognized her name because Michelle had told me about this song.)

She says Tywana will have dream visits coming up in the next two weeks or in the past two weeks. Tywana and Shayna are so strongly connected the dream visits are so real that Tywana does not want to let go. So, she might not be allowed to or able to remember how the dream ends. (Tywana had a dream visit with Shayna within the last two weeks.)

Getting six weeks. Six weeks a birthday or anniversary. We don’t have either coming up in six weeks. Then, she says maybe six weeks in the past. Shayna’s birthday was almost exactly six weeks ago.

She sees inner strength in Tywana. Being shown a pillar. Mentions Tywana’s connection to God being like a pillar.

Dog connection. Shayna is on the other side with a dog. (Chloe crossed the rainbow bridge when Shayna was about five years old.) Michelle asks if we have a dog here, too. (We have two). She asks if the dog stares into space. Stevie does all the time. We’ve thought it was Shayna visiting. Michelle says Shayna and Chloe are visiting and we should ask for a sign that we can see while she’s here.)

She says Shayna helps other children transition. (We have heard this more than once before).

She said Shayna keeps bringing up Florida. (We had a couple of very fun vacations there. The girls love the beach. And, Shayna’s last full week was the national volleyball tournament in Florida, where she stayed on a resort, and Tywana spoiled her for a week.)

She said Shayna is very much an old soul, wise beyond her years. (She always was.) She asks me “Do you write? I see you doing something with your hands. I know you use the computer a lot.” I tell her I do write. She tells me that Shayna uses me as a channel or conduit. (Suzanne Giesemann told me that Shayna says she writes through me and she’s a better writer than I am.)

Shayna now wants to talk about Kayla. She says they are still best friends. She says Kayla struggles to be able to live life when Shayna cannot. May have “survivor’s guilt”. Shayna’ message is that Shayna is experiencing life through Kayla, living vicariously. She wants Kayla to not hold back and to do things for both of them. She says this summer there will be a change in Kayla’s job. (Kayla graduates in May and her job is babysitting two little girls. That will come to an end when she leaves Toledo.) Says Kayla will excel at her profession because of her compassion. (She doesn’t know that Kayla’s chosen profession is mental health, especially working with children.) Says her mediumship/intuition will make her successful in her job.

She says I need balance in my life. I need to not take on too much. She sees a guy with plates twirling on them. (I have had this same image). She says I need to learn to say no from a place of love. (I just quit one volunteer job and I feel guilty about it.) She says there will be more opportunity with Helping Parents Heal. In the next two months she sees things starting to clear up. (That timing aligns with that I think I’m beginning to see happening. I will have completed my life coaching certification, my joint project will either have launched or it’ll be time to put it aside, and I hope to be able to drop one of my moonlighting gigs).

Just then, Michelle gets the message on her Zoom “Your internet connection is unstable”. She says this is a message for me that I need to seek balance and not take on so much.

Says that Tywana has a lot of her mind. Sees the color green, heart chakra. Some worries. More than normal. (I’m not 100% sure on this. But, we do have a friend going through a health scare. It might be that.) Tells her to look for dream visits. Many more are coming. Also, look for butterflies. more than normal.

p.s.- during the reading Michelle and I talked about signs. I told her I have asked Shayna to stop sending me signs that cost me money. Once my computer suddenly stopped working for two days. After consulting my support guy, he determined I needed to buy a new one. I piddled around with it a little more and, inexplicably, it started working again. That same week, a GFI outlet stopped working. After I called the electrician, I decided to give it one more try. It too started working. So, neither actually cost me money. During the reading, Both Michelle and I experienced unstable connections. Then, that evening, Kayla texts me this picture. She was making chewy bars and set the pan on the counter, as she always does. A few minutes later she heard an explosion. Shayna!