I didn’t know when I was lucky
Discontented feeling bad
Filled with envy
For possessions other people had
I found my pride had always hurt me
Fought the world to gain control
Not realising
I was sitting on a beach of gold
Oh lord I’m a poor man
With all the riches I can hold
I’m a beggar
And I’m sitting on a beach of gold
The problems I encountered
Gave me strength helped me sustain
To know the pleasure
First I had to cure the pain
When I was searching for solutions
I found the answer lay in me
I’m a drifter
But I’m drifting on a silver sea
I didn’t have courage
My life was as dark as night
When alone in the darkness
I saw the brightest light
Let the light shine down
– Mike and the Mechanics- Beggar On A Beach of Gold
I haven’t written much lately. Today is the first day of December. Twenty days till the solstice. It’s been dark, gray, cold, rainy, snowy- you know, Ohio in the fall. I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger. The part-time gig working for one of the mediums I know, preparing for the holidays at Treasured Locks, volunteering for the SoulPhone, Greater Reality Living and Helping Parents Heal, interviewing for another gig with the seminary, helping an author finish the draft of his manuscript by co-leading a focus group. It’s a lot. And this week I launched another business venture that I’ll be announcing soon.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a Hay House podcast by Joe Dispenza. He was talking about his book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”.  The talk resonated with me, and I was strongly considering buying the book and taking a genuine shot at completely changing my personality. That’s when my buddy Nico announced he was in town for a few days and invited me to lunch. I always enjoy my time with Nico. We met after Shayna’s passing when a friend introduced us because of Nico’s unique connection with Spirit. Nico went on a spiritual journey after the passing of his mother, leaving his corporate job and following his passion around the world for the last three plus years. We don’t talk sports or weather. It’s all soul talk. We think maybe we were monks together somewhere in a past life. Nico’s excited about a new program he’s about to launch to help people change their personalities (or as he might put it, ditch their personalities). He’s done it with a few people with great results. I mentioned to him that I was just about to buy Joe Dispenza’s book because it seems to line up precisely with what Nico is doing. I tell Nico how I’m suffering and I’m tired of it. He asks me if I’m ready to give it up. I am.  This conversation prompts me to go ahead and buy the book- I get it on Audible and start to listen.

I’ve been listening to the book for the last couple of weeks. I’m absorbing the principles and recognizing how I’ve been sabotaging my life, feeling unworthy and subconsciously limiting myself. I continue to try and try new things, but always with the backdrop of feeling they won’t take off. I’ll continually struggle in survival mode. The book puts a new spin on the law of attraction which I’ve always wrestled with because it makes no sense to me. But, so many people I know believe in it, I keep coming back to it, trying to understand how it works. And, more importantly, how do I make it work in my life. You see, if you get “bad” stuff from the universe, you come to expect “bad” stuff. So, what does the Universe do? Give you more bad stuff? How do I break the cycle? This is the first book I’ve heard of that teaches how.

Earlier this week, as I’m absorbing the principles of the book and into the last chapters, my new business partner approaches me with a proposal. I’ve had many business partners in the past. Other than Tywana, they’ve all let me down. One has taken me for thousands of dollars. All talk grandiose plans and lose interest. As I was in my account buying the domain name for this new business, I came across the domain name I purchased for the last venture I discussed with someone. We had big plans that went nowhere. My natural inclination, the habit of being me, says this venture will be more of the same. We’ll make big plans. And, nothing will happen. I see the past repeating itself. But, here’s what’s different. I caught it. I recognized this is the habit of being me. And, I decide to think differently. This time it will be different. This partner is one of the few people I know who has more energy and ideas than I do. I’m having trouble keeping up with her in just these few early days. She’s action-oriented. Things will happen. We will make them happen. This will be different. I will go forward believing this is the manifestation of the intention I’ve been putting out since that meeting with Nico and since starting the Habit of Being Me book.

Yesterday, I finished the last chapter of the book. As the book came to a close, I reminded myself that a “self-help” book is no good if you just read it. You have to put it into action. I take some time reinforcing the principles of the book in my head, in silence, as I walk. I envision the future I want to have. I want to be out of Ohio within two years- no more winters for me. I want to get Treasured Locks to the point where it’s more healthy. I want to earn enough money to pay off a car in two years. I want to put my skills to use helping other people- and get paid for it. I put all of this out to the Universe and, as Joe instructs, I don’t tell the Universe how to deliver. It’s up to the Universe to figure out how to deliver.

As I’m affirming all of this, the thought comes that 2019 is going to be my year. I’m looking forward to many positive changes in the new year. I think 2019, that will be Shayna’s 19th birthday. Since I still have some time before my walk is over, I decide to listen to Steely Dan’s Hey Nineteen. As I pull it up on my iPhone, I notice it was released in 1980, the year I was 19. Interesting coincidence. Hey Nineteen came out when I was 19. Shayna’s 19th birthday is 2019. And, I’m declaring 2019 as my year.

I get home and I’m working on my side gig, putting together some memes for my client. I Google images for John Lennon and come across this one.

I have no idea where this exists, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it before. Last night Tywana and I are watching “God Friended Me” which is a television program all about this atheist getting prompts from a social media account called “God” and then finding these amazing synchronicities. The characters talk about Strawberry Fields in Central Park which is where this memorial exists. And, the camera pans down and there it is, the same image I saw earlier in the day. These are two small synchronicities in the day. But, they are big enough for me to take notice. I call these Easter eggs or God winks. Programmers hide Easter eggs in video games as little winks to the players. I believe the more we notice and acknowledge these, the more we get.

This morning in my meditation, I work on continuing to break the habit of being me. I start my meditation with one of my favorite Mike and the Mechanics songs, Beggar On A Beach Of Gold and I resolve to stop living in the shallows and get up on that beach of gold. Joe Dispenza says when you get up from meditation, you should be different from the person who sat down.  And, I am.
Are you out there now on empty
Feel you’ve nothing left to give
Sick of trying
Have you lost the will to live?
Don’t be drowning in the shallows
With the beach so near at hand
Hear the voice say
Stand up get up
And join me on the gilded sand
Come and join me on the beach
With all the riches I can hold
I’ve all the riches I can hold

I was listening to Home by Stephanie Mills, from The Wiz. It’s one of my favorite songs.  One of my favorite movies, for as long as I can remember is the Wizard Of Oz.  The older I get, the more I get from that movie.

As the tears were rolling down my face from the song, I remembered the scene near the end of the Wizard of Oz.  The Good Witch comes in and tells Dorothy she always had the power to go back to Kansas (Home) at any time.  Oh, if only it were that easy.  Is it that easy?

When I think of home
I think of a resting place
A place where there’s peace, quiet, and serenity
And that’s where some of my friends have gone
Friends who have traveled with me through my wonderful experience in Oz
A journey I’ll never forget

When I think of home, I think of a place
Where’s there’s love overflowing
I wish I was home, I wish I was back there
With the things I’ve been knowing

Wind that makes the tall grass bend into leaning
Suddenly the raindrops that fall they have a meaning
Sprinklin the scene
Makes it all clean

(When I think of home)
Maybe there’s a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction
(Maybe there’s a chance Ill get home)
It sure would be nice to be back at home
Where there’s love and affection

And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Givin me enough time, ooh, in my life to grow up
Time be my friend
And let me start again

Suddenly my world’s gone and change its fate
And I still know where I’m going
I have had my mind spun round in space
And watched it growing

And oh, if you’re listening, God, please don’t make it hard
To know if we should believe the things that we see
Tell us should we try and stay or should we run away (Should we run away)
Or will it be better just to let things, let them be, oh

Livin here in this brand new world
Might be a fantasy
But its taught me to love, oh, yeah
And its real, its so real, its real to me

And I’ve learned that we must look
Inside our hearts to find
A world full of love
Like yours, like mine

Like home
Like, like home
(When I think of home)
My friends smilin down on me
Givin me their energy, oh
(When I think of home)
I think of a peaceful world and joy
All around me, yeah
(When I think of home)
And love that we share can never
Never, ever be taken away from me, yeah, yeah, yeah
(When I think of home)
I just sit down and think
And gets on down in my bone, bone, yeah
(When I think of home)
I can hear my friends tellin me
Stephanie, please sing my song
I want to sing, I want to shout
I want to tell you what its all about

As I’m cutting the grass, listening to my playlisf a favorite from way back in the day comes up. And, once again, it’s a song that has taken on an entirely different meaning for me.  I listen to it twice.  As it’s playing the second time, I look up and a dragonfly is circling the yard.  For the entire time I’m cutting the front yard it continues to circle around me.  Maybe the powers that be haven’t made us part.  Thanks for the sign, Shayna

I found a picture of you.
What hijacked my world that night
To a place in the past
We’ve been cast out of?
Now we’re back in the fight
We’re back on the train
Oh, back on the chain gang
A circumstance beyond our control,
The phone, the TV and the news of the world
Got in the house like a pigeon from hell,
Threw sand in our eyes and descended like flies
Put us back on the train
Oh, back on the chain gang
 
The powers that be
That force us to live like we do
Bring me to my knees
When I see what they’ve done to you
But I’ll die as I stand here today
Knowing that deep in my heart
They’ll fall to ruin one day
For making us part
 
I found a picture of you,
Those were the happiest days of my life
Like a break in the battle was your part,
In the wretched life of a lonely heart
Now we’re back on the train
Oh, back on the chain gang

 

Shayna likes to send this song to me.  Tywana and I are coming back from Costco. Typically, I’m listening to politics, the 70s station, the 80s station, or maybe something on my iPhone rarely do I turn on normal radio. But, I turn on The Pulse on Sirius just as Ain’t It Fun by Paramore is playing.  I have no idea how much airplay this song still gets on the Pulse, because I hardly ever go there.

Shayna and I used to play this song on Guitar Hero, but I never paid attention to the lyrics until after Shayna left me here.  The tune is all bright and bubbly, but the words are kinda sharp, like Shayna’s tongue. I get a little chuckle every time I hear it. “You signed up for this, Daddy. Buck up little beaver.”  I can just hear her saying it.

I don’t mind
Letting you down easy but just give it time
If it don’t hurt now, but just wait, just wait a while
You’re not the big fish in the pond no more
You are what they’re feeding on
So what are you gonna do
When the world don’t orbit around you
So what are you gonna do
When the world don’t orbit around you
Ain’t it fun
Living in the real world
Ain’t it good
Being all alone
Where you’re from
You might be the one who’s running things
Well you can ring anybody’s bell and get what you want
See it’s easy to ignore trouble
When you’re living in a bubble
So what are you gonna do
When the world don’t orbit around you
So what are you gonna do
When nobody wants to fool with you
Ain’t it fun
Living in the real world
Ain’t it good
Being all alone
Ain’t it good to be on your own
Ain’t it fun, you can’t count on no one
Ain’t it good to be on your own
Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one
Ain’t it fun
Living in the real world
Don’t go crying to your mama
‘Cause you’re on you’re own, in the real world
Don’t go crying to your mama
‘Cause you’re on you’re own, in the real world

 

 

Why be afraid if I’m not alone
Though life is never easy the rest is unknown
Up to now for me it’s been hands against stone
Spent each and every moment
Searching for what to believe

Coming out of the dark, I finally see the light now
It’s shining on me
Coming out of the dark I know the love that saved me
You’re sharing with me

Starting again is part of the plan
And I’ll be so much stronger holding your hand
Step by step I’ll make it through I know I can
It may not make it easier but I have felt you
Near all the way

Coming out of the dark, I finally see the light now
And it’s shining on me (I see the light, I see the light)
See the light (I see the light)
Coming out of the dark I know the love that saved me
You’re sharing with me

Slowly, imperceptibly, I’ve seen the light coming. Like the sun at sunrise, it’s not a moment, it’s more of a process. Today is my third birthday since Shayna passed.  In just one month it’ll be three years.Somewhere along the way the darkness that seemed impenetrable and permanent has started to subside. My mood has started to shift. Today, I will spend a good part of the day in solitude. It’s graduation time. It’s Memorial Day weekend. Tywana is going to Lexington for her cousin Mike’s funeral. Today is Brianna’s graduation. Brianna is Shayna’s twin born from another mother (technically cousin), born four months after Shayna, the two of them were inseparable.This would be Shayna’s graduation year. My birth family will be at her graduation in Columbus. I’ll spend the day reflecting on the journey over the last 57 years.There was a time when being alone would have been depressing, but this is my choice; as is all of this. So, I’ll embrace it.

As I see the dark lifting and the light approaching to what can I attribute this? Is it the old adage “Time heals all wounds.”? Certainly not.Time alone heals nothing. I think it’s the hard work I’ve put in and continue to put in.It’s the realization that Shayna has never left me. I feel her with me more and more. She’s been giving me this message to write for the last several days. She’s right over my shoulder as I type this and the tears flow while I listen to Gloria Estefan sing “Coming Out Of The Dark”.  I hear her cheering me on. I get her signs. She comes to me in dreams. She sends messages to me through mediums. Knowing she is still with me makes it bearable. I have felt her near all the way. It’s the knowing that this is all temporary. It’s an illusion. Where it counts we are still together. I have internalized this message. I study it.I meditate on it, daily.

Is it over? Has the grief passed? No. It’s a daily struggle. Jesus said “Take up your cross daily and follow me.”Daily. I wake up and the human part of me longs for comfort, longs for security, longs for the life I once had. The human part of me just wants to go Home. Anxiety still grips me.Depression still makes a guest appearance. But, I have to rise above that and look at it from my soul’s perspective which says it’s all going according to plan. I look at Shayna’s picture every morning as I come down the stairs, look at that sweet cheek, that beautiful smile, and I long for the day when I can kiss her cheeks again and hug her.But, I know that day is coming and I celebrate as I pass each milestone. I make my way down the stairs, lace up my shoes and set out.

Today is another milestone. I celebrate it. I’ve made it. No matter what happens from here on out, I have made it. I hereby declare victory. I take a moment to pat myself on my back. The dawn is breaking. Many of us Shining Light Parents dread these days, birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings. Not me. I look at it this way. I’m running a marathon and these days are mile markers. When you’re running a race and you pass a mile marker do you mourn the miles that are behind you? No. You say “Only a few more miles to go. One step at time.” And you keep moving. And, you know that you will cross that line and then you’ll party. Happy Birthday to me. 57 trips around the sun accomplished. I wonder what year 58 has in store.

This journey gets hard sometimes. Being human, we can get caught up in the day-to-day and forget that we are much more than these bodies. Yesterday, I was trying to encourage a fellow Shining Light parent and told her that we need to shift to a higher perspective when things overwhelm us. 
 
I listened to this song three times this morning, just to keep myself reminded.

 

This song always takes me straight to heaven. It starts off understated and builds to a powerful crescendo with a last verse that brings on waves of goosebumps.  The vocals, the lyrics, the visuals are are perfect. Even the expressions on the faces of the people listening in the studio are transcendental.

Watch full screen for maximum enjoyment:

No, I don’t know what happens when you die
And just the thought, you know, it kind of blows my mind
But when I look, when I look up to the sky
Somehow, somehow
I know that it will be alright
Somehow, somehow
I know that you will be beside, oh

I don’t know if Michael had an NDE, but this song is about an NDE.

As I drove across on the highway
My jeep began to rock
I didn’t know what to do so I stopped and got out
And looked down and noticed I got a flat

So I walked out, parked the car like sideways
So I can find what I can fix
I looked around there were no cars on the highway
I felt a strange feeling like a mist

I walked down towards the end of the road
And in the fog a woman appeared
She said don’t you worry my friend I’ll take care
Take my hand, I’ll take you there

Oh
Take me to a place without no name
Take me to a place without no name
Take me to a place without no name
Take me to a place without no name

As she took me right through the fog
I see a beautiful city appear
Where kids are playin’ and people are laughin’ and smiling and
Nothing to fear fear

She said this is the place where no people have pain
With love and happiness
She turned around looked down at my eyes and started cryin’
She grabbed my hand, you got a friend

Oh
Take me to a place without no name
Yeah

She started likin’ me kissin’ me and huggin’ me
She didn’t really, really want me to leave
She showed me places I’ve never seen things I’ve never done
This really looks like a lotta fun

I seen the grass and the sky and the birds
And the flowers surrounded by the trees
This place is filled with love and happiness
How in the world could I wanna leave

So then I went in my pocket took my wallet on out
With my pictures of my family and girl
This is the place that you choose to be with me
When you thought you could be in another world

Oh
Take me to a place without no name
La la la
A place without no name
La la la

A place without no name (La, la, la)

For my five miles every day I have different goals.  If I’m feeling good, I’ll put on some music and go for time.  If I’m feeling down, I’ll put on a Podcast and walk.  Some days I might stroll and meditate. This morning, the sun is shining, it’s in the mid 40s.  It feels like a good day to go for time. I’ve only gone for time once this week.  So, I crank on my playlist based on Craig David and hit the road.  The pace feels pretty good, almost effortless.  I think about a meditation I did yesterday. In meditation, the tendency is to beat ourselves up. We either try to banish all thoughts (impossible) or just focus on happy thoughts.  That can make meditation a chore.  This guided meditation instructed me to welcome all thoughts. I loved that. No trying to push away the anger and the sadness, even the worry. They were all welcome as part of me as I sat on my cushion.  All parts of me. All parts of this experience of being human. I didn’t feel the need to push any of them away and that was so relaxing. As the meditation comes to mind I decide that today instead of trying to push my body or even hold it back, I’m just going to let my body set the pace. I’m going to run effortlessly and just see what happens.

As I hit the first half mile split, I’m on a really good pace.  The song that’s playing is Mariah Carey’s version of “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5. The lyrics remind me of Shayna (I can twist just about any song into reminding me of Shayna). I play with her being there for me now that she’s watching over me and me being there for her the way I was when she was in the flesh. I’m starting to tear up a little and I say something to Shayna.  Right at that moment, something weird happens when the first split time is being announced.  The music pauses. The split time is announced and I go to resume, the music, but it won’t start playing again.  The music app is still showing the last song I was playing yesterday as the current song. The first song on the playlist is “All The Way” by Craig David.  I go to the playlist and I can’t even find “I’ll Be There”  I resume the playlist at the next song and continue my run.

I’ll reach out my hand to you
I’ll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I’ll be there (I’ll be there)I’ll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I’m so glad that I found youI’ll be there with a love that’s strong
I’ll be your strength
I’ll keep holdin’ on (holdin’ on)
Yes I will, yes I willLet me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, girl, is all I’m after
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)I’ll be there to protect you (yeah baby)
With unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

This fast first split is not unusual. The split that really tells what kind of a run it’s going to be is the mile split.  I hit it in just over 10 minutes. That’s really good for me.  My legs are starting to tingle, but I ignore that and push through it.

Then, I see a woman who I see running all the time. She’s probably 20 years younger than I am and much faster.  She’s coming up behind me. I feel myself starting to press as my ego says “Let’s see how long we can stay in front of her.”  Staying effortless becomes an effort as I want to push the pace.  Finally, she passes me, pulls away and makes the turn going the opposite direction so I’m no longer tempted to try to chase her down.  I’m coming up to the toughest part of my run, a long, gradual climb that is always my slowest split and I rarely make it up that hill without slowing to a walk. I climb the hill and make the turn for home. This is around the 4 mile mark.  My pace is still really good. Now, I’m tempted to press. I want to set that record.  But, my experience in the first couple of miles reminds me to make today effortless. So, I repeat that “effortless” mantra to myself as I’m coming up on the last split time I’ll get, 4.5 miles. I take notice my body. Being relaxed and even feeling like I’m going slower is actually putting me on a faster pace.  My breathing is much better than it usually is. I hit the 4.5 mile mark in a time that’s going to put me well under my best time ever.  Now, I’m really tempted to press. I have one more hill to climb.  I really want this record.  I do allow myself to  press a bit as I switch my mantra to “finish”.  At 5.0 miles, when I shut down the app, I’m two minutes better than my best time ever and about 7 minutes better than my average when I’m running for time.

When I get home, I check the playlist. “I’ll Be There” is on the playlist, but it’s way down the list. I would not have gotten to it on my run today.  MapMyWalk keeps track of the playlists for the run.  Weirdly, it doesn’t show that I even played All The Way, even though that song played in its entirety. It shows “I’ll Be There” as the first song and then the other songs on the playlist, in order.

I have always loved the song “Standing On Higher Ground” by Alan Parsons. I’m sure I’ve listened to it hundreds of times.  I’ve always felt a little bit guilty, a little arrogant, cocky even because I could always so closely identify with the idea of looking at things from a different perspective and, in the song, the writer is saying:

I know the truth
But I can’t say
And I have to turn my head
And look the other wayI’m not afraid
And I won’t lie
As long as I see no wrong
I won’t need to testify

I see the world
And I’m looking from a high place
Way above it all
Standing on higher ground

I breathe the air
While they’re running in a rat race
Way above it all
Standing on higher ground

Yeah, it seems to me to be a little less than humble to say I’m breathing the air, while they’re running in the rat race.  But, it’s true. I’ve always had a different perspective than normal. I listened to the song a few days ago and wanted to share it on Facebook.  When I went to YouTube to find a video I could share, I found this beautiful (unofficial) video for it.

This morning, while I was on my walk, I just had to listen to it again. As I walked the hills of West Chester, this question occurred to me “How did he get on this higher ground?”  I’m guessing he wasn’t born there.  People can’t fly.  He had to climb.  Climbing is tough work.  As you leave your friends behind and head for the hills, they think you’re crazy. You have to break away to even begin the journey. You face storms on the way. Your legs burn.  Your lungs labor for air.  You go through treacherous places. You may even go through a few valleys. Then, finally, you reach that place high above it all where you’ve got a whole new perspective. You can’t see the rat race when you’re in the rat race.  The writer of the song isn’t arrogant.  He’s celebrating his hard earned victory.