Martha Hunt Handler is an environmentalist, an award-winning author, and the Board President of the Wolf Conservation Center. Martha is author of the new book Winter of the Wolf. For this interview, we discussed a wide range of topics including how tragedy helped form the story of her novel and how her life led to the 18-year journey to get the book out.

Winter of the Wolf is an exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean as she searches for the truth of her brother Sam’s “suicide.” Unconvinced her loving brother could commit such an act without warning, Bean pulls herself from her grief to become a part-time detective and shaman. Martha Hunt Handler grew up in northern Illinois dreaming about wolves and has always understood that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and be a voice for nature. She has been an environmental consultant, a magazine columnist, an actress, and a polar explorer, among other occupations. She has also driven across the country in an 18-wheeler and been a grand-prize winner of The Newlywed Game.

Soon after she and her family relocated from Los Angeles to South Salem, New York, she began to hear wolves in her backyard. This was the start of her twenty-plus-year career as an advocate for wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, where she currently serves as Board President.

 

ℹ️ https://marthahunthandler.com/author

Transcript

Brian Smith 0:00
Hey everybody, this is Brian Smith. I’m back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I’ve got with me Martha Hunt Handler. And Martha is an author and a fat fascinating all around person. But we’re going to talk today about her book was called winter of the wolf was just released a couple days ago. So I’m gonna read a short introduction and then and then I’ll bring Martha on. Mark, the handler is an environmentalist, and award winning author and the board president of the wolf Conservation Center. She’s the author of the new book winner of the wolf, which is available just a few days ago just came out on Tuesday, recorded on Friday, July 10 20. Martha grew up in Northern Illinois, dreaming about wolves and is always interested that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and to be a voice for nature. She’s been an environmentalist, environmental consultant, a magazine columnist and actress, a polar explorer, among other occupations. She’s also driven across the country in 18 Wheeler. I’ve been a grand prize winner of the Newlywed Game soon after Arthur and her family relocated relocated from Los Angeles to Southern Salem, New York, she began to hear wolves in her backyard. This was the start of her 20 plus year career as an advocate for wolves. And at the wolf Conservation Center, where as I said, She’s currently serves as the board president. So that want to welcome Martha handler.

Martha Hunt Handler 1:17
Thank you so much for having me, Brian. This is a really exciting my book touches on a lot of subjects. But I would say the whole grief to I call it gratitude is a big one for me. And one of my I think, most important messages. I hope it’s driven home in my book.

Brian Smith 1:37
Yeah, well, that’s great because that ties right in with the theme of what I’m trying to do here is trying to help people to move from those tragic events in their life to to learning from them to go into gratitude or go into growth or, or whatever there may be. So let’s, you’ve had some interesting things in your background, you what’s driving across the country, an 18 Wheeler.

Martha Hunt Handler 1:59
I was I just graduated from college at University of Colorado Boulder. And I was in a Volkswagen and it was about 110 degrees that day. And I shot a piston through my engine. So I knew the car was shot. I had no chance of affording to be able to fix it at that point. And there had been this 18 Wheeler, who had been following me and I had probably had very short shorts on and he was kind of honking his horn at me, and he would go ahead of me, and then I would go ahead and him. And as I was sitting on the side of the road, with all my stuff, boxes and boxes, wondering what I was going to do, because I think I was at least 60 miles from the next town. He pulled up in behind me and said, let’s put your car on my trailer and go, I’ll take you to the gas station. And I mean, it sounds crazy now, but that was back in the day. You know, it was like 81 I hitchhiked all over the place didn’t think anything of it. And he was like 510 he was probably five, four. He was a very small guy, so I wasn’t particularly worried. Anyway, he was great. It was the most enlightening trip I’ve ever had, I mean, roles vary the number of drugs that he did to get to be able to stay up the number of hours that he needed to stay up, but he always seemed perfectly sane. And I learned just so much about being on the road and what it’s like to basically live in a 18 Wheeler. And for me, I got to sit on a double bed and he was buying me magazines and meals and it was awesome trip.

Brian Smith 3:30
Wow. Wow. So that was one of your early life experiences. Yes. And you’ve had it sounds like several different careers. You’re a polar explorer, you’ve been an actress. So tell me about some of how things how one thing led to another cuz I always find it fascinating how life kind of comes at us. You know, we look we can look back on it make sense of it. When we’re going through it. It’s it can be crazy. Yeah.

Martha Hunt Handler 3:50
Yeah, I think. Um, so when I was very young, probably starting when I was four or five, growing up in Northern Illinois. Was Woods sort of all around me, we were the first house in what was going to be a plan subdivision. And my parents were very open to me going out on my own from a very young age. And so I was always in the woods and I could hear animals speaking to me very strongly with different voices. And they were all worried about the same thing about that the whole area was going to be destroyed, and they were going to lose their habitat. And I was always going to my parents to, you know, tell them that this is really scary. And can we stop it? And I don’t think they had any idea what I was talking about. Yeah, um, and I was probably like, seven before I mentioned it to a friend who also acted like I was crazy. And so I kind of shut that part of myself down. Because I didn’t want to be crazy. Yeah. And I think that’s another you know, a big lesson in my book about being yourself. And like listening to anything that comes to you and embracing your uniqueness because I think as children and teenagers we want to fit in. And it’s sort of a, it’s a sad thing because I think we leave the knowing and the best part of ourselves behind or try to shut it down, which is not a good thing. So, as time went on, I would hear the voices just became much more faint. And then my I graduated high school really early when I was 16. And I didn’t want to go to school in Illinois, which was all my father was willing to pay for. So I decided to take off in my car. It ended up breaking down in steamboat, Colorado. And when I was talking to the mechanic about what was wrong, he’s told me it was probably going to be at least $600 which I do certainly didn’t have said why don’t you come pump gas for me you can live in my garage. And you can pay it off that way. So I did and it was an interesting time in steamboat because they were the was actually for sale the ski mountain was. And up until that point they had, they didn’t allow any franchises. No fast food, they were really strict about what they were allowing there. And a company I can’t remember who it was, but somebody in Texas bought it and got all their people on the board. And all of a sudden things really started to happen quickly and not in a good way. tall buildings were going up and it was bad and I started hearing nature again really strongly. And so when I went to college, I decided I mean I’ll have to be an environmental have to do something environment and back in 1980s there was an Nothing, no major like that. So I sort of made one up. I’d started off in environmental engineering, and quickly realized that this wasn’t going to help me or enable me to do what I wanted to do. So I just kind of made up my own major. And when I graduated, a few years later, I ended up in Washington DC. And by that point, there was a lot It was easy to do environmental consulting, so I worked for a private firm but we mostly did our work with the EPA and Department of Energy and worked on a lot of nuclear programs.

And it was interesting work but it wasn’t I was transferred there. Then I went to transfer to San Francisco and then Los Angeles. And it was becoming less fulfilling as time went on in LA pretty much it was all a oil spill cleanups and things like that. So not very rewarding. Yeah. I was like pretty open to what was going to happen next. We ended up moving to Where we are now in South Salem, New York. And since I was very young, I always had wolves in my dreams and they were not necessarily there with any other animals that would just be like a wolf would pop into my dream and kind of point out something like a road I should be taking and that I was not paying attention to. Hmm, sort of just like a teacher would show up. But always there was some kind of lesson behind it. So I started hearing these wolves howling and I think at first I might be crazy, but my husband here isn’t like kids hear it. So I’m like, Okay, I guess not. I walked into the backyard one day into this forest and I found an enclosure with three wolves in it. And next to it was a trailer. And I knocked on the door and met a lender mold. And she was at the time I think about 26 years old. She’s from oxen, pro boss in France. She was the youngest student to ever graduate from the Paris Conservatory. And she told me that she’d become psychically connected to a wolf and the wolf had told her that wolves were in huge trouble. And she decided, Okay, this is what I’m gonna devote my life to this makes sense to me I given her touring schedule. She’s really famous, um, she would never be able to have a family or settle down. So she decided she would draw it. She always want to live in America. She drew a circle around JFK because that was the airport, she needed to get to her international dates. And she picked this property and was just starting out. It wasn’t yet a nonprofit. She was just starting to raise money and figure out how to do the paperwork. And she asked me to jump on board and I did and that has been like, a guiding force in my life because I feel it immediately felt like, Okay, this, I’m in tune with what I’m supposed to be doing here. Mm hmm. That it was interesting because recently, I was having stomach pains for a couple of years I’ve been to every doctor’s no one could figure out what my pains where I went to to a clinic in Austria for a few weeks, and as part of the program, they see you, you see a lot of different doctors in different you know, sort of like internists and also psychiatrists, and a shaman. So when I went to the shaman, he put me into a trance, and then he’s startled me a couple of weeks, really, probably five minutes into it, I think. And he shook me awake. And he said, Do you do something with Wolves? And I said, Yes, he said, because there’s like, 50 of them in my office. Right? Right. I’ve never had this happen to you before. I said, Okay, I’m going to put you back under and when I came back out, he said, so I’m just gonna give you the message from the wolves and they say, stick in your wolf lane, like you’re becoming so diluted, because you’re so worried about everything else environmentally that’s going on, that you’re not doing the work that you were put on the planet to do and your whole stomach will Calm down once you’re back on track, so I thought that was a, you know, a really interesting and I often have to remind myself of this experience, it only happened like a year ago. But Hmm, it’s easy, especially now during COVID I think to keep getting distracted by so many other things. And then I start feeling the pains in my stomach. I have to completely recenter and then they go away.

Brian Smith 11:21
What’s interesting you got that message right? So now you know the path that you need to be on.

Martha Hunt Handler 11:27
Loud and clear.

Brian Smith 11:28
Yeah. So let’s talk let’s talk about the book. So what When did you start writing the book what made you just start to decide to start writing the book?

Martha Hunt Handler 11:37
So it’s been a long journey, I’m a backup and just go to my childhood a little bit in that I grew up very

Unknown Speaker 11:46
I would say spiritually

Martha Hunt Handler 11:49
on my from my mother. She brought me to funerals all the time because she was sort of like the Mother Teresa of our town. And I could always feel a spirits were in the room or not, and we would talk about it And then I probably started in middle school, going to a friend’s mother who brought like, maybe six girls together. Who were? Yeah, I think about 13 or so. And we talked about spirituality and we read books together and the mother was my best friend Gretchen’s mother. And during that time, her little sister passed away. And it was very interesting because she was sick for probably six weeks. And I was about to go out of town and I was just saying goodbye to her and I’d see it you know, so you want to get back and she said, You won’t see me again. I’m leaving. Um, and when I came back, she had passed away and she had had a brain tumors. So our spiritual group turned very much to communicating with her asking her for signs which she always gave us. And it was amazing to go through that experience with that family. Because as horrible as it was, and it’s, you know, it’s never an easy thing. The the ability to communicate with this girl Sarah was pretty incredible. So fast forward, I am living in South Salem, and I get the call that, you know, well, much worse to be the mother but from Gretchen saying that she found her 12 year old son hanging from about in his closet while she was home. Mm hmm. And

Unknown Speaker 13:42
I think I was devastated on a level

Martha Hunt Handler 13:48
that I didn’t expect because I I felt like, guess what we know that he’s right here with us. You know, he’s able to do this all the time now. But I couldn’t say that to her and she couldn’t bleed any of that stuff because it was just too hard. And as you know, suicides are even worse because there’s a lot of guilt that focuses around that situation. And I listened to so many people at the funeral and afterwards saying, well, it was so sick, why don’t you get them some help? And, yeah, there’s just a lot of blame that goes on. It’s just devastating. And he wasn’t a boy that was having any difficulties that she knew of. He hadn’t been depressed in any way. It was really, really shocking. And

Brian Smith 14:38
I think a lot of people don’t realize that especially with youth suicides, that they don’t always show that the classic signs of depression that we would expect they can be very outgoing and seemingly happy. And this has happened to a couple of friends of mine actually, very recently. And you’re like you said, there’s there’s always this guilt that the parent has, well, why did I miss this? How did I miss this?

Martha Hunt Handler 14:59
so horrible. So on top of this, Gretchen felt very strongly that he didn’t commit suicide, which was, you know, crazy thinking on everybody’s part, but she was really sure that he didn’t. And I believed her. And we, she came out to New York from Illinois, because she still lives in the town we were born in and we saw a medium together. And it was actually a really interesting group because it was probably about two months after 911 happened. And it was a group for parents who lost children. And she court couldn’t afford the single session so that I think there was 10 groups of two so you could bring your spouse or someone else in the family or best friend, she brought me because her husband was not really into it. And that was amazing. And reaffirmed both of our beliefs. I think But it just, I think we’ve refocused for sure about, okay, he’s still with us. And we have to, like, believe that completely. Yeah. And not give in to the belief that he’s not here with you. Um, and she had been asking him to show her sign and he appeared one night and she said, I felt like he was almost admonishing me like, Mom, you have all people know that I’m still here. You don’t need me to be, you know, sending you feathers or dragonflies. Come on, you’re way better than that. Um, and the group was really interesting. So the think there was four people of the 10 that had been that last summer. And they each came through basically saying, remember, like, it’s, it was our time to go. I know it seems crazy that many people go at one time, but in the overall planetary souls leaving and coming It wasn’t an extraordinary Day or moment, it was just a Yeah, we’d planned this for a very long time. It just happened to be that we were all together in that one moment.

And before

um, when the medium was saying before everyone got their for the like the last four days, the souls had been kind of lining up and telling him what to purchase that would help their loved ones believe that there was communication going on between them. And it was a lot of

Unknown Speaker 17:33
religious things.

Martha Hunt Handler 17:37
Pictures of saints or metals or things like that, and my girlfriend Gretchen was sort of like, well, if you you know, gives anything to me, Well, no, this whole thing is a hoax. And she was the only one that got nothing. Um, and when her son did come through, he said, I never planned the stuff that happened really suddenly. But I see now that it was the right thing. What I needed to accomplish in this lifetime wouldn’t I put myself in the wrong circumstances to be able to do what I needed to do and it was better for me to just abort the situation. I’m sorry for the pain that it caused. Though. Not long after this, I was just journaling every day trying to think of ways to comfort Gretchen, who was really not doing very well and was about to get a divorce and she still had other kids who really needed her. And I was skating on a lake with a friend and I found this dead deer that had been frozen into the surface. And for some reason, at that moment, it’s it triggered something and I started hearing from her son, who was encouraging me to write a book about this experience. Hmm and I kept saying, but I don’t even know what happened to you. What am I writing? I don’t even know what happened. But I just like trusted that if I showed up, things would start getting written. That was a long journey because it took me 18 years from that moment, the book finally being published. Yeah, I think it was a journey I needed to go on. And I think quieting my mind enough to hear his voice also meant that I let in a lot of other voices. And it took me a while to to be strong enough to say, I this is not your story. I can get to your story, maybe at some other point. But this has got to be Brandon’s story, because that’s my focus right now. Mm hmm. And so it was a lot of sort of growing and listening to him and believing that what I was hearing and writing had some truth to it. And more and more things just kept coming up for me like the important important things in my life like I just feel like Do you need to really try to tap into your knowing and your strength? Because I think at a vulnerable age, it only takes like one sentence. You know, it only takes a math teacher telling a little girl in sixth grade that numbers aren’t your thing for you to just close up that, right? Yeah, um, or an art teacher telling you, boy, you’re just not very creative or you don’t have a, you know, your creative bone in your body just don’t even think about that as a career. Or for me, it was my dad, like, I remember so distinctly. Because during the writing, I was my father passed away, and I was cleaning out boxes. And I came upon this book that I had written when I was seven years old and illustrated. I remember staying up super late that night because they were out to dinner and I wanted to show it to them. And I felt like Oh, I’d find myself I’m going to be a writer. And when they walked in the door, and I showed them, my dad said, well, it’s not a very good story and you’ll never make money as a writer. So put that right out of your head. And that really shut me down. I mean, I really never gave it another thought, again, until this happened with my friend son like I had done. I was a magazine columnist so I, you know, I could write, it was more like a humor column I, you know, I’d always written nonfiction, but getting back to believing in myself, you know, and I wondered, like if my dad hadn’t said that to me what my path would be. Although, you know, ultimately, my path is my path. And I’m on it, I’m sure.

Brian Smith 21:33
Right, right. Yeah, you know, that’s, that’s another excellent point that I think you bring up. You talk about how quickly we can shut down and how open children are. And I think it’s very important for children, to speak words of encouragement to them, and to be very careful with with the criticisms because I think we I think children come in, just naturally open and I mean, intuitively, and then we say things like, well, that’s silly. That’s just your imagination, or as you said, we say you will you’re not really good at that. And we never make any money doing that. And we don’t realize how deeply that goes into a child’s psyche.

Martha Hunt Handler 22:09
Yes. And it’s like, you know, that old saying, which I really hate now sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Yeah, when I think it’s just the opposite, right? I mean, boy, oh boy. I just finished. I don’t know if you’ve read it by Glennon Doyle’s untamed man. It’s sort of her journey. She was told, I think when she was nine, that one of her teachers said something like, oh, you’re gonna have to really watch your diet because you’re already getting a little chunky around your middle. And she became bulimic at 10 years old. Yeah. And I think, yeah, all those things are increasing so much. So we really, really have to be careful. There’s just so many things that you can implant without ever giving it a second thought. I know I have a friend who’s um, she was one of the first plus size models and I hate that word, but whatever she would always warn me because I, you know, I just, I’m a woman in my 60s and I’m like, constantly needing to lose weight, you know, and she was like, You can’t even say it around your daughter, not one time, like, or son probably, you know, like, don’t just take the carrot and not the cheese. Don’t say anything about why you’re making that decision. You know, it’s one thing when you’re around your girlfriends, and they, they’re all in the same boat, but to say anything derogatory about your body or dieting to young girls and young boys is not a good idea.

Brian Smith 23:51
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really important that we do watch our words around, around around young people. So you’ve taken this, this experience. You’ve had this the spiritual journey that you’ve been on the the tragic death of your of your friend Gretchen’s son and kind of poured it into this this fictional story. We’re going to call it fictional but sounds like there’s a lot of elements of truth to this.

Martha Hunt Handler 24:14
A lot of elements. So I would say my protagonists been, who’s 15 when the story starts, and it’s your 17 year old brother who’s passed away, um

Brian Smith 24:27
wolves Hold on.

Martha Hunt Handler 24:37
fictionalized idealized version of myself if I had believed in myself and believed in my knowing and believed in my voices and listened to myself, so she is convinced that her brother did not commit suicide. She was incredibly close to him. Yeah, it was her soulmate for life and she has two other brothers that she’s not as close to at all. Hmm. And so she is unable to grieve, because how do you grieve for somebody that you’d never knew. I mean, just nothing makes sense to her. So her best friend agrees that, let’s go figure out, if you don’t believe it happened, I don’t believe it happened. Let’s go do what we can do. So they decided to interview everybody that he was with in the last few days before he passed. They don’t really find a lot of information there. But she’s also learning more about her own family because she interviews her brothers and realizes that she might have sold them short. might have made judgments about who they were as people, and maybe that’s not really who they were. And then they start doing some they do a shamanic ritual, which is a really heavy experience. Um, and it’s, you know, it’s a lot about girlfriends being good girlfriends sticking with each other believing in each other. And then there’s a wolf that keeps showing up. And he would throw other Sam was very into Inuits for some reason, who are natives from Canada, the native people and so they’re reading all of his Intuit books and they believe that you can transition from animals to people back to animals again, at that your whim when you pass, whenever. So the sighting of this Wolf, they’re in northern Minnesota, but seeing a wolf in the middle of the day is a very unusual thing. They’re pretty elusive creatures and she’s seeing this one Black Wolf more than one time and starts believing that it might be your brother that’s hanging around her. And so it talks a lot about I think the better way that our native cultures dealt with death, you know, a believe that it was simply a transition and nothing more. And so, and I think like, we know that scientifically that energy cannot be made or destroyed. But we don’t think about that in terms of so what do you know? What do people think happens to a soul? It can’t just disappear, which is always I thought really interesting. Anyway, it’s a mystery, so I can’t tell you

Unknown Speaker 27:31
and ruin the whole secret. Yeah, sure. I would say that.

Martha Hunt Handler 27:36
That it’s, it’s an interesting ending.

Brian Smith 27:40
Yeah, it sounds fascinating. So how did how did you decide to include the the new addendum element into the story?

Martha Hunt Handler 27:48
Because I watched them look at the North when I was in third grade, and I became obsessed with it. Um, yeah, you can see my office right now. It’s like full of Intuit things I have, huh? Yeah. And feathers and like, tons of annual books. I think. Yeah, I think it’s like, yeah, I think it’s been past life stuff. Yeah, just really strongly related to them. And maybe a reason that I like being a polar explorer. Like any chance I’ll get I’ll go to Antarctica or the Arctic. I feel most at home there. I don’t know. Feels like my place. Yeah, get any of my friends to agree to go. There all. thing I want to do is go play someplace cold, but it’s just so peaceful and quiet and a silence like you don’t really get to hear anymore.

Brian Smith 28:40
Yeah, it’s interesting. How it seems like we have callings to places and things and stuff. You know, I think possibly from past lives. I interviewed someone I’m working with her name is Robin land song. And she was actually kidnapped. She grew up I think in Philadelphia, and she was kidnapped by this guy and taken to Africa. I guess for the first time in our life like I felt at home that little white girl and South Africa were Mondays black people that were their thing. The tradition was singing and stuff and she felt just so at home there and even to this day, and I Robin’s in her 40s or 50s I’m gonna guess she’s just drawn to that culture. So it’s interesting. It sounds like you’ve got a similar experience with the with the native Canadians.

Martha Hunt Handler 29:25
Yes. So this is interesting. I’ve always been like, I had hair down to my waist. I weren’t like Pocahontas. I had headbands on. I mean, that was just kind of me because my grandfather was an Algonquin Indian. And even though we didn’t talk much, and he wasn’t like, the nicest friendliest guy, for some reason, I was just obsessed with it. And I recently did a 23andme and found out that Nope, no Native American ancestry. At the time, I was going to see us like that too much later. I was I’m just devastated. You know, he’s like, that’s your blood. But you’re you’ve been in those lives for many, I could give you a lot of instances, but you have been in native cultures lived in those cultures, many lifetimes, it doesn’t matter what your blood is.

Brian Smith 30:17
Yeah, I think we’ve placed too much emphasis on our physical DNA and not enough in our spiritual DNA. And we’re starting to understand I think a little bit better that we have this we have spiritual DNA that comes from our, in our past experiences, not necessarily physical.

Martha Hunt Handler 30:32
Yeah, I think it’s really important.

Brian Smith 30:35
So, yeah, the book, it sounds like, you know, I know it’s kind of positioned as I think a young adult book, but it sounds like it’d be great for people of all ages to because of the very difficult things in the book. Not difficult in terms of things most people don’t really like to face, but I think the really deep questions.

Martha Hunt Handler 30:56
Yes, I think so too. It’s I think it’d be a great book. For both groups I think it’s a good like mother daughter or father’s you know just there’s lots lots of openings to have discussions around this. All these so many different topics. It’s hard I think when you’re brought up believing in reincarnation and past lives and you can be in touch with pretty much to be and those that aren’t and it’s hard to

Unknown Speaker 31:33
it’s hard for me to have

Martha Hunt Handler 31:37
to me, um, I just had with my kids, I have four kids in their 20s and they’re all back living with us during this COVID and they have each had a you know, a friend from growing up that is overdose during this time and it’s been really sad and hard for them and each one of these cases Is the child had been recovered for like a year or two. And so it’s come out of the blue. And I know, this is happening everywhere. It’s just a terrible time for people that have any kind of substance issues and psychological issues and whatnot. And I only was friends with one of the mothers and I had called her to tell her how sorry it was and, and I knew that she had similar beliefs to mine. And so she was telling me, yeah, I just had this really interesting experience because, you know, I do believe he’s around me, but physically, it’s really hard for me because he lives so close and we connected every day. And

that part’s really,

really difficult. So I had gone to the bookstore the other day to say, and I just, you know, walking into it said her son’s name was Sean, like, Sean, could you please, we, you know, send me to a book that’s gonna help me right now. I just need Just a little something. And so she walked into the store. And this drum Medley was on that her son played all the time. And it was his ringtone on his phone. And she thought like, this is just so weird because it’s a very obscure

Unknown Speaker 33:12
drum.

Martha Hunt Handler 33:13
And she was in the section on spirituality and she asked the bookseller, if you could recommend any book, she and her son, she heard his voice saying sign signs. And so she said, two signs may mean a thing, too. And she goes, Yeah, the book is right in front of your eyes, and pulled it out. I don’t know if you’ve ever read that book. But um, it’s called the secret language of the Universe by Laura Lynn Jackson. And after that, I said, should we read it together? And we’ll, you know, maybe discuss it and she’s like, that’d be great. So I’m reading it right now. And it’s just so funny when you open that door like I was sitting here reading it. I’m sitting on a In our leg on it aired inner tube and it was talking about how fireflies and dragonflies are very they show up a lot when you’re trying to reach out and I had like five fireflies land it just hanging out was reading the book and then it said electronic things can often go start going crazy. And I was like, all of a sudden my cell phone wasn’t working. I went up to do something on my computer it was doing some really weird stuff and i don’t know i think you know, you know when you open yourself up and you’re in that place, it just floods you Yeah. You and your your podcasts a synchronicity. I always say like, there’s no coincidences. There’s only coincidence. And yeah, as soon as you just open a little bit they come flooding in and it’s awesome. Yeah,

Brian Smith 34:53
yeah. Some people call him God winks. I call him easter eggs, my shade and I like to play video games and programs. Put these little things in the game that just kind of little, little nods that you’re, you know that they’re there. And so I look at it’s kind of like whoever, whoever is controlling this whoever’s behind the curtain or whatever, every once in a while they give us these little things. And if you if you look for them, they become really prevalent and they become they become undeniable. And I everybody I’ve seen this kind of opened up to that, you know, you can start to see these things, you know, happen in your

Martha Hunt Handler 35:24
life. Cool. I didn’t know that. Never heard that before. That’s great.

Brian Smith 35:28
Yeah. So I yeah, you know, this this world and that’s why I really like about the story that you’re telling me because it does take us beyond the material and maybe a non threatening way to people. And as I was thinking about this, and I was as I was reading your materials before we got on, you know, I said work with helping parents heal. So a lot of times when that when that child has died by suicide, the other kids are left behind. We don’t even know how to talk to the It’s hard enough to talk to a sibling anyway, but when it’s a suicide, it brings us whole different Level things and this. And kids approach things differently when they’re in the teenage years and stuff. They don’t they don’t process grief necessarily the same way we do. So I think maybe your book could be a way a non threatening way to introduce these concepts to a child that doesn’t maybe want to talk about it.

Martha Hunt Handler 36:17
Yeah, I think so. So she really she doesn’t have the the beam does not have the part that says, There was things left unsaid because she was so close to her brother, but her brothers have that. I mean, they they all the three of the boys shared around together. But the other two brothers were sort of, you know, athletic. They thought he was kind of crazy at long hair. He was always trying to live out in nature as much as possible. They just didn’t relate to him in a whole lot of levels. But when he passes, there’s such a sense of why didn’t I say that? I loved him. You know, why didn’t I hug him more? Why didn’t I show him that? I thought he was a really cool guy for doing things that weren’t done by anybody else.

Yeah, so I think that’s such an important lesson to

write like, just just remind yourself to tell the people around you every day, you know how much you love them and care for them. And yeah, how cool it is when someone does something that’s unexpected or different. And you know that it was probably a painful thing for them to come out and say that or do that. It’s just, yeah.

Brian Smith 37:25
Well, you touched on this earlier, but I think, do you believe that even when people pass early, I rarely use the word died? Because I don’t believe anybody dies, we just would transition. But when people transition early, do you think that’s a plan thing?

Martha Hunt Handler 37:40
I do. I mean, from everything

that I have listened to and read, it seems like there’s almost like a contract being signed that you’re going to do this in this amount of time, and then move on. I think there are incidences where you get here and it’s not Maybe you picked the wrong parents, maybe you picked the wrong geographical location. Maybe some other situation is not quite what you had thought. And so maybe you decide to go earlier than you might have. For the most part, most of us go when you’re when you plan to go. Um, and so I try in the book to get people to see like, No, none of us were promised tomorrow. So all we have is what we’ve already experienced. So when someone passes, it’s such a great time to like, think of all that they gave to it in the life in the time that they were here, and it might be six months, and it might be five years and it might be 50 years, it might be 100 years, but that’s the that’s what you have of that person. Everything that they gave to you that they shared with you that you learn from them, because that’s all you really have. Yeah,

Brian Smith 38:58
yeah, those are those are also very, very Lessons because whether it’s suicide or whatever we’re not promised tomorrow, but my daughter Shana transitioned, she was healthy, she just come back for a volleyball tournament. And you know, we always think we’ve got we’ve got tomorrow, we’ve got a long time when people are young, and we need to seize the moment, we have to embrace the day. And you made a good point we need to whatever amount of time we have within Let’s be grateful for that time. And, and, and hold on to that and, but we can continue the relationship as well. And that’s, I think, an important lesson that it doesn’t have to be the end. It’s just different.

Martha Hunt Handler 39:35
I always say, like,

just start talking to the people that have passed, like, I always talk to my mom, and maybe it’s my voice answering but maybe it’s hers, you know, why not be open to the thought that, that it isn’t my voice. She’s telling me giving me her advice. And I think it’s so it’s such a better way to think right? I mean, it was so good. It’s been so hard in New York City to, especially in

March and April and part of May when our

hospitals were completely full or ICU beds were overflowing there was bodies being put on trucks and and people were so fixated on I didn’t get to say

goodbye, I didn’t get there was no last rites.

And like I listen to all your podcasts and everything else and you’re like,

you know, those things are just,

you know, constructs, I would think that the one thing you would want religion to do would be to uplift you in those times and give you the the feeling that it’s it. It’s okay, if there was no physical thing that needed to be done. You didn’t need to physically be with them. You didn’t need to be holding their hand you didn’t need to be giving them last rites, that’s really immaterial. They, they left and they’re still with you. So like, yeah, embrace Because I feel I feel there’s so much hurt right now with people not getting that final farewell and in kept out of the hospitals and I wish there was a way to just try to help them a little bit. It’s got it I mean it’s a horrible feeling if you are part of a religion that makes you feel that without that final word, they’re going to you know, fire and brimstone about you know all everyone that’s ever left and came back I don’t think there’s ever been an experience that was in any way better anything we would kind of take with hell right I mean, they’re all really positive experiences

Brian Smith 41:42
there have there are some negative experience with it, like all negative experiences. They’re they’re fairly rare but what’s interesting interview pmh Atwater who studied you know, thousands of their death experiences, and she told me a story. She said there were two people in a seminar she was giving one person stood up and said I had to have experience. When I had my nd it was it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, because I came back and they were maladjusted. And they just had a really terrible time. Another person had a we call a hellish experience. And she said was the best thing that ever happened to her. So there are some people that have those experiences, but they’re always temporary. And they usually I think they’re the projections of our own imagination, and no one ever stays in them. So, but the idea that there’s eternal hell is just that’s nowhere from anybody that’s haven’t ever had an experience that says that that exists. But yet, you know, you might have another point earlier, this is a choice as to how we look at things. And it’s it’s such a much better way to look at things it just gives it so fraying. And this idea and I and I’ve seen these people, too, that they’re just heartbroken that my loved one died alone. I wasn’t there to say goodbye to them. Well, first of all, I’ve been told by many mediums no one ever dies alone, that there’s always somebody there to meet us. So we don’t We don’t die alone. They didn’t you know, they didn’t die, you know that way. And when you think I wish I’d been there, they probably came to you right away. You know, probably as soon as they’re out of the body, they were right there with you. So we’ve got to get over this this hang up with a physical body. Yeah, I wasn’t there with their body when they died and just look at it as they just slipped out of their body. And then they were free to be wherever they wanted to be.

Martha Hunt Handler 43:25
Yeah, and I listened to a few of yours and others were, yeah, that sense of like, looking back down at your body all hooked up, and doctors going crazy. And you’re like, it’s such peace. And yeah, I want to go back into that. So when my mother passed, she went, she had lung cancer, and I went home to help my dad take care of her. And as sort of as soon as I got there, my dad checked out and I don’t know where he went every day so early and stayed all day and came home very late, but I basically wasn’t seeing him and I had just had my third child. He was a baby and I had to stop breastfeeding to fly home to be with us. I was like, an agony. And my mother and I talked about all the time. And you know, she was feeling really guilty that I was there. And she was like, you know, starving me, because that’s probably the quickest way like, just give me like a little sip and then stop it. And we kept saying, Is there anybody that means there’s somebody you haven’t seen, because hostos kept saying, Oh, she won’t last 48 hours. And it was like, another week and another week, and it was it was going on for like two months. And she was like, well invite this person, invite this person and nothing was yours. We couldn’t figure out what was keeping her keeper. Yeah. And then one day a girlfriend called and she had just had a baby and I had, and I was before cellphones. And I was like, I called this diner to see if my dad happened to be there as well. He plays I think he would be that early in the morning and he was there. And I said, you need to get home because I need to go to the hospital and see a girlfriend. So we came home and I didn’t even get to the house. But before my dad called me and said your mom just passed, and I was like, Of course she needed to be with my dad. Not that she needed to be with my dad. But I think my dad would have been devastated given how little time he spent with her mom in those last few months if he hadn’t been there, so Wow, that was pretty

Brian Smith 45:18
amazing. It is it is and and I have a friend Deborah diamond, she’s a death doula. And she says that basically I you know, until the body is ready, you know, then we don’t go until our souls ready. We don’t go and people go and whatever the right time is. And it’s interesting because people when they’re in hospice, a lot of times sometimes they’ll wait till someone comes. And sometimes they’ll wait till someone leaves the I guess a lot of times they’ll pass from the families out of the room and people say, Oh, I missed their passing. It’s like, no, they wanted you to be out of the room when they when they went that was that was intentional. So we have to feel like we have to understand however it happened. That’s how it’s supposed to happen.

Martha Hunt Handler 45:55
Yes. When my father My father went into a diabetic coma. And when he came out of the hospital, he was put in a rehab facility. And he was sort of I don’t I don’t know, like that dementia where maybe he had one foot in the other world and one foot here and it was very confusing for him. But one of my brothers had promised him he’d never put them in a nursing home. And that was going to be the next step. And the nurses were telling me, it doesn’t make sense for your brother to take him home. Your dad’s very large man. It’s going to be very hard to keep him comfortable. And keep enough people around him, for him to be safe. And in a good spot, and you’ve got to convince your brother but it was just he was like, I only made one promise to dad and I’m not going to break it. So I contacted one of those death doulas and was just asking and she and she said, Okay, I’m tapping into them. Yeah, I think he was like an engineer, right. And I said, Yeah, he said he was very calculated about everything and he was supposed to be letting go and going in a different direction. didn’t really do that. But he’s doing the work right now. And I can’t tell you if it’s going to take an hour or if it’s going to take years. But he’s doing the important work right now. And he’s not in a place that he can understand where he is. So it’s, it will not in any way harm to putting in a nursing home. But of course, my brother still was like, Well, I don’t care about your crazy thoughts. Like I’m taking him home. So the morning that he was being packed up

to leave he right is the van pulled up, he passed away. Wow.

So it was like, thank you. Thank you, thank you. But it was an interesting experience when you have a sibling and you’re on very different pages with this whole thing. And I understand, but I would you know, I would say to people never make anyone promise they will put you in a nursing home. You know, I always tell my kids just do what’s ever most comfortable for you and I am totally okay with that.

Brian Smith 47:58
Yeah, that’s what we’ve had. My father in law went through dementia. And he was a really outdoorsman, loner, Daniel Boone, you know, type of guy, whatever. And, but he ended up with a dementia to the point where he was just in and out. And I think I, you know, it’s interesting that this happened seven, eight years ago, I guess now maybe even longer. And I look at it differently now that I’ve learned so much, because I think he was he was crossing over and coming back. And he would say things that made no sense from this existence. And Raymond Moody talks about the nonsense that people start to talk about when they’re when they’re passing, which is really sensical, but not from our from our physical perspective. So that whole thing with dementia is is really, you know, an interesting thing and it’s interesting that mediums can actually tap into those people a lot of times Yes. And talk to them and their and their whole, their whole but they’re just not connected with the body anymore.

Martha Hunt Handler 48:49
Yeah, I walked into his room one day when he was still in the hospital and he said, Oh, you just missed your mother. I my mother had passed like 10 years before that sounds like oh my god, this is so cool. You know? Yeah, definitely. God He goes, Yeah, I don’t see her anymore. And then he said, but your brother and his friends were here like all night so I’m really tired and I knew my brother hadn’t been there. So I was like, asking my brother if he had become a born again Christian, I guess he was with his group the night before and they had been praying for my father.

Brian Smith 49:17
Oh, wow,

Martha Hunt Handler 49:18
very cool. Wow, that Yeah,

Brian Smith 49:20
wow. That’s That’s incredible. And that’s that’s the perspective that we can we can have and we open up our minds to it because I was gonna say maybe your brother was there in the astral or something. But yeah, yeah. Once once we get untethered from our body that your father was untethered, so he was able to visit these different realms. That’s Wow, it’s amazing. Martha, it’s been really great. Getting to know you and to hear about winner of the wolf. It sounds like an awesome book, I think for I think for adults and for young adults. Where can people find out more about you and we’re going to get the bar.

Martha Hunt Handler 49:55
So my website is Martha hunt handler.com I recently someone I added hunts because someone told me in Estonia the word hut means wolf.

Okay, so basically a wolf handler, which is what I do.

Wow. Yeah. So very cool.

Brian Smith 50:13
So and your book I assume is available anywhere, anywhere. And it’s winter of the wolf and it’s available now. Today’s Friday, July 10 2020. Just came out. Martha again, it’s been it’s really been great getting to know you and to find out more about your story and and just hopefully encourage people that are listening to have a different understanding a broader understanding of what life was really all about.

Martha Hunt Handler 50:37
Yes, thank you. It was so great friend really got love meeting you too.

Brian Smith 50:41
Yeah, you have a good afternoon. You too.

Unknown Speaker 50:43
Bye bye.

Unknown Speaker 50:46
All right, let me stop

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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