Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for June, 2012

Water and Meditation for a Better You

In addition to being a Hospice volunteer, I serve on the board for a health foundation in Arizona. In this capacity I see the tremendous research work that is being conducted to find answers to major health issues such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. When you see the devotion the doctors bring to this field it is truly inspiring. These are people who care about the quality of our lives and have committed themselves to the never-ending quest to find answers that will help us lead fuller, richer lives.

Information on the brain helps us understand what we can do to help ourselves. Our 3 pound brains are made up of 75% water and use up to 20% of our body’s total oxygen. Our brain can process information at about 268 miles an hour and generate between 10 to 23 watts of energy while awake. That’s enough energy to power a light bulb. No wonder when we meditate, to try to listen to the other side, it takes consistent practice – even 15 minutes per day to achieve a sense of calm and a deeper knowing. It takes time and practice to learn to slow down our ‘monkey brains,’ but is so worth it.

We have all chosen to live on this earth, in this body until it is time for our exit. What we do with our bodies in the time in between is up to us. Daily meditation is an important practice, to me it is as important as water is to our bodies. Both fuel our physical and mental wellness. Both help us see more clearly and feel more at peace. I believe we are all here to learn lessons and to make the world a little better place. To do so requires that our bodies and brains are functioning at their best. When the mayor of New York City talks about the need to reduce our intake of those huge soft drinks there is a reason. They are unhealthy for our bodies and unhealthy for our brains.

If each of us would chose to make even minor changes in our habits, for instance, to drink more water and less sugary soft drinks and to take 15 minutes daily to relax, breathe deeply and listen, we will be able to find our own answers that will help us lead fuller, richer lives and we will change the Universe for the better, just as these talented doctors are doing.

Have a great few days!

Our Loved Ones are Always Near

Both Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman sing about saying goodbye to a loved one. Their songs, ‘Goodbye’ (The Saddest Word) by Celine and ‘Time to say Goodbye’ by Sarah are incredibly beautiful. In fact, Dion’s song, ‘Goodbye’ was played at my sister’s wonderful service years ago. Handel’s Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus is riveting for me. Every time I hear it, I stop and think about what an amazing gift one human being was able to give us. My heart just seems to expand as I listen to it. Song lyrics, works of art and poetry are the bearer of cultural values. They represent what can touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes. These creations from others who have been given such incredible talent have a way of focusing us on the importance of our relationships with others – love – the Alpha and Omega of the Universe.

Death, divorce, separation are all forms of life changing loss. The important thing to remember is that we actually did not ‘lose’ our loved ones. They are not really gone. They may be out of sight but their energy is around us all the time. As my family members have said in my book; they want to communicate with us and are waiting for us to slow down long enough to invite them into our consciousness. When it involves divorce or separation I feel that when the lessons are learned, and all the lines delivered, as in a great play, in may be time for scene changes. Again, you didn’t lose someone. The love that you shared will always be in your heart. It just may be time to move on, with grace and gratitude for what you had and what wonderful things are yet to come into your life.

My son, mother and sister communicate with me often. They have been gone for a decade but they still have a way of getting my attention when I need it most! Remember the First Law of Thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed only changed in form. Our loved ones may be changed in form but are as real a presence as ever in our lives. They are simply not burdened down by this heavy shell called a body. Most importantly, they want us to be happy, to go on living, and share the wonderful stories about them.

Loss elicits grief – deep grief – when you love someone. The deeper the love, the deeper the feelings of loss. I think that can be a good thing. After all, deep love is what makes the world such a wonderful place.

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem from ‘In Memoriam:27, 1850 speaks so clearly to me.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Endings, Beginnings and a New Tomorrow

When we experience the end of something we often grieve and can become immobilized with hurt and uncertainty. Fear (although we may not label it as such) seems to surround us. We want to hold on with all of our might to what we had and yet it seems to slip away – sometimes in a rush and sometimes slowly, gradually, while your heart seems to be breaking. I know about the ‘ends’ of many things in life, I have been there. The toll endings can take on you seem immense at the time. It is, as if, the overcast skies last forever, and when the sun finally does appear, it no longer seems to give you the energy for a new day.

There is a quote in spiritualism that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher comes along.” The teacher may be something you read, someone you talk to, something you hear in the media or a thousand other things. The important issue is that similar to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, from Roman mythology the ‘teacher’ helps you connect the dots in your life. At just the perfect moment, you seem to receive a flash in your mind, you make a connection and experience an ‘Aha’ regarding the situation. Things suddenly becomes clearer to you. Remember, hindsight is always 20/20. Whatever form the ‘teacher’ takes, the message received can change your life and give you a renewed sense of hope and belief in tomorrow. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves enough to seek out others to help us rethink our situation. Humbling ourselves, from time to time, can be a good thing. It helps us realize how important others are in our lives. We may need someone to gently turn the kaleidoscope in our minds to better illuminate the situation, to help us see a bit differently, with more light or color, until the moment of insight – the ;Aha’ arrives.

The Universal Energy/God doesn’t make mistakes. You were part of planning your life this time around and thus had a part in the planning of this particular event – this particular ending. Consciously, we can say “No way, I didn’t want this to happen.” Of course you didn’t on this level. But there is a level far beyond where it was important, for some reason, for you to live through it. There is no one to blame, nothing to rail at, just lessons to be learned. I have learned that it is important to recognize the anger, grief, sadness and any other difficult and painful feelings their rightful place, rather than burying them. It is an important act of compassion and healing for each of us. Think about the ending – the event that happened – what is it that most unnerves you about it. What is it that seems so unfair to you? What are you having trouble getting past? Once you surface the answers to these questions, you will be able to inhale, relax a bit and recognize that, as my son has told me from the other side, “Mom, everything is as it should be.”

What Affirmations are YOU sending out to the Universe?

Since my book has been published in early May, I have been learning a great deal about book promotion. As my son told me in the book, Just Behind the Door, “Everyone needs to know that nothing dies. Love and communication continues forever if people will open themselves up to it. People have to have an emergence to see…You are spreading your own wisdom [for this emergence]. Some people feel it is wrong to be happy. It is not wrong to be happy. Remember the good times, the fun times and talk about us. We are with you always.”

I know this communication is possible since I have lived it since 1999. However, I wondered, how do I spread the word to help others? I decided to write an affirmation about it. Each day for my affirmation, I take five minutes and visualize myself talking to people, groups, signing books and, most importantly, looking into the eyes of others who have experienced a loss and I begin to see hope and a deepening understanding in their eyes after reading the book.

What has been the result? I have a book signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Arizona on June 23. In addition, within the last week TWO book talks in Michigan have been confirmed. The first one will be on the 12th of July at 6:30 PM at Kazoo Books, 2413 Parkview Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan and on July 21st at 5:00 PM at the Michigan News Agency, 308 West Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo. Both of these wonderful book store owners found a way to work me into their busy schedules even though they usually schedule 4-6 months out. I will be able to talk about the book to the people who have read it or are thinking about reading it and answer questions. In addition, I have a book talk in Lafayette, Colorado on September 19th and just yesterday, a wonderful person offered to rent a table at the Octoberfest at Sun City Grand, in Surprise, AZ for a book signing. Since I will be out of town it would have been impossible for me to rent the table on July 2 when the big kick off is scheduled. All of you who are available to attend these events are, of course, invited.

The Universal Energy/God provides for all of us when we put the intention/affirmation out there. What are you thinking about, needing and hoping for in your life. Write an affirmation – remember to write it in first person, present tense (I am… or I have…) and make it happen! You will be so glad you did.

Have a great few days!

Are We Managers or Leaders of Our Life?

I read a statement the other day that resonated with me. ‘Real living begins where your comfort zone ends.’ For some, the idea of purposely putting yourself into a totally new situation, taking that leap of faith and moving beyond what is comfortable, normal and predictable may seem frightening. I would call these folks MANAGERS of their lives. They don’t want to change anything because they fear the unknown. These same people might even comment that, at times, their lives seem boring. Really? Doing (and thinking) the same thing over and over could, indeed, be boring. To allow your life to be controlled through fear reduces your opportunities to learn, grow and fully experience life on planet Earth. Fear eliminates possibilities in your life and can encapsulates you in a cocoon of predictability. The longer you live in an environment of fear the tighter the cocoon grows around you. If you notice people who get upset easily when a change happens in their life, or something doesn’t go the way they expected it, you can almost see the invisible cocoon of fear enveloping them tighter and tighter. Their fear speaks louder than their voice.

Conversely, there are people who embrace the inevitable changes and challenges in their lives. They have decided to be a LEADER of their life rather than a manager. They realize that, at its core, life is all about change. Every day and in every way things are changing around us. We cannot stop or even control the speed of change. These people, realizing they have free will, choose to look for the positives in the changes presented in their life. A hint about identifying these specific people is to look in their eyes. You will see a little spark of possibility, even excitement evident. They seem comfortable in their own skin.

When we embrace the unknown, realizing that everything happens for a purpose, as my son has told me in my book, Just Behind the Door, it puts us in the driver’s seat rather than the passenger’s seat of life. We recognize that there is something bigger than ourselves in the Universe – and it is good. Whatever name you choose to call it, God/Universal Energy or … (fill in the blank) we are a part of this Power and it will deliver to us what we think about most often. Nothing more and nothing less. Believing this makes it easier to let go of fear, embrace the changes that happen, and truly welcome the wonderful opportunities yet to unfold in our lives.

Violence, Abuse, and Never Ending Grief

Messages from the other side sometimes can be misinterpreted by mere mortals. In my book, Just Behind the Door, my mom is quoted as saying to me, once I decided to leave my husband, “You had the courage to do what I should have done. It is time to move on. Don’t think of it as a failure but just remember the lessons learned.” I had ASSUMED that when she said ‘courage’ she meant that she was afraid she could not support us on her own and decided to stay with my dad for 64 tumultuous years. She and my one sisters experienced ongoing physical abuse from him. Strangely, my other sister and I never experienced this abuse. When I became a teenager, I gained the strength to stand between dad and mom when his temper escalated, in an effort to stop him hurting her. Once I had to push her into my bedroom and move the bureau up against the door to keep him away from her. He ended up putting his fist through the door. Although I was too young to have a driver’s license, I drove the car to my sister’s house and called the police. I had seen the frequent abuse of my mother but a deeper “aha” on the topic hit me like a lightening bolt when I was reading a 3 page spread on domestic violence recently. THIS IS WHAT MY MOM WAS REFERRING TO WHEN SHE MENTIONED THE WORD COURAGE TO ME. It wasn’t about supporting us, it was about his threats to her and her children. She was deeply afraid and intimidated by him.

Although I had never been hurt by my dad or a spouse, after reading the article I started thinking about the topic in greater depth. When I looked at the 15 point danger assessment scale, developed by Dr. Jacquelyn C. Cambell, what my mother said, became so much clearer to me. I know that my dad exhibited at least 8 of the 15 indicators of violence that could have resulted in my mom’s death: ever increasing amount of violence, choking her, guns in the house, alcohol abuse, threatening to kill himself, insane jealously, controlling her activities, violence toward my sister. The statement that nearly made my blood run cold from the article was a statement that is frequently made, I understand, by someone who kills their spouse, “If I can’t have you, no one can.” My dad made this EXACT statement to me about my mom when, in my early 40’s I was, yet again, intervening in their latest episode. Sometimes we might think, just don’t upset him or argue with him. According to this article even that type of behavior can be a trigger since the abuser then thinks he is losing control of his partner. He may see this as a form of rejection. The article said that a score of 10 or more is concerning and to seek help. However, it went on to mentioned another landmark study that said women who had a score of 4 or higher were at great risk and added that the average score for women who were murdered from physical abuse was “just under 8.”

I have 6 family members who have experienced domestic abuse. One of these women, a wonderful niece was killed in November,1984 by her second husband of 6 months. This seems like a huge number (1 being too many for me) in one family. However, researching the topic further, I discovered that 3-4 MILLION women are abused every year and 1500-1600 are KILLED by their abuser. Many of these women left children who will forever remember the sounds, sights and feelings of terror that they experienced. Their fear and grief may last forever.

If you know anyone who may be in an abusive relationship please go to the website: wwwdangerassessment.org. The 15 question checklist can help battered women assess the possible risk of being killed. Please pass this blog on to any and all who might benefit from it. It is up to each of us to change the world – one person at a time – through our love.

Do You Have Faith in Tomorrow?

Watching bits and pieces of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration this weekend, I was moved to see the thousands of well-
wishers demonstrating such pride in their queen and country. The queen’s background is fascinating. When she was 14 and England was being bombed, she made a radio broadcast to the children of England stating, “In the end all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.” At 26 years of age she became Queen. She was no longer free to be a person in her own right but had to become all things to all people. She started weekly meetings with Winston Churchill and has continued the practice with every prime minister since that time. In addition to being the mother of four children she had a 24/7 job. As she witnessed divorces, separations, and deaths in her immediate family she just had to keep going. She adapted to the changes and losses in her life regardless of how difficult they may have been. She has the same human emotions that we all have as a mother, sister, daughter and wife and yet her 24/7 job, for the rest of her life, continues. There is no such thing as retirement for a queen – until death. In a televised address she called the celebration “a humbling experience.” Well done!

Luckily, we have not had to deal with the 24/7 expectancies in our lives that she has shouldered. We have had time to live our own lives, raise our families and even take time out for grief, when needed, without the mantel of expectancies hanging over our heads. I wondered to myself, how many of us can say that, like the queen, we have truly adapted – made changes for the positive – as our lives and our worlds have become more challenging. Do we look at our own lives optimistically, knowing that everything will work out as it is supposed to, or do we become bogged down in our lives wondering when ‘it’ will pass. The ‘it’ is called life. It won’t pass until we do, when our lessons are learned.

To remain optimistic requires that we believe in something bigger than ourselves. It has been said that, “One either has faith in God/Universal Energy or faith in our fears.” Whenever you begin to worry just think about that for a moment. Fear comes in so many forms and can paralyze us. When we lose someone it is natural to go through a period of mourning and fear. After all, life has suddenly changed –
oftentimes – without warning. As I discussed in my book, Just Behind the Door, the future can feel so uncertain after we experience a loss that we may need to seek the help of others to keep ourselves moving forward.

If we all work at fearing less and loving ourselves and others more the world will be a better place. It starts and ends with us. Take time to examine your own life. Don’t you find that 99% of what you worry about (fear) never happens. Yet many of us continue to waste the precious time we have on this earth worrying. We choose fear rather than belief. I don’t think it matters what name you give the power greater than yourself, it only matters that we realize that there is such a power and we are ALL a part of it. Like Queen Elizabeth II, let us give and receive love, have faith in our future and make the world a little better off when we leave it.