Wednesday, September 20, 2017

She Talks To Animals

Tux.jpgI love animals. I think they are amazing, intuitive, and much easier to get along with than most humans. By far, my favorite animals, though, are cats. I got my first cat when I was 8 years old, after begging for one since I could talk. My Dad finally broke down and got me one as a consolation prize when my mother moved 3000 miles away. I was ecstatic about my new friend. He was all white, with green eyes, and his name was Garfey, after my childhood hero, Garfield. Garfey stayed with me for 12 years, and I still hold him closely to my heart.

Since Garfey, I’ve always had at least one cat. Usually two, but more recently, three. I’m pretty sure that three puts me squarely in the “crazy cat lady” category, but, I’m fine with that.

The downside of always having pets, of course, is dealing with it when they eventually die. I’ve had cats who have died of cancer, complications related to diabetes, and just old age. But, recently, I lost a cat who seemed to be in the prime of his life.

TuxCrush.jpgTux was a gorgeous black and white long haired cat with the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. Like all of our cats, we got him from a shelter, but unlike most of the cats that I’ve ever adopted, he was already 6 years old when I took him home. It was actually my husband who decided we needed Tux in our lives. I was set on a tiny orange and white kitten, whom we took home as well. We named the kitten Crush, and he and Tux, having been in the same shelter, became immediate BFFs. They were inseparable, bathing each other, playing together, and going on outside adventures with one another. It was adorable.

That is, until one day, Tux went out and didn’t come home. He actually went out with our other cat, Wilson, who is now 14. Wilson never fully took to Tux, but Tux loved to follow Wilson everywhere he went. Anyway, the two were gone all day, which was very unusual, and when Wilson came home alone. Tux was nowhere to be found.

In the harrowing days that followed, I had all kinds of thoughts about what could have happened to Tux. I wondered half-jokingly if Wilson had gotten Tux lost on purpose, or if Tux had succumbed to a coyote or some other predator. I worried that maybe he was hit by a car, although, he was pretty street savvy, having survived for 6 years on his own. Most of all, I was surprised that he had ventured further than our yard, since he was always such a homebody. Most of the time, he could be found on our living room rug, belly up. I always marveled at how relaxed he could be, even with kids screaming and running around him.

13903174_10209835642558959_8449666442248772723_n.jpgI had a complicated relationship with Tux. I always kind of saw him as my husband’s cat, even though, he clearly chose me as his “person.” This caused more than a few scuffles between him and Wilson, who is, - okay- I’ll say it, my favorite. Wilson is my co-therapist, and, one of the coolest cats I’ve ever had. He’s here with me even as I write this.

I loved Tux, but not the way that I love Wilson, and I’ll always feel a little bad about that. Tux tried so hard, but he never learned how to cuddle without using his claws, and that always annoyed me.
Right before he disappeared, though, Tux started to break through with me. I finally started appreciating him for who he was, instead of comparing him to Wilson. I only wish I’d done that sooner.

Now, here’s the part, (if you haven’t gotten there already), where you’re going to think I’m really crazy. I believe that I got a message from Tux’s soul about what happened to him.

Okay, let’s back up a little bit.

I believe in things that we can’t see. I believe that souls exist past the time that our physical bodies exist. And, I believe that there are times when the “veils are thin.” In other words, there are times when we can gain access to thoughts, messages, and ideas that are coming from the spiritual world. I actually had the true story of how my son’s soul communicated to me before I became pregnant with him, published in the wonderful “Chicken Soup For The Soul: Dreams and Premonitions.”

I also believe that we can talk to animals.

One person who has helped me solidify that last belief is Anna Breytenbach. She is a professional animal communicator based out of South Africa. Anna has been practicing and teaching animal communication for about 15 years, and she is the subject of a 2013 documentary. She is probably best known for her work with Spirit, the black panther formerly known as “Diablo,” whom she helped immensely by listening to his concerns about the welfare of two panther cubs. If you haven’t heard of Anna or her work, follow the links above. She is amazing!

Anna’s work has helped me to validate my own beliefs about the possibilities present in regards to inter-species communication. But, I’m still very aware that many people think these ideas are ridiculous. But, then I remember that doctors used to think that babies didn’t feel, mainstream ideas are not always the best!

Anyway, back to Tux. A few days, or maybe more than a week, after he disappeared, I was lying in bed getting ready to go to sleep. This is the time that messages tend to come to me, since my mind is attempting to be quiet. Suddenly, I heard a very quick message that said:

Tux had to make choice.
He could either stay with you for a few more years,
Or leave now,
And get to come back to your family in a bigger capacity.
Like, maybe as Gabriel’s wife.
Look out for him in about 20 years.

After hearing this message, I fell asleep. The next morning, I told my husband, who, Thank God, shares my spiritual beliefs. We both expressed relief and joy that Tux’s soul was being taken care of. I also questioned whether this was a real message, or just me saying this to myself, but, my husband assured me that it was real because that’s what we do for each other. When spiritual events happen to him, like when a butterfly landed on his finger so that he could take it outside, I helped him see the significance of that. We each have an easier time believing in the other’s experiences, rather than our own.

TuxBelly - Edited.jpgWill Tux’s soul return to our family? My husband and I joke that if Gabriel’s future fiancee lies on the floor with her belly up, we’ll know it’s him. But, of course, we can’t be sure. Either way, the thought of him coming home to us has brought us comfort, and for that we are deeply thankful.

As a side note, Tux’s disappearance also allowed me to help a neighbor who lost her own tuxedo cat. After hearing that our cat was missing, a different neighbor got in touch with us to let us know that a deceased black and white cat was found in the neighborhood. After a bit of a goose chase that ended with us peering into a landscaper’s garbage bag at a huge cat carcass, we learned that the dead cat was not Tux. It was easy to identify this, because Tux had no teeth, and this cat had plenty. I was relieved because this cat looked like it just passed away, and that wouldn’t have made sense with what I had been told.

A few days later, we noticed a “lost cat” sign, picturing the very cat we had seen, and I was able to call the owner and give her some closure. Had we not lost Tux, I never would have been called to identify that cat, and his owner might never have known what became of him.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Truth About Money

money.jpgI grew up in a family where money ruled the roost. My parents fought, and eventually divorced, over money, my mother spent wildly on herself and used money as control over me and my sister, and my father did everything that he could to avoid paying for things that he used. He didn’t necessarily steal, per se, but, for example, instead of paying for trash recollection he would make everyone leaving our house take at least one bag of garbage to any dump that they could find. That “everyone,” by the way, included potential boyfriends, which was the bane of my teenage existence. But, I digress.

The point is that I didn’t grow up with a strong sense of what to do about money. I saw money as something that caused conflict, but, also, as something that I needed. So, I guess you could say that my relationship with money was complicated. I liked the things that money could buy, but whenever I bought something, I would feel guilt and regret. And there was always a nagging sense that there wouldn’t be enough, no matter how much money I made.

I know that many can relate to what I’m saying, since I see it now in so many of my clients. Couples fight over money. Individuals fear losing money. People use the numbers in their bank accounts to engender a false sense of security, or, a skewed reason for self-hatred, while others eschew the green stuff altogether.

But, there is hope.

I can honestly say, that with the exception of a very few times where something else was actually bothering me, and money was a convenient scapegoat, I haven’t worried about finances in years. And it’s not because we are drowning in dollars either! It’s because I’ve learned to approach money with a sense of Faith, that I never had growing up.

What do I mean by Faith?

Two Things: God, and the Universe.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that the Universe did not want me to be poor. Now, I know that sounds awful, considering the fact that there are so many millions of people that are way worse off financially than I am. And, no, I don’t know why those people have to suffer. I don’t pretend to understand all of the laws of the Universe, and I feel greatly for people who have no access to things like running water, or clean sheets. But, for some reason, I also know, that I was born into a relatively wealthy family, and that poverty is not one of my life lessons this time around. (I’m guessing that if you are reading this, it’s probably not one of yours either.)

What is one of my life lessons, however, is to trust that there will always be enough, even when that seems impossible. The first time that I was presented with this information, was 10 years ago, after moving to North Carolina. The move had proven costly, and my husband and I were a couple hundred dollars short for the month. We really didn’t know how we were going to pay all of our bills, without going in the red. That’s when a miracle happened. One thousand dollars, yes, you read that right, $1000, spontaneously showed up in our bank account with no explanation. I called the bank and asked where the money came from, and they said that someone had deposited a check into our account. I told them that this must have been a mistake, but the bank said that the depositor would have to call them and ask for the money back. At first, I thought that this gift would simply be the buffer to get us through that tough month. I gave thanks, while constantly checking the bank to see if the money disappeared.

It never did.

After that incident, I began to notice all of the smaller, yet, still significant things that happened every month to make sure that we always had enough. One person not cashing a check right away, some extra books selling, or receiving an unexpected discount were not uncommon occurrences. One way or another, money just seemed to be there when we needed it most.

Somewhere during this time, I was introduced to the work of Lynn Twist, who wrote the groundbreaking book called, “The Soul of Money.” To say that this book changed my life would be an understatement. Through this book, I learned that the best way to react when money gets tight, is to give it away. This lubricates the wheels of the Universal cycles, and allows more money to flow back to you. Whereas, our natural reaction to being tight may be hold on to what we have even tighter, we actually need to do the opposite in order to step into prosperity. It’s an amazing concept, and I’ve seen it work again and again.

Lynn’s book also taught me to think more about where and how I spend my money. She says that our spending should reflect our values. Think: spending $20 to support a local artist, vs. spending $20 to buy a print at Walmart. Supporting the local artist feels better, and might even encourage said artist to create more, while the money spent at Walmart supports child labor and low wages for poorly treated staff.

By far the best thing that Lynn’s work reinforced for me was the idea that scarcity is a lie, and that abundance is the truth. She spoke about the very things that I was noticing; how there is always enough, and how money is like water that flows where it is needed.

And so, I made a decision, about 8 years ago, to not worry about money anymore. There just wasn’t a point. When I thought about it, I realized that I always had enough. I never let a bill go unpaid. And I always had a roof over my head, electricity, and enough food to eat; plus, many other luxuries that I’m outrageously grateful for. Worrying about money just wasn’t worth my time, and, in the end, I haven’t missed it at all.   


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Some Thoughts In The Aftermath Of The Orlando Shooting

Lots of people have been penning their responses to the recent mass shooting in Orlando. People are scared and angry. Some are trying to be positive by focusing on the good things that happen as a result of tragedy. For me, it’s too early for that. Because I’m still angry.

I’m angry that this attack could have been prevented if this person, who was twice investigated by the FBI, wasn’t able to get a handgun, and an assault rifle so easily. If he hadn’t been able to waltz into a local store, just a few days before the incident, and purchase these deadly weapons, some, if not all of these people would be alive now.

Some will say that he would have found another way to kill. Would he? Was he really that creative? Others will say that he could have killed people with a knife. 50 of them? And still others will say that if a “good guy with a gun” had been there he would have been stopped. Really? Because it took cops hours to stop him, and what better “guys with guns” are there than cops?

But, because this is America, I’ve been through these feelings before, and I will go through them again. The NRA is a powerful organization, and has brainwashed many into believing that they will be safer with guns, and that any attempt at “gun control,” translates into the government taking everybody’s guns and leaving the populace helpless.

Well, guess what? We are helpless. We are helpless to the gun manufacturers who don’t allow people to sue them. What other industry has that kind of power over the people? What happened to fair trials, and innocent until proven guilty. If they believed that their product was helpful, or, at the very least, not catastrophic, why would they ban people from being able to sue them?

We are helpless to the mighty dollar. The millions of mighty dollars that go into the politicians pockets when they endorse the gun lobby. What’s a few dead pre-schoolers, church-goers, or gay people, against millions of dollars?

The corruption makes me sick because it is personal. I have kids. And I have to send them out into the world, knowing that because of greed, and a huge misinterpretation of what the second amendment really is, I can’t be certain that my kids won’t get gunned down by some maniac. Or a non-maniac who is just having a bad day. Unless you can tell me that you have NEVER done something that you regret, then you can’t tell me that you could make a “mistake” with a gun. I’ve seen how people drive, that’s all the proof I need that people can’t be trusted with deadly weapons.

But most of all, I’m angry at the selfishness of gun owners. The way that they hold on, so tightly, to their little toys, even when ALL of the research shows that better laws would make for a safer society. They say things like, “criminals don’t follow laws,” as a justification against better gun laws. So, why do we have any laws at all then? Why do we have stop signs? Why not just let everyone do whatever they want since criminals don’t follow laws anyway.

You see, none of it makes sense. When you really think about it, all of the pro-gun arguments are actually ridiculous. But people don’t care, because they are afraid that their toys will be taken from them.

I’m teaching my kids to share their toys. And I’m teaching them that guns are dangerous. I don’t let my kids play with swords or toy guns. They don’t pull animals tails either. They are learning that violence is NOT the answer. They are learning that war is NOT the answer. And they are learning that strength comes from within, so they will never have to feel that without a gun they are less safe.

In the moments when the anger about the gun debate fades, I am incredibly sad for ALL of the families of those lost in mass shootings. It feels so wrong, and so unjust when more and more families continue to experience these tragedies, in this, country, which is supposed to be the home of the free. I honestly can’t imagine the depth of their pain. And each day, I pray I never have to.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Between Two Breaths

Image result for let goLately, I've been doing a lot of writing for other people. And, while I love helping businesses grow, I realize that I've been letting a few things build up inside of me. So, here's to letting shit go.

First, I need to talk about this election. Trump is a disaster, and if you are voting for him, you need your head examined. Cruz is ridiculous too. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a democrat. Both of them want you to blame the Muslim population for terrorists, which is absurd. Terrorists are terrorists. They are not acting from a real religion. They are acting to create chaos. There is a huge difference. Plus, if you can't see that blaming Muslims is the same thing as blaming Blacks, or Jews, or Green-Eyed Tree Frogs, then  I don't know what to tell you. Discrimination is never a good idea.

Image result for peaceAnd speaking of things that aren't a good idea: War and Guns. Please don't tell me that you think war makes us safer, or gives us freedom. I just can't handle how wrong that idea is. War does nothing but create more violence. It does not give us anything except enemies. It kills me that so many brave young men and women join the military, believing that they are doing something noble, when they are really being used for a political agenda. And then the Republicans have done such a fantastic job at making me seem unpatriotic, and like I don't "support the troops," because I don't believe in war. Again, it takes the ability to see the bigger picture, to realize that war never has been, and never will be, the answer.

(P.S. I think it's awesome that a bird flew onto Sander's podium. Mother Nature is clearly feeling the bern. And so am I.)

Guns, by the way, are just as dumb as war. They are weapons, meant for violence. They do, in fact, kill people, and that is what they were made for. Anyone who tells you differently is owned by the NRA. And it's time that we start taking away people's privileges to parent, when their kids get a hold of their guns. So, incredibly sick of toddlers shooting or getting shot. Get it together people. Having a gun in your house does not make you safer, it puts you and your family at risk for getting shot. We've seen it time and again.

So, what is the answer, if it isn't guns, war, or blaming one group of people?

Image result for let me clear my throat memeI'm glad you asked.

It's time that we realize the truth of all things. We are all one. As much as I hate Trump, he and I are made of the same stuff. We all come from the same place. It doesn't matter if you were born in Afghanistan, Istanbul, or New York City. It doesn't matter your ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or lactose intolerance. It doesn't matter your hair color, shoe size, or height. We are all part of this Universe, and that means that we are all connected at a cellular level.

Image result for we are all oneWhenever any one of us does something that is good for her soul, the world feels the vibration. When any one of us lies or cheats, that is felt too. Everything that we do matters, and is seen. We cannot separate ourselves from everything else that lives. The idea of separation is actually a myth, one that is perpetuated by culture, society, and greed. You see, there is no money to be made in Unity. Only by making us believe that we are all in competition with one another, can weapons be sold.

I live in North Carolina, where our horrible governor just signed one of the most bigoted laws in the country. Many who live here are outraged, and embarrassed by this law's backward-thinking. Basically, it allows businesses to openly discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, and it requires that people use bathrooms that correspond with their birth gender. Like I said, it's embarrassing. But, you know what? If you believe that this law is wrong, but that Muslims are the problem, then you are missing the point. Same if you believe that Israel is right, but lesbians are wrong.

Image result for we are all connectedDo you see what I'm saying? Stop fighting only for the country of your origin, or the ethnicity of your parents. Fight for all rights. Be inclusive. Don't tell me that women deserve more rights than men. That's just as bad as saying men deserve more rights than women. Realize that putting one group down, is the same as putting any other group down.

One exception. Please don't think I'm supporting the "All Lives Matter," crap, because we all know that that slogan was only developed to diminish the importance of the "Black Lives Matter" campaign. And yes, Black people have been unfairly persecuted by police. Research has shown this to be true. And, no, it's not because Black people caused this to happen. It's because many police officers have control issues, and need therapy. And I don't blame them. Their jobs are scary. They are taught to be on edge, to always sit at the back of the restaurant, to never put themselves in a vulnerable position. So, who is to blame them when they think they see a gun coming out of a Black man's pocket? How can we expect to teach them to fear others, and then not respond when they perceive a threat?

Somehow, though, we need to remind them that the person they are shooting at, is a boy. A son. A friend. A brother. A person. He's not just a threat.

I'll end by saying this. Today is Easter. A time for resurrection. A time to start new. I know that these issues won't be resolved because I shared my opinion on them. But, I also know that keeping them in was taking up too much space in my insides. And I know, that in order to have true hope for the future, we need to let go of what weighs us down.

Now tell me, what do you need to let go of?
Image result for let go


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

A few months ago, I thought about starting a book about change. I even had a title for it, which I promptly forgot. But as it turns out, I wasn't procrastinating. I was living the book.

After 15 years as a psychologist, I've become a real estate agent. When I tell people about this transition, they usually look at me, like, "how did that happen?". And all I can say is, it started with a dream.

To be fair, it wasn't just one dream. It was a series of dreams, recurring dreams, that happened over the course of four or five years. The timing is a little fuzzy, as is common for dream infused information. Anyway, the story lines in the dreams were always the same. I was going back to high school, even though I already had my doctorate, and at some point or another, I would be sitting in class, surrounded by people scores younger than I, wondering what in the hell I was doing there. Often times, I would have forgotten to bring an assignment, or even to attend an entire semester of class. Most of the time, I was wildly unprepared for whatever was ahead of me.

I would wake from these dreams confused and disillusioned. In real life, I do already have my doctorate, and it isn't even partially paid off yet. Admitting that I wanted to go back to school, in any capacity, felt like failure. Looking back, this is probably why I couldn't "figure out" this transparent dream for almost half a decade. I just didn't want to see the truth.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that I am tired of being a psychologist. It's a really hard job. You work with people for months or years, and even if you are great at what you do, many people just don't get better. Doing therapy is like offering sugar-free snacks to a diabetic; she knows she needs what you are giving her, but it's not what she really wants. She really wants the sugar; the chaos of an abusive relationship, the drama of a horrible boss, or the cloud of a belief in what can't happen. And, honestly, I can't blame people either. Truly engaging yourself in the therapeutic process is extremely hard work! Ridding your life of all that stands in your way means that you must face your greatest fear. Yourself.

Don't get me wrong. I have had some amazing experiences as a psychologist. I've had clients who have bravely taken a front seat on the roller coaster and come out winded, and smiling, on the other end. In a few cases, I've heard from clients years after our work together ended, when they call to tell me how much a certain phrase I said helped them, and how well they are doing in their lives. I've also had clients who've challenged me to grow as a therapist and as a person. And for those experiences, I'm eternally grateful.

But still, I feel that it's time for me to move on. I'm tired of focusing solely on someone else's needs for hours at a time. I'm tired of holding my personal reactions, not to mention my pee, to make space for someone else's truth.

There was a time when I loved being there so fully for others. Come to think of it, that time was before I had kids. I'm sure that's not a coincidence! But now, at this stage in my life, I'm ready to do something fun. Is real estate fun? I have no clue. I will have to get back to you on that. But, at the very least, I've stopped having dreams of being in high school, which is quite a relief, considering how much I loathe florescent lighting. Although, I have to wonder: did I graduate, and if so, what is the next course in this school of life?

Yours in growth,