#273 Write Down a Favorite Childhood Memory

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#273

Write down a favorite childhood memory.

Close your eyes for a minute and allow yourself to go back in time – back to when you were a child. Allow yourself to remember a moment of laughter, of comfort, or fun. What was happening then? Who was there? What were you thinking and feeling? What about that particular memory stands out?

Go ahead and write down the details – the answer to the above questions – for this memory and then do it again, and again.

Take the time to cherish, even savor, each of those memories as you write them. The act of writing will refresh your memory even more (perhaps stimulating additional details). Remembering pleasant times stimulates those pleasure areas in our brain and while they don’t spur the same level of chemicals that the actual even does, there is some dopamine production with the remembering.

Writing down the fun times helps to honor the experiences so that they balance our perspectives more evenly. Our brains are still wired to be noticing everything that is wrong (survival instinct) and so when we take time to reflect on the positives, we appreciate the true balance that typically exists in our overall existence.

If nothing else, writing down these memories captures them for our later reflection or maybe even more importantly, for the people who love us. My children are always intrigued about my childhood and how I spent time before video games and electronics. They find it interesting to imagine how we lived in a time that they’ve only read about or seen represented on television. The world is continuing to change, so capturing this little slice of history may be impactful to all of our future generations. How fun for all when we sit around and remember that time when Granny…

Write down a favorite childhood memory (or two).

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I Hear You Einstein…

“You never fail until you stop trying.” ― Albert Einstein

What’s that old saying? When it rains it pours. Oh yea. That should be the motto of my life. It can rain good things, problems, money, debt, happiness, sadness; when things come, they seem to come all at once or not at all. I find it interesting that there are times when I feel as if nothing at all happens because I think that there really is something going on all the time and yet right now it is as if every. single. minute. of every day is committed to something important.

Please know that I am not complaining. In fact, I am deeply grateful for all the activity in my life I just wish that I had a few extra hours in every day to fit it all in. I want to do it all – well, maybe I can go without cleaning another toilet or changing the sheets on another bed, but to the rest of it I say “bring it on”.

Essentially it means that I need to prioritize and I have a difficult time deciphering which things need to supersede others but I am making it work. It’s all good.

This weekend – in between care giving for H who had surgery last week (and is progressing well) – I attended a writer’s workshop and man, THAT was humbling. You see, I thought I was a bit special because I had actually finished an entire manuscript – or something that I called a book and no one else in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances had done that to my knowledge. I felt quite accomplished. Yet, there I was on Saturday with a thousand-other people who had also written a book and it was just one city across America where the same kind of experience would unfold. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people write books. Hmm… how naïve of me to think otherwise.

I am so thankful that I waited to attend the workshop before attempting to self-publish my manuscript. I learned so much! Essentially, it’s pretty easy these days to publish a book but it is NOT easy to get a publisher!!

I’m not giving up by any means but I am rethinking on all levels.

I hired an editor. Yup… I am making an investment in myself and in my book. I have been so close to it and felt that there were holes. I have to eliminate 10,000 words but couldn’t identify which ones didn’t add value to the story.

It’s probably the best thing I’ve done in a while. She has forced me to think about the story from a different perspective. She has asked some hard questions and has offered some solid ideas. She has a fresh set of eyes because she didn’t read it as I was writing and posting and she didn’t know my story beforehand, yet she is intrigued. I’m excited again about polishing it.

While at the workshop on Saturday I spoke with Jennifer Unter, a literary agent from NYC. I pitched her actually, a little on the fly but it was a pitch. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as I spoke and then she said “you’ve got a story”. I was momentarily excited. And then, she asked… “how big is your platform?”

Ugh… I knew that was coming. Essentially, she was asking me how many people care about my story. Hmm… not sure about that. As it is – I suspect the people who care have already read it. She made it very clear that unless I had a strong platform of 30 to 50 THOUSAND people, publishers would more than likely dismiss my work without reading it – unless of course, it was incredible writing.

So, that’s my goal. To make the writing incredible and build a platform as strong as it can get. I will be launching a ThisIsLeslyn FB page separate from my counseling page because I want people to know me as a therapist too.

I know, I know… this is like the 5th endeavor I’ve attempted in the last 10 years besides my practice. A review…

  • Of course, Harmony Counseling (TheHarmonyCC.com) is my practice site. I don’t update the blog anymore as I am writing on ThisIsLeslyn but there is a lot of good info there and the Facebook page is active. I like that my clients check that and go there.
  • Uencounter.me is still up although it is basically just sitting there – people still use it and we’ve agreed to keep it up until we don’t make enough money on it to host it. For now, it is self-supporting.
  • Pickett Lane Paper is a venture that H and I began almost two years ago but once he got sick it became too hard for him to do craft venues and without those outlets, its not cost efficient.
  • LesKanCrafts – my personal Etsy shop still has a bunch of items on it and I still crochet for relaxation although in truth, writing is more of a passion for me. I will let what is there sell and probably won’t update it.
  • And now ThisIsLeslyn – me, as a writer and speaker.

It is clear that I love to create. It’s not new. My childhood friends and I picked bouquets of spring violets and went door to door selling them for $.10/ small and $.25 for a large one. I was one of those high school kids who belonged to Junior Achievement. We designed wooden bead necklaces, produced them, created a marketing plan, and ultimately sold them. In my early 30’s I produced a prototype of a ‘Love coupon book’ but never did anything with it. I’ve seen them in Hallmark stores through the years.

I have ideas and I try. It the Bill Phelan genes in me I guess – he was the ultimate dreamer. I learned early and well that nothing ever comes without an effort and that the only true way to fail is in not trying.

In any regard, I hope that you will stay with me – follow along – and share in the journey. Let’s see where the road leads!

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Falling

Continued from And the Kissing Begins

“All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall.” —Meghan O’Rourke
After only a few dates I knew I could easily love this man. We were able to talk about almost anything and we shared a number of important priorities. I could also tell that we were different in a lot of ways. I knew now that a good relationship is one where we celebrated the similarities between us while at the same time, embracing and respecting the differences.  When we weren’t hanging out with one another, we were talking on the phone; and still – the conversation flowed.

On the next kids weekend with their dad, Harlan came and stayed at my house. We built a fire in the fireplace, rented movies, opened a few bottles of wine and created a blanket / pillow heaven reminiscent of our childhoods. We slept there – in front of the fireplace – participating in an adult style sleepover as if we were in our twenties all over again. It was romantic and loving and relaxed. For approximately 48 hours, we ate, slept, and chatted at will… no schedule, no interruptions, no expectations. It was magical.

Eventually, we got into more nitty-gritty things, what had happened in our marriages, the imperfections of our extended families, the challenges that we grew from. One of the many things that really attracted me to Harlan though is his heart. He appeared to be intensely compassionate and considerate of others – an empath almost. I could tell that he would literally ‘feel’ the experience of others and sometimes, there was simply no benefit at all in that.

We talked about him meeting the girls. I had introduced them to Jay too soon but then, I had never felt this way about Jay. I felt something stronger and growing for this man. I wanted to see how he would be around the girls.

That desire made me think about myself as a mother… how many mistakes had I made? How many had I learned from? What had I learned exactly?

The girl’s father hadn’t been discriminate in his choice of partners and had no regard for the girls’ thoughts on the matter, telling them to ‘get over it’ and ‘it was his choice, not theirs’. Consequently, the girls certainly didn’t have the relationship with him that I had always envisioned. There was a strain on the father-daughter rapport almost constantly because of his relationship. I didn’t want the same outcome. I wanted to find a way to balance a personal romantic relationship with that of my role as a mother and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the latter.

I knew from my own childhood that when moms and dads begin dating again, they can get too absorbed in the new partner – way before the kids have a chance to ‘catch up’ with their feelings and that, wasn’t the best scenario either. I wanted the girls to like Harlan and so, I invited him for dinner.

It wasn’t as smooth and as easy as when Jay came… even though Harlan had daughters, he wasn’t up on Gilmore Girls or Hanna Montana because he mostly watched sports or public broadcasting. He wasn’t a reader of Harry Potter or Nancy Drew. He attempted to connect with Swimming but eventually found that they like many of the same movies. Harlan likes practically any movie; chick flick, adventure, or animated. It didn’t’ matter too much, he had seen all of the trailers if he hadn’t seen the actual movie and so he was able to foster a conversation on that front, easily.

My oldest daughter Sara, being a bit more mature and perhaps more present and considerate of her surroundings – attended to Harlan like proper company by engaging him in conversation as she could. Erin seemed indifferent and Emily stuck to me like glue. I watched each of them carefully and at one point, noticed that they were watching me. This was a new thing for us and we were all in unchartered territory. No one knew the rules or how to play the game so we were just ‘winging’ it but it was going ok – at least for now. He didn’t stay long after dinner; I guess we were thinking we would ‘ease’ into having him around.

And that’s what we did. Harlan made it very clear to the girls that they needed to come first – he wanted them to know that if they didn’t like him or want him around – it would impact our relationship negatively. He knew- he realized that for US to be happy, they had to accept him in my life. It was his philosophy in that regard that opened the door for me to fall head over heels in love with him.

I told him one evening when we were at his house. We were standing outside, under his carport and I was attempting to leave but each time I took a step toward my car he would lean down and kiss me, stealing my breath and preventing me from moving further. I knew I had to go but it was so difficult sometimes – tearing myself away from him. I loved all that kissing. I reached my hand up to his chest to hold him back, keep him at bay for a minute… I had to breathe. “You know”, I said… “I am falling hard for you. No doubt. I am falling in love.” As if it was some kind of competition and he knew he had won – he replied “Oh yeah? I already fell. I love you.” He was one up and I was too weak to prevent an all out swoon. He caught me by placing his hand firmly and strongly on the small of my back as he pressed me to him again, for another kiss – this one full of love.

Later, I’m not sure if it was a week or a day in an austere conversation we were having for the sole purpose of filling in more details about our previous years of life, he mentioned that he thought he was going to die. He had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and had a significant mole removed from his shin. It had been nine or ten years at that point and he said it in an unremarkable manner as if had been just another day. And yet, he spoke about it as if he had thought his life was over, the melanoma had been considerable enough that he somehow believed his life was in danger.

My heart lurched as memories of my step-dad and his slow, agonizing death from malignant melanoma inundated my mind. He too had found a mole and his life ended because of it. My thoughts also went right back to Rocky’s death and the excruciating emotional pain that I felt when he died. I felt as if I was on a merry-go-round, noticing all of the love and loss in my life as it went faster and faster while the seat I was on went up and down, creating a chaotic sensation so intense that I found it difficult to catch my breath. No way… I was not doing this again. Nope. Thank Goodness I found out early… while it was still easy to get out.

I had to end the phone call and collect my thoughts. I couldn’t find any logic or rationale that correlated to my willingness to take the risk that yet another man I loved, would die on me. At least it hadn’t gotten very far and it would be easy to end. Shit. I really fell for this one.

And the Kissing Begins

Continued from Proven Prophecy

“Hard to sit here and be close to you, and not kiss you.” – F Scott Fitzgerald

Time passed quickly and we had yet to have a lull in our conversation. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to kiss him. I liked looking at his mouth and considered how his mustache would feel against my lips. I felt a stirring that had been dormant for far too long.

“What?” he looked at me puzzled… “Did you just say you wanted to kiss me?” he appeared to be blushing a bit.

I imagine that my eyes gave away my surprise that he had seemingly just read my mind and the idea that he had sent mini shivers throughout my insides. “Um… actually, I was just debating that idea”, and crimson spread quickly across my face as my eyes darted everywhere but toward his. Our coffee was finished and I needed to walk… “how about a walk?” I asked.

We stood up and headed out toward his car where he introduced me to a small long-haired Chihuahua who was yapping at full force and bouncing around the front seat of Harlan’s little truck. The window was open a crack and I was terrified of the energy spilling out of there as he barred his teeth and tried to convince me that he was big, bad, and ferocious. “This is Bear”, Harlan told me – “because he is BEARly a dog.” He opened the door of the truck which encouraged the dog to leap into Harlan’s arms while hyperventilating – or sounding like it anyway. I was smiling from ear to ear mostly because this really big guy was being completely and totally loved by a tiny, hunk of fur. It was a heartwarming sight. I noticed a kindness that few people in my life possessed. Another flutter of my heart occurred.

We walked across the parking lot and down the length of the shopping center. It was a classic winter evening with a soft drizzling rain making it seem twice as cold as it was. We talked long enough that I knew I wanted to see this guy again and probably, again after that. I had to get home but I really did want to kiss him – even though this was the first date… something drove me to move in toward him and lean up. It was a gesture so native and instinctual that neither one of us hesitated or resisted, we moved together and gently, ever so briefly, kissed.

It wasn’t fireworks or a trumpet tribute – it was better than that – it was comforting, safe, and soft. It was compassionate. I knew in this one modest moment that this man and I had a connection that was diametrical to any other in my life. I could feel the anticipation building from the center of my being and I looked at him intently while I said: “you and I are going to have a lot of fun together.”

 

I went home with a dreamy look and a perpetual smile that is indicative of liking, lusting, and infatuation. The girls were there to ask how it went and noticed immediately that I had taken on a giggly persona and so they knew. I sat alone for a while that night after they were tucked safely in bed and considered my life. How many times did I say I was finished with men? With love? How could I have a relationship and be the mom I wanted to be? How will the girls react with a man in my life? Am I willing to consider marriage?

There were so many questions and no answers just yet. The one thing that I did know is that I wanted to do this differently. I wanted to stay ME at all cost. I knew that I wasn’t willing to give up all the ‘inside’ work that I’d been doing, that I had accomplished for the sake of a relationship. How does one do that? I never had before.

With Rocky, we were just young and moldable. We were two pieces of putty when we met and we melted into a single, solid form that was shaped by our combined interests, goals, and aspirations.

With Hubby, I was dedicated to dream manifestation so concretely, that I created whatever image was necessary to create the vision and along the way, I lost track of where “I” was.

I noticed also that with each of these other two relationships, I had kissed them the first night I had met them. What did that mean? I laid in bed that night thinking; my mind running ahead of me faster than I could keep up. I contemplated my future, with and without a man – with and without Harlan. I only knew what he had allowed me to see and yet I already felt ‘at home’ with him. How crazy am I to consider moving this fast again?

I told myself to slow down – to be more present … ‘one day at a time’ I told myself. Everything was fine just as it was. I didn’t have to be in a hurry for anything. IF I wanted a relationship, it would have to fit into what ‘already was’. I must have talked myself to sleep that night, convincing myself to take a deep breath and relax; to go with the flow. I woke refreshed and feeling less intense – ready to take on the day.

That was until Harlan called. My heart skipped a beat when I heard his voice early in the morning and he claimed to ‘miss me’. Eyebrows raise and I feel an exclamation popping up in my mind… dude… too fast. I knew that if we were ‘both’ on the fast track – I was in trouble.

We made plans to get together for dinner on Wednesday when the girls went to their dad’s house. I met him at his office, a temporary job that he was just filling time with, and we went to a generic restaurant around the corner. I had been there before. It was large and noisy; open and crowded. We had a table close to the center of the room and yet I distinctly remember looking in his eyes and not noticing anyone or anything. Even our waitress had difficulty breaking the trance between us.

I was trying so hard to take it slow but our energies were electric as soon as we were in proximity to one another. We went back to his place after dinner and I noticed he was a minimalist. What a far cry from my own home where design and clutter were intertwined. Hmm… There was a loveseat in the living room – a love seat and a lamp. There was a desk and one chair in one of the bedrooms he used as an office, there was a bed in another room he considered the master, and then there were two stools in the kitchen. That was it. I looked around and quickly chose the loveseat. It was just a bit awkward but we had yet to experience a respite in our conversations so we carried on, getting to know one another.

Proven Prophecy

Continued from Soul Theory and Chances

“When you stop trying to find the right man and start becoming the right woman, the right man will find his way to you.” ~ Unknown Author

It started simple enough, a sentence here, a paragraph there. I vacillated between acknowledging the flirtation and hesitating to make a move back. He was persistent and quick. If I returned an email in the morning, there was another comment or question within an hour usually. I learned a bit through email at first. His name, his work, and his family were all introduced in electronic format; simple words that were announced by my good old AOL pronouncement of “you’ve got mail”.  And then he asked if we could talk.

Talking made him real. And I had to think about whether or not I truly wanted him to be real … wanting something and having it are two very different things and as much as I claimed to want companionship – it came with other things – like real telephone conversations. I gave him my phone number and told him that I would be driving up to get my older daughters the next day and we could talk then.

My girls were with their girl scout troop, on an annual trip that at one point turned into something fun for the mom’s too. They went ahead of me and so I had an hour’s drive to chat on the phone with this new guy. He had a great voice and I found myself enjoying the sound of it. I recall asking him if he had any bad habits to which he replied: “I slurp my coffee”. I decided if that was as bad as it got, I was in luck. We realized that we had a lot in common, daughters, challenging lives, childhood scars… and he seemed to be interested in talking beyond the surface – to be introspective. I liked that a lot.

We talked for the entire hour and then some as I sat in the parking lot outside the hotel for a bit. I tore myself away from the conversation by promising to talk with him again the next day. Cell phones made connecting so much easier and more immediate. The girls had a blast with their friends and I had fun with my mom friends – consuming a nice amount – perhaps more – of wine that evening. We ‘bunked’ in the hotel room, sharing queen beds so that we were all four to a room. Cozy and thrifty! I don’t sleep well under those conditions and it was a long night. At just after six am, my cell phone rang. Thinking it was one of the girls, of course, I scrambled to answer it as we all woke up – a couple of us a little worse for wear. “Hello”, I whispered… “Did I wake you??” a sobering masculine voice asked? Wait… what time was it? I looked at my watch again and double checked it against the LED readout on the nightstand between all those sleeping moms… “who is this?” I uttered in a hushed tone.

“It’s Harlan”, he said. Mr. Match.com guy. I learned right off that he woke up with the cows and accelerated with the sunrise. He claimed it was the ‘Mainer’ in him – after living in snow country for more than twenty years, he had a habit of getting up to add wood to the stove before anyone else attempted to move. He took care of people by keeping them warm – and apparently, talking to them at the crack of dawn.

Since I was in a room full of sleeping women, I had to hang up but promised to call him back quickly. I had the sense he was sitting somewhere, near a computer, probably slurping a cup of coffee while I groped around for my clothing and a hairbrush in an effort to get out of the room and down into the lobby.

Coffee has always made my morning better and so I grabbed a cup before I sat down to redial my phone, gathering some energy, and shoring up my mood so that I could at least sound, intelligent, and entertaining. Does anyone sound like that this early in the morning? I tried to imagine. We talked and talked. We talked so long that one by one, the moms and girls walked through the lobby on their way to breakfast, noticing that each time they passed by, I was still there in a chair gazing past the people, through the window, and into the sunshine that was coming back in through the plate glass. I learned all about his prowess at golf and football; about his art and farm animals; about his jeep and his dog. With him, I shared my children and my ex; my academic career and my goals; as well as my current thoughts about reincarnation and spiritual development.

He was a good listener and I began to feel a little giddy. Talking on the phone was better than email. I felt safe and comfortable. He wanted to meet.

Just the thought of it made my hands sweat. Now I was imagining that all the things I had begun to like about him would be overshadowed by things that could be wrong with him. Geez… I was a coward at heart. I realized that I wanted all kinds of things but had very little grit when it came time to go get them. I was risk adverse. I forced myself to work through those feelings; to push past them and I managed to agree to meet him but…  it would have to be on my turf.

There was a Starbucks close to home, far enough away so that it couldn’t identify my neighborhood but close enough that people I knew may be there or could – at a moment’s notice. I had read up on how to be a good ‘internet dater’.  We agreed on Monday night after dinner, that way I could use the excuse that I had to make it home to make sure all the girls got to bed in case the date wasn’t going well.

I got there early – better for the satisfaction of my control issues – and took a seat in the back so that I had a view of the entire café. He told me that he would be wearing a cream sweater with khaki pants. I hadn’t been there long when I saw him walk into the store. He was tall, and I recognized the combination of height, mustache, and cargo pants that he had promoted as ‘his style’ from his online profile. I watched as he walked in and stood at the register to place an order and had a minute or two to observe before he glanced around and our eyes met.

He had nice eyes and I noticed how trim and muscular he was, I could tell even through the winter clothing he was wearing that he had been an athlete. I also noticed how straight and tall he stood. It was something that my mother always commented upon. She used to tell us that posture was necessary and always noticeable. I believed her now. He came over and sat down next to me, smiling – I smiled back and we sat there for a second or two not saying anything; it felt like minutes before one of us spoke. He was funny. His sense of humor was a bit sarcastic but it was quick witted and I found myself laughing.

I was having fun. It felt good to sit there with a man, laughing and enjoying myself. I was glad I took the risk and the longer I sat there, the more interested I became. We identified a number of times in our life that had been ‘almost meetings’ as if we had danced around the country after one another at various times but the timing was never right. I suddenly remembered the prophecies I received on the mountain from my roommate and from Michael… this was it – Harlan was the one they were talking about. It was near the end of the year and almost Christmas in fact, Harlan’s birthday was on Christmas. It was too coincidental … no – there are no coincidences… I had just met ‘my man’. It was Monday, December 10, 2007.

NOTE  *As I finish writing this and get ready to post I realize that I am writing about a day EXACTLY nine years ago. I’ve been writing now for 83 consecutive days and there is no way that I could have mapped this out to coincide with exact dates. I am tickled that the Universe is allowing me this trick, providing affirmation that it is leading me, honoring me with words and memories as I need them. I am humbled and grateful.

Soul Theory and Chances

Continued from Stepping Out

“The purpose of our journey on this precious Earth is now to align our personalities with our souls. It is to create harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life.
It is to grow spiritually.” ~ Gary Zukav

Taking classes online meant that almost all my work was writing – probably 98%. We had discussion questions to post and respond to, as well as papers to write, in most classes, weekly. The discussions were designed to generate critical thinking. Why?? We were always asking why. Why do you think that way? Where does that originate from? What are you trying to accomplish? The student body was much more diversified than the undergrad scene I had just come from and so it was a pleasure to have in-depth conversations with people who had some life experience under their belt as well.

By Spring, I was deep into learning different counseling theories. As it turns out, mental health counseling was a rather ‘new’ profession – not derived from psychology – as most of us probably assume as I did. It morphed from the Parsons vocational counseling efforts which began just after the turn of the twentieth century. Up to that point, Psychiatrists and Psychologists gave mental health advice – predominately at the doctorate level and they are trained in a ‘medical model’. Essentially, a medical model attempts to determine what is wrong or broken physically (i.e., brain chemistry) and then works to ‘fix’ it. The counseling profession today is mostly designed to address mental health from a ‘strengths’ perspective. We consider all the things that are good – what skills, attributes, resources, etc., do you already possess that can help you move through the challenges that you face on a day to day basis?

There are a half dozen or so mainstream theories on human behavior in the counseling field and very few therapists today use one of them exclusively. Most of us begin by utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in its core form – looking at how we think and then encouraging supportive behavior to reinforce new / improved thoughts. Along the way, we will inject tidbits from other ideologies such as…. humanistic, existential, and transpersonal concepts.

One of my final papers was to conceptualize and present a new, personal theory of counseling. I called it Soul Theory. It was complete with a view of human nature, therapeutic goals, anticipated client experience, and therapeutic techniques. It also outlined therapists function and roles along with a guide to direct the relationship between the therapist and client. The basic tenant was this:

In soul theory, it is postulated that an individual is comprised of not only body and mind, but also of the soul.  It is the soul’s purpose to guide the human existence on a journey toward the ability to experience complete unconditional love at all times.  When the soul is in balance with the body and mind – in a state of love – behavior is normalized and absent of maladaptive patterns or pathology.  The human experience of emotional states is the result of an imbalance between the soul and one’s behavior or thoughts.  Soul theory is based on the premise that the soul is connected directly to the divine and is all knowing.

I’ve added the paper in its entirety as a page for anyone interested in reading and thinking about it.

I was more fortunate than many and didn’t have to do anything except concentrate on school. When the girls left for high school each morning, I grabbed my coffee cup and headed into my home office where I was able to sit in a comfortable chair and work on a recent model desktop computer. I stayed in my jammies most days until mid-afternoon. Occasionally, I would grab a textbook and head out to the hot tub to study. It wasn’t a bad life and I expressed gratitude for it on a daily basis. The one thing that ex-Hubby always deserves credit for is making that deposit every month that allowed me to educate myself and raise our daughters. I am grateful to him for that privilege. It was a solitary life, though. I was in the house alone or with teens all of the time. Once in a while I would go to lunch with a friend or talk with a neighbor but it wasn’t ‘company’ or ‘companionship’ and I am a social creature… I wanted to meet someone. I wanted to hold hands and kiss and… well – I was craving camaraderie with someone of the opposite sex.

By now it was late October and the quandary was still the dating thing – it just wasn’t my style really and yet, how does one meet someone in Suburbia? I meditated on it for over a week, I prayed and allowed my mind to be open for an answer. I sat quietly during the day for a month or more and ‘heard’ that I needed to put myself out there. I knew I needed to ‘open the door’ at least so that the Universe could send people my way. A month had gone by and Thanksgiving had passed, Christmas was around the corner… time was passing and I was still lonely. I decided to do it in the least aggressive, least intrusive, and least risky manner… I refreshed my Match.com profile and promised myself that I wouldn’t sit there for hours looking through profiles but I would wait. That was the open door – a picture and a paragraph that offered a glimpse of myself, of my life. I vowed to respond to anyone – everyone who made an effort to reach out to me after all, I didn’t know who they might be and I secretly self-pledged not to judge the people knocking on the proverbial door.

And there was nothing for a solid week. I was beginning to feel like a true loser. I asked the Universe again… “what’s going on”? I would whisper to myself in my thoughts / prayers and I got busy preparing for the holidays.

Just after the first of December, I received an email notifying me that there was a message in my Match.com inbox. The tagline of the message was ‘You have a nice smile’. Ahh… that’s cute – a bit corny, but cute. I liked the idea that someone noticed ‘a smile’ and that it prompted him to mention it. I clicked on the profile of the person who had messaged me and saw a man in sunglasses, sitting down but looking kind of ‘up’ toward the camera. He was wearing dark clothing and had a grin – not a smile – on his face. Crap. I couldn’t see his eyes. I put a lot of stock in what I saw in someone’s eyes.

I could tell by reading his personal paragraph that he was eight years older than me, was divorced a few years ago, and bought his clothing at EMS. I’ll admit that I had to look up what kind of store EMS was and I thought it was a bit strange that someone would tell me – actually, the world – where they bought their clothes, but o.k., perhaps it was an identity thing. After researching EMS, I got a handle on a guy who was probably athletic and ‘earthy’. Simple.

I could tell by his photograph that he had blondish hair and a HUGE mustache. That would be different for me – I never got too into facial hair but hey… I was on an adventure. He claimed to be six foot four inches – Yay for me! A tall guy. I ‘winked’ back at him. I had no idea what the proper ‘protocol’ was and I had asserted to myself that I was NOT going to be aggressively pursuing a companion. I wanted to be chased a bit.

I was about to find out if I had any ‘flirting’ energy left in my spirit.

Stepping Out

Continued from Jay’s Lesson

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats

I was insatiable… I attacked Amazon to find more information on people who had written about past life memories. I read Carol Bowman – a psychologist whose son was having conscious memories, Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton, and Reliving Past Lives by Helen Wambach. These were quick reads for me, validation for everything I had learned on the mountain and additional fodder for my brain as I tried to imagine myself helping people by using regression therapy.

I thought back to the time that Francis – about 4 years old, pointed to a building and said – “that’s where I died mom, when it was on fire”. The building in question was actually new and under construction. I had to admit that it did look – at night – like a burned-out shell of an older structure but it was brand new, maybe half way completed. Fortunately, I never poo-poo’d his thoughts or comments. My mom’s next door neighbor was an eccentric, wonderful woman who had been extremely involved in ARE (the Association for Research and Enlightenment), a non-profit organization founded by Edgar Casey in 1931. Meme was a grand old soul and believed in things I had only just begun to explore. Back in the day – we thought she was ‘out there’ but now, I had a new appreciation for her and wondered just how close to being ‘out there’ I was becoming! Meme was always allowing for possibilities and so, when Francis began having these ‘spiritual’ moments, I simply accepted them as feasible, regardless of the probability. Francis went on to tell me that his wife was sad but that she had gotten married again. (!)

I stayed in touch with a woman who lived about an hour away who had also been ‘on the mountain’ with me and we got together a couple of times to keep our hypnosis skills honed by practicing on one another. In one session, I had a difficult time coming ‘out’ of the mist as I would complain of being nauseous; not feeling well. Then finally, she suggested that I just ‘push through it’ and I did to find myself spinning. I was about twelve or thirteen and I was with a young boy, in a field of grass on a sunny day. We were elevated on a knob or knoll and we had been spinning around and then falling to the ground to watch the clouds move in circles… we were laughing and having so much fun. I really liked the boy I was with; we were comfortable together but I didn’t get the feeling that he was a brother. When asked to look at my feet I burst out laughing because I was barefoot and my feet were filthy dirty – covered completely in dirt.

I was a girl and I was close to home so she had me go there. As I walked, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back and I knew I was holding hands with the boy but it was in fun – not serious. We walked into a farm yard of sorts, seemingly it was in the early to mid-1800’s and I could only see one, small house but there was a large barn and I noticed that most of the ‘yard’ was actually dirt. The door to the house was open and I knew I could go in. What struck me most was that the floor of the house was also – dirt. The furnishings were sparse and wooden and I thought I could smell something ‘earthy’ like beef or meat cooking. There was no one in the house and so I went back outside.

I didn’t see any people at all but I ‘knew’ they were there somewhere. I knew I was a part of a family and I sensed that I had a sister, a younger one. The land was relatively flat in most directions with only that small knoll behind the house. I could see corn – everywhere. Mature tall stocks blowing in the wind – I could feel the wind – or at least I could sense the wind against my face.

She advanced me in that life – asking me to go to another time and I saw myself in a room with a pot belly stove in the center and I knew that I was in a schoolroom. I was a teacher perhaps and I was Alice. There was an absolute knowingness to that. The room was empty but I was writing something with chalk on a blackboard. I wore my hair up and I was thin, with a long skirt. I knew I was married, I could ‘sense’ my husband as a large, burly man with dark hair and a beard. She asked me to ‘go home’ and so I found myself walking in a city, down a street of row homes like brownstones to the door of my house. It was on my right as I approached and there were two steps to walk up to a big door.

And then it was over…

Sometimes, a regression is in full swing and then the clock stops – we run out of time or we can’t access any other information. It’s quite difficult to explain the ‘knowing’ piece unless you experience it. It generally feels so clear – the information is just there.

I briefly considered bagging the whole grad school thing to focus on regression therapy and then realized that this whole process started with the idea of ‘credentialing’. THAT was the goal. I had developed this core belief that if I was to be taken seriously – I had to have the basic competencies, verified, and validated. And with that… classes began.

Jay’s Lesson

Continued from Consider The Possibilities

Sometimes life doesn’t want to give you something that you want. It’s not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve more.  ~ Unknown

A few days ago I talked about dating again and mentioned meeting a great guy on an arranged ‘lunch date’. His name was Jay and we had a second date, and then a third. We met for lunch a few times as it was a better in both of our schedules. He had four girls but they were mostly grown or almost there. He talked about them like they were amazing, making me believe that he was an amazing dad and that excited me.

There’s always a question when dating after divorce about when to introduce the person to your children – if ever. I wasn’t especially excited to have the girls meet Jay but they were curious and so I didn’t wait long… they knew we were seeing each other and they knew I liked him. I told them the basics, what he did for a living, how many children he had and what I knew about them, and I shared the general details of how we spent time together. It seemed to be going pretty well and so I invited him to come out for dinner. Awkward!! There we sat, at the dinner table that we used to share with their dad. I don’t know exactly what they were thinking but I thought it was weird… to have a different guy sitting there having a conversation with my children, someone other than the man with whom I had been sharing them with for twelve years.

He was pretty cool though… as the father of girls, he knew all the right shows – had seen and could talk about – The Gilmore Girls. He was friendly and conversational, knowing just how to fit in and when to sit back. They thought he as ‘weird’ – as any teen / preteen would typically think and perhaps he was – a little.

We continued to spend stolen pockets of time together, each of us taking turns driving the fifty-minute span that separated us. We took a weekend and spent it on a boat that he shared with another family member and I learned that he took fish oil supplements. Good for him – bad for anyone that got close enough to kiss him. I’m not one hundred percent that it was the fish oil, perhaps it was another issue, but that man’s perspiration was one of the most unpleasant smells I’ve ever experienced. I’m not convinced he wore deodorant and even if he did, I’m not sure there was a perfume strong enough to mask his personal scent. I don’t mean at all – to be unkind, simply descriptive of an attribute that was marginally manageable.

I struggled as to whether or not it would be a deal breaker for me. How do you tell someone … they smell and not be rude? How can they not know? Is it highly intolerant or critical of me to ‘not’ date someone because of an odor? I realized it wasn’t all of the time and hadn’t spent enough time with him to decipher what prompted or initiated it.

When I graduated with my undergrad, he slipped into the mix of celebrants – in fact, he was front and center… something that I was really questioning at the time but didn’t know how to ask him to ‘sit back’. Sadly, I don’t have any photographs of that day without him in it. He escorted me home that day to my surprise party and consequently, met many family members and friends… in retrospect – it was Way. Too. Soon.

Jay was unapologetically himself and I loved that about him. I envied his ability to be authentic regardless of the circumstances and I made a note to investigate that quality / feature about myself. It was a new and exciting proposition for me – to just be me. He didn’t apologize for his peculiarities or idiosyncrasies – he accepted himself – completely and I noticed. I liked that about him. I wanted to be like that.

Jay wasn’t divorced yet and since – at that time – neither was I, it seemed to be a bond between us … our ‘almost’ ex-spouses were somewhat thorns in our environment. We had each been ‘separated’ for over a year but the divorce piece was complicated. He began introducing me to a couple of his daughters as ‘a friend’ and then braced for the backlash from their mom. We had custody of our children on the same weekends so that worked, but there is SO MUCH to navigate when you are forced to maneuver through a dozen different personalities just to spend time together. We were attempting to finalize our plans for the upcoming July 4th weekend – whether or not to take all the girls someplace, my kids, or his, and it was just too complicated. He was firmly planted in his community – and I in mine. To that extent, we were either unable to unwilling to compromise. We were on the phone one afternoon and he was unambiguous with his words “I can’t date you anymore, it’s too hard”.

He tried to explain that there were just too many complications with his wife, his girls, my kids, the distance… I recall being somewhat stunned as there was no warning. I had never realized that his skin was that thin – or perhaps (giving him the benefit of the doubt) there was much more under the surface that I had not been privy to. In either case, I could feel myself shut down instantaneously … here it was again – rejection. Oh well… at least I hadn’t let my heart out – had I? Nope… it didn’t hurt, not really – I was just surprised. I hadn’t loved Jay. I realized that I hadn’t even let myself consider loving him. It was fun to be liked, to be wanted – for a while.

I walked out of my bedroom after that phone call and into Sara’s room. “Jay just broke up with me”, I told her. She looked at me with big eyes, wondering and waiting for more… “are you ok?” she asked. “Surprisingly… I’m good – it’s all good”, I say.

_____

On the drive home from the mountain I thought about Jay – what purpose did Joe have in my life? Why did we meet? I loved his authenticity. I needed to consider why it was such a strong element for me and how could I embody more authentic-ness? (um… duh – in every way!) I realized that Jay demonstrated that I could still get butterflies. Good to know. I also noted that I could be found attractive to a man. As crazy as it sounds, for someone with low self-esteem, coming out of a marriage to a man who preferred the company of other (many) women – this was somewhat of a revelation for me. I was desirable – at least to a guy who smelled like fish oil. I considered Jay practice but also acknowledged that dating sucked. There were so many expectations, hopes, disappointments, and the potential for rejection that it took more courage than I thought I might have for now.

I filed away the introspection about dating and organized my life. It was time to start grad school. I was excited with the idea of learning more.

Consider The Possibilities

Continued from Digging Deep

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” – George Carlin

There was no doubt, none, zip, nada … that the person looking back at me was one in the same as my current day brother Pat. It’s another of those unexplainable ‘knowing’ things that don’t fit any logic or rationale. It doesn’t fit into the paradigm of what we can see, hear, or touch but I knew it as strongly as I know my feet are on the ground… and it was weird, comforting, nonsensical and intuitive all at once. I didn’t want to leave that scene. There was so much solace in that room and I wanted to be there longer, to know more. The hypnotist was bringing me out of a trance, misreading my tears apparently and as I came grew into awareness, I was dumbfounded to realize that he had been traveling with me – through time. It made perfect sense to me now.

Along with the concept of reincarnation is the postulation that we reincarnate within ‘soul families’. Depending on who you read, there are different methods of explaining this and various ideas of what constitutes a ‘family’. The best description I’ve heard is that of a LEAF. I don’t recall who first stated this but its description highlights the basic premise well. As a soul, we are like a leaf on a tree – and on that tree, the leaves on the twig with us are the closest although we are also intimately connected to the other leaves on the branch and of course, the tree in general. We may even have some connection, if only in proximity, to other leaves on the surrounding trees but we can’t possibly be connected to leaves on the other side of the forest…

I believe that Pat is a leaf on my twig. We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone where the connection is immediate and easy. It may be your best friend, your partner, a work colleague, or a school buddy… most of us know the sensation of ‘I feel like I’ve known you forever’ thing. It may be because your soul recognizes that person’s soul… perhaps because you’ve been traveling through time for millenniums.

Dr. Weiss shared stories with us about patients and their discoveries and the book Only Love Is Real describes the most bizarre and amazing experience when he realized that two of his patients were portraying the exact same regression – people who didn’t know each other!!

By week’s end, I was relaxed, in awe, and conversing freely with most anyone who looked my direction. I had ‘woken up’. I don’t know if I should attribute it to the cleaning of my chakra, the consequence of being surrounded by so much love, or a realization that I was wasting my ‘moments’ by not being present. In any regard, I was sitting in a common area on the last night there when Michael and a group of others from our seminar walked in. I got up and went over to their table, asking to join them. I had grown some courage in a weeks’ time, or perhaps just gotten to know them well enough to take down my shield. The conversation moved toward parapsychology and people were sharing stories about mediums and clairvoyants. Michael (the guy I sat next to all week) looked directly at me and said “I’ve been wanting to tell you that you’re going to meet a man soon. There is something about Christmas coming through, so maybe around that time.”  All I wanted to know is if he was going to be tall, so I asked… “tall I hope?” “Tall and blonde” he said.

Hmm… my roommate had just predicted that I would meet someone around the holidays. She wasn’t here anymore – I don’t think they’ve met since she was in a different workshop… was it possible that they were picking up on something? The temptation to give in to the anticipation was overwhelming but there were more exciting, more present things to be excited about and I stayed focused on the work we had been doing all week.

I was one of the few people there who was still a student. I knew I had much more to learn and I was genuinely excited to begin studying counseling; how to help people regardless and potentially those who may be affected by past life experiences. It was time to consider grad schools.

On the way home from the mountain, I wanted to call and tell everyone I knew about how mindbending my week was. It’s a hard discussion, though. In order to discuss the impact of past lives, you have to be open to the idea of have had one – or at least that I did. Even if it isn’t a ‘real thing’, there is a need to be open to the lesson or message – even if it is only from your own voice. I didn’t know many people in that arena. I did call Pat, though… he was on the same page and I knew he would buy into my enthusiasm. I didn’t tell him about my regression, though… I wanted to regress him and find out if he might see or remember the same time. I told him only enough that he was eager to go under.

I made a decision about Grad school too. As chance (?) would have it – I received a phone call on that drive home from one of the schools I had been considering. They sold me hard and I agreed – on that phone call – to go ahead and register. The only problem was that they hadn’t yet received their CACREP accreditation… it was in process they said. There was a slight risk by enrolling in a program that was new but I believed in the details to student success that they were purporting. I would start in just three weeks time.

I felt as if I was on fire. I was excited and charged, eager to practice the skills I acquired during my week on the mountain. I let everyone know that I was ‘open for business’ so to speak; that I was offering regression – free of charge – in exchange for the practice. A few people took me up on it immediately.

One of those people was a man in my family – remaining nameless – who, under regression, found himself in a cave, alone and afraid. He was an Indian who had been sent out on a maturing mission, a rite of passage. He was trapped, though. In a shallow cave being monitored by a mountain lion and he knew that he would never leave that cave alive. He was emotional and recounting the experience as if he was describing a football game… he was detached and yet he summarizing the situation clearly and acutely. When he came out of hypnosis, he was clear about the ‘message’ of the experience and he said that the validation was helpful. Validation for the fact that sometimes in ‘this’ life, he feels alone even though he knows he is not… now he knows where this ‘energy’ belongs and can stop second guessing. He expressed a sense of relief.

It was amazing and I stayed excited, reading everything I could find about reincarnation – especially academic material that had science behind it – if only a little bit. Since Hindu’s believe in reincarnation, much of the academic work centers there and there are more… amazing stories. I encourage anyone with an interest to investigate Dr. Ian Stephenson from the University of Virginia. His entire career was dedicated to paranormal research and is meticulously researched with incredible evidence.

Open yourself up to possibilities!