Ghost Dogs

(Photo taken two days after we adopted Happy.)

On Monday, I took a long bath.  The nice thing about bathing is, it makes it SUPER easy to talk to any spirit / animal / friend who wants to get through to me.  It puts me in the right head space and it kind of amplifies everything.

So I got in the tub, and suddenly, there was Mocha.  Big cattle dog smile, and there was Happy, practically glued to her side.  Mocha said “I’m supervising him again!”  She then let it be known that Happy needs 24/7 supervision, and so she will not be reincarnating.  I didn’t know Mocha was even thinking about coming back, it had never come up – but she let me know that it’s off the table, since Happy is her job now.

I told this to Sweetie, because I immediately felt huge relief.  Happy is okay, and he’s in this doggy recovery / healing space, with Mocha on that expansive outdoor space that reminds me of the farm from the movie “Babe”.  Mocha showed me the best thing about it is, Happy always and only ever found peace in his mind when he was running full tilt.  There, in their heaven, Happy can run as far and as long as he wants, with Mocha at his side.  He never gets lonely and he never gets tired.  

Today when I came home, Sweetie was really upset.  She viscerally experienced Happy back in the house, growling from his kennel.  She was so startled, she ran out of the room.

She had been watching a tense show at the time, and Happy would mirror our tension.  It was just his way of being, he growled at the slightest provocation, every unseen noise or just a jump in the energy of the room.  

Sweetie was so upset, thinking Happy was haunting our house!  Well, maybe he was just visiting, doing the thing he almost always did, so we’d know it was him!  I suggested she ask Mocha to come get him, next time.  

I remember doing a session for a friend of mine who had a little dog in heaven.  Her little Yorkie showed me him walking around my friend’s living space, lifting his leg and peeing on things as he went.  She laughed – yes he used to pee, and oddly she still smelled it, even though the place had been completely cleaned 100 times.  

It was ghost dog pee.

It’s funny they repeat “bad behaviour” when they visit us, because that’s how they ARE around us, that’s how they say hello.  

I’ve felt so much better today… But exhausted too.  Think I’ll go to bed early, if the kittens let me sleep.  I took off their cones today (Mom I can’t groom or touch my face – SO ITCHY!) and gave strict orders to both of them: be GENTLE with your balls!  Be gentle with each other.  Rough biting will make your balls hurt and then I will have to put the cones back on for more days!  So be GENTLE with your balls!  

That has to be the funniest thing I’ve told cats in a long while.

Good dogs.

Today, I’m feeling better. I remembered a few things.
I remembered when I got Mocha. She was a rescue girl, a cattle dog / German shepherd cross, a challenging combination of breeds. When I adopted her, she had a belly full of parasites and she was scared of everything.  
The first week, then six weeks, then six months with Mocha were very challenging. I hired a trainer and we went to weekly classes. She learned to heel like a champ, she learned to walk in the busy streets of Toronto and gradually completely got over her fear of loud noises.
Even though thunderstorms still scared her, she went from trying to claw her way out of the house to coming to me to sit on my foot for reassurance while anxiety shook her body.
Here’s what I remembered today: Mocha actually GOT BETTER. The techniques I learned and used, WORKED with her. And here’s why:
Mocha had the ability to observe her own experiences and modify her own responses over time. In moments of stress, Mocha was able to observe the consequences of her behaviour, and observe whether anything bad *actually* happened.  
Over time, Mocha learned that bad things weren’t going to happen just because there was a loud noise, or she was alone in the house, or that other dog was looking at her.
Mocha was an incredible success in dog rehabilitation, after two years, she was my bomb-proof girl. She became the stoic anchor of calmness in our house.  
With Mocha, we succeeded.  
I am beginning to recognize the overall sum of Happy’s behaviour may have been symptomatic of something congenital.  
Happy had OCD. Everything he did had an obsessive edge of hyper-focus. Fetching, collecting and putting away all the toys in the house, licking, guarding, reacting. 
I always said Happy was the most sensitive dog I ever had. Any new stimulus was instantly overwhelming. We had to desensitize him to nearly everything in his environment, and unlike Mocha, he never reached a decision that things from now on were going to be ok.
Every car ride, new beach walk, new dog or person was a shot of anxious adrenaline to his system. Noises seemed unbearably loud to him, colours overwhelming.  
I felt like I needed a whole specially designed sanctuary for him, where every element of his environment was controlled.
Even then, would he ever relax?
Never once, did Happy relax. I could rub his belly, and he’d look up at me anxiously. He’d cuddle into me and sigh, but go on guard and shark out at Sweetie or other pets if they came near. Even in his kennel he’d growl and shudder at unseen sources of sound outside on the street.
He never progressed beyond his own fear. His negative behaviour was always an outlet for his never-ceasing anxiety. No matter what we tried, how much he was exercised, stimulated, desensitized, trained and positively reinforced, that fear never, ever went away.
I was remembering today all the things Mocha would do when she was relaxed. She might grunt and flop into her bed with a sigh, or roll on her side and paw lazily at a toy. If I scratched her ear or rubbed her belly, she’d sigh and lean into me.
Happy never relaxed.  
The next thing we could have tried would have been medication. I think, we were just out of energy and hope. I just couldn’t risk another incident, at the end of the day.
I was wondering if there was such a thing as dog autism, and I found that there was a similar group of behaviours that sometimes appeared, in a litter of perfectly normal and healthy puppies.
Happy didn’t have all of the symptoms, he didn’t shy from my touch, but would quickly become overwhelmed by the ministrations of other people. What he did have was a compulsive organizing of his toys. Not a problem behaviour, necessarily, but something I had categorized as a convenient quirk. He gathered up toys and put them in his bed. A reasonable, normal behaviour, but one he did obsessively, like he approached everything else on life.
I’m not diagnosing my dog posthumously, I’m just gaining a new perspective, something I couldn’t see for some reason while he was still alive.  
His anxiety was with him from day 1, and unlike Mocha, he was unable to control it.  It controlled him.
Ask a human who struggles with anxiety and you’ll learn its not rational. It’s something that finds many negative behaviour outlets, something that can be managed, but maybe not cured.
Maybe Happy’s anxiety itself was a symptom. I know he found the world to be overwhelming. He reminded me a lot of myself, in kindergarten. He just never found a way past it. Every day was his first day at kindergarten. We did everything we could to show him the way.
Remembering Mocha and how severe her anxiety was helped me realize I wasn’t foolish to take Happy on. I enjoyed animal challenges. I was SO SURE if I did the right things for long enough… Well, you know.
I hope he feels safe now. I’m sure my Mom is taking care of him.

Kittens in Cones

You guys are so amazing and supportive, I do so appreciate all of your comments and messages.  Let’s all chuckle together at Mikey and Rupert, back from their neutering.  

For some reason, Mikey found the experience to be invigorating.  

They both cuddled with me and slept most of today.  

My good dog.


Today, one month after we said goodbye to Sunshine, we said goodbye to Happy, our dog.  
I am very sensitive to judgment, so please, if you’re going to comment, be kind.
I never, ever thought I’d be faced with this decision. While Happy has always been a challenge, he tries so hard. We have rearranged our lives around our dog, for seven years, and we’ve been brought to the brink of this decision many times.  
Each time, “the brink” was an incident. Happy bit someone, one of us, one of the other pets, a visitor, a stranger. Each incident left us in tears and emotional agony, evaluating our options.  
Sweetie was telling me she feels responsible, because in the first 24hours of having Happy, I was going to call the first owner to have her take him back. He had a complete mental breakdown in his first day, I’d never seen anything like it.  
Sweetie took him out for a long walk and convinced us both we could get through it.
Happy has always been my dog, he’s my responsibility. Every time we’ve had an incident, I resolve to do better.
Two years later, we seriously considered euthanasia for the first time. He was no longer hiding under furniture and “sharking out” from underneath, biting anything that came close to the chair, but he had shifted to attacking our feet, striking at Sweetie if she came near me while I had him on my lap, biting me if he decided to be possessive of whatever he was sitting on or near.
We worked with him, and worked with him, and worked with him.  
We learned how to minimize his opportunities for possessive behavior. We learned how to modify his behavior around feet, and slowly convince him to associate feet with good things. We learned to never, ever allow a stranger to touch him, how to snatch him out of reach when a stranger ignored our orders, “don’t pet him!” And I taught him how to go around children on the beach, and come to me if another dog made him nervous, rather than attacking the dog as if he had to fight to the death.
Everything was King Kong sized to Happy. We did our best to make his world a fun and safe place.
Each time, for seven years, we turned back from the brink. Let’s try teaching him to run beside my bicycle, let’s walk him with other dogs, let’s never let him on the bed or sofa, let’s only feed him in his kennel… We have tackled each newly discovered issue with behavior modification, positive reinforcement, and near-constant vigilance.
I say near-constant, because we’re human. And it seems we go two or three or six months without incident, and another thing happens, brings us right back to the brink, faced with the same choices. More, different training, new resolve to do better by him. Consultations with trainers, our vet, our friends in rescue. So much helpful advice over seven years.  
Happy is the one dog in my life that has taught me more than any of the others combined.
And so when I finally realized yesterday that the risk I’m running by allowing this to go on is not just to me, and the denial / justification I have been telling myself that “he is so small, he can’t do any real damage” is untrue.  
I don’t want to discuss yesterday’s incident, because I can’t talk about what we could have done, or tried next. It was a close call involving the love of my life, and in a gut-wrenching moment of clarity I realized that this time *must be* the last time.
I took Happy on an extra long walk last night, just the two of us. I fed him chicken for dinner. I barely slept last night, for this is the weightiest decision I have made in my adult life.
My dear friends and readers, I promise you I did everything I was capable of doing for Happy. I did not come by this decision out of convenience, nor do I believe his condition is as a result of the recent changes in our house, the loss of Sunshine, the addition of the kittens.
If we did not have kittens, and Happy was the only animal in the house, we would still be getting bitten. We have worked with him over the years, and he has improved a great deal, but he will still bite quickly, with no warning. His mind goes blank, and he has no control. It’s a reflex, and his triggers are unpredictable.
We did our best for as long as we could, and this time, I knew, there could be no more incidents.  
So Happy came with me when I took the kittens in to the vet to be neutered, and I asked the vet to put Happy to sleep.
Happy is free of his nervous body, a body that shoots full of adrenaline at the slightest stimulation, a body full of memories of his first terrifying year on earth. His spirit has always been greyhound-sized, he’s always been the little dog with the huge aura. He is safe with his friend and teacher Mocha, with Sunshine who shines her cat-benevolence on him. He went straight to heaven, just like the saying.  
Dear God, forgive me. I did the best I could.  
Dear friends, I’m sorry my blog has been so intense these past months. I know it’s not easy to read about these sad things, and I thank you so much for being here with me.
After Happy left his body, and the kittens were undergoing their surgery, I went to Smitty’s for some food.  While I was sitting there, eating scrambled eggs and drinking herbal tea, staring out the window, I saw the shape of a dog form out of the grey sidewalk and grey-er sky.  It was a schnauzer.
My childhood dog, Heidi, was a standard schnauzer, and before my Mom died she said one of the signs she would send to me would be schnauzers.  She’s done it twice before – once in Telegraph cove, an insanely remote place to encounter a breed that is so unusual, and once on the day we thought we were picking up kittens, but discovered a barn-breeding operation instead.

And now today, as I sat in Smitty’s, reviewing all the choices we made for Happy over the years, and shouldering the burden of this last, heaviest decision, there’s a schnauzer, right outside the window, just as I was asking for forgiveness.

I heard this: “forgive yourself”.   

I can’t do that today.  Not today, but maybe in a little while.  Today is for sadness, and regret, wishing I could have found some miracle to unlock his brain and show him he could relax and never, ever, bite again.  For today, this is the very best I can do.

Body Talk & Healing

(image and lovely poem here)

I posted a quick update on facebook last night, that I’d been to see my doc and he’d sent me for a bunch of lab work, thinking that H. Pylori, a really common bug that almost half of all people have, could have taken over my stomach and be causing the painful acid reflux I’ve been experiencing. Apparently it’s the leading cause of ulcers. All of my lab work so far is normal, but I won’t find out about the H. Pylori until my next doc appt.

Sweetie has gently pointed out to me on more than one occasion, that I tend to process my emotion physically. Whenever anything is going on that has a strong emotional element, I tend to develop a symptom. Louise Hay has a chart of body complaints and correlated emotional issues, and a lot of the time it lines up. For example, I noticed I’d get foot pain right before taking a really big step in my life, like moving to a new city or applying for a new job. Now, when I experience foot pain, I ask “Where is my fear of moving forward?”

I’m going through a period of fixing myself up. The last couple of years have been hard on me, physically. Riding my bike for two years was good for my heart, but tough on my knees. Fortunately, there’s physio for that!

My back, ever since I hurt it after visiting my Mom in October 2014, has been a chronic ongoing pain. Back pain slowly limited my ability to go on long walks, which is one of the things I really enjoy doing out here in the land of beaches. But now, I finally have the support I need – starting with an amazing La-Z-Boy chair! Last week I was almost crying from back pain, but I sat in that chair for a couple of hours, and all the pain went away. No meds needed. I had just overworked myself a bit, and after some time in the magic chair and a good sleep, I was good as new the next morning!

This is such a blessing and relief because in October 2014, we didn’t own a bed, and hadn’t for two years. Frequently, Sweetie would be on an air mattress on the concrete floor, and I would be on the creaky couch. This, I’m sure, contributed to my back issues.

Oh, and let me tell you about my uber-sexy physio exercises. Are you ready?

1) I lay on the floor, on my side, knees bent, heels in line with my tailbone. Keeping my feet together I raise my knee to the ceiling, so my legs do this move like a clam shell. Oh yeah, it’s very attractive. I feel like I could be on the cover of a romance novel when I do this one.

2) I am on my hands and knees. I lift my leg to the side, mimicking a dog peeing on a fire hydrant! Sexy!

3) I am standing and make the motion to sit, ensuring my knees do not move forward enough to cover the view of my toes (ie, butt is sticking WAY out!) Because I’m not super-strong at this move yet, I have been instructed to perform this move over a “low chair” which I do not own… so I use the toilet. I’m squatting over the toilet. Repeatedly. Did I mention I also have an elastic band tied around my knees and I’m pushing my knees outward at the same time?

I am now taking music recommendations to listen to while I do this butt-focused workout. What do you suggest? Something with a beat please that will make me feel fabulous!

So we’re slowly and surely fixing things up. Physio and a magic chair for my back, physio to help make me stronger so I can go to the gym more frequently and work out without pain, which will help with my weight loss that will also make the gym easier. Lab tests to track down and hopefully fix my acid reflux, and if it is H. Pylori, that would ALSO be contributing to my weight gain and the difficulty I’m having with weight loss. Better sleep, more exercise, diet adjustments… Hopefully we can keep this positive ball rolling!

But back to the emotional end of it: Sweetie asked me if I had been crying when I felt sad. Maybe I’d been internalizing emotion out of habit, as an old short-term coping mechanism.

I had, actually. I really don’t like to cry. Actually, crying my *own tears* is a lot of exhausting work. It’s not unusual for me to find myself crying during a heartfelt session, an emotion that isn’t mine – as part of the channeling, it just flows right through me without making me feel tired, dehydrated, wrung out or any of the other feelings I get when I cry over my own sadness. It’s work to process emotion.

Crying for me is like the opposite of being in “medium mode”. Medium mode is this zen, peaceful place where everything flows and there’s no resistance. Crying my own tears is like taking sandpaper over my day, and frankly, I don’t have a lot of days I want to “waste” on crying. Yeah, it does tend to knock me out for the day.

Sweetie’s theory is that this “not crying” habit is making the emotion express in forms of physical illness. Which, I have to admit, makes sense. I know I’m not the only tough gal that does this, either.

In the first months after my Mom died, I did some grief counselling, which is a lot like setting a time aside to cry, and paying someone to help you through it. It’s really worth it. I honestly did get to a place where I felt like I’d gotten what I needed from the counselling, but maybe I stopped too soon? Or maybe I need to journal and discover where emotion is hiding now? (By the way, I recommend Esther Kane. She does counselling over the phone, so if you’re looking for help, she’s a good lady.)

Since then, Sunny died and I miss her so. Her death triggered all the other losses in recent years, as deaths tend to do. Poor Sunny’s ashes are still in the car, because I don’t have the heart to bring them inside yet!

It’s an interesting journey. I wonder what the lab results will say?

Getting to the body talk part. I don’t consider myself to be a “medical medium” but sometimes interesting information will pop up. Sweetie has noticed I always make lipton chicken soup with TONS of garlic, often just before I come down with a cold. She’s nicknamed it “sick soup” which made me realize I’m probably craving garlic when I need it.

I’ve been craving that soup a lot lately, as well as broccoli for some weird reason. I generally hate broccoli, but I’ve eaten it for the past three days. Well, I’ve been reading up on naturopathic treatments on H. Pylori and guess what? Garlic and broccoli are on the list. Now, in clinical trials, these foods have shown to reduce symptoms and inflammation, and even temporarily reduces the colonization, but don’t actually treat the problem – the H. Pylori infection. After the garlic and broccoli were stopped, the infection came back.

So I may have to buckle up and take antibiotics for the first time in ten years. It was UNFUN the last time I had to take them.

I also had the thought, before seeing the doc, that this might be an early symptom of stomach cancer. The pain is what drove me to the doc, but this niggling through convinced me it’s better to go sooner rather than later. What a weird and random thought, right? I brushed it off assuming that, because my Mom died of cancer, I’m just seeing cancer potential everywhere. Headache? BRAIN TUMOUR! Ingrown toenail? THAT’S A TUMOUR! Sore throat? TUMOUR!!!! Okay I’m kidding, I’m not that bad! It’s just this little pessimist in the back of my mind who mostly sits on a stool with a dunce cap on her head.

The funny thing was my doc mentioned that the treatment of H. Pylori is optimistically viewed as being the best preventative for stomach cancer, since this bug causes most of the ulcers associated with stomach cancer. I think my chance of actually developing it is around 1%, but it’s just a funny coincidence.

It’s interesting to hear my body talk to me.

Living on Bonus Time

A year or two ago, I got to know a fellow who knew he was dying. He had a condition that necessitated the requirement of some embarrassing assistance, and I’ve seen that decline in quality of life really play on a person’s sense of well-being. But this fellow, he was happy, almost all the time.

After he passed, the family distributed cards of thanks he’d written to hospital staff. The gist of it was, “Thank you for the excellent care. I have been incredibly blessed in life, by family and friends. I have counted these blessings ever since I returned from (a war), alive. I have considered every day and every person since, “bonus time”. I got nearly 60 years of bonus time, I am incredibly lucky.”

I’ve been thinking about this fellow a lot lately.

While I was visiting my Mom last year, we were parked in the car, looking out at the waterfront. She said abruptly, “I think the happiest time of my life was when I was teaching adults. That’s the funny thing about life, you don’t really know you’re happy until it’s gone.”

It fucking broke my heart. I didn’t know what to say.

I consider the last two visits I got with my Mom, and our phone conversations, “bonus time”. She could have died the night they found the brain tumour. She didn’t though, and we all got some more time together. I’m so grateful for that, and I am glad I had the chance to hear her say she didn’t recognize her happiest years while she was living them, whether it was something she felt all the time, or something she thought just in that moment, I’m glad I heard her say it, since she wanted to say it. It’s how she felt. That’s just as real and legitimate as being grateful for every day, good or bad.

Sweetie and I were talking, and we’ve both had some scary exit points in our lives. I, like most people, survived a brush with death thanks to luck, guardian angels and maybe a choice on the part of my higher self that I wasn’t done yet, or confirmed I wanted to keep going. Why shouldn’t I consider all of my life since to be “bonus time”?

I think I will. Things are so good for us right now. No one is sick. We both have jobs and businesses we enjoy. We have a reliable vehicle and freedom. We have a loyal, loving human and animal family. I’ve been wishing lately that there was a “PAUSE!” button on my life so we could just enjoy this time without worrying what the next challenge will be, because there’s always another challenge.

I was also aware that this worrying about when the next shoe would drop was actually interfering with my enjoyment of right now. So let’s just forget all that. Forget how short-lived or fleeting the good years can be. Maybe we’re even living the happiest years of our life, right now! I don’t want to waste a second of it… It’s bonus time.

We’re lucky to be alive.

Kitten Personalities

I knew I’d love having kittens, and looked forward to this time for years.  I didn’t anticipate how different the personalities of these two brothers could be!

Rupert has succeeded Sunshine as top animal of the house.  No wonder he needed to keep his royal name.  He and Happy are basically cool, although Rupert is now clearly in charge.  Happy is getting used to the new world order, and he seems much more relaxed about it now.

This video shows WHY Rupert is top kitty.  See how he lets Mikey win so he’ll keep playing?

Guest Andrea: Compassion

Recently, I received another really lovely email from my friend, Andrea. With her permission, I share it here:

i wanted to share with you a quick meditation story: about a month or so ago, someone created "a speed bump" in my life by pulling me into her drama – she’s having a hard time right now, and while i’m not really involved, i got brought in energetically. i got really upset in the moment and didn’t really know what to do. talk to her? she didn’t answer the phone or return my message. mail her a book by pema chodron? i don’t really want to strengthen the energetic cord between us, as i’m trying to cut and heal that. so i decided to meditate on the situation, with the intention of receiving clarity. (this is like 30 minutes after it happened, so i didn’t brood too much, thankfully).

so i meditated in silence, just kinda giving myself space and time. after a while, i had the image of the hair of a hasidic jewish man in my mind. it was really confusing because i don’t know any hasidic jews, personally, but i just went with it. my mind was going, "jewish male, jewish male [this went on for a while]…, jesus?" as soon as i think about jesus, i see a traditional painting of him in my mind’s eye. i go, "jesus, is that you?" and then i see a statue of the mother mary. WHOA!!!!! i mean, i was raised roman catholic, but haven’t practiced in nearly 2 decades. i just stay with the image, totally in awe, and ask, "mother mary, whats the message?" then in giant letters, i see the word, "compassion."

DUDE, my mind was blown. that was basically the end of my meditation, but its really stayed with me. i’ve chosen to have compassion for this woman, from afar. i don’t gossip about it anymore, i don’t give it too much thought. but when i do think about it, i just send her compassion and let it go, then cut the cord again.

my mind is still completely blown away how i received this message. i probably wouldn’t have listened to anyone else. :-)

Guest Mary Beth: The Death of Grief

I’ve been friends with Mary Beth for several years. She contacted me in the early years of this blog, and was one of my first clients for “people spirits” (as opposed to the animal communication I’d been doing for years before.) She’s cool with me using her first name, by the way.

I just love this piece she wrote about her experience with her own son’s death and her journey through life after the unexpected and sudden loss of her son. With her permission, I’m sharing this with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Death of Grief

Being separated from a loved one by death is hard. When it’s your child, it’s worse. It sucks. Even if you know that the soul is eternal and that your loved one is “with you” in Spirit, it’s not the same as being physically present – not by a long shot.

I know. My son, Nathan, died in a car accident three years ago, at the age of 18. He was just starting to get his act together, too. To say I was devastated is an understatement. My world imploded. Everything changed. It was an act of courage just to get up in the morning and continue to function.

I found the Channeling Erik blog a few months later, which launched me on an incredible journey of discovery. I studied, found some awesome teachers, and ultimately changed my entire viewpoint on reality. That’s for another post. But, along the way, I learned to actually communicate with my son on the “other side”. I can sense him when he’s present and even have snippets of conversation. We have a continuing relationship. But, it still isn’t the same as his physical presence. I miss that immensely.

In life, when happy events occur, we associate things and dates with that happy feeling. Like, Christmas, birthdays, and graduations. When that time of year comes around, we celebrate, remember, and reinforce those feelings of happiness. Just hearing Christmas carols makes me happy. But, when tragic events occur, we associate THAT date with grief. When the anniversary of a tragic event rolls around, the grief breaks out anew, and we will mourn and (possibly) reinforce those feelings of loss.

Last April, Nathan would have turned 21. The surge of grief that emerged around that time frame caught me by surprise. Something about missing that milestone – when he would have been legally an adult – overwhelmed me. The third anniversary of his death followed two months later. I entered a period of pervasive sadness and wondered if I would ever, truly, get over Nathan’s passing.

Well maybe not, but Nathan decided to step in to help me out of my funk. There are certain songs that made me feel sad, like James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. The line “but I always thought I would see you again…” made me cry. Until one day, as I was listening to the lyrics, the image popped into my mind of Nathan, appearing as a wedding singer cradling a microphone, crooning the song in a melodramatic, over the top way. He completely overacted, crying and wailing his way through the chorus. I couldn’t help but laugh at his goofiness. And you know what? The laughter pushed out the sadness. Now, when I hear the song, it’s hard to be sad while remembering Nathan’s antics.

Another interaction occurred while I was looking at a special photograph of Nathan. It was taken during our last vacation trip together to the mountains. He is dressed in leathers, standing in front of his motorcycle with a beautiful mountain backdrop, smiling happily after successfully navigating a challenging curvy road. It was just so “Nathan”. We used that photo at his funeral. I gazed at the photo, sighing “Oh, Nathan” feeling the sadness and regret well up. Then, I sensed Nathan standing right beside me, one arm flung carelessly over my shoulder, shaking his head and saying, “Yeah, what a great dude, so handsome, so cool”. I couldn’t help it, I started laughing. I pushed at the air beside me and joked, “Stop it!” He protested, “But it’s true!” What a goofball. Ever since, I can’t feel too sad when seeing the photo, because I remember our joke together about it.

And then I “got it”. I finally got what he is trying to teach me. What if, we could – somehow – replace the sad associations with happy ones? Is that even possible?

I’m lucky in that I do have a continuing relationship with my son. I think everyone can have a continuing relationship with their loved ones that have crossed over, but that’s another post. Being able to laugh together about those things that were previously associated with loss, helps to smooth away the sadness, like ocean waves eroding a sand castle. The peaks of grief are still there, but they lessen over time as new, positive associations displace the sadness.

So, next year at Nathan’s birthday, I’m going to plan something FUN. I’m going to intentionally work at interjecting joy on that date. I’m going to invite Nathan along and we’ll celebrate his birthday together. Same for his date of passing. I can’t change the fact that he died. I don’t think anything can ever replace my longing for his physical presence. But I can live MY best life if I can move past the sadness and work at replacing it with joy. I think it will be a process.

Thanks Nathan. I love you.

Fear & Hauntings (Belated Halloween Entry)

Early in October, I talked about my regression / trance experience as part of an intuitive business planning retreat with Carmen Spagnola. (I tried to find the entry, but maybe it’s the podcast? Can anyone else find that link???)

Anyway, during the second trance, something very interesting happened: I met a new spirit guide. Maybe “New” is not the right term. New to me, unrealized until now. I received this detailed background of her last incarnation, the sense she was in Mongolia, and was incredibly tall not just for a female but for the humans of that region. She towered over everyone, and took absolutely no shit. She worked with the horses, and saw herself as the “lead mare”, presiding with ever-vigilant narrowed eyes, constantly scanning the horizon, tireless and fearless.

At this point in the trance, Carmen suggested that if we wanted something removed from us, something that is holding us back, we identify it now.

I knew the one thing that holds me back the most in my life, is fear. I don’t consider myself a fearful person, really, but it’s the “what if worries” that have the biggest impact on my day-to-day life. All that energy imagining disaster scenarios, I need that energy for actual productive things. I asked for this fear to be taken from me. There was something about the trust I had in this woman scanning the horizon, this mother-figure who was part of me, an ancestor maybe, or maybe even myself in a past life, I just knew I didn’t *need* the fear anymore. It was silly, in fact, to hold on to it. I asked it be removed from me.

And it was.

Simply, completely.

I marvelled at the feeling for days. I wondered out loud to Sweetie whether the feeling of relaxed confidence would last, and if not, I wanted to remember how it felt to BE in a fear-free state of mind, so I could invoke it at will.

It’s been a month, and the fear hasn’t come back.

What’s really interesting is I’m able to sit with Sweetie and watch her ghost story shows for the first time EVER. I never really liked watching the scary ghost story shows as a teenager, and in my 20s I cut myself off entirely after watching the “Blair Witch Project”. The stories of apparitions appearing in mirrors, objects moving on their own, the sense of being watched and disturbed from sleep – this all reminded me too much of the weird and scary things that happened when I was a kid. I didn’t find that stuff entertaining because it hit too close to home. It reminded me of the Fear.

But now? No fear. Really, none. Now I can watch those shows with interest and tune out the creepy music and sensationalist story-telling to tease out the real story. How did it really happen? What’s this spirit really trying to say? Sweetie and I like to watch these shows and try to anticipate who the ghost is and why they’re behaving in this way.

Here are some often-stated quotes as we watch these shows:

“Why would they buy a house that’s so obviously haunted?”

“Why would he buy a house without even asking her if she liked it?”

“IF IT’S TOO CHEAP TO BELIEVE, research BEFORE you buy!!!”

“Why would they STAY THERE after that shit happened????”

“That’s just evil. That’s just gotta be pure evil.”

The “evil” end of the conversation is an interesting one, because it parallels a conversation thread I’m having with a dear friend. We’ve unearthed ideas together to try and understand the nature of “evil”. It’s been described as “drips” and shown to me as an oil slick that is added like baking powder to a cake.

And then I remember my initial conversations with an angelic being called Lucifer, who talks about tending to the dark gardens on earth, the eco-system of low-vibration creatures that feed on stuck, shitty energy. The energetic composting system.

It’s interesting to think about all of this. I do still believe that there’s nothing to fear or worry about on the other side. There’s no retribution or punishment, even for jerks.

But those jerks, sometimes, often actually, punish themselves. I’ve found relatives of clients who refuse to come forward to talk (which never surprises the client) and historical figures suspended in time and space, refusing to do their life review and begin to move on.

Just yesterday, we found someone who asked to be regressed back to a spiritual child, so that she could start to develop again from the state of innocence. She’d committed some reprehensible acts in her last life. When I heard that, I understood for the first time the Christian / Born Again / Catholic notion of absolution and forgiveness. It’s not something that makes sense intellectually, but on the other side, what do you do with “evil”? How do you stop that cycle of “there’s no saving me now, I may as well…”

These ghost story shows are so interesting to me because it often starts a conversation about what happens when someone truly cruel and evil dies – where do they go? What do they do with themselves?

Sometimes, they just stay put and haunt the hell out of their old digs.

I also see psychics on this show, priests as well, who show up and do inevitably failing house cleansings. You can’t just come in one time and exorcise a house that’s been haunted for hundreds of years. It just never seems to work.

The first house Sweetie and I lived in Ucluelet was haunted as heck too. We worked diligently for six months before it started feeling better, and we were able to use the second bedroom for anything but storage. Some very sad things and some really nasty things went down on that property, as well as some industrial accidents. There were a lot of spirits rattling around. It is probably the place with the most paranormal activity that I’d ever lived in, and I needed to live there in order to get my butt kicked into gear and start talking to people spirits again, start this blog, get the hell over that useless fear already.

Sweetie and I were able to live in that house for nearly three years, and it got a lot easier once we were informed of *some* of the history of that place. We were at least able to clean it up enough, energetically, that the next people who moved in don’t seem to notice or mention anything. They’re nice people, too. If there were any problems, they’d talk about it or else move.

On these ghost story shows, you watch people get terrorized, and STILL say nothing to their significant other. They dismiss their fear and let it rule them as well. They live in fear and refuse to take action to change their situation. In most cases, the paranormal activity has to escalate to the point where people are being physically harmed, or at least severely sleep-deprived, before they’ll do anything to protect themselves!

It just reminds me of that one line I hear from most people who “don’t believe in that stuff.”

I don’t believe in ghosts or any of that stuff… But there was this one time-

I wonder if it’s these people who are more likely to end up in a severely haunted house. And who are they going to call when things get scary? That psychic they don’t believe in, or that priest from the church they’ve never attended. Maybe the reason why those house-cleansings never seem to work is the energy of the *belief* behind it just isn’t there. It can’t be powerful if the people living in the house are terrorized and wondering whether this freaky religious / psychic person is going to be able to fix their house.

But then, maybe some houses just can’t be fixed. My parents purchased a log house I call “The house of Woe” which they lived in for several years before selling up and moving further into town. This house was so freaky, my mother and I did a cleansing once. We ran salt around the perimeter, across all the entranceways and windows. We struck matches and wafted the rising smoke into every corner. We blessed the house with our faith and will, declaring it to be a place for love and family. For a while, my mother said it worked. Unfortunately, all the creepy stuff started to seep back again.

The basement was the worst. I slept down there once and refused to do it again, opting for an air mattress on my sister’s floor. The one night I did spend in the basement, I woke up in the middle of the night, freezing cold. The heat was on full blast, and an additional oil heater was plugged in and on. But the room was icy, and I kept feeling a “wooshing” over my head, like a cold wind was blowing across the top of my head.

During my stay, my cell phone broke, my electric toothbrush broke, and a florescent light hurled itself from the ceiling to the floor, right outside the room I’d slept in. My mother and I were very matter-of-fact about it. I just slept in a different part of the house, and we said, “Okay, you can have the basement. We just need it for storage.”

One thing that consistenly happened in the haunted place Sweetie and I occupied, as well as my folks’ House of Woe, was the pets we had at the time insisted on urinating and pooping in the space where the energy was the worst. This is how the pets try to claim the space, tell the spirits to leave. It doesn’t really work, it just makes the humans want to go in there less, or it makes the humans frustrated with the animals. It’s just funny that cats and dogs, they can’t smudge their house, they just pee in it!

Well folks, I’m not really sure what my point is, writing about this. I guess it’s just to say that fear is optional, and don’t mess around with ghosts.

Hey! Do any of you guys have any scary encounters or haunting stories to share? I’d LOVE to hear them. You can always start off with “There was this one time…”