Ghost Stories #ghoststories #paranormalencounters

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My daughter at the helm learning to drive with her dad in the background

We sat in plastic chairs huddled around the flames my daughter had brought to life and talked about ghosts.

“What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?”

I had four teenagers spellbound. Aware with each word I chose I could either feed their fear or help abate it. And what of my own?

Should I really tell them about ghosts? 

The thought came and went. And came and went some more as I began the story about the woman in the two-hundred year-old dress seated at the piano with her daughter playing the keys of a past she could not let go of. But that was cheating, in a way. I had not seen her, only heard about her. So I told them how, before I knew better, I had evoked the spirit of another lost soul who wandered the hallways of my haunted school. Learning, in the process that he was a specter not to be feared, but to be pitied.

In turn they told me about their friends playing around with online videos to conjure spirits and enter into past lives.

“Didn’t you have an Ouija board,” my daughter asked as the mom inside of me came out to lecture about using care and caution, and how some things are better left alone and that’s why there are professionals…before I was cut off again.

But what’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I wasn’t willing to go as far as the demons I had battled while my body slept…so I told them about the hair puller yanking me awake in the middle of the night.

“Oh my god, I would have lost it!”

I watched my daughter’s best friend nervously scroll the phone in her hand.

Had I said too much?

I knew she was afraid. And, she knew she could tell me to stop talking, or walk away. Beside her bed back home I could see the half-empty bottle of “Ghost Be Gone” spray I had filled several times for her. You need to learn how to do this yourself…I had told her more than once, but she had wanted just the crutch of the spray.

Without fear can we learn empowerment?

While I told some of my ghost stories, I thought about my four-year-old son calling me awake in the voice of terror, shaking me from sleep in the middle of the night. My husband, telling me to let him learn courage as I held his trembling body in my arms. I thought about my son, a little older saying, “I see strange colors in my room at night,” when I was just learning how to process the truth of his words.

Now fifteen, he sat beside me, slightly removed from my daughter’s friends, but not unwelcome tucked into the shadows of our circle. “Can you feel them?” he asked before he told us the story of being alone in the house with the dog barking at nothing. The cat staring at the unseen. His body knowing what his eyes no longer see.

How could I not seize each moment with care, handling it as best I knew how to, knowing that I was once that child in the dark?

My daughter’s best friend dropped her phone on her lap. “My grandma is always with me, but I don’t like it.”

I weighed each word on my scale of truth, aware that my scale of truth was not the same as others. I was raised on the belief that there was no soul beyond the body, but I knew enough from her stories and her mother’s, that she was not.

What would you have wanted to know? The inner voice kept urging guidance. So I told her about the grandmother who sent me the scent of roses to remind me of the love she struggled to show me when I could see her with my eyes.

“Have you seen The Conjuring?” she asked me, tipping the scales back towards fear.

I wasn’t even sure I knew what the movie was about, but I could guess from the title, as I told her I avoided all movies and books that sensationally evoked the darkest side of humanity. I see no point to them, although I’m sure others will vehemently argue their value. I’ve never seen much value in glorifying violence and we all know the adage, “What we feed grows.” I made a vow to myself long ago to grow empowerment over fear in each child, teen, or adult who came to me for guidance.

“How many dead people have you talked to?” another friend asked.

I don’t keep track of numbers like this, and after I reminded them that I wasn’t a medium by profession, I decided to tell them about the visit from the desperate mother. She had been dead only a week or so, but she was already worried about the adult daughters she had left behind. Her human brain, I would later learn, had long lost the ability to coherently remind them of her love, so she had chose to visit me, a somewhat forgotten friend from her daughter’s childhood, before I feel into sleep, to relay what she hadn’t been able to say before she had passed. The story also had an element of mystery. A ring lost to her years of hoarding, stuffed away in a buried box, she needed them to find. Which they did.

“Wow! Really?”

While the teenagers wrapped themselves in the intrigue of the story’s mystery, I hoped the were also thinking about how ghosts need not be feared like the ones in their movies.

“I couldn’t live in a house that someone had died in,” someone eventually shared.

So I told them about the man who had died in my children’s first home, before me moved in. Perhaps they were expecting to hear a tale of fright, but instead they heard another tale of love.

“You have complete power over what you let in,” I told them as I started to come to the thesis of my narratives.

They didn’t believe me. At first. But I persisted, even though I could tell I was starting to lose their attention. They were here for ghost stories, after all, and my nudging daughter knew I had an abundance of them.

Instead, we talked about shields of energy and intention, followed by more examples than they cared to hear of how empowered they each were before we finally crawled into our respective beds well past midnight.

I had a feeling they’d sleep well, even though we had spent the night sharing ghost stories.

It was 10am before I heard the first stirrings of movement from the bedrooms downstairs. The cinnamon rolls on the stove had already cooled to room temperature. I lit the flame under the frying pan and began to crack eggs into a bowl to whip them into a scramble.

“Oh that smells good.”

“I’m so hungry.”

“I slept awesome!”

“Me too! Even though I dreamed about ghosts.”

“Yeah so did I! I can’t believe how well I slept.”

Inside I sighed relief. I knew the outcome could have been different, but I was also careful with the scale I had been balancing with each word I let forth from my mouth. There could have been angry texts from parents of scared kids, and any number of unhappy outcomes, but instead I had around me five hungry teenagers eager to go about their day empowered from their night of ghosts.

I had taken a risk when I chose to face fear instead of shoving it back into the darkness.  Usually I play the quiet role of the host-mom, choosing to stay in the background, careful not to hover or impose. That night, though, I had been invited to enter the circle around the campfire to play the role of storyteller and I chose to take it. There’s something about campfires. Being out in the night air where the darkness is cut by the flame in the center evokes the desire to tell stories. But not just ordinary stories. The embers stir that which is hidden, calling it to come out and be seen. Heard.

As those five teenagers faced their ghostly fears of the ephemeral world that no longer scared me, my own fears had played through me. My children are at the age of transitioning away from the protection of the hearth fire and the maternal chords are frequently tugged inside of me. Earlier that day, before we gathered around the fire, I had watched from the shore as my daughter and my son struggled to start our boat. Part of me was hoping they wouldn’t be successful, but persistence on their part paid off as they slowly pulled away with friends on board to tube and ski for their first time without an adult on board.

“Stop taking pictures and help me in!” My brave, determined 16-yr-old daughter, who had learned to drive the boat this summer, six months after she got her license to drive a car, was showing me her anxiety about safely docking to unload. And she was showing me she still needed me, albeit with the  irritation of a teenager, and so I put the camera down and caught the rope to pull her in.

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You Can Go Your Own Way

What is your path?
What is your path?

Often, when I am feeling lost, confused or in need of direction, Spirit takes me back to school. I call it night school. In that often blatant, but still cryptic manner that Spirit has, I return to the scene of my high school, college or graduate schools while I sleep, yet the characters and events are exaggerated, twisted, and labyrinthian in nature, like an M.C. Escher painting. Usually, it’s not a very pleasant experience. Who doesn’t feel, at least at times, lost and over-whelmed when they’re at school, especially in the school of dreams?

Spirit though, has a way of hammering a point home until you get it. Two nights ago, I found myself back at Brown University, only it was vastly different from the Brown I knew for only a year. The campus had changed into a congested city of buildings hugged by the sea, and I found myself following my husband (who had not attended Brown with me). I was losing track of him as he wandered through the city on his way to class, and suddenly I was alone, by the wild ocean, with only his black cell phone. Naturally, the phone did not work, and I found myself panicking as I punched in numbers to no avail. I was lost and bewildered, unable to find my own way to where, I was not sure.

Instead of exploring all of the symbolism in this particular dream, let me take you to last night, where I again returned to school. This time I was at Bowdoin, where my husband and I completed our undergraduate education together. Bowdoin, when I attended the school many years ago, was a place of mixed blessings for me. My husband took full advantage of his time at Bowdoin, and found the rigors of the education and social environment fulfilling. I, on the other hand, found it hard to adjust to an environment I found to be, in many ways, a repeat of  high school, only here everyone was an over-achiever. I couldn’t find my place in the sea of cliques.

It was no surprise that the Bowdoin of my dream last night was an exaggerated scene of what I had experienced years ago, there were even characters from high school. Here I was in a crowded cafeteria of sorts, filled with tables and people figuring out their schedules and where they needed to go. In my personal confusion, I was trying to follow their examples. A confident and sure friend was going one way, my husband another. I tried to follow him to an early biology class, but I was late, twice.

The dream changed, and I was in a metaphysical store. A woman was making miso soup. I told her I loved miso soup. I could smell it. I could taste it in my mouth. The colors in this scene were vivid and more real than life. I was wearing a natural face devoid of make-up, and a peach-colored shirt. The walls were hung with hand-bags, just out of reach, and in the center of each was the rounded form of a globe. At the counter 3 or 4 women poured over a map. I approached them, looked over their shoulders, and watched their scenes unfold. The map came to life, characters interacted in scenes, which the women understood clearly, yet I struggled to make sense of.

Suddenly, in this room, my senses were becoming dull and tired. My face swollen, and my eyes heavy, as though I was taking on energy that was not mine, and in the process, draining my own. When I woke, this lyric from Fleetwood Mac started playing on repeat inside my head, You can go your own way. Go your own way. You can go your own way…or was it find your own way?

Both versions, it seems, I needed. I thought of The Fool card in the Rider Tarot deck, blithely skipping along his own path, unhampered by the potential of danger ahead. I thought of the 2 of Wands, depicting a traveler holding the world in his palm, and I thought of the dreams I had just left.

That map on the counter was not mine, nor were those paths I was trying to follow at the revisited school(s). The world held inside that wall of handbags, which had seemed just out of reach, was waiting for me to reach up and grab it. To find my own way. I thought of Goddard College, the literal school in this life in which I found home. When I dream of Goddard, I dream of paths in nature, I dream of mysteries waiting to be found. At Goddard, I found my own way, through the gentle, nudging guidance of its faculty, my peers, and its wonderful connection to Spirit. I found home among a place where everyone was going his or her own way. There was no path of convention to follow. Instead, success was measured by the mostly personal barometer of finding and embarking on the creative journey of the soul.

I graduated from Goddard nearly 3 years ago. My environment, and the characters within it have changed, and I have been challenged by their individual lessons. There have been paths I have been tempted to follow, like the path of martial arts, which led me to the painful (yes, it is often painful when we uncover our truths and shed the weight we no longer want to carry) truth that it was not the path intended for my spirit. I have had to let go of judgement too, realizing that a path (martial arts was one) may be right for my husband and others at this stage of their journeys, even though it is not right for me.

There has been that struggle to find connection to others, along with the courage to travel my own path. Even though I am on my soul’s journey with my writing and healing work, I have sometimes struggled to stay true to my own voice and trust that my individual path will unfold it its own unique way. It seems to be the quest of humanity, to find that balance between connection and individual truth. How many of us have tried to follow a path of “conformity,” while forsaking our soul’s truth? We can too easily forget that we are all here to do something unique, perhaps radically, or only slightly different, from someone else, yet none-the-less, a purpose that is only ours. This is why we are here, to blend our own voice of truth to that universal breath we all share. This is how we balance the world, this is how we balance ourselves.

I am a writer and and a spiritual/energy healer, I have a path that is not, by nature conventional. I often find myself in places where I feel more alone than connected, yet when I fall to the temptation of conformity, I am quickly reminded that I am on the wrong path. I doubt I am alone in this feeling. How many of these people around me are trying to follow a path of conformity that doesn’t make them feel blissfully happy and free? I think, sadly, too many.

It is indisputable that the world, and its inhabitants, struggles in a battle for balance. We are striving for destinations that are not our own, we are walking paths of conformity that cause crowding and strife, and we are, in this sea of masses, often left with a feeling of loss.

When I opened the curtain of my bedroom window this morning, I saw the blue feathers of truth worn by a jay, flying into the evergreens. When I opened the door to my house to step outside, 3 crows flew in front of me, calling out to me in that loud, unmistakable voice of magic. Later, as I walked the dogs, those 3 crows became 4, and I was reminded that to follow the magic of individual creation does not mean we must leave those we love behind. That, in fact, each path will merge and mingle in the mysterious song of harmony when sung in the vibration of truth.

How it all began

Hawk, show me my path
Hawk, show me my path

Last night, before bed, my son asked me, “Mom, do souls ever die?” Had he asked me this question six years ago, I may have given him a different answer. My own journey of spirit in this lifetime began with a childhood of doubt, and the silencing of my inner voice. Many of us begin our lives (in this incarnation) this way. Few, I suspect, have had the gifts of nurtured guidance from our caregivers, for our world has yet to fully embrace the untethered spirit.

I was born into an unhappy marriage between two young, hippie parents. The hippie lifestyle outlasted the marriage, but it was not a free, loving lifestyle. My “spiritual” edification was early and short-lived. When I was two, my mother fled with me and my sister to live on a series of Hare Krishna compounds for 6 months. Other than the comic books my mother kept, and a few other relics, nothing remains of this early life. It was a mode of escape and of hiding, a journey based on fear and not the quest to find spirit.

When I was growing up, my mother and step-father shunned organized religion, and I had almost no knowledge of biblical stories, or other religious texts. Mine was an agnostic household at best, tending toward atheism. Yet, I do recall my mother speaking about the possibility of reincarnation – a “concept” I secretly embraced, as it felt “true” to my soul.

When I prayed, I prayed silently to an unknown, untouchable God inside the muffled walls of my mind. My prayers were desperate and laced with my childhood fears of death and loss. When I thought of death, and my body and “mind” disappearing forever, my heart would leap into my throat.

This way of living went on for many years, well past the time I left my childhood home, despite the nudging of my spirit, which wanted to be heard. A spirit that struggled for the full-bodied voice of Truth. Despite fear’s best attempts to close my third eye, I was an empathic child with psychic gifts. Everywhere I went, I felt the imprint of energy. Unfortunately, I absorbed fear and and pain more than anything else.

My parents labeled me as a “moody,” “overly-sensitive” child, not realizing that I was an empath, and was absorbing and feeling their own fears, as well as the fear-energy that permeated my environment. This is not to say that I didn’t feel love and joy too, I did, and often I shared in the joy of others. Somedays, I would find my mind open to this energy. While sitting in my classroom, there were moments when I connected with a classmate’s inner joy. These were blissful, unexplainable moments for me, as my cells hummed with unexpected joy.

And, I had dreams. Prophetic visions that played out in the ensuing days that I learned to doubt. When I left home, the voice of spirit called louder, urging me to leave the path of ego I was following. In the summer before I began graduate school for a doctoral degree in the biochemical sciences, I was plagued with these visits, which I found terrifying at the time. As I drifted off to sleep, many a night (or day), I would wake suddenly to a loud voice, calling my name into the hollow of my ear. This desperate call to be heard went unheeded, I followed the path of ego for one more year.

It was a miserable year, of which I’ve written about to some degree in other posts. Had I not taken this path, though, I would not have learned its lessons. I would not, perhaps, have known how much it contrasted with my inner truth.

Yet, still I was lost. That 5-year-old girl who secretly knew she was born to write and help the world with her gifts, was still hidden in the cage of fear. It took, in fact, motherhood and IBS to bring her out into the light.

When we have our own children, we are given an opportunity to see a new perspective that extends beyond the limited view we may be used to. We also see the world through our children’s eyes. Again, the nudge of spirit came back to me with urgency.

Before my daughter was born, I knew she would be one of my big teachers in this life. About six months before her birth, she appeared to me while I slept. I saw her full round face, framed with the same brown hair as mine. My blue eyes were mirrored back at me, their shape larger and more pronounced.

My daughter learned verbal language early, and by the time she was two she was asking me some tough questions. While her father was at work, she would peer into my eyes, “If daddy is a doctor, what are you?” she would ask. “But, what are you?” she persisted when I told her I was her mommy.

Her words lingered and probed the recesses of my mind. What was I? Her questions dug under the detritus of fear.

By then, I had both of my children, who are less than a year-and-a-half apart in age. My life was consumed by the joys and stresses of motherhood, and it was laced with holes. I could not deny that I was, in many ways, miserably unfulfilled. Yes, I had always yearned for the time I would be a mother, but this was not a role that completed me. There were huge, undeniable gaps.

Still, I ignored them. After all, I had young children to raise, a busy, working husband, and the idea in my head that I would not let anyone else be the primary care-giver to my son and daughter.

Welcome in a new night-time messenger, this time in the form of IBS, which began suddenly and in painful earnest. Let me take a moment to talk about IBS and how it relates to fear and empathic tendencies. When we spend a great deal of our time feeling and absorbing energy from our surroundings, this energy often gets trapped inside of us, lingering and growing into a dark mass of fear that blocks our inner-light, and creates an energetic imbalance inside of us. The result is often a disease or dis-ease of some sort.

I was a child plagued by stomach ailments, so it should have been no surprise that I developed IBS (a common dis-ease of empaths). My mother (who is in the medical profession) was the first person to suggest this was what was causing my adult ailments – episodes of such intense intestinal discomfort, that I would be up for 3-5 hours during nights when it flared.

I shunned this diagnosis, which I found both embarrassing and unsatisfactory in its inability to be medically “cured.” Two years passed, during which I made trips to doctor’s offices, tried various antacids, had tubes shoved down my throat and blood tests, and passed many a day feeling completely depleted of energy, which made me unable to properly care for my children.

Then, on Mother’s Day of 2008, I had my last episode. You can read the story someday in my memoir (when it’s published), but for now, let’s just say, I had had enough. I was ready to heal. Healing from a dis-ease such as IBS, or any energetic imbalance, comes from a deep-soul-level desire for health. The mind, body and soul must sync in this desire and embrace the truth that we each, inside of us, hold the capacity to be healthy and balanced – that, in fact, this is our natural, steady-state. For more on this, you might want to read Deepak Chopra’s book Quantum Healing.

I may have not known, intellectually, why I was ready and able to heal then, but I knew I had made that determined choice. A change inside of me had occurred – I had decided to heal, and in the process, to finally, heed the desperate, loud calling of my inner voice.

Within a matter of weeks, I was looking at graduate schools with creative writing programs. And, painfully, for it was a struggle, I began to write – really write. That voice that was so deeply buried was starting to emerge. At the turn of the New Year, I packed my suitcase with a week’s worth of clothing, snacks and various other necessities, left my two young children in the primary care of their father, and headed two hours north to a small town in Vermont.

Goddard College, was, in so many ways, the doorway to my voice. Here, for the first time, I was in an environment that felt like home. I quickly found 5 soul-sisters, and a setting where my spiritual and creative voice could sing without fear. Those two years, filled with the challenges of balancing motherhood and being a full-time, low-residency student, were the happiest, to-date, years of my life. There was no turning back. I had embarked, finally, with eager and unwavering feet, along the path of my soul’s truth.

When we find the bliss of our soul’s truth, how can we turn back? I can’t say that after I left Goddard, and the structure of regular deadlines, which “forced” me to write, that I have maintained a steady forward trek. Everyday life has a way of taking over when we let it. Now, though, I stop to listen, take inventory, and find a way to get back on the path.

When I look back at what where I have been in the last five years, I can hardly say I’ve been sitting still, or going “back-wards.” I have not only written many lines, I have nurtured and grown my spiritual calling and path. To help heal others, I have learned, we must heal ourselves. This isn’t to say that we have to be completely “healed” of fears, for this takes most of us many lifetimes, but we need to have an understanding and acceptance of the fears that have a tendency to make a home inside us, and we need to work at healing and letting them go.

Along with Goddard, and the many individuals and gifts I encountered by being there, I have met, and continue to meet wonderful healers, teachers and fellow soul-travelers. This part of my journey began with conversations with a friend, whom I met while our daughters were in preschool together, and gradually grew to include various energy healers, gifted intuitives/psychics and teachers of spirit, and soul-travelers who have merged into my life. When we open ourselves up to our spirit’s truth, doors open to the teachers and companions we need and seek. The world, suddenly, becomes unbounded and filled with the magic of discovery and joy. There is no looking back, except for remembering how far we have come, and the lessons we learned to get here.

May you, if you have not, find your own way to travel your soul’s truth, for it is the only, “true” path, to bliss.