Everything is Mulch

(Dec. 19, 2015)     Last night I went to a large, joyful Winter Solstice Celebration. 260 people sitting circular in the dark, with a shimmering winter centerpiece of lights in the middle. Tiny white Christmas lights inside fluff of gauze and silk made the illusion of light sparkling on snow. A large wooden wreathe surrounded this, holding candles to the four directions. Much pine around it all, of course.  Small plastic candles under many of our chairs were the only lights for most of the evening. We experienced meditative sharings with simple chants we could easily join in on, contemplating themes brought up by this darkest night of the year:  the turning of all things in circular movements (seasons, life), the value of darkness bringing us quietly inward, the fears we have about darkness, darkness as a time for sending our roots down deeper to where we’re all united together, on and on, lovely quiet reflections with some simple beautiful singing accompanied by cello and/or drum.
    The last third of the evening we began to call for the light to come back.  We celebrated light in many ways, got very enthused singing This Little Light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine” over and over; we lit our little candles one by one and the room became light and happy. 
   Across the room I saw a tall young man standing against the wall, singing boisterously with us all:  he looked like my dear dead son.  About six feet tall, shaggy hair behind his ears, dressed in jeans and jacket, I could imagine Tom’s beautiful bass voice singing out enthusiastically with this joyful celebration.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  He had just that look both gentle and masculine, open heart, idealistic, ready to step forward in leadership if needed but glad to just participate.  My heart beat harder and harder as I stared at him.   I hoped he wasn’t sensing me watching him from far away.  Fortunately the gathering was winding down and then came to an end.  I hurried out of the building, not wanting to talk with anyone or stop to eat of the shared meal.  I hurried to my car, clambered in, shut the door and in the dark I fell apart and bawled.  I felt my heart broken all over again.  Tom returned to spirit six years ago and now I feel somewhat back to functioning without thinking of him.  But here the wound was opened again: I remembered my beautiful son and how much I miss him in my life.   Crying all the way home, I was aware that I needed to pay attention to my driving.
   As soon as I walked in my house, I looked for the book I’d seen recently lying around, Rudolf Steiner on How To Know Higher Worlds.  I couldn’t remember how this book had come to me but I’d read a book by Steiner a year before on some similar topic so I began franticly searching for the one I’d already read, something about how to have contact with the dead.
   Rudolf Steiner lived 1861-1925; he was a Theosophist for ten years when Madame Blavatsky was just beginning that spiritual movement, itself influenced by Spiritualism important at that time. Then Steiner began to develop his own slightly different philosophy of life with ideas reaching far across many aspects of human living, including children’s education (Waldorf schools), agriculture, community, the arts, medicine, philosophy, and psychology.  He was gifted in contacting the dead and insists that we don’t need mediums to do this; anyone can stay in touch with their departed loved ones but there is skill required that we must develop. He also adds that we usually have too much emotion clouding our efforts to hear objectively what someone in spirit is trying to share.  I certainly know this is true and so understand why mediums are needed.
    But now, full of desperate energy, I reorganized many of my books, searching until I found what I was ardently looking for:  Steiner’s book called Staying Connected, How to Continue Your Relationship with Those Who Have Died.  I skimmed through the Table of Contents and my own highlights and saw that these two books are not the same.  So I sat down, got myself comfortable, and began to review the important book I’d already read, full of underlines, earmarked pages, starred passages, question marks. 
    I easily came to the summary:  there are two basic qualities we must foster in ourselves in order to hear communications from those in spirit:  Gratitude and Community With All Things.  These sound simple but, of course, if these were easy many people would automatically be doing this. 
    Steiner’s explanation of Gratitude I grasped, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by “Community with all things.”  He assures us he’s not meaning some warm fuzzy general feeling; he says this is a very specific state and experience.  I reread this section line by line, trying to grasp it. One could not miss a line and hurry on because, yes, this was something unique.
    There is some way in which we must experience consciously what happens automatically in every moment – everything in our world that touches us in any way leaves a mark in us and likewise, every single thing we touch remembers the mark we’ve left upon it.  (I know, one can’t help thinking of dogs running around…)
   I guess this is similar to what is called “mindfulness” in meditation, paying complete attention to what we’re experiencing in the present moment, but combined with Gratitude. 
   Steiner disagrees with all schools of psychology about the function of the subconscious.  Generally it’s thought that the subconscious part of our minds takes in all that we can’t process, especially negative experiences, and brings them up to consciousness now and then,  trying to make sense of them.  Steiner sees the subconscious in this way:  it’s the place of memory where everything that’s touched us, “good” or “bad”, gets remembered, held on to, like a treasury.  Ourconscious mind definitely likes and doesn’t like this and that; we make judgements, we reject some things as bad and welcome other things as good.  The subconscious mind, says Steiner, takes in all experience as good!  All experience ultimately enriches us! 
     I pause. This is the trick; this is where gratitude is different for Steiner and Community with All Things is not easy but rather some skill to be worked at.
      But this is not the first time I’ve encountered this strange idea – that all experiences are ultimately enrichning, not good or bad.  I remember in Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, the idea is presented that The Soul of the World is indifferent to suffering, is enriched by everything, is fed by all experience.  I remember feeling how unsatisfactory this feels:  that I/we want to think that Ultimate Powers care about our suffering and are trying to right the grievous wrongs done in this world.
   I sit with this strange and different point of view.  I think about events in my own life that still haunt me as painful, hurtful to me, memories I’ve never been able to let go of, and including sufferings of my departed son in his childhood and adulthood that I so wish I could have taken out of his life.  “You mean, when X happened to me, it doesn’t really matter, it was just an experience?”  I think.  It has no more importance than that?!” 
    Suddenly Experience X seemed so small!  I couldn’t believe how the power had been taken out of X! 
   I went a step further, as required by Steiner, and tried to feel “enriched” by X.   Hmmm. HMMM.  It could be possible.  If one just walked on, didn’t dwell on it as in “what a victim I was” or blame all the consequences I’ve thought came to me because of X.  It could be possible to just think of it as “an experience.”  It doesn’t need to have meaning, nor to have power. Now my body was reacting positively to this view!   
   I did this exercise on another regretful life experience and felt the same amazing lifting of energy, that everything was circulating in my body more freely. 
   Then I tried thinking of a suffering I knew my son had experienced as a child – to think of this as “just an experience”, even though it took him on a path.  Suddenly I felt him with me in spirit – I felt my son saying an enthusiastic “YES!”  This is how he’s experiencing that NOW.  Back in this world, it hurt and stayed with him into his future; perhaps as an adult it gave him sensitivity towards others but it continued to cause him pain.  But now in spirit, it matters not at all to him except as a memory of experience, of a whole life rich in learnings.  I knew I was connecting with him!  I was hearing him because my emotions were calm and not in the way.
    Steiner’s view is supported by what I’ve heard from people who’ve had Near Death Experiences – been proclaimed dead by doctors after an accident or failed surgery, then after a bit they had to return to their bodies.  They all speak, among other things, of having a “life review” though it doesn’t feel to them like judgement – they see consequences and  ”how things went,” but they don’t feel they or anyone has been bad. If they caused suffering, when they (reluctantly) return to their bodies they decide not to do these kinds of things anymore. 
   I continued going quickly through memories I’ve classified as “painful” and feeling them downgraded to the same size as all memories, lacking any hurt or power today.  My body was feeling suddenly lightened.  Then I saw myself sitting back at the Winter Solstice exactly where I’d been sitting earlier; a powerful wind was blowing through me, as if a turbine was sending wind right through my body from back to front.  The windows seemed open and all kinds of things were leaving me.
     Steiner’s idea about Community with All Life seems to me to require that emotion be allowed to flow out from “bad” experiences (crying is GREAT) until we can just be with the experience, OK in some way with it even if our conscious minds can’t agree.  We must welcome life in whatever costume it appears to us and be present in each moment with awareness that all is gift, all is enrichning us somehow.
     Buddhists say desire is the root of all suffering, wanting things to be different than they are.  I myself feel that the conscious mind is right in making its judgements because this is how we create our world here – by rejecting some things, deciding we want more of others.  Desire is creative.  But in the world beyond this, where we return when we leave our bodies, there is rest and this view of enrichment.  Perhaps “evaluation” is the only stance of the dead when looking at details of experience.  It would be hard to hear the dead if this is their view, unless we could first bring ourselves also to this position.  Thus this kind of Gratitude and Community with All Life are bridges for communication with our loved ones now in spirit.

Past Life Regression

 Sunday 7/19/15
    Today I’m traveling the Erie Canal!  For a couple hours on Amtrak, on my way to be trained in Past Life Regression with Dr. Brian Weiss at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY, my train has been accompanying this broad quiet human-made river. I wouldn’t have known it was the Erie Canal except I was surprised to see a flat boat saying Erie Canal Boat Rides.  I guess I thought the Erie Canal was a past tense historical experience.  I remember the song we learned in elementary school “I got a mule, her name is Sal.  Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal”  etc. 
   What a lovely experience here.  I’m no good with measurements but I’d say this waterway is about 4 living rooms across; I could swim it easily.  It’s dark green, not really dirty looking.  I haven’t seen much wild life; it may flow pretty steady so I see no turtles sunning or herons hunting.  There are green or orange buoys here and there to mark underwater objects to be avoided.  Now and then there’s an old 3 part bridge,  or dams with small locks alongside.  No recreational boats, just one empty barge abandoned alongside the water.  Lush forests or marshes along both sides, probably all public lands along this freight way.  No beaches.  Occasionally the canal splits around a sandbar or island.  The famous Erie Canal really exists!
     I’ve taken Amtrak rather than fly to NYC where I’d have to transfer, but this will take me 18 hours from Chicago to Rhinebeck!  I’ve taken a sleeper; tried sleeping sitting up once going to Colorado and was in horrible pain by the time I arrived.  This sleeper is cute!  Very carefully planned so every convenience possible can be squeezed in somehow.  I have my own hidden toilet!  And a sink that folds down with hot, cold, and ice water! My meals are included and can even be brought to my room for me.  The food is pretty good! I slept very soundly once I got used to the sounds and rhythms of the train.      
Omega.  Tuesday.   What a moving and amazing experience!  First off, Dr. Brian Weiss himself is worth being with.  A gentle, warm, centered man with a wonderful sense of humor and genuine love for people, it’s worth the money just to be in the presence of a person like this. He reminds me of the lucky time I was able to sit directly in front of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk.  I don’t remember what he said, but I will NEVER forget what he felt like.
    Dr. Weiss is a psychiatrist , graduated with honors from Columbia University and Yale School of Medicine, trained in Freudian psychotherapy and published and honored for his serious research.  After many years of practice he discovered by accident that patients can be regressed way back to before they were born, other lives that they have lived!  He continued to research this privately for some years and finally felt he had to come out of the closet and reveal what he’d been finding.   He feared he might be disgraced in the eyes of  his fellow professionals but his experience compelled his conscience to share it.  His first book,  Same Soul, Many Bodies, was an unexpected hit.  Professionally he took many punches but in no time other professionals were also coming to him to learn this.  Clients are healed of the strangest ailments, discovering that the origin of various fears, antagonisms towards particular people,  strange physical pains and diseases, even problems with weight can be traced back to experiences in previous lives.  In just the same way that uncovering them in our own forgotten childhood heals these wounds, uncovering them in past lives heals them too.
   I myself know probably twenty other lives that I’ve had.  Some I know through dreams.   I’ve gotten good at interpreting my dreams and can recognize the difference between symbolic dreams and historic dreams as well as interactions going on at deep levels with other living and dead people, out-of-body experiences and such.  Some past lives I’ve guessed by my unusual interests or aversions.  Some I know through hypnosis, the method we use in this class.  In none of my lives (so far) was I famous or exotic, which is usual in past life regression.  These are real ordinary lives; no one comes out claiming they were Napoleon or Jesus or Cleopatra.  A matter of fact, these other lives that are troubling us still are often harsh or non-glorious where we learned something difficult.  In that way, every life is precious. 
   I’m dealing now  in particular with my life as a French Canadian lumberjack in western Michigan.  I seemed to have worked with Swedes, who teased me about being short and French.  I got pretty hot about it and tried to fight, almost got myself killed!  So I retreated to farming, carrying with me a grudge against Swedes. Here in this life my French Canadian father married my Swedish mom and I get to work out this conflict inside me! The story goes on about my bad attitude towards my wife and consequently I get to be a woman now!  Ha ha!  It’s all about learning and growing….
     More to come as I go through this week…

After-Death Communication with my Son

Jan. 18-19 2014, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)

Marti with Dr. Allan Botkin, The Center for Grief and Traumatic Loss, Lincolnshire IL:

Dr. Botkin developed this method working with veterans for 25 years. EMDR leads the brain to activity like what we do in REM sleep at night, processing experiences. It worked very fast with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but incidentely he discovered the vets were also seeming to be in actual contact with the people they had trauma with. He went on to work with this phenomena as well as PTSD. For more details see his book: Induced After Death Communication,2005, Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc., Charlottsville VA.

Jan. 19th. After paperwork and a description of the process, we began. Dr. B had said that usually people don’t have an experience of the presence of their non-physical loved one until the second session. We would start with healing some strong emotion we have about them. The usual emotions are anger, guilt, or sadness. He could see sadness in my eyes from the moment I walked in, and I knew this was true.

He told me we would do the eye movement while I feel my great sadness.

We did this. I was immediately sobbing while I followed his quick moving lead with my eyes, without moving my head. When he was done, he told me to close my eyes and experience whatever comes.

I felt myself holding my firstborn newborn little son in my arms. I felt such immense love and awe for him! But I was also aware in the present moment of my ambivalence about motherhood. I was still crying (here in the office). He then asked me to go back into that image and stay with it as we did the eye exercise again. I did this. The past and future around the scene dissolved so that there was nothing but that moment, and then it was perfect joy! Taking away the judgments about where this event was going, or whether it was the right or wrong path for my life, the moment of holding my newborn was pure joy.

Then he asked me to feel myself holding the baby in my arms now while we did the eye movement again. Afterwards, closing my eyes,

I saw my son Tom’s (adult) head He said to me, ”Mom, relax!” Then something like “Just be here, now. Just be present. You’ll never make any progress healing your back until you can learn to do nothing!” I felt him present with me, smiling. His voice sounded just like him, very deep.

Then I saw him pulling himself swiftly upward, rising up by some intention and volition inside himself. He went into an area of great light, seemed to fill himself up with energy and light and love and enthusiasm from this source, and then descended back with me. He said he can do this any time he wants to, any time he needs to. It’s like filling his gas tank. And he can give this energy away to others, too. He does it for me and for others at times.

Then suddenly he said, “Mom, I gotta go. So long! “ And he jumped on a broomstick and flew off waving to me and laughing. Then I saw he had on a witch’s hat. He waved and called back, “Tell Anne Marie!”

This was just so funny! I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so like him to be playful and silly. Plus Anne has a special interest and soft spot in her heart for witches, so his choice of this costume was particularly meaningful, and added evidence that it was really Tom.

After Saturday’s session, back home, I continued to ask Tom a few questions out loud and received answers:
  • I asked him how Aaron, his stepson was doing. He described Aaron’s situation. I knew he’d joined the army for 8 years, after having been a complete wimp, weakling, spoiled teenager who failed to finish high school for lack of effort. Tom said the army, of course, had made him physically strong but Aaron had not expected it to be as emotionally hard as it is. It’s many times felt too much for him Tom helps him, (without A’s awareness), and A is making it. Sometimes A thinks about Tom with embarrassment because Tom was a Quaker and pacifist, but often with gratitude for Tom’s love and example
  • I asked him if he wants me to continue being in touch with the high school students he taught or those who were in his robotics club. He said, “If they respond to you, continue to stay in touch with them (if you want; if you enjoy it.)
  • I asked him about his cat, Julius, who’s getting really old and ailing. He said Julius and my other cat, Deuce, will both stay with me as long as I want them. (within some normal limits of cat life.) i.e.there’s no reason now to worry about them or to consider “putting them down.”
  • I asked him if he knows what his dad is doing now. (my first husband, who passed away in 1987.) He said he honestly doesn’t know. When son Tom first passed over, his dad was there to help him; his dad showed up in dreams at the beginning of his diagnosis and a few nights before he died. But since Tom has adjusted, he hasn’t seen his dad at all. This is interesting to me because a psychic/medium had told me various things about people with whom I was close who passed on, but she could not find anything about what Tom Sr. is doing. Perhaps he’s taken on a new form?

2nd session, Sunday morning, 1/19,2014

During the night I had thought about what I might want to do Sunday morning with Dr. Botkin. Now I’d already seen Tom and felt at great peace about him. Was there more inside me with strong emotion that I’d like to heal? What more? I thought perhaps I’d work on my relation with my Dad as I still have lots of anger toward him.

But when I said this to Dr. B, he said it would not be good to start a whole new large topic because we might not get it finished. He only works here on weekends and so we’d have to wait to finish the work until he could schedule me in.

He asked if there are any memories around son Tom’s death that are still painful. I said yes, – the last couple weeks while we waited for surgery, when he was so terribly thin and weak, and we were both so scared, he was receiving 3 pints of blood every third day just to stay alive. So Dr. B asked me to stay with that memory while he led me in the eye movement.

I felt like the wand he uses for the eye movements was like a saltshaker, somehow breaking up the image, shaking it away, shaking the image into pieces and tossing it aside. It erased the image and put the past into the past, allowing me to be present with Tom now. The memory lost its power and freed me to be present.

I was experiencing how images in our memories build up over time, as we put more and more emotion on the images, and value judgments, it’s like building a snowman bigger and bigger. The eye movements seem to loosen the buildup and allow the memory to be just one moment in the flow of time.

Dr. B and I talked. Then he asked if there was any other memory around Tom that made me sad. I shared a feeling of guilt I had. This was at the time when his four friends from the Blackfoot Lodge came to do a prayer ceremony around him. I was in the room for it. As they entered one said “What a beautiful person Tom is. You’ve done a good job as a mother.” My response was one I often gave in that situation: “Yes. And yet I never wanted to be a mother!” I had often said this. My kids knew I loved them but also knew that I hadn’t wanted to be a mother and the loss of my career hurt me deeply. But his friends were a bit shocked and later talked with him about it and then he talked with me. I had never thought about the impact these words might have on him. I apologized then but have continued to feel really guilty and yet confused about this. When people would tell me what a good mother I’ve been, a part of me wanted to protect that other part of me that had had to be left behind, to still honor it. I could not think of what I could have said that would have felt right, but I do feel bad about it.

So Dr. B had me hold that memory while we did the eye exercise.

I saw Tom standing in front of me pouring drops of warm oil on my head and down over my whole body, drop quickly following drop. It felt wonderful! But all was silent; he didn’t speak. I understood the silence. He was saying through silence that in that situation when his friends were in the room, I could have said nothing in response to their words. He was also telling me that he did not know what words would have worked to appropriately honor the two contrary feelings I had: loving my children and not wanting to spend my life mothering. In general, Tom did not know the adequate words any better than me. “But all that is past tense,” he did say. Now I don’t have to do much mothering (I still have Anne and her children, who are a joy to me, plus stepdaughters). I have greater freedom now to do with my time what I want.” He did not know the solution to the dilemma but was pouring loving and healing balm over me.

I shared this with Dr. B.and we talked a bit. I told him that the wand felt like a brush, brushing away the image from my brain and leaving this beautiful image and physical sensation of Tom pouring warm drops of oil all over my body.

Dr. B commented that many people assume that after death the departed are suddenly completely enlightened and know everything. The experiences of his clients seem to say otherwise: that they have a perspective larger than ours, may know or understand more, but they’re still learning, too. Some say they’re “in classes”.

Dr. B asked again if there were any more memories around Tom I’d like to let go of. I quickly felt aware of my body speaking; my body remembers the exhaustion of his care. Fifteen years earlier I had cared for Tom Forsythe, my second husband, when he was completely paralyzed from a stroke. That had almost killed me! But now I was age 65 and I felt my age; it took all the energy I could muster to stand on my feet and walk back and forth kitchen to bedroom preparing his meds and food and sanitizing everything and staying up when tired. Then shopping, taking him to doctors and hospitals, etc I could barely do it, and I had very little energy left to offer Tom emotionally. I tried to get others to come and counsel him or be with him; some came but many didn’t realize how fast he was deteriorating. Of course, I didn’t know either how close we were to the end.

I also mentioned I feel the loss of time. Each time a loved one has died in my life it has taken years of my time to get rid of all their possessions! I haven’t finished with my son’s yet after four years. I do feel sadness over this loss of energy and time.

Dr. B had me hold my awareness with this feeling of loss while he led me in the eye exercise. After, as always, he told me to close my eyes and be aware of whatever happens.

Here I had a strong experience that was a surprise. I felt Tom filling my body up with light and energy, with life and warmth. It just kept coming in, like filling a gas tank, like he had shown yesterday that he could do for himself. Now he’s filling me up from The Source and I’m quickly feeling stronger and younger and healthier!

I didn’t want to come out of this at all. I was aware that at some point I’d have to leave the real experience and talk aboutit, make myself and my experience into an object to look at, leaving the real experience itself. I really did not want to do this! (To leave the experience). I also realized how much I do this – make myself and my life into an object to look at, rather than just BE. I felt so solid. I wondered if I could float off, but I immediately knew I couldn’t because I didn’t feel full of air but rather I felt really solid.

Dr. B asked me to bring my awareness back and with effort I pulled myself back to the room enough to speak but I still couldn’t get myself to open my eyes for a bit. This was an incredible experience and gift to me from Tom.

Then we talked, as we had to do. Finally Dr. B. asked if , without charging me, I’d be willing to do this one more time and ask Tom a question for him(for Dr.B). I said, “Sure”, and he gave me the question: To ask Tom what he’s exploring now.

So I asked the question and we began the eye movement. I began to get delightful images. First Tom said he’s trying to learn how to walk on clouds. I think he was being silly. I saw his foot go through one and he laughed and said it’s harder than it looks. Then I saw him playing with his friend Robert. Robert had been introduced to me through two completely separate mediums: an old friend of Tom’s, they say, and now the two do a lot together. Robert has a jazzy feel to him. Tom said he and Robert play around trying to exchange identities, and sometimes try being together at the same time in one identity.

Then they often travel around our world, seeing things they never saw. They have a particular interest in Thailand and southest Asia, but go other places, too. They esp. like to learn about the music and dance of other countries.(Tom loved both music and dancing in this life, played piano and trumpet, did contra dancing regularly) They like to hop when they travel just for the fun of it. They don’t hop on anything, just the action of hopping.

Then Tom appeared in a white gown looking like an angel, halo and all. He laughed and said, “It’s just for fun!” Then I saw a group of people nearby, also all dressed like angels “just for fun.” I realized they are, in fact, a choir! They enjoy music (Tom had a marvelous bass voice and loved to sing) and they’re experimenting. There are 18 of them and instead of our usual bass, tenor, alto, and soprano categories, they each have their own unique comfortable voice level and are attempting to sing together, each of the 18 staying true to their own true pitch. Sometimes they try slow flowing songs and sometimes faster, fun songs or sounds.

Lastly, Tom said that “people” both here in this/my world and in his are working together on a Quantum Physics kind of effort. They’re trying to understand how consciousness develops into “matter”, as we call it, and then trying to figure out how to describe this in words. “The smallest level of existence is also a consciousness! It’s awesome,” he said. “I feel such respect for these tiniest levels of consciousness, and how they form into larger cooperations and ever more complex entities.” (Tom was a high school physics teacher, so this would interest him.)

Tom indicated that this was enough to share for now. We both seemed to sense that this had been a good and adequate sharing and I thanked him. I brought my awareness back to the room and began to share with Dr. B., who found all this fascinating.

There were interesting things that Dr. B shared with me. He and his colleagues watch for information that is shared more than once by non-bodied presences. For instance, people sometimes ask, Do the dead “eat”? People frequently see picnics; one response was “We have a banquet every night.” But none of his clients has actually seen a dead person eating. Tom had shown us that he can “fill himself up like filling a gas tank when he needs to,” by returning into this light area. Perhaps eating for them has more to do with socializing.
He said non-bodied people often are seen golfing or fishing. Though he never heard of seeing a fish be caught, killed, cleaned, and eaten. He told his sister about the golfing and she said “But in heaven everything’s perfect. You’d get a hole-in-one all the time and what fun would that be?” We observed that these experiences don’t show people as being suddenly perfect and completely enlightened. People in this world of spirit seem to be learning, growing, being creative. So perhaps they don’t get a hole-in-one all the time!
Dr. B. said one client was communicating with someone who had killed herself. The deceased said she’s been in classes learning about suicide; she’d finished now and she teaches these kinds of classes.
Dr. B shared that some clients wonder if the dead can “watch” us anytime. He said that it’s clear from examples like Tom that they have their own activities going on and are not constantly pining to be with us. It seems that when we turn our attention to them or when we are in distress, they feel called to pay attention to us and they are immediately available with great compassion. But they are not hovering around with nothing to do, even if they loved us immensely. They’re enjoying their freedom and they have tasks, e.g. classes.
It seems to Dr. B and myself that there is no absolute knowledge. Even in the afterlife, people are learning and changing. When they’re in a classroom, it’s just like here – the teacher shares what’s known so far. At some time, teachers used to teach that the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe and they saw this as “science.”. Now teachers teach other ideas as science, though these may change again, too. Probably the deceased know more than we know from their point of view, but it seems they’re still learning, trying to figure things out, growing in abilities and understanding, and being creative. They have the freedom of consciousness not burdened by the slow energies of “matter” or bodies, which even our science says is mostly empty space!
I felt greatly healed in my spirit, and I have a sense now of how I can communicate with Tom any time I want.

How I Won First Place in the Nudist Halloween Costume Contest

    Participating in nudist clubs was not originally my idea, and yet I know that it flowed out of my life and was done for my benefit. Moreover, this story encompasses some of the most delightful experiences of my life and three of the greatest tragedies of my life.

      This adventure began with my first husband, Tom. He was very tall, 6 ft., in contrast to my 5 ft. at that time, a venturesome Renaissance man with black hair and fair Irish skin, he loved me with complete dedication and said that he found me delightful. He would do anything he could for me. When I would cry as I tried to sew jumpsuits or bras for myself to accommodate my back curvature (impossible things to sew for one’s self even for the skilled, which I’m not) Tom would try to help me sew. He knew how frustrating my body was to me – the severe curvature in my lower back, the heavy breasts that increased my back and neck pain, these made me feel altogether physically ugly and out-of-sorts with my body. Tom found me beautiful. I know he wasn’t lying, but I never understood this.

      Browsing in Barnes and Noble bookstore, Tom ran across an interesting book: Nudist Clubs and Beaches in the United States. The information seemed sound and he thought perhaps attending one of these activities might help my self-image, help me feel O.K. about my body. I don’t know why I said “Yes” to this; I can only chalk it up to who I was arguing with – Tom had been on debate teams for seven years in high school and college and I was no match. He persuaded me to to try the once-a-month gathering of the Chicago Sun Club.

      We had to call ahead to make reservations. They explained their philosophy and policies to us. They try to keep a balance between male and female participants and encourage people to come as couples. They described their activities. This would be Hawaiian night, so we were invited to bring a Hawaiian style potluck dish.

      We arrived, were greeted by nice people, and paid a fee towards the once-a-month rental of this facility. We disrobed in the locker room and headed shyly for the food. People were very friendly. Everyone wore Hawaiian leis (nothing else) and in fact, these people seemed very ordinary, though interesting. Believe it or not, after about 90 seconds, I no longer realized we were all naked. We stood around chit-chatting about politics and family and philosophy as at any party. A few people wore swimsuits; this is allowed, except not in the jacuzzi in order to encourage hesitant folks to take the plunge. There was swimming, volleyball, yoga, board games (sitting on towels), and food. We had a great time, and I did feel that my body was no funnier than anyone else’s.

      After that we often returned. Each month was a different theme. There was ranch night when we all brought barbequed food. Everyone wore boots and neck scarves and bolo ties and cowboy hats – nothing else, just boots and scarves and hats.

      Eventually we visited a couple nudist camps. We brought our son and daughter, late elementary age, to a nudist family resort in Indiana. One child went nude and the other wore a bathingsuit; I don’t remember which did which but they could choose as they wanted. The place was a lovely wooded campground and had an outdoor pool, with a waterslide for the kids. They took to it fine because it was such a fun place to be. I got to jump up and down naked in the warm sunshine on a trampoline! It was a gorgeous experience. The place had tennis courts, too. Tennis players everywhere have to be careful about too much sun, so there at the nudist resort the tennis players wear shirts – nothing else, just shirts.

      The Indiana resort is across the street from a truck drivers’ nudist resort, a place that probably fits most people’s ideas of nudism more closely than where we were. In our resort, families can rent campground space and leave a trailor for the summer or bring their tents for a weekend. We were always involved with family centered, philosophically based clubs and resorts.

      We visited the nudist resort in Kissimmi, Florida, which surrounds a lake. At night I rented a canoe and went out to the center of the lake. There I sat naked under the millions of stars overhead in the Milky Way. It was an awesome and holy night for me. Also in Florida, north of Cape Canaveral at Playa Linda, Tom and I and our two children floated naked on the great warm waves of the ocean, held up easily by the salt water, relaxed completely as if Mother Nature were rocking us in a cradle. I knew that I was born for nudism, though it was Tom who got us there.

      Time went on and one night back home when I came to bed Tom said he was having pain in his left arm and shoulder. He hadn’t told me earlier but he’d already gone to the hospital and they said this was not a heart attack. But he was in great pain. We fell asleep naked together, afraid and not knowing what to do. He said, to me “The most wonderful thing in all the world is to lie here in your arms.” Two hours later I heard him make a very long strange sigh. I jumped up and turned the light on. He wasn’t breathing. I called 911 and it seemed to take forever for help to come. Our son was just beginning his senior year and had taken a CPR class; he tried to resuscitate his dad but Tom’s spirit was gone from his body and no emergency help was able to bring him back.

      A few years passed, and I met another Tom, a very different man but dear and special in his own ways. Eventually I invited him to go with me to the monthly nudist club where first Tom and I had gone. We called ahead and were told that this would be the Halloween party. I planned my simple costume: a dark blue feather boa around my neck and a half mask made of white feathers. Tom couldn’t think of anything for a costume so we stopped at a drugstore and bought him a mask. It was nondescript: a face, two round holes for eyes, with a small black mustache and long brown hair hanging down the sides of the face like a pageboy.
     At the club, we were sitting at a table with another woman sipping drinks and talking, when it was announced that there would be a costume parade. We should tell the judges what we were as we passed, in case they couldn’t guess from our skimpy costumes. We three looked at each other and wondered, “What are we?” The woman had a feathered half mask like mine, so I had the inspiration that she and I were birds and Tom was a bird dog. As we passed the judges, the other lady and I ran around and flapped our arms like wings and Tom barked and chased us like a bird dog. And – we won first place!

      There was a funny sexist ending to that little story. The prize was a free pass to the nudist resort in Battle Creek, Michigan. One pass was given to the other lady and they gave ours to Tom, writing his name on it “plus guest”, assuming that he had brought me as his guest! I was indignant as he was my guest and I went up to that judge and asked him to correct the mistake. Gender assumptions, even in such an enlightened community!

      My life with second Tom was short and rich. After three years of our life together he had a brain stem stroke when we got too high for his lungs in the mountains of New Mexico. He was totally paralyzed and unable to speak, though his mind was fine. I cared for him for 2 and ½ years, but finally his spirit gave up and he, too, passed on.

      Now, being twice widowed, I finally persuaded a surgeon to almost completely remove my heavy breasts. “A size A,” I begged him, and because of my age he did it for me. My back is greatly lightened by this, though my body now seems funnier than ever. But now I know a society of people who will lovingly say that I’m just fine, no matter how I look. I am a convinced and happy and grateful nudist.


Postscript: There are two nationally recognized nudist organizations that are trustable for their integrity. Ours was called The National Sunbathers Association, today called the American Association for Nude Recreation. A similar organization is called The Naturist Society. Both emphasize nudism as a lifestyle that promotes such values as living in a manner that respects nature, promotes self-acceptance, good health, equality (beauty is not a person’s value), moderate living, and such.

In Honor of my Son’s Passing Into spirit

June 9, 2012

The International Association of Near Death Experiences, Evanston IL

Guest Speaker: Janet Nohavec, pastor of a Spiritualist Church in northern NJ and internationally known medium.

Ms. Nohavec spoke for an hour, telling us her spiritual journey. Her father was an alcoholic and often beat her mother; she had a terrible childhood full of fear and neglect. Occasionally she saw her deceased grandparents and was frightened by this but ultimately realized they came to help her feel she was not alone in all that she had to endure. To her own surprise she later felt called to be a nun after high school and followed that path for five years. Again to her surpise she found herself called out of the convent as her gift of mediumship began to develop and she sought guidance and support in this unusual talent. She studied in England under a great and strict medium at the Arthur Findlay College near London. Well, her story goes on and on and is VERY fascinating, but after sharing all this and some of her experiences as a medium, she had time to offer to this audience of about 200 people a few real “readings.” Janet knew no one in the audience. When she perceives a “spirit” present who wants to speak through her, she offers to the audience what the spirit is sharing with her and waits for someone among us to recognize this deceased person.

Janet begins,

“A younger man is coming to me who passed over in fairly recent times; perhaps he was in his early forties. he died of cancer.

There’s a Robert connected to him somehow, not necessarily his own name.

He gave the cancer a really good fight, though it was not a long fight.

He has a wonderful sense of humor.

And someone here held his hand as he passed over. Does anyone recognize parts of this?”

I raised my hand and said that my son died of cancer 3 years ago, he was almost forty, and I did hold his hand as he died.

“He lived in a city, like perhaps Chicago.” “Yes,” I said.

She says something about “creativity”; I hesitated remembering that he taught physics, though I was forgetting at the moment all the musical instruments he played, the choirs he sang in, even his approach to teaching was so full of creativity. Someone else raised their hand and Janet addressed them but then she said “they want me to stay with this woman here” as she pointed to me.

“Are there writers in your family?” “Yes,” I said. “I’m a writer. And my son journaled a lot.” Janet says, “There’s something about letters, poems, or some important writings that have to do with him in some room on the left side of something.”

“I have his journals on the left side of my bed,” I answered.

“August is very important to him.” [I’m not sure about this. He was married in August. Or does this refer to this current August?]

“Something about his hair; he’s pointing to the left side of his head. Do you have some of his hair?”

“Yes,” I said. “I cut a lock of his hair from the left side of his head after he died and I still have it.” (No one knows this except the four people with me when he was cremated)

“ Did he die around someone’s birthday or anniversary, his death overshadowed a birthday?

I said his little niece had her first birthday Sept 6, just before his passing. Sept.17. Her mom, his sister, was with him a lot at that time.

The medium says “Why am I mad at doctors? He’s very upset about a medical thing or a whole lot of mistakes.” I said “Many doctors made mistakes that cost him a lot; (like he got Cdiff twice in the hospital which gave him diarrhea and he lost much strength; the surgeon waited two weeks to do the last surgery, there were doctors who should have diagnosed him earlier , and on and on)

She says, “there’s a grandmother behind him a small woman with a rosary in her hands. There’s lots of Catholicism in his family.” “Yes,” I answered, “and his grandmother just passed, she said the rosary daily till the day she died.” Janet says “She just wants you to know she’s with him here, and many others are with him too!”

“Did he like to swim a lot? I see him moving his arms like a swimmer. “Yes” I answered. “We all love to swim.”

“He does come to visit you,” she says, “every day. He’s there in the flick of an eye and gone in the flick of an eye. …something about free will…maybe he’s trying to give you advice, but respects your free will.” (I think, then, that the swimming thing was him recomending that I swim more.)

“I hear the name Chris” she says. I answer that this is his aunt, his godmother.”

“Then I get the name Tom, or Tommy?” I answer “That’s his name!”

She sees him in a shirt with numbers on it – 19, or 9 or 49? “Was he athletic?” “No,” I say, “but he started a Robotics team that has numbers on its shirt.” “I should watch for these numbers, “she suggests. “Perhaps in a photo.” (It’s said that a good medium is right 80% of the time.  I think she read these numbers wrong:  the numbers on his shirt would be those of his Robotics team.)

“He’s absolutely fine,” she says. “He’s very happy in his life now.”

“He’s making a rocking motion with his hand, like the waters are choppy right now for you?” I said “Yes, a big legal problem” (with Kim, his ex-wife). She says, “He says that all will be fine by fall.” (I think, “maybe he’s spending August helping me on this!”)
Janet goes on. “Now standing behind him I see a veteran, someone who was in a war, he has one of those little hats that veterans wear. Did you have an ancestor that was in a war?”

Here the first thing that came to my mind was my Dad, though I don’t remember him wearing that kind of hat. But I said “My dad was in World War II.” Janet says, “He’s not saying much but wants to apologize to you for something, I don’t know what for.”

Here I immediately answered simply “Oh I know” and the whole audience broke out in a laughing roar at the quickness of my response. My father definitely has something to apologize to me for.    “He wants to be remembered to you,” she said.

I thought later this could have been my Grandpa Saur, who would have worn a soldiers’ hat like that, but he would have no reason in the world to apologize to me…

This was the end of this reading; she then went on to pick up information from someone else in spirit.

I took note about that name “Robert” as a friend of mine “channels” which is similar, kind of combining psychic reading skills with mediumship. That guide had said there’s a young man named Robert with Tom and the two of them are very lively and creative together; Robert has a very jazzy feeling. They’re somehow related in spirit or psyche to each other, but basically they function as friends and enjoy doing many fun and creative endeavors together in this new life…

                             WHAT A BLESSING TO ME!