Dreams…

I nap every day. I love to listen to people talk about taking a 30 minute nap or a disco nap. A nap to me is at least 2-3 hours. I recently heard a statement that hundreds of years ago, people slept two times a day for 3-4 hours at a time. That would totally work for me. I love to sleep, but I like to be up really late at night. They say the freaks come out at night and that’s probably true. I think I achieve more between the hours of midnight and 6am then any other time during the day.

Today, I kept waking up from my nap and falling back to sleep and waking up and falling back to sleep. It was…amazing. I love sleep where I fall back into a dream. Do you ever wonder where dreams originate? I’m not talking about neuroscience and sleep studies. No…I’m talking about where are our dreams born? Recently, I’ve even wondered if my dreamstate is reality and my waking life is my dreamstate. Sometimes, I confuse myself or think I’m going crazy, but I know I’m not.

When I was a little kid, my mom gave me a journal to write down my dreams. She said if when I woke up I immediately wrote down my dreams then I would remember them more clearly. I now remember my dreams very clearly. Sometimes…too clearly. Today, my dreams were very, very strange. I’m thinking about beginning to write down everything I dream about and turning it into a weird little book. I need a title though…that’s what keeps me from writing most of my books. Oh well…

What do you dream about? Do you write down your dreams? Do you remember your dreams? I believe dreams are a woven tapestry of our subconscious mind with souvenirs of our daily life. What do you think? I’d probably have more to say about it if I didn’t need to go to sleep and go back to dreamland…because we’re on borrowed time as it is.

On Borrowed Time…

“We’re on borrowed time as it is”…As many of you know by now, my mom used to say this to me on an almost daily basis. How true, but I guess I think about it more philosophically than realistically. We are, in fact, on borrowed time. I was really thinking about this last night as I was driving home from work. For some reason I was having a Mom day, which means I can’t get her out of my mind and usually I’m a little bit more fragile than other days. I was thinking about how much I would love to see her just one last time. What I wouldn’t give for a little more time with her. A whole day…an hour…a half an hour. But what would I say? I’ve joked with people for the past three and half years since she’s passed away that if she came back for a day, we would hug and cry and laugh for the first two hours but then we would probably be bitching at each other again. If you knew us together, you know this to be true. We were like Italian alcoholics in recovery, downing coffee and screaming one second and crying and saying ‘I love you’ the next. It was insanity.

I was thinking about how many clients have told me how much they wish they could spend just one more day with a loved one who had passed away. The funny thing is, we never think about this on the days that we DO have time to spend with our loved ones. Honestly, how many days have you spent with your husband, best friend, mother or even your dog where you appreciate every second, every moment of the day. Even just a half an hour where you think to yourself, “I really appreciate this person. I love them so much and I am so present in this moment I am spending with them.” Don’t even think about it because the chances are you’ve haven’t. Most of us can’t conceptualize losing someone until they’re terminally ill or have passed away. It is only in those moments when we say we wish we could have them back to spend precious time. Oh, the things we’d say and do.

Why aren’t we doing those things now?

And further more, we grieve all of those dreams we wish our loved ones would have achieved. Why aren’t we pursing our own dreams on an intense level every day. In the end, we’re the only ones who can make them happen.

My mom had several dreams. She wanted to be a costume designer in Hollywood for epic films like Gone with the Wind. She adored the designer Edith Head who did all of the costumes for the Hitchcock movies and she dreamed of following in her path. She also wanted to be an actress or a writer. I have since found over 30 journals and an entirely completed manuscript. So she was, in fact, a writer. She was just never published. I do have the copy of her rejection letter from Robert Bly, the poet laureate of Minnesota, for his literary magazine. She always believed someday she’d win an Oscar and would talk about how she played the main character in The Bad Seed her freshman year of college at Indiana University. She was really going places. But most of all, she wanted to be a criminal trial attorney, living on a houseboat in San Fransisco harbor. She’d say, “don’t you think I would have made an amazing trial attorney?” And everyone would just stare like she was crazy, imagining Bobbie Monn in court, the judge unable to shut her up or pull her hands from the neck of a rapist…or Republican.

She never accomplished these things. I’m not sure she ever would have even if she lived to be 104. Fear kept her stuck in place. Fear keeps me stuck in place. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of commitment. Fear of the unknown. Maybe it’s just how I’m programmed that throws those walls up in front of me, but I think that fear harnesses my thoughts of “I wish I had one more day” instead of “today I will set out to accomplish everything I dream of and spend the time with the people who mean the most!” I remember while my co-worker’s father was terminally ill she beat herself up because she wasn’t visiting him regularly because of her demanding work schedule. Towards the end a friend told her, “Years from now, you won’t look back on this situation and wish you had worked more.” God…ain’t that the truth!

Take time today to really enjoy the day. Smell the air. Drink some really good coffee. Enjoy the freshness of a glass of water only the way it tastes, icy cold, first thing in the morning. Smile. Dance down the street. Be unafraid. Jam your music and sing at the top of your lungs, even if it’s Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music. No one cares! Have an adult lemonade stand. Start writing that book you always wanted to write. Or start reading the book that has been sitting next to your bed for months. Look up casting agents in Hollywood. Put your pictures up on Model Mayhem. Take some chances. Have great sex with your partner. Do the whip cream and chocolate strawberry’s you’ve been talking about forever. Stay up late watching a scary movie in bed. Tell old memories to friends. Make new ones. Eat lunch somewhere you’ve never eaten before. Eat dinner somewhere you’ve never eaten before. Get a slushy and mix the flavors. Buy a children’s book and read it to your dog. Take a walk. Take a run. Buy a bike! I did…just to ride around the neighborhood and say hi to my neighbors. Enjoy today…because you could be gone tomorrow…or someone you love could be gone tomorrow. We only have a limited amount of days here and no one knows how many.

At the end my mom looked at me and said, It’s not the things you did that you regret. It’s the things you didn’t do.” She was so right! And somewhere up there, I believe, she’s still dancing with an umbrella to Singing in the Rain, kicking at puddles on her front porch, splashing raindrops of dreams and opportunities for all of us down here….just smiling and smiling…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

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A Walk Through Heaven…

I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven lately, especially since it’s where my mom spends most of her time these days and I’m sure to end up there soon enough. There are tons of books on the issue. Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven. Randy Alcorn’s In Light of Eternity and Heaven. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. And my personal favorite, In Heaven, As on Earth by M. Scott Peck M.D.

Movies like What Dreams May Come, Made in Heaven, The Lovely Bones and Defending Your Life give us a glimpse into the borders of heaven, right down to billowy clouds and colorfully woven landscapes. But what is heaven really like? And why do we care so much?

For me, I spent much of my 38 years focused on my fear of death and what would come after this life that I couldn’t even enjoy some of the day to day details that made this journey so exciting. It was, by far, my biggest fear. I remember speaking to my mom about it one day and she told me that my fear of death would go away with time as I grew older. And it did. Funny that it took her death to help me realize, that death, is just part of the journey. Not an “eternal” resting place, but maybe just a resting place…a rest stop, so to speak.

When asked by clients, I tell them to close their eyes and imagine, really imagine, what it is like to be walking around in heaven. Then I have them open their eyes and write about what they saw. More than likely, they just took a walk through heaven.

Several months ago I went to a psychic, against my better judgment, who explained to me that heaven is a place just as real as Earth, where we have jobs and relationships and we interact with one another. But there is no real pain, physical or emotional. And we all have a purpose, just like we do here. So maybe, we need to have heaven, as the yen to our yang of Planet Earth and life here as we know it.

I’m not ready to die, but I’m not afraid anymore either. There is still a lot I want to do with my life here. I try to explain this to my clients who get stuck in their grieving process, because while I believe grieving is an important cathartic experience, it is just that…an experience. We must move differently, take with us remnants of those people or animals who have left us, and live as they can no longer. Each person’s conception of heaven is personal and intricate to their own understanding.

I used to get pissed at people who stayed stuck in anger or complacency because my mother no longer had the option to dance in her kitchen to Janis Joplin. But the reality is…she may be dancing in her kitchen with Janis Joplin. I just don’t know. And I can read all of the books and see all of the movies, but to me, heaven will always be what I see in my head. Ornate, golden cities sitting on mountains of grassy knolls. Old, dusty libraries filled with every book ever written, and every book ever imagined for that matter. Amazing beaches of white, diamond sand, with sunsets and sunrises occurring at the same time. And my house will be at the top, with an underground tunnel to winter snows where I can sled down to visit all of my friends who have passed before me

At some point I’m sure I’ll have work to do, but it will have meaning, and maybe I’ll even have the opportunity to come back here and learn some more…I don’t rule anything out. I just don’t know, but I’m no longer going to be consumed by the idea of definitively knowing what heaven is or where it is. That ruins a lot of the magic. And everything is magic. And really, it’s time I put on my shoes, took a walk under the almost full moon, and enjoyed my time on the dewy grass of these plains…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Moments of Grace…

Tonight, we were in the middle of giving our dog, Boo Radley, who had rolled around in some unmentionables in the yard, a bath when the electricity suddenly went out bathing the house in complete darkness. We immediately stopped in our tracks as the three dogs ran circles around us, completely unaware of the change that had occurred, or at least not bothered by the lack of light.

We walked downstairs and as Alex went outside to see how many other houses had been affected by the outage I lit candles, lighting our way around the house. I held the dogs back and walked outside to find Alex walking up and down the street. “It looks like it was just us and Norma.” He said. “Did you pay the bill this month?” He asked. “It’s not even due yet.” I said. “And yes I paid it last month. I always pay the electric bill.”

He walked back inside and I stood for a second in the dark yard and then followed him inside. I found the number for the electric company and pushed buttons around until I finally got to talk to a human being. I explained to him that we had an outage and he said the storms the previous night had affected an area they were working on and that several other people didn’t have electricity either, explaining that it shouldn’t be very long until service was back up. I hung up the phone and walked into the living room, watching the puppies jump all over Alex in the candlelight.

“Do you want to go for a walk outside and look at the stars?” I asked. “Not really.” He said, thumbing through his cell phone. “I’ll be sleeping. I need to go to bed.” I couldn’t imagine going to bed without the whir of a fan, so that was completely out.

I walked back outside and walked down the street towards our neighbor’s house, watching the blinking of the fireflies as they tangoed on a backdrop of black velvet with sparkling star lights. The night was magnificent. It was literally the perfect summer evening, something I had forgotten because of our busy schedule of cell phones, recorded television programs, meetings and social obligations.

And for a long moment, I just stood in the street and took it all in. The smell of the grass and the feeling of it’s dewy dampness on my feet, lightly scented with some June flower whose name I was unaware. I watched the fireflies blink and blink and blink, remembering catching them in glass jars with forked holes in the metal top when I was a kid. The stars in the sky were brighter than anything I could remember, reminding me gently of my aunt’s farm and how stars always seemed closer and more pronounced in areas of complete darkness. I listened to the trees in the woods gently sway in the summer breeze, their limbs clicking together a warm embrace.

Suddenly, I heard a door creak open and I saw our 90 year old, neighbor Norma walk slowly out onto her front porch. I didn’t want to scare her so I announced my presence. “Hey Norma, it’s Peter from next door. I think we have a power outage.” I said.

“Oh honey, I’m so glad it’s you. I was scared and I didn’t know how I was going to get to you and Alex.” She said. “What happened with the electricity?” I explained my conversation with the man from the electric company and she showed me that she had a flashlight so she was in no danger of falling as she leaned on her metal cane, standing rigid in her crisp, white summer pajamas. “Beautiful night though, isn’t it?” She said. “It is indeed.” I agreed, and for a moment we both stood there just enjoying an eleven o’clock hour together in June; a moment of grace we hadn’t expected. They come so very rarely these days it seems, these coming of age, To Kill a Mockingbird summer nights…

And then I walked back up the street and back into our house smiling, hoping for many more summer moments like these…because they’re the stuff that dreams are made of and well, because we’re on borrowed time as it is… ,

Birds and Fluff…


This one will ramble, but if you’re a first time reader, bookmark this, it gets as good as cold pizza!

Tonight, I was reading over the statistics of my blog, much of which I don’t even understand, when I started looking at the number of hits for certain topics. It was amazing to me that the top three issues, in this order were heaven, Laird Hamilton and psychics. After months of writing this blog and focusing on issues such as grief, love, relationship issues, addiction and therapy, I was surprised that these were the topics most readers were interested in seeing. And the numbers were by a landslide, not just a few over the top.

So I started thinking about why readers might be interested in these issues and why I was interested in these issues enough to write about them. First of all, Laird Hamilton is easy for me. I’ve recommended his book, Force of Nature, to so many people, I’m surprised my friends haven’t started describing it as my new Bible. If only I followed the suggestions in the book so closely as he does, I might enjoy the same life as Laird. So why is he so interesting to us? Well, first of all, no matter your interest sexually, anyone can admit he’s gorgeous, but not in a conventional way. I think he’s gorgeous because he is free and he lives his life as such. A married surfer with children who does what he wants when he wants it. He eats healthy, promotes living a great life and making the most of his life. If you don’t know much about Laird, I encourage you to Google the hell out of him, post his pictures in your mirror for inspiration and read his website; Laird Life, which tells his story but also encapsulates his strategy for life! On this website, which is mostly written by his wife, famed volleyball player Gabby Reece, there is even a ten point lesson learned from surfing title, “Wisdom of the Wave” which cannot be missed, including put things in perspective, keep learning and be determined! Laird is a complete inspiration for living. I’m a believer that we need role models and mentors, people to whom we aspire and who we can learn from. These people can be older or younger than us and we don’t even need to know them personally to grow from them naturally…

I think people are interested in Psychics because they either want to learn more about themselves, which they probably already know, or they want to learn more about life after death; or heaven. In either case, we probably go searching for all the wrong reasons. I know I went with my friend who wanted to just have a “fun experience” and we both got more than we expected. (You can read about this in earlier postings.) I have received so many calls and messages about my psychic experience, asking me where to find Dave the psychic, how much he was, etc. But what has been even more interesting to me is that a lot of people know right away it is an experience which they shouldn’t be part of, and usually not for religious reasons. They often tell me that they might find out more than they want to know. And I believe, we should only ask for information when we are ready. We should know the limits to what is healthy for us to deal with at any given moment and set appropriate boundaries. I don’t think psychics are for everyone. When I first started telling the story of my experience, I was a little embarrassed and didn’t want to tell anyone, but now, I don’t care. I only have one life, as long as I live it well and am accountable and responsible, the rest is really my business.

Which brings us to heaven. For years and years I read books about the after life. From Elisabeth Kubler Ross to Betty J. Eadie. I scarfed down Sylvia Brown and watched any movies about heaven including some of my favorites; “Defending Your Life” and “What Dreams May Come”. And my mother sat back and laughed the whole time. “It will get easier as you get older”, she’d say. “You won’t be so afraid as you get older. It will be a comfort.” And then she died at 64, really not that old at all. And it became easier. And I was less afraid. And I guess it’s strange that through my own mother’s death, I became certain after life, especially being in the same room with her, holding her hand as she passed away. It was deep and sad and overwhelming…but it was awesome as well. And I remembered years before, when my father, who is a surgeon, told me the two most amazing parts of his job were when a baby was born and when someone died, because you could actually feel the coming and going of a soul. And that is heaven. I don’t doubt anymore. I just live. I try not to question or live my life for something that, if I’m wrong, what does it really matter anyway. I’ve had too much evidence of something more.

Several years before my mother died, we were driving to some random riverboat casino when we decided that if one of us should die before the other one we would leave a sign, to let the other one know we were thinking of them. My mother said she wanted to be a piece of that white fluff that floats around outside in the spring and summer. I said I would be a cardinal, red wings soaring through the air over the trees in the neighborhood. We both agreed it didn’t really matter and got back to discussing the hilarity of Britney Spears mother writing a book about motherhood.

And then she died. And the day after her funeral I pulled out of my driveway into a cloud of that white fluff, swarming everywhere. And as I drove off through that cloud, I spotted, 2, 3, 4…so many cardinals out on that early summer day that it was incredible.

And maybe it was just birds and Fluff, but I don’t think so. I think that the birds and the fluff are what make up the best of our world. Dreams. What we so desire…Laird Hamilton, Heaven and Psychics, wanting to know what is in store for us…wanting some directions and some guidance, wanting inspiration…and then I remembered, WAIT! That’s what I do for a living.

And then I remembered that today at the bank, my teller, who always writes little motivational notes on my stubs, wrote, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And then I remembered the call I got from one of my favorite clients who told me that she didn’t need to come in anymore because her trip home went so well and she didn’t have any outstanding issues. And I realized, life’s pretty good. I have hope. I have a roof over my head, I have Laird Hamilton to aspire to…and I have this stupid old blog to spin out my thoughts, even if no one is listening…and maybe, just maybe, I’ll tag it with some crazy things that people will read just because their searching the web for answers, you never know.

It all makes sense somehow, even if the numbers don’t add up. One day seems longer than the next. June turns into September way too fast. One day your dancing in the kitchen with your mom to the soundtrack from Oklahoma the next your holding her hand at 35 in a hospital room as she passes away. Some days a book is so good you can’t put it down but six months later, you can’t remember the title. 5 becomes 11 turns into 17 turns into 23 and then 30 and then 42 and then 50 and then 65 and then boom. And then today, I’m sitting at my friend Tonya’s kennel as she and her 3 year old nephew are dancing to the music and looking for spiders in the fireplace with a flashlight and I’m wishing I was little again. And then I look over at Tonya and realize, you don’t really ever get old, not in your mind. You just have to hold on forever. Forever. Because folks, we’re on borrowed time as it is…

Gravestones are for the Dead…

heaven
This was so private that I wasn’t going to write about it, but I thought maybe if it helped anyone, it couldn’t hurt to write it. No matter how ridiculous or insane it sounded.

Last Sunday, my best friend and I had decided to spend the whole day together. We weren’t sure what we were going to do. “Do you want to go to a psychic?” She asked. I had been to several before so I didn’t mind. I did believe in psychic phenomenon, but I had never personally experienced anything that had given me factual evidence to make me strongly believe that I wasn’t doing anything more than wasting forty dollars. Nonetheless, we headed off to see our psychics.

She had scheduled us with two separate psychics at the same time. At the last minute, we changed psychics because she was supposed to see someone who was a pet psychic and I wanted to see if he could read anything about Griffin, since I had just had him put to sleep. Now…I must forewarn you before reading further! This was all to be a joke. My best friend had a strong, religious background which led her to believe this was all just hocus pocus. We never intended to walk away with the experience we had.

So, entering the building, we each joked around, nervous about our experience to come. Finally, both men led us back into different rooms. The man I sat with was named Paul. He immediately had me sign a form saying it was for entertainment purposes only. He then went on to add my birthday together and get extremely confused trying to explain to me I was a 9 life cycle and I was on cycle 1, but then he changed his mind and said he got it wrong. Then he told me I had cats around me, a rusty haired dog and a child in heaven. At this point, I looked at him and laughed. I explained it wasn’t possible I had a child in heaven. “Yes, you know, like you got a girl pregnant, but it was heavy bleeding or it she miscarried.” No Paul, I’m gay, and I’ve never had sex with a woman. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take psychic abilities to realize in about five minutes that I’m gay. So, needless to say, he sent me on my way fifteen minutes early, and only charged me for half of the session, for entertainment purposes I suppose.

I waited in my car until my friend came out. Finally, after about twenty minutes, she walked out crying to herself. When she got in the car, she went into this tale about her psychic, a kind, older Indian man, had called out relatives names, incidents that had happened in her childhood and she even got to speak to her father, who he called by his nickname. I was mystified. “What did you think?” I asked her, “I thought the devil was going to jump out of him and get me!” She said, laughing. Immediately, I decided I wanted to see him. I called back and scheduled an appointment for an hour later, not quite sure what to expect.

When I went back, the Indian man, Dave, took me into his office, which was much dimmer lit than Paul’s office. He didn’t have me sign any waiver saying I wouldn’t sue the establishment. He explained to me he was a medium and that spirits might come and talk to him during our session. He then closed his eyes and said a prayer to himself. I was unsure what to do next? Although I believe in spirits, ghosts, etc…I am somewhat guarded about my own personal experiences.

“Ok.” He said, “You are here to see your mother?”He said. And I just started balling. “She is sitting in the chair in front of you. She is a short woman, with a short, blond bob and she is dressed all in black. Several times already she has hugged you and she is telling me that all you want is to be hugged.” I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, yeah, he could have guessed that, but anytime someone asks me what I miss most about my mom, I tell them I want to be hugged by her again. “My, my, she is talkative.” He said, which if you knew my mother, you know that is an understatement. And then the session went on. He told me childhood events that only my mother would know because she wanted me to believe the experience. Both of my grandmothers came to him, which he picked by their first initials. And then I asked about pets.

“There is a rusty colored dog who watches over you.” He said and smiled. “Is that all?” I asked. “Yes, that is all I see as far as pets, but your mother would like you to know she likes Alex’s dancing.” And that sealed it! For the next twenty minutes he told me things no one else could have known and talked about the living as well. He told me what he saw for my future, as well as my present and then he said…”Wait a second, your rusty haired dog just moved aside and there is a little white dog, with brown ears and distinctive spotting. They are all trying to say his name but they are growling at him, like grrrrr. Does that make sense to you?” And I just started crying again. “Yes, my dog’s name was Griffin.” I said.

“Did he pass recently because he is very nervous. He is yipping as if he is trying to talk. I don’t think he knows he has passed over yet. He sees you though.” And no matter if it was all fake or not, that was exactly what I wanted to hear.

But between you and I, there just was no way it could have been fake. To use words only my mother would have used. To talk about wooden spoons, and falling off of swing sets, and dogs as gifts from spirits and reading people’s names and incidents related to my mother’s drinking. If you were here, and I was telling you in person all of the specific details he gave…you would believe.

And so, I’m not really writing this to encourage you to believe in psychics or mediums. Oh, you can and if you are interested in who I saw, contact me and I’ll let you know, but really, I’m encouraging you to believe that there might just be something more. Because quite honestly, I had stopped believing for awhile. And I miss believing in things like heaven, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And by the way, she tells me it’s amazing! So maybe, just maybe, it gives us a little hope. That a guy sitting in a crappy office on a Sunday afternoon, making forty dollars a pop, is either grasping at straws to pay his bills…or dishing out hope on clearance! I choose to believe the latter…Because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Happy Halloween!