34) It’s Only a Number!

A picture of a birthday cake

I’ve just had a birthday.  Hooray!

The problem is that I can’t get used to being so ‘old’.  Although my body doesn’t exactly feel ‘young’, my head, my mind and my heart does.  I’m like a ‘cut and shut’ where bits of me just don’t fit together quite right.  My body hasn’t felt very young for a number of years now. Due to a chronic illness I always have pain somewhere and the lack of energy is annoying, but I’ve got used to that over time, it’s been with me for nineteen years, so I should have by now!

No, now the problem is that my body is actually ageing.  I’ve noticed the wrinkles deepening and my eyelids kind of folding over, its difficult to describe, but all of my eyelids used to be visible, but now there is extra skin that hangs over them – I’m sure there is a technical name for it – but it’s happened all of a sudden.  My legs have never been my strong point, being knock-kneed how I rejoiced when maxi dresses came back into fashion, but now they too are beginning to look like old lady legs.  As I’ve aged I’m seeing more and more the family genes take over.  Auntie Violet legs – thanks Auntie!

My twin used to be very good at pointing out my short comings, but since her stroke she hasn’t so much and I have been thankful for that.  Last Friday when she came over she was looking intently at my hands.  Now, she doesn’t often say a lot these days so I normally relish a conversation with her, but on Friday she was not having a good day and was more ‘there’ (wherever that is), than ‘here’, so when she started to talk I was really pleased. “You’ve got”, she looked as if she was frustrated trying to talk, “You’ve got” she tried again, “What am I trying to say?”, “I don’t know sis” I replied, as I often do, because she often asks that.  There was another long pause and I always imagine her brain is trying to get into gear, “You’ve got  age spots on your hands” she piped up with a big smile, “Oh” I said, a little shocked, “and your hands” she went on, “your hands”, I waited patiently as she gathered her thoughts once again, “your hands aren’t looking so pretty these days, they look wrinkly”.  Gee, thanks sis!  Well that was certainly worth waiting for!

I hadn’t really looked at her hands before, they are lily white as she has been indoors for almost three years now and she only had one very tiny insignificant age spot.  One of her habits since her stroke is applying hand lotion many many times a day, so I must admit her hands do look very soft.  Maybe it should become one of my habits too. She isn’t capable of doing any housework or washing up either and I’m sure that plays a big role in my wrinkly, aged spots hand syndrome! Bless her!

I think the reason this birthday has hit me harder than all the rest is that it really is the heading towards sixty birthday, I can’t say I’m in my early fifties anymore, I’ve tilted over the edge of fifty five and fifty six does sound so very grown up! I think, for all of us who have gained some weight, we can look in the mirror and think about when we are slim again, there is a hope that one day we may shed the weight and be back to our ‘real’ slim selves.  For me too, there is always the hope that one day I am going to wake up well, that my illness will have scuttled off into the night, never to darken my door again, and I will once again return to the ‘real’ healthy, full of vitality, capable of anything, me.  But, looking in the mirror now, seeing my droopy eyelids and, thanks to Tina, being aware of my aged hands, there is no hope that one day the droops will disappear and the wrinkles will all smooth out.  I’m not even going to consider discussing the other, more covered up, bits of me, that are patently struggling with age.  A girl (or maybe I should at this age say woman) does have to keep some dignity! No, this is it.  It really is the beginning of me looking old.

I was chatting to my sister-in-law Wendy just before my birthday.  Wendy is sixteen years younger than me (eek, I’m ‘just’ old enough to be her mother!), she is extremely pretty, very petite and super fit.  She goes to the gym most days and also leads a very busy life as a hairdresser, a Mum to my two beautiful neices and has a very active social life.  She is also, absolutely lovely and great fun to be with.  As the years have gone by and we have got to know each other better we enjoy an easy relationship and chat away and discuss anything and everything.  I’m so lucky to have her as my sis-in-law.  She was asking me how old I was going to be and when I told her she said it is just a number. I laughed, yes, I agreed, but said it was a bloomin’ big number!

This week there was the shocking news of the death of Whitney Houston and it really got me thinking.  She had died when she was only forty eight years old.  I met Simon when I was that age, and how I would have hated to have missed the wonderful time we have shared together.  I have met so many wonderful new people since moving to Hampshire when I was forty eight.  For me it was an age when my life turned around, when I had the courage to stand up and be me, to leave an old life and start afresh.   I didn’t have Whitneys fame, her talent, her money or her looks, but I did have my own identity, which I sadly feel she was lacking.  How sad that her life ended when my new life had just begun.  I was thinking that Whitney won’t ever be old enough to be complaining about droopy eyelids and how very fortunate I am to have made it to have a big number birthday.

How sad that so many amazingly talented people just can’t cope with their lives and end up relying so heavily on drugs and alcohol to get through.  I wonder how many of them feel lonely, how many question who really likes them for who they are, not what they have or what they can do for them? It must be tough to cope with public adulation when in your heart you are not prepared, when deep down you must know that you are not coping with the success.

I find it strange how many young people say they want to be famous, and yet fame has so many drawbacks, I just don’t understand why anyone would want to be in a position where they can’t even pop out to their local shops without someone taking a snap of them. Where everyone feels they have the right to comment on and often criticise what you wear, who you spend your time with, what you do. What a dreadful way to live your life!

Hopefully Whitney is now beginning a new life in spirit where she will be able to realise how amazingly fortunate she was in so many ways, where she will be able to find some of the joy she had in her life here.  I do hope that her soul will heal and with help she will be able to move forward along her pathway. Maybe in her next incarnation she will again have the voice of an angel, but our society may have moved on and she will not be put on such a pedestal, where from such a great height so many have fallen.  Maybe next time she’ll happily get to the big number birthdays.  Let’s hope so.

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33) Hi-di-Hi Campers!!

Simon and I always try to do something different for our birthdays.   Over the years amongst other things, I’ve been whisked away for a romantic break to a luxury hotel, we’ve been on the London Eye and Simon has been a racing driver, etc.  You get the gist.  The whole idea is that our birthdays are memorable events, a special day to mark the beginning of our next year.  So, when friends of mine mentioned a  Psychic & Spiritual Festival that started on my birthday I thought it would be a unique way to enjoy a get-away and experience the work of mediums that I hadn’t seen before.

As the event was being held right by the coast  “Sceptic Simon” agreed to come along, not to attend any workshops or lectures, but to go out and about with his beloved camera taking some landscape shots with his new filters.  So, we were two very happy bunnies, full of excitement looking forward to the weekend.

I rang the venue to ask if there was a program as my friends and I wondered if we had to book any of the workshops, but I was told that no-one knows the events until the day they arrive.  Goodness, I thought, they must be mega organised!  We where aiming to arrive at about 3:30pm and our timing was spot on. We were given the keys to our ‘chalet’ and directions,  but as we walked through the car park my heart began to sink  when I saw the rows and rows of ‘chalets’ – Hi di Hi couldn’t help but come to mind.  Our room was a double …. just …  it was so small, and the bathroom was something out of the ark,  it was what I would call VERY basic!   It was not what I had expected, but then it’s not what you expect that makes life richer!

I was keen to look at the programme and we couldn’t help but laugh when the saw the evening entertainment billed as Scott Paige and his High Octaine Show-Team.  Seriously, I felt like we were in a time warp and we had unknowingly been time travelling back to the mid 60’s!

After the disappointment with our chalet we really didn’t expect much of the food,  but have to say that it exceeded expectations.  The service was great and the food, although plain, was well cooked and we certainly weren’t going to be starving. We were given a table number and had to sit at the same table for the whole time.  We were sat opposite two women, Julie and her aunt Sylvia.  Julie was a florist by trade, with a very dry sense of humour and a houseful of assorted rescued pets with rather strange names.  Sylvia had a very fast mind, was great company and relayed some very amusing spiritually based stories. They were both real characters with great personalities and we felt we were so lucky to sit opposite them.

The first evening there was a medley of mediums demonstrating until 10pm.  I hadn’t heard of them before, but I gather they are quite well-known.  I must say that the evidence that was brought through by Philip Solomon was amazing.  He was giving people not just names and memorable dates but addresses as well.  I can’t say I agreed with everything he said about his beliefs on spiritual matters, but he did say that we all have our own views and that we must respect that.  I was really pleased because even Sceptic Simon was marginally impressed, and that is quite something!

Simon toddled off on the first morning to go and take some pics and I stayed with my friend Annette as we were working out which lectures or workshops to attend.  The problem seemed to be that there were never enough chairs in the rooms and they kept moving who was working where, which is quite confusing when there are about five hundred people all trying to find their way about.  I wasn’t too worried about missing any of the workshops as I hadn’t heard of the tutors before, but one person I particularly wanted to see was Jay Love.

I had met Jay several years before, when as students at the Arthur Findlay College in Stanstead we had discussed our spiritual development.  So many of our experiences had been shared it was quite uncanny.  He struck me then as a real down to earth kind of chap.  He was a gentle soul with kind eyes and had a wicked sense of humour.  He didn’t take himself too seriously, although it was obvious how much he respected spirit.  I had never forgotten him and a few months ago had found him on the internet and we had been in contact via Facebook, where I had learnt that his development had led him to physical mediumship and he was now able to bring through spirit using transfiguration.

For those who don’t know about this form of mediumship, it is when the medium goes into trance and spirits communicate and also temporarily materialise, usually over the mediums face, by utilising a form of energy that it is believed the medium manufactures within themselves.  It is rare to be able to see this first hand.

I had desperately wanted to see Jay demonstrate his physical mediumship, but as we arrived at the designated room we were told we would need to bring our own chairs and bluntly told by the lady on the door that she would be locking the door in one minute.  This didn’t give us enough time to go and get the chairs so we ended up in another room seeing a lecture about ghost pictures!

Most of  Saturday I saw various people do various things, nothing that I found totally astounding,  it was ok, but I was deeply disappointed not to have seen Jay.  Having said all that though there was certainly a good mixture of differing disciplines for you to take a look at, everything from pure spiritual communication to paranormal investigation to tarot, to sand box readings.  The choice was quite amazing.

In the late afternoon Annette and I found ourselves at a bit of a loose end and, almost by accident, found ourselves in a lecture about animal communication, which we weren’t planning to attend.  As we walked in there were two pictures on a board.  One was a very nice looking cat and the other looked  like my old dog Sam.  I even said to Annette “goodness, that looks just like Sam”.  We sat down and began listening and much to my surprise the lady, who was actually a medium, explained that she had only just drawn the pictures and these two animals wanted to communicate with their owners.  It wasn’t at all what I had expected.  Several people tried to accept information about the cat, who was a tabby called Tigger, but eventually the information given narrowed it down to one particular lady in the audience and she was given the picture.

Then the medium, Raye Edwina Brown, started to talk about the dog.  She said that his name was Sam!  My hand shot up immediately.  She explained that in his old age his back legs had given way and he had to be put to sleep, but that this happened at home.  That was exactly what had happened to Sam.  She said it was literally only a few days before he died that this had started, which was true, as Sam’s back legs gave out on a Friday and I called the vet on Monday as he couldn’t stand up.  She even gave the date of the year he was born.  I was so chuffed.  He sent me his love and told me that he was pleased that I had so much freedom in my life now.  I was called to the front to collect my picture.  I waited until everyone had left and went over to thank Raye and she took a photo of me with the picture of Sam and said she is going to put it in her magazine!

This had made my weekend, I didn’t really expect very much more.  I had loved Sam so much and felt so lucky that he had come through.  I had given communication from animals to people in readings in the past and had seen their delight, and now I knew exactly how they felt.

The evening was not so good.  To me, the mediums were more interested in being entertainers than mediums and I did feel on a few occasions that they were not respectful to either the spirits or the audience.  I watched three of them and decided I would rather go back to the cold chalet than sit and watch anymore.  I was so annoyed that it was typical that Simon was there, and this did nothing to improve his belief in anything spiritual!

On Sunday I had already decided that I wanted to go home.  I was cold, uncomfortable, fed up with all the last-minute changes and to be honest the mediumship the night before had really made me question so much that I felt quite unsettled.  I did though want to have the opportunity to see Jay give a demonstration and on the program it stated that he would be in the Lounge giving a mental mediumship and spirit guides talk at 11:30am, so I thought we’d go home after that.  Annette and I were heading for the lounge when I saw Jay walking away from there, I stopped him and asked where his lecture was going to be.  He told me it was going to be in the Games Room and that there should be enough chairs.  So, we headed off there, found Jay, but again no chairs! Annette went out and found some patio chairs to sit on and we sat expecting a mental mediumship talk.  We were so lucky as Jay was planning to give another demonstration of his transfiguration gifts.  The whole experience was nothing short of phenomenal.  Jay gave a really good talk beforehand, quite thought-provoking, and then his trance guide arrived and introduced himself.  He was nothing at all like Jay, although he did share a sense of humour.  The transfiguration was just mind-blowing.  Grown men and women were obviously emotional at  communicating with their loved ones in spirit and being able to see their faces materialise over Jay’s face.  What an amazing gift he has!

We left just after lunch and were home in the light, turned the heating up and enjoyed sitting on a comfy sofa!

Annette told me that the last night had been the best evening and it had been a shame I had missed it.  Jay had demonstrated his mediumship abilities and she said his evidence was brilliant.  An Irish medium, Sharon Neill, had given evidence that a member of the audience had waited over fifty years to hear and Annette said everyone in the audience had felt extremely emotional. She told me that Sharon had then finished by singing The Power of Love which she said was sung beautifully. It did seem like I missed out, but then I was needed by a friend first thing this morning, so I was pleased I was at home and able to help her.

It was an interesting weekend with mega highs and too many lows. Am I pleased I went?  Yes. Sam coming through and Jay’s demonstration were the highlights of my weekend.  Two fantastic experiences that I know I will never forget.  Just such a shame that it hadn’t been a little more comfortable and a little more organised!

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30) You’ve Got a Friend

You've Got a Friend

How many times in your life have you felt utterly alone? Felt there was no-one who was there was for you? Felt that no-one could understand what you were going through?

Sometimes the very fact that you put a brave face on it, no matter the tough times you are going through, can actually back-fire because everyone thinks that everything in your life is fine.  Or, maybe people think that you are one of those lucky few who can cope admirably with anything that is thrown at them.  Could it be that maybe your pride is getting in the way of being honest and you prefer people to think that you are ‘strong’ ?

How difficult it can be to be able to reach out when you desperately need a friend.

After I left Devon and moved to Hampshire with my twin sister, Tina, and her family, I was in a very odd ‘friend free’ zone for the first time in my life.   After 26 years I had finally plucked up the courage to end my marriage and within a matter of weeks  many of my friends were doing exactly the same! It was as if a cosmic switch had come on somewhere and we all decided that enough was enough.  My friends are scattered throughout England, and very strangely, all were going through their own very similar difficult and often traumatic times.  After they had separated from their husbands they had all stayed in the same towns, so at least they had their local friends around them for support, but due to my ex’s threatening behaviour I decided it was better (and I felt safer) moving far away.

Friends that I had been in regular contact with for years were busy dealing with their own problems and I felt that I couldn’t bother them with my own worries at that time. Tina and her husband, Woody, had adopted six learning disabled children, whose ages ranged from two to fifteen, so they too were pretty busy,  sorting out the often complicated special educational and medical needs that the children required in a new area.  It was extremely rare for me to get more than a minute or so alone with Tina for a chat, there was always someone who needed her.

Tina and Woody had rented a very large old house so that the children could each have their own bedrooms and fortuitously  it had a two bedroom annexe that was perfect for me.  Although it was not as grand as the main house, it too had large rooms, all decorated in a very gaudy colours by the previous tenant.  The carpets alone were enough to give you a headache.  The main lounge was fluorescent yellow, the second bedroom, vibrant lime green and my bedroom was bubble gum pink!

Although I had not one jot of regret for the decision I had made, and knew I was fortunate to have a roof over my head, I suddenly found myself in an alien environment.  My ex-home was hundreds of miles away, I had none of my treasured possessions around me, none of the comforts of my previous life.    I didn’t have one stick of furniture so went to the local D.I.Y. store and bought the last two fold up garden chairs they had as it was the end of the summer season.  They were vibrant yellow and green so almost ‘matched’ the carpet in the lounge and as a bonus they came with cushions, which looked far more comfortable than they really were as I soon found out when I sat on one when I got home.  I had never sat on such lumpy cushions.  I also bought a table lamp and a small table, so that I could have somewhere to put my coffee, and a small radio so that I could at least have some music to keep me company. I had virtually no money, no income and most of my clothes were still at my old house, so not much at all.  My sister had loaned me a single bed and bedding which looked lost in the massive bedroom.

I remember one evening sitting on one of my lumpy cushioned chairs looking out over the garden which was a tangled mess of laurels and holly trees at the time.  I remember feeling so terribly lost.  I knew that all the legalities involved in both the divorce and the selling and splitting of assets from my marriage were obviously not going to happen overnight.  I felt I was in limbo and  as if I didn’t belong anywhere, like I had no roots.  I don’t think I’d realised how much I had relied on the roots of my life, the roots that come with familiarity of where you live, the friends you see, who you are with, what you are doing everyday.

It is often at times like these when we have to learn to become super resilient, super self-reliant, it is almost as if the universe conspires to put us in a place where we have no option but to dig deep, to delve into our soul’s reserves and find the strength from within ourselves to overcome our fears and concerns.

The realisation of my uncertain future really hit me that night.  I concluded that I could look at my life in two opposing ways.  I could think how dreadful it was, sitting alone in this cold quiet emptiness that was devoid of anything that meant anything at all to me, or try to look at my new circumstances as a blank canvas, ready for the new adventures of my life to be captured in bright cheerful warm colours.

I was so fortunate in that I felt that I could call on spirit, my guides, my helpers, my loved ones who had passed, and asked them  if they could come close. I had a need to know that I did at least, still have my spiritual roots to build on.

As I was sitting there, deep in thought, thinking of  my spirit friends, the sun was setting and the most beautiful deep pink and golden rays of the sunset came streaming through my window.  I felt my spirits lift, and my immediate thought was that old saying, ‘red sky at night, shepherds delight’ and felt a smile from within.

I shook myself out of my melancholy moment and put on the radio. Of all the songs that could have been playing  I heard James Taylor singing one of my favourites.  I had no doubt that spirit had played a part in my putting the radio on at that exact time, the choice of the music, and the station I was tuned to.   I felt my heart fill with love and comfort as I knew I had received a spiritual hug. Whenever I feel alone now, when I start to miss those that I loved so dearly, I think of that magic moment and the enormous effort that I am sure my family and friends spirit-side put into getting that message to me so clearly.  I know that all I have to do is close my eyes, think of them, and they will be here, right beside me.

Written and performed by Carole King, but actually made famous by James Taylor, “You’ve got a friend”.

You’ve Got a Friend

When you’re down and troubled
and you need a helping hand
and nothing, ooh, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you have to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah
You’ve got a friend.

If the sky above you
should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
and soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name,
and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you go to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah

Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They’ll hurt you and desert you.
Well they’ll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don’t you let them.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don’t you know that,
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
Hey now, all you’ve got to do is call.
Lord, I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend.
You’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
You’ve got a friend

27) Making New Memories

Mince Pie

Mum always made certain that even though she had three children she would make  time for each of us individually.  These times weren’t necessarily important dates or special occasions, just time we all had alone with Mum whilst we did everyday things.

Mum and I always used to make the mince pies for Christmas whilst the rest of the family would be in the lounge watching television.  In those days we would always wear a pinny when we were cooking.  I don’t know why really, because these days not many people ever do.  When we put our pinnys on it was almost a sign that we meant business, we were undertaking important and valuable work and we were set apart from the rest of the family in their civvies.

It was during these Christmas baking times that we would often chat about Mum’s life as a young woman, where she lived, what she did, who she shared her life with.  She had the most wonderful knack of talking about how life affected her when she was the same age as us.  It bought to life, in our minds, her history.  When I was growing up I always seemed to think of Mum and Dad’s childhood in black and white, like an old movie.  I always thought that their clothes would have been scratchy for some reason.  Strange what goes through children’s minds.

Mum had a difficult childhood, bought up by her Dad and a variety of Aunts, until her Dad married when she was nine years old.  She adored her Dad more than anyone in the world and would often become tearful when she talked about the wonderful Christmas’s she shared with him.  He had died before I was born, and she never really managed to overcome her grief.  I found that very hard to understand as a child, especially as I had never met him, so he didn’t seem real to me, even though Mum told me so much about him.  It was as if she was describing an old film she’d seen.

Something though that Mum said, that has always stuck in my mind, was that she always felt it was important to make new memories.  Not to erase the old ones, but to add to our itinerary of memories, to make our own histories. That seemed strange when I was a young girl, but as I’ve grown older I do understand what she meant by that.

We all have times in our lives that our thoughts go back to, especially at Christmas.  Times we wish with all our hearts that could be repeated right now. People that have passed through our lives who we miss and wish that we could be with once again. In Mum’s case it was definitely time that she spent with her Dad.  She would have given the world to spend even just a few moments with him once more.

I cherish the memory of my Dad singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve the last Christmas he was alive. We were at a very grand party and the local choir were singing traditional carols.  We were in a huge elegant room with a grand piano and we were sat on the type of furniture you normally only see in stately homes.  The type where the ropes are around them to stop the public touching it!  It really wouldn’t have mattered where we were, my memory is of my Dad’s twinkling blue eyes, his warm smile and his deep rich voice.  I was so very proud of him. I would give anything to be back at that party with my Dad.

I cherish the memory of Mum and I cooking Christmas dinner, drinking too much sherry, and laughing and giggling like a couple of teenagers whilst we jived around the kitchen to ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’.

I cherish the memory of my daughter rushing into my bedroom first thing in the morning, so excited to tell me that Father Christmas had been, with her arms full of presents that she wanted to open on my bed.

I cherish the memory of Ray, my brother, playing his guitar, making up his own silly verses to Christmas Carols, whilst drinking his favourite brandy and coke.  ‘Merry Crimbo’ he used to say.

I cherish the memory of my twin sister, Tina and I, waking up to find chocolate santas lined up around our beds and beautiful party dresses, one made for each of us, hanging on our wardrobe door.

So many memories of wonderful Christmas’s, but now, as they say, those days are gone.  It’s tough.  I know it always will be. If I could just snap my fingers and be back there just once more …………..

Now, I have new memories to make.  Memories where in the future I’ll look back and long for these days.  Where I’ll wish with all my heart to be able to share these times once more. That’s the Christmas I’m going to have with the people who are in my life right now, the people I share these special times with, the people I hold dear and love and cherish.  This Christmas will be part of my history.

26) A Nudge from a Kindred Spirit

English: Instow from Appledore quay.

Occasionally through your life-time you may be fortunate enough to meet a person with whom you immediately feel an enormous connection.  I don’t necessarily mean a romantic love type of connection, but something maybe even deeper, more spiritual or soulful.  There is an instant bond between you that belies the actual length of time you have known them in this physical existence.  It is difficult to explain the overwhelming affection, fondness and sense of pure freedom you feel when you are with them.  The freedom when you know, totally, that you are accepted and loved for who you are, not how they perceive you to be, or how you may usually portray yourself, but just exactly as you.  It is a strange feeling of being stripped bare.  You know that this person knows you to an extent that very few ever will.

I felt so blessed to have met my very dear friend Janet.  We met at a creative writing class in Bideford, North Devon.  From the moment I saw her I recognised her, but not in the way she looked, more in the way she just ‘was’.  There was a familiarity that I had never really felt with anyone apart from my own family.  It was wonderful and odd all at the same time.  After the first class she asked me if I would like to join her for a coffee.  I didn’t hesitate, it was as if I needed to know more about her.  Not just a passing inquisitiveness, it was almost a pull from the depth of me, I felt I had found someone who I knew would play a uniquely special role in my life.

We couldn’t stop talking and before we knew it several hours has passed.  We both expressed how from the very first moment we met we  felt we had known each other forever.  Janet said that she felt I was her daughter or her sister in a previous lifetime and I could completely understand what she was saying.  The thought that she was my Mother resonated more with me, although at the time I still had my own wonderful Mum alive and well and living with me!  My heart felt the same emotion of attachment that I felt for my Mum, but in an even deeper sense, which on the face of it was crazy as I had only known Janet since that morning.

Our friendship grew and we enjoyed our times together so much.  We never ran out of anything to say.  We would have times full of laughter and sunshine and times of intense conversations about anything and everything.  The honesty between us was extraordinary.  The trust was implicit.  I had never known a relationship like it.

Very strangely, when we compared notes, we had lived within a few miles of each other several times during this life time.  This would have been odd if we had always lived in the same town, but both of us had lived in several counties over the years.  When we met we were both living in North Devon, she was in Bideford and I was living in a small village a few miles away. Amazingly though, years earlier, when I had lived in one property in Exeter, the view from my kitchen window was actually Janet’s house! We both felt that it was far too much of a coincidence and that we were destined to meet.

We would often go for a coffee at a quaint pub, The Boathouse,  overlooking the sandy beach at Instow in North Devon.  It is a small village off the tourist route with the most glorious sand dunes and views across the estuary to Appledore, a  picturesque Devon village with pastel coloured cottages dotted along the waterfront.  We would sit in the window of the pub and watch the sun cast its shadows over the green hills behind Appledore and watch the sail boats wafting by.  We would sit and discuss our spiritual experiences, our thoughts and our understanding of the greater picture of life.   She was totally convinced that we had shared many lifetimes before and that was why the bond between us was so strong, and the more I got to know her, the more I tended to agree.  Our experiences and our perceptions on life were far too similar.

After our coffee we’d normally go for a walk out to the water’s edge, and then wander along the seafront back to the car park.    Janet never once complained about my limited ability as I was not able to walk too far, but with rests on benches along the way I still managed to enjoy our walks.  She was very slim and what I would call ‘super fit’.  A keen surfer and swimmer, she had joined the local gym when she had moved to Bideford, and thought nothing of going surfing for a few hours then back to the gym to do even more exercise for a couple more hours.   Her idea of heaven was to go on a hiking holiday around the islands of Greece or in the highlands of Scotland.

One cold day in mid February, we had enjoyed a warming cuppa at The Boathouse, and having wrapped ourselves up in scarves, hats and thick gloves, we started walking out towards the sea. In a very short time Janet became unusually tired, she suddenly looked extremely pale.  She told me she thought she might be coming down with a virus and so we turned around and headed back to the car.  I drove her home and was concerned because she really didn’t look at all well.  I asked her to go to the doctor and she reluctantly agreed.  I went home and felt uneasy all afternoon.  Just before dinner Janet rang me, and I was so relieved to hear her voice, but I was shocked by what she told me.  She was in hospital.  The doctor had checked her heart and it was so slow he had called an ambulance immediately.  Janet explained that the consultant she had seen had told her that she would be having a pacemaker fitted the next day.  I was stunned by the news, but so pleased she was in the right place.

The following evening I went to visit her in the hospital and she was sitting on her bed looking happy and healthy.  Her colour was back to normal and she said she felt great.  She was laughing and telling me she had new rules to follow now that she had an electronic addition.  She said she couldn’t go through a security scanner in an airport, couldn’t stand next to a microwave and also that she would have to have the pacemaker removed if she wanted to be cremated when she died. Within a couple of days she was home and you would have never known she’s had anything wrong with her.

We resumed our walks on the beach and Janet carried on with her swimming and her gym workouts.  The only deference to her surgery was to give up the surfing until it was warmer.  The hospital was delighted with her  progress and she didn’t appear in the slightest bit concerned about having a pacemaker.  She was excited as she had just booked a hiking holiday with her brother.  They were going to Greece in later summer and were going to walk several miles along the coastline over the course of a few weeks.  She had thoroughly investigated the whole walk they were to undertake and was especially thrilled that it would culminate with a world-class opera performance in an open air amphitheatre.

I was at home in early March when I received a very distraught phone call from Janet.  She was at the hospital for a routine post-procedure check up to ensure that the wires of the pacemaker were in the correct place.  Part of the appointment was a chest X-ray.  She was told to sit and wait whilst the consultant checked her results and had been quite happy waiting as she was an avid reader and had taken a good book along with her.  She was obviously distressed when she rang and asked if I could go straight to her home to meet her when she returned from the hospital.  She said she didn’t want to talk about it from the hospital phone.

As soon as I saw her I just knew she was dreadfully worried.  She told me that the consultant had called her across to his desk and told her quite bluntly that he was seriously concerned with her X-ray and had made a further appointment with a chest specialist for the following morning as he felt something was majorly wrong.  With that unexpected news she was just given an appointment card and had been left on her own, absolutely bewildered.  She asked me if I would go with her the next day and of course I said I would.

We arrived at the chest department and were told to wait in a huge and very full waiting room.  Janet, who was normally such a confident and positive person, looked so nervous.  I prayed that the wait wouldn’t be too long.  She had already spent the whole night worrying about what may be wrong and said she had hardly slept, which wasn’t at all surprising.

Within just a few minutes we were called into the consultants office.  He had Janet’s chest X-Rays on a large illuminated board on the wall.  He was much kinder than the doctor she had seen the day before and very gently explained to her that both her lungs showed metastasis. He explained that she must have a primary tumour somewhere in her body and that the cancer had already spread to her lungs.    He told her that even if they found the primary site the secondary cancer had already spread too much for them to cure her.  It was a massive bombshell.  Janet  sat quietly, hardly uttering a word, visibly shaking,  with a look of fear I had never seen before.  He also said that even though he could offer chemotherapy it may only give her a few extra weeks and that the quality of her life would be reduced because of the treatment.  She immediately said that she wouldn’t take that option. He went on to explain that if she was fortunate she may have three months left to live, but he couldn’t guarantee that.  I felt utterly useless, there was nothing I could say or do to help her other than just being there.

With the words of the consultant still fresh in her mind it was evident that Janet was a crushed soul, I had to support her physically as we walked back to the car. I drove to a little pub overlooking the sea and we sat outside in the fresh air away from everyone.  For the first time since I’d known her she sat drinking brandy after brandy.  She was shaking so much she could hardly hold her glass,  all I could do was hold her hand and tell her that  I would be there for her.  We were both in a huge state of shock. It felt unreal. It was such a dreadful sad day.  I sat looking at my darling friend, such a beautiful person.  I was desperately trying to keep my own emotions in check, but failing miserably.  We hung on to each other, just sobbing and sobbing.  I couldn’t bear the thought of the pain and heartache that she faced and I couldn’t believe that my wonderful Janet was going to be leaving me. We had only known each just over two years and yet we truly were kindred spirits.

Over the next couple of months we spent an enormous amount of time together.  Janet’s appetite began to fade and the weight was falling off her already slender frame.  Braeburn apples became her favourite food and every time I visited she would ask that I bought her some.  I had never heard of them before, but it was so nice to see her enjoy eating, even if it was just fruit.  Her eyes gradually became sunken and her breathing laboured. We were fortunate to enjoy an unseasonably warm spring that year and spent much of the time sitting in her garden overlooking the countryside, watching the young lambs playing in the fields.  In her last weeks we discussed the afterlife and who would be meeting her, where she would be in the future and when we might meet again.  Just days before she passed to spirit she unexpectedly gave me a present, a book, The Alchemist, written by Paul Coelho.   She told me it was important that I read it.  I took it home, put it on the bookshelf and promised myself I would read it in the near future.

Janet’s brother and her two sons were visiting her over the weekend and I phoned her on Saturday, but could get no reply so had left her a message.  I had a prior engagement that evening and it wasn’t until the following morning that I checked my answer phone.  There was a beautiful message from Janet, spoken in short phrases between her gasps for breath.  She told me that she was sorry she’d missed my call but that she’d had a good day and that we would talk soon.  She also told me that she loved me. I rang her straight away and her brother answered the phone.  He was obviously upset and told me that Janet had died only a short while before I rang.  He said she had suffered a heart attack and that it was almost instant, and most importantly that she had not been in dreadful pain.  I put the phone down and just cried for hours, my heart-felt it had been ripped apart.  Even though I knew she was terminally ill, and I honestly thought I was prepared for her death, when it came to it I was not at all.  I had somehow convinced myself that she would still be around.  How could someone as vibrant and intelligent and funny and loving as Janet suddenly just not exist anymore?  How cruel. Life made no sense to me at that time. I felt lost without her.

Many years later I had a friend, Trudie, staying with me. Trudie  was a very good medium and worked as a communicator for spirit both privately and within the spiritualist church, often demonstrating her mediumship at services.  She walked into my bedroom one morning and just said “A woman is telling me braeburn apples and her name is Janet, does that mean anything to you?”  I was absolutely delighted because I hadn’t heard from Janet since she had passed to the spirit world.  “Yes”, I said, “it makes perfect sense.”  “Well”, said Trudie, “she is telling me that just before she died, the two of you were sitting in her garden in the sunshine”, “Yes” I replied, “and she is telling me that she gave you a present, a book”.  I was astounded at the accuracy of Trudie’s reading and confirmed what she was saying. “She is telling me that she told you it was important that you read the book, is that right?” she asked, “yes” I said, “I remember that well”, “She is telling me that you still haven’t read it and that it is even more important that you read it now”.  Wow, I thought, this was incredible. I spoke my thoughts aloud, knowing that Janet could hear me.  “I promise I will read it” I said.  She told Trudie to give me her love and then just went.  It was the shortness of the message that also spoke volumes to me because that is exactly how Janet would have said something she considered important when she was alive.

The next day, after Trudie left, I found the book and started reading.  I couldn’t put it down. I could see why Janet had been so insistent that I read it.  The book was wonderful and inspired me to look at where I was on my spiritual pathway, which spiritual teachers had been placed in my life, and most importantly, to recognise my destiny and  follow my dreams.

I was aware of Janet as I continued to read it, I could sense her approval, and see her twinkling eyes and her wonderful smile.  Due to personal circumstances in my life I had been ‘away’ from anything spiritual for a long while.   Her contact had come along at just the right time. I was sure the message was a huge nudge to get back on my rightful path,  as if she was saying “about time too, come on, get on with it!”.  I know Janet ‘s spirit is with me and that she is supporting me towards living my dream and pursuing my pathway.  Most importantly our friendship and our love lives on, we will always be kindred spirits.

http://www.paulocoelho.com

15) I was a Catherine Wheel!

Dizzy thorns

I had been chronically ill for a long time when I went along to my first ever healing evening at a spiritualist church.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect and only went  to accompany a  friend.  I thought that as it was at a church we would all sit in rows, someone would talk to us about healing and that we might sing a couple of hymns and say a few prayers. I had no knowledge of healing, spiritual or otherwise, and didn’t expect the evening to be particularly special or eventful.

So I was surprised, when instead of rows, the chairs were  just dotted around the room, and as we walked in I was asked where I would like to sit.  I just chose the closest chair and felt a bit odd just sitting there, with no idea what was about to happen.  After a few of us had taken our seats the person in charge then allotted a healer to each of us.  A very old lady with a gentle smile came and stood beside me and introduced herself as Jeanie.  She explained that she was a student healer but that everything she did would be overseen by the woman in charge.  I immediately felt at ease and relaxed and just thought to myself that her healing may do some good and certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

The lady in charge said the most beautiful prayer and soft spiritual music was played. The room then became quieter and everyone spoke in hushed tones.  Jeanie stood in front of me and asked if I minded her holding my hands, which I said I didn’t at all.  She looked straight at me and said “I shouldn’t really be telling you this but I am sure I have your Dad with me,”  she went on to give a detailed physical description which exactly fitted him.  She told me that when she was healing she shouldn’t really be connecting to a spirit, but felt that she had to tell me my Dad was there because she felt his love so strongly.    Then she said something that I will never forget.  She said “he is telling me to tell you that if his love could cure you, you would be well”.  I was stunned, and desperately trying not to cry as they were the exact words that my Dad had said to me the previous summer when we had sat in my garden.  He had held my hands and told me he loved me and said that if his love could cure me I would be well!

I had been pretty certain that Dad was there because of Jeanie’s description, but that message just blew me away.  No-one would have known that Dad had said those very words to me.  I knew how upset both he and Mum had been seeing me so ill and feeling so useless at not being able to take away my pain, all they felt they could do was show how much they loved and cared for me.

Jeanie walked behind me and asked if she could then place her hands on my shoulders, which I said was fine.  She said if I wanted I could close my eyes.  I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by her message and then felt total peace as I closed my eyes and just listened to the music in the background.  The next thing I knew was that I was not aware of my body at all, it was the oddest sensation, I felt so light and like I was floating. I tried to feel my feet on the floor, but it was like they didn’t exist.  All I could see was the colour green, a bright vibrant green, like a fresh leaf in springtime with the sun streaming through it.  I was surrounded by it, enveloped by it and strange as it may seem, it was as if I was it.  I felt like I was a disc at the centre of me and I was spinning round and round.  The spinning became faster and faster and faster, all I can really say it that I was, or became,  just pure and utter bliss.  I tried to work out what I was and all I could come up with was that I felt like a Catherine wheel!

I was unaware that I had slumped forward in the chair and the next thing I knew was that the lady in charge was asking me if I was alright.  I felt dazed, and to be honest, almost a little annoyed to be bought back from ‘Blissville’.  Jeanie later told me that it was the most profound healing session for her.  She said she had never felt so much love coming through her.  I felt elated knowing that my Dad was there for me.

It was only several months later when I first started to  learn about chakras that I was surprised to read that chakras are discs that spin, sometimes described as energy vortices throughout the spiritual body.  The heart chakra is normally green and is  often associated with love and healing.  Now, when I meditate I sometimes visualise my chakras, working my way from the base chakra upwards through my body, and I always smile when I get to my heart chakra, because to me it will always be my very own Catherine wheel!

13) Everlasting Love

Love

I have been asked many times about the love we share with our partners, whether we are formally married or sharing our life with someone we love. The question that invariably comes up is this:  how,  if you love someone so very much,  can you manage to love someone else after they die?

This is something I often thought about,  having known several people who had obviously loved their husbands or wives, but had then successfully managed to find love with someone else.  Maybe they enjoyed such a wonderful relationship with their first partner that they hope to experience the same again.  There are of course also those who sadly never love anyone again.  This could be for many reasons.  Maybe they feel that they would be unable to risk losing someone they love all over again, and aren’t prepared to put themselves in the position of going through that pain once more.  Or, do they feel that their love was so strong it is irreplaceable?  Or might it be that they feel they would be being unfaithful to their past love?  This final thought is most probably the question I have been asked the most.  Would their partner in spirit feel they were being betrayed if they went on to love another?

When I was up in Scotland quite a few years ago, I was communicating with the husband, in spirit, of a woman who was distraught because she missed him so much.  She felt that it was wrong that she could ever be happy again without him.  She was concerned that he would feel that she hadn’t really loved him if she ever found love again.  I could feel the warmth of her husband coming through as he spoke to me.  He loved his wife very much and it pained him considerably to see her so lonely and unhappy.  He wanted her to be able to feel love once more.  I tried to convey this to her, but I really wasn’t sure that she believed me.

When I was back home, as I was washing up after dinner,  I heard his distinctive Scottish accent.  He asked me to send a poem he had written to his wife.  I was most surprised as I had never had such a request before.  This is exactly as he said:

Two hearts searching and look what we found, a love that is forever, that nothing can impound

You know I always loved you, you were the only girl for me, we shared our life on earth and shall be together, eternally

I hear your thoughts, I see your tears, I am concerned at your pain, but please know my darling, we will be together again

I shall look over you and gradually see your hurt subside, as the months turn into years, please know I’ll still be at your side

You still have a life to lead, and this I understand, you have to make your own choices and make your own plans

I love you so very much but I want you to feel free, and I know that you’ll never forget me as I live on in your memory

You will not stop loving me, I know that in my heart, but you may find someone to comfort you whilst we are apart

My dearest wish is your happiness whilst you live out your life, you may even marry again and become another’s wife

I give you my blessings for a life full of love, whilst I watch over you with joy from above

Knowing that you love me keeps my spirit alive, knowing that you are loved should help you to thrive.

I sent it to his wife who replied to me.  She said it was exactly as he would have put it and she felt for the first time since he’d  died that she could be free of guilt and able to move on and find happiness in her life.

To me, the poem from this man to his wife showed the deepest form of pure unselfish love.  Surely we all hope that our loved ones are happy and fulfilled.

The poem remained in my files for a long time until recently, one morning,  I suddenly felt that I should read it once more.

That very evening I was out with my husband and happened to be in close proximity to a couple of women who were talking.  I couldn’t help but overhear that one of them had recently been widowed, she spoke about going to see a stage medium but not receiving a message,  and it was obvious she was very unhappy.  I knew her husband’s spirit was with her right there at that very moment. Without even thinking about it I found myself explaining to her that I was a medium and telling her that her husband was beside her.  I could sense that he wanted me to give her a copy of the poem as it exactly conveyed his sentiments.  I asked for her phone number and I said I would call her.

I was, funnily enough, washing up the next evening and saw a vision of a man driving a lorry. I knew instinctively it was the lady’s husband.  He was urging me to phone her. Try as I might I couldn’t glean any more information from him and I was sure that he hadn’t communicated with a medium before.  As I went to ring her I faintly heard the name Natalie. I rang the lady and asked if her husband had been a lorry driver and she confirmed that he had.  I asked if she had an email address so that I could email the poem to her.  She said she didn’t, but she passed me to her daughter in law who gave me her email address, Natalie ………@yahoo.co.uk!  To me her name was further confirmation of  just  how important it was that I send the words.  I do hope that they helped her come to terms with the possibility of moving forward in her life and allowing herself to find love and happiness once again.

Isn’t it just amazing how spirit work?   How wonderful that I was inspired to read that poem that particular morning and then that I met that lady that same night?  It is often said that spiritual communications are based on pure love and the more I have experienced, the more I know that love continues and is everlasting.

If you feel that these words may help someone who feels the same about betraying a loved one in spirit, please feel free to copy it and send it with my blessing.

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