A Spiritual Perspective on Depression and Suicidal Idealization

With the holidays coming up soon, I thought it might be important to talk about depression and suicide and offer my perspective.  I know that many people who have survived abuse, neglect, or trauma in their families are often ostracized by these family members.  Holidays become all the more of a painful reminder of how alone they might feel in the world.  Those who are awakening and realizing spiritual truths that may transcend the perspectives of their family members might also feel some disconnection.

Whatever your situation might be during the holidays, I hope that you might treat yourself with great love and compassion during this time of year and through out the rest of the year.

I have a unique perspective on suicide because I viewed my suicide attempt while in the afterlife.  At the end of college, I had a profound near-death experience after a car wreck and was clinically dead for over two minutes during emergency spinal surgery.

During my life review, I saw my suicide attempt (which occurred a few months prior to my near-death experience) through the loving gaze of God. God had enormous love and compassion for me during this sad time in my life.  I felt completely supported by this loving force of God, and I could hear some of God’s thoughts about that time in my life.

When God viewed my suicide attempt, I felt that God wanted me to love myself more and know that I am deeply loved and supported by the universe, even when it does not seem that way.  God wanted me to place a high priority on my health and healing.   There were a myriad of choices available to me besides making an attempt on my life. I saw all these choices spin out around me as various light-filled paths.  I could have contacted friends, acquaintances, certain family members, called a hotline, looked for free or affordable resources through my university, searched for help at churches, or joined a recovery group.  There were many options I had besides the one that I picked in that moment.

At twenty-one, I did not know how to walk through the painful parts of my life, but if I reached out to others, I might have made a choice other than swallowing a ridiculous amount of painkillers and washing these painkillers down with a decanter of whiskey.  Amazingly, I woke up 36 hours later and realized that I had vomited, which probably saved my life.

At twenty-one, I didn’t realize that I could’ve tried new things I had never tried before.  Help might not have come from the people I wanted it to come from, but help and healing was available to me, and it is available to you too.  If you are suffering from a deep depression, keep walking through the pain and know that you are not alone on this journey, no matter how alone you might feel at the moment.  Find connection somewhere.

Through my life review, I saw that God also wanted me to be kind to others and ask them more questions about their lives.  An obsessive focus on myself led to greater depression and sadness.  Getting out of myself and listening to others would have brought more joy to their lives and to mine.

Suicidal plans and thoughts should be taken seriously.  If you are very close to taking your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  If you are not in the U.S., please look up a local or national hotline and talk with someone immediately.  Utilize all resources available to you, and reach out to someone you know who is a safe, caring person in your life.  If you are not suffering from depression but know someone who is, encourage this person to take healing, self-care, and therapy seriously.

If you suffer from depression but have energy to focus on your health and want to apply the deeply loving force of God to your own situation, I can offer you some ideas.  Every journey is an individual one, so please keep searching for what works for you.  These are only suggestions.

  1. Self-Love: Read everything you can get your hands on about self-love.  Louise Hay is a great resource with many mantras that might begin to change some of your negative thought patterns.  Ingest a daily diet of uplifting material—posts, podcasts, videos, and books.  I can personally recommend the book How to Love Yourself (And Sometimes Other People) by Lodro Rinzler and Meggan Watterson, especially if you struggle with romantic relationship difficulties.  Here is a blog post I have written about self-love.  Self-love is essential and necessary.  Too often we are much hard on ourselves when we could offer ourselves great compassion instead.
  2. Start a Healing Journey: Every healing journey is individual, but consider researching diets and supplements that can help your mood.  Reference books like Prescriptions for Natural Healing might be a place to begin.  Focus on simple healthy pleasures each day.  Exercise and get vitamin D.  Try new things.   Depending on your financial situation, invest in a therapist and try out various healing modalities.  Everything from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) which might help with PTSD to energetic healing modalities might offer you relief.   Addressing subconscious blocks through modalities like Psych K can be beneficial. Even if you do not have the funds for some of these modalities, you might be able to trade with certain practitioners if you have skills in a certain area.  You can learn specific yoga moves or Tai Chi exercises online that can improve your mood.  You might also be able to learn more about healing modalities and practices, and find comfort in the talks and free information from healers.  Start with therapy and work outward in the directions that you are led.
  3. Commit to a Spiritual Practice: Commit to a support group, recovery group, spiritual practice, church, or gathering that makes you feel connected to love.  Do not go somewhere or stay somewhere where you feel judged and bogged down by the negativity of others.  During my near-death experience, I clearly saw that love is all that matters.  Go somewhere where you feel love, optimism, joy, and release from your struggles.  I highly recommend a meditation practice, but like a healing journey, a spiritual journey is an individual one.  I can only emphasize the importance of commitment and practice.  A spiritual practice is beneficial when you commit to it over the long haul and through the many ups and downs of life.
  4. Volunteer: There is usually someone who is less fortunate than you.  Even if you are in a dire position in life, you can volunteer at an organization that already helps you.  While volunteering, you might meet others and listen to them with love and with hope.   The point of volunteering is to do something to make the lives of others easier or better in some way.  As you give what you can give, your troubles lessen and you feel connected to a greater whole.  Like exercise or any other activity that we know is good for us but we resist, volunteering can have a profound effect on our consciousness.  When we feel useful or helpful, our self-esteem and self-concept changes for the better.  Mostly, we simply find joy in being connected to others versus suffering in isolation.  We are communal and need one another.  Find safe people and form bonds.  If you are too anxiety ridden to volunteer somewhere, then find a way to connect with others and do not suffer alone.
  5. Feel the Love of God: Take time in your day to imagine the force of God that near-death experiencers talk about with longing and love.  Try to imagine the most loving force on earth.  What would that feel like to you?  Write down what you would like God to be like for you and what you would like to feel from God right now.  Take those positive feelings and multiply them by 70 million.  Believe in this love as a reality and not a concept.  Close your eyes and imagine what this love would feel like.  Bring this love into every single one of your cells.  Fill your body with a glowing light that is the purest form of love imaginable.  This is your birthright and your true essence.  Know it.  Share it.  Believe it.
  6. Gratitude can rewire your brain:  Keep a gratitude journey and write down what you are grateful for each day.   Watch this Ted Talk and try some of the other suggestions at the end for creating more happiness in your life.  Hopefully, this speaker makes you chuckle a bit.  Laughter is one of my favorite medicines.

The Life Review in a NDE

 

Life-Review:  One of the common experiences during a near-death experience is a brief or extended cinematic view of one’s life.  Seeing our connection to others and seeing life through the vision of another person is a powerful lesson.  During my life review, I saw into the hearts and minds of people I had not known very well.  In life, I had judged them as not particularly interesting for a variety of superficial reasons.  During my life review, I clearly witnessed that a good heart and spiritual connection made these people very beautiful and precious to God.

I learned from that one scene in my life review to connect more frequently with people around me and to see people’s hearts, not their outward appearances, their accomplishments, their money, their charisma, etc.  For instance, wealth can be a tool to bring more goodness and prosperity to many people, or it can be used to use and manipulate others. There is nothing negative about accomplishments, money, or power, but the heart matters more.   Just like the line in the song “Desperado,” it is important to remember that “The Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.”   The same applies for the King of Hearts.

My life review was quick and zeroed in only on what I should learn and what I could do better in life.   I judged myself and my actions mainly because I could see into the hearts and minds of others and observed my limited thinking.  God seemed to be guiding this life review and let me feel what I needed to feel from these scenes.  I understood that people I had written off had love and concern for my well-being, and I wished that I had been more open and kinder to them both in my thoughts and in my actions.  I saw that God sees our hearts much more than anything else.

According to the website www.nderf.com, there are four categories of life review descriptions.  “NDErs categorized them based on  1) how the life review physically happened; 2) content; 3) aftereffects; and 4) other.  Many described the life review like a re-run of a play, a film, or watching it on-screen.  Others commented on the content of the life review.  NDErs generally noted that they were the ones who judged themselves.  During the process, they saw the good, the bad, and cause and effect of their choices.  Many reported that they had a review of feelings, rather than a review of events.  Some say that their review consisted of feeling others reactions to their earthly actions.  The other large category were the aftereffects.  Not only did participants state that it was important to love and help others, but they also indicated that their relationship with God/Jesus was more important to them.  NDErs appreciated life more, and stated that it was important to have a sense of purpose.  The smallest category was ‘other’ in which NDErs reported not learning anything or they had a life review but couldn’t remember it.”  (Quote taken from www.nderf.com)

Throughout my life since the NDE, I have tried to be more open and supportive of others.  I don’t judge people in the same, superficial ways that I once did.  We all are works in progress, but I know that lesson was catered especially for me at that time in my life. Young people can be overly concerned with fads, fashions, musical tastes, literature, and sub-cultures in a way that doesn’t matter as much as we get older.

The heart, however, is the gem, the treasure, the best bet.  

When Carl Jung asked Chief Mountain Lake why he thought all white people are mad, Mountain Lake replied, ‘They say they think with their heads.’  “’Why of course, says Jung, ‘What do you think with?’  “’We think here,’ says Chief Mountain Lake, indicating his heart.

Let us all think more frequently with our hearts.

love

 

Be the Light of Your Own Healing

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Why did I pick the phrase, Be the light of your own healing? I picked it because the angels gave me this phrase, and I usually listen when they speak. During my near-death experience, God was depicted as a light for me. The angels sent healing light through the surgeons into my body. I was told to return and teach and remind others of their light, and I saw these light-filled souls along a river.

Life is always flowing and moving in new directions, and I can see in my mind’s eye how each of us might intersect another’s life for only a moment.  If in that moment, we can remind others of their light and divinity, we have made the world a better place.

Our divine right is to be in alignment with God, to make wise choices, and to demonstrate love and kindness on this earth. When you are in alignment with the light of God, you can reprogram your subconscious to feel deeply worthy of health, healing, and goodness. You realize that to be the light of your own healing, you must also reach out to help others.

One of the most healing aspects of my near-death experience was being in the presence of an all-loving, supportive, understanding, caring God. For the first time in my life, I wanted for nothing. In the presence of God, I felt perfectly at ease. This was a miracle for me because I had suffered quite a bit during my twenty-two years on earth. I had a heart heavy with great emotional pain, but in an instant, the light healed that pain and granted me more love than I imagined possible. After that moment in the presence of God, I could never forget what that unconditional love felt like.

We are most in alignment with the light when we feel worthy of love and when we serve others. The minute we start wondering what we will receive in return for our service, the gift of service is no longer service but manipulation. What we receive for our service and gift of light to the world is a communion with the energy of unconditional love. Love is all that remained in the afterlife, so creating moments of giving love to this world is truly all that matters.

Helping others and sending light to this world saved my life countless times.  I’m not saying that all service should be without a monetary component. I would love to see a society that valued those in helping professions greatly. However, those who are in the flow of divine love and grace are mostly concerned with how magical it is to be a conduit of healing for others.  They are not worried about their status as much as how many bright memories, love-filled memories they can create while here.

A few years ago, God spoke to me loudly and audibly and told me that my teaching mission in the educational field had completed. I have taught English at the junior high, high school, and community college level. I assumed I would teach until retirement, and I was shocked to hear this. God also let me know that I was free to do “whatever I wanted to do.”

Quickly, I realized I wanted to write about my near-death experience, my teaching mission from the afterlife, and the struggle to survive as a young woman in this culture. My journey before and after the NDE has not been easy, but every experience has allowed my heart to expand to include others who have suffered in the same way.   There were days and there still are days when I wrestle with my mind and its tendencies for depression.  I wrestle with it until I get negative thoughts in a choke-hold.  I make sure that a positive focus wins, no matter how much effort it takes to get there.  Most days, it doesn’t take that much effort.  If I remember the feeling of being in the presence of God, I feel an immediate shift.  I know you can make these shifts in your lives.

Change is heroic.  Every person who has committed to his or her growth, health, and success has had to change. 

I still enjoy working as an educator, but I feel called to share my life with others who are interested in spiritual growth and healing.  I want to create communities and classes focused on greater healing and inner freedom.  I plan to do this through Facebook groups, and I hope to schedule more speaking events across the country.   Someday, I know I will be talking in a bright green field, and we will stand up to dance together.  Peace on earth is possible one loving community at a time. We will find ourselves in these communities more often.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel, and follow the Facebook page that I created last night with the guidance of an amazing expert who helps many people achieve their dreams and beautifully launch their ideas into the world.

In time, I will connect more frequently with you about classes, free offerings, and ways to incorporate more joy and light into your lives.

 

Safe, Eternal, and Free

We are all part of love and all part of God.   We are all capable of living as love and the light of God which knows that it is always safe, eternal, and free no matter what is occurring on the physical, three-dimensional plane.

I know that the minute I left form, I forgave everything and everyone instantly.  Pain is contained in our stories and in this physical realm, but we do not have to wait to find freedom only in death.  Freedom can be found through walking in faith and practicing forgiveness.  The concept of faith seems simple, just as forgiveness does, but these feats are heroic.  To step into the unknown and believe that God will meet us at every step requires the courage of a seer who has lost sight of the future.  To be beaten down at every turn and still have faith, requires the strength of a warrior. To be betrayed, abused, neglected, wounded, and abandoned and to forgive, so that one’s own life might grow bright again, requires a terrifying amount of strength. 

For many NDErs, our mission (whether to work as ministers, teachers, healers, speakers, writers, or simply to walk through this world as love) is mainly to do our best to hold on to the memory and energy of God’s love and show others how to access this love of God.  That is what God showed me when God told me that my purpose would be to teach and remind others of their light.  Our connection to God’s love is aptly symbolized through light because light makes things clearer. 

We can all access love, healing, and peace at any time.  Anyone can have a mission focused on love.  All it requires is communion and faith in the most loving force imaginable, a love that we all need more of in our lives.

The more often I hold on to the energy and love of God, the more often I can help others access this love.   As a teacher, there were so many times that I couldn’t believe that it took so little effort on my part to open a student’s heart. All I had to do was see any one of my students– really see them, witness their struggle, and then offer some hope, not a ton of hope either, just a thread.  It takes so little effort to be kind to others, yet it makes such a major difference in the quality of their lives and our own.

Many NDErs feel disheartened about returning to form because too often people do not go out of their way to be kind.  Navigating a world of people in great pain who have forgotten their connection to light is a tough hike.  Still, I am glad that God sent me back against my wishes.  I may have suffered, I may have cried on this journey back in form, but I have stayed determined to keep pushing forward, to keep believing in the beauty of a higher calling–a calling which forces me to remember and to teach what love truly is. Love brings us great peace and moments of knowing that we are perfect just as we are. 

Is It Possible to Make Peace with an Abusive Parent After Experiencing the True, Amazing Love of God?

The Love of God:  One of the most shocking experiences of my near-death experience was feeling the love of God.  This love of God accepted me exactly as I was—all my thoughts and feelings.  I did not have to change my thoughts to please God.  I did not have to worry about whether God liked the look on my face or my interpretations of the world.

God loved me infinitely just as I am.  I didn’t have to change or pretend in any way.  God didn’t call me names, hit me, lock me in a closet, or invalidate anything about me.  God loved me without end.  I felt completely supported and without a single worry, experiencing only bliss, peace, and deep understanding. God immediately forgave me for all self-harm and showed me how to love myself more deeply.  God did not make me relive or see any of the abuse I had survived in life. I had never known a love like this  growing up or what it felt like to be supported.

One of the most common attributes of a narcissistic father or mother is the inability to understand or care about their child’s thoughts and feelings.  This parent is not able to validate their child’s feelings as real or important.  Empathy is simply out of the question.  If the child of a narcissist expresses displeasure with a parent, the parent will often explode with fury, threaten, storm, or rage.  The parent might become violent, beating or confining her child or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse.   Once the child is strong enough to fight back, coldness and verbal abuse are usually the tactics.

motherMy Story:  Growing up, anything that I thought or felt, especially if it was different from my mother, made her angry, withholding, cold, or critical.  Often, this abuse was even spiritual in nature because she used the Bible as a reason to beat me.

However, Mom allowed and encouraged reading, so that was the way I could escape my lonely life.  I read at a 12th grade level by second grade, and I devoured any book I could get my hands on in the library or garage sales, often fantasizing that I might be sent away to a boarding school or that I might magically encounter a nice couple who would mentor me.

In the isolation of my home as an only child in the country, Mom painstakingly taught me to worry about her sadness, her depression, her angry feelings about my dad, her physical complaints, and her thoughts about the world and everyone in it. She coached me on who to like in her family and who not to like in her family.  If I liked someone she didn’t like, she rolled her eyes.  If she stopped liking one of my few friend’s mothers, then I was told that I no longer liked this close friend of mine either.  She taught me to be her counselor, her best friend, and her confidant.  I pretended as best that I could to survive my childhood, but honestly, at best there were only fleeting moments of fun.

takingcareNo one really witnessed the full extent of my mother’s abuse.  My father was rarely there, and I’m an only child. When my father’s parents stopped by unannounced, mother made us hide in the closet to avoid them.  They loved me so completely as their only grandchild, and she didn’t like it when I received that kind of adoration.  I remember a moment when she argued with my grandmother that I didn’t need a toy that I wanted.  My grandmother looked at her and said, “I want this child to know that we love her.”  The moment felt powerful to me, and I remember feeling excited at the cash register. We didn’t see them as much after that moment.

Around Mom’s family, she controlled of the narrative and talked about everything she sacrificed for me.  Mom certainly worked soul-crushing, blue-collar jobs to pay for my private Christian education through seventh grade.  The problem is that I would have rather had more food, decent clothes, trips to the doctor, and a public education where there were more people in my class than three or four students. I longed for more socialization.

Mom presented herself as a loving, doting mother, but in private I felt sucked dry.  She wanted me to make up for all the love she felt she didn’t receive from her own mother and her husband, but this scenario seemed a setup for a dramatic failure.  When did I get my needs met?  I don’t doubt that she feels that she loved me, but from my perspective most of what I experienced didn’t feel like love.   I feel compassion for the young, lost woman who raised me, but my biggest lesson in life has been learning how to feel great compassion for myself.

Mom rarely considered my honest needs. Sometimes, I got lucky and wanted the same things that she wanted.  We both enjoyed walks in nature, fresh fruit, and dogs as pets.  We both enjoyed a few of the same movies, though my tastes eventually changed and different from her always meant wrong.  For a few years in childhood, I experienced the bliss of owning a horse, and that freedom to ride fast and far away from my life meant everything to me.

pleaseSince Mom was all I knew of love, I thought love meant sacrificing every one of my feelings and ideas to make someone else feel a little better in their miserable life.  When her mental illness took a turn for the worse when I was in high school, I realized that she needed help; however, she refused help from the people I told about her frequent suicide threats.  There were many nights when she was alone with that pistol in her drawer, and when she threw the door open suddenly I always ran out of the house to put distance between us.  I didn’t know if she was going to shoot me first before she shot herself, and that level of terror changed something within me.

Though I had good grades, I didn’t realize how broken I was emotionally by the time I left for college, and I had no idea how to work on healing.  By the time I had my near-death experience my senior year of college, so much inside of me felt devastated and then in a single instant—-healed.

The near-death experience granted me a huge dose of optimism, love, and connection to God and angels.  Immediately, I felt whole and alive inside, despite my wounded body.  During my physical recovery Mom took care of me, and we got along better than ever before.  She had remarried, changed jobs, and seemed much happier.  I wish I could say that the near-death experience completely healed our relationship, but I can only say that the near-death experience eventually helped heal the gaping hole inside of me.  We don’t choose our family, but we can choose supportive friends.

neededAnd, no matter what happened in life, I could always remember and return to what it felt like to be loved by God.  No matter who validated me or didn’t validate me, that moment in the presence of God showed me my worth.  I never knew that I was worthy of even an ounce of that love and consideration.

I’m sure my mother doesn’t realize she is worthy of that level of love.  Her religious beliefs are ones that validate her narcissism and deep need to feel superior to others.  In her mind, only she, and a few select others, know the “truth.” The way everyone else interprets the Bible and God is incorrect.  She owns the market on being right as she stockpiles food and fears the apocalypse is around the corner.  She’s been fearing that since the 1980’s.  I wish she felt less fear and more connection to a loving God.

I’ve seen interviews with other near-death experiencers whose parents felt blessed to hear their stories of the afterlife.  My mouth dropped open in amazement at what it might have felt like to have a mother who learned something from me.  There were snippets of time when Mom understood the power of that love I experienced on the other side, but ultimately she tried to convince me that I had experienced a lie—tricks from the devil.  How ridiculous!  Most of my life with her felt like a trick, not love.

When To Tell Your Story:  Many people wait until their abusive parents die before they talk openly about their experiences.  Tony Robbins waited and describes deep love and forgiveness for his abusive mother.  However, several others have decided to not have  contact (or minimal/harmonious contact) with abusive, narcissistic parents and speak openly to help others come to the best, safest conclusion for their lives.  I am enormously grateful to the work and teachings of Lisa A. Romano who speaks openly about her experiences and helps so many people.

The sooner people begin a healing process after surviving an abusive home, the sooner they can begin to heal and have healthier relationships.  Abused children sometimes don’t have children of their own out of fear, but if they start healing work soon in life they realize how different they probably would be as parents than their own parents.

During my NDE, God told me to return and to work as a teacher.  Since that time, I have been a mentor and caring person in the lives of many of my students who have survived abusive homes. Abuse of many varieties is all too common in family units.  Telling a snippet of my story to students who were in pain allowed them to tell me what was occurring in their lives so that I could get help for them.  One of the greatest gifts of pain is the ability to point others in the direction of healing.

I know that many spiritual people want to center love and peace in all situations, no matter how toxic their family members might be.  For those who can do this, I honor that ability.  I tried to do this with my mother, but I recently had a defining moment when I realized that my life, my health, my well-being, and my trip to the emergency room didn’t matter as much to her as the contents of her refrigerator.  She endangered my life and did not care.

When I realized how little my life mattered to my mother, I knew I had to take a break from her.  I don’t know the future, and I don’t know what healing might be possible in her life.  Maybe a rebirth can occur and a different type of relationship between us can manifest, but this might also be the death of our relationship.  I know people with childhoods like mine who haven’t spoken to their parents in ten years.  All I know right now is that I want people to pray for her.  I want other people to center love and peace in her life.  I want her to know the love of God that I felt in the afterlife, and I want her to know that I wish our story was a different one.

img_1882Your story might offer a different outcome with a toxic family member.  There might be a way for you to calmly listen to your family member and center kindness without putting yourself in danger.  Your love might transform this person over time.  I hope so, but if you decide not to have contact with someone in order to heal yourself from narcissistic abuse there are many support groups online and otherwise. Choose the sanctity and healing of your own life.  Life isn’t a “who is the most spiritual contest.”  In fact, if someone is playing that game, that person is probably a narcissist.  Love who you can authentically love.  Love is not torture; rather, it is easy as breathing when it is right.

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The Healing Power of True Stories

I feel blessed and lucky to have had the chance to speak and attend the Denver IANDS conference this summer.  At the conference, I heard Dr. Eben Alexander and Mark Anthony’s talks.  Proof of Heaven and  Never Letting Go were influential and helpful books on my journey.

Many NDErs say the same things in different ways.  Because I loved Proof of Heaven so much, I considered not taking the time to write my own story.  However, at some point, I realized that my journey as a woman, a survivor, a traveler, a teacher, a dreamer, a poet, and a mystic needed to be written.  True stories have powerful healing potential for the writer and the readers.   We long for community and connection, and the journeys of others bless us in countless ways.  A book written in service of others should be raw and honest enough to connect with the right audience, crafted well enough to entertain, and sprinkled with inspiration.

Most people long to transcend the patterns and blocks that hold them back.  They want to break through these blocks like high school football players running through a banner into the best game of their lives.   I am certain that the world needs more true stories of eventual triumph, a deep connection to others, and communion with the divine.  We live to learn how to shine, to light the way, and to pass the torch on to others.

Tell your stories to the world.  Stand in your creative power, your connection to the light, and watch your world transform.




 

Community College Professor’s Response to Campus Carry

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The love in my heart and soul is a billion times stronger than a gun strapped to my hip.  Love is what has transformed my life and other’s lives.  Love is the only thing that matters—the only thing that lasts, transcends, and lives on in the realms beyond this one.  Love is all that we take with us.

Teaching is the way that I have been guided to give love and to serve this world, and my hope has always been to create a brighter world through education.  I love my community college students even before I meet them.  I love them so that their journeys will open to wider paths and their options for success will be more plentiful.  I love them so that their fears will subside, and they can learn with greater understanding.

Teaching in junior high, high school, and at the college level has been a holy profession for me. While doing my training to teach in the public school, I remember viewing a video about a teacher who was informed that her students were gifted.  In turn, she treated these students as if they were gifted, and they excelled because of her expectations.  I imagined that if I walked into each classroom with unconditional appreciation for students and belief in their abilities, no matter what they had suffered or no matter what delinquent behaviors they exhibited, then miracles would occur.

Although the threat of an active shooter is a topic of concern at all schools, I chose to focus on ways to pinpoint, defuse, and bring healing to volatile situations before they spiraled out of control.  I started teaching in public schools after the Columbine High School tragedy and quickly realized that many teachers have been on alert to catch possible threats before they materialize and that seems like the best defense.

At the community college level, campus police are proactive and frequently walk the halls; there is a general feeling of safety at my campus.  My students are often adults with full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities.  Other students have recently graduated from high school, but even these students often work and have quite a few responsibilities.   Certainly, I’ve  encountered a few students in need of disciplinary interventions, but I never thought that concealed weapons would make us all safer.

Campus carry is the strangest change I’ve witnessed in education. Texas legislation has thrown the possibility of guns into the middle of my love fest, and now I don’t know whether the most loving thing I can do is to be a loving person carrying a concealed weapon or to be a loving person without one.

I’m at ease and skilled with guns, and I’ve taken several self-defense classes and weapon training classes over the years.  I’m a victim of rape, theft, harassment, and stalking. Owning guns was never problematic for me, but bringing guns to school seems odd.   To my friends in Europe, the policy seems insane.

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Whatever I decide to do because of this change, I know that I will be incorporating more meditation and mindfulness exercises into my English classes.  I will be praying for the safety of our students and that everyone makes wise, safe choices.  My primary message to students is that education can be a path to a better life, to healing, and to greater opportunities.  I don’t ever want fear to be stronger than hope.

On a basic level, it makes sense that more guns will cause more violent crime, but I do understand why people think guns might make them safer.   Certainly, from a victim’s point of view I wonder how certain situations might have turned out differently if I had a gun and the other person didn’t. But, I also know that the type of men who stalk, harass, and rape women might also use weapons to try to assert power over others.

Will Sam Colt be the great equalizer of the sexes?  I’m not sure. Will more women, especially young women who are extremely vulnerable to these situations, learn how to use and carry guns?   I certainly hope that more women do take self-defense classes in this current environment.

Having guns on a college campus doesn’t fit with my ideas about talking openly about intense topics.  The University of Houston has suggested that professors avoid sensitive topics and that prospect saddens me.  If having guns on campus does not create an environment which encourages students to think critically and deeply about their world, then guns should not be allowed on campus. 

In college, I loved hearing diverse opinions and solid, academic research, and I would hate to think of professors feeling intimidated enough to make a blander, watered down curriculum in response to the policy.  I hope that we can have more discussions about power, privilege, and why gun violence can not be our new normal.

One professor I know tells students on the first day of class, “Please don’t shoot me. Come talk to me and let me get the help for you that you need.”  The students think that their professor is joking, but this statement is not a joke.  Other professors I know who are nearing retirement are now considering changing paper topics to more fun, upbeat assignments that will encourage group work and laughter, not debate.

This summer in Raleigh, North Carolina, I got the chance to talk with the artist David Hess who built 100 mock assault rifles with household items like vacuum cleaner parts. The mood at his show is considerably different than the mood at an actual gun show. Lots of people of all ages smiled and picked up his fake guns for pictures.  Many people pointed them at one another and laughed.  Hess hopes to facilitate more discussions about fear and control, and he rejects polarized conversations about guns. However, he does want to make a difference in the tragedy of so much gun violence in the U.S.

Because of my near-death experience, I have a strong belief that my very life was saved so that I might reach as many students as possible. Right now, I am struggling to determine what the most light-filled, uplifting response is to campus carry.

I went into teaching in order to create greater peace, prosperity, and harmony in the world. I never pictured myself doing this with a gun strapped to my thigh or my hip, but I am a survivor, and I will do what I believe is the best, wisest choice for myself and for my students.

I am trying to adapt to a reality which is not acceptable.  I don’t like this change, but Texas is the place where I have a coveted, full-time position.  I have no choice but to bring as much lightness, peace, wisdom, and levity as possible to this new landscape.

But, really, if we are going to bring guns and knives to school like this is the Wild West, can we at least ride horses to class, talk around campfires by the river, look at the stars, and put away the cell phones?
love

New, Extraordinary Identity

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I’ve heard it said by many people that the words “I am” are powerful words.  Why not claim the best for yourself?  I am the light, a transformer of darkness.  I am lucky.  I am the embodiment of love, peace, and goodwill.  I am blessed, grateful, effulgent, healthy, free, and optimistic.  I am washed clean by every rain, and made stronger with each sunrise.

Claim whatever positive traits you desire, even if you are in truth working toward these states of being.  You’ll get there quicker by telling your subconscious what you want instead of what you don’t want.

Last week, I realized that someone, most likely movers from a moving company, stole my checks and other personal information.  I was out of town when I realized my bank account had been drained, and the violation was shocking.  I reached for equanimity in the middle of that storm, but I was shaken up and had to lean on others.  Luckily, I realized that I have many supportive people all around me.  Those who do not know how to be supportive have drifted out of my life, and I live in a calm, beautiful state of being.

Life simply couldn’t get any better.  Why?  Because I claimed it, focused on the good, and refused to let a demanding situation be anything other than it is—a place which connects me to others.   Every trying circumstance in my life has allowed me to help others, and this will not different.  I am a part of something greater than myself.  Like a symphony, a storm, a comet, an eclipse, a thunderous herd of elk under bright moonlight, a floor of dancers with good rhythm and smiles, I am part of the flow of life and fully present for every moment of this ride back to the stars.

It is possible to walk into any situation free and happy.  You can also walk out of any situation just as free and just as happy.    You can walk away from rooms of discord, and walk into ones of peace, harmony, festivity, bliss, and sweetness.

Someone stole my identity.  So what? They can have that old identity.  They snatched the last of my troubles.  They took the lingering remnants of my negativity.  They stole my wounds and left me free and happy with a new bank card, a membership with LifeLock, greater happiness, and a new way of looking at this amazing world.

Though I have learned to be more protective of myself and others, I have also learned to let go of pain that isn’t my own and doesn’t serve me.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people, but many extraordinary, uplifting, miraculous, fortuitous things happen to good people as well.

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Healed: A Memoir About Survival, Recovery, and Transformation Following a Near-Death Experience

 

Why I Wrote This Book:  Why does anyone write?  I’ve loved books since I was a child in East Texas and needed a good escape. In grade school, I read widely and read books way above my maturity level.  I learned about the pain of racism from books like Invisible Man.  Other books like 1984, The Painted Bird, and A Wrinkle in Time intrigued me at young ages.

After putting a book down, I always wanted to know about the writer’s lives. I intuited things about the author’s pain, longings, and dreams, and I had to find out more information.  I wanted to know what Ralph Ellison’s real life was like.  I wanted to know about the situations that influenced George Orwell, Jerzy Kosinski, and Madeleine L’Engle.  Once I started down this path of curiosity, I never gave up my love for memoirs and biography.  Many years later, when authors like Mary Karr hit the scene, I took mental notes, hoping to find the time to write my own memoir.

I have also enjoyed reading all the many books about near-death experiences.  However, my purpose for writing Healed is not to become a definitive source of near-death experiences, but to help spread good energy into the world and help others find their way to greater healing.   This manuscript addresses timely issues including child abuse, suicide prevention, sexual assault, and addiction.  More importantly, it examines how the focus to heal (spiritually, energetically, physically, and psychologically) can miraculously transform one’s life.

There are many best-selling books about near-death experiences, but my book stands out because I was much younger and wilder than these authors when I died.   I was an agnostic, party girl attending college and working as a cocktail waitress.  As a lost, materialistic young woman, the closest I came to thinking about spirituality was reading the poems of Walt Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau for my English classes.  After my near-death experience, I was immediately drawn to books, practices, and gatherings that focused on greater love, peace, and understanding among people.

My NDE was hugely transformative, and awakened me to spiritual realities that I did not consider previously.  Giving love to this world and working to help bring more light to the lives of others was one of the key lessons of my near-death experience.  

Healed is written in the tradition of literary memoirs like Wild, Lucky, and Lit.  It captures Austin in the 90’s, international travel, family, relationships, and a mission from God in classrooms across America.

I am actively searching for a literary agent and publisher for my book and would love any recommendations.

Thanks for reading!