Remind Them to Go to Nature–A Command From the Heavens

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At the end of my life-review, I ended up in a vividly green, lush, heavenly landscape. Much like my spirit body felt eternal, the grass, trees, and the natural landscape of heaven appeared deeply and completely alive without a hint of desecration.  I wondered if this is how beautiful nature could be if we lived in greater balance.

There is healing potential in nature.  I have known this at various times even before my near-death experience, but to hear the command, Remind them to go to nature as a direct message from the heavens has stayed with me.

Great thinkers like Einstein have recommended nature as a way to deepen our peace and awareness saying, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” And, great poets like Whitman have extolled the power of nature as well saying, “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.”

I remind my college students to eat as many whole foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, as possible.  I remind them to take breaks and breathe deeply by the river.  I take each of my classes outside to meditate at least once a semester, but there is more to the importance of this statement. We all need reminders to live closer to the natural rhythms and wisdom of nature.

Most of us need more time with our feet in the earth.  My student’s faces look more relaxed and happy even after a short meditation outdoors.  Though some of them might think meditation outdoors is a waste of time or a way to get out of lecture, I know that meditation in nature is a focus on health and a focus on decreasing their stress levels.  This combination always makes for a more successful life, and their success is my success.

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Most of my students light up when I ask them questions like, “Should I buy a Mac or a PC?” or “Do you prefer Instagram or Snapchat?”  They tell me their opinions hurriedly and with excitement in their voices.  When I ask them about hiking or camping, many of them don’t have experience with it or they have one or two pleasant memories about camping. Students who grew up in other areas of the country like Oregon or California often have a greater appreciation for nature.

I don’t hate technology; in fact, I love it and spend a lot of time on it.  However, I have more fun when I’m in nature and keep my phone usage to a minimal, and I want students to know this form of therapy is there for them throughout their lives.  I feel reset after time in nature.   I feel cleansed, renewed, and rejuvenated.  I look at my life from a different perspective, and answers to problems that eluded me often occur easily and spontaneously.  I give my worries to the natural world and in return I’m given joy.

Many people have this insight and understand the importance of spending time in nature.  Time magazine published an article this summer titled, The Healing Power of Nature, and a researcher in 2005 coined the term “nature deficit disorder” for many children alienated from time in nature.  There are movements to address anxiety, depression, and stress through what is called “eco-therapy” by researchers.

God said it simply to me with the words, Remind them to go to nature.

I don’t know how many times I need to remind them/you/me/us, but here is our reminder for the week–GO TO NATURE!  Play, have fun, relax, take a break, breathe, let your worries go, and soak up all the love that is available to you.

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I will never stop being astonished by the size and intelligence of the angels that I met during my near-death experience.  These two angels were wise, caring, and full of insight. Most of all, they had the ability to heal both emotional and physical issues.  I would love to meet a sketch artist who might be able to bring these beautiful light beings into focus.

Connecting with Your Angels:  If you are interested in connecting with your angels to assist you with a certain situation or to help you be of greater service to others, you might simply say a prayer that the angels might be with you and guide you.  Call on specific angels by name or even unknown beneficial angels.  I like this list which starts with prayer and meditation as a way to connect with angels, but it also includes writing or spending time in nature.  The angels brought me peace during my near death experience and afterwards in several situations; I know they can do this for you.

Peace:  Angels are not only messengers and healers, but they are also there to comfort us and anchor peace in our world.  There are many remarkable accounts of experiences with angels.  This woman from the IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) website received messages from her angels when her doctors could not figure out the cause of life threatening infection.  For four days she spent time with the angels and describes them in detail.

“I saw an outline of form filled with golden white Light that radiated past the faint lines. As if I was a star shining brightly in the Heavens. The Light was fluid, iridescent and connected with ease to the Angels near or beside me. I connected with the stars and the vastness of the Universe. I was a part of everything in existence all at the same time.”

When she asked the angels about our purpose here on earth, she received a few amazing messages.

“Our purpose here is to discover unconditional love within ourselves and then offer it to others. We are all on the path. What differs between us is the road we take, the experience we choose, and how much we have learned about love. No one road is better or more important than another. It is all a matter of what speaks to your heart and feels like home within.”

To read more about her story, you can click here.

Consider calling on angels for anything type of healing in your life.  May you be blessed!

More About the Angels From My NDE

One of the Aftereffects of NDEs: Seeing the Divine in All Living Beings Including Ourselves

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After my accident, back surgery, and near-death experience, I had a lot of time to think about the afterlife and lessons.  Many mornings, I felt like a kid again and woke up with a joy I hadn’t experienced in a long while.  Some mornings, I simply stood by the window and looked with joy at a robin in the tree. I spent hours staring into the sweet eyes of a kitten one of my stepdad’s workers scooped up out of the middle a crowded freeway.  Though more of a dog person, a shy, scared kitten suited me better at that stage of my physical recovery.  I named the tiny kitten Crystal, and she perched and purred on top of my body cast, seeming to send me white threads of Divine love and healing. She felt safe with me, and I felt safe with her.  We were one, and the love I had for life, even the smallest moments, carried me through my days and nights.

Eventually, I learned to send all the over-flowing love I had in my heart into my own heart.  The love I had been sending to others, I focused on myself for a while, observing the waves of emotional pain from my past until these waves subsided.  I gave myself the respect and attention I desired, and eventually, I cried a whole lot less and laughed a whole lot more.  My life before my near death experience needed my loving attention and the type of healing I felt from God and the angels while out of form.

When I look back to those months spent in a body cast, I think of that sweet kitten who used my body cast as a place to sleep. She grew up and grew stronger as my body healed and grew stronger.  I don’t have a picture of her as a kitten, but my memory creates her like the kitten in the picture.   I received a question about animals in heaven and from what I have seen in my communications with those on the other side, animals are certainly in heaven.  I saw one young man who recently died petting a dog which was more his mother’s dog than his dog.  She confirmed this was true, so I felt blessed to receive this message.  I’m grateful to have received this message from him so that I can assure others who wonder about their connections with pets.  Our pets bring us a bit of heaven on earth, so it only makes sense that they would reside in heaven.  The green grass of the afterlife would not be the same without our beloved pets running to greet us.  We associate love with our pets, and love is a powerful bond that survives death.

One NDEr, Jan Price, talks about being first greeted by one of her pets in heaven.  She writes, “What I came to realize is that there is a love connection between the two worlds – a stream of energy that forms a heart bond between two souls that is the strongest at the time of transition. Love comes out to greet you, wearing the form that will be most meaningful to you at the time. In my case it was our precious dog, and yes, dogs have souls – Plato knew it and so did Saint Augustine, along with most other true saints and sages.

You can check out her full story at this link.  There is a video about several NDErs who talk about pets in heaven as well.  Here is that link.

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Bringing the Invisible into the Visible World:  Healing the Divine Feminine and Becoming a Womb Keeper

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Earlier this week, I began the journey to become a Womb Keeper after participating in a Munay-Ki Shamanic Rite.  This powerful rite for women allows for generations of misaligned energy stored in the womb to be released and cleared, benefiting her personally and the collective of women.  If you are a woman interested in healing the divine feminine energies, you can most likely find a practitioner in your area at this link.

Ceremony and Rituals: Personally, I love ceremony and rituals.  Though I was raised in evangelical churches, I enjoyed attending mass with my grandmother.  I loved kneeling, chanting, and playing with her rosaries.  I loved reading about all the different saints, and I especially loved Mother Mary.  I was born a feminist and hungered for a deity or saint who resembled me as a female.  I longed for holiness and sacredness to be seen in women, not simply because women could be wives and of service to their husbands and sacrifice themselves for their children.  I longed to see women’s power, strength, and intuitive abilities celebrated openly.

Feminism: I hoped to see women’s ideas and creativity openly greeted and supported by men in loving, affirming ways.  I didn’t want to experience a relationship as a basic exchange of “I work long hours to pay for this house so you can stay home with the kids.”  That idea bored the crap out of me the first time I heard it, and I felt lucky to be born in the 70’s and to come of age during the third wave of feminism.  I was born to work, and equal pay for equal work made complete sense to me.  I didn’t want a traditional life, and when I was teenager I thought the world outside of my small town would soon be my oyster.

I entered college as an agnostic, mainly because I was disgusted by the political and judgmental views of churches.  My life as an agnostic only lasted a few years because a near-death experience my senior year of college profoundly changed my spiritual set-point. Soon after my NDE, I incorporated prayer rituals, meditation rituals, shamanic rituals, lucid dreaming rituals, and drumming rituals into my life.  Though I went to some church events and gatherings, largely I was buoyed by my own private sense of worship which incorporated various traditions.

By the time I turned thirty, I had several battle scars from being a woman in my culture.  I encountered sexist professors, sexist customers, sexist bosses, sexist police officers, sexist therapists, sexist social workers, and sexist co-workers.  I dealt with a stalker, a harasser,   a rapist, and an abusive ex-husband.  With experiences like this, I fit in perfectly in the world of third wave feminism.  I am by no means male bashing.  I am telling the truth of my life.  These are men I encountered in society.  I also experienced a range of guy friends from cool work buddies to very dear friends who were deep thinkers, sensitive, supportive, and dependable.  I had bosses who treated me with respect, and one boss from California who was incredibly fair and treated me with the same respect he treated male employees.  However, by the end of my twenties, I viewed feminism differently than I viewed it as a teenager, and I felt exhausted by what I’d encountered in the world.

Teaching:  I’m grateful for experiences I’ve had as a teacher and as a professor.  As soon as the classroom door closes, I am in control of the flow of information and the focus of our time together.  Though teachers and professors might complain about the lack of respect students have for authority figures, there is still a great deal of respect that students give teachers and professors.  For the most part, students listen politely and ask questions.  Most students want good grades, and many are more than willing to open their minds and hearts to new ideas simply for the joy of learning.  Some students may disagree with a professor’s views, but even these students must learn how to find valid sources and learn the etiquette of creating rational appeals and grounded arguments free of logical fallacies and hateful rhetoric.

A few older, non-traditional male college students let me know at the end of certain semesters that I turned them into feminists.  I wanted to chuckle because these students were far from becoming feminists.  However, I congratulated them for opening their minds to new perspectives and becoming better at potentially leading a diverse work-force made up of a lot of women.  For a while, I’ve lived in a bubble of academia, and I didn’t realize until this election how much hatred for women still flows through society.  This hatred is found in both men and women, and the election showed us how much work we must do as a society to heal the divide between masculine and feminine power and how each energy should be viewed as equal and important.  Certainly, the toxic elements of masculinity need to be reeducated in society and taught tolerance, connection to others, and equanimity.   Otherwise, jails will continue to grow, and I would rather see college campuses expand.

However, traditional academia is losing some of its luster for me.  I am longing for more ritual and more of a connection to nature.  Some tie to the ancient past always seemed to flow through me and nature solidifies this bond.  I would love to teach classes in open fields without technology.  Any time I bring students to nature, their faces light up and the learning experience becomes more of a memorable experience.  I have always needed the beauty, wisdom, strength, and common sense of nature as a teacher.  I still need nature as my teacher, and many others do as well.  Even if they do not know this about themselves, they might be over-medicated, bored, angry, sad, and deeply unaware that time in nature is a better prescription than many actual prescriptions.

The Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine:  It is now more important than ever that women and men no longer look at each other as less than or more than the other.  The energies of the divine masculine and divine feminine are within each of us, and we must learn how to balance these energies within ourselves with love, respect, and honor. The Munay-Ki Shamanic Rite is not the only way for women to honor their creativity and power and come together in solidarity, but it a beautiful, healing way to release negativity and reside in a beautiful world of your creation.

I hope that all women might heal and find healing in ways that make sense to them personally.  I hope that all men might heal in ways that make sense to them.  May we all, male and female, create more grounded ways for the divine masculine and divine feminine energies to balance within us and in the world.  May our expressions be ones of balance, love, and honor.

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Three Simple Steps for Bringing Your Gifts into the World

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Step One:  Rest

I often tell my Creative Writing students that they should be well-rested in order to be their most creative.  Certainly, we can all preform under pressure when we are highly caffeinated, sleep deprived, and tense.  Stressed out states of being, however, do not allow for the miracles of divinely inspired communication to flow through us effortlessly.  Meditation and connecting with the love that is available for each of us is a much better way to open to great ideas.  In peaceful states of being, we might receive messages from higher states of consciousness and our creativity might be more inspired.  If you have ever noticed how some of your greatest ideas show up just before you fall asleep, you can understand that when the worried mind lets go of its grip on us, the great, inspired thoughts begin to flow through us.  Problems naturally work themselves out.

Keep a journal and pen on your nightstand and return to these ideas later in the day.  The ideas in your dreams or just before you fall asleep might become poems, stories, novels or a simple answer to a question.   Be receptive and open to great ideas, and more of these ideas will be sent your way.

Step Two:  Play

Go where your joy resides.  Adults do not enjoy life as much as children because we often forget how to play.  Play can mean many different things to different people.  Most of the time, exercise and time in nature can put us in a positive state of mind.  However, if you have a problem to work out, try addressing this problem from many different directions.  Don’t censor wild ideas, and try following unexpected thoughts to see where they lead you.

During graduate school, I worked full time teaching seniors in high school.  The long hours at work didn’t leave me much time to be creative on one of my twenty-page essays.  Mid-way through a particular essay, I decided that I needed to have more fun with the research and wrote something that entertained me.  I stopped thinking about writing for my professor and followed my own joy.  This turned out to be one of my better essays.  Even if playing around doesn’t lead to a great product, it is important to notice what ideas and activities bring more joy into our lives.

Step Three:  Plan

If you are an organized, detail oriented person, this should not be a difficult step for you.  Write out a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan for a certain goal.  Simply writing down a plan increases the odds of accomplishing this goal.  If you have a book idea, write an outline.  Even if you amend the outline and completely change the book later, a plan can still be an important step and a great step during the revision stages.

If you are not a detail oriented person, take a deep breath and do what you can each day toward your goal.  Imagine the repressed side of yourself taking control and dealing with the details.  Make the details more interesting or fun in some way.  Offer yourself a reward for accomplishing things you usually put off for later.  Ask your angels for help and call on God to help you.  There is no need to stress over the details.  Jump in and enjoy the journey.  The sooner you jump in and work on the things you are putting off, the quicker you will realize that the process isn’t as difficult as you imagined it to be.

Good luck!  May your best dreams make it into the world soon.

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Don’t Say Purgatory, Call it Universe School: After-Death Communications

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A few people have contacted me to connect with their deceased loved ones, and the experience has been beautiful.  It is a joy to feel the love pouring in from the other side from these family members.  My hope is that I might give others a way to feel this connection themselves.  I am not certain if I will offer this as a service, but I believe in following one’s bliss and joy.  For me, communicating with the other side is heavenly (smile) and a reminder of how much love is available to us all any time we wish to connect with it.  If we choose, we can remain connected to this source.

If you are interested in my other posts about opening to communication from the other side, here is the first and second post.  I realized I can talk to my father on the other side when I met someone who gave me messages from him.  These messages felt inaccurate didn’t capture my father’s essence at all.  The reading was more about the reader’s ego, and I could feel my father waving his arms and shouting at me to listen to him, even going so far as to say, “The only purpose of meeting this person is so that you will begin to listen to me and realize how clearly you can hear these messages.”

I’m stubborn and rational.  It took a near-death experience to knock me out of my agnostic ways.   I’m a reluctant participator in spiritual events and an even more reluctant medium.

Last night, I thought about what I wanted to communicate from my father.  I thought about the initial months after his death, and how it felt like he was participating in an extended life review and then a review of the workings of the universe.  I wanted to call this part of his experience purgatory, but he snapped back, “Don’t tell people that.  That doesn’t have a nice connotation. Tell them they might have to go to Universe School for a while.”

The idea of Universe School made me chuckle and sounded like a loving way to describe the experience.  NDEs are most likely only glimpses into the afterlife, and the extended stay offers much more to learn.  Universe School sounds more pleasant—a classroom full of stars with benches and couches made of galaxies, a perfect place for one’s understanding to expand.  If you have ever seen a baby’s eyes and realized that the eyes of this child seem to contain all the mysteries of the universe, you are probably right.  You are most likely encountering a recent graduate of Universe School.

Archetypes and Manifestations of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine

Determining Your Archetype:  If you would like to read about many different archetypes, I suggest you check out the websites and books of Caroline Myss.  She covers various archetypes from the addict, advocate, alchemist, angel, artist, and athlete to the trickster, vampire, victim, virgin, visionary, and warrior. Even archetypes with negative associations have something to teach us about humanity and ourselves and are worth exploring. Archetypes are a creative way to classify characters and analyze literature, film, the world around us, and ourselves.  If you want to take a quick quiz to determine some of your inner motivations and possible archetypes, Myss provides a short quiz.

Certainly, I didn’t have to take this quiz to know that I am driven to create (artist) and driven by a desire to learn more (intellectual).  However, taking the quiz a few times might allow you to see how parts of yourself might be in competition.  For instance, I have a deep longing for adventure (explorer), and a deep longing to help others (caregiver).  Certainly, on some days, I don’t know whether climbing Mt. Everest or helping others seems more appealing.  If I could combine a day of great adventure and helping others, then that would probably be my ideal day.  Understanding yourself in a deeper way allows you to make better life decisions, and archetypes are just one tool of many available tools.

Joseph Campbell:  Another writer who discusses archetypes in great detail is Joseph Campbell.  In The Hero of a Thousand Faces, Campbell shows us that the most popular stories and films, even throughout history and various cultures, share the same specific formula of the hero’s journey and are full of characters/archetypes we immediately recognize like the hero, mentor, ally, shapeshifter , shadow, etc.  Any fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings will certainly recognize the archetypes Campbell discusses. Campbell’s work is influenced by Jung, and his writings are memorable and beautiful.  I highly recommend him for more in-depth analysis of archetypes.

Creative writers, both poets and fiction writers, can benefit from considering certain myths and interesting archetypes.  If a character needs more development, you might give these character more traits of a particular archetype or have this character evolve out of certain stereotypes.  As a poet, I have been inspired by descriptions of goddesses, and incorporate many of these descriptions into my poems.

Manifestations of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine:  Many spiritual teachers talk about the need for healing the planet through healing the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energies.  Certainly, there has been much suppression and subjugation of female power in spirituality and in other roles.  Additionally, some roles for men have been overused and abused, and men’s spirituality is sometimes considered more of a weakness in society than the strength that it truly is.

According to Jung, everyone has masculine and feminine energies though one might be more dominant than the other. Society and individuals function better when these energies are balanced.  For instance, to be creative, receptive, and intuitive (more feminine traits) is wonderful, but without some level of action, power, and abstract thinking (more masculine traits) not as much will get accomplished.  If either energy (masculine or feminine) is out of balance in a person or in society, life will become less fulfilling and destructive in many cases.

Manifestations:  I made a video about six different archetypes and how these archetypes might be viewed through the lens of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.  These archetypes include the Goddess/God, Queen/King, Priestess/Priest, Lover, Warioress/Warrior, and Wise Woman/Sage. If you watch my video, realize that we change from moment to moment and throughout our lives.  You might have certain motivations that see you through your life in its entirety, but everything is subject to change.  Gravitate toward the archetypes that bring you joy and the ones you want to enhance or heal in some way.  Have fun with the journey, and as Joseph Campbell says, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

Don’t be afraid to learn more about yourself and your motivations.  Without a struggle to learn and change, you won’t have progress.  If you make the learning process joyful, your life will always be open to amazing, magical possibilities.

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Narcissists at Work, in Love, and as Parents:  How Empaths Fail to Recognize Them

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There are many degrees and shades of narcissists.  I highly suggest you check out the work of Breakthrough Life Coach Lisa A. Romano and other sources like Psychology Today to better understand narcissists.  Narcissists can be introverted, passive aggressive, and display traits we don’t initially associate with narcissism.

It is my belief that many near-death experiencers come back with greater empathy.  Most of us are born with sensitivity and love as our inherent nature and near-death experiences simply remind us of this love. Anyone who broadcasts love and innocence can attract souls in great pain who might be narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths.   Our journey might simply be to learn to protect ourselves from narcissistic abuse and help others heal from relationships with narcissists and shine their lights.  Many narcissists can be handled easily in small doses, but in larger, more intimate relationships or projects they can cause considerable pain.

The Narcissist at Work:  If  you start a creative project or business with a narcissist, everything will seem spectacular in the beginning.  Their exuberance and confidence will give you confidence. They will speak passionately about their efforts, and you might live in their dream world for a while where everything is easy and all effort equals instant, brilliant success.  Eventually, you will notice that they don’t like hard work.  You find yourself taking care of more of the details, but you tell yourself that they offer inspiration and bring charisma to the project/business/plan.  Eventually, you see that their egos are fragile, and you try to hide how much work is needed because you don’t want to lose everything you have worked to create. Conversations become more difficult, and the narcissist fights to hang on to his or her original ideas without considering revision.  Chances are good that they will sabotage everything, and you might never get a straight answer about why they gave up.  Narcissists will simply move on to another scenario that fulfills their ego to a greater degree, a dream that looks brighter, a path that seems easier, and you will be left falling through empty space.

You will wonder if you did something wrong, but the only thing you did wrong is miss the warning signs that you were dealing with a narcissist.  Perhaps, this person despises all authority figures, even the nurturing ones.  Perhaps this person brags in a way that is off-putting to some, but you thought this person was simply spunky or confident. Perhaps they always make themselves the hero or the amazing one in their stories and never admit to having a flaw.

There are always warning signs that a narcissist is in the office.  An avoidance of hard work is generally the best clue. Narcissists might even brag about how they get out of work yet still believe they should be offered promotions and given awards.  If you are starting a business with a narcissist, they may be absent large parts of the time and blame you for the problems. If you are co-authoring a book, they may fail to see that great books are often rewritten eight or nine times, yet they expect to become a millionaire with a first draft full of typos a fifth grader might make.  They want to call themselves a great writer/singer/dancer but not put in the hard work to become one.

Whatever the scenario, the narcissist will be full of energy, dreams, and braggadocio in the beginning and will slink away sullenly, secretively, or angrily in the end of your relationship, often blaming you for the pain they caused. You might even believe the situation is your fault, but all you tried to do is do the hard work for yourself and someone else.  Beware of narcissists in other areas besides work. You can find them in churches, spiritual gatherings, and political organizations.

The Narcissist in Love: No one is more skillful than the narcissist at promising the world, mirroring your desires back to you, and focusing on you with an intensity that you have rarely if ever encountered in your life. Many women are hungry for deep emotional intimacy, and we can mistake a predatory gaze for intense connection.  Narcissists, whether male or female, speak a language primarily made up of phrases like soulmate/twin soul/love of my life and usually say these phrases after a short amount of time. If these types of words don’t turn you on, the narcissist promises anything that will make you feel secure, happy, and safe. They want to bask in your adoration of them.

Narcissists know how to make you feel addicted to them. They take their time in the bedroom, and make you feel treasured. When I think of narcissists, I think of the poem by Sharon Olds “Sex Without Love” and how narcissists know they are never honestly going to connect with another human being. Everything is a great big show. They come to the bedroom like great runners, and “they know they are alone/ with the road surface, the cold, the wind, / the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-/vascular health–just factors, like the partner/ in the bed, and not the truth, which is the single body alone in the universe/ against its own best time.” With a narcissist, you might initially feel like the God or Goddess, the light, the eternal love of the universe with this person because of the effort they put in, but the narcissist is only showing off his or her skills, hoping to get you hooked. Exercise is an apt metaphor for how narcissists function in the bedroom.

After a while, you might realize that the narcissist is unable to truly connect with you because he can’t swim through the sea of millions of bodies he has observed through the lens of pornography to clearly see you.  Maybe he is a calloused type, especially if he has a lot of money and is full of his own image. Men in this category might make women work to get their attention and make them feel insecure with little digs. Women who pay a lot of attention to their looks might be critical of their mate and make this person not feel good enough for them. There are many different scenarios for narcissists, but the outcome is the same. Eventually, you will feel that the connection is not genuine or uplifting.

Promises from narcissists evaporate, and you are only left with words. You might fight to make these words turn into the promised reality, but if you are dealing with a narcissist, no such luck. The minute you have doubts, they know that your adoration will be tinged with doubt and this won’t feel good enough for them.  Their focus will shift. Often, their focus was never fully on you anyway, though their words proclaimed otherwise.  They are masters at triangulation.

The narcissist might make passive aggressive jokes about how he or she would not miss you that much if you broke up. This person is only testing how much you are hurt by that statement to gauge how much to pretend to invest in you. Communication feels more like a sick game than an honest dialogue.  Passive aggressive behavior will escalate over time with deliberate procrastination, the silent treatment, and withholding praise.

Work is another interesting factor that plays into this relationship.  Narcissists come in many varieties.  You might find the dependent narcissist who believes in a ridiculous form of law of attraction that will “someday” make this person wildly successful without any effort on their part.  Alternately, you might find someone who is tied to his or her work and sees their job as a reflection of his or her image.  Everything will be sacrificed for his or her image.

Narcissists in a relationship, however, are not excited to do the hard work to make a relationship work. They don’t want to learn new communication skills or be forced to a new level of honesty.  They will avoid counseling or criticize and demean therapists outside the office.  Most likely, they will start building a new dream with someone else instead of working on themselves.  When the narcissist leaves, he or she leaves you with a blank space inside. They were never really 100% there in your life. They leave you with the loneliness that they must feel as they walk through this life never being completely real and honest with another human being.

Narcissists as Parents:  The obvious type of narcissist, usually a father but sometimes a mother, is the type of parent who is absent. Maybe they are absent due to drugs and alcohol or maybe they are too self-centered to be bothered by the mundane, annoying details of raising a kid. They might be more loving or upbeat than the parent who is around more often. Children might long for a deeper relationship with that parent, but as they get older they usually see that this parent isn’t giving financially or otherwise. This type of parent is charming and good at building you up, but if you ask for the money or assistance they may not be able to deliver reliably. Their own needs and desires will be more important than the needs of dependents.

If this type of narcissist gets sober, these types focus on how much they missed their kids when they were out living the lives they lived. The narcissist will overly focus on his or her accomplishments in sobriety but won’t find the time to heal the harm they caused in their kid’s lives. Often, narcissists are not willing to address their psychological issues. They won’t actively  teach their kids about co-dependency and how to break these patterns. They won’t warn their children that alcoholism has a genetic link. They can’t be bothered to have difficult conversations that might benefit others.  However, they will brag about their kids and take more credit than they deserve for their accomplishments. Maybe they passed on a few of their good-looking genes. That’s about all they can take credit for when it comes to your accomplishments.

The abusive, narcissistic parent is on a continuum like all narcissists. They might be religious and use a Bible verse to justify spanking their very young kids who don’t understand why they are being hit. Their love might be contaminated by belief systems that tell them it is o.k. to take their stress and anger out on a child. Maybe they are emotionally manipulative and want to prove to the world or their family what a giving, loving, fantastic parent they are while paying very little attention to your actual needs. Maybe they are verbally abusive and fly off the handle in a rage at the smallest of irritations.  Maybe they are emotionally abusive and keep their children away from one side of the family out of spite.

Maybe they are more toxic than these examples and physically and sexually harm their children. Whatever the level of abuse, reconciling with an abusive, narcissistic parent is difficult. Maybe you tried to get along with this person for years, only to be thrown off guard by the hateful things they say in conversation. If you go no contact, the narcissistic parent will probably blame you for this when they talk to others. They will blame you for not being a good/respectful son/daughter and for pulling away from them even though they will never honestly care about what you are going through. They will only be concerned with themselves and how your behavior affects them.

Maybe they believe they reached forgiveness with their own abusive parents, but you find it hard to believe since they didn’t transcend the pattern. They can’t be loving or consistently decent to you in conversation, so how could they truly have forgiven their own parents? Whatever the case, the abusive, narcissistic parent leaves children with a wound that is hard to heal. Healing is possible and usually found through breaking patterns and filling one’s life with people who know how to honestly care about you. Healing takes a lot of work which is something narcissists shy away from even as parents.  Narcissistic parents will tell you how their life was much harder than yours to prove a certain superiority and avoid acknowledging your pain and their role in that dynamic of pain.

My greatest hope is that empaths might find larger groups of caring people.  My hope is that narcissists might heal the wounds that keep them from addressing their problems holistically.

self-love

Published Poetry: A Post Mostly for My Students

quiet-pond

My Creative Writing students sometimes ask to see my published poetry, and I usually wait until the end of the semester to show them any of my work.  I only sent out my poetry between the years of 2006-2008.  As soon as I started a new job at Tarrant County College, I put my own writing aside to focus on the building of a new, beautiful community college by the Trinity River and to work for the success of my students.  Here are a few of those poems.  These poems aren’t representative of some of my larger themes in my writing, but they are the ones that were chosen for publication.

COCKROACH BESIDE MY TOOTHBRUSH

There is meekness in the bow of your head

beneath your curved back,

but even humility and sensitivity

will not save you now.

Do you remember when you

raised your folded wings at right angles

from your abdomen, showing off

the white edgings of your thorax and wing pads?

You trembled for the mate you wanted,

and she looked back at you

as if the moon glowed from inside you.

You believed passion could last forever,

denying that all we have are flashes.

 

Still, you never imagined this ending—

an abandoned condo by a pond,

shadows extending like frail, human arms,

no food or even cereal crumbs in the kitchen,

and only my mint-flavored, disappointing toothbrush

hanging precariously near the edge of the sink.

 

How could you know that surveys

list you as the most despised creature on earth?

How could you possibly deduce

that the angry fall of a boot

he left behind would become

your last moment on earth?

@ 2002 by Tricia Barker

Published in Paterson Literary Review in 2008

crows

THE MAGIC OF CROWS

As the city lights begin to salt the hilltops,

a woman becomes restless; her head is full of the wit

of crows, and her fate is tangled in the act of finding

one of their feathers by her doorstep.  The feather feels light

in her hands, and she wonders which direction it might blow.

From her kitchen window, she observes how the crows

look like pieces of a ragged night scattered

across the final moments of the day.

 

They are the antithesis of stars, with a mystical sheen

of their own and wholly delighted to be crows as they

squawk into each other’s faces, slowly lift one foot into the air,

or dunk their ruffled heads into the dog’s bucket of water.

The woman wonders why her soup does not taste better,

why her skin does not greedily soak up the air around her,

and why these final days of summer do not burst

with the bruised pleasure of black lights, drumbeats,

and a new lover, smelling slightly of tobacco and amber,

a lover who might dip a small, velvety sumi brush

in honey, paint it on her body and then gently lick

it off while black wings flutter in the corner of her eye,

the shimmering, happy bodies of crows.

@ 2006 by Tricia Barker

Published in The Midwest Quarterly (Pittsburgh State University) in 2009

narcissusflower

NARCISSUS IN A RELATIONSHIP

When Narcissus left for work,

I would put on the sandals he wore

to feel closer to him.  My feet would soak up the remnants of the love

he had for his feet, his body,

and after a while, I realized

that in his mind

I was less important

than the ground he walked on.

@ 2006 by Tricia Barker

Published in Iodine Poetry Journal in 2008

The theme in this last poem is an important one for empaths.  Recently, I have discovered the work of breakthrough life coach Lisa A. Romano.  Empaths are often drawn to narcissists in many different capacities.  They can also be the target of sociopaths, so it is important for empaths to learn to protect themselves.  If you are interested in this topic, I highly suggest checking out some of Lisa A. Romano’s YouTube videos.

lotus

 

Images:  The painting of the pond can be found at this link.   I found the beautiful crows on Pinterest at this link.

More Reflections on the Experience of God

I make my Creative Writing students create videos of their poems and add images.  A few days ago, I gave making a video with images a shot and used my blog piece Love Letter from God.  The English major inside of me is critical when I write straightforward messages like this, but my heart and soul smiles.

Poetry:  For most of my adult life, even after my NDE, I haven’t cared much for “spiritual” poetry.  Sure, I liked the occasional Rumi or Rilke poem, but I preferred poets who dug deep for their imagery, symbolism, and word play.  Poets like Adam Zagajewski, Wislawa Szymborska, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Marie Howe, Carolyn Forche, Jane Hirshfield, and Mary Oliver have been some of my inspirations.

I don’t call what I’ve written a poem—more of a love letter inspired by God and meant to give comfort to anyone hurting.  We’ve all been hurt or disappointed in life, and it is important to remember that there is much love and healing possible if we only ask.  We can pull in this love from God/our source and feel better at any time.

The Experience of God:  One of my favorite parts of my NDE was being in the presence of God.  Truly, the experience is difficult to translate into words, but I find that the more I think about that experience and wish for that communion in my life, the more often I feel divine love and protection.  The book God and the Afterlife has a section dedicated to NDErs talking about God and the experience of being in this presence.  Most NDErs state that God’s love for us is complete and deep.  This love is a love without reservation and extends itself to everyone.

When I talk about God–the most loving, divine light I have encountered– I know how I sound to agnostics because I was agnostic before my experience.  I was highly critical of religious folks and just as critical of those in spiritual/new age communities.  If I listed some of my thoughts before that accident and NDE, I would offend a lot of people and make others laugh.  My point is that NDEs change us immediately and for the rest of our lives.

If there was one book I read in college that opened my mind up ever so slightly to the possibility of God, it was The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Quotes like the one below one helped ease some of my judgmental nature.

 “It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.”

― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

I also dropped my prejudices for an hour or two when discussing this book and opened my mind to ideas like,

 “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”

― William James

As an undergraduate, I imagined how this type of connection might be possible, though at the time I didn’t feel it.  I wondered if I might have a spontaneous awakening at some point in my life.  How was I to know that I would have a life-changing NDE a year after reading that book?

When I left this body and flatlined, I awakened to the spiritual realm and knew that my physical life would also be a spiritual journey.  Once grounded in my material life and professional life, I quickly realized that I would hang on to certain fears about seeming “too out there,” but I also knew there would be a time when I no longer cared and became more open about my journey.  These journeys connect us and need to be expressed.

“There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.”

―William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

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