Have you ever had an interaction with someone who you believe was an angel in human form? Post your stories beneath the video. I would love to hear from you. May you be blessed!
I’ve written about harassment, stalking, and rape before, but with everything in the news from the recent Time article about silence breakers to the up-coming resignation of Al Franken and the possible election of Roy Moore, I wanted to address these topics again, and ultimately from the perspective of healing, both personally and socially.
I had a slightly different experience from some older near-death experiencers because I returned to the body of a woman in her early twenties. Navigating this culture and another culture in South Korea proved challenging.
However, in the end, we are not defined by what we experience but by how we overcome these moments, how dedicated we are to focusing on creating a brighter future for ourselves despite the harrowing aftereffects, and how we are able to help other heal. I also believe we all–male and female—have a responsibility to create safer power structures.
My healing came from group therapy, many types of therapies and healing modalities, many types of self-defense classes, community, helping others, energetic healing, meditation, yoga, writing, speaking about these topics, safe relationships, and time spent creating many beautiful, peaceful moments.
Ultimately, the near-death experience and the beauty of that event returned to me fully, but there were some dark years of living with some of the aftereffects of harassment, stalking and rape when I all I could do was survive.
I believe that love is a transformer of darkness in society. I found a way to love all the many students I met who suffered in ways similar to me or in much more horrifying ways. Supporting them in the ways I wanted to be supported made me feel as if I was working to create a better world. In the end, isn’t that what we are trying to do on a soul level–create greater connection, greater understanding, and greater healing for everyone?
I reiterate time and time again that no victim is ever required to formally forgive, engage with, or talk with anyone who has harmed them, but it is also important to let go and focus one’s energy and time on goals, dreams, and beauty in the world. Writing helps me let go of these moments even more.
It is no longer just my story. As I am connected to countless stories from my students and may have worked to eliminate some of their sorrow, or at least pointed them in the direction of a brighter future, anyone who reads my story also helps me let go even more. You lessen my burden. You help me carry it, and set me a little freer.
I know our spirits long to fly. Our spirits do not identify with this form–the PTSD or the pain. We are the love that we give.
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.
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.
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?
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 my memoir 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 domestic violence. 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.
Angels in the OR is written in the tradition of literary memoirs like Wild, and Lucky, It captures Austin in the 90’s, international travel, family, relationships, and a mission from God in classrooms across America. Most of all, I believe it will help point many people to avenues of greater healing.