Comp Romp: Narrowing Down Comparable Titles/Inspirations For My Memoir:  NDErs (Brinkley, Alexander, Parti, & Moorjani) & Others (Winterson, Sebolt, McCourt, & Orloff)

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Comparable Titles:  Part of the publishing journey is figuring out where your book fits in amidst many published books.  Since this is my first manuscript, I want to share my writing and publishing journey with students and others.   I completed the first draft of my memoir Healed at the end of the summer, and I am working on my second, third, and fourth revisions.  Healed chronicles my journey from the moment of my accident and near-death experience through many years of teaching and other fortunate and unfortunate life events.  One of the main themes of the book is the power of the unconditional love of God to assist in our healing.

The Joy and the Agony of Writing:  I’ll be honest—writing a longer work like this can be fun, therapeutic, and exhilarating.  Revising and rewriting entire sections or scenes of a manuscript can be challenging, but even the challenges can be important lessons.  When writing a memoir, we learn how to tell the truth gracefully and what parts to emphasize or eliminate.  My editor reminds me that Jeanette Walls revised her lovely memoir The Glass Castle eight times, but that doesn’t make the process any easier.  I can only pray that my writing will occasionally be as lovely as Jeanette Wall’s prose.

Though I have more revisions to go, two small presses have contacted me after seeing my NDE video and reading this blog.  The interest in my story has given me incentive to keep working and look for an agent soon.  Some agents ask for a lot of information including a synopsis, detailed outline, cover letter, author bio, comparable titles (in some cases), and the first 50 pages.

Writing a manuscript is not a quick, easy task, especially when you work full-time; nonetheless, it is a labor of love and an obsession.  As Charles Bukowski says in the poem “So You Want to Be a Writer,” “unless it comes out of / your soul like a rocket, / unless being still would / drive you to madness or/ suicide or murder, / don’t do it. / unless the sun inside you is / burning your gut, / don’t do it.”

Despite warnings like these, many English majors and others continue to dream of writing a memoir, novel, or screenplay.  I hoped my first book might be a book of poetry or categorized as literary fiction.  However, when National Geographic interviewed me about my near-death experience, I realized that the brief blurb featured in their magazine did not capture the complexity of my journey, and I knew I had to write this memoir.  I’ve never tried to sell a manuscript before, and I hope my process might benefit students and others in their writing journey.

Themes: My memoir, Healed, echoes themes from many books besides books about near-death experiences, but the beginning and ending of my memoir centers around my near-death experience.  Some of the titles listed below are more inspirations than comparable titles, but when I explain my book these are the titles that come to mind.  Though my NDE was a life changing event, I wrote Healed mainly to help spread good energy into the world, and to help others heal from personal wounds which might be similar to mine.

Near-Death Experience Comparisons:

Saved by the Light by Dannion Brinkley:  This was the first book I read about a NDE after my own experience.  Like Brinkley, I was no longer the same person after my near-death experience, and I realized how kindness to others is one of the most important things we can practice.  The movie Saved by the Light came out a year after my accident, and I was happy to see a story about a near-death experience reach a wide audience.

Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander:  I enjoyed the fact that Dr. Eben Alexander has a strong science background, argued that near-death experiences were impossible, and then had one and changed his mind.  I was agnostic before my near-death experience, but the minute my spirit left my form and I saw the operating room, my surgeons, and angels, I knew I had more than enough proof that the spirit does goes on.  I enjoyed many of Dr. Alexander’s beautiful descriptions of the afterlife.  The writing in his memoir is lovely, and the descriptions about the love of the divine reminded me of my experience with God.

Dying to Wake Up by Dr. Rajiv Parti:  Though I did not experience hell or past lives during my NDE, I identified with several themes in Dr. Parti’s book.  I grew up poor, and my focus after high school was getting into a good university and landing a high paying job.  Material success was a drive before my NDE, and when God told me to return to my life and work as a teacher I struggled with the idea.  However, I found that the divine light’s mission was exactly right for my life.  Teaching and serving others healed me and expanded my life in ways I never could have imagined.  In Dying to Wake Up, Dr. Parti also touches on his struggle with addiction, and this is a theme present in my memoir.

Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani:  Anita Moorjani’s story is inspirational and exceptional.  Though I cannot claim to have experienced a healing as profound as hers, I saw angels sending healing light through my surgeons.  These beautiful light beings wanted me to know that they were their to assist and help.  They also wanted me to be aware that they could work through me in the future, and that they work through many others on the planet.  Moorjani’s message of self-love and listening to one’s intuition is one that I discuss at the end of my memoir.  Of all the near-death experiencers, her loving message is one that I resonate with the most.

Other Comparisons:

Why be Happy When You Could be Normal by Jeanette Winterson can be added to the list of inspirations mainly for her examination of dysfunctional parents and a difficult childhood.

Lucky by Alice Sebold:  Lucky is a searing memoir about a rape that occurred when Alice Sebold was a freshman in college.  The book examines how this moment in time affected her friendships, her relationships with her family, her identity, her attempts at romance, and her sense of safety in the world.  Rape is also a part of my story and occurred while I lived in a foreign country.   The aftereffects of rape extend for years.  PTSD and sexual trauma is profoundly painful and can even threaten to diminish the light of an experience as profoundly beautiful as a near-death experience.  As Sebold says, “You save yourself, or you remain unsaved.”

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt:  Frank McCourt became the hero of many English teachers and professors when his first book Angela’s Ashes came out.  Besides the near-death experience, my favorite sections to write were the sections in my book about my teaching experiences.  I went into the teaching field fully believing that God and the angels might work through me.  The love and hope that I had for my students transformed my life in ways I could never have imagined.  Their journeys taught me much about myself and helped me find the courage to heal my wounds.  Their success became my success.  I can tell that McCourt enjoyed writing about his moments in the classroom, so I include this book on my list of inspirations.

Second Sight by Dr. Judith Orloff:  I list this book because Dr. Judith Orloff felt more comfortable incorporating her intuitive gifts into her practice as a psychiatrist.  Directly after my NDE, I feared my intuitive gifts and didn’t want to be labeled a psychic, intuitive, or medium.  Using guidance in the classroom as a teacher felt perfectly natural, and I never labeled this type of guidance.  I simply helped the students I could help and opened myself up to assistance from the other side.

When I received a message from God that my contract as a teacher/professor was completed and that I could do “whatever I wanted to do” (even continue to teach if I wished), my mind raced in various directions.  I wondered if my contract was up because I might die soon.  This made me want to write my story in case I didn’t have much time on this earth; I wanted others to know the lessons from my near-death experience. Eventually, I realized I probably had more time on the earth, and if I applied the same principles I learned during my NDE to any work, all will be well.  In other words, work to inspire and help others grow.  In the process of helping others, we open ourselves to guidance and light from the other side, and that is a beautiful experience.

Comparable Titles:   Many unknown writers make the mistake of comparing their manuscripts to great books which have sold millions of copies and that is not my intent.  Of course, I’m tempted to compare my book to Wild by Sheryl Strayed , but I didn’t hike the PCT to overcome my personal struggles.  I know that nature has the power to heal us, and her story is a great testimony of this truth. My near-death experience was the awakening that I needed to find my way to greater healing, and my memoir is an attempt to bare my soul, as many other writers have done, in the hope that readers might relate, connect, deepen their own healing journey, and perhaps have the courage to tell their own stories.

 

 

Messages from My NDE

I hope these seven messages are inspirational.  It is important to focus on the good we can do in the world and work to create a world with more love and compassion for ourselves and others; most NDEs teach us this truth. This video discusses a few important messages from my NDE, but here is the abbreviated version.

Message #1: Be Open to Communication and Assistance From the Other Side

Our world does not celebrate the gifts of intuition and being right-brained as often as it celebrates the left-brain types of accomplishments.  However, the right brain is a lovely place to live.  Guided meditations might be one way to open more to imagination and connection.  Stilling the mind through mindfulness meditations might facilitate more receptivity.  The realm between sleep and waking can be a place to access messages as well.  However, these activities are not necessary for communicating with angels and guides.

These are simply possible ways to open your mind to divine communication.  Taking a walk might be a way to open to guidance.   Lorna Byrne says to simply ASK for communication from angels, and Ann Albers gives a beautiful overview of connecting with guides and angels in this article.

Message #2:  Be of Service to Others and Angels Might Work Through You

I wrote a post about how being of service is one way out of depression.  It is not the only way, but simply one part of shifting one’s focus off all that is wrong with one’s life to what can be done to help others. In serving others, our hearts open to the world.  During my NDE, I saw how powerful it was to help others and realized that the beauty we create in the lives of others is one of the main memories we take with us.

Message #3: Be Open to Others and Don’t Judge

During my NDE, I understood that many people were just like me.  They were doing their best, struggling to make sense of their lives, and trying to survive.  I saw that they needed as much grace and compassion as I was given in the afterlife.  Consider many different possibilities when interacting with others.  For example, those with poor social skills might have a disability or be suffering from an anxiety disorder.  Offer as much mercy and kindness to people as possible.

We are not that different; we are all more similar than we think.  During my NDE, I saw clearly how my judgments prevented me from knowing lovely, spiritual people in my vicinity.  Be open to kind people especially. However, personal boundaries and self-protection/love is a theme I come back to often. Abusers in spiritual communities and other areas of life can trespass on the boundaries of very loving, open people.  Love and openness given to others must be balanced with protection and love for the self.

Message #3:  Go to Nature

I made a recent post about this idea and believe that nature is healing, calming, and important for our mental health. Additionally, many people who experience an awakening have a greater awareness of the energy of certain foods and the importance of treating our bodies like temples.  I have found a lot of healing at different times in my life from a diet focusing largely on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

My grandmother, who lived in the country, picked fresh beans and vegetables from her garden and often said, “Food tastes best when the sunlight is still in it.” She had a good point!  Not many of us have access to food that fresh, but look for possibilities to eat the freshest possible foods.  Spend time enjoying the beauty of nature; it will reset your energy level and often erase your worries.

Message #4:  Be Like a Little Child

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

It is easier to access the love of God with an open, trusting heart.  Children do this more effortlessly than adults.  Look for ways to be pure of heart and gleeful about your connection to the divine.  Greet your life with immense gratitude.  On a basic level, NDErs will always know the fragility of this life and how easily our lives can be ripped from our grasp.  We appreciate being alive, but you don’t have to have an NDE to be grateful, joyful, and peaceful.

Message #5: You Are Loved and You Are the Light

Before my NDE, I lived in an almost constant state of worry and fear.  I survived a lot, but this fear was not improving my life in any way; rather, it was destroying my well-being. The immediate knowledge of the immense love of God  during my NDE altered my perception of reality. It is important to know that fear can be dismantled and forgotten.  Remembering our connection to unconditional love can ease much of the strain of this life.

Message #6:  Be Good to Yourself and Others

This is a golden rule of most religions.  To me, goodness is more than simply doing no harm.  Goodness is making the world around you brighter, healthier, and a more positive experience for others.

Message #7:  Live a Purposeful Life

The last part of my NDE showed me that I needed to return to earth and teach.  You do not have to be a teacher to live a purposeful life. You do not have to have a NDE to know your life purpose.  You only need to infuse your actions with goodness and blessings for others with whatever it is you do in this world.

Years ago, I read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.   If there is a quote from that book that sums up my major life lessons, it must be this one: “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” ― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for

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Additional Lessons From My NDE:  Disconnection, Doing Your Best, and Adding Goodness to the World

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Free yourself from the psychological structure of society, which is to free yourself from the essence of conflict.  –Jiddu Krishnamurti

Disconnection: There’s no disconnection like real disconnection.  Leaving the body behind during my near-death experience gave me a perspective that I never imagined possible as an agnostic.  I carried none of my wounds to other side.  I was free as a bird, curious as a child, and smart as a dolphin outside of my body.

My consciousness survived, but I no longer had a deep, emotional, psychological connection to this human form.  That alone healed my wounds.  All the chattering of the mind, the repeating of offenses of others, and the storyline we all cling to evaporated instantly.

A Different Perspective:  I try to remember that perspective as I journey through life.  Whenever I am caught up in the drama of “she said this, he did this, and then they all did this,” I take a break and wonder what those situations will look like or if they will matter at all on my death bed.

I wonder if those situations will materialize during my life review.  If I was the one who was wronged, these situations probably won’t be in my life review.  The beauty and compassion of God is stunning and deeply loving.  God doesn’t replay the things that harmed us.  We do that to ourselves countless times while in form, but part of freedom is loving yourself enough to begin untangling and disconnecting from your wounds.

Goodness: I know that on the other side, I will look at my life to see if I eventually used the situations of my life to be better to others.  Did I continue to increase my ability to do good in this world no matter how people treated me?   Did I find more ways to be joyful, more ways to be whole, more ways to be lighthearted and uplift others? Did I make my interactions about healing and helping others?  Did I add goodness to the world?

Did I deeply enjoy my time on this earth?  Did I play like a child?  How often did I stand in wonder and awe at the beauty of nature?  Did I love as often as I could, even if that love was love for myself and a bird flying by me?  Did I use my intuition, my wisdom, my bravery, and my connection to the other side?  Did I love more than I thought I could when I first began this journey?

Did I retain some of my innocence?  Did I try to fashion myself as the hero of a situation with words, false and true, or did I simply do what is right and true?  Did I leave when I should leave?  Stay when I should stay? Did I climb to the top of a mountain, breathe deeply, and pull in a great stream of light from the heavens and send that light to every human being on the planet?

Did I do my best?  Did you do your best?

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. — Jiddu Krishnamurti

The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed. Jiddu Krishnamurti

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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.

crystalThe real cat Crystal in her older years.

 

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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