Angels in the OR Launches on April 16, 2019!

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Thank you everyone for your support on my journey.  I have several more interviews with near-death experiencers available on my YouTube Channel.

Also, Angels in the OR, which covers the story of my near-death experience and life after that moment, will launch on April 16, 2019— 25 years after that massive car accident I experienced in Austin, Texas during my senior year of college.  The near-death experience during spinal surgery at Brackenridge Hospital altered my life forever,  and I have never lost the memory of the light or the vast, unconditional love from the other side.  I have never forgotten the insights communicated to me.

The river that I saw during my near-death experience was strikingly similar to the river that flows outside of TCC’s beautiful Trinity River Campus, and I have spent the last ten years teaching English and Creative Writing here.  I’ve loved this job and all the wonderful students, staff, and faculty members that I have met over the years.  Many of our building’s beautiful classrooms and balconies overlook the Trinity River.

Last week, I shared some advance copies with people on our campus, and I can’t wait to hear your feedback on the book.  It is almost every English major’s dream to have a published book in print.  I have loved books since I learned to read the year before Kindergarten, and part of the reason I worked to accomplish this goal was to inspire my students to believe that they can achieve their dreams.

I hope you will pre-order  Angels in the OR  or purchase it on April 16th when it launches.  I am enjoying the feedback I’ve already received and can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

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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Just Say “No” to Other People’s Negative Energy: Love Yourself Enough to Just Do It! (Particular Advice for New Teachers and Professors)

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In this wonderful video, “How to Stop Absorbing Other People’s Energy,” Ralph Smart details five ways to deal with negative energy from others.  I’ve listed those ways below.

 

As a former public school teacher and college professor, I inherently know how to deal with negative students and parents and redirect negative people very quickly in different directions, sometimes even transforming their anger or negativity into a talk about what is really going on in their lives to make them lash out at me or others.  Other times, they are sent in a different direction all together so that I can focus on others who are willing to learn and grow.  Ralph Smart’s responses make sense to me, and I incorporate most of these techniques automatically in the classroom.

Each situation with a negative person requires a slightly different response and a different set of skills, but the main point is that negativity doesn’t get to win. I won’t let one student’s negativity detract from my mission from the light.  I wasn’t sent back to earth after my NDE to let negativity interfere with the light and my mission.  I am meant to shine light into my own life and the lives of others.  My guides don’t let negativity win, and I don’t let it win either.  At a basic level, I must help my students become better communicators, thinkers, and writers.  On another level, I have an intent to help others feel better about themselves and achieve their personal goals.

I don’t talk about the negative students in the lounges and with other professors unless I want input on how to more effectively deal with a troubled student and think someone I know can offer sound advice.  I don’t complain about students and spend my energy in that way.  I talk about the students who inspire me with their drive, ambition, and ability to persist despite adversities.

The Five Ways Ralph Smart Recommends for How to Stop Absorbing Other People’s Negativity:

  1. You can’t please everyone. Everyone is here for a different reason. There is nothing wrong with being nice, but it’s more important to be yourself.  When you trust yourself, you are loving yourself and accepting of yourself 100%.  If others don’t like it, they can hit the road.  (As a teacher, realize that every student will not appreciate your style of teaching, your content, or your ideas. Realize that you are there to reach who you can on a deeper level and to help every one of your students succeed whether they like you or not.  Things generally run smoothly if you take this approach.  And remember the ten second rule.  Students make judgements about you in the first ten seconds they see you.  Smile, hold your head high, look in control, and ask certain students informal questions before class starts to show that you care about them.)
  2. Choose whether you want to be invited where this person will take you.  No one can enter your world without an invitation.  We are consciously and unconsciously inviting others into our temple which is ourselves.  (Pay more attention to the students who are doing things right–learning, growing, and participating.  Those who are working as a distraction need to be dealt with in various ways.  Extroverted students can be fun, and if you make room for discussion in your classroom, give them specific ways to talk about the content.  Engage with them during discussions.  Negative distractions should not be invited into your consciousness for long.)
  3. Do not pay attention.  Some people can be classified as energy vampires. A parasite can only live on the host’s body.  Whatever you focus on grows.  Energy vampires work by making you think of them.  Just the thought of them alone is tiring.  Pay attention to where you pay attention.  Are you focusing on what you want or on what you fear?  An “emotional drive by” is when someone dumps their negative energy on you and then drives off.  Don’t become a trashcan for someone else’s garbage. (Know what your purpose and intent is in the classroom.  Don’t let your focus waver from the goal of helping and inspiring others.  For example, one of my intentions is to give my students new ways to think and to give them the light and peace that comes from loving oneself and believing in oneself.)
  4. Breathing increasing the blood flow.   Just going into nature can purify your senses.  Meditate, dance, sing, and heal.  Become like the butterfly.  It is light and moves around quickly, not absorbing others energy.  Keep your head up and pay attention to your body language.  Becoming lighter is the only way to fly.  Keep it moving. (Consider teaching mindfulness in your classes or let your students research ways to decrease stress and increase joy in their lives.  You can also invite someone into your classroom to teach mindfulness if this is not your area of interest. On nice days, I sometimes conduct class by the river or outside somewhere.  I always recommend nature to heal our bodies, minds, and souls.)
  5. Take responsibility for your internal condition. Ask yourself, “How do I feel?”  To stop absorbing other’s energy, you must realize that you should take care of how you feel at any given moment in the day.  What you fight, you give energy to.  Everything is based around perception.  The perception we have of ourselves is greater than the perception others have of us.  That is the secret.  Once you change your perception, you change your reality.  No one has power unless you give them power.  Fly past other people and let go of fear. (Know that with the intent to help others in the classroom, you will generally feel GREAT.  All of your problems will evaporate the minute you step in the classroom ready to be a force of goodness and work for the benefit of others.)

As a teacher, you have control over the flow of energy in your classroom.  If you make it known that you are there to work for the benefit of all your students, you usually gain their respect, even if this takes a while.  Everyone has a different teaching style.   You don’t have to make yourself into someone you are not. I’m not an authoritarian, but I deal with problems quickly.

I hope every new public school teacher and college professor has a team of administrators who support them. Years ago, when I did my student teaching, I taught an eleventh grader who abused drugs and sometimes walked on desks at random.  I immediately moved his desk outside and asked him to step outside.  Long term, I preferred that he get the help he needed somewhere other than my classroom.  When I talked with the principal and suggested an alternative school, he looked at me with a smirk and said, “There isn’t room in the alternative school, in ISS, or detention.  You’re going to have to deal with him yourself.”

This might’ve been an initiation of sorts, but I didn’t appreciate his lack of support.  I dealt with the student in two different ways.  By a stroke of luck, I ended up on a city bus with the student, and he looked smaller and more afraid amidst a crowd of adults.  A friend of his was making fun of how little he knew about history, so I first taught them both a few memorization skills.  Secondly, I confronted his actions and said, “I know you are planning on dropping out of high school.  You don’t take school seriously and have a zero in my class.  When are you dropping out?”

He looked startled and told he was wasn’t sure when. I told him that before he dropped out, I wanted him to take this test using the memorization skills and see if he could pass.  I asked him to write one serious essay in my class and receive my comments.  Amazingly, he agreed. He passed the history test and wrote a surprisingly creative essay for my class.  I praised his writing and told him that the GED was always an option if he dropped out.   We talked about alternative careers as well that didn’t require a degree, but I let him know he had the ability to do well in school.

He never walked on desks or interrupted my class again once I focused my attention on what he was doing right and could do right.   Eventually, on the days he planned on being a disruption, he moved his own desk outside of my classroom so I could teach the other students.  This student was kicked out of school after a fight, but I think about that essay he wrote, and I remember the positive moments of our interaction way more the negative.

Sometimes, dealing with a negative person means finding something they are doing right and focusing on that and making that grow in their lives.  Sometimes, dealing with a negative person means not dealing with that person at all.  In good school districts, I had administrators who handled negative, disruptive students in loving but firm ways.  They gave consequences for bad behavior and reeducated these students.

In society and in schools, rules and those who enforce rules are very important.  Schools run better with great administration who care about students, and societies run better with understanding but firm police officers and enforced laws.  With this kind of help from administration, teachers can focus on all the many amazing, positive students in their classrooms, and people in the world can live their lives in peace.

 

End of the Semester Reflections

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Update on 1/19/19:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.

Outward Focus:  In a Ted Talk presentation, Adam Leipzig discusses how happier people are outward focused.  After a class reunion at Yale, Leipzig realized that even people with highly successful careers don’t feel the same level of happiness that others do who are clear about their intention to help others.  Teaching is a profession that has allowed me to be outward focused on a daily basis.  Even if the goal is only to improve students understanding of concepts and improve their critical thinking skills, teaching allows me to focus on others and for that I am immensely grateful. We are happier people in the moments we forget ourselves and live for others.

Many teachers have goals for their students beyond the basic concepts of their subject matter.  They hope to help others become more successful, more loving and connected to others, clearer about their goals and dreams, and more prepared to live a happy life of purpose themselves.  Perhaps the most important thing anyone can do after realizing what they are passionate about is deciding who they can help, entertain, or inspire with this passion. Taken further, Leipzig explains how it is important to think about what others need.

What Others Need: Before I started teaching, I thought about what I needed as a student and researched what other students from various backgrounds need.  As a student, I needed to be noticed.  I needed kindness, support, and structure.  I needed to expand my thinking and views of the world.  I needed inspiration. Sometimes, my students need to learn basic writing skills and to gain confidence as writers.  Sometimes, they need a clear path to success, healing from their past, or to expand their ideas and thinking about the world.  Sometimes, they simply need to be inspired to work harder and be more focused about what they want to accomplish.  Sometimes, they only need kindness, and they will figure the rest of their life’s journey out on their own or with the help of other mentors.

I am certain that I do not meet everyone’s needs as an instructor, but I took an oath to “Do no harm” before ever opening my mouth in a classroom, even as a student teacher at Stephen F. Austin High in Austin, Texas.  I saw every rebellious student as a gift.  Every angry student who I still occasionally encounter teaches me that fear and pain is what lies beneath the surface of anger.  Often, students who are angry have suffered a lot of abuse in their lives.  They have every right and reason to be angry, and if I am patient I am sometimes able to uncover this truth.  Although some students might prefer a different, style of teaching, I know that my students know my heart is in the right place.  My primary aim is to help students become more successful on any path of their choosing. I’ve taught long enough to see many of my students accomplish their goals, and there is little on this earth that gives me more happiness than their accomplishments.

The Light’s Last Message: Before my near death experience, I had very little interest in teaching.  When I returned to my body after my NDE and reflected on the fact that the last message given to me from the light was that I must return to earth and teach, I was not pleased.  I wanted a more lucrative career as a lawyer since I grew up poor.  My long-term plans weren’t final but attending U.T. Law School was a possibility; however, God had other plans for me.  If you meet God on the other side of this life and the last thing God tells you to do is to teach, is there really any other option?

After reflecting on my own history with teachers, I realized that I may not have applied for scholarships, applied to U.T. or believed in my potential if I hadn’t had a couple of supportive English teachers in high school.  I realized that their enthusiasm for their subject matter affected me in ways I didn’t realize at the time.  I read books I would have never found on my own, and my self-concept grew because of their ideas and lectures.

For years, I didn’t understand why the light commanded me to teach, but I followed these orders anyway.  I got my teaching certification and taught for four years in the public school system—junior high and high school, and I’ve taught at the college level ever since.   I’ve had so much fun on some days that I’m surprised they pay me at all.

Happy at Work: I have been extremely happy at work because I know why I teach.  I am not there for my ego or gratification; rather, I am there to help others, or at the very least to be kind and hopefully to inspire them to read more novels and enjoy the writing process a bit more.

Service work with my college students has been a rewarding experience.  For a moment in time, they experienced the joy that I feel working with them as they worked with elementary school kids.   Perhaps students who participate in service learning will be reminded that a life focused on others is a very good life indeed.

Many programs of recovery focus on service to others, and I don’t think this wisdom should be limited to recovery programs.  If everyone could realize that helping others is the quickest and surest way out of pain, we would all drop everything and look out into the world to see who we can help.  The mind all too often makes a “hell of heaven,” but when we get out of own mind and focus on the lives of others we can turn an actual world of “hell” into a “heaven” of connection and compassion.

 

Many Amazing Students:  I am humbled by the talent and passion of so many of my students.  One of my least favorite times of year is the time of year to give awards.  Though I love honoring particular students for their hard work, there are generally many deserving students and picking only one or two students to honor hurts my heart.  Often, the highest grade in a class is not the best indicator of who has learned the most and progressed the most.

I am impressed by how many of my students already have energy and passion to help the world.  They organize walks to bring awareness to issues such as suicide prevention, particular childhood diseases, or write stories which are a form of activism.  They have clear goals for their future and intend to help others long before entering my classroom.  They have energy, passion, and drive that reinvigorates my own drive and enthusiasm.  They are sometimes more like friends than students, and I miss them when the semester ends.  I am a lucky, lucky woman to have crossed paths with so many wonderful people.  The light certainly knew better than I did about the direction that my life should take. Teaching has been one of the brightest parts of my life, and I am grateful for all the students I have met over the years.