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A Wonderful Birthday Celebration

7 Feb

Elizabeth Helps Grandpa Celebrate His 80th Birthday!

Yesterday was my Dad’s 80th birthday.  I had so much fun planning a little party with our family on Sunday.  As time went on new ideas  to honor him popped up.  I put flowers on the altar at church  in his honor.  We put his picture in our local paper, and he even made the 10 pm news last Friday night!

We had a wonderful time on Sunday celebrating and honoring Dad.  Yesterday we all received a gift that we will all honor and cherish forever.  My cousins, Dawn and Beth (Elizabeth) and their husbands, joined us in the celebration.  Beth works for a photographer and loves to take photos.  All throughout the afternoon she was taking them.

Yesterday I received a note from her about one of the family pics.  There was a huge white spot right above my head and close to my husband Roger and my daughter Anna.  When Beth first noticed it she was alarmed that something had gone wrong with her camera and perhaps all the photos would be ruined.

Not the case – the white spot, otherwise known as an “orb” was only on one picture.

Excitedly I printed the photo out and called my Dad over.  He came into my kitchen, and I told him I had one final birthday gift for him but he’d better sit down first.  I explained what an orb was and the significance of it, and then laid the photo down in front of him.  He studied the photo from one side to the other and suddenly the realization hit him.  His precious first-born granddaughter, Elizabeth, had made her presence known on a very special day in his life.

We both shed tears of joy, and now we really do have a photo of the entire family!

The power of love cannot be broken — not even by death!

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Life Conversations Radio

2 Dec

A few days ago I had the honor of sharing my story on Life Conversations Radio.  Click on the link below and check it out!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/life-conversations/2011/11/29/ask-life-coach-ade

Open to Hope Radio

24 Oct

 
      I will be a guest on Open to Hope Radio with Dr. Heidi Horsley and

      Dr. Gloria Horsley on Thursday, November 10th at 11:00 am CST!  

 

Eight

9 Sep

The number eight has been rolling around in my brain for the past few days.  I assumed it was because we will soon be marking the eighth anniversary of my daughter’s death.

However, it dawned on me yesterday that there was more to it than that.  I realized that September 12th would have been her 28th birthday and eight days after her birthday is the 20th – the day she died – eight years ago.

As all of those realities sank in, I began to see the number eight in my mind’s eye.  And I began to pay attention.

Notice that once you put your pen on paper you can make an eight in one fluid motion and you have two circles that intersect one on top of the other.  This is a metaphor for the relationship that Liz and I continue to share.

Our lives will always intersect.  She will always play a part in my life and I will always play a part in hers.  Each circle represents one of us.  The top circle represents Liz because she is now on a higher plain than I am.  Her energy vibrates at a much higher level than mine does.  She has moved on to a higher plain of existence or heaven, so she is the top circle – I continue my work here on earth so I represent the bottom circle – we are in different worlds – but yet still solidly connected.

Look again at the eight — it is like a path that can be followed.  You may start out at the top and work your way down (to earth) and then continue to go back up — Liz did that.  Or you can start at the top and continue down and follow the same road as long as you need to and then you switch lanes and move up — but whatever your path you always remain connected.

Whenever September rolls around I try to make sense of things — but most of the time there is no sense to be made — it just is.  Choices were made and consequences followed — for both of us.  But what gives me comfort and solace today is the gentle nudge that I believe Liz is giving me to remember that just like the number eight our lives will always be intersecting with each other.  And one day, when my job here is complete I will move to that top circle and we will truly be together – two balls of love-filled energy.

That knowing makes me smile and it is what will make the days of September just a little bit easier to bear.

Thank you Liz — once again — you never cease to amaze me!

Love,

Mom

PS – I just realized – today is the 9th – I should have paid more attention and made this post yesterday! Oh well.

 

Wake Me Up When September Ends?

12 Aug

In a few short days,  the month of September will be upon us.  As I type these words, I can physically feel my stomach flip-flopping and a knot beginning to form.  What’s wrong with September you ask?  Technically … nothing  … I do enjoy the last days of summer and the soon-to-be fall weather.

But my oldest daughter’s birthday and the day she died are both in the month of September.  September brings up so many memories … both the good and the painful.

On September 12th my Elizabeth would be 28 years old.  What would she be doing with her life, I so often wonder.  Where would she be living, what career would she have chosen?  Would she be married?  Would she have any children?  Would she have dealt with the demons that plagued her in the last years of her life?  These are all questions that will forever remain unanswered.

On September 20th we will mark the eighth anniversary of her death as well as the deaths of Amanda and Brian, two of her six roommates.  Three young lives gone in an instant as the result of a fire in their old wooden duplex just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota where they were all just beginning their adult lives.  So much promise … so many dreams and hopes gone in an instant.

So, what do I do?  I could continue to focus on what is no longer possible … and, trust me, I do that on occasion.  I think it’s necessary and I owe it to Liz.  To sweep it all under the rug and pretend it never happened not only is a disservice to my daughter, but it is also a disservice to me.  Revisiting the pain is necessary and part of my grieving process.  The key, however, is only to visit, not remain stuck in it.

What is also necessary is to focus on the twenty years I had with my daughter.  The times she made me laugh, made me smile, made me so mad I could hardly see straight — the good times as well as the bad.  I remember that Elizabeth’s life was so much more than the way that she died.  In the end, all I can do is smile because when it is all said and done the only thing that really matters is how much we love each other.  Love wins out over pain and heartache in the end.

There is a song by Green Day called, Wake Me Up When September Ends.  My husband has commented that he would like nothing better than to go to sleep on August 31st and wake up on October 1st.  And, even though I breathe a big sigh of relief when the calendar turns to October, I would never wish not to have September.

So in a few days I will focus on remembering.  I will honor her each and every day  – in some small ways and maybe even some big ways.  I will celebrate her and love her for what she is and will always be, my beloved first-born daughter.  Death can never change that – nor can it erase the love that we will always share.

“It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”  Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Hospice Effect

24 May

        I had been thinking about becoming a hospice volunteer for a while. It would come to me as a passing thought every now and then that I would consider for a bit and then put aside. Little did I know just how soon and how clearly my indecision would be reconciled.

Our local hospice house is on the outskirts of town on what used to be a farm place. There is a windmill and a few trees but farm fields mostly surround the house.   And, it looks like a home – not a place of death. I had tour a shortly before it opened, but had no other contact with it, other than to read the obituaries of many a local who had spent their last days and hours there.

I had become familiar with death in the most painful of ways. My oldest daughter, Elizabeth, died in 2003 from smoke inhalation from to a fire in her duplex just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota where she had just begun her sophomore year. It truly was  a “baptism by fire” and an experience I wouldn’t wish on the fiercest of enemies.

Almost eight years have passed since that fateful day, and I have come to accept that the physical presence of my beautiful daughter is gone forever. Her spirit, however, continues to burn bold and bright in my life, giving me the needed comfort and peace I so desperately sought in those early days, weeks and months.

My 82-year-old mother-in-law, Betty, had several health problems, but she managed them completely on her own, and she lived in a beautiful apartment just a few blocks from our home. She didn’t leave home much, but she was fiercely independent and had a love for family that could not be rivaled.

On April 2nd, Betty was busy in her kitchen when she made a sudden turn, lost her balance, and fell to the floor. Luckily, she had a lifeline around her neck. She pushed it and it wasn’t long before the authorities were there to help get her to the hospital.

Our local hospital determined that her hip had been badly broken, and it would be best to transfer her to Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, just a short 30-miles away.

It was so nice to know that she was receiving the best care the medical world could offer. She underwent surgery to repair her shattered hip. She came through with flying colors and we all breathed a sigh of relief and began to focus on what we thought would come next – a rehabilitation center to get her back on her feet again and a return to her home.

It became a rocky road however. Betty’s ongoing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as congestive heart failure (CHF), was wrecking havoc with her hip rehabilitation. She would be well enough to move to the rehab center, only after a few days to suffer intense breathing issues and end up back in the hospital. This cycle went on for an entire month.

Finally, as her family, we had to accept that, despite the fact that her hip was healing nicely, her breathing issues were not. In fact, they were chronic, and they would not improve, we were told. In fact, they would only get worse.

Betty was completely exhausted and we could all see that she couldn’t fight much longer.

Our thought pattern completely changed, and we knew that the best thing for Betty was a move to hospice to be pain free and comfortable. At that point, all we wanted was rest and peace for Betty, the matriarch of our family — a woman who was widowed at the young age of 50 after the sudden, unexpected death of my father-in-law Richard in 1979 from a heart attack.

I wasn’t that close to my mother-in-law, even though I had been a part of her family for over 30 years. Yet, that day, something compelled me to focus solely on her and I found myself continually standing at her right shoulder, patting her head, bringing cool cloths to keep her comfortable, and feeding her an occasional bite of ice cream.

The atmosphere at the hospice house was home-like and welcoming. The nurses and staff were there not only for Betty’s needs, but for ours as well. Even though we would only be with them for a short 12 hours, they very quickly felt like family.

I remember toying with the thought that, at some point, I would whisper in Betty’s ear to please give Liz a hug for me when she saw her.

With Betty resting comfortably and at the urging of the nurses, everyone except one daughter went home for the night. You need your sleep the nurses told us, and we agreed — but not until we decided that one of us would stay with Betty at all times.

Just a few short hours after returning home, our phone rang with the news that Betty was gone, she had slipped away during the early morning hours with her daughter asleep by her side.

After taking a few deep breaths and letting the news sink in, I realized that I no longer had the opportunity to ask Betty to hug Liz. As soon as I had that thought, however, I was immediately immersed with an intense sense of love and peace and the knowing that my mother-in-law was now with my daughter and she was indeed giving her that hug that I had only thought about.

A few seconds later that thought was gone. But, it was immediately replaced with a complete and utter sense of gratitude that I knew was my mother-in-law’s way of thanking me for helping her in her final hours..

My brother-in-law related a few days later, that although he had been on vacation in Georgia when he got the news, his intense sadness was quickly replaced by an extreme sense of peace – a peace given to him by his mother that there was no need to be sad. She was in a better place, she was no longer suffering, and she was reuniting with those she loved.

It’s been a few weeks now and these experiences have had the chance to sink in. My answer about becoming a hospice volunteer has clearly been answered, and I have begun the process to make that happen. Some day soon, I hope to provide the same peace and love that we received to other families who will move their loved one to hospice just as we did.

I consider it a gift — a gift given to me by God and by Betty.

I have been blessed, and now, I can be a blessing to others.

God At Work

31 Mar

A couple of weeks ago we had a speaker at our Compassionate Friends meeting.  Mitch Carmody lost his son Kelly to cancer in 1987 and he’s written a book entitiled, Letters to My Son.  I had read it several years ago and have wanted to meet Mitch for a very long time.  I contacted him last Fall and we set in motion his coming to town to speak to our group on March 14th.   Our local paper did a really nice front-page interview with Mitch that ran the day before our meeting.

We had a great turn out and the article brought out many more than our CF membership.  We had one couple attend who had not lost a child, but were about to.  The Harlicker’s have a 7 year old son, Tyler, in the final stages of a cancer battle.  When they read the article in the paper about Mitch, and the fact that he also lost a son from cancer, about the same age as Tyler, they felt compelled to attend as they said they felt it was a sign from God.
 
Everyone in town knows about Tyler and his cancer battle.  We have been praying for him for over a year in church every week.  Roger and I met Tim & Sue for the first time that night and they are amazing — very strong and we both were very touched at the openness with which they have dealt with this painful journey in ther family.  They have also talked very openly with Tyler and his brothers and sisters about his impending journey to heaven.
 
When Mitch Carmody’s son Kelly was in the midst of his cancer battle, he clutched a rosary and it brought tremendous comfort to him and his family.  Several years after Kelly passed Mitch came upon the rosary and began to lend it out to other people who were also fighting cancer or some other life crisis.  Some  were healed and sometimes the rosary became a very comforting symbol that helped them through the journey.
 
The rosary had been out on loan for the past three years.  However the week after Mitch spoke and met the Harlicker’s, the rosary was returned to him.  And, he immediately knew that it needed to go to Tyler.  The next day the Harlicker’s took a road trip with Tyler to meet Mich and his wife Barb and accept the rosary.  Tyler was able to see pictures of Kelly – who he knew would be his new friend in heaven.
 
Tyler completed his journey this past Tuesday and the rosary served the purpose for which it was intended.  Here is the heartbreaking but amazing account written by Tyler’s Dad, of Tyler’s transition from this world to the next.
 
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tylerharlicker/journal

Too Late to Matter

18 Feb

The advent of social media sites like Facebook and My Space make it  easier to re-connect with people you have lost touch with over the years.

I had a college roommate that I had lost touch with and I longed to re-connect with her.  I had tried a few times over the years  to locate her, but I had no success.  She had married her high school sweetheart and he was a doctor.  So when I searched, I never searched for Margo directly but instead I always searched for her husband.

I finally found her about two months ago, but nothing was as I thought it would be.

Turns out Margo had been living only a couple hours away from me in Wisconsin.  She had been working as a teacher in a school.  She was loved by all who knew her.  That didn’t surprise me at all.

But I was too late to connect with Margo.  She passed away in June, 2010 from a very aggressive form of breast cancer.  It was very shocking to learn that my long-ago friend had died.  It was something I was not prepared to learn.

I located her Caring Bridge site which gave me a good glimpse into her outlook on life, her family, her faith  and her valiant battle with the dreaded C.

As I read her entries from beginning to end I learned that Margo’s life was not the fairy tale I had assumed it to be.  I was astounded to learn that she and her husband had divorced.  She talked about the anger she felt when her marriage ended.  Eventually though, acceptance came and Jeff and his partner Dave became a part of her extended family. 

Margo had four children.  Three boys and one girl.  Her daughter is now a doctor.  The pride and admiration Margo showed was heartwarming to see.  The slide show of pictures showed smiles and hugs at her daughter’s graduation from med school, even though Margo was in the midst of her cancer battle.

She had many good friends, and they lovingly supported her until the very end.  I wish I could been one of those friends too.  Had I known she was so close I would have been there in a heart beat.  But I was too late and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

As I have pondered all of this for the past couple of months I  keep wondering why I hadn’t thought seriously about trying to locate her sooner.  Why did I waste so much time trying to find her through her husband?

I will never know the answer to those questions.  But I can’t help but think that maybe there is a reason we didn’t connect.  At this point in time, I have absolutely no idea why that is, but perhaps at some point it will be revealed to me.

So if you have a friend you haven’t connected with in a very long time, find them, search them out.  It’s too late for Margo and me, but I hope it’s not too late for you.

De-Mystifying Intuition

9 Nov

A week or so ago I was presented with the opportunity by fellow Owning Pink Contributor, Jennifer Shelton, to write a piece on “de-mystifying intuition.”  I was immediately intrigued and felt I had much to say about intuition and how it became an integral part of my life.  Jennifer included my piece on her website, FemCentral.  (http://jenniferlshelton.com)

Unbeknownst to me, my spiritual teacher, mentor and friend, Kathryn Harwig, had also written a piece about intuition and common sense.  When I read Kathryn’s piece in the November issue of THE EDGE, I was struck by how closely our pieces parallel each other.  Here is the piece I wrote.  Kathryn’s piece follows.

I have always been interested in spiritual topics.  ESP, psychics, near-death experiences, spirit communication have always held a special fascination for me.  For the first 49 years of my life it ended there, with just a fascination … I had absolutely no personal experience with any of it.

Little did I know what an integral role some would come to play in my life.  Tapping into my own intuition came at a huge price however — the sudden, tragic and very unexpected death of my 20-year old daughter, Elizabeth.

On September 20, 2003, Liz, along with two of her roommates, died of smoke inhalation from a fire that broke out in her duplex, just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota where she had just begun her sophomore year.

As shocking and unbelievable as the loss of my daughter was, it set me on a path to a spiritual knowing and understanding that I could have never dreamed possible.  As numb as I was during those first days, weeks and months, some part of me “knew” I had been set onto a spiritual path and I wanted and needed desperately to follow it.

The choice was always mine however.  I was never forced to do anything.  I could end my journey at any time if I chose to and it would have been fine, my life would have gone on.  I have never in my 56-years on earth felt so compelled to follow and felt so led and so loved by the God of the Universe.  That feeling propelled me down the path that has become my life, and I am eternally grateful.

People came into my life that had amazing spiritual gifts of their own and they showed me in no uncertain terms that my Elizabeth was fine.  She was happy and she was living a marvelous new life.  Of course I missed her physical presence in my life, but all a mother ever wants for their child is knowing that they are safe and they are happy — and I absolutely knew that was true for my Elizabeth.

But I continued to press the envelope … I wanted more and I didn’t even know what or how I wanted it.  I took advantage of an amazing opportunity to study intuition one on one with a wonderful author, teacher and mentor, Kathryn Harwig.  (www.harwig.com).

Could Kathryn really teach me to communicate with Liz on my own?  I certainly had my doubts, but I would never know unless I tried.  My classes with Kathryn were certainly life-changing.  Not only did I learn to communicate with Liz on my own, but what was even more amazing to me was realizing that by practicing the intuitive techniques Kathryn taught me, I was also able to obtain intuitive information for other people — friends as well as complete strangers!

The door to my intuition had swung wide open, when I realized that not only could I use my intuition to make my life better, but I could also help others make their lives better.  Not only that, but I also realized that I could communicate with the spirit world – receive information from spirits and be able to pass it on to their loved ones.   It was something that in a million years I would have never thought possible, but it was so concrete and so real that there was absolutely no denying it.

Tapping into one’s own individual intuitive abilities in not rocket science.  It is simply a matter of asking, and then being quiet, listening, and accepting whatever it is you receive.  “Ask and you shall receive” as the Bible says.  It really is that simple.  The hardest part is quieting the self-talk of doubt and that little voice that tries to tell you that it can’t possibly be correct.  For me, that is the hardest thing to overcome.  But, when you take the chance, be brave, step out and trust that what you received is of value and you pass it on, even though it makes no sense to you, that is when the magic happens.

This is not to say that you will always get it 100% correct.  You will not.  But if you always go in with your motive as purely wanting to help someone, you will not be led astray.  Always ask God to help you.  You can never go wrong with God.

It has been said that little children and elderly adults are closest to the veil.  Children have just come into the world and the elderly are closest to leaving it.  Imaginary friends that many young children have are  not imaginary at all, but are spirits communicating with the pure soul of a child.  In the same way, elderly people are sometimes labeled as delusional or demented because they may be talking to thin air — but again I say they are simply having a conversation with the spirit world.

Our lives in between childhood and old age are spent being busy — making a life for ourselves.  We go to school, we start and work hard on our careers, many of us marry and raise a family.  During this period of our lives, there is no time, (usually) to spend in introspection and searching for a spiritual connection.  Most of us have never even considered that intuition could be a valuable tool in our lives – we are just way too busy.

Everyone has intuitive ability, whether you believe it or not.  It is not some special ability that only certain people possess.  It is no different than musical or artistic ability – we all have it to some degree.  Some are better at it than others, but we can all learn how to use it.   When the time is right in each of our lives the opportunity will present itself and then it becomes our choice whether or not we listen and act.

Intuition is neither good nor bad — it just IS.  We live in a free-will Universe, which means it is always our choice whether to embrace something or totally ignore it and go in a different direction with our lives.

Intuition will always be there, in the back, quietly waiting and calling our name.  Whether we choose to quiet the chatter and listen and act is, once again, always our choice.

As someone who grabbed on with both hands I can only say to you that harnessing your intuition makes your life better.  It is a valuable tool for every day life.  You’re in a hurry and you need to make a quick stop at the store.  Ask your intuition to help you find a good parking spot.  You will be amazed at what will happen.

Another important part of intuition is acknowledging it, being grateful for it and thanking the Universe for sending it.  By following these simple steps, intuition will become an integral and very positive part of your life and the lives of your family, your friends, and everyone you come into contact with.  The choice is yours.

Intuition Versus Self Talk

8 Nov

Many of my readers are familiar with my spiritual teacher, mentor, and friend Kathryn Harwig.  She recently wrote a piece that is a very common-sense, down-to-earth expose on intuition.  I liked it so much I asked her permission to reprint it here:

Recently someone asked me, “How do I know if the information I am getting is coming from my intuition or from my own self talk?”  This is a very good question, and one that everyone who is serious about being intuitive needs to ask on occasion.  It is a challenge to be intuitive about yourself and most of us find that it is far easier to give someone else a psychic reading than to give ourselves good intuitive advice.

Why?  Because our own hopes, dreams, worries and fears tend to get in the way of our hearing our inner psychic, at least when we are asking for information for ourselves.  Many people solve this dilemma, at least in part, by consulting with other psychics.  But, we also want and need to use our intuition to make our own lives better.  So, it is necessary, I think, to be able to distinguish the voice of our inner self talk and the quiet voice of our intuitive wisdom.

I attended a talk once where the speaker said that our unconscious mind was unable to hear the word “Not”.  Her point was that when we make affirmations such as, “I do NOT want to be fat”, our unconscious mind only hears, “I am fat.”  I don’t know if this is true or not, but, upon reflection, I realized that my intuition almost never uses the word “not.”

I will hear, for example, “take this route to work” rather than “do NOT take your usual route”, or, “make this telephone call” rather than, “do NOT call this person.”  My “tips for better living” mind, on the other hand, is always telling me what not to do.  Thus, when I hear advice about what not to do, I am generally certain it is coming from the part of me that is fearful about something, rather than my intuition.

Another way I differentiate between intuition and self talk is that intuition speaks without emotion.  It often “hits” out of the blue with no relationship to what I am doing or even thinking about it.  It comes as an emotionless statement in my mind, or a mental picture or even a physical sensation.  Seldom though, does it carry a strong emotional charge with it. Even when I see, in my minds eye, something that would normally frighten me, I am able to view it intuitively as if I am watching a movie that doesn’t involve me.

My inner voice though, seems to thrive on emotion.  When I think about something and ruminate on it, I tend to feel a lot of emotions.  Whether the emotion I feel is excitement, joy, fear or worry is irrelevant.  Feeling that type of emotion along with a thought is a clue to me that the thought is not an intuitive message.

Another clue is that intuitive information tends to come without any value judgment attached to it.  My intuition gives me messages without any sense of “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong.”  Sometimes, after getting this information, my conscious mind jumps in, placing judgment on what I have received.  But, the actual vision or words or feelings never carry a sense of rightness or wrongness.  That is because intuitive information is valueless.  It is never right or wrong…good or bad.  It simply is.

Not long ago I got an email from some one who had heard me giving intuitive insights to audience members.  Her email said, “How do you differentiate between common sense and intuition?  When I listened to your intuitive messages, I thought, “this is just common sense advice.”

She made a very good point.  As I pondered that I thought, “Where does common sense come from?”  We talk about “common sense” as if it is something we can define and understand, but what is it, exactly?  I laughed to myself when I realized that common sense is just another way to describe intuition.  It is that wiser part of ourself that “just knows things.”

How do you tell what is intuition and what is self talk?  I would love to hear from you!

Blessings, Kathryn

http://www.harwig.com