Tag Archives: Spirituality

Remembering …

21 Nov

I’m remembering some significant things right now.  Five years ago yesterday I waited with anticipation for a sign from Liz that I was so sure I would get … but didn’t.  My perception that she would give me a sign on the 20th of each month had to be abandoned …  Damn.   Friday, Nov. 21st, was just a regular day.  I did what I always do … including falling asleep on our family room couch.  Only I woke up … the TV was on channel 5 … but for some reason I grabbed the remote and changed the channel to WCCO.  It was all done very mechanically and without any thought.

After Liz died I vowed that I would never again watch Channel 4 news.  They were the only station that came to our doorstep the night Liz died, rang our doorbell, and asked to speak to us.  Are you kidding me?  Our daughter died today – what on earth do you expect us to say?

When my remote clicked 4 and the screen changed, I saw a cemetery scene, and the camera zoomed in on a gravesite.  There was a windchime at that gravesite that was identifical to the windchime we had at Liz’s grave.  It got my attention, and I wondered what the story would be.  I knew I had to watch it.

The story was about a woman who lived in Minneapolis and she could communicate with people who had died.  I just couldn’t believe it.  They showed her in a room with 3 other people, and she went to each one and gave them very specific information about their loved one.

I woke up the next morning wondering whether it had all been a dream.  I didn’t even know this woman’s name.  I went to my computer and brought up the WCCO website and searched for some evidence of that story the night before … but I found absolutely nothing.  The only thing I found was the email address of the reporter who had done the story.  I decided to send her an email.  I told her who I was, and that my daughter had been one of the U of M students who had died in that house fire a couple of months ago.  I had seen her story last night about the woman who speaks to the dead.  Did she know if this woman did this for regular people … and if so, how could I contact her?

I sent off the email and to my surprise I received a reply just a couple hours later.  Her name is Kathryn Harwig, Randi told me, and I’m sure she would see you.  Randi gave me Kathryn’s personal email address and told me to tell Kathryn she had sent me.  As it turned out, Randi had gone to Kathryn to speak to her father who had passed from suicide the previous year.  It was amazing she said, and it had helped her tremendously … and she was a different person because of it.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage to email Kathryn … but I did … I was careful not to give her much information.  All I said was that I had lost someone close to me … did she do readings for people?  Kathryn responded very quickly as well, and the first thing she said to me was how sorry she was for my loss.  Yes, she did readings for people and her website would give me all of the pertinent details.

Immediately I went to that website.  The first thing that came up was her  biography.  I read it and just about fell off my chair.  Kathryn’s college majors had been psychology and sociology … the same as Liz’s.  Kathryn had also attended the U of M to get her masters in criminal justice, and she worked for many years supervising dangerous criminals.  Liz’s career goal was to become a criminal psychologist and work with dangerous criminals!

I was stunned … the similarities between Liz and Kathryn were overwhelming in my mind and I took it as a HUGE sign that Liz was in on this and she would come through for me.  Why Kathryn even drove a Saturn!  I laughed uncontrollably when I read that.  We had a Saturn for nine years.  It was to become Liz’s car … until she had an accident and totalled it out. 

This event was the beginning of a marvelous new life for me and new way of thinking and perceiving the world that has been nothing but JOYOUS! 

Sadly, November 22, 2003 also reminds me of loss.  JFK was assassinated 40 years ago.  And, I remember so vividly hearing the first news reports of a college aged girl named Dru who was missing and feared abducted.  Having lost my own college age daughter two months earlier, the story resonated in my soul.  However, we were lucky … we knew where Liz was.  The Sjodin’s were in a hellish limbo until the following April when Dru’s body was found.

Linda Walker, Dru’s mom, has done her best to be sure her daughter did not die in vain.  Check out her website:  http://drusvoice.com

Linda is proof that through terrible tragedy, loss, and excruciating pain … we can still make a difference in our world.  I’m remembering Linda, her family and most of all Dru and wishing them peace.


A Nurse Named Liz

14 Nov

I spent some time in Rochester this week.  My sister was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  On Wednesday she had a very successful surgery, and she is now recovering just a block away from me at our parents home.

When situations like a serious illness arise, it is always stressful.  But there are also great opportunities for learning and growth … for everyone.  I have every confidence that this is a learning experience for my sister and for our entire family.  And, it brings us together as a family even closer than we already are.

My sister (at least to my knowledge) has never felt like she ever gets any signs from her oldest niece – my daughter Liz.  I’m always sad about that and I keep asking Liz to do something and hoping that one day it will happen.

Last week I said, “OK Liz, if there ever was a time when you needed to connect with Auntie, this is it.”  Of course, anyone who knows Liz, knows that you can ask, plead, and beg and she still might not do it.  (some things just never change.) 

Wednesday was a long day of waiting.  I had forgotten about Liz and was just trying to keep myself occupied with the magazines and books I had brought along to pass the time.  Rochester is such a fantastic medical facility.  They take care of everyone in such great ways.  We had continuous contact with a nurse who kept us informed of how the surgery was progressing.  And, we hadn’t even gotten into the pre-op room yet, and we had a chaplain there to offer a prayer for my sister and our family. 

About 3 pm another nurse came in to tell us she would be taking us up to Sue’s room.  She was in recovery and would be back soon.

She said, “Hello, Baldwin family!  My name is Liz and I’ll be taking you up to the 6th floor.”  I just broke out laughing!  Everyone looked at me with confused expressions … what on earth is funny?  I said, “Really, your name is Liz?”  And I tried hard to end my laughing.  By this time Liz the nurse probably thought I had cracked under the stress.  I finally got it out that my daughter’s name was Liz.  Oh, she said nodding, still thinking I must be a few marbles short.

But you see, it was no coincidence that Liz the nurse was involved in our activities that day.  That was my Liz’s way of letting me know she was present!  Of course, there are those who will say, oh no it was simply a coincidence … and of course, they have every right to believe that if they choose.

But think about this —  if you were very present with your family, only they couldn’t see or hear you, how would you let them know you were there? (without scaring them).   Through other people  … and then you hope like heck somebody picks up on it and figures it out.

I’ve been fortunate these past 5 years because those signs always seem to me to be as obvious as the nose on my face. 

I don’t know if anything else happened while we were in Rochester, but Liz did make her presence known … and that’s a wonderful thing.

Once again …. it’s a good thing!

20 Oct

Once again Liz’s smiling persona is out there for people to see … it brings me such JOY!

Check out this blog link:  http://bolstablog.wordpress.com


And make note, today is the 20th of the month!

Wink – wink – nod – nod – shout out to Mom from Liz!

Toward the Light Radio Show

4 Oct

This is now archived and can be listened to by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to the bottom and hit the SOUND button above the line, listen to Kimberly Wencl


A Teachable Moment

21 Sep

Yesterday was a beautiful day in many ways.  One of the best parts of it for me was that I was able to share just a little bit of the extraordinary experiences and way I view the world with the Speckiens, the Heidens and family and friends.

The Heiden’s and Speckien’s daughters were each married this summer.  Emily Speckien was married on a boat on the Mississippi River.  Margaret told the story of how the sun was shining but it was raining … but only on the river … and not enough to disrupt the ceremony.  It ended as quickly as it began and a huge double rainbow appeared and was captured in some of the wedding pictures.  And, Margaret said, they all knew it was their sign that Amanda was present and very happy.

Beth Heiden was married in Wisconsin … also on a rainy day, one week prior to Emily’s wedding.  They live in Racine, so they took several pictures on the shores of Lake Michigan.  A single rainbow appeared and is captured on several of their pictures.  When the wedding party arrived at the reception and Darlene told one of her friends about the rainbow, her friend excitedly went to the gift table, opened up the box containing all of the wedding cards, and dug through them until she found the card she had given to Beth and Mike.

Open this card right now she demanded.  Wondering why it was so urgent, Beth did as she suggested.  She opened the card, and the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow started to play.  Her friend excitedly went on to tell them that while at the card store she had asked Brian to help her select just the right card for Beth & Mike.  When she heard them tell about the rainbow in their pictures, she knew it was validation not only for her, but for everyone, that Brian was indeed present and acknowledging his sister’s most important day.

I was doing cartwheels in my mind … I was so happy.  I have always questioned myself if I should share more of my experiences with them … I knew how comforting they were for me … but my sense had always been NO, it would not be accepted, so I’ve always kept quiet.

Isn’t that just the freakiest story Darlene said?  I don’t think its freaky at all, I think it’s extremely comforting, I told her.  My friend believes in all that “wierd stuff” Darlene said.  “I believe in all the wierd stuff too, I told her — I’ve just had way to many amazing experiences in the last 5 years not too.”  I secretly hoped they would want to know more … but they didn’t.

I did share my story of 9/19 of Liz’s message and Monique’s email.  They all listened and thought long and hard.  I gave them as much as they could handle … it wasn’t much, but it’s a start.  It will be food for thought and may perhaps lead them to look at life differently and think about Brian in a new way … and that’s a very good thing.

Anna excitedly exclaimed, “Well I’m sure when I get married Liz will give me a triple rainbow!”  After all, she always wants to out do everyone and be the best at everything she does.”  I had to agree … but a triple rainbow???  That I can’t wait to see!

Today is the day …

20 Sep

Wow … it’s September 20th … the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind but yesterday has to go down as one of the best days of my life.  My day was made by 7:30 am (if you don’t know what I’m talking about read my blog entry from yesterday).

I went to Van Cleve Park yesterday and did a story with Darcy Pohland of WCCO TV.  My two best girlfriends, Julie and Jeanne, came along and Julie drove.  It was an absolute beautiful day.  We got to the park with time to spare so I could walk them around and show them Liz’s house and show them the memorial tree.

Darcy arrived and we taped for about an hour.  It was like having a conversation with someone I’ve known for a very long time.  We went over to the house and decided to knock on the door to see if anyone was home.

A very nice young man answered the door and agreed to come out and talk to us.  Do you know what happened at this house 5 years ago Darcy asked him?  I have no idea was his response.  Tell him Kim, Darcy responded.  So I did.  He was very shocked … the landlords never told us that he said. 

We went on to talk about fire prevention methods.  We were very happy to hear that the landlords had installed a smoke detector in every room and they are hooked into the electrical system so they can’t be dismantled.

Another HUGE improvement was that the house is no longer a duplex … which means there are now two exits … the front exit and the back exit.  This is crucial because when Liz lived there, the only exit from the house was in front through the porch … which is where the fire started.

I was so happy to see this progress has been made.  If you want to watch the story the link is:


Well, I wonder if Liz has any other tricks up her sleeve to amaze me today — time will tell … expect the unexpected … and live in JOY!

Something Really Cool Just Happened!

19 Sep

Something really amazing has just happened and I need to share it and document it.

Each morning I like to get up early, drink coffee and be on my computer to listen to music, play spider solitare, check emails, etc.  I have over 100 songs loaded and they play at random.  What I also have loaded is a phone message that Liz left us on 9-19-03 while she was at the Minnesota Wild Hockey game … “Hi Mom … it’s Liz … I’m at the game and I wanted to thank you for those tickets – they’re really awesome seats… so thank you very much … alright … bye.”

As I laid in bed this morning I thought about that message and I remember thinking that it hadn’t played in a long time.

I got up, got my coffee and headed into the computer room.  I turned it on, started my first solitare game and started the music.  After a couple of games, which I won, I checked my email.  I had a new email from Monique, who was Liz’s college roommate and one of her very closest friends.  Monique wanted to let us know that she was sad that she would not be at our anniversary gathering this year … she’s attending grad school in Chicago.

I just want you to know, she said, I think about Liz every day and she is the reason I chose Psychology.  Liz loved it and she knew how helpful it could be for people in need.

Just as I opened up Monique’s email and started to read it … Liz’s message came on.  I just had to smile … Liz was letting me know she was fine, and she wanted me to let Monique know as well, which I did.

She is so close whenever we need her.  Life is good … life is JOYOUS!

Make your day GREAT!

Happy Birthday Liz

12 Sep


9/12/83  –  9/20/03

Love, Mom

This Change is Good

6 Sep

My work life for the past year has been tumultuous at best … never a steady even keel like I had grown use to.  Up until about 10 days ago I had been able to take everything in stride, deal with it, and survive … but it hasn’t been easy.

However, last week things changed dramatically for the worse.  I went home after another very difficult day – shut myself off from the outside world – and had some quiet time with God and The Universe.  I needed help to somehow improve my working situation and I had absolutely no clue what to do or where to even start to make that possible.

I’ve been at my company for over 34 years now … I could quit if I really, really wanted to.  But I’d like to hang in there until 7-31-09.  On that day I will be 55 yrs old and will have been with the company for a little over 35 years.  That is a huge milestone that I would like to achieve.

As luck would have it –and after all my experiences of the past 5 years I know luck has absolutely nothing to do with it — I had scheduled my  yearly physical for last Thursday (although it’s really been two years – I’m not much for going to the doctor unless I’m on my death bed).   When I told my doctor about all the chaos … she immediately recommended a medical leave of absence, which I didn’t argue with.  I’ll be at home, away from my job, for a minimum of 2 weeks.

It is a welcome break and it will give me a chance to get some balance back into my life and just breathe.

It is proof once again that when you need something, all you have to do is ask.  A medical leave was something that had never crossed my mind.  I thought my options were to quit or once again suck it up and be tough.

My sense is that there is more to this story and I’m anxiously waiting to see how it will all unfold.  It is such a relief to have this break though and I’m going to savor every moment.  As the saying goes, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”  Not sure who gets credit for that one, but I love it.

Make your day great!

Our Plans for September 20, 2008

25 Aug

Our plans to honor and remember our children are coming together in a most amazing, very special, and wonderful way.

The Speckeins, Heidens and the Wencl’s will be attending the “6th Annual Como Neighborhood Picnic” put on by the U of M and the Como Park neighborhood on Saturday, September 20th.

It will be held in Van Cleve Park, right across the street from the house where the kids lived.  There will be food, music, games and resource tables!  We will be manning a resource table handing out fire safety literature to anyone we can.  We’ve put together a flyer that I hope will get our message across.

  In addition we’ll be handing out candy — specifically lifesavers — do you get our play on words?   Lifesaver candy goes along with “lifesaving” information! 

It is the perfect way for us to remember and honor our kids.  It will be held in their old stomping grounds — they loved the U … it will be fun, we’ll be able to do some good, and we will honor and remember them … all at the same time.

On Friday, the 19th I will be doing a news story with Darcy Pohland of WCCO.  Darcy has the U of M beat and I did a story with her a couple years ago.  We will talk about the picnic, our fire safety handout, and of course the 5 yr anniversary.

I find people are scratching their heads and saying … how can you do this?  But I say, how can I not do this?  This is a golden opportunity to pass on life saving information … there’s no going back … I can’t change what happened 5 years ago … but I can do something to change the future  … and I can talk about my girl … 5 years later and I still have opportunities to talk about my girl … there’s no way to express how special that is.  Most of all, I know it is what Liz would want.  She will be cheering us on from above … that is for sure.