Navigating loss, identity, and love in the “Chapter 3” of our lives.

First of all, let’s be grateful that we even made it to the Chapter Three of our lives. Not all of us are granted that status. By this stage of life, my loves, many of us have lost spouses, parents, pets, friends, or have even experienced the loss of a child.

Loss comes in other forms, as well: Loss through divorce, house fire, loss of a job due to covid, retirement, or “restructuring,” a.k.a. being replaced by a younger, less expensive (salary-wise) model. (Not fashion model, no. That’s the spousal department.)

We’re older and hopefully wiser. We’ve been around the block enough times to feel, well, dizzy! And, jumbled in with our various losses is the potential loss of our identity. Who are we, if not the caretaker of our loved ones, be they aging parents, ailing spouses, or terminally ill adult children who need help with the grandchildren?

We ask ourselves, What’s next? How do I begin this new chapter? I don’t know how to handle being in limbo. I’m so used to working a job or being busy serving others and sensing or asking them what they need or want.

I have so little practice taking time for myself and asking, “Hey, rock star! Me? Yes, you! What do you want? What have you set aside all these years? What’s a new idea that’s been waiting in the wings to be given center stage? What makes your heart area warm and fluttery…besides caring for others?”

Be the caretaker of you for five minutes…or longer, if you can stand it! Try this exercise. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to get off the couch…except for pen and paper.) What and who were you surrounded by growing up? What or who in that scenario do you want to keep, work through, or toss?

Make a list of both “good” and “bad.” (I put those words in quotes because once we depart this lovely planet, those qualifications no longer exist, I believe. Those are human determinations that we created. But that’s saved for another chapter, isn’t it?)

Ok, pen and paper ready? List what non-physical traits you inherited or were subconsciously influenced by in your childhood. What values were held by the adults around you? What shortcomings were in play?

Below is my list in no particular order: (names/roles were withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, but you should feel free to embellish your own list as you see fit. No one will read it…unless you post it on social media!)

Teaching/education
Book writing and creative writing
Theater
Love of animals
Love of children
Spirituality/psychic phenomena
Victimhood
Subservience
Strong work ethic
Creativity
Dance
Music (piano playing, singing, songwriting)
Avoidance of conflict
Abundance/money is “bad.”
Abundance/money is success.
Reverence for Nature
Quaker meeting
Atheism
Soft spoken parents
Mental health issues
Divorce

I’m sure there’s more, but making this list will help bring you back to your roots and who you are and how you feel about the influences of your upbringing.

End of Part I.

“Is it ME??” Dealing with a narcissist.

Spirit reminds us that our greatest teachers in life are our enemies, the ones who cause us the most strife. Well, then. There are a few in my life who deserve the Teacher of the Year (or lifetime) award. I’m sure you have them too. None of us get out of this unscathed! But hopefully, in the process of circumnavigating obstacles, we gain wisdom and strength.

Narcissist #1 came into my life when I was 16. Of course, no such label was known by the family about her. No. We all had to figure this out for ourselves. Being an empath, it took me years to unravel the mountains and valleys of deceit, the twists and turns of deciphering the hidden manipulation, gas-lighting lies, and wedge driving that was instigated by this individual. I spent decades thinking it was me that had to change, to rise above, to love unconditionally.

I tried all that. It worked for a while, and then back down the mountain of deceit I fell.

We need to recognize, dear Empaths, when we have been enticed into their sticky web with kindness, generosity, and charm. Narcissists excel at this façade, and save their rage for those to whom we show allegiance outside their circle. They’ll tell outright lies about them to drive a wedge of distrust and keep you for themselves.

“Narcissists present a false self, where they can seem charming and intelligent, and even giving, until you don’t do things their way, and then they get cold, withholding and punishing,” says Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide. They’re incapable of feeling empathy, although they will use such language to their advantage.

Narcissists require admiration, attention, and allegiance. Perhaps this was lacking in their childhood. Whatever. Not our fault, Empaths! Not our path. Not ours to fix!

The hidden toxicity of this relationship is dangerous to one’s mental health. Empaths endeavor to create harmony. Narcissists relish in creating chaos. It’s a no-win situation. Keep your distance and recognize the behaviors before they suck the lifeblood out of you. Like mosquitoes, they seek out their prey: Empaths, the bleeding hearts of the world.

Let Your Breath Be Your Pace

I have to fashion a bridge across the deep dark crevice of emotional pain that threatens to swallow me whole. I ask you now Spirit Guides and loved ones who’ve gone beyond to help me thread together this passageway that I may walk it slowly with ease and without incident. Can you help in this difficult path I see before me? Your Love is my Love is Me.

Dear One, fear not. It is your Nature to cling, to hop to the next stone of worry across what you feel is a burning lava at your feet. Allow yourself to let go. This is not yours to control. It must follow its own path and evolve without your input.

Yes, of course, you may indeed take action on your own behalf but no guarantees are given. There is probability, there is potential, there is free Will. You ask if this will be a lengthy process. You seek a Yes or a No. However, the Way of Nature is flow and undulation. Does a wave reach the shore in the same manner each time it is thrown forward? There is no “yes or no” when all the little droplets of water that make up the wave have each a mind of their own.

You feel a tsunami is upon you with all that is happening at the same time, and yet you can only breathe one breath at a time. Let your breath be the pace that you adhere to. Let the forces be at work here. You will come out the other side – renewed, whole, invigorated.

Keep your thoughts on the sea of infinite possibilities and allow, allow, allow the Unknown. These trials are for you, to shape you, to grow, to push against for strength and endurance. Only diamonds become diamonds by the pressure they endure.

You will rise, shining in the Glory of the Love you emit and Spread to the World. Fear not, for the Love of Spirit is within you and around you always.

Healing Me Softly With His Song

A local dairy farm, Maple Valley Creamery, sells ice cream cones out of a small wooden hut. Each week, they give away free cones to specific names. One week it was for anyone who shared a name with someone in The Brady Bunch. My name is Jan, so my husband and I decided to take the 40 minute drive to get my free ice cream!

I had been worried about my daughter who has been going through months of chemo. She hadn’t been feeling well of late. I decided that a ride in the countryside to get an ice cream was what I needed.

We drove along winding, tree-lined roads that follow the river, past farm fields and past the Hadley Mall to the Hadley Scoop, as the colorful hut is called. We walked up to the window. I ordered one scoop of strawberry shortcake ice cream on a gluten-free cone. They use fresh strawberries!

Behind the hut was a seating area complete with fenced in cows, goats, and sheep for petting. We found a small picnic table in the middle and got settled, licking our creamy treats. We faced the music. There was a guy singing and playing guitar for tips on a six inch riser. He sang a Chris Stapleton song I was unfamiliar with, but the ambiance he created was soothing.

I heard lyrics about Jesus and angels. My ears perked up. I waited for the refrain, as my heart opened up and my daughter slipped in.

Don’t go looking for the reasons
Don’t go asking Jesus why
We’re not meant to know the answers
They belong to the by and by.

Angels come down from the heavens
Just to help us on our way.

Tears flooded my eyes. I tried to hold them back while silently licking my ice cream. One or two escaped. I felt singled out. This song, this message, was meant for me in this moment, I thought. He was healing me softly with his song.

Unraveling Our Heritage

I recently came across a passage about Spirituality and Abundance while rereading
Anita Moorjani’s latest book, Sensitive is the New Strong. I scanned the pages and shared them with my daughter who, like me—since I was the one who raised her—struggles with allowing, and not resisting, abundance in her life and work.

Money. Just the word congers up a wad of mixed emotions. Guilt. Desire. Fear. Gratitude. We weren’t born with any innate feelings about this social construct; we were taught by example or had experiences that led us to this end as adults.

Let’s face it, we need money in our society in order to survive, in order to own shelter, in order to eat, to be well, to seek treatment for ailments. Some abandon society’s demands and choose to be homeless, to scavenge or beg on street corners. But that’s got to be a tough life, too. One that’s not for me, if I can avoid it. I’d rather struggle to make ends meet with the basics. Well, truth is, I’d rather not have to struggle.

In my experience, we reap that which we believe. If we believe we’re not lovable, we reap crappy relationships. If we believe the world is unkind and dangerous, we attract such experiences. If we believe we are not deserving of abundance for whatever reason, be it low self-esteem, a wish to be closer to God, or a belief in its “evil” nature, we attract less of it. The Universe provides by supporting our beliefs.

The issue lies, then, in changing our long-held beliefs. It’s easy to trace their origins. I just look under the rock I crawled out from while in the care of my parents. My mom, a gentle spiritual, but also troubled soul, chose poverty to be closer to God and live among the poor. This came after the divorce and just shy of completing her master’s degree. My dad, a former professor, seemed a little tight fisted around money which may be why we always seemed to have enough.

I take after my mother, being highly intuitive, sensitive, and spiritual in nature and wanting to help people. At age 16, I won a creative writing contest in Seventeen magazine for which I was awarded $30. I donated half to a non-profit children’s fund. Already I was practicing self-lessness and feelings of not deserving of abundance if others were in need.

As an adult, I still give to charity on occasion, but I have also learned that it’s ok to keep 100% of what I earn, especially when I’m helping people. In my channeling practice, I help clients by being a vessel so their Guides can convey needed messages to them. It’s a fair trade.

Channeling is my North Node, astrologically speaking, my Dharma, my calling. Many people get paid for following their calling, some make millions. I was given this gift as a means to survive in this lifetime, whether it be for my own Guidance, or to help others navigate theirs.

I continue to unravel my heritage.