You are the Hub of the Wheel

This personal discovery exercise has always been a big success in my workshops and online. What did you find when you created your “wheel?” Did you share it with family? How did they react?

hub of the wheel

Imagine yourself as the hub of this wheel with daily life revolving around you. Think of the spokes of the wheel as connections to those you care for most. The wheel’s activities, responsibilities surround you, spinning and spinning through each day, week, and year. You are central, the key to keeping it all balanced. Recognizing this, you must care enough about yourself to preserve your mental, physical, and emotional health. And consider this… when you’re out of sorts, the wheel’s balance is too. If you haven’t taken the time to give yourself the nurturing you require, the wheel can lose balance and begin to wobble!

Some years ago, while on vacation, I recognized my own wheel-wobble. I wondered why I couldn’t put more oomph into just having fun with my family. Doing my job, both jobs, 1) taking care of my family and 2) working a full-time job, took every ounce of energy I had. I had nothing left to give. Fun, what was that? Playing cards or a board game, going to the museums, taking walks, watching movies just didn’t seem as needed as keeping the house clean, doing the laundry, running the errands, getting my youngsters where they needed to go, you name it, I was doing it. The “work” side of the wheel was heavier than the fun side, and I was wobblin’ big time!

Who suffers when we don’t care for ourselves? Right, we do, and not just us, but everyone we come into contact with. We are the home base for our family, the safety net everyone falls into. We need to be rested, happy, healthy and nurtured. Use the lists you created from the last blog, “Me Time,” to help you do this next exercise.


  1. Draw a circle or other shape in the center of a blank sheet of paper and write your name in the center.
  2. Choose another color to draw spokes outward. Label each spoke a responsibility or commitment you have to someone, i.e., husband, wife, significant other, children, pets, church, school committees, civic organizations, fun activities with friends, etc.… Anyone or anything you have day-to-day or week-to-week contact with should be included. Whatever takes time in your life, write it in.
  3. Using another color, draw branches off of each spoke. These will represent duties and responsibilities you regularly perform for that individual, pet, or organization.
  4. Finally, choosing one last colored marker or pencil, encircle your responsibilities connect them one to the next, surrounding the spokes like a tire revolving and spinning on the hub.

Now take the time to look over your wheel and reflect. Who do you spend the most time with? Who or what is an energy drainer? Who or what do you wish you might spend more time with? What do you want to change? Use this visual tool to evaluate your life activities. Do it every week if necessary to get a visual for where your time goes. Turn the autopilot off and make the conscious decision to LOOK at what you do. We will use information from this exercise in later modules to help change your focus to areas you have passion for or goals you wish to take steps toward.


  1. Who or what do you spend the most time with?
  2. Who or what do you wish to spend more time with?
  3. What do you want to change?

Kudos for this activity:  A workshop participant emailed me several weeks after doing this particular exercise to tell me that he had taped the wheel to the refrigerator for the entire family to see. He wrote, “The kids were amazed at how much I do on a day-to-day basis, other than going to work. After studying my “wheel,” they decided to pitch in to help where they could. Thank you for bringing the awareness of how much I do, not just to me, but to my family as well.”

Give it a try. Post your “Wheel” and see what reaction you get from family members, friends, or colleagues.

Copyright 2005 Library of Congress TXU-877-864

Meeting challenges

Overcoming Obstacles

Obstacles are hurdles that may prevent us from reaching a specific goal. Let’s put a positive spin on it and change the word obstacle to challenge. What are the challenges that you face on the climb to your goal? Pull out a blank piece of paper, sketch a wall and write your challenges on the bricks. Then, brick by brick, begin to break down the wall with solutions. 

photo by Joe Dudeck

In 2001, my goal was to complete a Master’s degree. I filled out the wall and addressed each brick individually. Some of my challenges included:

Childcare = Hire a mother’s helper or pay my older daughter to help while I was at school or studying

Dinners = Cook a double meal the day before or order pizza

Motivation = Call a friend for moral support (Help!)

Tuition = Sit down and work out a budget plan

Study time = Include study time on my weekly calendar

Being away from the house = Have a family meeting explaining my goal

I completed my Master’s and later went on to do post-graduate work. Having the visual, sharing it with my kids and others who worked with me along the way helped me to see that completing my goal wasn’t as daunting as I’d first imagined. I had ideas. We had solutions. It took some work with the budgeting pieces, getting creative to pay tuition, and making sure we were all fed while I worked full-time and went to school in the evening, but I did it and you can too.

It’s your turn. What are your bricks?  What actions will you take to address the challenges confronting you? Do you need a friend to help you brainstorm options? Or perhaps a family member? Give this exercise a go. Sometimes all we need is a visual to help us noodle out what needs to be in place to reach our goals.

Simple creative goal setting

Creative Goal Setting

This is the fifth module in a series of self-care exercises that I developed and facilitated in workshops over a 25 year period. Putting our dreams on the back burner is common in the life of a caretaker. Do you have a goal you’d like to work toward? By now, if you’ve been following the workshop blog posts, you have a good list of things you’d like to begin doing for yourself. Modules one through four assisted in giving you visuals of what you do for others and ideas of activities for yourself. It’s time to choose one activity as a goal and start taking steps toward incorporating that activity into your life. The following exercise will help you create a visual form of the goal and steps needed toward having it become a reality. You can construct this visual small in size, or as large as life. Let’s get started.

photo by Peter Fogden

1.)  Choose one goal or activity you have seen emerge as a result of having done the last four workshop modules. 

2.)  Using a big piece of construction paper, draw/sketch a “goal figure.” Once you have created this goal figure, you may consider buying a piece of foam board construction paper. It provides a strong backing and lasts much longer than plain construction paper. Back when I created these modules, goal figures were drawn on flipchart paper. I hung my figures in prominent places so that members of the family could see what I was working toward. 

The flipchart paper wore out fairly quickly, so I glued it to foamboard. I encourage you to build your goals on something strong so that as you move through each of the actions needed to reach those goals, over time, you will have something that hasn’t fallen apart. I draw goal figures freehand, just a simple figure, nothing fancy. Be creative. The is meant to be a visual representation of what you would like to see happen in your life and the actions that you will take to make that goal a reality.

3.)  In the center of the goal figure you’ve sketched, draw a heart or circle.  Within the circle write the one activity or goal you would like to focus on. It can be as simple as having an hour a week to de-stress or as challenging as going back to school. This represents your heats desire.

4.)  On the head and limbs of your figure, write actions you will take toward accomplishing what you have written in the center of your heart or circle. You might include brainstorming with others, getting childcare so that you have time away from home, coming up with the funds to enroll in an outside activity, getting moral support from a family member, making phone calls to local colleges, and so forth. 

5.)  Finally, use the goal figure activity as often as needed to focus on a particular path and its end product.

In the early 90’s, I used this technique to create a visual for going back to school to complete a BA in curriculum and training design. I completed that goal, and continued on to do a masters in higher education, and later additional certificate work in professional writing. I find if my hearts desire is out there where I can see it every day, I am better motivated.

Don’t let your dreams get tucked away in the busyness of everyday life, autopilot living, and putting others needs before my own. Give this simple exercise a try. Hang your goal figure on the fridge where your family can see it.

Let me know how it works for you. Share your progress.

Caretakers life balance

This is the fourth module in a series of self-care exercises that I developed and facilitated in workshops over a 25 year period. The practices are just as relevant today, as they were then. Especially now, when we find ourselves working at home, and caring for family at the same time. Or maybe you’re part of the “sandwich” generation, caring for older parents and children too. How do you strike a balance between caring for yourself and caring for others?

Striking a Balance

Do you take the time to relax?  Do you get enough exercise? Do you make time for yourself in the day?  Do you spend time with friends or doing a hobby?  Do these questions make you nervous? Complete the following totally non-scientific and fun quiz to determine where you’re at on the self-nurturing scale.


1.) I have friends I spend time with:
a) when I can squeeze them into my schedule.
b) Once a month or so.
c) On a regular basis.
d) A couple of times a year.

2.) I have some form of spirituality in my life through weekly service,
meditation, or group gathering:
a) Under consideration.
b) Somewhat.
c) Every week.
d) Only on holidays.

3.) I sleep at least:
a) 4 hours a night.
b) 6 hours a night.
c) 7-8 hours a night.
d) Whenever I get the chance.

4.) I enjoy my job:
a) Rarely.
b) When things are going my way.
c) Most of the time.
d) Not at all.

5.) I have an annual physical and take care of my health:
a) If I am on my deathbed.
b) Sometimes.
c) On a regular basis.
d) Seldom.

6.) I have quiet time set aside for myself:
a) Rarely, I have no time.
b) Sometimes.
c) Almost every day and I love it!
d) Quiet time?

7.) I eat healthily, avoiding fatty or highly sugared foods or drinks:
a) Rarely, who has time to eat?
b) About 50% of the time.
c) Enjoying a variety of healthy menus.
d) Several times a year, fast food is my friend.

8.) I exercise:
a) Less than once a week.
b) 2-3 times per week.
c) 3-5 times per week.
d) When I take out the garbage.

9.) I have a regular afternoon or evening away from kids or my
significant other for myself:
a) once a year.
b) Every month.
c) Every week.
d) To do what?

10.) I attend something of interest to me, i.e., a concert, get a massage
attend an art exhibit, get involved in some other hobby:
a) Only once or twice a year.
b) Sometimes.
c) Very often, and I find it rewarding.
d) I have no interests right now.

Scoring your quiz:

Go back and give yourself the following points for each letter:

A = 3 points
B = 5 points
C = 10 points
D = 1 point

1.) ___

2.) ___

3.) ___

4.) ___

5.) ___

6.) ___

7.) ___

8.) ___

9.) ___

10.) ___

Total: _____

10 to 49 points – Your self-care practice is sadly lacking. In the pages that follow, go over the suggestions below. Start putting together a plan to incorporate some of these actions into your daily life.

50 to 79 points – Not bad. Still, it’s best to look over the questions where the scores are low to make some changes. Use the ideas that follow to help you get started with self-nurturing.

80 to 100 points – Great job! Keep going. You are practicing excellent self-nurturing skills. Use the suggestions that follow to enhance what you’re already doing.


1.)  Spending Time With Friends

Having a support system is essential. It gives you the ability to open up with someone, talk over thoughts and feelings, or bounce ideas off someone you feel safe with.  Spending time with friends you can trust to be honest but gentle is an excellent self-nurturing practice.

To Do: Journal Activity: Name three people you would like to spend more time with.

2.)  Spirituality

Having a practice to connect with God, a Higher Power, your inner self or other people in a spiritual setting is an excellent way of reducing life stress, inviting healing into your life, and finding peace.

To Do: Journal Activity: How have you/will you incorporate spirituality into your day?

3.)  Sleep

According to the second annual Better Sleep Council Stress Survey, sleep changed with Covid. In January 2020, 54% of Americans were getting the minimum 7-8 hours of recommended sleep. As of March (2020), fewer than half (49%) did. ( Recommendations for better sleep include maintaining a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, even on weekends. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Create a comfy, quiet environment for yourself. Invest in a good mattress and pillows. Finish eating two to three hours before your regular bedtime, and avoid caffeine.

To Do: What are three things you can begin doing right now so that you sleep better at night?

4.)  Your Job

Having little control in your work environment, lack of support from coworkers and supervisors, having a job that doesn’t fit you means you are more likely to suffer from stress than individuals who are happy with what they’ve chosen to do for a living. Experts today recommend that to relieve stress, you should change your work conditions by reducing workload, increasing control over your work environment, and seeking more social support. Avoid burnout by doing the following things:

a. Take steps toward balancing workload – Talk with your manager or supervisor.
b. Talk with your boss about rigid company policies and your ability to manage a given project or situation.
c. Rewards are a big part of feeling valued; discuss a reward/promotion option with management.
d. Team efforts are better than going it alone. Look to your coworkers; bring them together if possible to share knowledge and ideas for getting the job done.
e. Your values are vital to the workplace. Keep your standards high no matter how others may be operating. It gives you the ability to take pride in your work.

To Do: What are two things you will do to make your work environment a more positive experience?

5.)  Annual Checkups

Monitoring blood pressure, weight, yearly comprehensive blood workup, prostate exams for men, and mammograms and pap smears for women are part of taking responsibility for oneself. If you have not had a physical this year, stop right now, call your physician and schedule an appointment. Take charge of your health.

To Do: Write in your journal what you will do right now to begin taking charge of your health?

6.)  Quiet Time

By creating quiet time-space in your busy day, you can restore balance to your mind, body, and spirit. Schedule it into your day. Thirty minutes at a minimum is best. Pick a favorite spot, an outdoor bench at the office, at home in a favorite chair, going for a walk to contemplate nature, whatever works for you. Let your mind relax by meditating on a place you’ve visited where you found peace or a prayer or mantra you know by heart. You’ll find you have more energy and better continue through the rest of your day once you’ve finished.

To Do: Journal activity – List how you will incorporate quiet time into your day?

7.)  Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is an important factor in controlling stress. Eating a healthy diet most of the time prepares you physically for any stressful environment that comes your way.  It’s time to look at your eating habits.  Does your diet include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables? Are you watching your intake of caffeine and sugars? Boost your energy and your health level by incorporating healthy eating into your daily life.

To Do: Take note of your food. Are you eating healthy?  If not, what will you change beginning today?

8.)  Exercise

Incorporating aerobic/cardiovascular exercise three times a week reduces stress and the chance of heart attack. There are many ways to get aerobic exercise. Some of these include:

Walking briskly




Weight training is another way to build muscle tone and body shape.  Twice a week is the norm.  You should work towards 12 to 15 repetitions.

To Do: Reserve time in your calendar for the day and activity you will do to blend exercise in with the rest of your schedule.

9.)  Regular Time for Self

Regular time away from children, parents, friends, or other significant others that gobble up time in your life is healthy. Plan to do something that energizes you lifts you up and makes you aware of your own needs. During this time, be open to your own feelings about what your world consists of right now. Write in your journal, go for a walk to clear the cobwebs, watch an inspirational film or read the biography of someone you admire. Take time to break away from the norm every day.  Do it for you.

To Do: Make a list of what will you do for yourself this week. Choose something that energizes you and makes you feel good about being who you are. Do this away from kids or other significant others who would otherwise dictate your schedule. 

10.) A Strong Interest “Retreat” by Yourself or With Someone Else

Look into a vacation you’ve been dreaming about or a quiet retreat somewhere beautiful where you can connect with nature. Turn off the phone, read and relax, give yourself a break from the constant stress of responding to the needs of others. Immerse yourself in a favorite pastime, like cooking, painting, or biking. Whatever you choose, let it be something you enjoy and not something you do for someone else. What will it be?  A week in the woods?  A quiet weekend browsing antique stores?  Week-long cooking classes?

To Do: Start looking for an activity you have a strong interest in. Register for that class, book that weekend away, enroll in a cooking class.

How’d you do?  The ten topics I chose are based on the experience I’ve had with workshop groups over twenty years. People consistently talked about needing time for themselves and having quality time with significant others. Take some time now to do this revealing visual activity. On one side of the scale, list a few activities you do for others over a week. On the other side, balance your scale by writing in something you do for yourself the same week. Both sides should have an equal number of entries. Do they?

Copyright 2005 Library of Congress TXU-877-864

Voices of the past

This is the third in a series of self-care exercises that I created and facilitated in workshops over a 25 year period. The practices are just as relevant today, as they were then. Especially now, when we find ourselves working at home, and caring for family at the same time. Who’s voices and words do you still hear? How do these words affect your life now? Did you move past the past? Please share your comments below. I’d love to hear your story.

Voices of childhood

person using computer on brown wooden table
photo by Robert Bye

Recognizing constant and perhaps habitual day-to-day busyness, I questioned my past.  Did my mom practice self-care?  What was modeled for me as a child?  Thinking back, I realize that she did work very hard at taking care of the household and all of the mundane tasks.  She cooked, cleaned, shopped, was our taxi service, did the banking, everything!  She seemed tireless. 

Besides getting as much as she could accomplish on any given day, she also put aside time to hang out with us kids.  We played Old Maid, built Lincoln Log homes, and got out the army guys to battle.  As we grew into our teen years, she attended football games, concerts, talent shows and drove us all over town. 

My mother was a hero in my eyes.  She, completely exhausted after caring for nine children and working a job on top of it, still spent time with us.  The thing is, she was tired.  She was overextended, and she did not practice self-care until many years later, when most of us were grown and had left the nest.  I’ve become the same hero!

Another early memory is of my father coming home from work to find my mom catching an afternoon cat-nap on the couch between us kids coming home from school and dinner being put on the table.  He would yell out how lazy she was for resting in the middle of the day.  He was also one of those people who couldn’t sit down.  I believe my inability to sit down all of these years was primarily due to the echo of those “lazy” words.  It used to be I would get very antsy, almost anxious when sitting for more than a few minutes, not anymore.

A girlfriend modeled something for me that I knew I should be doing for myself. She practiced sitting.  I would call her to check in, say hello, and find out what was up.  When I asked what she was doing, she’d often say, “Sitting in the kitchen staring out the patio doors.”  “What? Why?”  I would ask in amazement.  “Don’t you have anything to do?” 

“Of course,” she’d reply, “There is lots to do.  I have cleaning to do and should probably head to the grocery store.  But for now, I’m just sitting.”  I really thought there was something wrong with her.  But after a while, I realized she was much calmer than I most of the time.  She didn’t seem as harried or stressed.  She told me it was because she took the time to “just sit.”

And so, I decided to do the same.  I started with sitting out on the deck patio swing for a few minutes at a time.  My original goal was five minutes.  The first day, I only made it two minutes, but I felt it was a success all the same.  Funny, as I sat there that first day, I remember my mind racing, thinking about everything I could or should be doing.  Still, I sat, and I forced myself to stare out at the backwoods behind my house, a gorgeous area that often went unnoticed.  Each time I forced myself out to the deck, the minutes grew. 

white ceramic mug on white table cloth
photo by Lydia Kasianna

Today, I can easily sit outside and stare at the trees for a solid hour or longer, and on a Sunday afternoon, you may find me laying on the swing, napping for as long as strikes my fancy.  This behavior was unheard of when I started my self-discovery process. 

Close your eyes for a few minutes travel back to the days of your childhood home.  What are the sounds you hear?  What are the words and actions that stand out in your memory?

I ask you to look now at what was modeled for you?  Are you repeating patterns?  Do you have habitual behaviors that can be recognized and changed? 

Grab a pen and paper, or your journal. Answer these questions:

What was modeled for you?

What would you like to do differently?

What simple steps will you take to make changes?

Copyright 2005 Library of Congress TXU-877-864

The caretaker caring for self

We Are Primary Caretakers

I wrote this self-care workshop exercise over 15 years ago. It is just as relevant today as it was then. Nurturing self is tough for caretakers, no matter who they are caring for. They may be raising children, taking care of a partner or sibling, or attending to a senior parent who can no longer care for themselves. The next few blog posts will be exercises from the full workshop for you to complete and maybe gain insight. This is number one of nine exercises. Enjoy!

woman and toddler sitting beside field painting
Woman and Toddler – Birmingham Museum

For many years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several types of support groups. It’s become very apparent that many of us, being the primary caretakers in our families, have not learned self-nurturing, one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.

Discussing the topic of self-nurturing with others, I’ve found that taking care of oneself is an almost alien concept.  What do I mean by self-nurturing?  Definitions of nurturing include: “…anything that nourishes; the act or process of raising or promoting the development of; training; rearing; upbringing; and fostering (Webster’s).” 

We sustain family members.  We raise our children while maintaining a healthy environment for them, care for them when they are sick, promote education and steer family members in a particular direction when a talent is recognized.  We are there to lift up our spouses or significant others when they’re blue.  We rise in the morning thinking of others.  We go through each day, each hour, and each moment planning how we will care for our family members or friends. 

As a single mother of four children, ages nine through twenty-four,  I get up in the morning, jump into the shower, and I’m already thinking of the dentist appointments, what time does dinner need to be made, and what will I prepare?  How will I get my fifteen-year-old to a club meeting and still get to a parent-teacher conference at the elementary school that evening?  And on, and on. All thought of within a minute or two, once resolved I move on to thinking of other challenges of the day.

Significant activities are also challenging.  Whether to take post-graduate courses I may be interested in is an anxiety-ridden decision.  Who will help with evening homework if I’m not home? Who’ll care for my nine-year-old, give him dinner and get him to take a shower before he gets to bed?  Will my fifteen-year-old bring a troop of friends over while I’m out?  How will I prepare a meal before I leave for the evening?  And finally, IS THIS CLASS WORTH ALL OF THE AGGRAVATION? 

Talk about stress.  One simple decision becomes a masterpiece of confusion and anxiety.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Knowing how to care for ourselves, how to proceed on the journey through each day, taking care to preserve ourselves, being gentle on ourselves, being just as considerate of ourselves as we would a family member or friend is what we need to accomplish.

From a young age, we are raised to be caregivers.  From a young age, we are taught that our responsibility is to care for everyone else while our own needs are put aside.  Today, many of us are caring for children while at the same time caring for aging parents or other family members.

          Take the time now to do the following activity.  What are some of the things that you do for others daily?  This activity will help you put together a visual snapshot.


Take the time to list what you do for other people daily, right down to the smallest detail. 


Here’s an example of what a typical day might look like for me:

Cooked breakfast for my children before they leave for schoolCleaned up the dishes and started the dishwasher
Made school lunches and my lunch for workThrew in a load of laundry in both the dryer and the washer
Drove my fourth-grader to school  Made beds
Picked up toys and book bags  Paid Bills
Fed the birdsTook the dog out  
Took recycling out to the garage  Went to the bank
Stopped to pick up household goods  Worked a full 8+ hour day
Picked up my son from day careCooked dinner  
Helped all children with their homeworkThrew in another load of laundry  
Emptied the dishwasher  Cleaned up dinner dishes
Took time to write this book  Wrote in my nightly journal
Gave little guy a shower and tucked him into bedHelped my oldest son with his resume

My list is for a full day. I’ve probably missed several things.  When you listed your day out, you probably found it growing longer and longer with responsibilities you typically do on autopilot and promptly forget. 

What I ask you to do next is more of a challenge.  How much of your day is spent doing something for yourself, something rejuvenating or stress-free?  Something educational or a hobby you enjoy? 

List those activities here: 


I know you filled in fewer boxes.  Chances are you couldn’t fill in half of the spaces available.  And you’re not alone!  The majority of the people attending my workshops can’t fill them in either.   If you aren’t practicing self-care and are operating on overload, chances are significant others, or family members are suffering the backlash of your stressed life.  Not caring for you can lead to resentments toward others.  I am suggesting that you take the time to understand that your well-being is central to the well-being of those surrounding you.  So let’s take care of YOU!

Several years ago, I recognized how wrapped up in responsibilities I’d become.  I couldn’t sit down.  I had to learn to slow down.  Sit and relax.  I had to know that it was ok for me to have time just for me.  And I remind myself over and over again on a day-to-day basis because I forget!  That autopilot takes over, and, like you, I get buried in daily responsibilities all over again. It’s all about staying conscious when it comes to making choices.

Are you overdoing it? It’s time to take that first step towards self-care.  Realize that you are worthy of the same care you give others.  You are essential, and you are unique.

Incorporate a reality check into each morning of your day.  Evaluate what you want to happen in your day and how you will put some self-care into your schedule.  Set that time aside for yourself and stick to it as much as possible.  And check it out at the end of each day.  It doesn’t have to be some long impossible list. Here’s an example of some optional activities things I may incorporate into my day for enjoyment:

Catch a movie with a friendSit at the local bookstore and sip tea
Read for 30 minutes after dinnerWrite uninterrupted for one hour
Surf the net for 15 minutes to answer friends e-mailLunch with a friend at work
Sketch in my journalRead and post affirmations

These are just a few.  Other activities include taking a class, like watercolor or kickboxing, joining a book discussion club at the library, or having friends over once a week to sit and gab. 

What can you put on your list?  What would you like to do for yourself?


Now choose one activity and begin scheduling it into your day.  Make it formal by putting it on your calendar and marking it as a priority.

Copyright 2005 Library of Congress TXU-877-864

Sharing Sacred Hearts

person raising both hands

One particular meditative experience had a major impact on my life. In Spring 1994, I had come down with the seasonal flu. Sneezy, achy, and generally uncomfortable, I took to hanging out and sleeping in the spare room so I wouldn’t spread germs to the rest of the family.

The morning this experience occurred, my now ex-husband was leaving for a recreational trip to Europe. I was upset. I felt abandoned. Here I was flat-out sick with three young children to care for… school, sports, homework, cooking – and he was leaving. I resented him and the situation.

I heard the doorbell ring at four in the morning. The limo had arrived. The front door opened and shut, and then all was quiet. Lying there feeling miserable, I decided the best course of action would be meditation. It would calm me, help bring me to a better state of mind and generate healing energies.

Using a range of colors and inner imagery, I brought myself to a quiet meditative state. There in the midst of meditation, asking earnestly for comfort from the sickness, fear, and pain in my life, I begged God to take it all away and to help me understand so I might better deal with it all. As odd as it sounds, I remember feeling as if I were an observer of the self meditating. Using gestures, and speaking out loud all the while, I pointed out each hurt and injury for God to see. They were many, but they were small. They existed in my heart.

Somehow I had opened my physical body to display the inner being and all the despair, hurt, and bleeding tears. I am more of a meditator than a prayer, so I found it out of character to see myself praying in this conscious meditative experience. “Please God, help me,” I prayed.

The meditative vision continued. I was gazing up at the white ceiling. A form had begun to take shape. it moved and molded, and finally became the profile of a face and neck. Watching this unfold, I thought, “What is this? No, who is this?” Then, a face started to take shape. “It looks like my brother. It IS my brother!”

The face was very white and smooth, and it spoke, “Look, I too have wounds. I too feel pain.” As I continued to stare up at the face, I realized that it was not my brother after all, the form had become the face of Christ, and the face became yet more human. He became flesh. The smooth whiteness turned into a physical body. Opening the folds of his robe, he showed me his wounds. He showed me his bleeding heart, and he spoke of his pain.” I too carry the wounds you bear,” he said. “We share this pain.”

I knew then with certainty that we were one. I knew my pain was his pain. I knew that he felt what I felt and that I would never walk alone. I reached up toward him. “Let me come with you,” I said. I felt him take my hands, lifting me up – and then he let go. I fell back to the pillows and came out of the meditative experience. I was sad that I wasn’t allowed to leave, but I knew that it was necessary for me to remain here on Earth. I still had work to do.

I write of this experience to share awareness. Moving out of the meditation, I recognized the images as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had not been a part of the Catholic faith in over 20 years. As a child, I found these mystical images to be just pictures connected to words and concepts in our religious education books that I didn’t understand.

My interpretation of this meditation is that Jesus exists as our brother in Spirit. He was born, lived, and died so that we might know that we are more than this and that there is no death. We are spiritual beings experiencing human life. We are individually manifested souls, brothers and sisters, each interconnected in Spirit. We, at a deeper level, feel each other’s pain and despair, or joy and happiness, and somewhere in the history of humanity, we’ve lost the ability to recognize the connection.

That morning, my perspective of reality completely changed. Years of meditation, studying, and trusting the collective interconnected Spirit has led me exactly where I am meant to be – here, sharing these experiences with you.

We are more than this…

Gifts of the spirit

person walking on beach during daytime

My family accepted me with all the ghost-seeing, aura reading, and knowing-what-would-happen intuitive skills. It became my way of life. Months before my brother died at only 34, I dreamt that I was sitting at our kitchen table with him. In the dream, he was telling me that he was tired and that his body was worn out. He continued saying he had done the work he’d come to do and it was time to leave. I asked if there was anything I could do to help him. He just repeated, “No, it’s just my time to go.”

I called mom the next morning and told her about the dream, asking her if I should call my brother and tell him about the dream conversation. She said no, “It’s best to let him live the happiness he’s finally found until he leaves us.” My brother had married just a year earlier and was very happy. I let life unfold and put aside what had been revealed to me. Six months later, he died in a tragic accident.

Another dream foretold the birth of my youngest child. I had experienced two miscarriages in four years and given up any hope of having another baby. In 1994 I was pregnant again. The baby was consistently positioned in such a way that ultrasound could not clearly determine the sex of the child. However, my dreaming life showed that should I choose to carry the child, it would be a boy, and that he would have special needs. In the dream, I was shown his characteristics and again provided a choice. My response in the dream, “Well, I am already mother to two children with similar needs, if I can raise them, I can raise him too.”

I decorated the room with blue blinds and soft blue hues and bought little boy clothing. Of course, friends and family were skeptical – at least those who did not know of my intuitive skills. But I trusted what I knew and in July 1995 I gave birth to my youngest son, just as predicted. He is on the autism spectrum, but this hasn’t prevented him from having a happy life and a very successful career that he loves.

In another instance, which involved a form of “inner listening,” I had walked in on a discussion between my (now ex) husband and at the time, 14-year-old son. They were in total disagreement about his clothing, my ex saying our son’s (skater) pants were much too baggy. I opened my mouth to start saying something to “fix” what was happening, and just before the words left my mouth, I clearly heard that inner voice say, “Be still.” I froze and said nothing. In the next instant, the two of them made a decision to go shopping together to pick out new clothes, both happy with the outcome.

If I had intervened, that magic moment may not have occurred, that moment where they had both compromised. This particular listening skill is called “clairaudience.” As the years have gone by, I’ve learned to pay attention to the assistance that is provided and available in any given situation. Well, most of the time.

Throughout the years it became more of a challenge when using these abilities. It was necessary to interact with people who were not family members, people who knew nothing about my intuitive skills. One particular instance that stands out involved a new neighborhood friend and a pastor.

In April 1995, a new friend from my neighborhood and I decided to visit a local church. After attending several services and liking the atmosphere, we decided to try out for a production they were putting on for the Easter holiday. On the evening of tryouts, I stayed after to introduce myself and thank the pastor for choosing me and my kids for parts in the play. I reached out and shook his hand. In just seconds, inwardly I saw images of him with very red eyes and a puffy face. “He’s sick. He has heart disease. He needs a doctor now,” said that inner voice. All the time, I went on speaking, thanking him for the opportunity and saying goodnight.

person holding string lights

After tossing and turning through the night, nervous as heck, I decided to call the pastor the next morning. I knew he needed to see a health professional as soon as possible. He took my call, which surprised me at the time because he literally had thousands of congregants. I explained who I was and that I’d had these nagging feelings that he may be ill since we had shaken hands the night before. I told him that I felt he needed to see his doctor and asked if he’d been feeling okay.

The pastor asked what I had seen or heard, explaining that he believed in the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” and to please continue. I told him of the images I saw while shaking his hand, that he may be dealing with heart disease. The pastor confessed that he’d been experiencing some shoulder pain and soreness. He thanked me and promised he’d follow up with his doctor.

Within a week he was diagnosed with heart blockage and had an angioplasty. He ate the right foods, exercised, and trimmed down. Three years later, during a community pastor’s luncheon, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Maybe my speaking with him added three years to his life he might not have had, allowing him more time with family and to complete church projects. The church grew to become one of the largest in the Midwest.

All of this meant stepping out of my comfort zone, out of the family circle into self-confidence. It meant I was allowing others to see the part of me kept hidden, only shared with those closest to me. I feel that every individual is capable of consciously connecting with Spirit or God in order to access intuitive skills. We are a drop in the big ocean of Spirit Collective, each very distinct and a beautiful representative of God. It’s a life choice, a life journey where meditation and listening to your inner voice becomes a way of life, where compassion for others, living with honesty, and loving acceptance is a daily practice.

We are more than this…

Leaning into early esoteric abilities

My intuitive and empathic skills increased throughout my tweens into teens. High school, 1969 freshman year, Vietnam, peace rallies, and walk-outs. We staged protests to end the war and refused to wear skirts or dresses to school. I was suspended for wearing pants to school. My mother was again a source of support and an ally in our efforts, in addition to coaching the ever-growing intuitive skills.

At 14, I was a bit of a wild-child, running with some crazy fun juniors and seniors getting into all kinds of mischief. I’ll spare you the details. Mom decided it would be best to keep me close, and sought out alternative extracurricular activities, which included metaphysical studies.

Knowing my skills, and having had several premonition-type experiences herself throughout life, she understood my needs and found appropriate avenues for my endless energies. Spirit led her to an esoteric awareness group that studied many aspects of metaphysics and spirituality. On weekends and some weekday evenings, she would sweep me off to meditation and discussion groups, metaphysical workshops, and seminars where my gifts were accepted and strongly encouraged. I am ever grateful for her strength, acceptance, and reassurance. For me, this was a homecoming. I found comfort in the kindred spirits of this group of people and blossomed in the accepting environment. It was a new beginning and time of great learning.

I participated in this group from age fifteen to twenty-five, until after my first child was born. Our group studies included The Seth Material series by Jane Roberts, A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman, and Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes. We practiced a variety of meditation methods, attended seminars where we learned energy healing techniques, psychometry, shared stories and grew in abilities. It was a time of growth in all aspects of life, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

The early years were novel, mysterious, exciting, and fun. It was a game for me. I learned to read auras and to understand what the colors and wave activity meant, trained in psychometric readings, and performed energy healings. As a teen, it was entertaining and cool. I practiced and played until life, marriage, and children consumed me. The skills and abilities fell to the wayside as I became immersed in adult life.

I still dreamt but remembered very little. There was too much going on in everyday life. Married to an alcoholic who would not get help, I made the decision to divorce and moved into single parenting mode with two babies. Paying attention only to the job of supporting my children, I worked long hours in an effort to make enough to take care of us. Two years late, I married again and discovered within the first year that this man also had addiction challenges, which he had kept hidden from me knowing I would never marry him had I known. This time around, I chose to stay in the relationship to try to work things out. I brought two more wonderful children into this world and went through the rehab process with this second husband several times.

During this time, I also became active in church and community, created and participated in support groups for women, meditated, and discovered confidence and strengths I had not previously known. In my mid-forties, I went back to school non-stop, completing a Bachelors in Arts, and a Masters in Higher Education Administration in under four years.

I blossomed, as did the metaphysical talents I’d set aside for so many years. Little did I know what the Universe had in store for me. Stay tuned.

We are more than this…

“I’m just a kid…” I told the Spirit

An unusual sixth sense experience in childhood cemented the strong support and guidance my mother would provide to me later in life when it was desperately needed. Around the age of 10, with the family growing out of the small house we lived in, my father added two bedrooms and a great-room to our home. I was given one of the new bedrooms to share with my sister. With nine children, four of us girls had been sharing a small room, and my brothers another room. This was exciting.

One night, shortly after we’d settled into our new sleeping space, I woke to a loud scraping sound. Looking toward the noise, there stood a woman wearing a long checkered dress. She reached out toward me pleading, “Help me, I’ve hurt my leg. I need your help.”

I turned toward my sister who was snoring softly, wondering if I was dreaming. Was I still asleep? Pushing at her shoulder, I realized I was definitely awake, and this was really happening. The woman was getting closer to my side of the bed. Clutching at her hurt leg, she inched toward me, begging for help, reaching out she repeated “Help me,” over and over. She had a gash in her leg, and it was bleeding.

“N-n-n-ooo… go away,” I tried to say, but there was no sound coming from my mouth. I was scared speechless. “Go away, go away, go away!” I was finally able to yell out at her.

“Mo-om! Dad! Help!” Closing my eyes, I wished her away, I wanted this to be a dream. She reached out again, very close to me… “Go away. I’m just a kid! I can’t help you!” I looked toward the door to see if I could escape her… looked back in her direction, and then she was gone. Jumping out of bed, I ran for my parent’s bedroom next to mine.

Shaking Mom’s shoulder frantically, I cried, “There’s a woman in my room, she’s cut her leg and it’s bleeding! Come on mom, dad… she needs help! I screamed and you didn’t hear me. I’m not going back in there.”

My parents ran into the room, turned on the lights, and of course she was not there, and on top of this, my sister had slept through the entire event. I refused to go back into that bedroom, and was moved to the opposite end of the house the next day. This was my first experience in talking with those who had transitioned from the physical.

As the years flew by I experienced more of what would be considered out of the ordinary moments. I knew who was on the phone before it was picked up. I would say to mom, “Oh, that’s Shirley or Gramma, or Jeannie.” It became a game between the two of us. I knew when someone was going to die because I’d dream it before it happened, and shared everything with my mother. There were out of body experiences. After falling asleep for the night and entering the dream state (or so I thought), I’d find myself hovering over a friend watching them read or sleep, knowing I wasn’t in the physical because I saw my own body resting for the night. I figured everyone could do these things.

Inevitably, it became obvious that others were not having the same experiences. Except for mom, I told no one what I could do, what I was experiencing. In an effort to conform and to be like others, I ignored what was happening as much as possible, running for cover in everyday life. I did all the things “normal” eleven, twelve, and thirteen year-olds did then. School, homework, friends, and socializing filled my days, along with caring for my eight siblings, cooking and cleaning… until high school. Then everything changed.

More to come… we are more than this!