No doubt the
presents had much to do with the thrill of it all. Me, my sister
and my cousins would quickly sift through every gift to see which
boxes had our names on them. But today, now 35 to 40 years later,
I don’t remember a single gift I got. Instead, it’s the
feelings, the food and the fun that stands out in my mind, like
Aunt Elsie’s homemade sausage and sauce steeping in a crock pot,
Uncle Duck’s blazing fire in the fireplace, which he kept at
near unbearable temperatures, the big bowl of punch with candied
cherries on the bottom, the scratchy Christmas music on the record
player, the Christmas tree with perfectly spaced branches, which
somehow looked exactly the same every year (I learned much later
that it was fake), and the one memory that still warms my heart is
the sound of my grandmother’s saintly voice as she sang Ave
Maria at the end of the evening.
It was exciting just to be
around all my cousins, aunts and uncles. We were a loud bunch of
Swedes, maybe 30 Olsons and Johnsons crammed into the bottom floor
of a small cape, no more than a tiny kitchen where people leaned
against the counter, a smaller TV room where my aunt set up the
buffet, a large living room that displayed the tree with all the
gifts, as well as the glowing fireplace, and one little bathroom
between the living room and kitchen for everyone to share.
I can still hear
the banter, the laughter and my father telling stories. He was a
captivating storyteller who saw the amusement in life, and he
could paint a picture with his truck driver vernacular that held
everyone’s attention to the hilarious end. I can also still hear
my cousin Pam’s boisterous laughter that started with an
uncontrollable “Ha, ha, ha” and ended with a cackle and a
snort. She really knew how to laugh.
If there were
relationship issues among the adults, we kids were oblivious to
it. I’m sure there were some jealousies, hard feelings or sore
egos for one reason or another, but I honestly believe the adults
set them aside for this party. You could feel at a cellular level
that there was an unspoken pact that everyone leave their problems
outside in the cold. I certainly didn’t know what kept everyone
in such good behavior, though my mother once told me everyone did
it for my grandmother’s sake. Regardless, it seemed to be the
one day a year when everyone agreed to love one another
unconditionally. And they did.
Even as I grew
older, I always looked forward to Duck and Elsie’s Christmas Eve
parties. My cousins all had children, so we had the electrifying
energy of their excitement to keep us in the spirit, though I now
had to listen to them repeatedly ask how long it would be until we
opened presents. But in the early 90s, my grandmother passed and
Uncle Duck and Aunt Elsie stopped having the party. It turned out
that what my mother said about everyone doing it for my
grandmother was right after all. A few years later, Uncle Duck
passed and then my father died just a couple years after him.
Still, these parties remain as some of my fondest holiday
memories. And I’ll admit that the absence of them has left a
gaping hole, as well.
Now 47 years old,
I know that the holidays can stir up a brew of emotions for
adults. We might mourn loved ones lost, suffer financial strain,
deal with career stress or torment over relationship issues. All
these excuses and more are generally enough to deplete our will to
celebrate, but then we also have an ever-decreasing inertia for
party going, never mind organizing such a gathering. As such, I
realize now that my Christmas parties containing four generations
of relatives are a thing of my past. And as sad as that is, it
makes me grateful for having ever known the experience, never mind
knowing it for more than twenty years of my life. For this, alone,
I was a very fortunate child.
blog is a salute to Uncle Duck and Aunt Elsie for having those
parties and continuing them for so long, as well as to all my
elders who attended these celebrations and, therefore, made
Christmas so special in my youth. But it’s also a reminder to
myself and anyone who needs it of the gift that we give ourselves
and others when we’re willing to put our current issues aside
for one evening or one day to love one another unconditionally and
just enjoy each other’s company. And if you have children,
it’s also a powerful reminder of how important it is to them to
celebrate the holidays with family, even though it might be years
before they realize what it means to them.
Melissa and I
want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This goes
to everyone who gets our newsletter, visits OfSpirit.com Magazine
or reads this blog. Melissa and I are most grateful to you for
being part of our radically extended family. It is honor that you
share similar interests with us, and we appreciate the kind and
generous emails you sent us throughout the year. So, for now, we
wish you all the love and joy you can muster this holiday season
and in the coming new year. We’ll be in touch again next year.
Bob & Melissa
Movie Review: Special Thanks To Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Peter Morgan
& Steven Spielberg For Getting It Right
My wife, Melissa, and I saw the movie Hereafter this past weekend and I
must say we loved it. I’ll even admit that we saw it a second time the
next night, which is entirely out of character for us. But there’s
something about this movie that inspired us to want to see it again.
Hereafter, the movie, stars Matt Damon, was directed and produced by Clint
Eastwood (also produced by Steven Spielberg), and was written by Peter
Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon). With a lineup like that, you expect
it’s going to be a good movie. But it’s important to know what this is
movie is and is not about before you see it, which is why I’ve written
Hereafter IS a movie about death and the afterlife. It tells three
stories: one of a psychic medium who feels burdened by his ability to
communicate with spirits, one of a woman who has a near-death experience
during a tsunami, and one of a boy who is trying to make sense of the loss
of his twin brother. Any one of these three storylines could have made a
fascinating movie in itself, but teaming the three together was inspired.
Hereafter IS NOT a movie that provides definitive answers about the
afterlife. Neither Clint Eastwood nor Peter Morgan claim to have any such
answers. If that’s what you’re seeking, you’re best to get answers
through personal experience. I recommend a private reading with a psychic
medium (spirit communicator), a past-life regression, a life-between-lives
regression (also known as a spiritual regression), or get a portrait drawn
of your deceased loved one in spirit by a spirit artist.
This IS NOT your typical Hollywood movie filled with violence, action, sex
and rock ’n’ roll. After the initial tsunami scene at the beginning of
the movie—one of only two fast-paced scenes in the movie—Hereafter’s
pace is unhurried. I use the word “unhurried” because I happened to
appreciate the movie’s pace, but some people might employ the word
“slow.” Yet I have no doubt that this unhurried tone was implemented
with purpose, as the slowness and quietude of the filming sets the mood
for a story about the hereafter.
Moreover, the filmmaking is extraordinary if you like that foreign-film
quality, which I do. Eastwood is exercising his artistic expression in
mood and visual splendor. No shot was filmed without careful attention to
artistic detail. Since the three stories take place in the United States,
France and England, the style of filming is both appropriate and visually
What I loved most about the movie was that someone—either Damon,
Eastwood and/or Morgan—did their research and got their details correct
about the field of afterlife evidence. Matt Damon, for example, plays the
psychic medium. The readings given by Damon’s character are right on
mark. I’ve tested many psychic mediums who gave me readings exactly in
this same style and manner. There was nothing over cooked or
methodologically inaccurate in the character’s portrayal of psychic
mediumship (spirit communication), although the readings were shorter than
the typical 30-to-60-minute readings you’d get for a fee.
Although Damon’s character touches people in order to receive his
psychic messages, it should be noted that most psychic mediums don’t
need to touch you in order to give a reading, which is why readings can be
delivered by phone. While there are psychic mediums who do like to hold
your hands prior to a reading, this isn’t a necessary or even common
approach. Also, Damon’s character tended to express a slight jolt in his
body whenever he touched someone to make a connection with spirit, which
doesn’t really occur with mediumship; but this is a minor criticism, as
it’s the only Hollywood exaggeration I noticed in the movie, and it’s
so mildly accentuated that few will ever notice it.
With all I’ve written about Damon’s portrayal of the psychic medium,
it’s important to emphasize that this IS NOT a movie about psychic
mediums. I’ve talked to a few psychic mediums who have seen Hereafter,
and the most common comment from them is that they felt the movie could
have presented more information about mediumship. I would have agreed if
this movie was about psychic mediums, but it’s not. This movie is about
the question of life after death and it merely uses a psychic medium as a
character within the story.
I’m sure that if I talked with people who have had near-death
experiences, they too would feel that the movie could have done more to
educate the public about near-death experiences. But this IS NOT a movie
about near-death experience. It merely uses a character who has a
near-death experience in order to tell a story about death and the
Since I’m on the subject of what this movie is not, I should also
mention that Hereafter IS NOT a movie intending to cleverly bring three
people’s lives from three different countries together. If you liked the
movie Crash, or if you’re old enough to remember Grand Canyon, then this
is not one of those lives-overlapping-by-divine-coincidence movies. Yes,
the three characters’ lives do intertwine in Hereafter, but not in any
magical or profound manner. Coincidental connection IS NOT the point of
Hereafter IS a movie about the complications of being gifted, about
processing spiritual experiences, and about connecting with loved ones in
spirit. Without giving too much of the movie away, the psychic medium sees
his gift as a curse, the woman who had the near-death experience is
challenged with people believing what she experienced, and later with
talking about her experience without ruining her career, and the boy, who
is emotionally desperate for a connection with his brother, simply has
trouble finding a legitimate practitioner to help him.
This is the brilliance of Hereafter, as these are the true challenges of
everyday people in real life who are faced with these same experiences.
I know many psychic mediums will relate to the struggle of Damon’s
character, at least at some point along their journey. The psychic’s
predicament to ignore his ability in order to live a normal life is
typical. I compare this to the dilemma of fame. At first it feels like a
blessing, but too much too fast can feel like a curse.
New psychic mediums generally love the attention they get due to their
gift when they first begin giving readings. Over time, however, as they
grow professionally, they often learn to be less forthright about their
vocation with strangers, tending to dance around the subject until they
get a stronger sense of one’s religious beliefs or open-mindedness to
their ability. I haven’t met many psychic mediums who outright ignore
their ability in order to live normally, but then again, I guess I
probably wouldn’t meet them if they were keeping their abilities secret.
Cécile de France plays the woman who dies and comes back to life during
the tsunami. The movie illustrated with accuracy the challenges wrought
after having a near-death experience. The number one challenge for people
who have died for seconds or minutes, experienced the afterlife, and then
returned to their physical bodies after being revived is not being
believed by others once they share their afterlife experiences openly.
Instead, near-death experiencers are too often met with skepticism and
even scorn for talking about their experiences out loud. The movie even
demonstrates how many near-death experiencers find that their values have
changed, which can side rail one’s prior plans for the future. Although
subtle in its approach, Hereafter touches upon these life-changing
consequences with precision.
As for the boy’s story, anyone who knows grief will likely relate to
this young man’s struggle. What I loved most about this story was how
the boy visited with a handful of practitioners, yet unsuccessfully. I had
similar experiences in the early days of my own investigation of this
field. When you don’t know where to go or who is legitimate, you bounce
around like a pinball hoping to smack into a credible practitioner.
What’s even better is that the filmmakers leave the interpretation up to
the movie viewer as to whether these spiritual practitioners are merely
inadequately gifted or flat-out phonies. The truth is that it’s not
always easy to know.
Any experienced moviegoer will know that the three characters are destined
to cross paths at some point in the movie. But, as I mentioned, this is
not the magic of this film, although it does a decent job in this regard.
As much as people love seeing the clever ways that people cross paths
along their journeys, this movie crosses much higher mountains. It
suggests that there really are truly gifted psychic mediums in this world
in spite of the charlatans. It suggests that there might actually be an
afterlife as evidenced by people who have had near-death experiences. And
it suggests that if you are persistent enough in your efforts, you might
actually be able to find a way to connect with your loved ones in spirit.
That’s a lot to accomplish for two hours of film. And while many people
will wish it answered more of their questions about life after death, I
think that Eastwood and Morgan were insightful to not even try.
Hereafter is a controversial movie with moviegoers either loving it or
feeling disappointed by it. There aren’t too many who fall in the
middle. But it’s not the filmmakers who let anyone down. People who feel
disappointed by the movie allowed their expectations to let them down, not
because the movie promised to do anything more than tell a great story and
get people thinking, but because people crave to know the truth about life
after death and look to others to provide the answers. Many hope Hereafter
will do that for them.
The second time Melissa and I went to see Hereafter, we went with a bunch
of friends. During dinner before the movie, there was much discussion
about death. People were sharing stories amongst the group about the
details of their parents’ deaths. And this was before they ever saw the
movie. Little did they realize that the movie had already succeeded to
incite discussions about a subject that is traditionally unspoken in our
society. And for that alone—notwithstanding the beauty in story and on
film—the movie is a huge success in my point of view.
I highly recommend it.
Bob Olson, OfSpirit.com,
BestPsychicMediums.com & BestPsychicDirectory.com
Lesson In Articulation That Could Save Your Life
If you’ve read
any of my blog stories before, you might already know that I used
to run a small business called Olson Odd Jobs from the time I was
a teenager in high school to when I was a young adult out of
college. I had a great reputation for doing quality work in my
odd-jobs business, but I was a small operation, meaning I didn’t
have a fancy truck or power equipment like many handymen have
today. In fact, at various times over the years, I didn’t even
have a truck; I actually lugged around my 15-foot ladder on the
roof of my car. Now that I think back, it wasn’t even my ladder.
It was my future father-in-law’s ladder, and it was rusty, bent
and in need of a proper burial. But it served its purpose and I
didn’t have to buy one.
Well, one of the
things I used to do in that service business was clean rain
gutters for homeowners. Depending upon where you live in the
country, you might call them eaves troughs. Gutter cleaning was a
very popular service of mine since many homeowners are afraid of
heights. And cleaning out gutters involves climbing a ladder to
the roof and then leaning over the edge of the roof while emptying
sticks, leaves and muck out of the gutter; or it involves climbing
the ladder, cleaning the gutters as far as you can reach your
arms, then moving the ladder over to clean a few more feet of
gutter, and so on.
One day I was
gutter cleaning all by myself, which is not something I normally
liked to do. It’s smart to have someone with you in case you
fall, as it’s tough dialing 911 when you’re unconscious. But I
wasn’t being smart this particular day, so there I was climbing
up and down the ladder as I moved it around the house emptying the
I was having a particularly
difficult day with my ladder due to the rust. It was an extension
ladder, which means that it would extend to make it longer or
shorter, but the rust was causing it to jam and not extend fully.
I finally got it to the length I needed to reach the roof of this
two-story house, and everything was moving along rather smoothly.
But just as I completed the final stretch of gutter along the
front of the house, the ladder slid downward as if the lawn
beneath it disappeared, and both the ladder and my body dropped
toward the ground—me still standing on the ladder.
never locked the ladder extension mechanism—it must have
remained extended only due to the rust—so the ladder wasn’t
falling sideways; it was merely sliding to a shorter length. The
problem, of course, was that once the ladder slid below the roof
and gutter, both the ladder and me were toppling in directions
that would be very unhealthy for me.
As the ladder and
my body descended in unison, my instant reaction was to grab hold
of something to slow my fall. I reached out and grasped the edge
of the rain gutter on my way down and, surprising to me, the
ladder stopped sliding. After dropping about three feet, the
ladder caught another patch of rust and stopped falling. I had
only extended the ladder about three feet above the roofline, so
another inch and it was crashing toward the house.
So there I was,
both hands clutching the rain gutter and standing on this ladder
that could begin escalating downward at any second. I put most of
my weight on the gutter to prevent the ladder from sliding again,
but I wasn’t sure how secure the gutters were on the house,
either. Nor did I know how long I could hold on. I knew I needed
to call for help and hoped someone in the neighborhood could hear
homeowner wasn’t home, I remembered seeing a few people standing
outside the next-door neighbor’s house about a half-hour prior.
yelled. “Is there anyone there? Anybody?”
I waited a minute
for someone to respond, but I got nothing.
So I yelled
louder, “Helloooow! Helloooow! Can anybody hear me?”
another minute passed with no response. I could feel the rain
gutter was bending from my weight, which got me to quickly change
CAN SOMEONE HELP ME? I NEED HELP!” I screamed.
In three seconds,
two men and a woman came running around the corner from next door.
wrong?” one guy asked.
not locked and it’s falling beneath me. The only thing that’s
keeping it up is the rust.”
The man quickly
stood under the upper extension of my ladder (the section that I
was standing on) and locked his arms straight below each side of
the ladder to give it added support.
“I got it, “
he yelled. “Climb on down. I’ll hold it if I can.”
I had no idea
what would happen once I let go of the rain gutter and put all my
weight back on the ladder, but I had no other choice but to try. I
closed my eyes and released my grip. The ladder held. I looked
down to see the man using all his strength to keep the ladder from
sliding toward the ground. I carefully but quickly climbed down
the ladder until it was safe to jump to the ground.
My legs were
shaking so much from fear and exhaustion that I had to sit down on
the grass. I thanked the neighbors profusely for rescuing me,
especially the man who wedged himself underneath my ladder,
risking his own safety for mine.
you guys finally heard me,” I said. “I’d been yelling for
help for few minutes, but nobody could hear me.”
The woman walked
over and kneeled beside me. She gently placed one hand on my
shoulder, then looked me dead in the eye and said to me in an
Irish accent, “Listen, son, and let this be a lesson to ya,
never yell ‘Hello’ when what ya need is ‘Help.’ Ya gotta
ask for exactly what ya need in life. Don’t be beating around da
bush using words ya don’t really mean.”
Powerful Lesson Of Love & Friendship
It was the early
1990s when Melissa and I first felt the yearning to visit England.
We have some very close friends named David and Phoebe who had
moved to the United States from England, and the way they spoke of
their home country made it sound simply magical. When they moved
back to Devon, England after living in the States for about a
decade, we vowed to visit them (and their daughter, Daisy) to
experience the country we’d heard so much about in their
year in May, Melissa and I had the opportunity to vacation in
England. We were so excited to finally fulfill this dream and once
again be reunited with our dear friends who we hadn’t seen for
almost ten years. The timing was even more meaningful since we had
two very significant reasons to celebrate—David’s and
Melissa’s health, as they had both been given the “all’s
clear” after begin diagnosed and treated for cancer the previous
The last we heard from David, he had read a blog I wrote titled Why
Does God Let Us Suffer in which I briefly mentioned
Melissa’s breast cancer diagnosis and her success with
alternative treatments. He emailed in response and told us about
his own plight with a tumor in his leg the previous summer. He’d
been through surgery and radiation and was pleased to announce
that a recent body scan showed absolutely no other tumors and his
leg was cancer free.
Around the same
time that David had emailed us, a friend invited us to visit him
at his home in Wedmore, England. His invitation to stay at his
home indicated that we would not need to pay for a hotel or rental
car, which made the trip much more affordable and impossible to
pass up. Before we knew it, our host was picking us and another
friend up at the airport.
Wedmore is only
two hours from David and Phoebe’s house in Devon, but we
weren’t sure how we’d get down there since we weren’t going
to have a car of our own. As a result, we decided not to tell
David and Phoebe we were coming. Instead, we elected to figure out
the travel arrangements once there and then surprise them with a
phone call once we had everything planned.
host for the week went to generous lengths to make our vacation
extraordinary. He arranged a private tour of Wells Cathedral, a
ride to Dunster Castle by steam train, a visit to the mystical
town of Glastonbury, shopping and lunch in Bristol, as well as
dinners and tea with his local friends and family members. He even
planned time for business discussions since the four of us all
work in the same field and had some work-related matters to
Melissa and I
were most appreciative of all the preparation and plans our friend
had made for our benefit. He really knows how to take care of his
guests. There was only one unfortunate dilemma, which was that
there was no time available where we could visit David, Phoebe and
Daisy. And when we did mention it on a few occasions, it became
obvious that a trip to Devon would seriously disrupt the week’s
ourselves in a delicate predicament. Do we upset the thoughtful
plans that our friend had gone out of his way to create for our
benefit? Or do we miss out on a rare opportunity to connect with
other friends whom we hadn’t seen in ten years?
To add to the
quandary, I couldn’t imagine asking our host to drive us down to
Devon after disrupting his plans. And we knew, too, that it would
have been awkward seeing David and Phoebe with our other friends
waiting for us, yet even more awkward asking our friends who drove
us to Devon to go sightseeing for a few hours.
Nor was I
comfortable asking David, Phoebe and Daisy to drive up to Wedmore
considering we hadn’t told them in advance that we were coming.
I imagined the phone call sounding something like this:
“Surprise! We’re in England! Can you make a four-hour round
trip to come see us? It has to be on Thursday, though, as that’s
the only day that fits into our schedule. That works for you,
surprise was just falling apart from every conceivable angle.
Melissa and I realized we made a mistake by not planning the
reunion with David and Phoebe ahead of time.
should just plan to come back to England as soon as possible
specifically to visit David, Phoebe and Daisy,” I said to
Melissa. “I certainly would love to come back here again.”
thinking the same thing,” she said. “This isn’t going the
way I had imagined, and it’s become very complicated.”
So that was it.
We decided it was best all around if we simply made a commitment
to come another time and see our other British friends. We
finished out the week with our dear friend in Wedmore and our
other friend who was visiting him at the same time, and we had a
wonderful time. The weather was absolutely beautiful every single
day—unusually sunny and warm—and the entire stay was both
stimulating and relaxing.
A few weeks after
returning home to the States, Melissa got a call from a former
coworker who used to work with her and David. He called to inform
us that David had passed away the prior evening at the age of 38.
Naturally, Melissa and I were devastated by the shock of the
startling news. Apparently David had begun coughing up blood a
couple months after emailing me about getting the “all’s
clear.” He went back for another body scan only to learn that
his body was riddled with cancer. As it turned out, we learned
that David had been in hospice care while we were vacationing in
Once we connected
with Phoebe by phone, she repeatedly apologized for not contacting
us about the turn of events regarding David’s health. We
understood, of course, knowing it must be difficult to tell people
who love you that you’re dying, and that’s if you even think
of it while going through such a difficult experience.
reasons, we didn’t have the heart to tell Phoebe that we had
been only two hours away just a few weeks before David’s
passing. It possibly would have made her feel worse about not
informing us of his condition, and she didn’t need that on her
shoulders during a time when her entire life had been turned
upside down. We also had our own regrets tormenting us, so the
mere act of explaining how we went to England without telling them
would have only added to the sting of the reality. Melissa and I
are at peace with it now, but it’s still nearly impossible to
comprehend how it all happened.
I’ve found that
life experiences that hold this much emotion generally have a
lesson to teach me. And the lesson I learned from this experience
is to never assume that life is going to wait for our next
opportunity, especially when people are involved. I’ve learned
that if I want to call someone, I need to call them now. If I want
to hug someone, I need to hug them now. If I want to express my
love or appreciation to someone, I need to express it now. I
cannot simply assume I’ll be able to do it tomorrow.
It’s an old
lesson—I know—but it’s a good one to be reminded of again
and again and again, because life is too unpredictable to assume
that today’s opportunities will still be available tomorrow.
The Secret To Eliminating The Root Of Your Problems: Physical, Social Or Financial
A few years ago, I wrote about an experience I had that has forever changed my life, so I thought I'd share it with you here. I interviewed a counselor named Dr. Trish Whynot from Middleton, Massachusetts because I'd heard some incredible testimonials about her that intrigued me. Still, I could not imagine what could possibly be out-of-the-ordinary about a counselor, so I arrived at the interview with great curiosity.
My initial surprise came in the first few minutes of the interview when Trish began talking about her use of meditation in her counseling sessions. I've heard wonderful things about meditation--even tried it myself a few times--but I usually fell asleep after only a few minutes. Trish, however, started telling me that she meditates while rollerblading around a lake in the morning and listening to music on her portable headset.
“Huh?” I thought to myself, “That’s not meditation; that’s fun.” Then she explained that meditation and exercise are perfect bedfellows. Walking, jogging, rowing and bicycling are all possible activities for meditation. She said it’s all about connecting with your higher self. The important part is to quiet the constant chatter in your mind. If you are more likely to meditate while doing something you enjoy, then it doesn’t matter if you are sitting in a monastery or rollerblading around a lake, the fact that the exercise is meditative in nature is what is important.
Okay, so I understood that meditation could be helpful, but I questioned Trish Whynot on how it is used in counseling. And this is where things got especially interesting. She told me that everything is energy, including our thoughts and emotions. When something happens to make us feel ugly, weak or stupid, for example, that emotional energy must go somewhere. If we don’t face that emotion, deal with it and release it appropriately, it could end up being stored inside our bodies. As this emotion stirs inside of us, or accumulates with other stored emotions, this negative energy often manifests into physical form--like illnesses or pain. Trish explained that meditation can be used to redirect this energy in a more positive direction.
In this way, meditation is a tool that allows us to deal with our thoughts and emotions, and properly work through the accompanying issues so that the associated energy is released in a healthy direction. For instance, if someone makes us angry, we might automatically stuff that anger inside of us to avoid conflict, or we might overreact and attack the person verbally or even physically. None of these reactions would be a healthy release of emotional energy, and would likely lead to further problems down the road. Meditation offers a safer and healthier alternative.
According to Trish, meditation allows us to mentally process how and why the person made us so angry. We might learn that the source of our anger is not wholly directed at that one person, but a result of the way other people have similarly treated us in the past. It wouldn’t be fair to the person, or our self, to unburden all this anger on only one source. Meditation allows us the opportunity to release our anger toward that person, and all the others before him, in our mind before we confront that person face to face. This appropriate release of pent up emotions could help us deal with the person in a more levelheaded manner, rather than reacting with a burst of built up emotional energy. It also might help us discover the underlying issue that keeps attracting this behavior from other people into our life.
Trish Whynot has a unique way of explaining complicated subjects with amazing clarity, but I still wasn’t fully grasping the role of energy in other areas of our life. I now understood how our emotions and thoughts could affect our health, but I didn’t understand how it affected our relationships, careers or prosperity. Trish walked over to a table and picked up a pouch. From inside the pouch she pulled the strangest looking metal contraption I have ever seen. She called it an “aura meter.”
I used to think of myself as skeptical in matters of energy, auras and
chakras. What Trish Whynot showed me next proved my skepticism to be a simple case of ignorance. She took her aura meter—which is basically a metal handle attached to a very sensitive spring which is then attached to a metal pointer—and she stood at the far end of the room with this gadget pointing at me. She slowly walked toward me, explaining that the pointer would rise in the air when it hit my aura, as if the outside wall of my aura created a resistance that pushed this sensitive instrument upward and backward. I sat there skeptically waiting to see how Trish would subconsciously manipulate the aura meter to do what she wanted it to do.
When she got about seven feet away, the pointer began to push upward and backward as if she were pushing it against a cement wall. She carefully walked backwards and the aura meter slowly returned down to its original position. She did this a couple times, barely moving her hand or body. The same exact result occurred each time. I was flabbergasted.
I jumped from the couch and asked to inspect the aura meter. Although a cool looking piece of equipment, it is very basic in design. There was no way Trish could have been controlling its movements. The only possibility for control would be to cause the pointer to spring up and down uncontrollably. Instead, the pointer lifted at my aura’s wall and stayed in that position until she stepped backward—no bouncing up and down. Trish instructed me to sit on the couch again to try a couple more experiments.
In the second aura meter exercise, Trish asked me to think of something negative, either sad or depressing. After a couple minutes of this, she used the meter again to measure my aura. This time, the pointer didn’t lift until she got only inches away from my body. I was blown away by this evidentiary display of how energy is so clearly detected, and how our aura is so easily affected by our thoughts.
Finally, Trish didn’t want to leave me in this low energy state of mind, so she asked me to think about something positive—happy and uplifting thoughts. She also handed me a crystal, and explained that crystals are a natural source of energy. She said that my energy—my aura—-would increase simply by holding this crystal. After a couple minutes, Trish measured my aura again with the aura meter.
I’ve never really believed in the power of crystals, but Trish Whynot had humbled the skeptic in me to be more open-minded, so I was curious to see the results. This time, Trish walked to the farthest wall of her office so she could reach the outside of my expanded aura. I didn’t know if she was being funny or if she seriously needed the extra space. It turned out that she needed the extra space. The meter’s pointer now lifted about eleven feet away from me. I was so surprised by this display of evidence that I was bubbling over with excitement.
In the span of a few minutes, my aura changed from a reach of seven feet to five inches and then to eleven feet. It was a brilliant display of our ability to control our energy and thereby—through the basic laws of physics—attract positive and negative energy into our lives, as well as affect the people around us by the mere fact that our energies (auras) merge.
Before I left my office for this interview, I told someone that I was leaving to interview a psychotherapist. I had to laugh when I first arrived at Trish Whynot’s office and looked at her brochure, which specifically states that the counseling she offers “is not psychotherapy.” Once we started the interview again after the aura meter exercises, I asked Trish to explain her method of counseling.
Trish told me that she is a doctor of ASAT C.O.R.E.™ Counseling.
C.O.R.E. is an acronym for Conscious, Ownership, Retrieval / Release, and Engage. Her method of counseling goes beyond just talking about one’s problems. Trish said that talking may bring added clarity about an issue, but does not address the root cause or allow the client to work through the issue for healing. She believes that every obstacle, every illness and every recurring issue we have in life is a red flag waving at us as an opportunity for change and healing.
Trish views counseling as a turning point for her clients. It is a chance to integrate one’s spiritual, emotional and physical bodies to remove blocks that have caused them to weaken. To Trish, the healing derived from her counseling adds strength that not only removes recurring health problems but also removes destructive patterns in one’s life that inhibit them from their right to all forms of abundance—money, love, health and joy. Once the root cause of the problem has been identified, the healing can be done at this level using several different methods.
“Traditionally, we have been treating the result of ignored emotions when we need to be treating the source,” said Trish. “Treating the symptoms with medication alone will only continue our need for that medication. But if we can discover the ‘unconscious’ reasons we have invited this health problem into our life, then we will discover that the illness or pain is actually a metaphoric message that leads us to the source. In this way, counseling can work in conjunction with traditional medicine to aid in the healing process. Medication may treat the symptoms while counseling facilitates the resolution of the root conflict.”
What most impressed me about Dr. Trish Whynot was her natural ability to see through the chaos of life’s web and identify the root cause of problems. Many of Trish’s clients came to her thinking they knew what was causing their illness, pain or recurring life issue, but discovered the root cause was something quite different. She seemed to understand my own issues much better than I did, and she didn’t know anything about my life before I arrived. Apparently, this is an ability she has had all her life.
“Most of us can’t see our lives with clarity because we are so deep inside it,” explained Trish. “But our bodies are often screaming messages to us that reveal what we need to address.” It is nice to know there are people like Trish who have an extraordinary gift for identifying these messages and then know how to work through them once they are identified.
Before I left, I needed to experience how meditation is used to direct negative emotional energy. I presented Trish with an issue in my life, and asked how meditation could help. Trish suspected that the root cause stemmed from an incident in my past that I simply never worked through. She guided me into a relaxed state of mind to begin the meditation.
Once Trish guided me to a meditative state, she taught me to connect with my higher self. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it, but in my mind’s eye I was sitting near a waterfall next to this gray bearded man in his late sixties. It wasn’t anyone I recognized, but he had a grandfather-like energy about him. Trish guided me to talk to him about my issue, but I was so surprised to be seeing this guy that I couldn’t focus enough to talk with him. What happened next was even stranger.
Trish guided me to another scene that allowed me to see myself at different ages where this issue had come up before. I saw myself as a young boy, a teenager of two different ages, a young adult and an older adult. It was quite odd seeing these different parts of myself. I was not aware of how many times this same issue had come up in my life. The strangest part was that each individual (me at different ages) was only a faint visual except for one—myself at the age of seventeen. Per Trish’s continued guidance, that boy stepped forward and reminded me of the incident that had affected him (me) so deeply, a memory directly related to the same issue I was currently facing.
I had consciously forgotten that memory, but now recognized how and why the experience was emotionally damaging and still lingering in my subconscious. It was evident that I never worked through it. Per Trish's instructions, I had a conversation with the boy and asked what he needed me to do to address and release the emotional energy I had stuffed away over two decades ago. He told me quite specifically what I needed to do. After promising the boy that I would deal with it (also per Trish’s instruction), she brought me out of the meditation.
I left Dr. Trish Whynot’s office that day a different person than the one who arrived a couple hours earlier. My mind was exploding with ideas and curiosities about energy and how it worked in the process of healing. I also had a new awareness of how our auras, the energy that surrounds us, is deeply connected to our thoughts. And it had become clearly evident to me how our thoughts, and therefore our auras, have a direct effect on the people around us—perhaps even the world.
Possibly for the first time, I utterly understood how energy integrated the body, mind and spirit. I’m certainly no expert—I’ll leave that to people like Trish—but I was now an inquisitive student who had discovered that this energy stuff wasn’t just a bunch of esoteric theory. There was substance to this field that could be verifiably measured with cool gadgets, something about which I couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family. And the meditation, well, I thought I’d keep that experience to myself. Something that sacred seemed unexplainable. Yet, now I have shared it with you. I guess some things just can’t be kept a secret.
Trish Whynot, D.C.Ed has an office in Middleton, MA but also works with clients around the country and world by telephone. She can be reached at 978-314-4545 or visit her website at
Time For Change In The Psychic Medium Industry—A Request For
I recently got a
call from a highly influential man who presented me with an
exciting opportunity. I was immediately enthusiastic because he
and I instantly connected, meaning that I felt we were aligned in
both purpose and principles.
He sent me a
proposal in the mail that outlined the project and all the people
involved, all of whom have impressive resumes. As I read the
proposal, the whole venture seemed like a once in a lifetime
opportunity; that is, until I read that one of the people with
whom I’d be working side-by-side—which meant that our
reputations would be publicly intermingled—was associated with a
psychic hotline. This caused me to take pause.
I called the man
who sent me the proposal and learned that the person associated
with the psychic hotline had already signed a contract to be part
of the project. Although my involvement promised many potential
benefits, there was no way to work around the issue of my
reputation being mixed with this other person’s. Therefore, I
regrettably had no choice but to bow out of this otherwise amazing
Before this experience, I had given the psychic hotline industry
little consideration. I’m referring to those psychic telephone
services where you call a 1-800 or 1-900 number to get a psychic
reading while getting charged by the minute via your credit card
or telephone bill. To me, these services were never to be taken
seriously; they should be used for entertainment purposes only,
like the neon-sign psychics on the side of the road. But as I
perused the various psychic hotlines on the Internet after missing
out on this promising business venture because of them, I became
understood why so many people are skeptical and suspicious of
psychics and mediums—including myself before I began
investigating psychics and mediums in 1999. What was most obvious
was that the psychics and mediums whom I write about on my
websites have very little in common with the psychics and mediums
doing business on these psychic hotlines.
Yet it occurred to me that it’s likely that few people
are aware of the differences. So I’d like to point them out
There are two
very different and distinct categories of psychics and mediums in
our world. Let’s just call them the Purposeful Category and the
Entertainment Category. My investigations into this field have led
me to support and write about the Purposeful Category in order to
educate the public about their differences from the Entertainment
Category. Here is how I would describe each one in a nutshell:
Purposeful Category of Psychics & Mediums
In the Purposeful
Category, there are the legitimately gifted psychics and mediums
who use their real first and last names, present themselves with a
real photograph of themselves, charge by the session so that you
know ahead of time how long the reading will last and how much it
will cost, and genuinely want to use their gifted abilities to
help people in a purposeful way.
The psychics (who
read energy) in this Purposeful Category present themselves
professionally, do not ask leading questions, do not want you to
become dependent upon their guidance or advice, and offer their
readings to help you confirm what your own intuition is already
telling you—thereby teaching you to trust your own inner
guidance so that you don’t need to keep returning for more
The mediums (who
communicate with spirits) in this Purposeful Category present
themselves professionally, do not ask leading questions, do not
want you to become dependent upon them for numerous readings, and
primarily provide as much evidence as possible to help you
overcome your skepticism about spirit communication and the
afterlife and know (through this evidence) that your deceased
loved ones are truly communicating through this psychic medium in
order to convey messages to you.
Entertainment Category of Psychics & Mediums
Entertainment Category, there are the psychics and mediums who
basically present themselves anonymously (fake names or first
names only, often with no photo of themselves), offer readings
filled with vague generalities, ask you a lot of leading
questions, provide little or no evidence of spirit communication,
have a financial incentive to keep the reading going (by charging
by the minute), and are likely to encourage you to return for
several readings per year.
While I have
pointed out the psychic hotlines in my introduction to this
writing, I want to point out that this Entertainment Category of
psychics and mediums is by no means limited to those associated
with these hotlines. There are also many psychics and mediums who
work on their own with no association to the hotlines.
Nonetheless, they too tend to mimic the standards and ways of
doing business (even how they present themselves with anonymity)
as the psychics and mediums doing business via the psychic
hotlines. You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em, even when you
visit their websites.
Below is a list
of what I consider the lower standards and outlandish business
practices of the “Entertainment Category” of psychics and
mediums, which, in my opinion, lower the image and reputation of
the psychics and mediums in the “Purposeful Category.”
these lower standards and outlandish business practices are not
limited to the Entertainment Category. I’ll be the first to
admit that too many psychics and mediums within the Purposeful
Category also falter in some of the areas I describe below. I
suspect that this field as a whole has been getting away with
these inadequate standards and practices for so long that even
some of the most gifted and professional psychics and mediums have
somehow failed to recognize the absurdity in it. It’s also
likely that they never gave it much thought and are simply doing
business like so many other psychics and mediums have been doing
business for years. This is just another reason why I’m writing
this piece and encouraging you, the public consumer, to force a
change by no longer being tolerant of such preposterous ways of
Olson’s “Top 5 Areas That Need Change In The Psychic &
Here is my list
of the common business practices in the psychic and medium field
that need change:
Phony Names or First Names
Only: Many of the psychics, mediums, tarot readers,
numerologists and astrologers doing business via the psychic
hotlines and elsewhere present themselves with anonymity. The
worst cases actually use a fake name. However, these aren’t fake
names like the witness protection program gives you; these are
blatantly false names (usually single words) that no one would
ever mistaken as a real name—often recognized as names of
gemstones and crystals or words generally found in nature or the
solar system, for example.
not saying that people don’t have first names that were inspired
from gemstones, crystals, nature or the solar system. Many people
most certainly do. My friends’ daughter’s name is Daisy.
Nevertheless, for years I have required many psychics to send me
their driver’s license to verify their real name in order to be
approved for my directory, and only one person’s driver’s
license actually matched the peculiar name she submitted because
she legally had her name changed through the court system.
My key point here
is not that these names are fake so much as these fake names have
no last names. Unless we’re talking about Cher, Pink or Prince,
most people are virtually anonymous without using a last name. And
since anonymity washes down accountability, this is why I’m
against it in the psychic and medium industry. We need more
accountability, and phony names only detract from it.
aren’t the only problem. Equally as ridiculous are the
first-name-only psychics and mediums on these hotlines that are
usually followed by a number. Let me emphasize that they have no
last names, which, once again, is precisely my issue with it. For
example, one might find a Stephan43276, Evi010065 or Blaine234353.
Can we find Evi010065 (or even just Evi) in the phone book? How
about on a census? Is this the name she used when registering to
vote? The fact is that I don’t know how many of these first
names are even real. Yes, maybe these really are their first
names, but what accountability is there in using only your first
name? Just try locating some information about me in a Google
search by searching for “Bob.” That’s my point.
exception of the film and music industries, what other industry
tolerates this business practice? Who wants to do business with a
business owner who blatantly uses a fake name or first name only?
Would you trust giving your credit card number to a therapist
named Milkyway with no last name? Would you feel comfortable
taking health advice from a nutritional consultant named Sue45536?
Most people I’ve asked say “No way.” Yet, sadly, thousands
of people on a daily basis trust the advice, guidance and messages
with anonymously named psychics and mediums on the psychic
hotlines and elsewhere.
This one is minor in comparison to the other 4 items on this list,
but it’s important enough to mention. I’m a stickler when it
comes to putting a photograph on your website. If I go to a
website, I want to see the face of the person with whom I’m
considering doing business. But what’s worse than having no
photo at all is when someone puts up an alternate photograph where
his or her headshot should be. The psychic hotline websites (as
well as countless psychic and divination reader websites) are
riddled with photos of tarot decks, rainbows and crystal balls
instead a photo of the person offering us a reading.
Since the psychic
hotlines only do business over the Internet and telephone, having
an alternate photograph is the equivalent of my chiropractor or
massage therapist wearing a Halloween mask while doing business
with me. Again, I ask, in what other businesses are such silly
practices considered acceptable?
psychics tell me that they want to remain anonymous because they
don’t want people in their community to know what they do. My
response to them is to suggest that if they are ashamed of their
occupation to the level where they actually feel the need to hide
their identity from everyone online, then they’re probably in
the wrong occupation.
The psychics and
mediums who are doing the most valuable work, who gain the deepest
sense of purpose from their gift, and who are most likely to make
an impact on the world with their calling, are not those who are
so ashamed of what they do that they feel the necessity to remain
anonymous. In fact, those who do try to hide their identities in
this manner are negatively affecting those who are proud of what
they do because anonymity raises suspicion within a field that is
already plagued by skepticism. My advice to psychics and mediums:
Learn to be proud of your God-given ability to help people or do
something else that actually makes you proud.
Pay By The Minute With No
Time Limitation: I guess the psychic hotlines feel that
if people are naïve enough to do business with someone who only
has a first name and no photograph then they are also likely to
hand over their credit card info for a reading that charges a) by
the minute AND b) with no time limit.
What do these
customers do if the reading goes on for two hours? Three hours?
More? If you’ve ever had a reading with a psychic or medium, you
know how fast time passes. It’s hard to keep track of time or
worry about money when someone’s spouting off details about your
life, messages from your deceased loved ones, or predictions about
It’s not like
these pay-by-the-minute readings are cheap, either. Many psychics
on these hotlines get $2.99 to $5.99 per minute. That’s $179.40
per hour and $359.40 per hour, respectively. And I repeat—with
no time limit! Do you think these psychics have an incentive to
keep the reading going as long as possible? Considering that their
hotline companies are taking a hefty percentage of their fee (as
much as 20 to 60 percent), there’s no doubt that the temptation
is built into the pay-by-the-minute structure.
businesses charge by the minute with no estimate as to how long
the service will take? Most practitioners in the Mind, Body &
Spirit field charge by the hour, and sessions are usually set at
30 minutes, 60 minutes or 90 minutes. Visit any naturopath,
acupuncturist or hypnotic regressionist and you’ll know what
you’re getting and how much you’ll be paying before you begin.
Even my auto mechanic calls me with a price before he makes a
repair. This pay-by-the-minute practice does nothing but raise
suspicion and concern, and it’s unacceptable in my opinion.
With this said,
not every hotline is guilty of all 5 items on this list. I give
credit to the few psychic hotlines that offer a choice of “pay
by the minute” or “pay a set price for a set amount of
time.” But they still offer the pay by the minute option, and
this is where I take issue. There are too many nice folks out
there who go with the pay-by-the-minute option thinking that
they’ll actually save money because they can stop the reading
whenever they want. That’s true in theory but less than likely
when taking into account that a) it’s difficult to keep track of
time during a reading, b) readings are engaging and therefore
entice one to want to keep listening, and c) unscrupulous psychics
will be skilled at keeping callers on the line (considering the
possibility that there might be some unscrupulous psychics out
Testimonials Without Full
Names: Here is a practice that runs rampant throughout
the entire Mind, Body & Spirit field, and it’s regrettably
accepted all too often when it comes to psychics and mediums.
Imagine this…you go to a practitioner’s website and click on
their Testimonials page. Oh, look at all the testimonials listed.
How wonderful. But wait! The testimonials don’t have full names;
instead they claim to be written by Sally J or B. Hollis. Worse,
many list only initials. How is anyone supposed to put value or
credence on a testimonial from J.K. of Massachusetts? I personally
don’t know, but this anonymous testimonial practice is more
common than you might expect.
Many psychics and
mediums (and other Mind, Body & Spirit practitioners) will
tell you that they use partial names or initials in order to
protect the privacy of their clients. My response? Did you ever
ask your clients if they minded using their full names? When I
have asked this question, the answer is most commonly “No, I
wasn’t comfortable asking.”
Ironically, a lot
of clients are happy to give a testimonial with their full name
attached. How do I know? I have an entire directory of psychics
and mediums that allows the public to write reviews, but I require
reviewers to include both their first and last names. Does this
stop everyone from writing reviews? No way. There are well over a
thousand reviews on BestPsychicDirectory.com, all of which have
the reviewer’s first and last names published online.
My point? If
psychics and mediums (or any Mind, Body & Spirit
practitioners) simply ask their clients for permission to print
their full name, they could publish testimonials using each
client’s first and last names, thereby giving every testimonial
accountability, credibility and value. Will every testimonial
writer be willing to use their full name? Most likely not. But
without this simple practice of using full names, practitioners might as well write the testimonials
themselves. And who knows? Maybe some do.
The truth is that
most mainstream business that post testimonials on their websites
also link the testimonial writer’s name to that person’s
website, giving the testimonial even greater credibility because
we can actually contact the person who wrote it.
Well, I’m not
even asking for that level of commitment. Let’s just get full
names first. Then, perhaps in the future, we can insist on some
way to contact each testimonial writer. I understand the need to
take baby steps. So let’s just do away with the initials only or
first names with a last initial for now and write the full name.
Otherwise, why bother with testimonials at all?
While this is not as prevalent as it once was, there are still
many psychics and divination readers (readers of tarot cards,
crystals, tea leaves and crystal balls) who dress themselves like
Gypsies, despite the fact that they have no ancestral roots or
connection with the Roma/Romani people. This might include silk
dresses and multi-layered skirts in vibrant colors, solid-colored
square bandannas on the head (known as diklos), large and dangling
jewelry, and pieces of velvet or leather clothing worn as accents.
In my view, such costume wearing is misleading, the equivalent of
someone who is not a doctor wearing a white doctor’s smock to
add credibility (however false) in order to hand out medical
When I was a
private investigator, I didn’t testify in court or interview a
witness dressed like Sherlock Holmes. Nor did I drive around in a
red Ferrari like Magnum P.I., although that might have been fun
had I been able to afford one. Once our business attire moves from
being a uniform to serving no other purpose than to act as a
costume, professionals begin to lose credibility. I once knew a
salesman who knew nothing about auto mechanics, but wore an auto
mechanic’s uniform to sell auto repair discount booklets
door-to-door. In truth, he was misleading the public that he was a
mechanic in order to make a sale.
In a nutshell,
Gypsy costumes—or costumes of any sort—detract from a
psychic’s or medium’s credibility and image rather than uplift
it. Unless they are dressing in this manner because of their
heritage or family tradition, it feels deceptive to me. I’m all
for dressing in line with the customs of a learned practice, such
as is common in the martial arts, but unless a non-Gypsy psychic
has apprenticed to learn the rituals, traditions and ways of the
Gypsy or Roma/Romanian people—and they haven’t merely learned
how to give tarot readings—it seems out of integrity to present
themselves as such simply in attempt to enhance their image or
The time has come
that we hold this industry accountable and cease tolerating
unfathomable practices that we would never accept in any other
business industry. Imagine consulting a lawyer online who offered
his first name only, presented himself with no more than a
photograph of the scales of justice, and asked for your credit
card in order to charge you by the minute with no agreed upon time
limitation. Most people would never be so naïve as to consult
with such a lawyer. Yet numerous online psychics who follow these
shoddy practices—many charging more than some lawyers—are
giving readings to thousands of willing clients daily.
Although I know
psychics and mediums will read this (and will hopefully be
inspired by it), I am not writing this piece for their eyes, as I
will address them more directly in other venues. Instead, I am
writing to you, someone who might purchase readings from psychics
and mediums, because it is you who holds the power to change this
industry even more than the psychics and mediums themselves.
If we, the
public, begin making responsible choices by not accepting the
business practices outlined above, the psychic and medium industry
will have to change. This means that we must stop purchasing
readings from the category of psychics and mediums who commonly
violate the 5 items listed above, which by basic economic
principles alone will precipitate this necessary transformation.
Most importantly, any legitimately gifted psychic or medium who is
serious about their work will follow these public demands for more
professional business practices; and this, in turn, will change
the face of an industry that, in its best light, truly and
effectively helps people in times of adversity, confusion and
founder of OfSpirit.com Magazine, BestPsychicMediums.com & BestPsychicDirectory.com
Home To Whence We Came
is it about the holidays and the coming of a new year that
leads to so many deaths? I’m not talking about deaths
due to drunk driving accidents or crimes, particularly;
I’m referring to the simple act of souls checking out of
their physical existence here on earth and going back home
“to whence we came,” as some people say. Whether it be
due to old age, sickness, suicide or accident, a lot of
people and pets seem to check out between Thanksgiving and
Pesky, Rest In Peace Our Sweet
and I lost our beloved cat, Pesky, on January 3rd. You’d
think that a big, strong guy like myself shouldn’t be bothered
by such a matter. Like many guys have responded, my friend, Mike,
said, “It bothers me if my dog dies, but not a cat. I just
don’t get very attached to cats.” Not so with me. I was hit
hard by the jolting blow of grief at the loss of sweet Pesky.
could I not feel bereft at the passing of a soul who’d been with
Melissa and me for 20 years? In 1990, we had just moved back to
New England from Los Angeles, California. We were temporarily
staying in Melissa’s parents’ summer home in Wells, Maine, and
Pesky appeared in the yard, a stray 2-to-3-year old kitty who was
timid and nearly toothless. She was also famished.
gals in Melissa’s family took heart and began leaving a plate of
food out for the skinny cat. Only when everyone was out of sight
would Pesky (yet unnamed) come out from hiding to eat. With time,
patience and a gentle approach, Melissa coaxed her inside the
house. Once she crossed the threshold, I knew we had a pet—the
first of our 4-year marriage.
remained timid for years. We couldn’t really pat her soft fur at
first, but with time, she sat on Melissa’s lap while watching
television. She always trusted Melissa more than me, so I was
thrilled the day she first sat on my lap. I sat perfectly still
and didn’t dare touch her. All it took was the slightest twitch
of my legs before she leapt into the air—over the coffee
table—and several feet away to safety.
did gradually allow us to pat her and move our legs while she
lounged on our laps, although never like other cats, as there was
always an instinct to flee. Nevertheless, it felt so good in our
hearts to touch her and feel her upon our legs. After probably 12
years, Melissa was eventually able to hold her in her arms (the
only person in the entire world who could) —even cradle her
upside down—because the bond and trust became so strong that
Pesky was finally able to know what it’s like to trust someone.
She was always a small cat.
Pesky never weighed more than 8 pounds at her heaviest. She was a
gray tiger. And, of course, we had to feed her wet food (as
opposed to kibble) because she only had a few teeth. Perhaps it
was her small size that made her forever seem kitten-like, well
that and her never-ending desire to play.
It was her
playful manner that consoled me during my chronic depression in
the early 90s. Despite my inconsolable gloom, Pesky would cheer me
up by flying into the room to tackle a toy mouse that she had
swatted from the hallway like a hockey puck following a slap shot.
This always enticed me to make little balls out of tissues
(something Melissa had shown me) and flick them across the room
for Pesky to chase and capture. This kind of therapy did more than
anything my psychiatrists were able to prescribe, at least then,
for my half-decade of suffering.
had a special bond with Pesky. It was as if they were connected
telepathically. And, as mentioned, Melissa was the only person
Pesky truly trusted. They even had their own song that they
shared—Crazy, written by Willie Nelson for the iconic Patsy
Cline. Melissa would sing it and Pesky would come running from
wherever she was and start rubbing her face against Melissa’s
head. She’d then give Melissa love bites on her head, which was
a weird response, yet funny to watch.
When Pesky was 16
years old, she expressed her displeasure that our two teen nieces
had moved into the house (for the summer) by hanging around the
yard but refusing to come back inside. We could sit on the deck
and she’d come up to rub against our legs, but when we reached
down to pick her up, she’d dash away like we were predators.
This became a
real problem. Days passed and she hadn’t eaten. So Melissa began
leaving food outside and Pesky would eat it only when we weren’t
nearby. With no other solution in sight, I got an idea to ensnare
her—literally. I was talking to our neighbor, Dave, who happened
to be folding up a fisherman’s net that was about eight feet
square. I thought I could use it to capture Pesky and get her
inside to safety. Melissa thought it was a bad idea.
doesn’t trust us because we keep trying to grab her. That could
scare her away altogether,” she insisted.
Stubborn as a
Taurus, I was confident it would work. “This’ll work. Don’t
worry. Once we have her inside, we’ll keep her there. We have to
Dave helped me
rig up some pulleys and ropes so that I could set a trap to catch
our crazy cat. All I had to do was leave a bowl of food in the
middle of the net, which was spread out on the ground, and when
Pesky came to eat, I’d pull a rope (from inside a window of our
house) and the net would fold up—harmlessly cradling my cat so I
could get her into the house. It seemed like a good plan.
Dave and I tested
the trap on a neighborhood cat, named Snively. He was a beautiful
white, fluffy cat with two different colored eyes (blue and gold).
Snively saw the food, walked onto the net to eat it, and I slowly
pulled the rope. The corners of the net lifted and Snively’s
four paws went through the netting, his furry belly held by the
net. He actually seemed to like it. Dave and I lowered the net and
Snively went back to finishing the food in the bowl, entirely
My first night, I
waited until midnight until I finally saw something out of the
corner of my eye. I grabbed the rope and was ready to pull it when
I saw that a skunk was eating the food. Not wanting to go outside
with the skunk there, or wanting to refill the food to lure him
back, I went to bed.
The second night,
about 2:00 in the morning, Pesky showed up—finally. She walked
onto the net and began eating the food. Knowing she was smart and
swift, I pulled the rope quickly. The four corners of the net
lifted with her positioned precisely in the middle. But then she
outsmarted me. Unlike Snively, who merely sat there motionless,
Pesky climbed the netting like a ladder effortlessly and escaped
out the top. She was too fast to be foiled by my silly antics.
right. My foolproof scheme to catch Pesky backfired and Pesky
stopped coming around to eat at night altogether. Once this was
apparent, we started searching for her. Day after day, we went
door to door in a 5-mile radius asking people if they’d seen her
and leaving a flyer with Pesky’s photo. We couldn’t find her.
We searched the animal shelters regularly and posted our flyers on
telephone poles and bulletin boards. After a couple weeks,
homeowners were tired of us returning.
Melissa was much
more persistent than myself. She kept saying that she felt like
Pesky was still alive. Skeptic that I am, I thought it was wishful
thinking. In spite of her conviction, Melissa’s relentless
search dwindled as the days passed, though she never gave up
After six weeks,
Melissa woke up one day with an intuitive urge to walk down the
street looking for Pesky. Two houses down, she walked up to the
door to ask—again—if the woman there had seen any strange cats
hanging around. As the homeowner opened the door, Melissa saw in
the back yard a black cat chasing a gray cat into the woods. With
the homeowner’s permission, Melissa went behind the house to
She called Pesky
to no avail, still not sure if the cat she saw was her. Then she
thought to sing Crazy. She began singing right there in the
crazy for feeling so lonelyyyyyy. I’m crazy, crazy for feeling
Pesky came out of
the woods, appearing skinnier than when we first met her 16 years
prior. She mustn’t have eaten in 6 weeks. Timid as ever, Pesky
walked hesitantly up toward Melissa and purred. Melissa quickly
reached down and snatched her up. Pesky was too weak to move fast
enough to flee.
Pesky became an
indoor cat from that day on, and there were benefits to this
because of it. Some long-lasting health issues that she’d had
for years suddenly disappeared. She also became more sociable and
trusting. She began to allow Melissa’s mother, Judy, and her
brother, Derek, to pat her. She’d even sit on their lap. And I
could now move to reposition my legs when she sat on my lap during
the 2nd of January, Pesky appeared quite healthy, as
usual. Now 22 years old, she was a bit unsteady in her walk and
had some minor health issues (only a couple teeth, ears that
needed constant cleaning, and she couldn’t quite navigate the
litter box every time—but came close). All the same, I only hope
that I’m as healthy, alert and active as her in my old age.
Saturday evening, however, she seemed weaker than normal. She even
vomited a couple times. We didn’t think too much of it, as most
cat owners know this is par for the course with older cats. Even
so, the weakness seemed excessive enough to cause worry. I went to
bed last and put Pesky to bed. She seemed okay, although tired, in
spite of it all.
Melissa woke up
Sunday morning and noticed that Pesky was lying on the living room
rug. This was strange. She immediately attended to Pesky, as was
her ritual every morning anyhow, but this morning the old girl was
listless, though still alert. It appeared she had attempted to
walk into the kitchen for a nibble but run out of steam along the
Pesky up and brought her upstairs where I was still lying in bed.
Then she told me about Pesky’s listlessness. We snuggled
together, Pesky absorbing our affection, until she seemed
uncomfortable, at which point we all moved downstairs to the
Melissa and I
knew our friend was leaving us. I don’t know how we knew; we
just did. So we spent the day holding Pesky on our laps. We traded
laps every time she seemed to call for a change in position.
Sometimes we placed her on her bed, which was made of two comfy
cushions with an electric heating pad on top. The heat was good
for her frail, cooling body.
Pesky was fully
aware of our presence and no doubt aware of her pending condition.
She lifted her head as I rubbed my forehead against hers, managed
some purring as Melissa held her, and stared us in the eyes while
we patted her and told her how much we loved her.
We shared our
favorite memories of our life with Pesky and thanked her for the
love and lessons she had given us. We sobbed periodically at the
thought of our friend of 20 years leaving us, then forced
ourselves to hold it together knowing she might possibly hang on
for our sake. We then told her not to worry about us and to go
peacefully when she was ready.
At 3:20 pm, our
dear friend, Pesky, stopped breathing. She cried out one last meow
as she departed, then—after she’d stopped breathing—her body
contracted in ways that seemed to be motions she might have craved
to make but hadn’t the energy—she stretched her legs and
scratched her ear. Pesky’s body fell limp, but her fur felt
softer than ever. We noticed that the tension we’d seen in her
face during her elderly years had disappeared, leaving her now
with a peaceful and relaxed expression.
Although we were
exhausted from the day’s emotions and deeply saddened by our
loss, we were grateful that Pesky allowed us to share in her
passing. It was her final gift to us, and I’m sure our presence
that day was our final gift to her.
I must be honest
and tell you that I hesitated—even resisted—writing this
month’s blog about Pesky’s passing. But then I kept hearing
about the deaths of other people and pets to the point that it
seemed more appropriate to acknowledge, honor and celebrate these
souls who have left us and are now awaiting us to join them back
home. Plus I, like Melissa, have been reminded of Pesky everywhere
I turn in the house. So the question soon changed from “Should I
write this blog about her” to “How can I not write about
In dedication to
the lives of our loved ones—with and without fur—I share with
you this story. Why so many choose to leave at the end and
beginning of our calendar year I might never know, but what’s
important is that they shared their life with us at all. How
blessed are we?
condolences to everyone who is grieving from both Melissa and