Who is The George Collective?
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BEGIN CHANNELED MESSAGE
Greetings. It is our joy to share with you Now as you move into the vibration of Who You Truly Are. Allow our energy to suffuse you, and as you do, we invite you to notice its origins. Where does our energy come from? Where do you notice it within you as you reconnect with the vibration of Self as Source?
You may be surprised to notice that we are not external to you. That is, when you notice our vibration as you engage with our energy and messages, please also notice that the vibration you connect with comes from inside of you. Our vibration intermingles with yours, coming not just from within every cell of your body, but also filling all of the seemingly empty spaces that exist between each cell.
We invite you to notice this because it is our desire for you to recognize that our vibrational energy is not separate from yours; rather, it is a part of all aspects of your body, mind, and spirit. For we are Source energy and so are You. We come not from outside of you, but from inside of body, mind, and spirit.
When you are most deeply caught up in the illusion of separation, you can quiet yourself and notice that we are there. There is no place where you end and we begin. Instead, we flow seamlessly together into One infinite energetic body.
Now, notice the solid parts of you that touch the solid parts of something else. Probe the apparently impermeable boundary between you and whatever your body is touching. Then, notice as you give it your attention how that boundary softens. Where does your energy leave off and the energy of that object begin? Notice that it doesn't. Rather, your energy flows into the energy of that which you make physical contact with. What you perceive as a barrier separating you from it is an illusion. Even as you touch another seemingly solid object with your apparently solid self, your energy flows into it, and its vibration flows into you. The energy co-mingles until you can no longer notice any separation at all.
Try this with any object you wish. Hold something in your hand. Close your eyes and breathe as you place all your attention there. Now notice whether you can find a true boundary between that object you hold and you.
Next, do this with another embodied being. Sit facing one another, gazing into the other's eyes. Where does your gaze end and theirs begin? Synchronize your breathing and notice that it is impossible to know where your breath ends and theirs begins. Place your hands in front of you with your palms touching theirs. Now, close your eyes and breathe, focusing on the place where your palms are touching and notice that it is impossible to know for sure where you end and they begin. Any belief you have in separation from this other being is merely an illusion.
What you notice and experience as you engage in these exercises is the reawakening of your awareness of the Oneness. You can do this any moment of any day in any activities and with any experiences, objects, or Beings.
When you find yourself longing for Home, do this. Close your eyes briefly and breathe in. When you recognize the vibration of Source within you, open your eyes and look around with a soft gaze. See how the boundaries that moments ago seemed so solid now seem soft and permeable.
When you find yourself caught up in the dramas of ego, do this. As you go about your daily tasks, close your eyes briefly and breathe until you recognize the vibration of Source within you. Then open your eyes and return to your task, noticing the physical boundaries of the objects you were working with that you previously believed were so distinct have softened, and they flow into you as you flow into them.
Do this with each of your senses. Do this with each of your tasks. Do this with each of your thoughts, words, and actions. Engage in this practice as often as you think to do it and slowly, the boundaries of ego that create the illusion of separateness will begin to blur and fade, and you will know that regardless of where you are or what you are thinking, saying, or doing, you can entirely change your experience by allowing yourself to slip outside of the imaginary separation of ego and into the reality of Oneness with Source. When you connect to that Oneness, those parts of you that have forgotten will fill with the peace and joy of re-membering Love and returning your attention to the awareness of self as part of the All That Is, Was, and Ever Will Be.
For it is as we have told you. There is no separation, only the illusion of it. Thus, all that you notice with your five physical senses is Love masquerading as solid objects. What you truly are is Love pretending to be separate for a while so you can once again find the joy of truly re-membering that you are pure Love, and that all that is within you and surrounding you is that same Love.
You are the I Am That I Am. We are the I Am That I Am. And everything around you is the I Am That I Am. Even in your illusion, you are whole, we are whole, all is wholeness, and We Are All One. We Love You.
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Who is The George Collective?
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BEGIN CHANNELED MESSAGE
Greetings. We are overjoyed to speak with you Now and share energy from Source. We wish you to know that while what we share with you may seem like new information, indeed it is not. As you read, go within and feel the vibration of our messages. When you focus on the vibration as you read the words, a knowing will rise as you recognize that our energy and our messages are known to you, and that we speak to you through this channel not to enlighten you with new information, rather to awaken what you already know. For the vibration of our messages to you are your soul memories from the part of You that remains fully within and completely aware of Yourself as Source.
Therefore, we invite you to experience each of our messages differently than perhaps you have before. While your embodied self reads our words, we invite you to rejoin with your Source self as well. We encourage you through the vibration of these messages to re-member with your Source self. For even these few moments of re-membering with Source that you experience as you dwell within the vibration of our messages can support and sustain the awakening of your embodied self so you can continue your return to Oneness.
And so, Now, as your embodied self connects to the energy of this message, we invite you to go within and notice our vibration surrounding you. Breathe it in deeply and let it fill the vast empty spaces that exist between the vibrational particles of your physical body. Notice our Light and vibration fill each empty space and surround each particle of you until it consumes you. Allow this until you feel as if our vibration dissolves the physical bonds of memory and ego that make up the force fields creating your illusions of solidity.
Now, in this state, You are once again One with our vibration and thus, You are once again One with Source. You have, for this Moment, re-membered Who You Truly Are. Remain here with us in this space, allowing the Light to infuse every particle of you and realize that what you perceive as solid and real in your embodied existence is only an illusion. All of your solid, embodied life is not real at all. It is strands of energy, vibrating slowly enough to create mass and density, held loosely together by force fields that you, yourself have created in order to experience illusion as reality.
You have the power to change these force fields, even in your current embodied state, simply by raising your vibration. And you have the ability to raise your vibration through your thoughts, words, and actions. Thus, as you are now suffused in our Light and energy for this Moment of this Message, re-memeber and re-experience yourself as part of a Light You have never left. And when you return in a moment to your embodied reality, take the Light of this Moment of Now with you knowing you can return to it at any time, not just by engaging with our messages, but by returning to this vibrational space in your thoughts, words, actions, and practices.
We are with you always. You have never left us, and we have never left you. The Light you have just experienced surrounding the vibrating particles and filling the vast empty spaces of what you perceive as solid—that Light is the reality. That Light is Who You Truly Are. And now, while you remain in the illusion you perceive as physical reality, we invite you to hold onto that vibration of the Light and remember that You are God's grandest dream, walking through the experience of embodiment, and dancing to the song of spirit that always plays in your soul, steadily guiding you Home. We love you.
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Who is The George Collective?
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BEGIN CHANNELED MESSAGE
Greetings! We are overjoyed to communicate with you today. You know us as "The George Collective" because that is a name you use to identify us, which is part of your nature. Humanity labels things in order to identify them. We have told you before we are pleased with this label, but it only shares part of who we are, as we are vibration and thus our "name" is vibration instead of a label. Due to the nature of the way you interact within duality, you require labels in order to help you quickly categorize and understand that which you encounter.
However, we wish to remind you (for you already know even if you do not remember) that regardless of what labels you apply to something, those names can only convey one minuscule part of the entirety of that which you label. This is because all is energy, and all vibration is dynamic and can quickly re-form, shift, and change. Likewise, all vibration can switch frequency in any given moment whether it's the energy of a plant, an animal, a rock, the planet, a situation, a thought, or a human being.
Thus, in ultimate reality, labels are rendered useless, since energy can take any frequency and any form in any given Moment of Now.
Why is this important for you to understand? Because to label something and insist on maintaining that label limits your ability to experience it for what it truly is. For example, once you have labeled another soul as "rude" or "mean" or "ugly", then your judgment about that designation quickly solidifies that vibration within your own experience. Then, regardless of how much the vibration of that soul shifts and changes, to a great extent it becomes tremendously hard to shift your initial label to something different, which keeps you from experiencing the other soul as being anything other than the label you have already applied.
Some labels, such as a name like "The George Collective" or "Bob" or "Mary" serve a purpose for rapid identification of another. The trick, then, is to remain in the Now of that other's vibration instead of insisting that the soul you have labeled must only be the "Bob" or "Mary" you have come to know and judge as such.
Most in humanity fail to realize that labeling things in such a way is creative; that is, those labels not only create and solidify that energy in your experience, but to other susceptible forms of consciousness, your belief in those labels and insistence on viewing another to fit within them can also affect how that other consciousness views and experiences itself as you begin to use the label you have created as a tool for conditioning the other.
Here is an example of how this may work with an embodied human soul. Imagine that you are about to have a child. You go to the doctor and discover it's a girl! This is the first label, because regardless of the chromosomal patterns of an unborn baby, the truth is it is simply an energetic, vibrational soul that is without any current human identity as it relates to gender. It is merely a beloved piece of Source embarking on the human journey.
However, with this initial label, even before the soul enters the living, breathing world of duality via birth, labeling and conditioning have already begun. Perhaps there is a pink nursery. Possibly there are some frilly dresses and hair bows awaiting the child. The gendered name is chosen. Thoughts, dreams, and wishes for a girl's future are already forming.
Then, the soul is born into the body of a biological female, and the conditioning continues. From the moment of birth, how the soul is treated and the societal expectations of that child are pre-set based merely on a pattern of chromosomes. The soul, newborn into a human body, arrives with no preference of what they will be, what they will wear, how they will dress, or what they will be interested in. Rather, the soul comes for the pure creative experience, and from the very moment they are born and labeled "girl", all of society--every human being they encounter both personally and through media--creates a set of expectations about how that label should express in every aspect of the soul's life.
But what if the soul chooses something different from what the chromosomes express? What if the label "girl" and all of the societal expectations and conditioning that come with this label feel counter to that soul's embodied truth for this lifetime? Is the soul wrong for wishing to live their truth in spite of what society is trying to condition them to be? Does that soul deserve a lifetime of scorn, derision, and rejection for merely wishing to live their truth, even if it falls outside of societal expectations?
It is the deepest desire of every soul in a human body to live authentically, creatively, freely, and joyfully without trying to fit within the narrow definitions generated by various human individuals, families, religions, cultures, and societies. Even if you do not realize it, this is your deepest desire. Imagine if you could be in the world exactly as who you are without fear of judgment or reprisal. What would it feel like if you never needed to hide anything in your shadows, never felt you had to behave in a certain way or make choices merely because your social structure and the labels you apply say you should?
Imagine your life for a moment, free of the expectations, constraints, and limitations of all the labels that others have placed on you and that you have placed on yourself. Close your eyes, center yourself, and feel this. Feel the empowerment and freedom in living an unfettered life where you can be exactly what you choose. Notice that feeling of pure joy, creativity, and expansiveness that comes from this. Allow yourself to truly dwell within this space until you feel its vibration. Then, notice how different that energy feels from how you currently believe you must live under expectations and labels that say you should be this way or that way, wear this thing or that thing, believe one thing or another, and do this or that.
This is the desire of every soul, to live an authentic, truthful, and unrestricted life. It is a freedom you can find, but it takes courage to claim it and live it. Due to the nature of the labels and expectations you apply to yourself and other humans, the act of being who you truly are takes great courage under the present circumstances and conditions of the world you have co-created with your fellow humans.
But you have the power to change this, and it begins with one intrepid soul being brave enough to set aside labels, step away from conditioning, and embrace the joy of their true, authentic being and live it fully in their lives. For when one soul finds this vibration and this joy, another sees and does the same. And the two souls living their joy affect two more. And then the four souls affect four more. And soon, as this energy grows exponentially, you begin to find enclaves of souls all living authentically. And as these souls begin to live authentically, they lose their need and desire to force other souls into the boxes created by labels and conditioning. Thus, more souls now live lives much freer of conditioning, labels, and expectations and can begin to find their own authentic expression while inspiring others through their example.
But those first souls...they must be brave, and they must have the courage to be who they are. They must have the tenacity to do it proudly and openly, knowing that there are others who will try to force them back into the box of conditioning and labels. And while this may sound frightening (thus, the courage), the truth is that if you are that intrepid soul, you can still live joyfully regardless of how others treat you, speak to you, judge you, or talk about you. How? By recognizing that you are of Source, and thus, regardless of what happens to your physical body, you are always safe and deeply loved.
It's true you may need to find this peace and support within yourself without the expectation of acceptance from other souls. And it's true that there may be those who try to do you physical harm because they fear your peace, joy, and bravery. But without the souls who are fearlessly living their truth regardless of societal expectations, humanity would never grow and evolve as they seek to re-member themselves as Source.
The man you call Jesus was one such soul. He lived his life authentically, and his deep truth sparked a movement "practiced" (often imperfectly) by millions which has lasted thousands of years. Of course, his messages have been shifted and co-opted by people seeking power over centuries and used as a cudgel for conditioning and control, but he was a simple man living a simple truth who inspired many and terrified many others afraid of losing their power. His messages, although altered and often misinterpreted, have lived on for thousands of years after his death.
Jesus was a man of courage. He lived his truth even knowing he would be killed for it by those in power. However, he also recognized himself as Source and knew that regardless of what humans did to his body, his true joy was in his Oneness. And he also knew that the only way to shift the energy that created the circumstances resulting in his crucifixion was to live in a world that wasn't ready for him or his message, but to be who he was anyway. Because if his authentic being-ness of living his truth affected even one other soul in a human body, then the world would forever change.
You have this power as well. In fact, it is alluded to in your holy book, The Bible, which contains wisdom albeit often greatly misunderstood. In John 14:12, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." (NLT)
This was Jesus's call to live your truth and be who you are. For even after you are gone, those you have affected with your authentic being-ness will feel safer and freer to find their own peace and joy in living their own truth. And in doing so, they will continue to shift consciousness, which allows more embodied souls to begin to re-member though living their own truth.
This, then, is your call to courage. We invite you to be who you are, to resist conditioning (both being conditioned and conditioning others), and to help others also find the joy of their own truth through your example.
We love you, we are in awe of you, and we know you are up to the task. You are deeply loved.
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Who is The George Collective?
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BEGIN CHANNELED MESSAGE
Greetings. It is our great joy to speak with you Now and to walk with you always. For though you perceive yourself as separate from each other, from us, and from Source, the truth is that you have never left. You exist with us always in the Eternal Moment of Now, for you are, as we are, All That Is, Was, or Ever Will Be.
Our message is brief today. It is a message of Love and a reminder of Who You Are. Therefore, we invite you to close your eyes, place your hands together as if you are praying, bring your fingertips to your brow, and simply feel. Create this silence, and you will feel our vibration. For while we share words with you through these channeled messages, we also activate each message with vibrational information that will reach resonance with your frequency so you can sit within it and and feel our energy as you read our words.
This is a foundational exercise we recommend those of you seeking to re-member your essence as Source do frequently. Do this before you read a channeled message from this channel or any other. Do this while you state intention or pray. Do this while you express gratitude. Do this when you absorb our messages. Do this when you struggle, before and after you meditate, and at any time you wish to feel the Love of Source. For this is a signal both to your small I and to the Oneness that you wish to connect with the Truth of Who You Are.
Then, sit with it. Sit with it for a second or a minute or an hour or however much "time" you need to feel that connection. For it is our sacred vow to you that when you connect in this way, we will infuse you with the vibration of All That Is.
Do this Now, at the end of this message. And do this in any moment you feel alone or frightened or angry or grief-stricken. Do it when you feel joyful or grateful. Do it when you visualize. Do it when you notice you're judging or feeling judged. And as you do, allow the frequency of Universal Love to fill you and re-mind you that We have never left You, and You have never left Us. We are unbreakably connected Now and Now and Now and Now. And so it is. We love you.
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Today is the one-year anniversary of my dad's death. My family is understandably feeling sad today because he has been gone from us for an entire year.
During that year, people have generously shared memories of my dad. They tell us what a good man he was. They share stories of his humor, his compassion, his kindness, his caring, his integrity, and his willingness to help. They talk of his curious mind, his intelligence, and his quick wit. They discuss his acts of community service, his athletic feats, and how inspirational they found him.
My dad was that man. He did all of those things and more. But he was also human.
In his eulogy last year at Dad's memorial service, Rev.Gary Shoemaker started by saying this. "John Riseland was no saint, but with everything I'm going to tell you, by the time I'm done, you may think he was."
When someone dies, we tend to focus on all of the good things about that person. We romanticize them in our memories and in how we talk about them to loved ones who are grieving. We even have a saying in our culture, "Don't speak ill of the dead." I'm sure it's a respect thing, but I think we do a disservice to ourselves, to the person who has died, and to society as a whole when we immediately turn those who have passed from this realm into saints. In doing so, we strip them of their humanity.
My dad was a good man. In fact, it's likely he was a great man. He was a wonderful son, father, husband, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, friend, and human being. He is someone I've always tried to emulate. But he was no saint. He was a human being. He made mistakes, but as soon as he realized he had, he apologized, made amends, and tried to do better. He was a decent athlete, but he was also pretty clumsy. He was involved in his church and believed deeply in the power of the church to bring healing to communities, but he frequently questioned his own faith. He was open-minded but often got a little cranky in political arguments. He was compassionate and slow to anger, but trust me, he could get mad. As a teen, I personally experienced his temper each time I made a new dent to his car. (In his defense, there were a lot.) He was very funny, but sometimes his jokes were really, really awful.
My dad was no saint. He made mistakes. He was a human being. But he was also a man of tremendous integrity, kindness, compassion, and depth. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, son, uncle, and friend. He loved profoundly, and his emotions ran deep. And the beauty of all of that is this: every one of those wonderful stories people have shared with my family about my dad in the past year are true. He was all of those beautiful things in spite of the fact he was also a fallible human being. His goodness far overrode any flaws or mistakes.
And so, going into the second year without his presence in my life, I choose to remember all aspects of my dad. Because in spite of having the fallibility of every other human on earth, he chose to make goodness the overall focus of his life, and I think that's far more relatable and easier to aspire to than sainthood. My dad was no saint, but he lived a beautiful life. He was one of the best men I've ever known, and it helps me to remember that during the times when I, too, am no saint.
My dad had a lot of Clark Griswold in him. In fact, I'm relatively certain his Clark Griswold-like characteristics were so pronounced they were mentioned at his funeral. Every year during the holidays, he and my mom packed the family into our Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon (complete with moon roof and "wood" side panels) and drove off in search of the perfect Christmas tree. We hunted Christmas trees in rain, fog, snow, Nor'easters, and below freezing temps. We were dedicated with my dad leading the charge, and we drove triumphantly home with our fresh cut tree strapped to the car's ski racks. During the holidays when I was growing up, we always had a live, fresh cut Christmas tree adorning our living room in the little blue house on Broadway. One year to my sister Jenny's displeasure, it was a tree she had planted and nurtured in our yard over the years, but that's another story for another day.
Fresh cut Christmas trees were a holiday tradition I sadly didn't carry on with my family. Given how lifelike artificial trees have become in the past few decades, we've always had one of those instead. I didn't have to vacuum up needles or worry about fires like my mom did, but we never went tromping through the woods or a Christmas tree farm with the kids, never strapped a tree to the top of our car, and our house was never scented with the aroma of evergreen.
As the holidays approached this year, I wasn't certain I was even going to decorate my artificial Christmas tree. I've viewed the holidays with some trepidation this year because it is my first without my dad. Our kids are grown and don't live at home anymore and making the effort of hauling out our tree and schlepping it downstairs, digging out our ornaments, and hanging them seemed pointless and like a lot of work I just didn't feel like doing.
My dad has been gone for 10 months now, and I have coped with my grief in stages. His illness and death were unexpected, sudden, and brutal in their intensity. In many ways, it still doesn't seem real that he is gone. Yet he is.
My first stage of grieving was numbness. I had other people to worry about, work projects to take care of, classes to teach, books to write, and more. In those early months my grief bubbled up occasionally, but I was always able to tamp it down and refocus on my task at hand instead. During that stage I wrote a tribute to him, accepted and thanked people for their condolences, tried to comfort my family, dedicated a book or two to him, and congratulated myself on being okay. I was so numb I didn't realize I wasn't.
In the next stage, I started to process. I allowed my grief and took the time to acknowledge it. As I am given to do, I did much of my processing in writing with tears streaming down my face. During this phase, I also spent a lot of time doing things I enjoyed. I traveled multiple places with Jim and with friends. I went on several boats. I wrote a lot and communicated with my readers via this blog and social media. I taught a multiple classes. Unfortunately, my dog Sofie became ill and died during this time, as well. I thought I handled it pretty well.
In mid-October, I realized I was exhausted. I'd been struggling with an ongoing health issue since May when I accidentally ingested gluten while traveling (I have celiac disease and eating even trace amounts of gluten can send me into a health and inflammatory spiral that lasts for about six months). I felt drained of life force energy. I've always been even-keeled, emotionally and spiritually energetic, optimistic, and generally relaxed and happy no matter what is going on in my life, but I noticed even the smallest things sent me into a flurry of stress. My ability to cope was gone, and I felt spiritually, emotionally, and physically depleted. All I wanted to do was sleep and go somewhere to spend weeks away from all people recharging my batteries. I took some time off from teaching my classes (I will resume in January), stopped writing blogs and working on books or projects, spent almost no time on social media, and spent less time around people. There was a period in late October and early November after we returned from a trip to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah where I didn't leave the house for about ten days because I was so ill and depleted, and I felt I just couldn't "do people." I emerged briefly to attend the Port Gamble Ghost Conference the week before Thanksgiving because I'd committed to do so months ago, but then I returned home and into my self-imposed exile.
It was during this period I started to dread the holidays because there was a big, dad-shaped hole right in the middle of them. Jim's car broke down and he had to work over Thanksgiving, so I was unable to travel to be with my family. I sat home with the dogs all day on Thanksgiving and pretended it was just any other day. In fact, it's only been in the past week when I've started to peek out of my hole, get out into the world, and feel as if I am coming to life again. It turns out that while the exile felt awful while I was going through it, it was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries.
I remained unsure what I was going to do about Christmas. I still had no intention of putting up a Christmas tree or decorating. Then, I was chatting with my friend Teresa last night about old family Christmas traditions and we started talking about fresh Christmas trees and how much we loved then. In my tentative journeys back into the world, I noticed a few places had living Christmas trees, and I had been feeling a pull towards them. When I was talking to Teresa, it struck me exactly what I wanted to do for the holidays. I decided to buy a small living Christmas tree in honor of my father. If the ground isn't frozen, I will plant it on the first anniversary of his death (2/1). If it is frozen, I'll plant it as soon as I can. In this way, I feel like my dad is still a part of my holidays.
Today I went to Home Depot and was gratified to discover they had living Christmas trees. I chose a small spruce and got some tiny lights and ornaments and brought it home to decorate.
The photo to the left is my living Christmas tree tribute to my dad. The star on the top is a stained glass ornament my dad made for me. I had forgotten I had it, but when I found it I was delighted because it was perfect. (Those are my citrus trees in the background. They are wintering indoors in a south facing window where they can stay warm and get lots of sunlight).
I've written a lot about grief in 2018, and I've shared much of it with my readers. My grief has manifested in many ways throughout the year. At times I've ignored it and soldiered on and at times I've acknowledged and allowed it. I've found the times of allowing have felt more healing to me than the times of ignoring. Go figure.
I know many people are facing a holiday season without a loved one. It's an experience most of us will share at some point because death is the great equalizer. It inhabits all of our lives with the memory of those who were once with us in body but no longer are. Your grief may feel raw and fresh, or it may have mellowed with time, but times of family gatherings and tradition often serve to highlight those who are no longer with you.
However, if you can find a way to honor them in your holiday rituals, it may help. Whether it's getting a live Christmas tree and later planting it in your yard in their honor, buying ornaments that capture their essence and hanging them on your holiday tree, rejuvenating an old family holiday tradition, remembering them in prayer or meditation, donating to their favorite charity in their name, lighting candle in their honor, or something else that reminds you of them, it can help you heal. Create a new tradition for you and your family that honors those who have left you. Do something that captures their spirit and makes you smile. And as you do, open your heart and listen. You just may hear them whispering to you and realize that while they are physically no longer there, they have never left you.
Learning to Grieve
My dad died on February 1 of this year. I don’t say that to garner sympathy but merely as a statement of truth. I say that because my dad no longer walks this earth, and that is my new reality.
He is not the first person I love who has died, but he is certainly the closest. His illness seemed sudden, although it had likely been around for months. In late October, he got a cold. He still had it at Thanksgiving, although his doctor assured him it was just a virus that was lingering. After the holidays when the cold was still there, his doctor grew concerned and sent him to a specialist. On January 10, he was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer and was in a severe amount of pain. No treatment would prolong his life. He entered hospice the last week in January and died after a few days. My mother, sister, nephew, husband, and I were all by his side as he breathed his last breath.
Over the past few decades, I’ve developed into a pretty chill person. Especially in the past five or so years, I’ve been an anxiety-free, happy-go-lucky, roll-with-the-punches kind of gal unless something extreme has happened. Perhaps not surprisingly, that is also the period in my life where I’ve hit my stride as an intuitive energy healer and psychic medium. Living what I believe is my life’s true purpose has smoothed my rough edges and given me a broader perspective about life and death. It’s allowed me to move into my authentic self. I’ve communicated with hundreds of spirits of people who have passed, including some I love. I’ve offered comfort to people who are mourning the loss of loved ones. So I guess somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed that when one of my immediate family members died, I would handle it with a similar level of aplomb, understanding, and even-temperedness.
That didn’t happen.
On the day my father was diagnosed, I stopped eating. I couldn’t. I tried. I’d take a bite of food and nothing would go down. I barely slept. I threw myself into work. And in my darkest moments, I was convinced I didn’t remember how to swallow. I’d try to swallow and panic would set in until I was able to relax myself enough to do it. Then, as soon as I did, it would start all over again. I was terrified I was going to choke on my own saliva. I knew intellectually these were all manifestations of anxiety arising from the stress of my dad’s illness and worry about my mom, but even knowing and understanding that didn’t matter.
By about January 15, doctors told us my dad probably had six months left. It was plenty of time, I thought, that we could get together and say everything we had to say. My sisters and I planned a weekend with my parents at the beginning of February where the five of us could spend time together as a family. In the meantime, I threw myself into my work, taught my classes, and accepted any project that came my way to keep my mind busy. During that two weeks, I wrote two books if that tells you anything about how frantically I worked. You have lots of time to do stuff when you stop sleeping and eating.
Early in the week before we were supposed to spend the weekend with my parents, my mom called and said dad was going into hospice to get his pain under control. It sounded like he would be put on some medication and return home, just as he had the previous week when he was hospitalized for the same reason. Still, in my heart I knew my dad would enter hospice, and he wouldn’t return home. I hoped I was wrong, but I didn’t think I was.
The next day, mom called and told us if we wanted to see Dad, we needed to come now. Unfortunately, my younger sister had a flight from Hawaii where she lives in a few days and was unable to change it. My older sister, my husband, and I dropped everything and headed to my hometown where we sat with my mom and dad in hospice.
My father was minimally lucid when I arrived. He had short periods of wakefulness, but he was heavily drugged and would quickly drift off to sleep. It was difficult to understand what he said when he was speaking. In one particularly lucid moment, he opened his eyes, looked at me, said, “Hi Kar,” and then asked me, “Am I dying?” I told him yes because what else was I going to do?
It quickly became apparent that even as heavily medicated as he was, my father was still in significant pain, so meds were raised to try and control it. He slipped away then; he was out of pain and still with us but not really with us.
On Thursday evening while my younger sister was still on an airplane, Dad took a turn. Something changed. His breathing was different – more erratic. We knew it would be soon, and all of us stood by his side and talked to him. We told him it was okay to go, that mom would be okay, and that we would all be okay. We told him we loved him. Well, at first just my mom and my sister did because I was overcome. I couldn’t speak the words in my heart, but then as I got my emotions under control, I was able to tell him the same thing.
After a short period that seemed like forever, something in the room changed. I felt something – someone there. I knew his loved ones had come for him. I turned to Jim, signaled this would be Dad’s last breath, and then watched as he took it. I felt him go.
My dad died. I didn’t want to let him go, but I knew we had to. Life is not the same without him, and my world is forever changed.
We lingered for an hour in hospice as they took care of Dad’s body and friends came to offer love and support. When they took him to the funeral home, Jim and I staggered back to our hotel in a daze. All the way, I heard my dad chattering at me, but I assumed it was just wishful thinking. He was telling me what he was experiencing, and I was happy to listen, but for once I didn’t believe I was actually receiving psychic communication. I just thought I was doing what I needed to do to comfort myself.
Back at the hotel, Jim left to get something out of our car while my dad’s voice still chattered in my head. I said, “I wish it was really you, but I know it’s just my mind.” And then someone physically yanked my hair hard, and my dad’s voice said loudly, “Hey! Listen to me. I’m here.”
And so I listened. What he said was between us. And in the back of my mind, I still didn’t believe I was really hearing it.
The next several weeks were numb. I went to the funeral. I took on more and more work. I taught my classes. When I tried to speak of my dad, I broke down in sobs. And when I was alone, my dad would come to me and talk. I didn’t know if he was really there; I couldn’t trust my abilities because I knew what I wanted to believe would supersede what was actually happening. I felt him visit regularly. And although I didn’t believe he was there, on the off chance he was, I talked to him. Doing so gave me comfort.
I told him that to get through to my mom and sisters, the best way was to communicate in their dreams. I told him I missed him, I loved him, and I wished I could have had more lucid time with him before he died. I had full conversations every time I felt his presence even though I was sure he wasn’t really there, but I just wanted him to be.
A few months later, I was at the Oregon Ghost Conference, where I teach and speak every year. I was surrounded by psychics, and I told my dad on one of his visits, “If you’re really here and you’ve really been coming to me, please communicate with one of my psychic medium friends and have them speak to me privately, giving me some kind of information so I will know I truly have been communicating with you.”
My friends Seth Michael and AuroA were giving a gallery reading that night at the conference. So far, nobody had said anything to me from my dad, so I thought that probably confirmed what I knew, which was my conversations with and visits from him were all in my mind. After all, my dad when he was alive was skeptical about psychics, and my abilities were a subject we just didn’t discuss much, if at all. So I had zero expectations at the gallery reading; I was there to support my friends.
I stood in the back of the room watching people getting messages from loved ones when I heard my dad’s voice say to me, “Watch this,” as Seth and AurorA were transitioning from giving messages to one person to another.
Then Seth started making a horrible coughing noise – one I’d heard before. “This man is making me feel so much pain and like I can’t breathe and he sounds like this,” Seth said, making the strangled noise again. It was the exact noise my dad made as he was in hospice dying.
“He says, ‘I gave up the ghost,’ and laughs,” Seth said. “He says, ‘I willed himself to die.’”
Seth was communicating with my father, who thought my ghost stuff was amusing and often made the joke of “giving up the ghost.”
And so, in front of a ton of people, my dad who I always thought was slightly embarrassed by the whole psychic and ghost thing communicated with me. The content of the message didn’t matter as much as the fact he was there. He was also letting me know by communicating through Seth that all the communication I believed to be my imagination was, indeed, real. It brought me comfort, and it also released something. It was the start of my true grief process.
I always believed that as a psychic medium I would handle the death of loved ones well, as my belief and understanding is people never really leave us and love never really dies, that they are there looking over us and loving us in spirit form. I’ve shared this information with many people, and I’ve felt it viscerally as I do.
But when my dad died, I forgot all of that. Or for a while, I stopped believing it. I became trapped in numbness where I felt safe. There’s not a word deep enough to describe the raw depths of my pain at my dad’s death, and it wasn’t a feeling I was willing to allow myself to experience or process. The part of me who had comforted so many people by telling them their loved ones were still there was deeply ashamed that when death became that closely personal, I somehow lacked the power of my convictions. I was angry at myself for grieving so deeply and unwilling to allow my grief because of my belief that consciousness survives death and my dad wasn’t really lost. I believed I was supposed to grieve a certain way, or that my grief should somehow be less because I could communicate beyond the veil. My pain grew sluggish and sticky. I was mired in it because I refused to allow myself to move through it since I didn’t believe given what I knew about the human soul, I should be grieving at all.
Instead, I processed in bits and pieces. I’ve had times where I’ve broken down, times where I’ve been numb, and times where for just a moment, I have a glimmer of understanding that what I believe about life after death is true. But those moments of knowing were ephemeral, and they slipped away before I could grasp them with desperate hands.
In mid-August, we gathered to scatter my dad’s ashes. We chartered a boat filled with family and friends and traveled to the San Juan Islands. On the way, we saw porpoises, and when we arrived at the spot, there was an unexpected pod of migrating orcas.
All of my life, I’ve dreamed of dolphins, porpoises, orcas, and whales. They come to me in dreams during difficult periods, and I always wake from the dreams knowing everything will be all right, and all is as it should be. So it was no mistake they were there that day when we scattered my dad’s ashes. They were there for him and from him, and they were there for all of us.
As my older sister and nephew poured his ashes into the water where the orcas swam, the ashes made a beautiful pattern in the sea. And I did something I was unable to do at his funeral. I allowed myself to feel the depths of my grief and I cried. I told my dad good-bye, and I let him go. And underneath, I felt something else, as well. I felt gratitude I’d had my dad for 52 years and for the father he’d been, and I knew I never truly would have to let him go because he was a part of me.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a time frame or normal behavior. Regardless of what you believe or what you know, when someone you love dies, it is intensely personal. It doesn’t matter if you can communicate with spirits, if you believe in life after death, or if you believe your loved ones remain with you even though they are no longer physically embodied. For quite a while, I was unwilling to allow the grief to touch me because I didn’t believe I had a right to it given what I knew to be true about the nature of the universe. But as I tried to go about life as usual, my dad kept creeping in, and so did deep sadness at his passing. Eventually, I came to a place where I could either choose to suppress it and live my life in a state of numbness, or I could lean in and allow myself to experience it fully so I could move on. I wish I would say it was a conscious decision I chose the latter, but it wasn’t. The dam burst and I was unable to continue with the numbness because it dishonored all that my father was to me. It also dishonored the authenticity of my own feelings.
And so I grieve. I miss my dad. I know he is safe. I know he is well, and I know he is with us, but he is not physically here. But even in his death, my dad is still teaching me things. When he was alive, he taught me to always have an open mind. By giving me Raymond Moody’s Life After Life when I was a teenager, he set me on the path to my life’s true purpose. By his own curious exploration of the universe, he set the example that made me feel comfortable pursuing my own curiosity, and even though we ultimately arrived at different conclusions about the way things worked. Without his example, I would never have come to be where I am now.
In his death, my dad remains my teacher. He shows me it’s never too late to learn; you can even learn things after you die. He shows me I can’t avoid grief and sadness, and my feelings are never wrong and should never be denied. And he shows me that what I believe is, in some form true – or at least true for me. When our loved ones die, their bodies are no longer there. But their souls – those live on. They move on to new adventures and possibly even new bodies, but their love for us leaves an indelible imprint on our lives, hearts, and souls that can and will never be erased.
Image by Thomas Wolter from Pixabay
Happy Valentine's Day
A Life Well-Lived
I have had many roles in my life: mother, wife, sister, friend, writer, teacher, musician, but my role as John Riseland's daughter has always been one of my favorites.
Yesterday I gathered with people who I have known all my life, and we said good-bye to my dad. His service was packed - standing room only - a fitting and appropriate send-off for a humble and kind man who touched more lives than he ever would have known.
My dad was a giant of a man; he was 6'4" and over 200 pounds with size 14 feet. People with that stature can be scary to some, but I don't think my dad ever was. Sure when he coached high school basketball he could bark at a ref, or if someone threatened his family in any way or questioned his integrity, he got mad like anyone else. But in his day to day life, in his general demeanor, he was a gentle and kind soul. He always had a smile and a laugh. He loved telling jokes, and he never met bad dad pun he didn't love.
Here's an example of his bad dad jokes: when we were kids, every time we ate Chinese food and it came time for fortune cookies, he would open his, adopt a shocked look, and pretend to read from the fortune in a panicked sounding voice, "Help! I'm being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory." After the first dozen or so times, we groaned when he said it, but he never stopped believing it was the height of hilarity.
My dad was always uniquely himself. I never saw him be anything but exactly who he was. He was a man without pretension, and if he thought it, he probably said it. He loved to tease and joke. He thought deeply about everything in life, and he loved to engage in thoughtful, philosophical discussions.
In many ways, he was a paradox. He was a deeply spiritual man with a vastly open mind. He was a talented athlete who could also be clumsy and accident prone. This is a man who played college basketball with grace and yet still somehow managed to run over his foot with a lawn mower or drop a fully cooked Thanksgiving turkey in the garage behind the car. Because of these things, we affectionately call him Clark Griswold and joked that his klutz DNA runs generations deep. We're not wrong.
My mom and dad raised three very different daughters - all independent women with vastly different careers and belief systems, and he's always respected each of us and our right to believe what we do and find our own understandings for the way the universe works. He was a good parent - probably even an excellent one. In fact, he and my mom used to teach parenting classes in their church to young couples. Yet with all his knowledge of parenthood, he seldom tried to tell my sisters and me how to raise our kids and if he did, he realized afterward that was what he was doing and apologized. For instance, one night in a casual dining restaurant when my son was about six, Tanner was playing with his glass of water by trying to spoon the ice out of the glass.
"I wouldn't let you girls do that," my dad said, to which I responded, "Dad, sometimes you just have to pick your battles."
I promptly forgot our conversation, but dad must've been thinking about it throughout dinner and on the way home. When we got home, he said, "You know Kar - you're right, and I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget what a challenge it can be to raise young kids. You do have to pick your battles."
That was what he did. If he felt he overstepped, if he felt he stepped outside of his integrity, he apologized. And he probably apologized a lot. My dad was, after all, human.
There were things that stood out about my dad to virtually everyone: his humor, his intelligence, his integrity, his big heart, his kindness, compassion, and dedication to community service, and his devotion to his family. He set a tremendous example for his children and grandchildren. He did what he thought was right, he told the truth (except when he was teasing the kids - then he virtually never told the truth), and he cared deeply for others. He was a friendly guy who always greeted people warmly and made them feel welcome. In his career, he was a high school guidance counselor and in his private time, he spent countless hours in community service, feeding the homeless and working with the underserved and disenfranchised. He and my mom served sandwiches to the homeless in downtown Bellingham, created and served a community meal for people who just needed some hot food, and engaged in a number of similar activities.
Dad treated everyone with dignity and respect. I remember a walk through Bellingham with my parents and son one afternoon, and we came across a man who appeared to be homeless carving a piece of wood on the steps of an old building. As we stopped to look at the building, my parents engaged him in conversation, asking what he was carving, what it meant, and how he'd learned to carve. They asked what he did with his carvings. They treated him like they would anyone else they encountered; there wasn't a hint of condescension or judgment from either of them. They didn't ignore him or walk away. They engaged him. Because he was a human, and they knew and recognized that.
My mom and dad were married for 55 years, and they were devoted to each other. Although we moved away from our hometown, my sisters and I seldom worried about them because they had each other. The shared faith, intellectual and spiritual curiosity, the love of laughter, a love of sports, a dedication to community service, and a deep and abiding love for one another. My dad loved and cared for my mom in small and big ways that were beautiful to witness. I can't imagine her without him, and I couldn't imagine him without her.
There is so much more I could say about my dad because he had a life well-lived. He crafted a full life in which he engaged in all of the things that were important to him. He never let grass grow under his feet; he was a man always on the go overflowing with good will and laughter.
Last night as we were driving home from the memorial, Jim said, "The world is a crappier place without him," but I disagree. The world is a better place for his having been in it, and his legacy will live on in all of the lives he touched. He was a man who did what he believed was right, and he taught his children and grandchildren to do the same. And through that, who he was is not lost to the world; it is multiplied. His legacy of love and giving lives on in all of the lives he touched, and the world is an infinitely better place for his having been here.
The Power of Love
This is Monkey. She came to live with us 8 years ago today. We loved her immediately. She was four months old and weighed a pound and a half - very small for her breed. Due to her health issues, our vet suggested she wouldn't live much more than a year.
Her continued presence in our family is a testament to love, energy healing, and lots of Reiki. She is a thriving, healthy, happy dog, and we are blessed to have her.
Reiki works for pets. All of our dogs love it. Our 14-year-old toy fox terrier is healthy for his age, and he gets Reiki daily. Monkey makes a beeline for any Reiki hands she can find. Our other dogs and cat also seem to enjoy the experience. It's just another reason to become attuned to this wonderful form of energy healing.