from author Patricia Sheehy: exploring the writing process, our place in the world, and all things metaphysical, from past lives, karma and free will to destiny and psychic experiences.

Message from Beyond

It was a day just like this two years ago but I remember it as though it was yesterday.  Even my husband is still talking about it. We were out for a drive, an Autumn afternoon right around 4 p.m, exploring the outskirts of Connecticut, on a road we’d never traveled before.

“Slow down or you’re going to hit a deer.”

The words were out of my mouth before I processed the thought, hitting the air like a punctuation mark. They’d come through me; they were not “of” me; not born of fear or conscious awareness. But of knowing. In my mind’s eye, I saw the deer on the right side of the road (my passenger side). And then came the words of warning. Like I said, through me, as though I was simply a conduit for the world beyond.

My husband, bless his soul, who always says he won’t get on the plane if I say not to, took his foot off the gas and let the car slow from its 55mph. In less than 30 seconds, the deer was right there, catapulting across the road from the driver’ side. My husband braked, giving the deer full access to the road. No one was hurt. Surprised. Not not hurt. But he’d come from the left side. I was so disappointed. I’d seen him on the right. Was my radar off?

But then, get this: that beautiful deer stopped on the shoulder, on my side, looked directly at us with those big brown eyes and nodded a thank you before sprinting off into the woods.

We barely talked for the rest of the ride home. And when we did, it was mostly my husband peppering me with questions like, “how did you know . . .?” I don’t know how I knew. I just did. Another message, another gift from the beyond. —  ps

Embrace Life

Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is hitting you over the head, trying to get your attention with a particular message? That’s how I felt this weekend. And the message came right from Tim McGraw: Live Like You Were Dying. Here’s the link to the lyrics: http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/mcgraw-tim/live-like-you-were-dying-13619.html

Well, maybe it didn’t come right from Tim himself. But I was clearly reminded of his song at least a dozen times and now it’s looping itself through my brain, day and night. First, my husband and I took our grandsons to Waterfire in Providence, Rhode Island where nearly a thousand people gathered in support of breast cancer awareness. It was the last Waterfire of the season — filled with ritual, fire and water in the most beautifully imagined ways — both a fundraiser and tribute to breast cancer awareness. At dusk, 150 survivors walked to the basin of the three-mile river, each carrying a pink torch, lighting the dark, lighting our hearts, evocative music filling the air.  Even our 12 and 14 year old grandsons were moved, clapping with the rest of us in both appreciation and acknowledgement. The air was filled with courage. And love. I felt honored to be part of this ceremony on this warm October night; I hugged these three men in my life thought: embrace these moments, they’re fleeting at best.

The next day I called a good friend whose husband has been challenged for months by radical cancer treatment. Hearing the tears in her voice, I could only imagine it’d gotten worse. It had. But her tears were for a friend who’d just taken her own life. Such irony as they were doing everything to prolong his. And then another friend called with the news that a family member had gone to the doctor with stomach pains that seemed fairly routine, “nothing much,” she assumed. She was hospitalized, opened up, closed up, told the tumor had wrapped itself around too many organs; she has weeks to live. Zero to ten in a matter of hours. Seemingly healthy one minute, dying the next. How can that be?

My friends and I talked about embracing life, now, not waiting until after retirement (we’re each pushing beyond the 60/65 mark), not waiting until the financial planner says it’s okay to take that trip to Venice or buy that vacation home we’ve been wanting for so long. What exactly are we waiting for? At some point, we’re going to have to journey with loved ones as they die, or we ourselves are going to die.

Don’t we want to live first? I don’t mean be reckless with our resources, but clearly we can make a few “risky” choices. We can go skydiving and not worry about the consequences. We can live before we die. Thank you, universe, for reminding me to let go of fear, real and imagined, and to just let go! Everyone, have a happy day, no matter where you are on your journey.  — ps

And Your Intention Is . . . ?

Why did you just say that?

Lately, I’m beginning to believe we speak primarily to hear ourselves talk. We find humor in our comments. Or excuse our boldness in the pursuit of truth. “I’m just telling it like it is.” OR, “Well that dress IS ugly.”  OR  “He did gain weight. I just pointed it out.” Right. And your intention was . . .?

Why do we believe it’s okay to blurt out whatever’s on our mind, offering our unvarnished — generally unsolicited — truth to friends, family and strangers alike? I’m not suggesting we lie. But there is such a thing as politeness. And keeping our mouths shut. Case in point: my sister, Karen, seven years younger, with the thick golden hair we all wanted. Staying slender seems to come natural. Her smile lights up a room. From the outside, life seemed easy and she seemed graced. But the outside doesn’t tell the whole story. Karen went through a real rough patch a few years ago: a divorce, lack of meaningful employment, three kids adjusting to a new lifestyle. Throw in some emotional and physical challenges and she crashed for a bit. Actually for a long bit. Her hair lost its shine, her skin its glow. Under doctor’s care, she was given prescriptions to help her over the hump. And that brings me to the point of this story: Karen was picking up one of those prescriptions at CVS where she’d gone for years, the first time she’d personally picked one up in a long time. She gave her name, waited for the small package of pills and the pharmacy assistant looked at her and said, “What happened to you? You used to be so pretty.”

What happened to you? A bit personal, don’t you think?  You used to be so pretty? Kinda’ harsh, don’t you think? And totally uncalled for.

Want to make somebody crumble? Want to make someone turn inward just at the point they were taking a step outward? Want to tell that cancer patient, or heart attack victim, or emotionally fragile person, “you used to look so good,” and expect what? To feel justified for expressing a truth? Stop and breathe twice for every sentence you’re about to blurt out. Ask: Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Would she want me to saunter up one day and acknowledge how she’s become heavier over the years, her backside wider than it once was?

When we offer our truths, let’s think first about our intention. Is it to hurt? I suspect not. Is it to exert power, to have the upper hand? Possibly. Or is it because we simply engage our mouth without thinking?  We don’t even imagine the consequences of our flip remarks.

Time to think about our intentions. Wouldn’t it be a far better world if we all intended to affirm others, to help them feel better, not worse. In the end, I guarantee we’d feel better about ourselves. I know I would. — ps

Goodnight Irene

Finally, many of us in Connecticut are beginning the journey towards “normal” in the aftermath of Irene. But not all of us. I have friends still without power, one a 95 year old woman in a fairly rural who refuses to leave her home and is stoically enduring the lack of all convenience. Even the lack of necessities. She’s been through worse, she claims. And maybe that’s so. Another friend is seeing a loved one through newly-diagnosed cancer while tossing spoiled food and trying to keep the generator from being stolen. What can feel like an adventure for a day or two quickly turns to hardship. But it’s also a time to dig deep and see, in each of our lives, what’s nice to have and what’s necessary, to determine what matters most. Watching the stories, especially from Vermont, I’m horrified by the devastation and heartened by the spirit of rebuilding, of moving on and helping one another, even as tears spill across cheeks and lifetimes of memories are wiped away.

After Katrina, I wrote a piece that seems as relevant today as it did then. Here’s the link to my website and a free download of my essay, What Matters Most.

Also, as a small Labor Day/Goodnight Irene gift to all my readers, I’ve reduced the price on all my e-books to $2.99 for the month of September. Maybe a bit of new reading about karma and destiny and the meaning behind our loves, played out in contemporary novels, will help pass the time and making meaning of things. They’re available at this reduced price on Amazon for the Kindle, on B&N for the Nook, and Smashwords for Sony and other readers.

Enjoy the books. Let me know your thoughts. Post reviews if you’re so inclined. And join me in praying for the recovery of all those affected by Hurricane Irene. – ps

Windows of Opportunity

There are times when everything in our life seems to fall into place: we’re healthy, everybody we love is healthy; work and money are flowing and there’s enough of the good stuff to make us feel content, if not downright happy. Enjoy those moments. They’re small windows of opportunity, those seconds of perfection. When I’m in that place and someone happens to ask how I am my answer is something like, “Right now, everything is wonderful. And I’m loving it, not taking one second for granted.” I say right now because it all shifts. Like that moving river, nothing stays the same, nothing stays in place. And that’s okay. We just need to learn to shift with it.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been dealing with a series of seemingly random health problems that feel related to me, but nobody is able to connect the dots. And then, if that wasn’t enough, a window shade (I was raising to let in light) bolted out of its bracket and slammed into my eye, resulting in some deep corneal abrasions that need to be “babied” for a year in order to prevent re-injury. One sister is still looking for the right job; the other sister is buying a beautiful vacation home. Yin and Yang. Balance and Imbalance. And then a small gift from the universe.

I came across this wonderful, totally unexpected, review of my book, Dancing Under the Full Moon and noticed increased sales. A small thing, maybe, but it felt like the my world was moving into the center again. I’m working on the health issues, minor by comparison to others, but still mine. There’s a line in a novel (and can’t remember the name. Can anyone out there help me??) — it was about the Second World War and a family’s adjustments to tragedy — the line goes something like this, “the cut on your finger doesn’t hurt any less because someone else lost his leg.” I had to think about that for a while, but it’s true: our hurts are still our hurts even if someone else’s loss is greater.

So that’s it for today. Time to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm about to hit Connecticut in a couple of days. Be safe. Be well. Enjoy your windows of opportunity. – ps

What IS, IS

That has become my new version of “acceptance” and a dear friend recently told me that phrase is helping her get through some hard times. What is, IS. Doesn’t mean we don’t wish differently And it doesn’t mean we can’t strive to change our circumstances. But sometimes, more times than not, we have to accept what nature or life or the universe has thrown our way. And the only thing we can change is our attitude. We an adjust our response to the otherwise unchangeable. And that makes all the difference.

My challenge, lately, has been some health issues. And, more specifically, blurry vision which is scary in general and frightening for a writer whose identity is woven into the tapestry of seeing and seeing well. But there are adjustments that can be made. And there are attitudes that can be adjusted. I went underground for a bit, dealing with my issues and needing some emotional and psychic rest. But I’m back, writing and publishing and getting my books out in e-book formats as well as paperback. It’s all in our point of view, isn’t it? Focusing on what we can’t do. Or focusing and appreciating what we can do.

So, for me, right now and to you, right now whatever your challenge, let’s collectively smile, shrug our shoulders a bit and say, “What is, IS. Can’t always change it, but can embrace it, make friends with it, and move forward.” Today is a good day! – ps

Our Past is Prologue

I can’t get the thought out of my mind: the past is simply backstory to our present and to our future. Good ole’ William (as in Shakespeare) said it first and best in the Tempest, Act 2, Scene I:  “what’s past is prologue, what to come in yours and my discharge.”

Simple translation: life comes full circle; we write our future by what we’ve done in the past — it becomes the prologue to today and tomorrow. And, yet, today and tomorrow remain in our hands, in our discharge and our free will. We get to choose how that past will impact each hour of each day. Some people might argue that the past is past and does not have to define us. True enough. But it does help determine the choices we make, the steps we take going forward. We don’t have to repeat mistakes or continue on the same road, but, every day, what occurred yesterday is, I believe, the prologue to what will occur today, to the choices we make, the paths we choose to take.

While I wasn’t consciously aware of that quote when I wrote Field of Destiny, that very concept is at the core of the novel.  Every choice comes with a consequence. And every consequence leads us closer to, or farther away from, our chosen destiny.

Talking about choices: if you haven’t noticed, I’ve changed the name of my Blog to Points of View, more closely reflecting what I want to explore, what I hope you will help me explore – ps