10 Life Lessons I Learned at a Funeral

  1. Make your own decisions, or someone else will. This doesn’t just apply to your last wishes, but your entire life.
  1. Dwelling on the past (regrets) is a waste of energy.  No matter what mistakes you’ve made, you can’t turn back time. Carrying them around like a pack mule benefits no one. Acknowledge them and resolve to do better.
  1. If you’re not living the life you really want, change it. That includes the relationships you engage in, the jobs you work, and the lifestyle you live.
  1. You can’t please everyone, especially parents. Parent-pleasing can breed resentment. Be yourself anyway. They are.
  1. Own your beliefs. If you are not a follower, don’t be one of the herd for just for appearances.
  1. You don’t know what you don’t know until you learn. There are questions you won’t know to ask until you have the answers.
  1. Everyone processes emotions in their own way. Denial, deflection, humor, suppression, pacing, compulsiveness, etc. Allow loved ones the space to do what they need to do.
  1. There are those who leave their hometown and those who stay. The “why” is personal. Some of us need to lay down roots. For the rest, only a touchstone is required.
  1. Family can love you and not always like you, and might never understand you. Be okay with that.
  1. Food brings everyone to the conversation. You can overhear a lot even at a long table. When people are face to face, it’s impossible not to engage, if only in body language.  A meal helps people feel normal, even if they aren’t hungry. The ritual of it can defuse or ignite emotions. Lean toward compassion first.

 

Balance

We all know we are going to die. We know this. Just as we know gravity makes a seesaw possible. But until death touches our lives, it’s only knowledge.

Balance exists. For everyone suffering from illness, circumstance, or loss, there is another rejoicing in good fortune and achievement. For every person who has lost their life to a horrific act of violence such as the shooting in Orlando and the truck rampage in Nice, there is one who must continue living. And more enter every minute.

My family both lost and gained a member in the last three days. Will the new member be as delightful as the lost one? As loved and valued?

No one can replace another. Each brings their own unique blend of personality and contribution to the table. No one life is more valued or important than another, although it may appear so. But that’s just ego.

I wonder so many things about the new baby. What kind of person might he become? His first photo taken in the hospital included a large red hazardous waste container looming from behind. Nothing says, “Welcome to the world” like a Hazmat bucket, eh?

Yet the lost brother was filled with toxins in an effort to ease his suffering. (How on earth did we come up with healing cancer with poison? Yet, it has for some.) Perhaps that is the balance.

As much as we will mourn the loss of a beloved core member of the family, we will celebrate the possibilities of the newest child. Hopefully, he can help restore balance.

 

Back to the Box

I love a great success story so I’m passing this juicy one along. After making my first blueberry pie of the season from our homegrown berries, I saw a piece on television about a woman who had shared my love of pie.

She’d lost her big job and broke the news to her partner with a half-hearted joke about ending up in the poorhouse. What to do?

They started baking pies in their home kitchen and quickly ran out of space. So they ditched the furniture, brought in more baking equipment and were all in. Then they put the finished product in a repurposed shed by the road. (Without anyone to man it!)  Customers pay by the old-fashioned honor system (dropping money into a metal box with a padlock) and selecting from a few varieties in a small fridge.

Poorhouse Pies in Underhill, VT proved that there was more than one way to make a living and sell their product. An unmanned shed by the road? Who would think that would work? I’ll bet a few folks told them that they were crazy.

Bored by the thinking “out of the box” reference? These ladies went back to the box and changed it completely  They transformed their home to a bakery, then set up an old tool shed as a store front.

Now, they’re doing far more than pie.

Hats off to a couple of Back-to-the-Boxers.

http://poorhousepies.com

23 Park Street, Underhill, VT (802) 899-1346

I need to do some of this kind of thinking myself.

June Has Gone to the . . . Bears?

I have been MIA this month learning DIY publishing.  I won’t bore you with details. I will only say that I had no idea that this morning I would find my ebook had been released when I thought I had a preview window.

Life happens while you’re making other plans, right? I can bear it because it’s a perfect time for a rock and roll beach read.

Here’s the link. :

https://smile.amazon.com/Ursa-Rising-Sheila-Englehart-ebook/dp/B01HQXK44K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467293814&sr=8-1&keywords=sheila+englehart

FREE right now if you have Kindle Unlimited. And if you do, please don’t forget to post a review afterward. I would really love and appreciate that.

I had hoped to have a print book ready to release at the same time, but Amazon had other ideas. I’ll return to regular scheduled posts once I have released that into the wild.

Hope your summer is cooking nicely with food, fun, and frivolity.

 

Monstrous Monday – Spiritual Responsibility

Zak Bagans’ latest television show Deadly Possessions brings up serious spiritual concerns. I’m not going to critique the show as much as what is not being broadcast.

After all, he’s not the first to open a museum stocked with paranormal objects. John Zaffis showed the world his museum on The Haunted Collector. But Zaffis also revealed some precautions he took to neutralize any spirit attachments after removing them from where they were found. Not all of the objects he acquired were placed in an open-to-the-public museum. Some were considered too dangerous to display.

Bagans doesn’t appear to have the same level of concern. In Deadly Possessions, he invites owners of possessed items to come to his museum to investigate the validity of the haunting, then interviews those who have suffered harm from having come in contact with the objects. A couple of objects had deadly stories attached to them as if even looking at the haunted object could kill a person.

He says “I” and “Mine” a lot about the collection of haunted items. In my mind, he doesn’t own anything. Those things own him. It’s a huge responsibility to be the caretaker of anything dangerous. It means being responsible for any harm that might befall anyone while displaying an item in your care.

Which brings me to an episode about an English doll that supposedly killed people who had merely gazed upon her face. Before revealing the doll’s face (covered with a black bag), a disclaimer was displayed on the screen that warned viewing the object could be dangerous. Look at your own risk. All right. After a few seconds, they revealed the face. I chose not to view it. I never cared for dolls when I was a child. I certainly had no curiosity about them now. But when the program resumed after the commercial break, there was no warning. Suddenly the face of the doll was the first image to flash in the recap. Thereby, exposing the audience whether they wished to view it or not. Highly irresponsible if the claims of death attached to this doll are to be believed. Exposing millions in the television audience with any level of belief in the possibility of harm makes everyone involved in the production responsible.

What other precautions are taken (or ignored) for the protection of visitors to the museum full of Deadly Possessions? I’m sure there are warning signs before entering the museum, but the only disclaimer for the television viewing audience at the opening of each episode is that the producers don’t share the views of the program.

Now you might be wondering, why watch such a show at all?  For me, the stories behind the items are the hook. Some might be nothing more than urban legends. But others provoke morbid curiosity.

I’m still alive.

Do Your Beliefs Define You?

No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and host of Ovation’s Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, brought up a new idea when she asked him, “What is belief?” He answered, “Identity.”

I’ve spent my life sifting through various religions and philosophies in search of what I truly believe. From the time I was introduced to the Catholic Church, I’ve been trying to determine what is real for me. It didn’t do me much good to sit through a mass delivered in Latin if I didn’t understand the language. My high school didn’t even teach Latin. I only knew a deity that demanded obedience or else. No matter how well behaved I was I didn’t experience enlightenment.

I was born on Native American soil while being of European lineage. I got in trouble if I asked the priests or nuns about the differences in belief systems. Who was right? Like most people, I was in search of “the truth.”

If belief is identity, I didn’t know who I was for most of my life. I know now (or think I do), but what if you don’t? Are you void of identity if you don’t know what you really believe? I don’t think so. You just don’t know how to define it with clarity. Doesn’t mean that you don’t know your own mind.

When you ask a Jewish person “who” or “what” they are, they will generally respond with their religion instead of a nationality. “I’m a Jew.” I’m not sure any other group of people does this with as much conviction. Ask an Irishman the same question and he will identify regionally. I’ve always been a blend of several varieties like table wine. I’m not comfortable with labeling my belief system as any one thing. If I had to, I’d call it Open. Open to all systems of belief, understanding that even through our differences we share common ground.

There’s the old “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” line. But being spiritual is not the same as believing in a deity. In my view, I am a spirit living in a human body. Being human is the perspective from which I view the world. As much as I can identify with other species, I am human and cannot view life from any other perspective. Just as the humans who penned all the religious texts on the planet. They identified their beliefs in human terminology, including their gods. Does this perspective define me? Of course it does. What I believe about everything defines me: business, politics, art, morality, etc. Stir all those things into a pot and you have a souffle as unique as the human who made it.

At last week’s RiverRun Film Festival, the film Heavenly Nomadic told the story of a dying culture of horse people who, when the leader of the clan died, killed his horse to go with him to the next life. Talk about a defining belief system. Indigenous people honor elements in nature, especially animals.

I adored this film by the way.

I envy Aslan’s ability to clearly articulate my own understanding. If you are as fascinated by belief systems and other world views as I am, check out his books as well as the series Oprah Winfrey produced last year called Belief, and Morgan Freeman’s current series running on the National Geographic channel, The Story of God.

Cover artBelief

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman logo.png

 

 

Could You Face Your Former Self?

 

 

 

  The Dumas Hotel

The first episode of the new season of The Dead Files was an eye-opener. It was the first time I have seen an encounter with a living person who is presumed to be the reincarnation of the previous owner of the premises being investigated.

Dark things were happening to and around the current owner of The Dumas Hotel that had been a brothel for 92 years. His personality changed and he would lose time. A concerned friend contacted The Dead Files duo for help.

After researching the history of the property, a photograph of the original owner/builder was revealed. And the resemblance was uncanny, especially his eyes. The client looked like he could have been this man’s grandson. Yet, medium Amy Allen said the words,”This is you.” After her partner Steve’s neck cracked when he turned to her, she went on to say that when the original owner died, his soul had been fractured.

Now reincarnated, the owner has found his way back to the property and begun renovation and restoration, feeling a strange attachment to the building. But he never knew why. He was eerily calm about seeing his former face in the photo and said he felt relieved as if a weight had been lifted.

I can’t imagine feeling relieved to discover I had built a bordello where women were abused, forced into having abortions, or selling their children. Or that people around me had witnessed a metamorphosis in my personality when I was there.

Reincarnation is a phenomenon that you either believe or don’t. But if you do, you probably assume that you come back with your soul intact. But the soul can be whittled apart into pieces through trauma, aggression, and other emotional distress. Every energy exchange between two people can open the opportunity to take or leave soul fragments. This brings up a concern for me.

If I have reincarnated more than once, how many of my soul’s fragments are still out there somewhere? What if a big chunk of me is collecting dust in some dilapidated old silver mine? Pacing around a suburban culdesac that was once a battlefield? Or hanging around an Interstate highway where my old trading post once stood? Does that mean I’m walking around incomplete? Missing an important part of myself?

Amy’s advice to the client was to have a Reiki master absorb the fractured piece so that it could be healed and moved on.She did not get into what happened after that. But I know that fragment can be retrieved the help of a healer or shaman. He might not feel complete without it.