“Um,” “uh,” “you know,” and “like” were verbal diarrhea, according to my eighth grade speech and debate teacher. He added that using words like this made us sound stupid, and I did not want to be seen as stupid, so I threw myself into eliminating every filler word possible.
Two years later, working a summer job, I drafted my legal research on a pro bono case involving the definition of the word sunset for my father, a well-known attorney in the south San Francisco Bay Area at the time. Rather than rewriting it, he thought it good enough to present to the judge as I’d written it. Then he asked me to accompany him to court for the case.
The judge recognized immediately that it wasn’t my father’s writing style, and asked who wrote the brief. My father said I did, and motioned me to stand. Then the judge addressed me.
“What do you want to do for a career, young lady?”
“Um…” I began.
I didn’t tell him I wanted to be a writer, because my parents already convinced me I’d never make any money at it, and I should give up that dream. I didn’t tell him I wanted to be a psychologist, that I wanted to guide others toward healing emotional wounds, because I’d already been lectured on the “soft sciences” not being real science. I told him I was thinking of law school.
I wanted his approval. (He was a judge, after all.) I wanted to present an image that others would approve of.
For the next twenty years, I did my best to perfect that image. I called it my mask. And behind it, I was dying. I didn’t want to always look and be professional and competent and constantly prove myself and subject myself to judgment every time I opened my mouth. I wanted to live in jeans and go without makeup and give voice to the voices in my head—those of my guides and those of the characters that had stories to tell.
I had a 90s power suit, was the assistant to the executive director of a university business department, and spent a good deal of time on the phone soliciting money from wealthy donors. I wanted to write and watch the clouds go by and eat ice cream messily.
In my thirties, I got that chance. I had kids. And I wrote two novels. And I spent a lot of time looking at clouds and hunting for Little Boy’s Other White Sock.
Now I’m just into my fifties, my kids have become well-adjusted young adults, and I’ve embarked on my true love—even beyond writing: teaching others how to connect with their soul guides, their intuition, and their joy, and how to use those in every aspect of their lives. In making this shift in my work, judgment came back. How should I dress? How professional do I need to look? What should I say?
But here’s the thing: I don’t want another mask. Now, when you get me, you get me, ums and uhs and awkward silences and all.
There’s actually a science behind all those filler words. Sometimes I use them to let others know that I’m trying to find the right word, that I’m not done talking yet, or that I’m trying to sift through my thoughts and all the input my guides are giving me. (It can be very noisy in my head.) So, Mr. R. in eighth grade speech and debate, I understand what you were trying to teach us, and, um, I reject the sacrifice of authenticity to the altar of image.
And now, in the middle of this global pandemic, when millions are unemployed in the United States, and we’re all stressed to some degree about who’s going to get sick next and if they’ll survive, and what about the economy… I encourage you to give yourselves a break. Accept all your ums and uhs and live in denim if that’s your gig and embrace who you really are, not the image you’ve been trying to project.
We have enough false images in the world today. It’s time to be real. And whole.

Anxiety and Living Fully

I don’t like anxiety. I’m not a big fan of apprehension, angst, and a bunch of other words that start with A. Maybe it’s because I grew up with it as a constant, or maybe it’s from the PTSD, or maybe it’s the genetic predisposition I have to OCD (an anxiety disorder), but it’s a part of my life.

And perhaps the worst anxiety is that of anticipation, and not in a fun way.

When I was a teenager (back in the age of the dinosaurs, according to my teen sons), I had a love/hate relationship with rollercoasters. I loved them after the fact, when I’d had fun, and just as importantly, walked away without puking, fainting, peeing myself, or getting injured.

And they were fun! I have always loved getting myself dizzy and feeling changing G-forces. But I hated the waiting. And one time, while I was in a very long line for the new Demon rollercoaster at what was then Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara, California, it struck me that the anxiety I felt while in line was far worse than any anxiety about the ride itself. Because I didn’t know exactly what would happen this time.

Waiting for the unknown is harder than living the unknown. Click To Tweet

I don’t even like anxiety or angst in TV shows. TV producers can kill off a favorite character (sometimes more than once *side-eyes Supernatural*) and the audience doesn’t always know if they’ll return or not. (Yes, everyone returns at some point on Supernatural.) I don’t like it when there’s angst between characters who care for each other. So what do I do? I cheat. I look ahead to see if said character is in a future episode description, or I research to see if the internet has info on how long the actor’s contract is in effect, or I follow whoever I’m interested in on social media, because at least I know they’re alive and well as the actor, even if not the character.

But I also miss out on the emotions that are meant to be evoked by the show.

I write fiction. I very intentionally play with people’s emotions through my characters. But I don’t want to get on the ride of someone else’s story?

Earlier today, I had a scheduled call with my coach, Teresa Romain. I told her how I didn’t want to feel things that were unpleasant, that my body was giving me all these signs of anxiety and overwhelm, given the COVID-19 pandemic, but I wasn’t feeling it in my head. My head was telling me I was fine. My head was off with my guides, seeing the very broad picture where we (our essences) are all fine, and had left the Here and Now.

In other words, I was doing that thing where the actors (our essences) are alive and well, even if we have to wait to see what’s going to happen to the characters (our bodies).

Your heart has to be open, Teresa told me, to live fully.

I have to be willing to feel the pain, the sorrow, the grief, the anxiety. Because that’s part of life too. That’s part of living in a physical world. That’s why we incarnate in the first place.

Part of me really doesn’t want to go there. I’d rather sleep or read or binge-watch mindless shows or do all the home improvement projects our 102-year-old house needs. But that’s not living.

My coach could see through the chaos in my mind and find the path into and through it. This is why coaches and therapists are so helpful: they aren’t in the chaos, so they have better perspective.

And our soul guides are the ultimate coaches.

I’ve had a belief for most of my life that I wouldn’t live past age 65, which means I’d have just over a dozen years left to experience everything I want to experience. Today, my primary guide, Dresden, said, “If you had made the effort to bother asking me if you were still on that trajectory of living a shortened lifespan, I would have told you that ever since you began EMDR, it has completely changed.”

Our guides can’t predict the future; there are too many variables and we all have free will. But they can see what will happen if we don’t make any changes. Or what can happen if we make that difficult but necessary change to fully embrace all of life, connected to our essence and our guides, knowing that even in a world that at the moment seems filled with disease and disaster, we are fine, and loved, and we matter.

If you want to learn how to connect with your own guides, contact me for a free Illumination Session.

Are Guides, Angels, or God Causing Covid-19?

Are guides and angels (or is God) causing the current novel coronavirus and Covid-19 in order to get our attention or to punish us?

I’ve been asked this question now four times in the past two days. The answer is an unequivocal NO.

This is not a divine punishment, nor is it a wakeup call because we haven’t been paying attention. This is a natural extension of living in a physical world that supports replication and mutation of genetic material. It is no different, spiritually, from any other disease-causing pathogen.

Here’s where you can go with the challenges created by the current pandemic: you can really begin to see that we are all connected. You can see that what each one of us does has a ripple effect on so many others. And we get to choose if that ripple is one of disease risk or of kindness and compassion. You can acknowledge your mortality and that of everyone else, and be the best version of yourself that you know how to be in this moment.

You can do all you can with what you have from where you are.

Each one of us has a ripple effect on so many others. And we get to choose if that ripple is one of disease risk or of kindness and compassion. Click To Tweet

You can practice physical distancing, but remain social via any of the many apps available now to connect us, whether Zoom, FaceTime (if you’re an Apple user), social media, Marco Polo, Skype, etc. By reaching out to others, you also bring yourself out of the internal isolation and thought-spiraling that can make you feel worse.


Are our guides sitting around on their thumbs while this is going on? While people are getting sick and dying?

No. They want very much to remind you that you are a spark of Source energy, that you matter to the world, and that you are far more powerful than you think you are. They want to support and encourage you to grow and learn and experience. And they are having a difficult time being heard above all the fear and anxiety and constant input from the media.

How can you get their message?

Limit your consumption of the media, both in terms of time and the reputation of the source. Aim for the least biased sources, with the least amount of hype. Public radio and public television are more likely to give you that than commercial broadcasting.

Make time to be. Whether in silence or yoga or meditation or prayer, take some time to be still and silent and with yourself. Open yourself to the “still, small voice.”

Stay in the moment. If your mind races off to some other place or time, bring it back gently and let those thoughts and feelings go.

Breathe. Slow and easy, relaxed and comfortable.

If you are someone who likes or is open to guided imagery, I’ve uploaded two calming meditations on Soul Guides’ new YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQQgOCRiQAlJkrdQxkMjyIQ

There are also two videos there (with more to come) on shifting your energy away from anxiety and toward gratitude and love.


Beware those who spread more fear

I’ve also seen warnings from spiritually-inclined people that we should prepare for apocalyptic-like failures, such as a global internet or power blackout or fuel scarcity or long-term food (and toilet paper) shortages.

No. This is nothing more than buying into fear and creating more panic. The real threat is overwhelming the capacity and capabilities of hospitals. No zombies. No end-of-times.

Just another opportunity for you to center and ground yourself, connect with yourself and your guides, and be the gift you are to this world.

If you want to learn how to connect with your own guides, contact me for a free Illumination Session.

What Guides Have to Say About Predicting the Future

What Guides Have to Say About Predicting the Future

I’ve been seeing a lot of conscious channelers* lately giving New Year’s predictions for…I’m not sure. Their audience? The world? The universe?

“Hear what your angels have predicted for the coming year!” they all proclaim. And that honestly didn’t make sense to me, knowing what I know about free will, and how much my guides and others’ guides with whom I’ve spoken have stressed the importance of free will.

The future, they say, is never absolute. There is no way to predict a future with any certainty, because every choice you make, every choice those around you make, alters possible futures.

There is no way to predict a future with any certainty, because every choice you make, every choice those around you make, alters possible futures. Click To Tweet

Imagine you are rafting along a river. You had the intention, when you started, of rafting to a pleasant picnic spot, having lunch, and then continuing downstream until you get to a beach, where friends are waiting with a vehicle. But along the way, you see something interesting that you want to check out, and that means taking a left at the fork in the river instead of a right. You’ve now changed the future you had planned. And depending on whether you have mobile phone reception, and whether or not your phone is water-resistant, and whether or not you call your friends on the beach to let them know you’re taking a different direction, you may have altered your friends’ future too.

But, I thought, maybe I’m missing something. I never actually asked my guides if they had predictions for the coming year. And since assuming things without asking them has historically gotten me into plenty of trouble, I figured I’d ask them.

“So, any predictions for the coming year?”

“Which new year do you mean,” Dresden asked. “The Jewish new year? Chinese new year? Zoroastrian and Baha’i new year? Islamic new year?”

“Um…secular?” I said. “I think. Does it make a difference? I live in the United States, but I don’t presume that everyone reading this does.”

“Okay,” Dresden said. “Which calendar? Gregorian? Julian? Hebrew? Lunar?”


“And which culture?” Dresden continued. “Which society? Please be more specific with your request.”

“The calendar,” Michael broke in, “is an inefficient method of marking time that the human mind can parse. Holidays are for your benefit, not ours.”

“Inefficient?” I said. “I’d say it works pretty well, all things considered. Except for when I double-book myself. Or when I can’t remember what day it is.”

“What do you gain by placing more significance on one day of the year than on any other day?” Michael asked.

“Just that we’re all on the same page, I guess. Except since there are numerous new years, I guess we’re really not.”

“There really is no such thing as a new year,” Dresden observed. “While incarnated, you exist within space and time, but back Home, we are outside of it. Really, there is only Here and Now.”

“I’m not sure how helpful that is,” I replied.

“And global predictions are useless on an individual level, especially when humans won’t listen,” Michael added.

“Maybe if we knew what we could look forward to—or avoid—we might make different choices,” I said.

“We can show you patterns,” Dresden said. “Especially on an individual level, we can point out what is likely to happen if you continue to follow the same patterns and make choices along those patterns.”

“What about just giving us an idea of what might happen with the 2020 US election if we follow the same patterns?”

“Those patterns are changing,” Michael said. “They’ve been changing for a while.”

“So no predictions?” I asked.

“I predict you won’t be asking us this question again,” Dresden said.

*Conscious channelers are people who channel soul guides (spirit guides, angels, animal guides, guardians, etc.) while still being conscious as they channel. While they may not remember the content of what they’ve channeled (especially if it’s for someone else), they maintain full control over their mind and body. 


Time to reconnect

The gentle whispers
Soft as caresses
Reminding me
I am
Loved and lovable
No need to 
Prove anything 

It will all happen
As it should 

My focus
Must be on 
What I can do
Not who sees it
Or doesn’t 

The goal is Connection
For those who wish it
And it cannot be forced
Where it is 
Neither wanted
Nor needed 


I have a relationship with God. Do I need to connect with my soul guides?

“I have a relationship with God, and I talk to God all the time. Do I still need to connect and develop a relationship with my soul guides?”

The short answer: “That depends.” Let’s talk about definitions. And I’m asking my soul guides to chime in here, so a good part of what I’m writing is from them. 

A relationship is a give-and-take. An interaction. If you consider reading from a book—especially one that has been through numerous translations and been edited for political purposes—the “give” part of the relationship, that is like claiming to be content with a tiny appetizer when you’re starving. Your soul guides can offer you so much more.

Deriving purpose and inspiration and empowerment from such writings is certainly encouraged. It’s simply incomplete.

Now, how are you defining “God” in your relationship with God?

This is important because how your soul guides understand the Source of All is often not the same as how religious faiths teach about God. Religion often teaches a conditional love from God: follow the teachings of your religious faith or else you will be punished for eternity. Or: declare your fealty to a first-centry rabbi and condemn all who do not, or you will suffer the same fate as the heathens. Or: If you do not follow all of God’s commandments to the letter, you will be punished, perhaps with illness or death or the death of one close to you. Religion too often teaches reward and punishment.

This is inaccurate. 

Many (but not all) religions also teach that there is a duality when it comes to God: a source of good and a source of evil. This is not so. There is only one Source.

When faith leaders teach that any spiritual teachings that do not come from them—or their interpretation of God’s message—are from a source of evil, they are teaching fear. They are teaching you to fear your soul guides so that you will look to your faith leaders for interpretation and understanding. This keeps your leaders in control, in power.

The Source of All is not, and never was, about power. The Source of All is love.

It’s that simple.

So if your relationship with God involves threats, punishment, warnings, or any conditions, it is not a relationship with God. 

On the other hand, you may well have a relationship that you can’t quite understand, can’t quite describe, but it involves your intuition or a “still, small voice,” or an inner knowing that encourages, inspires, forgives, loves, and uplifts you, and you call the source of that “God.” There is no need to change this unless you want to.

Can you have a fulfilling, interactive, healthy relationship with God without knowing anything about your soul guides? Yes. 

Do soul guides—and specifically those soul guides many would call angels—interact with people on behalf of Source? Yes.

Can that be considered God communicating with people? Yes.

Could people also see that as a somewhat more knowable entity communicating with you on behalf of a loving Source that is too infinite for the human mind to comprehend? Yes.

Could people also see that as a spark of the Divine appearing in an understandable form (such as a human or animal or color or scent) and interacting with them? Yes.

Your soul guides’ (angels, spirit guides, animal guides, ancestors, spirits) sole purpose is to help you navigate this lifetime by reminding you of who you truly are (a divine spirit being) and what you’re here to experience, and to do so through guidance, inspiration, encouragement, comfort, humor, healing, friendship, and love. 

It’s entirely up to you if you want to know your guides and continue to have a loving relationship with God. Your guides do not need to be acknowledged personally. They have no egos. You’re not going to hurt their feelings. 

For some, “God” conjures up too many painful memories, often in a religious context (remember: punishment, threat, fear), and for these people who still want that guidance, who want that relationship without all the baggage that can come with “God,” your soul guides can definitely help with that. Religion is a human construct. Guides do not follow any particular religion.

Will your soul guides use religious language if that is what most resonates with you? Absolutely.

Will they use it if it triggers painful memories? Definitely not. 

And for those who fear that soul guides are not from God, that they are tempting you to commit sin and risk being punished, please remember: there is only one Source. And that Source is love.

But Shouldn’t Spiritual Gifts Be Offered for Free?

But Shouldn’t Spiritual Gifts Be Offered for Free?

“But shouldn’t a real psychic or spiritual coach offer their gifts for free?”

I hear this a lot, and mostly from religious folks.

Let’s talk about money. Very few want to, but money is necessary in our lives. It’s interwoven with happiness, safety, opportunity, personal growth, business, charity, etc.

This idea that psychics, whether we’re talking to your guides, or those who have passed, or helping you gain clarity on your life choices, should do what we do for free because it’s a gift from God, is all too common.

And it’s wrong. Here’s why.

We are all psychic. We all have this gift, even though not everyone is as practiced as others. It’s not a gift that some special people have and others don’t. It’s literally your birthright. This is why I teach my clients how to develop their own relationships with their guides. Eventually, they won’t need me. They’ll connect with their guides on their own.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the adage, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” (Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, loosely quoted from Mrs. Dymond, 1885.) In this, I’m not offering my clients fish to eat. I’m teaching them how to fish on their own.

Money is simply a tool we use to exchange life energy. You’re not paying a real psychic for their gifts. You’re paying them for their time and effort—their life energy. For every hour that I spend on a Zoom call with a client, I put in an additional 30-60 minutes prepping for that call. And that doesn’t even touch on things like overhead and the work I need to do on myself so that I can be open and present and connected for my clients.

Money is simply a tool we use to exchange life energy. You’re not paying a psychic for their gifts. You’re paying them for their time and effort—their life energy. Click To Tweet

Some may want to argue that you’re paying for a psychic’s time, energy, and their experience and expertise channeling guides or spirits, and therefore paying them for a talent that not everyone can use at the moment. To them, I offer this: every other expression of expertise and experience, or even talent, is something we pay for without questioning it. We pay for medical advice, legal services, personal care services, financial services. We pay for the opportunity to see talented athletes play sports. We pay (through advertising or subscriptions or tickets) to watch actors portray characters in fictional stories on screens or stages. We pay clergy for their spiritual services. We pay musicians for the opportunity to listen to their music. Real psychics (and I’ll get to that real part in a moment) are no different.

When people bring God into the argument

But, Sheyna, some say, this is a gift from God, so it should be given freely!

No. Not any more than what some would also call a God-given gift for math or athleticism or law or medicine or engineering or music or art. Those are also gifts.

But, Sheyna, some add, one shouldn’t make money off of a spiritual gift! God doesn’t want that!

First, with all due respect, they don’t speak for God. The Christian Bible is not my religious text. And the Hebrew bible (the Tanakh) is not the final say in Judaism, either. We have all sorts of interpretations and laws developed over the past few thousand years.

Second, for those who insist on bringing God into this, why would God want me to starve? Or lose my home? Because the reality is, if I’m spending a lot of my time teaching others how to connect with their guides, that’s time I don’t have to do any other work for which I ought to be paid. It’s time I don’t have to write my books.

Remember, this is an exchange of life energy. It’s not so much about gift or talent or religious rules about how we’re supposed to use these abilities (that we all have).

Now, back to that issue of real psychics. There are, unfortunately, people out there who want to make a quick buck, and who prey on others who are grieving or are feeling hopeless and looking for some way out of the pain. I’ll write more in another post specifically about how to tell the difference between these people and those who are authentically wanting to help and heal, but in a nutshell, you need to pay attention to two things in particular:

  1. What is their intention? Are they providing a service you want, or are they telling you what you need and then compelling you to pay for it? Are they taking advantage of pain in your life? Are they pressuring you?
  2.  What’s your gut feeling? Your own intuition? Even if you think their intention is authentic, they may not be the right fit for you. Trust your own inner knowing before you trust what someone else tells you, even if they say (or especially if they say) they can see something you can’t that needs to be fixed for a cost.

This post may make some people angry, and they’ll be unequivocally certain that psychics should not be compensated for the life energy they’re giving their clients. My response to those who are angry? Don’t hire one. Don’t exchange your life energy for theirs. And let everyone else make their own decisions, trusting their own intuition and guidance.

My (True) Scariest Story

My (True) Scariest Story

I’ve told a lot of scary stories. Some are published; some aren’t. But there’s one scary story I’ve never told: mine.

It’s time.

It’s time because it’s been holding me back for thirty years. It keeps me at a distance from others, untrusting, wary, afraid.

It’s easier now for me to say publicly that I’ve been seeing and speaking with my spirit guides since I was little—running the risk that disbelievers will question my mental health while those on the religious right call me evil—than it is to tell this story of my past.

It is the last great block in my healing, the thick quicksand of shame that slows my progress, keeps me from moving forward, and takes a toll on my mental and physical health.

To those who know me, this may or may not come as a surprise. Any relatives who read this may find it difficult to accept, and that’s okay. None of us want to hear less than stellar things about those we love.

It really begins in my early childhood. 

I grew up in a chaotic, frequently violent home. My mom’s mood could change from jovial to angry at the drop of a hat, and she’d sometimes go into rages for no discernible reason. My dad liked getting reactions out of me, and intentionally used sexist, racist, homophobic language. He sent me pornographic photos (always exposed males) via email. He repeatedly talked about my body in a sexualized way, through my childhood and well into adulthood. He frequently touched me inappropriately, claiming each time it was an accident. He said he was a “dirty old man” like his father, and he took pride in that.

My mom blamed her moods on me. On what I had or hadn’t done. Nothing was ever good enough. I was never good enough. The gifts I gave her weren’t thoughtful enough, my housecleaning skills didn’t meet her standards, I talked too much, I didn’t call her enough, I was in her way, I’d distanced myself too much. And how dare I be happy when she was feeling sad. Anything she liked that I didn’t was a rejection of her.

And when I reacted the way one would expect a child to react, they told me I was wrong. I was too sensitive and needed to learn to take a joke. I was ungrateful for wanting or needing more than I had, or for desires that were different from theirs. I was a prude for not wanting to be touched or ogled. I was a slut for wanting to experiment with makeup at age sixteen. I was ungrateful for not setting my life aside to be there for them whenever they needed me.

My feelings of hurt or anger were labeled selfish and ungrateful. My mom said I ruined every family gathering and holiday, but I felt completely powerless. I attempted suicide more than once, and my parents ignored it. When Child Protective Services got involved, my parents got me into therapy, but then told me that they’d only pay for it if I told them what I told the therapist. 

I later found out the psychiatrist they hired to see me was someone for whom my dad had done work, someone who owed him. And that psychiatrist shared everything with my dad anyway. So much for confidentiality. After a handful of sessions during which the psychiatrist diagnosed me with depression and tried to convince me to take medication, they quit paying, saying they weren’t the problem. I was.

They brought up every time that I’d conflated two similar events (a known and normal trait of human memory) as evidence that my memory couldn’t be trusted. Every detail that I got wrong, every time I remembered events out of order (even when all the events were true), they told me I couldn’t trust what I remembered. I was prone to suggestion. I made things up.

But then, in the early 1990s, they admitted to me the things they’d done. They wouldn’t go so far as to call it “abuse” because to them, that meant broken bones and hospital visits. All I had were memories of welts, bruises, sickening touches, hurtful words, and a broken spirit. They said they did the best they could. They did say they could have done better. And then they shared some horrifying stories that they remembered, times when my mom “snapped” (her word) and went into a violent rage she couldn’t remember later. My dad recalled times when my mom called him at work, telling him to come home immediately, because she was going to kill us. And how my dad came home and wanted to know what my brother and I had done to cause this.

I didn’t feel vindicated. I just felt numb. I wish the story had ended there. 

But within a year or so of their confessions, they discovered the False Memory Syndrome Foundation—an organization founded by a guy who was accused of child sexual abuse by his adult daughter. (Those accusations against him were later corroborated by other family members.) It didn’t matter that I had never forgotten any of my memories, that none of them were repressed, or that the only therapy I’d had up to that point was the psychiatrist who’d shared with them everything I’d told him. My parents jumped on the bandwagon and claimed that everything I labeled “abuse” was actually a false memory, implanted by a therapist. They were innocent victims.

Granted, the psychiatrist I saw was unethical, but his only agenda in treating me was getting me medicated, which I consistently refused. 

They went one step further: they told all of our relatives and family friends that I was a victim of so-called “false memory syndrome,” that I was sick and not to be believed. They said they had no idea why I maintained this vendetta against them, but they were the victims. 

To this day, I don’t know what my relatives think about that. No one’s ever talked about it with me. But the family I knew growing up never talked about the unpleasant stuff. Everyone pretended it didn’t exist. And those who did dare speak about it were shamed. “We don’t air our dirty laundry in public.”

I found a letter that my parents had written to my husband, urging him to have me committed to a psychiatric hospital “for my own good,” and pleading with him to see their side, how much I was hurting them.

My husband witnessed some of the abuse. He read the threatening letters and email, he heard the sexual comments my father made about and to me. He remembers well pulling up to the house to pick me up for a date when I was 17, and hearing my mom screaming at me from inside the house because I had tried to fix a cheap necklace clasp and it broke. He heard similar screaming at me over the phone when my mom would call me.

I responded the way I honestly think a healthy adult would respond: I cut off contact with my parents. (This gave them more fodder for the “our daughter is sick” file.) A couple years later, my brother reached out to me via email. I was wary, but I wanted family so badly. I had my husband, a few friends, but no one else. I wrote back to him, but I was anxious about how much I told him. I tried to keep everything vague. I’d double- and triple-check my email before I sent it, because I couldn’t trust myself either. 

I didn’t trust doctors, therapists, anyone who offered something to me, because I was certain they’d want something in return, and whatever they wanted would be debilitatingly painful. I didn’t trust anyone enough to develop friendships, and the isolation fueled the recurring depression and anxiety I’d had since my early teens. I’d try to work, but I would wind up in the hospital with suicidal intentions. I thought everyone else would be better off if I was no longer on the planet—if they even noticed that I was gone. 
Throughout all of this, my guides were with me, but I didn’t always choose to listen to them. In the worst of my depression and self-hatred, I had a hard time connecting with them. And to be honest, I questioned if they were real, or if they were part of the delusions that my parents claimed I had. They were never wrong, and they always made me feel better, but maybe they were just the creations of a sick mind.

In 2003, I got into therapy. I’d kept copies of all the emails and letters I’d sent my parents while I was in touch with them, along with their letters to me. I gave them to the therapist. I avoided talking about memories and stuck to my current conversations with my parents, most of which revolved around their parenting advice about my two children, mostly warning me that I’d have spoiled children if I didn’t spank them. The therapist said the letters and emails were one of the most severe cases of gaslighting she’d ever seen. 

Eventually, I trusted her enough to tell her about my guides. She was skeptical at first, but asked a lot of questions. (My guides answered some of them.) She took my case to a board review, which included psychologists, psychiatrists, and clergy. They discussed it, considered other diagnoses, and unanimously declared me a “mystic.” They didn’t know how, but they were completely convinced that the entities I talked with were both divine and real.

My therapist heartily encouraged me to work more with my guides. I began to stop doubting their existence. And slowly, I began to trust them. 

For years, they talked about how I also needed to trust myself. Taking baby steps, I let go of my self-doubt too. When I posted in a very vague way on my blog about what it was like growing up, and the time CPS came to the house, my brother angrily commented that I was wrong, that none of this happened, that I was lying and hurting everyone. Fortunately for me, I had a witness to the CPS investigation—my best friend in high school, who also witnessed some of the things my parents did and said. But that experience left me too frightened to publicly state anything about what I’d experienced. Until now.

In 2009, my mom died. My dad had died a few years earlier. Going through my mom’s house, I found a file with my name on it. In it, she’d amassed every article she could find on false memories. She also had printed email correspondence with my brother. Back when he’d reached out to me by email, and I’d cautiously started talking with him, he was forwarding my responses to my parents. Between them, they’d discussed this, agreed it was best that I shouldn’t know what they were doing.

This time, instead of feeling like I was wrong or sick, I was angry.

My guides led me to a coach who was able to help me have experiences of trusting myself and trusting others in a safe space. Bit by bit, she helped me see that I could share myself with trusted people, safe people, and be supported. Even loved.

When I was later faced with another betrayal—this time from my (now former) faith community—I chose a different response. I walked away. 

I share all this with you now for several reasons. First and foremost, because I need to end the silence. In silence and secrecy about this, there has been shame, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, I want to walk forward in integrity and authenticity, and that requires honesty and speaking my truth. My guides are 100% behind me in this, and their support has given me the courage and strength to sit down and write this.

Second, I’m sharing this because every time I have wanted to post something about my experience, whether with my guides or about how I grew up, there has been an imposing What will people (especially relatives) think? hanging over my head. It keeps me in a wounded child position. I do not owe anyone my silence in exchange for maintaining their comfort.

Third, I’m sharing this for all of those who want to share their truth, who want to be free from the shame, but can’t yet. Maybe it’s not safe. Maybe they’re not ready. Maybe they still believe the gaslighting, the lies that it’s somehow our own fault, that we’re only speaking up to get attention, that we’re troublemakers or bitter, that we can’t let it go, we’re too sensitive and can’t take a joke, that it’s all in the past and we should forgive and forget.

No. I have forgiven my parents for myself, but to forget is to condone what was done, and what is still being done to others. To forget is to dishonor the past, to say it’s all okay now. It was not, and is not okay.

And as I see now parents and partners of people I know gaslighting them, verbally abusing them and then claiming they’re making it all up, that it’s their depression or anxiety talking, that what they remember are false memories (or fake news), that they’ve blown it all out of proportion, I can keep quiet no longer.

I am not sick or deranged or making it up or trying to get attention or wanting to file a lawsuit. I am claiming my truth and standing in it. I am no longer ashamed. I am free to be who I am, regardless of what others think or say.

And for all those who get me on a deep level, when you’re ready, I’ll be here and we can stand together.
What’s My Guide’s Name? About guides and their names

What’s My Guide’s Name? About guides and their names

Perhaps more than any other question I’m asked, people want to know, “What’s my guide’s name?”

For us as humans, names are a key part of our identities. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to use chosen names, whether it’s someone who has transitioned, someone who wants to distance themselves from their past identity, or any other reason. Pet guardians will often say that when they welcome a new animal into their family, they change the animal’s name because the name they had didn’t fit their personality.

Names reflect our energy and who we are.

As such, it’s normal and natural to want our guides to have names too. In a future post, I’ll talk about names back Home (a.k.a. in the ether, Heaven, etc.), but for now, I’m keeping it to the three-dimensional, physical life here on earth. Some guides will give you a name right away. Some won’t. Some will hold out for years. Some will ask you to name them. These are all valid.

Case in point:

By the time I was in junior high school, I was aware of three guides with very discernably different energy who were frequent flyers in my headspace. I didn’t really need names for them, because I could tell who was whom simply by how they felt. And how they made me feel. Generally, they didn’t all talk to me at once, and I didn’t tell anyone else about them, so names were unnecessary.

But then early in high school, I started writing down what they said, and I invited them to conference with me. This took several months of learning how to focus and keep the connection open. I began writing in a journal, dividing each page into four columns: one for me, and one each for the three guides. And since I didn’t have names, I very creatively called them Voice A, Voice B, and Voice C.

Voice A was the (much) more powerful voice. There was an assurance about him that had me feeling completely and utterly safe in his presence, as well as a steady power, as if he was capable of so much more than the tiny fraction he was sharing with me. He was both reassuring and terrifying. When he was around, my heart beat out of rhythm, I had a feeling of electricity sparking all over my skin, and the top of my head felt like it was somehow open and unlimited. So I gave him the Voice A designation because I thought putting him first might be least likely to make him upset with me.

Voice B was the voice I heard most often, many times a day. Our conversations had a banter-like quality, and yet somehow, even as we teased each other, he always made me feel better about myself. And in the blink of an eye, he could turn a conversation about nothing at all into a jaw-dropping new awareness about myself and my place in the world.

Voice C taught me how to make up songs, how to sing about chores I had to do, how to turn even the most mundane into something creative and joyous.

I began to tell my best friend about these conversations, and she asked why I didn’t give them names. She could actually tell when Voice A was around, even if I didn’t say anything, and she thought a proper name was less insulting than “Voice A.” I told her I thought it would be insulting to give them names and they should tell me their own names.

Guides want you to focus more on the message than the messenger. Click To Tweet

I asked Voice A. He told me his name was irrelevant, and to focus on what he had to say instead of who he was. (This, of course, only made me more curious, but he wouldn’t budge, and I didn’t want to piss him off.) So my friend named him Ahimsa (Sanskrit for non-violence and respect for all life). He didn’t argue or correct it for over 15 years. In 1999, when I was in a spiritual crisis, not knowing what to believe or whom to trust, he showed up and finally told me his name was Michael. He shared a few other things I won’t get into here, but it eliminated any doubts I had about him. While the name Ahimsa was lovely, it was always clearly an alias. The name Michael fit.

Of course then I freaked out over who he was. “You mean the Michael?” Had he shared his name with me 15 years earlier, my freak-out would have been even more severe. He was right not to tell me back then.

I asked Voice B for a name. He said he couldn’t give me his real name, but I should choose a name to call him by. I asked him to choose one. He refused, saying it didn’t matter. I argued back saying it mattered a lot. Then I asked him if he had any idea how many possible names existed in the world, and could he please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, at least narrow it down? His response? “Preferably something you can pronounce.”

I gave him the silent treatment and refused to talk with him until he gave me a name. (Not one of my finer moments when dealing with guides.) Eventually, he relented, and while I was at work one day, cutting open a box, he said, “Use that.” An unusual glow on the box caught my eye, as if the city name in the return address was backlit: Dresden. Much later, when I asked him why he chose that, he said he liked the imagery of coming back into wholeness after complete destruction. Whether he meant that for himself or me, he’s never said. It might be a bit of both.

Voice C was easy. I asked her, and she said she liked musical names. I listed a few: Harmony, Melody, Lyric, Allegra. “I like Melody,” she said. And that was that.

Many years later, Dresden told me that had he shared the name I knew him by back Home, I might have recognized it. I’ve already remembered pieces of several past lives, at least two of which were with him, and he was concerned that knowing his real name might trigger further memories. My focus, he maintains, is this lifetime. Here and now. Getting sidetracked by past lives could distract me from what I’m here to do and experience.

Other people with whom I’ve worked have had a mixture: some guides offer names right away. Some people are fine choosing a name that is meaningful to them and the part that their guide plays in their life. Sometimes the names people choose for their guides are significant and powerful.

My refusal to choose names for my guides says nothing about them, and a lot about my own issues with authority and my past behaviors around wanting to please those in power. In reality, a guide is not going to get angry because of a name, nor are they going to be slighted if they’re last on a list instead of first. Feeling insulted or indignant is all ego, all comparison and whether one measures up. Guides are spirit, not ego.

Just as guides’ names aren’t a constant, fixed thing, their presentation—how they present themselves to you in any sort of visual—isn’t either. We’ll talk about that another time.

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