Grandma Shirley ‘s holiday cookie specialty was snowball cookies, a melt -in- your- mouth butter cookie with nuts and covered in confectionery sugar that resembled a small snowball. I would eat them as fast as she could make them. They were too irresistible to leave alone on the plate. Snowball cookies (a.k.a. Russian Tea Cakes and Mexican Wedding Cakes) are what she called them for young children. They were not for me or my sisters or brother, but for one of the organizations that she volunteered for. She had a kind and generous spirit. She taught me a few life skills in addition to baking such as personal finances. Grandma Shirley was one of my first spiritual teachers. She introduced me to reincarnation.
In the early 1980’s reincarnation was beginning to become part of the vernacular and Shirley Maclaine played a big part in it. I recall seeing the magazine with her in it and the subtitle about UFO’s, that my mom left on the coffee table. It scared me at the time and I threw down the magazine. This was after my encounter with Grandma Shirley when she told me she believed in reincarnation. She tried to explain to me that when someone we love dies or transitions, as a friend of mine had recently, they don’t really leave us. I loved her but I had no idea what she was talking about.
Fast forward about seven years when my spiritual journey started accelerating. I had already met my spiritual mentor HB who had handed me ‘Out on a Limb’ to read. As I’ve mentioned before, I was ready for this. It was the right time. So, when I saw my grandma Shirley again I did not feel freaked out. We had a mutual interest in reincarnation. She talked about the feeling that she had been here before – where she and my grandfather were currently living in the northeast. I understood what she was saying. We were on the same psychic wavelength.
I saw grandma Shirley a few months later in the hospital where she was dying from leukemia. She succumbed not long after that and made her transition. She didn’t push her beliefs on me. Sharing her spiritual beliefs with me was another way that she showed her love. Perhaps, we’ll be in another life together. It was a wonderful ‘life’ skill she imparted to me. And her snowball cookie recipe.
“Spiritual Awakening is a shift in consciousness – an initiation into an expanded sense of awareness.” ~ Melanie Beckler
A spiritual teacher is the one that told me I had a lot to say about my experiences. At that time, I had experienced much: my feelings of spirituality versus religion, dreams, channeling, paranormal, teachers entering and exiting my life, past life regressions, intuitives and divination and last but certainly not least visitations. I was growing spiritually. But there was much more that I needed to learn and the universe was guiding me to new teachers and mentors because when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
I have been blessed with many more spiritual experiences since that time about ten years ago. That teacher suggested that I write a book. I was skeptical but kept an open mind. The only problem was I did not write. That is, I did not like writing. I did not like writing in my academic life or my career. A middle school English teacher assigned a creative writing project. I think I wrote a paragraph where in it I wrote something like, “…the tops of my boots wilted over like rose petals.” She loved it and told me to keep going. My creativity wilted just like those boots. I’m not sure why I did not like writing. But as I grew older my dislike for writing did not change. In a committee I was involved with where I worked at the time, I was tasked with coming up with a mission statement. Just a short paragraph that tells everyone who we are, what we are and how we might attain our mission. Naturally, I froze. And then I asked someone else for help in writing it.
Several years later during a career change due to the economic turn down in 2008, I took several classes at a community college to sharpen the saw or change direction altogether. And that’s almost what happened. On a club board in the student lounge there were several options for participation. One that really popped out was the school newspaper. The suggestion to write came to mind as soon as I saw it. I amused the universe and attended the first club meeting. I read a lot and listened to the news that was delivered on news broadcasts, so I thought I knew how to structure a story. At the journalism club I learned to write, investigate and report and discovered that I liked writing. The words just flowed. How the words flowed or where the inspiration and motivation comes from is a mystery to me. They flowed into a blog and (so far) two books. At each step on my journey the universe has opened up for me at the right time, like each petal of a lotus that is blossoming.
Shyla shared with me that she was afraid to see a ghost, that is, an earthbound, while she was investigating a haunted house with a paranormal group. She told me she had been lying on a bed in a bedroom of this haunted house when, with her eyes closed, a female presence got on the bed with her and was talking to her. Shyla said she was afraid to open her eyes to see this ghost; she didn’t want to see her. My reaction to this was a mix of surprise and interest.
Shyla was a spiritual teacher and an intuitive medium. She had the gift of knowing, feeling, hearing and seeing, what I call the four clairs: Claircognizance, clairsentience, clairaudience and clairvoyance.
I have heard that anyone can be one or all of the clairs. I am mostly all four by admission. I have seen energy mostly in the shape of orbs and flashes. It frightens me now just as much as it has my whole life to see them. I don’t want to see a ghost or spirit or apparition. I’m not sure where this fear comes from, perhaps I learned to fear them at some point in my early childhood.
My other senses became stronger, particularly clairsentience. My inner and outer energy radar can feel energy from those living on earth as well as earthbounds. At first feeling earthbounds was frightening and I would run from the room. I still do. I learned to tell them to go away because they don’t belong here on earth and they don’t. They need to cross over first and then they can visit earth another time. Problem is, they don’t know they’re ghosts; they think they’re still flesh and blood.
Conversely, feeling a crossed over loved one is different to me. I feel love and an awareness of who it is. I feel Shyla when she’s around – she’s still teaching and inspiring me.
I have been writing about my experiences of my spiritual journey for a few years here and on social media. I’ve also written two books: one was a short story based on my spiritual journey and another about dreams and dream recall. Writing about my experiences has not always been easy for me (I’ll share that in a future blog) but whether I want to or not, spirit sends messages and guidance to encourage me to share my story. And so, I have been inspired to tell you about one of my first and more influential spiritual teachers.
It began in 1990, the searching for…something…something else or something more. Not knowing what that something was or where to find it I looked on the self-help shelves of a local bookstore. From past experience I knew that religion wasn’t the answer. Neither was drinking alcohol with the wrong people. I recall looking at the bookshelves hoping something would pop out or fall off one of the shelves and into my hands. Since I didn’t know specifically what it was I needed to fill the void within me I was hoping one of the books there in the bookstore would. One book did look familiar to me from recent television commercials: Dianetics . After some contemplation I decided to give it a try. I tried it for about two chapters and decided that it didn’t resonate with me. Trusting my gut was crucial. This wasn’t the book I was looking for.
Very shortly after that, I had the book in hand when I met H.B. someone who was introduced to me by my sister Angela. When he asked about the book I was holding in my hands I explained how I had been looking for something to fill a void or give my life meaning. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to call it or how to articulate what seemed to be missing or what I needed to find to fill that…something. H.B.asked me to follow him and when I did he handed me a book. Apparently, what I needed was in a book. This book was another familiar book. ‘Out On a Limb’ by Shirley Maclaine. My initial reaction was “Oh.”
I was familiar with Shirley Maclaine. Her name was synonymous with UFO’s in the early 1980’s when her book first came out. I recall feeling a little freaked out by her story then. But as I held the book H.B. had given me I didn’t feel freaked out at all. About a month or two later while I was on vacation I started to read it and couldn’t put it down. Believe it or don’t – and I knew people who wouldn’t believe it – this book resonated with me. I didn’t really get everything she spoke about but I was intrigued by the references to the Bible’s alterations and the channel, whose name was Kevin, if I recall (In the movie version of this book, the actual channel is in the movie).
The next book H.B. gave me was Edgar Cayce’s “There is a River”, the life story of the sleeping prophet. His book “Reincarnation” absolutely fascinated me and set me off on a life long passion of past lives. Apart from books, we attended seminars together and visited two psychics and talked a lot about spirituality.
If I had not selected the book that didn’t resonate with me, I would never have met H.B. and started off on the next leg of my spiritual journey and eventually find another spiritual teacher. And then another and another. Whenever I am ready to grow spiritually another teacher always appears.