Seeing the Future

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As we get ready to leave this year behind and look ahead to 2017 there will be wishes, New Year’s resolutions and goals that we will set for ourselves and try – not always unsuccessfully – to see through and attain.  Career, love life and making or saving more money are the usual desires. We pray and hope that they will come to us. There is another way to clearly see what goals or dreams we should aim for and ways to find out how to begin achieving them. It’s something like magic. This process or tool is called divination.

Divination is a method for getting messages from the universe: God, angels, ascended masters, goddesses, saints and even the fairies. It’s okay if you don’t believe in any of them. It’s not required. But it may help to know who may be communicating with and helping you. There are different spiritual divination tools and some we use every day. There are dreams (the night time kind & day dreams – where we zone out), crystals, tarot cards, and meditation. 

 Carl Jung was the first to say that dreams came directly from Source and that they come to us while we sleep. He studied his dreams, symbols and archetypes and decoded them. From his research he identified what symbols and archetypes were and how to interpret dreams, the types of dreams and where they come from.  He believed, unlike his mentor Sigmund Freud that the messages came to us – that they were not our unconscious thoughts – decompressing and de-stressing from the labors and events of our human day. So, through our dreams we receive symbols and archetypes (universal symbols for example mother, mountain and numbers). Every symbol has usually one or possibly two different meanings and is not always the same for each individual – it depends on the other symbols in the dream, the context of the dream and what it means to the dreamer. We can use intention to find the answer to a problem. Very simply say what you would like a solution for before you go to sleep and if the answer doesn’t come to you by the time you wake up, it will eventually come to you…when it is meant to.

The stereotypical picture of the gypsy fortuneteller with a scarf wrapped about her head staring into a crystal ball originated from a divination method called scrying. Scrying was popular for many thousands of years from the ancient Celts up until the early 20th century. Scrying methods included mirror gazing, water viewing, fire gazing as well as crystal gazing. By staring into the crystal, mirror, water or fire, one could “see” what their future held.

The most popular divination tool for the last twenty plus years is the tarot card. Probably created in the 1700’s as a card game, it is now used by anyone who wants to foretell their future or divine answers and solutions to problems. Anyone can learn to read their own cards, however sometimes a more comprehensive card reading can come from a psychic/medium. They can “see” or “hear” what the average person cannot. And it’s fun and therapeutic at the same time.

Awareness is by far one of the best spiritual divination tools. And all we need to do is make sure that we are aware of signs: butterflies, birds, songs on the radio, and repetitive phrases and numbers to name a few. Hone your “gut” feelings and act on your intuition. You can incorporate your crystals or give yourself your own tarot card reading. A meditation practice also helps with awareness.

Set your positive intention, divine it –by whichever method you prefer –and then pay attention for the signs that your wish has been acknowledged and is being worked on by the angels, saints, a deity or even God or Source if you would rather use that name. The important thing is to choose which method works better for you for the manifestation of your dreams.

 

 

A Clean Slate

 

 

When I was thinking about what to write and what message to convey, change kept coming up. I know I’ve been writing a lot about change and transformation lately, however this has been an exceptional year of change. Change can be frightening. Fear takes over when someone is suddenly faced with losing their job; relationships end; loved ones pass away, living situations change. It can feel like the end of the world.  We all know it happens; life is dynamic; seasons come and seasons go. It’s the Universal Law of Rhythm. Where there are endings there must always be a beginning.

Why it happens and when it happens and sometimes how it happens is a clue, a nudge from the universe. It’s time to leave the past behind and move on. Start over. I can now feel when change needs to happen, like a band aid concealing a healed wound. The band aid needs to be ripped off.  Moving forward despite the pain of loss can make it difficult to believe that something better or different is just up ahead.

Nearly thirty years ago I had a major life change that was preceded by a chain of events that at the time I thought would never end. I moved into a new apartment in a new city,  and started a new job. I was young, living on my own, advancing in a career and had a new man in my life.  I thought my life and my future seemed promising. I did not see the train coming down the track.

Three months later – although it felt longer than that – my life became challenging and I was faced with choices. Everything good that came together almost at the same time, started to fall apart the same way. Sexual harassment was common in the workplace in the 1980’s and women who worked in male dominated industries were fair game. Even the man in my life whom I thought I could trust was in on the game. The relationship ended; I abruptly left my job; I had to leave my apartment and move back home, stunned, humiliated and broke.

I actually hit rock bottom. There was nowhere else to go except up. A month later,  a new and different career was waiting for me as well as better opportunities and new friends. I was still shaking a little but my life was improving.

The changes we have all been experiencing or witnessing in the past eleven months are nothing new. For thousands of years throughout history there have been many endings:  empires, religions, and cultures. There have always been confrontations, disputes and protests that are seen in  politics, war and witch hunts. There will always be those times in our lives that call for us to cut and run, to grieve, to move forward, to wipe the slate clean and start over and create a new beginning in our lives.

A Summer Nature Retreat

*All photographs by Leslie Sheridan

 

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. ”       ~Lord Byron

 

 

 

 

 

 

AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT

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AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT

 Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck, New York, is a beautiful 200 acre privately owned Preserve with hiking trails and a modest camping and picnic area that surrounds a serene lake. It is a nature lover’s respite. The area begs to be photographed. I gave in to it. I took a few photographs as we climbed up large hills winding through bare trees. I could imagine how the trees would look in a month when the leaves filled in the bare spaces.  My destination – the reason that I wanted to go the forest in the first place – awaited me in the center of the forest on top of a steep hill. My camera ready, I excitedly climbed the hill and walked up to the fire tower.  I was genuinely surprised at what happened next.

When I walked up to the tower’s steps, I hesitated. I allowed others to go before me. It was not what I expected, but I did not understand the apprehension I was feeling. I climbed the first set of steps, about a dozen. Simple deer fencing was all that covered the outside of the tower from the base of the steps up to the railing on each set of steps all the way up the 80 foot tower.  I’ve climbed the Statue of Liberty’s narrow steps, only feeling slight vertigo. But, this was different.  Once I got to the landing before climbing the next set of steps, I froze. Hesitatingly, I began to climb the next set of steps to the landing with tears in my eyes. I started up again and again backed down turned around on the landing and went down the first set of stairs and once down on the ground,  looked up at the tower, my fear beginning to grow.

I had started repeating “I can’t, I can’t” over and over which was turning into a self fulfilling prophecy.  Someone I was with said to me, “What are you afraid of?”  In that moment I knew my fear was a metaphor.  What I was afraid of was beginning to become clear.  And, suddenly I became frustrated with myself for not trying harder. I had waited so long to come here, climb the tower and take breathtaking photographs of the view from the top.

Where does fear come from? Are we taught to fear?  Or do we create our own fear?  And is there something else at play here? Fear is paralyzing, it stops us in our tracks inhibiting us from moving forward. It doesn’t matter what you are afraid of or what event triggers the fear. Why we fear is personal.  All humans are not afraid of the same thing.  Most people fear spiders, others do not; some fear other people or situations while it doesn’t bother other people; many people fear death and others enjoy living. I believe some fears go way back, not only in this life time, but further back, to a past life.  We are all working out karma from another life or lifetimes. If we don’t work it out in one life time, we carry that karma with us to the next life and so on. I believe that while I was on the fire tower the karma clock was ticking.

With a fear to conquer I decided that the third time was the charm. I began again. The first set of steps. The second set of steps, half way up, backed down, sobbing from fear. I knew what my fear was and it wasn’t the tower’s steps. The fear I felt inside about moving forward – financial security, stability, taking the next step – was manifesting on the outside. As within so without.

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Determined to get up the tower and take pictures, I looked up, not down or ahead, as was suggested by someone else and I prayed to be kept safe as I moved upward. I breathed, counted the steps and finally made it up the fourth set of steps (about half of the tower –the rest will have to wait until fall when I go back). The view of the Hudson River and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge was amazing. It was more amazing because I had chosen to move forward.  In the end what helped was counting steps…one at a time.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitation Dreams

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Every night we dream and whether it is a nonsensical dream – or so you think – or a nightmare, every dream that we have has a meaning or a message. I have been led to write about visitation dreams. Usually in these dreams it is our loved ones who have crossed over that visit us. I say usually because we can also get visits from our guardian angels or a deity.  They visit us in dreams because they’re just checking in to say hello and to let us know that they are okay. For those of us who have  loved ones – humans or pets – who have crossed over,  this is a chance for us to see them one more time.

So how do you know if your dream is a visitation dream? I can tell you first hand that a visitation dream will stay with you for a long time. You know it’s real. You know that your loved one who passed away is truly visiting you. Where a nightmare sticks with you and is frightening, a visitation dream is anything but.

I have written about a close friend in high school who died tragically and how devastating it was for me to lose someone so close to me at a young age. A precognitive dream told me of her impending death less than a year later. Nearly eight months after her death I received a visit from her. In my dream she called me on a pay telephone (this was long before cell phones) to tell me that she was in a safe place and that she was okay. I woke up with a great sense of relief and joy. I heard from her. She was alright. My grief had been lifted, but I still missed her.

I have also been the bearer of messages to those who have lost loved ones. They appeared in my dream with a message for a family member or friend.  Some believed it, some  did not. And that’s fine. The important thing was that the message was delivered. I may have gotten it because the person for whom the message was intended was not open to it. And the message needed to get to them. Spirit will find a way.

What visitation dreams do for us is give us an opportunity to start the healing process. These dreams, these visits must be believed. Our loved ones have assured us by showing up in our dreams that they are okay. We need to have faith that they are, drop whatever guilt or regret that we have and move forward. We don’t have to nor should we forget them.  Our loved ones are always around us albeit not in the physical world but in the spirit world. They can see us and hear us. They’re present at our graduations and weddings or other happy life events as well as being around when things are not going so well. If our loved ones want us to know that they are nearby, they will find a way of getting our attention. Sometimes they will send us a butterfly, a bird, feather or a coin or coins to signify their presence.

I have had a beautiful visit from my grandmother Shirley that I wrote about in my book, “Sweet Dreams” (Balboa Press) where she was actually sitting at the end of my bed talking to me. What she said to me I couldn’t hear, but I saw her head moving. At the time of her visit, it had been eleven years since she had passed away. That dream is still clear to me and has stayed with me. It is so reassuring to me that she is around me. Grandma Shirley taught me good life skills and I got my love of baking from her. Sometimes when I am unsure of what to do in a particular situation that I need assistance with, I find myself asking, “What would grandma do?”  And then she answers me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Recall

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Earlier this week I woke up and began journaling my dreams from that night. I wrote down three dreams. Then I got out of bed and started my morning routine and was getting ready to leave for work when I realized that I didn’t have any breakfast. Maybe I could pick up something on the way to work, I thought.  But then I opened up my refrigerator and looked inside and “ping” I remembered another dream. A fourth dream.

I have been concerned about my overall health lately, specifically my thyroid. It runs in my family, but I don’t believe in prescription medicine for myself. I won’t even take an Advil or Motrin except in the case of a migraine.  Over the last year I’ve researched natural and organic foods that can help reduce the size of the small thyroid goiter that I have.

Back to the refrigerator moment…

I instantly recalled another dream I had that night. In my dream I was told that the root of my thyroid was (and this may not be true for everyone) my immune system. My immunity needed to be boosted and that I should drink orange juice. The vitamin C would be beneficial.  In my dream I felt that I should continue to take care of this naturally without medication.

The point of this story is not my health or  my thyroid. My point is that you can recall dreams when you wake up at two o’clock in the morning or upon waking at your regular time or even in the oddest of places. Usually it’s a word or phrase, a song or a place or thing, such as opening a refrigerator, that will trigger your dream recall.

The key to recalling your dreams is never doubt them and be consistent about writing them down. It’s a practice. The  more you do it the better you will be at it. Dreams will seemingly begin to flow and your recall will become a habit. That’s not to say that  you will remember all of your dreams. We can have many dreams in one night.  Some will be forgotten, but the important ones, the dreams you are  meant to get will be shown to you while you sleep.

Several people that I have met and talked to have told me that they dream but they don’t remember them, if they have any at all. Others share them with me or ask me to interpret their dream for them. We all dream every night. Whether we remember them or want to is a personal choice. I feel that recalling dreams is a helpful divination tool.  The point of recalling and interpreting your dreams is to get the message that the universe has for you.

 

Next: Types of Dreams

What are dreams?

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Dreams are messages from the universe that we receive while we sleep. The dreams are specific to the individual who receives the dream. There are some occasions when a dream is meant for someone else. In that case the dreamer is the messenger ( in which the dreamer gets a message from someone’s loved one in the spirit world to give to a friend or family member, for example). There are also daydreams where we let our minds wander – like taking a mental vacation. And then there are the dreams for ourselves – where we want to be in our career or where we want to be in our lives in a week, a year, ten years or someday. But, the dreams I’m speaking of are the sometimes scary, sometimes weird or wonderful but mostly you-just-can’t-make-this-stuff- up type of dreams that we have every night when we go to sleep.

Dreams come to us at night while we sleep and are completely at rest. Our subconscious mind acts as the conduit through which information is communicated to our conscious mind.  The information comes from as I said,  the universe: angels, God ( the source), our spirit guides, our loved ones on the other side and others. The information being downloaded, if you will, come as images sometimes played out like a movie; sometimes just a few random symbols.  Dreams occur during the R.E.M. cycle. If you’ve ever watched someone while they sleep and see their eyes moving from left to right under their eye lids, it appears  as though  they’re watching a movie or an event play out in front of them while they sleep.

Is there a reason why we dream? Yes, actually, there is a reason for everything, including our dreams. Sigmund Freud, the famed Viennese psychoanalyst, wrote that his own personal dream analysis convinced him of his wish fulfillment theory. These were dreams that were close to daydreams in that they were made up by the dreamer. He also believed that the dream released stress that the dreamer could not express during his or her waking hours and that they were a way for the individual to go over his or her events from the day.

 Dr. Freud’s fellow psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, did not believe in the wish fulfillment theory. Rather, he believed that dreams came to the individual at night during sleep.  He also believed dreams or messages come to us while we are awake in the form of ideas and daydreams. He did not believe that they could be made up. They just flowed from a greater source and into our subconscious while we slept.

I will be writing about nearly everything dream related: what they are, who dreams, when we dream, where our souls are when we dream and why we dream what we dream. We find the answers to our dreams within. 

Next: Dream Recall

 

Abundance and the Hindu Goddess

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The first time I saw him he was wearing a Ramones tee shirt, the short sleeved black shirt with the presidential – like seal bearing an eagle holding a branch of something in one claw and a baseball bat in the other and RAMONES in large, loud letters above the bands iconic logo.   I feel a kinship with anyone who wears a tee shirt of my favorite rock band and so naturally I was intrigued by this man.  He came in once a week to the bank where I worked. He was well over six feet tall, dark haired, nice eyes and smile. We always exchanged small talk, nothing heavy. The last time I saw him was the first time I met the woman on his arm. He introduced her as Lakshmi.

He told me his parents were Indian and that Lakshmi was the Hindu goddess of wealth and fortune. The tattooed stencil of Lakshmi that was on his upper arm was not yet colored in. Above the stenciled likeness of Lakshmi, near his shoulder, was a large white and yellow hued lotus tattoo. All I thought of at that moment was how much getting all that art tattooed on his arm must have hurt. As he left that day, he turned his head around toward me and smiled. As I look back on that day, I wonder if Lakshmi was smiling through him as if to say, “You’ll see me again soon.”

As I always say, the universe has ways of bringing us to our next assignment or chapter during our life here. Later that week, I picked up a book that I’d recently bought, “Archangels and Ascended Masters” by Doreen Virtue. I opened it up to the contents page and scanned over the chapters of archangels, gods & goddesses and deities. There she was on page 113. I read the chapter on Lakshmi with curiosity and intrigue. Clearly I was meant to learn more about the Hindu goddess. Suddenly she was everywhere to me. I found a lotus blossom candle holder and brought it home with me. I bought a beautiful pair of lotus blossom drop earrings that I wear nearly every day. I know it sounds corny, but I like to keep her close to me.

I wanted to learn more about Lakshmi, to understand why I kept seeing lotus blossoms, to find out why she is around me and what message she has for me. So, I went into research mode. The lotus blossom symbolizes spiritual awakening.  During meditation, the seventh chakra, the crown chakra opens up like a lotus as well, when we have a clear channel to the divine. Lakshmi’s name in Sanskrit means observe, know, understand, goal, aim, objective, as well as auspicious opportunity or fortune. She is depicted as having four arms that represent the four goals of human life.  They are dharma, artha, kāma and moksha. Respectively they mean pursuit of an ethical, moral life; pursuit of wealth; pursuit of love; pursuit of self-knowledge.

For me, Lakshmi represents abundance. An abundance of wealth, health, education and prosperity that will continue to be my goals in 2016. I prefer to have goals rather than resolutions for the incoming year. Goals seem so much more achievable than promises to myself that I can’t or won’t keep. Still, the four goals of human life should be achievable or at the very least something that we all want to aim for. I have much to be grateful for: family, work, opportunities to learn new things, and to the man in the Ramones tee shirt who brought Lakshmi to my awareness.

 

 

My Grandmother’s Eulogy

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Evangeline, my grandmother’s name,  was born in  1922, to parents who were pastors. The English meaning of her name is “Good tidings the word”; the Greek meaning, ” Good news message”. The word Angel is also in her name.  Angels are Gods messengers.

She was the visiting pastor at United Methodist church where my mom brought us nearly every Sunday. On that Sunday, the entire family was present and on time. She was present at the same church when my sisters and brother and I were baptized when I was about eleven or twelve. (During my dad’s and aunt’s upbringing she had travelled to different churches to preach. It was work  in the early 1940’s for a single mom. But, her connection to the church and Jesus was also her lifeline.) Until then, I’d never seen my grandmother in that role. She was speaking passionately with a raised voice and raised arms. Soon enough I would learn just how passionate she was about her faith.

Over the years that I visited her house,  I noticed books and papers piled up on her kitchen counter; bookshelves packed with books in various rooms of her house; music albums or cassettes neatly placed in their racks, the bead and  and pictures of Jesus or Bible quotes written or painted on paper and framed or carved in wood over archways and rooms in her house. The common denominator: they were all about religion. Specifically, Christianity, Jesus and the Bible.

As a child and then adolescent, I dutifully went to the methodist church with my family on Sundays. I recall that we started going to another church, Wesleyan,  that  seemed, at first to work for me. It was around this time that I was ….. looking for something else. It’s not that I was rebelling  against religion, rather I was looking for something that held meaning for me.  I didn’t know what  that something was, but somewhere I learned that most answers could be found in church or by talking to God. Maybe I learned it from my grandmother. I found a church to go to, but I did not find myself.

Throughout high school and into my early twenties, I was a devout follower of rock and roll.  I  accumulated rock paraphernalia: albums, ticket stubs, tee shirts and magazines. Unfortunately, what I learned from my grandmother was that you have to love God and church 100 percent. It’s all or nothing. If I wanted to find God and belong to church, I could not  continue to worship my rock and roll idols. I could not give up my Ramones tee shirt, the ticket stub from a Mink DeVille concert that I saw with my friend Jody or my collection of Hit Parade and Rolling Stones magazines. Could I?

The yearning to find that….something else became stronger around 1991.  What I found was a book that was not the answer for me, but it did lead me to my first teacher who handed me his copy of Shirley Maclaine’s  “Out on a Limb”. Many years earlier I had seen a People magazine article of her promoting her new book and I found the concept of reincarnation scary. At the time, reincarnation was synonymous with Shirley Maclaine. I believe that, over time,  her celebrity helped to bring new age practices into the mainstream.This book was the something else I was looking for.  As soon as I started reading, I could not put it down. Most of what she wrote resonated with me.  The part about re-incarnation would take a little more time for me to grasp. That would be the book after “Out on a Limb”,  when my friend told me about Edgar Cayce. With both of these books read from cover to cover, I was off and running on my spiritual journey. And, I got so excited about what I was learning, that I could not wait to share it with everyone. This is where I begin to sound like my grandmother. This was my A-ha moment. This was our connection – although we both came at it from different sides.

At that time, I knew I had found exactly what I had been looking for.   I started to share my new discovery, but I knew it would not make other people comfortable: family, friends and co-workers. I tried anyway…and well, the obvious responses happened. Use your imagination.  I knew my grandmother would have thought it was the rock and roll or not going to church that got to me. I never did share this with my grandmother, although I  did try to tell her once, but she did not understand what I was talking about. Out of fear or respect , or both, I changed the subject.

Anyway, after reading “Out On A Limb”, the Universe opened up for me. This is how I now know when I am on the right path. Some might call it synchronicity. Others may say it is fate or destiny. Well…it’s both. It is meant to be.

So, I started reading everything I could to learn more about everything esoteric and paranormal. I did my research. I wanted to know and understand what else was out there and I knew that there was more than just the Bible and the three core religions: Catholicism, Judaism and Protestant.

I would pick up any book by Shirley Maclaine, process it and decide where to go from there. Then, Sylvia Browne and Doreen Virtue. Then various books with a spiritual message.  Collections of Angel figurines and ornaments, butterflies and dragonflies in any form came next – they’re in almost every room in my house. The new age music that calms me and brings me peace. Recently, I looked down on the floor next to my bed and over at the book shelf. Nearly every book on the shelves are spiritual in nature, except for a few biographies and  my Ramones CD’s.

A thought came to me: I had become my grandmother.

When I talked with her last year, I began talking with her about the Bible and her favorite person in the Bible she told me was Jesus. His pictures adorned her home. She looked up at me as if she had just realized I was talking about something she knew. A certain look came over her as if I was speaking a foreign language that she had recognized. I showed her my gardens because I knew she loved flowers. When I saw her in the nursing home over the summer, I’d brought an oversized “Hello Kitty” coloring book with me because I knew she loved coloring. As she  colored Hello Kitty with only a blue crayon, I just watched her and recalled it was just like I remembered her views on religion. Talking about Jesus, praying to him and reading or being read to about him. She loved Jesus.

I started this story  a little over a year ago when I first learned that she had the signs of dementia. She passed away nearly a week after falling in the nursing home where she lived for the last seven months, eight years almost to the day that her husband passed. I believe she didn’t want to live anymore. She wanted to go “home” to see him. And to see Jesus.

The Art of Letting Go

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My daughter, my first born, leaves for college this month, two states and three hours away from home. She’s ready. I’m ready, I think. I say “think” because I’ve had eighteen years to prepare for this milestone. But when I think about it, I get anxious.

I recall watching the school bus going by our house when she was two months old and thinking to myself, “She is not going a noisy, germ-infested school bus.” Five year later: new shoes on and a Veggie Tales back pack loaded with her lunch and school supplies, we headed for the bus stop. I had the video camera ready as the school bus drove up to record this milestone, as I had so many others since she was born. We barely said our goodbyes, when the school bus door opened and she eagerly bounded up the steps to take her place in the front seat. Her little brother and I watched as the school bus drove out of sight. I had prepared myself to go directly to the grocery store so that I would not have to go back inside the house, but alas, I forgot my pocketbook in the first- day- of –school excitement.

After I wiped away my tears, my son and I went to the grocery store… and then the mall. I celebrated my first born child’s first day of school by shopping. The second child was easier, not as emotional the second time around.
And so it would go…moving up from elementary school to middle school…moving up from middle school to high school…graduating high school …and all the many other achievements in-between.

I’ve been learning to let go for the last eighteen years: Watching her grow from an infant to a curious toddler to a free spirited girl and to the young woman she is now; when she learned to walk and no longer needed me to carry her, learning to ride a bike, and finally gaining her independence when she obtained her driver’s license and could drive herself to school, her friends’ houses and to the mall; the first sleepover with friends (and all the subsequent sleepovers) and when she traveled to France and Spain with her school mates.

It’s hard to let go – to let her be…herself. I want to hold on to her longer – to be the little girl who looked at me with a Cheshire cat smile when she was up to something (and she still does). Or in the morning when I’d wake up and find her sleeping on the floor next to me with her pillow and blanket – a safer place to sleep when a nightmare would wake her up. On the other hand, I know I have to let go and allow her to be the lovely young woman she is. It’s time for her next adventure.

This is her journey. She chose her path. She chose me as her mom for this life’s journey. She is mine to borrow. But her life is her own. It always has been. We were brought together to love and learn lessons. I feel that in this life, she is teaching me to let go.

But, I’ll be calling all archangels and angels to watch over her as I drive home the day I drop her off at college. Maybe I’ll drive to the mall first…then go home.