The Power of Visualization, Part II: The Power of Making It Happen

When I was in my late 20s, I had fleeting visions of wanting educational degrees, in particular, a Ph.D. I say fleeting because I was raising a family and there was no way I could be on a college campus, let alone have a way to pay for it. This was the time period before affordable computers for individuals and before the Internet became public.

It was an idea so far out of my reach that it was an impossible dream. At that time, my education consisted of an executive secretarial certification from a business university—one where I would later in life find a career as a teacher. An irony not lost on me.

On June 29, 2013, at the age of 62, I walked across the stage and was hooded for a Ph.D. I was an English professor, overseeing two campuses at the time. In earlier years, I’d overseen three different locations, spending a lot of time traveling, in addition to teaching, and overseeing a dozen or so adjuncts at these locations.

It was my employer who had propelled me toward the degree and had paid for its tuition. How could I not want to achieve that goal with that kind of help? It was a win-win for me and for them. In exchange, I couldn’t leave their employment for five years, a price I was willing to pay.

Now that I had the Ph.D., along with my MFA, I felt secure in my career, and the university wanted me to publish. The problem was I wanted to focus on both creative writing and academic writing but I didn’t have time for both. I had to choose.

My gut told me to go with creative writing, and it was my first choice, but would the university agree? After a brief discussion, my supervisor agreed with me, saying the MFA and my previous publications created a more natural path for me. She supported me in that decision.

Life events kept getting in the way of doing that writing, however. After being involved in a 22-car pile up on the highway while traveling from one campus to another, I sent a request out into the Universe. My request was, I want writing time but where I’m allowed to live comfortably enough without horrific sacrifice.

It was late fall 2014 when I made that request.

As was happening with many colleges and universities, student enrollment was dropping and had been every year for several years. Fewer classes got offered. I watched as an organizational restructuring took place. I’d seen it happen a few times in my twelve-year employment with them and with every restructure, jobs would disappear.

The last big restructuring had taken place a few years earlier where they shut down several of the smallest campuses. We knew the Battle Creek campus would be next, and then our Kalamazoo campus after that.

Those campuses residing in community college environments were becoming partners with those community colleges. We could see the writing on the wall for Kalamazoo. By late spring 2015, we figured we had only a year left. As summer progressed, we were confident we’d be closed at the winter Christmas break. We were prepared.

Late June 2015, a meeting with all the senior administration occurred. Not usual for that time of year as we prepared for another year. A couple times a year such meetings would take place. We figured this would be the talk for the winter closing.

What some of us didn’t know is that day would be our last.

I was taken into a room with a senior human resource official. I was informed that I was being let go as they were shutting down our campus for all classes that fall. The core administrative staff was moving to another location and classes would be held on the community college campus. We were six weeks away from classes starting. When I left the room, I would have 10 minutes to gather my things and could arrange to come back later to collect anything else.

I sat there, in my usual stoic manner, thinking it all through.

I wasn’t stunned at all. Just merely surprised that we hadn’t guessed correctly.

And then I realized. I had asked for this. I said the words aloud. The HR official’s expression was one of surprise. Great surprise. “You’re not angry?”

“How can I be when I asked for this?” I told her of my fall request, saying this was the Universe answering that request. She was astonished and I could tell that she was also relieved that she wasn’t having to deal with anger, resentment, or frustration.

The good news was my Ph.D. was free and clear of any indebtedness. A big win for me.

As I collected my things, I wondered what I was going to do. Where I was going to live? How I would support myself until I could officially retire, something I didn’t want to do until I turned 66.

That’s when I heard my little voice say, Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be okay.

Having trusted that little voice in the past, I knew it spoke a truth that I couldn’t comprehend yet.

In the coming months, I was to find out.

Stay tuned for “The Power of Visualization, Part III.

The Power of Visualization, Part I: The Power of Making It Happen

Yesterday, I traveled to Holland to meet with a friend, a former co-worker who I haven’t seen in a couple years. The visit felt like we had seen each other just last week. I love those friendships I have where the bonds are as strong as ever despite the many years between visits.

Two items on my relatively short bucket list are 1) to see a bald eagle in the wild, and 2) see a moose in the wild. For the later, it’ll take a trip to the Upper Peninsula or to Maine where I’d love to do a fall color tour since I’ve never been to that state. But for number one, I knew that the bird had returned to Michigan. I’ve been hoping…

As I was headed to Kalamazoo on 1-94 on my way to Saugatuck to visit my all-time favorite new age store, Mother Moon, before going to Holland, I decided to drive through Fennville, a small community in the middle of nowhere and which has a great winery. Out loud I added, “And wouldn’t it be nice to see a bald eagle there?”

I was enjoying the green foliage on the trees, being able to take my time as I drove in the shaded highway. I noticed lots of blossoming spirea plants, wondering how I could possibly plant one or two at my rental, knowing I couldn’t because they get so big. It brought back memories of being on the farm and the row of blossoming spirea every spring on our property, how it would look like it had snowed on the hedge.

Spirea

I turned from 40 onto 89, a straight-line of highway that would take me through Fennville over to 31. Not a cloud in the sky. The shaded forests on either side of the road diminished as I began approaching the town.

I looked up and there it was. A bald eagle overhead, soaring in a wide circle, wings spread wide. That pure white head impossible to miss.

bald eagle

I felt as if I had manifested its appearance, that the Universe heard my request and granted it.

So, why haven’t I been able to see an eagle before now? Because I never said when or where I would like to see one. I was specific this time, plus I was in the perfect place where apparently this bird resides, and I was there at the perfect time.

Any other time I’ve talked about wanting to see an eagle in the wild, I’ve been in my house, at my computer or on the phone. Impossible to see one through a ceiling, right?

This isn’t the first time, I’ve drawn something I desired toward me. I wrote about “The Winter Coat” in a blog here five years ago.

A few years ago, I wrote the blog, “Writing Down the Words: Making Magic Happen.” The coat was about imagining my vision as true. This second blog was about imagining the words as true.

And then three years ago when my job disappeared…wait, what? I haven’t told you about that desire that came about unexpectedly and in the most unusual way?

That’s my next blog. Part II. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

The Circle Crows Event

Crows and ravens are birds of high interest to me. They’re attached to mystery, death, darkness both of night and of the psyche. These birds are extremely clever, intelligent birds who like to collect objects, the shinier the better. Science has shown that they recognize humans as individuals.

Crows and ravens are totem birds for me. As I learned about totems, it was the bald eagle that was my first totem bird. The crows and ravens came later and are still currently part of my totem clan.

Because they are important to me, I pay attention whenever I hear a caw or croak as to where am I, what am I doing, or what are they doing, and how many are there at the time as numbers have meaning, as well.  These birds are usually solitary creatures but when they are together, there’s a specific reason why.

  • They are considered messengers in many cultures and often as messengers of a future event.
  • They are the guardians of their area: they will sound off seeing someone or something new nearby, as they watch from the tops of trees or building rooftops.

Recently, I was in the process of closing my step-father’s house, removing the last of the furniture and any remaining personal items. The house was for sale and we were close to getting an offer.  My step-father who is 89 had been born in the house and lived in it his entire life, except for the few years when he was in the service during the Korean War and when living with his first wife, to whom he was married for only two years. When he and my mother married, she would move in with him, but their marriage would last only five years. They were still friends when my mother died.

I had hired a team—a middle-aged woman and an old man, as they called themselves—who were moving his goods to an auction house, where everything would be sold.

Halfway through the move, we noticed birds circling above the house. They were crows, quietly circling at the height of about two tall trees. They weren’t cawing, but I could tell they were crows by their silhouette. There were about two dozen of them. Immediately, I had goosebumps.

For forty-five minutes they circled. Continuously. Every time we came out of the house, we looked up and there they were.

We came out of the house for the last time. The two movers carried that last load to their trailer parked out by the street.

I locked the door, shut the screen, and walked out from under the porch canopy and looked up.

The crows were gone.

Goosebumps popped up on my arms and along my spine. I’d never seen crows circling like that before or for that length of time. Nor had I ever seen that many in one place, acting as one.

Suddenly, I realized that they had been signifying the end of an era for my step-father and signifying a new beginning for a future buyer.

As I walked to my car, I realized their circle had represented the ever circle of life.

The Magic of Plants

The Magic of Plants

Once upon a time, in the world of big corporation and cubical landscapes, there was this small, dry, forgotten palm.  It stood only about six inches high and was near death.  Its owner had vacated the premises and apparently stuck the plant on the windowsill, which was accelerating its death due to continual bright, direct sun all day long and no water.

I took pity on it and took it home.

Conditions at home were just the opposite.  A small apartment that received minimum indirect daylight, as the windows faced east and the shades shut while I was at work.  That meant light only came into the room on the weekends.

Miraculously, the plant survived.  It must have liked the bigger pot,  better soil, and cooler temps.  Plus, I was talking to it and watering it regularly.  Somewhere, I had read that plants liked being talk to.  Something about breathing in our carbon dioxide exhaling breaths.  Since it exhaled oxygen, we were a good match.

I lived in that apartment for several years and the plant grew slowly.  Surprisingly, the plant blossomed a couple times, despite the darkness.

Then, I moved to a spacious modular, a.k.a. double-wide mobile home.

Spacious with many windows, at the opposite end of the front door was an enormous kitchen and a sliding glass door that led to a small porch that butted up against the trees.  Even when the vertical blinds were closed, the kitchen was still filled with light.  The plant thrived there.

Other than my watering it regularly, we shared quarters for a year.  During that time, I repotted him, giving its roots more room.  It blossomed again that year.  I began calling him Hank, sometimes Buddy.

Then I moved to small apartment again in another community, but this apartment had a sliding glass door that led to a small cement pad porch.  This time, my light came from the northwest, more north than west, but even with the shades drawn, which was most of the time while I was at work, there was ample light.

Even during the winter, if the sun was out, the room captured rays of the setting sun, even more during summer, particularly where Hank was positioned.  Additionally, he sat next to maple armoire, which reflected the heat with additional heat seeping through the armoire wall next to Hank, due to the TV and stereo equipment when turned on.

Hank thrived, despite the long days with drawn shades.  For the first couple of years, several times each year, the plant produced new fronds and blossomed multiple times.  I’d talk to it as I pruned off the lower dead leaves that appeared on occasion, telling him I was doing it for its own good.  I sensed that he believed me.  Then, he began sprouting new leaves every other month and blossoming even more during the year.

When I got a treadmill, to make room, I slid the plant closer to my writing desk.  It wasn’t long before  Hank 2012his leaves began to mingle with the leaves of my work, the books, and manuscripts.  Anytime I had to move him away from my desk, I sensed that he was unhappy.

So for the bulk of the twelve years I lived in that apartment, he thrived, turning into a blustered four-foot tall palm whose width filled the non-opening side of that sliding glass door.

And then, I’ve moved again.  Hank moved into the new apartment, in another new community a month before me.  His job was to clean up the air due to new carpet installation, the smell which I was allergic to.

He did his job well.  I placed him in the bedroom, where the brightest light appeared despite the closed blinds 24/7.  While he was helping me clean the air, I suspect the air was a bit toxic for him, too.

About a month after I moved in, I noticed the lower leaves were turning yellow.  I realized, too, that the water was different.  Not to mention having moved in the middle of winter.

Lots of changes for a creature that prefers gradual changes rather than lots of sudden to its surroundings.

I think its isolation in the bedroom was a tad depressing, once I moved in.  I was out in the living room all day, writing.  I could hear him expressing that he wanted to be near me again during the day.

For a while, he sat close to the big window, capturing the sun’s vibrant energy as the blinds are open all day.  But now, he’s back near my desk, once again his leaves touching mine.

He’s starting to get new leaves again, so he must be happy.  I’ll know it’s true once the blossoms appear again.  Today, Hank is easily five-foot tall and wider than ever, almost too big for my 520- square-foot apartment, but I won’t part with it, as he’s part of my family.

Some people have cats, dogs, or birds.  I have a plant.  I’m a nature person.  I need trees and plants around me.

More than one tree, shrub, or plant has communicated with me in my lifetime and more do so every day.  Having read The Secret Life of Plants: a Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man (1989) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird years ago, I can’t wait to read about The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate Discovers from a Secret World (2016) by Peter Wohlleben and Tim Flannery that comes out this fall.  It’s always nice when science proves what I’ve known for some time.

My happily ever after?  Hank is thriving, I have a flower bed again, thanks to my daughter and grandson, and I can enjoy the beautiful red maple tree outside my front door.

As the plants thrive, so do I.

Toying with me . . .

The other night, about 11:30 p.m., after another long day of learning as I was working on a new major writing project, I came across a photo of a storyboard that was now missing.

Diana's plotting board

Seeing the picture of Post-Its on the storyboard, I hungered after those little squares, needing them for my newest project where I was stalled.  Those squares represented a night’s worth of plotting and planning from years ago, and they were needed for this new project that has an upcoming deadline.  I really didn’t want to have to reinvent this story again.

Looking at that picture, I began making promises with the Universe that if I could find this storyboard, I would do this and I would do that the following day.  This and that being items that had little to do with my writing, and which I’d been procrastinating about.

You have to realize that two weeks earlier, I had spent two entire days tearing this place part—more like re-organizing everything—trying to find this storyboard, or thinking I had taking the Post-Its off the board, the sheet(s) of paper where the Post-Its could now reside.

I even went through all my storyboards.

This particular storyboard was missing from the pile.  In fact, I pulled out all the storyboards from behind the always-opened utility room door where I kept them and stacked them in the living room where I could work with them later.

So here I was at midnight, having seen this photograph, wanting it back in my possession, and saying to all the entities that reside here with me but on a different vibrational level, “Give me back my storyboard and I’ll do nothing but taxes and cleaning the house tomorrow.  No learning, no playing on my iPad, no reading.  I want it back.  You’ve had your fun.  I want it back.”

Driven by a sudden urge to look behind that utility room door where all the other storyboards had been stashed and were now sitting in my living room, my steps took me to the utility room.

I stood there thinking, no way. 

I pulled on the door.  Resting up against the wall, where the other storyboards had stood, guess what I found.

Yup.

 

Projected Thoughts

Mackinac Island is one of my favorite places in Michigan and the island became more special once I learned that the all-time classical time-travel movie, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed there.  The island is magical in that no automobiles are allowed, except for the fire trucks.  Transportation are bicycles or horse-drawn carts and wagons.  In winter, the 500 or so residents travel by snow mobile.

 

My first summer visit to the island was with my first husband and our two daughters.  We were typical fudgies, staying in the downtown area, taking in all the typical visitor sites, including the fort and a short hike up to the Grand Hotel.  Then, visitors could go inside and look around, and even sit on the porch.  Now visitors have to pay a fee for that privilege if they aren’t staying at the hotel.

 

I visited the island throughout the years, several times, and always with a friend.  Often we would rent bicycles where we would travel around the island and follow all the inland trails.

 

The last time I visited, I fulfilled my bucket-list wish and stayed at the Grand Hotel.  While I couldn’t say much about our view from our room (a back roof), the food was fantastic, with the luxury of sitting on the porch.

 

During our stay, my friend went in search of the labyrinth.  I wanted to sit on the front lawn, where there is a lovely fountain and where the lawn was the location for the Somewhere in Time when the main characters, Richard and Elise, are reunited one last time, breaking the barrier of time.  Several benches sat on the lawn, circling this fountain, and allowing me a view of the famous stairs, leading up to the hotel.

 

I had just sat down, fully enjoying the sounds of the birds and water splashing, when a young boy, about eight or ten, and his grandmother sat on a bench opposite of me.  The grandmother appeared tired, probably looking for a break from this energetic, active child.  He talked constantly to her and she would reply in monosyllables.  Then, he started throwing rocks into the fountain and at the birds, becoming destructive and disregarding nature.

 

I didn’t want to leave, and I was feeling that they were intruding on the loveliness of the landscape.  Minimally, the boy was intruding.

 

Not wanting to leave and wanting the quiet back, I began project thoughts to the boy:  Grandma, I’m bored, I want to leave.  This isn’t fun anymore.  Let’s go.

 

I kept repeating those thoughts, projecting them toward the boy.  Several minutes passed, and lo and behold, I heard the boy say, “Grandma, I’m bored.  Let’s go somewhere else.”

 

Without another word, she rose from the bench, and they held hands as they moved on.

 

The quiet I had been seeking returned.

Randy Aalbregtse – Classmate & Neighbor

His name was Randy.   He was and still is, despite his far-too early death, a beloved classmate.  He was positivity personified, and he always had a smile for everyone.

From second grade through sixth grade, he was my neighbor.

However, we never spoke during that time.  Not once that I recall.  My brother was the same age as his younger brother, Kevin.  There were probably a total of a dozen of us kids in the immediate neighborhood and I would play hide-and-go-seek, baseball, climb trees, and ride bikes with all of them, but Randy never played with us.  Instead, he was always alone with his basketball: dribbling, spinning, jumping and sinking, or tossing from afar.

He would play for hours at a time.  By himself.  Once in a while, in the evening, he and his father, John, would play one-on-one.  There was always a lot of laughter then and John, who was far taller, appeared to block a good number of throws.  But Randy would find ways to skirt around his father and sink the ball with a layup.

I could see Randy playing from my bedroom window, when I was sitting in the yard reading, or when I was roller skating, usually by myself and on the only sidewalk in the neighborhood that ran across one long yard, located on the opposite side of Randy’s house.  It appeared he was as much a loner as I, if not more so.

When my family moved away from the neighborhood, as he and I were entering sixth grade or middle school as it was called then, I don’t recall seeing Randy again until high school.  By then, he was as tall as his father, a thinner version, and all arms and legs.  He played basketball and became one of the best players the school ever had.  Naturally, he hung out with other basketball players, all equally tall and equally enthusiastic about the sport.

I was quiet, never talking with others in the halls but always thinking about the next class, making sure I had my books, my homework, and such.  It wasn’t in my nature to talk to anyone unless they spoke to me first, and even though I would walk by this group of players every day, words were never exchanged.  Plus, I rarely attended extra-curriculum school events.  I was shy.  Extremely shy.

Time passed.  We graduated.  More time passed.  Our class held a few class reunions, some I helped organize, some I didn’t.  I moved away and then returned to the area.  I had become more outgoing and found it easier to start conversations with people, strangers or not.  It was during that time, that reunion, that I had a chance to chat with Randy and his first words seeing me, accompanied with that infectious grin of his, were, “Hi, neighbor.”

Every reunion thereafter, he greeted me the same way.  “Hi, neighbor.”

And then he became sick, but he never missed a reunion.  He attended one with a cane.  The next time was with crutches.  His smile never changed regardless of his declining health.

October 4, 2012

And then he died.  I saw the obituary and wasn’t able to attend his Celebration of Life that a number of our classmates attended, but I thought about him that entire weekend.

A few months passed.

As was my habit, I came home from work, had dinner, then came into my living room combination office, and turned the knob on my floor lamp, to turn it on.

The knob always required a hard twist, as it was stiff and didn’t turn easily.

This night, though, the knob turned easily, too easily.  In fact, the light wouldn’t stay on.  I puzzled over the problem.  No one had been in the apartment.  No one other than me was using the lamp, so what was different?

Carefully, I twisted the knob to on, finally getting the light to come on, and I started to step away.  The light went out.  Over and over, I tried to get the light to stay on.  And every time I had it on and would start to move away, it would go out.  The knob was so loose, it was difficult to find that small range where the light would even come on, as I could spin it back and forth easily trying to search that perfect on position, where the light would say on.

For several nights, this scenario played out.  After about ten minutes, my frustration got the better of me.  I started swearing.  I couldn’t get the light to stay on, no matter what I did.

And then I heard him.  His laugh.  And the word, “neighbor.”

“Randy?”

More laughter.

“You think this is funny, don’t you?”

I could feel his grin.  “Yes!” he responded.

“Okay, you can stay but stop playing with my lamp.”  I reached up to try to turn the light on and discovered that the hard familiar twist had returned.  I tested it several times.  On and off.  On and off.  Each time, I had to twist the knob hard.  (And ever since, the knob has never changed from this hard twist.)

“Thank you,” I told him, but he was gone.  I couldn’t sense him around anymore.  He’d had his fun and I sensed he was off to have fun with someone else, somewhere else.

Move ahead to July 2014—class reunion weekend

As typical of our reunions, we have both a Friday night casual get-together and a more formal reunion on Saturday night with dinner and a band.   For the first time, I attended the Friday night casual get-together.   I had a chance to chat with Roger, a great friend of Randy’s, along with being a former basketball player with him.  During previous reunions, if I saw Randy, Roger was always right there beside him.  On that night, I felt Randy was there, having a grand time seeing so many of the coaches and teachers who were in attendance.

After I dropped off my high school best friend, I drove home thinking about the conversations, the people I had seen, many of whom wouldn’t be in attendance the next evening.

Then, I sensed a presence with me in the car.  I heard, “Tell him.”

“Randy?”

“Tell Roger, this and whitey.”

I couldn’t make out what the this word was, but I saw Randy’s fists together and then moving away from each other.  He kept repeating the motion, but I couldn’t understand what the word was.

Randy relayed a number to me, too, what sounded like 6 or 16.  I couldn’t tell which.  I wanted to look in our old yearbooks to see Randy’s basketball shirt had been numbered, but since I had destroyed my books years ago, my curiosity would have to wait.

“Tell him!  He’ll know that it’s me.  That I’m here.”

“Okay.”

A long time ago, not having given Kathy’s husband a message she wanted delivered, I had vowed never to not give someone a message being delivered from someone on the other side, no matter how silly or ridiculous it could make me appear.

The next night, Saturday, I saw Roger sitting at a table, alone at the moment, so I joined him.  I told him I had a message to give him, from another classmate, but I didn’t say who.

“I’m supposed to tell you this”—I started making the motion with my fists pulling away from each other and returning and being pulled away again, over and over—“and whitey.”  As I kept making the hand motions, I explained, “I can’t think of the word, what the word is supposed to be.”

Roger said, “Stretch?”

“Yes!” I said excitedly.  I knew without a doubt that stretch was the correct word.  It still didn’t make sense to me, but I knew it to be right.  I knew because I could feel Randy’s grin—big and broader than ever before.

“Who is this message coming from?” he asked.

“Randy.”

He looked at me, both puzzled and in wonderment.

“Why? What does stretch mean to you?”

“That was his nickname.  We called him Stretch.”

“So what does whitey mean?”

“That’s what they call me back at Madison, where I teach and coached basketball.”  We just looked at each other.

“He’s here.  He’s here with you,” I told him.  “The message was for you.”

We talked about the numbers, but Roger couldn’t remember what Randy’s jersey number had been back in high school.  He said he would look in his yearbooks, but I’ve not heard, nor could I pull up any pictures of Randy playing, where the jersey number is visible, at least visible enough to read.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever know what these numbers meant to Randy, to Roger, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.

I’d been given a message to transmit, and I had.  Roger admitted he hadn’t been much of a believer of the beyond, but now I’d given him a lot to think about.

Once I was driving home alone, I sensed Randy was with me.  Again, I could tell he was happy knowing that Roger knew that he, Randy, had attempted communication and that they were at the reunion, together again.