Hello from the Other Side

Hello from the Other Side (Nana kissing Liv)

 

My Nana called on Sunday…from the Other Side. Last week, we found her old cell phone in the bottom of a drawer. At age 90, she passed away in the fall of 2014, so the phone obviously no longer has service. But my seven-year-old, Truman, didn’t care; he wanted to pretend the flip phone was his, so we charged it up. He loved showing his neighborhood friends the lit-up screen as he pretended to make calls.

 
That was fun for several days, but on Friday, Tru told me the phone only had 2% battery life left. “It’s gonna die,” he said as he put it on a family room table and happily skipped off to play with something else.

Fast forward to Sunday night. As we (finally!) decorated the Christmas tree, humming along to holiday songs on the iPod, I got all choked up. I’d forgotten that I’d kept Nana’s Swedish flag garlands and as soon as I pulled them out of the box, I could feel her with me so strongly. Putting up her Christmas tree was always an event with Nana; family would gather to decorate as she gave instructions and marveled at the beauty of the twinkling lights, meaningful ornaments and nods to our Swedish ancestry. Nana’s parents both came to the United States from Sweden and she was fiercely proud of her heritage. So, when we were packing up her belongings earlier this year and I saw the Swedish flag garlands, I knew I couldn’t let them go. I needed to hang them on our tree in honor of Nana and our wonderful, extended Swedish family.

As I began to hang the flags for the first time on Sunday night, I was struck by the song that started playing. It was Kristin Chenoweth’s beautiful Home on Christmas Day. Perfect timing. While she sang and I hung Nana’s garlands, my eyes filled with tears…

And now I promise you with all my heart this Christmas
That all the love we shared will never go away
Your spirit’s everywhere and I hope you know
That you are always here, home on Christmas Day

I knew my mom would be touched, so I texted her this picture and told her Nana was here. Then I posted it on Instagram, saying “I promise to take good care of them, Nana. God Jul!”

And that’s when Nana called.

Out of the blue, Brad and I heard a loud digital-sounding song start playing – a happy little jingle we’d never heard before. We looked around, then looked at each other with wide eyes as we noticed it was Nana’s phone. “Umm, I think Nana just called,” he said. He opened the flip phone, but it was dead. Maybe it was powering off, he reasoned – not knowing that it had only 2% battery a full two days before. My heart raced with delight; I knew with every cell in my body that Nana had found a way to reach out with impeccable timing, putting her stamp of approval on our flag-adorned Christmas tree. My mom and I joked that Nana had finally figured out how to use her cell phone (I’m sure they have amazing tech support on the Other Side!). And now, every time I look at our beautiful tree, I feel like Nana decorated it with me.

lightbulb in hand - project light year 2016The holidays can be so hard when we’re missing loved ones who have crossed over. But when we open our hearts to the possibility that they are with us still, lift our vibration to meet theirs, and pay attention to the signs of their presence…magic happens. I have seen it time and time again in my own life and in the gasp-worthy experiences of friends and clients.

This is why I’ve decided to devote all of next year to joyfully exploring and sharing the multitude of ways we are supported, watched and cared for by beloveds in the Great Beyond. Sacred Sign Language is the just-announced theme of Project Light Year 2016. If your heart feels called to know more, find details and early bird pricing here. I would love to spend next year in awe with you.

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(This essay originally appeared in my Divine Interventions newsletter and received such a loving response, I decided to share it here, too.)

Who’s That Girl? Finding My Way Back To Me

I just stumbled upon this photo of me at age four, in front of our white stucco house in Richmond, Indiana. It struck me how my pose is so similar to the one in my current Twitter profile picture. Hunched over, hands on my knees, sporting a blond bob and caught in a moment of pure glee. It got me to thinking about how much of that little girl is part of the woman I am today.

When I was little, I loved singing and performing. I would stand on my backyard swing or our picnic table and perform concerts for an audience of invisible angels. I can still close my eyes today and feel myself out there, wrapped up in joy without a care in the world, singing at the top of my lungs.Later on, I made countless tape recordings of myself as a radio DJ, often roping my little brother into being my co-host (my playlist always included the Pointer Sisters, Juice Newton and Melissa Manchester). Once, I got through on the phone to my favorite radio show, called Kids America, and it was such a huge thrill. {So wild that, years later, I co-hosted a national kids’ morning show at Radio Aahs!}

I had an entrepreneurial spirit from early on, too, whether I was staging backyard plays for the neighborhood or selling sold Girl Scout cookies like nobody’s business. I didn’t worry about rejection or budgets way back then; I just connected with people and excelled at sharing the things I loved.

 

As a child, I was easily dazzled by life. I wanted to make the most of each day. I trusted that I was safe and unconditionally loved. I felt lucky to be in the world. And, as I type those words, I realize that’s what I’m striving to do and be and feel today, so many years later. What I really want to be when I grow up…is the child I once was.

 

{So, what about you? Let’s have a play date ~ tell me who you were and how it influenced who you are!}

Who’s That Girl? Finding My Way Back To Me ~ 03.04.11

I just stumbled upon this photo of me at age four, in front of our white stucco house in Richmond, Indiana. It struck me how my pose is so similar to the one in my current Twitter profile picture. Hunched over, hands on my knees, sporting a blond bob and caught in a moment of pure glee. It got me to thinking about how much of that little girl is part of the woman I am today. 
When I was little, I loved singing and performing. I would stand on my backyard swing or our picnic table and perform concerts for an audience of invisible angels. I can still close my eyes today and feel myself out there, wrapped up in joy without a care in the world, singing at the top of my lungs.

Later on, I made countless tape recordings of myself as a radio DJ, often roping my little brother into being my co-host (my playlist always included the Pointer Sisters, Juice Newton and Melissa Manchester). Once, I got through on the phone to my favorite radio show, called Kids America, and it was such a huge thrill. {So wild that, years later, I co-hosted a national kids’ morning show at Radio Aahs!}

I had an entrepreneurial spirit from early on, too, whether I was staging backyard plays for the neighborhood 
or selling sold Girl Scout cookies like nobody’s business. I didn’t worry about rejection or budgets way back then; I just connected with people and excelled at sharing the things I loved.
As a child, I was easily dazzled by life. I wanted to make the most of each day. I trusted that I was safe and unconditionally loved. I felt lucky to be in the world. And, as I type those words, I realize that’s what I’m striving to do and be and feel today, so many years later. What I really want to be when I grow up…is the child I once was.
{So, what about you? Let’s have a play date ~ tell me who you were and how it influenced who you are!}

Mix It Up A Bit ~ 01.27.11

(new in the shop: i’m a mix tape)
I wish I could hit “rewind” and tell my younger self to save all the mix tapes I created in the 80s and early 90s. I bet they’d be so fun to listen to now, especially since my musical interests were all over the map. 
Don’t judge, but I’m pretty sure those old tapes would have included tracks from the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Bon Jovi, Richard Marx, The Eagles, Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt, Bobby Brown, New Edition, Bette Midler, Tracy Chapman, Nelson, Joan Jett, Enya and Skid Row. Eclectic enough for you?
I know hearing any of the songs that were on those mix tapes would catapult me back to another time and place. It’s amazing to me how music can imprint a moment on my heart and hold it there forever. When I hear Kool & The Gang’s “Cherish,” I can feel myself sitting at the piano in my parents’ bedroom (the only place in our house it would fit!), playing the song for my grandparents over the phone. When I hear “Waiting for a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl, I’m instantly sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s car, daydreaming about my latest crush, before being dropped off at my friend Mary’s house. If I hear Kylie Minogue’s version of “Locomotion,” I can feel myself in a conga line, weaving through the junior high cafeteria during an after-school dance. 
Music is such a powerful connector and influence, present in our lives even when we’re not fully aware of it. Do you have memories from years gone by that come to mind when you hear a certain song? Would your mix tape have included any musicians more embarrassing than the ones on my list? I seriously doubt it…but try me! ;o) 
P.S. I hope kids everywhere are playing this song over and over on their iPods. It’s new from Pink; whenever I hear it on the radio, I get a little choked up. 

Mix It Up A Bit ~ 01.27.11

(new in the shop: i’m a mix tape)
I wish I could hit “rewind” and tell my younger self to save all the mix tapes I created in the 80s and early 90s. I bet they’d be so fun to listen to now, especially since my musical interests were all over the map. 
Don’t judge, but I’m pretty sure those old tapes would have included tracks from the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Bon Jovi, Richard Marx, The Eagles, Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt, Bobby Brown, New Edition, Bette Midler, Tracy Chapman, Nelson, Joan Jett, Enya and Skid Row. Eclectic enough for you?
I know hearing any of the songs that were on those mix tapes would catapult me back to another time and place. It’s amazing to me how music can imprint a moment on my heart and hold it there forever. When I hear Kool & The Gang’s “Cherish,” I can feel myself sitting at the piano in my parents’ bedroom (the only place in our house it would fit!), playing the song for my grandparents over the phone. When I hear “Waiting for a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl, I’m instantly sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s car, daydreaming about my latest crush, before being dropped off at my friend Mary’s house. If I hear Kylie Minogue’s version of “Locomotion,” I can feel myself in a conga line, weaving through the junior high cafeteria during an after-school dance. 
Music is such a powerful connector and influence, present in our lives even when we’re not fully aware of it. Do you have memories from years gone by that come to mind when you hear a certain song? Would your mix tape have included any musicians more embarrassing than the ones on my list? I seriously doubt it…but try me! ;o) 
P.S. I hope kids everywhere are playing this song over and over on their iPods. It’s new from Pink; whenever I hear it on the radio, I get a little choked up. 

12.19.10: Choosing To Strike a Pose

I love photo booths! I’ve noticed them popping up at weddings and special events over the past few years. As you wait in line, it’s a hoot to watch people’s feet below the curtain…fidgeting, crossing legs, uncrossing…and hear the giggles from inside the booth.

Plus, you capture a moment in time you wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t usually take a camera to weddings and I have very few pics of my hubby and I actually looking spiffy. Most of our photos together include ball caps, jeans, stains on someone’s shirt, crossed eyes or kids hanging off of us.

The photo booth shots on the left are from Kim & Tim’s wedding in 2007. I was pregnant with our littlest munchkin. And holy moly – my hair was so short!


This next one is my favorite. It’s from Alexis and Angel’s wedding earlier this year. They didn’t just have a photo booth, but an actual set – a big draped sheet, lighting and silly costumes. I have no clue what look we were going for here, but it’s a pretty perfect representation of us – goofy, dorky and looking at the world through heart-shaped glasses.

Our seven-year-old practically moved into the photo booth at Kristen and Brian’s wedding in July. We thought he was playing with his cousins; turns out he was monopolizing the photo booth and we have a ridiculous amount of photo strips to show for it! Truth be told, I totally love that he took so many – they capture his personality and it’s quite obvious we’re raising a total ham.


Last night, we went to the holiday party for Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns the radio stations we both work for. It’s such a lovely, glitzy company party (and the loudest! imagine a few hundred broadcasters in one room!). For the first time, they had a photo booth outside the ballroom. We decided on our poses beforehand: serious, kissing and smiling. Well, apparently my husband thought “serious” meant “so angry I might kill someone.” Look at him! Sheesh. We had a good laugh about that top one and it was so fun comparing pictures with our friends at the party.

Wonder how much it would cost to just have a photo booth installed in our house? 🙂

12.19.10: Choosing To Strike a Pose

I love photo booths! I’ve noticed them popping up at weddings and special events over the past few years. As you wait in line, it’s a hoot to watch people’s feet below the curtain…fidgeting, crossing legs, uncrossing…and hear the giggles from inside the booth.

Plus, you capture a moment in time you wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t usually take a camera to weddings and I have very few pics of my hubby and I actually looking spiffy. Most of our photos together include ball caps, jeans, stains on someone’s shirt, crossed eyes or kids hanging off of us.

The photo booth shots on the left are from Kim & Tim’s wedding in 2007. I was pregnant with our littlest munchkin. And holy moly – my hair was so short!


This next one is my favorite. It’s from Alexis and Angel’s wedding earlier this year. They didn’t just have a photo booth, but an actual set – a big draped sheet, lighting and silly costumes. I have no clue what look we were going for here, but it’s a pretty perfect representation of us – goofy, dorky and looking at the world through heart-shaped glasses.

Our seven-year-old practically moved into the photo booth at Kristen and Brian’s wedding in July. We thought he was playing with his cousins; turns out he was monopolizing the photo booth and we have a ridiculous amount of photo strips to show for it! Truth be told, I totally love that he took so many – they capture his personality and it’s quite obvious we’re raising a total ham.


Last night, we went to the holiday party for Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns the radio stations we both work for. It’s such a lovely, glitzy company party (and the loudest! imagine a few hundred broadcasters in one room!). For the first time, they had a photo booth outside the ballroom. We decided on our poses beforehand: serious, kissing and smiling. Well, apparently my husband thought “serious” meant “so angry I might kill someone.” Look at him! Sheesh. We had a good laugh about that top one and it was so fun comparing pictures with our friends at the party.

Wonder how much it would cost to just have a photo booth installed in our house? 🙂

11.27.10: Choosing To Be Real – Now & Then

25th Reunion 
by Linda Pastran
We come to hear the endings
of all the stories
in our anthology
of false starts:
how the girl who seemed
as hard as nails
was hammered
into shape;
how the athletes ran
out of races;
how under the skin
our skulls rise
to the surface
like rocks in the bed
of a drying stream.
Look! We have all
turned into
ourselves.
My mom forwarded me this poem yesterday 
from the daily email she gets from The Writer’s Almanac.
She knew it would hold special meaning for me, I’m sure,
since I’d just reunited with some of my closest friends from high school.
What struck me about this poem is how true it is in most cases of old friend reunions,
yet how far from the truth it is in this particular instance.
I think I could have told you way back then,
when little things seemed like big things
and the future felt like a far-off fantasy land,
who these four friends would wind up becoming.
Because nobody really hid who they were.
There are no football stars or homecoming queens here. 
This batch of buddies consists of big dreamers. 
Hard workers. 
Creative spirits. 
Smart and silly. 
Kind-hearted and quirky.
Had someone given me a crystal ball back then,
I would not have been surprised to see our somedays.
Jeff A. is slaying dragons and building bridges in Hollywood.
Kelly still cries and snorts when she laughs about nothing and everything.
Jeff D. still wears a heart of gold on his nicely-pressed sleeve.
Lei is still an adorably goofy genius.
And I gleefully still get to call them friends,
whether they’re near or far.
What a relief it was to sit together around a table again,
just like lunchtime in the St. Louis Park high school cafeteria,
knowing everything’s changed
yet everyone’s the same.

11.27.10: Choosing To Be Real – Now & Then

25th Reunion 
by Linda Pastran
We come to hear the endings
of all the stories
in our anthology
of false starts:
how the girl who seemed
as hard as nails
was hammered
into shape;
how the athletes ran
out of races;
how under the skin
our skulls rise
to the surface
like rocks in the bed
of a drying stream.
Look! We have all
turned into
ourselves.
My mom forwarded me this poem yesterday 
from the daily email she gets from The Writer’s Almanac.
She knew it would hold special meaning for me, I’m sure,
since I’d just reunited with some of my closest friends from high school.
What struck me about this poem is how true it is in most cases of old friend reunions,
yet how far from the truth it is in this particular instance.
I think I could have told you way back then,
when little things seemed like big things
and the future felt like a far-off fantasy land,
who these four friends would wind up becoming.
Because nobody really hid who they were.
There are no football stars or homecoming queens here. 
This batch of buddies consists of big dreamers. 
Hard workers. 
Creative spirits. 
Smart and silly. 
Kind-hearted and quirky.
Had someone given me a crystal ball back then,
I would not have been surprised to see our somedays.
Jeff A. is slaying dragons and building bridges in Hollywood.
Kelly still cries and snorts when she laughs about nothing and everything.
Jeff D. still wears a heart of gold on his nicely-pressed sleeve.
Lei is still an adorably goofy genius.
And I gleefully still get to call them friends,
whether they’re near or far.
What a relief it was to sit together around a table again,
just like lunchtime in the St. Louis Park high school cafeteria,
knowing everything’s changed
yet everyone’s the same.

10.26.10: Choosing To Share My Soul Food Recipe


I’ll have what she’s having.
Since posting pics from my weekend adventures in the north woods, 
many of you have expressed a longing to get a taste,
to whip up your own Soul Sister Stew.
So, here’s the recipe.
I trust you’ll guard it with your whole being.

1. Invite a group of women you adore but barely know to drop everything (jobs, kids, pets, worries…) so they can spend five glorious days connecting and creating with each other. Send a colorful invitation via snail mail. Tell them to dress in layers and bring art supplies. Believe it or not, they will all say YES.
2. Make sure to have a planning partner you LOVE whose family has a spectacular family getaway cabin nestled into the rocks and woods along Lake Superior (my remarkable partner in crime sublime was Rachel Awes). Note: pack essentials in advance including wine, chocolate and more wine.


3. Insist on all-natural ingredients such as morning coffee on the deck in your PJs (polka dot, stripes, whatever you’ve got), rich and real conversations, and the freedom for everyone to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. 
4. Add several walks to the mix. Climb the rocks. Stroll to the yarn store. Continue to the candy shop. Waddle home. 
5. Slowly stir in some peaceful alone time. Aimee (whom I’m convinced is a superhero in disguise) found her sweet spot on the deck with a beer and a journal…while Lori (the absolute perfect mix of sweet, smart and silly) made Lake Superior her reflecting pool.  
6. Sprinkle in one-on-one connections whenever possible. I’ll never forget the hysterical laughter between me and Carissa (who refuses to admit she’s a real-life fairy) as we tried to take a photo of ourselves along the rocks. Your stew will begin bubbling and your eyes will start sparkling with each connection you make.
7. Include some spicy and salty ingredients. Susie gave every conversation an extra kick with her dry sense of humor and stories of her amazing world travels (she literally started one conversation by saying, “once when I was on a banana boat in the Black Sea…”). Though super-sweet, Kolleen added plenty of salt and sass (not to mention great music selections packed in her leopard print suitcase). For much of the time, her mind was in the gutter, down the sewer and out to sea…and we loved it. 
8. Take pictures. Of anything. And everything. Take pictures of people taking pictures. This is photo-phenom Jen, who also taught us how to bind our own books. And made coffee cake for us from scratch. She can also make soap. And knit a skirt. And probably fly a plane, for all I know. 
9. Include generous amounts of love in your stew: give hugs, hand out compliments, kiss foreheads, hold hands, write love notes, whisper sweet nothings, swoon, dance together, listen closely, celebrate each other. 
(beauty art by rachel)
10. While letting your stew simmer, lose yourself and find yourself in creativity. Bead bracelets. Bind books. Create inky tags. Play with words. Stamp stuff. Try new tools and techniques. Sew. Doodle. Noodle. Some of my favorite moments were spent as a group in near-silence, all huddled around a red cloth-covered table, focused on our own projects. The table was a huge, beautiful mess of wires and beads, paints and brushes, ink pads and stamps, pencils and paper. Heaven. 
art by lori
11. Add heaping scoops of thanks. I love this snapshot of Carissa in a moment of pure glee and gratitude. And this sweet artwork by Lori that pretty much says it all (thankful for circles of beautiful women, opening hearts, bursts of laughter, sharing dreams, feeling at home. pretty wonderful.) I pinched myself so many times, I think I came home with bruises! I tried to be present, to soak it all up, to frequently thank the powers that be for making this dream come true. 
13. Cherish your leftovers. During our getaway, I felt so full I was ready to burst. After everyone caught their planes and went their separate ways, I felt a bit empty yesterday. Thrilled to be back with my boys, but missing my girls. Then I realized I had leftovers! Souvenirs from our shop-hopping, fab photos to flip through, handmade gifts from talented women, emails and blogs to read. These leftovers will last a lifetime…or at least until we make another batch of stew.