Dream Guidance

I had a dream on Friday and found my house on Sunday. Here is how it went.

In the first part of my dream I met a man who showed me a house with a room for rent. He was kind and I thought I could live there, although it was not entirely comfortable. It was night and I could smell the sea at a distance. Then he took me through a dark tunnel and into another house. This one was empty and I knew for sure I wanted to live there. The man told me there was no electricity in the house, but I didn’t care. There were six cherubs that played in the room with me. They had short curly white hair and I held them on my lap and against my heart. Then I woke up. 

On Saturday I drove to Ojai and looked at a room offered for rent by a gifted artist. I liked the woman and could have lived there, but in the end, was uncomfortable with the idea of living in another person’s house. I had arranged to see a studio, but it could not be viewed until the next day, so I needed to stay overnight. (The dark tunnel that led to the second house.)

When I arrived and saw the grounds and the studio, I knew I had found my home. The landlady told me there was no stove in the unit, only a microwave, (There is no electricity) but I didn’t care. I rented it anyway.  It’s a start, a classy place, even through its small.  

There is a sculpture garden in the back with small figures cast in white marble (my cherubs) and is only eight miles from the sea. I can not move in until September first, but have officially landed. Insert the Halleluiah Chorus here!  

Now that the house is established, I am waking with visions for my work, much needed creative ideas about putting more joy into the experience and less sense of duty. So there you go. I found my place – or was led to it. Things are happening here, good things, which I thought I’d better share right away, since my last post was a tad raw. Thanks to all of you who have given me encouragement through this trying time. It means a lot.

Universal Compassion


Saturday was a dreary pouring-down-rain Oregon day. Lunch with a friend was canceled because she had a cold. The flu is settling over the city as damp, moist and wet find lodging in the lungs of local residents. In search of an alternative plan, I drove to the downtown library and climbed those majestic marble stairs to the top floor, where monks from a monastery in South India were making a sand mandala. It was so exciting to see the entire lobby festooned with prayer flags, a large picture of the Dalai Lama and the rich burgundy of the monk’s robes. Music enriched the space as children busied themselves filling in duplicate mandalas with crayons. Adults stood enraptured and awestruck at the artistic mastery before them.  

I stood inches from a monk who rasped a metal funnel, releasing finely colored grains of sand into a four foot creation of universal compassion. The concentration and focus on his work was total and complete. I noticed other monks along the wall and decided to visit, being drawn by their open-hearted smiles. I was having quite a conversation about Tibetan art and their tour through the United States, enjoying a complete sense of grace in their presence, when I began to realize they couldn’t understand a word I was saying.  I grinned and walked away, grateful for the moment.

Thirty years ago I had a meditation teacher on a ten day retreat who left a similar impression. She’d been the only survivor in a room of one hundred people after a bomb dropped. When I sat with her, everything became more pronounced. I could see the air, leaves on trees lit with life, exploding in shades of vibrant green; the wind between us seemed tangible. That was the feeling I got in the presence of the monks today. I wanted to crawl in their suitcase and spend time in Tibet. 

They were visiting from the Drepung Loseling Phukhang Monastery (if you can pronounce that, you’re a better person than I am) finishing in Portland today, with a consecration ceremony, then on to La Verkin, Utah. The mandala will be swept away after 21 hours of devoted work, to symbolize impermanence, then placed in the river to send healing energy throughout the world. It is said that wherever a sand mandala is created, all beings and the surrounding environment are blessed, and whoever views it experiences peace and joy in their hearts.

“The colorfulness and harmony of the millions of sand particles in the mandala gives a powerful message that we all can live in peace if each of us work to create a little more space for others in our hearts. Children in particular receive a very positive imprint which will later germinate as sprouts of peace.”


The Indigenous Council of 13 Grandmothers

Grandmother Maria Alice will be speaking in Portland this month on November 23. She is part of the Indigenous Council of 13 Grandmothers; women who have come from around the world to share ancient healing practices. Last year I went to Sedona with my friend, Dicksie, and sat in council with Grandmother Rita from Alaska, Grandmother Aama from Tibet and Grandmother Mona from the Hopi Nation.

Grandmother Aama used an interpreter, a man from Nepal who traveled with her and translated as she spoke of sisterhood and healing. Aama walked the circle giving each of us a blessing in the fierce way the Nepalese have for invoking the Gods. She stood before me and thumped her wooden prayer beads on my head, heart, shoulders and knees. “Give thanks for joy, give thanks for the pain, it is your chance to grow, give thanks for your life. It is your gift.”

Grandmother Mona was on her homeland in Arizona. She beat the drum, called the spirits from the four directions and burned sweet grass and sage.

“When a Hopi person is ill,” Mona said, “and has to go to the doctor, the whole family is expected to be there. Each person is instructed on the role they must play to help the healing process. A person is never expected to go alone because it would be too overwhelming.”  (Sounds just like our medical system, don’t ya think?)

Mona wore a green shawl, print skirt and deerskin moccasins as she spoke of her own healing. “I had a heart problem; the community came together and made a fire. When the coals burned down my husband took a stick and arranged them in the shape of a heart, then bowed before me and waited until he had a vision and feeling about the place in my own heart that was damaged. When he knew, he returned to the heart-shaped coals and added new ones where the weakness had appeared. In that way, my heart problems were cured and I was able to recover my health.”

Grandma Rita was my favorite because she had the same bubbly spirit as the Dalai Lama. She wore a white dress embroidered with ravens and spider webs above fringed leather slippers. Rita could not walk easily or hear well, but danced like a little elf and laughed as she sang native songs with her Alaskan sister. She was sent by plane from Alaska at three years of age to learn English. She returned at six and was given the job of lighting candles beneath the statue of the holy mother for the duration of a thirty-one day religious festival.

“My mother asked me why I wanted to go church so early and I told her I wanted more time with the Holy Mother. Each day as I was lighting the candles I said the same prayer: “Holy Mother, I have come to your world about which I know nothing. Give me those things made for happiness so I may be a blessing in your world, and Mother if you would ask your son Jesus, to ask his father God what I will be when I grow up, than I will find my way in this place. At the end of thirty-one days – you can believe this or not – ” Rita continued, “as I came to light the candles for the last time, I noticed a tear on the forehead of the Holy Mother. I took it in my hands, wiped it on my forehead, over my eyes, across my shoulders and against the soles of my feet. Thank you, I smiled, now I will surely find my way.”  

These women are good examples of living outside the cultural trance of aging, stagnation and limitation. Grandmother Maria Alica will be at the First Unitarian Church November -23 from 7-9.


There are things I can’t change. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to or have not tried. They are just there, sitting in the center of my life like a puzzle with missing pieces, a puzzle I long to complete but can not.

Where are those pieces?  I search everywhere.

Others try to help:

“You can find them in exercise,” I’m told. “Just be in your body more.”

 I swam three days a week for fifty years.

“Maybe if you changed your diet,” another suggests. “The fuel in your body makes all the difference.”

I’ve become an expert on diet but my food remains undigested.

My sister tells me that the answers live in scripture and the beliefs of the church.

I devoted myself as a child, but left when I recognized my essence in those who’d been burned.

I walk. I look. I seek. I meet others who stand in judgment because their puzzle pieces slipped together quickly and easily a long time ago.

I visit therapists, healers and shaman who tell me the pieces are only found inside myself.

I stay alone, meditate, fast, ask, demand, weep and pray. I come to know myself but the pieces are not found.

Maybe the pieces are found in acceptance, acceptance that this lifetime I’ve been given a puzzle I can not complete.

Or perhaps those empty places are not missing after all.

What if the emptiness ‘is’ the gift, a sweet on-going torment of desire designed to open consciousness, like the allowing of space that permits a piece of music to breathe.

The wound is endless and forever, the price of being human. The Dalai Lama tells us we must stay in the world, not go away from it, so I continually pull myself up and out of longing, remembering the grace I’ve come to share.  

How to Remember Your Dreams

lake boat

(From the Reader’s Choice blog  www.yorkshire-press.com.  
Come by. Ask a question or join the discussion. We’d love to hear from you.)
Dear Karen,

Do you have any recommendations regarding some ways to help remember dreams? I am trying to keep a dream journal but I can’t hold on to them long enough to write them down.

Thanks so much! Summer

I think it’s amazing how we shift realities every night and everyone just takes it for granted. We dress for it, and buy comfortable beds to lie on, so our spirits can leave our bodies to dump out the old, learn new things, rest, recover and regenerate. If we don’t do it – we die. Think about it! That’s amazing. You’re saying, I want to remember where I go and what I do. I want to receive guidance from that place so I can have conscious contact, well good for you! If you are longing for it, my guess is that your spirit wants to be more awake in both places. Dreaming is the veil between realities. If you are strongly focused and centered in this one, dreams seem more distant and a little harder to catch.

First, make a decision to remember. Tell yourself when you close your eyes, that you want to remember your dreams, but don’t say it to your head. Breathe into your center and leave your request in your heart. Then have paper and pen by your bed, have them open and ready, so you can begin to write as soon as you feel yourself in the territory between sleep and waking. Write anything you have in your mind, write before you are fully awake, catch a feeling, a color or a vague scene. Don’t judge or censor anything, just spill it out. If you can begin to pull through small pieces, more will follow. It’s like fishing; you get a few nibbles and write those down, then one morning the whole fish shows up.

I’ve read that getting to bed late and being sleep deprived can interfere. I also think alcohol in the evenings can get in the way of remembering. However, I believe that if your spirit wants to speak with you and that’s an acceptable way for you to listen, that it will find a way to be heard – no matter what.

I used to fast every January with the intention of inviting the dream spirits, as a kind of vision quest. They will always come when you make that kind of offering. Fasting will take you into that realm rapidly and you’ll have vivid dreams that are full of guidance within days. Happy Fishing!

Ram Dass


monksI first saw Ram Dass in the late 70’s, when he came to Ohio State University to speak about his trip to India and the ways it transformed his consciousness and character. He spoke about his time as a Harvard Professor, his friendship with Timothy Leary and finding his Hindu teacher.

Everyone is a manisfestation of God, he said, and every moment is of infinite significance.

I had no idea who Ram Dass was and had no expectations. He walked to the center of the stage in flowing robes, closed his eyes and sat quietly for a very long time. It amazed me. How could anyone begin a presentation by sitting down and being quiet?

I was at Ohio State studying dance, theater and women’s literature. I had just finished touring with Hello Dolly and had been well-schooled. Being on stage was about dynamic presentation, articulation, entertainment and projection. How could this guy sit center stage, take a long drink of water and willfully exclude his audience? I was baffled.

He began to talk about consciousness and the freedom in allowing yourself simply to be without doing.

We are human beings, he said, not human doings.

Wow, what would that be like? I was a single mom and the pressures of it made me feel like jumping off the nearest bridge. I got up early each morning; put my son in the child seat on my bike and my daughter on the grown-up seat, while I pedaled standing up. I stopped first at the day care center and later the university. We came home the same way. I worked as a waitress from three until nine, gave all my tips to the babysitter and stayed up past midnight finishing assignments. The next day I did it all again. Easy for him to talk about being and not doing, I thought.

But there was something wonderfully appealing about his gentle spirit, colorful robes and the tranquil glow in his eyes that made me pay attention and want to read his books. A few years later I moved from Ohio to Oregon and decided to try a ten day meditation. I had never done a formal meditation in my life – starting with ten days was not enlightenment, it was pure hell. But I was curious to know who I was beneath my story, history and ingrained beliefs, so I began searching for another way, a way that made sense to me.

What I settled on was sending my kids to their father’s house, while I closed the door to the world and imposed a kind of solitary confinement. I sat and noticed and observed.

When I wanted to bust out of the room, I noticed the feelings, thoughts and sensations around the desire but remained still.

When I wanted to eat food I was not hungry for, I stopped and noticed the desire for comfort, my need to fill my emotional emptiness and soothe the frightened child within.

I spent nearly a month peeling back the layers of my identity, sitting, laughing, crying and writing, looking for and finding the me that was capable of being and not doing. I wanted the personality to ease its fearful grip and allow a glimpse of the divine. I wanted access to the wise woman at my center and was not disappointed.

I saw Ram Dass last night in a documentary called Fierce Grace. He looked vulnerable, frail and broken. He talked about his stroke and what a worthy teacher it was. He cried openly and laughed the same way. The ability to mask his emotions had dissolved; the flow of his language was restricted and withheld. My husband wondered if it hurt his credibility to weep without restraint, but I saw it as one more protective human wall that had collapsed, to further reveal the compassionate spirit within.

Life is a strange and unyielding teacher. Willing or unwilling, we are all her pupils.

Waiting for Mr. Right

autumn-roadWe ate lazily, a sun warmed strawberry bursting with flavor for me, a sip of ginger tea for Kim.

Here he is again, she said, placing the chariot card in the center of my tarot reading.

He is still coming, getting closer.

Kim doesn’t read cards for anyone but me, believing she can’t really do it, but Kim can’t read tarot cards the way Michelangelo can’t paint the Sistine Chapel. Her readings have always been spot-on.

I listened getting a little angry. This guy’s been showing up for the past two years. Whoever he is, he’s taking his good sweet time. I wiped strawberry juice from the corner of my mouth, staining my napkin red. Don’t you think it’s odd he’s been showing up in the cards and not showing up in my life…at all?

She didn’t look up, busy placing a second card against golden patterns of grain on the coffee table. Patience is not your strong point Karen, he’s on his way or the cards wouldn’t be so consistent. You know that, you were my teacher!

The two of pentacles was the next card down, followed by the king, then the lovers. 

Seconds ticked, quiet moments as the cards lit in her eyes, revealed themselves and invited us forward. A gaping stretch of unhurried time.

He holds your dreams, she continued. He’s a traveler, well-educated, confident but weary. Looks like there is an entanglement he needs to free himself from first, perhaps another marriage but the two of pentacles, the change card, means he is close now, very close.

There it was, the image of the snake wearing a golden crown, making a figure eight by holding his tail against a purple and blue background. The word change printed boldly at the bottom.

Do you think he’s only a business man and not a partner? I asked, afraid of the answer.

She didn’t hesitate. No, not just a businessman. He is your husband, this will be good for you. Life changing. 

She drained the last drops of tea from her Staffordshire cup, the one I save just for her, wiped crumbs of chocolate from her lap, rose and carried her dishes to the sink.

My shift at the hosptial starts at 5 tonight, she said gathering her ample purse and notepad. I still have to get Dylan from school, so I’d better be off. 

She flung her arms around my waist, gathering me into her feminine presence, the same loving warmth offered to the babies on the lactation unit more than sixty hours a week.

My readings for Kim have been about working fewer hours, resting and the need to integrate her gifts as a singer and harpist into the fabric of her life. You must do more than work, I lecture through the medium of the cards.

Her readings for me have been about patience and good things coming in career and romance. Success is coming, believe it!

Kim and I have both made strides. I’ve had my man tucked into my life for five years now. He makes me crazy, but we’re well-suited. What does that say about me? I’ve given up my ideas of how marriage should be and have learned to embrace how it is.

 Kim is weaving a tapestry with voice and harp these days, as she becomes a medical music-thanatologist. That means she sings and plays for dying patients and their loved ones. Kim is a saint among us. She consistently turns toward the face of suffering and not away, as she opens her big compassionate heart to all of us lucky enough to know her.

Bird Woman


When the mailman demanded I come outside to receive a package a short breath ago, I found an orange and black thrush on the ground. It was male by its markings and quite dead. I have many floor-to-ceiling windows that birds mistake for an entrance, bang up against and break their necks. I brought him inside for closer examination. What a stunning fellow he was. The name thrush fell short in holding the splendor of his design. His colors looked like a blazing orange sunset against a black sky; the markings on his wings and collar were intricate. He had grace in his countenance even in death, or maybe especially in death. What a gift to hold him in my hands. I will save him for my granddaughter’s afternoon visit, then we’ll walk down the hill together and bury him.

Last year, while walking the library paths, I saw a Canadian goose flaying in the middle of the pond. Other geese were gathered around making a great ruckus. I feared he was caught in fishing line, so I waded knee-deep in February water to see what I could do. No one else was around. The others flew away as I gathered him in my arms without a struggle. He was gasping for air and panicked. I sang to him and lay his head against my shoulder as I walked back along the paths to my car. I was driving him to the vet when I realized his spirit had gone. He was suddenly cold, heavy and without movement. I pulled the car to the side of the road and wept at being too late to help.

Part of me felt I had stolen property from the park and wondered if I should return him, but decided it would only cause bureaucratic confusion, so I drove him home. I had a marketing meeting scheduled, which I had no time to change for. I brought the bird inside and put him in a basket while we did our business. Anthony, my marketing guy, kept looking over at him the whole time. He was having a little trouble concentrating on business with this large dead Canadian goose staring at him for a full hour; the unexpected is part of doing business with Karen. I took his body down the hill and buried it as Anthony’s car pulled out of the drive.

I believe I was a bird in another life. Birds are my people, my tribe, my feathered friends. I stop to collect their bones and feathers whenever I see them.  Others comment on germs and lack of wisdom, but I will always reach for them, because I remember – and because their flight reminds me of the freedom I’ll have once again after I leave this body.

The Fast Track

trees1 I used to do acid once a year, when it was pure and I was open. It felt like kissing the face of God. It elevated me to such a fine place that I was truly one with everything. I never thought of it as a drug. I never approached it that way. For me, it was a point of communion. I took it seriously.

I remember walking in the evening rain in Cambridge. I was barefoot. The rain washed against my face like a lover’s touch. My feet splashed through puddles with the exuberant joy of a ten year old. I had never felt so alive, so present, or so much in the company of all that was divine.

My life had edges around it, but acid removed those.  I  wore my insides on the outside. I was cradled and safe, and led into new awareness’s that beckoned like rainbow colored bubbles, each one their own universe and surprise.

Acid was pure then. I stopped using it when it became laced with less friendly substances. I also stopped because I read that it was the fast track to the face of God, but the visit would be short.  If I really wanted to stay, maybe even set up shop or live there, then I had to learn to meditate. I had to earn my residency.

I have never duplicated those moments, but I remember them tenderly as a place of perspective, enlightenment and grace.

I never tried heroin. My life hung by such a gossamer thread, that I knew it would take me permanently out of this reality, if I opened the door, even a little.

I had a client a few years ago, who was a gifted violinist with the symphony. I tried to help him, to love him, and to hold him here, but heroin held his other hand, and pulled with more weight than I could manage. His death was a sad waste of genius.


texas-rainbowHow does one heal, prosper and thrive? 

How does one enter the core of themselves to discover the light within?

The essential thing is to find the part of you that is already well, always has been and always will be. To do this you need to rise above the personality and the physical to find the wise woman or wise man that lives within, the one who is just visiting this place, and remains unaffected by external events. Find the part of you that is the child of divine energies, and not human ones. That part has the answers you are looking for. Here is an exercise that might help.

Quiet yourself, relax your body, and imagine sending your energy deep into the center of the earth where it can be held. Rest there, release and allow your spirit to be cradled and safe. Next imagine a light that comes from above, a divine light that knows no boundaries. Allow it to penetrate your physical body, moving through and around, allow it to merge with the energy of the earth. Breathe into the place where heaven and earth meet, breathe into the place that knows that your life is sacred and you have everything you need. This is a physical place in your body. Once you find it, you can go back. This is your place of peace, guidance and power. The most important thing is finding it and knowing it is there. 

The first step in healing for my clients is to feel seen, to have another person view the truth of their essence and hold it with respect and appreciation. The next is to understand the place their soul resides and to know how to access it by themselves.  When you have engaged this place, reality shifts and you stop giving power to people and things outside yourself. You know your inner truth to be greater than anything that exists externally, which allows more peace and gratitude. Learning to trust your inner voice is a formidable task because we have a lifetime of conditioning that directs us to do otherwise. I call this listening to the voice of spirit. If you listen, you will hear, maybe not right away, but eventually.

The logical mind is jealous. It says, no way buddy. I’ve been running this show a long time and don’t want to yield. I’ll do everything I can to get you back if you stop listening to me. This part feels threatened by the shift, so an internal dialogue is necessary. The logical mind needs to be reassured that it will not be out the door, it will just be given a supporting role instead of being the ruler on the throne. The voice of logic will come from the personality, your fears, society, and well-intended friends. It takes tremendous faith, courage and trust to wait patiently when guidance tells you one thing and the voices of logic are yelling, Are you out of your mind? It is a process but the pay-off is tremendous.

The planet is demanding we abandon old structures to make room for new growth, however uncomfortable, a new beginning is about to occur. Stay awake and aware. Don’t get locked in distress or focus on endings. Remain fluid. This time may not be easy, but it will be rewarding. Let go of old ways, it is time to allow change.

The Supposed ability

crow-featherSometimes I want to throw this culture right on its ear!

I picked up the dictionary this morning to check the spelling of clairaudience and read: The SUPPOSED ability to perceive and understand sounds from a distance without actually hearing them.

I continued.

Clairvoyance: The SUPPOSED ability to perceive things that are not in sight or that can not be seen. Keen perception and insight.

I looked up mathematician, which is defined as an expert or specialist in mathematics.  Why doesn’t it say a SUPPOSED expert or specialist in the field of mathematics? What a rip!

Thirteen years ago I wrote a memoir. My therapist asked me to do it. Go ahead, she said, write it all down. It will be good for you, give you insight.

And so I did. I took a year and wrote the whole thing out. And you know what she said when she read it? This is excellent. I’d like you to write my memoir when I am ready. Your book could really help people, and would sell if you’d just take the spiritual parts out.

It has taken most of my life to share who I am with people. I have just listed a few of the reasons why.

The fricken dictionary that informs the whole English speaking culture is giving me a bad rap. This is so exhausting. I read a book about a psychic that grew up in a family that supported and encouraged her skills. What a concept.

In March of 1993, my mother’s husband Joe was dying. I was leaving to teach a morning class when I was stopped by the feeling of a spirit voice trying to talk with me. His photo on the mantel was radiating light, so I sat down, closed my eyes and began to listen. I knew he was in the hospital with cancer and taking morphine to endure. I figured he was in too much pain to stay in his body, so he’d come for a visit. Sure enough, when I closed my eyes his face loomed before me. I’m going to die before my birthday he said. I need you to prepare your mother. We visited and I agreed but felt uneasy with the task. As far as my family was concerned, I had never been employed because my healing work did not show up for them; they had no frame of reference for it. This was going to be tricky. I was also a little angry because Joe himself had often said, I don’t believe any of that stuff. It’s not real, none of it! Now he was asking for a favor. The rejection of my core essence has always hurt, but in all fairness, if I was not living with one foot in the spirit world, I would probably not believe it either.

Joe had two weeks before his birthday. I called my mom to see how she was doing , not sure how to bring the subject up. We were talking about Joe’s condition and his unrelenting pain, when she surprised me. Do you get anything about that, she asked? I wondered what she meant. You know, psychically.  I couldn’t believe my ears. As a matter of fact, I have a lot to say about it, because his spirit came to visit and asked me to prepare you for his passing. He is going to go before his birthday but needs you to release him.  You need to tell him it’s okay to move into the light and that you are ready to let him go. He needs to hear that from you. He also wants you to give something he loved and valued away, to move it out of the house. You can decide what that is.

She listened and when we rang off, I felt a sense of personal healing at being allowed a conversation that would have been otherwise impossible. Joe’s birthday was on the 8th and he died on the 3rd. I returned home as requested and stayed close to my mother to comfort her. As usual she did things right, with no detail overlooked. Always stately in her approach to life, the gathering reminded me more of a coronation ceremony for a queen, than a funeral. People greeted her, handed her roses and bowed their respects and regrets, friends were in abundant supply.

That’s the story of Joe, but if old Mr. Webster comes calling, I’m going to make him look up the definition of Eating Crow, (to undergo the humiliation of having to retract a statement, admit an error). I’ll require a few revisions in his reference books.

Puppet Theater

tibetan-girlWhat if the only life you had depended on someone picking you up and taking you out of your box? What if you had no capacity for life on your own, but when you were put in the skilled hands of another, you could bring audiences to tears, cause roaring laughter and see them spring to their feet in appreciation.

We wrote original scripts in a studio just over the river in the state of Washington. As an educational theater company we were the welcome reason children left their classes to experience the wonder of Japanese Bunruku, shadow and hand-rod puppetry. We performed from Oregon to Alaska for children young enough to be mesmerized by the magic of make-believe. 

It was my job to provide movement, character and voices for three or four puppets at a time, while a male touring partner did the others. The children energized the performance with rapt attention, laughter and wild applause. It was exciting to see how completely the children stepped into another reality, accepted it, and became the moment. For example, we had written a show about a coyote getting stuck in a cedar tree, but had to revise the scene when I said as the voice of coyote, I seem to be stuck in this tree. Is there anyone who can help me get out? That line was supposed to announce the entrance of a Native American, but to my surprise three hundred children rose from their seats screaming, I can help you coyote. I’m coming. 

The puppets were nothing more than fiberglass, fabric and wood, limp in my hands, but in front of an audience they were alive and vibrant, as if the truth of them resided solely in shadow. I became their midwife over and over again, birthing them into existence at each appointed moment, than placing them back inside their long coffin-like traveling boxes after each exhausting exposure.

This was a mind-bending experience, and enough to make even the most realistic among us pause. In performance the life of the puppet became legitimate, played out against the darkened room of the stage, while I watched the shadows on the wall, as another reality, another kind of life, played out next to the one we intended. Was this a kind of karma, or gift for those not ready to move fully into life? Was it a skillful birthing of spirit while hiding in illusion, a sort of trying out life before actually showing up? I don’t know. I just know the chills I felt every once in awhile, as I watched it all play out.

Long day at work

seattle-night-skyVendors were handing fresh strawberries to pedestrians on street corners to celebrate the first day of spring, as I wove through busy intersections on my way to work. Ocean air was tangibly fresh and salty, and drew my eyes to the harbor. The pacific skyline was filled with giant orange cranes hoisting containers on and off railroad cars, as tug boats with blue roofs, white framed windows and bright yellow hulls pulled barges in and out of dock. Waterfowl played above the cool waters that lapped against the shore, incoming fog shrouded a distant beach.

I took a short cut through serpentine streets, as they descended through well groomed neighborhoods, past banked rhododendron hedges and white azaleas. Mt Rainier filled the horizon, as I eased into downtown traffic and finally to a parking place.

I was doing readings in a restaurant during happy hour to make extra cash. The uncluttered white walls and subtle curves of the restaurants’ interior had a calming effect. It was unpretentious and relaxed. I made my way to the long bar in the lounge and settled in under sepia toned lights. Happy hour had begun. Cozy wooden tables were already filled with conversation, cocktails and the energy of letting down after a busy day.

I moved to the coat rack and hung up my purple jacket. I wore purple high heeled shoes with a matching skirt, and a green silk blouse. I was in my purple phase. My hair was gathered and twisted away from my face with a decorative hair stick, emerald-like gems cascaded from each ear. I slipped a fake wedding ring on my hand to avoid propositions, and looked around the room to see how many numbers had been placed on tables. I was happy to see I had very few.

My first customer defined the word gentleman. He had white hair, wore a three piece suit, lavender shirt and soft yellow tie. A bright red handkerchief sprang from his left breast pocket. His face was narrow and intelligent, his eyes deep brown. He flashed a smile that was both tender and curious as I walked to his table. Extending my hand, he shifted a glass of white wine between long artistic fingers, until his right hand became free to meet my own. I pulled out a chair and sat across from him.

So, you’re the card reader, he said, My friends have given me amusing reports of your talents. I thought I would see for myself.

Amusing? I questioned.

You seem to have a skill that is insightful and yet based on chance. I understand your readings are accurate. I find that curious, amusing and improbable.

I liked him immediately, and decided to begin reading. You’re a man who has become successful by using your wits, I told him, but I see decisions being made just as often from your heart, a desire to be fair in all things and most importantly, an active intuition. What I do, is not so different from what you do. You define your abilities as hunches or gut feelings, but it is the same wisdom. You are better than most at knowing who to trust, and what deal to back away from. That is not logic, but the feeling that informs wisdom. We operate in the same way, so you must be amusing as well.

Fair enough, he said. Can I buy you a drink?

Music played in the background as the bartender scurried from one customer to the next. I was grateful for the quiet volume of the music, because Saturday night’s bartender preferred a louder variety of popular music and cranked up the sound. On those nights I went home with a headache after screaming my readings above lyrics about a Pink Cadillac.

I don’t drink, I told him. Odd isn’t it? A card reader who works in a bar and doesn’t drink. Thanks anyway.

Are you morally opposed to alcohol?

Not at all. My body just won’t accept it. It makes me feel ill. It’s the same with coffee. I might as well drop acid as drink a cup of coffee.

He smiled, but I could tell that my last remark made him uncomfortable. I was immediately sorry I’d said it. I didn’t want to give him the idea I was a drug head. He was already taking a risk. He looked at me with penetrating deep brown eyes that held such intensity, that I began to wonder who was reading whom.

You are a curiosity to me, he said kindly.

That makes two of us, I replied. I am a curiosity to myself. If you figure me out, let me know. I’d appreciate it.

He laughed and our connection deepened. The waiter came over to see if he wanted more wine, but was waved away.

Alright, he said. Let’s see what information you glean from those astounding cards of yours. He shuffled the deck like a man used to playing poker, then handed them back. I began placing them on the table when he covered my hand to stop me.

You don’t need these cards, do you? he smiled. Can you read for me without them?

Of course, I said, I already have. The cards just make it quick and easy. I like to use them because they give my customers visual images to go away with, which most people remember longer than words. I can do it with or without the cards, I  repeated, which do you prefer?

All right, he said, turn them over. We had entered a contest driven by his curiosity. I turned over The Emperor, the Five of Pentacles and Ten of Pentacles. The symbols on the cards have a way of lighting up for me, so I can understand which aspects of the card holds the most importance. The face of the Emperor filled with light, the cane pictured in the five and the coins of the ten. I began to read:

I see another white haired man in the card of the Emperor, a close friend, someone with fullness of face and a more casual approach to both attire and his work life than you have. You share conservative views and a long history.

My eyes caught the figure of a man, leaning on a crutch in the five of pentacles. He is pictured outside on the street, as if kept away from the good things he desires.

I’m thinking your friend is in poor health right now, and that you are concerned for him. There is respect in the friendship that has been built on years of trust. He is going through a difficult time and you want to help.

My eyes moved to the ten of pentacles, a card filled with money and images of family.

He’s been a friend for so long, you are almost like brothers. I’m thinking that you share a business life, and that you are very affected by his suffering. The cards show recovery and a return to prosperity, so I wouldn’t worry.

He confirmed my reading and sat in silence. I had a sense that he lived alone, while his friend enjoyed both wife and family.

Has your wife died? I asked. He nodded and I felt an accepted loneliness he no longer questioned.  I envisioned him raising from his bed in a well-ordered house, and going into a drawing room, where he sat by the window enjoying strong morning coffee and the New York Times. The table’s companion chair remained empty, as a reminder of his wife’s absence. In the evening I saw him going to a dimly lit study and settling into a leather armchair with a half finished book. The patterns and traces of his life invisibly defined and seized him in a way that had become unnoticed.

We talked casually for a few moments before I excused myself.

I’m sorry for your loss, I said, referring to his wife. He smiled in return, Thank you. I appreicate the information about my friend. I returned his smile knowing that it had not been the information about his friend that had brought comfort, but a sense of being truly seen, heard and understood without judgment. It’s not perdictions we crave, but soul recognition. I collected my fee and moved to the next table.

 I glanced over at the next numbered table and saw a balding man with glasses in a brown cotton shirt, sitting next to a much younger woman. They were draining the last drops of Belgium ale as they pushed back their chairs to leave.

Sorry, they said, as I approached. We’re running late and have decided to move on.

I was glad for the break and headed toward the salad bar to fortify myself for the evening ahead. I was sprinkling blue cheese and olive oil on a plate of greens when Julia walked in.

Oh good, she said, You’re back. I want a reading as soon as you’re done eating. It’s very important.

Julia was a tall thin attorney whose wallet overflowed with hundred dollar bills. She slipped off her white business jacket and settled in a corner table with her friend, Jan. Julia liked white, the way I liked purple. She looked chic and Barbie doll like in linen. Silver bracelets rattled on her right arm, and black and white sling back heels graced her feet. Her best friend, Jan, was her opposite. Jan was tough, liked wearing heavy boots and jeans, chain smoked and rarely smiled. The waiter delivered the usual salt-rimmed margarita to Julia, and a gin and tonic ‘straight up’ to Jan.

Here we go again, I thought, cornering stray pieces of arugula with my fork and hurrying the last traces of salad into my mouth. The bartender inspected a glass in the overhead light, frowned at specks of dust, and polished it clean with a bar towel. He nodded his head in Julia’s direction to indicate that she was my next client, then smiled, knowing how frustrated I felt after reading for her. We shared a moment of silent understanding, before I took my dishes to the clearing cart and went to the table.

Jan never stayed for Julia’s readings, That woman freaks me out!  True to form, she excused herself as I approached, pulled up a nearby stool and settled into more comfortable conversation with the bartender about politics and economics.

She wanted no part of Julia’s “woo- woo – personal growth experience,” and had no idea how someone with a rational mind could believe such non-sense, let alone pay to hear it. The bright flame of her match was replaced by the glow of Jan’s next cigarette, as blue smoke drifted into the air and encircled her head.

            Oh, Karen, Julia said, with positive excitement. I want to read about Karl. I’ve just met him and we have a date this Friday. She held up a picture torn from a magazine of a stocky Lebanese man with olive skin and spiked dark hair. He’s a chef, she continued, a famous chef.

I mentally fortified myself as I sat under the  glow of the wall light and examined her photo. Let’s not read about this guy tonight, I suggested. How is your work going?

She gave me a puzzled look and began fidgeting impatiently with her napkin. I have a big case pending, which you know, and have to travel again next week for another deposition. Work is fine. I want to talk about Karl, she repeated, moving into her forceful attorney mode.

Julia always wanted to talk about the next man, but I could no longer indulge her. She was radiant in her excitement, but my obvious reluctance stopped her in mid-speech.

I can’t do this anymore, I confessed, because the men are not the issue. They’re a diversion. For me to continue reading about each new man is a disservice to both of us. I think you know that.

A look of cold despair crossed her face, an unsettling sense of delusion. She began to lobby me once more. Julia did not allow herself to think of her past, although it festered in the depth of her soul. She wanted to focus on external relationships and staying in control, the very qualities that made her a excellent attorney.

This man is different, she continued. I’m sure he’s the right one.

I was unyielding, knowing from experience that she would become rapidly suspicious, jealous and finally cold toward him in a few short weeks.

When Julia came for her first reading a year ago, I was surprised by her past. She was a frightened child whose mother valued material things and worked excessively to acquire them. Her father had abandoned the family at an early age. In their absence, Julia looked to her uncle to provide the love and connection she needed. When she was in elementary school her uncle disappeared, and she was the one to find his body. He had killed himself a week earliest in a small trailer and the body had decomposed in summer heat. In a moment of unguarded vulnerability, she described the overwhelming smell that came from the trailer, and the sound of buzzing flies that blanketed the screen door.

Julia could not allow love in her life, as much as she craved it, because she believed it would end in abandonment. She knew she could not stand a repeat performance of loss, so she abandoned the men in her life first, before they could abandon her. Her friend, Jan was a reflection of the tough person she wanted to be, but could not achieve.

Julia gave me a ‘what am I paying you for,’ look and continued. Please, just put the cards out. I need to know.

I put the cards away and restated my message, It’s time to address this issue at its core, I said gently. You need a good therapist. You have post traumatic stress, and no man is going to fix that.

But, she continued, if I can’t talk to my psychic about these things, who can I talk to?

A therapist or a shaman, I repeated. This is not for your psychic, Julia. See someone else.  She pushed her chair from the table, paid her tab and went away.  I had no doubt she’d come back another day with the same questions about another man. 

That evening, I did readings about impending legal battles, custody cases, internal political disputes and for a secretary who believed she was being stalked. I even read for a woman persistent enough to have tracked me from the television station to the restaurant.  Her face was especially sad. She wore loose knit clothes over a large framed body and had deep lines in her face that showed years of stress and toil.

As she and I sat together, it became clear that she was looking for future predictions of the National Inquirer type. She’d come for a reading because she wanted her future told, without taking responsibility for anything it might hold. When I repeatedly brought her back to a path of action and accountability, she recoiled. In the end, she threw down her money and left saying, You’re nothing like you were on television!

I smiled to myself as I packed up my things.  I guess that was my worst fear, to have someone tell me I’m horrible at what I do, but because of the painful place that birthed her comment, I didn’t take it in. To be read for, a person needs to be open to being seen, and to the possibility of new thought, which requires the courage to change.

I was relieved to finish work when I packed up my things and headed for the door. My thoughts were racing from the people I had seen and the energies taken in.

tugboatThe lights of Seattle shown on downtown office buildings, as I pushed open the door and stepped outside.  The night air teemed with the wet, green smells of marine life, as I stopped to breath the cool night air, trying to be more present, trying to release the visions and stories I had so intimately held. The bobbing procession of tug boats and fishing fleets were at rest under evening shades of purple and pink, as I cut through alleys that led out of downtown and back up the hill to Mt Baker. I was grateful for my car, but missed visiting the salmonberry, quince and little violets I once walked past on my way to the bus. The lights of downtown faded with each mile I traveled, and the maple lined boulevards skirting Lake Washington rose in the headlights. My little Datsun wound around residential streets until it came to rest in front of my storefront perched at the crest of the hill.

 I held the energies of my clients too strongly to go to sleep, so I went to Rip’s market to pick up the evening paper. Rip and I were visiting about our work days, when a man from the neighborhood burst through the door, pulled a gun from the folds of his jacket and handed it to Rip.  Here, take this, he said. I just shot my wife. Better call the police. 

 Seattle was a city of extremes and it was taking a toll. Some mornings I would stand in a welfare line to receive free rice and cheese, and the same evening dine on pheasant in the wealthy homes of grateful clients on ‘millionaire hill.’ I felt myself being ripped apart by the intensity of Seattle’s urban environment, and decided it was time to move back to Portland.

Boeing Aircraft

sky-bikeEvery year Boeing Aircraft invites psychics to come and read for their employees. The aircraft company is a quick drive south from Seattle on Interstate 5. Acres of new planes can be seen along the freeway, lined up on Boeing field waiting for delivery. Inside the main building, we post our photographs with a brief description of what we offer in the lobby.  Employees pick the person they’d like to see, put their name on a waiting list, then enter with questions that fall into categories which include love, money, health, family and business.

The reading room itself is large and warehouse-like with tables placed in rows. Some thirty psychics with various skills offered service. It was a marathon client week-end that paid well and provided a catered lunch. I brought a table covering, business cards, some favorite stones and plucked a single red rose from the twelve near my bed.

One of my first clients was a young woman who had recently lost her father. She came to inquire about including his spirit in their Christmas holiday. She was looking for a ritual, although she did not know how to put her request into words. I remember this reading especially, because it was an instance when I got sidetracked and momentarily betrayed myself. To answer her question, I closed my eyes and waited for images. The scene that appeared showed the family pulling an empty chair, his easy chair, into an intimate circle near the tree. Then I saw the young woman placing a fisherman’s cap on the seat. But as I began to deliver the information my mental sentries jumped forward. I always see them like little soldiers with rifles on their shoulders, red uniforms and tall black boots. It is their job to discredit the information that comes from the realm of spirit, because they work for the mind. They are employed by all that is rational and concrete.

Hey, they say, What’s this doing here? This has no worth. We didn’t approve this? They stepped forward at the very moment I was delivering my message, grabbed the information about his cap and pulled it away. This is too specific, they said. Do you want to look like a fool? What if they don’t have his hat? Be safe! Be careful! Be general! Replace that word. Use the word garment instead. Then you can’t get into trouble. Why get into trouble?

The censors had me in their grasp and had reworked my delivery so quickly I barely knew what had happened. I would recommend, I told her, making a circle near the Christmas tree, include his favorite chair and place a garment on it. Use something that belonged to him and felt special.

She looked at me, clearly pleased. Great! she said. We’ll do that. I can put his hat on the chair. We still have his fishing cap.

I am better than most at keeping the sentries at bay, but every once in a while, when I least expect it, they take me down. 

The other reading I remember from the 40 short readings I must have done that week-end was for a young woman about to be married. She was having nightmares and irrational fears. She wanted to marry in her husband’s faith, but something inside her would sabotage the meeting each time they were supposed to enter the sanctuary. When I asked spirit for information, I found a vivid past life. I saw her seated outside a temple in a country with a dry climate. People were wearing flowing silk robes as they entered a tall building. It was her job to wash their feet before they entered. The building was a holy place. She knelt by the entrance doing her job as they prepared to enter sacred space.

I think you had a job washing people’s feet outside a temple in a hot place like Egypt, I told her. It’s something you did every day. It humbled you and irritated you at the same time.

Oh, she interrupted, I hate peoples feet. I am so funny that way. I can’t stand to look at them and even feel that way about my husband’s feet. They repel me.  I tell him when we are in bed to keep his feet on his own side of the bed.

In that lifetime you were not allowed to enter the temple, I continued. You have a soul memory of that, even though it has been unconscious, it is still powerfully in place. That belief is keeping you out of your husband’s church. Talk with yourself and make a clear distinction between now and then. It is time for you to enter the sacred space of your marriage. You get to enter the temple now. You get to be happy and walk at his side.

She was visibly relieved but still curious. What’s a soul memory?

A soul memory is an unconscious knowing that we carry from one lifetime to the next, that can affect us profoundly. We may not be able to bring it forward on our own, but once it comes into awareness, there is always a deep and settling recognition of the truth it holds. Uncovering and embracing that knowledge brings freedom. 

At the end of the week-end, I gathered my belongings, and noticed that the rose on my table had turned color. I held it to the light in disbelief. Must be the lighting in here, I told myself, carefully packing it away. But when I got home and returned the rose to the vase, which held it’s original family, I was struck by what had happened. The rose had turned from vibrant red to a deep shade of purple. The only explanation was that the spiritual energy of 30 psychics had absorbed in the water and again in the rose, turning it the color of the crown chakra, which was the energy center we were all using.

Low Point

cliff-with-girlLife piled too high on my shoulders in Seattle. I could not make ends meet and felt doomed to poverty, exhaustion and a life of struggle. In desperation, I made an appointment with a psychic I had never met. Surely a kindred spirit could help me align with my future in a new and authentic way.

At the allotted hour, I opened the door to a small house on a back street that had the word psychic flashing in neon lights. I was welcomed by a small Romanian woman and ushered into a dark house with religious pictures on every wall. These were not the gentle pictures of Mary draped in pastel blue robes, or of Jesus delivering his teaching on the mountain. No, these were the angry Greek orthodox guys. They scowled in disapproval as if to say, you’re a sinner. Hell is at hand!

We passed through a living room where an inert man in a sweaty tee shirt lay drinking beer, and watching television. I smiled in his direction and he ignored me. The woman led me to a small closet size room, with even more pictures of angry religious guys hovering near a giant cross. A long table filled with flickering candles lit the room. A rosary sat on a small table between us, as she held out her hand to receive payment. So why have you come to see me today?

I can’t seem to find my way in the world, I said, sounding more vulnerable than I intended. I feel pulled in different directions. I have no career focus, and can’t seem to get out of my financial hole. I could really use some guidance. I seem not to be hearing the voice of spirit for myself.  Tears spilled down my cheeks and made wet marks on my dress as I grabbed a tissue and cried out all the frustration and tension I’d been holding in. I’m sorry I’m crying, I said, I just need some guidance.

The woman laid out some cards and began to read.  I see that you have been married before. What happened?

I pick men who are wrong for me. That has been a great wound in my life.

How exactly have they been wrong for you?

They were emotionally distant, often cold, and incompatible. I have not been wise in that regard.

No, she said, You have not been. I am seeing that there was nothing wrong with the men that you chose. They were good men. The problem was with yourself. You think marriage is going to be perfect. You expect too much. You should find your last husband and go back to him. Make it work. God is punishing you for leaving him. There is cause and effect in this world, now you are getting the effect of what you caused.

I was stunned! I had opened myself to her guidance, and she’d delivered a bomb that was going straight in. All my defenses were down.

You are estranged from your family too, aren’t you? she continued in an accusatory voice.

My childhood was difficult, I said, defending myself. They are on one coast, I am on another. I needed distance. I needed to get away.

I have little hope for you, she continued like an overzealous truant officer. You have a curse on your life and it will never get better.

I was paralyzed in her presence. Never get better! What are you talking about?

Your life is cursed, child, but I can help you. I can stay up all night and pray over special candles. Give me one hundred dollars so I can buy these special candles and I will fix your life. The money is not for me, you understand, it’s for the candles.

I glanced at the candles on her table and saw grocery store price tags adhered to the side.

If you have the money now, she continued, that would be best. If you don’t, I will wait while you  get it.

One hundred dollars was half my rent payment. What did she take me for? Feelings of anger and devastation swirled through my being. She was the wicked witch, and I had taken a bite of her poison apple. I bolted for the door.

It was dark when I stepped outside and my mood matched the night. I had seen people back away from the word, psychic, with fear in their eyes, and now I understood why. The disrespect of this experience was alarming. I was embarrassed to share the same title. A deep lonely depression settled in me as I waited for the bus. I had taken her words inside my body and they were circulating through every cell like poison. I was matching her consciousness.

Shape Shifter

birdI was raised by an older sister, Mary Ann, who hated me. There are no in-roads between us. Not even the long journey from childhood to old age has altered its razor-sharp edge. There is nothing in this lifetime that can explain the on-going hatred in our pairing. I have searched for its root without success, because a sister is a precious thing to me. I extended my hand for decades, until my friends finally convinced me to stop trying. You can’t make friends with a rattlesnake, Karen. Give it up!  

When my mother’s second husband, Joe, died, I flew east to console her. It was the first time Mary Ann and I had slept under the same roof since childhood. We rode to the funeral together, but when the service was over the family car was gone.  I stood alone in the church, stranded. Outside I found a neighbor willing to give me a ride. This was typical of Mary Ann’s smiling calculated treachery. Mary Ann told me you’d gone home with someone else, my mother said.

In the evening, my mother asked that I go into Joe’s room and take whatever my son or husband might find useful. Joe was a large man, so I couldn’t imagine there would be much, but I agreed. I’d barely closed the door when Mary Ann appeared, her eyes arctic and fixed. What do you think you’re doing in here? My heart beat like a robber in the night. I repeated the instructions from our mother without result. Get Out, she screamed, her veins standing up like small ropes in her neck, her face red with rage.

Look, there is work to be done here, I insisted. Let’s do it together and help her out.

She could not hear. There is no help in you scavenging through a room you don’t belong in, so you can take things that are not yours. 

There was a time as adults when she’d let that anger go, thrown me to the floor, pressed her hands around my throat and voiced her desire to kill me. I am grateful for whatever gossamer thread of sanity held her back.

No, I said. This is something mom asked me to do and I will do it. Come. Follow me. Hear with your own ears.

My mother was resting on the couch, exhausted from grief. Mary Ann stood in front of her demanding justice. Karen has no right in that room. Tell her so. I expected my mother to bring a voice of reason to our disagreement, but she did not. Instead she said, now girls don’t fight, as if we were small children having an innocent argument.

I did not go back inside Joe’s room again. I went to bed, throwing off the web of sleep to remain vigilant. My flight left the next morning and I was eager to be on it. I was thinking about what a consistently dark presence my sister has been in my life, when the air seemed to split open. I noticed a large black bird flying too close to my car, its wingspan enormous. It flew low and turned whenever the car turned. I had never seen a bird do that before. In a moment of recognition, I realized the bird embodied the spirit of my sister. I drove slowly, looked skyward and knew. It’s you, isn’t it?  With those words the bird changed direction, flew toward my windshield, pooped all over it and left.

Understanding Predictions


My friend Kim comes by every two or three months to exchange readings. I look forward to our visit because it’s a time of holding light and encouragement for one another. We both read in a way that puts our present experience in perspective, pulls in a glimpse of the future, and points to weak places where we need to hold firm and persevere. Our style and visionary skills are about love, support, encouragement and friendship.

My friend Susan was ten years old, when she went to a ‘Fun Fair’ in a friend’s basement. A fortune teller was hired to do readings for the kids. When it was Susan’s turn, the woman turned over three cards, studied them, and announced that Susan would die when she was twenty-six years old. End of reading.

Can you imagine saying this to an impressionable ten year old, or to anyone for that matter? This woman took child abuse to a new level. I am happy to announce that dear Susan is now sixty-six years of age, but she lived for sixteen years in secret terror. What kind of person tells another such a wicked thing?

The purpose of intuition, psychic abilities, or any level of extraordinary knowing is to shed light on our lives so we can heal, attain freedom, and elevate our consciousness to a perspective that allows an expanded understanding of reality. The mind is in charge of resistance and control. It is fear-based and wants to keep us safe. To move beyond the mind, into the realm of spirit, takes us deep inside an inherent wisdom, where we experience first hand the place in us that is timeless, the place that does not die, the place that is wise, the place that is just visiting this reality, the place that recognizes truth. When we understand the sacredness of our lives, our days take on a different perspective. We may get bogged down in the personality and the mundane, but knowing, feeling and experiencing the place where our soul resides, allows an essential freedom that can bring us back to center by simply closing our eyes, and engaging. Being brought back to center, and being reminded of the truth about our selves when we lose our way, is the purpose of a good reading. 

So be careful when you decide to ask for help. Think twice before you open yourself to someone you do not know. Ask people you trust for referrals, and don’t ever walk into a storefront with a ‘Psychic Readings’ sign posted in the window.

Past Lives


A past life explains the unexplainable in this life. It is a strong thread that runs through the personality and is unaccounted for by circumstance or environment. A past life is a kind of unremembered soul memory that pushes for expression in this time and place. I can best explain by pulling examples from the lives of my children.

My daughter, Kristen, walked next to me as a child of six and pointed at other women with children. Mama, I don’t want white babies when I grow up. My children should have darker skin. Those babies are not right.

She came to me in junior high school asking to go to Greece, with an urgency that got my attention. Her request seemed so important that I went to school to inquire about an exchange program, and found a possibility for her to visit in high school. When I told her, she threw herself across the bed and wept big bitter tears. I thought you would be pleased, I said. No, Mom, I can’t wait that long to ‘go back.’

Kristen is good at manifestation. She attracted a Greek family within the year, who invited her to travel with them to Athens for the summer. She came back more determined than ever. I need to live where people gather outside around long tables, drink wine and have in-your-face discussions. She saved the money she made as a waitress and went back again after high school. She learned the language, married a Greek man and lived there for three years. She wrote letters from the island of Paros that said, I have never felt so alive, or healthy. It is like coming home. 

One of my favorite memories of my son, Clayton, is from Seattle. He and I were shopping near Pike Place Market when break-dancing was all the rage. We saw a group of young black boys performing near the waterfront and went over to check it out. A crowd gathered to watch as the young men formed a line, waiting to do their athletic spins, flips and Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. When I turned to comment, my son was missing. At ten years old, I was worried, until I saw him smiling back at me from the performer’s line. The dancers were as surprised as I was, to see him holding his own on their cardboard stage. That is where his past life spirit believed he belonged, street dancing with his black brothers.

As a little boy, he drew pictures of himself with dark skin. In high school, his African friend, Brian, made a bedroom in his walk-in closet, sharing secrets and stories like brothers. As a man of 38, he makes his Los Angeles home in the earthy grit of the hood.

How else can you explain this white mans perception of himself, if it is not a door from another lifetime that did not fully close?

We all have these mysterious threads that manifest in our lives as gifts we carry, desires to be realized or the curse that keeps us bound beyond reason. Looking at these threads, whatever you choose to call them, can bring insight and liberation.

Making Sense of it


I never thought much about my ability to see into the lives of other people until I entered graduate school. I always had a sense of the layered qualities and patterns others carried, and was routinely advised and guided by dreams, but it was not until I did a practicum at Clackamas County Mental Health Center that my abilities were brought fully home.

Rich was the psychiatrist in residence, as well as my teacher and supervisor. He and I were running an evening therapy group when the subject of dreams came up. After group ended, he took me aside, Karen, write down a dream of your own, and bring it to our next supervision session. That will be an excellent way to explore.

I went to our session expecting to understand dream symbols, projection and relationship. What happened instead surprised me. The dream I brought was long, detailed and all about Rich. When I read it, he withdrew. His color blanched.  Nobody should know those things about me, he said, there is no way for anyone to know what you  just told me.  He became quiet, going deep inside his private world. His puzzled silence letting me know our meeting was finished.

My session with Rich made me aware that whatever was happening in my world was different than those around me. It made me question my career. I enjoyed learning to help and heal, but the methods seemed inadequate. I sat in a tiny consulting room and saw one person after the next. There was no magic answer for their pain, just a learned ability to listen, and to empower by providing feedback. But what empowerment could there be, when the person’s consciousness and view of reality stayed as small as the room we sat in? They needed a larger, more holistic vision.

I was too confused in those early years to follow my wisdom. I only knew the limits of what I was learning, and that it was wrong for me. I already had stomach ulcers from stress, so I dropped the program. Instead, I joined a theater company to travel, sing, dance and wash the sorrow from my bones. There was a woman in the company who read tarot cards. When she read mine, I was both amazed and hooked. Here was a language of symbols and images which spoke volumes without the written word. Looking at the cards gave me an ancient sense of homecoming.  Here, at last was a way for the voices that spoke through my dreams to be direct, immediate and available. I closed myself from the outside world, and spent days being pulled into their complex framework, a framework that beautifully described the human condition. 

I lived in a converted mansion with a sweeping central staircase, occupied solely by artists. The tenants were poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, designers and theater people. When I announced what I was doing, nearly everyone in the building came for a reading. I gave generously, eager to test my wings.feathers1

I was surprised to learn that some people were afraid of the cards, because they had been hurt by words from unloving hearts. They had been told cruel and unjust things by fortune tellers and gypsies, who placed cards on the table between them, as they delivered fear-based messages. I was also surprised that people came back wanting more and more. But I just gave you a reading. I just told you that.

It took a long time to make the soup that became my healing practice. I drew on many varied ingredients, but always used the first session to gain trust. I’d quiet myself and merge with my clients to understand the blueprint of their lives; what gifts they had, what troubles, patterns and hurts. I gave this knowing back with a spiritual perspective, so they had a new understanding and foundation to stand on. We did whatever healing was needed to shine light into the shadows that kept them trapped and unfulfilled.

People ask how I developed my skills and inquire about my teachers, but developing my sensitivity has never been the focus. The focus has been learning to live with and manage it. I do not seek books, classes or teachers. I  seek to escape them. For years I could not go into crowds, ride a train, or go to a department store, because my body became overloaded. Feeling and seeing so much overwhelmed me and made me ill. I have learned to focus down and make boundaries, but it does not happen easily. My husband goes to parties alone.

One of my students left an intuitive training class saying, When I came to class, I thought I would give anything to have the skills you have, to see what you see, and be able to do what you do, but now that I understand what it takes, I am very grateful that I am not you!  

Nancy’s Story

bird-in-handNancy had lots of psychiatric labels when she came to see me; bi-polar and borderline personality to name a few. She was thirty years old, severely overweight and had an attachment disorder that compelled her to phone her father several times every hour. Nancy came for healing at her father’s request.

When she sat down the generator outside the window burst into life, roaring with deafening noise. The button on the tape player refused to stay in the record position, the microwave engaged, the dog began barking and a neighbor knocked on the door. It is not unusual for children with psychic abilities to cause such disruption, but this was a different energy. When I closed my eyes to read for her, I saw the spirit of a large unbalanced man who was sharing her body.

Nancy had been so labeled, treated, medicated and repressed by the medical system that she’d lost all sense of health. Together we found and enforced her healthy-self and brought it back into consciousness, so she had a frame of reference to begin our work. I spoke about spirit possession, and asked if she was aware of it.

I have always felt there was an uncontrollably violent part of me, she said, that is living my life. I do things that frighten other people. When it’s happening, it feels like I get pushed aside, as if someone else is doing it. Then I wake up, look around and wonder what happened.

Nancy went away with a new understanding and spiritual perspective which gave her strength and encouragement, but I knew I couldn’t make progress until the spirit was removed.

incenseI have always seen spirits. For some reason, I vibrate with a higher energy frequency, an openness and sensitivity that allows sight into realms that don’t exist for most people. I have been called to remove disruptive spirits from houses and from clients like Nancy in the past. I do it by quieting, closing my eyes, and allowing them to come into vision. I witness their story, all of which plays like a movie inside my head. I am not always successful in this work, but when there is success, the spirit moves on and their absence changes the person’s life for the better. The spirit I saw in Nancy felt large, male and violent. I didn’t feel that I was strong enough or capable enough to move him out, so I began to research someone who might do it for me.

I heard about a medical intuitive from a friend, and asked Nancy if she would be interested in going.  After Nancy’s visit, the healer informed me that there was no problem at all. If there were I would have seen it, she said. Her casual approach and ungrounded confidence led me to believe that she had no skill in that area at all.

I asked for help from a healer from the Lakota tradition, but he was full of ego and wanted Nancy to show up for weeks of training before starting the work. That would never happen, so I passed on him as well.

I was walking in downtown Portland with my friend, Cora, when we happened upon Nancy. After she and I exchanged pleasantries, Cora looked troubled. Who was that woman, she asked? She has such a dark energy in her. It feels male and angry, like it’s been with her a long time.  Cora’s words were helpful, because it’s easy to doubt myself when I am the only person who sees what I see. I have learned to trust, but there is still the loneliness of a work that is not easy for others to comprehend or share.

I continued to search for the right person for a full year. I asked a local clairvoyant, who is excellent with predictions, but found her uncomfortable with thoughts of possession. I asked a Catholic friend if she knew a priest who was capable, but got no reply. In my frustration, I encouraged myself to do the work, but a wiser part knew that I was out of my depth. This spirit would take a strong masterful personality, not a gentle feminine one.

My daughter and granddaughter live in an ashram, and mentioned that the Abbot, Swami monkChetanananda was returning from a year in Tibet. The term Swami, means teacher and bringer of light in Tibetan Buddhism. I had not met him before, but encouraged Nancy’s father to seek an audience  and explain the situation. He and Nancy went together and I came later. The Swami is a large bodied man, over six feet tall, who has devoted his life to spiritual practice and mastery. We talked about spirits and spirituality. He confirmed my vision and agreed to meet with Nancy for three puja’s, or healing rituals, where he would release the spirit. I was extremely grateful, since it is rare for the Swami to attend the healing of an individual.

It is not uncommon in healing for things to get worse before they get better, which is what Nancy reported after the first session. She exploded in anger and was crippled by migraine headaches. During the second puja, the spirit was released and the third brought her back to normal.

Nancy is a different person now. She no longer lives in cloaked avoidance of light, but seeks it. She can function, react normally, is no longer violent, and no longer calls her father for constant assurance.  She is in school, doing well and working two jobs. When the spirit entered, at about age twelve, her own development was arrested. So she and I met to repair her sense of self, and make sense of many troubled and forgotten years. There is more work for her to do, but that is in the future. For now, she is happy to have joined the world and I am happy for her.

Finding Balance

 When I was in my thirties, I lived in Seattle, or rather crash-landed there after two exhausting years of being on tour with the theater.  Travel, hotel rooms, performing and restaurant meals left me ill and defeated. I had to leave the theater with no idea what to do next. At that time, I did not see my intuitive healing work as a career, it was just something I did for the people I met who were in need. I seemed to always have a small stream of folks coming to my door for help. My Aunt Ethel had encouraged my sight in a playful way, by reading my fortune in tea leaves. It was a game we played together. I moved on to using cards and eventually to nothing but my own knowing.

tightrope-walker1Because I was new to Seattle, I took myself to a psychic fair at a local yoga center to meet kindred spirits. After an afternoon of readings, a man approached and asked if I would come on NBC to demonstrate my skills. I told him I’d think about it. Not being a television watcher, I had no way to judge if the experience was meant for ridicule, so I asked neighbors if the show was reputable. It was, so I accepted, hoping the experience might provide a few new clients to tide me over.

 I was broke the morning of the program, so I borrowed bus fare from the man who ran the neighborhood market across the street. I grabbed a large paper bag, stuffed my belongings inside, and ran out the door. Others came in limousines.  When I arrived, I was ushered upstairs to a waiting room, where I met interesting women with similar abilities.  The television hostess took me aside, and asked if I would give her a quick sample of my skills. She was scurrying around in a frantic state of disarray, looking like she could have a nervous breakdown at any moment. Every hair had to be perfect, as well as her clothes, make-up and voice. She was on a fast-track to the top, despite personal cost. I told her as much. She declared me a genius, and that was that.

When I was escorted into the television studio, she was calm, confident and inviting. I know that psychics have many rituals they use in doing their work, she told the audience, and noticed that you carry your special things in a brown paper bag. Could you tell us about the significance of that?

I sat in a moment of disbelief. The only significance, I laughed, is that I could not find my purse this morning.

Well folks, she continued, Karen blew me away with the accuracy of her reading earlier, so I am excited to hear what she will see for us now.

Another moment of disbelief. ‘Blew me away?‘ Reading for her was like asking somebody if a house was on fire. Not a tough assessment.

I shared with the audience what little I knew about the history of using cards for divination, then read for a woman about a new business she was opening, what it would involve, and what it could mean to her personal life. 

The producer had arranged for the same woman to stand up and ask the same question of each of us. We were kept in isolation until we read, then taken off again, so we couldn’t hear what the others reported. We were being publicly tested.

Long story short, the show was a success. I had never watched television in the morning, and had no understanding of the number of people who did, so when my phone started to ring, I was pleased. I did not know that the phone would not stop ringing. The phone did not stop at any time during the day or night. It did not stop for a full month! At first I left the receiver off the hook, so I could have moments of peace, but eventually I unplugged it all together. I thought I should be able to manage the calls, but it was like trying to stop a human tsunami. And so, I walked away. 

I began doing haircuts for neighbors to make ends meet, and put up signs to help as a Girl Friday along Lake Washington. An older woman named Margaret was my first client. She was my idea of a Norman Rockwell style grandmother. She spoiled and loved me to such an extent that I dropped other clients, and worked only for her.

I felt unsettled by the television experience, and guilty. I knew my sight could help others, and felt a strong sense of duty. But I was only one person and my inner resources were already dangerously low.

I remember being frightened during this period. I felt I should be able to create or read or sculpt or write whenever I pleased. I was afraid there was something wrong with me when the activities that gave me comfort dried up and went away.

Margaret was wise at these times. She would remind me about cycles and seasons over tuna casserole, warm cookies and coke. She helped me understand the timing of things, and that it all came down to keeping my balance, no matter what cycle I was in.  When life is abundantly good and showering you with gifts, stay humble and centered. When life is throwing stones and pulling you into the mud, stay humble and centered. Watch it all. See it for what it is, and never let it define you. I learned that year that receiving too much, was as dangerous as receiving too little, and that if I centered and waited, well, pretty soon, all that I needed would come back around again.

Christmas Present


bead1It was going to be a meager Christmas. My son was five years old and my daughter, seven. I spent money on fabric, trims, buttons and dowels to make them each a tapestry for their room. I worked at night after they went to bed, clipping along measured lines to fashion a golden ballerina for Kristen and a Star Wars character for Clay.

Every year I imagined the next Christmas would be better. I promised myself that I’d have more money, more stability, and resources. Every year as I fashioned another homemade gift, I wondered what it would be like to go into stores and buy whatever I pleased. I wondered what it would be like to stop being a student, an artist and single mom. I was determined to change my essential nature, so I could fit into society’s shoe. I believed I could have a better life, if I only tried harder, worked longer or pushed in another new direction.

One holiday, I gave them mugs with hot air balloons painted on them, to tide them over until I could supply the real thing. I told them stories about the adventures we would have, someday, when things got better.

When things got really hard, I stole left-over pizza from a near-by restaurant to feed them. I’d have a small salad, then wait for the fleeting opportunity between customers getting up to leave and the waitress clearing the table. I needed to move quickly and unseen, storing food in the container inside my pocket. I taught myself to do without, to fast, so my own hunger could have purpose and form; so I could make peace with working so many hours and still having so little to live on.

It was in this vein that I decided a Christmas tree was an indulgence, yet in my heart I wanted one. I remember driving home and saying out loud, Damn it! I do want a Christmas tree. I want a big one that fills the whole house, not some wimpy thing that suits my purse.

And so I got my wish.  It was midnight. I had just finished performing in a downtown Portland theater. The streets were stark, the glow of lights against soft rain the only reflection. I remember thinking how odd it was that there was no traffic on such a normally busy street. No one at all. I was getting ready to turn into my neighborhood when I saw something in the lane in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, swerving just in time, and there it was –  the biggest most perfect Christmas tree I had ever seen, right in the middle of the road, like it had dropped from the sky. I pulled the car over and waited for someone to come back for it, but no one did, so I pulled, shoved and muscled it into the back of my old SAAB, then drove happily home, excited to show the kids in the morning.

That was a long time ago now, but last year my son’s wife sent me an email: Do you remember the tapestry you made him when he was a little boy? Is there any chance you know where it is, or could make him another? He still talks about how much he loved that.   I guess hot air balloon rides and store bought gifts aren’t everything.


 It was 1955. I was ten years old and having another surgery. I knew the routine, count backwards from ten while men in white coats pushed portable tables, readied fine instruments of gleaming steel, and placed a black ether mask over my face. I never counted past five before the light from the mask pulled me out of my body, away from the table and up to the ceiling. My spirit hovered, seeing and not being seen. I watched and listened as the people in white leaned over me, ready to cut. I moved outside, with no conscious thought of moving, just abstract desire and then being there. I was the air and the wind and the trees. I was everything and nothing, as I watched people come and go down hospital steps, car tires crunching snow, windshield wipers frozen and glittering. I watched men and women in long heavy coats, hats, mufflers and gloves huddled together talking and laughing below shards of soft glowing light. I watched and listened without anxiety or worry, cocooned in safety and a blissful feeling I’ve not known since.

These journeys are burned in my memory, vivid and stark. I often long for that welcome expanse of invisible light where I became nothing and everything – but not the moments of darkness before being slammed back inside a room, bed and pain-filled body.

For decades I believed there was a light in every ether mask. I thought it was designed to open a tunnel and lift surgery patients safely out and away. How surprised I was when I examined one as an adult and found nothing but molded black rubber. This can’t be it, I said. There is no light inside. 

Your internal GPS


You know that voice from your GPS that tells you where you are, where you’re going, where to turn? It’s become an essential tool for modern navigation. Many people would not be without it.

Well, guess what? You have that same essential tool inside yourself. It’s built-in, works like a charm, never needs repair and costs you nothing. It’s a combination, genie in a bottle and wise guru from India. It’s sitting there, ready and waiting to be engaged. It’s the treasure you carry at the core of yourself. It’s your inner knowing ~ your intuitive voice.

You may be wondering, If I have this voice, why the heck don’t I know about it already? If this place is so wise, why hasn’t it been front and center all along?

It has been there but it’s been waiting for you to make a merger between two very different and powerful parts of yourself. Imagine sitting down with the managers of Intel, (the Intellect) and asking them to step back while we bring in a new guy, the Dalai Lama (the spiritual side.) It’s not that they don’t like each other, it’s that their approach is so different.

To work together with such diverse styles requires patience, respect, listening and learning. The managers of the intellect have evidence and spread sheets. They can show you numbers and recount years of successful operations. But the Dalai Lama doesn’t care about any of that. He just sits, smiles and knows. Yes, you have done a  good job, he agrees. I applaud you, but if you would allow me some time and space, I can enrich what happens here in ways you never imagined. My goal is not to replace you. My goal is to quiet your experience enough for you to hear the inner voice you carry, because that voice connects us all and comes from a universal knowledge that is vast, loving and open.

The world is asking you to put away old paradigms and be a voice for change. Your knowing is present and fully intact. Do you remember any of those whispers?

Maybe it informed you that your afternoon meeting would be canceled, your mom was ill or perhaps it warned not to take that flight, or to trust a deal that looked a little too good to be true. This voice comes in whispers like the beating of a hummingbird’s wings, until we acknowledge and make room for it to be fully heard.

Engaging your internal GPS, is like asking your best friend for advice. If you never really listen or follow what is given, soon your friend will move into silence or back away all together.

Why not try listening, allowing and giving your intuitive voice a change to show you it’s stellar abilities?  It takes a little practice but the rewards are incredible. Not only can you access the wise and knowing core of yourself, but you’ll integrate and become more fully and completely who you are. When you don’t feel divided everything can shift. You’ll hold yourself in a calm, quiet place, a place of wellness that no longer requires validation from others.  Turning up the volume on your internal GPS allows you to navigate from a relaxed and confident place on the planet.

written 5-16-08

Energy of the day

Today was kind of a cotton-candy fluff day, with wispy strands of long transparent lines floating in the air.

Lines of  transparent sweet energy hovering, and moving in haphazard fashion on currents of nothing.

The strands were falling, resting or landing on the people I was with.

Sweet strands of unseen energy coming to rest on eyelashes, a shoulder or a knee.

Energy moving and floating like a string of invisible pearls, falling and resting on others in random unpredictable patterns,

Patterns that have no real-world body or scent at all.

written 4.23.08

The Cornfield

My aunt’s spirit came to visit me the night she died.

I remember it like a midnight fog.

I got up from my bed and let her in.

I don’t remember conversation, just the distinct sense of saying goodbye.

In the morning I woke, thinking it was just another dream, but as I made my way into the living room, past the piano, I noticed the front door ajar, and the reality of the experience came back.

The next week I received a letter from my uncle telling me she had passed, the same day and hour of her visit.

He enclosed a photo of her standing in the cornfield.

He said she was reaching skyward to show how tall the corn had grown, but I saw a farewell wave, a final and loving goodbye.

I’d written a letter ten years earlier, telling her of my love, and expressing all that she’d meant to me. My uncle told me she carried it in her apron pocket until the day she died.

written May 21, 2008