Category Archives: Spirituality

Welcome baby #3: The Spiritual Symbols Workbook

I am clearly insane. At least slightly. And yet, I’ve done it. So perhaps a small dose of insanity is necessary to move forward in life.

Three books in three months. That what I said I’d publish this summer, and I have. One by one, I birthed them all into the world.

intuitive psychic symbols dictionary workbookThe Spiritual Symbols Workbook: Create your personal dictionary of intuitive, psychic and metaphysical symbols is here. I hit the great big PUBLISH button last week and a (very heavy) box arrived on my doorstep today.

Well, then.

I’ve been learning a lot this summer as I flail about through the process of independently publishing. I’ve made lots of mistakes (including forgetting to actually sign the books or take any photos at my first official book signing). But I’ve continued on, listening to my inner guidance and letting my inherent stubbornness (channeled into tenacity and determination) spur me forward through seeming obstacles and frustrations.

I realize now I have to sell all of these books, which is another matter. But they exist. (And I sold a coloring book out of the trunk of my minivan today, so they are moving.)

If you’re wondering what these books actually are, you can get a rundown of the Spiritual Symbols Coloring Book here, and something of an explanation of The Awesomely Amazing Adventures of Cherry here.

The Spiritual Symbols Workbook is a massive tome of more than 1,500 common psychic, spiritual and metaphysical symbols (in word form). You get to fill in the definitions.

We often receive information from Spirit in the form of symbols, whether that’s through our intuition, dreams or mediumship work. But what do those symbols mean — and what do they mean to you, specifically? We’re different people, so while symbols may have typical, archetypal meanings, that may not be what you connect with, or what I connect with.

If Spirit brings you a rose — in your dreams, as a flash of a symbol or through the scent of roses in the air (when you’re not next to a rose bush) — what does that mean to you? For me, roses = my mother. Especially if it’s the scent of a rose. But you may hate roses. Perhaps roses are connected with death for you (which means they could also mean the ending of a situation or relationship, not literal death). Or roses may come across to you as feeling thorny and prickly, something you need to watch out for.

Hence a fill-in-the-blank dictionary where you get to fill it all in.

Plus, it’s all organized into categories and subcategories, which are all alphabetized and indexed (that part wasn’t fun, but I learned something new).

My goal with the Intuitive Symbols Coloring Book and Spiritual Symbols Workbook is to help you access your innate intuition, first by waking it up through coloring meditation, then by giving you specific, low-stakes things to ask your intuition about: “What does this symbol mean?”

What you do with it from there is up to you.

My unexpected path to publishing

My first book is published. It went live this morning. You won’t believe what it’s about.

Is it the long-awaited memoir about my coming-of-age in Barbados? Nope.

Is it the heartwarming story of Cherry making a magical friend and deciding if she’s going to listen to the truth of her heart? No, not that either (although that is coming soon).

It’s a coloring book.

Intuitive symbols coloring bookBecause, you know, professional writer, 15 years’ experience, aspiring author, loves to knit but has always felt bad about her drawing abilities = coloring book. Makes total sense.

I’m surprised, too. Which just goes to show how wild this life adventure can be when you relax your grip on the reins.

The power of meditation

Last summer, I committed to developing a regular meditation practice. I wanted to give myself time to get quiet inside my head and body and allow my inner wisdom to come through.

It’s been great. And awful. My inner wisdom has a lot to say. It’s quite happy to give me inspiration and direction, even if that seems to leave no time for sleep.

“Write a book about intuition.”

“Yes, inner self. That sounds good.”

“But first, create a symbol dictionary workbook.”

“OK, that’s a good idea. Every intuitive or psychic development course ever says to make yourself a symbol dictionary but no one actually does it because it’s logistically annoying and impossible.”

coffee symbols coloring book“Oh, hey, how about a symbol coloring book that people can use to get in touch with their intuition and learn what their symbols mean?” That was from my writing and walking friend, Jennifer.

I wasn’t quite sure about it at first, but the idea grew on me. I went through a couple of weeks of doubt and frustration as I tried to figure out how and where I’d get the images for the coloring pages themselves. I tried hiring someone through Fiverr. That didn’t turn out well. I tried drawing them myself. Uh. No one wants to color that mess in. (Did I mention I have no faith in my artistic abilities?)

color your way to intuition adult coloring bookThen I happened upon an artist with the perfect images for what I had in mind. The heavens opened and the angels sang. It was a Hallelujah moment.

After a few weeks of wrangling images, ISBN bar codes and coming up with the introductory instructional text and uploading (and reuploading and fixing and reuploading and fixing and reuploading) the files, it’s here!

And it can be yours. Intuitive Symbols Coloring Book: Unlock your intuition through meditative coloring has 30 fun coloring pages full of symbols you find in everyday life: coffee, cars, clothes, Christmas decorations. You name it, it’s likely in there.

Coloring is a wonderful way to get into a meditative state. And meditation is key to opening up and getting in touch with your intuition. And your intuition will lead you forward in your life on the best possible path for you. Even if it’s one you didn’t expect.

I am my heart, not my head

I spent the afternoon in the ER on Sunday. Duncan and I were rear ended on the way back from his basketball game on Saturday morning. We went to Urgent Care Saturday afternoon and the provider there told me I have a concussion and, should my symptoms get worse, she wanted me to go to the ER for imaging.

On Sunday, I felt worse. So off to the ER I went.

As I lay on my little ER bed, waiting for either a CT scan or its results, headachey, fuzzy and trying not to worry that they’d either start drilling my holes in my head to relieve the pressure or that I’d continue to feel fractured and unlike myself for a long time into the future, I realized something: I’m not my brain.

Who I am, the essence of Joanna, the person you connect to and interact with, is not my brain. As much as I love my mind and its abilities to see patterns and themes, to connect dots, to analyze and draw conclusions, it’s not the whole of me or even the most important part.

I realized (and this is going to sound way more mushy and woo-woo than I’m comfortable with) that the heart of who I am is, well, my heart. My emotional center. That’s what makes an impact on others. It’s what connects us together. It’s what’s still there even when my brain isn’t functioning like it normally does.

I could barely speak coherent full sentences on Sunday. My thinking was fractured and jumpy. Sound and light were painful. But I still felt love.

I felt my mother-in-law’s loving touch as she rubbed my shoulder, sitting by my side and waiting.

I felt my friends’ care in their Facebook messages and texts asking after me and letting me know Duncan scored a basket in his last game of the season, as I couldn’t be there. And in the mason jars of soup and feedback and typo-finding on my latest manuscript they brought to my house.

I felt love in my daughter’s hands as she brushed my hair before bedtime, wanting to put me to bed and help me rest.

It’s love that connects us together.

Because even if I didn’t have my brain (which is still a bit sketchy today), if I couldn’t express this in words or understand what people are saying to me (I do understand the concept of brain rest and will go do that in a minute), our hearts are still connected.
Apparently it took a blow to the head to help me realize it.

Hanging up my shingle

Some seeds germinate slowly.

Last summer, the marquee of the McDonald Theatre in Eugene kept catching my eye. James Van Praagh, spirit whisperer, it said. Or something like that.

The kids would be at their Dad’s. I could go. Go, said my intuition. Go!

I put off buying tickets until a week or two before the show. And then they were all sold out.

Look on craigslist said one of the voices in my head. Hey, look, VIP tickets. Sweet.

IMG_20130803_184649As I sat in the blissfully air-conditioned auditorium (after standing in line for a really long time for a quick meet-n-greet, during which James and I talked about the weather in England of all things) something woke up within me. He talked about mediumship and connecting with Spirit, why we do it, how we can. And the small voice inside of me said, Yes. Yes. Remember this, Joanna?

I remember, I thought back to myself. But I don’t really do this anymore. I haven’t heard of any mediumship circles in Eugene. The rest of that story is essentially told in this story: Plugging back in. The short version is that I listened to my inner voice and started a mediumship development circle which is now meeting twice a month (1st and 3rd Mondays, 7-9 p.m., join us!).

So that took a while to develop and come to fruition. But it did. I’m not sure that I have any real idea what I’m doing, but people keep coming back, so…

Now available to talk to dead people!

Here’s another thing that’s new and somewhat slowly moving: enough people asked me if I do private readings that I’m now offering them. And, since I need to let people know what I’m doing in order for them to find me, I’ve set up a website and a Facebook page.

I confess I’m feeling my way forward here, relying on Spirit to shine its light on my path. Gallery readings, platform mediumship in church, development circles — those I’ve done. Teaching mediumship? Private readings? Well, I like learning new things.

Plus, if I’m teaching other people to feed their intuition by following it and listening to the still voice inside…I might want to do the same thing myself. And honestly, every time I’ve trusted my inner self, even if it meant going out on a limb, it’s worked out really well. As much as I feel like I’m flailing around sometimes, I’m in a really good place in my life. I’m so grateful.

Unmothered on Mother’s Day

IMG_9532Around Mother’s Day the first year after my mum died, one of my mothers-in-law (I have 3) said something to the effect of, “It’s a shame your Mum isn’t here.” I think she was talking about my wedding and I henceforth banned the mention of my mum on the actual day. I knew she’d be there in spirit, I just didn’t want to be reminded of it and confronted with the emotional reality.

UnMothered Day 1, 2, 3

That first Mother’s Day without my mum was rough. I’d never had one before and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I’d stopped blogging and writing in my journal at that point, so I can’t recollect exactly how I felt about it, but it was hard.

Last year, I wrote this blog post after going to see the Dalai Lama and hearing him speak about his mother.

And this year, UnMothered Day #3, I realize that as the years pass, my grief sometimes feels keener. It’s as if the distance between us grows greater with time, making me miss her more.

In Ruth Margalist’s blog post, The Unmothered, on The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, she writes, “It gets harder to explain to myself why I haven’t seen her. A month can make sense. (I took a trip; she was busy with work.) Even six months is excusable. (I moved; she’s on sabbatical.) But how to make sense of more than three years worth of distance? How to comprehend that time will only drive my mother and me farther and farther apart?”

It was like that at first for me, too. We often didn’t see each other for periods of time, although we always talked on the phone. She’s still living in Florida, said my mind. She’s visiting Christopher in France and can’t call. She’s gone to Africa for a few weeks and is camping under the stars.

But now, now she’s just gone. I haven’t seen her in years.

Forgiving. And forgiving and forgiving.

On the day she died, I told her she was free to go. That, while I wasn’t rushing her off to the spirit world, that she was welcome to stay for as long as she’d like (because she was always afraid of being left out and unwanted), she could also go whenever she was ready.

I told her I loved her. That I forgave her every wrong I felt she’d done to me. That I knew she’d never meant to hurt me, that she’d always wanted the best for me, and that I knew she’d always, always loved me. I wanted to give up all the hurt and anger I’d held onto from our past, so that I could be as present with her as possible in our last moments.

Truly, I wasn’t ready for that. I’d held onto those feelings so tightly for so long. But I wanted the end of our relationship, at least, to be clean and full of love.

And now — now I have no mother to be mad at me for being mad at her. So while I don’t take the forgiveness back, I know there is still more to understand and forgive.

Writing down the heart

It makes writing a memoir about our years together in Barbados emotionally tricky. At times it feels like a betrayal of our intimacy. I was brought up to believe we must keep our dirty laundry under wraps. You put the difficult stuff in a box and you put it away. You don’t air it out, show it the light of day, poke around in the dark corners and recesses. Which is exactly what I’m doing now.

I don’t want to be cruel in my presentation of my mum. I want to honor her memory and my feelings her — all of them. But our history and relationship was complicated, especially through my teenage years (hardly atypical, I know).

Perhaps writing down these memories is as much about coming clean with myself as it is with anyone else. Am I writing to prove something? My sheer awesomeness and resilience in the face of abuse and neglect? A debunking of an island’s reputation that’s as pristine and sparking as its beaches? Is it revenge upon all the mean girls?

Or is it the opening of my heart and reconnecting with the mother of my childhood? Remembering the good times and bad, the closeness and estrangement, the love and the loss.

Our last few years together echoes our life then. We were together again, finally, and then she left me.

The difference now is that I’m not a child, alone at home or on the streets and beaches of Barbados. And I like to think that she is beside me still, in spirit, luminescent with love, encouraging me to tell my story.