Connecting with Nature

Okay so we’re in August and yes sorry that summer will soon be over. But wait! There is a whole month left before summer unofficially ends on Labor Day September 2nd, and three weeks more until the official end of summer on the autumn equinox. So it’s not like it’s the last minute. There is still plenty of time to do all those summer things that we want or need to do! Here in the Northeast, we are still waiting for tomatoes to come up so we can prepare our very own Caprese salads, soups, and sauces. Oh the endless joys of gardening!

Speaking of joyous things to do, for all of you who have ever wanted to visit a spiritual community geared to adults, I would strongly suggest Omega in Rhinebeck, New York. I just did a weekend intensive program there with Dr. Eben Alexander and Dr. Raymond Moody, my fourth time with those remarkable man. And quite a weekend it was!

While Omega is primarily a camp for adults, they do have a “teen week” and things to do for younger children. The grounds are so very beautiful and peaceful. One of the best features is that you can free yourself of electronic gadgetry (but choose to engage if you’re in the lovely café). If the cabins are a bit too rustic for you, there are plenty of bed-and-breakfasts in the area which is famous for its great gardens and sustainable farms, something New York State is becoming noted for. Truly amazing and very inspiring is Omega’s day of “Healing the Earth” with participants doing their part, even if it’s just a little bit, to correct the carbon footprints we all leave. If your dance card is filled this summer, really think about visiting Omega next year. You will make your mark and leave very happy!

Someone who has made her mark worldwide is the truly inspiring Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous primatologist. I just read an article about her which noted that fifty years ago, Jane became the first person to prove that nonhuman animals make tools. More recently, Jane has been focusing on a life form less intelligent than the chimpanzees she studied in Tanzania. In fact, a species that has no brain at all: plants.

Jane’s newest book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder From the World of Plants, co-written with Gayle Hudson, chronicles Jane’s lifelong love of all things leafy. In the book, Jane writes that “There would be no chimpanzees without plants – nor human beings either,” and confesses that she might never have started studying apes had she not, as a child, been obsessed with Africa’s forests. Now 79 years young, Jane runs the Jane Goodall Institute to protect chimpanzees’ habitat, and Roots and Shoots to encourage children to become conservationists. Jane has inspired me my whole life. She is a big part of why I became an avid gardener and lover of Nature which is the closest tangible thing to “God.”

I would suggest that if you are of mind to present yourself with just one gift during this rest of summer, make that gift being active in Nature. And while you are there, listen. You never know when a loved one is going to “call your name” from the Other Side.

The “Little Things” are the Most Significant

Happy July! We are now officially in summer, the summer solstice having occurred on June 20, with a full moon to boot!

Somebody I know who is from the Northeast but now living in Florida was visiting up north and one evening came across some fireflies, also called lightning bugs where I grew up. She had totally forgotten about those magical little beings from her childhood and became reawakened to this wonder of Nature. I told her I get to see them every June and July from my porch, and each year still feel blessed by their presence.

The fireflies remind me that it’s the little things in life that often are most significant, and that we should cherish in our lives those precious moments, for life can change in an instant. Yes all the electronic gadgetry we have nowadays is great, but please do remember to take some time to enjoy the sunrise and sunset, a walk along the shore, a mountain hike, etc. All the better if you can share the experience with someone you care about, and discuss the magnificence that is Nature over good food and wine.

Of course, each season has its own beauty to experience, but being in the moment now means to recognize that it is July – a good time to play hooky from work, with the kids perhaps. Or just go outside and become a kid yourself.

This is also the month to sit outside, gaze upon the stars, and listen to the crickets. So relaxing! This is what a July day can hold for us.

Even New York City is much calmer than usual this time of year, although there are plenty of activities like concerts in Central Park, dancing on the piers along the Hudson, baseball and softball games galore, people flying kites, riding bikes, skating, or what have you. When the sun is shining in July, doing just about anything outdoors is great fun.

Before signing off, I wanted to give a personal “Thanks” for Terri Daniel once again out-doing herself for my third year at the Afterlife Awareness Conference. To be sure not my last. Terri asked me to return again next year! I met so many wonderful people at the conference I thank them all for letting me into their hearts! It was great meeting Eben Alexander and seeing Raymond Moody who will both be in Montreal for the 38th annual IIIHS (International Institute of Integral Human Sciences) conference. I will then be in Toronto, and will again be with Eben and Raymond at Omega. Gotta wonder: who is following whom? A fun-filled July for sure. I’m looking forward to meeting so many of you on my journey and your beloved ones in spirit!

By now we should all be over the winter time blues! So kids, get out there and smell the roses!

Honoring Fathers and Lessons from Machu Picchu

Welcome June! The month when there is so much going on. From weddings, to graduations, to vacations, days on the beach, weekends in the country, to name a few. And let’s not forget those special dads and father figures who touched our hearts and made a difference in our lives. For June 16th is Fathers Day!

In my work, I am forever reminded of how many sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, love their dads so deeply regardless of whether their dad is the “blood father” or not. So many wonderful men pick up the for those who did not or could not step up to the plate. Kudos to all those second dads who remain present! I have said it before and will say it forever, the blood connection doesn’t make a man that special dad or granddad in a child’s life. It’s his love and how he shows his love that counts.

On CNN this week, I heard a commentator observe that no one ever says when they are about to die, “I’m sorry I didn’t work more.” That reminded me about all the men in the work place who want more time with their families but just can’t arrange it because keeping a job is so crucial.

For those who have dads on the Other Side, this Fathers Day, and always, I suggest that you send them your thoughts of love. They will hear you. And if you are tuned in, you will feel the connection.

As some of you know, I just got back from Peru, and had my first experience with the Incas. It was such a thrill to visit one of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.

The Incas built Machu Picchu around 1450, but were driven out a century later when the Spanish arrived. The existence of Machu Picchu was not revealed to the world until much later, by an American, Hiram Bingham III, of Yale University and National Geographic.

As we know, the ancient indigenous cultures strongly believed in the Afterlife, and shamans were held in high regard. The Incas were no exception.

What was most amazing to me was learning about the Incas’ advanced form of agriculture. Of course being an avid gardener and of farmer stock, I know the hard work farming requires, which is why I have such great respect for farmers. The Inca farmers were geniuses with their agricultural systems which included an amazing way of balancing all foods for every climate, knowing exactly what should be planted where and when. Needless to say, there were no GMO (genetically modified organisms) in their foods. No Monsanto to worry about! And the kicker, they had over three thousands types of potatoes!

The Incas may not have lived in the best houses but everyone ate! There were no food shortages.

If you are up for an adventure, Machu Picchu is a must. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

Or if you are in a mood to stay closer to home this summer, join me at one my special events. I’ll again be at the Third Afterlife Awareness Conference in St. Louis, a wonderful, wonderful gathering. I’ll be returning as well to Montreal and Toronto, and Omega in upstate New York for a special weekend at the end of July. Check the calendar on my website for details.

As always, I look forward to reconnecting with many of you, and hope to meet some new folks along the way.

Happy Father’s Day

On June 21st we will officially enter summer! Hooray! Time to watch the flowers bloom, take a walk on the beach in the sun, or just hang out in the hammock reading a good book on the new Kindle or the old fashioned way. It’s all good!

As always, the children will be delighted that school is out. And of course there will be those anxious teenagers looking for summer jobs.

As for the adults, well . . . I do have some advice for those who say, “Summer for me is not what it used to be when I was a kid.” Yeah, OK, that’s true. You’ve got to work and be responsible and all. BUT, that’s no reason why you can’t do some playing yourself. I have a friend who’s in his mid-sixties and still plays in a softball league! Now, that’s the spirit!

Let us not forget that June is also time for graduations and weddings. Yes, all very important to celebrate, but the one June event I want to focus on for a moment is Fathers Day.

It was during my Mothers Day yearly special on WXLO radio in Worcester Massachusetts that one of the guys at the station remarked that mothers get all the acknowledgement. And it got me thinking about sharing what my years of connections with people have taught me about fathers…things that often don’t get mentioned.

There are numerous times when a man comes into the family, and while not being the “biological” father, still takes on the fatherly role most willingly. He assumes not only the financial responsibilities, but also actively loves his wife’s kids, not caring whether or not they are actually his in a biological sense. I wish I could tell you how many times during my sessions this truism is expressed by a daughter or son, who say without question, “He was my father.”

There are also many times when, during a divorcing situation, the father wants nothing more than to continue to be “a good dad.” Sadly, many wives do everything in their power to isolate him from his children. Still, the fathers hang in there and do the best they can under the most trying of circumstances.

Of course there are some men who don’t take responsibility-the so-called “deadbeat dads”-but for every one of them there are so many more who go above and beyond the call of family duty, in the name of love and what is right. So here’s a tribute to all those men who take on that extra duty, and work two or three jobs if they have to, just to care for their their family. And more often than not, they still will still find time to play catch, teach their kids how to fish, and hug them like there’s no tomorrow.

As Bob Dylan sang in the early Sixties, and which is still so very true today, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Just one example: I was in a restaurant for my birthday on Memorial Day, watching two sets of parents. It was the men who were caring for the babies, talking cheerily about their kids. I thought, “How cool is that?” A real symbol of what fathers are about in 2012!

So fathers, enjoy your Fathers day!

And fathers and everyone, please also take time to enjoy summer, starting now! You want to do a weekend workshop to boost your spirits? Keep this in mind…I’ll be at Omega again in July for my intensive weekend workshop, always fun and enlightening. For my summer travel, I’m hitting Portland for an all- day event-very excited to return there-and of course I will be visiting many places on the East Coast. Take a look at my schedule to see when I’ll be coming your way.

Take A Hike!

As I was preparing for my Omega Workshop this summer, I’ve been reminded of how many of our loved ones now in Spirit had a hand in showing us the beauty of Nature. As I discuss in my book “Medium’s Cookbook: Recipes for the Soul,” communing with Nature comes so easily if there was someone in your family who loved Nature and showed you the way.  Perhaps you came from a family that loved to fish.  If so, you may have sat under the magnificent summer sky sharing campfire meals of trout that your mom caught using lures that your grandfather had made. Or perhaps your uncle was an avid bird watcher who could whistle like a sparrow or caw like a crow.  If so, you know what I’m talking about.  If not, I hope you get the idea!

We are indebted to Teddy Roosevelt and all the others who had the dream and vision to create the National Parks.  (Pay attention to your dreams and visions…you have them for a reason.)  As a result, Yellowstone National Park so often prompts the comment, “This is God’s country!”  Indeed, Nature is God’s own “house of worship.” To be sure, the very essence of Nature can be so empowering.  I have no doubt that’s why “Omega”—the popular spirituality retreat in upstate New York—is set in the peaceful countryside, surrounded by farms, gardens, and open space.

I might also remind those of you who describe yourselves as “city people” that Teddy Roosevelt was raised in New York City, and was so very sickly that his father took him to the Adirondacks every summer.  That is where Teddy learned his love of Nature, and what led him to protect so much of the land as National Preserves.  So I would suggest that you self-described city boys and girls take a little trip to the country if you can.  Even you will be amazed and most impressed!  If you are “stuck” in the city and can’t get away, at least try to experience Nature in the form of the many wonderful gardens, trees, bird sanctuaries, etc. in your area.  No doubt you are aware that one of the greatest city parks in the word is located in midtown Manhattan—Central Park!

Wherever you can find Nature, go for it!  Nature can reconnect us to our deeper selves while reminding us of the essence of that “Love/God” energy that is everywhere.

I’m no biblical scholar but I know that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”  This message from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 was converted into the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by Pete Seeger and made famous by The Byrds.  The theme connects us to Nature, and its cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.  It’s all part of the process which guarantees that in some future season, we ourselves will be reconnecting in Spirit with loved ones who have passed before. But meanwhile…It’s summer!  Rock on!