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Saturday, May 30, 2015

On Being Happy




I was on a leisurely mission to locate coconut oil in Whole Foods when out of nowhere a young mom barreled toward me like Cruella Deville swerving in her roadster.  With crazed eyes, her curly hair bouncing, she pushed a stroller containing her tiny newborn ahead and dragged a rolling grocery cart behind. I got out of her way as quickly as possible, veering left into the sushi section, when she crashed her baby into my cart as if we were bumper cars.  She stopped, her jaw agape, her eyes slit accusingly, as if I had done this thing to her.  Rather, to her newborn

She, like many new moms and nannies in crowded New York City, feel they always have the right of way because of their precious cargo and that we must all back up to accommodate them, as I just had.  It’s the same principle as with the “Baby On Board” signs in cars.  “You be careful now!  Our baby’s special!  Go ahead and crash into other people.  We don’t care about them”. 

I was motionless and unrepentant as I stared staunchly at Bumper Car Mom.  I would not accept liability when she was the one driving the out of control vehicle.  Where were the Grocery Cops?

When I crept over to check out minutes later I wanted to avoid her since I figured she would mouth off.  My desire not to be yelled at notwithstanding, she was in the shortest line, so I bucked up and parked behind her, careful to keep back 200 feet (not hard with her sandwiched in between the baby stroller and shopping cart). She was so preoccupied with her smart phone that she discerned neither my presence nor the electronic notice to advance to the cashier. When someone offered her their spot, she jumped at it, leaving her baby near the middle of the bustling central aisle, her food cart safely tucked in by the cashier.

This was a young woman with no self-awareness, and seemingly no real regard for her newborn.  She expected me to have more concern for her infant than she did.  This is something I’ve been guilty of in the past, expecting people to treat me better than I treated myself.  People take their cue from you.

I sometimes have too much self-awareness, or perhaps I'm just too self-conscious.  Regardless, I put my introspection to good use.  As a student of Self, I analyze Me intently and scrupulously so that I work better next time.  I’m now going to evaluate the recent ups and downs of my emotional chart so you can see how I brilliantly navigate my twists and turns of mood.  

I started out having a great day recently.  I went to a dance-y exercise class enhanced by great music, then bounced off to treat myself to a little beauty indulgence, fake eyelash extensions.  I’m blonde on one half of my face, one set of lashes and the brow is pale blonde, and I have natural blonde streaks on that side of my head.  If I’m not wearing makeup, I look really washed out.  On one half of my face.  I had extensions put on once before, compliments of a very generous friend.  We went to an exclusive esthetician, one which caters to the Park and Fifth Avenue set.  The lashes made a big difference for my friend, who doesn’t wear makeup and has very deep-set eyes.  It gave definition to her face. 

They looked good on me, too, but they were a bit too long (they were “one size fit someone else”) and they banged into my sunglasses.  It was weird having camel sized lashes.  The filaments were dust traps, and it was odd having to work around the new appendages when taking makeup off.  Still, they gave my eyes a certain definition.  I started noticing that everyone in old movies wore fake lashes.  It makes the eyes “pop”.

But the glue irritated my eyes when the extensions were applied, and that coupled with the jumbo lash size and the jumbo price, made this a treatment I was not going to repeat.  So I went back to my old washed out makeup free look.  When I wasn’t wearing makeup.  Which is often. 

With spring in the air I decided to do a little sprucing up.  I got tired of looking at my washed out eye.  When I wear makeup it is a dramatically different look.

So, I went to a cheaper place, one I’d known about for a while, and was curious to try.  The online reviews were great, so I took the plunge.  I always say little prayers for “the most benevolent outcome” whether it’s for lashes or lunch.  It always works.  I got a lovely young lady whose glue and whose manner was so gentle I almost fell asleep during the lengthy procedure (they’re attached one at a time).  I got a free hand and foot massage while the lashes were applied, and a free bottle of water when I left.  That, coupled with the good price, put me on cloud 9.  The lashes looked great.  They were not drag queen size.  They were Valerie size. 

It was lunchtime by the time my new glam set was glued on.  Since I get low blood sugar I make sure to carry little snacks with me.  I had a mini fruit and nut bar I got for free at a recent “green" festival.  Perfect.  That and my free water would tide me over until I got home.  As I proceeded I was offered a free can of Illy iced coffee by a promotions event on the corner.   This is not something I would normally drink as it has sugar in it, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.  I took a can. 

I was in the Flatiron district, right by Madison Square Park.  Instead of hopping on the bus, I opted to walk through the park.  The magic continued.  The park had a new sculptural installation that looked like silver trees hovering from above, and it was gorgeous.   I was so happy, I decided to enjoy my little coffee now, while it was still cold. 

It was beautiful out, and with my blood sugar stable, I walked all the way home.  I stopped into a lovely old church.  I dropped by Scandinavia House, whose clean design and colorful products always cheer me up.  I stopped into a nearby hotel gift shop and bantered with the classy lady with an Italian accent who ran it.  We chatted amiably about several topics including food and motorcycles, but I edged back a few inches when she turned vigorously anti-semitic out of nowhere.    “And the Jews! How can the Jews claim to be organic?  It’s just a lie to make more money!” First off, I wanted to tell her, they’re usually going for the kosher thing, not the organic thing. Though there are organic kosher venues.  I had no idea what she was ranting about, but after she’d shocked me with a few more “Jews” I realized she’d been saying “juice” all along with her Italian accent.   So, she was only slandering the organic labels and producers whom I support (and am well aware there are pretenders, but certainly not all).  From there, I went into Grand Central Terminal and was offered more free samples, this time, a frozen yogurt pop (not organic, though I asked).  This was a breezy, “free” flowing day.  

I wasn’t particularly in the mood for more sugar, so I declined, but then backtracked. This was a day of unexpected treasures.  A day of “yes”. Gifts of water, iced coffee, and now, frozen yogurt.  It’s summer, for god’s sake.   I felt like a kid again licking my peach popsicle. 

These were all little indulgences I would in the past have denied myself.  The lashes, the sweet coffee, the frozen yogurt.  However, by accepting them, I was getting happier and happier by the minute.  I was in “flow” with Life, or in the Vortex, according to the teachings of channel Esther Hicks and non-physical “consciousness” Abraham.  I bumped unexpectedly into a friend.  A sugar-free treat.

I got home, grabbed my pooch, and went for a jaunty walk.  It was a hot day, so I gravitated toward the shade and sought the breeze from the river.   Everything was flowing beautifully, ecstatically really.  Though they were all simple pleasures, a day filled with tiny treats adds up to a jackpot. 

Until. 

I saw someone I don’t like.  A crazy neighborhood broad I was familiar with from my walks with my last dog.   She’d coo over your dog then tell you how to walk it, what to do with it, what you were doing wrong.  I heard her scream at people.  I learned to avoid her at all costs.   I’d been on the look out for her with my new pooch, keen to protect us both from her poisonous energy.  I sidestepped a redhead who looks a lot like her, but it was not she.  I remained vigilant, watching out for the crazy carrot top. 

By the time I got close to the real one and turned tail to avoid her, she’d spotted me and started cooing over my new dog like a witch cackling over her brew.  She shouted after me, “Oh, what a cute little puppy!  Can I say hello?”  I could have ignored her and kept walking, but that’s not what I did.

The “nice” (stupid, guilty, people-pleasing) part of me turned back to grant her wish.  She did nothing crazy and said all the right things.  She patted my dog, though he kept his distance from her.  But I went against myself.  I put her want before my want.  I turned the rest of my afternoon to crap.  Did you see what I just wrote?  She didn’t ruin my day.  I did.  I took a great mood and turned it to mud. 

I was mad at myself.  Why didn’t I just keep going and ignore her request?  I don’t owe her a thing, not my time, my company, nor the right to touch my dog.  This happens with dogs all the time, and also with babies.  How do people deal with this?  You don’t want anyone and everyone touching your baby.  I don’t want everyone touching my dog. 

What was so remarkable was how quickly I let my happiness fly out the window, hell, I practically hurled it.  The peach-popsicle-iced-coffee-jubilee was centuries ago on a continent far away.  I berated myself.  “Why did you stop for her?  Why did you give her what she wanted?”   WHY WERE YOU (horror of horrors) NICE? I don’t believe in being nice.  I believe in being true to myself.  “Nice” is to appease others.  Being true to yourself is an act of power that benefits everyone.     

She was not welcome in my life, but I tolerated her in the name of social propriety.  And this I did for a woman who screams like a raving maniac on the sidewalk.  I tried to rationalize it.  Maybe we helped her?  I believe in energy healing, and I know my dog is a healer, and so am I.  But that angle didn’t work because that was not my intention in stopping.  It was to “be polite” to someone who is not at all polite.  That’s what galled me about my behavior.  I don’t believe in turning the other cheek to people who treat you badly.  I believe in avoiding them (if they’re strangers), or confronting them (if they’re not).

I finally realized that I had to forgive myself, and reframe the interaction.  Okay, so I don’t want further interactions with her. I won’t answer her call the next time.  I’m not her dog.

I was starting to feel better, but I wasn't out of the woods yet. This was a particularly bothersome issue because it’s been a pattern of mine in the past, being “nice” and doing things that I didn’t want to do, even something as simple as answering an invasive question.  Because someone asks you a question does not mean you are obligated to answer.  I’m still learning that one.  It’s my “good girl” upbringing that makes answering and being “nice” (a despicable behavior) a knee jerk reaction at times.  One I take responsibility for.  It’s not my knee’s fault.   Nor is it my parents'.  Who I was raised to be was then.  Who I choose to be is Now.

To give myself yet more peace I made up this story:  This encounter with the witchy maniac was pre-destined.  She’d been on my mind, and well, now, it’s over with.  I know she has short hair now.  I’m attuned to her frequency.  I do not have to humor her anymore than I had to apologize to the young mom who crashed into me with her baby.  In fact, I should have sued her for bruising my groceries.  It's all about taking care of myself, being my best friend and biggest advocate.  If you're not for you, how can you expect others to be?  

This is my spirituality.  Some people may view it as selfish, but it is not.  It is about loving myself.  Protecting myself.  And my dog.   When people are happy and fulfilled they are nicer (genuinely) and more giving.  It is then that they can easily afford to be what appears to be “self-less”, but is, in fact, truly Self Full.  When you’re fully in your Big Self, you are brimming with love, joy, and bonhomie.  Enough for all.

But not unless your cup is full.  And yes, “full cup” is open to interpretation.  It doesn’t mean you need everything on your wish list, for those are just things, and "things" (even jobs and marriages) do not make you happy.  You make you happy.  Your attitude.  Your beliefs.  Your behavior.  Only, ever do what you want to do.  This includes taking out the trash.  Of course you want to take it out, just as you want to pay your taxes.  We all know what the consequences are if we decline to do either. 

Wanting covers a broad spectrum, and we each define it variously at different times. But don’t blame your obligations and choices on others.  We all have reasons for doing the things we choose to do.  Take responsibility for who you are and what you do.  It’s empowering.  It’s liberating. 

I eventually stopped tormenting myself, but not before I slipped on a dog bone and went flying, banana peel style, and landed on my bad knee.  Not the one I recently had surgery on.  No, that’s my good knee now.  My other knee decided it was jealous of all the attention the other knee got and has been tight and painful to bend.  I don’t know what’s wrong with it exactly, but it’s problematic for someone who likes to exercise.  I landed on the knee cap and screamed.  My cats ran to stare at me.  My dog licked my toe.

This was a perfect example of how the law of attraction works.  When you feel good, you attract good things.  When you feel bad, you attract crap.  At least I didn’t land on it.

Which leads me to another story. 

While my puppy was being toilet trained to go on newspaper, he made occasional mistakes, as all puppies do.  Unbeknownst to me I stepped in some “misplaced” poo, tracking it on a dark carpet all the way to the kitchen.  By the time I figured out what was going on, I had to clean my poopy shoe (which had deep rubber treads) the floor, the carpet, and my dirty, cursing mouth out with soap.

The next day I heard a thunderous crash-bang and searched my apartment to locate the damage.  One of my plants (with a long, mane-like mass of leaves) was on the floor.  This plant has been tormented for years by various felines in my home.  This day, the mane was decapitated from the stalk by a young, feline perpetrator.  It was a crime scene.  Soil was everywhere.

The puppy had just peed on the clean bedding in his crate (boo, hiss!) and his feet were soaking in piss, so I threw him in the kitchen sink for a bath.  After drying him off I caught him sniffing around the rest of the plant soil I had not yet cleaned up.  My dog is mostly white so this would not do.  I scooped him up out of the danger zone, then rushed through the kitchen where I promptly slipped on the floor, wet from his bath, nearly killing both of us and potentially wrecking my (then) newly surgeried bad knee (which is now my good knee).  A finger was smashed in the melee. It hurt like a mother, swelled and turned purple.

I whipped out the vacuum cleaner.  The dog, floor and crate were now clean.  I held services for the house plant as I glowered at the cat. The only thing still filthy was me. 

The next morning, Milo pooped on the rug again. While carrying the poop, I tripped on a box in my hallway and fell.  The poop went flying.  Okay, kind of hilarious, kind of embarrassing, kind of appalling given what I was carrying.  Had I fallen on the poop?  I looked cautiously underneath. Some of it was still in hand (wrapped in a paper towel) and some of it had scattered.  But none of it was under me.

What’s my point in telling you all this?  When you’re “on a roll” it can swing either way.  Peach popsicles.  Or flying crap.  The skies can darken or brighten in a second. Just don't forget you're navigating the ship. 

Your point of attraction is what you are thinking and feeling.  When your predominant vibration is one of peace and happiness, things flow smoothly and easily for you, as they’re intended to.  Life is supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be fun.   If you don’t want to believe that, then continue on as you were.  It’s a free country.  But for those who feel the joy in that liberating sentiment, continue on with me.

Nothing stays the same.  Life is constantly changing.  We are continuously being born anew.  Wise people take advantage of that fact and live in the moment, recreating themselves guided by their ever-evolving desires.  (Have you considered that the term “recreation” comes from re-creating?)  People who say “same shit, different day” (I know several of these, they’re tons of fun) manage to perfectly recreate the same shit every day.  They star in the world’s longest running (boring) play.  Their life is purgatory.  They have no idea that they have created their prison sentence based on their beliefs.  They paint the same picture every day based on their expectations and behaviors. 

Ours is a world of chiaroscuro, light defined by dark, a world of contrast that offers infinite and ever-changing choices.  If you’re not happy, choose again.  The word repent comes from the French for re-think (penser). Think again. Pick a new color palate and repaint.  Game over? Play again.  And again.  And again.  World without end.   

If you recall in Ground Hog Day (one of my favorite movies, and a really profound one), Bill Murray’s character recreates the same crap day in, day out, until he has some epiphanies and changes his attitude from one of grumpiness to gratitude, curiosity, joy and love.  He transforms his life.  And, yes, eventually, he gets the girl.  What he did first was to choose love and appreciation of self as he learned to play piano, save lives, get degrees, goof around.  When Bill’s character started having fun, playing and engaging with life instead of resisting and resenting it, his dream (getting the girl) came true.  Enjoying himself was the more important gift that enabled the second. 

When you feel good, good things happen.  And don’t argue with me that bad things can happen when you’re feeling good.  I know that.  I live here.  What I’m asserting is that life is change, cells are dying, cells are being born, stars are dying, stars are being born, we live in an ever shifting wave form universe.   Water flows around the boulder in the stream.  If you want to try to move the boulder, or sit stranded on it, that's your business. We are vibration.  We are movement. Take advantage of that fact and learn to FLOW. 

When you consistently raise your vibration to one of love, joy and appreciation, you consistently and increasingly create things that will please you.  You are a creator.  We are spawn of the Great Pooh Bah in the Sky, and we are created in Her Fantabulous Image.  We are Dreamweavers.  Galaxy Surfers.  Life is one ever flowing, ever-expanding wave of curiosity, wonder and creation.  When we strengthen our core we not only survive the inevitable vicissitudes of life we achieve balance and start to pleasurably surf the waves. 

If something has happened which displeases you, you are well within your rights to be disappointed.  Nothing is worse than being encouraged by others to put things into perspective, to “buck up, things will get better” when things are not yet better.   This is forcing the issue.  We need to feel what we are feeling.  Go ahead, sulk, mope, grump, cry, do what you need to do, just don’t take it out on others.  Excuse yourself from the room.  Take a time out.  No one wants to vomit in public.  You need a bathroom to sort things out.  You can not escape the black cloud you’re sitting under without understanding it.  After all, you created it.  The point is to get the message from it. It's your message to yourself, using the symbolism and imagery (dog poop, crazy lady) of the external world.  The world is a projection of our minds.  One could even consider the message to be a gift with the potential to transform you. 

Now, the “something disappointing” which happened may seem to be the cause of your unhappiness, but I’m going to challenge you on this.  An event is simply that.  A happening.  Neither good nor bad.  It is your judgment about the thing that creates either your discomfort or elation.

Don’t get testy and say that some things are unequivocally bad (such as a bomb blowing your legs off).  For the sake of this argument, everything will remain a neutral “event”.   Something exploded.  There was pain, fear, blood, and some rearranging of your anatomy.  You weigh less.  That’s a factual description of circumstance free of judgment, a skill which will serve you if you learn to analyze things thusly.  It can help you to step back and look at things this way, even extreme things, as a counterpoint to the part of you that is embroiled in the drama, terror or pain.  Maybe not in the middle of it, but after the fact.  Perspective makes the difference between whether you identify as a victim or a survivor, as someone who was "traumatized" or someone who had an "experience".

But I’m not talking about big explosions today, I’m starting small.  Please select a nice, manageable disappointment of your own to explore.  All the little things (dog pee, dead plants, smashed fingers and crushed kneecaps) can add up to one nice, big funk.  If you're not mindful of your choices you can start by simply missing a bus and end up having a crap hour, day, week, or life.

I’ve become incredibly happy over the years, so much so that happiness is now my default state, not depression.  It used to be the other way around.  I used to think, “Why can’t you just be happy like normal people” As if “normal” is a real thing.  People are so intent on appearing happy that they repress their true feelings and put on a show.   Or take lots of pills and get lots of plastic surgery to “save face”.  This is as far from happiness as a picture of a cake is from eating it. 

People go through the motions, doing what they think they should do (shag, marry, breed, acquire more money, higher status and the symbols that represent it).  In our culture, if you’re cute and young and rich you’ve got it made.  For ten minutes.  Cause you don’t remain a larva for long.   Old age sets in, fortunes change, and that’s that.  Everything in this world is ephemeral and ever changing.  The sands are always shifting. The sun gives way to clouds, the stillness to storm.  It's the nature of this illusory world. That’s something you can use to your advantage.

What disconcerted me was how quickly I went from feeling on top of the world (from my series of simple pleasures) to bottoming out.  In fact, I shifted the sands that day by making a choice that went against myself, then compounded my discomfort by punishing myself for that decision (heck the crazy lady didn't scream at me, but I sure as heck did). I doubled my displeasure.

If you look at my interaction with the lady on the street (something I judged as terrible) what really happened?  A woman talked to me and petted my dog.  Now, I had my reasons for being upset about allowing that interaction, as I explained to you, whether or not you understand my analysis.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is that you understand your own process.  If you don't have one, create one.  Always be able to explain yourself to yourself.

When you accept what is (the dark and the light, the highs and the lows) you gain a loftier perspective.  You become wise.  You move magically through boulders. Perhaps the boulders will even disappear.  You can dance on top of them or swim around them. Laugh at them.  Lunch on them.  You have options.  This is the magic: how you approach something changes the nature of it.  A mountain becomes a molehill.  You start to enjoy life instead of being traumatized by it.  Attitude is all.

Instead of chiding myself for doing (or not doing) something, I’m learning to move with my lows and learn from them, loving myself gently throughout, just as if I were sick. This way, I don't stay stuck and act like a broken record obsessing over my perceived infractions (which are just judgments, anyway).  What you resist, persists.  What you embrace transforms.  Our world of contrast offers infinite and ever-changing choices.  If you’re not happy, simply choose again.

I view myself at times as a bird of prey gliding high above the landscape, riding the thermals, adjusting to shifts in pressure, temperature and atmosphere.  The eagle sees everything big and small.  It floats, soars and dives.  Sometimes it catches its prey.  Sometimes it doesn't.  It doesn’t cry about missing. It doesn’t judge.

Instead of assessing my highs as good and my lows as bad, I’m trying to develop a broader stance.  One that embraces dualism so thoroughly that it allows me to transcend it and move into Triality, the position above.  That’s the all seeing Masonic eye on top of the pyramid.  It’s not satanic.  It’s brilliant.  It is a coveted spiritual position that seekers aspire to.  To live in this world, but not of it.  To see, to soar, to dive, and remain strong throughout turbulence.  Conquer your self and you conquer the world. It's not about oppressive patriarchal dominance over either the self or the world, but spiritual mastery incorporating the gentle embrace of the divine feminine.  When you love and accept yourself, all of yourself, the highs, the lows, and everything in-between that comprises your Divine Human Nature, miracles are made.  

Happiness is our natural state of being.  It is our "God Essence", from whence we issue, and it is ours to enjoy when we are open to it.  Like a plane that cruises calmly over the clouds, we too can connect with that peaceful space, even when part of us, the part engaged in the world of light and shadow, is pretending to be sad, angry, or miserable.  It's all an act.  A drama.  A play.  An illusion as real-seeming as your dreams each night.  At heart, we are all made of love.  All the rest is an act.  An act of our creation and choosing.  The drama ends when we decide it does.

I saw the crazy red-headed lady again.  We were crossing the street toward each other.  She saw my dog and lit up, eager to catch us in her witchy energetic web.  A car came between us and I walked around it, avoiding her entirely, as was my desire. Easy. Effortless.  My stomach didn’t tighten as I’d already made the decision not to interact with her again.  I knew what I wanted (no crazy) and the car acted as God’s proxy.  The Universe answers our call.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  

When you consistently connect with the part of your self that is above the fray (through prayer, solitude, meditation, making more comfortable choices) you can more easily and happily navigate the dramas of daily life.  The nature of this world is polarity.  Your True Nature is Unity.  Keep your head in the clouds and enjoy the ride.

© Valerie Gilbert, 2015, All Rights Reserved

I will be at NAMASTE HEALING CENTER in Union Square, NYC again on Friday, June 19, 7-9pm, for a workshop (guided meditation, psychic and spiritual development) and book signing.  $20 Come join the fun! 

RAVING VIOLET, MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion and SWAMI SOUP are available in print, e-book, and audio book, narrated by me.  

Check out this 90 second video of an eagle, outfitted with camera, descending from 2,700 feet atop Dubai's tallest building.  He manages to locate his trainer within a minute, then descends like a bullet.  Talk about focus and vision! (and dare I say, mental telepathy?  How else could one bird find one man so quickly, and at a distance like that?)

http://www.flixxy.com/world-record-eagle-flight-from-worlds-tallest-building.htm?utm_source=nl


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Puppy Song





I recently attended an all day workshop with Dr. Brian Weiss, an eminent Yale psychiatrist who was totally skeptical of anything “otherworldly” until a patient went back farther than he intended her to during a hypnotic regression. She shot straight out of this lifetime and landed smack dab into another.  She also started accessing her consciousness between lifetimes, when her wise Oversoul was not identified with any ego, body or persona.  This Oversoul provided specific, personal information to Dr. Weiss that no one in the world besides he and his wife knew.  Given increasing quantities of verifiable evidence offered during sessions with this gal, his worldview began to shift until he is now the Daddy-O of past-life regression.  Two thousand people attended his event in New York City with me.  His books, including Many Lives, Many Masters, are international bestsellers. The reincarnation movement is growing.

My last piece was about death.  Game over, phooey, you’re kaput. This piece is about what happens after crossing over, the continuity of life via changing form: birth, death, regeneration, renewal and reincarnation.  A case in point.  After losing all three of my pets over the last few years, I recently replenished my full supply.  Ya’ll know about my two new kittens if you’ve been following my story.  When I picked up my kittens the shelter gave me a pet knapsack (talk about embarrassing, at least for me it was, right up there with the doggie stroller). The knapsack had two dog treats tucked inside, undoubtedly donated to the shelter by someone whose dog died.  Well, this got me to thinking, I got cats again (against my better judgment) and I could do the same with another dog (against my better judgment).  It felt foolhardy and wrong, but no one was stopping me (except me).  This was a liberating if scary thought.  But the prospect of more life, more bills, more responsibility, and yes, eventually, more death, made my stomach churn.

Before the new clan I was pet free for the first time in decades.  I was miserable.  Bereft.  Beside myself.  Depressed.  I didn’t leave my house for days at a stretch.  But I didn’t want new pets.  I missed the ones I’d lost.  I’d already made the decision that I should spring for a husband next time, not a dog; that it was time for a human tribe, not an animal one. I worked at home without cease, like someone on an endless march.  I was the walking dead.

Well, eight months of extreme, excruciating grief netted nothing but an incredible body of work recording audio books and a thyroid condition.  Stress and grief are not great for the health.

The “dog/husband” debate continued.  Knowing full well I was tiptoeing into a danger zone, I joined an online dachshund adoption list.  I cringed when the emails came in.  I knew I shouldn’t look.  It was Puppy Porn.  And I was relieved when they were ugly or unappealing.  Phew.  Saved. 

I’d gone through the same doubting rigamarole before and after adopting the kittens.  But after working through my fears, tears, and the kittens’ initial health issues (there were those bills I worried about!) the three of us settled down, and I started to fall in love with them.  It didn’t happen immediately, and it doesn’t usually, no matter how cute a guy, girl, or kitten is.  You have to get to know someone to love them truly.  The more time, the more love.

But every so often one of the dachshund pups would be so gosh darn cute I’d become obsessed.  My heart would flutter.  When they looked like that I didn’t have a choice, which is what happened with Cedric. I filled in the application, knowing I was insane, but damn the torpedoes.   I wrote an email to the shelter and followed up with another message through the adoption site.  No response.  I was crushed.  And relieved.  No, I was crushed, and anxious, but I still wanted Cedric.  Silence.

More ugly pup photos poured in.  Really, no different from Internet dating.  “Is he cute? Could he be 'the one'?”  Nope.  More deletions.  Then I became obsessed with another cutie pie, Peanut.  He had three hairs sticking up on the top of his head and reminded me of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  I reached out again to the same shelter, half-heartedly now, despite his cuteness.  “I’m interested.”  Why get my hopes up when they didn’t even bother to respond the first time?  At least tell me the dog’s no longer available.  More resounding silence.  Rude, but I couldn’t afford to alienate them by telling them what I thought.  They still seemed to hold the rusty key to my facacta puppy pipe dream.

My fears escalated along with my hopes.  “What are you doing?  Don’t do it!  Don’t mess with things!  Your life is good! Don’t ruin it!  You got cats, it’s enough.  What's next, a zebra?”  There were no mature adults around to talk sense into me. As if sense has anything to do with things like falling in love or getting a puppy. 

Another heartbreaker invaded my inbox.  Zane.  My friends cooed adoringly.  “He looks like a muppet!” opined one pal.  Of course I had to get him, right?  He was too cute not to. I filled in another application. An old lady friend of mine who was crazy about my last pup Mimi, took one look at his photo and said, “Oh, Valerie, he’s adorable. You have to call the shelter”.   I didn’t want to interfere too much since I was still totally on the fence about the puppy prospect.  “It’s in God’s hands.” I said.  “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” 

I went home and called the shelter.

A day later, the shelter proprietor, Barbara, called me back.  “You’re interested in Zane?  I’m holding him for you.  See you Saturday.”  Gulp. What had I done?  And how did I get through to her this time? Now I was in for it.  I felt like a prank caller who’d been caught by his parents, or like Berger at the end of Hair, the movie.  The guy played an innocent little prank to help out a friend and he gets shipped off to Vietnam. 

A dog. Oh god, a dog.  On top of that, Barbara’ shelter was out in Jersey.  I don’t have a car.   My head spinning, and not feeling at all sure of myself, I set the wheels in motion to try and procure travel arrangements for this unsettling adventure.  

My default transport team, a friend who lives in Jersey, and a dog lover in the city with a car, were both unavailable that day.  Was this my reprieve?  Well, I’d tried.  I even looked into public transportation, which turned out not to be an option.  I said a prayer that “the perfect person at the perfect time and in the perfect way make him or herself available to me” if this dog was meant to be. 

A friend’s name popped into my head right before I went to bed that night.  Kristen.  A midwife.  She lives in Brooklyn.  I’ve never asked her to drive me anywhere in our many years of friendship.  I asked.  She was free. 

My nerves still frayed, I requested guidance and signs from Spirit to let me know I was doing the right thing. Several synchronistic things happened in the days leading up to my pilgrimage to potential puppy land.  I found a brand new stuffed panda bear toy on the ground.  Mimi, my dead mini dachshund, would have loved it.  In fact, her favorite stuffed animal was a black and white cow, which mirrored her own colors.  This panda looked an awful lot like Mimi’s cow.

Next, while trolling the pet section of T.J. Maxx (an old pastime with Mimi, who amassed a massive toy collection from their aisles) I came upon a Snoopy water bowl.  Now, I was a Snoopy freak as a child, and I remain a fan today.  Mimi even reminded me of Snoopy, and while I was walking her on a very depressing day, I found a Snoopy toy on the sidewalk.  It wasn’t any old Snoopy toy.  It was Snoopy at the typewriter (“It was a dark and stormy night…”). This was delightful and much needed encouragement from Spirit to cheer me on with my writing before I was published.

I’ve never seen anything Snoopy at T.J. Maxx, so I heeded the sign, grabbed the $3.99 water bowl and went on my way.  It was a clear portent regarding the new dog from my old dog.   Messages continued to pour in on the Psychic Ticker Tape. Harry Nilsson (John Lennon's favorite singer/songwriter)’s sweet and heartfelt “The Puppy Song” popped up on my iPod shuffle. The morning of my trek to Jersey I found a tarot card laying on the floor from one of the four decks I pull cards from daily.  How did it get there?  My cats knocked it down. Fine. But out of roughly 200 cards, one card lay face up on the ground, “You are on the Right Path”.  I actually started to relax a little.  As I ate breakfast, another beloved Harry Nilsson song, “Me and My Arrow” (about a boy and his dog from Nilsson’s score for the animated children’s film The Point, narrated by Ringo Starr) came on my iPod shuffle. The steady stream of signs was unmistakable.  All systems were go.

Then there was that dream I had.  I’d dreamt about Mimi a couple of times, and it was always amazing, hyper real and so rapturous to see, feel and interact with my bosom buddy again.  Now, dreams can mean lots of things.  They can be a subconscious digesting of your day’s activities.  They can be precognitive.  They can be “lucid” in that you have some incredible insight into your own life, consciousness, or spiritual development.  You can have real interactions with loved ones in Spirit, or the spirits of those still in the flesh.  For those who have had this powerful, visceral contact, you know it’s not “just a dream”.   Every time I dreamt of Mimi it had that hyper real, palpable sense of a joyous reunion. 

One night, months ago, I had a very strange dream about her.  I stopped, dumbfounded, when I saw her in suspended animation, frozen in mid air, facing me, her posterior hovering over my window sill which is filled with potted plants.  The bulk of her torso was levitating in a trotting position.  She was neither dead nor alive, simply frozen in time.  Astonished, I spoke her name.  Thrilled to see her, albeit under such strange circumstances, I reached out slowly to touch her.  As my hand approached her body she began to unfreeze and come back to life, much like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White after the Prince’s kiss. 

This dream stuck powerfully with me, and I can still remember it like it was ten minutes ago. One of my friends said “You had contact with her.”  Yeah, I got that part, but not the unique aspect that was compelling me to analyze the dream’s significance.  The circumstances were too specific and macabre not to be more meaningful than just that.

I have a green thumb.  So did my mom.  I have brought many a plant back from the brink of death, near lifeless plants my neighbors have thrown out in the trash room.  I embrace and nourish them, and lo and behold, in a short time, the “goners” return and flourish.  I’m that good.  My window sill is a healing zone.

“I bring things back from the dead.”  I thought. “I have the power of regeneration.”  Mimi was suspended on my shelf of sunlight and greenery, the recovery room for resurrected plants, when I touched her.  My touch is magic; I have the power to summon forth life.

That’s what it meant.

I believe this is a latent power within all of us, to create, to renew, refresh, resurrect and refurbish, starting with ourselves.  “All this and more ye can do,” said Jesus.  That’s what he was talking about.  This may perhaps sound a bit grandiose to you but I can only reply that you haven’t seen my plants. 

When I considered that little Zane might be my puppy come back to me, I got seriously choked up.  I had asked her to come back, begged her when she was dying not to die, but if she did, I compelled her to return.  I kept all her personal effects, her toys, her doggie bones, her beds and her sweaters.  It was December 20th, five days before the holiday.  Could she be coming home for Christmas?  It was a most magnificent prospect.

On a cold, damp and gray December morning I made the trek via bus and subway to Brooklyn.  Every connection pulled in just as I arrived, a seamlessly choreographed commute.  We picked up Kris’s car from the shop, then drove through the Isle of Staten to Nouveau Jersé. 

We entered the adoption site and I spotted Zane immediately.  Like many other prospective men on the Internet, little Zane had misrepresented himself.  Far from the tiny picture perfect photo that made him look like a star from Sesame Street, the real Zane had escaped from the set of 21 Jump Street.  He was a large, obstreperous teenage offender who barked incessantly the full time Kristen and I were there.  He was all grown up, on his hind legs, demanding attention.

It became obvious that “Zane” was short for “ZANY”, a clear euphemism for crazy.  He was not alone in his demented demeanor.  There was another dog that stopped spinning in endless circles only long enough to poop then bolt it down lickety split.  It felt a bit like a doggie insane asylum.  I’ve never backed out on a blind Internet date (though someone once did it to me, thanks guy!) but I whispered to Kristen “Don’t let her know it’s us!”  I mean, the lady couldn’t make me adopt him, but she had put him on hold for me, after not responding to my applications for other pups.  Now I knew why.  She couldn’t wait to unload him. 

Kristen was very chill about the whole thing, and while not pressuring me, she pointed out another dachshund since we were there.  Sweet but skittish, she wasn’t really “my type”, and she was spoken for anyway. Her “intendeds” came to adopt her, good. 

We glanced at another of the three or four puppy play-pens set up and Kris observed, “You don’t need to look there.”  Kris comes from a family of Big Dog Lovers, a legacy of Old English Sheepdogs, Bassett Hounds, and currently an English bulldog.  The rag tag gang here was small, scruffy and mangy looking.  The yappy dog type.  Though no one was yapping.

I sighed and resolved to leave this unappealing situation, silently relieved.  I told the ring leader that I was sorry, but Zane was just too big and loud for my apartment, so I couldn’t adopt him.  She took it all in stride.  She’d allowed me to play with the spoken for doxie, with the caveat that she was likely going to be adopted.  She even called the potential adopters to see if they were still coming.  But the point was, she was trying to work with me and I appreciated that.

“Can I just show you one dog before you go?” she offered.  “Sure” I replied.  I’d humor her, convinced it would be another no-go.  She walked us over to the scruffy-mangy set.  “There’s this little guy, Brando.  He didn’t look like much when he came in, but he’s got personality.”  He didn’t look like much now, a tiny, scrappy, black and white feller.  He was surrendered by his original owner, a lady truck driver.  This I liked; the incongruity of a tough broad with this miniscule critter, and the absurdity of giving him such a macho name.  What about this diminutive dog said “muscle shirt” and “I coulda been a contender.”?  He was barely three pounds and I could just see the two of them in the front seat of her truck while she smoked, cursed, and drank diet soda on the Jersey Turnpike.  But the front seat of a truck is no place to raise a baby.  At least she saw the error of her ways and surrendered him.

His hair was a mess and his eyes were both covered with gunk.  I couldn’t tell if he had cataracts or not, and wondered if he was, in fact, a tiny old man.  Barbara assured me that he was a baby and directed me to look at his teeth. He was a plebe.

Barbara encouraged us to take him down aisle 4 (the adoption event was held in a big pet shop) and play.  Kris and I sat on the ground and tried to bond with him.  I didn’t.  She did.  She held him in her arms like a baby.  I tried it.  Nothing happened.  We tried to engage him with a toy (Barbara came prepared with accouterments to entice).  He wasn’t interested.  Neither was I.  His hair was a mess.  He didn’t seem like much to me, or to like me much.  He was just a dog. 

“I don’t need a dog”.  I said aloud, stating the obvious.  I didn’t have to take any old dog.  I didn’t want a dog.  I wanted my dog.  I was crazy even to be here.  I had had a very special dog, and no one here was special. 

Kris picked him back up.  “This is your dog.”  I looked at her.  “Why is he my dog?”  “Well, look how calm he is.  He’s not struggling to get out of my arms.  Clearly he wants to be where the action is with the other dogs, but he’s not whining.”  When we put him down he pattered off to be with the canine crowd, until we wrangled all three pounds of him back to aisle 4. 

“I don’t need a dog,” I repeated like a mantra.  I was not convinced. 

“Let’s go get lunch. Think about it,” Kris suggested.

What a great idea.  What a great friend.  She was the perfect person to go with, just as I had prayed for.  I was in no position to make this decision, and frankly, I wasn’t inclined toward adopting.  We explained our departure to Barbara and told her we’d be back in an hour. 

Kris had just become vegetarian, and I like healthy food.  We drove around a bit, looking for the Thai restaurant Barbara mentioned but couldn’t find it.  We were surrounded by strip mall pizza parlors, delis and bad Chinese.  Neither of us wanted this crap.  With the pressure off, and the shift of scenery to relieve my stress, my mind cleared.   

I was going to get the dog.  It seemed capricious, probably crazy, but I just went for it.  Acted from my gut, if not from my heart, because my heart was not in it yet.  How could it be?  I didn’t know the little tyke yet.  

We drove back and I adopted him.  As I held the three pound pup in the front seat of the car I told Kristen, “You didn’t deliver my baby, but you delivered me to my baby.  Thank you.”

This dog is not only perfect for me in every way, shape and form, he is my dog.  I mean really, he is my dog.  He’s my little Mimi come back to me.  I believe in reincarnation, and he is proof positive of the phenomenon (not that anyone believes but me, but who cares?  It’s my belief, my books, my life, and my dog).  I’ve named him Milo after the little boy in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, one of my favorite “kids” books with enough profundity to enlighten the most jaded of adults.  Mimi has morphed into Milo. 

I went to Jersey to get Zane, a brown and black dachshund and came back with a black and white fluff ball.  Mimi was black and white. Milo’s black markings are exactly where Mimi’s were.  Are the personalities identical?  Of course not.  They’re not supposed to be.  What’s the point of coming back and doing it exactly the same way?  That’s not how reincarnation works.  We switch from male to female, rich to poor, warrior to monk, black to brown to white, red and yellow.  We’re here to experience.  To learn from the past and improve upon it, take what we know and build on it.   

We bring back markers, often scars (if you’re human), as subconscious reminders of where we’ve been (a broken neck in a past life can manifest as neck pain in this life, a spear through the chest can result in a birthmark on the site of that mortal wound).  Milo has recreated a little hop, an Irish jig in the right rear that Mimi had.  He sits in Mimi’s exact same spots in my home.  He’s silent like Mimi was, though he does growl at people in my hallway, which I sometimes enjoy (my "defender" is a dancing cotton ball).  He is calm and easygoing in public.  No one knows he’s with me if he’s in a bag. Just like Mimi. 

Everything that was wrong with Mimi is right with Milo.  She was deformed and heavy.  He’s perfect, and light as a feather.  He’s Mimi 2.0, the latest OS with improved hardware.  He races down the hall like Mimi did, but now with no crippling consequences.  The engineering issues have been resolved.

Interestingly, Mimi humped more than Milo does.  Her cow was a favorite objet d’amour, and she tried to hump me once or twice, but I’m not gay and didn’t go for it.  Actually, Milo doesn’t hump at all.

Mimi, while only five years old, had a compromised body and wanted out.  How could I stop her?  In fact, when the time came, I offered an assist (via my vet). Just like Lily Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles, who murmered,  “Excuse me while I slip into something more…comfortable,”  Mimi exited the scene and did a quick costume change.  Her Ford Model T was weighing her down. She needed to streamline.  Now she’s an aerodynamic Ultra Light aircraft.  Bones that were heavy and deformed are now light as balsa wood.  The earthbound Dodo has become a sparrow.  It’s almost hard to keep him grounded, he’s like a balloon bouncing up and down the road in the wind.

I don’t think any of my friends see it as I do, they probably think I’m crazy again (what’s new) but I’ve got the inside scoop.  Keeping track of my psychic, spiritual, mental and emotional data is my domain.  Don’t let anyone think they know more about you than you do.  

Milo is not a hound, as Mimi was, which means his smelling is not as acute, nor is he OBSESSED with food the way Mimi was.  She was a virtual gourmand from day one, even pulling the flesh off of her very first artichoke leaf without my having to explain to her how to do it, and she shared mid-night nibbles of grapefruit with me. She was a food genius.  She was also a little overweight, which didn’t help her arthritis or deformities any.  But how could I deprive her of one of her greatest joys in life, when it was also one of mine?  She lived hard and ate fast. 

When she was a pup she performed a magic trick while I was out.  She got hold of a sealed plastic canister of freeze dried chicken liver cat treats.  She worked her puppy teeth around the edge of the lid like a can opener.  It was precision cut, as if done by machine.  She ate the entire jar (perhaps 12 ounces, but the equivalent of 5 pounds of chicken livers before they were freeze dried).  She was fine, but even more baffling was the fact that her gums were not bloodied or cut.  She was born to eat well.  And often. 

At 15 pounds this made it difficult to carry her.  And since she was deformed and arthritic, I had to carry her a lot as she was in pain.  She would just look up at me and I’d know it was time to hoist her in my arms or put her in her bag.  While I’m used to carrying heavy loads since youth (tons of schoolbooks) and my purse probably weighs 15 pounds anyway, it was frustrating to have that extra load when I wished I could just be out lightheartedly walking my dog.  I wished she could exercise more, and so did she. She ran like the wind and loved to play, but it always took a toll on her.  It was not only her weight.  It was her compromised skeletal structure which manifested deformities and severe limping shortly after I got her at 8 weeks.  Mimi’s joie de vivre (and mine) was cut off at the knees.

I’m quite thrown by the fact that she’s a boy now.  The landscape has changed. All I want to do is give her a belly rub, and I have to be careful not to deliver a hand job. But there it is. A boy she is. When I catch him out of the corner of my eye, or even see him in photos, the impression is that of Mimi.  Tiny, white, black, and in all the right spots.  The relationship between us is identical as well.  Not the details, per se, but the energy of it.  The pure adoration and joy we take in each other.  It’s just like the song “Me And My Arrow”, about a boy and his dog, except I’m a girl and the dog's a boy.   We’re right back where we started, but with a new lease on life.  Mimi’s finally got a healthy body.  And I’m in a better place in every way than when I got Mimi.  Everything old is new again.  But the light in his eyes is the same.  The spirit, the bond, and the joy we take in each other is identical. 

“Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Put it on backwards when forward fails
Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again”

(“Everything Old Is New Again” by Peter Allen)

After all the extreme grieving I did after Mimi died (it was bad), I blinked my eyes, and 15 (miserable) months later, on a cold, dark day in December, my little girl came back to me.  I am in gratitude and glory every day.   

As well, my dead tabby cat Wilbur has most assuredly returned as new silver tabby Celeste, and Mimi and Wilbur have simply picked up where they left off as best buddies, now masquerading as Milo and Celeste, running around the house and incessantly chewing on each other’s ears, tails and feet.  I don’t know what to call any of them, frankly, and frequently default to “hey, you” after trying all the wrong (dead) names.  I’m giddily flummoxed.

Wilbur and Mimi used to nap together, giant Wilbur would spoon from behind, his arm protectively around her.  When Wilbur died, Mimi howled over his body.  She was devastated.  She couldn’t have cared less about my other cat, Angela, alive or dead. 

For those who don’t believe in reincarnation, I’m not trying to convince you.  For those who know it to be true, the evidence is astounding.  After the deepest of depressions (I’ve had lots over the decades) I am now in seventh heaven. It is Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July in my home every day.

It is because I’ve come out of such deep despair that my joy is so great.  That too, is clear to me.  Life knows how to pack a punch. After not leaving my apartment for days at a stretch when my last two pets died, I am now back in full force on the streets.  

I saw Jose recently, a favorite neighborhood doorman of mine.  He’s been quoted in my books before.  “How are you, honey?”  He knew my last dog, Mimi, had passed.  “I got a new pup!  I believe in reincarnation, and I really think it’s Mimi again.  Except she’s got a dick now.”  Never at a loss with a comeback, Jose jumped right in, “Chicks with dicks?  Sure.  I’ve seen ‘em before.”

This is how it works.  We come, we go, then we come again.  Rinse, repeat.

I worked long and hard on myself while utterly alone at home.  I dredged myself out of a swamp. I, not Mimi, returned from the Underworld.  She just came back from the body shop.

“Dreams are nothing more than wishes
And a wish is just a dream you wish to come true

If only I could have a puppy
I'd call myself so very lucky
Just to have some company
To share a cup of tea with me
I'd take my puppy everywhere
La la la la I wouldn't care
Then we would stay away from crowds
With signs that said "No Dogs Allowed"
Oh we... I know he'd never bite me
We... I know he'd never bite me..oh no.

If only I could have a friend
Who’d stick with me until the end
And walk along beside the sea
To share a bit of moon with me
I'd take my friend most everywhere
La la la la I wouldn't care
And we would stay away from crowds
With signs that said "No Friends Allowed"
Oh we...we'd be so happy to be...
We...we'd be so happy to be together

But dreams are nothing more than wishes
And a wish is just a dream you wish to come true
Dreams are nothing more than wishes.
You wish to come true.

Your wish will come true.
Your wish will come true.
Your wish will come true.”

“The Puppy Song” by Harry Nilsson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE2yd5rFkpY

Short, remarkable videos presenting strong evidence of reincarnation:

LUKE / PAM


LITTLE BOY / FORMER WWII PILOT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w2MCpzE8u0&list=PLUuzBSN3Dnk7SHYXSKU_YHjDUGy1MYb3G

BARBRO KARLEN / ANNE FRANK 


The life cycle (and recycle!) beautifully illustrated in 4 minutes.


Valerie Gilbert ©2015 All rights reserved.

I will be at NAMASTE HEALING CENTER in Union Square, NYC again on Friday, June 19, 7-9pm, for a workshop (guided meditation, psychic and spiritual development) and book signing.  $20 Come join the fun! 

RAVING VIOLET, MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion and SWAMI SOUP are available in print, e-book, and audio book, narrated by me!