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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Mystical Bike Shop (An Interlude)

A bicycle doesn’t typically come to mind when seeking respite from the sun, but that’s what this guy was hiding behind on a hot, Saturday morning in New York City.  A pasty fellow who looked to be 40 was ahead of me in line during Summer Streets (Park Avenue shuts down for half a day, three weekends a summer). “This is what sucks about New York,”  he griped, “What?” We were in line to receive free bicycle helmets, what could be so bad?  “Long lines” he groused, as if it was obvious. “That’s what makes the city great.”  I responded. He was incredulous.  “Long lines?”  “No, lots of people. They go hand in hand.  Not to mention we get free helmets.” “Well, long lines suck,” pale guy restated.  I was unamused by his sour attitude. “You’re getting free stuff in a big city, what do you expect?”  

The guy crouched behind his CitiBike (rented by the city’s bike sharing program) seeking shelter from the shadow cast by its seat and frame.  The guy was thin, but not skeletal.  How could the bike’s shadow possibly help?   The line was long, and progress was slow.   They were fitting everyone for proper helmet size, and handing out colorful brain shaped erasers to the kids. I saw Crouching Tiger smile, and took this as an opening. 

“Are you hiding from the sun?”  I teased. He was paler than me, which is pretty hard to do.  The guy needed a little sunshine.  Turns out he wasn’t smiling, he was smirking.  His whining recommenced.  “They should have tents out here to protect us.  It’s hot!”  Unbelievable. “Is this your wedding?" I shot back. "What do you want, champagne and caviar?” “Well, the workers have a tent!” There were 10-20 of them.  There were hundreds of us.  “That’s because they’re here all day.  You’re here half an hour.  You’re getting a free helmet, this is not opening night.” 

When all was said and done we both got shiny new helmets.  Mine’s a silver/white number.  It’s nice, but he got the color I coveted, lime green.  What did he do as he exited the arena, free helmet on head?  Stuck out his tongue like a three year old.  I guess he didn’t like the color.  But really, he didn’t like anything, did he?   Not the sun, not the heat, not the lines, not his helmet.

There were tons of people happily milling around. I saw an Indian family who had waited patiently in line ahead of grumpy guy and me. Everyone, father, mother, two kids and grandma (in a sari), had a helmet on their head as they departed the area and strolled down Park Avenue. Not one of them had a bike. 

People bike up and down Park avenue during Summer Streets, some walk or run. It’s a combination party and parade.  There are various booths with promotional events, musical performances, and exercise and dance classes on the sidewalk.  The bike route passed right by the downtown store where I bought my bike, and it reminded me to get a free tuneup.   My dog in the bike basket, I reveled in all the sights this celebratory day offered.  A waterslide by City Hall and the courts considerably lightened the weighty governmental tone.  There was free (sponsored) coconut water, mobile tap water fountains set up by the city just for this day, hammocks, sand, music and dancing.  Everything was flowing.  A little girl (clearly the next Beyonce) was dancing so well and boisterously at a year and a half that she had a paparazzi like horde of humans (myself included) videotaping her moves.

My bike store participated in the days’ festivities by selling biking shoes and helmets on the sidewalk for cheap.   They were in snazzy, Valerie-friendly colors.  But they were too big, both the shoes and the helmets.  Since I’m very good at attracting what I want, I went online later, determined to find the snazzy shoes for cheap.  They were not cheap anywhere.  Oh well.  It really had been a great deal.  The store was too crowded for my tune-up during Summer Streets Saturday, so I returned to the store the next day, curious to see if I could work my magic.  Their website indicated that the store had one pair in my size, so while my bike was being worked on, I jokingly asked if they had any helmets for my puppy (who was securely bungee-corded into the bike basket), and if they had any more of those fun biking shoes.  

One of the guys remembered me and my dog from the day before.  He sent me next door to their auxiliary shop, and said if they had them, to refer the salesperson back to him.  He would give me the great deal.

They had them, in two vibrant shades.  This lovely guy assisted me, told me which color he liked better (it helped sway my decision) and said he’d give me the price break.  I’m not sure how it got started, but I started talking about mysticism (not terribly unusual for me).

I told him about the recent past life regression intensive I took, and my upcoming psychic development class (as teacher).  He seemed startled, then shyly confessed that he is quite psychic himself.   He called over a young female associate, an astrologer, and the three of us had a brief psychic pow-wow.  He said that the girl, the guy tuning up my bike, and he were all in their last karmic round of incarnations. 

I'm not big on that kind of assessment.  It’s not something you can really verify, and it’s out of your hands anyway. It’s sort of like deciding you’re going to graduate before school concurs your eligibility.  But I liked him and the gang anyway, graduation or not. 

“Merlin”, “Kate" and “Mercurio” were all magicians.  They loved their jobs.  They were happy people.  And I had Technicolor biking shoes to supercharge my ride home. 

Do you seek miracles, and thereby create them?  Or do you grumble about free helmets and seek shade behind bicycles?  One path opens doors wide, the other seals them firmly shut.

© 2015 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved

"Psychic Development and Healing Circle with Author Valerie Gilbert" workshop at Namaste Healing Center, Union Square, NYC, Friday September 25th from 7-9pm, $25. Guided meditation, past life regression, psychic development exercises, and discussion.

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

Friday, August 14, 2015


I had a nightmare about my ex-husband a few days ago.  While seemingly innocuous on the surface (not to mention weird) I woke up deeply unsettled.  An old, cat-snaggled towel was pinned to the wall near the bathroom my ex used when he lived with me.  There was peanut butter smeared here and there on the cloth.  I knew immediately what it meant.  He’d had sex with someone, and they’d fooled around using peanut butter during their encounter.  The cat-tattered towel represented his “catting around”. But why the peanut butter?  Beat the hell out of me.  I confronted him immediately in the dream.  “You had sex with her”. (She was right there, smirking.)  He denied it outright, as he always did.   Never fessed to a thing.  But there were things. 

“The towel was hanging in the wind, hung out to dry, left hanging. A throwaway, disposable.” a friend suggested.  I found this description of “hung out to dry” online: “To abandon someone who is in need, especially one dependent.” Yes, my ex left me hanging out to dry during our relationship.  But was this a throwaway issue?  In fact, my ex actually threw out the kitchen trash in the dream .  Not just the trash, but the can itself. I wasn’t sure what that meant either.  And the peanut butter plain old baffled me.

Wordsmith that I am, the peanut butter explanation came to me a few nights later. The phrase “laying it on thick” popped into my head.  It had resonance and seemed to explain it all.  My ex was always "laying it on thick", whether wheedling for something, or waffling out of something, including telling the truth.  Peanut butter was an apt metaphor for this behavior and my dream’s witty symbol amused me. 

The dream’s meaning became even clearer days later when I received a call from someone I’d met a few weeks ago.  On the last night of my trip to study past life regression upstate, I walked past a fellow I thought I knew, so I said hi.  Tall, he seemed to be holding up the roof to the gift shop.  I thought it was the guy who worked inside, someone I’m friendly with.  On closer inspection (it was late) I discerned it was not the person I thought it was, but he and I proceeded to engage in a friendly and somewhat flirty chat. 

In talking about my past life regression class I shared with him my conclusion that I am a true creature of comfort in this lifetime not because I’m a sissy, but because I suffered enough trauma and deprivation in other lifetimes.  I’ve been a soldier several times.  You can stop right there.  He claimed to be the opposite, he didn’t need comfort at all.  He said he used to work on Wall Street but that he’d sold his home and was living as a free spirit, going where the wind blew.  A Jack Kerouac kinda thing.  He travelled and slept in his car.   

Dazzling eyes and flirting aside, I was a bit bored so I bid him adieu and retreated to the comfort of my cushy, air-conditioned dorm room with soft sheets.  I gave him my card in case he wandered through New York.  It occurred to me as I walked through the woods to my room that in the past I might have been tempted to hook up with him (though not in these dorms where the walls are paper thin) or at least linger longer.  But, he’d also mentioned a desire to be on stage, and this is a huge turnoff for me.  I’ve dated performers, and it never ended well.  A wanna be performer is even worse.  So it was a no brainer to say goodnight.  I didn’t need validation or that kind of “experience” anymore.  I feel good about myself, and want to be with a man because he’s right for me, not because he's “right there”.   I took note of my growth and smiled.  After years of longing, yearning, and feeling incomplete, I am content now.  I am happy.  

Never did hear from the guy, which was all well and good with me.  I’ve been very busy since returning from the woods and the Higher Realms (I was in an altered state during much of the five day past life regression intensive) and it was a difficult adjustment to get back to the harsher vibrations of New York City.  It took me a good five days to recover from my crash landing at Port Authority bus terminal.  Once restored, I led a psychic development and healing circle workshop (which included a group past life regression) at Namaste Healing Center in Union Square, and the event was a real high.  All was well. 

I was out doing errands on a sunny Sunday afternoon to further feather my nest, and upgrade my bed and bath when he called.  Kerouac was in town.  “My guidance told me to call you”.   I didn’t know how to respond to that.  “Uh huh”.  Don’t most men simply act on their desire to get together with a woman?  Is “guidance” truly required? Come on.  He threw around New Age catch phrases on the phone, perhaps to butter me up since we met at a spiritually oriented joint, but unbeknownst to him, it really turned me off.  I’m “out there” spiritually but I’m “down here” physically, a fairly feisty New Yorker. My airy fairy stuff is balanced with plenty of grounding (cursing for one). 

“Manifesting….yoga…avocados…”  he jabbered on. Avocados?  “I was sitting on 34th Street and 5th Ave, got up, and when I went to sit back down, there was an avocado.  What do you think it means?”  Listen, I had enough trouble with my peanut butter, now I have to figure out his avocado?  “I have no idea”.   Rogue, rolling avocados mean nothing to me, on 34th Street or anywhere else.  He was sure it was a sign.  Well, he’d just have to do the same due diligence with his subconscious that I had with mine, or Google the green "fruit" like I did.  Seems avocados represent a bunch of things, including lust.

He asked if I wanted to meet for coffee.  I haven’t been on a date in a long time, I had time, and I was dressed nicely.  I agreed.  We met at an upscale health food-y place with outdoor seating an hour later.  I was wearing Upper East Side garb, as I was fully owning who I am, someone who has, someone who wants, someone who enjoys.  I’m not abstemious in my tastes or behaviors.  I’m a spiritual sensualist. 

He was there in all his glory.  Baseball cap, flip flops, shorts, gray ponytail.  He was The Dude from The Big Lebowski.  It was all becoming clear to me, all the more so in the light of day on the sidewalk, not under the stars in the woods.  This guy definitely tied in with my ex-husband, sparkling eyes and all. 

By now it was 2pm, and I’d not had lunch.  I told him I was hungry and asked if he was going to eat.  He wasn’t.  He ordered a hibiscus tea.  Cognizant that he might pay for this date, since he’d asked me out, I abstained (against my religion) from food and ordered a cup of hot tea.  With cream.  I wasn’t going to put him out. 

I don’t remember what we (he) talked about because it just bored me to pieces.  His yoga practice.  His breathing.  I dunno.  In short order I was dying to get out of there.  Another narcissist, wanna be performer, writer, dreamer.  Oh, and he didn’t actually work in finance (as “I worked on Wall Street” would indicate).  He worked in “communications” (I finally discerned the actual meaning, he was the phone guy).  Do you think the guy who sells hot dogs on the corner of Wall and Front Streets tells potential dates that he works on Wall Street, too?  

Avocado Dude was “laying it on thick”, as my ex had when he told me he was an “account executive” for the cable company when I met him.  In reality, he knocked on doors in the Bronx to sign people up for HBO and Cinemax.  What my ex tried at 28 is not so cute when attempted at 55.  Actually, it’s not cute at any age.  Just speak the truth.  I might actually like you.  But at least you’ll enable me to see you for who you are, not who you wish you were.   

Avocado Dude observed  “blah blah blah…I think it’s what you and I have in common”. I don’t remember what it was, because I had no idea what he was talking about, nor did I see anything similar between us. I like beds.  He like cars.  I wash my hair. He wears baseball caps.

Avocado Dude mentioned a girl he’d just visited for a week to “tie up some unfinished business”  (read between the lines: sex).  He’d visited someone else after he met me.  Another woman?  In fact, the cell he called me from had a woman’s name on the caller ID.  Who the heck was she?  Did he just drive from woman to woman? More damn peanut butter.

He presented me with the avocado in question, wrapped in a paper bag he’d also found on the street.  Was this supposed to impress me?  The avocado had a cut on it. He offered it for me to hold, not to keep. “Yup.  Definitely an avocado.”  I handed it back to him.

I made a hasty exit after just over an hour, something that seemed to take him by surprise.  As I got up I asked, “Would you like money for the tea?”  He hesitated just a second before caving, “Sure.”  I gave him $5.  

I was incensed when I left.  I was pissed at him for being boring and cheap and a liar and just pissed that this had happened to me again.  That this “type” had happened to me again.

And yet, what really happened?   Not only did I not marry this dazzler, I didn’t even sleep with him.  So, I had a cup of tea.  I had dabbled with The Dude. This was dating nightmare "lite”.   I’d never even had an inkling of an urge for “more” with this loser. This is how your soul knows you’ve really done the work and learned the lesson.  When you’re confronted with the same crap at a different time, how do you respond?  I had passed The Test.  Even better, my nightmare (intuition) had warned me about what was coming, and I loved that.  

I dated a very wealthy fellow years ago who fancied himself a “man of nature”.  He spent little cash, especially on me, and perhaps thought it meaningful when, during a ride in the country in his sports car, he handed me an acorn top.  It was a “gift”.  “They told me to give this to you” he said without explaining who “they” were.  I didn’t bother to ask.  Clearly, they were the “voices” in his cheap-ass head.  I tossed it over the side of the car and said, “Tell them I already have one.”  This same guy gave me a rock once.  It wasn’t even his rock.  It was my rock.  I found it on the ground and showed it to him because it was heart shaped.  He took it from me despite my protestations, then returned it to me weeks later painted red.  Some fucking present. He said nothing when he handed my rock back to me.  He probably thought it was “from the heart”.  Actually, it was from the ground.  There comes a time to just open up your freaking wallet.

Then there was the artist I had a fling with. It sizzled initially but fizzled quickly.  After sleeping with me on two “dates”, he accepted my offer of $5 to split our single Chinese entree (this was dinner).  I didn’t expect him to accept, but lo and behold, he did. I had been sympathetic to his starving artist status at the time, a sympathy I no longer extend.

The Dude’s guidance had been right on for him to call me. I was meant to confront this type of loser again.  I could not ignore the irritation, nor “breathe” it away.  I’d have to bitch it out.  It was too close to home (Ex-husband! Selfish artists!) to let go without reacting.  The event held a huge emotional charge for me.  Which is why I had the nightmare a few days prior.  It was a warning. 

In fact, my friend Nicole, a channeler,
had given me a message not long before that I didn’t like too well.  I’d just experienced something minor but annoying, and she said I’d have more of the same challenges or tests coming.  Well, I don’t know about you, but having survived several thousand challenges, tests and irritations in this life already, I was not eager to have more.  However, she added that I’d be able to shake them off, to laugh them off easily now, an indication of my progress.  Having just survived one more, seeing how relatively innocuous yet hugely symbolic it was for me, I got the point.  I was not hurt.  I’m out an hour of my time and $5 (believe me, my ex got away with far more).  I don’t feel sorry for people anymore, and especially not men I might date. I’m no longer in the broken wing mending business.  It’s because I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore.  

I cut The Dude loose to hang in the breeze. 

It doesn’t make me more spiritual to get involved with users, losers, liars and cheaters.  That’s not compassion.  That’s stupidity and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  My anger does not make me less spiritual.  It is simply an indication that something is wrong and needs correcting.  In this case, it was an Avocado Alert. 

What did “manifesting” an avocado on 34th Street mean?  Avocados can symbolize self-love, self-worth, transforming inner beauty into external beauty, balancing male and female energies, balance between dualities, lust and love. Avocados are also associated with cojones, which they look like, and which Avocado Dude obviously had.  But I just think it meant he was about to lay a green egg.   Which he did, with me.

Back to my nightmare. In the end, the trash was thrown out, all of it, even the can.  I can release the past now, throw it all away, especially the pain and discomfort.  I can make new choices. 

This story has a happy ending.  I found five bucks on the street yesterday and I was ecstatic, for it was  a symbol.  The Universe reimbursed the money I was out from the lousy date.  No, I didn’t get my hour back, but that’s okay.  I have this story.  The return of my fiver was sweet confirmation that this lesson is complete.  My money was refunded, as surely as the trash was taken out in my dream.  In with the good, out with the bad.  Avocado Dude wasn’t a free spirit.  He was homeless.  He can sleep in his car and lay as many avocados as he likes, while I enjoy pillows and peace in my domestic paradise.  

© 2015 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved

"Psychic Development and Healing Circle with Author Valerie Gilbert" workshop at Namaste Healing Center, Union Square, NYC, Friday September 25th from 7-9pm, $25. Guided meditation, past life regression, psychic development exercises, and discussion.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I was talking with a couple I had just met about one of my favorite New Age speakers, Esther Hicks, who channels the energy of “Abraham” a collective consciousness.   Just thinking about Esther and Abe puts me in a good mood.  If I watch one of their DVDs I beam pretty much from beginning to end during their lengthy programs, then head to bed floating on a cloud. I love their philosophy.  I love their teachings.  The “vibration” they embody lifts me into the stratosphere.  That’s what it’s intended to do.  That’s what they teach.  How to get happy, and from there, how to become even happier. 

This couple loved Esther and Abe, too, and as we excitedly talked I started to share some of my personal story with them.  The wife began arguing with me.  About my life.  Huh?  This has happened before.  Someone fails to understand what I am saying and projects her own mishegas on me.  What had started as a happy and inspired connection devolved into a tense discussion about my path.  She didn’t understand what I was saying.  

I gave a brief synopsis of how I went from being lonely and depressed after losing my parents when I was young, feeling frustrated and sorry for myself after an early marriage ended in an early divorce, to the triumphant status I claim today, that of being mostly happy most of the time.  This is a gargantuan, top of Mt. Everest accomplishment for me, of which I am most proud, particularly since I did it all by myself.  There’s no one in my home cheering me on (though I do have marvelous friends).  The nuclear family I lost was my Achilles heel, the loss a purgatory of pain over the decades, and it had not been replicated with a new, nuclear family.

My new acquaintance argued,  “Have you heard nothing Abraham says?  You are never alone.  Spirit is always with you!”

This gal was referring to the idea that we are surrounded by our loved ones in Spirit.  That God is around us.  I believe that too, but I don’t always “experience” it.  I am human.  I’ve experienced grief and deep depression and fought long and hard to replace them with peace and joy.  However, this woman lives with someone.  Happily married.  Her husband was right there with her.  Shut up.

“I know all about life after death, but when they’re dead, they’re dead.”  “But you’re not alone, and they’re not really dead”, she persisted.  Harumph.  I girded myself.  “I am alone” I retorted.  “I did not say I am lonely, but I most certainly live alone, spirits or not!”   For the love of God. This was ridiculous.  

What the hell were we arguing about?  We both believe in an afterlife, but I’m the one who’s single with the dead parents. More importantly, she was telling me how to feel.  When you’re grieving, it’s no comfort that they’re still alive (somewhere else) or ever so close to you (when you can’t see, feel, or hear them).  With a good medium you can communicate with your loved ones, and after having such experiences myself my grief really started to abate.  Furthermore, I'm not grieving anymore.  I was explaining to this couple where I had been, where I was coming from, which makes my current liberated status all the more significant.  

I live alone but don’t feel alone anymore, and there’s the difference.  Alone is not the same thing as lonely. You do not have to be loved to feel loved.  We create these feeling tones with our thoughts, beliefs and feelings.  I have learned how to think and feel thoughts that connect me to my loved ones in spirit.  I have chosen new beliefs that make me feel good.  As a result, I’m much happier, and my connection to Spirit (including loved ones, and my Soul Self) is stronger.  This woman was barking up the wrong tree, preaching to the choir and trying to philosophize with a philosopher. 

I’m as “out there” as they get when it comes to metaphysics, extra-terrestrials, ascension, enlightenment, multi-dimensionality, you name it, I’m on it.  And while I know that our loved ones continue to live on after they leave the body, they do not continue to have breakfast with us.  If my mother is talking to me, I don’t hear her.  She doesn’t do the dishes.  I do, however, get many signs from Spirit (some in the kitchen, so Hi, Mom!) And while this is amusing and reassuring, it is not the same as a flesh and blood relationship.  How could it be?   I’m the one with the dishpan hands.

I was agitated.  She interrupted with commentary about my life when she didn’t know me. I am proud of my solitary status, though I have wanted to and still do wish to be partnered with the right man at the right time.   I had tried to describe to this couple my long climb from despair to a triumphal celebration of who and what I am today.   My solitude has provided the platform from which I have derived both strength and wisdom.   The fact was that I was happy that evening until she started contradicting me.  “I’m not complaining,” I said, “I’m explaining.  And I never said I was lonely.  I said I live alone.”

When I worked for AIG (a temp job that turned permanent) I regularly had lunch at a local Japanese restaurant.  The hostess greeted me, “How many?”  “Just one.”  To which she countered slowly, each and every day….”All by your self?  I glowered, “Yes.”  What’s wrong with eating by yourself?  I enjoy it.  A lot of people are not confident enough to do it. 

Back to our regularly scheduled program.  The husband interrupted, discerning my discomfort, and the fact that this conversation was not advancing harmoniously.   He turned to her, “If you died tonight, I’d be upset.”  “But I’d still be with you!” “But not in our bed. Not in my life.”   No body, no nookie.  No breakfast.  No vacuuming.  No arguing. No marriage.  Sorry.  He understood my position.

It’s a very difficult transition for the bereaved to go from having flesh and blood to “essence” of loved one. That is, if you’re sensitive enough psychically and spiritually to pick up on their post-mortem vibration.  Most people aren’t.  Most people are engaged full throttle in this fast, flashy, ADHD world.  We are consumed with distraction.  The ability to easily access peace and “presence” is not in most folks’ skill set.  When someone dies, even if they’ve been sick and fading for a long time, their departure from the body presents the bereaved with a cold turkey withdrawal from the warmth of flesh and the viability of their visage.  You can get emotional DTs (delirium tremens, an alcoholic’s shaking from lack of alcohol) from “loss of loved one”.  I had a bad case of it for years.  The heaviness of grief also creates a wall that makes it very difficult for Spirit to penetrate in order to communicate with you.  You don “cement shoes” and become incommunicado when you are inconsolable.  It was hard work to pull out of my abyss.  But I did it.  And that’s what I’m so darn proud of.  That’s what I was trying to tell this couple.

The wife went on to express her concern that Esther Hicks, whose husband of many decades died four years ago, be paired up with someone again. “Why?” I inquired.  “It’s relatively soon for her.  And he was the love of her life.   Why does she need to be coupled?”  She was back doing the work they did together, had a loyal support staff and audiences that adore her.  It was quite impressive to me that she was carrying on without him.  “I just don’t want her to be alone!”  Clearly, what was good for me (take comfort in your dead relatives, you’re not really alone) was not good enough for Queen Esther.  Which makes me think the gal is afraid to be alone herself. It's her issue, which is why she reacted so strongly to my declarations. 

I didn’t bother arguing Esther’s case.  In fact, Esther, despite whatever grieving process she did or continues to go through, has continued her professional life most magnificently.  I’m impressed with how she is carrying on without her husband, who was also her business partner.  She is an inspiration.  We don’t need to be coupled to be happy.  We must find and create our own happiness and not rely on others to provide it for us.  For as surely as they appear, people, and things, disappear.  If you rely on props for your happiness “fix”, you’re a junkie as surely as an addict.  Find the “fountain of youth” within, the source of joy, wisdom and peace, and you will always be okay, despite temporary setbacks.  Indeed, you will be happy.  That’s enlightenment.  You don’t lose your humanity, your feelings, the experience of ups and downs  per se, but you do gain tremendous inner strength.  And if you scale higher levels of spiritual growth, one transcends even the highs and lows of duality.  Personally, I’m getting there, and this was what I was trying to express to this couple.  Instead of comprehending what I was getting at, the wife blurted out one final frustration.

“I just want everyone to be happy!” 

Well now, how the heck does that work?  I know this much, you can’t help others unless you yourself are doing the work.  Unless you are mostly happy, most of the time, and can figure out how you got there, only then is there the possibility of inspiring others to do the same.  They will not replicate your results.  We are on unique paths; our means to happiness will not be identical.  However we can certainly compare notes.

Wanting others to be happy is a quagmire.  Sure, it’s a nice idea and I’d like it too.  Happy people are nice people.  Happy people don’t start wars.  Happy people are loving.  That’s how it works, not the other way around.  If someone is not loving, they are not happy.  It’s that simple.  But you can’t make others happy.  The corollary, which is quite freeing, is that you can’t make others unhappy.  Not many people believe this, but if one is true, then so is the other.  The bottom line?  We are all responsible for how we feel.  Once we become accountable, the world changes.  You are empowered.  You wait for no one.  You wait for nothing.  Change the way you think and see, and the world transforms.  Your world transforms. 

That’s why personal happiness (and the pursuit of it) is not selfish at all.  It’s the best thing you can do to help the world, and that’s why it’s in our Constitution.  Help yourself.   When your needs are truly met (however you define this) the love that bubbles up within you will naturally bubble out and spill over onto others.  Their happiness compounds yours, and it just gets better and better and better. 

But to think that people do not have a right to be unhappy, or angry, or confused is not helpful.  People are perfect exactly where they are.  If they want to be angry, they have a right to be.  If they want to be happier, and feel relief, they have a right to that, too.  But to dictate compulsory happiness by forcing “happy” directives on others is bullshit. 

You can't bypass the process of transforming your moods.  You must accept them, embrace them, and trust that there is a reason why you are feeling what you are feeling.  Once you figure that out, or if you're able (master skills) to simply choose better feeling thoughts, you can get there yourself.  But it is a process.  The movement is incremental.  You don't go from being miserable to being ecstatic.  You have to move up the emotional scale feeling by feeling.  This is done by dialoguing with yourself, figuring out what feels bad (it all starts with a thought, a belief, a judgment about something) then choosing better feeling thoughts that empower and uplift you.  

Abraham (via Esther) teaches personal responsibility for our emotional states of being. In fact, Esther, from what I can discern, has chosen to embrace life, for now, as a single person.  However, she said that when she is happy and “vibrationally” high, she can feel her husband Jerry’s energy clear as day.  Happiness heals and it opens doors. 

Last but not least, the woman I was talking with commented that writing is a lonely business and advised that one should always have a writing partner.  This is a perfect example of a belief, not truth.  I am as happy writing alone as I am living alone.  In fact, I had a writing partner for many years, and it was one of the most challenging relationships I’ve ever had.   Loneliness seemed to be a theme (or a fear) for my new acquaintance, and she was projecting it on me.   

How happy was this Pollyanna?  I’m guessing that if she was less fearful and more confident, she wouldn’t have jumped down my throat.

The bottom line was that although we both love Abraham and Esther Hicks, we were not on the same wavelength.  Not even a little bit.  Since I value my peace and happiness and it was going down the toilet talking with her, I made a hasty exit so I could start growing my happiness again.  I wasn’t going to convince her of anything (nor was I trying to) and she had not changed my mind about anything, either.    

You can never truly understand another person.  If you’re lucky, and understand the value of such things, you make efforts to understand yourself.  Nothing happens by default.  The thoughts you think and the beliefs you choose create your emotions and your experiences. Make a study of yourself and how you work. You are a topic worthy of attention.  Identify your triggers and examine the beliefs behind them.  Be able to explain yourself to yourself at all times.  There are no accidents.  Your life is a finely tuned machine, and you are the engineer.  When you know this, you can start to direct your life in new, more fun and satisfying directions. 

So, how do we build peace?

Piece by piece.  Choice by choice.  Brick by brick.  Thought by thought. Decision by decision. 

When you start prioritizing your happiness, understanding how truly important it is to a successful life, you must question your options and your choices.  How does this feel?  Do I want to do it?  Arguably, there are things one “must” do, like earn a living, or cook your food, or take care of your kids.  But if you’re feeling put upon by such things, consider the alternative.  No income, no food, no family.  When it comes down to it, these are all things you want.  So, taking care of them is in alignment with your wants, even if there is a repetitive aspect of daily life that can seem tiresome.  When you choose the empowered perspective, rather than feeling put upon, you can appreciate what you have and move with your choices (gratitude) not against them (resentment).

How easily do you hold your peace?  If you’re like me, you can be having a great day, a wonderful morning, but something will happen that shatters your cool.  For me, today, it was my kitten exploding into a very loud cough.  A hacking cough.  I just took my puppy to the vet yesterday for an ear infection, did I have to go right back?  What was wrong with her?  Instead of running to the vet I did some online research then called my defacto cat expert, a pal who has many (many) cats.  He has several with asthma and he explained how he deals with it.  It made sense to me.  While I am still on edge (as is my cat, utterly confused by this new, rattling development) I am taking a wait and see approach.  I’m also giving her herbal lung support.   Taking action is key when there is an issue.  If I need to take her to the doctor, I will, but I didn’t have to do so today.  Sometimes things work themselves out.

I was already feeling a little uneasy today (this was not one of those relaxed, happy mornings) so the feline turn of events was right in line with my mood.  I was worrying about the future, specifically about money, a nice, diffuse topic.  Since I understand how the law of attraction works, I knew my nerves and my kitten’s cough were both in alignment with fear.  It was my job to reverse that for both of us. 

Celeste is the feline equivalent of Dennis the Menace.  I am frequently mad at her for upending my house.  Lately, I’ve felt like the angry mother of a recalcitrant teenager.  Her illness made me realize I’ve been going down the wrong path in that regard.  No one likes being yelled at.  It’s not much fun yelling, either.  It is unsettling to both the yeller and the yellee.  I believe I contributed to making her sick (asthma can be brought on by nerves).  It was wakeup time.  Time to be kinder both to her (stop yelling) and to myself (stop worrying).  My fears led directly to my anger.  It’s a fairly common path, fear to anger, and it's always toxic.  Consider that anger comes from fear, and that it is not a statement of power (as it seems), but a request for power.  Animals (and people) get all puffed up because they are afraid, and they put on a big, blowsy show to distract us from that fact and convince us that they are a force to be reckoned with. Consider armed forces from that perspective. A bunch of international scaredy cats all trying to prove they're the toughest.  

Living in this topsy turvy world, my connection to peace comes and goes.   I know that it’s always available to me, like sap in a tree.   The question is how do I access it?  How often?  When I lose my center, how then do I find it again?  I use tools.  When I woke up feeling scared about money, I immediately made lists of things that would make me feel better, because worry never solves anything.  I thought of mellow people I could talk to, people who inspire me, music that lifts my spirits.  I was immediately relieved, knowing I could seek out (create) comfort for myself.  I know that feeling good is the key to manifesting what I want.  We want things because we believe they will make us happy.  We’re often wrong about those assessments.  However, if we bypass the “getting stuff” part and just go directly to feeling good, you’re 90% there to manifesting the things you want.  Very often, other things that you didn’t know you wanted, but are even better, manifest for you instead.  It’s good to allow space for the Universe to finesse the specifics of your order.  But the feeling tone of happiness, peace and joy are key to creating the things you want.  If you want to be loved, feel loved.  If you want to be rich.  Feel rich.  It’s an acting exercise of sorts.  The more you do it, the better you get. 

You’re the generator.  Not the outside world. It doesn't have what you want.  You have what you want, and you activate it with your thoughts and feelings.  That's the law of attraction.  That's the magic. The outside world reflects your interior world.  We are constantly in the process of attracting what we're focused on.  Our wants are ever changing. 

So, on a day that started with fear (money) and morphed into more (but different) fears (cat’s health, cat’s death? spending more money!) I managed to keep calm, cool and collected and challenged myself to be increasingly loving, patient and kind to my cat.  My job now is to keep both of us calm.  She is simply a mirror for me.  A mirror which needed dusting. 

This is a period of great spiritual upheaval.  Political revolution.  Personal evolution.  This big change requires that all old, outdated modes of being be reviewed and discarded.  Life is offering us all sorts of tests (irritating strangers!) and challenges (sick pets!) to really look at who we are, where we are going, and most important, how we choose to react to situations.  

Manipulation, deception and corruption is being revealed left, right and center.  I just watched a Frontline piece on the Michelle O’Connell murder in St. Augustine, Florida.  I’m not politically correct. It’s still officially a “suicide” but if you have half a brain it’s obvious that it was domestic violence and murder.  But since the perpetrator (the boyfriend) was a cop, the Sherriff’s department concurred with the murderer’s assessment that his girlfriend shot herself right in front of him with his holstered gun (hilarious when you consider the evidence) and laughed it off.  Literally.  In a taped interview, the perp laughs with his colleague about drinking Bud Lights the night of the murder.  “Big ones!”  The sherriff’s office corruption ran deep and wide but after public outcry, the case is being reviewed again, years later.  Slowly but surely, the dark is being vanquished. 

Speaking of darkness, someone stalked me yesterday.  I’m hyper sensitive to my surroundings, and was immediately aware that someone did an abrupt about face behind me as I turned the corner.  He was talking loudly to himself. I continued to the next corner and moved out of his way so he could go ahead of me, but he waited to see where I went.  I stopped short.  He stopped short.  I pulled back.  So did he.  I crossed the street.  He, likewise.   I turned back to look at him, and he boldly returned my stare.  Something was not right.  This was in broad daylight and while I know I am safe, protected and blessed, I pray to keep that going, as intentionality is very important. So, call in Help when you need it.   But having a crazy person breathing down my back, one who was not shy about tailing me, had me rattled.

I spotted a police car across the street. Even better, there were two cops standing by it (it could have just been parked). I marched directly toward them, convinced I would lose him now, but he boldly walked with me then continued on a few feet ahead to hide in front of a van.   The cops were enjoying this sunny 4th of July and laughing with each other.  I waited respectfully for a few seconds.  When one saw I wanted to talk, I said, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but that guy is sorta following me” “What guy?” “He’s lurking in front of that van”.  I pointed him out to her, and she walked into the road to eye him, then came back.  “Where do you live?”  I pointed,  “Down there.” “You get going, and I’ll watch him.”  I thanked her then went on my way, still nervous at being so brazenly stalked by someone in an extremely jaunty mood.  Maybe he was on drugs.

As I walked down my street a large crowd of men, women and kids came at me.  I could get lost in this crowd.  Even with the cop supervising, I took responsibility for my own safety and wellbeing.  I took the opportunity to detour and duck into a heavily landscaped area of a large apartment building and sit on a ledge with my dog.  I didn’t want crazy guy seeing where I was going.  I peeked and saw he was still on the street corner near the cops, loitering, not crossing.  I waited a minute longer.  Even with a cop watching him, this guy was not going away.  I sat for a minute with my dog, then walked into the curved driveway instead of staying on the street, where he could see me.  I exited the driveway halfway down the block, that much closer to my home, and was now walking near a nice, strong man.  He sneezed.  I blessed him, and walked just close enough to him to enjoy his unwitting escort. 

I was shaken, having never been confronted so directly by a stalker. But I got home safe and sound, albeit with many assists. To me, the real story was that when I needed it, I had at my disposal: daylight, two cops, a crowd to get lost in, a curved driveway that offered a detour, and a defacto bodyguard (not that he knew it).  I was totally blessed and protected and I reveled in that.  That’s what being on your toes and in alignment with your self is all about.

Now, contrast that experience with this one:

I walked by two little girls on the corner.  It was hot as heck outside, and they were standing on the street holding a basket of folded papers.  I figured they were working for a parent, but turns out they were working for themselves.  “Can we give you a compliment?” They offered me a piece of paper.  “Only if I can give you one first.  You’re both adorable.”  I read my custom compliment,  “BE HAPPY”.  Not really a compliment, but I liked it just fine. The back of the paper read:  “Give someone else a compliment today and spread kindness.”  There was a smiley face and a heart.

“What moved you to do this?”

“We just want to spread kindness.  It was on our bucket list.”

“Bucket list?  How old are you girls?

“12”  “13” they said at the same time. 

“Well, you are proof that this world is getting better and better and better.”  Thank you.   They made my day. 

Are you offering compliments or nitpicking with people?  Are you happy, or irritable?  Do you know how to be at peace with yourself?

We build peace with every choice we make.  

©2015 Valerie Gilbert, all rights reserved.

"Psychic Development and Healing Circle with Author Valerie Gilbert" workshop at Namaste Healing Center, Union Square, NYC, Friday September 25th from 7-9pm, $25. Guided meditation, past life regression, psychic development exercises, and discussion.

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

© 2015 Valerie Gilbert, All Rights Reserved