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The Ghost Lights of Ava

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

By Chris McGill

In the fall of 2001, my wife and I made a trip to see her Sister in Southern Illinois. She lives there with her husband and two kids on a farm in a town not far from Murphysboro. Ava is a small town of a little over 500 residents. Not far from my sister-in-law's place, there’s a cemetery that lies off of the road between a cornfield and forest. Some of the tombstones in this cemetery date back to the mid to late 1800’s and many are from the same family. I will not say what the name of the cemetery is in order to protect the privacy of the family’s of those buried there.

We were in town for my wife’s family’s ‘cousin’s weekend’. This was an annual event at the time and this year we were roughing it, camping out all weekend on the farm. After a long day of horseback riding and dinner, we decided to take a little trip up the road and check out the old cemetery. After all, it was late October and Halloween was coming! This would be a perfect pre-Halloween treat. And a treat it was!

Not long after we arrived I started taking video with my brand new Sony Handycam (equipped with night vision). My wife and I had recently gotten into the hobby of ‘ghost hunting’ and I thought this would be a great spot to try out the new gear. Almost immediately I began to see a light in the forest on the outside of the cemetery. The only thing that didn’t make sense was the light wasn’t visible to the naked eye. You could only see it through the viewfinder of the video camera. I brought this to the attention of one of my wife’s cousins that was nearby. Here’s a clip of what we saw.

There was nothing in the woods that should have reflected the infrared from my camera. Not to mention, fade on and off like this ‘Ghost Light’ did! Later that same night I was shooting more video and caught an ‘orb’ of light that kept following me around. At first I thought it may be part of a spider web I had walked through, since that had happened a bit earlier. After a few seconds I realized it wasn’t a web nor was it a bug of any type. It was late in October and already getting down into the low 40’s. Most bugs are long gone in temps like that. This was the first time I had ever experienced an ‘orb’ that appeared to respond to my questions.

Needless to say, this one freaked me out a bit and I wanted to leave right then and there! Another weird thing happened that same night. For several weeks prior to this, I had been experiencing some really bad pain in my right foot. It hurt so bad at times that I could hardly walk. The next day when I woke up, I no longer had any pain in my foot at all! And haven’t since that night almost eight years ago. What was it that we saw that night in the woods outside the cemetery? Was it a ghost light? And the ‘orb’ of light that seemed to follow me inside the cemetery. Was that a spirit of someone buried there, or maybe a guardian spirit that was watching over the place? We’ll never know for sure. We did find out the next day, after talking with residents that lived near the cemetery, that there was a barn that used to be in the area where we spotted the first unknown light. It had burned down decades ago, and the rumors are that at least one person if not more were killed in the fire.

I’ve been back to this cemetery several times since this incident occurred, and have yet to experience anything like we did on that October night in 2001. I’m very skeptical when it comes to ‘orbs’ because there can be so many logical explanations like dust, moisture or lens flare. I’ve pretty much ruled out all three of these particular options in this case. Still, there’s no way to say for sure that what we experienced was paranormal. But it was definitely unexplained.

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My Haunted House ~ Part III: The Goat, The Dogs And Devo

Monday, December 22, 2008

Every now and then something just inexplicable happens around here. Although, daily life around here would be pretty baffling for most, but sometimes it’s just stranger than the usual activity for us.

It was a regular weekday. I followed the usual routine of feeding the goat in the back yard, putting the dogs in the crates, locking up and heading out to the studio just a short time before my husband, Devo, was due home. The only thing that was out of the ordinary was UPS had delivered a 40 lb bag of dog food that I had left sitting in the living room since it was too heavy for me to take to the dogs’ room. That’s why we have husbands right?

Right on schedule, Devo arrived home shortly after I left. The curious part is what he came home to.

He had trouble opening the front door. He claimed it felt like he was pushing something heavy out of the way to enter the house. We only use the front door since the other doors in the house have slide locks as opposed to keyed entries. After a great deal of struggle, he gained entry and found it was the box containing the 40 lb bag of dog food against the door causing his trouble. For those of you saying to yourselves, “couldn’t it have just tipped over to block the door?”, I say, the box was at least six feet away from the door and would have had to have moved quite a way to get to it’s current location. This was just the beginning of the weirdness.

The next step of his routine was to let the dogs out of the crates I had stored them in while they were alone. When he opened the door to the dogs’ room, he did not find either of the dogs in their crates, but a miniature pygmy goat in the house instead! Luckily, she hadn’t caused any damage or mess so he guided her back out the back door. What confused him at this point was that he assumed I had left the door ajar when doing the pet duties, but the door was securely locked when he went to let her back out. And there were the dogs enjoying the freedom of the back yard.

So, goat out, dogs in, all was right with the world again.

You may remember that my husband hasn’t always been so accepting that the ghosts are the cause of our perplexing issues. I wasn’t due home for a few hours, so he had some time to contemplate a logical explanation for how this scenario had unfolded.

His rational and logical explanation : An elaborate prank had been pulled by an unknown person using the following steps:
• Scale the six foot privacy fence to enter the back yard
• Find an unlocked window, which are all at least 8-10 feet above the ground, and enter the house
• Move the 40 lb bag of food so that it blocks entry via the front door
• Stop to laugh at the thought of Devo pushing and pushing the front door to get in
• Let the dogs out of their latched crates into the back yard
• Allow the goat to come in as the dogs are going out
• Relock all doors
• Climb back out the window, somehow reclosing screens and storm windows and jump the 8-10 feet down
• Again, scale the fence to leave the yard
• Laugh all night about the joke played on us while putting away the ladders that were necessary to complete this job
OK, so this was the only explanation he could come up with and even he acknowledged that it was a little far-fetched and probably was indeed, not what took place.

My simple explanation: The ghosts did it.

He agreed.

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Are You Different in the Afterlife Than You Were in Life?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another insightful article by Melissa Van Rossum

Although I didn't realize it at the time, when I was five, my favorite playmate was a ghost. She was in her 40s and a mother of three and she stayed with me for several years before finally finding her way home.

I've interacted with ghosts all of my life and as an adult I began doing psychic and mediumship readings for clients.

One of the questions I'm often asked is if our personalities are the same in the afterlife as they were in life.

The answer is yes, mostly.

It depends which afterlife reality you're living.

We can stay earthbound and become a ghost, which is a person who has left their body but has not yet crossed over to the Other Side for various reasons. But this is not a wise choice.

Or we can cross over to the Other Side. Which is what most of us do. And this is the best choice.

In both cases certain parts of our personalities stay the same and certain elements change.

In the situation where someone stays earthbound, their personalities tend to become one dimensional and limited in expression. They become single-minded about their fears.

Those who choose to stay earthbound tend to do so out of dread or anxiety. Most often they're afraid of what they think will be an angry and judgmental God and they're afraid of some type of punishment or rejection.

The longer they stay here, the more afraid they usually become.

Once someone crosses over though, they have a very different experience from someone who is earthbound.

Jennifer, a client of mine who is intuitive, lost her aunt recently to an illness. Elizabeth was a terribly negative person. When she was alive it was challenging to maintain any kind of a relationship with her since she took every chance to deflate the people around her.

After she died, though, Jennifer began regularly hearing from her aunt. Immediately Jennifer noticed that her aunt had lost her negative disposition.

Even more interesting, Elizabeth apologized for her attitude and how she had treated those she loved. She told Jennifer she realized now that she didn't have to act the way she had.

Jennifer was amazed. Her aunt's personality was still basically the same, but the hurtful negativity was completely gone. And Elizabeth was apologetic and insightful about her limiting beliefs and behaviors. Jennifer mentioned to me that Elizabeth was never insightful or self-aware when she had a body.

It was very comforting and healing for Jennifer to see her aunt growing and changing in such positive ways that she would not have while she was here.

Those that cross over receive immediate insight and healing that those who remain on the earthplane do not. That insight and healing helps people to release the more limiting parts of their personalities, allowing them to love and care for us in the ways that they could not when they were here.

Melissa Van Rossum is an accomplished psychic & empath, & the author of two books. In her first book, All You've Ever Known, she shares a process that deepens your intuition & awakens your soul to a happier, more successful and authentic life.

In Their Way Home, My Adventures as a Ghost Guide Melissa offers revealing perspective as she shares for the first time the very personal stories of her encounters with real life ghosts who searched her out in their quest to find a way back home, and how she helped them to cross over in to the Light. Plenty of books have been written about ghost sightings but in this book Melissa shares the stories behind why these souls chose to linger on the earth plane and how you can live a happier life by learning from the mistakes they made in life...and in death.

Melissa regularly speaks to the media & groups on topics such as How to Create the Life of Your Dreams, Ghosts and The Paranormal, and What Happens After You Die. You can learn more about Melissa and her books at and

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My Haunted House ~ Part II: The Blonde Girl & The Chatter

Monday, December 15, 2008

My house is pretty crowded. Not just because of the four of us living here, but everywhere I turn I seem to be bumping into someone. I’ve managed to let go of the fear associated with seeing ghosts, but the startle factor is still a big issue for me. I just can’t seem to get used to walking into a room and finding a stranger looking at me and then disappear, or just hang out, depending on the day.

The first ghost I actually saw with my eyes in this house was a little girl. She looked about 5 years old, but I knew she was actually 8. Again, I don’t really know the ins and outs of how this ability works, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. She was skinny with long stringy blonde hair. She never said a word to me. Just watched my every move when she was around. She would follow me from room to room on some days. I remember one day, my husband was rewiring the entertainment center and she was standing right behind him watching with great interest. My husband doesn’t experience the activity at the level I do, so he was completely unaware of her proximity, but me constantly looking over his shoulder finally prompted a “What?” out of him. I explained to him that she was right behind him watching. I’m sure he rolled his eyes (at least on the inside) and went about his business.

There was nothing scary about her. She seemed sad. Lonely, maybe? I have no idea to this day who she was, or why she hung around. I do believe we helped her move on and I’ll be posting more about that experience later on (we even captured that on video), but for now, I’ll share a little more about daily life in this house.

I used to keep all of our change separated in glass cups in the bedroom. You know, pennies in one, nickels in another and so on. My husband was working at a restaurant that evening and a friend of mine and I decided to go there for dinner to see him. No one was left in the house while we were gone. When we got back, we went to the fridge to put the leftovers away and both gasped when I opened the door…

Stacked up neatly in the refrigerator, was all the change from those cups from the bedroom. Today, I wouldn’t think twice about something like that happening, but at the time the house was still new and I was getting used to all the daily weirdness.

You may have guessed by my sorting change, that I like things to be a certain way. This trait was not just with my extra coins. It pretty much applies to everything. My organization may not make sense to most, but it’s my organization and I liked it to remain untouched (I use past tense because after 2 kids, that pretty much went out the window for my sanity's sake). My husband liked to mess with me a bit from time to time regarding this obsession of mine, so when the medicine cabinet was arranged differently often when I opened it, I would gripe at him to stop doing that. He would always deny it. I would always think he was lying and the fight continued the next time I opened the medicine cabinet to find it rearranged. He swore he didn’t do it, but I know he secretly enjoyed my discomfort about it. Then after he had not been in the house for several days and it happened again, I figured it out. I had to apologize for the accusations.

I wonder if that ghost was laughing every time I accused him.

Another phenomenon we have around here, I simply refer to as “The Chatter”. There will be a very small space that when you move into it, you can hear what sounds like crowd noise. Many people talking, but I am always unable to make anything out. The fact that I almost can make out words sometimes sucks me in and I listen really hard for a long time. I’ve yet to hear anything intelligible. It’s very frustrating.

The weird thing is (because that’s not weird enough, right?) the sound comes from a very small location seemingly floating at various heights and locations throughout the house. I’d say it’s an area about the size of tennis ball. If you find The Chatter, and move an inch away, you can no longer hear it. But move your ear back into it’s current location, and there it is again!

Unlike most happenings here, I’m not the only one to experience this. I remember the first time my husband heard it. He was laying on the couch and must have moved into it’s space because he got a strange look on his face. When I asked him what was up, he gave a quick, “shh!”.

“What is that?”, he asked.

After he described what he was hearing, I explained about The Chatter and that I hear it frequently.

After knowing all I know about the history and location of my house, I’ve got a little theory cooked up about what’s going on with that. My house seems to be a crossroads of sorts for spirits and I think every now and then that it just translates into something audible.

I’ve gotten used to it, but I still stop to listen every time, just to see if maybe, just maybe, I can make out something this time. I’ll let you know if I ever do.

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The Book That Changed Everything

Friday, December 12, 2008

I had pretty much settled in to ignoring my experiences most of the time, but did still have an interest in the paranormal for obvious reasons. I wanted (and still want) answers to the bazillion questions I have always had.

So I passively watched television shows of a paranormal nature like Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State and Medium.

Ah, Medium…

While I can’t say my experiences are just like Allison Dubois’s, I connected with her story on some level.

Then I read her book.

It was literally life changing for me. I can count on my fingers how many books I have read from cover to cover willingly in my lifetime. Reading is probably one of my least favorite pastimes. I read to gather the information I need and that’s about it for me. But I decided to pick up her book, “Don’t Kiss Them Good-Bye”.

In the second chapter she tells about her first experience with her deceased great-grandfather. She was then promptly told by her mother that she has an over-active imagination and she learned to hide her ability. How I can relate! I was hooked at this point. I felt like I wasn’t the only one! I felt comforted in some distant and weird way. This book suddenly became my friend. Allison became my friend…well, at least her story did.

In another chapter “Kindergarten Mediums”, she speaks of her kids being gifted and how she deals with that. It was really that chapter that made me realize that I really did need to suck it up, accept this thing and do it for my son.

Needless to say, this book had a huge impact on my decision to open up. Even if you’re not in my situation, it’s still a good read if you’re interested in mediumship at all.

You can get a copy here:

Don't Kiss Them Good-bye

Or download the audiobook from iTunes: Don't Kiss Them Good-Bye (Unabridged)

My good friend and the host of Dimensions Radio, Chris McGill, did an interview with her for his paranormal radio show. Listen to it below:

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Someone Understands

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I found this article while Tweeting (I'm a Twitter addict - follow me). I love when I find others who 'understand' where I'm coming from and share like experiences. I found a woman named Melissa Van Rossum, who I realized through reading her blog, had a similar take on the situation I have been facing for the biggest part of my life. So I thought I'd repost her article.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, I began seeing ghosts when I was four years old. I didn't know they were ghosts because their appearance was normal, and they looked and acted much like anyone else you might see in your neighborhood or on the street. It wasn't until I was a little older that I began to realize that my friends and family members couldn't see these people as I did.

At first I found it frustrating, and even a little irritating that other people couldn't interact with my 'invisible friends', as they called them. And then it was confusing to me that I seemed to be bridging two worlds.

I never considered the idea that my friends were 'ghosts'. At such a young age, I wasn't familiar with the term. My playmates were real people, with their own feelings, ideas and opinions. Most of them were kind, and my playtime with them was very interactive. Like most children I had a favorite friend and she stayed with me for several years.

I began to recognize a difference between the two types of people in my life as my Father grew increasingly impatient with my persistence and insistence over the reality of my invisible friends. When his annoyance reached a fever pitch with my discussions with people he could neither see nor sense, he would bark, "that's enough, leave it alone," and I knew I was upsetting him. So, I tried to keep my interactions with my "other friends" limited to times when my family wasn't around.

To make matters worse, my Mother took me to the doctor and asked him about this habit of mine of talking to people who weren't there, and he pulled me aside and told me to "knock it off" that I was "scaring my Mother". I vowed then and there to keep this part of me as hidden as I possibly could.

I grew up in the 70's, a time before any sort of interest about ghosts, the paranormal or psychics became as popular and accepted as it is today. And to make the situation more complicated, we lived in a small Southern town in northern Georgia and my parents were deeply religious. So, as I grew older and the invisible visitors continued on in my life, I was considered odd.

No one in my family or community was familiar with ghosts, psychic children, the idea of intuition or dis-incarnates. In fact, they simply didn't believe in any kind of psychic phenomenon at all. To them, it was all baloney. To them, these things simply didn't exist. But in my life, I wasn't afforded the luxury of that kind of unawareness.

In my religious upbringing, you lived, you died, you were judged and then you went to heaven or possibly hell. I tried to believe what I was being taught, but here I was having a very different experience from what I was told was real.

At this time in my life, I still didn't realize that these people, my invisible friends, were dead people - and there's a good reason for that. They weren't. True, they had left their bodies, all for various reasons, but their spirit lived beyond their body and they were all very much alive. Of that I've always been certain.

It wasn't until much later in my life that I realized these entities I saw and felt everywhere I went were ghosts or earthbound spirits. And it would be even a few more years before I realized their purpose in my life.

Tried as I may to stick to my religious upbringing, my experiences were flying in the face of my church lessons. So, even though I've tried to deny the existence of ghosts, yes, I'd have to say that they do indeed exist.

Ghosts come from all walks of life. They are believers, non-believers, straight, gay, old, young, male, female and from all nationalities. The only commonality they share is that they refuse to move on to the Other Side as a result of different forms of fear.

Melissa Van Rossum is an accomplished psychic, empath and author. It is her life's work to help people awaken to their dreams by showing them how to tap into their own Divine Guidance. Their Way Home shares stories of her encounters with real life ghosts who searched her out in their quest to find their way home. To learn more about Melissa and her work visit

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My Haunted House ~ Part I

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I’ve mentioned before that I live in an extremely haunted house. You may think either a house is haunted or it isn’t. Not so! I’ve lived in a few haunted houses in my day, and this house is extremely haunted.

Here’s how the truth unraveled:

When I looked at the house before deciding to purchase it, the realtor seemed reluctant to even take me to the dilapidated second floor, referring to it as an “attic”. Yet it had a large sitting room and two bedrooms. It was in a bad state of disrepair though, and the vibe wasn’t so pleasant. I assumed it was the water damaged ceiling and walls falling down that was causing it the icky feeling. It was an icky space. I thought this would be a good project and fixing it up would make all the bad vibes feel so much better.


The renter that was living in the downstairs at the time said she had a friend that wouldn’t go up there again because she had a “bad feeling” about what was up there. I still managed to convince myself it was just the decrepit state of affairs up there causing that feeling. You'd think that I, of all people, could differentiate.

I bought the house and started moving in. It was my first home purchase. I was on my own.

The first week I lived here, I maybe should have stopped unpacking, repacked and moved on. I chose to stay and it has been an adventure, to say the least, ever since.

At first, the experiences were relatively benign and I hadn’t actually seen any ghosts, just the remnants of their activities.
For instance, I would come home from work to find every single light on in the house. That’s including the “attic” and basement/cellar. Two places I never visited. On a few other occasions, I’d come home to find, in January mind you, every window in the house wide open, again, including the “attic”. On these occasions, I did call the local police department to come to check things out. After all, I was a young girl living alone. Of course, nothing ever turned up. I did have an alarm system installed as a precaution though. And frequently, the motion sensors in the system would go off. Even after the alarm company testing and replacing things, could never find a reason for the alarms. I eventually just had it disconnected.

At this point, I was pretty certain about what was going on here.

Then the whistling started. Oh my god, the incessant whistling! I could hear someone walking from room to room, day in and day out, whistling. For weeks, maybe months, it drove me crazy.

Really? No one hears that? Come on! Seriously, someone else has to hear that!

You may remember, at this point, I was terrified to talk to them, so I just took it as long as I could. Then one day, I just broke. I screamed out loud, “SHUT UP!”.

It stopped. Silence.

Aaahhh….It was just that easy. Why did I wait so long to do that?

You know I love a little validation, so here it is: A coworker of mine at the time was talking about her aunt and uncle’s house from her childhood. Then she stopped and looked at me and stated that they used to live in the house I live in now. Really? Then I became interested. She was saying that her aunt and uncle loved to have all the kids over and her uncle would usually just pace while watching over them and whistle little tunes the entire time.

I told her he still did.

It wasn’t long after that when I had my first sighting of those who I am sharing this house with. And things only get more peculiar from there…

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My Sense of Purpose

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Growing up, and even into my early adulthood, I don't ever remember asking myself, "Why am I here? What's my purpose? What's the meaning of Life?". Just never really came up for me. I've never been a dreamer. I never had aspirations. Just never has been my nature. I didn't dream of my wedding day like most little girls. Or a big fancy house to live in. Or what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was asked the question, I'm sure, when I was 7 years old or thereabouts, and probably gave a placating answer with a cute 7 year old smile. But things just are how they are for me. At least that's how it always was. Now I'm starting to wonder.

I feel like I made it through some obstacles and came out standing up and holding on to my belief structure, or lack there of, really. I come from a family densely populated with Christians. Every corner you look in, you'll find them. And not even the hypocritical Easter once a year variety. I'm talking the every Sunday No-Matter-What kind of Christians.

As a free-thinking adult, I am quite grateful to my mother for not forcing the religion down my throat. I was allowed to pick where and when I went to church. I never felt forced. If you ask my momma though, she'll say she "failed me" in that regard, which makes me sad because it's one of the things I'm so appreciative of. So, throughout my adolescence I did attend a Methodist church (I am now a recovering Methodist). I'm looking around and everyone else seemed to be getting something I just wasn't getting. I'm a determined person, so if there was a bible study, I was there. If there was a choir to sing in, I was there. If there was a mission trip to take, yup, I was there. After a while, I felt like I had as much information as I needed to gather. Then I looked around and just thought,

"Really? You people are buying this?".

And that was pretty much the end of that. I just don't buy it. Believe what you want to believe. Really. It's fine with me. I encourage you to find your own personal truth. I'm not a real faith-based gal. I need some tangible proof, folks. Some man on a pulpit reading me things from the perspective of some other man I have no connection with didn't sit well with me. He's telling me I just have to take his word for it and it won't be proven until I'm dead? I personally believe that the reason a lot of the ghosts hanging around are doing so because they believed in the judgment they would face at the time of their death and are simply scared to death (pardon the pun) to continue on their journey. It never sounded like something I wanted to do.

Like I said, that was pretty much the end of that for me.

The point is, I didn't cave. I was strong enough to make the decision based on the information provided to me and stand by it. There has to be purpose for that, right? Otherwise, I'd be sitting in a pew with my Nanny on Sundays. Nothing would make her happier. But I feel like that is not included in my purpose. I have other things to do with my spiritual energies.

Then I look back over the past few years and I notice that things seemed to fall into place for me to accept and develop this ability. I moved into a haunted house, possibly, the most haunted house ever. Seriously, it's crazy over here. (I'll be telling you some more about that later on). I began to meet some like-minded, or at least open-minded people that allowed me to open up about this little by little. My son came along and became the "why" that tipped the scales. The pieces just fell into place in a way that the Universe might as well have been screaming directions/suggestions/intentions at me at the top of her lungs. I guess I'm dense. I'm on the right road now though. Got it, Universe! Got it.

There must be a purpose, right?

Now the questions come...

Why am I here?

Why can I do the things I can do?

Why this place? This time? These people?

And as time goes on, I keep running into other little side abilities I have (another story for another's coming...I promise). Every time I bump into one of those additional abilities, it just creates more questions. This cannot be a random thing. I do not believe in a god, but I do believe in a spirit and a soul and things most people cannot see. I can see them. It's all the proof I need.

What am I supposed to do with this?

What is my purpose?

That's the question I'm determined to answer. It may take the rest of my life, but I'm pretty tenacious. Stick with me on my journey. There's always room for one more. Maybe we can help each other along the way.

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More New Orleans Experiences

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You must remember at the period of time I'm recounting here, I am still uncomfortable and mostly just plain scared of whatever ability it is that I have here. That kept in mind, I'll tell you a little more about the way that I experience New Orleans.

It's pretty common knowledge that New Orleans is known for being a mystical and extremely haunted place. The energy there is like no where else I've ever been.

On another trip there, we stayed at the Place D'Armes hotel. Lovely and affordable place where would could walk around the corner to Bourbon Street and see Jackson Square from our balcony (or was it a gallery...?). Perfect location. We got off an exhausting air travel experience tired, hungry and ready to shower, but the universe had other plans for us. At first I was angry, but soon saw the purpose. We had reserved a room on the second floor or the three story hotel, but were told our room was unavailable and they were preparing us a room on the first floor. They held our luggage and recommended we walk around and get something to eat in the mean time. I was not thrilled about wandering aimlessly tired and smelly from travel, but we had to do what we had to do. An hour or so later, we were once again apologized to, promised a different room now on the third floor, and turned away for another hour or two while our room was being prepared. They were very pleasant and monetarily made it up to us, but I was tired and wanted a shower. We wandered a bit down the halls of the first floor while waiting. I remember telling him that something tragic had happened in this building. The energy was sad and thick. I was hoping the entire building was not this way! Finally, we did get our room on the third floor. We found it odd, though, that the elevator doors would open at the second floor every time we went up or down. At least, every time I was on board it did. Later on, we found out I was the necessary component for the elevator doors to open at the second floor spontaneously. There was never anyone there waiting to get on. It was pretty confounding. Until....(drumroll, please) yes, again, a Haunted History Tour. We learned that our hotel was a site of a large fire (which in New Orleans, seems like every building was the site of The Great Fire). The building used to be a boarding school for boys and they all slept on the second floor. They say that when a sensitive person is on the elevator, the doors will open at the second floor as they are still trying to escape the inferno. Ugh!

I am grateful that I did not have to lodge on the first, and especially not the second floor of the hotel. The third floor was relatively calm and in retrospect, the hassle was worth what I didn't have to endure on either of the other floors for a week long stay.

On another night of walking the city streets, we passed an alley. Not uncommon. Ton of them there in between the buildings. But this one in particular made me almost cross the street to avoid it. I could not believe the intensity that this one area held and transferred to me. It was nauseating and my heart was racing. I felt like I needed to run away, and fast. But logically, there was no reason to run or even cross the street. So trying to avoid the crazy, I simply moved as far away from the alley as I could, and still remain on the sidewalk, as we walked past it. And on another Tour, we were headed toward the same alley. Oh, no. Here we go. We found out that this particular alley was used to store the new shipments of slaves brought in to the harbor. This was not a comfy storage, though. They were shackled to large iron rings and stacked on top of each other several stories high. They were left there, dead or alive, for days, even weeks. I cannot even imagine what that must have been like, but I did feel the residual energy and it was horrendous.

I would love to go back to New Orleans in the frame of mind I'm in now. With my level of acceptance, willingness and fearlessness in hand. It could be an entirely different experience. One thing I'm certain of though, is that is will still feel like home.

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The Next Mile Marker

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life went on and I kept the majority of my experiences to myself. In retrospect, it is odd that I never considered that maybe I was going crazy or had some sort of mental illness. I just knew that what I was experiencing was real, and that most people just didn't (and don't) understand it. Although, I dare say most crazy people don't know they're crazy, right? So what's the difference....

I'd say the next huge mile marker in my acceptance was my first trip to New Orleans. I went in late October (btw, if you haven't been in New Orleans around Halloween, it's a must!) with my, then boyfriend/now husband. I had told him of experiences and he placated me, smiled and nodded and secretly just accepted that it was a crazy quirk about me that he would either accept and/or overlook. This particular trip, however, was the first time I saw the glimmer of maybe-she's-not-completely-crazy in his eyes.

I've been to New Orleans a few times now, and it feels like home to me. The connection is intense and deep. But there are some places, because of the energies attached, that I just simply cannot go. The first time we went, I was newly pregnant for the first time. A few places we'd walk into to eat or just hang out, I would demand to leave, and he was generally annoyed by it. I usually blamed it on a smell or something making me nauseous due to the pregnancy, but most often it was due to a horrible feeling I had about the place itself. I was trying to cut back on the crazy, and the pregnancy was a good excuse.

The light bulb moment for him regarding my skill is forever etched in my memory. We were on a several hour Haunted History walking tour. (My recommendation: When in New Orleans, take every tour you can, they are all amazing). Anyway, about half-way through the tour, we stopped at a pub for a 30 minute break and a drink. No stories were recounted about this location, just a half-way point. Of course, in my condition, I had to pee straight away. I quickly located the woman's bathroom and was grateful for the lack of line. I could barely finish because I began to feel dizzy and light headed. As I was washing my hands, my chest tightened and I became increasingly nauseous. I actually thought I was going to fall to the floor before I could get out of there. I attributed this to morning sickness, or night sickness as the case may be, and after making my way back to the table, I told him I was sick and we had to go back to the hotel. He convinced me to finish up my coke and if at the end of the break I still felt bad, he conceded to take me back to the hotel. However, in just a few short minutes of sitting, I was back to my old self and ready to finish up the tour.

Upon leaving the location and walking a few more blocks, the guide stopped to tell us the story of the pub we had just left. As the case may be, it was indeed haunted, they thought, by the great-grandmother of the current pub owner. She had died of heart failure in the kitchen some years ago. That part of the kitchen is now the woman's bathroom. I remember so clearly the look of startle and confusion as he looked at me. I also felt like he was putting it together that maybe I wasn't all that crazy. Maybe I actually was picking things up.

(more New Orleans experiences to come...)

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Time Out For a Few Recent Experiences Part II

Friday, November 7, 2008

The plan for the evening was to investigate two locations. The main location has been investigated several times and usually we have good results (any results are good when you're ghost hunting though). However, this particular evening was pretty dead (no pun intended). I had only one experience all evening of someone/thing touching my back and giving me a frustrated exhale sound in my left ear. As far as I know, we didn't catch anything on video or audio either. I'll take a step back in time and relay a little story about the previous investigation of this particular site.

We had split into two groups with two team members leading those who purchased tickets for the evenings events. The group I was with was on the second floor preparing for an EVP session in an area well known to have activity of a woman and a ghost cat. The lead investigator grabbed his 2-way radio to let the other group know we were turning off communication via 2-ways to do the EVP session. All participants were in the same room. As he picked up his radio, this god awful painful and animalistic sound came out of all of the radios. We naturally assumed we had some sort of interference with another set of radios, but the sound was terrible and it sparked a 5-10 minute discussion of what the sound was. After ideas were thrown about, we decided we would probably never know what the sound actually was and decided to move on with the session. Radios off. Everyone silent. The the lead investigator hit record on the digital recorder. We asked a lot of questions hoping to come up with some irrefutable proof of communication from a ghost. Well, ask and you shall receive, right? What we caught was not in reply to any of our questions asked of the spirit during the session, but an answer to the burning question, "what was that sound coming out of the 2-way radios?" Here's what we caught:

It clearly is saying, "Cat. It's the cat." This answer came as soon as the recorder was turned on before any questions were asked. I was in the room when we caught this. No one in that room said a word. The investigative team was excited beyond words. As a paranormal investigator, you may listen to hours and hours of audio and never hear anything. So it makes all of those mundane hours worth it when you catch something like this.

But back to the evening at hand, Halloween Night. Like I said before, the main location was very quiet and uneventful, so we decided to head across the alley to the second location. In previous years, during the ghost tours, this location has held several personal accounts of employees past and present, but the tour takers generally only got to experience the retelling of the stories. For some reason, this year was different though. Many tour groups throughout the two months had heard loud banging sounds and heavy footsteps on the second floor. This is why we chose this as a second investigation location. Now, if you ask the ticket holders, they would probably tell you that location was quiet as well, but a few of us had an amazing experience.

As one of the tour guides had the entire group gathered around a table telling them the history and personal experience stories of the building, I became aware of a man standing in the doorway that led to the only set of stairs up to the second floor. This time I did not actually see him with my eyes, I just knew he was there. And being reluctant to accept this ability I have, I cannot tell you how I knew he was there. I just did. It's something we're both going to have to accept. As I walked towards him, he backed up and went back around the corner and stood there. I waited a few minutes and then proceeded to step toward him again. This time as I rounded the corner, he moved up to the first landing of the stairs. I had attracted the attention of another fellow tour guide and explained my sense to him. Then the lead investigator came to me with his night shot camera in hand and recommended that just the two of us go upstairs and check it out before the crowd. I agreed. I think he has much more faith in my ability than I do, but I was game. I wanted the practice. So with camera, flashlights, and 2 digital recorders in hand, we started up the stairs out of sight of the rest of the group. I told him the man was very apprehensive of us coming towards him and we needed to move slowly as to not run him off. It took us several minutes of slow moving to get to the second floor. As we were making the slow and steady climb, the group out front, I found out later, had heard footsteps moving quickly across the ceiling deeper into the second floor. Naturally, they assumed it was the two of us. But we were not even up there yet. When we did enter the second floor, I knew he was hiding in the far corner. Later I found out that is the exact location of where the footsteps heard were headed. (I love a little validation).

The only way I can explain the communication I had with this entity from here on out is by emotion transfer. I did not see or actually hear him like I do sometimes, I just knew by how I was feeling what was going on for him. So I sat in the middle of the floor and told him I would not be coming any closer to him and he could come to me without fear. Then I knew he would not come any closer unless our lights were out. So, we went dark. And when I say dark, I mean very dark. There is not a crack of light up there as there are no windows, only concrete walls. I felt him relaxing and beginning to come near us. As he was coming closer, my partner's digital recorders battery drained and cut off. He was using it as an energy source, I believe, for what happened next. I began to get uncomfortably cold. I was shivering, but had an overwhelming feeling of happiness. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was smiling from ear to ear, just from the emotion transfer. Then he ran his hand from the top of my head down to my shoulder following my hair. I felt like I had just made a friend.

We stayed for a few minutes to explain to him what we were doing there and that several more people would be coming up there a few at a time to meet him. My partner had also experienced the sharp temperature shift and on the way down the stairs, also felt himself touched on the back. As the groups went up, no one had any experiences with him at all. My partner believed he had cut and ran from the influx of people in his space that is generally undisturbed for the majority of the time.

But the two tour guides that hadn't been up there yet were undeterred by the lack of activity. They asked if I would join them again upstairs and felt we may have better luck because they were familiar to him and I had just had some communication. I said sure, why not?

When we made our way back upstairs, I simply sat down in the previous location and turned off the lights we had and announced my presence and my intentions. It was almost immediate when I felt him return to me. I could tell you my account of the events, but I like the way the other tour guides describe their experience of that night, so I'll let them tell you their version and say I agree with their accounts:

Suddenly Jamie put her hand out in front of her and said "He's right here, do you feel him?" I put my hand where she indicated and at first didn't feel anything and then I believe I felt a very distinct temperature difference - then he moved - he seems to be extremely shy or elusive - he moved over to Jamie's right - then directly behind her. She told me to put my hand behind her head and see if I felt anything.

The experience I am about to tell you about is one I am still trying to process in my mind. I have had some pretty unbelievable experiences during my adventurous life, and this one ranks right up there at or near the top. I also believe that I am of relatively sound mind and have a pretty good grip on reality. I am aware of the power of suggestion and believe I can detect the difference in most cases. There have been times when I have questioned some experiences as being just that, was my mind playing tricks on me or were some of those experiences real?

This experience I believe was 100% real. As I placed my hand behind Jamie I got a very distinct sensation in my hand as I put my hand in that spot. I could feel the difference by pulling my hand out and putting it back. This is hard to describe, but it was a sort of shimmery, very mild tingly, pulsing electrical charge. Not at all unpleasant - not the sort of tingling when your hand "goes to sleep". I was hyper aware and sitting there in complete awe. I could very distinctly feel the energy in a defined area. Then Jamie asked "him" if it was OK for Farley to experience him. Farley then asked his permission and placed his hand right next to mine. The sensation I was experiencing was then confirmed by Farley, who described the very same feeling - he then said it was almost, but not quite like the sensation you get when you stick your tongue on a nine-volt battery. I pulled my hand away to give Farley the space and the sensation left my hand - I then put my hand back next to Farley's and the sensation was back. We were almost giddy at that point - words just do not explain that feeling. We just sat there experiencing the sensation. Then
Jamie told him that we were going to leave and would take everyone with us. We thanked him and left.

Now for Farley's account of the same experience:

...thus when i put my hand into the area, i immediately felt the tingle, shimmeryness... little electric pulses in the ends of my fingers... very light, very pleasant, in retrospect, think the 9-volt on the tongue but at half of the intensity.. very light....

it was then that i described what it felt like and barbara confirmed that she had experienced the same pulses.... the same physical sensation...

just to clarify... barbara gave no description of what she physically felt other than she was experiencing something.... didn't want anyone to think that power of suggestion had influenced what i physically felt in terms of the shimmery tingleness (the best -unfortunately- set of words i can come up with to describe it.)...

This particular experience was important to me because it was the first time I feel like I used this ability and had complete control over it. I called him to me and really listened to him. Up until that point, I had always "accidentally" had experiences with ghosts and usually had fear about me as I did. This time the fear was absent and the experience was purposeful. I am grateful that I was able to facilitate an experience for my friends as well. I learned a lot that evening about what I can do and that fear simply isn't necessary. To my friends that were with me when I learned this very important lesson, I thank you.

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Time Out For a Few Recent Experiences Part I

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm taking a break from the history of my journey to chronicle a few recent experiences I have had.

I am involved in a local Ghost Tour organization where the funds raised go towards revitalizing my small and very haunted hometown. We have a pretty amazing history here and actually have the only working Main Street left in the country where active railroad tracks still run straight down the center of the road. People from out of town freak out a little the first time you drive them on the tracks, not just across them. Although, 35 very slow trains every day essentially stopping the city for 10-15 minutes each does get a little old. I have to keep reminding myself it's a one of a kind thing to appreciate, especially when I'm late getting to my destination. But I do like being involved in events that help restore and preserve our small community and it's buildings.

This year, we not only did three nights a week of walking tours through the city for the two months preceding Halloween, but also did The Great Ghost Steak Outs. This entailed, for the ticket buyer, dinner and an investigation of a haunted location with a local paranormal research team. The Steak Out on Halloween was a special one as it was from dinner to breakfast and at two separate locations. Big night! I was excited!

The day before Halloween, I was alone working on putting away laundry and reorganizing my son's clothing. For this I required use of my digital labelmaker. I was the last person to use the device (I checked) and if you own one of these, you know it will hold the last word or phrase typed into it until the next typed word or phrase. The last time I used it was also for the purpose of sorting clothes, so I expected it to read something like "pajamas" or maybe "socks". Imagine my startle when I turned it on and read "we are coming soonn". Yes, spelled with two "n"s. WTF? Seriously, I set it down and left the house to sit on the trunk of my car. You see, unexplainable things happen in my house all the time. Daily, in fact. Such as spoons bending, cups flying across the room, things disappearing and turning up in odd places. These things sometimes confound me, but usually don't scare me. The feeling I got in my gut when I read that message was terrible. I was genuinely scared. I didn't know why. I just was. I regained logic for a moment and called my husband, just to verify he wasn't screwing with me. He said he hadn't touched it. His exact response was, "So, are you ready to move now?". Then my next call was to my friend on the paranormal research team to see what he thought about it. He recommended I talk to the group clairvoyant tomorrow night when I saw her at the Steak Out. I have met this woman a handful of times, but do not know her well. I do trust her ability though, as she has proven her skill to me ten fold in the past. I agreed to talk to her about it to gain her insight on the message since I had none.

When I arrived, a little late, to the Steak Out, the group was finishing up dinner. So I took the opportunity to pull her aside to speak to her. My friend had already apprised her of my situation a few minutes before my arrival. What she told me freaked me out even more on one level, but on another made me feel much better. That message was not for me at all. It was obviously for her. She proceeded to tell me of a "dream" she had the night before where she ended up channeling someone/thing that used that exact phrase of "we are coming soon" a number of times. This being didn't sound pleasant in her recall, so I am glad the message wasn't for me! But seriously, what am I now? A psychic secretary? Not in my job description. I was concerned that whatever sent the message obviously knew I would be using my labelmaker just in time to get the message to her the next day. I feel "watched" all of the sudden. By someone/thing other than the usual suspects that are always here at my house. We left it that I would just contact her if anything else popped up, but we feel it was a one time thing because I was going to see her the next day. I see her rarely, so hopefully I will not be taking messages for her any longer. Or if I do become the Psychic Secretary, the messages will be of a less threatening nature from here on out.

Now, on to the events of the actual investigation....(that's Part II)

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When things got really weird

Friday, October 24, 2008

Up until I was about 10 years old, my experiences were blown off by everyone so I also made light of it as well. No one ever asked any further details about things I described, so I had no reason to think it was not normal or needed further explaining. I was told that I was "dreaming" or that it was my "imagination". I accepted that, as far as I can remember. It wasn't until I was 10 or so that I started to realize what was happening and became quite lonely about it.

When I was 10, we moved into a new and bigger house, as now I had a set of twin sisters to make room for. First and foremost, though, I want to make sure it is understood that I harbor no resentment for my ability being swept under the rug because, after all, my family just had the surprise of not one, but two new babies, a new house, and my mother battling the same cancer (for years on and off) that her sister had died of many years before. With all of that going on, I feel I was left to fend for myself simply because I was able to do so. And I certainly did not want to add any stress to an already stressful situation. Plus, no one else, to my knowledge, in my family had this ability so they just were unable to understand. Today things are much different. I now know of at least one family member (on my biological father's side) who has this ability and my immediate family is much more supportive.

What changed when I was 10 was that the house we moved into was the first "haunted" house I've occupied. At first, it wasn't so obvious.

The first experience I remember having was when I was home sick from school one day. I was laying in my mother's bed watching television when I heard the sound of something large and heavy tumbling down the enclosed, unused set of back stairs that went from the laundry room upstairs to the back yard. I called my mother at work, which happened to be the county police department, to tell her what I heard. Before I knew it, half the county law enforcement, lead by the coroner much to my amusement, was there to check out the house. No one could find any explanation for the sound. I remember my mom saying I overreacted and it must have been a small animal like a squirrel that managed to get in the back stairwell. I know it was not a small animal. It was a very loud sound that only a very heavy object could make. This dismissal was the beginning of a long road of experiences being treated as though I was lying or dramatizing to get attention. After all, the new babies were getting all the attention, right? Mom was sick and unable to focus on me, you know, fighting for her life and all. Why wouldn't I make things up? Seems logical. The truth is that I didn't and don't make these things up.

Before I had an actual sighting of the presence, weird little things would happen. For example:

My mom bought me a new pair of jazz shoes for dance class. Before I even had a chance to wear them, one went missing. I was grounded for a excessively long time over that (as they were quite expensive, how could I be so ungrateful and careless?). I remember one day my mom getting into the attic, probably for holiday decorations since that's the only reason the attic door was ever opened. There in the attic, she found my missing brand new jazz shoe. She asked why it was up there? Seriously? Why would I do that?

One summer, probably during high school sometime, I woke up alone as my parents had left for work and my sisters swept off to day care. Normal day. I picked up the phone in my bedroom to call a friend, after all, I was a teenage girl, it's what we do. I talked, most likely about nothing for quite some time, and then went to call my mother at work as she required me to do at least once a day to check in. When I picked up the phone, there was no dial tone. I thought I just hadn't hung up the phone for long enough and tried again. After several attempts, I was frustrated and went downstairs to find another phone as mine must have broken somehow in the last 20 seconds. When I got to the phone downstairs, I found the receiver off of the hook and thrown across a chair in a room where no one had been. In fact, no one was in the house at all. Had it been like that when I woke up, I would have been unable to call out to my friend that morning, right? So I hung it up and called my mom. I told her what happened, not because I was really frightened, but because it was just weird. Of course, here again was the SWAT team and every available officer in the city and county checking out every room in the house to find the intruder. There was no intruder. Not a findable one anyway.

I could tell these little anecdotes all day, but I'll limit it to just one more.

I was making my lunch for school one morning after everyone else had already set out for their day. I set my empty lunchbox on the counter and wiped out the previous days mess. The first thing I went for was grapes from the fridge on the other side of the kitchen. As I pulled them out, I dropped one back into the drawer. Now, my step father was/is a little, OK, a lot, obsessive about things being as they should be and a grape rotting in the bottom of the fridge would just not do! So to avoid that hassle, I immediately began searching for the lost grape. I struggled to find it. I even pulled the drawer completely out of the fridge to find it. I never found the thing in there and I figured if I looked that hard and couldn't find it, he wouldn't either, so I decided to move forward with the lunch preparation in an effort to be on time for school. When I walked back across the kitchen to my freshly wiped clean lunch box, there in the dead center of the open box was a single grape. My heart jumped a little and I'm pretty sure I bought my lunch that day.

Shortly after the noises and strange events started occurring, I began to see her. She was a girl about 12 years old wearing a green dress. I would wake up at night to find her staring at me from the foot of my bed. Oddly enough, I was not scared of her. I just remember pulling the covers up over my head and silently hoping she would never talk to me (and she never did). I wasn't afraid to see her, but hearing her terrified me. At the time, I had no explanation for that reasoning. People ask me a lot how she looked. See through? Glowing? Misty? Let's just say I never looked at her long enough to get details, but she was just a solid as you or me and even though we were in a dark room, she appeared as though she was in the light, but not in a glowing sort of way. Just in the light. As time has gone on, they don't all look the same to me. Sometimes they are so clear that I have a hard time distinguishing them from living people and sometimes they are just shadows or even just impressions in my mind.

I recall the day my sightings were validated so clearly. I was still in bed on an average morning when I heard my parents whispering at the front door as my stepdad was leaving for work. What teenager wouldn't go to eavesdrop on parents whispering? If they cared enough to whisper, it must be something good, right? Well, I snuck to the landing of the main staircase and listened in to my stepfather telling my mother of a woman he saw that morning in a green dress. I could not contain my excitement. I stood up and yelled, "You saw her! You finally saw here! I told you!" From that point forward, I was taken slightly more seriously, but still not understood.

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As A Small Child

Monday, October 20, 2008

I suppose my earliest "memory", and I use quotes because it's actually my mother's memory, of interactions with ghosts was at age 2. She tells a story of being on an important phone call with an attorney when I interrupted with hysterical screaming so much that she had to excuse herself from her phone conversation. When she came to me, I was extremely upset about seeing "Schmoo" in my room. For those of you unfamiliar with Schmoo, he was a 1979 cartoon character that was basically a white blob with eyes, a mouth and whiskers. He did have legs, but I'm still not entirely sure what he was supposed to be. But apparently at age 2, it was the closest thing I could compare what I saw to. As I said, this is my mom's memory, not mine. I have no reason to doubt her though as I continue to have odd experiences such as that one almost on a daily basis.

I also have some vague memories as a very young child witnessing large balls of white light spontaneously and having very clear pictures of dead relatives. My mother and I still debate on whether or not I met one of her aunts that died when I was very small. I can describe her perfectly and remember interacting with her. However, my mother still holds that I never met the woman. Maybe mom's right. Maybe she came to me after she was already dead (although I really hate to let my mother be right about anything - don't you?).

When I remember these events in my childhood, it is difficult to know what was "real" and what was paranormal because it was all just normal for me. I was probably 10 years old or so before I realized this didn't happen to everyone and I was different.

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The Why

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something I have spent the majority of my life avoiding is ghosts. I have had interactions with them for as long as I can remember and if you ask my mom, even before I can remember. I have avoided them partially out of fear built up over the years, but originally I avoided them because of the stigma and the loneliness I experienced being that kind of "different".

I've decided to stop avoiding them. I'm taking baby steps to embrace this ability and learn what I need to learn to still feel in control of my pragmatic life. Why now? What changed?

My son. I have 2 sons, but only one has exhibited signs that are all to familiar to me. It began in his infancy. He woke up many nights screaming and trembling and seeming genuinely frightened by something. He would also tell us of how "shadows were pinching him" and how all the talking in his room was keeping him awake. We've also watched him play and interact with people we couldn't see. He has also been able to answer questions or complain about orders that haven't been spoken out loud yet but were being thought of at that exact moment. This particular skill has lessened over his five years, but we still have a kid with an extraordinary gift on our hands.

I want him to feel supported and accepted. I want him to know that someone understands what he's dealing with. But first, I must allow myself to accept my own "gift". How can I lead and support him unless I do?

So I am going to start at the beginning and recall any preceding events and chronicle my journey forward as a reluctant medium.

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