It’s the easy option, isn’t it?
As a sceptic you have nothing to explain or justify; if you see, feel or hear something unexplained, you can tell yourself you have an over-active imagination. Each experience becomes an isolated memory that you can conveniently file away in the attic of your mind. Keeping each very separate is the key, your subconscious tells you not to make connections and not to question. Until one day something happens and you begin to see that it is like a jig-saw puzzle and the pieces begin to fall into place. The truth is life-changing.
‘Being A Sceptic Is Oh So Easy’ is the true story of my personal journey to a point in my life where I can now say that I truly believe in the existence of life after death. It began with unusual experiences I had in houses I have lived in or visited, some with over 200 years of history. Then the loss of beloved family members triggered new and unexpected psychic connections. The grieving process was so hard to bear, but gradually I came to learn that they are still close and their guidance would end up taking me in a whole new direction. It would also make me take a fresh look at what I had so conveniently ‘filed away’ as unexplained or imagined, and the jig-saw began to take shape.
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1. Coming out
I don’t think this book could possibly have had any other title, and for me it is a statement that holds more truth than the words impart.
I have to admit that I’ve been a closet believer in the existence of life after death for a number of years. Looking back over what has happened, the real turning point for me was probably in June 2004. However, despite continuing experiences that were increasingly difficult to ignore, I still managed quite successfully to let any trace of belief slip quietly to the back of my mind until fairly recently. When you see, hear, or feel a presence, the memory tends to stay with you, but it’s very convenient to let it settle undisturbed and out of sight. You never completely forget—you just hide from it for a while, because then you don’t have to deal with the reality of what it implies.
As you read this story, you will learn that my husband Lawrence and I are serial movers; we’ve lived in thirteen very different properties to date. When our last house was on the market, I stood chatting to the Estate Agent whilst the young couple he brought along wandered around the property. I told him that I had fallen in love with the house the moment I walked through the little gate at the front, over which the branches of a large holly tree dipped quite splendidly. I told him that I knew we would live there, even before we had stepped through the front door. This started a discussion about the different atmospheres that houses can have. Having spent a couple of years working for an Estate Agent carrying out viewings myself, we began to swap stories.
I’m finding that is quite a typical reaction. People are hesitant to raise the subject, but as soon as it crops up everyone seems to know of someone who has had a brush with paranormal activity. What is amazing is the number of proclaimed sceptics who have actually had an experience themselves. This doesn’t sound very logical, until you realise that as a sceptic you have nothing to explain or defend. I’m afraid coming out is the really scary part. Both of my parents are now on the other side and it is with their help that I have been able to move forward with my beliefs. They head up a long queue of loved ones who aren’t content to let me sit back any longer.
This is my personal journey; it explains how I have arrived at this turning point and why I can now say, with heart-felt sincerity, I really do believe in life after death.
2. OK, I give up, I’ll sit down and write it
It might be helpful if I start by explaining that this isn’t an autobiography; it’s also not my intention to try to turn readers who do not believe, into believers. I think you have to experience this for yourself and if you don’t, then you aren’t ready to see the bigger picture. So this is simply the story of how I came to believe that life after death really does exist. I have been shown that those who have passed over are still around us, and are influential in our lives on a daily basis.
I realise this is also, unintentionally, a chronicle of some of the houses in which I have lived throughout my life, although not all of the incidents that have happened were linked to a particular house. Some were very definitely linked to me as a person, rather than a place, whilst other presences moved with us from house to house. So anyone who has a love of different types of properties and styles might appreciate some of the detail. My husband Lawrence and I have enjoyed turning somewhat sad and unhappy houses into warm, welcoming homes. It’s our hobby and we are two of those rather strange people who can actually say they enjoy moving. It’s all about the thrill of the next challenge.
However, what is also interesting and unusual is what prompted me to sit down and write my story. You see, it really wasn’t my idea at all—it was my mother’s idea, a couple of months after her death in March 2009.
I am aware that making that statement opens me up to being thought of as strange, deluded, or maybe even crazy, by those who have not had the benefit of an experience. But I am not a life-long believer, one of those enlightened individuals and I don’t consider myself to have any special connection with all things spiritual. I suppose on paper I am about as unlikely a convert as you can get, although in the process of writing this I have come to marvel at why it took so long for me to stand back and see the bigger picture.
For twenty years I was a civil servant working in a Government job, spending most of my time involved in finance. My mind enjoyed the logical processes required in that environment and I loved investigating the detail, identifying patterns and anomalies.
Looking back at my life, I realise that I have a great capacity for filing away things that don’t conform or aren’t easily explainable because the standard rules do not apply. My tidy mind has treated anything I consider to be out of the ordinary as intriguing, and buried it deep somewhere in the attic of my consciousness. Perhaps awaiting a new set of rules that, once learnt, would eventually allow me to unravel the mystery and explain away the seemingly inexplicable.
Being a Gemini my makeup is complex, and I have no problem whatsoever in acknowledging astrological influences on my life. The logic behind this being that astrology has a clear basis upon which a person’s chart is drawn. It has a set of rules that give rise to an outcome that can therefore be assumed to be reasonably personal and relevant. That satisfies my mind, and I have found it to be incredibly helpful over the years. Even in the world of finance there is a little lassitude for personal interpretation, but that is safely constrained by the rules. Those fixed parameters within which the financial environment operates, still require an element of imagination to inspire the problem-solving bit. So it is with astrology, some of the more general information can be a little bland, but with interpretation even general traits can become meaningful.
What I’m hoping to demonstrate is that I’m an ordinary person, I believe of sound mind and someone who regarded herself as healthily sceptical. As you read on you will see how surprising this is, given some of the things I have witnessed throughout my life. I wasn’t sceptical because I hadn’t been shown any proof, but because my head could not comprehend that our life on earth isn’t the whole point of our existence.
As you can imagine, having lost my mother in the spring of 2009 it was a difficult year for me. I gave up work to spend more time with her, sensing something was very wrong; I had no idea she would die only three months later. I found myself having to sort out her effects and paperwork, whilst trying to cope with my grief. Each long day stretched out ahead of me with a variety of tasks that were a constant reminder of my loss. It was solitary; I was used to a busy working environment with lots of people around me. So in between sending out letters and making phone calls, I began writing my first novel. Not as unpredictable as you might think. I had always written poetry and kept a journal with ideas to develop into full-length stories. I had accepted that I probably wouldn’t be able to find time to write until I was retired, but fate had other plans. I found that sitting down and creating a story enveloped me, and was a way of switching off from the sadness that lay heavy in my heart. The words grew on the screen in front of me and the story seemed to instinctively know where it was going. It gave me a glimmer of happiness, and helped me to get back into a routine so I could cope with the initial grieving process.
Ironically, I didn’t develop any of the ideas from my journal; I simply sat down and started typing. No plan, no pre-conceived ideas of characters, I let it flow naturally. It was about life after death and that really surprised me, because it wasn’t quite the subject matter I’d thought I’d be working with. I’m an incurable romantic by nature, and whilst it was a romance story, I found myself tapping into some of the psychic experiences that had happened to me in the past—but in a fun way. The opening scene was inspired by a near-death experience I had witnessed some years earlier.
I was delighted to have completed my first real novel, but because things had happened so quickly I had no idea what to do next. I searched the Internet for advice and guidance and was over-whelmed by how complicated it all seemed. You have to write a synopsis of your story, a detailed bio about yourself and a submission letter; there were massive lists of agents and publishers to whom you could send your work. It was daunting. I looked at the little scrap of paper I had cut out of a newspaper many years before and kept in my purse. It was an advertisement that was no bigger than an inch square; it showed the picture of an old-fashioned quill pen and the details of a publisher. I decided that I would begin by sending a submission to them, so I started to put together the synopsis. One thing I have learnt in my life so far is that it is rare for anything worthwhile to come easily and I felt that this was only the start of what was going to be a very long process. I was nervous about sending my work off to be read and rejected by a professional, but I was also excited. Except that, before I was able to start on that part of the process, a series of events found me glued to the computer with a new project.
At the time I thought it had been triggered by an Evening of Clairvoyance I attended quite by chance. It was a fascinating evening and after a bit of a difficult start, the medium found his stride and was really very good. The next morning I woke up and suddenly my head was full of all sorts of things that had happened from my past, all competing for space in my thoughts. It almost felt like a mental overload. That’s about the best way I can describe it, because I hadn’t ever felt anything quite like it before. In order to cope with this explosion of long-lost memories, I sat down at the computer and typed for several hours. I thought that if I could get it down on paper, then perhaps my head would clear. What came out was a string of incidents that had happened throughout my life, and which I had never consciously linked before, or thought of in any particularly meaningful way. I’m not saying I totally discounted them, or didn’t consider any of the individual events as significant, I just chose not to think too deeply about what it all meant.
It seemed that, if I wanted to have any chance of clearing my head and getting back to my synopsis I had to do this. However, it didn’t end there. Within a few days I had to buy a hand-held tape recorder and carry it with me in order to keep up with the flood of thoughts I was experiencing. I taped whilst I was driving, and on one occasion I even had to take the tape recorder into the bathroom whilst I soaked in the bath! I moaned to my husband ‘how am I ever going to have a chance of getting published if I can’t find the time to write a synopsis of my story, or a letter of introduction?’
I couldn’t stem the constant tidal wave of thoughts; things that I had virtually forgotten and that, to my surprise, were suddenly all there in my head and in great detail. Even things I didn’t realise were there, because I was so young when it had happened. For some reason, hazy recollections suddenly presented themselves to me with a frightening clarity. I felt someone was telling me the story of my life in a way I had never viewed it, and I was merely the reporter. For the first time ever, this was no longer a case of an incident here and an experience there, but a catalogue of very personal psychic moments.
You have to understand that I am an amazingly focussed person, who has often worked from home and this suits me because I am disciplined to a fault. But each time I sat down at the computer to start writing my synopsis, really vivid memories would pop into my head, and I felt I was being pushed to record them. Eventually, after about two weeks, I gave up trying to do anything else and focussed on this new task in hand. I realised I wasn’t going to get any peace until this was done. Someone was guiding me, and when I was giving in to it I felt warm and happy. Similar to receiving a physical hug, the feeling of warmth on my shoulders was a real, tangible sensation.
Whenever I reached a point where I finished writing about an experience, I hardly had time to pause before another long-forgotten memory came to the forefront of my mind. In short, I felt like I was being prompted, and when I couldn’t get to a computer or at least make notes, I felt the most awful sense of frustration. Whoever was guiding me was impatient, and when I gave it my full attention I was rewarded with an enormous sense of wellbeing. When I was pulled away, it didn’t stop the thoughts and I felt a sense of panic, fearing that something was in danger of getting overlooked. Why that should be of concern to me, I had no idea, but it was eerily unsettling.
What frustrated me most about having to stop everything else I was doing at the time was that I am a totally disciplined starter/finisher. It doesn’t sit well with me to begin a second project when the first has not been completed. I was also dying to find out if anyone thought my debut novel was worthy of publication. Consequently I struggled for a while, but genuinely felt I had no choice in the matter. I had to give in to whatever was happening to me, even though I felt I wasn’t in control of it. My attitude was, by then, that I was sure it was my mother influencing me and I knew precisely why she was doing it. It was to let me know that my suspicions over the years were right, and this was her way of confirming it to me. She was triggering a re-run in my head of everything that I had sensed, seen, or felt.
When she was alive we had both had experiences with a psychic connection, but she refused to be open-minded about it. It became taboo as a subject; it was also a topic my husband would never discuss. For many years I had no one with whom I could easily talk, to help me to try to make some sense of it all. So, I believe that what was happening was her way of reaching out to me, and encouraging me to understand what she now knew to be fact. So real was her presence, that on several occasions as I was sitting at the computer I thought for a few brief moments I could see her. Merely a shadow, but sometimes there was a sound that made me look up, as if my name had been softly spoken. Each incident was over in seconds and every time I tried to find a reason to explain what exactly had happened. The only thing I knew for sure was that it was happening very frequently. I was constantly unsettled, not in a bad way I hasten to add, but it was disturbing.
Lawrence, my eternal soul mate who knows me better than anyone else in my life, was as puzzled as I was by what was happening to me. This definitely wasn’t the organised, methodical, professional and practical wife that he knew, who lives by her well-structured timetable. I am known to be totally reliable and therefore, I suppose, in some respects rather predictable. Although in other ways, totally unpredictable at times! He has come to understand what living with a Gemini is all about, and he is no longer surprised by the way I get caught up in something interesting and exciting, to the exclusion of all else. This was ‘sorry honey, no time to make dinner as I need to type this up. Can you pop something in the oven so we can eat soon?’ Not that he has a problem with helping out, but he was rather puzzled because he knew how keen I was to get some feedback on my first manuscript.
Under normal circumstances he would have been concerned by my odd behaviour, but it had been a very emotional and stressful year for both of us. Our lives still hadn’t settled back into a normal routine. One morning he admitted that since my mother’s death he had been unable to listen to music on his drive to work. I looked at him sadly and told him that I had the same problem. It was hard trying to get back to normality, when normal would never be the same again without her. There was also a sense of guilt in trying to do this, as if we were excluding her somehow. We knew that was ridiculous because we were thinking of her all the time.
I can now freely admit that I was beginning to feel a little concerned about my inability to control what was happening to me. But when I sat down and my fingers seemed to fly around the keyboard, I had this incredible sense of things being right. It was comforting after all that I had been through, and I really felt as if I was being rewarded with a sense of inner peace.
At the time, both Lawrence and I were experiencing some very vivid dreams. We would wake up in the morning and lay and talk about the strangest of things. It appeared as if we were being given the answers to little things happening to us on a daily basis. Nothing huge, we weren’t being given the winning lottery numbers or predicting life-changing events. However, it seems my mother was giving us bits of information relating to what was happening within our family. We often compared notes.
One of my nieces was married a month after my mother’s death and our youngest son was married only four months later. Both were events we had all expected my mother to attend, and about which she had been very excited. So there was a lot going on when people were still struggling to come to terms with the grieving process.
Both Lawrence and I acknowledge that she had always been a mother to both of us; losing her hit us very hard. We thought it was understandable that she would feature in our dreams. When you sleep your mind obviously processes the things that occupy your thoughts, so the logical conclusion is that the two come together. The events in your daily life mix with the subconscious grieving process. You therefore end up with a dream that seems to give a message. But it didn’t stop there, and I came to realise it was another piece in a puzzle that had been building for a while. If it had been the first piece, we probably would have ignored it. Lawrence used to be an even greater sceptic than myself, although he changed his mind suddenly a few years ago. It’s true what they say, seeing is believing and that too is an important part of this story.
When I say Lawrence and I are soul mates, I really mean that. We fell in love at first glance and have always had an intense relationship throughout our married life. My mother, and after a short time my father too, came to love him as their own son and my mother always introduced us as her son and daughter. That sounded as strange as it looks seeing it in black and white, but people understood what she meant. However, there were times when I felt guilty that the intense relationship that Lawrence and I shared meant that we were very wrapped up in each other. My mother may not have had my full attention all of the time, but when she did, she had the attention of both Lawrence and myself and she was a big part of our lives.
My mother was a driving force in her own right. If something upset her you would certainly know it. She had a heart of gold and spent her life helping others either emotionally, or whenever she could, financially. She donated much of the little she had to various children’s charities and would send anonymous donations to people if she read a particularly harrowing story. She was especially good with young people and children, who found her interesting and caring because she was very good at listening. She also didn’t judge people or make assumptions, and that’s a really hard skill to acquire.
Before her death, we never really talked about the possibility of an after-life. She was an adamant non-believer, and at that time I was still very much a closet believer myself. In general conversation with other people I would talk about a recent experience if drawn, and told it almost as if it was simply a story. I made no attempt to link what happened to reality. The mounting evidence from my experiences, and Lawrence’s inability to explain some of the things he had seen, were now making it difficult for me to continue not to ask myself some serious questions.
My mother had a way of letting you know what she was prepared to discuss and what she had no intention of talking about. Although I had wanted to talk to her about what I had witnessed in detail, I can only remember a couple of occasions when this topic came up in conversation. You will find the reason rather surprising when I touch upon that later. So you can imagine how strange it was to suddenly feel that she was there with me, guiding me in her own inimitable way. And she certainly wasn’t allowing me to ignore what was happening when she was there with me. I could feel this incredible warmth along one side of my body, as if she were there at my elbow as I sat typing away on the keyboard. Similar to sitting next to a coal fire, where one side of you is basking in the overwhelming heat and the other side is denied any benefit from the warmth.
There is a lot I have mentioned briefly here that I need to expand upon, but to make this easier to understand I have to explain things in an order that will be out of sequence chronologically. If something happens and it takes you a long time to acknowledge or make sense of it, then it’s almost as if it didn’t happen when it happened. I appreciate that is a difficult concept to absorb, but I suspect a lot of people will be able to understand exactly what I mean by that. So, I’m going to start by explaining who I am, and some of the influences in my life that led me here. This will highlight the reason why it took so long for the reality of those experiences to become meaningful to me. It was indeed a proverbial epiphany, when I was made to feel I couldn’t do anything else until what was in my mind was safely stored on a printed page. With no mental forethought, planning, or conscious decision, I had no idea where it was going. If I’m totally honest, I gave into it in the hope that it would stop as suddenly as it had all began. I sensed that I would not get any relief until the last word was staring back at me from the screen. I didn’t realise it would take over 70,000 words to get to that point!