At this point in my life I have embraced the extraordinary, and now it’s pretty ordinary. I suppose, if your eyes are open to see; then you will.
As a child, I loved to read. I loved mysteries, and chose your own adventure. I pined for the newest R.L. Stine books. There was so much to be left to the imagination, and I had no lack of that. I loved the practicality of Nancy Drew, and the hint of macabre given in Christopher Pikes writing. I wanted spooky, heart racing adventures.
In the fourth or fifth grade, my class went on a field trip to the Fort Laramie. A rustic old fort, maintained as a museum. We visited several buildings, examining the living conditions of a soldier versus an Officer.
The building I remember most, was the Captains Quarters, originally designed to be large and decadent housing, it was later split with a wall down the stair case to turn the building into a duplex in order to house more people.
Each Room was walled off ceiling to floor with Plexiglass. You could see the staging of the room, but you couldn’t touch anything. The tour guide had just regaled us with the story of the Woman in the Green Dress who haunts the Fort.
On the bed, on the top left hand level of the Captains Quarters, was a beautiful green dress laid out on the bed. As all of my peers filed out of the building down the stairs, I just stayed there, staring in that room… until the rocking chair began rocking with out assistance. There was no airflow coming into the blocked off room. The tour leader hadn’t mentioned that this specific building was said to be haunted. Upon further research, it has been documented as having haunted activity.
I immediately left the Captain’s Quarters feeling very chilly on the hot day. When I got outside the hair on my arms was still on end, and one of my friends asked if I was okay, because I looked pale like I had seen a ghost. I responded with, “I think I might have.” Everyone thought it was a joke, but I know what I saw… that rocking chair should not have been moving on it’s own. I couldn’t find a tangible logical solution, so in my mind, it must have been a ghost or some dimensional residue.
The Shadow People
So, people didn’t take my ghost story as real. They probably thought I was being over dramatic, and since no one was with me to legitimize my claims… perhaps they just thought I was a liar. Who knows? The weirdness over the years didn’t stop there.
A couple of years later, (I was probably about twelve or thirteen), I went to bed like any other night. I would shut my door, and go to bed. My head of the bed was at the west window, and I could see right out the door, as the bed was right in alignment with the entryway to my room.
I felt myself relax, and at some point I feel like I am laying there on my back, and the door is opening. I feel like my eyes were open, because I could see the nightlight outside of my room. My door opens all the way, and slowly these tall shadow figures start filing into my room, one after another.
They have no faces. They aren’t completely opaque. They are just indistinguishable human forms. I am paralyzed. They completely fill all the space in the room, and it feels like they are all looking down on me… but they don’t have eyes. Their shapes remind me of a person wearing a cloak. My body fills with a panic, and I try to yell for help.
My younger brother comes into my room, from his, next door; and he proceeds to try and get me to wake up. I can’t wake up. I am not even aware that he is there. He goes and get’s my parents, and they also struggle to snap me out of it. It takes a while. When I finally come to, I am shocked to see my three family members in there, looking distraught.
For years I would ask people if they knew of the shadow people. No one I knew had experienced anything like that. I didn’t start finding stories from others about this phenomenon until about 2006. Now you can easily search the web for the topic of shadow people, and how others have experienced their presence.
This was my only contact with the shadow people. Some people only experience one shadow person… I had a whole room full of them.
The Day I Probably Should Have Died
or Did Deja Vu Save Me?
The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I was life guarding at Municipal Pool and Sloans Lake. Occasionally I would be sent over to Johnson Pool, if they were short on guards.
On such a day, I was sitting at a red stop light on Lincolnway, in the turn lane to get on the overpass to head to the south side. I was on the inside turning lane behind a Napa Auto Parts delivery truck. As the light turned green, I made a quick look behind me and shifted into the outside turning lane. (Knowing the rules of the road, I knew that I shouldn’t be doing this, but I was hit with the feeling that I had to do it.)
The rolling door on the back of the Napa truck was open, and just as I switched lanes a huge rolling dolly came flying out the back end of the truck. It would have flown through the drivers side window, had I not taken that lane change.
My Jesus Moment
In the fall of 1999 I was attending a private Christian College in Kansas. I was feeling kind of boxed in with the rules, and I wanted some adventure. One of my new friends and I decided to stay in Kansas City, Missouri for my birthday weekend.
I was not disappointed with the adventure, the whole trip provided some unexpected turns; most notable was my Jesus Moment.
Being from a small town, and living rural most of my life to this point; I was unaware of the plight of homeless veterans. We were two freshmen in college, looking for a place for the under 21 crowd to dance. No such thing was available on a Friday night. The streets were busy with bar hoppers, and clubbers, and the homeless.
As my friend and I wandered around, looking for something to do, we saw some college age guys harassing two homeless vets begging for change. They had a ball cap upside down on the sidewalk where people would throw them change. One of the harassers, kicks the ball cap into the road and the coins go rolling in every direction into traffic.
One of the homeless men looks defeated as he gets up to dodge cars and retrieve the coinage. I am appalled by these college kids surrounding me, and I snap.
I feel an overwhelming calmness come over to me as I walk up to a vendors window called “By The Slice”. A young man named Jude is taking orders at the window. I say to him, “I’d like two large pizzas.” Jude says, “I’m sorry, we only sell pizza by the slice.” So I say I need two large pizzas worth of slices.” I spent over $80.00 in pizza and a large Mt. Dew.
I returned to the two men who had their change kicked around, and I asked if they were hungry. They looked afraid, like I was taunting them. I say “Here, have some pizza, I got it for you.” One man shyly opens a box, and pulls out one slice, and hands it to the man next to him. “I say you can take more, I got it for you.” The man in front of me, begins to get tears in his eyes.. and he says “Are you mad at me?” And at this moment, I don’t even feel like I have control over myself, but my eyes tear up as well, and I say very honestly “No, I am not mad at you; I love you.”
On that trip, I felt very imbibed in the spiritual nature of who ever we think Jesus to be. That I was over taken in that spirit in that moment, and it was pure and beautiful.
The earliest premonition I remember having was a dream that I had at 3 years old, that the Wicked Witch of West was trying to kill my mother. My mother died less than a year later of Ovarian Cancer.
The second premonition I remember, was around 8 or 9 years old; I told my parents “someday, I will be able to travel all over the world, because I will have friends there.” How real that is now that we live in a digitally connected world.
Around the same age I was obsessed with the idea of mind over matter. I knew at a young age that the secrets of illness and healing had a lot to do with our mental states. This has later been confirmed in neuroscience and quantum physics.
In Elementary school, I had to wear glasses and a retainer. I had premonitory dreams about breaking them both at various times. I remember getting mad at myself, because I knew better. I knew the manner in which the object would get broken, and how ultimately it was my irresponsibility that would lead to their destruction.
In high school, I wrote A LOT of poetry. I would just free write, go with one line and not think about it. Many times I would read back my writing and it wouldn’t feel relative to my own experience. Often those poems were picked up by a friend who needed it in the moment. The writing was for them, not for myself.
In my adulthood, I have had premonitory dreams about the death of my brother, grandfather, and aunt. As well as knowing my sister was pregnant with my first niece.
I also have a keen connection to weather. I know exactly when to travel when weather is imminent. I listen to my gut, when it says ” take this road.”
Strangers From NoWhere
Have you ever had a stranger, pop out of nowhere to tell you something you needed to hear at the moment? I have.
I was in my early 30’s, I was having a bummed out day. All of my friends were busy, and I was feeling artistically defeated. I was walking around downtown Corvallis with my dog; wandering up and down the silent alleyways when we popped out at a main intersecting road. Just as we come to the outlet, this dark haired lady walks by. I had never seen her before.
She stops in her tracks and looks directly at me. There is no one else around on the street. She says, “Don’t stop painting. I know you are feeling down about it right now, but don’t stop. You don’t know who it’s going to help yet.”
I felt the emotion rise in me. “Thank you.” I say, and she continues to walk south down the sidewalk. I turn to walk north, and think “Who was that? I should get her name.” So my dog and I turn around and I run down the street looking for her, but she vanished.
In my mid-twenties a similar thing happened while working at a coffee shop in the high altitude of Nederland, CO. It was early morning, and I was bantering with my friend who was our baker. I said “You know what I was thinkin’, if you had an appointment or a job down the canyon, and you didn’t feel like going in, you could just call them and tell them you have a bear asleep on your porch, and you feel it’s better not to leave right now.”
And we laughed at that.
We had one patron in the shop, who wasn’t a regular. He was a black man who had a large stature, and he was dressed very differently then most of the black men you see in the mountains.
He excuses himself from involving himself into our conversation to ask ” Are bears a big problem up here?”
“I mean, they can be, if you leave your trash or food out. We get some that wander into town, but it’s not usually a big deal. Why do you ask?”
He says, ” Well, I have been trying to get some creative work done, and I live in Denver. And it’s too busy out there, so I prayed, and I heard ‘go to Nederland.’ I didn’t even know this place existed, but I looked it up, and saw that I could get up here by bus. And on the front page of your town website it was all about bears. Ya see, I am from Florida, and I ain’t been to the woods since I was like twelve. Last time I went to the woods I was chased by an alligator. So, you see when I came up here I made sure to wear my running shoes. I thought ya’ll might have bears at your bus stop.”
My friend and I are cracking up. I tell him I want to hear more about how he prayed and it led him up here, so he ends up hanging out until I get off of work, and we go have a chat.
He tells me that he speaks with God, and God leads him, and he is there to see me today. He says he needs me to know that I am a “Spiritual Mayor of the Rocky Mountains.” I tell him that I find that idea interesting because I tend to be either the first person new comers talk to, or the last person they talk to on their way out.
We spent a few hours sharing our own strange experiences with each other, and that was it. We didn’t communicate again after that.
What Are The Chances?
I think people from Wyoming, are inherently attracted to each other when they are outside of Wyoming.
Wyoming boasts of being the least populated state in the US, with just under 600,000. Cheyenne, at the time of my graduation in 1999, was around 50,000.
In 2000, I went to a massive rave at Candlestick park in Oakland. The estimated amount of attendees was roughly 40,000. In the first couple of hours, I found one guy named Orlando, from Wyoming. I thought the statistical odds of that happening were pretty slim.
Wyomingites, are kind and friendly people, in my experience.
In 2006, while visiting friends in Oregon, my car had some radiator issues, and I was leaking coolant all over. Due to parking limits in down town Bend, I had to move my car every couple of hours, but I was trying to limit how much I was driving so that I didn’t drain the radiator.
I pulled into a parking spot near a candy shop, and a couple stood on the sidewalk in front of my car. When I exited the car, the man excitedly unzipped his jacket to expose a University of Wyoming Ladies Basket ball shirt. He had noticed my Wyoming license plate, and he and his wife were excited to connect to familiar relation.
We get to chatting, and they wonder what I am doing in Bend. I tell them that I use to live here and I am back to see friends and get some tings I had in storage, but that I was having some unexpected car trouble.
These people made a few phone calls to people they knew in the area and set me up an appointment with a mechanic. I was so moved, I asked “Why are you doing this for me?” Their answer, “You remind us a lot of our daughter. She is wild and nomadic like you. We would hope that if she was in a similar situation that someone would help her out. And besides, we are all from Wyoming, we look out for our own.”
This was just another case of statistical improbability in my mind. Out of all the spaces I could park in, out of all the people out on the street that day; that I would be met with such connection and kindness based off of a location we both shared. Strange, but beautifully true.
A Loose Conclusion
These are just a few shortened stories of my life. Some people do not believe in magic, or energetic connection, or the paranormal. Perhaps that is why they don’t experience it. I do believe in phenomenon and I find it curious. These experiences are precious to me as they connect me with life and death and everything in between.
I would encourage you to examine some of the weirder stuff you may have experienced over your life. You might see a silent hand in there, stirring the energetic pot of your existence.
People ask if I was nervous to give my TEDx talk. I answered “no.” Which I suppose was only partially true. I wasn’t worried about speaking in front of people. I wasn’t worried about my message. I was worried as hell, about my ridiculous weight gain over the past five years.
I have always struggled with dysmorphia. Wikipedia says this about it; “Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one’s own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it. In BDD’s delusional variant, the flaw is imagined. If the flaw is actual, its importance is severely exaggerated. Either way, one’s thoughts about it are pervasive and intrusive, occupying up to several hours a day.”
I don’t believe this to be a mental disorder, of my own accord.
Even when I was a strong and muscular child, I endured the taunting of “being fat and ugly.” I was taller than many of my peers, and larger in body structure. I was healthy, I was some what athletic as a swimmer.
I use to wear a one piece racing suit, almost everyday as a life guard. I still felt fat. Clothed or not, I was constantly comparing myself to the females around me. Even then, I didn’t see myself as I actually was. It wasn’t until decades later, through photographs, that I realize I was spinning with worry over nothing real. But those words from others, seemed real.
There was nothing wrong with me. But now, when I compare myself to that person… I feel, “I have let myself go.” I feel gross, yet I no longer have people telling me I am fat. When I see pictures of my current self, it’s all I see. I have conditioned myself to fixate on that one thing.
When my talk goes live, online… I put myself out there to the wolves in the comment section. I put myself out there for friends to critique my physic, whether vocally or mentally; and that scares me shitless.
When I had a youtube channel, I looked hot. I got off on seeing how my farm living lifestyle changed my body for the better. I was far more confident showing it off. I don’t look like the same person today.
That is what scares me, most of all. That my message will get lost in my layers of fat. That I will re-attract those people who live off of taunting others for fun. That some random people I don’t even know are going to cruelly judge me.
Despite my self knowing, that this sedentary lifestyle is temporary. Fat doesn’t have to be forever… at the moment, it’s hard to face myself in the mirror. Despite all that I have triumphed, my own body is no longer on that list. It’s scary to know I have so much work ahead of myself. And I admit, it is SO hard to do alone. I want someone to hold my hand through it, every step of the way, because I have a really hard time self motivating out of the dysmorphic mind set.
I just want to get to a point where I spend less time obsessing about this meat suit. I know that my body doesn’t represent the totality of who I am, or what I have to offer. I believe if I could just stop worrying about it, that I could retrieve some of my lost energy and vitality.
I want to be adopted by someone who already has a solid routine that they can pull me into, because I admit to having a hard time doing that for myself, and in my current situation that aspect of change doesn’t have many support systems.
Sometimes, I think, after my grandma passes, that I am going to have to fully immerse myself again in a lifestyle that requires a lot of physical movement, because that is what works for me. I don’t enjoy conventional gyms… I would rather be hiking or throwing sheep, then standing in a stuffy gym full of mirrors, or waiting for a moment to do exercises prescribed by a youtube exercise guru. It just doesn’t hold my interest.
I like exercise, that masquerades as “work” and “function.” I get shit done, and burn some lbs. I wear myself out, I sleep better. My tendency toward fresh foods becomes more noticeable. People spend money, going to gyms; when just living an active lifestyle can give you similar results. If your job is active, you actually get paid to help your own physic; which is awesome.
If there is one thing that I could manifest soon, it is some how some way, to get babied to some degree, into weight loss. To be assisted in keeping up the motivation. It is so much easier to agree to drinking beer, then it is to set up a schedule of walking partners…
As I gather myself together to take the second annual TEDx Cheyenne stage tonight, my body is flooded with energy. How auspicious that I get the privilege of performing my own material on the full moon in June.
I get to tell my own story, while immortalizing my grandma. I get to share my love and pride of her with an audience who is excited to hear the story. I have the amazing opportunity to share some valuable insights about life, and death. I am allowed to speak candidly about a topic many people would rather not discuss.
I feel like crying right now, because I am so overwhelmed with excitement and feeling. I have a strong feeling, that this moment might change my life in ways, I can’t even fathom at this point in time.
The story I tell, is not solely my own. My story is about relation, and that my dear friends is something we all seek in various ways. My gift of using words to convey relation, is so priceless, and it’s been a while since I used my whole body to express them to an audience.
I get to stand again, on my favorite hometown stage, with my own work and I am elated. I will be surrounded with peers that I have met over the years. To them I will bare part of my soul.
Though my grandma will not be in attendance, I hope that she is proud of me. I hope that I honor her through my talk, because she deserves it. If I didn’t come back for her, I wouldn’t have this wonderful opportunity.
The thing I want most in the world, is the ability for humans to spend more time working at relating to each other. I want us to move beyond our differences, and see where we are most alike.
For generations people kept their truths, and pains hidden. I find that it is the time to draw back the curtains and expose those lost gems to the sunlight. To embrace ourselves and each other, despite the cracks and shadows. Story telling, is one of the best ways I know how to do that.
I am thankful for every lesson that brought me to today. Thank you to all of you who listen, and participate with my growth and my life adventure. I look forward to new experiences, and new stories to share.
I am 36 years old.
I have twice as many journals as my age.
You know what they tell me?
Almost everything, and I am sporadic writer.
But one of the first things I can tell you that writing will help with, and work you through, is cyclical pain from past trauma. The time, the season, the trigger. It will show you your insecurities, your triumphs. It will remind you of what “good” feels like, when you feel bad.
It will bring back vivid detail of times, people and things of the past.
It will beg you to question yourself and the world; your perception and acceptance.
It will take you to new heights, and hold the burden of your losses.
And if you love some one like a daughter, a niece, or whatever; the gift of passing it along is priceless.
Write, even if you have always told yourself you are a bad writer. You are under no obligation to share it, unless you want to.
If you want to know yourself better, do it.
Usually I have 3-4 notebooks going at one time for various things… charting territories of my personal observations, feelings, and evolution.
Our world so badly wants relation, but we hide in cyber hibernation under status updates, while our internal worlds spin with no outlet, like a plugged up washing machine caught on the spin cycle with no outlet.
We want to purge. We want to connect. We want to remember. We want to be remembered. We want to know all is not for naught. We want to learn and grow. We want a road map.
Writing can provide all of that and more. Leave self judgement at the door, and pick up a nice pen and some strong paper… it is willing and able to hold the weight of your soul.
I’m not big on “excitement.” I try and keep even keel. I suppose I am more obvious with my disappointments, than I am with my excitements. I have always been afraid that I would get too excited, and then, someone or something would squash it, or take it away.
My response to this, has been to assume Resting Bitch Face Mode, and act as unimpressed and neutral as possible when it comes to things or situations that I should be looking forward to.
I stuff it down inside myself, I make it a reason for motivation… but heaven forbid, I actually outwardly show pride, or excitement in regard to myself. It sucks. It’s such a weird reaction to accomplishment; especially when you don’t hesitate to gush over the accomplishments of others.
I mean, what is accomplishment to you? The word is really subjective.
I have come to realize, that to me, accomplishment is making a positive impact wherever I can. It is the art of relating to people, and helping each other navigate over the hurdles life puts in out paths. It’s knowing my intentions are pure. It is the satisfaction of shared experience with personalities different than mine, but similar in soul alignment.
For you, it may be your kids, or your law degrees, or the fact you own your own home. I didn’t really want any of those things, so what we may have most in common is a successful paper trail, documenting our so called accomplishments.
I want to mark today as significant, for myself.
I am embracing change and opportunity. I am flipping a proverbial page. I want to bring everyone with me. Today, was effortless. The work that made today happen, is years old. I am getting the privileged to see some of the seeds I planted and watered so long ago, grow.
I have reached a new level of understanding Fruition. And I know, that I am just getting excited over a sprout-ling.
Like I said, I don’t get very excited, very often. I keep it to myself.
But, today, right now, I want to share it with you. I want you to know that I do feel, and deeply. I have just conditioned myself to maintain this grounded neutrality.
I want to share this feeling with you. I want you to share your feelings with me.
Maybe today sucked for you… maybe you are in an awkward place, and you don’t have it in you, to meet my excitement. Maybe it even pisses you off as you are reminded of how you don’t feel like that right now. That is okay too.
Sometimes part of my reserve, is because I don’t want to make people, who already feel bad, feel worse. So I commit to self censorship. And maybe you say nothing at all, because you are on the worse end of today.
It’s okay. When I feel up, I want to channel that to those of you who feel down. I am so accustomed to being mid-level-down with no outlet; that me feeling up, leaves me more energy to be present with your down time. It’s a give and take that I enjoy participating with, because rarely is it that some one walks away from me, feeling worse about their current circumstance, than they did before we talked. And you may not know it, but that fills me with a strong joy that is hard to describe. Those who know me, know I don’t blow smoke up their ass. If I say something hard to take, it’s because it is honest, and I don’t censor myself much, around those of mutual love and respect.
The thing that sucks most for me… is how rare it is that I get these bursts of glow… and I find they fade so quickly, overrun by the regular mundane part of existence, that they rarely get the time or honor they deserve. So I needed to write this down now. I needed to document a day, where almost every hour was a new and pleasant surprise.
I needed to document that it isn’t all just “repairing fences” in life.
I have been working at starting a nonprofit, which I feel will positively change my home towns’ social landscape. We sent off paper work to the Secretary of State to lock in our name today. This is a dream that is over 10 years old, ready to come to fruition, and because it is Cheyenne, and Cheyenne is ready, and I was blessed with a beginning team. More details soon. (But, I am excited.)
I locked down on my memorization today, so that I can give a heartfelt, and engaging talk at Tedx Cheyenne, in a week. I get to (again) take the stage in a theatre I call home, a place with rich history. I have been gifted the chance to talk about life, and my personal observations. My heart is full to the brim because I am allowed to share my personal work, my personal story. A story, which wouldn’t be the same with out my support systems and experience.
Today I was offered an opportunity to paint the hanger facade at Cheyenne Regional Airport… just think; Arrivals and Departures… a portal to a new place. I am familiar with the experience of coming and going. I want to create something that captures the essence and tone of those chapter changes. I want to leave another mark on this place. Imagine, 30 years from now, they repaint the hanger and someone comes back to visit, after leaving at 18, and they say ” Oh, they covered it up. I remember when there was this cool mural up there….” And I can be woven into the memories of people I may never meet. ( A constant striving with my art in all regards.)
I feel a confidence that I am flipping a page to a new chapter. I am excited to see where it leads. There is no shame in it. My pride is not boastful… it’s more akin to surprise. I am always surprised when I feel or experience surprise; I translate it as a reason for excitement. Something to look forward to.
Thank you, to all of you who share my excitement or surprised, surprise. Thank you, to all of you who bring me back to ground level. Thank you, to all of you, who help me dig deep, and trust in my council.
Today was undoubtedly a good day. Thank you for letting me share it with you. Thank you for sharing it with me. Thank you for allowing me to share.