Two Years, Two Very Different Journeys and a Few Distinct Similarities

I remember I had a post almost exactly a year ago about ghosts and my Grandma Do where I started with a disclaimer along the lines of “if you continue to read this you may think I’m crazy.” Stick around today and you’ll get another chance at that perhaps. I was wondering this morning how long it had been since I posted on my blog at all and when I just finally checked sure enough it has been exactly a month. Hardly a desirable result after proclaiming a re-commitment earlier this year, but whatever here I am in my first post back and I’m about two break two of the biggest blogging rules in the blogosphere. The first rule I’ll break today is the don’t post really long posts rule. If you have to be long winded be kind to your readers and break longer posts into chapters. The second rule I’ll break is the don’t post things that will confirm to your friends that you are crazy rule. More about that later.

As I have mentioned at some point along the way I like to follow the tradition of making a Lenten sacrifice and trying to make the season a period of reflection. I am not necessarily devoutly Catholic and I have many views which parallel with Eastern religions DownloadedFilebut I have always liked the discipline of using Lent for some higher cause. Over the past five years even my non-Catholic at all fiancee That Redhead has joined in the game. I can still remember her first sacrifice. It was goat cheese which may sound funny in retrospect but that girl put goat cheese on everything back in those days.

Well last year my journey for the Lenten season was very intense and I stuck 100% to my guns in giving up wine, meat, all sweets plus I was obsessed with reading and researching about the life of Jesus pretty much for the whole 40 plus day stretch. On the Friday before Palm Sunday I got the worst cold I had had in a long time. In fact it was so bad that I had to take a few days away from work and I even suspended my yoga practice for about 10 days to get extra rest. With a lack of things to fill up my time during Holy Week 2012 I wandered into Holy Name Cathedral and just sat there and prayed/meditated for a while. It started a seven day stretch of me visiting seven different churches throughout Chicagoland. It was a truly remarkable experience and one of the most intense spiritual periods of my recent years. While I was bummed out I was sick I was in another way grateful that I was forced to slow down enough to take a deeper look at something I perhaps even needed. I walked away from the Lenten period grateful and at peace. One of my friends who is quite religious and sharply intuitive even used the phrase “Jim you were on fire during Lent last year.”

So as we start Holy Week 2013 a part of me feels like I have lost out on an opportunity to build on last years momentum. I mean I have NOT been disciplined about holding true to my Lenten sacrifices at all this year. I haven’t been reading much. I tried to get through this book about Israel and the history of the Bible that has been on my reading stack thinking it might light a spark but to no avail. I haven’t watched any movies about Jesus, or the Buddha or Krishna or anyone. It would be easy for me to get a little down on myself as I am want to do when I am not pushing myself to extremes and then at some point over the weekend I thought to myself maybe there is a more subtle lesson woven in here somehow.

One of the major reasons/excuses I didn’t stick very well to my Lenten sacrifices this year was because just as Lent was beginning this year we buried a friend. In fact our friend Joy’s wake was on Ash Wednesday and the funeral was the next day on Valentine’s Day. I wound up eating out a lot over that stretch of time and before you knew it I had had wine with dinner a number of times, ordered a steak because I wanted and deserved it and while I hadn’t completely bailed on the sacrifice concept I at the very least compromised it significantly for the short term and then ultimately for the remainder of Lent. I was in the room with Joy when she died. It was one of the most overwhelming energetic experiences of my lifetime. When I say overwhelming I don’t mean necessarily all sad or negative. There was also something about it that was very powerful and very peaceful. In the week that followed Joy’s death I tried to connect with a few people who I have a comfort zone with about energy and such and with whom I can say anything. I also tried to meditate a lot. I’m still processing it in a number of ways and despite the fact I am sad that Joy won’t be there for our upcoming wedding and that her husband misses her dearly, I somehow feel richer for the experience of having shared in this crossing over with Joy’s family and a few close friends.

Back to the more subtle lesson. About two weeks after Joy’s passing I went up and attended a group meditation session with a woman I had heard of but never met by the name of Billie Topa Tate. I had done a Reiki session with one of Billie’s students a couple of years back in Michigan and for some time I had been knowing that one day I would cross paths with Billie as well. Billie is a Native American healer of great reputation and has spent her life helping others tap into their own intuitive powers as well as training others in Reiki. She is also a clairvoyant. Now I’m not sure how much you might believe in things like this but suffice it to say that I am fascinated with both the concept of using energy to create wellness and the concept of tapping into a sixth sense in some form or fashion. I’ve had a few amazing conversations with Billie and am using some of her DownloadedFile-1techniques in my practice and meditation with great result. She has this wonderful home meditation CD called The Loving Kindness Meditation that you can order on line. She’s told me a few things she sees that are a part of my past and future and that will likely help me achieve my higher purpose in this lifetime which she says is to be a teacher. I’ve even attended a seminar she taught in training the human capacity to use the  medulla oblongata along with the pituitary and pineal glands to improve intuitive vision, aka psychic sight. Pretty exceptional stuff.

Are you still with me? Do you think I’m crazy yet?

Well here’s where the subtle lesson started to reveal itself more. This past Friday – the Friday before Palm Sunday by the way – I had to call in sick to work. I’ve called in sick to work maybe five times in the last 11 years. I have been fighting a bug that finally started to win the battle and I was flat out sick. Sore throat, stuffy head, bad cough you name it. In some ways it’s shocking that I held out this long into the flu season with the number of people that I come in contact with on a daily basis. Maybe the Universe was just waiting for the right time to get me sick or maybe I was waiting for the right time to attract it in who knows? What I do know though is that while I was sitting on the couch on Friday morning after having gotten a sub for my two yoga classes and skipped Joe’s for the day I clicked on an email that I never would have otherwise opened. I just checked my in box and I’ve gotten a email from the same site 47 times already this year and I haven’t opened even one of them. I had a little bit of interest in the topic but never had enough time to make it maslowplusjump into the yes click on this pile of things to do. The email started with Maslow’s Pyramid a concept I am truly interested in then and went on suggest a link to the site of an Oregon based life coach named Christie Marie Sheldon.

My fiancee CJ often jokes that I should be a life coach with the number of people who reach out to me for advice and such. It sounds like a great job to me but I always wondered how in the world someone would get paid for stuff like that? Isn’t it just something you do with family and good friends? I’ve been fascinated with learning more about the concept and even thought about seeking out a mentor as I am want to do in areas where I have a bunch of questions. Well here I am on my couch too sick to even move and I’ve just been hand delivered a contact. I watched what amounted to be a twenty minute infomercial about this woman’s program but within the first ten seconds I totally knew that this person was going to become part of what I like to call “my wellness management team.” She talks about positive thinking, using intuition to improve vision, gratitude, tapping into higher vibrations and a bunch of other stuff I’m totally dialed into. There’s a bunch of people that do this stuff out there but for some reason I just trust that this person is the right one. As I like to say it resonates with me.  I’m not exactly sure when or how it will develop further but I’ve read some of the materials she has produced and I’m 100% confident that when the right situation arises that it will happen. Just like I knew I’d meet Billie at some point when I first heard of her about a year and a half ago.

Are you still with me? Do you think I’m Fruit Loops yet?

So in two consecutive years the person who has a hard time slowing down even when it is for his own good winds up getting sick on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In both cases I am forced to slow down and reflect and in both cases I’m drawn to something highly spiritual but completely different in nature. I guess sometimes you have to look a little deeper for the lesson and perhaps my Lenten season has not been such a bust this year after all.

As I draw this to a close I must admit that I wonder if I should even publish this post. I’m totally comfortable with all of it but do I want to put all this personal stuff out there in cyberspace? You know the whole don’t confirm to your friends and family and co-workers that you are in fact crazy rule, right?  Five years ago I couldn’t have even typed this into my own private journal and now I’m about to click publish on a blog. Unthinkable in some ways. When I met with Billie a couple of weeks ago she gave me a mantra to focus on. I have used a number of mantras through the years so the concept was not foreign to me. The mantra she suggested I use was this: “It does not matter how the world views me. It is more important how I view the world and myself. That makes my world.”

Despite being under the weather I spent some wonderful quiet time with a few good friends over the weekend. At one point I was having a great one to one conversation with a buddy who is looking at a lot of changes in life and he said to me something he had sort of said to me before. He said “you’re really good to talk to about stuff…have you ever thought about doing this for a living?”

“You mean like a life coach?” I replied. A very timely question indeed my friend. I’m  totally certain it’s time to click that publish button now and just see what happens next

Good to be back at the keyboard. This time I am confident I will return soon…


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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