Activating the Bat-Signal for My Deceased Father

This Father’s Day is the 18th without my father on the physical plane.

After so many years without him physically but with an ever-present, still-growing spiritual practice and much gratitude, I’ve learned that we can simply ask our deceased beloved to show up, and they will. Most recently, I know my dad helped me fix my clothes dryer. He was a fix-it type–and still is, it seems. I spent a significant part of my childhood in the garage with my dad, handing him tools and keeping him company, whether he was building his ’35 Ford Coupe from the shell-in-primer state, changing his oil in his Ford station wagon, working solo or with his buddies on his latest race car that hadn’t been demolished at the Slinger speedway (Wisconsin favorite), or fixing his Yamaha motorcycle and later his Harley Davidson. I got up at sunrise to join him at many hot-rod car shows, and he quizzed and trained me about car parts at the swap meets. Three years ago, I wasn’t afraid to research YouTube, buy the necessary parts and replace my blower motor and resistor, so I could have working heat again in my Honda CR-V and save a couple hundred dollars. I am my father’s daughter.

The clothes dryer. In the same week a few weeks ago, my clothes dryer and five-year-old smart phone went kaput. For mechanical woes, I’ve learned to put a call out to my deceased father, just as you might pray to the appropriate saint or angel for a lost object, protection or house sale. I shine the Bat-Signal (RIP, Adam West) for my father when I need mechanical help or driving directions. I first had my human-experience panic: I was already in financial struggle, and now two not-so-cheap replacements were needed, in the same week. Then, I went into my famous research mode, checking “new” dryers but gravitating toward Craigslist. And asking Dad for help.

That’s when I called “Dan” about the dryer he posted on Craigslist. This man could barely hear me when I called, and I practiced patience as I repeated most of what I needed to say and ask. My gut said to trust him. He wasn’t hearing me that I just wanted to buy his dryer and that I’d need to arrange help; he insisted that he check my dryer first, completely confident he knew he could probably fix the 1970s dryer I had. So, we scheduled a time, and then I did the responsible thing of letting close friends know that I had a stranger coming to my home while I was alone; I texted his name and phone number and the time of his visit to said friends.

Dan exited his large, white truck, carefully lifting each foot, as his legs wobbled a bit, and he firmly planted one foot on the ground, as he advanced toward me. He’s in his 80s, since he later shared that he’d been in Colorado since the 1930s. I exhaled, now trusting that there was no stranger danger. I shook his hand, and he met my dog, and we all entered my home. After I let him assess the dryer, I asked if he needed water or anything else. He handed me a crazy-dust-and-lint-filled metal piece, and I understood I needed to vacuum said piece. No words were needed. After that task was complete, I returned and saw him struggling with thick, shaky fingers to undo a necessary screw in the dryer, and I asked if he needed some help. “I usually have an assistant,” he assured me, but we knew that’s why I was there and so willing. For the next 40 minutes, we were a seamless team, sweating in my small laundry room and exchanging only fix-it-related words. I wasn’t afraid to jump in and find myself covered in the dust–more vacuuming and helping where I could. It was in the first moment of his asking, “Hand me that socket driver,” that I knew exactly what he meant, and I was suddenly a young girl in my dad’s garage, handing my father tools he’d taught me to distinguish. I knew.

And when I noticed the dryer vent had come off the back of dryer and couldn’t quite reach it and grabbed a mop handle to hook and lift it within reach, Dan smiled at me and laughed and said, “Well, that’s a smart thing to do. [pause] Are you married?” No. “Well, how come no one has snatched up a beautiful, smart woman like you, yet?” And then he went on to say he’s been married 62 years to his “beautiful bride.” Our affection grew when I noticed the end of the rescued dryer vent end coming apart and announced, “Duct tape–right there, a few inches from your right hand in that basket on the shelf.”

An hour and only $60 later, my 1970s, still-awesome dryer was working again because Dan replaced the faulty thermal fuse. Like my father, I’m apt to try to fix something before tossing or replacing it; I couldn’t have found a more perfect form of help. I nearly cried with both the relief and the gift of this man. We hugged as he left, and he continued his careful, strategic gait with exaggerated knee lifts and foot placement, and only after I handed him a bag with blueberry scones I’d baked him that morning. Because somehow I knew.

© 2017 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved.

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Loss Can Feel Like This… But You Need to Be in This

Sudden loss can feel like this.

It’s like a car accident that includes a plunge into water: You’re driving along, maintaining and staying aware, and suddenly there’s the crash, the impact, and you’re free-falling off a bridge and find yourself thrown into the water below. At first, panic. Then, realization that you’re going to be here awhile.

And even though breath can sometimes be a struggle, you realize you can breathe.

Others may swim by, offer a life preserver, effort to pull you out… but you need to be in this. Feel it all. Know you won’t drown even if you feel you will—at first, every day. And even if you feel you’d like to drown and slip into the promised peace of letting go and surrendering.

But we can still surrender and LIVE. That’s one of the secrets. But we need to be okay with allowing the float, the awareness, and that hollow, odd sound and solitude we uniquely know when we are submerged under water.

Grief is like this.

© 2016 Erika M. Schreck. All rights reserved


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I lost my beloved dog Harley last month and have been in the thick of processing grief and integrating the hole and new routine that show up each day. Read my public tribute to my boy at this link here. I’ve had several significant losses in my life, which you can read more about here.

 

 

Grief Healing Resources: Please click here to see a started list of some of my favorite resources lately, as I grieve; I’ve started a list of books, on-line video and audio, and on-line articles. These resources have been game-changers for me.

Beautiful and Necessary Grief Healing: Death, Reinvention and Support

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Cindy Chadwick, Erika M. Schreck, Sue Frederick and Ann Worthington: Grief Healing Workshop, July 2014

Today I sat with another beautiful client during a grief intuitive coaching session. I recognized and remembered the ache and unstoppable tears as she told her story of loss. And I felt the honor and gratitude of being a witness and support for her. I know that most people are afraid to talk about death and may not know some of the amazing, effective ways to receive and provide healing, which are some of my main drives for offering grief intuitive coaching services.

This past July, I was in beautiful Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, at the Shambhala Mountain Center, assisting, supporting and participating in a grief healing workshop with well-known, amazing numerologist, coach, author, speaker and professional intuitive Sue Frederick. I heard stories of loss that even more so displayed strength and bravery. What a gift and honor to witness beautiful souls shine in such vulnerable, inspiring experiences! I listened, I held space, I coached, I offered reiki, and I showed up in service for a lovely group of 22 grieving participants for this beautiful and necessary process. WebSeal-Bridges-Schreck_June2013I am so grateful for my grief intuitive coach certification and grateful and inspired by Sue, who trained me. Sue Frederick’s book related to this work, Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side, is available on Amazon at this link here.

After experiencing many deaths of family members and friends at a young age, my father’s death when he was 48, and my grandfather’s passing and actual transition a couple of years ago, I know that each person has a unique journey with loss and grief.

Because my father’s funeral director wisely told me, I now tell others who just experienced the death of a loved one, “People are well intentioned and will tell you they know exactly what you’re going through–but they don’t.”

I honor the personalized journey of grief for each of us. And, especially as I’ve learned in my grief intuitive coach training and practice, I honor your journey–what you still have left to do this lifetime and why you’re still on the planet. Want to learn more about my grief intuitive coaching session or know someone who could benefit? Click here.

One of the largest gems I know to be true, based on my own experiences with losing loved ones and supporting so many others through their losses is the following: Death is all around us to remind us of our own mortality, remind us of priorities, and urge us to be truthful with ourselves about our lives.

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© Erika M. Schreck, 2014. All rights reserved.

Caretaker Extraordinaire No More: Confessions from a Recovering Caretaker

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s
#iamsubject project
.
Here is my #iamsubject story.


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There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
—Maya Angelou

At times I feel I’ve spent a lifetime of healing my wounds, recognizing triggers and trying to be a healthier, clearer, happier person. Experiencing so many forms of pain, either on my own path or codependently through others so close to me, allowed me to live through divorces, abuse, eating disorders, religious judgment and silencing, abandonment, drunk driving accidents and fatalities, alcoholism, depression, assault, secrets, Al-Anon, several house moves, several schools, deaths, codependency, extreme caretaking, guilt, financial struggle, walking-on-eggshells, kicked-out-at-17, suicide threats, over-responsibility and endometriosis.

I graduated with and continue with a double-PhD in Empathy and in Caretaking. Yet, I really only wish to be lauded for the fact that I still somehow have hope in this world. And joy. And kindness. Because somehow I know no other way.

My untold yet somehow obvious story is that I am a recovering caretaker. In fact, people in my life might even challenge me on the recovering part I declare. I learned from only the best caretaking, including enabling, women a girl can have. I learned that putting others’ needs first helped me feel safer, feel good and feel more purposeful. And I lost myself, becoming a mother to many and finding I really liked that role. But then I learned the big lesson over and over again: How can we take care of others when we’re not at our best because we’re not taking care of ourselves?

Nearly every day, though, I am tempted to fall back into old, unhealthy patterns with family, friends and clients. While neither perfect nor striving to be, my 30 years of off-and-on therapy have trained me to be so much more aware and so much more willing to act from a place of self-care, anti-enabling and truth. I’ve learned that caring and care-taking are different things.

As a therapist, I witness care-taking as a common, sometimes deadly addiction among my clients. People become so programmed to “give,” they find themselves profoundly drained and in some cases, physically ill. Breaking this addiction cannot be underestimated. It is an addiction that keeps people alive as children and seems life-threatening to quit.

Rythea Lee Kaufman
“Care-taking: The Hidden Addiction”

Bless my fourth-grade friend who “reported” me to the school counselor, desperately seeking help because I confessed one day at recess that I wanted to kill myself and even had ideas for how I would do it. Mrs. Angyan, the school counselor, comforted me and convinced me for awhile that my parents’ divorces and abuse from both of my step-parents were not my fault—and that certain breathing exercises and journaling could help me feel better. And they did. I felt like I was supporting and prioritizing both of my parents, my younger siblings and anyone else in my life at the expense of my own well-being, even at a young age. I knew too many of the adult-problem details and empathically took on the adult-problem anxieties. Writing became my saving grace, even before that counselor’s strong encouragement, and I often journaled under bed covers after bedtime, on tear-soaked pages with the aid of a book clip-light. I bravely wrote it all, struggling to be a subject in the midst of feeling helpless in my family’s unsafe world of brokenness and addictions.

My next poignant power-claiming moment was during my senior year of high school. Years of living in fear, expecting the unexpected and being physically and emotionally abused arrived at a heightened, yet final point. Not long after dinner that March 7, my step-father again chose to belittle me and argue about a non-issue and then proceeded to get more violent than he ever had with me. Kicked, hit, spit at and slammed into doors in our kitchen that night, I was told to get out and found myself stumbling out our back door and falling onto the paved driveway, after first being pushed into the locked screen door. Stunned at first, but then amazingly clear, I was terrified but felt free.

Thankfully, my high school counselor had helped me create a plan for safety and self-care, as he and I knew my home situation was growing even more unsafe for me. I would never live in that house again and was taken in by kind, loving grandparents. Not as mindful of my own traumatic experience and loss, for the next week, I was more upset and feeling extreme guilt for “leaving” my three younger siblings and mother. I was helping raise and protect my sisters and brother, and I felt responsible for my mother, then too afraid to change our hellish home environment. Being swooshed out of my caretaking at home, I felt so lost but soon became empowered to keep going, finish high school and get to college.

More extreme caretaking presented itself when I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself at age 24-almost-25 in charge of my father’s entire estate, something I’ve never regretted. My father’s death at age 48 is a story that holds things together for me—a story that brought things together for me—because so many things fell apart. Not only was I grieving and just trying to keep my own life together, I was again finding that I was often more concerned for others and losing too much of my own energy and health. Interestingly, I had been diagnosed with endometriosis—a painful and debilitating disease that was damaging my ovaries, woman tubes and stomach, and required my first surgery—not long before this greatest life-shifter. Seemingly, the Universe was getting my attention and saying, “You need to take care of yourself first. Finally. Now. Without Delay.”

After finalizing all of my executor responsibilities related to my dad and honestly assessing the aftermath of a recent sexual assault, increased caretaking of loved ones, grad school completion, unhealthy romantic relationships and serious overworking, I had my greatest moment of choosing to be subject of my own life. I needed to leave Wisconsin, no matter how much I loved and cared for my family and friends, and choose me. Colorado had first impressed me when I was nine and on a road trip with my dad, step-mom and siblings. And this beautiful state where mountains grounded me and peace settled within me called me home.

Again, those who know me may still tell you I care too much and do too much for others. Judgment aside, I am so much healthier, more aware and preventative, and continually practicing more self-care these days and sincerely efforting to break a pattern, even with each new caretaking “opportunity” that presents itself in my life. Helping and giving are in my nature and will always be to some extent, but these beautiful attributes need regulation like most other behaviors and patterns.

With age 40 next year, I have lived in Colorado for nearly 12 years because playing it safe, staying where I was and maintaining endless caretaking for everyone else was no longer my path. In my mid-20s, my entire life changed, and I began a new era of spiritual growth, self-acceptance, power, voice, self-healing and freedom. A therapist here in Colorado, not long after I moved here, assured me, “Moving to Colorado was probably one of the best things you have done for yourself.” And she was so right.

 

© Erika M. Schreck and Turtle Healing Energy, 2014. All rights reserved.


Click Here to learn more about author, speaker and facilitator Diane DeBella and her amazing efforts with I Am Subject. Click Here to learn more about Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject Project.

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Be an Information-Gatherer

2012-12-08 23.56.08So much has been swirling lately, and I imagine your life has been churning in its own way. We’re also currently in Mercury Retrograde, which is tough to ignore when it is causing interesting hiccups and situations, especially with communications, transportation and business deals.

I have so often mentioned this idea of “information gathering” to my friends and family in the last many years, and I try to remember this strategy for my own life. As I’ve been reminding myself heavily of this approach all week, I knew it was time to share the reminder. That’s my sweet boy (dog) Harley in the picture above; animals are such wonderful information-gatherers. They put their noses in everything and use their senses to guide their journeys in the backyard and in the home. When I talk about information-gathering, I’m referring to the practice of trying to take the judgment out of events that we experience and see each experience as an opportunity to learn and an inspiration to consider our other choices and possibilities. I completely understand that we’re human, and that we often have emotional reactions to life’s circumstances, but one of the main keys is to see everything as “information.”

Let me demonstrate. Recently I thought all signs were pointing to my moving–and moving quickly; some of you know my circumstances. In a matter of a few days, news started pouring in–news that was making it more difficult to move, and just yesterday the buyers informed me they put an offer elsewhere, and other red lights appeared financially. I admit I went down the hole of sadness for a bit. Disappointing realities and exhaustion and confusion piled on, and there were even tears this week. Oh, please know I was full on into my humanness. And then it hit me (it just took a little longer for me this time): It’s all information. If I see it as such, and stop crying and stop feeling victim-y, I can instead interpret these events not as “I’ll never be able to move” but “Wow, okay, that definitely took a turn I wasn’t expecting. What did I learn? What are my next steps? What other information do I need? What other options do I have?”

There’s something valuable in enjoying and choosing to be open to research. Ask my close friends and family, and they’ll confirm that I’m a “researcher.” I enjoy looking at my options and exploring for almost any decision, so I can be informed and perhaps discover something that might even be better, something that perhaps is new and “not on my radar.” We can approach our job paths, our relationships, our interests and, yes, even moving house with this idea of information-gathering, the approach of noticing what we’re experiencing, letting go of too much judging with what’s happening, and then turning to searching for more information to better lead us to where we need to be and what we can do.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t feel, but I’m concerned when I or others get stuck. As I walked with Harley this morning, I thought about how we’d never move forward if he chose to sniff in the same spot in the grass for hours, days, weeks (God forbid!); he sniffs, and he moves on, all the while gaining more information. With my clients, I’ve noticed such relief over the years in my reiki and tarot card reading sessions when after they share an experience that makes them so sad or angry or frustrated, I say, “Well, that’s interesting information, huh? It’s all information.” I’ve also found myself sharing that if we retrain ourselves, as much as we can, to more quickly (even if it’s after the short tantrum) or even immediately respond with “Well, that’s interesting information,” we can move forward by accepting that we always have options and choices. What needs more exploration? Where do we go from here? That tunnel just closed, so what are the other options? How is the Universe guiding us, and are we listening, given to how events are unfolding? Later, in the marvelous gift of hindsight, it seems that it was all for our highest good, anyway, no matter how surprising or hurtful or triggering something felt initially.

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This post was originally generated for my July 2013 Turtle Healing Energy newsletter. Sign up for my monthly newsletter in the right column’s simple form on my website at http://TurtleHealingEnergy.com. Much Light!

© Erika M. Schreck and Turtle Healing Energy, 2013. All rights reserved.

The Familiar Pain-Then-Joy of Reinvention

Sometimes we are awful listeners. Or just stubborn. Or perhaps just scared.

We are patterned beings, and at times we get stuck. We get comfortable and may not even realize that we’re stuck. Signs may appear that we’re not in our best place, and our joyful self may be hiding out, afraid to claim what we deserve, know we need or yearn to manifest.

I’ve been struggling with worthiness, receiving… and some elements of healing some old crud in my life. Earlier this year, I continued with my work, grew excited about my new paths of employment, yet noticed some of my “old,” familiar patterns of certain fears and overwork creeping in again. But I said and believed I was fine. Friends expressed their concern, and I knew I needed some changes, but I honestly didn’t know how or what exactly to do for what probably needed to shift.

And then the Universe, trying to get my attention with my ignoring certain signs and inner knowing, threw me a concussion. First one ever in my life. It was scary, I’ll admit, and pain and all kinds of unpleasant symptoms ensued. I slowed down and listened. Just to be sure, it seems, two more difficult physical challenge cycles appeared within the month that followed my concussion recovery. While difficult experiencing this sequence of three physical vulnerabilities within about six weeks, I can assure you they’re all gifts and sources of opportunity—and reinvention. My immediate needs were slowing my pace and asking for help, two actions that often have triggered struggle and avoidance in me.

Numerology, a tool I use with all of my Turtle Healing Energy services, uses our birthdate to determine significant numbers and meanings that can help us know our true mission in our life and also know our cycles of experiences and lessons. Running in cycles of nine years, we end and begin lessons and phases in our lives, and knowing and understanding these cycles can offer insights and tools we may not otherwise consider. The gift of the end of a nine-year cycle, a major loss in our lives, a health challenge and other times that offer the choice of “shift or suffer” is reinvention. When we’re in a painful place and can choose whether to succumb to and remain on an unhealthy path or risk for the hope of a more joyful outcome, what a wonderful time to reinvent ourselves and make the changes that will allow us to live more joyfully, freely and healthily this lifetime.

When the “big stuff is shakin’ down,” and those signals to change are screaming, ask yourself
1. Where is my biggest pain right now?
2. What is this pain urging me to do on physical, emotional and spiritual levels?
3. What do I need to do to heal, choose joy and get on a different, healthier path?

While it sometimes hurts (literally) getting there and understanding what we need to do to have different results and choose joy, reinvention cycles are such blessings! Through my reiki sessions, intuitive card readings and soon-to-be-officially-offered grief intuitive coaching, I am honored to help others see how even the most heart-wrenching circumstances are really just pushing us to get back on path and keep going. Even death, one of the toughest journeys we experience when loved ones leave this planet, is a plea for reinvention.

pain as fuelAs Sue Frederick—author (I See Your Dream Job, I See Your Soul Mate, Bridges to Heaven, among other books), speaker, intuitive and beautiful soul—reminds us often, “Let your pain be your fuel.” For most of us, if things are comfortable, why would we have reason to shift? Our pain in whatever shape(s) it may take, pushes us to do something differently because most of us don’t like to be in pain—or at least for too long. Sometimes the Universe offers us a beautiful (we may not use “beautiful” while in the painful experience, mind you) gesture, which we can choose to use as reinvention, otherwise known as big shifts, changes in our path, and what I like to call opportunities to choose joy.

I’m still proudly human (read imperfect), and I get reminders when I need to majorly change a pattern, so I have my own supportive network of lovelies (both on earth and in spiritual realms) that push me to shift, remind me of my true path and love me no matter what. We need to surround ourselves with supportive beings who see us for who we are and support our abundant, joyful path, especially when we doubt or forget.

***I thank my teachers and friends Deborah Wilson (Angels And Prosperity) and Sue Frederick for inspiring me to think differently, choose reinvention and influence the approaches explained in this post.

© Erika M. Schreck and Turtle Healing Energy, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Life is a gift—not a given”

This past week was a beautiful but painful journey. I flew to Wisconsin to be with family and hopefully say good-bye to my dear 91-year-old grandfather and unexpectedly stayed about a week. After a delayed flight and little sleep, my mother and I arrived at my grandparents’, and Grandpa was unresponsive; he died that night, surrounded by several family members.

I was a lucky family member to have my hands on Grandpa as he took his last breaths. In all of my experiences with death and with deceased loved ones of my own and others, I have not witnessed the actual passing. Not long before Grandpa transitioned, when I first arrived that day and stepped into his room, I knew he was close to death, and the amazing, kind in-home hospice workers seemed to know. He lay there, eyes closed, breathing smoothly but with the help of oxygen, on a hospital bed in my grandmother’s room. I also could see that his mother, my great-grandmother whom I’d known for awhile before she passed in her 90s, was holding his hand in a comforting way in spirit.  Later that day, when Grandpa transitioned with several of us with him, I saw his mother and father holding his hands in a blinding-light, open space, along with several of his deceased siblings, friends and other relatives. That’s perhaps when I finally found I could cry—with sadness and joy.

Many of my family members have either not known of “what I do” (ex. seeing the deceased, offering professional intuitive and reiki services) or have been afraid of these things when I’ve shared in the past. But this trip held lovely shifts of all kinds. One of many gifts out of my week with family in Wisconsin is feeling relief with having shared what and whom I saw with Grandpa—and having their listening ears, acceptance and interest.

Another gift was a main message of the chaplain that my grandmother called that night; this amazing woman brought much comfort with her presence and faith, and she coordinated a brief intentional service around my grandfather’s body, once all of his children had arrived. As she began, she shared that she’d lost her own husband many years ago and that he lived by the following words: “Life is a gift—not a given.” Those words rang through me in a necessary way then and continue to add special meaning at this time. I know my grandpa respected this gift, and I’ve learned this lesson so many times, but these words deserve repeating and sharing as often as possible. I had more time this lifetime with my grandfather than my own father.

Our losses, our grief, are not easy elements to digest on this physical plane. We are so fortunate to receive opportunities that challenge and shape us into beings we would not be without them.

Rest in peace, dear “Gruntpa,” beloved “Sugar Ray.” He was 91—a long, wide life lived—and was married to my grandmother, a beautiful saint of a soul, for 64 years. While holidays can bring pangs of sadness for our loved ones no longer with us, actively remember and commemorate them in ways most meaningful. I know that this Christmas will hold many toasts ending with “Here’s lookin’ at ya,” just as Grandpa always said.