Paranormal Investigating is dangerous. A blanket statement I’ve heard many times from many sources more specifically regarding the effects of actively seeking to contact the dead. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? Why and how should we heed the warning?
As someone who feels called to do work with the paranormal, I have pondered this question for years. I have often heard: “The living scare me more than the dead.” And a calm, methodical, and nearly emotionless approach to investigations is worn as a badge of honor by most investigators who are still struggling to be taken seriously in a field that is slow to yield “scientifically accepted” methods.
Most religions teach that the living should not seek to interact with the dead. Some go so far as to call it a sin. And these days, it is not only organized religion asserting that the danger is real. Investigators both on and off television have gone so far as to say that “ghost hunting” has ruined their lives.
So…should we stop? I believe all things come down to finding a balance. For most of us, investigating is a passion. We would leap at the chance to make it our profession. We envision ourselves as the ones who can help bring more credibility to the field, to show the world that place ~where spirit meets science.~ I know I do. Because of this, we would love to believe that the supposed dangers are largely blown out of proportion. But that would be foolish and irresponsible.
There is an array of methods in the name of protection. From visualizing a protective bubble of white light, to saints medals, to crystals and smudging, an investigator’s kit is not complete without the tools that help to make the job safe. But what, exactly, are we protecting ourselves from? And how can we be sure our methods are correct?
A few weeks ago I had an interaction with a living person that shed some new light on this subject. This girl was a crater of desperation. She was desperate to be heard, desperate to be important, desperate to be validated. The need was so deep it bordered on panic. She was a black hole looking for stars to eat…a sucking wound. Our conversation left me exhausted and obsessively pondering how I could have better made my point with her. The truth is, there was nothing I could have said or done to help her short of giving her everything she felt entitled to. Her whole world revolved around her. The rest of us were supporting characters in her drama.
I don’t know what circumstances she has had to deal with in her life. And it doest matter because circumstances are neither good nor bad. Our outlook colors them for better or for worse. Her reactions created the person she is now. The same is true for us in the afterlife.
As I spoke with her, I felt more and more like I had to carefully choose my words to the point where I found myself silent for fear of saying the wrong thing and losing any chance of being heard. There was a manipulation at work, I was sure. But it was so fine that I could not identify the how or the why of it. It just yielded the feeling that the only right thing to say was that which she wanted to hear. It was oppressive.
In the days to follow, my thoughts returned not to the conversation, but to the feelings it provoked; anger, hopelessness, frustration, coupled with a need to go back and try again. Insanity. And I could see a clear correlation between what I had experienced with a living being and with what many people report when it comes to oppressive hauntings.
I believe there are many paths that lead to ghostly outcomes like a death so sudden the soul doesn’t realize it has occurred, but when there are reports of angry spirits, vengeful ghosts, the dead who attack, oppress and possess the living, it is no different than the girl I dealt with. Okay…it is SLIGHTLY different. She couldn’t follow me home.
But take into consideration someone like that, someone who feels their plight is so desperate that they must resort to whatever means are necessary to get that which they need. As living beings we enjoy the relative safety of physical boundaries. You can see a person wielding weapons. You can log out, hang up, move away. But the dead have a whole other arsenal. Bodiless, they resort to energetic attacks and attachments. They prey on your nervous system, causing symptoms, the source of which remains a mystery. From depression and rage to physical ailments like heart attack, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases, something as simple as trying to get your attention can be harmful.
The souls who fail to crossover, those who are clinging in a futile attempt to hang onto the things they had or the life they knew, are lingering in a world reflective of their fears and the negativity they attached to the circumstances of their lives. Some are trapped in their death states, others may be trapped in the mental illness from which they suffered, confused and looking for someone with which to share their pain. And since they cannot tell you, they might do whatever they can to show you.
Many people believe that their interaction with the dead can’t be harmful if it is born of good intentions. But there is a cliche about that for a reason. If a spirit is lost to a perpetual state of fear and confusion, the offer of help may be enough to attract attention but might be too little to do any good leading to unwanted attachments for the investigator or increased activity at the location. It is like deciding to save a drowning man. If you jump in the water while they are flailing, there is a chance they will take you right down with them.
As with all jobs, paranormal investigating presents very real dangers. And it is up to the individual to decide what risks are worth taking. As for me, I choose to stay away from the darker locations: asylums, hospitals, places plagued with stories of malevolent or “demonic” activity. Investigating has helped me become more sensitive to the paranormal and I choose to be mindful of the situations I put myself in. I don’t pursue living emotional vampires in my daily life. And I’m not going to pursue the dead ones either!
My parents have been dead for some time. My mom died first. My dad died a few years later. It took a while for my mom to make contact with me. I was pretty angry about it because we were very close and I was not prepared to wait years in order to hear from her again. Of course my expectations were unrealistic. I know now that when a loved one dies it takes some time to figure things out. There is work to do on the other side and I am sure there are protocols for contacting the living.
My mom has never been good at the dream thing. She was more partial to being “the voice inside my head.” She was great at that from the beginning. When planning her, I guess you could call it “wake,” I wanted to line the mantle of the fireplace with pictures of he when she was young and performing on stage. I wanted them all in black frames but when I went to the store to get them, I was having a hard time finding enough to fit the pictures. In my head I could hear her: “Oh honey, you don’t have to do that. All this trouble is not necessary!” And though I knew it was her intention to take some of the stress off of me, her arguing was STRESSING ME OUT! I finally got fed up and said out-loud,”Mom! I know! Let me do this,” just in time for the sales clerk to ask if I needed help. I’m arguing with a ghost, dude. What do YOU think?
She died after a long battle with breast cancer and I was her primary caretaker. The disease transformed our relationship. It broke us down and brought us together. When she finally started showing up in my dreams she was always sick. It’s hard to explain how I knew that the dreams were her attempts at contacting me. I guess the biggest clue was that I felt somehow removed from the flow and context of the dream. I would reluctantly go along with the images and/or story line waiting for “the point” because the things she usually showed me pissed me off. ~I~ knew she was dead. And even though I felt instinctively that she was using the experience of her illness to get my attention (because it was the only way she knew how) I remember that there was always a point in the dream, usually very early on if not immediately, where I would give her a ~look~ and say “You’re not sick. You’re dead.”
I know! I sound like a horribly impatient daughter! And, admittedly, I was! The only good thing that came from her death was the fact that neither of us had to deal with the pain and struggle anymore. The last thing I wanted to do in my sleep was revisit it!
Now…my dad was a different story. We were mostly estranged during the later years of his life. We had only been in contact for the last few and even then, it was only by phone. He was living in a different state when he died.
The first time I saw him in a dream, my mom was the one to bring him through. I had just gotten my first tattoo. It memorialized them. That night, my dad showed up. He had so much to say! He wanted to apologize for all the things and was eager to show me where he had lived out the last years of his life. You would think that I would have been overjoyed to get a visit from both parents. But forgiveness does not equal trust. The energy he put forth reminded me of who he was when he died. And it garnered a ~look~ to my mom who told me to “Just let him do this.” I understood then that this visit was for him, not for me.
Of course, I acquiesced, if not a little reluctantly. I let him take me by the hand and give me a tour of the life he lived during our time apart. Mom stayed mostly quiet. She was aloft, somehow, her presence much more ethereal, like a shepherd watching the flock.
Dad’s visits weren’t always in my dreams. But, save for one particularly memorable incident (which I will likely write about in a future blog), my mom was always the one to bring him. Keep in mind that my parents went through a ~bitter~ divorce. But that divorce did not change or nullify the dynamic of their relationship. She was destined to be his guide in both life and death. Even though I knew that things were exactly as they were meant to be, I felt a little bad for her! Would she never be rid of this child she has to raise? Well, last week I think I got my answer.
Thursday morning I woke up from a dream. My Dad had visited. My reaction: “Huh! Interesting.” I got up, walked the dog, and, while making breakfast, began telling a friend about it. Thank goodness I was talking about it over text because as I relayed the details, I found myself moved to tears which caught me entirely off guard.
The actual dream was brief but I realized that it was full of symbolism. I was leaving my bedroom and, as I tried to close the door behind me, it was pulled from my fingertips which caused me to stumble forward. I was on the verge of anger. My thought? “Is there another ghost in my room because I JUST SMUDGED!” (I actually did just smudge my room for reasons I’ll explain later.) Ready to deal with this disturbance, I flung the door open and, as I suspected, there was a ghost. It was my dad. He was standing next to my bed. I think I caught him just as he was materializing because one of his arms was not yet fully formed. Really weird.
I paused for a moment, stunned, before I finally spoke: “Daddy?” I knew he was dead. He knew he was dead. And when I rushed forward to hug him, I expected him to disappear like some kind of cruel joke. But he didn’t. He stayed. He felt solid and real. And I remember thinking how odd my reaction was but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I started crying and said “I miss having parents.” To which he replied, “I know.” And that was it!
As I relayed the simple details, I realized how much meaning they contained. The outfit he chose was from a time in our relationship before disillusionment, when I trusted him and saw him as my father instead of a child. It cut straight through my defenses and rationalizations regarding his ~many~ poor choices and it brought me instantly back to the foundation of trust on which our relationship had been built. Our very brief conversation represented my deepest grief, a grief which, as of late has been heavy on my mind. Most importantly, for the first time, my mom did not have to bring him through. He came on his own. He was responsible, had a purpose, was more mature. He had continued to learn and grow and he was ready to be my ~dad~ again.
A week prior to this dream I was working in my studio. It’s the room (more like a glorified hallway) in between my bedroom and the back bedroom. My brother came walking through to continue a conversation we were having. I watched him walk right by me, focused on my room. Out the other door he went at which point I said “Where are you going?” He stopped, looked back, blinked, then turned and looked at my room. Confused, he came back and stared at me. Apparently, he thought I was in my room. He thought this because he saw what looked like someone climbing into my bed and he assumed that someone was me.
Ghosts are not allowed to visit my room. I say that like it’s a normal every day standard rule of all households. And I get that, for most households, it is not. However, I have found this boundary necessary to set and to maintain. Rarely is it usurped. This is why I smudged my room. As I was doing it, I felt like whoever my brother had seen was not a random visitor. It made me second guess my wording. In the middle of saying: “Unless you’re my mom, you need to leave,” I stopped with the need to rethink my words. The feeling, though subtle, was notable. But I stood by my original boundaries. Less than a week later, I dreamt of my dad.
Yes. I think that the shadowy visitor was him. I think he was trying to figure out the best way to get my attention so that he could convey his message. I’m glad he stopped trying to materialize in my bedroom..cuz..creepy. The dream was more real than any apparition could ever be. His symbol language was perfect; memorable and visceral. It will remain one of the most memorable interactions with “the other side” I’ve had.
Written by: Heather of EVP
On Wednesday, Jamie and I (Heather) headed down to EVP’s favorite haunt, The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca. Armed with nothing more than our cell phone cameras, our goal was simple: to view the ship through fresh eyes. Between changing lease holders and pending developments for the land adjacent, there has been a lot of buzz regarding the ship. Though we are privy to the now age-old and glaringly obvious issues surrounding Her care and maintenance, we wondered what the public, who know nothing of the battle over her treatment, see when they tour her historic decks.
Of course, a trip to the RMS Queen Mary would not be complete without an honorable mention for her resident spirits, of which there are many. However, this time, we also encountered some unusual energies we could not quite place. Before I continue, let me state that this story comes with no proof. For the skeptic it will be, at best, conjecture and, at worst, a fairy tale woven around delusions. But for the many of you out there who have visited the ship and come away with a sense that something strange is afoot, I think you will understand.
I’m not a psychic; however, I do tend to be very sensitive to energies and emotions, particularly when I am on the ship. And when Jamie and I are together, for whatever reason, it seems to amplify our receptiveness. (Jamie doesn’t identify as a psychic either but she totally is one. Sorry about it Jamie!)
Wonder Twin powers…ACTIVATE!
Our team has been on many private investigations and we’ve made countless casual visits. The ship is active at all times of the day but when it is crowded, the energy of the living is like a buffer of white noise that sometimes makes it difficult to focus on which spirits may be coming around to say “hi.” It was nice to be aboard on a quiet day, left to stroll this familiar piece of history without the need to escape a million screaming children or to avoid the large tours.
A quiet Promenade.
Our walk took us down The Promenade Deck where we were greeted by what felt like four men. I could feel their presence so strongly that they felt almost visible and I paused. It’s interesting but dismissible when you feel/see something like that on your own. But when you have a trusted friend with you who also sees it, it’s a relief. After years of dealing with this sort of thing I STILL wonder if I am crazy or making things up. And Jamie’s immediate acknowledgment of exactly what I am picking up on settles what would otherwise be an endlessly muttering argument that does nothing but cast doubts on my perceptions and degrades any further experiences.
The men were standing side by side, lined up and staring at us, their expressions unmoving and rather blank. Their clothes were dirty and their energy was heavy. It felt like they were lost. We concluded that they must have been related to the boiler room and moved on, asking that the spirits give us some space so that we could continue our visit without feeling like we were going to fall over.
Let me explain a bit. I’m sure that different people experience the paranormal in different ways. But our team has come up with a saying that we use amongst ourselves. We call it being “on the boat,” and, amazingly, it did not originate from our experiences with The Queen Mary. Originally, the saying was born from a very horrible cruise I took down to Mexico for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It think that “my grandmother’s 90th birthday” pretty much sums up my experience but, in case you’re having a hard time visualizing it, let me just say that it felt very much like this:
Anyway, once I was released from the boat-prison disguised as a pleasure cruise and my feet were on solid ground, I noticed the most peculiar sensation. For several days I felt as if I was still on the boat. It took a while to regain my equilibrium. It was actually the best part of the cruise. As it turns out, this is also how it feels when our team comes into contact with spirits. When the energy is particularly strong, it can make you stumble like a drunk. And when we see each other doing this, we now ask “Are you on the boat?”
Energy came and went as we went about our day. We experienced a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar energies that, for the most part, were fleeting. However, neither of us could rid ourselves of the nagging feeling that the four men we first encountered were very out of place. Though we had dismissed them as having come up from the boiler rooms, neither of us were satisfied with this assumption. This may sound too ethereal for some but, it just didn’t feel right.
Towards the end of our day, as we ended our self-guided tour on R Deck in front of the entrance to the First Class Pool, we sat on the steps in front of the now defunct elevators, and began laying out our feelings regarding these gentleman. We concluded that, they could not get back to wherever they had come from, an unusual conclusion to reach for any of the ship’s own ghostly residents, most of whom, in our experience, can find their way with ease throughout the ship.
R-deck. Original entrance to The First Class Pool
If those men had come from the boilers or engine room, was there something going on that would displace them? Wondering if maybe management was doing work in those areas of the ship we headed down to The Queen Mary Story which is housed close to what remains of those areas to see if it would provide us with any obvious answers. Much to our surprise, it did.
Upon entering the lower levels of the museum, we were immediately greeted by a mess of what, at first glance, looked like construction and some pretty chaotic energy. Turns out, a recent temporary exhibit, “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock,” had just ended. The exhibit space now empty, they were in the process of breaking down the remainder of the sets and displays. I imagine that whatever artifacts they had on loan were already on their way back to the lender.
As we sat there, feeling the place out and assembling the pieces of the day’s puzzle, we wondered if the four men we saw on The Promenade Deck had not come from the ship at all, but had instead, arrived with the Alcatraz artifacts. Had they missed their ride home?
Of course, we couldn’t be sure but it felt plausible and likely that this was the case. None too creeped out, we were lucky that our next stop was an awesome metaphysical store called Sage Goddess where we were able to clear ourselves of any unwanted attachments. (Because really, who wants to bring home one or four Alcatraz inmates?)
I’ll taaaake THAT ONE…
On second thought….
We mentioned where we had been, what we had encountered and the lovely running the store immediately got out the sage and smudged us. I do not know WHY we have never done this. I can’t count the number of times one or all of us have brought something home from haunted locations. We often wake up the next day feeling horrible; exhausted, used up, foggy, sore and depressed. Have we ever smudged ourselves? No. Downright irresponsible in retrospect. Why would we cleanse our spaces and not ourselves! It’s a paranormal shower.
I dig Palo Santo wood because Sage smells like armpit.
We learned a lot during our latest visit to The Queen Mary. We saw her through fresh eyes, noticed details we had never seen, met a few surprising historical ghosts and, most importantly, we were reminded of how important it is to protect yourself when dealing with haunted locations. Even when you know a location well and her spirits feel like old friends ready to welcome you back, it is possible that surprises are lurking. So go in and enjoy your experiences but make sure you leave the ghosts behind!
Aside from the link to Sage Goddess above, you can also find Athena’s offerings in her brick and mortar in Torrance, Ca, OR on Etsy!
During the morning scroll of the Facebook feed I came across this:
These pop up all the time. They ask questions like: “Would you stay in this house for the night?” or “Do you think dead loved ones can communicate from beyond?” Asking questions like this of a paranormal enthusiast is like asking: “Do you believe in ghosts.” The answer is always “yes.” So I usually just scroll right by.
But this one caught my attention because the answer is not that simple. As I sat there trying to compose an answer short enough for Facebook but long enough to convey my point, I realized that my thoughts were sprawling. There was more to this question than first met the eye. So…to the blog with it!
First, let’s define the terms. It may seem granular, but the small task of defining the words “spirit” and “help” can go a long way in clearing up any possible confusion. In this case, I understand the term “spirit” to mean human spirits who have not fully transitioned into the spirit realm. They have one foot in our world and one foot in the next. What kind of “help” could we possibly offer to a soul in this predicament? Many people believe that the best way to help a spirit suspended between worlds is to listen, that they just want their stories to be heard. But I don’t think it’s that easy.
As above, so below.
It’s true that all humans want to be seen. And I don’t just mean visually. I mean that our soul’s seek acknowledgment. In this way, it makes sense that allowing a spirit to convey its message is “helpful.” But all of us have run into people who can never tell their stories enough. Whether it is the eighteenth time they show us pictures of their newest grandchild or the hundredth time they convey their tales of woe, all of us have encountered people who hold us hostage with their need for validation. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter if we are listening! In fact, many of them are so trapped in their stories that they do not want us to respond. These people are not actually looking for help. They are looking for attention. And they will gladly sacrifice your comfort and well being in order to get that which they think they need. If this is the case for those of us living within our physical forms, why wouldn’t it be the case for those without? In fact, I argue it could be worse.
Take the television show “The Dead Files.” Psychic Amy Allen, is forever coming into contact with spirits who are “trapped in their death states” or looking to “exact revenge upon the living.”
Setting aside the argument that “you can’t trust what you see on reality TV,” these claims make sense. Just like in life, there are those of us who are clinging desperately to the past. Many people live their lives steeped in regret, wishing they had made different choices. They become addicted to their story and refuse to move beyond it. Have YOU ever tried helping someone who refuses to accept things and move on?
The answer to the question lies somewhere in the balance. Just like in life, there are souls who are open to receiving help. Whether they just want their story to be heard, they need kindness and understanding, or are simply in need of a little guidance, this kind of help is ours to offer. However, just like in life, there are souls who are NOT open to receiving help. It is up to us as investigators to choose our interactions wisely. Deciding what types of interactions we wish to have with the dead is every bit as important as deciding what types of interactions we want to have with the living. We must always remain mindful of that which we want to manifest in our lives. I’ve heard numerous investigators say “I’m less afraid of the dead than I am of the living.” But I’m not so sure that is wise. It is easier to walk away from a toxic living person than it is to walk away from one who is dead.
I’d like to thank my friends at the “Queen Mary Beyond The Veil” Facebook page for setting my mind in motion this week! For those of you interested in the paranormal, there is always something fascinating to be found on the QMBV page!
Written by: Heather of EVP!
When it comes to paranormal phenomena, apporting (the ability to disassemble matter and have it reassemble somewhere else) is, perhaps, the one that baffles me the most followed closely by poltergeist (a noisy or, literally “pounding” ghost). And last week I had my own close encounter, the details of which left me shaking my head and pondering both phenomena from an uncomfortably personal perspective.
A common claim associated with hauntings is: “items go missing.” It is believed that some ghosts are capable of apporting objects like keys or jewelry causing them to disappear from the place their owner had put them only to reappear in another location. I have a really difficult time wrapping my head around this. My inner skeptic bucks wildly against belief. It’s one thing to experience objects moving on their own. I’ve experienced this more than once. I ~know~ this happens. But for a complex piece of matter to be disassembled and reassembled in another location? That’s CRAZY. (You’ll notice the term “crazy” becomes increasingly relative the more you delve into the world of spirit and the paranormal.)
Regarding Poltergeist, one of the things that makes this activity incredibly unsettling is that it is believed to be generated from a living agent. That means that these “ghosts” are created from suppressed emotions in conjunction with unacknowledged or un-channeled psychic gifts. When people say “Don’t bottle it all up inside,” there is a good reason. Negative emotions are like poison. They grow and fester when we refuse to deal with them. This is true for everyone. But for some with special gifts, this denial of self manifests in disruptive, other-worldly, ways.
Stacking. Another reason Poltergeists are so dang creepy. WAY worse than the big ol’ monster at the end! But maybe…not quite as scary as the clown.
Every Monday night I meet up with my best friend and we head to our favorite all night diner. It’s tradition. Date night with the wife, we call it. It’s the one night a week we can lay out all of our turmoil and drama on the table along with our eggs and toast and show it to the only other person on the planet who knows us as well as we know ourselves. Together, there is nothing we can’t tackle. And while we might not solve it with the expedience of an early eighties sitcom, we never fail to find a new facet or shed a new light on whatever ails us.
A couple of Mondays ago it was my turn to bring crazy to the table and I did so MOST epically. My ego was throwing the biggest tantrum, possibly, of my life. I was shrouded in a layer of anger comprised of hurt, fear, offense, abandonment, and most powerfully, panic. The culmination of a slow and slippery slope on which I embarked after a particularly shocking and damaging break-up that is now more than a year old, this Monday found me on the pinnacle of a breakthrough. But to get there, I had to traverse what felt like a forest of flame.
There really are no words to describe how ensconced I was in this torrent of negative emotion. Convinced I had been wronged that very day by another long time friend; convinced he had abandoned me, forgotten me, cheated and lied to me, I was pointing finger after finger at him whilst completely disregarding the three pointing back at me.
So there I sat in the sanctity of our Monday night, needing so desperately to tell my story to the one person who always “gets it.” Though I tried not to direct my rage at my oldest friend, knowing she is ~always~ there to listen and support, my words spilled from my lips with an indiscriminate venom. I was battling everything; myself, my emotions, my past, my future, and my friend. I could feel my anger spilling onto the table. I was a woman possessed. I could see her hackles raise in response to it. I could see her rein herself in, reminding herself that this was not about her, that I was not, despite how it felt, attacking ~her~.
As I was flooding the air between us with words I can’t remember, my fist came down on the table to illustrate a point and for the briefest moment, there was a silence in my head. Like I had left myself for just a fraction of a second. It all happened so quickly that I barely broke stride until my friend’s eyes widened and she looked down at the seat next to her. I stopped and said, “What?”
From the seat she slowly lifted her knife. Again, I said “What?” dismissing the incident as a result of the knife falling off the table. But I could tell from her reaction that she was already convinced that this was not the case. We took a moment to ponder it, but apparently, I was not yet ready for this night to be about anything else aside from ME. And after a little bit of consideration, I continued talking.
A week later, I was over myself and Monday night was once again a calm and balanced pursuit. (In the interest of staying on target, I will leave that journey for another post.) After a brief update of how I managed my over-ness, we shifted once again to what had happened with the knife. Though logic insisted it was nothing, instinct continued to argue we pay more attention.
At the time it occurred, we were both very aware that the knife made no sound until we heard the gentle thud it made when it landed. It had been perched across her saucer next to her coffee cup. After it fell, she put it back where it had been and I banged on the table a few more times to see if it would fall again but it didn’t budge. We tried this same thing again a week later and it yielded the same results. In fact, it did not budge when we placed it near the edge of the table either. After running several experiments, all with the same results, we gave up and started reconstructing what had happened.
I was facing her and, subsequently, the knife when it moved but I saw nothing. No flash of metal or reflection of light. No movement of any kind. It is ENTIRELY possible that nothing could have distracted me from my rage. But I did hear the thud as it landed on the seat next to her which came shortly but not directly after I hit the table. We also noted that both the knife as well as the saucer on which it was resting were several inches away from the edge of the table. This meant that in order for it to slip, slide, or fall onto the seat next to her, it would first have to hit the table which would make more noise than it made upon landing.
It was kind of like this only with a knife!
I had only experienced something similar once before. I was at lunch with Jamie and I was describing something (I can’t even remember what) passionately. I remember the feeling behind the words. I felt like I could lift up the whole world. Suddenly, her empty cracker wrapper slid across the table and into my fingers as I lifted them up. I stopped talking and looked at the cracker wrapper, slightly confused. WHY was it in my fingers?
Granted, a small wisp of cellophane like that could have easily caught a subtle draft. But the way in which it moved toward me as my emotions crescendoed and went right to my fingertips as I pinched and lifted struck both Jamie and myself as extremely odd.
Both the cracker wrapper and the knife incident were accompanied by the same feelings from both observers. It stopped us in our tracks. It made us try to figure out what happened. It sent us into disbelief. And it left us questioning an otherwise forgettable experience for weeks.
By now you are probably asking yourself what this has to do with apporting and poltergeists.
If we entertain the possibility that the knife did not fall off the table but was in fact moved, we are talking about psycho or telekinesis which in and of itself is fantastic enough. But to both of us, it felt like the knife disappeared from the saucer and reappeared an inch or two above the seat cushion. Neither of us saw or heard it move. It was just sitting there one moment and landing on the seat the next. It’s not something I expect anyone to believe for I hardly believe it myself. I’m still stuck somewhere on a sliding scale between “Oh yeah right” and “WTFWASTHAT!” But given my state of mind at the time, I do feel like if anything moved it, it was me. I could feel a surge of energy within me and it felt like it had nowhere to go.
And that leads me back to poltergeists. Regardless of whether or not I moved an object through the sheer force of pent up emotions and unfocused will, the feeling that I might have is enough to drive home the gravity of the resulting implications. There was undeniable power in that stockade of negative emotion. And something in me wanted this hoarding to continue.
As I was sitting there across from my support system, peering out through a heavy veil of bitterness and rage, I felt like I was battling death. While my life wasn’t threatened, it felt like my identity was. I felt crazy. The idea of moving objects with my mind would have been akin to the joy of finally having a super power were it not for the great cost at which it came.
That night in our diner, the night my emotions threatened to consume me, the night we both wondered if my rage was to blame for throwing a knife off the table, reminded me on a visceral level of how easy it is to become unconscious, to disconnect from my self. At some point I told myself I was too good to fall prey to such a thing. I knew too much about how people worked to become so unaware. And from there it grew.
We humans are powerful creatures, more powerful than most of us realize. We are connected to everything around us, wrapped in the fabric of space and time. Having had a taste of what it might be like to be so disconnected from my own heart that I could cause disturbances around me was quite a wakeup call. It made me wonder how deeply emotions need be buried in order to seek other, more uncommon ways in which to manifest. The knife helped me see the first subtle step I took to this end. Its silent descent cut through the rage that was drowning out the world creating an opening for self-realization. I’m just thankful it was an isolated incident, for as nice as it would be to have a “super power,” I can say now, after experiencing the trade-off, I feel much more empowered by taking responsibility for my own emotional state.
If hiding under the bleachers could have gotten me out of Phys Ed when I was a kid, I would have never gone. I did not like running, hitting things or being hit by things much less doing any of those things in front of a group of my peers.
And while I LOVED gymnastics and Ice skating, it only took one rotation around the bar for me to realize that I did not like the feeling of having my guts crushed by my own weight and one awkward lap around the ice rink in those green vinyl rental skates to dash my delusions of Olympic gold.
With practice, I could have advanced past my discomfort and fear. I could have achieved some measure of success. But I knew from those first experiences that those muscles would require more work to build than I wanted to put in. In fact, exercise in general would never come naturally to me.
People often wonder if they have psychic ability or if it is something that can be developed. The answer is: YES. You have psychic ability and YES it can be developed. But like everything else, we are each born with an individual aptitude that is part of what determines the ease of our developmental success.
I’ve always been sensitive. When I was little I had no idea that it was unusual. I remember my first trip, of course, to The Queen Mary. It sounds funny but, I had a feeling we were being followed by three unseen people. It didn’t feel unusual. It wasn’t scary. I just took for granted that there were extra kids and, possibly, an extra adult with our group. They followed us on our guided tour and I wondered why the tour guide didn’t mention them.
This type of experience continued as I grew up but it was no more than a peripheral curiosity. I never considered myself “psychic” or a “medium.” And while several people I met throughout the years looked at me and said, “You’re an empath.” I didn’t even know what that meant.
When East Valley Paranormal began pursuing investigations, I noticed that my abilities grew. Just like athletes work out their physical muscles, I was working out my psychic muscle. Repeated contact with the dead expanded my awareness; leaving me open to clearer connections. What once were just “feelings” expanded into very palpable interactions.
I remember our first investigation. It was a large group of people. There was a lot of noise. But I remember Bob Davis of Planet Paranormal could hear familiar voices that belonged to no one in our group. I watched him closely that night. And I wondered if he was fooling himself….until I listened to the audio recordings. Sure enough, when he heard something, we would inevitably catch something on audio.
As we continued investigating, I found that I could hear more than I previously could. “Did you hear that?” became my catch phrase to the point where I became so conscious of it that I had to make myself stop saying it!
Here are a couple of clips from a pretty wild investigation we did in Pasadena. The first, is a clip of me talking about something (I have no idea what). You can hear Brian respond but in the middle, I heard something say my name. It felt like they were right in my ear…like a bug had flown into it. It still makes me cringe when I hear it.
You can hear in my tone how uncomfortable it made me.
This is the sound I heard, isolated.
It STILL makes me uncomfortable!
While investigating is one way to stretch and build your psychic muscle, it is by no means the only way to improve it! In fact, The hardest step in learning to use your psychic muscle is following your intuition; having faith in what your gut tells you. Remember multiple choices tests?
Test tip: If you are unsure of the answer, follow your first instinct.
It sounded so easy! But it wasn’t! The moment you tried to let go and fill in the bubble to which your first instinct guided you, you paused, grunted, thought about it, and changed your mind. Why? Were you afraid of getting it wrong? I know I was. In fact, fear like this guides most of what we do.
But the illusion of control to which we cling is holding us back in so many ways. Intuition is our introduction to the unseen world we want to understand. And we have little to lose when it comes to listening to it. It taps into knowledge we have tucked away, information we are not conscious of. To access it, we must learn to hear and then listen to our inner voice, a voice we ALL have. Practicing this helps us learn not only to trust ourselves, but to open ourselves to a source of guidance we often disregard. And the more we listen, the better we hear. It speaks to us more often than you think! But we must be willing to risk being wrong or feeling “crazy” in order to reap the possible rewards.
Another method for building that psychic muscle is meditation. This is something that I am usually too lazy or unmotivated to do. Interestingly, there is science behind the act of meditation. Time even did an article on it!
(TIME also did an article drawing a link between farting and how it may cure cancer but, I’m sure this proved to be a better day for them.)
Meditation is a way to put the computer at the front of your brain at the disposal of the automated processes in the back of your brain. Your task as the executive (of your life) is to be presented with information, and then to decide how important it is. You tell the rest of the computer if it needs to continue processing it as a high priority. The goal is for your decision process to remain passive. Whatever comes up for you in the meditation, you observe and assign no importance to it. Whatever meditation presents you, you let it pass by. It’s all just data. This does two things.First, you are assigning a low emotional valence to the thoughts. This lowers the priority it gets for consolidation. That lightens your processing demands. Secondly, your undivided attention is actually providing additional processing power to the thoughts. Once you become aware of them, it takes less time to put them in long-term storage. Most of what we think is fairly repetitive. Processing through them with meditation frees up your computer to do other things.
Edited excerpt from Synchronicity by Dr. Kirby Surprise
I’ve been thinking a lot about investigating lately and how it has changed my awareness regarding my own array of abilities. It’s been quite a while since the team has been out on an official hunt (official defined as: darkness, equipment, free run of an historic locale, the whole nine yards); amazing how one’s life can get in the way of one’s predilection with death. But while other obligations keep us from collecting our cameras, audio recorders and meters, I will continue to build my psychic muscles through research and by listening to my intuition. Sometimes you need only focus on the first step of a journey in order to embark.
Though anecdotal evidence is all we have to go on, the stories of near death experiences (NDE’s) are all relatively the same. Some sort of trauma, usually the result of an accident, results in a short span of time in which the victim is declared dead. During the period of death, the victim’s soul separates from their body and floats upward. They are able to see themselves from this detached perspective but feel no pain. They then travel through or are sucked into a dark tunnel.
The depictions and descriptions of this always remind me of a black hole. In fact,the pervasive theory regarding black holes says that if you were to travel into one, it would happen at the speed of light. [livescience.com] And that’s what I would call a ~very~ rapid journey.
Reports of NDE’s speak of a spiritual singularity which again, shares commonalities with black hole theory. The soul reaches a place of “…all consciousness, all knowingness.”Often, one undergoes a partial or, in some instances, a complete “life review” whereby one sees their entire life history in detail from a meta-perspective.
This meta perspective would also be theoretically achieved if you traveled into a black hole. The faster you move through space, the slower you move through time. If you looked into one as you fell, you would be able to see every object that fell in before you and every object that fell in after.
In 2014 Stephen Hawking released a paper in which he made changes to his own theories regarding aspects of black holes. (You can read about it here.) Hawking proposes “apparent horizons” which allow for the eventual escape of information. Where it was once theorized that what went into a black hole was destroyed, it is now suggested that, since information cannot be destroyed, only transformed, whatever goes into a black hole will eventually come out. The caveat to this is that when it is released, it will be somehow transformed and unrecognizable.
This falls right in line with the pervading ideas about death. Western religions believe that death is the final journey from which we do not return. It is our “event horizon.” However, Eastern religions tend to subscribe to the idea of reincarnation whereby, once the body, dies, the soul goes back from whence it came only to return to earth in a new form making death only an “apparent horizon.”
I’m the first to admit that drawing parallels between these two concepts could very well be over-reaching. After all, the evidence is considered mostly theory or anecdotal. But I also believe that our lives are filled with echoes, repeating patterns that, once identified, help us find the answers to the questions that mystify us. So let’s take one more step in this crazy journey and flirt with the concept that originally spawned this post.
While looking for some interesting things to share on the EVP Facebook page, I came across this video of a TED talk by Lewis Brown Griggs at TEDxAmericanRiviera 2012. This is to blame for this train of thought for, in watching it, I was reminded of some things I have often pondered over the years, especially when interacting with spirits while on investigations or even while casually exploring historical buildings that happen to have some lingering residents.
Usually, descriptions of NDE’s conjure an image of the soul detaching completely from the body and floating upward through that dark tunnel about which I previously spoke. But what if this journey is not so clean cut? Once again, I turn to the parallels between NDE’s and black holes.
“Spaghettification,” a term coined by British astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees, theorizes that, upon diving into a black hole, the top of your head would feel so much more gravitational pull than the tips of your toes that you would be stretched, longer and longer, like toothpaste extruded from a tube. Is it possible that something similar happens during a near death experience?
What if that link to our body remains in tact and instead, we stretch, the bulk of our consciousness remaining at the forefront of that journey, pulling our focus forward so that the turmoil surrounding the body is unnoticed and the return to the singular consciousness can be fully appreciated? It is purely conjecture, of course, but it seems to me that it would be natural to keep a toe-hold on our bodies during such a journey lest the door to our physical world slam shut.
And this brings me back to my original pondering over “ghosts.” Let me state up front that I find the term “ghost” woefully deficient. It offers little information regarding what it is we are actually experiencing. The connotations alone conjure images that instill fear and encourage reactionary thinking. It implies that someone has been prevented from moving on. We hear things like “they had unfinished business.” Or we associate the thought of restless spirits as having had lives that were cut tragically short. “They don’t know that they are dead.” Everything leads back to feelings of abandonment, imprisonment and punishment which leaves little chance of entertaining kinder, more natural ideology.
It is possible that what we experience as “ghosts,” as remnants of other times or people, are actually symptoms of several if not many different phenomena. It is in thinking about these possibilities that I began to wonder if some of what we interact with, especially what we consider to be “intelligent haunts” (they respond and demonstrate a conscious awareness of us), are not trapped souls but are instead, shards of consciousness that have been left behind.
Let’s look once more at the idea of “Spaghettification.” If the commonalities between black hole theory and NDE’s represent mirroring patterns, could it be that in instances of traumatic or sudden death, the soul, instead of leaving the body completely, cleaves, leaving a piece behind? There is a school of thought that believes the soul is actually holographic in nature, that the parts contains the whole. If this is so, then it could account for the intelligent “ghosts” we encounter.
There is a ghost on The Queen Mary known as Jackie. Jackie is approximately five years old. She reportedly died in a tragic accident, drowning in the second class pool. She has been seen numerous times by numerous people over a span of several decades. She speaks out-loud wth relative ease to the extent that she has engaged in conversations. (You can hear segments of Jackie talking to our good friend Bob Davis of Planet Paranormal on the EVP website.) Often times when people hear about her, they feel a sense of sadness that a child spirit has been left behind or trapped.
But I can assure you, Jackie is well taken care of. She very much enjoys her place on that ship and the many children that filter through on any given day, especially on the weekends. She is perpetually at play. And while she has demonstrated on many occasions just how sentient she is, I’ve always wondered if the five year old is just one aspect of a soul that crossed over and possibly reincarnated years ago. Perhaps it is only a piece of her that remains.
Sometimes thinking about this stuff is overwhelming. It’s like getting sucked into a black hole. But even when thoughts and theories become long, dark tunnels, the journey is worth it because, just like after a near death experience, they emerge transformed. And that is the ultimate goal!
During this investigation the investigators were being investigated.
1. the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined,usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.
When I was little, I watched this television show called “That’s Incredible.” It was made up of segments that showed amazing stunts, highlighted advancements in medicine and, on occasion, aired stories about paranormal activity. One segment in particular captured my imagination and stayed with me through the years. The story was about a historic inn where the employees heard old-fashioned music, the clinking of glasses, talking, and other sounds that made it seem like there was a party going on. All this occurred in the late evening/early morning hours when most people were asleep or when the inn was vacant. The place was investigated and the sounds were captured on tape. This was the first time I heard about “residual haunting.” Dubbed “The Stone Tape Theory,” the investigators believed that the sounds were emanating from the structure and/or its foundation, and originated from the 1700’s when the in was first built. What employees and residents were hearing was history literally repeating itself.
I had seen movies and shows and I had heard stories about ghosts before. But something about this story in particular intrigued me. It captured my imagination. While the interest in the supernatural was always there, this was the story that made me want to become a paranormal investigator. The idea of witnessing what had happened hundreds of years before was the most amazing possibility I could imagine.
As much as it intrigued me, it bothered me too. Up until that point I had always assumed that ghosts were intelligent spirits of the dead. But this report was telling me ghosts were actually just recordings of the past; organized energy trapped in wood and stone leaking out and allowing us a glimpse at how things used to be. It conflicted what I thought I knew.
As my quest for answers expanded, I learned that ghosts were thought to be both. Some were intelligent and some were simply a recording of the past trapped in objects, structures or minerals. It wasn’t until I began investigating them regularly that I started to suspect that the definition of the word “ghost,” even in its duality, was incomplete. But have we come across enough information from our investigations to flesh the definition out? Here’s what I have managed to put together for myself.
For me, there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. Hence the heading! Simply put, a spirit has fully transitioned to “the other side” whereas a ghost is caught somewhere in the middle. Generally, a full transition to the spirit world implies that the soul has left the body and has been welcomed back into the loving arms of those who have gone before them. I believe they are welcomed back into the fold of greater energy. This greater energy could be referred to as one god or many gods. Regardless, the work we are born to do here on Earth, is continued on “the other side.” We are not dormant in between lifetimes.
I know that not everyone believes in reincarnation. And I know that many people get immediately butt-hurt at the mere mention of many gods. So if it makes you feel better to think that when we die, we transition to “heaven,” fine. The point is, that when we make a full and proper transition, we are conscious of the freedom we have from our bodies. We are aware of the difference between this world and the next. We can watch over and even communicate with our loved ones until they are ready to make their own transition.
Many people experience visits from loved-ones passed. My mom, who died in 2002, visits me all the time. Spirits can come to us visually or audibly. They can appear in our dreams or send us signs that will make us think of them. They can even interact with the physical world. These things, the reality of which is still thought of by many as debatable, are not figments of our imaginations or a desperate attempt to comfort ourselves over our losses.
Are they haunting us? Technically, I guess the answer is yes. However, the connotation of the word implies that the activity is creepy or unwanted; a bunch of crazy-making experiences perpetrated by some unfamiliar and freaky being. And I suppose that assumption is understandable if it is happening to someone who is unaware that it is a loved-one trying to say “Hey! What up?” But a spirit who is trying to communicate with you generally has your best interest at heart (even if you aren’t aware of it) and, hopefully the activity reflects that.
A residual ghost is exactly what I described in the introduction to this post. It is a recording of the past that, under the right circumstance(s) plays itself back. Some are thought to replay at a certain time of day or a certain time of year. Some are triggered by people who have the right combination of attributes including psychic ability or stress level. This theory behind residual haunting is colloquially referred to as “The Stone Tape Theory.”
The important distinction is that the phenomena is benign. You can experience it, but it can’t experience you. It is like a psychic video tape. It behaves the same regardless of whether or not you are there.
Captured during an investigation at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca, this loud bang was recorded in the bow of the ship on what we later realized was the anniversary of the day she plowed through her wartime escort the Curacao leaving over two hundred men to perish. Later, we found out that this type of noise had been reported numerous times in this section of the ship. It was thought to be the residual sounds of the crew of the Curacao banging on the hull of The Queen Mary with their wrenches as their ship was torn in half.
Here’s where things get tricky. Intelligent ghosts linger, as far as we know, in a state of neither here nor there. They are entities who did not make a full transition after death. Perhaps this means that their world is some combination of our classical world, and whatever lies beyond.
Thinking about how and why this may happen brings forth so many questions! I mean, the thought of existing “in between” anything feels foreign. We are predisposed to “achieving” or “accomplishing.” The state of being “stuck” makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps that is why the thought of becoming a “ghost” is so frightening to so many people.
Like spirit, ghosts can affect the classical world. The motivation behind the communication is where they differ. When an intelligent spirit interacts with or “haunts” us, it is because ~they~ need ~us~ to know or do something for them. When spirit communicates with us, it’s because they want to express love or let us know they are still with us. It is something they do for us.
Though the motivation for ghostly communication appears selfish, that selfishness is not necessarily a negative thing. One of our favorite ghosts, the ghost of a man named William Erik Stark, most commonly communicated with us by growling. But early on I decided not to assume he was a negative entity. Instead, I found his “grumpiness” funny. When he started picking on Jamie, it made me cackle. Now before you get mad at me for being mean, let me explain what I mean by “picking on.” Stark learned early on that he could pull Jamie’s hair and, by pulling her hair, I mean just yanking at a couple of strands at a time. You have to see it in person, but Jamie’s reaction is hilarious.
When it first started happening, she blamed her husband Brian which only added to the funny. Anyway, over time, and many investigations, we realized that Stark wasn’t a bad guy. He just didn’t want to be bothered. After all, the place he resides is known for its many tourists. And those tourists are often not respectful to Stark’s beloved abode. I think over time he grew bitter and assumed that we were just like the scores of assholes that drunkenly roamed his home. At least, that’s what he assumed until we proved him wrong.
Now, he communicates with us all the time. He watches over us in much the same way as he watches over some of the ghosts he shares his home with. And now, he has no problem pulling my hair. It doesn’t hurt. He’s just playing. And it lets us know he’s there.
It’s understandable that people assume ghosts are negative, or scary, or even evil. Interacting with someone you don’t know is nerve-wracking enough without the added fact that they cannot be seen. But “ghosts” are neither good nor evil. The term “Ghost” describes a state of being. It is the motivation behind the ghost that is positive or negative and that must be studied on a case by case basis just like we do with the living. We must remember that ghosts are simply human souls minus the machine (body). Or..are they?
Is the explanation of an intelligent ghost as simple as a soul that, for some reason, is trapped between our world and the next? Perhaps, in some cases, it is. But I suspect there may be other explanations. Maybe there are times when the intelligent energy that “haunts” us is but a fragment of what once was a whole soul. What if there are some people who, in life, experience events so poignant, that, as they transition in death, the part of their being that was the most deeply affected remains behind while the rest of the soul crosses over? After-all, once free of our bodies, we are nothing but an assembly of energy. Intelligent haunts suggest that we are in death the same as we were in life. This means that our personalities, our character traits, and our thoughts are part of our souls, and not just the outcome of firing neurons or brain chemicals.
Perhaps some events, such as the ones responsible for a traumatic death are so damaging to the psyche that an intelligent imprint of us is left behind which, in those instances, is only capable of focusing on the trauma. Take, for example, the Civil War soldier who is still wandering the battle field wondering what the hell happened. There are numerous evp recordings of soldiers who are still trying to figure out what is going on. Did the war end? We assume that an intelligent response to a question means that we are communicating with a whole complete consciousness. But what if it’s only a piece of that person left behind; the piece that is trapped in the traumatized emotional state?
But why would a piece of someone’s soul be left behind? Perhaps it is like when a branch from a tree dies and falls off. The tree still lives, but the branch is no longer nourished or able to grow. It doesn’t have the strength to stay with the tree and the tree no longer has a use for it. The tree is better off without the dead limb. Thankfully, dead tree limbs don’t wander around banging on things and expressing their constant distress. But maybe humans do?
While we are on the subject, I have to wonder: If the energy of the dead can cleave as or before “crossing over,” can the energy of the living do the same? Is it possible for us to haunt ourselves? It seems logical to assume that while we are here on Earth, our energies are contained within our bodies. We eat, sleep, travel, and affect the classical world all from within the skin we’re in. But those of us who are obsessed with looking more closely at ourselves and what lies beyond ourselves have seen proof that our energy radiates. It does not stop at the physical boundary of our bodies. Eastern religion has taught the many ways in which our energies mingle beyond the sensation of touch. And it is with these teachings that the western world is just beginning to catch up.
In Tibetan mysticism, it is believed that people create what are known as “Tulpas,” which are manifestations of intentions that take form in the ethereal plane. Once created, they can take on a life or sentience of their own growing stronger as belief in their existence expands. Also called, a “forced haunt,” there have been cases where reported activity was theorized to be the result of entities which sprang from urban legends and grew stronger from people’s fear of or belief in their existence.
From auras to that heavy feeling left in a room after a heated argument, energy takes up space. If it is possible for pieces of us to linger after death, it stands to reason, or, at the very least, should not be discounted, that pieces of us can be left behind while we are still alive. Whether these pieces are discarded subconsciously, or they separate because they stymie our growth, our souls as a whole are not necessarily absolute. If these pieces are discarded prematurely, is it not possible for them, in whatever intelligence they possess to want what all humans want; to be noticed or accepted? At the same time, if they are intelligent or possess their own consciousness, however limited, is it not also possible for them to be angry over their abandonment or lack of recognition?
While we are breaking down boundaries, it makes sense to mention the theory that those of us who find ourselves haunted by “ghosts” might very well be the ones haunting them. I know! It sounds pretty “out there.” But what if some of our interactions are occurring because, in some other reality or parallel universe, those who have died in our world, are still alive in another?
In 1954, a Princeton physics student by the name of Hugh Everett III began work on his dissertation: “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics,” which later evolved and gained popularity as “The Many Worlds Theory.” Boiled down, the theory asserts that every time a decision is made, the universe splits into enough realities to accommodate all possible choices. Hence, while in our reality we see that we have taken an umbrella to stay dry while we walk through the rain, there is another reality in which we did not touch that umbrella. Somewhere, out there, in another dimension, we are soaking wet.
I know. It’s a terrible example. It’s an almost irreverent simplification of a theory that broke through a glass ceiling which physicists had been bruising themselves on since the 1920’s. But if I started bombarding you with explanations of “superposition” and the argument over collapsing waveforms, this would very quickly become a different blog!
The point is that if Everett’s theory, or the other theories that have since evolved turn out to be true, then could some of our “ghosts” actually be embodied spirits that exist in parallel universes with which we come into contact due to some weird dimensional proximity? If that is the case, then that would mean the haunt is also the haunted.
Here is out watcher lightened up.
Ghosts have come a long way from corny images of floating sheets or semi-transparent beings drifting aimlessly in a darkened hall. From loved-ones visiting us from beyond, to pieces of ourselves somehow left behind, to other human beings living separate lives in separate dimensions, the understanding of the word “ghost” has grown deeper and more complex throughout the years. The question “Do you believe in…” is quickly becoming “What do you believe in?” And those who are daring enough to examine their own experiences and compare them to those of many others, are finding the word representative of childhood anecdotes to be much more fascinating than stories around campfires once led them to believe.
To view case files from some of our team’s past investigations please visit our website at www.EastValleyParanormal.com. We look forward to your visit and we’ll see you on the other side! This is Heather, signing off!