Gifts from the Universe

Recently, I received three wonderful gifts from the Universe.

About three weeks ago, while rearranging the books in my home, I found a book written by a former client. I hadn’t thought about Lucy (not her real name) for several years. Fingering through her book, a flood of memories surfaced.

At the time I knew her, she was going through a very rough time. I can still see the painful, sad look on her face. She seemed totally worn out from her ordeal. And yet, she had found the courage to write about her abuse and publish a book that could be of help to others. I admired her greatly for that. I wondered how she was doing in her life now.

A week later, I received a Facebook friend request from her. Don’t you just love how things like that happen. Feels like a gift from the Universe. I sent her a message: “Lucy, I was just thinking about you last week and wondering how you are.”

She wrote back that she has moved away and is doing great. She thanked me for the attention and support I gave her and told me it hadn’t been wasted. When she returns to Dayton for a visit, she would like to see me. I look forward to that visit.

Last week I received a Facebook message from a former client telling me I looked well, told me she was doing well, and filled me on her husband, children and grandchildren. Working as a family therapist in the chemical dependency field meant that my clients were at a low point in their lives. I felt honored to facilitate the beginning of their healing journey … being with them as they worked through enormous pain. She said I had been kind and helpful. For that I am grateful and grateful that she reached out to let me know. Another gift from the Universe.

Late Saturday afternoon, I checked my e-mail and Facebook messages. On Facebook, I noticed a former student of mine from the Los Angeles area. His face was in a little round circle under “Stories,” so I clicked to see what story he was telling and sent him a message. My phone rang and it was Ryeal. He calls me every so often, but it had been a while since we had connected. It thrills me that he calls me “mom.”

Ryeal Simms
Relationship Scientist

Ryeal was a student in one of the couple’s coaching classes I taught about fifteen years ago over the phone and online. He has gone on to get a master’s in psychology and a Ph.D in neuroscience. He is becoming quite an expert in the field of relationships and brain science and will be a featured presenter at a conference in Austin, TX the end of March. He credits me for his career choice and with pursuing an advanced education.

Saturday night, though, he told me something I hadn’t heard him say before. He said that from our first contact over the air waves (we have never met in person), he felt a “spirit connection” with me. I have filled a void in his life with my interest in him and his education and career. (His wife sent me a link and through the miracle of technology, I was able to watch him get his master’s diploma.) He calls me “mom” because I am interested in him and the subjects he’s passionate about.

Later, as I reflected on our conversation, I realized we have something in common. His calling me “Mom” fills a void in my life, too. And so it is a joy for me to call him “son.”

I think it is interesting that these gifts came my way in such short succession at this time. I guess the Universe thought I needed a reminder of the difference I make in people’s lives … and don’t we all. Nothing is more gratifying than knowing we have made a difference for someone. These past few weeks have been very special.

I’d love to hear your story of making a difference in someone’s life. Contrary to how it looks sometimes, there is so much goodness in our world.

Love Expands

Today 150-200 people gathered to celebrate the life of Ginny May Flint. Ginny “changed addresses” on March 1 at 6:10 pm. It was one of the most amazing celebrations I’ve ever attended. And that speaks volumes for the kind of woman Ginny was. Her daughter, Shannon, told us she orchestrated the whole celebration. “Have bright colors and feed the people who come. If they took the time to come, feed them well.”

Ginny May Flint
March 11, 1939-March 1, 2018

Ginny was a part of the Angel Group I joined about three years, so I haven’t known her long. But what a blessing she has been for me and for so many others. There were people in attendance whose lives she touched fifty-some years ago. A fifth-grade classmate shared that when he moved to Dayton, he didn’t know a sole. Ginny sat next him in homeroom. She said, “I’m Ginny. Who are you?” They became best of friends, and they and their spouses have enjoyed many fun times together.

There was a lot of laughter and tears shed during the celebration. Ginny knew how to have fun and touch people’s lives. She will be greatly missed.

Another of her classmates said when they were teenagers, she approached him one day and said, “I have a friend I’d like you to meet. Would you be interested?” She handed him a phone number and a couple of days later he phoned. Then he introduced us to his wife of almost fifty-six years.

The most amazing stories I heard, however, came from her daughter, Shannon and Shannon’s birth mother, Jan. Shannon was adopted and eventually wanted to meet her birth mother. After she received the information that her birth mother was willing to meet her, Shannon double checked with her parents to make sure they were okay with her making the call.

Ginny’s attitude was that love is not in a limited supply. The more you give the more it expands. So she was quite happy for Shannon to make contact with her birth mother. When Shannon revealed that Jan lived very close to them, Ginny realized that she knew Jan slightly, and was sure that Shannon had even seen her walking her dog nearby. Ginny said, “She’s really neat. Call her right now.”

So Shannon made contact and arrangements were made for all of them to get together the next weekend. Shannon told Jan, “Don’t be surprised if Mom comes knocking on your door before then.”

And that is exactly what Ginny did. She wanted to assure Jan that she and her husband were excited about this and that Jan and her family were now a part of the Flint family. And it was Jean who was with Ginny when she took her last breath.

At the end of the celebration, Jan’s two sisters, brother, and sister-in-law introduced themselves to us and we had a lovely chat hearing more of their story and how they were all embraced by the Flint family.

Toward the end of February, the Angel Group was informed that Hospice was estimating that Ginny had one to two weeks to live. Of course, some of us wanted to visit. Her husband sent the message that Ginny would welcome our visit. She said, “The more the merrier.”

I was stunned to see her sitting in a recliner greeting us wearing that wonderful warm smile that lit up her face with delight. She stretched out her arms for hugs and kisses saying, “Everything’s fine … when you have no regrets, everything’s fine.” She told funny stories about herself and laughed heartily. She shrugged off her need to continue wearing a colostomy bag and matter-of-factly named an advantage to it. It was hard to believe that she would be gone in a little over two weeks.

She is certainly an example to all of us about how to live. Love largely and widely because love expands. How fortunate I am to have been the recipient of her generous spirit and warm embraces. As I challenge myself to live in the spirit of expanding love, I carry her spirit with me as she lives on in the hearts and memories of so many.


Do We Feel It?

Note: You haven’t heard from me for awhile. I’ve been taking an essay writing class and that has kept me busy. Here is one of my best, written the week of the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting:

Life is precious. Or is it?

Each life counts. Each life is significant. So we say.

One day this week I caught Steve Inskeep’s opinion piece on NPR as I drove home from a doctor’s appointment. The school shooting in Florida caused him to think about people who have to develop a relationship with death … nurses, soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, war correspondents. His voice sounded incredulous as he expressed disbelief that teachers and students are now among them. He noted that after Sandy Hook, many officials proclaimed, “It will never happen again.”

Inskeep observed that we are all becoming accustomed to the carnage. “We have to bear it because politicians and presidents have agreed on no effective solution to mass shootings.”

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America. 

Inskeep went on: If we cease to feel the effects, we risk our mental health, our moral health, our souls.

He ended with these haunting words, “Do we still feel it?”

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


A PBS report on the nightly news this week finds that the gap between white and black home ownership in the USA is wider now than it was in 1960. In some cities, black and Latino home buyers have a harder time getting mortgages. The newscast featured a story of a financially responsible black woman with a good job who missed paying one electric bill on time. Two banks used this as an excuse to turn her down … even when her mother, retired with a generous pension, agreed to co-sign. They used her mother’s student loan debt as their reason.

Suspecting their refusal had something to do with the color of her skin, this potential home buyer asked her half-white, half-Japanese girlfriend to buy the house with her. Her friend didn’t make enough money to pay her bills, had to borrow money from her sister to pay for health insurance, and could not give the required two years proof of a stable work history. Despite the terrible state of her finances, one of the previously denying banks approved the loan.

Do we feel it?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door! 


From the comfort of my home, I watch television and most every night witness the plight of refugees struggling to say alive while they exist in a living hell. More comfortable nations, including our own, turn them away.

Tired and poor mothers yearning to breathe free came to our shores and gave birth to children, some of whom are disabled. In Ohio, two mothers of disabled children have been torn away from their children and sent back to the teeming shores from whence they came … shores that neither welcomes or wants them.

Do we feel it?

I’m sure as you read this, you can think of examples of your own. Fill in the blanks.

Do we feel it?

An example from my personal life: Disabled people are not seen as contributors to our economy and so they are disposable. If you don’t believe it, try to obtain services. In 2010 as a result of the economic crisis in our country brought on be deregulation and excessive risk-taking by banks, a federally-mandated program in Ohio responsible for advocating for and protecting the disabled transitioned from a state agency to a non-profit. In 2012, while seeking services to help my disabled daughter continue to live independently, I was told by an attorney working for this program, “Two years ago resources existed to help. Today there are none … unless she is homeless.” The attorney recommended I allow my daughter to become homeless.

Do we feel it?

Typically, applications for social security disability are denied at least three times. I personally know of three families with a child suffering from myotonic muscular dystrophy, a debilitating progressive neuromuscular disease, who have been denied disability numerous times.

Do we feel it?

According to the Houston Behavior Health Hospital, the three main causes of stress today — money, work, and poor health — are interrelated. A poor economy puts the highest pressure on those earning less than $50,000 (although people in all income brackets are feeling the strain). High unemployment rates, rising costs of food, gas, and other necessities, and the need to work long hours are all detrimental to inner peace, which can cause negative physical symptoms like a greater susceptibility to illness, a lack of energy, problems with sleep, headaches, poor judgment, weight gain, depression, anxiety, and an inability to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends.

The poor are accused of being lazy and unambitious.

Do we feel it?

According to Page 4 of a June 2015 report by the International Monetary Fund: “Widening income inequality is the defining challenge of our time. In advanced economies, the gap between the rich and poor is at the highest level in decades.”

Does the system keep us too stressed out to feel it? Are we losing our ability to feel it?

Does each life count?

Your life? My life?

Do we feel it?

Is each life significant?

Teachers? Students? Parents? People of Color? Immigrants? Refugees? The Disabled? Nurses? Soldiers? Police Officers? Fire Fighters? War Correspondents? The Unemployed? The Underemployed? The Marginalized?

Are we losing our souls? Is our nation losing its soul?

Do we feel it?