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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Gratitude

The 2014 holiday season is here. But this year instead of simply saying the usual holiday blessings, I'd like to take some time to say a heartfelt "Thank You" to some of our unsung heroes. They live with us, work next to us, shop at the grocery store down the block, and send their kids to the same schools our sons and daughters attend.

I'm talking about people who routinely give of themselves in order to make the lives of others better, not expecting much, if anything, in return.

You probably know some of these folks - heck, you may be one yourself. 

A big Thank You to:
  • First responders everywhere - our police, fire departments, EMTs, search and rescue, and countless others who risk their lives daily to keep us safe
  • Hot Shots and all who battle forest fires to keep us and our homes out of harm's way
  • The good Samaritans who stop to lend a hand to others in need

  • Folks who train service dogs to assist those who require a little extra help in their quest to be independent

  • Volunteers at animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation facilities, and animal rescue centers who have hearts bigger than the whole of nature
  • Folks who give of themselves to help abused and neglected children around the world
  • Doctors Without Borders and other medical aid organizations who bring medical help to places most of us will never visit
  • Citizens like you and me who work quietly to conserve and protect the health of our environment and natural ecosystems
  • Hospital chaplains who are there for us when we're at our worst but need spiritual support the most
  • Hospice workers who help us have dignity and love during our transitions from this life
  • Meals-on-Wheels volunteers, and others like them, who make sure that those who can't leave their homes have good food on their tables
  • The Marine Corps Toys for Tots volunteers
  • And many, many more who work to make this Earth a better place...
If you know someone like this, someone who works behind-the-scenes to make the things better for others, please consider giving them a big hug and saying a heartfelt "Thank You" the next time you see them. They deserve it :-)

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Solstice Contemplation

Today is the day in the northern hemisphere that we experience the most hours of darkness in a day - Midwinter, or the Winter Solstice. Tomorrow, the longer hours of light slowly return. For now, though, the lengthy nights and colder temperatures force most of us to spend more time indoors. We may seek out light and warmth around a fire, bask in the company of friends and family, or spend more time watching our favorite sports teams on television.

My Solstice will be a bit different this year. I've decided to spend today in quiet contemplation, hoping to come to terms with some difficult, recent events in my life. Instead of drowning in a pool of pity and sorrow, I'm opening myself up to seeing and understanding the lessons I so obviously need to learn.

This idea came to me as I awoke this morning. I knew I needed to take time to reconnect with Spirit today, and as a side benefit, I might just receive some insights that will help me move forward in a positive way. This decision was later cemented by a friend sharing the blog of Fr. Richard Rohr this morning. Fr. Richard writes about the value of silence in a beautiful way. My personal favorite line comes toward the end of his blog:

Silence is at the very foundation of all reality. It is that out of which all being comes and to which all things return. 

So today I will spend time in silence, looking for insights, yes, but also simply allowing my mind and heart to reconnect to Spirit.

I do have questions for which I would like guidance, though:

  • What are the lessons for me in this recent event?
  • What part did I play in it, and what part did the other person play?
  • Why is this area of my life a challenge for me right now, and what can I do to change its dynamics?
  • What changes do I need to make going forward so that I can bring love and light into this area of my life?
  • Is there anything else that I need to understand?

I'll be thinking about these questions today and asking Spirit for answers. The insights may take some time to come into my consciousness. That's OK.  I just know that today is the day that I begin the process of questioning and opening myself up to answers. It's also the day to realign my heart with my Source.

How will I question and then listen for answers? This may change, but my intuition is guiding me to:

  1. Ask for clarity, out loud, and be willing to hear the answer. I find that when I ask for clarity out loud to Spirit, I usually get answers within days. The clarity may come as a sudden "A-Ha!" moment of knowing, or it may come in the form of events which reveal the answer. My job is to remain open to that insight so that when it comes, I recognize, learn from it, and internalize the lesson.
  2. Spend time in quiet - no talking, no music, no TV,  no cell phone, no internet. I find that spending some quiet time alone often accelerates my process of understanding. I don't necessarily quiet my mind, though. Allowing thoughts to rattle at random often brings up insights that I would otherwise miss in the cacophony of daily life.
  3. Take a gratitude walk in Nature. I discuss this in my upcoming book, but here's a sneak-peek: a quiet walk in Nature, spending time feeling grateful for whatever you see, hear, or feel can be a catalyst for opening up both the mind and heart to new levels of compassion, empathy, and understanding. Walk quietly, look around, feel grateful for the water and air that gives us all life, for the birds singing from the treetops, for the clouds bringing snow to the mountains, or for the peace and calm that comes from a frozen pond.
  4. Journal the questions, feelings, and issues in the "problem." I'm not normally one to journal on a daily basis, but during troubling times I find that it can help break loose an insight that I sorely need. At the very least, journaling allows me to get out my feelings on paper which helps me to release them and move on from the event. I usually journal on loose sheets of paper, letting all of my feelings and thoughts flow with the pen. I  might keep these writings around for a day or two, but then I either burn them or shred them as a symbol that it's time for me to move on with my life. 
  5. Watch for answers. The days and weeks to come is my time for quiet openness. I quietly wait for answers or insights. I may get an "A-Ha" moment as the result of something a friend says, or a new and important piece of information may come my way. This is my time to practice patience, openness, and compassion for myself.
Are you experiencing heartache, confusion, or challenges in your life? If you are, maybe you too can spend time today asking for clarity and listening for answers in silent contemplation. You might just be surprised at the insights that come.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Awakenings from the Light" Available for pre-order

My book, "Awakenings from the Light" is now available for pre-order through my website:

Go to the "Books" page to place a pre-order using PayPal checkout, or phone me at 720-295-2060 to pre-order a signed copy.

The book is just over 250 pages and will be available in paperback and eBook format. Sorry for the expected publication date is June 30 for paperback, July 30 for eBook. Both will be available on If you'd like a signed paperback copy, it will only be available through my website, above, or at my events and seminars.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Me?

For many months now, I've struggled with the question of "Why me?" Why was I spared when according to all of my doctors, I should have have died at several different points during my ordeal and recovery? Why was I given such a startling glimpse of what lies ahead during my near-death experience? And most importantly in my mind, why was I given such profound understandings and been asked to pass them on to anyone who wanted to listen?

Initially, since I couldn't get out of my own mind and heart, I though it was all about me. Pretty narcissistic, huh? But in reality, my own mind and heart is all that I knew. In my mind, through my NDE, I was given the opportunity to improve my own life and turn it into one that was soul-satisfying. That was pretty much all the explanation I needed at first.

This morning, though, a case of nervousness gripped me as I thought about tomorrow. Thursday, Dec 11, I am to give my first presentation on my near-death experience to an audience. Public speaking usually doesn't bother me too much so this nervousness took me by surprise. Since the weather today was beautifully warm and sunny, I decided to head out for a walk in hopes of calming my nerves.

It turns out that the walk was exactly the thing I needed.

I retraced the route I took during my many walks while recovering from my injuries. The route took me past a store called "TRI" (The Restoration Initiative) here in Lafayette, CO. A local family began the store as a way of raising funds for social initiatives in India. 100% of the profits from the store go to fund women's and children's improvement projects in the poorest areas of the Indian subcontinent. The owners keep nothing for themselves save what it takes to operate the store. I've spoken with the owners several times but today as I walked past the store, their commitment to improving the lives of people half a world away grabbed at my heart and wouldn't let go. I started to cry thinking about their compassion and kindness toward others from a different country and culture.

That softening of my heart turned out to be the catalyst for more compassion and understanding to flow.

As I continued my walk, I began to get tantalizing glimpses of understanding about why I was given the opportunity to come back to reinvent my life. I allowed the insights to come and during the remainder of my walk, I started to see a bigger picture emerge.

Yes, part of why I was given a second chance was for me to make my life into something happier, more contented, and more soul-satisfying. That made sense intellectually, and I already knew that. But another very important reason was learn to have a soft heart, to feel compassion for others, and to pass on what I learned so that someone else might learn from it too.

I suddenly realized at a deep, emotional level that all of my life is feeding into this moment. Everything I've experienced, done, endured, and chosen is working together to soften my heart, to more fully allow me to empathize with people everywhere who endure pain and heartache in life. My life and near-death experiences are allowing me to feel deep compassion for those for whom life hasn't been easy. And my experiences also allow me to understand more fully that joy, love, contentment, and happiness are indeed possible for almost everyone.

My Guide's insistence that I chose this path makes sense now. I can see and feel this with extreme clarity and depth of understanding. Everything I've experienced on my path through life is helping me be a better messenger of the information in my book. Whether you believe that I chose the circumstances of my birth or they were given to me doesn't matter, but what I choose to do with my circumstances and experiences matters more than anything. I can choose to harden my heart and withdraw into my own little world, or I can risk allowing my heart to soften in order to feel compassion and empathy for others.

I've endured abusive relationships both as a child and adult, made poor choices in my twenties, had my heart broken too many times to count, endured the death of many close family members, wallowed in grief, let a potential great love walk out of my life, ignored the guidance of my heart, been through physical and emotional traumas, endured health crises, and dealt with judgement and condemnation from others. I've survived it all, and still love this life.

My experiences and choices made sense all of a sudden: everything is working together to soften my heart, and I feel deep compassion now for others who have been knocked around by life. This will make me a better person, but it also allows me to be a better messenger.

I could have avoided some heartaches if I had made better choices, yes, but no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and I've made my fair share of them. Now, instead of telling myself I should have done this or that, I choose to allow compassion to take over. I feel compassion toward myself in making those mistakes. Whether necessary or avoidable, they now soften my heart and allow me to empathize with others in similar situations.

My job and career choices also feed into this moment. My training as a scientist allows me to think critically about my experiences in that near-death state. My twenty years as a writer gives me the ability to more easily communicate what I learned and how I felt. My time as a trainer allows me to get up in front of an audience and talk about all of this without my knees buckling in fear.

While I'm not a psychotherapist or counselor and cannot directly help people learn to better their lives, I can be a cheerleader, a voice of inspiration and encouragement, and maybe even an example of what's possible. Some of the insights in my book might help someone, but if all they do is encourage a few people to get help to achieve a happier life, then perhaps that's enough.

Blessings to you all...


All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Medical Opinion on Near-Death Experiences

It might surprise you to learn that I never told any of my doctors about my near-death experience. Why?

I guess I hesitated because I've worked as a clinical data analyst on and off for the last 15 years and during that time, developed professional relationships with nearly one hundred medical doctors. I can't say that I know any of those doctors very well personally, but I came to know their professional opinions on a lot of topics. Out of necessity, doctors tend to be very scientific, logical, rational, and concrete. If they couldn't quantify it, it didn't exist. Makes sense - that's their job, after all. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that most of them were atheists or agnostics, much as I was at that time.

Because of this, I let 10 months pass before even considering asking for a medical opinion on what happened to me during my accident and surgery. While I knew that there had been "trouble" with the anesthesia, and that I was very likely accidentally overdosed, medically-speaking I still didn't know if that was enough to send me out of my body and on toward Heaven. I really just wanted to know if anything interesting happened, medically, during surgery.

I procrastinated some more, but finally decided to talk to my primary care doctor (I'll call him Dr. T) and see what he had to say.

Dr. T is an internal medicine specialist and a hospitalist, but he also has a strong background in infectious disease and integrative medicine from Harvard University. He's incredibly smart, compassionate, honest, and, well, "normal," meaning that he doesn't come off as arrogant or condescending. I figured if anyone would listen to me, he would. I called to make an appointment and the scheduler said he had an opening that afternoon. I took it - I figured that I  might as well get this over with as soon as possible!

I felt nervous all day. My stomach was tight with worry and I hardly ate anything all day. I dreaded what his opinion might be. I honestly expected  him to tell me I was hallucinating, or didn't experience anything other than the effects of anesthesia.

Once in his office, I simply laid out for him what I wanted to know - did anything happen medically during surgery? He asked why I wanted to know. I hesitated a few seconds but then dove right in to my experiences starting with the crash and ending with the surgery.

He didn't say a word while I spoke...he simply listened with an unreadable expression on his face. I'm usually good at gauging body language, but his poker-face left me unsure of his receptivity to my story. When I finished my tale we both paused, then he spoke.

"Wow, what a cool experience!" And with that, the floodgates of conversation opened.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, he related a few accounts from other patients who also experienced the near-death state. He also said that in his work as a hospitalist, he is often present with patients during their final moments in this life. At least monthly, during these moments when people pass on, he's presented with incidents that truly make him stop and think about the true nature of existence. After more than 15 years in this work, he's a firm believer in  the realm of God/Spirit and thought that what I experienced was a true gift...and a calling.

I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and immediately relaxed.

Someone in the medical field actually believed that what happened to me was real. Wow.

I knew it was real, but as someone with a science background, it helped me feel validated to have another scientist tell me that I wasn't nuts - that I had experienced something really special and have been given a huge gift of life and knowledge.

He offered to pull my surgical records and talk to the anesthesia staff on-duty that day to see if there was anything "odd" that happened. Dr. T also said that sometimes near-death experiences happen in surgery even when there doesn't appear to be a medical cause for them. In his experience, in many cases the apparent medical cause is a momentary but drastic drop in blood pressure.

In short, medical clarity may be on the way.

To be continued. I'll update this blog if/when Dr. T finds out more details about my time in surgery....

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Message 12: Live In Gratitude Every Day

Live and feel your gratitude every day. 

Everything in our world is a gift. Gratitude for the things we have end experience is our way of demonstrating Love to the Creator for these gifts. It’s not just gratitude for the big things. We've been asked to be grateful for the little things in our lives, and to show our gratitude to others for what they bring to our lives.

True gratitude is a state of deep feeling of love and appreciation for what we do have, for what we have been given, and for what we experience every day of our live no matter how small or insignificant. And the purpose of gratitude is not to get more stuff as some New Age gurus claim. Its purpose, its real purpose, is to show love back to the Source of Everything.
That's it. It all comes back to love.
Gratitude is a state of deep loving. Ideally, it is more than just lip-service or a recitation of memorized words - it really is the deep feelings in our bodies and souls that go along with the grateful words we might choose to express. When we allow ourselves to deeply feel gratitude in the core of our beings, and then express it verbally, that is when we are truly feeling love and appreciation for what we do have.
If we express appreciation to another person and we are allowing ourselves to really feel it internally, the recipient will then know it’s genuine and heart-felt. 
Gratitude does come back and help us, too. True gratitude is a state of feeling or being that cleanses the heart and the soul. Feeling that gratitude deeply bathes us in light and love. How might we feel after we allow deep appreciation to wash through our heart-spaces? We may feel more at peace and more connected to the people around us (or to God or nature). We might feel relief, or perhaps we will cry and be overcome with joy.
To feel love and appreciation for what we have been given is gratitude’s purest and deepest form of expression.
The energy and power of those feelings of love and appreciation reverberate through the world of Spirit - much more so than words alone. Love transcends all. Love goes right from our physical plane to the Spiritual realm. The Divine feels it, and smiles, when He feels our love and appreciation coming back.

More details, including my thoughts and some additional exercises on feeling your gratitude, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Message 11: Live Your Life to Its Fullest

You have one and only one chance at life as the person you are now. Just one chance. Live your life to its fullest each day, spend your time wisely, and allow yourself to truly feel what it means to be alive as you. Please don’t squander this gift. Live your life to its fullest as an expression of gratitude and Love to the Divine.

What comes after the lives we have now is unimaginably wonderful. I experienced just a small bit of it and even with that, didn't want to come back here to Earth. Heaven is an existence filled with love and beauty. It is a “place” of love, one-ness, unity, and Spirit. It is amazing, but so are these lives we have on this Earth, right now!
Our lives are huge gifts to be enjoyed, savored, and lived completely. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, you have only one chance to live life as the beautiful person you are now
Think about that for a moment.
Even if you believe in some form of reincarnation, you are only this you, once.
Please do not waste this chance to savor your amazing life in all its nuances. Live your life wisely, lovingly, respectfully, and responsibly, but also fully in whatever way that means to you. Don’t allow fear or others’ desires for your life to stand in the way of living your dreams.
Spirit doesn't want us to put off living a special, glorious life now on the promise of a beautiful “Heaven” ahead. Doing that is a waste of all of the opportunity that the Divine has given us now in our earthly lives. We are to live our dreams and lives fully, as best as we can, intentionally, with mindfulness, in glorious homage to Spirit. We can create our own slice of Heaven in our lives right now and in doing so, we can bring a little of that Heaven into the lives of others too.
By living in-Spirit and in Beauty, we can bring a little bit of Heaven into the lives of those around us.

More details, including my thoughts, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Message 10: Power of Choice

Ultimately, our most powerful tool for this life is our power of choice. Our power over our thoughts, words, and actions is our most incredible gift and tool for living the lives we want. 

Use this gift of choice wisely, and with love and compassion in your heart.

We do have the power over our own words and actions. Even though choosing our words and actions may not be easy, in concept it seems to make sense. What may be more difficult to understand is that we ultimately have the power over our thoughts and feelings as well.  
If we choose to use all of these carefully, intentionally, with love in our hearts and positive intentions, we can be powerful in many positive ways. But if we use these things in uninformed, negative, or malicious state of minds, with negative intent and not aligned with Spirit, they can easily hurt or destroy ourselves or others. 

Everything we do (including the words we speak, our actions, and thoughts) has an effect on the world around us. We can think of these as energy radiating outward from our centers. Our words and actions do not just affect us, they travel outward and impact those around us. The sphere of that impact can be quite large.
My Guide stated this many times but I think it bears repeating. A negative state of mind is not just something that we hold on to. Our negative state of mind can easily affect others. We may snap at our families, use harsh words, or perhaps even lash out physically without really thinking. 
Similarly, a positive state of mind has a positive sphere of influence radiating out from you. If you are in a positive, happy mindset, how you treat others will doubtless reflect that. You will treat others in a positive way - using kind words, doing good things, and being helpful and compassionate.

While we can't control the actions of others, we should realize that our actions can and do affect others.

More details, including my thoughts on this topic, as well as "manifesting", are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

NOTES: A terrific yet simple and practical explanation can be found in Ken Elliott's book "Manifesting 1-2-3".
See the books of Dr. Daniel Amen on ways to control ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). His series on "Change Your Brain..." are especially helpful.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Message 9: You Are Never Alone

We are never alone. We are surrounded by Love and Spirit all of the time - every second of every day. Even in our darkest hours, Spirit is with us. Be still, and feel that Love.

Many of us today feel profoundly alone and lonely. We are surrounded by people, but seem stymied when it comes to making real connections with others. We may feel isolated from Spirit, failing to sense Its presence or even doubting its existence.
When I was in Heaven, my Guide showed me that our loneliness saddens those in the Spirit realm. 
You see, the realm of Spirit really isn’t a separate place that we travel to when we die; in large part, it’s simply a shift of phase, of “state”, and it is here all around us right now. But that realm isn’t “physical” so it’s impossible for most of us to sense it with our human bodies. But Spirit and those in that plane of existence can be, and often are, around us all of the time. 
That’s why I say that we are never alone. Just as in the realms of Spirit, that loving presence flows around us and through us constantly. Spirit’s love is with us. The Divine walks beside us, behind us. He’s got our backs.
The Divine Presence is with us in our hearts, always. We just need to be still to feel him there, to experience his presence within us.

Try to hear Spirit's voice in your heart, feel that presence in your soul. See if you can spot the Divine in your child’s eyes, or in those sunflower seeds you’re planting. Those little seeds will burst forth with incredible energy and fervor and in a few short weeks, and you will have some of the biggest, most brilliant flowers in your garden! A true miracle. All from a small bundle of almost-nothing.
It is a miracle. And yes, it is biology too. And Spirit’s presence makes it all possible. It is the Source of life. It is the Source of creativity. 
Spirit is the Source.

So you see, you’re never alone. Spirit in all its forms is with you, in us, all of the time. 

More details, including my thoughts and some ideas on reconnecting with the Divine, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Message 8 (cont'd): My Experiences in Listening to My Heart

Back in late May, I made a pledge to live a year listening to, and following, the voice of my "heart" rather than blindly doing what my brain told me I should do. I knew from experience that the voice of knowledge in my brain didn't often bring me happiness or put me on a "good" path. In fact, that voice of knowledge often led me down roads that I wish now I had not taken, or asked me to close doors that in hindsight I would have been better off walking though.

"Crow Medicine" - In many Native American traditions, crows were thought to be Spirit's messengers.

Some may call this heart-voice our intuition, others may call it the voice of the Divine. Whatever it is, listening to what it's telling me is a different approach to living than I have allowed myself in the past. While I haven't abandoned logic or reasoning, I do make a real effort to put much more weight on the guidance of my heart or intuition now.

So what's happened in the first four months of my grand experiment?

Well, nothing terribly spectacular has happened yet, but I feel deeply that my life is on a good path. I'm much happier with myself and my life's direction, I have less stress about my daily life and my future, and I don't really worry anymore. Some of this is probably due to meeting my Maker back in January, but I think most is from knowing that my heart-centered decisions are now in alignment with who I really am at my core.

If I have an opportunity put in front of me now, I think about whether it feels "right" for me to pursue it. If it does feel right and no one is going to get hurt, I do it. An example of this is a recent incident with a dangerous hunting situation here in Colorado. I felt deeply that I needed to get involved, that I needed to write something that might prompt the state to make some changes to hunting laws. So I wrote a blog article that turned into a formal petition. As a result of this heart-centered effort, I met many new, cool people that I would not have met. One of them is a pro-hunting attorney and ethics instructor who will use my writeup of this incident in an upcoming "train-the-trainer" book (a book meant to train hunters' safety instructors). His concern, and the concern of a lot of other hunters in his circle, mirrored mine and we're coming together to (we hope) make hunting safer for everyone in Colorado.

Would I have done something like this in the past? I can honestly say that no, I would not have gotten involved with such a potentially volatile situation. I would have been terrified of making waves, of shedding light on a law that needed to be changed, of being noticed, and for speaking from my heart and mind.

In the last four months, I've also noted that my artistic creativity and productivity have skyrocketed. My heart-centered decision to leave my technical job freed up my creative muse to go crazy, in a good way! I can't wait to get to the easel every day, ideas flow effortlessly (so many that I can't keep up), and my "craft" of painting is better than it's ever been. Many more opportunities related to my art are flowing to me easily and more quickly than I ever would have imagined - perhaps because I am living more in alignment with who I was meant to be.

And overall, I notice that I am more open, more buoyant, and, well, just plain happier. What's not to like about that?

More details, including my thoughts, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Message 8: Listen to Your Heart

Learn to listen to your heart. This is where Spirit puts our own personal instruction manuals. 

Follow its guidance. Our purpose is here - our calling. Follow that small voice, for that is the true voice of The Divine in our lives. Spirit usually works from this quite place and each one of us can access it in our own heart. When we have doubts, when we need guidance, it is there to lead us. 

In Heaven, I learned that Spirit gives us direct access to Divine guidance. It may not always be easy to access it, but it is there if we know where to look. Spirit's guidance is in what we call our “Heart.” Some of us may call it intuition or that internal sense of just knowing. It’s what can help lead us in our choice of career, spouse, home, route home from work, or even vacation destination.

It can sometimes be hard to hear this small voice. In the realm of Spirit, I learned that they can hear it clearly because there are fewer human distractions, so the connection to Divine is more direct. But in our physical bodies, living our daily lives, it can be hard to hear Spirit's guidance. The voice is often quiet, sometimes just a feeling (“gut feeling”). If we don’t know to listen, or how to listen, we might just miss it.

I was shown that praying is a way to strengthen this connection to the Divine Voice. Many of us pray with words and ask for help, which is welcomed, but sometimes we might try "praying" by being quiet, by simply listening. Spirit welcomes this kind of prayer because it opens us more fully to that Loving connection and guidance.

Even with practice, we still might not hear God’s voice over the chatter of our own minds. Practice stilling your mind too, not just your speech or hearing. Sometimes this quiet mind can happen spontaneously while you are doing something else: walking, cycling, riding on a train, or working on a craft. Have you had those times where the world has seemed to fade away and all of your being is enraptured by the task at hand? That is one way to practice the silence that you’ll need in order to hear God’s small voice inside of your heart. 

What will you experience? How will you know what Spirit is trying to communicate?

Sometimes it will simply feel like an inner knowing: perhaps knowing that you need to take a different route home from work, then later finding out your regular route had a two hour delay due to an auto accident. Or  knowing that if you date a particular person, it will only lead to heartache. Or just knowing, somehow, that it is OK to trust your new coworker. Or that a decision you’re making will be right because it simply feels right. If we listen to and acknowledge this type of knowing, it will become stronger and more clear over time. Listen to it. Try trusting it and see what happens.

Sometimes the Divine also sends us people and events to reinforce the instruction guide in our hearts. Have you noticed how sometimes the right person just happens to appear in your life at just the perfect time to help you with something you've been struggling with?

That’s the Divine at work.

Next: some of my experiences with listening to my heart.

More details, including my thoughts, overcoming fears, and additional exercises to help you listen to your intuition, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Learn from the Past, Walk into the Future

Ruins of a stone foundation at Ft Union NHP, New Mexico

Ft. Union National Historic Park, New Mexico

Sept 1, 2014

I have the ruins of a Civil War era fort to myself this morning. No other living person is out here right now - it's just me, the bluebirds, the rustle of the prairie grasses in the wind, and a lone rattlesnake. Oh, and 150+ years of ghosts from sometimes-brutal clashes of culture along ancient trade and migration routes.

I sit on a bench that literally straddles the Santa Fe Trail - the same trail that, in the 1800s, brought European settlers from the eastern parts of North America to the "wild" Southwest. So many settlers came through here that our very young government decided to build an army fort in this spot, to help handle the clashes between cultures that they knew were coming.

These skirmishes and wars between Indians and settlers were only the last round in the culture clashes that started with the arrival of the Spanish in 1492. By the time the white settlers arrived, the tribes in the Southwest US were already decimated by centuries of epidemics and battles with the Spanish.

As the settlers from the east poured in during the mid to late 1800s, they took over land that was already occupied by dozens of tribes: the Apache, Kiowa, Navajo, Tewa, Zuni, Hopi, and many more. The ensuing conflict wasn't pretty. Many tens of thousands died in the years that followed, and the result? The Indians placed on reservations, their land divided among the white settlers. Resentment, hatred, and mistrust continues on all sides.

The same thing occurred earlier on other parts of the continent - what was happening in the Southwest was just the latest in the saga of migrations. Some of my distant ancestors were among those displaced in the northeastern US by early European settlements. The Sauk/Sac and Fox tribes moved from what is now Upstate New York to what is now Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and  Nebraska.

We can't change what happened. It was terrible. It wasn't right or fair or compassionate. But it happened.

Now the descendants of the survivors are making choices - to stay hostage to the past, mired in what was, or to accept where things stand right now and move on to make a brighter future for themselves and their families. People like my friend Valencia, a full-blood Navajo, are choosing the latter and I admire her (and those like her) greatly. It's not easy to let go and move on, but it's happening.

Many of us without this Native heritage can learn something too. All of us have negative "stuff" in our past that could hold us back from an amazing future if we let it. And many times, we allow it. It's comfortable in a way, familiar, and for a few, a guaranteed attention-getter. Millions in the US alone were victims of abuse or violence as kids, millions more as adults. Some of us dealt with poverty, gang violence, drugs, alcohol, or dysfunctional families and it all can affect our lives if we don't work to let it go. It's easy to stay stuck in a poisonous past.

But where does that get us? Mired in depression, anger, and very likely an unfulfilling life. We can't live our best life in the here and now if our minds can't let go of what was done to us back then. The potential given to us by Spirit, wasted.

It's not easy to let go of the hold we have on the past, or of the hold it has on us, but I believe it's our sacred duty to try. Spirit gives us trials as an opportunity to learn how to soar past barriers to be the amazing person we were meant to be. We can live our lives as a slave to the negativity of the past, or we can face "what is" and take action to make our futures brighter.

Choose to look at the past with a discerning eye, to learn the lessons there. Then turn ahead to the future to make better lives for ourselves and our families, keeping those lessons from the past in mind to help us on our way.

But it takes work to learn how to let go. Sometimes that work involves psychotherapy, sometimes talking to an elder in your religious circle, sometimes it involves relying on help from friends, or perhaps spending time in nature will do the trick. Sometimes it's sheer determination, just making the decision to turn away from victimhood and walk into a life of strength.

It's hard to let go of the apparent familiar comfort of a poisonous past, but the beauty of the human spirit is that it IS strong. It is courageous. It has love at its center. And our spiritual nature is there buoying us up. Our souls can make intents and take action to bring a brighter future into existence for ourselves and our families.

My wish is that we all choose to walk forward into a brighter future, with love and gratitude.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eight Months of Gratitude

Eight months ago today, I nearly lost my life to a driver who was texting, not wearing her prescription driving glasses, and driving without a license. I've dealt with a lot of stuff (mostly positive) during this time, and my body continues to heal. The latest reports are good for my back and ribs, not great for my collarbone (although it still does not bother me in the least).

But today is a day of gratitude for me. I am deeply, deeply grateful to my family and friends who were, and are, there to help me out when I need it. I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, techs, nursing assistants, housekeepers, and all of the other professionals who gave me amazing care and continue to monitor my progress. And I'm grateful to my attorney who helped me navigate the insurance and legal systems with integrity and grace.

I am deeply grateful to the first responders: the Lafayette Police and Fire Departments and the good samaritans who stopped to help.

I'm grateful to The Divine and to my Guide for giving me the gift of seeing what comes after this life...and for giving me the knowledge and the opportunity to get it together to live an amazing life, here and now.

But today I am especially grateful to the woman named Annie who kept me from getting up after the accident. She gently held me stationary on the ground until the paramedics arrived to stabilize my back and neck. Without her knowledgeable and compassionate intervention, I'd at best be a paraplegic today (most likely a quadriplegic). Her assistance will allow me to get back most of the active life that I'm used to: hiking, photography, traveling, camping, mountain biking, and more. But no one can seem to find this woman - the State's Attorney's office tried for months and finally gave up. The only people Annie spoke with were me and one of the police officers on the scene (she declined to give him her full name). Anyway, Annie: whoever you are/were, you have my sincerest thanks. I hope someday to be able to thank you in person :-)

For some reason, this song seemed appropriate today:

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Coming Together to Support the Kids

Over the Labor Day weekend, I was treated to a heartwarming show of what "community" means in a small town in New Mexico.

Last week, I participated in a spirituality retreat in New Mexico. I learned quite a bit, but for me it was also a valuable reinforcement of the things I've learned over the last 8 months.

The retreat was supposed to last from Friday through mid-afternoon Sunday, but by Saturday afternoon my brain was full. Not one more shred of information could fit in there! I needed a break, a walk in the desert maybe, something outdoorsy and not too mentally taxing. I decided that Sunday I would visit a nearby National Monument and enjoy the scenery. That sounded about my speed.

Sunday morning came and I was out there on the trail enjoying the scenery and history of the area. Up behind me walked a man who seemed to be about my age, maybe a bit older. We chatted a bit. He asked if I'd like to walk with him so we could continue our conversation. He seemed interesting, fun, and harmless so I said "Sure." We continued along and at the end of the short walk he asked me if I'd like to accompany him to a local county fair, which I gladly agreed to. I loved fairs as a kid so I wanted a chance to see one out here, in the Southwestern US. We both drove separately over to the fairgrounds and started walking around.

Now, I haven't been to a county fair since the late 1980s, and that was in Illinois. There, the fairs lasted for at least a week and always bustled with thousands of people and even more farm animals. Events, games, and rides were going on all over the huge fairgrounds and there was no way one person could take everything in. Big, busy, noisy, and fun - that's how I remember county fairs from the midwest.

This little fair, out in rural New Mexico, was tiny in comparison. Makes sense considering the sparse population of the area, but it took me by surprise all the same. There was no midway, no rides, no games. There was a small poultry barn, some stalls for goats, sheep, pigs, and steers, a small rodeo area, and that's about it.

But what this little fair lacked in size it made up for in heart.

The only thing going on at the time we arrived was the junior livestock auction in the small, covered arena, so that's where we ended up for the afternoon. This event is where kids under 13 years old who were members of 4-H sold off the animals they had raised that year as part of their participation in the program. The kids were about an even mix of Indian, White, and Spanish, as was the small crowd of buyers.

We watched as these small kids, mostly girls, paraded their animals in front of the buying crowd while the auctioneer did an amazing job getting top dollar from the buyers. These little girls manhandled their 1200 lb steers and 300 lb hogs better than most adults! All of the animals were sparkling clean and adorned with ribbons, glitter, and sometimes a little paint. I'd never seen such pretty farm animals!

The way this worked is that the kids would benefit directly from the sale of their animal, as would their 4-H chapter. The buyer would go home with the animal either to continue raising it (usually for breeding, milk production, or even wool), or more often, to slaughter the animal for the freezer.

Indirectly, the entire community benefited from the kids' participation in the program. Rural New Mexico isn't exactly the Berkshires. Poverty is rampant, money tight for many families, and job opportunities are limited. The skills these kids learned in 4-H would better prepare them for a productive life as adults, and the money would be used to raise next year's animals. This program and auction is good for them, their families, and the community.

Over the afternoon, I noticed something really interesting and heartwarming. These animals were consistently going for top dollar, and in a very rural, poverty-ridden area no less. Most folks here didn't have a lot of money, but those who did shelled out, and gladly. I calculated it - the steers and hogs destined for the freezer would likely cost the buyer as much or more per pound (after processing) than simply going to the grocer and buying a cut of meat. Lambs were going for $800+ a head. Hogs $3/lb and up (mostly up). Same with steers. Some of the steers would cost their buyers upwards of $2500!

But the cost of the animal wasn't the point of the auction. It wasn't just about the money - it was to support the kids in the 4-H program. And this little town supported the kids with gusto! Not one animal went unsold. Not one animal was sold for rock-bottom prices. Buyers and sellers benefited.

And you want to know what warmed my heart even more?

Several of the buyers of hogs and steers donated the animal (after processing) to the local children's home/orphanage so that the kids there would have good food to eat for the next year.


Many thousands of dollars of pasture-raised steer and hog were gifted to the kids who needed it most.  And yes, I got choked up.

Taking care of each other - that's what "community" is all about. And community is something many of us in the big city are lacking today.

I am grateful to have seen this - it warmed my heart and gave me hope the there are still many parts of this world where people stick together and help each other.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Message 7: Allow Others to Show their Love and Support

Show your love for others by allowing them to show love and live their own lives. Allow them to help you when you need it. Allow them to be compassionate. Allow them to make their own decisions and choices, to be responsible for their own lives. We are each on a different path on the Earth - love and respect the path that person is on, just as you would want them to love and respect your path.

"Wishin' We Had Poles" Oil, 12"x16" (c) Nancy Rynes

Just as we each have the desire to help others in need, others may want to help us when we need it. Let them. We can show our love or caring to others by allowing them to show love, kindness, or compassion back to us. 
Many of us push others away when all they want is to lend a helping hand. Why? Pride, ego, the fear of being seen as “unable” maybe. In many situations, the best thing might be to simply allow the help. It’s OK to not be strong and in control of everything all of the time. Allow space for others to be strong, to lend a hand, and to shine.
Helping each other starts the process of building a community around you, in Spirit. Allowing other people to help us is an act of love. Allow others to show love and support even if it’s in a small way. Leaving the space for others to be compassionate and giving, without ego or fear getting in the way, is a supreme act of love and trust on our parts. By allowing others to help us, we are helping them to live in the Spirit of the Light, to love as Jesus and Buddha and St. Francis loved. How wonderful is that?
Yes, taking responsibility for ourselves and being independent is important, but it’s just as important to come together to build a community in Spirit. If we look at what the word "community" means, we see:

Community:  Commun = shared
Unity: oneness, as one

Shared as one
Coming together as one

Communities in the truest sense of the word are groupings of people with a common bond, coming together, sharing as one. We might share a physical place, like a town, but we could also build a "community" around a shared goal or belief system. The community doesn't need to be a physical place; all it needs is caring, sharing, like-minded group of people coming together. When we share with others by lending a hand, we build a network of support, of caring, and of love. In the most ideal communities, members enable each other to be their best, and allowing others to be giving and generous is one way to enable and encourage the best in each other.
My Guide would like to inspire all of us to work a bit more at building communities of support, whether it's with friends, family, neighbors, church groups, or co-workers. She assured me that building them would make a positive difference in the lives of everyone.

More details, including my thoughts and some exercises in reaching out to others, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Message 6: Allowing, Letting Go

Allow, let go, get out of your own way. Allow Spirit to have its way in your life. 

Have you ever had the feeling that a part of your life was an uphill battle? That no matter how hard you tried, something wasn't going the way you planned? Roadblocks and obstacles keep popping up out of nowhere. Things happen that seem to derail you. Yet you stubbornly continue on in the direction you laid out for yourself, hoping against hope that eventually it would all work out.
Sometimes it does.
But other times that struggling only digs the hole deeper beneath our feet. Sometimes that struggling gets in the way of us getting what we really need. More importantly, our struggles and stubbornness may get in the way of Spirit doing its best work in our lives!
Let it go. Let Spirit do its work in your life. 
Step back mentally and emotionally. Ask Spirit for assistance and for guidance. Ask to have light shed on the situation, to make what is really going on, or what you should do, clear and obvious. 
Have a dialog with Spirit. Let go, ask, and put your faith in Him.
What I learned during my time in Heaven is that letting go and allowing Spirit to work in our lives is vitally important. There, it's normal. The Beings there are very relaxed and in-tune with Spirit's direction. Letting go and "allowing" is just a part of existence in Heaven.

Spirit asks that we try to let go of our control a little more. Let go of the need to control every situation. Let go of attachment to specific outcomes. Letting go, and letting God work, might very well result in something even better coming into our lives than we had expected or imagined before!

Trying to control says that we really don't trust Spirit to do His work. The Divine has been handling this stuff for a very long time. At most, you have been at it for a few decades. Who do you think can handle it better? You or Spirit?
Let go, ask for clarity. Then trust. Spirit will make things clear to you if you step back and pay attention. He will handle the situation, or at least help it along, if you step aside and get out of the way.

Important note: If you are having strong thoughts of trying to harm yourself or someone else, are having recurring negative thoughts or nightmares, or truly can’t let go of a situation, please seek professional help.

More details, including my thoughts and some exercises in learning to let go, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Message 5: We Are All Part of Spirit

Each one of us, all of us, all of creation, is a part of Spirit. 

My spirit Guide asks us to remember that as we look into the eyes of another human being, we are gazing on a part of Spirit. Spirit’s presence is a part of that person across the room. Spirit’s love lives in her heart. Spirit’s Joy suffuses his Spirit. And that person we are looking upon is special to Spirit, just as you are. 

We also need to keep in mind that we too are a part of Spirit and we need to treat ourselves that way. Spirit exists within you, and you exist within Spirit. Treat yourself like the wonderful embodiment of Spirit that you are. Be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others, or moreso. Be as loving to yourself as you are to others. 

Practice seeing Spirit within you. Look in the mirror, study yourself. Look into your own eyes as if they were the eyes of your love. Pretend for a moment that you are gazing on part of Spirit - because you are! What do you see? And more importantly, how does this make you feel? 

Look into the eyes of an enemy and try to see Spirit there too. 

Where else can you find the Creator? Everywhere. All around you. Look. Be still. Listen. Most of all, listen within your own heart. That is where God sings his Joy for your life. Right there inside of you. 

More details, including my thoughts and additional exercises for enhancing your connection to Spirit, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.