Escorting the Dead

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AN INTERVIEW WITH TA SULLIVANpsychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

One of my favorite movies is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring Rex Harrison (1947). In it, the ghost of a sea captain comes back for Lucy when she’s ready to pass. I always loved that he came back for her when it was time. Many of us will have heard stories about people getting close to death who see their loved ones, or sometimes angels. Beautiful, satisfying stories. But what if they’re not stories? What if that’s precisely what happens for many of us?

I recently finished “Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp” by TA Sullivan. It’s a fascinating read about her experience as a death escort for the recently departed. As a child she was sensitive, but it wasn’t until she had her own near-death experience (NDE) that her life took a turn and she started to train as a guide for the dead.

Please welcome author and photographer, TA Sullivan. Thank you for agreeing to talk about what is a difficult subject for many.

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DEATH – Why Does It Frighten Us So?

Death.

That word probably frightens people more than any other.

Why?

Because it represents the ‘great unknown.’ We know less about death than we do about outer space or the deep recesses of Earth’s oceans. After all, it’s not easy to explore a dimension or state of being that requires us to cease living. So, for most of us, death becomes the area that, like on maps of old, was marked with the words: ‘There be monsters here.’

Monsters. Demons. Angels.

 

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These are what we think of when we think about death, because that’s all we know, or at least suspect, based on the stories that we are told about the land of beyond. Of course, some people eschew the typical concept of death being a place or a continuation of some form of life. Instead, they see death as a black nothingness. Still others divide the realm of death into two states: one where demons and monsters abide, and another where angels and cherubs live.

Proof.

Of course, trying to prove if there is a type of life after the physical body dies isn’t easy to do. After all, how do you gather statistics and measurements when you have no physical form? It is just this conundrum that has plagued most of us who have died and returned. We have garnered little acceptance from the scientific community regarding our experiences simply because we lack the physical proof of what occurred. All we have is our memory of the events, and even those vary widely based on each person’s interpretation. For instance, for someone who is a strict Catholic, the experience may be interpreted through the filter of their Catholic iconography and tenets; while, someone who is an atheist may describe their experience using a filter of science or space aliens.

Some experiments have been conducted. They are usually of the sort wherein someone is forced into a chemically- or electronically-induced death, and then revived within the time limits deemed safe. While these experiments are done within the confines of labs and under the supervision of ‘specialists,’ the interpretation of what did or did not occur on the ‘other side’ (if indeed, the other side was even reached) is still up to the individual who died.

The specialists monitoring the physical side of the experiment can note data on the ‘traveler’s’ body—heart rate, brain waves, blood pressure, etc.—however, they are unable to experience what the traveler who died experienced. Scientists can site all types of speculation and theories to explain what may or may not have happened—low oxygen levels in the brain, random electrical pulses, or a bad interpretation of what was happening around the person who was ‘dead’—but without proof of whether or not the dead person actually traveled their suppositions are as bogus as their disdain of what the travelers experienced.

Been There.

Having made the roundtrip at least once in this lifetime, I suppose that until we devise some sort of carrier to ferry us (the physical us) into the realm of death and back, we will simply have to rely on our own beliefs and truths as to what awaits us when we die.

To that end, I have written my interpretation of my experiences with the hope that they help people overcome some of their fear of Death. Death isn’t anything to fear. It’s merely another step along life’s path.

 

Make It Personal

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When preparing for speaking engagements and presentations based on my non-fiction books, I always ensure that I include several anecdotes or observations. While some authors prefer to keep their personal life private, sharing snippets of yourself with your audience usually helps them relate to you and your story.

Include anecdotes and personal observations.

The most typical question that I’m asked during the Q&A period of my presentations is how the event affected me or my family. People want to know that not only have you overcome the tragedy or grown as a result of the incident, but they want some examples. Sometimes the examples I include are also in the book, but usually not. And sometimes I include a mix—some anecdotes from the book and some not. Letting attendees know that there is more anecdotal material in the book helps sway them to purchase the book because they know they’re not just getting a rehash of what they already heard during my presentation.

By sharing these snippets of insight into my life, it helps me and the audience connect, and not just as reader to author, but as caring individuals sharing a similar experience. After all, many people relate best to your story when they understand the person who wrote it. This is especially true of two of my books (Escorting the Dead and On Dreams and Dream Symbols). These two books also generate a great many questions and much discussion between me and my audience. Therefore, once I’ve read them a chapter or two or given my presentation, I regale them with one or two anecdotes. This usually spurs a spate of similar stories from the audience, which soon leads to some very lively discussions. Once people realize that other people have had similar experiences, thoughts, or questions, it’s easy to get them interested in learning more, which leads them to purchasing your books.

By bringing some of you to the presentation, you show your audience that you and they are not so very different. Perhaps you’re wondering just what to share with your audience. Think back to when you were writing the book:

  • What prompted you to write about that moment/challenge/event?
  • Why was the moment, incident, or event special or important?
  • What about it did you think others might want or need to know?
  • How did it change you or those you care about?
  • What insights did it bring to your life?
  • How did you grow from the incident or overcome the tragedy?

The answer to any of those questions should prompt an anecdote or memory that you can work into your presentation. So, select two or three different ones each time you do a presentation; this almost always guarantees you a lively discussion or question and answer session. Using different stories and anecdotes for each presentation also keeps your talks fresh.

You might even incorporate bits and pieces of your audience discussions as anecdotes (as long as you leave out names and other identifying information). It all helps the audience and potential readers identify with you and your topic. It helps them understand that other people also have similar ideas, thoughts, and questions. And it ultimately leads to book sales.

(To see a video copy of one of my presentations click here.)

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Coming This Fall

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A lot has changed since I last announced that I was writing a paranormal romance. I had the story all planned out; unfortunately, once I got into it, the characters had a whole ‘nother idea. In fact, the characters pretty much wrote the whole thing for me. Now, it’s just up to me to get everything finalized. (You know, edited, proofed, rewritten…all that ‘fun’ production stuff ; )

Anyway, here’s the synopsis for “The Past Rekindled,” the first book in my paranormal romance series about Terra McGinley—techwriting guru by day and tran’zr by night.

Synopsis:

I’m Terra McGinley…technical writer and tran’zr (short for transitioner to the afterlife). With Death out to get me, I don’t know what to do or who to trust.

My new tran’zr partner is tall, dark, handsome, and completely annoying. While he’s checking the rule books and noting every little infraction, I’m helping people move on–even if it means bending those rules a bit.

In the real world, I’m stuck working with my high school crush. Although he hurt and betrayed me back then, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if we had gotten together. Is it too late, or should I take the risk?

Short Blurb:

Finding love is the last thing on Terra McGinley’s mind as she divides her time between writing how-to procedures and escorting visitors to the astral plane. But when one of her charges contacts Terra and her new partner for help, they encounter Death, who has his own plans for Terra. Now she must decide who she can trust with her life and her heart – past love or new partner?

One of the issues I haven’t yet worked out is whether to use my current pen name – TA Sullivan; or my real name – Tricia Sullivan. There’s a whole controversy over using different pen names for different genres. Some say it’s better because it helps your audiences identify with you for a specific type of book. However, there’s a whole other group that believes once you have your brand established with a name you should stick with that.

I’m not sure which school of thought I identify with; however, I do know that I have a completely different issue that I keep tripping over. There is already an established author with the name Tricia Sullivan. (In fact, she and I were nearly collaborators on my first book–a different story.) I’m not sure if the duplication of names would be to her benefit/detriment or mine. So, in keeping with my current indecisiveness, my wonderful book cover designers have allowed me to put both drafts out here for your perusal. Let me know what you think…do you like it, hate it, have no opinion about it?

To say I’m excited is an understatement. But then, every time I get one of my books done I’m excited. Each book is a labor of love, because I love the book, but I also love my readers. So, I want each reader to love my creations as much as I do (an impossible dream…but then again, who knows. And that’s why I #keepwriting. ; )

 

 

 

 

The Winkling Wuggley Got Her

A Winkling WuggleyAs I warned you lovely readers in my previous post, “Sorry…No Kooky Cats“, I’ve been sucked into the world of YouTube. Not as just a viewer, but as a participant. (So, world beware!)

I’m developing a channel, creating short video, and trying to figure this all out. I’m like a baby who is just learning to walk. I take a few steps, I fall down a lot, but eventually I pull myself up again and toddle on.

I’m sure the videos I create will never win Oscars, Emmys, or whatever the equivalent is in the world of YouTube videos; however, I think (for me, anyway) the key is that I’m having fun and I’m learning things I never thought I would.

Warning: Self-Advertisement Ahead !

So, just in case you want to see what I’ve been up to, I’ve included the link to my channel and the latest video that I created:

TA Sullivan (YouTube channel) 

A Winkling Wuggley Reads Books

 

Still True Today

I’ve been reading some books (old and new) on quantum physics and quantum mechanics, and I was fascinated by the discussions regarding probability waves. Back in the late 1700’s a scientist named Thomas Young (1773-1829) conducted an experiment, that was soon repeated by other physicists and is even now repeated in schools as a training tool.

The experiment goes like this:

Youngsexperiment

He created a black box that had a back wall of light-sensitive materials and contained just two small holes at the front to allow light in. He removed the covering over the two small holes and let the light go into the box. Then, when he later opened the box, he saw that instead of the two bars that he was expecting when the light entered the two holes, there were 4. Curious, he increased the holes to 3. Instead of getting six bars, though, he found that he had 5 bars. Even more curious, he made 4 holes, but this time the number of bars actually decreased. His conclusion was that the light traveled in waves and the waves interfered with each other, thus creating the “irregular” patterns of light bars in his results.

This conclusion held for many decades. Scientists would draw wave patterns to demonstrate how they interfered with one another, and used mathematics to “prove” this conclusion. Then, other physicists came along that questioned this wave theory. After all, they had calculations to show that light wasn’t a wave, it was a particle. Therefore, the interference patterns shouldn’t be occurring the way everyone assumed.

To test their theory of particles, they devised a way to allow a single photon through the hole and into the black box. To determine that just one photon got through, they set up monitors on the back side of each pin hole. That way, they would know that only one photon was being released and which hole it was going through. This was because they deduced that if one photon went through at a time, then there was no way it could interfere with itself, and that would mean that there would be no interference patterns, thereby disproving the waves theory and proving that light (and energy) traveled as particles (see Figure 2).

2-slotphotonmonitor

What they discovered was that the photon seemed to travel in a wave-like pattern until it passed the monitor. Once detected, the photon traveled as a particle until colliding with the back wall. This wave-to-particle motion became known as probability waves. That is, photons (and all sub-atomic and atomic particles—all energy) create waves of probabilities until a determination is made.

Once that determination is made, they select one of the probabilities and make it a reality. If the photon is detected, it selects the probability of this reality and the path on which it was detected. If the photon is not detected, then it is free to select this reality or any other. So, until a choice is made, all possibilities exist. However, even though a decision is made, the other possibilities don’t just go away, they also become reality, just not in our world.

Can you understand why I find this so fascinating? Basically, quantum physics is expressing the philosophy of choice (albeit in a manner more acceptable to those who are more logic and mathematically based).

For example, let’s go back to the photon. We release a photon and it’s traveling in a wave-like way. We decide to detect it, so now it exists in our reality, but the other wave (the one not being detected) doesn’t just fade away, after all, energy doesn’t disappear, it merely takes on another form. (Energy is a constant.) Instead, the remaining wave(s) simply enters a reality where the photon wasn’t detected. By following this idea, we see a more balanced reality, a more balanced world. It also fits with the basic principal of an equal, and opposite reaction. If we chose not to detect the photon, then the photon would no longer exist in our reality, but would, instead, be in a reality where it was detected.

So, every time you make a choice, that unselected choice doesn’t simply fade away, it becomes a separate bubble of reality, a separate and opposing energy loop. It may only last for a moment, or it may last for many years, creating its own branches and its own parallel realities, it all depends on the size of the choice. If the choice is something small with little impact on your life and your world, then the bubble will most likely be small and may resolve itself quickly, returning back to the originator of the probability wave (you). On the other hand, if it’s something large, with a lot of impact on your life, then it may last decades (perhaps even the entire life).

Let’s say you decide to watch a televised sitcom instead of reading a book one night. That’s not a big choice, and may have very little impact on your life. Therefore, this little bubble wherein you read your book instead of watching the sitcom, may only last for the night, or for a couple of days, before merging back into your reality. Now let’s say that your fiancé just asked you to marry him. That’s a choice that will make a large impact on your life. In this case, whichever choice you don’t take, will most likely endure throughout the entire life of the alternate you.

If you decide to marry, then your alternate is going to say no. This alternate life then will be far different than the one you will be living, and the two may not merge until one or both of you die.

Because of the impact of this decision, each alternate reality will continue to create other alternates with the various decisions that come up. The reality where you married may bring choices of kids or no kids, career choices, and others, while the reality where you didn’t marry, may bring other marriage proposals, other opportunities perhaps to travel, or for career. Each of these will result in a large impact, which will result in even more alternates.

Whew, confusing isn’t it, trying to imagine all those realities? But as you try to wrap your mind around it, can you see how this fits with the concept of imbalance seeking to restore itself to balance?

The concept of imbalance seeking to become balanced isn’t new, and it isn’t just from the philosophy of choice. Scientists have talked about it for a long time, and this simply adds another rock to the foundation of its truth.

If a choice results in a probability wave containing two options, and only one is selected, then if that second option simply fades away, it would make our world very imbalanced. But, if another reality were created in which that option also became a reality (the rules of duality applying here), then that would create a balance between both of our worlds/realities. And when the two realities merged back together, that would simply consolidate the balance into one source again.

According to both science and philosophy, no energy is lost, no decision is left unexperienced, because all possibilities exist Somewhere.

It’s fascinating reading some of these books on quantum physics and realizing just how much they echo some of the more current philosophies and metaphysical ideas of our times.

 

Sorry…no kooky cats

I got lost in the wilds of YouTube the other day. It’s a crazy place out there. Lots of strangeness, craziness, and things that should be none-of-your-bizness but people put it out there for the world at large to see, anyway.

When I finally wandered back to my own little corner of the world, hours (nearly a whole day) had passed. And yet nothing had been accomplished (although, I did admire several hilarious cat videos). It’s amazing how such small bits of no-purpose videos can suck you in.

At first, I was glad to simply escape with my life and my sanity. But after a little thought (very little, actually), I decided that maybe I should throw some of my own hey-look-I’m-on-YouTube-too videos out there. Unfortunately, without any crazy cats or other cute animals (well…except for my husband, who is adorable and fluffy) I didn’t know what I could share.

Then my BFF reminded me that I have books. Books that I’m actually trying to encourage people to buy. “…but what has that got to do with crazy old lady or kooky cat videos?” I asked her. Oddly enough, it seems that you can create videos even if all you have is words. Isn’t that something? Who would have thought it?

So, here it is…my own attempt at a YouTube video (I promise, next time I’ll find a crazy old lady or a kooky cat ; )