Spirituality

By Valerie Dziengiel

The Spiritual Side of Death

Although I have always been intrigued by the paranormal, due to extenuating circumstances which began in my youth, I found myself wondering whether contact with spirits was at all possible. 

Due to the loss of my loving husband of 43 years, who died five years ago; the death of my elderly mother two years later; and, most recently, the untimely death of my daughter, our only child, who died on May 1st of this year as the result of a 5 year battle with metastatic breast cancer, I have been no stranger to the human experience known as grief. As a matter of fact, since both my daughter and my husband endured similar terminal illnesses, wherein I helped them both by being a caretaker during their journey through death, I eventually came to terms with the responsibilities associated therewith. In time, I began to consider myself to be one of God’s designated survivors in what I contemplate to be His plan for my existence; wherein I imagine certain souls are called upon to help others through their passage to death; which I can most certainly attest is no easy challenge.

As a consequence of these particular deaths, along with the resulting supernatural experiences I encountered thereafter, I have come to accept as fact my religious belief that for many, the spirit lives on peacefully; hopefully, in a heavenly realm where someday all of our souls will reunite and dwell within. Actually, in some ways, it is this distinct speculation that has added to my ability to heal from my own losses, as I have learned to cope with grief.

If you are interested, you will need to read my book to learn of the many paranormal encounters I have experienced in my life, especially those that occurred after my husband’s death, for it will take more than a blog to explain the statements I made in my book synopsis: “There is life after death. I have seen and felt its presence.”

As a consequence of my own experiences, I have no doubt that a spirit can make contact with whomever it chooses. The problem is that although spirits may set forth their best effort to provide evidence that they survived their death and now exist in a new spiritual form unknown to our human psyche, in many circumstances each spirit’s survivor(s) has no clue that their departed loved one is desperately trying to make their presence known.  In fact, some people may think it is absurd that our spirit would want to stick around, especially if faced with a choice between dwelling in heaven or on earth.

My response would be that death does not destroy the love we have for one another. I believe it merely puts our relationships on hold until we are reunited with both family and friends once we complete our own journey here on earth. I have even found it useful to contemplate that the soul of my loved ones are on an extended vacation until such time when we are meant to be reunited again.

As a result of my own experience that I encountered at the time of my husband’s death, I came to the conclusion that my husband’s spirit choose to share his existence between his spiritual realm and mine. Although paranormal activities were not a 24/7 occurrence, there were definite reasons that I considered his essence to be present in our home. In fact, sometimes I wondered if he actually stayed to allow me time to slowly acclimate to my loss; or, maybe his soul was just as heartbroken as mine, and he needed time to overcome his grief as well.

So, if you are interested, let me make a list of some unremarkable signs (which can easily be ignored as commonplace everyday activities) that I believe are ways a spirit may try to let you know they are thinking of you.

Is This a Sign?~

The flickering of overhead lights, light bulbs that blow out at unprecedented numbers, computer or iPhone interference such as the temporary lack of cursor control, or unexpected images that may appear on a computer screen device that remind you of your loved one are good examples of what I would consider to be spiritual interactions from the other side.

Some people find comfort in the thought that their loved one(s) may be near whenever a butterfly or dragonfly passes them by, or when an unexpected penny or dime appears.

Dreams

Dreams are one of my favorite forms of communication. Often they tell a story. The secret is to keep pen and paper next to your bed and take the time to write them down, so that you don’t forget them.

Of course, dreams are always subject to our own evaluation.

I read a book written by an author who discussed his interpretation of the complexity of a spirit’s ability to create a dream based upon the spirit’s capacity or skills, or its desire to convey a specific type of message. I can’t remember the name of the book, but I certainly remember the author’s message.

The author stated that the simplest form by which a spirit can make its presence known in a dream is to drop into a dream that your mind has already created. In other words, you may be dreaming about being at a play, a dance, a dinner, etc., when suddenly you see or sense an impression of your loved one. The author indicated that this type of dream took the least amount of energy/effort/ability for the spirit to fabricate.

The author goes on to say that it gets more complicated for a spirit to create a full story line or script in the form of a dream. The author implied that under these circumstances, he believed that the spirit would need to expend a lot of energy in order to gets a complicated message across. I guess I would say that this type of dream could be considered a short version of a movie script which, in my experience, always take place in various unfamiliar locations, as opposed to a vision which always takes place with the background setting of my room.

Personally, I have encountered both types of dreams, including many occasions during which I have only experienced an awareness of my husband’s presence, meaning that I do not actually see his face.

Additionally, some of my dreams have been so realistic that when I wake up I feel as thought my awake time is my dream, and my dream time is actually my true reality. In fact, it sometimes take a few minutes for my mind to distinguish between the two.

My perception of these events often reminds me of a similarity to real life imagery of such things as flowers, meadows, people’s faces, or even the clothing that they wear. What is different in my dreams or visions is the vibrancy of color, especially in my ability to experience a richness of the details of the delicate objects or forms that I may see.  For example, the beauty I embrace while viewing various shades of colors of delicate flowers in a garden in real time cannot compare to the magnificent, exquisite beauty I am able to comprehend in my mind’s eye in these diverse stages of consciousness.

From my experience, dreams give me comfort that all is well on the other side. As a backdrop to a particular vision I experienced, let me first explain that my daughter’s husband and I took care of her, around the clock, for the last eleven months of her life since she was confined to their home except for doctor or hospital treatments as she battled the final stages of her breast cancer which had metastasized throughout her body. During her final seven weeks on this earth, she entered Hospice care and had become so weak that she could no longer support or lift herself up in bed. In addition, she could no longer swallow and would cough or choke as she tried to clear her throat. Therefore, when I would help out during the daytime, I would stand in front of her as she lay in bed, and she would extend her hands up towards me, palms down, in order to allow me to pull her up so that she could try to clear her throat. A week after my daughter’s death, I had a vision. While asleep in bed one night, I awoke to see two delicate hands that appeared before me with both palms facing down. It is important to note that this time I was the one laying down in bed, and the hands were extending down from above me, with what I interpreted to be a specific intention to help me. I truly believe this experience was a message from my daughter that she was OK; and now, it was her purpose to help me through my grief.

This is just one of the many dreams/visions that I have had the pleasure to experience. There are many people I have met since writing my book who have told me of their own circumstances that involved visitations from their loved ones through dreams or visions as well, and the comfort that it brought them.

All I can say is that it doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind to the concept that there is more to a dream than meets the eye.

Aromas ~

Another one of my favorite forms of communication are aromas.

Occasionally, I experience whiffs of delicate perfumed fragrances, mostly of roses, that provide me with healing thoughts from those to whom I pray; as well as occasionally detecting the distinct ambiance of pipe smoking, or the scent of a cigar, that will instantly invoke the thought of my husband’s presence into my mind.

Orbs ~

Orbs are interesting manifestations of light, that some people in paranormal circles believe to be spiritual in nature. 

Most often, they are only seen in pictures, similar to the circles depicted in the photo on the side.

I have actually witnessed many white, as well as colored orbs of different shapes and sizes. 

In Chapter 26 of my book, I describe an encounter I had experienced with a small white orb that appeared to me to have emitted a form of intelligence that was delightful and intriguing as well.

A  Formidable Supernatural Vision I Have Experienced ~

This is an excellent example of a depiction of an apparition I actually witnessed when I awoke from my sleep, three months after my husband had died.  Quoting from my book, I will relate the experience: 

“The unearthly apparition stood a little over 6 ft. tall, my husband’s approximate height.  It appeared to have the outline of a head, set on the shoulders of a body, with arms draping straight down alongside its indiscernible form.  No neck was visible, nor were the arms distinguishable from the chest, although the rounded appearance of a person’s upper shoulders was evident.  Despite the fact the supernatural figure looked humanlike, it had no obvious facial features or defining characteristics that I could describe.  This time, instead of the smoky consistency which usually enveloped my room, the spirit’s form was dark in color and solid looking, while the atmosphere around its presence was clear.

As unbelievable as it may sound, I was not afraid . . .  for at the time, I believed that I was observing my husband’s spirit, shrouded, in a standing position, as though he watched me as I slept.”

This event was the longest paranormal experience I have ever encountered.  As inconceivable as this may sound, I recall the phenomenon as being a loving engagement between his spirit and mine.

My Conclusion ~

It is not my intention to move the needle in one direction or the other when it comes to understanding the mystery of what happens to our spirit when we die.

Although I do believe that many of the “signs” I characterize may represent a plausible form of communication from the spiritual realm that many bereaved family members desperately seek, I accept the fact that my psychic experiences may be unacceptable to those who need more proof than the limited controversial events I have described.

Yet, on the other hand, there are those who have experienced dreams and apparitions similar to mine, who are convinced that they were touched by an interaction of the spiritual kind.

Since this controversy is as old as history itself, I only seek to offer an plausible explanation to those who wonder if their own experiences are real. 

All in all, I suggest that maybe you should take comfort in the fact that you are not alone if you have ever wondered whether you too have breached the veil of the world beyond.

WHO IS DRIVING YOUR BUS?

I received this article in an email awhile ago. Because I found it very inspiring, sometimes humorous as well, I wanted to pass it on for everyone to enjoy.  I do not know the author’s name, or else I would give credit for their work.

How often have you said to yourself, “I’d really like to find a fulfilling job, get fit and healthy, or get my financial act together” yet, after a few attempts you find yourself pulled off course. Whenever I hear someone listing out all the reasons why they can’t achieve their goals, the same thought pops into my head. “Who is driving your bus?”

It’s funny, because I flashed on that image of a bus for years before I paid attention to what it meant. When I took the time to think about it, I realized that my guides had put the bus in my head for a reason – to illustrate how we hand over the keys (our power) to other people, our own ego, and our past. The whole thing is a perfect analogy for the soul journey.

Let me explain . . . Imagine yourself navigating along life’s path. You’re driving a bus, and you have a destination in mind. Why a big cumbersome bus and not a cute little sports car? Because you’re not alone – you need lots of room for your guides, family, and the various people in your life. Your bus even has a compartment for baggage.

Do you see where I’m going here?  Some people stick with you for the whole trip, but like any bus, you will have stops along the way and passengers will get on and off. 

So, what’s the problem? What could possibly stop you from reaching your destination?  When you travel mindfully, allowing your higher self to set the course, odds are good that you’ll make steady progress in the right direction. That’s not to say that you won’t decide to take some interesting detours, stop to watch the sunset, and pick up some strawberries at a roadside stand.  Those experiences are part of your mindful journey, where you are fully present, and enjoying the ride.  However, there are some pitfalls (or potholes) to avoid and insights that will help you on your way.  Your route is beginning, so strap in and consider these suggestions:

  • Pick a destination based on your intuition – your soul’s voice. You’ve heard me say it a million times – what other people think of you is none of your business. Your soul knows why it’s here. Have complete faith in your inner voice and don’t be distracted by anyone else’s opinions and expectations, or the fear and insecurity that you’re carrying around.
  • There’s lots of competition for the driver’s seat, but always let your higher self take the wheel. When you find yourself taking a path that’s not true to your heart, that’s when you know ego is in the driver’s seat. Don’t let ego drive the bus – it will steer you off course because it’s vulnerable to fear and the judgment of others.
  • Be mindful of where you’re going, and don’t spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror. Remember, you can’t change the past  ~ any mistakes you’ve made are something to learn from, not a prediction of things to come.
  • You’ll know you’re on the right path when you feel the flow! When you’re moving in a direction that’s in harmony with your soul, you will feel peace in the knowledge that everything is happening exactly as it should. Obstacles won’t phase you a bit as you drive on, secure in the fact that you are fulfilling your true purpose.
  • Don’t let the baggage spill into the aisles. Learn from the past but don’t give it power over you.  Just as a bus has a dedicated area to store suitcases and bags, your spiritual bus has a safe place for emotional baggage; thoughts, beliefs, and fears that no longer serve you. Keep them there, and don’t let them interfere with your day to day journey.
  • Keep fear in its place. You might encounter dangers and challenges along the way, but don’t anticipate problems before they happen. Your thoughts have power, and you attract what you focus on. Most of what you fear isn’t real, anyway. In fact, I consider FEAR to be an acronym for False Ego Appearing Real. Most of the roadblocks you encounter can be overcome with compassion and love – the language of the soul. I have come up with an acronym for SOUL too; Source of Unconditional Love.

The best advice I can give you comes down to this.  To achieve your divine purpose in this lifetime, let your soul guide you.  Choose your path based on LOVE, not FEAR, and most of all, enjoy the ride. Happy travels!

THE NEW NORMAL

By Valerie Dziengiel

SOME TIME FOR ME:

It has been a while since I have written a blog post because I needed a break ~ some me time. 

Since it had taken about 3 1/2 years for me to write my book, I had burnout.  Therefore, once I published my book, instead of concentrating on writing, I decided to focus my attention on creating inspirational quotes, which I quickly discovered took up quite a bit of time to create.  After composing what I believed to be a motivational thought, I would spend hours on a stock photo website I subscribe to, in search of the perfect picture to download, into which I would insert my creative endeavor.   That being said, I soon realized that because I enjoyed the results of my efforts, I made it a point to generate one new post weekly, for my Facebook Fan Page, that I appropriately entitled Inspirational Monday. 

Afterwards, since I didn’t want all of my hard work to fade away into Facebook antiquity, I decided I will also post my creations on my webpage for posterity, under my blog heading, where I entitled the collection: “Inspirational Quotes by Valerie.” 

This became one of the many new enjoyable activities I employed, to keep me busy after my husband’s death.

BEFORE AND AFTER:

There was also a specific issue that I faced as a result of my new widowhood status which needed immediate attention at the time, that I wanted to share.  It was one of those unexpected problems I faced that I needed to solve if I wanted to develop harmony in place of the unruliness that had developed during my husband’s illness.

Before we knew my husband was sick, our oldest German shepherd at the time, who went by the endearing name of Whiskey, had recently died.  The loss of a pet is a very traumatic event, and since we lived on a very large piece of property, which hosted a large population of coyotes, it became apparent that we needed to replace Whiskey with another male German shepherd.  We had long ago learned that coyotes do not keep their distance from female shepherds with the same respect they have for males.   This meant we would need to find a new male puppy to replace our beloved Whiskey.

Whiskey and Me

The search for a new puppy was not an easy task, especially since we were heartbroken when Whiskey died.   He was just a one-of-a-kind dog, and although he was huge, he was a baby.   He was a long-coat German shepherd, and I guess you could say he was our favorite.

When the time came to search for a new puppy, my husband was in no rush; but I convinced him that in order to heal from our loss, we needed to bite the bullet and pick out a new member for our friendly pack of canines.  After all, we still had two female German shepherds who were in mourning from Whiskey’s loss as well; and it was a time-proven fact that even dogs benefited from a new replacement when a member of their clan had died.

It took a few weeks before I was able to find a local breeder who had a litter of puppies for sale.  After a few days of prodding, my husband agreed to go . . . at least to look at the prospects.   When we got to the farm where the dogs were bred, it turned out that the litter of nine were all males . . . little balls of energy running around the horse stable . . . to our delight.  As it turned out, seven of the pups were all black and two were tan; but one in particular stood out to me.  

On this occasion, for the first time during our search for a replacement puppy, my husband told me that since we were getting older he wanted me to choose a dog who would be my protector in the event anything ever happened to him.  This seemed to be an odd request to me, but I responded to my husband’s offer by singling out the one pup in the litter who seemed to bond with me by wrapping his paws around my arms, in a somewhat endearing manner. 

Although we had raised shepherds our whole life, I didn’t realize at the time that what I had interpreted as an act of affection was an expression of dominance that I would need to deal with at a later date.  Needless to say, the little black puppy stole my heart . . .  and since he wasn’t old enough to come home with us, we had to wait a few more weeks until he was weened from his mother and ready to start his new existence as a member of our family.

It was the fall of 2014, and while we waited for the time to pass before the pup would come home with us . . . now we needed to choose a name for our new addition.  My husband wanted a bold, masculine name that our puppy would grow into.  So, after running the gauntlet of manly choices, we settled on the name Rambo.   In retrospect, I would say be careful of what you wish for. 

Rambo’s first picture

On December 15, 2014, we picked up up our new puppy, who we named Rambo; and we brought him home.  Our two girls were receptive to the new addition, at least for the time being.  Time passed, winter turned into spring, and then the unthinkable happened . . . my husband ended up in the hospital, a terminal illness was diagnosed, and the rest is history.  

During the interim, between the time Rambo came home and my husband’s illness came to light, my husband took the alpha human position, and Rambo obediently followed his orders.

When my husband took ill, it was Rambo’s formative period.  It was during this time that Rambo, Dutchess and Brandy were pretty much left on their own accord to work things out, as the battle for top dog began to brew. 

It had been my experience, throughout our years of marriage, that our dogs had always accepted one human to the alpha position.  Since Rambo had joined our family prior to my husband’s illness, my husband’s experience in handling and training all of our dogs naturally led to his being the alpha human.

Although our dogs always loved me, they did not always listen to my commands.  Therefore, after my husband died, I found myself in a struggle to take control over our large male German shepherd who, at almost a year old, had decided he wanted to be in charge . . . no matter how I felt about the situation.

A FIGHT FOR DOMINANCE:

Rambo on the left – Dutchess on the Right

This picture of Rambo and Brandy was taken on January 16, 2016, three months after my husband had died.  In between the time of my husband’s death and the day I took this picture I had a conflict on my hands because I needed to become the head of the pack. 

By this time, Rambo was trying to take charge over the girls, and they weren’t happy about it. 

In the hierarchy of dogs, age counts when it comes to who will take control of the pack. But in the long run, a dog’s dominance is what counts the most.  Dutchess, who is sitting on the left in the snow (in the picture below), became the dominant female once Rambo (on the right) was introduced.  This put Brandy in limbo as Rambo matured.

Even though Whiskey had been the Alpha male up until his death, he was a very docile dog.  He didn’t command dominance.  Rambo, on the other hand, was the exact opposite and expressed dominance early on.  Because my husband became ill before Rambo was fully trained or neutered, my husband’s illness took precedent over everything else.  There simply wasn’t time for me to deal with an operation for Rambo, while I was taking care of my husband at home.  The lack of time to train Rambo during my husband’s illness, and the delay in his neutering process as well, had increased his hormonal tendencies which enhanced his dominant nature.

The first time I realized that the table had turned, and Rambo had taken charge, was shortly after my husband had died.  I had gone outside, where the dogs were relaxing on our outside covered porch.  When I began to cuddle them, to console my broken heart, Rambo became jealous and began to strut around with a dominant stance over the other two females.  If you raised shepherds, you will understand what I mean.  I wasn’t too concerned until he started to try to dominate me.  As I sat on the floor, he tried to tower over me; and he would not listen to my command to sit or lay down.  It was at that moment that I realized I didn’t have control over the situation . . . and our power-struggle of dominance began.

 It was when I tried to take a toy away from him and he growled at me, an act that should not have provoked such a negative response, that I knew the situation needed immediate attention; especially since I knew that I had a big dog on my hands.

TAKING BACK CONTROL:

I was on my own.  My husband was no longer there to make things right, so I decided that I had no choice but to react in a dominant manner that Rambo would understand.  Therefore, once I convinced Rambo to lay down, I proceeded to lay over him with my body, which instinctively indicated to him that I was the one in charge of the situation.  He immediately got the message and wasn’t happy about it.   Because he was strong enough to push me off, I had to repeat this ploy that day, and many days thereafter.  It was my intention to instill control through repetitive positive messaging.

Ultimately, that day was the day I started to take back control of the situation.

THE RESOLUTION:

Rambo grown up

To be honest, at first I was afraid that I would not be able to overcome this obstacle.   I worried that if I couldn’t train him to follow my commands, I might have to give him away to someone who could; therefore, failure was not an option.  I started reading books on the subject of dog handling.  Most of them said that by the time a dog reached his age, they would be difficult to train.  I understood that this process would be a challenge.

Working with Rambo became my passion.  I used patience, love . . . and treats of course . . . until we finally came to an understanding. 

To my relief, after much time and effort, he finally accepted me as his alpha human.  Eventually, he became the dog who loves and respects me . . .  just like my husband wanted.

The establishment of a strong bond with Rambo helped build my confidence since I discovered that I was capable of accomplishing such a difficult task on my own.  I believe that it is achievements like this that helps build our self-esteem.

THE NEW NORMAL:

Ultimately, my life has taken on many new normals.  I just listed a few in this blog, as an example of the simple ways I reconnected with life.  Sometimes my accomplishments were as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, in order to be able to move on.

Even though my endeavors were not a bonanza of new ideas, they provided a basis upon which I built up the courage to tackle life on my own.  The secret to success in life is to keep on trying, even when you feel the odds are stacked against you.

The most important suggestion I can make . . . to those of you whose life has been disrupted in an unimaginable way . . . is to create normalcy where chaos currently exists.