Non-Imaginary Friends

A man I befriended in 2005 taught me a lot of things. Chios Energy Healing was one of them, as I blogged about last week. That was a little weird for me, and I wasn’t sure it would work, but it was a lot easier to accept than channeling.

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had imaginary friends–except that when I was small, before I learned to be careful of what I said to whom, I was adamant that they were NOT imaginary. They were just invisible. I gave them names that made sense to me as a little kid; since I wasn’t necessarily good with names at age two or three, the first two were named Big John and Little John. By the time I was 8 or 9, my invisible friends numbered somewhere around 40. By then, I’d learned that they had to be imaginary–either that or I was crazy and needed to be locked up. I’d learned it upset my parents if I mentioned them, and I got bullied if any of my peers found out. (I got bullied for many other things as well, but I figured if I could cut at least one thing, maybe the bullying would decrease.)

I read parenting articles constantly as a child, because parenting me effectively and nonabusively was largely left to me. Some of those articles mentioned that imaginary friends were perfectly normal for young children, especially children like me with no siblings, few friends, and huge imaginations, and that those imaginary friends were usually outgrown well before junior high school.

I didn’t outgrow mine. That scared me; maybe I really *was* crazy. Most of them went away; by junior high, only three or four remained. But they were definitely still there, and they knew a lot more than I did. They told me things I had no way of knowing but was able to confirm were correct. They guided me through the extreme emotional lows and traumas I experienced, and at times literally kept me alive. And even though I knew it probably meant I was crazy, I continued talking to them, because most of the time I had no one else. Despite the fear that someone would find out about them and lock me up, I also found their presence comforting.

Fast-forward to 2005/early 2006, when my friend started teaching me about energy healing and channeling. Channeling, he told me, was the ability to connect to higher-vibration beings such as beings of light or spirit guides, who could offer advice and support from a broader perspective. He had a guide with whom he spoke fairly often, who helped him with his writing projects and whom he channeled verbally for others. He offered me a session.

That scared me. A lot of things about this friend scared me, to be honest. Even though he was an extremely gentle man who would never have harmed anyone intentionally, he talked about things like beings of light and channeling as though they were completely normal, which was the total opposite of what I’d been taught as a child. And somewhere inside, I knew that his skills could help me, and I was afraid to accept that help.

But I accepted the offer of a channeling session, partly because I was curious and partly at the urging of my “imaginary” friends.

During that first channeling session, I was excruciatingly uncomfortable. I was afraid to talk to my friend’s guide; I was afraid of the guide, even though I could sense that he was nothing but benevolent. I wasn’t used to benevolence. Also, his energetic vibration was far higher than mine, and higher than that of my friend (beings’ vibrations are generally higher than those of humans), and that caused some physical discomfort for me. Over the year or so after this that the friendship continued, I never became more comfortable having a channeling session, though I at least became less afraid.

But I also realized my imaginary friends were not imaginary after all, something I’d suspected all along but hadn’t dared to acknowledge once I got “too old” to have imaginary friends in the first place. I realized there were reasons they knew things I had no way of knowing, and that they’d helped me navigate my life and stay alive as long as they had.

And, as with Chios, I realized this was a skill I could learn and use to help others.

At the time of the first channeling session, I didn’t know who my primary guide (the one who helped me the most and whom I would channel) was. That being had been unable to work with me directly for a number of years because trauma, bullying, and some of my own poor choices had lowered my energetic vibration to the point that his presence would have been harmful to me. In fact, when I first met my friend, my vibration was too low for me to tolerate the presence of his guide either; although I didn’t know it, the Chios sessions I’d had, other techniques my friend had taught me, and the friendship itself, had helped me raise my vibration to a level high enough for my friend’s guide’s presence and my own guide’s presence to be safe for me.

I learned to work with my friend’s guide through our sessions, and he helped connect me with and relearn how to work with my own guide, a being of light called Shiva. And as with Chios, I began offering this to others in the hope of helping people work through and work beyond things similar to what I’d been through.

What Will People Think?

I used to create stories constantly. Before I even learned how to write, I made up stories to tell to people, on the occasions when I could get people to listen. Then I learned how to make those funny little squiggles people call “letters” and started putting my stories on paper.

Big mistake. Kids at school saw my stories and made fun of them. One of my worst memories–which, given the amount of bullying I experienced, either means it’s really bad or I’ve blocked out the really bad stuff–is of leaving my notebook on the bleachers when I was the manager for my school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball team. The coach had asked me to go get something, so I set down my notebook and left the gym. When I returned, the entire team–including the coach–was gathered around as one of them read out loud from my notebook. All of them were laughing, and when they saw me, they started hurling insults at me.

(Remembering this does not mean I need to heal from it, by the way. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting something from the past, it means choosing not to be affected by it. I admit I still feel angry when I think about it, especially toward the coach, who as an adult should have put a stop to the bullying instead of joining in. But it’s the same anger I would feel toward anyone who bullied any child, and it didn’t cause me to stop writing.)

I used to talk to trees, believe in magic, and play massive games of let’s pretend where I was the only one pretending and the people and things my imagination created seemed more real than “real” life. Sometimes I tried to talk about those things, especially as a young child. Reactions ranged from “That’s nice, leave me alone,” to “Don’t talk about those things or people will think you’re crazy and will lock you up.”

No one ever locked me up, probably because I learned to stop talking about those things.

One of the most difficult things for me in my business has been overcoming the mental blocks against “talking about those things.” I’m a witch who practices energy healing and channeling. None of those are particularly mainstream. All are things that in certain corners can get people “locked up,” or insulted, or called crazy. Being a witch, not as much, because it is a spiritual path that’s become better known over the years, though there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. But energy healing, to a lot of people, is “weird,” and channeling is just plain not something a lot of people understand.

Those are things I do. They’re skills I learned, not just something random that happened or that I made up. It is hard for me, though, to tell people about them. When I signed on with a business coach several months ago, at first I didn’t want to admit to the other women in the coaching group that I channel. Even telling them I do energy healing wasn’t easy, though some of them do other modalities like Reiki or EFT, so it at least wasn’t quite as “out there” as it is to some people. But it was scary to admit anyway.

Even when you’ve healed from specific hurts, sometimes the fears and blocks your mind sets up to “protect” you stay in place, and you might not even realize it until you start trying to figure out why something isn’t working the way you’d like, or why you sit in a corner at a networking meeting and just kind of smile and say hello to people. You don’t understand why you’re hiding, until you intentionally and consciously start connecting the dots. Even healed wounds don’t vanish entirely; they can leave scars. And sometimes those scars are hidden so well you don’t know they’re there.

I’m getting better about talking about what I do, though I admit I’m still hesitant to mention channeling since it’s the easiest for people to misinterpret and the hardest for me to explain. But still, if I feel that someone is open to at least hearing about it, I do bring it up. It’s a learning curve and a healing process, but I’m getting there.

What are you afraid to tell people about yourself? What do you do, or dream of doing, that you believe other people might react poorly to? How would it feel to tell just one person?

Give it a try, if you can. And if you want support around it, email me at kim@riverflowhealing.com and we’ll talk about how I might be able to help.

Channeling for Myself

In 2006, my mentor taught me how to channel, after first explaining the concepts of guides and channeling and helping me, with the aid of his own guide, reconnect with my primary guide Shiva. That was when I started channeling for other people, beginning with my mentor and moving to regular channeling sessions at a store in Portland, Maine.

But I’d been working with my guides most of my life, unknowingly. As a child, I thought of them as invisible (never “imaginary”) friends who told me how to stay out of danger, helped me navigate my life, and even occasionally helped me with homework. On one memorable occasion, one of them helped me with a test in my 11th-grade Algebra 2 class. Although I hadn’t understood the material in the chapter at all, and had gotten D’s and F’s on every assignment, with my guide talking me through solving the problems on the test, I got a B+.

After the age of four or so, I wasn’t able to work directly with Shiva for a number of years. Due to traumatic events in my life, my energetic vibration plummeted to the point where Shiva’s high vibration would have been painful and possibly dangerous for me. He never left. He just “backed off,” so to speak, and relayed things to me through one of my spirit guides, whose lower vibration was safer for me.

Once I was able to reconnect with Shiva at the age of 35, we started working together directly again. Since then, he has guided me through a lot of difficult times in my life. I’ve had to learn to ask for help from him and my other guides, because growing up I was taught to never ask for help from anyone, but when I ask, they give. Shiva generally won’t give me information or support unless I ask, but he will sometimes say, “I think you need help with this, but you have to ask for it.” And occasionally if I’m questioning something, he’ll answer even if I don’t address the question to him specifically.

I’m a lot better at asking for help than I was years ago, but that doesn’t mean I always listen. Sometimes Shiva gives me suggestions or advice that I don’t want to hear. Not because I didn’t ask for it, but because I’m afraid to take the action he suggests, or I know he’s right and that pisses me off. Eventually, once I process what he’s said and sometimes discuss it with him further, I do follow through, and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Ultimately, my life is up to me. But it’s incredibly comforting to know I’m not alone as I try to live the best possible life. I have love and support. I have a source of wisdom and knowledge that I can access any time I happen to think of saying, “Hey, Shiva, I have a question.”

Channeling isn’t something I only do for others, though I’m very happy to do so when someone approaches me for a channeling session. It’s something I do for myself as well, and I’m thankful to have the option.

Who Are My Guides?

I’ve been connected with my guides (beings who work with me to help me find my way through my life and experiences) since I was a very young child. I’ve been told that it’s rare for someone to connect with their guides as early as I did. In my case, it was because the humans around me were either overtly dangerous to me, or those who were intended to protect me chose not to. I needed help and protection, and so subconsciously or unconsciously reached out for those things.

I was very fortunate. Many people who open to channeling and to their guides are permeable, which means that any being who chooses can connect to and communicate with them. Sometimes that results in them connecting with beings who are not what they claim to be, and do not have the person’s best interests at heart.

In my case, the beings who responded to my call were my genuine guides, and they put protective measures into place to prevent other beings from connecting with me. This makes me an impermeable channel, since only my own guides can connect with me unless I request otherwise, or another being receives consent from me and from my primary guide.

My earliest memory of my guides comes from when I was about three. Two of them manifested to me as “people” whom I called Big John and Little John. (Hey, I was three. Names weren’t my strong suit.) My parents called Big John and Little John my “imaginary friends.” I was very adamant in correcting them; my friends weren’t imaginary, they were just invisible.

Big John and Little John, whom I now know as Dominic and Blake (though they’ve given me other names to use for them over the years), are spirit guides. Once, they were human, but they completed the incarnations they needed in order to learn what their souls had come to learn. They stopped incarnating and instead took on the role of guides. Dominic and I knew each other in one of my past lives, which was his final lifetime as human, several hundred years ago. Blake hasn’t been quite as forthcoming with why he’s chosen to work with me.

When I was about four, “Jesus” came to play with me quite a bit. This wasn’t the Christian Jesus, nor was it the being some know as an ascended master. Nor, for that matter, is Jesus one of the names this being generally uses. I was brought up in a nominally Christian household. A being with extremely high energetic vibration, who manifested as protective, safe, and loving, wasn’t something I could conceive of outside the “Jesus” I’d learned about in church.

That being, who I now know as Shiva, though again he’s had other names, is my primary guide. He’s a being of light, which is one of the highest-vibration beings among those who choose to work with humans, and he’s the guide I channel.

Some pretty horrible things happened to me as a child. Although my guides protected me to the extent they were able, free will plays a role in beings’ dealings with humans. My soul chose certain lessons to learn and patterns to address in this lifetime, and certain events occurred because of those soul-level choices. Since I was unaware of these choices on a conscious level, I wasn’t able to ask my guides to help or protect me from the events, and without that request, they could only be with me, support me, and try to ensure that I survived. At times, they advised me on courses of action that might prevent trauma, but if I chose not to listen, they couldn’t do much else.

With each subsequent traumatic event, my energetic vibration decreased. In order to work with a being of light, a human has to have a proportionately high vibration. By the time I was seven or eight, my vibration was too low for Shiva to work with me safely. He never left, but he “stepped back” and observed and protected me from a distance, figuratively speaking, so his vibration wouldn’t become painful for me or cause me harm.

For nearly thirty years after that, I remained connected to and communicated with my other guides, often wondering why what I’d come to believe were imaginary friends (because that’s what I was told by everyone around me) didn’t disappear as I “outgrew” them. Then, around 2005, I became friends with a man who channeled; he was also the one who taught me Chios Energy Healing. Through channeling sessions with him and his guide, I learned techniques for raising my vibration, and his guide, working in concert with Shiva, restored the connection Shiva and I had had when I was a child.

It took work for me to believe I was “worthy” of channeling a being of light, and to be honest, sometimes I still struggle with that lack of belief in my worth. But he is my guide, though I’m not the only human with whom he works directly, and I did learn to channel him.

Beginning on June 3, Shiva and I will be offering relayed channeling and trance channeling services. We did this together over a decade ago, but then life, including raising my children, got in the way of my practices. I’m thrilled to be able to offer it again.

How I Learned Chios

As a child, I was very clumsy. I didn’t have much body awareness, so I constantly walked into things, or tripped and fell. I have scars on my knees because I skinned them so often.

Cuts and bruises hurt, obviously. But when I was four or five, I realized that if I put my hand over a cut or bruise, my hand got warm and the injury didn’t hurt as much. It also usually healed faster.

The adults around me told me that was just my imagination, so, as with a number of other things, I pushed it away. I didn’t want people to think I was weird or crazy, and I definitely didn’t want to annoy my parents. Besides, adults were the ones telling me the warm hand thing wasn’t really happening, and when you’re a child, you pretty much believe adults know everything.

When I was about 35, I became friends with someone who practiced yoga, Chios energy healing, and channeling. Over time, he started sharing these things with me. The first time he did a Chios session with me, I had some pretty intense results, and I decided to start learning Chioswith my friend as my instructor.

In Chios, one of the first things you learn to do is call in the energy, which means opening yourself as a conduit for the healing energy to flow through. You don’t use your own energy to heal others; you allow universal energy to go through you into the people you work with. My friend warned me, and I’d seen for myself, that when that energy flows, it brings heat with it. What I didn’t expect was that one of the first times I called in the energy, my hands got so hot that the wedding ring I had at the time left a burn mark on my finger!

That was when I started remembering the warm hand thing from when I was a child. It hadn’t been my imagination after all. It was energy healing.

As I went on learning Chios, I didn’t feel like I was gaining new knowledge. It felt a lot more like someone was reminding me of things I’d already known but had forgotten. Regaining that knowledge was exciting, and so was seeing the results I was able to bring the people who let me practice on them while I was learning.

I don’t know whether Chios, or something similar, was something I learned in a past life, or just instinctive knowledge I’d had as a child until I let the adults around me convince me to shut it away. But I definitely feel like it’s natural for me. And I still get excited when clients tell me what they experience during and after healing sessions. That’s why I started River Flow Healing, so I could bring Chios to others.

How I Started Writing

 When I was very young, I made up stories that I acted out with my dolls and stuffed animals. Sometimes I shared those stories with my parents; more often, I just kept them to myself. I lived in a very elaborate imaginary world, populated by imaginary people who sometimes seemed more real than the people I knew. I learned to read early, and I was determined that someday, my stories would be in books like the ones I read.

When I got a bit older, I learned how to make those little squiggles called “letters,” and that unlocked a whole new dimension for my stories. I could put them on paper and keep them to read later! Not only that, but I could share them with more people! The first story I remember writing, when I was five, was about a girl named Maria who went to live with her uncle. I wish I still had that story, but alas, it was lost to a flooded basement when I was eight or nine.

In kindergarten, I had a wonderful teacher who allowed me to read books from the classroom library and draw pictures about the stories as part of my reading curriculum. One day, I wrote my own story based on a picture I’d drawn, and she began encouraging me to write more stories. It was the first time an adult had told me my stories were good and had acted like they were something to be proud of.

So basically, I’ve been creating stories my entire life, and I’ve been writing them down since I learned how. Obviously I haven’t been published that entire time. My first published work, a phonics-based reading comprehension program, came out in 2002 (and 16 years later is still available!), and my first novella came out in 2009 (and is no longer available). But as a child and teen, I wrote dozens of stories, some novel-length, many of which I still have. They aren’t as good as I thought they were back then, but I’m still proud of them. Especially since I wrote them all longhand…computers weren’t available to me back then!

Thoughts on “Play”

Playing is a normal part of childhood, and it’s a big part of how children learn about the world. Whether it’s make-believe in which they pretend to be a parent, or playing a board game in which they have to follow rules and take turns, or sitting down with crayons and paper and creating whatever comes to mind, playing is important as a child.

It’s important as an adult, too, but we don’t always see that. For me, “play” was usually something I did alone as a child. I created elaborate worlds and used my dolls to act out roles in stories I wanted to write. Sometimes my dad played board games or card games with me, and very occasionally I had a classmate who was willing to be friends for a while. But mostly, play was a solitary activity for me.

As I got older, I learned that play wasn’t a good thing. I should do my homework, try to get good grades so I could get into a good college, clean the house, etc., instead of playing “make-believe” games that I was supposedly too old for. I learned that I couldn’t draw or color well, so I shouldn’t even try. About the only thing I continued with as far as playing were the stories I created.

Then I became an adult, and other things were more important. Things like making money. If I wasn’t earning anything from an activity, it was a waste of time.

That was the downfall for me with writing. I started earning money with it, but didn’t earn enough. It became a waste of time because it was something I was doing instead of working a “real” job. And I’d already long since lost touch with the playful side of myself, to the point where I didn’t usually even play with my own children, I just watched them.

I didn’t only lose play. I lost joy.

Playing as an adult isn’t a waste of time, though. It’s part of self-care. Whether it’s playing board games with your kids, or mucking around with markers or paints, anything that brings you joy and creativity helps to recharge and relax you.

That’s something I’m trying to shift my mindset about, and it isn’t always easy. I take things too seriously sometimes, and I have a lot of years of “don’t waste time, earn money” to get past. “I don’t know how to play and shouldn’t anyway” has become an ingrained part of the story I tell myself, and it isn’t as easy to rewrite as I would like.

But I definitely want more joy in my life, so I’m trying.

Childhood Dreams

 Most children have the power to dream. And some of those dreams are pretty elaborate. Dreams of who they are, and of who they want to be when they’re older.

Some are fortunate enough to have parents or others who encourage those dreams, no matter how improbable they seem. (How many people actually get to slay real dragons?) But many times, well-meaning adults tell children, “That’s just a silly dream. You can’t really become that. Why don’t you be a (fill in the blank) instead?”

In my opinion, dreaming is a way for children to explore the world. Having daydreams about their future lives helps them learn to believe in themselves and in the probable and improbable. So what if dragons don’t really exist? A child who wants to slay dragons might become an adult who, as a lawyer, helps imprison criminals who hurt children. Not a literal slaying of a dragon, but definitely the ending of something harmful.

Some of the dreams that adults say are too unrealistic are completely realistic with work and belief. Becoming an actor, a musician, a writer… any of those are things that a child could easily become if they take the time to learn the craft, and are willing to put in the time it takes to build a career. They aren’t the “traditional” ways of earning a living, but that isn’t a reason to discourage a child from them. It’s a reason to help them find ways to make it happen.

Instead of discouraging children from their dreams, it would be wonderful if adults encouraged them. Even the unlikely ones. Let children reach their own conclusions about whether they can actually fulfill those dreams, instead of telling them they can’t.

Family Acceptance

At this time of year, many people spend time with family members they might rarely see the rest of the year. That can be good, but there are times when it’s easy to remember *why* you don’t see them often. They question every choice you’ve made in your life. Argue with you about right and wrong. Judge you for not living your life exactly the way they live theirs.

And unfortunately, some people’s families are so judgmental that they don’t see them at all.

Being around family, or being reminded that everyone else is with family while you aren’t able to be, isn’t easy. Even if you have a life with which you’re happy most of the time, hearing your family’s opinions of it can cause you to doubt and question the way you live. Some family members also have a knack for making you feel like you’re ten years old again, and they treat you accordingly.

If your family doesn’t welcome you at the holidays, that too can lead you to doubt yourself. You might feel as if they would love you if you just lived/acted/loved the way they want you to, and might think there’s something wrong with you for not falling in line with what they seem to want.

Whatever your holiday situation is, and whomever you’re spending it with, practice accepting yourself this holiday season. If family members judge or question you, face it with acceptance. You are valid and lovable as you are, and it isn’t your fault that some people choose to place conditions on their love. At the same time, you can’t change who and how they are, so even when it hurts, try to accept that it’s something about *them*, not you, and that they don’t define who you are or should be.

I wish everyone the best of the remainder of the holiday season.