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What The Stars Say 2020- Seeing Things Clearly.

I have a wonderful friend and past student, Mark Alexander who is an amazing and talented Vedic astrologer. This week I asked him to look at the stars for us and give us an astrological look at what is going on with our planet and the times we are experiencing right now.

I want to share a little background info about the type of astrology he does. This is an ancient practice that has even used long before the western astrology that we have become accustomed too. I prefer Vedic astrology in my belief system and routinely use the tools for yoga and meditation. I even worked with my good friend Sarita who owns Tibet Imports here in Denver on my powerful line of Mala beads, each one for a different purpose.

What is Vedic Astrology?

In Sanskrit, the word Jyotish, translates to “science of light,” and refers to the profound and mathematically sophisticated form of astrology that originated in the ancient Vedic traditions of India, sometimes known as Vedic astrology.

Vedic astrology from what I understand, is a relatively new term to describe Hindu or Indian astrology, also known as jyotish. Like Western astrology, Vedic astrology is based on the belief that the planets and other heavenly bodies influence a person’s life. Vedic and Western astrology have some similarities, including the 12 signs of the zodiac but then they began to differ.

What Mark Alexander says about our outlook!

This is a brief overview from a Vedic astrologer’s perspective, which is a sideral system and based upon the fixed star system.  So, if any readers are oriented to a western analysis, this will differ by house and sign placement.   A note of interest for the analytically minded, think of the astrological (Vedic) sideral system as a literal astronomical interpretation, meaning, when you look up into the heavens at night and wonder where Venus is currently located, you will find her presently in the sign of Taurus, not Gemini, as Western Astrology will have her placed.  Reasons for which, calculations explaining this point are not something most people would be interested in.

A look ahead…

Over the next few months, we have several astrological transits taking place.   There are three planets currently in retrograde motion, Jupiter and Saturn in Capricorn and Venus in Taurus.   Remember, retrograde motion is a symbolic meaning of a planet’s characteristics being harnessed or pulled back in a sense from being fully expressed.

Venus in Retrograde

Venus, the planet of love, art, beauty and relationships is retrograde until June 25th, expressing potential delays in attracting a partner if that is what you’re wanting, or possibly feeling a bit sluggish or uninspired in the romantic department.   Maybe having a temporary feeling in work of artistic blasé for creative souls if that’s your forte, either way, this will not last too long as Venus is inherently strong in it’s own sign of Taurus, so no worries!  Once we come into July, Venus will be in full force with all her beauty and influence.

Jupiter in Retrograde

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system.   He represents expansion, wisdom, education and dharma(meaning ‘that which is just and honorable’).   The retrograde motion for him in the sign of Capricorn is challenging to say the least.   Capricorn is considered a weak location for Jupiter.  This can create a loss of awareness or lack in honesty, or making decisions that are not for our best self-interest, which incidentally will usually affect others in a negative way as well.

Point of interest, Jupiter’s current transit is moving him back into the sign of Sagittarius, which is a sign he rules, so it’s a good thing, but he will not actually be in Sag until Jun 30th where he’ll remain until November.   Think of it like you’re in your own house so to speak.   So, there’s an inherent level of comfort in this location, meaning Jupiter grows in strength and ability to express that which is naturally a part of himself; expansion, wisdom, education, dharma, business and employment and having an overall optimistic perspective about life.  

Jupiter also represents the husband in a woman’s chart, so if you’re interested in getting married, I’d recommend to WAIT while Jupiter resides in Capricorn.  Mid to end of July and August are ok, mid to end of September is good, including first two weekends of October could also be a good time for a wedding, but that’s about it for the rest of 2020. 

Summer and Fall regarding COVID

This summer and into fall, we should see “some” increase in business, our economy and lives in general coming back to a “sense” of normalcy, but please, understand taking precaution where caution is due is always a wise course of action.  Meaning, take care of yourself and your surroundings, as Jupiter’s retrograde motion may still have some challenging influence.   However also remember, Jupiter goes direct mid-September, meaning he will no longer be retrograde, the business world should likely experience better returns…at least for a few months.   But come election time, all bets are off, and we will begin to see other political challenges that I will cover shortly before that period of time arrives.

On to Saturn … our task master and teacher…

Saturn is also retrograde, however being located in his own sign of Capricorn is a good thing!   Saturn is all about discipline, focus, hard work and determination, but on the challenging side he can also represent loneliness, ill health and isolation, hmmm, interesting eh!  Also, he deals with mass consciousness, public influence and democratic processes.   

The planet Saturn in the Vedic Astrology tradition represents the common people or more accurately for America, the voting populace of the country.   A retrograde energy here will create a since of slow-moving political change, isolation and frustrations around the current virus issue not having a remedy or vaccine available.   Saturn will ultimately help with the creation of a vaccine, but it will take time.  Saturn never does anything fast, which stands to reason since he is one of the slowest moving planets of our solar system.   I’d say by mid-Fall we may have something available in that respect after Jupiter and Saturn are both direct.   A helpful point about Saturn I want to stress is that he does help us manifest that which we most want in life.  But its always after a period of focused attention and hard work!! 

A retrograde influence rarely creates something spur of the moment, that is in light of resolving an issue quickly.   The retrograde energy is much more like hunkering down and working hard to find a cure or resolution to a problem.   Once the retrograde planets of influence move direct, then you see the solution that resolves the problem.  

What is Mercury doing?

Currently, Mercury is direct…a good thing, but he will go retrograde in June for about three weeks; specifically, June 18 to July 12.   Retrograde Mercury takes place at least three times a year, so word to the wise, refrain from large purchase items, signing important contracts or initiating business deals.  Also, I would not recommend buying computers, new phones or other electronics during his retrograde event.   Wait until mid-July, otherwise you may be returning it.   Also, communication is challenged, be conscientious when speaking to others during a Mercury retrograde, if you are not certain as to what someone is trying to express, ask them politely to repeat it.

All bets are off!

Concerning my comment earlier regarding the ‘All bets are off’ come election time, there will be a couple of eclipses, Nov 30th and Dec 14 a lunar and solar eclipse.  These will take place in the sign of Taurus and Scorpio, respectively.  Briefly, the sign Taurus is the 6th house(representing health, debt, conflict), and Scorpio is the 12th house(loss, isolation, secrets) in the astrological chart of the United States.   This could represent serious political and behind the scenes contention and problems. A bit more than usual due to the fact that at that point in time, Jupiter will be back in its debilitated sign of Capricorn for another 6 months up to the beginning of April 2021.  Even though I’m referencing the birth chart of our nation, this can also represent to a degree, the overall health and well-being of the president or president elect.

On a spiritual note, remember not to buy into any fear around the Corona Virus.  I make it a point to meditate every day and I take precaution where I feel its appropriate and intuition guides me.  Obviously its only common sense to follow laws in this regard that are currently in place around the virus. Admittedly though, I find it rather funny to see people driving in their cars wearing a face mask…but that’s me😉    

Love, light and blessings to everyone.   

By Mark Alexander at Spiritofastrology.org

How Mark helped me.

I want to thank Mark for this very comprehensive look at what is happening and what we are facing in our near future. You must reach out to him if you would like a very detailed look at your birth chart. When Dana and I had our charts read by him it certainly changed our perpspective. He also predicted some health issues we would be facing and advised us to not only be careful but to be on the look out for what was coming. It helped us navigate the whole situation when it did happen, just like he predicted.


Deb Sheppard

The Significance of Doors-What is behind?

A few years ago, a good friend of mine, Amy helped me decorate a room with a high celling. I’ve always liked my décor to have a sense of uniqueness.  She had been holding on to this very old door for years.  Her family wanted her to get rid of it, but she knew she would find the right home for it. 

Well, she did! In my home! It hangs beautifully in my office and it is one of my most favorite pieces of art. As I sat in my office this week while I was working, I happened to look up and stare at this door. It made me think about the significance of doors and how it pertains to our lives.

I have clients who are struggling with what is next for them.  Many will come see me for guidance or because they have been going through a struggle and they need help with the knowledge of what the future holds and a promise of good things to come.

We normally make changes when our life seems to not be going in the direction we want.  It’s a wake-up call to our soul.  How we decide to change our course is up to us.  Following our heart and leaving the judgement of ourselves and others out of the equation.  However, that is always the dilemma.  We ask others what we should do when actually our soul knows.  Doors open at the right time for the right reasons when we investigate options. 

Recently, my oldest son has been trying to find his path and has tried several options, but it seemed the doors kept closing and he was frustrated thinking he had nothing to offer to change his circumstances.  Then a door opened.  A neighbor had shared with us about an opportunity as an air traffic controller. He had all that he needed to open that door.  It has been seamless in the last two weeks and the opportunity has been almost handed to him.  

Don’t push the doors open that are not the direction for your calling.  Keep knocking on the doors until one open’s without effort.  We can have multiple opportunities or just a few, but the path that’s right for you doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be there for you to knock.

If you want something, then certainly make the effort.  When I realized my abilities as a medium it wasn’t the door I was knocking on.  While going through a difficult time, I was told about the practice of Feng Shui.  I was told that by implementing Feng Shui into my life and home would change the energy and therefore help to open doors for me and my family.  I had no understanding of this culture but wanted to try something to make a difference in my situation.  While grasping this new concept, I thought wow I’m going to be a Feng Shui Consultant.  But that is not at all what happened, that wasn’t my destination even though I use it in my practice still today.  It wasn’t the only door for me.  I figured out I could feel the souls of loved ones who had crossed over.  I didn’t even know that mediums existed at the time.  I was in for a surprise and so was my family and friends and since I began this journey I have never looked back.

The point to me sharing this is to suggest that you never assume your destination, open all the doors and see where it leads you.  If you hold onto fear that means you don’t trust the universe and that you are unable to fulfill your calling.  Just do it! You can find the people that support you to go for it.  Allow the nay sayer’s to float on by.

Oh, one more thing about the door.  I just realized after years of this door hanging on my wall, it’s upside down. That tells me and you to look at things from different perspectives to find the key to opening your perfect door. 

Hello 2017! What You Need To Know.

Hello 2017! What You Need To Know.

By any chance was 2016 an unusual year? Did it seem as if everything around you was changing or coming to an end? Perhaps you had a career change, a relationship or two ended, maybe your living situation shifted. Did you find yourself getting rid of things you were no longer using that had just been gathering dust? Or, bigger yet, did you begin to modify the way you believe or felt about things in your life?
It was a big year for losses. Obviously, there were a lot of famous people who died, even some at young ages. I also saw this with many friends, family, and clients. Lets look at our political situation where many felt a sense of loss. If you voted for Trump and felt excited, there was also a sense of change without the actual ability to trust what may be ahead. For many, it felt as if we were going backward in our culture of racism, freedoms, and the rights that many had worked to change.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to share my insights after I meditated on our upcoming year. Three things were shown to me; The butterfly, the Visionary and the number 1. What does all of this mean to you?
If you are unfamiliar with Numerology, it is the culture that uses numbers to describe energy. Every number has a vibration or concept to its science. Numbers are added together to be reduced to the numbers of 1 through 9, except for 11 and 22. A brief description is to add a sequence of numbers together until they become a single digit. As an example of 2016; 2+0+1+6 = 9. For our current year 2017; 2+0+1+7 = 10 then reduced to the number 1. You can do this with your age, birthdate, name and so forth. Every letter is associated with a number, and your name and address can also be described by a single number.
The year 2016 was a number 9, which vibrates to a time of endings. Hence, why you may have felt this last year. Now that it’s 2017, a number 1 it’s identified as a spiritual meaning of creation, the primal force from which everything begins. We get to start over, sort of speak.
Here are a few definitions of the meaning of the number 1: A doer, a powerful force that produces results and does not allow anything or anyone to limit its potential. Aggressive, in the forefront; directing and leading others; it is upright and walks with pride and purpose. Strong, determined, unwavering and with specific goals in mind. A number 1 pushes obstacles aside or drills right through them.
Well, you get the point. If 2016 was about changes, loss, abandonment, removing barriers and so forth, you were on target to create a new space to rebuild. Think of removing the old that no longer serves you so you can create a new canvas that no longer carries that old energy. Consider it not being a new chapter, but how about an entirely new book?
If you believe in multiple lifetimes or believe that we can have many life experiences to grow and hopefully become somewhat wiser, then perhaps if you think of the last nine years as one of your lifetimes it will help support your new growth for the next nine years. These opportunities present themselves in hopes to provide us spiritual lessons. While it can be difficult to experience losses and sometimes severe changes, as well as not be sure what is ahead, it can also allow us to carve a new path.
From our past, we can take along the tools and knowledge that helped us and apply it to our future. Our experiences whether positive or negative can provide wisdom that we can carry forward.
Two of my favorite movies are “Ground Hog Day,” with actors Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell and a filem which is a little dated called “Defending Your Life,” with Meryl Streep and Al Brooks. Both stories give us a glimpse into how we seem to get comfortable in our situations, but we are truly not happy, and show how we can reflect on our lives and about decisions we have made. However, if given a choice to have a “do over” would you embrace that gift?
We have obligations that we have created and can also feel guilty if we don’t take care of everyone else’s needs, even if they have continued to make choices that don’t support a healthy life. We often leave our happiness on the back burner but then feel upset that our needs are forgotten. Spending time, energy perhaps even money to support those around us, and then neglecting ourselves.
These are just a few of my recommendations for your 2017:

  • Find your voice and create clear boundaries.
  • Give yourself the gift of saying “no” to others and “yes” to you.
  • If friends or family are having a difficult time and you typically give advice or try to solve their situation, STOP IT! Be a good listener and don’t try to “fix” what they won’t. Remember it’s different if they “can’t” instead of they won’t.
  • Become more visual about your new foundation. You are starting a new nine years of energy. If you were building a home, your foundation which isn’t beautiful will only stay active and support you if this part of the process has thought, heart and vision for your future.
  • Grieve the past, but if at all possible try to see it as spiritual lessons, not a loss, failures or mistakes.
  • Give yourself credit for what you did gain; insight, courage, taking quicker steps to change are just a few.
    Find new ways of learning, giving, receiving and trusting yourself and what comes your way.
  • Every day or as often as you can, throw away old things that no longer serve your soul and gather new thoughts, ideas or friends that help support this new beginning.
  • Start a new story about your past and your future. The old stories are just old.
  • Start new things that you have wanted to do, but haven’t felt you had the time or whatever your “old” story was.
  • Prepare a new recipe, buy yourself flowers, have professional photos taken, travel to somewhere new, even if it’s around the corner, test drive a sports car, buy sexy lingerie, read a book for fun…not self-help.
  • Wear bright colors if you normally don’t. Bye to black, gray or dark blue unless it’s sexy and fun.

Well, I think you got the point. Embrace the new and unknown and release what doesn’t feel great.

Next, let’s talk about the butterfly and visionary.

In the Native American culture all animals including “bugs” can be messengers. When the butterfly shows up, it means: Lighten up and stop taking everything so seriously. Get ready for a big change, one where an old habit, a way of thinking, or lifestyle is going out, and a new way of being is emerging. It’s time to make the changes you’ve been considering. In spite of the challenges, you’ll get through this transition, and as always, know that “this too shall pass.” Express yourself by wearing more colorful clothing.

The above description was from Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D., and his book Animal Spirit Guides. He has much more information, and you can check online for more details and the transition of the beautiful butterfly.

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of topic Archetypes, it was first used by the psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. He used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche. He believed that universal, mythic characters—archetypes—reside within the collective unconscious of people the world over.

I have taught for years that we have an archetype or personality that we use to maneuver through life. Warrior, healer, teacher and so on. For 2017 I think many of us will become the visionary. What describes this archetype?

I will be explaining more on this subject in the near

We can change our world, community or better yet change our personal lives.
Each of us has had dreams that we want to create a better planet for our future generations or those of us that are here today. For 2017 you can design a footprint that can begin your dreams. Having the courage to embrace change, create better futures. Also remember you don’t have to see what it’s going to look like and evolve too, it’s just about starting something with vision and transformation.

What do you see for your 2017?

Suicide Awareness

Suicide Awareness

Throughout the year, we celebrate many occasions. The greeting card industry, and other communities, have created a day, month or week to celebrate or honor the remembrance of life events for example birthdays, anniversaries and holiday’s. We also have specific days throughout the year that we bring awareness for a multitude of other reasons, for example ending Alzheimer’s, Cancer and Suicide. We try to honor our military, teachers, and a variety of communities and cultures as well.

September may include birthdays, anniversaries and of course Labor Day. But, it is also the month that brings suicide awareness to the forefront as World Suicide Prevention Day every Sept 10th annually and September also boasts National Suicide Prevention week. Both are in September which is also considered National Suicide Prevention Month.

Over the last several years I have attended, supported and have raised donations for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Denver Metro Out of Darkness Walk. The last one at Coors Field on 9/24/2016. This walk brings education and healing surrounding the disease of suicide. This past September my friend shared with me that her daughter, who works at Denver Children’s Hospital, attended a meeting that discussed children who were admitted at their hospital for suicidal ideation and attempts. Since January of 2016 to September 2016 4,500 children were patients for suicide attempts and possible death by suicide and this was just in Denver alone. I’m not sure if that is the appropriate language of this fact, but we MUST become educated about this illness.

Research is showing that suicide is a disease – an illness, and the more we hide it, feel ashamed or believe it’s a weakness shows we are only ignorant to understanding the functions of the brain. Having two members of my family die from suicide, as well as helping thousands of families who grieve their losses, show that it’s a complex disease to understand. The anniversary of my husband’s and nephew’s passing is in October and during this time our family has many significant dates that remind us of things we celebrate and things we miss.
Those that mourn the loss can carry significant guilt and lead to the question “WHY did this happen?” Those left behind ask themselves…. could I have done something said something or prevented my loved one from dying? When we learn more about this illness and understand that there is help for those that are depressed and struggling with mental health issues, only then we can begin to prevent suicide.

A large percentage of society won’t seek medical care for depression because of the stigma surrounding this issue. There is shame in our society if one is depressed, seeks therapy, or takes medication it can be viewed as a sin or weakness. If we have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, pneumonia or anything else, we as a society feel is acceptable to share, we do. We seek medical care, tell our family, share it on social media and try to be aware of what our body needs. But, we do not do this for depression or other mental health conditions!
When Robin Williams died by suicide, as sad as it is when anyone passes, the media stated that it was so upsetting because he had money and was famous so how could this happen to him? I was very offended because it was as if money would have made the difference to his mental health. Seriously, we don’t say this about cancer, heart failure, or any other illness. There is so much prejudice to this disease much like AIDS was judged and likely still is.

Why do we feel that mental illness is any different than any other illnesses? It could be that many who are mentally ill don’t seem to show obvious outward signs. They may be smart, outgoing, seem happy and even satisfied in life. But, so do people with a variety of illnesses.
One of the first steps in helping anyone with a mental illness is to acknowledge it isn’t a weakness or something that should be hidden. I told my kids when their father died from suicide almost eight years ago, that it was because he had cancer of the mind. Not brain cancer, his mind didn’t work as it did years before. He came from a proud family, and he also was a very proud man. Many factors were in place, and he wouldn’t seek medical attention and come to terms with his depression.

If depression was more accepted in society and we supported our mental health care, would my husband, nephew and so many others still be with us today? When we change our beliefs about depression, suicide, and mental illness, and become more educated then we can help those who suffer in silence.

There is a movie based on a true story starring Will Smith and actors Alec Baldwin, Paul Reiser and one of my favorites, Albert Brooks in the 2015 Film Concussion. It is about a forensic pathologist who discovers a football player who has had hundreds of hits to his head because of the force of years playing the game. Dr. Bennett Omalu, comes to the conclusion that for many players have a high risk of death by suicide. The disease is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE and the NFL and those in that political arena didn’t want to acknowledge a probable factor for the deaths. These men who were once top athletes, amazed and thrilled many of us as well as the financial gain to the NFL and anyone attached to the sport. It finally took many players death by suicide before it was accepted and FINALLY, laws have changed to help and protect these athletes.

We are more accepting when someone decides to stop cancer treatment or not even start because they have chosen not to battle. Why? Because we see, they’re suffering differently than those, who are so sad inside and truly believe they can’t live another day.I have also learned that our loved ones don’t “commit suicide”, rather they “die by suicide”. Just as if someone passes from cancer, a car accident, or a heart attack. It’s not a sin, and they don’t go to a dangerous place. Depression is an illness it’s not a weakness or a choice. Those that struggle every day with depression and other mental health conditions can feel there is no hope and that their pain is insurmountable. Suicide can happen when stressful life events overload the coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition and the most common condition associated with suicide is depression. An illness that goes undiagnosed or treated far too often.

I have never had cancer, but it doesn’t mean I must experience it to have compassion for someone who does. You don’t have to be depressed to have compassion for someone who is depressed or has a mental illness.

My husband and nephew were very intelligent, had a support system, were loved, and had reasons to want to live. But, like any disease, it does not judge who is affected by it. You can begin to change the perception of this illness and start by just realizing it is a disease. Talk about it, don’t judge it, share there is the help, and no one must heal alone.

Be part of the change to prevent suicide. What can you do to help? Start by opening your mind to learn about mental illness. Listen and don’t judge or give unsolicited advice. Giving advice is a natural response when someone shares what is happening in their life. But, if you can find empathy and compassion and just “listen” the one sharing may feel they are being supported instead of being judged they are doing something wrong.

Learn how you can help by becoming educated about depression. Talk to your doctor or reach out to advocates that understand how to support anyone that is dealing with this illness. Don’t push it aside as if it’s just a phase or a moment that someone is vulnerable. If someone is sharing their feelings, most likely they have had these emotions for a while. Try not to overreact or become dramatic, just listen, have compassion and ask how you can help?

Be an advocate, a friend, someone who cares. I know most families who have had a loss from suicide feels they were most of these things. It doesn’t mean they did anything wrong or this will resolve depression or suicide. But, being aware, educating ourselves about mental illness and embracing that it’s a disease is a start.

From the beginning of time, our world has been judgmental. Those who judge are afraid of the unknown and are unwilling to expand their minds if it’s something foreign. Many want to stay in their bubble world so they won’t disrupt their beliefs. Stop living in a comfort zone called a small box. It serves only you and not the world.

Ask yourself, why is suicide so prevalent? Why are we seeing so many military, children and all walks of life dying by suicide? Because it’s time to start changing how we can help those that feel that suicide is their only choice.

Social media, texting, and bullying is just one sliver of the cause for many young people. Carefully listen and read about what you think, write and say. Take responsibility to limit your participation in negative judgmental thoughts and words. A recent visit to a doctor he shared that his 15-year-old was texting a friend about his dad coming to pick him up. They were talking about times and locations and they were taking a long time to finalize the details. The doctor said, “just pick-up the phone and call your friend”. The 15-year-old responded, “Dad we don’t do that. If we talk instead of text it means you are too needy”.

My response was, wow! Seriously? We have come to replace having a conversation through texting. As we know this means of communication doesn’t have the influx or emotion of what we truly want to say. Because texting is shorthand, the true meaning of the words can be misinterpreted. Perhaps, communication is a beginning to change. Taking responsibility for what we “SAY” and how we “RESPOND”.

Technology is a wonderful product for our society, but human emotions, behavior, and feelings can’t be replaced with the old simple function as speech, talking and listening.

A common thing I hear is that most people want to make a difference in someone else’s life. What are you going to do to make a difference? Stop labeling, stop judging, stop and listen.
Encourage HOPE and HELP

Learn the signs at AFSP.ORG/SIGNS

Provide at least 1 resource for HELP such as the National Lifeline 1.800.273.8255 (TALK)

The 24 Hour no judgment experiment contest

The 24 Hour no judgment experiment contest

I challenge you to a 24-hour experiment. Can you not judge yourself or others for just one day? Wear a thick rubber band on your wrist and over a 24-hour period if you have a thought of judgment, snap it! Your experience includes, how someone is driving, someone checking you out too slowly at a register, how someone answered the phone, what someone is wearing, well you get the point?

If you allow yourself one 24-hour day of no judgment, then write to me about your experience. I will pick two winners who will receive a 1/2 hour phone session.
What do you have to lose? The better question is what do you have to gain? This simple experiment, may not be easy because we judge ourselves more than anyone. What would our world be if we exchanged judgment with acceptance? It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but perhaps to learn about our differences.

Please send you experiment of 24 Hour No Judgment to deb@debsheppard.com, and I look forward to hearing about your ah ha’s about this exercise. Contest ends on the 14th of February 2017!
The following true story isn’t about religion or politics; it’s simply about human compassion. It’s not about agreeing or not agreeing with a point of view; it’s about human behavior and how we think of others.

It’s September 17th, 2016 and I’m attending a writing conference called AuthorU. My friend and talented mentor and writer, Judith Briles is hosting the event. The workshop is in Denver Colorado at the Stapleton Renaissance Hotel.

We arrive after 6 PM, and as we drove up to the valet, we notice people swarming like bees. Focusing, on our surroundings we are aware of the secret service, police, along with police dogs diligently, checking every car, person, and suitcase.

The hotel lobby and throughout the first floor men are lined up and dressed in dark suits, a curled wire attached inside their ear and arms draped along the sides of their bodies. It’s easy to recognize that the secret service is filling every inch of the hotel. Now, I’m wondering, should I feel safe or is it time to run?

Carrying my overstuffed suitcase, I walked up to the counter and in a quiet voice asked the women at the desk, “what’s, going on”? These days it’s not a surprise to have another headline of attack on innocent people.

The clerk at the desk, explains that someone famous is staying at the hotel but she wasn’t allowed to say who. Of course, with social media and news at our fingertips, we were able to learn that Vice President Joe Biden was staying at the hotel. He had a speaking engagement at Denver University that evening.

We were surprised that we were placed in a room down the hall on the 12th floor with Vice President Biden. Those of us who attended the conference shared with humor and delight that we as taxpayers were impressed that our government was budgeting a stay at a reasonably priced hotel.

Many of the authors attending the conference were hoping to get a quick glimpse of the Vice President and perhaps hand him their precious book. While passionate writers displayed, they’re hot off the press books would love to have a feather in their cap if they could say they handed the Vice President their book. Unfortunately, the secret service did their jobs well and protected all of us from getting even a quick peek.

Our room had a balcony where we were able to see the motorcade returning from DU and we were able to see when he left the following morning. It was interesting to watch approximately 25 police officers on their motorcycles, the secret service along with a few media personnel traveling in the escorted vans. There was even an ambulance that followed the line of vehicles to ensure that if anything happened to our Vice President, there was an immediate response to his care.

After we had checked in, security guided us to the 10th floor; this was before we were able to enter our room or even the 12th floor. We carried luggage, purses, and computers through this quick set-up of security. It was as if we were at the airport going through the TSA security inspection. The Secret Service wore their bulletproof vest, carried guns and all types of scanning devices.

After we had cleared security, a hotel employee escorted us to the only one of the four elevators capable of traveling past the 10th floor. We shared the floor with a few regular guest, secret service, the media and of course our Vice President. There were names of those traveling with the Vice President on each of the doors and we noticed down at the end of the hall was where “he” was staying.

The reason I’m sharing this experience isn’t that we had an opportunity to have perhaps a peek at Vice President Biden or his Secret Service. But, it was the next morning after the delivery of our breakfast when I opened the baloney slider doors to enjoy the fall Colorado weather and take in the views. What did I see across the street? Protestors!

As I had a little more coffee and a closer look, I realized that these protestors who were parked right where the motorcade had escorted our Vice President the morning before. Now stood in a total of 15 or more, men, women, and children protesting at a Planned Parenthood facility. They were yelling at and “bullying” these young women who were seeking medical care, as is their right.

This experience frustrated me because we have a country where our service men and women fight and die for ALL of us to have “our” freedom. What does this mean? We as the people voted for what the majority believe is fair and just for this country and its nation’s constitution.
We hosted the Vice President on this same street as these women that have the right to decide if they seek prevention from pregnancy, medical attention, education about their health or may have made the challenging decision not to continue a pregnancy.

A women’s health has nothing to do with agreeing with birth control or a termination of a women’s pregnancy. As a country, we have the right to worship in a temple, synagogue, church, on the beach or hiking a 14er. Our laws give us the rights to marry someone of a different race or the same-sex. We have the right to travel, get divorced, marry multiple times, carry a gun and live where we want!

Bottom line, we live in a country that provides each of us to be free! And it should include freedom from those that are ignorant of honoring differences. Allowing the same freedom as those entering a medical facility for their personal health care. I guess freedom of speech includes being cruel to other humans that don’t have the same beliefs.
My father served in the Marines; my father-in-law retired as a Major General in the Air Force, my brother in law retired as an Air Force Colonel. I have had many friends and family members who have served our country, and I’m very proud that they have dedicated years to protect our nation’s constitution.

Why am I upset? The fact that within 24 hours on the same street, people feel it’s okay to bully others because of their differences. Even in our current situation of our Presidential Candidates debates and political campaigns that demonstrate anger and cruelty to those that oppose their beliefs. How can we as a country change our behavior if this is our example of leadership?

I’m not sure where in the bible that God would have told His followers to bully, those that are different. But, I do recall a story where Jesus told those who were throwing stones at a person they believed was a sinner. If I remember correctly, Jesus told them to throw the first stone if they were without sin.

I’m wondering about those who were yelling and pounding on the cars of these young women, are without sin? If they are followers of God, could there be a better way to give their message? Could they find compassion and empathy for those who have walked another path? Did one of them even ask or even want to know the women’s situation?

Until you have compassion, humility, and time to listen to the person you are judging, then what right do you have to curse another human? Over the years, I have been honored to hear the stories of so many people, and I have learned that judgment is not a virtue I embrace. Judgment causes hate, abandonment, wars and even death.

Love is the highest vibration of energy that our souls can attain. When does judgment, being a bully, or shaming another individual have anything to do with love for our fellow human? Love, thy neighbor does not include “only if they are just like you”.

Another thing I found very interesting is the synchronicity of the name of the hotel where this all played out. “The Renaissance.” There are many layers of the meaning, such as beliefs and changes which history shares began in Florence, Italy that came about during the 14th Century.
Renaissance is defined, like a rebirth, humanism, and diplomacy. Greek Philosopher, Protagoras said about Renaissance; “Man is the meaning of all things.” I encourage you to review this period of the Renaissance and see if we have made any changes when it defines our humanism and diplomacy.

I challenge you to a 24-hour experiment. Can you not judge yourself or others for just one day? Wear a thick rubber band on your wrist and over a 24-hour period if you have a thought of judgment, snap it! Your experience includes, how someone is driving, someone checking you out too slowly at a register, how someone answered the phone, what someone is wearing, well you get the point?

If you allow yourself one 24-hour day of no judgment, then write to me about your experience. I will pick two winners who will receive a gift valued at $50.
What do you have to lose? The better question is what do you have to gain? This simple experiment, may not be easy because we judge ourselves more than anyone. What would our world be if we exchanged judgment with acceptance? It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but perhaps to learn about our differences.

Please send you experiment of 24 Hour No Judgment to deb@debsheppard.com, and I look forward to hearing about your ah ha’s about this exercise.

Imaginary Friends?

Imaginary Friends?

When you were young, did you have an imaginary friend? How about your children or grandchildren? Did they ever tell you about their friend YOU couldn’t see?
My daughter had an imaginary friend, (IF) and would ask for a seat at the table and a meal to feed her IF. My son also had an imaginary friend named Garrett and would play with him from time to time and even missed him when he wasn’t around.

Before I understood this realm, the kids talked about their “IF’s.” At one point I remember being so frustrated that I was asked to fix another meal when I knew it would be tossed out, or I would be eating it because the “IF” couldn’t eat it.

I have come to realize that these “IF’s” were the kid’s spirit guides. Since my children hadn’t been on mother earth long, they still had a closer connection to the spirit realm. At these ages, they still believed and were taught to believe in magical experiences. As parents, we tell them there is a Santa Claus, tooth fairies, leprechauns and an Easter Bunny.
Disney has been very influential of make-believe and imagination. Even as adults, we have many responsibilities along with daily life. Still, we like to imagine things, such as what we would do if we won the Power Ball, traveling the world or finding true love.

Remember the movie “Monsters Inc.”, where kids see scary monsters in their closets and under their beds? The intention of the monsters is to receive an energy source from the screams of children. These stories of magical spirits have been part of childhoods throughout time. But, the “real” question is, are they real and do these imaginary spirits exist?

From my experience in my profession and experience with children, I have no doubt these kids have experienced the spirit realm. Perhaps your child had even talked about seeing a family member who passed before they were born. Because they connected in the spirit world before the child arrived here. What’s interesting is when a photo of the loved is shown, he or she recognizes the loved one. Spooky, right?

If we could connect to our inner child and remember these experiences we once had, perhaps we could connect to our spirit guides, angels and loved ones that are near us but in this heightened realm.

These imaginary friends are real, be jealous if you don’t see them and encourage those that do. Ask them to share details, draw pictures of their imaginary friend and ask if they have a name. Go along with their story, and embrace what they feel and see. Continue to support what they are seeing because it will help them maintain their connection with the spirit world. Imagine if we continued our relationship with the divine? How different would your life be? It’s not too late to open that realm that we can’t always see or understand. JUST IMAGINE!