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Señor de los Milagros (or why everyone was shorter than me)by our

BELOVED, PUBLISHED, RECORDING ARTIST VALERIE BETH GILBERT
I love signs from Spirit.  I live by them.  Dreams and visions inform my days and nights.  They leave a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow, and sometimes, an entire organic, whole grain loaf fresh from the oven. 
There are many ways that Spirit communicates with us, and when I say Spirit I mean God, your Higher Self, your True Self, or your angels, guides and loved ones in spirit, who are with you always.  There is help and support available at all times, and I use it. 
A hermit in midtown Manhattan, I work at home and live alone.  It’s been this way for quite a while, all the more so since my last two pets, a dog and cat, died 12 and 18 months ago, respectively.  I was too upset to get more animals, and determined that I’d spring for a human the next time. I’m due a relationship. 
However, Spirit has other ideas about this.  They’ve been keeping me in quarantine, with an etheric chastity belt to boot.  They keep telling me there’s more work to do before my long awaited partnership happens.  This does not make me happy, for I am human, and have longings for company and intimacy.  However, I also believe my soul chose this path, and that I’m not an unwitting player.  I understand and embrace the agenda, yet get frustrated from time to time.  For the most part, I’m pretty damn happy with my life right now.  I’ve learned to raise and keep my vibration at a consistently high level.  Whatever momentarily glitches get my knickers in a twist, I’m able to recover from quickly.  With great ease, I bounce back.  Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. 
Apparently solitude has been essential for my spiritual incubation, the fertile soil I needed to process my grief, angst, and what have you. Stuff.  I’m human.  Very human while yet a decidedly fervent mystic.  Embracing the seeming paradox of the human and divine worlds is the basis of my credo.  This world is full of contradictions.  It is a world of duality.  We have to conceive beyond limitation.  To transcend duality into triality, the point above the fray.  The eagle’s eye vista. 
I was told more spiritual and creative doors have to open for and within me before I am mated.  I must climb higher on the ladder of ascension, and that my most important mating is with my Higher Self.  This is not the hot date I’m looking for on a Friday night.  I’m the only bride I know required to wear a freaking halo on her head for her wedding day. What kind of lace goes with that?
I want to discuss with you here how signs and symbols from Spirit work.
For instance, I’ve been dreaming of dumplings lately.  Don’t ask me why.  Chinese dumplings.  You know, dim sum?  Steamed, pan fried, whatever.  Dumplings.  I make note of my dreams as they are insightful, potent and prophetic.  For someone who regularly interprets her dreams, dumplings represent… an enigma.  What the hell do dumplings mean?  Beat me.  But I wrote it down anyway.  I record my dreams every day. There were at least three separate dream dumpling incidents over the course of six weeks.  Mystifying, in a very doughy way. 
Well, recently, I had a breakdown.  Not new.  I break down all the time.  And that does not mean that I am broken.  It means that I am sensitive, and in touch with my feelings.  I don’t put on a happy face when I ain’t happy.  In fact, I read recently that babies (very in touch with the “other side” from which they have freshly emerged) will often cry not because something is wrong with them, but because something is wrong.  Period.  They pick up on the energetic malcontent on the planet.  There’s a lot of it.  Are you surprised? 
Perhaps I’m depressed, neurotic, a sad sack, a fanatic, a genius.  Or perhaps, I too, like the babies, pick up on the pain on this planet.  Or recall my own.  From this lifetime and others.  Who hasn’t suffered?  The Buddha nailed it.  Life is suffering.  From one perspective.  From other perspectives, it’s all a joke, an illusion, a game to be conquered, a realm to be enjoyed, exalted, and, in so doing, uplifted to a higher dimension.  Suffering is one perspective.  It’s not the only one.  The Buddha transcended.  So can we.
I wake up at 4am.  It’s when I take my new thyroid medication, which I plan to quit pronto.  I’ll be letting my thyroid doc know when I see him shortly.  I suspect he won’t be pleased, but then, he’s just my doctor.  It’s my body.  This imbalance is a new condition.  I was convinced he’d want to medicate me, but Doc was content to just monitor me without treatment (to my delight) until he learned I was having knee surgery, at which point he freaked out.  “You’re having surgery? You’re doing it backwards!  You should be balancing your thyroid first, then getting surgery.”  Why surgery necessitated taking thyroid pills, I don’t know.  He didn’t explain.  He just huffed and puffed.  But, as against meds as I am generally (I’m a vitamin girl) I went along with Doc. 
I had a bike accident six years ago and suffered a complex tear of the medial meniscus (torn cartilage at the middle of the knee) which has caused pain ever since. I’ve waited years for the right insurance, the right surgeon, and the right time to get the situation remedied.  The hospital gave me an epidural, fabulous crutches, a turkey sandwich and cranberry juice.  It was Thanksgiving come early. 
They gave me two pain killers after I came to.  “Is there happiness in here?” I inquired skeptically, as I was already pretty darn happy.  “Yes, there is.”  I was happy as a clam for a full 24 hours after surgery.  Then I stopped taking the pain pills and it all became clear to me.  Surgery is fun, but it’s not that much fun.  I was high as a kite for a day.
In fact, I had a medical dream team, from a top surgeon to a darling anesthesiologist who looked like Roger Sterling from Mad Men. “Hi, I’m your bartender,” he coyly introduced himself,  Yes, a compadre! “Speaking of which” I said, “can I drink tonight?” assuming I knew the depressing answer. “Of course!” (I was shocked, but thrilled) “What are you having?” he asked. “Wine.” I returned.  “Red or white?”  “Well, it’s still warm out, so I think I’ll go with white.”  “Good choice” he replied.  I glanced over at the nurse to my right who was attempting to thread the IV into my hand, a first for me.  I’d heard it hurt a lot.  It hurt a little.  “I’m trying to distract you,” said the darling anesthesiologist.  “Thanks.”  I turned my attention away from the nurse with pointy things and back to the good-looking doctor who encouraged inebriation.  I was careful to skip my happy pill with the wine at dinner.
Back to normal life.  You have to take this thyroid pill first thing in the morning, 30 minutes before eating.  I like to eat when I wake up, after a brief meditation.  It’s a celebratory way to start the day.  Since I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I decided that’s when I’d take the pill.  When I wake up for real, I don’t have to wait around to get the party started.
At any rate.  4am.  I wake up and record audio books.  Since I live in NYC and don’t have a sound proof studio (which  costs tens of thousands of dollars) I have to work around my sound constraints.  It’s relatively quiet at 4 and 5 in the morning.  I get some prime recording done, then edit later.  But the recording necessitates silence.
By 10 am I’ve been up many hours.  I have lunch, sometimes, between 10 and 11.  Sometimes I have a glass of wine with my lunch.  I look at myself askance as I glance at the clock, but then I do the math.  I’ve been working for hours.  I have a glass of wine a day, at most.  If it’s at lunch, I don’t have it at dinner.  I’m a moderate person.
At any rate, I had an early lunch, replete with glass of wine, and, for whatever reason, I also had a nervous breakdown.  Tears, loneliness and frustration all welled up within me.  I work.  I exercise.  I just had surgery.  I meditate.  I’m practically a perfect person, all things considered.  I’ve survived death, death and more death, of loved ones, both human, feline, and canine.  I’m deathed out.
This glass of wine tipped me over the edge.  While I believe marriage is in the cards for me (though in which deck, I don’t know) I have no idea when it will happen.
In the past, while maudlin and tipsy, I’d look for love online. This time, I went to the website of an adoption center.  They had a tiny little kitten there called Dumpling. That was all I needed, a big fat neon sign from Spirit.  I grabbed my wallet and identifying paperwork and headed to the shelter in the pouring rain.
I cried on the way down to the shelter.  I cried on the way back.  The whole thing felt tortured, as cute as the kittens were.  It felt like defeat.  I didn’t want to die a crazy cat lady, or “the gal with the dog”.  So much for my holding out for a relationship.
Here I was, regressing.  A kitty recidivist.  But better a stray cat than a stray man.  I adopted two females.  Now, I could die happy with two cats, one dog (someday) and no husband, just like God intended.  I’ll probably get a freaking hippopotamus and zebra, too.  
Apparently, other people had been dreaming of Dumpling, too.  Because everyone was at the shelter to get her, though I was there first.  A Russian girl and her husband felt Dumpling was meant for them because their other cat was named Taco.  Like they go together?  Totally mismatched cuisines.  I relinquished Dumpling to a half-Asian, half-European, all-gay couple who brought their little appetizer home in a snazzy purple carrier.
There was little Steven, white and ginger, and even with only 3 legs (he was sleeping in a car to keep warm when they started the engine and his leg got caught in the fan belt.) he was still the terror of the kitty room.  The shelter amputated his back leg.  Always knock on your hood to wake up sleeping animals if you park outside. 
Little black and white Eggplant seemed depressed, or sick.  I asked the shelter’s cat wrangler about this.  Her siblings, Broccoli and Squash had been adopted the day before. Perhaps she was sad.  I selected black and white “tuxedo”  Eggplant and renamed her Marlena (after Dietrich, the original tuxedo wearer) and a tiny tiger tabby, Celeste. 
Most people get pregnant when they get drunk.  I got kittens.
The sign from Spirit regarding Dumpling was crystal clear.  While she was not my intended kitten, her name was the trigger.  That’s how signs work.  I was meant to have these two furry lunatics.  My initial trauma about yet again committing myself to the care and maintenance of two little rascals has melted into a pool of purring. 
On to more magic and miracles. 
I’m pals with a nun I met eight years ago at a new age retreat.  She’s a new age Catholic nun.  Wouldn’t expect such a combination, but there you have it.  She’s from Ireland and lives in Texas. 
We share the same birthday, though she’s older than I, and the same “out there” metaphysical taste.  She sends me things from time to time, mostly books, sometimes inspirational decks like the “Ascended Masters” oracle cards, and articles about health or spirituality. 
Being hungry for mystical experience, she’s been to healer John of God in Brazil, and Lourdes in France.  She sent me a tiny plastic vial of their holy water, embedded in a color card of our Lady of Lourdes, sealed in plastic.  I taped the whole thing to the wall by my desk. It stayed there a good year until I noticed the water table was dropping.  Even in hermetically sealed plastic and shrink wrapped in yet more plastic, the holy water was evaporating, somehow.  Well, I didn’t want it to disappear into the ethers without my taking advantage of its healing qualities.  So, I broke it open, poured a drop or two on the crown of my head, then swallowed the rest. 
As there was yet a milliliter of holy water in it, I left the plastic tube on my desk.  I’d let the magical residue evaporate. 
Working at my desk a day or two later, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  When I record audio books it is of the utmost importance that nothing move, including me. I wear soft, silent clothing and keep my head steady.  There are no stray sounds or rustling movements, just mouth to microphone.  I’m a talking mime. 
Puzzled by the movement on my desk, I stopped recording.  The little tube of plastic from Lourdes (an ellipse, not a cylinder) was rocking all by itself, as if someone had just tapped it with their finger.  Except no one was there.  I hadn’t rocked my desk or knocked into anything, heck, you can’t even raise an eyebrow without the sound picking up on the mic.  Nothing else on my desk moved.  Nothing anywhere moved.  Just the tube that had held the holy water.  It continued to rock for several seconds.
Who tipped the container with a flick of their spirit “finger”?  Beats me.  Could be anyone.  I don’t see ‘em.  But I know they’re there because it’s not possible for something to “just happen by itself”.  There’s always a reason or source.  Cause and effect.  If it’s not physical, then it’s metaphysical.  It’s all energy anyway.  Matter is just energy vibrating at a slower rate.
There’s also no physical explanation for how the tiny wind chime I have hanging in my bathroom started swaying by itself.  It’s way above my head, to the right of my sink. If I want to ring it, I have to get up on tippy toes and practically jump to nudge it with a finger tip.  There’s no window in my bathroom and therefore no wind.  I was brushing my teeth.  As clean as my teeth are, my brushing does not produce gusts. Even with an electric toothbrush, this was not a wind event.  
I saw or sensed something moving, and looked up.  They didn’t make a sound.  But the chimes were swaying.  As if someone had just gently touched them. My first thought is always, “how the heck did that happen?”  I look around for the plausible, logical, physical explanation.  When there isn’t one, I say, “hola!” 
Then there was the time I heard sound coming from two rooms away.  I continued working, late at night, but when the sound continued for five minutes or so I finally went out to investigate.  My living room speaker was on, and my iPod, in shuffle mode, had turned itself to one of my favorite Pat Metheny songs. Those who understand just go, “cool!” which is the proper response.  Those that don’t, why are you reading this?  We're here to have fun with Spirit, interacting, playing, and breaching dimensional walls.  
My fourth tiny miracle was when I recently walked down Lexington Avenue in midtown lunch hour foot traffic.  It was a sunny September day, the street filled with people scurrying to and fro.  A large bug flew at me.  Not a common occurrence, I warily looked down to see what it was.  A baby dragonfly (hello, this is Manhattan) flew right onto my heart.  To boot, I was wearing a tee shirt with a big heart in the center.  But this little animal totem flew directly to the left of my chest and parked.  I didn’t move.  I pulled over to the side of the sidewalk, with the lunch crowd rushing past me.  Right in front of Victoria's Secret, no less, with a bug perched on my boob. It stayed there a good 5 minutes.  Gorgeous.  Special.  No mistaking the sign from Spirit.  Dragonflies signify transformation (change, adaptability, joy, lightness of being).  So, my heart was being transformed.  God was tinkering with me. 
I’ve been going to a lot of spiritual events lately, the opposite of my hiding at home stunt that I did for the better part of a year after my dog died.  I’ve finally got some spring in my step, and while I didn’t leave the house before, now you can’t keep me in.  I’ve got ants in my pants.  I went on a rampage signing up for events, but one event I was on the fence about.  Just wasn’t sure “what was in it for me”.  So, I didn’t pre-pay.  The morning of the event, I was exhausted, and relieved I hadn't bought a ticket.  Ten minutes later, I was restless again, and decided to go.
I got a reading that morning from a terrific channeler,  Nicole Gans Singer, www.teachingsofthemasters.org.  Her guides commented on my upcoming event that day, acknowledged that it was important that I go, and that I should meditate prior.  The event was part of a big new age extravaganza, one I’m not partial to.  It’s a cheesy event in a cheesy hotel.  If there was anything to turn a person off of new age, this was it.  And I’m new age.  It’s a carnival of crazy. 
My speaker is someone whose work I greatly admire, however his 90 minute event was a debacle of sorts.  His team, audio visual and otherwise, was disorganized.  It was practically a joke.  Fortunately, he got the joke, and laughed.  I like him.  Despite that, on a conscious level I learned nothing, gleaned nothing and was with a bunch of weirdos. The event seemed a waste of both my money and my time.   If I hadn’t known Spirit was gunning for me to be there (they explained the energetic reason) I’d have felt disgusted.  But I know better now.  And I felt better, not being at home. I left the carnival lickety-split and decided to walk home from Herald Square.  It was a sunny, October day.  I needed some exercise and some grounding, so I called my cousin. 
She’s new age, too, and she understands crazy.  She’s dating a hoarder, a new relationship, and this quality of his is not to her liking, as she comes from a family with a tendency toward it.  She helped him weed through his piles of stuff recently.  “I asked him if I could throw something out.  He didn’t answer, so I pretended I heard him say yes and got rid of it.”  While we were talking on the phone I made it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.  There was a mob there.  I thought it was a protest.  No.  Was the Pope there?  No.  I edged in closer to the crowd.  Everyone was taking pictures.  From the center of the church's dark interior slowly emerged a heavy, purple religious float hoisted on the shoulders of many mocha complected men.  In fact, I was surrounded by people who were all darker than me.  They were not, however, taller than me.  And I’m not tall.  This was a short, Hispanic population. 
Women wearing lace scarves over their heads swayed smoky silver incense holders, giving the pretzel, chestnut and hot dog vendors aromatic competition.  This was heavy duty ritual, and I was mesmerized.  I studied the float.  Jesus was hanging in his usual depressing pose.  On the back, the Virgin Mary held baby Jesus, reminiscent of happier times.  I got excited when I saw a silver dove on the back of the float. 
I finally asked someone what this was.  Australian tourists answered, “It’s the Procession of the Miracles”.  Huh?  I’d never heard of that one, have you?  You know why?  It’s a Peruvian ritual.  The Catholic Church must be on hard times if they’re hitting up South American countries for their customers, renting out Gothic St. Pat’s for parties.  No wonder I was the tallest person in sight save the Australians. I said, “Well, the miracle is making it through this mob!” “Yeah, and when you push through, you’re gonna be a billionaire!”  he replied.
But I didn’t want to push on just yet.  I was caught up in the ritual and mystique of this event.   I was still on the phone with my cousin, who was vicariously enjoying the proceedings.  Bells were clanged.  Incense wafted as the procession continued through the packed crowd.  I blurted, “Oh my god, there are live doves!”  A man clutched two white doves to his chest, preparing to release them.  Remembering the last time the Pope pulled that stunt (weren’t they immediately attacked and eaten by seagulls?  Talk about a bad sign) I was eager to see how these two would fare on Fifth Avenue.  One flew up in the air to be met by a dark gray pigeon.  Would it attack and kill?  Nah, it probably just wanted a date.  The other, freakishly, flew right back down into the crowd, near me. 
People went crazy touching it, holding it, clutching it to their faces, taking photos with their families.  I was concerned that this symbol of peace was being man-handled, albeit by eager and pious people, it didn’t mean this dove wouldn’t get crushed in their enthusiasm.  I finally got the dove, taking it gently from a tiny (three feet tall?) old woman in a black shawl who’d been monopolizing it.  I let it stand in my hand, no clutching and crushing.  I wondered why it didn’t fly, was it hurt?  It was covered in green bird crap, obviously from being trapped and petrified prior to being released.
The old lady tried to grab it back from me but I barked, “No!” I walked away from the crowd, toward the giant statue of Atlas across from the church.  There were planted flowers on a granite ledge in front of the statue.  I put the dove on the stone shelf.  It seemed dazed, then meandered over the flowers.  A guy near me offered to take it home, but I somehow didn’t trust him.  I wanted her to escape.  When someone yet again attempted to grab her, she flew up, but only as far as the Banana Republic sign, clutching the metal in an incredibly awkward position, like she was holding on, sideways, for dear life.  Why didn’t she just fly away?
Someone shouted, “her foot’s stuck!”  They jumped up to try to dislodge it, and with that final assault, the dove flew up and away, into a tall tree.  Finally!  Then she dove right back down into the crowds.  Was there a dove shrink somewhere? I didn’t see what happened to her next. I was done with my watch. 
The Miracle Jesus float had turned the corner, west up 51st street, along with his Peruvian entourage.  Jesus’ ripped and bloodied hands and feet don’t look all that different from mine, shredded and skewered by tiny kittens. 
Life. 
There’s blood, drama, death, sacrifice, smoke, magic and mystery at its very core. 
My newest book, SWAMI SOUP, will be released December 6th!
MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion is out in print, eBook, and audio (recorded by me!) 
RAVING VIOLET the book is out in print, e-book and audio (recorded by me!) both books available from Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, KOBO, SmashWords, Sony Reader Store, The Book Depository (international print) AllRomanceBooks.com, and Black Opal Books.  
Valerie's audiobooks are available at Audible.com and iTunes. 
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