The following is an excerpt from a book by Jane Roberts and Seth. Jane Roberts was a mystic who shared spiritual exercises, insights, and tools for self-empowerment in a series of books in the 1970's. Although she's long since passed, her teachings live on.
The exercise below is one of hers that I've had profound results from. If you're at all curious about the Universe being a product of idea construction, or a projection of inner reality, then this will especially appeal to you. It's also great for people who have tried and tried to change patterns and circumstances in their life and continually fallen flat. If you want to learn more, the book this came from is The Nature of Personal Reality.
Many people assign great power to a hypnotist, yet whenever you have the undivided attention of another, you act as a hypnotist to a large degree.
Whenever you have your own undivided attention, you act as hypnotist and subject simultaneously.
You give yourselves post-hypnotic suggestions all the time, particularly when you project present conditions into the future. I want to impress upon you the fact that all of this is simply the natural function of the mind, and to dispel any ideas that you have about the 'magical' aspects of hypnosis.
For five or ten minutes a day at the most, then, use natural hypnosis as a method of accepting desired new beliefs. During that period concentrate your attention as vividly as possible upon one simple statement.
Repeat it over and over while focusing upon it for this time. Try to feel the statement in whatever way is possible - that is, do not allow distractions, but if your mind insists upon running about then channel its images in line with your declaration.
The repetition, verbally or mentally, is important because it activates biological patterns and reflects them. Do not strain. This exercise should not be done along with the point of power exercise given earlier. (See the 657th session in Chapter Fifteen of the Nature of Personal Reality) One should not run into the other, but should be carried out on separate occasions during the day.
During the period, however, do remember that you are using the present as a moment of power to insert new beliefs, and that these will indeed be materialized.
When the exercise is finished do not dwell upon it. Put it from your mind. You will have utilized natural hypnosis in a concentrated form. You may have to experiment some for the proper wording of your message, but three days at the very least are necessary before you can tell, through results, how effective it has been. A change of wording may be in order. When you feel right about the statement, then continue it. Your attention should be completely relaxed otherwise, for time is needed. You may experience spectacular results at once. But continue the exercise even if this happens.
Inner channels must become re-patterned. There will be a feel to this that will serve as your own individual guideline. There is no need to continue the practice over ten minutes. In fact, many will find that difficult to do. Spending a longer period of time simply reinforces the idea of problems involved.
- Jane Roberts/Seth The Nature of Personal Reality
Do you ever wish you had something that would help you fall asleep and assist your self-healing while you dream?
If yes, I have a selection of meditations that can also be used as sleep tools. They are designed to release density, reprogram your thoughts, uplift your spirits, and more. They'll relax your mind and spirit and can lead to powerful and healing dreams. They are my longer meditations, and most have extended music on them that will continue to play after the meditation ends.
Have you ever seen this photo of a potato? It sold for a million dollars. It's by the artist Kevin Abosch.
One potato. One photo. ONE MILLION DOLLARS.
For real. No tricks. No gimmicks. It wasn't being auctioned for charity, so no one did this out of the kindness of their heart. Someone wanted to pay it, and someone wanted to sell it for that amount. I don't know about you, but when I hear this it triggers all kinds of intense thoughts in me.
The idea that someone did this forces me to question my feelings about greed, value, self-worth, and limitless potential.
On the one hand, I'm amazed that someone valued themselves and their work so highly that they didn't bat an eye at this. On the other hand, the idea of doing this myself terrifies me, and so I want to judge the people who participated in this.
The only way Kevin could sell a photo of a potato for a million dollars is if he believed he could. If Kevin believed in lack and scarcity, and if he believed art has no real value, then this photo would probably be in a flea market right now, where Kevin would be struggling to sell it for $20. But Kevin doesn't play small. Kevin doesn't limit his potential. Kevin clearly believe that all possibilities are available, and that his work is worth whatever he damn well decides it is.
Now, let's be clear here - the price was a million from the get go. Non-negotiable.
Potato #345 (2010), as the photo is known, was always priced at $1,000,000. And that was exactly what Kevin told people when he showed it to them. The fact that he had the chutzpah to do this blows me away.
Because I don't believe in myself in that way, and I don't believe this is possible, I want to be cynical about this.
I want to believe this is just a reflection of the absurdity of wealthy people. I want to believe this is ridiculous, and the reflection of one man's out of control ego. I want to believe this is greedy and wrong.
What I don't want to do is ask myself why I would never value my own work in this way. I don't want to have to consider that when I say all things are possible, it includes this. I don't want to have to consider that I am a firm believer in thoughts become things but ONLY in a way that makes me comfortable.
If I'm being honest, this challenges so many ideas I have about myself and my potential that I can hardly sit with it. It makes me realize I have constricting and limiting conditions attached to the idea of value. It makes me so uncomfortable I don't want to believe Kevin and I exist on the same planet, with the same sets of Universal, cosmic laws.
And yet we do. If I really wanted to, I could stretch and expand myself and face all my worthiness issues until I too did this, in my own way. But as I write this, I don't believe that I can. And since I don't believe it... well as Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right!"
In life, we're always waiting for something. Waiting for a dream to come to pass. Waiting to meet to right the person. Waiting for a problem to turn around. Much of life is spent waiting. There's a right way to wait, and a wrong way to wait.
We hear that word wait, and most of the time we think that means do nothing. Be passive. Waiting is not supposed to be passive. True waiting is actively expecting.
I prayed, I believed... now I'm expecting my health to improve. I'm expecting new doors to open. I'm expecting to have a blessed year.
That's what it really means to wait. When you're waiting expectantly, you know, this could be the day you get the break you need. This could be the day the problem turns around. There's an anticipation in your spirit. You talk like it's going to happen. You act like it's going to happen. You're on the lookout!
When you're waiting with expectancy, you're not moved by what you see. You're moved by what you know. You wait with expectancy like that, and you'll see God show up and do amazing things.
- From the Joel Osteen podcast
Come, gather round the fire. It's story time. Here now is a fable as old as time... the story of the invisible door.
You see that sweet pup below? Yeah, he thinks that his family has closed the screen door on him. It hasn't. But he won't come in until someone "opens" the door. So someone does. Except the door was open all along. He just needed someone to help him BELIEVE it.
This "door" represents all of the reasons you have that you can't have or be or do that thing. It represents all the things in your way. Because all those things... they're an illusion. The way through is open. Has been all along. You just need to believe it.
I know you can have or be or do anything. But do you? Do you believe the door is open?
You are an unlimited being created from the same cosmic star dust as the highest mountains and the most powerful rivers. You are the mountain. You are the river. You are as worthy and valuable as the wild flower in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall.
You have all the tools and resources you need to achieve anything. But maybe you're still waiting for someone to open a door. Maybe you're waiting for that obstacle to be removed, without realizing the only obstacle is your power of belief directed in the wrong way.
Maybe today is the day you stop letting illusions hold you back. Maybe today you'll stop waiting for someone or something to open an invisible door. Maybe today you'll realize that belief is so powerful, it can stop you from walking through a wide open doorway.
I'm currently enrolled in the mindbodygreen course 'Guided Visualizations' by Emily Fletcher. I was initially playing the video to help put a person at ease when interviewing, hoping it would help ease my anxiousness whenever I have to pitch a story idea.
At first I wasn't sure if it was working, but I have been noticing lately subtle changes in how I feel. I feel less afraid overall, which I think is in part because in the visualization she says to see yourself walking into the room and knowing you belong there . This in itself caused a big shift in how I view myself and my place in this world.
I stopped playing the interview video and decided today I was ready for the one that really scares me - public speaking. Eep! I have tangled with my fear of public speaking for years. What I know about this fear is it's the fear of being seen and not being liked. On a deeper level, it's the fear of confrontation, because I'm afraid I'll say something someone won't like and they'll want to confront me about it.
When I sat down to play the video I wasn't as nervous as I expected I would be. Yes, even the idea of visualizing public speaking makes me nervous. This tells me that perhaps the first visualization was doing more than I realized.
Emily began by talking about when she was nervous to give a talk at Google Headquarters, and her husband said something to the effect of, "Stop thinking of it as having only two possible outcomes - success or failure. There's a whole range of points on the scale in between!"
This shift in perspective released so much weight off of me. I could see how this more open perspective applies to so many things in life. More often than not, we do a good enough job. There are hardly any times when we do such an atrocious job that we feel we totally bombed. And yet, we approach most things with the expectation of either knocking it out of the park or blowing it in epic proportions.
And when we don't have a slam dunk success, we automatically deem it a failure. But what about all the shades of gray in between those two black and white points?
Before this, I really was fixated on two ways my public speaking (and most things in my life) would go - absolute success or absolute failure.
That doesn't leave a lot of room for growth. It doesn't allow me to start at hey I didn't pass out from nerves, that went better than I thought! It doesn't allow me to start where I am and then say, you know what, that was good enough. I got up there, I did my thing, and it was fine.
I know it's not exciting, but sometimes aiming for "good enough" is just what we need to calm our minds and stop the anxiety train. It feels great to know we nailed something and did the absolute best we could, but starting with "good enough" or even "I made it through" might be what we need in order to get to, "That was the best I've ever done!"
I'm going to try using this new approach when I feel overwhelmed by the fear and doubt that tends to creep in when I'm putting myself out there. I believe it could help take the pressure off, and when there's no pressure things tend to unfold as they're meant to.
If you'd like to learn more about Emily's course hop on over to mindbodygreen. The course is $59.99 and presented in six modules. I am now an ambassador for this program and excited to share Emily's work with more people.
New in the store: Money Miracle Guided Meditation
Several years ago I went through one of the deepest and most introspective periods of my life.
It was one of those “right time and right place” situations where all of the conditions conspired in my favor for this to happen. I’d just moved back from Holland, where I’d been living with my Dutch boyfriend. I was living back with my parents, and this gave me strong feelings of being both comfortable and safe. My time in Holland had been intense and brought up a lot of questions in me, particularly related to my happiness and my sense of self.
With my heart and mind full of questions and my spirit in a place that it felt safe to grow and explore, the call to go within was both very strong and very natural. I meditated several times a day, sometimes for hours at a time. This is very strange for me to think about now, because that kind of intense solitude and reflection feels like it was experienced by another person.
However, a powerful calling and urge to let go and go within came over me during this period of time, which lasted about two months. I am forever grateful I honored the calling I felt to immerse myself in this time of meditation and reflection.
Most of my experience revolved around the chanting of a mantra called HU.
HU is a primal tone, like AUM (or om).
It’s considered to be one of the sounds that, like aum, existed at the time of creation, and thus deeply and profoundly connects us back to the divine energy that was and is in everything that’s been created across all time and dimensions.
I had stumbled across HU on a bulletin board and I couldn’t deny a powerful feeling that it was important.
Furthermore, I felt a continual urging to meditate on HU every day for 40 days in a row. I was intrigued but also conflicted. How could I give up that much of my precious time to sitting and chanting? What if nothing happened and the 40 days was a waste? What if EVERYTHING happened and I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t handle it? What was even causing this urging? What was beyond me that was sending this calling to me?
It was this endless stream of questions that got me to begin my 40 days of HU. It was like looking at a guide book for an exotic land and knowing that if you traveled there it would forever change you. The desire to fulfill my curiosity propelled me on, and I had no idea then that this really would be an adventure. I was having my first experience with adventures in cosmic consciousness, and rather than board an airplane, I would sit each day and travel to the furthest reaches of my soul.
Each day of using HU I received profound insights that changed the way I viewed myself, this world, the Universe and even the concept of life itself.
Near the end I had one that opened me up in such a way that prepared me for the BIG one, the one that changed everything. In this initial moment of expansion, I continually heard the question in my mind during meditation, “What makes you amazing?” I tried to answer with what I felt were positive and honest things, such as I feel I’m amazing because I’m intelligent. I feel I’m amazing because I’m adventurous. I feel I’m amazing because I’m funny. And so on.
But I was receiving a distinct NO back, a tangible feeling that I was not tuning into the real answer, and these answer were based on a purely human perspective. I needed to go wider, and it was then that I began to open up to everything. I felt myself go deeper into my meditative state, but it was a paradox, because the deeper within I went the more my mind and soul opened outwards. I stayed within my body, I was aware of my body, but I was also one with the mountains and sky, the rivers and the forests, and all the while I was being shown that THIS is what makes me amazing.
I am amazing because I AM the mountain. I am amazing because I AM the night sky. I am amazing because I AM the fast flowing river that travels across continents.
It was only in this moment of deep meditation that, for the first time, I could feel what these statements meant. It wasn’t a beautiful thought where I looked up at the stars and pondered what it means to be made of star stuff. I was in the stars, and yet also, I was still me, sitting in my room, breathing so slowly and imperceptibly that I hardly moved.
It was on the 40th day of my meditation that the experience I had been leading up to was revealed to me.
I cannot say if it was the number of days that was important, or if it was simply because I leaned so deeply into the trust. I had no idea why I was keeping on for 40 days, and all I could do was trust that this period of self-discipline and self imposed isolation would be worthwhile.
As I sat to meditate on the 40th day I wondered once again what I was doing, and if anything would happen. I had no idea what exactly I was meant to do or even what I was grasping for. I could only lean further into the trust, and follow the feelings I was getting.
As I meditated on this day I tried something I never had. I tried pushing the edges of my spirit up and out so fast that it did something I can’t quiet explain. It was almost as if I was creating friction, in the way that an airplane flies fast enough that it is flying on the friction it creates. I continued to push up and out, and watched with awe as the world shrank away. But like before, I was still in my body. I was once again seemingly in two places at once. I was in my body, sitting in my room, and I was out in the cosmos, expanding my soul past the edges of the solar system, past the galaxy, past planets billions of light years away.
Opening. Expanding. Growing. Reaching. Flying.
All at a speed I cannot comprehend. It was all happening in a way that was beyond what I could consciously think about, it was just happening, and I was both a participant and a curious observer.
I went out so fast and so far that I came to the edges of the Universe. Unlike my previous enlightenment, when I felt I am everything, my breathing was not light. It was heavy, slow and long. My body became so hot that sweat beaded up on my forehead. It was clear that something was happening, something so visceral that my body was heating up and breathing deep in response.
At the edge of the Universe I faded through the edges and went… into the infinite.
This is where words fail me. Even what I’ve written so far was a struggle to find the right words, the right descriptions, but here, I cannot even attempt to try and convey a sense of where I was. I was everything and I was nothing. I was completely relaxed, but in a state beyond relaxation. I had no awareness of even a concept like stress or worry, and so to say I was relaxed is not quite right. It was more like I was in a time and place where the feelings of love and joy where the only things that existed. To say feelings of stress, sadness and worry weren’t real seems impossible as I write this, and yet, in that place, they didn’t exist, and nothing could have felt more real or more true.
I had a vague awareness of my body and the room I was still in. Everything was dark, but at the same time, it was not an emptiness. It was so full of rich feeling that every drop of air felt full of what I suppose can only be described as nirvana. There was no emptiness and yet it was all empty. I was bigger than the whole Universe, and yet, I was the Universe, and I was as small as the person I am now. There was no time. Before, after, now, then, none of it existed. I understood everything, but I had no thoughts. I understood in a way that I felt the knowing. I felt the truth.
Everything was so simple, so pure, so light and easy, but at the same time, it was beyond me, it was a paradox, because afterwards I did not understand at all. I was not able to retain the all knowingness, which makes no sense because how can you lose that? I don't know. I really don't. I can only share what I felt.
Despite the feeling of infinite time, it felt like I had reached this place for a fleeting moment.
As I came back it felt like I was dissolving through a thousand layers of silk and cotton. Floating back through the layers of reality I came back to me, even though I always was me in that expanded state. As I came back in I felt a sadness, a sadness so palpable I was surprised by it. I couldn’t understand why I felt so sad, and then I realized, this is how I’ve always felt. I was full of so much joy and love in that state I now had something to compare my natural feelings to. It was only upon my return, when the contrast was perfectly clear, that I became aware of how I really feel.
It wasn’t that I walk around all the time with a sad and heavy heart. It was just that the love I felt in that moment was so deep, so profound, that I couldn’t help but feel how far away from it I live in my everyday life. To even call what I felt love is undermining the feeling. It was something beyond love. It was like all the love I’ve ever known heightened, intensified, and expanded. I can only describe it as the love beyond love. Love is not the right word for it, but there is no word, and to say it was love a million light years beyond the love I have for my family or life or the earth is all I can say.
It was in fact so big and so deep that I didn’t feel ready for it, here and now, as the being I am.
For a few days after this experience I would get waves of that sublime, all expanding love, and it was so intense and overwhelming I became dazed by it. Not in a bad way. I was again so relaxed I was beyond relaxed. It was just clear to me I wasn’t ready to live in this state of expanded love and truth, and in many ways, I liked that feeling.
I like being here in this world, as I am, experiencing the rich vastness of emotions and feelings that are available to me.
Since I had those two experiences I have never slipped back into that all expansive, all knowing state. I have come close, and begun to feel my body turn into such lightness that I could feel myself fading through the layers of reality, but never again have I crossed that threshold. And yet, the experience is always with me, like a memory from a trip that dramatically altered the course of my life.
Sometimes I forget that I even had this experience, and I lose myself in the dramas and day to day realities of this world. Which is actually kind of amazing, because when I do find myself deeply rooted in what feels like struggle, it gives that experience of expansion and enlightenment even more richness and contrast. It makes it feel that much more alive and profound, and it is a continual reminder to me that this is a world of balance.
This is a world where we get to feel the unbelievably rich feeling of physical touch and reality. It is also a world where we get to awaken our spirits, to feel the exquisite lightness of our infinite souls.
If I could take this experience and put it in your heart for you to feel also, I would, because it was perhaps one of the most important moments of my life. It was the first time I truly felt not just who I am, but what I am. It was my first taste of how truly brilliant and magnificent and GRAND I really am.
It was my first sense of my power, my real power, not the kind of power that turns people into dominant leaders, but the kind that I could use to create my own reality.
The kind of power that lets me know I am so full of richness and resources that success is a given. The kind of power that lets me know that no matter what happens, I will be okay, because within me as a connection to the most infinite and divine resources.
But even if I could give you this experience, deep down you wouldn’t want me to. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the beautiful awakening that would occur within you to get yourself there. However, I don’t want to tell you this story and leave you feeling I have nothing to offer to at least assist you in your own cosmic consciousness adventures. It was after this experience that I began creating my guided meditations. Each one is like a light on the trail, and they will all help you to find your way, in the way that is right for you, to this source of the truth of yourself.
What you find in meditation will be what is right for you. What is right for you will continue evolve during your life. By relaxing, temporarily letting go of attachment to outcomes, and tuning into your natural self, you will find your own insights and awakenings about life. Yours will be different than mine, because we are all unique and all experiencing life from our own unique perspective. Which is what makes meditations so beautiful and perfect also. You can’t get it wrong, and when you share your insights, you expand my awareness, because you help me to see the Universe and life in a new way.
If you'd like to try a guided meditation with HU being sung in the background, I have incorporated it into my meditation "I am the Universe, the Universe is me." Click here to hear a sample and purchase the mp3 (or click the image below).
Often times, the things we want to accomplish or do seem overwhelming and even impossible in their scope.
This is usually because we are looking at the whole thing as if it all has to be done now. No one, in the history of humanity, achieved their dreams or ambitions overnight. It is a step by step process.
Sometimes, that step is to simply take rest. We often fear taking downtime because we associate that with being lazy, or worse, with the fear that if we aren't constantly going and going nothing is happening.
When I look back over some of the incredible things that showed up for me, they always worked out when I least expected it. It wasn't when I was stressed out, burning the candle at both ends. It was after I put in the effort, set my intention, and then turned my focus else where. I let it go. Sometimes consciously, sometimes not.
Trusting it's being worked out behind the scenes, and that powerful forces are assisting us, is crucial to not only our success, but our well-being and happiness.
Consider today what choices you make in a moment to moment basis. Are they bringing you closer to what you want, or perhaps entrenching you deeper in habits you wish to release? Your life, and your dreams, are built of those small moments.
If you find yourself in a moment of worry and exhaustion, pause, breathe and pivot your thoughts to what's going right. And if things are going right, notice how you feel, breathe into it, and expand that feeling of joy and gratitude.
What is left of the caterpillar in the butterfly?
Recently, someone shared the above quote with me.
When I read it, I had so many thoughts of what this means. I continued to sit with it, and the more I thought about it, the more meaning it had for me. I love how this question so perfectly captures the mystery and depth of change.
When we change, what is left of our former selves? We are made from it, and yet, is it a part of us? Or are we a part of it?
I hope you find some time to reflect and meditate on this question also. It brought me an unexpected feeling of comfort, while also revealing things to me I had felt, but had no words for.
This question also relates to one of my favorite mantras to meditate on, which I shared here.
I bought this gorgeous water color painting of Ganesha in Bali, about 6 years ago.
If you've ever been to Bali you know that art is highly celebrated there. Being an artist is a respectable pursuit and highly encouraged, which is a rare thing to find in this busy, modern world. Every other person you meet there is a highly skilled artist, which I imagine is also part of why Bali feels so healing to people's souls.
Art heals in so many ways.
The artist that made this painting was friends with a woman I was staying with. We sat together on the patio of my little room, which was connected to the rest of the home, setup as a traditional Balinese compound. I was in love with all his work, and along with this one, I bought one of the Goddess of education (forgive me but I forgot her name).
Ganesha is probably one of the most well known of the Hindu deities because of his association with removing obstacles.
If you're at work and can't close your eyes to meditate here's a nice idea: Click on the painting and it'll open to show the full thing. Relax your focus and breathe slow and deep as you look at the painting. Offer up any blocks or obstacles in your life to Ganesha.
Keep breathing deep until you get as close as you can to surrendering your challenges. Close the image and trust you've let it go, and it's being taken care of. Let it go and go on, coming back to Ganesha as often as you need.
I wish you a lovely day full of support and delightful surprises.
Sometimes I get lonely.
When you work from home, and your work revolves around writing, it can sometimes feel like you go a long time without talking to anyone. But literally being alone isn't the only time we humans feel lonely.
Sometimes we feel it when we're surrounded by other people. Sometimes we feel it when we're with someone we've known a long time, and the friendship or relationship feels out of sync.
Whatever the reason, a feeling of loneliness comes from feeling disconnected. We feel disconnected from each other, which means we feel disconnected from the truth that separation is only an illusion. We also feel disconnected from the greater truth that we are, at all times, created by and a part of something far bigger than ourselves.
In order to quiet my mind from trying to convince me how alone I am, I have started using a simple but powerful phrase. It reminds me that whenever I look out at the world, I am a part of it and it is a part of me and feeling alone is just that. It's a feeling, but it's not real. What's real is love.
What's real is where we came from, the energy that binds us all to each other and to the cosmic force that created us and cradles us in its love, at all times.
So when I feel lonely, I just remind myself, "The whole Universe is in every single cell of my body." And then I feel better. I feel that all those people out there, they're with me, and I'm with them, and we're all in this together. And because I'm no longer projecting loneliness, things tend to shift in a way that reflects that love and connection back to me.
Say this to yourself as often as you need. It really helps, and we really are all in this together.
"He is so small and gentle. Honestly, I don't know how he makes it in prison."
This is how Nigel Poor, a visual artist who volunteers at San Quentin prison, describes Curtis. Curtis is serving a 50 years to life sentence for three separate robberies. During the last robbery, he stole $40 from a cash register. Due to the three strikes law, for the price of two twenty dollar bills, he received a lifetime behind bars.
We'll come back to Curtis's criminal record, why he began stealing, and his life sentence later. First, lets hear Curtis describe himself in his own words.
"My personality is that of almost... child like. Very playful. I've taken on some very adult responsibilities, however, I'm still child like."
When Curtis says he's taken on some adult responsibilities, I don't think he's referring to his prison sentence. I think he's referring to his adolescence, which was when both his parents abandoned him. He was left to fend for himself, having to make adult decisions on his own, all while wrestling with this feeling of rejection.
Around the time he was 19, he went in search of his parents. He found them, but he didn't find the love and reunion he'd been seeking. His dad had moved on and started another family, and he let Curtis know he wasn't a welcome part of it. Separately, he found his mom, and she made no apologies and regretted nothing.
Not even the fact that Curtis's childhood nickname had been "Ugly". And this was how Curtis felt - ugly. His derailed attempt at reconnecting with his parents broke something inside of him, and he went on a dark path, intent on destroying this ugly person through cocaine.
All throughout the 80's, Curtis self-medicated, becoming increasingly addicted to cocaine. He also got married during this time and had a daughter. But his addiction was spiraling out of control, and thus began the stealing.
Curtis's first two convictions were also for robbery. Neither was violent and neither involved a weapon. Curtis is the first to admit that what he did was stupid, but when he committed his third robbery, he couldn't believe he was being given life in prison. When Curtis first arrived, his non-violent persona was put to the test. A knife was put in his hand, and he was ordered to go kill a child molester. He wouldn't even consider it. He accepted any consequences this might incur - even if it meant he himself would be killed.
This desire not to lose himself was his primary goal. He felt if he kept his integrity, he could survive this experience. He wanted to make the most of it, and so he played sports, joined clubs, and became very active in the church. He focused on his health, both physical and mental. He also received a pen pal in the form of a couple who wrote him letters, a relationship that would play an unexpected role in the miracle of the diaries.
But before the miracle happened, something else happened that threatened to smother his inner light. As Curtis tells this part of the story his voice becomes quieter, and the impact of it, all these years later, is still palpable.
In 2008, after 13 years in prison, Curtis was raped. Rape, especially in a well-maintained prison like San Quentin, is not as common as people think it is. This incident was shocking, and for Curtis, beyond unbearable. For the first time, he considered ending his life.
As he says, “When the rape happened, it was like, ain’t nobody coming to rescue Curtis. Ain’t no way getting out of this. And this is what you have to live with for the rest of your life.”
This was beyond a low point for Curtis. He went into a shell and feared he'd never find his way out of it. But strangely enough, it was around this time, that the miracle began to unfold.
It all goes back to Christiana, the daughter he'd had before he was incarcerated. She'd just been five when he left, and his then-wife promised to bring Christiana around to visit. But she didn't. And she even went as far as disappearing. She moved to an unknown place, and from inside those gray walls, Curtis had no way of finding her or his daughter.
As the years went by, Curtis continued to hope he could somehow, someway reach Christiana. He wanted her to know he never forgot her, and so he began writing her letters in diaries.
"I wanted her to know that her father really loved her and this was not a reflection of her at all. This was a reflection of the turmoil within her father and not her. I wanted to be very clear with that. There's a voice inside of me that questions what was it about my own mom and dad that they didn't want me. So, I carry that voice. What was it about me? And I didn't want my daughter Christiana to have that."
Years and years go by. The diaries fill up, and he continues to write them. Meanwhile, the couple he was corresponding with, continues to write him. They live several states away, but he grows close with the wife, who becomes like a mother figure to him.
Eventually, he asks her if he can send her the diaries. He's worried they'll be confiscated, as the corrections officers are often in the cells and taking things away. The wife, who he calls J to protect her privacy, agrees.
And then, something remarkable happens. J is looking in the newspaper and sees a list of names of students in the graduating class. It's been 13 years since Curtis saw his daughter, and she's now 18.
In that list of names is Christiana.
J, who lives nowhere near where all this began, lives a stone's throw from the daughter Curtis has been hoping against hope to find. J is a school teacher, and she asks if any of her students know this girl. Someone does, and J learns Christiana works at a local pizza parlor.
J speaks to Christiana and gives her the rundown of her part in it all. She asks Christiana if she'd like to write to her father, and she does. After they begin this connection, J gives Christiana the diaries. Curtis, who had sent the diaries to J just for safe keeping, is blown away.
Let's just take a moment here and recap the astounding level of coincidence that went into this. Curtis is incarcerated in a prison in California. He meets another inmate who has a pen pal they don't care to write to. So Curtis takes up with J, who lives hundreds of miles away. Out of a sea of eight BILLION people, J is the one who writes to him for YEARS. And then it turns out, she lives in the SAME TOWN where his wife took his daughter. And when it came time Christiana was old enough to decide if she wanted to speak to her dad, Curtis spontaneously sends the diaries to J. This timing, in itself, is pretty profound. And J just happened to look in the newspaper the SAME DAY Christiana graduated and sees her name...
If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. I don't think there's any way to explain that other than to believe, on some level, there are divine forces at work in our lives. They are working behind the scenes, moving pieces, arranging things, and taking care of us. These mystical forces make things happen that we couldn't make happen even if we tried.
After Christiana read the diaries she began building her own relationship with Curtis. Unfortunately, after a year of this, she decided that she needed to move on with her life. Curtis didn't get the outcome he had hoped for, but that didn't diminish the profound effect this experience had on him. Especially at a time when he needed it most.
And that my friends, is the Miracle of the Diaries. I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did.
The "Miracle of the Diaries" is a true story that was featured on the podcast Ear Hustle. Ear Hustle is a thought provoking, insightful, and often times moving podcast by Radiotopia. It's made by prisoners inside San Quentin, who tell their own stories in their own words.
If you'd like to hear the full episode, check out "Left Behind", on season 1, episode 8 of Ear Hustle. You can also subscribe to it on iTunes, Podcast addict, or wherever you get your listen on. I'm a huge fan, and am so grateful to Curtis and the Ear Hustle team for bringing this powerful story to me.