Erica L Hernandez

writing and blog about grief and loss, death and beyond, child loss, mood management, bipolar education, and domestic violence, and finding spiritual moments in a crisis.

spirit messages in smells

Special smells from spirit:

Have you ever smelled something that wasn’t there? Now some people might consider that psychotic and it could be.   But you know yourself and I know myself.  I know I am not psychotic.  But I have smelled things that weren’t there.  It’s happened numerous times and I’ll share one example with you.

First, I’ll explain a little about psychotic features. They rarely come on out of the blue. Most people who experience psychotic features experience them with other symptoms as well.  They might come on with a lack of interest or motivation to do things, less facial expressions, difficulty organizing one’s thoughts, among others.  Sometimes psychotic features appear with depression or mania.

So, when none of the above symptoms are present, it’s possible that although one is perceiving something that isn’t there, it might not be psychosis.

This is what happened to me.  I was working in my office and my elderly mother was dropped off by a friend so I could take her to her CPA’s office.  The CPA works in her home and has a lovely garden outside her home.

Previous to this incident, my father died, about three months ago.  My father was a coffee lover and drank 1-2 cups of coffee every day.  He always chose coffee ice cream and often would choose coffee candy.

I take my mom inside the CPA’s office, noticing the garden but not very consciously.  While we are sitting in the office, I notice that my hands smell like coffee.  It’s a strong smell, like coffee grounds.  I do not drink coffee and I do not make the coffee in my home that is drunk.  I asked the CPA if she had just made coffee but she hadn’t.  There was no explanation for the coffee smell on my hands.

On the way out, I notice the lovely garden, still wondering about the smell of coffee on my hands.  When I returned to my office, the smell was still on my hands.  There is no coffee in my office.  At about this time, I realize that my father is reaching out to me from the other side.  He wants me to “be in the now”, notice the beautiful things, the garden.

When you experience odd things, notice what is happening at the time.  There is something you need to pay attention to.  For me it was the garden, the beauty in the now!

Spirit tricks

Spirits have a funny way of trying to get your attention.  My daughter seems to avoid the idea that her brother, though gone from the physical world, is still very much alive and well in another dimension.  He has shown her some very sweet things over the two plus years since he died, but she refuses to connect the dots.  That big brother of hers adored her, let me tell you!

Recently, she and I were in the kitchen.  It was past bed time and her father, brother, and grandmother were already in bed.  She was pushing my boundaries, not going to brush her teeth like she’d been told. I noticed she was putting something in the freezer; a graham cracker with chocolate sauce and sliced strawberries. “I wanted to see if it would freeze over night!”  She says. Silly, because she’s smart enough to know it will.  She’s just satisfying her sugar addiction!

I get her off to bed and myself also.

The next morning when she comes in the kitchen, she opens up the freezer.  “It’s gone!” She is furious.  She’s convinced her grandmother ate it, but although her grandmother also has a sweet tooth, she doesn’t eat dessert for breakfast. Her brother isn’t up yet and her father also doesn’t eat sweets in the morning.  She looks all around in the freezer.  “Maybe it fell to the side.”

She doesn’t find it and we eventually have to go get her and her brother to school.  Every one leaves for work, school or a class.

In the afternoon, she goes to a friend’s house and her brother and I head home.  He knows nothing about the treat she made herself, but he’s in the freezer looking for some frozen berries.  “Hey, there’s a graham cracker here with chocolate on it.  Did Gabriela make this?”

I’m astounded.  I have to come see it with my own eyes.  “Holy crap!  It’s there!” Right where she said it should have been, on top of a bag of wontons.

I tell her brother the story then.  “That’s a Shawheen trick no doubt!”  He tells me.

And I have to agree.

When his sister gets home I tell her. “Shawheen put the graham cracker back.”

She has to check and it is still there.  I don’t know if she’ll ever admit her deceased brother is trying to contact her.  I imagine he’ll keep trying.  But her brother and I know it’s him.  He’s keeping an eye on us, offering us guidance, humor, and love.

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Help the homeless, help the world

Do you ever wonder how you can help the growing homeless population in your town?  I hear people talk about the problems with the world, with little clarity about what they can do to help.

There are times in our lives when finances are tight and we can’t afford to help others.  During those times in my life, I’ve meditated, sending out love to the world and thoughts of peace on earth.  This is something anyone can do.  If you’d like to meditate, yet struggle with it, try going to your search engine and putting in: UCLA marc.  Free guided meditations will come up.  Try them!

When our financial situation improves, there are other things we can do.  I’d love to hear your ideas of things you have done to help the world, the homeless population, the mentally ill, the disabled, and those less fortunate than we are.

Before my son died, nearly three years ago, I used to go cook for the homeless.  I would pack up my camp stove, my family and food, and we would hang out under the Jefferson street bridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I would take tortillas, beans, cheese, home-made salsa, and coffee and offer food and hot coffee to the homeless population.  It was rewarding to be able to do something, however small, to ease their suffering.

Until recently, my own suffering made it impossible for me to face that kind of need outside my work hours.  More recently, however, I’ve found myself reaching out again to help.  It could be very small, like offering my returnable bottles to a homeless person, or offering a warm hat to someone on the street.  For the last few months, I have found homeless men regularly camping near the market I shop at, so I’ve begun bringing them food when I’m done shopping.

I’ve struck up a conversation with one gentleman who is there regularly and he gave me an idea.  He told me a story about once getting a sandwich at the White Bird Clinic, in Eugene, Oregon.  Apparently, it wasn’t a regular service, but a donation from a concerned citizen.  So, I went home last night and cooked up a huge pot of grains (like rice) with beans and home-made tomatillo salsa and I took that down to White Bird Clinic.  I left it there with more salsa, plates, napkins and spoons.  I dropped by after lunch to pick up my empty pot and canning jar.

I share this with you as an offering of an idea.  Do you have time sometimes to drop food off at your local service station for the homeless?  Do you live in a country where this isn’t a problem?  If so, your government is clearly handling things better than ours is.

Or take it as a challenge!  One-up me!

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Mood Management, Bipolar Disorder natural treatment, routines

Please remember that this site is not meant to be a substitute for professional help.  If you have a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder, or you think you might, please seek professional help in person!

Once you have begun working with a therapist or doctor, this site can be added support.

When working to manage mood, particularly bipolar disorder, routine matters a lot.  It helps to create a routine that allows you to go to bed around the same time and get up around the same time.  In previous blogs I have talked about the importance of sleeping 7-9 hours per night.  Feel free to read that blog, now, for a discussion of why it is important to sleep about 8 hours per night.

Part of getting a good night’s sleep, is working on your evening routine.  It is helpful to get enough darkness, so be sure to read the blog on dark therapy and bipolar disorder.  It is also important, during high energy periods, to develop a calm evening routine.  This means visiting with only family or perhaps one friend.  When one is struggling with high energy, ie on the manicy end of the spectrum, there is a lot of stimulation inside the body.  With all that inner stimulation, the body cannot tolerate a lot of stimulation out of the body.  So, it is important to minimize numbers of people, lights, sounds, and stabilize with comfortable temperatures.  It is important to do calming activities, like meditation, hot baths or showers, listen to calm music, and do calm hobbies.  Calm hobbies might include handwork, journaling, or reading, activities which can be done sitting down.

If you ever wake up in the middle of the night, or before achieving the ideal number of sleep hours, it is very important to do calm activities which may enable you to return to sleep within an hour or so.  I highly recommend looking at the blog on dark therapy if this is an issue for you.  Then I recommend trying meditation.  If meditation doesn’t work within twenty to thirty minutes, it is a good idea to leave the bed, and choose soothing activities for thirty to sixty minutes before returning to the bed for another round of meditation.

It is also really important to keep televisions and other screen devices out of your bedroom along with anything that has light.  Research has shown that having nightlights or light entering through a window can interfere with anyone’s sleep.  So a good set of black out curtains is also a very good idea.

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Spirits rest, Life-force energy renewal

Do you sense you’re experiencing synchronistic events, rather than coincidences? Do you talk to your loved ones after they’ve passed?   I have had two loved ones die in the last three years and I have learned that they are very available to communicate with while no longer in the physical body.

Over two years ago my son died.  He was only thirty years old, was in recovery from drug addiction, and struggling with debilitating depressions.  He had had a spiritual awakening at Serenity Lane and had continued following his spiritual path after that.  In a debilitating depression, he overdosed, and I lost my beloved son.

It wasn’t more than a month after he died that he began communicating with me from beyond the veil and he has been available to me on a daily basis since then.  You may have read other posts about some of the miraculous experiences he has shared with me.

Two months ago, my father died.  He had lived his life with great integrity, but as an atheist, with no belief in the afterlife.  He was convinced the end was the end.  He believed that he would decompose into dirt and worms, with no belief in a soul.  He had also had 15 years of chronic illness with Alzheimer’s disease.

When he died, he was initially unresponsive from the spirit world.  My son, Shawheen, told me, “Give him time, Mom, he’s adjusting.”

I began talking to him, telling him what happened, how he should notice that he still lives, he just isn’t physical anymore, that we can still communicate, even though I am here in the physical world and he is in the spirit world.  Each time I reached out to him and sensed confusion, I explained the best I could about the ending of his physical life and the continuance of his spiritual life.

For a while I got nothing, then I seemed to get grunts, then confusion, and over the weeks, gradually he seemed more aware.  Eventually after 6-8 weeks I sensed something like an awakening.  It was like he was suddenly alert and able to respond.  He seemed younger, bouncy, jolly and very receptive.  It was a 180-degree change from his confused, unresponsive state from before.

In consultation with a psychic, I was informed that when physical bodies are very ill, it can take them a while to finish resting.  During their rest period, just after physical death, they may be unresponsive, as if in a sleep.  During this time, the angels are returning the depleted life-force energy to the spiritual body.  While the physical body ages and becomes ill, the life-force energy is depleted and needs to be returned or reinforced.  She explained that my communications with my father likely helped him somehow.  Maybe in some way I was helping the angels revive his life-force energy.  It is a beautiful idea, anyway, that while here in the physical plane, we can actually help our spirit loved ones!

Natural Bipolar Disorder treatment, sleep

This blog is not a substitute for therapy.  If you think you might have a Bipolar Spectrum disorder, it is my recommendation that you seek treatment right away.

In my last blog on Bipolar disorder, I shared information on dark therapy, an innovative new approach to the treatment of Bipolar disorder.  Dark therapy stems from the idea that we all operate on circadian rhythms.

Most researchers agree that the majority of the population needs 7-9 hours of sleep.  If you have a Bipolar spectrum disorder, moods are characterized by changes in these numbers of sleep.  People with Mania or Hypomania will likely sleep significantly less than that, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or healthy.  In Depression, those numbers may increase or decrease.

From my perspective, the first step to treating someone with a mood disorder is to help them increase their awareness of their symptoms.  A tracking device is used on a daily basis to help people become more aware of which symptoms they experience, and which activities reduce those symptoms.

In the process of reviewing those symptoms, we pay special attention to sleep and explore sleep hygiene.  When sleep is an issue around moods, it is important to get clear with ourselves, how dark our bedroom is, how calming are our activities before sleeping, and what activities we do during the day that help us sleep or impair our sleep.

At that point we have a choice.  If we want to feel better, we’ll adjust those things as needed so sleep gets easier.  As it gets easier and more balanced, our mood ought to stabilize and the symptoms will likely decrease.

A hot shower or bath, meditation, journaling, and warm milk or herb tea are all good activities before going to sleep.  Sitting still doing an art project can be good as well, something focused like knitting, crocheting, carving, or cross stitch are good examples.  When writing in a journal, focusing on negative experiences during the day will need to be balanced by processing the positive sides of things for some people to facilitate going to sleep.  Intensified emotions may interfere with going to sleep so it is important to consider this when choosing what to write, read, listen to or talk about before going to sleep.

There is a large array of supplements to aide sleep.  If you feel that you need those or prefer them over other options, I would encourage you to reach out to a naturopath, acupuncturist, or herbalist to explore your choices.

Erica Freeman, LCSW

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Pennies from heaven and spirit guidance

Do you ever wonder if your spirit guides or guardian angels are there for you when life gets hard?  I used to wonder about that but ever since my son died two and a half years ago, I have known that it is true.  I know they’re there, that he is there, supporting me and guiding me through life’s challenges.  If you have read my previous blogs, you have experienced my stories about how my son stays close to me, supporting me, teasing me, and guiding me through life’s difficult times.

In early January my father went to the hospital with kidney problems and dehydration.  He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for about 14 years, yet over the recent year or two, there had been some clear and steady decline, sleeping more, eating less, and then in the last few months, no longer telling us his stories over and over again.

I checked in on my parents regularly several times a week and had hired a dear family friend to look after him five days a week so my mother wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed.  She and my mother kept me up to date with new developments.

My father came home from the hospital improved, but within a week he was declining again, falling more frequently, sleeping a lot, and awake very little with a very narrow interest in eating (lots of sweets!).

On Thursday, January 18, I found a penny by my car.  On Friday, January 19, I found a penny in a parking lot between my car and the yogurt shop.  On Saturday, January 20, I found a penny in the hospital parking lot (more on that later) and on Sunday, January 21, I found a penny outside my parent’s house.  Then on Monday, January 22, I found a penny near my office.  That’s a lot of pennies in a row!  I knew they were Pennies from Heaven, notes from my guides, my son, letting me know they’re there with me, nearby, watching over me.  When it started, I didn’t know why.

Very early Saturday morning (20th) I was awakened by my cell phone ringing at 1:00 am.  I didn’t get up, but then my house phone was ringing and that was earie, I just knew it was about my parents.  I checked the caller ID but it was unfamiliar.  I could not sleep.  I felt certain it was about my parents yet I didn’t recognize the phone number.

At 2:00 am, the hospital called.  I answered that call.  They reported that my father had fallen and my mother had called the ambulance.  They believed it was the EMTs who had called the previous time.  They had taken him to the hospital.  I asked why they had taken him to the hospital and if they were planning to keep him.  I knew he didn’t want to be there.  We had recently met with a social worker and completed a POLST form, a document where he was able to state in advance: “I don’t want to be taken to the hospital.  I don’t want to be resuscitated.  I don’t want any care except for comfort.”  At 2:00 a.m. I wasn’t thinking about that specific form, but I knew he didn’t want to be in the hospital.  They said they would only keep him if he had a broken bone.

The next morning, I called the hospital.  They confirmed that he didn’t have any broken bones but they were keeping him due to his intense pain.  I told them they had discharged him just three weeks ago in pain and I didn’t think it was necessary to keep him.  They left a message for the doctor.  Fortunately, by the time I spoke to the doctor, I remembered the POLST form, and although it had not been completely processed, I was able to tell the doctor what it said and he was respectful.  He would discharge him by 2:00 p.m.

At 2:00 p.m., however, the nurse didn’t want to discharge him due to his pain.  I had to advocate for his desires, which he could no longer verbalize.  He wasn’t making any sense at all.  He was confused about who I was, which had never happened before.  It took an hour to convince the nurse, get him pain meds, and try to move him to a wheel chair.  It was impossible.  On 10mg of morphine in addition to Ativan, he was still in too much pain to move.  I continued to advocate, “there must be a way to get him moved”.  Finally, she acknowledged that an ambulance could come and take him home.

Another hour passed, and two strapping young men lifted his sheet and slid him, almost effortlessly, onto a stretcher.  He moaned and then was quiet.  They rolled him out to the ambulance with me holding his hand.  He slept.  He no longer seemed to be in pain at all!  It was remarkable.  As soon as he was out of the hospital, he felt much better.

We got him home and into bed with a few minor moans.  After that, he had to be turned to avoid bed sores, and could have Morphine as frequently as every hour, yet he didn’t need it that much.  He just wasn’t in that much pain.  I got a crash course on caring for the bedridden from the hospice nurse.  Upon discharge he was referred to hospice.  He was in renal failure and the nurse assured me it wouldn’t be long, a few weeks maybe, and he wouldn’t suffer much.  “If I could choose how to die,” she said, “I’d die this way.”

I stayed all day, and went home to sleep, returning the next day.  My mother was in early stage dementia and I knew she wouldn’t remember what to do.  The caregiver wasn’t available on the weekend and I wanted to be there.  I wanted to be with him as much as I could since I knew it wouldn’t be long.  Sunday, I stayed the whole day again and the caregiver agreed to come for the night.  I left at 7:30 p.m. dead tired and went straight to sleep.  My father still hadn’t awakened and wasn’t eating or drinking.  At 9:30p.m., she called, he had died, so quickly!

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that there had been pennies each of three days before he died, around his hospitalization, the all-day care, the day he died, and the day after.  My guides and my son had been letting me know they were there, supporting me, guiding me, letting me know I was on the right track advocating for him to come home, all of it.

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Spirit messages, computer madness

If you read my last blog, you read about the disappearance of my computer and how it reappeared later in my bed, where I definitely hadn’t put it.

It was only days later that my daughter asked if she could use the computer to look up a recipe.  She wanted to make cookies and you know how the new generation is: they don’t look things up in books, they use the computer!  This young girl reads books like other kids eat jelly beans, she gobbles them up two to five a day sometimes.  Still when it comes time to look something up, she wants a computer.

Sometime later in the evening when most of the cookies were gone, I was getting ready for the next day of work and I went looking for my computer and it was gone.  There was no sign of it on the counter in the kitchen where she had used it and it wasn’t on the desk where I charge it either.

“Gabriela, what did you do with my computer?”  I asked her.  She didn’t answer.  Do your preadolescent kids answer you the first time?  I tried to get her attention, fruitlessly, and then went looking for her.  I found her on her bed, buried in a book and I tapped her on the shoulder to distract her from the book and asked again.

“It should be on the counter.”  She assured me.

I asked her to come help me look for it and once again, we searched the house to no avail.  Despite my experience a few days ago, I searched everywhere and when I didn’t find it, I got stressed out about what I was going to do at work the next day without it.

When I woke up the next morning, my computer was on the computer desk, right where it belonged.  I knew it was Shawheen’s work, teasing me with the missing computer.

That day when I got home, I decided I would leave my computer in my briefcase.  I wouldn’t use it at all, then maybe it wouldn’t disappear and stress me out!  If Shawheen’s goal was for me to use my computer less, then this theory might have been sound.

Later my son wanted that computer to write an essay, so once again it came out, but this time I insisted it go right back into my briefcase.

Again, I’m getting ready for work and getting everything ready.  I check my briefcase just to make sure that my computer is there.  It’s NOT!  I can’t believe it’s not there.  Did it really go back?  I get my son to help me look for the computer.  We’re searching from room to room, all over the house.

After a while, my daughter appears, wanting something from me.  “I can’t help you right now, we’re looking for my computer.”  I tell her, quite seriously.

“Is it lost again?  Mom!  It’ll be back in the morning.  He always gives it back!  Why are you worried about it?”  She was so matter-of-fact.  She had no doubt in her mind that Shawheen had taken my computer once again and I would get it back in the morning.

“You’re right.” I told her.  “He gives it back every time.”  I let it go with peace and confidence.

The next morning, it was right on the computer desk as expected, ready to load up in my briefcase.  “Listen, Shawheen, could you please find some other way to get my attention, besides my computer?  This is a pain.  I like the coins much better!”  I let him know I don’t like it when he takes things, even if he does give them back!!

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Spirit pranks, things missing and reappearing

Yesterday, I brought my computer home in my briefcase just like any other day.  This morning it was gone.  I looked everywhere for it and decided perhaps I had left it at work, although I didn’t really think so.  I remember going to the bathroom before I left for work to brush my hair and noticing that my husband hadn’t made his side of the bed.  I was aware of the empty space where he sleeps.  It was an unusual morning because generally I take the kids to school and my husband leaves later than me.  This morning he took the kids to school so I had a quiet house.

When I arrived at work, there was no computer.  I got a little stressed about it and then decided that one of my kids had probably snuck off to their room with it and didn’t dare tell me.

When I got home, I checked each kid’s room, nothing.  I looked in my bedroom, even under the bed, nothing.  I even looked in the bathroom!  I doubt I have ever used it there, but I looked anyway.  I looked under the furniture in the living room.  I recruited my kids to look.  I began to get frantic since all my work stuff is on the computer, my book, half way into the second draft is there, not to mention other important documents.  It also contains my work files which include some that are HIPPAA protected.  Losing the computer could be a problem for my licensure.  I was getting loud with worry.  I went back to my bedroom and something told me to open my husband’s side of the bed.  Perhaps subconsciously I remembered that it hadn’t been made this morning, yet it was neatly made now…  Lo and behold, there was my computer IN OUR BED!

I had begun to wonder if Shawheen, my deceased son, took the computer and now it was obvious.  “Thanks, Shawheen!”  I took the computer to the desk where I charge it.  I still didn’t have the charger cable and it wasn’t there.  I wasn’t concerned since I could replace it if I had to.

A little after dinner, my daughter came to find me in the bedroom. “I think your charger cable is on the computer desk.”  She said, casually.

“But I was just there putting the computer away and it wasn’t there.  Are you sure it’s not the other one?”

“Well, I don’t think so…”

I went to check.  I figured she got it mixed up with the other computer, but when I got there, my computer was at an angle like there was something under it.  My other computer was plugged in to its charger.  When I lifted up my computer, there was its charger, underneath it.  There was no way I could have missed it before.

Thanks, Shawheen!’ I thought to myself.  ‘I got the message!  You want me to get off my computer and do something else!’  So, that evening I crocheted peacefully!  I realized later he also didn’t want his pranks to cause my any anguish.

Spirit gifts, miraculous appearances

I took some time off during the winter break, to spend with my children, relax, and get away to nature.  I have some vitamins I take regularly because they help me sleep, and I realized I was running low on them and should order more, but I was busy preparing the big meal for Christmas, and didn’t do it.  I remember taking the last one and thinking, ‘I’ve got to order more of these.’ And still didn’t do it.

Then, I was packing to go stay in a cabin for a few days where we could play in the snow, go cross country skiing, and build snowmen.  I told myself I would stop at Bi-mart on the way out of town and buy some there.
I got half way to the snow and realized I hadn’t stopped to buy them.   I then told myself I would ask my son, who was coming to join us in the snow, to pick some up on the way.

I slept poorly that night in the snow.  I had forgotten a second vitamin and managed to remember to ask him to bring the second one, but still forgot to ask him to buy the first one.  I felt like kicking myself when he arrived and I realized I hadn’t asked him to stop and buy that vitamin.  I wouldn’t be able to order any while I was gone because the internet was too weak out there.  We could text, but no internet, and no phone calls.

We had a great time out in the snow, even with less sleep than usual.  It was rustic, quiet, and alive with nature sounds.  Out back was the creek, nearly a river, gurgling as it raced by.  In front and to the sides were trees and snow, the nearest neighbors probably a hundred yards away at least.

We are always glad to get home again, to our beds, to our animals, and to our comforts, though.  I was putting everything away, thinking that right afterwards I would order vitamins, when, lo and behold, I found a bottle of the vitamins.  They hadn’t been there when I left and they were not the brand I regularly ordered.  They were not even the size I usually ordered.  This was a better quality, more expensive brand, with fewer gel-caps to the bottle.  My husband had gone to L.A. and hadn’t returned yet and no one had been staying in the house while we were gone.  The only person I could think of who could have provided me with the vitamin I had been thinking about, was the one person I love who does not exist in the physical world, my deceased son.  He has given me so many gifts.

When I thought of him, and thanked him for the vitamins, I saw an image of him in my mind’s eye, with this seventeenth century outfit on.  He touches his cap, bows his head slightly, and puts his heal forward.  It’s a sort of an ‘at your service’ pose…

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