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.

Spiritual Meanings: Finding Coins

Finding coins on the ground or in any other unusual place brings to mind the saying: “pennies from heaven”.  Spirits, guardian angels, guides, whatever you call them, they keep an eye on us, figuratively speaking.  They’re there with us all the time and when we open our hearts to them, we begin to notice how they communicate.  They let us know when we’re on the right path for our soul by leaving us little signs, which might be in the form of coins.

            In my last post, Spiritual Growth,  I discussed how our guides or our higher selves let us know when we’re not on the right path, through emotions we might not understand.

            When we are on the right path, they leave signs in the material world for us to find.  Your guides may drop pennies in your path, leave you feathers, or pretty/heart-shaped stones.  They direct you to see repeating numbers.  They leave you signs you find suddenly, only you will know the significance of them.  If they’re young spirits, they may play silly pranks on you.  They’re letting you know that they’re there, with you, watching over you, letting you know when you’re on the right path.  It may be something you are thinking or something you are doing that is “right” for your soul path.  They want you to know that you’re on the right path so they leave you a sign.

            The other day I was taking my daughter to buy food for a trip to the beach.  I took my canning jar full of herb tea, which I usually carry around for healthy liquid.  At the first stop light, it rolled onto the floor of the car.  I thought to myself, “uh oh, it may get in the way of my driving”.  So, I pulled over to look for it, but it was gone.  I felt under the seat, around the floor, but couldn’t find it.

            Yesterday when we were packing the car, I felt all around both sides of the floor of the front seat but the jar of tea seemed to have dematerialized.  I thought it was a pretty cute trick really and I actually laughed, which I believe is the goal.  Spirits like us laughing!  They like us happy.  One of my guides now, is my son, who died 31/2 years ago and he definitely likes me happy.

            What I didn’t think about at the time that the jar dematerialized, was that my son/my guide liked that I was planning to take my kids to the beach.  He was letting me know I was on the right track.

            I share this with you to encourage you to pay attention, keep your heart open, and your mind open to the meanings behind the little treats you may find in your path.  It could be coins, feathers, things disappearing or reappearing, or it could be an animal or insect behaving in an unusual way.  Native American belief says wild animals, Medicine Spirits, show themselves to you with purpose.  Likely there are things I am not even thinking about, but when they happen, they’ll pull you up short.  You’ll think, “that’s odd”.  You might discount it with, “that’s just a coincidence”.  But they’re not.  They’re serendipitous!  Serendipitous things are our guides, the spirits, communicating with us.  They’re saying, “Great job!  You’re on the right track!  You’re evolving!”  They’re validating you for something you’ve done right, letting you know you are not alone. 

Spiritual Growth

            As physical beings on this earth plane, we experience a vast array of emotions, some of which at times may become challenging.  Grief sometimes gets pushed down so deep, it is difficult to reclaim, process, and manage.  Physical injuries and illness also cause emotions, as our bodies work to heal us, we create depression like symptoms which are actually just part of our immune system doing its job. 

Our higher self may also create emotions in our bodies as a way of communicating with us.  I’d like to highlight this for a moment because it can be so confusing, yet intensely important for our spiritual growth.  There are times, perhaps often, when our bodies create emotions, depression or anxiety, that is actually our higher self, trying to get our attention.  It is trying to tells us we are on the wrong track in something we are thinking about or pursuing.  It is our body’s way of telling us we need to do something differently.

I’ll give you an example of a very clear time when I experienced this phenomena.  While my son was still alive, he struggled with drug addiction and a desire to kill himself.  I was so terrified that he would, I tried to get him some medication.  I got terribly anxious about it, almost panicky, and realized it was the wrong way to deal with his misery and my fear.  I told him I couldn’t help him get medications, but I could help him get into treatment.  The anxiety evaporated.  I helped him get into treatment and had my lovely son for at least 4 more years after that.

Grief work is tricky to negotiate.  It may be time to grieve about something and we aren’t doing the grief work.  Instead we are pushing along, working, taking care of others, doing the chores or whatever distracts us.  Maybe we’re watching movies, playing video games, getting drunk or high, but we’re not paying attention to our bodies, so we feel pain.  It may be physical pain or it may be anxiety, but the message is: “grieve”.  Do the griefwork, face the tears, face our loss; the physical body needs to grieve and it actually helps our spirit counterparts when we face our grief and do this work.  Sadness is an important, genuine, vulnerable emotion, healthy to feel and healthy to express.  The amazing thing you might notice if you face this emotion head on, is your anxiety abates.  This type of anxiety is your body’s way of telling you that you need to experience your sadness, the body’s loss.

Facing any of our emotions, learning to understand where they come from, and processing them, helps us grow spiritually.  The amazing part is that it not only helps us, it helps the spirits on the other side of the veil.

Spiritual Evolution

I wonder how many people get their thoughts mired in the muck of negativity around our presidency, global warming, or pollution?  I’ve talked to lots of people who struggle with anxiety and find themselves worrying about what Trump is going to do next, how much plastic is in the ocean, or if we’ll run out of fuel.  I hear people worrying that there’s nothing they can do about it, nothing that will make a difference.  They become disillusioned with the world.

            On a spiritual front, I hear people talking about ascension, getting closer to God, or as the Sufi say, The One.  Organized Religions say their way is the only way.  As if there was only one way.  But, does that make sense?  Would a loving being make it that hard?  Would The One make it so there was only one right path, one way to ascend?

            Having lived through the death of a child, I feel like I have been given a connection with The One.  I keep receiving the message that there are lots of paths.   Imagine a location with many paths to get there.  Imagine your city’s downtown and how many route’s there are to get to the center.  You have your favorite route, streets you would prefer to take and you know your friend/beau/spouse likes to go another way, but they both get you there.  Spirituality is similar.  There are lots of ways to get closer to God.  They will all get you there.  You just have to find the route that works for you.

            Everything in this blog I offer as a potential route to help you get there.

            If you work on yourself, lifting your mood, relieving your anxiety, stabilizing your mood, that will help you feel better, think more positively, and get closer to The One.  If you exercise, meditate, and volunteer to help others, it will help you evolve and get closer to God, helping you shine a light to others.

            Paying attention to all the negativity in the world is a way of being mired in the physical world, controlled by the media and the government, getting too focused on being IN the world, rather than being OF the world.  It’s important to keep an awareness, which can be helped through meditation, that we’re only visiting here, all this physical stuff is temporary, and miracles do happen.  If miracles can happen, it stands to reason that if we really try to fix our world, it could get easier to fix.

            If everyone could focus on the beautiful positive things in our world, rather than the ugly negative things, we would be a much more peaceful people.  Imagine each day, waking up and listening to the news, full of shootings, robberies, thefts, and all Trump’s negativity.  A downer, right?  Then imagine starting each day meditating, speaking a long list of things you’re grateful for out loud, hugging someone, petting an animal, and helping another person.  Imagine noticing wildlife, paying attention to flowers blooming, noticing the bulbs popping up in the spring, and planting something you can watch grow.  What would your day be like then?  What kind of light would you shine?

            From this perspective, if we meditate, work on positive thinking patterns, and take care of our physical temple, our body, we will get closer to The One. 

The idea is similar to boiling point.  If you’ve ever watched a pot of water begin to boil, you would notice that when about 11% of the water begins to boil, suddenly all of the water is boiling.  If 11% of the population meditates, loves, helps others, imagines a healthy world, at some point everyone will suddenly be on board with that idea.  Maintaining this focus enables us to live happier, be healthier, and focus on the greater good.

Helping the homeless; helping them helps you

How many of you think about the growing number of people without permanent homes?   During one of my many trips to a local coop store, Grower’s Market, I discovered that there was a regular camp behind Grower’s, with a pretty consistent camper, P.  He is there most of the time and sometimes has a friend with him.  I talk to him pretty regularly now and have found him to be a friendly, pleasant person.

            During our chats, when I often bring him water, cheese, bread, and a banana or some combination of food stuff, he has shared with me his story.  He explained that he was divorced about five years ago and hasn’t had a permanent home since.  He hasn’t shared with me his personal issues, those things that added to the situation, and have prevented him from reacquiring permanent shelter.  He did share that he doesn’t like to go the group help centers, like the Mission, or the Egan Warming Centers because of the chaos and the human conflicts.

            So, I’ve made a regular habit of sharing.  When I go shopping each week, I get something for him too.  Sometimes I bring him some of our home cooked meal, hot food to heat him up from the inside out.  But at the very least, I get him something.  Sometimes I’ll give him money to wash and dry his sleeping bag/blankets.  ‘They get moldy,’ he explained, ‘from getting wet.’  ‘They won’t let me just come in and dry them at the laundro-mat.’  It’s hard for him to find enough money to wash and dry them.

Picking one person to help can be a way of taking on small bites at a time to help people in need.  Open your eyes and your heart to find someone who needs help and choose a way to help them that feels comfortable for you.  Most spiritual institutions talk about helping others as a way to feel closer to God, if you believe in that.  Most people recognize that helping someone helps us feel better about ourselves.

As we move through the journey of life, learning how to grow emotionally and spiritually, we begin to figure out tools to help ourselves feel good, good about ourselves, good about the world.  Focusing on what we can do to make the world a better place can help us feel good as well as focusing on the beauty that already exists in our world.  Discovering the friendly nature of those people who live without permanent shelter is one of those beautiful things!

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Miracle Manifest: Disappearing and Reappearing Items

            How many of you have ever experienced something that felt too unusual to be ‘just a coincidence’?  How many of you find coins in strange places, or more commonly than seems normal?  How many of you feel like a deceased loved one is connecting with you from the spirit world?  Please share your experiences right here and if it’s okay with you, I’ll post them to the blog!

Not long ago I wrote a blog about the interesting ways spirits play!  In the three years since my deepest loss, the number of items which have either appeared out of thin air, or disappeared and then reappeared later in a strange place, have been increasing.  The frequency with which I find coins has become so often that it defies chance and it continues to happen.

I wrote before about the dollar I found hanging in a tree, the twenty I found scrunched up on the side walk, and the five dollar-bill I found in a pocket where I never put money.  It seemed only natural to me to say to my son, in my head, ‘hey, all we need now is a ten!’  I was at least half-kidding, but really, I mean, why not?  So, when two five dollar-bills turned up in a strange place, I thought, ‘cute, Shawheen, that’s ten dollars alright, but that’s not a ten!’

I find pennies a lot, often I’ll find them three to five days in a row.  I consistently find an increase when I’ve had an intense period of grief.  Last Thursday was one of those days.  Grief hit me in the morning before work.  Usually it hits hard at night which is much more private, but this time it was in the morning.  So, I get in my parking place, wipe my eyes, check for redness in the rearview mirror, and when I look okay, I get out of the car.  Within ten feet of my car I find a penny.  Five feet from there, I find another penny.  “Thanks, Shawheen, now if I find a third that will really be something special!”  I thought to him and myself.  Later that day, a client of mine wanted to walk by the hospital to address some trauma and within a block or two from my office, I found a one dollar-bill.  Later the same day, I found the third penny.  Look at it visually, 1111.  Monetarily 1.03.  Anyway, you look at it, it’s a hell-of-a coincidence.  Serendipity, more like it, gifts from the spirit world.  They let us know we’re on the right track.  I find a lot of them near my office!!  I work as a psychotherapist, so I guess I’m doing the right work for me. 🙂

I share these experiences in the hopes that they will help you see the serendipitous events that occur in your life, an unusual experience with wildlife, an unusual sequence of events, or unexpected ‘coincidences’.  I hope that by reading about my serendipitous experiences, your heart and mind will be opened to amazing, awe inspiring experiences you have in your own life!

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Miracle: Spirits at Play

            What do you consider a miracle?  What makes you feel awestruck?  Have you ever felt like a loved one was nearby after they had passed on?

            Since my son died over three years ago, I often sense him communicating with me, experiencing a level of serendipity I can only attribute to a thinning of the veil that separates this physical realm from the spiritual one.  Over the years, I have found so many coins, my pennies from heaven, that I’ve realize it belies chance.  Since summer, I found a one-dollar bill literally hanging in a tree and a twenty-dollar bill scrunched up on a sidewalk near my office.  There have been a plethora of other finds that you could read about on other pages.

            A couple months ago, I bought the new iPhone X, a huge mistake since the prices dropped dramatically soon after.  Those of you have purchased this phone know that it comes with a charger cable and ear phones, but not with the needed adaptor which would enable you to plug those ear phones into the phone!  That same adaptor cable enables me to attach my square reader.  I hadn’t even realized I needed such a thing as I began to use my iPhone.  I went out for a walk one day and found a funny white gadget on the ground.  I didn’t realize it was the exact adaptor I was going to need, but I picked it up because it looked like Apple to me!  You might say it was a coincidence, but quite frankly, I don’t believe in coincidences anymore.  I know it was a gift from my son. 

            Then, a week or so ago, it disappeared!  Damn it, Shawheen, give it back already!  He likes to make things disappear to mess with me.  He thinks it’s funny.  He laughs at me a lot, let me tell you!  Thankfully, he doesn’t laugh at me when I’m crying.  He’s actually quite compassionate.  But, when I get angry at him for dematerializing things, he laughs.  So, I hope if I share this story, he’ll give me back the adaptor, and I won’t have to buy one.  You might think I just lost it, but I remember clearly.  I lent it to my son, but I got it back from him and put it “away”.  There have only been two places where I put it, one is a side pocket in my purse.  The other is a small pocket in my briefcase.

            I started this talking about money and I’m coming back to the money thing.  A few days ago, I was at work and I needed that adaptor.  I double checked in that little pocket in my briefcase and it wasn’t there.  Later that day, I looked again as I was leaving work and there was a crisp, five-dollar bill in that little pocket.  I never put money there, only pencils, pens and adaptor cables.  Thanks for the fiver, but could I still have the adaptor back?

            The other thing that has disappeared is my charger cable for my computer.  It is always plugged in at a desk in my back, living room and then one day it wasn’t.  I’m still waiting for Shawheen to give it back…

Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Anxiety: Mood Management Through Meditation

This blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional therapy

            Have you ever had the blues, felt blah and uninterested in things you usually enjoyed, or felt uncomfortably anxious?  Lots of people feel these things, yet our culture teaches us that we should hide behind the “I’m fine” scenario, and we are left to figure it out ourselves. 

In 2015, 16.1 million Americans had had a depressive episode that year, or about 6% of the adult population.  Another 1% of adults experience persistent low-grade depression, 18.1% of adults experience anxiety disorders, and 2.6% experience bipolar disorder.  Add it up!  That’s almost one out of 3 of us who struggle with mood or anxiety, so what do we do about it?

            Many people don’t know what to do. Some of us are fearful of therapy or the stigma of therapy and do our best with help from our friends.  Only a third of the population ask for professional help.  If you struggle with any of these issues, please seek professional help.  If you choose to try some of the ideas set forth in this blog, good for you!  Remember it’s your choice and is more like a self-help book, than actual treatment.  I encourage you to take responsibility for the results of your work!

            In this blog, I’ve talked about a number of research-based methods to help manage mood and anxiety.  Meditation is remarkably effective at helping.  Research has found that meditation has a direct impact on the brain, improving mood, calming anxiety and spreading out the space between bipolar episodes. 

If you’ve never meditated before or have tried and think it’s difficult, I encourage you to reconsider.  Think of meditation as a journey, rather than a destination.  If you can accept that, then you won’t hold a bunch of unrealistic expectations about meditation.  “I’m going to get in an alpha state” or “I’m going to be so calm” may be long term goals but they are probably unrealistic short-term goals.  It is, however, realistic to think “I’m doing something to take care of myself and help my brain function better.”

 I you want to start meditating, the first thing to think of is a quiet space in your day.  Many people start with night time, because they’re going to lay down quietly anyway!  Personally, I don’t think it matters when you meditate, only that you do meditate.  I encourage people to set a goal to meditate once a week for 2-3 minutes.  More often is always optional, but I encourage people to set an easily achievable goal.   This gives you something to feel good about!

There are many free meditations available on youtube, but I recommend googling UCLA MARC as they offer meditation podcasts ranging from 3 minutes to 26 minutes while teaching standardized meditation practices. These are a good place to start! 

Good Luck!  Please like this blog, share it with your friends, follow us, and leave comments.  What would you like me to write more about?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Sizism: Being Negatively Judged Based On Size

A special person started a conversation with me about our culture’s “Fat Phobia”.  This wasn’t new information but it was such a clearly stated perspective that it increased my own awareness that our culture has another “ism” to address when we’re thinkingof prejudice: sizism.  Sizism is found inthe dictionary, yet few people acknowledge this as a prejudicial issue and mycomputer doesn’t even have it in the dictionary!

            There are opportunities for learning in unusual and unexpected places.  There are people who are slender andunhealthy, others who are large or heavy and still healthy.  It’s important to learn not to judge peoplefor their coping strategies as long as they’re not hurting us in the process.

            Another consideration, from a spiritual perspective, is to consider the variety of purposes that we each have in physical form. We all have things to learn here on earth.  For many of us that lesson could be to love ourselvesin any size and to help others learn to love the spirit of the person withoutmaking the package (the body) relevant. These are valuable lessons for many of us, maybe for all of us, myself included.

            Many people struggle with the size and shape of their bodies, whether they are over theiroptimal weight or under their optimal weight. From a spiritual perspective this is an exercise in learning tolove.  We can work on this through lovingkindness meditations or in other ways, remembering that the spirit attached tothe body is a perfect spark of godly energy, no matter what size the packagethat contains it.

            Please like this blog, share it with your friends, follow us, and leave comments.  What would you like me to write more about?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Grief and Spirituality: the intersection

There is an interesting interface between grief and spirituality, perhaps a way for the spirit world to help us through the heart-shattering experience of loss.  How many of you have experienced the death of a loved one?  Of those of you who have, how many have experienced unusual experiences after your loved one died?  What experience did you have and what were your thoughts about how to explain the unusual occurrence?  I would love to have you, readers, share your experiences on this site.  Just click on “comments”, at the top of the page and share your own experiences with us about the spirit world!!

People often say they have an amazing experience after a loved one dies.  Fellow grievers, in a grief group I was in, told me they felt their spouse sit on the bed after the spouse had died.  Janis Heaphy Durham, in her book,

The Hand on the Mirror: A True Story of Life Beyond Death

shares discovering a hand print on her bathroom mirror a year after her husband’s death, along with numerous other miraculous experiences.  They say that around death the “veil”, between the physical realm and the spiritual realm, gets thinner, making it easier for you and I to experience miracles.

            Since my own son died three years ago, I have had a plethora of unusual experiences, that I have no other explanation for other than the spirits created these for me.  I no longer believe in coincidences.  Whenever I try to excuse these unusual experiences as coincidence, they occur less frequently, or stop altogether!  When I believe they are spirit related, they resume or increase…  The frequency with which I find coins, dollar bills, heart shaped rocks, and other appealing things defy the laws of chance, from my perspective.

            Grief isn’t always equally difficult, and perhaps the waves of grief become less intense with time, but they continue, sometimes indefinitely.  Three years ago, my son died to suicide, then my dad died in January and my mother in July.  My parents were due, old enough to have had a good life but it’s still a lot of loss in a short period of time.  The ‘miracles’ continue, if less frequently.

            This last week I had an intense grieving episode and I waited after that for a sign from my son (died 8/15).  I found a penny and that was nice but I desired more.  Grief has a way of blooming a yearning feeling.  I asked my mother to send me a sign (died 7/18) as she hadn’t sent a sign yet.  Then I remembered an incredible dream I had with my dad in it.  There is an older blog about this incredible dream.  I reached out to my dad (died 1/18).  “Dad, send me a hug like the one in the dream!”.  I had been feeling pain in my chest, like anxiety, only I knew it was grief.  Right after this request, I felt a peaceful feeling wash over me from my head to my feet and the pain was gone.  “Thanks dad!”  I thought and saw an image of my father with a broad smile.  The image that came was of him perhaps 30 plus years ago.             

            I was on a walk at the time, near my office on East 14th.  As I arrived at High street, I saw a turkey and then three more.  It struck me that I have never seen turkeys north of 18th before and perhaps this was a sign from my mother, a subtle one, but clearly serendipitous.  Had I ever seen a turkey downtown before this?  No.  So, I accepted that it was unusual and therefore a sign from the spirit world.

            We can think about this from two perspectives.  One option, if one doesn’t believe in a spiritual world, is to consider what your higher self wants you to pay attention to when you have a serendipitous experience, ie, maybe there’s a reason.  From a non-spiritual, perspective the idea is that your higher self is trying to get your attention.  Perhaps your higher self wants you to pay attention to what you were just thinking about or wants to validate that you’re on the right track in life.  The other option, if you are spiritual, is that your guides, or spirits of your loved ones/ancestors, are the instigator of these ideas.

La Perdida Mas Feo

La Perdida de un hijo es una tristeza que nunca desaparece y que rompe tu Corazon en pedazos que nunca se puede reparar.

 Te sientes triste por la Perdida de alguien que tu amas? Alguien que se murio? Sabes como lidiar con tu tristeza? Sabes que hacer para sentirte mejor? Que haces en esta situacion?

            Esto me paso a mi hace tres anos atras.  Mi hijo de treinta anos fallecio.  Yo no podria creer lo que paso.  El dolor en mi pecho era fuerte.  Tres anos han pasado y en el fin de Agosto viene su cumpleanos y el dia de su muerte. Mis sentimientos empeoran.  Siento que mi cuerpo es pesada.  Me siento mas perdida y triste.

            Yo lo hago frente a mis sentimientos caminando, escribiendo, abrazando mi familia, meditando, y llorando.  El processo del manejo de la tristeza es mucho trabajo y puede llevar muchos anos.

            Despues de su muerte,  yo comienzo a oir mi hijo hablar.  Yo pienso que ‘Estoy imaginando su voz pero no es posible.’  Fueron muchas veces que el interrumpio mis pensamientos para contestarme.  Yo trato de interrumpier mis pensamientos pero no puedo.  Es imposible.  Ese era la razon que era mi hijo.  Yo comienzo a creer que el estaba hablando con migo.

            Otros cosas impresionantes que sucedieron fue que una vez el hace que el salero y el bote de pimienta desaparecieran.  Yo los busque por tres semanas.  No estaba en la mesa, ni en el cabinete de especias, tan poco en los dos estantes donde mi hija pone cosas de la mesa.  Unos dias despues estaban en el mismo estante otra vez.  No estaban por tres semanas y derrepente estaban alli otra vez.  El tazon de azucar desaparecio Tambien por dos semanas.  Y mi esposo tubo que usar un jaro normal porque no lo encontrabamos. 

Una manana yo fui a caminar con con mi hija y nuestra perra.  En nuestro jardin en frente tenemos una mesa.  Ese dia la mesa era vacia como siempre y fuimos para caminar para una hora ariba de la loma.  De regreso, en el centro de la mesa estaba el tazon de azucar!!

            Estas experiencias Y actividades como caminar, meditar, bailar, escribir mis sentimientos, y hablar con otros personas me ayudan a lidiar la tristeza. 

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