Being a ghost is hard.

First of all, you call us “ghosts,” but we’re not. We’re just as real as you. To add insult to injury, you’re terrified when you think you see or sense us, even though, most of the time, it isn’t us. It’s just the wind or your forgetfulness.

That’s where you left the scissors, Nancy! Your dead mom didn’t move them.

It’s frustrating.

The hardest part is watching you fumble around: the stupid decisions, the mindlessness, and the fear.

I’m not judging. I was the same way in my body. And, gracious! I thought the universe was hammering me with challenging lessons on letting go then, but from here, it’s even harder. All I can do is shake my holy head and watch you make the same mistakes I made.

So, if you’re listening, I offer these tips for living well in the physical and for recognizing when one of your “ghosts” is indeed reaching out. Because we certainly do.

  • Tip 1: If it’s not yours, drop it.
  • Tip 2: Don’t panic. Pause.
  • Tip 3: Shut up and listen.
  • Tip 4: Be soft.
  • Tip 5: Lead with love.

I get it: these are hard to remember in the heat of tender feelings and tired feet, but with mindful practice, you can do it and you won’t regret it.

One more tip: model these tips for your children (and friends) now, while gravity still grounds you. In the mode of modeling, you’ll master these practices. Also, once you’re a “ghost” like me, it’s a lot harder to model or teach anything.

A “Ghost” to her Child

Which brings me to my story. I’m trying to get through to my child, and, golly, I’m not sure I can penetrate her broken heart and anger. I’ll keep trying because, more than ever, I want her to have peace of heart.

Ironically, she has a solid support system. All of her people understand her grief, raise their own fists in fits of outrage, and validate all feelings and words. But sometimes this delays the healing.

She tosses with these words every night.

  • hasty
  • selfish
  • careless
  • inconsiderate
  • unacceptable
  • risky

The pieces of her heart bang around in her chest and all the threads of panic are on fire.

I linger with her at her bedside, on her walks, as she writes and works, with all the tips and messages: let it go; it’s not yours; take a deep breath, easy easy now; Listen—can you hear me? … 

You think it’s hard to know if you hear or sense a ghost? It’s harder yet for us to know if we’ve managed to get through.

I’m not sure, but maybe I did? Or maybe, she remembers a physical moment between us when I modeled softness, leading with love?

Her anger and broken heart are complex, but one simple reason she’s angry is that he’s more generous with his time and attention than he was with me. But yesterday, I felt an aha moment. She turned a big aha corner

Why would I want him to make the same mistakes this time around? Why would I want him to fail again?

Knowing the “Ghost”

She’s far from healed, but her questions are softer, drawn out by and through love. I think she’ll know it’s me next to her when she retires for the night. Maybe she’ll hear me: I’m okay. You’re okay. It’ll all be okay if you lead with love. 

So, here’s that last tip about recognizing us, knowing when it’s really one of us. If the message feels like anger, fire, or fear, it’s not us. That’s you and your injured ego. If the message feels like a warm embrace or a sweet lullaby, chances are it’s one of us. And when you sense us, remember: Don’t panic. Be still. Listen. And stay open to the love of the lullaby.

I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.