Joanne and I have been friends since 1989, when I met her through a fellow High School teacher with shared interests in metaphysics. The story below unfolds over 12 years following the events of one woman's journey in the realms of the physical and metaphysical. Her story is truly inspiring, the highlights posted on her website. It's not often you read about someone who writes ...
... Then came the two-year period when just like dominoes seven people in my family died including Mom, Dad, and my sister, Catherine. But the most devastating of all was my niece, Isabel, who died at the age of six. Isabel was my BFF, my soul sister, my surrogate daughter and my greatest teacher. The day before she died amidst all her pain Isabel had one request: "I wish I could have a playmate."
New York October 1999
Joanne has a heart of gold and is one of the most sharing and loving people you could ever meet. She has lived in many places and is truly a free spirit. She has taught personal growth and development and how to overcome one's issues. She has never married and has no children, therefore the arrival of her first niece came with great anticipation and an unexplained soul connection, even before the baby was born.
Joanne works in media production, and as the story unfolded lived in Los Angeles. In early October 1999, she arrived at the home of her sister Catherine, in Westchester, New York, for Catherine's baby shower. This was a joyous reunion with the welcoming a beautiful baby girl, Isabel on October 16th. As Joanne was not working on a movie or TV project at the time, she decided to stay in New York until after the New Year 2000 so she could play with her new niece and be with her family for the holidays. The family had just moved to a new house that offered everything. The economy was prospering and all was well in the world. Something would soon 'rock the cradle'.
On January 6, 2000, Catherine drove Isabel to their local hospital to partake in an infant care class with other new mothers. It was to be a pleasant outing that would last about three hours. After the class, Isabel was hungry so Catherine began to nurse her. Suddenly Catherine slumped over in her chair and dropped Isabel into her lap. A nurse in the room grabbed the baby who was uninjured. Catherine was raced to the ER and the family contacted.
This hospital is not noted for brain surgery, but as luck would have it, a team was scrubbing to perform brain surgery on another patient. As Catherine was an emergency, she was operated on first, doctors assuming she had a brain aneurysm. The surgery revealed Stage 4 cancer and a large tumor. Part of the tumor was left in, to be treated with radiation later, so Catherine could function. Her prognosis was 3-18 months, during which the standard radiation, chemotherapy, and holistic therapies seemed to work. Catherine grew stronger, Isabel grew and developed normally, Joanne remained in New York to help her family, along with her parents, Lucy and John, from Brooklyn.
Joanne and I had many discussion about why Catherine's soul made such that choice to get cancer when she had everything to live for? What lessons were each member of her family experiencing in all of this and why?
During this time Catherine's beloved dog died unexpectedly of cancer.
In June 2001, as Catherine was reaching a supposed safety margin of 18 months, she and Tom decided to take a trip to Alaska part of which was a cruise. Joanne and Lucy stayed home to take care of Isabel. A few days after Catherine and Tom left for Alaska, Joanne noticed a suspicious lump under Isabel's right arm and rushed Isabel to Sloan Kettering.
Sadly, the doctor's found cancer, a lump in the muscle tissue and lung. Catherine and Tom returned home immediately. Just after they got home, it was discovered that Catherine had a new brain tumor. Radiation could not be done again. The doctors reported that Catherine had the tumor during her pregnancy, as a result Isabel was born with damaged DNA and would deal with cancer in this lifetime.
Isabel and Catherine spend the next two years battling cancer. Joanne survived this challenge with the help of family and friends, foregoing her prospering career and social life. Isabel managed to survive and began a somewhat normal life. She was a fighter who did not complain through the horrific surgeries and treatments. Both mother and daughter went on record as survivors of their types of cancers. They had ups and downs at the same time. Joanne and I had many talks about the souls staying here for each other, or one soul having two experiences with cancer simultaneously.
Catherine's tumors continued to grow, her head and face enlarged from steroids. She had few functions and 24-hour home care. The doctors had no idea how she has survived as long as she did, but Joanne and I know that it was for Isabel and Lucy, as the three souls are linked.
Joanne's father, John, became clinically depressed, followed by a stroke.
Turning 40, Joanne decided she needed to get back into the world and took a job in media in Manhattan and to try to pick up the pieces of her life, as the family waited for Catherine to cross over. Catherine was fading and yet Joanne and I could see that her soul (consciousness) was stuck between realities, not functioning here anymore, yet not wanting to separate from her mother and child. There is nothing more the doctors can do for her.
In September 2002, I received a call from Joanne, who was crying uncontrollably. Here was the supreme twist of fate ... Catherine's home care attendant had found Joanne's mother, Lucy, 69, slumped over in a chair in the dining room that morning. She had a heart attack and died instantly. Joanne and I reasoned that Lucy crossed over to help guide her daughter to the other side. We wonder about the fate of the other souls involved. Lucy's death was something none of us saw coming. Joanne was hoping I could connect with her mother and get messages. All I saw was a rainbow of colors weaving back and forth like a flowing river.
A few days later, at 5:55 AM, Lucy woke me up. She wanted to tell me that she crossed over after feeling that her time here was complete and that her daughter needed her more on the other side. Catherine's soul seems stuck and she would help her over now. I saw a third woman. It was aunt Mary, Lucy's sister, who Joanne and I talk to all the time. Mary crossed over in 1992. Lucy kept talking about Joseph, 75, who it turns out is Mary and Lucy's brother who is very ill and is expected to cross over very soon. There is another brother named Tony who is also old and lives in North Carolina.
Souls travel in groups. Often it is about one soul having many experiences at the same time, interacting in a network of relationships and experiencing many emotions simultaneously. This is often true with parents and children. You experience this when one of the souls leaves, and the other follows shortly afterwards.
Catherine's mind cleared for a short time after Lucy died. She looked over at Joanne and asked if their mother had passed on. Joanne told her that she had. Catherine then zoned out again, a knowing look on her face. Lucy had been Catherine's lifeline to this reality ... what choices would Catherine's soul now make?
That Friday night was Lucy's wake. Everyone was there including uncle Tony and his family who traveled to Brooklyn from North Carolina. Lucy was close to Tony even after he had left Brooklyn, years before. Joanne told me that Uncle Tony was to be back in Brooklyn with his old friends, there was something nostalgic after his return at this time, a coming home, if you will.
Tony told everyone that when his 'time' comes, he wanted to be buried in Brooklyn near Lucy, that Brooklyn was his true home and where he belonged. Tony and his wife were staying with Joanne and her father in his apartment in Bensonhurst for the wake and funeral. Tony's children were staying at a local hotel, all of them having gathered in Brooklyn at this time.
10:00 Friday evening ... as Tony was about to enter Lucy's apartment, he had a massive heart attack and died instantly. Joanne gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it was too late. The police and EMS were summoned, to no avail. Tony had crossed over to be with his soul group, his sisters. Tony crossed over quickly with a heart attack just as his sisters, Lucy and Mary had done.
Joanne and I believe that is the reason Lucy was talking to me about Joseph, another brother, to protect him but also to say that both brothers will soon join them. Joseph is not well. They are waiting for him.
Joanne and I also recognized a 'soul set-up' as she calls it, in all of this for Tony. He waited to cross over when he was back in Brooklyn with all of his family already assembled. He leaves behind a wife of 45 years. Their marriage was not happy and they were going through a divorce. His children are grown and he had completed his karma. Lucy was laid to rest on Sunday and Tony on Monday next to his beloved sister and family in Brooklyn.
Catherine was taken to the wake on Friday and stared at her mother's body, saying nothing, as she is no longer able to communicate. Joanne knew Catherine would want to be there and that on some level Catherine understood the transitions that were taking place, probably better than anyone else.
Saturday March 27, 2004
Monday March 29, 2004
Joanne returned to media production, working and living in Manhattan, returning to Westchester on weekends to see Isabel whose fate would be guided by her own destiny.
Friday, November 6, 2005
For months Isabel's physical body remained here ... its life force slowly slipping away ... moment by moment ... as her grief-stricken father would not let her go.
Wednesday May 17, 2006 - 9:09 PM
Thursday May 18, 2006 - 3:00 PM
She told me that at first she found herself walking through a dark scary tunnel, her mother waiting in the light. Drawn to her mother, she was suddenly pulled back to her physical body as her father called out to her in the hospital room.
Later, when she returned to the tunnel, she saw a man in glowing white light who she thought was god. He told her not to be afraid. He put her safely inside a helicopter where they flew off to her mother, grandmother, and others who were waiting. She was happy there and had met a boy she knew at Sloan Kettering. Isabel found a playmate.
Joanne's father crossed over shortly afterwards, as did several other elderly relatives.
Joanne still works in media and currently lives in Manhattan. In 2011 she created a company called Playing Ground where grownups learn to play.
The journey to adulthood is filled with endless demands to get serious, be responsible and prepare for life in the real world. Serious has its place. But when that's all we focus on, we've lost something precious. Ready to find your spark and turn up the joy again? Come over and play! Join us in renewing your love for life, your capacity for bliss and wonder, spontaneous laughter and maybe even some friendly mischief.
Joanne has spent the last decade creating, producing and facilitating adult learning workshops and events for the corporate world. She's spent the past 30 years as a student of human evolution and consciousness. Inspired by her own personal journey from depression and disappointment to aliveness, Joanne created Playing Ground to share the knowledge she has gathered and bring together an impressive collective of teachers, coaches and practitioners that have supported her on her journey. Joanne calls upon her years in event production, film production and advertising to create exciting events and experiences designed to enliven and entertain.
Joanne is also currently writing her first work of non-fiction titled "Playdate, A big lesson I learned from a little girl" which shares the simple wisdom of children, inspired by her late niece, Isabel, who succumbed to cancer at the age of six.
Can a City Girl Adapt to Country Life?
July 14, 2014
Many people entertain the thought of leaving city life and living in nature. Others are quite the opposite ... they leave urban life to live in the city ... especially New York City. Each has its attractions, benefits, and pitfalls. The country seems to inspire creativity and can act as a great healing tool. What's really cool is being able to afford to live in both the city and the country - or to be a city sweller with a beach house as the flow of the water draws everyone for healing and inspiration.
Today I received an email from my friend Joanne who works in media and has spent most of her life living in the city. She never married, has no children, is not in a romantic relationship at the moment, and has a great job. Joanne's current move to upstate New York promises to be a great adventure.
As you know, on June 28th I moved up to the Catskill Mountains. Interesting that you dreamed about me in this house the day the owner agreed to let me rent it for one year, as he really wanted to sell it. Things just happen that way. Would I consider buying it? I've always let destiny guide me, so we shall see.
The house is on 24 acres and am looking forward to exploring the land. Went on my first hike in my woods yesterday and got lost - but I eventually found the road and it was fun! I've chosen this place because I have some community up there - and as you can imagine - living in a rural area without friends in the middle of February could be challenging.
It's a big move but the call to be closer to nature has been knocking on my door for a long time now. I will still be coming into New York City on a regular basis but plan on working mostly remote from my new home office.
I'm adjusting to waking up to the sound of birds and roosters instead of the 3am sanitation truck and it's going well so far! I took my first riding lesson yesterday with a horse named Poppy. He's so gentle and sweet and knows exactly what to do with first time riders like me. We had a great morning together ... I brushed him and he gave me a ride. It's the start of the perfect friendship.
I've got plenty of room for guests! Let me know when you're ready to come up. Feel free to share my pictures.
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