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But You Knew That Already!: What a Psychic Can Teach You About Life Excerpt from But You Knew That Already!: What a Psychic Can Teach You About Life

by Dougall Fraser

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"I know," she sobs. "You know," she adds in hushed awe. (That awe stuff always embarrasses me. People, it's what I do.)

Like many clients, Joanne is here in the hopes of eliciting the response she wants to hear from me. She wants me to tell her that in a few months her husband will fall back in love with her, that he will get a new job, and that her life will be magically transformed.

I see none of that happening, and I can't lie to her. "I've been to an astrologer who told me we would stay together," she tells me, anxiously searching my eyes. I don't respond but ask my self: How can I help her? "A tarot reader said he was cheating on me", she offers, clearly eager to hear me contradict that assertion. I don't. "I'm seeing my therapist twice a week," she says. Still not speaking, I concentrate harder: How can I help her? "I'm trying a new herbal medicine for depression. This one is supposed to work -- really."

Joanne is spending probably hundreds of dollars every month in the desperate hope that someone will give her a remedy, a quick cure -- one that does not exist. I feel her desperation. Over and over I whisper in my mind: How can I help her?

Only Wellbutrin will help her, another voice whispers in my mind. "A numerologist thought I was single," she says. "What does that mean?"

"Joanne," I begin, "I see you are a graceful, persistent, and courageous woman. You've lost touch with that woman. We need to find her for you again. You are giving your power away -- to me, other advisors, your boss, and most of all, your husband.

"Joanne, you have to find your voice. You have to ask yourself, in every area of your life, What motivates me? What kind of existence do I want? I see your potential, but there is always free will. At the moment, your current life trend is going to continue to keep you in a state of depression. The next time you want a reading, I want you to take that money and invest it in you."

I finish her session by saying the same thing I always do: "We have covered all of your issues, Joanne. Now it's your turn to change them."

Thing is, I don't want my clients to look to me as a spiritual superman with the power to give all the answers. Instead, I want them to relate to me as an adviser who can help them find that power within themselves. I want everyone to realize: You have your own answers, if you'll only listen. Honor the work, but don't put me on a pedestal.

Now it's just a few minutes before 4 o'clock, and I am anxious that my next client will be late. I am always punctual -- in fact, I am invariably, annoyingly early -- but I need to stop expecting that from everyone. I close my eyes and center myself. My mental calendar appears in my mind. It's Friday afternoon, and after my last client, I will pick up my boyfriend and head off for a weekend away. Perhaps my 4 o'clock forgot about her session and I will get to leave early!

The receptionist finally buzzes. "Dougall, Diane is here to see you." No such luck. By this time, it is 10 minutes past 4.

"Okay, I'll be right out." As I walk to the waiting room, I try to conceal my irritation that Diane is late. Maybe she took the wrong subway, or maybe she got lost -- who knows? There are a million things that could have happened. I need to stay calm. I peer through the glass door and see a new face in the waiting room. Diane is perched on the couch, talking rapidly into her cell phone. I guess that she's about 30 years old. I quickly take in her perfect manicure, her beautifully blown-out hair, her wildly expensive shoes, and her diamond jewelry. This woman is striking.

"Diane?"

"I gotta go, I gotta go." She slams her cell phone closed and stands up. "Yes, I'm Diane."

"Hi, Diane, I'm Dougall Fraser."

Diane is a woman dressed for power. She has on a crimson cashmere sweater neatly tucked into a leather skirt. As I guide her to my office, her heels click confidently on the wooden floors. Diane's head turns from side to side, looking at the walls of the corridor.

"Not what you expected?" I ask.

"Not at all."

Most people seem a little shocked that I conduct sessions in a traditional office space -- no garish neon palms in the window. My clients could just as easily be visiting their accountant or nutritionist as meeting with a psychic. I make sure to have incense burning and at least one crystal on my desk to engage their fantasies as to what a a psychic should be.

But when I first moved to this office space, I briefly entertained the idea of decorating my room as perhaps a traditional psychic might. I thought, What would Oda Mae do? (Oda Mae Brown, as you recall, was Whoopi Goldberg's character in the movie Ghost.) I would greet my clients wrapped in a gold blousy muumuu, parting the beads hanging in my doorway. I would lead them to a circular table, taking deep breaths as I prepare to contact the other side.

Thankfully, I decided to stick with Standard Office instead of Early Psychic Nut Job, and that has made all the difference.

I open the door to my private oasis. Diane sizes up the office and instinctively sits in the appropriate seat. She turns her cell phone off, lays her black leather bag to her left, looks up, and smiles. I am warmed by her beautiful smile -- she really is extremely pretty.

"I am so excited to be here."

Okay, so she has completely won me over. I'm charmed -- I no longer care that she arrived late. I start by speeding through my explanation process. This is her first reading ever. A virgin, as it were.

"Diane, I am going to start with a quick prayer; then I will ask you to say your first name out loud, okay?"

"My full name?" Truth be told, it does not matter. The reason I ask people to say their name out loud is that I need a few extra seconds to prepare to begin the session. And to be perfectly honest, I am simply awful with names.

"Just the name that you go by every day, whatever people call you."

I close my eyes and move through my prayer. With each word, my mind gets ready to shut down for the next 30 minutes. I take deep breaths and exhale fully. Slowly my body begins to tingle; there is a tangible shift in the air. With each exhale, my life leaves this room and this place as I unfold my entire consciousness to be with Diane. When I open my eyes, she is staring right back at me. Her look has changed from one of excitement to one of anxiety. Her brow is crinkled as if she were looking through me and not at me.

"Please say your name for me three times."

"Diane, Diane, Diane."

As she says her name, she becomes blanketed in pink light. I no longer see her face as the entire room is enveloped in this pink energy. It welcomes me. I breathe it in and prepare my first statement to her.

"Diane. You, my dear, are a perfectionist."

"Ha! That's an understatement!" she laughs.

Usually when I start a session, I like to loosen the person up. I generally start with a few compliments before going to the core of the issue. But Diane is different. Her body language tells me she is a no-nonsense kind of girl.

"Your perfection issues are both a blessing and a curse. In business, it has made you a success. You are in a position of power, a creative field. It feels like a dream job."

"I work in advertising."

"I see you at the vice president level or above. Is that the case?"

"I am the VP for creative affairs at my agency, yes."

"Pink light is the light of perfection. It is easy to see how your desire for perfection has aided you in your business career. More importantly, we need to explore how it holds you back as well."

"How can a good trait hold me back?"

"Good question, but I don't know yet. Let me continue. It is your destiny to work in the business world, and you certainly seem to have made your mark there. But that is where most of your energy lies, in your career."

"I love my work."

"I know you do, but you are more than your work. Your heart feels lonely, which is strange, considering you are in a relationship."

"I'm not lonely." Her tone is defensive. "I'm practically engaged."

"Diane you are either engaged or you're not, and at this time you are, in fact, not engaged. Actually, your relationship is in jeopardy. Who is Jeff?"

"Jeff is my older brother." She starts to say more, then stops herself. Diane's brown eyes are now the size of saucers. She is leaning forward in her chair, waiting to hear what I'll say next.

I have to say, nothing pleases me more than getting a name right. I can't explain how on earth I do that. The best way to describe it is like a cosmic text message to my brain.

"Jeff has health issues, yes?"

"He is retarded. I wouldn't really call it a health issue."

"Well, I may be getting this a little muddled, but somehow your life issues relate to your brother. Bear with me for just a second. You are a professional woman in her mid-thirties; you have a thriving career and a handsome, terrific boyfriend. Yet you and I both know that you are tired and lonely, right?"

"I don't think of myself as lonely," she protests. "Tired, yes, of course. Who isn't?"

"By lonely, I mean that you only depend on yourself. Admirable, but exhausting as well. You are demanding far too much of yourself, setting standards for yourself that are too high, and counting only on yourself -- for everything."

"I don't think setting high standards for myself is a problem. It's gotten me a long way."

"Okay. Let's go back to your childhood for a moment. You are the younger child."

"How did you know that?"

"You just told me that Jeff was your older brother," I remind her. (I don't see everything psychically.)

"Oh, right."

"You were the younger child. Your older brother was somewhat handicapped, and I can clearly see you had to take care of yourself from the very beginning of your life. In some ways, I think your parents expected too much from you. They expected you to be perfect; meanwhile, they were overwhelmed with the needs of your brother."

"Now you sound like my therapist."

"Diane, during high school your perfection issues were at their worst."

Diane winces in shame, and her entire body tenses. She clearly does not want me to talk about this. I am fairly certain she had an eating disorder when she was a teen, but I'm reluctant to bring it up to her. What if I'm wrong? Worse, what if I am right? How does this affect anything now? She looks perfectly healthy, and yet I can feel something pinched and hungry radiating from her core. Clearly she doesn't starve herself physically anymore, but ... she starves herself emotionally. That's it.

"Diane, please hear me out: Did you have an eating disorder in your teenage years?"

"I can't believe you just said that. I did have anorexia for a couple of years. I wasn't hospitalized or anything, but I did have to go to therapy for a long time before I got better. I have never told this to anyone. Only my parents know."

"You have to understand that when we are created, we have strengths and weaknesses that manifest in different ways. I think because of your brother's disability, you took it upon yourself to overcompensate. You became the perfect daughter. During adolescence, it got out of hand, and you began to starve yourself because you did not feel like you deserved nourishment, literally."

Diane is now crying. This woman, who only 15 minutes ago appeared to have New York in the palm of her hand, is now just a lost, awkward teenager.

"Diane, you feel much more authentic to me now than you did when you walked through my door. Have you spoken to your boyfriend about this stuff?"

"Not really. He knows about Jeff and my struggle with that, but not about the anorexia."

"Will you do me a favor? Tonight I want you to talk to him about all of this. Blame it on me. Say that it was my idea. I think when you air all of your history, this persistent sense of loneliness will go away. Let him in. You don't have to be perfect; he will still love you. And you don't have to bear every burden alone. That's what partners are for."

"I never thought of it like that." As I look over Diane's shoulder, I realize that we only have a few minutes left. Time to wrap things up.

"Do you have any questions, Diane?"

"Will I ever be happily married to Peter?"

"I think so. I think he is a good match for you. You just need to slow down your life. You are running around like a crazy woman, striving for perfection; meanwhile, you haven't realized that your life is already in harmony. Peter, your boss, your family -- they can all see the flaws in you, yet they still adore you. My question is, when are you going to relax and adore yourself, even with a few flaws?"

"I still don't know what you mean by flaws."

I can tell it's the word "flaw" that gives her the most trouble. I think for a second: How can I put this into words she'll understand? "You don't seem to enjoy your life, and I think that much of your stress is self-created. Rather than delegate tasks to others at work, you do them yourself. You busy yourself, constantly creating long days. The job gets done, of course, but it could get done earlier. For example, why were you late today?"

"I'm sorry. I had some things to wrap up at the office, and then my mother called."

"Okay, so what did you have to wrap up at the office?"

"Well, now that I think about it, I was in front of your building on time. It was my mother's call that distracted me. I had to answer it."

"If you had let her call go to voice mail, you would have been on time, correct?"

"Correct."

"And if you had been on time, then we would not have had to rush this session, correct?"

"Correct."

"This is a perfect example. You and I both know your mom calls 18 times a day with nothing important on her mind, but in your quest to be the perfect daughter, you answer each and every time."

"I never thought of it that way."

"I'm not saying to ignore your mom, but as I scan through your life, there appear to be a number of things that pull you away from the now, whether it be your boss, your mom, your ego -- any number of things, really."

She looks at me intently, with her eyebrow crinkled. "I'm confused as to what to do with all of this information."

"Okay, here is your homework: In the next month, I want you to keep a very detailed account of how you spend your day. How many hours are dedicated to work, friends, Peter, family, and yourself. As you do this, you will notice a large imbalance. Start to shift the hours of your day. Balance is what we are striving for.

"I also invite you to examine your thoughts. I see too much time consumed with getting the job done and not enough time recognizing the work that you have accomplished and reveling in the life you have. Does that make sense?"

"Totally."

"And finally, you will marry Peter. You just have to give him enough time to ask you!"

Diane laughs. I send her off, hoping she'll take my advice. I can see she'll be a lot happier if she does.

Forty minutes later, I am in a red two-door sporty thing, a rental car with 12 miles on the odometer and a CD player in the dash, speeding uptown to pick up David. I am euphoric.

"Cute car!" David exclaims as he walks out of our apartment building and heads over to give me a kiss.

"So cute, right? How was your day?"

David's a makeup artist. Call me a geek, but I think there's something really funny about the fact that he spends his days talking about colors people can use to highlight their best attributes, whereas I talk about the colors they carry around with them all the time. (And let me tell you, they're not always the most flattering. Do you know how hard it is to tell a football-loving salesman from Georgia that his aura is pink?) After trading shop talk, we spend the rest of the car ride singing to a bootleg copy of Ashlee Simpson (I'm not about to be caught actually buying that CD in the store) and preparing emotionally to move from city mentality to the country mentality of Cutchogue, New York.

On this particular night, as we pull up to my dad's country club, I cannot help but feel like we are preparing to infiltrate a secret society whose headquarters happen to be on the eastern end of Long Island. My sister and her husband are in town, my grandmother is visiting from Florida, and my father is eager to show us all off at his club.

Compared with most clubs, the North Fork Country Club is fairly modest. No valet, but they do adhere to a dress code. Not jacket and tie, but to the members of the NFCC, collarless shirts and denim are an outrage.

David and I sit in the parking lot, and I give him a little pep talk. (Actually, the talk is more for me.) Once we set foot in the club, we won't be able to move two inches without someone from my past greeting us. Family friends, neighbors -- everybody and anybody is usually there, sniffing for new gossip. As we stare at the front door, I start to feel great pride that I am about to go in there with my head held high as an openly gay professional psychic with my Jewish boyfriend.

We walk through the front door, and there's an eerie silence, more like a church than a restaurant. We head straight for the bar to meet our host. Behold, my father, in all of his glory. In any crush of people, he is always easy to find. He stands next to my grandmother and aunt, wearing yellow pants and a blaringly loud plaid shirt. I meet his eyes and grin -- I can't help but adore him. When I was a child, his choice of attire used to send me diving for antidepressants, yet as an adult, I can tell that his way of dressing really suits him.

I am also keenly aware that I myself am wearing a bright pink shirt. My parents have been divorced for over 15 years, yet I still feel a brief bubble of pain that my mother is not with us. I leave David with my family and quickly place our drink order -- two sour apple martinis. Once our drinks are placed safely in front of me, I breathe and start to feel a little more relaxed; I am fairly certain I don't know anyone in the room. For a moment, I stare at my lime green cocktail. For someone who doesn't want to stick out in this crowd, perhaps I should have selected another beverage. You know, something the good old boys would drink, like scotch or beer or-

"There is our movie star!"

Before I can take even one sip of my drink, a family friend is speeding toward me -- an older, well-dressed woman with her husband in tow.

"How is the clairvoyant? I saw you on television -- you were wonderful!"

"Thank you."

"Why weren't you able to tell me that this last year was going to be horrendous?"

I laugh nervously.

"Do you ever see anything bad?"

"Sometimes I do."

"Well, I don't want to know anything! Unless you can give me the lottery numbers!" She laughs hysterically at her own joke.

"Did you know she was going to say that?" her husband chimes in.

"Hi, Mr. Tate," I say politely.

Mr. and Mrs. Tate lived on the block where I grew up. Nice couple, friendly family. They haven't a clue about what I really do for a living. To them, I am like the Amazing Kreskin. Able to guess how much change is in your pocket, pull your name out of thin air, or correctly choose the card you are thinking of. As we stand around exchanging pleasantries, I try to divert the conversation from my work to their grandchildren. This only works for a minute -soon we are back to my mysterious job.

"So, what kind of things do you tell people?" Mrs. Tate asks. She is genuinely interested. "And how long are you on that psychic line during the day?"

I graciously try to mask my mortification. I do not work for a psychic hotline. (Okay, admittedly, I did it as a teenager, but that was a long time ago. We'll get to that later.)

"Mrs. Tate, I am more like a counselor. I see and talk to people about their problems. Then I make predictions on the outcome of certain situations in their lives."

"Well, I think it's great, just great!"

I smile and nod my head, and when they don't get the hint, I make a quick move with my body that forces them out of the way without them realizing I'd done it. I try not to use my 6'6" height too often -- just in emergencies like this one. With a quick wave, I'm gone.

It's not that I dislike Mr. and Mrs. Tate. The fact is, it's fairly common that people don't understand what I do. Even I have a hard time explaining that I am not your ordinary psychic. I can talk to the dead, but I prefer not to. My goal is to help you understand why you are on this planet. Are you joyous? Are your needs being fulfilled? Are you embracing the simple things? Sure, predicting the outcome of loves and careers can be exciting, but my true goal is to make sure you are living your best possible life.

Its always a challenge for me to explain to the Mrs. Tates of the world exactly what it is I actually do and how on earth I got there. It's actually kind of a funny story, if you have a minute.

Copyright 2005 Dougall Fraser