For fans of TLC’s Long Island Medium and anyone interested in the big questions of life, death, and finding out what’s important in between, New York Times bestselling author and medium Theresa Caputo shares how she discovered her gift and her many encounters with Spirit.
Beloved medium Theresa Caputo, star of the hit television show Long Island Medium, opens the door to her world and invites you to experience her exceptional gift of communicating with those who’ve crossed over to the Other Side. The always funny, frank, and down-to-earth medium—whether she’s talking to her family, the local butcher, or the souls of those who’ve passed on—began communicating with Spirit at the age of four, but didn’t fully accept her gift until she was thirty-three years old. She had a good life as a busy wife and working mom, but also suffered from chronic anxiety that, as it turned out, came from ignoring her abilities. Once Theresa began channeling, she realized that she felt much better after delivering a message from Spirit and releasing that energy. Since then she’ s used her extraordinary gift to help people heal from the loss of their loved ones.
Theresa feels that it’s her purpose to make us all aware that there is more to life than what we see here in the physical world. She wants you to know that your deceased loved ones are safe and at peace, and that they’re now with you in a different way—watching over you, loving you, and assisting you from the Other Side. She also wants you to realize that the unexplainable things you sense and feel from these souls are real, and that it’s healthy and essential to acknowledge them.
There’s More to Life Than This lends insight on how Theresa’s mediumship works, what happens to your soul when you die, what Spirit says Heaven is like, what the deceased want you to know, the importance of living a positive life, and the many roles that your family, friends, angels, guides, souls of faith, and God play here and in the afterlife. It also explores how to safely connect with Spirit, so that you can recognize when your loved ones are reaching out.
Through Theresa’s personal story, compelling anecdotes, and fascinating client readings, she teaches us about how she communicates with Spirit and helps us to understand and appreciate the important lessons and touching messages that we’re meant to embrace every day.
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Theresa Caputo was born and raised on Long Island and lives there with her husband and two children. She is the star of Long Island Medium, which airs on TLC. After suffering anxiety for most of her life, Theresa met with a spiritual adviser who helped her realize her ability to communicate with Spirit. Theresa has been a practicing medium for more than ten years and is a certified medium with the Forever Family Foundation. Her first two books, There’s More to Life Than This and You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, became instant New York Times bestsellers. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The View, The Dr. Oz Show, and Ellen and has helped countless people heal and find the closure to embrace life without their loved ones. For more, please visit TheresaCaputo.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
There's More to Life Than This
Me and Spirit: A Match Made in Heaven
I wasn’t born in the back of some gypsy wagon, and I didn’t grow up reading fortunes on the Bayou. Listen, the only crystals on me are the Swarovski ones covering my Louboutins. I may not be your idea of a “typical” medium, but dead people don’t care. They’ve been bugging me to deliver their messages since I was a child, and that’s what I feel compelled and blessed to do.
I grew up on Long Island in a town called Hicksville, with my mom, dad, and younger brother, Michael. Mom was a bookkeeper and my dad was the public works supervisor for Nassau County. We were extremely close and still are. I was actually raised for most of my life in the house next door to the one I live in now. We have a gate in the back that connects our two yards, and Dad likes to use it so he can futz around in both our tomato gardens. When people come for readings, they sit at my dining room table, which looks out onto the back. I always say, “If you see someone out there, it’s not a dead person walking around. It’s just my dad!”
Growing up, I had the most loving, happy, and seemingly normal childhood. I was on a traveling soccer team and local bowling league. I loved playing with my dolls’ hair—I always thought I’d be a hairdresser, go figure. I had nice friends, got good grades, and spent a lot of free time with my family. I was always with my cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. On Thursdays, we’d have spaghetti and meatballs at Nanny and Pop’s house; on Saturdays, I’d paint ceramics with Auntie G; and on Sundays, our whole extended family would go to Gram and Gramp’s house after church to spend the afternoon eating, laughing, and telling stories.
It was like the Long Island Italian version of Leave It to Beaver, but with a twist that literally kept us all up at night. I used to have the most frightening dreams, which made no sense given that my days were so carefree. These were actually my first memories of seeing, feeling, and hearing Spirit, though I didn’t know that’s what was happening. My first vivid experience happened when I was just four years old. At the time, we lived in my dad’s childhood home, which is right near the Hicksville Gregory Museum, a former 1915 courthouse that also had jail cells for prisoners in it. Some people think old buildings like prisons, with their history of pain and suffering, can hold on to Spirit. What a place for me of all people to grow up around! Anyway, I’d have a recurring dream where, from a window on the second floor of our house, I’d watch a man pace on the sidewalk out front. He’d chant my name, Theresa Brigandi, Theresa Brigandi, Theresa Brigandi . . . over, and over, and over again. Can you imagine how scary that was to a freaking four-year-old? I never saw the man’s face, but he was always hunched over and carrying a stick with a bandanna sack on the end. He wore ragged clothes and looked like a hobo.
Spirit later told me that this dream was actually a visitation, and I now believe this “man” to be one of my spirit guides for that time in my life. This doesn’t mean the spirit guide is literally a bum. It’s more like those Bible stories where people invite in the poor, and then later find out the person’s an angel. I now believe a hobo is the unassuming image that my guide took so that I’d understand the Sunday school reference and feel okay when he called my name. I was raised Roman Catholic and still practice this today, so I think my guide presented himself through my frame of reference, a little like how Spirit shows me signs and symbols during a reading now. They do it in a way that makes sense to me, so that it’s easy for me to interpret the message.
When I was four, a hobo equaled a gentle, godly man—at least when I was awake. At night, seeing, hearing, and sensing one made me cry out like I was being violently attacked. Again, I don’t think I was experiencing negative Spirit, and I wasn’t dreaming that Spirit pushed me around or anything; the dreams themselves weren’t “bad.” I was terrified because I’d feel Spirit’s energy, while seeing and hearing them talk to me, in this alarmingly real and personal way.
My inconsolable screams rattled my family more than what caused them, and my social life became limited. I couldn’t go to slumber parties or sleep at my grandmother’s house without wondering what I’d feel next. I didn’t feel safe anywhere but at home, and even that wasn’t a given. Besides the hobo, I also saw my great-grandmother on my mom’s side of the family. She’d died four years before I was born, and I didn’t realize who it was until much later when I saw a picture of her. But I’ll never forget her standing at the foot of my bed—she was short with dark hair and wearing a housedress. I’d scream like a crazy person when I saw her too. Poor lady was no three-headed monster, though I sure reacted like she was!
In the morning, I’d forget most of these night terrors or how long they went on. I’m told they’d pass when my mom or dad would turn on the light and rush into the room. So did this make Spirit leave? I don’t know. But after a while, Mom made up a prayer to help me keep Spirit at arm’s length. It went, “Dear God, please keep me safe through the night. Bless . . .”—and then I’d name all the people in our lives, and those in Heaven. And wouldn’t you know, every time I said that prayer before bed, I’d sleep soundly, and so would my parents. I continued this when we eventually moved into our new home, the one my parents live in now, though I always kept the hall light on.
Even when I traveled with my family, I never got a break from Spirit. We took a lot of vacations together, including an annual camping trip with my grandparents for the entire summer. Most people at the site were lucky to have a tent with a Bunsen burner; we had this awesome trailer with a shower, kitchen, a screened-in porch so the bugs wouldn’t get at our food, everything. My grandmother made scrambled eggs and French toast in the mornings, and in the afternoons, we’d have bicycle races and go tire swinging into the lake. At night, we’d play pinball at the rec hall, roast marshmallows, and sing campfire songs. I was a regular Girl Scout! But no matter how much fun we had during the day, or how relaxed I felt, my night terrors would strike like they did at home. Only this time the whole area heard me! My grandparents even warned our fellow campers in advance—if you hear someone screaming bloody murder, it doesn’t mean there’s a bear or maniac on the loose! It’s just Theresa having a night terror. One time my parents wanted me to sleep with them in a tent, and I was deathly afraid of it. I felt safer in the camper, especially since I was seeing shadows against the canvas. I was so adamant about staying out that I kicked and screamed, and gave my father a fat lip. He was so mad. I was this close to knocking over the lantern and setting the whole tent on fire.
Though I handled Spirit’s appearances much better during the day, they were still a surprise. For instance, I clearly remember seeing three-dimensional people walk in front of the TV. I’d be sitting on our green tweed sofa, watching Romper Room, when a person would pass by and then fade out. One time this happened when I had a babysitter over, and I asked her if she’d just seen what I did. She said no and gave me a funny look, so I played it off. I kind of wondered if I was seeing things or had an overly active imagination, but I didn’t dwell on it. It’s like when you see a shadow out of the corner of your eye, or stare at a light too long and then watch a yellow shape float across the room—you assume that you’re just seeing things and don’t think much of it. I also remember getting a kitchen set for Easter one year as a kid, arranging my pots a certain way when I was done playing house, and when I came back to them in the morning, they were in a completely different spot. That must’ve been Spirit too. Listen, I know my brother, Michael, didn’t touch them!
Who’s to Say What’s Normal?
As I got older, I began to feel anxious and strange in my body. I couldn’t put my finger on what could be causing it. I’d say to Mom, I don’t feel right. I don’t feel like I belong. I feel different. I felt as if there was something going on that needed to be explained. One of the few places I actually felt safe and secure was in church. I even played guitar in a church folk group. God’s house was the only other home, other than my own, where I felt peaceful and comfortable in my skin. I often say that if I weren’t a medium, I could’ve been a schizophrenic or a nun. Seriously, sometimes those felt like my two most realistic options. Imagine? My parents spoiled me with so much love, but that didn’t take away from the fact that I sensed something about me was off.
Sometimes I’d ask God, Why is this happening? Why do I feel so afraid all the time? But I’d never get mad or angry at Him, or lose my beliefs. That wasn’t how I was raised. I don’t like to use the word “religious,” but I did come from a strong faith family. I was taught to say prayers at night and before every meal. My parents also had an open mind about all spirituality. It’s funny, because not all Catholics do. But to us, faith, spirituality . . . it all comes from God.
When I wasn’t at church, my anxiety could get so bad that I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t know when I’d sense or feel something, at any given moment of the day. I realized that every place I went came with a different sensation, and I sometimes felt like I was being watched. When I’d tell this to Mom, she’d sit me down and say, “Your safe place is you.” I could go anywhere, because I was my grounding force. For a long time, that mind-set worked.
Even still, I was clearly seeing and sensing things that other people weren’t. When I was out with my friends at the mall or the bowling alley, I’d ask if they saw a man walk by or heard someone call their name, because I secretly had, and they’d go, “Uh, no. What are you talking about?” Or sometimes I’d receive a message, which I’d assume was just my own random thought and not realize that it had any meaning, or that I’d even thought of anything, until it was validated later. For example, if I was on my way to the fair, I might hear a voice tell me, “Don’t eat the cotton candy.” I’d ignore it, and then a friend would tell me the cotton candy made her sick. But even then, I just assumed that I got better hunches about people and situations than maybe some friends or strangers did.
Again, I believed that I was my safe place. So seeing, hearing, and sensing something around me all the time became my normal. Doctors have always said that our bodies are built to adapt; if a feeling or experience goes on for long enough, the brain learns to disregard it, work around it, or just treat it as normal. I know now that seeing and sensing Spirit isn’t most people’s typical experience, but it was routine for me, and I didn’t have too many people disputing it. As a child, my family and friends just laughed when I’d occasionally say strange things, but never pursued the subject much further. (Mom recently joked that my abilities give a whole new meaning to when I used to say there was a monster, imaginary friend, or ghost in my room!) And for as many times as friends didn’t agree with what I’d heard or seen, I did have family who had similar experiences because they’re also sensitive. In fact, my cousin Johnny Boy used to jokingly call me and my cousin Lisa “freaks,” and nicknamed us “Para” and “Noid,” when we told him we’d see or feel things. We also used to go shopping separately and come home with the same outfits! But at the time, all Lisa and I knew was that we had unusual, shared experiences that made encounters with what we now know is Spirit just part of our lives. As for my smart-aleck cousin Johnny, he was living in my grandmother’s house ten years later and saw her standing in the hall when he was coming out of the shower. Who’s laughing now?
When my peers became mouthy teenagers, things began to change. Between the ages of about twelve and fourteen, I began to feel less comfortable with what was happening around me, mostly because of how people reacted to my observations. My family was still blasé about stuff I said, but when I’d casually ask if a friend saw or felt something, they’d be like, “No, that’s weird, there’s nobody there. Nobody hears or sees things the way you do!” What once seemed normal now wasn’t, so I decided to block my experiences out altogether. I didn’t say a special prayer to make Spirit stop or anything; I just didn’t acknowledge Spirit’s attempts to communicate with me. Keep in mind, this was before every TV channel had a ghost-hunting show and John Edward was a household name. People didn’t talk about this stuff. Nobody, including me, could’ve guessed what was really going on. It was never part of a comfortable, mainstream conversation.
By the time I was sixteen years old, I was lucky that I hadn’t lost a lot of loved ones, but this also means that I didn’t have recognizable Spirit visiting me. When Nanny, my father’s mom, died, I was devastated. We were very close, and everyone missed her a lot. After she passed, my dad’s older sister, whom we call Auntie, had a psychic come to Nanny’s house. I didn’t know why at the time, but I now think it was to get in touch with her. I didn’t want to go, and I felt a little afraid—mostly because I didn’t know what a psychic really was or did. But I knew I’d feel safe at Nanny’s house, so I went anyway. And for the first time in a long time I didn’t block Spirit.
I felt Nanny’s energy and soul near the window, and my family kept asking me why I was by the drapes when everyone else was at the kitchen table. They also asked me whom I was talking to, though I don’t remember what I was saying. (It’s similar to how I can’t recall most of what Spirit says after I channel for others.) After a minute of this, my family had to interrupt me in their usual, teasing way. They kept it lighthearted and didn’t freak out.
“Theresa, who are you talking to?”
“I’m talking to Nanny.”
“Sure you are. Nanny’s dead.”
“I know she’s dead, but I’m talking to her.”
Auntie and my cousins might have been confused but didn’t make it a big deal. I was known to blurt out crazy things, but was this any stranger than having a psychic over for coffee? They were clearly open to spiritual conversations that I hadn’t considered yet.
When I think about this memory now, I can physically smell Nanny’s house and see everything in it—the plastic-covered furniture, marble end tables, her sparkly dining room chandelier, a painting of The Last Supper, and those gold drapes. It was very gaudy Italian. And as I tell this story, I get a vision, like a quick filmstrip, of Nanny standing at the stove, smoking her cigarette all the way down to a really long ash that’s dangling over a bubbling spaghetti pot. She’d let that cigarette burn until only the filter was left, and yet the ashes never fell into her gravy. She loved her jewelry, and in my memory, she’s wearing all these diamonds. Like me, you know?
After my little encounter with Nanny, I went back to completely ignoring Spirit. My uncle Julie died during my senior year of high school, and around that time, my anxieties began to get much worse than they’d been. I developed random phobias, many of which had to do with feeling claustrophobic. The night terrors had long past, but I still had restless sleep habits. Instead of waking up screaming, I’d jump out of bed, feeling like I couldn’t breathe to save my life.
Then Along Came Larry
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