It was probably around 1997 when I was shopping with my young daughters at WalMart in Cottonwood, AZ. I saw this beautiful little blue and white lighthouse lamp on a shelf of clearance items. I picked it up, and sighed sadly when I saw the price: $5. I put it back on the shelf, and wanted to cry because I'd determined that I couldn't afford it. My daughters saw and felt my sadness, as much as I tried to hide it.
"Why don't you buy that for yourself, Mommy?" my daughter, Emily said.
"Yeah," my daughter, Bobbi, chimed in, "You really like that lighthouse, don't you?"
I smiled. "Yes, I do, sweetheart, but I can't afford it."
"Yes you can!" Emily said confidently.
"Yeah," Bobbi agreed, "You never buy anything for yourself, Mommy. Buy it."
"Buy it! C'mon Mommy, buy it!" Emily said, as she grabbed the lighthouse off of the shelf and put it in my cart. I was absolutely terrified to spend that amount of money on a knick-knack, but I couldn't deny the truth of what they were saying. I had denied myself luxuries for years, and this was truly a luxury. To me, that little lighthouse lamp would be the most beautiful item I'd ever purchased. Over 20 years later, it is still one of my most cherished possessions. It has weathered countless moves, and one alien encounter, as I wrote about in my autobiography, The Cellars and Ceilings of Summer:
Then, one night when my children were away, I awakened very suddenly. I was extremely groggy and it was all I could do to push up off of the bed with my arms. It felt like someone was pressing down on me, and it was hard to breathe. I glanced back over my left shoulder. An extraterrestrial with a large bulbous white head and large, dark black bug eyes was laying on top of me, bearing down with all his might. (At least, it felt like a male presence.) Oddly enough, he was wearing some kind of a black turtleneck pullover. His body was very thin, and he was not quite as tall as me. I could see his long, bony looking fingers, and part of his forearm which pressed against mine. His “skin” was stark white, and very loose and squishy, like a wetsuit. Our eyes met. I was furious! It was immedi- ately apparent that I had been drugged somehow (perhaps psychically), and I mentally barreled through the grogginess to fight off this extraterrestrial perpetrator. Adrenaline was my friend in that moment, and with all my might I pushed up off of the bed. Surprisingly, with very little effort on my part, the extraterrestrial lost his grip and rolled off of me, then off of the bed...and passed straight through the sliding glass door!
Gasping to catch my breath, I sat up on the edge of the bed, cupping my face in my hands, completely stunned by what had happened. Thinking the horrifying experience was over, I looked up, and there, at the entrance to the hallway, holding my lighthouse lamp, was another extraterrestrial... an exact replica of the one I’d just thrown off of me. He was looking at the lamp, and seemed perplexed by it. Then, he felt me staring at him. He turned and looked at me, staring hard back.
Lighthouses started coming into my life at random. Clients would travel miles to bring me lighthouse gifts: candle holders, framed photos, a trunk, outdoor lighthouse decor, Christmas tree ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, and more.
One morning as I was applying my makeup, I thought wistfully, “I wonder why lighthouses? Why do I like lighthouses so much?”
And I heard, “Because you lived in one!” And then I said aloud, matter-of-factly, “Oh! Right! I lived in one!”
I put my mascara wand down, and almost cried as some kind of memory drifted in. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had lived in a lighthouse in a previous lifetime.
Today, anyone who knows me, knows that I am lighthouse crazy. I am a member of the Lighthouse Preservation Society. I recently moved to an apartment in Sedona that is like a lighthouse. The downstairs area is very dark, so I decided to play up the darkness with a dark blue shag carpet, blue lights, and a mirror that looks like a ship portal. There are steep stairs to the upper “deck” which is bright and light, like the top of the lighthouse, and even has a balcony.
After I moved into my new place, a friend of mine sent me an amazing 50 minute video, by Peter Halil, of life in a lighthouse at the Hanois Lighthouse off of Guersey in the Channel Islands. I was blown away. It’s a simple, old video, made in 1994, and it is a sweet, gentle journey into the life of a Lighthouse Keeper.
As I watched the video, I realized that lighthouses don’t discern between friend or foe. They guide everyone equally. Lighthouse Keepers are brave, dedicated men and women who have, for centuries, without prejudice, guided thousands of souls safely to shore.
As Dr. Peebles says, “Become like the lighthouse. Shine your light brightly, and guide others safely to the shore of love.”