I had a strong sense of adventure and thirst for knowledge growing up in Cornwall, Ontario (a small mill town on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour’s drive west of Montreal). I was a very logical and pragmatic kid, and far more mature than my peers, who were still playing with dolls while I was out hunting for fossils, studying plants and insects under a microscope, and contemplating the existence of God, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. But, then, somewhere around age eight or nine, I began to develop what can best be described as "paranormal sensitivities". I learned that I could, on occasion, sense the thoughts and feelings of those around me, and predict future events.

Now, before going on, I'd like to assure you that I am not a flake or a whack-job. While I do believe in ghosts, aliens and reincarnation, I don’t believe in demonic possession, astrology, numerology, telekinesis, the Loch Ness monster, the supernatural healing power of crystals or that Stonehenge is a portal to another dimension. A person's future cannot be predicted by a deck of Tarot cards. Vampires and werewolves aren't real, and you cannot bend a spoon just by wishing it to do so.

That said, I'm sure there's a perfectly sane and logical explanation for what I'm about to share with you all. I just...haven't found it yet.

One day, in Grade 4, I told a classmate that I was sorry his grandfather was going to pass away in his sleep the next morning — and then, he did. It didn’t seem all that strange to me, knowing this turn of events beforehand. But I quickly discovered just how unwelcome this "gift" of mine was, as I got branded a witch by my peers and, for the next two years, endured some pretty brutal taunts and beatings. The classmate whose grandfather had died cornered me on the school bus and blew salt into my eyes in an effort to exorcise the evil inside me. Later, I was run over by a boy on a bike, held under water and nearly drowned by three girls during swimming class, poisoned with Drano by a classmate who cheerfully offered to share his can of Coke, and set on fire — twice — by a group of kids chanting: "Burn the witch! Burn the witch!"

My empathic abilities only got stronger as I got older. I had to quit working at the local Humane Society, after only four hours, when I was 14 because I was overwhelmed by the pain and misery emanating from all the animals locked up in the back room. I couldn’t go to large social events surrounded by hundreds of strangers because I was unable to block out all of their emotions. By age 16, I had developed a well-tuned ability to predict the future, as it related directly to me (meaning, it had to involve an event or situation where I am in the room). Case in point: while working part-time at a clothing store, an image popped into my head while I was chatting with one of my co-workers, and I told her a woman was going to come into the store in a minute, about 45-years-old with brown hair, wearing a green plaid coat. She wants to return the skirt she bought for her daughter a few days ago because it’s too small…and guess what happened a few seconds later.

Another situation, while on vacation with my family in Algonquin Park when I was 17 (1985), visibly unnerved my father, and that’s when I decided to keep the true extent of my abilities a secret from him. My parents divorced when I was 10 and I had very little contact with him and his new family, right up until very recently, when I moved to join him on the west coast. Anyway, during this summer vacation, my father, three younger sisters and I were exploring the park when Dad decided to take us to supper at Arowhon Pines. I’d never been to this resort before. And yet, as Dad parked the car and we all got out, I said: "This place is beautiful inside. It’s six-sided, with walls made of logs and a gorgeous stone fireplace right in the middle of the room". My father shot me a peculiar look and asked if I’d ever been here before. I told him no, not physically, but in a dream, which was the only way I could explain my paranormal abilities in a way he might understand — which he didn’t, as evident by the look of horror on his face when we walked into the restaurant. It was exactly as I had described.

At age 22, my husband and I joined a few of his co-workers for a little get-together at one of their homes. It was my first time meeting them all and I was having a great time. That is, until "Rachel" pulled a Ouija board out of her bedroom closet and urged us all to join her in a séance at the dining table. I’d had a bad experience at a previous séance with some high-school friends several years earlier, so, I declined the invitation. As I sat on the sofa in the adjoining living room, reading a magazine, I was suddenly overcome by a profound sense of grief and regret as Rachel called out to her friend "Justin", pleading with him to communicate with her through the Ouija board. Overwhelmed, I burst into tears and ran from the room, quickly putting an end to the séance. Once I’d composed myself, Rachel told me that Justin had killed himself two years ago, after a long battle with depression.

In October of 1999, I went to a car dealership in Ottawa, Ontario, to find a nice, cheap little car, as my husband and I were preparing for a formal separation, and he was taking our Ford Escort with him when he moved out in a few weeks. I fell in love with a used 1997 Suzuki Swift and started the paperwork to get a four-year lease. As I sat across from the finance manager, who was tapping away at his computer, I glanced down at his watch. A big, beautiful silver Rolex. "Nice watch," I said.

The finance manager smiled, and as he moved to give it a gentle caress, the entire story of how he acquired the expensive timepiece flooded my brain. "Your father gave it to you," I said quietly. "He knew he was dying of cancer, and he wanted to give you something to remember him by. Something to pass down to your son, as a legacy."

The finance manager got that freaked out look on his face. The one I was, unfortunately, used to seeing on peoples’ faces at this point. "Uh, yeah," he muttered. "He didn’t have anything to hand down to me, so, we went out together and I picked out this Rolex. How could you possibly know that?"

"I get these feelings, sometimes," I said, then extended my condolences on the recent death of his father and switched the subject back to the car I wanted to lease — which turned out to be a lemon, by the way (Hmmm...why didn’t my ability to predict the future work when I first spotted the Suzuki Swift on the car lot, I wonder?).

One day, in the summer of 2009, I was patronizing one of my favourite shoe stores when a well-dressed, middle-aged blonde woman came in. Side by side, we sat on the bench, testing the patience of the only clerk on duty as we tried on dozens of shoes, modelling them for each other. After about 15 minutes, this woman, whom I’ll call "Joanne", revealed to me that she was shoe shopping to try and cheer herself up after getting the boot from her boyfriend, just two days earlier. She was baffled by his sudden desire to end the relationship, and angry because he refused to return her phone calls and emails to discuss the situation.

Without hearing anything more than that, I suddenly blurted out: "He’s intimidated by you. He’s a 38 year-old construction worker, living in a one-bedroom rental, and you’re a successful 41 year-old business owner who owns a four bedroom house overlooking Parliament Hill. He feels that he doesn’t measure up, that he has nothing to offer you."

The look on Joanne’s face...she was stunned. "How did you know he was 38? I didn’t tell you that. And I most certainly did tell you how old I am."

"Uh...lucky guess?" I chuckled, nervously.

"Ron’s a construction worker," she pressed on. "And I do, in fact, own a home near Parliament Hill. That’s a pretty damn good guess."

Reluctantly, I admitted to Joanne that I was an empath, and when people’s emotions are strong enough, little bursts of information are transmitted along with those feelings, and I can pick up on that. I could feel her anger and resentment at having been inexplicably dumped, and those emotions filled my mind as though they were my own.

Still slightly suspicious of my bizarre explanation, Joanne, nonetheless, asked for my advice on how to mend her relationship with a man she’d hoped to marry one day. Having been blissfully divorced for almost ten years at that point, I gave her the only advice that came to mind, then left the store — without buying anything (it doesn’t take an empath to know that the sales girl was not the slightest bit impressed with me).

In July, 2002, I lived in a basement apartment in Ottawa, with a large window that opened straight out onto the front lawn of my apartment building. I used to let Aries, my eight year-old gray cat, out to lounge on the grass, tethered by a 15 foot leash attached to a hook screwed into the ceiling of my living room, just inside the window. One day, I let Aries out to sun himself on the lawn, then went to work at my computer in the bedroom.

About three hours later, I went to check on him and discovered, to my horror, that he had broken free from his leash — but a good part of it was still attached to his collar, meaning he was dragging a ten foot rope behind him. I was very concerned that the leash would get snagged on something, putting him in grave danger. So, I went looking for him in the woods right behind my home, as he often went there to hunt and play when off-leash. But, hours later, with the sun now long gone, there was still no sign of him. It was nearing midnight, 10˚C and pouring rain. I had to get up for work at 6 am, so, full of guilt and fear, I abandoned my search and went to bed to try and get some sleep.

Sometime, just after daybreak, I had a dream that Aries was tangled in the bushes about 90 feet from my apartment building, and 7 feet away from an old gardening shed used by maintenance workers. He was cold, wet and very hungry, meowing for me to come and rescue him. I woke from the dream, put on some shoes and went searching for him in my pajamas, going directly to the spot where he told me he was in my dream.

And guess where I found him? Yup. About 7 feet away from the old shed, wet and shivering, his leash completely tangled in shrubbery, just as I'd seen in my dream. Aries and I have always had a special connection since I first adopted him at 6 months old. We were able to communicate non-verbally on a very rudimentary level (i.e. locking eyes and conveying each others needs and wishes, then complying, if we desired to do so) but this was the first time I’d been able to link with him, telepathically, from such a significant distance. If I hadn't found him, he most surely would have died of hunger and exposure.

I’ve experienced hundreds of bizarre situations just like this over the years and, I must admit, I'm at a loss to explain how I can do these things. It's just not logical. It took a while, but I've learned to embrace the wonderful mystery that is me, and I continue to explore and experiment with these...unusual talents...almost every day.


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