benson, arizona. |  author. artist. aunt. psychic. traveler.

There are thousands of published and unpublished accounts of near-death experiences. As a matter of fact, written accounts date back to the Middle Ages. The intrigue of the afterlife has been responsible for countless books, movies, and late night conversations over a bottle of wine (or three). And like most things in life, ideas vary due to our installed belief systems. We are all raised with a set of ideas that often grow into strong convictions regarding the human experience. Our beliefs, and oftentimes fear, can be so powerful that when we hear stories about near-death experiences, our minds simply cannot comprehend the possibilities causing us to revert back to what we think we know for sure.

When I first learned about Natalie Sudman’s story, I became fascinated with her ability to share her truth —  eloquently and bravely. Author of the book entitled Application of Impossible Things, Natalie shares her story of a near-death experience that occurred while she was working as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and her life as she knew it changed dramatically. After processing this life-changing event, Natalie slowly began to tell her story. Ms. Sudman is an author, artist, psychic, and believer in all things impossible.

A wise woman once taught me to be open to everything and attached to nothing. And if age has taught me anything, it has taught me that the universe is vast, God is pure goodness, and life is better by remaining open to all possibilities.


From archeologist to government construction project manager, to author, you have made a few shifts in your career. How do your experiences influence who you are today?

This question is a good one, and I had to think about it for a little while. What we experience can be imagined to influence us in so many ways, conscious and unconscious, that naming those or setting them into a list would feel narrow and incomplete. Consciously, the influences I’m aware of shift, in any case. Six years ago I would say that working as an archeologist influenced the way I perceive and experience landscape, nature and our relationship with this physical world. One year ago I might have said that working as an archeologist influences the way I perceive and think about time and a perceived progress of values within community. Our stories and perspectives change, depending upon what past experience we need for reference in the present.

So another way to think about this question would be to ask myself this: how does who I am today influence my experiences.

We tell ourselves stories that we believe define who we are. If we’re willing to re-examine the stories, to tell them from a different perspective or with different emphases, it’s possible to re-define ourselves. For example, I can tell myself the story of working as a government construction project manager from a viewpoint that emphasizes my ineptitude, my fear of being in over my head, my aggressive defensiveness of my ignorance and mistakes … and there were plenty! … Or I can tell myself that same story from the viewpoint that highlights my flexibility and willingness to work hard, that reminds me of the way my natural skills with organization and efficiency served me and my colleagues, of my ability to learn quickly in a high-pressure environment, and my willingness to adapt and to find the beauties within difficult circumstances.

The power in this is realizing that our own thoughts (stories) influence how we view ourselves and what we’re capable of, and how we perceive our worth. The point isn’t to ignore the “bad” stories, but to find balance and some gentle honesty in telling our stories to ourselves: here I was strong and competent, and here I would like to do a bit of work to improve.

                  

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how did that relationship make a difference in your life?

I had to look up the word “mentor” … an experienced and trusted advisor. Yes, I had a mentor in archeology, and one in construction project management. Both relationships made my jobs much easier. When I feel ignorant or incompetent (often both!) I can be an anxious worrier, self-critical, and consumed by fear. I can panic when I feel I’m in over my head (and I put myself in that position an awful lot!), wanting to know everything as fast and thoroughly as I can, beating myself up for mistakes and ignorance, driving myself ahead of the fear. Functioning well from that place is very difficult and exhausting, as one might imagine. Having these mentors, these oracles of knowledge about the field I was working in, was critical in my learning the job, but more importantly they were crucial in my learning to be gentle and patient with myself. Both my mentors were patient, kind, insightful people who showed me through their own actions and words that it’s safe to slow down and just know whatever I know today, and that it’s safe to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.” They allowed and encouraged me to enjoy the process of learning something new, and to go easy on myself all the way through that process.

  

While working as a government contractor in Iraq, your truck was hit by a roadside bomb. How did that change your life?

 This question feels too big to answer. The short answer would be that it surrounded me and permeated me with the knowing that I belong wherever I am.

  

So… you possess psychic ability and have experienced other dimensions? (Intriguing!) What does that mean exactly? And do you believe every human being can access other dimensions as well or just a chosen few?

I recognize and accept that I am a conscious being experiencing through a body – I am not my body, I am not my emotions, I am not my thoughts. I am the being experiencing through a body, emotions, and thoughts. I can shift my focus and hold that focus outside the limits of the body, the limits of cultural belief, the limits of this physical experience. I’m an infinite awareness, an expression of and one with All That Exists, and so all that exists is available to me to know – is available to everyone to know.

Yes, everyone can access other dimensions – we already do it without being aware of it, or without calling it that. We drive home, park the car and pause, realizing we don’t remember a single thing about that drive home. Where were we? Our focus was thoroughly elsewhere, outside the immediate moment of this physical body driving home. Our awareness was in another dimension. Though the body kept functioning through the physical environment, we as consciousness – the Me within the body – were not here. As a consciousness, the point of awareness that is the Me can go anywhere. It doesn’t require the body to come along. We all do it. We shift dimensions in dreams, then call the dreams “not real.” We experienced the dream – how can it not be real? Well, my body didn’t experience it … Why do you think you are your body? We are the consciousness experiencing through the body … and also without the body… and that consciousness is infinite. No limits.

  

With so much judgment in the world, it must have taken a lot of courage to say “I see dead people” out loud. How did you muster up the courage to speak your truth?

Oh yeah, this hit all my triggers! I eased myself into it … I set manageable goals, I guess. First I said to myself, “I’ll write this experience down in the form of a book just for fun. Once that’s done I can decide whether I want to do anything with it or not.” I call this tricking my fears, though it’s not a trick in a mean way. It’s acknowledging that I’m scared, and taking one little step anyway. It’s doing something fun, letting go of whatever might come after that step – and reassuring myself that it’s my decision all the way along the process. If I write it and am too scared to do anything more with it, hey – I wrote it and that was fun.

After I wrote the book (“Application of Impossible Things”) I decided that I’d just send it out to a few publishers and agents and let go … just see what happened. Sending out manuscripts was not scary, maybe because it’s largely passive on my end.

By the time it was published, I’d assuaged some of my fears bit by bit, but I was still frightened of how some friends might take it. I thought some people would probably ridicule me or argue with me, or maybe just roll their eyes and disappear from my life and that would be horrible because I’d miss them terribly.

In the end, I found that although a few people did disappear, my love for them didn’t. I still love them, and in loving someone comes respecting their choices, letting them go if that’s their choice. I don’t need their approval or even their presence to love them.

For the most part, though, my fears were unfounded. If people didn’t agree with what I had written, or didn’t believe it, or weren’t interested in it, they just ignored it. An elegant solution.

I think that when I am truthful and honest with myself, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about what I’ve said or done. I don’t feel that I have to defend myself or explain myself, or convince the other person that I’m right. Culturally we carry a lot of fear of what others will think, and that’s okay – we’re community beings … but there’s great inner freedom and rest in letting go of caring about that. I don’t always remember this or act clearly from within it even now … but I practice it.

 

Is judgment even an issue in the spirit world? I would assume it’s a lot less critical on the other side. And can you describe the other side?

Judgment isn’t an issue anywhere outside our own beliefs – our own thoughts. We judge ourselves. There is no judgment beyond that.

“The other side” assumes that there’s a here and a there … but just like “here” is an infinity of reality, so is “there.” The reality/world of an eighty year old woman in the Sudan is very different from the reality/world of a thirty-something Wall Street executive, which is nearly unrecognizably different from the life of a twenty year old Amazon basin native, or a cowboy, or an Iraqi girl.

“There” is not necessarily one experience either. What if “there” is infinite … each experience available within it unique? What if “there” holds “here” within it, as one of an infinity of available experiences, making “here” actually already “there”? Which is true, from my experience…

… while all that we might experience as separate is within one. We’re all expressions within a single whole, each unique birds in a single graceful flock that moves as one.

 

Do you feel that our spirits recognize one another after our time here is done? I will be heartbroken without my sisters- can you recommend a plan to connect with each other after the fat lady sings? (I am a planner.)

Yes, from my experience our spirits or souls recognize one another when we leave our bodies and experience within this physical world. Recommend a plan … Yes, because our thoughts have power … so imagine that when you leave this body, you call out to your sisters and they come. Imagine this vividly, making it real within yourself. Imagine that as you leave this body, they’re already standing there ready to greet you. Imagine a place that would be fun to meet … a big picnic, a café, a star … create it in your mind, vividly. Imagine showing this place to your sisters so they know and recognize it, and in your mind ask them to meet you there. Imagine that you will float up out of your body when the fat lady sings, and you’ll know where to go – to that café, picnic or star – and there they are, your sisters. Hooray!

We’re taught that imagination isn’t real. Imagination is the force of creation … so use your imagination to create, then let the power of that imagination go. Let it float out into the universe and manifest.

   

You are an artist and you have had your poetry and essays published in various literary journals. Additionally you wrote a book entitled Application of Impossible Things: My Near Death Experience in Iraq. What is your best advice to those wishing to be a published writer?

I may not be the one to give advice on this topic. I don’t have a formula, and don’t believe that what worked for me will work for others, because everyone is different. Maybe my best advice would be something like this: Tell the truth. Have something to say. Love what you do. Be clear and honest about why you want what you want, and clean it up if it needs cleaning up.

What is your best advice on how to live a graceful life?

Be your own best friend. Love yourself – even the crummy parts. Like yourself – even the crummy parts. Be compassionate with yourself – especially the crummy parts. Forgive yourself for everything.


j. jane side notes:

You may connect with Ms. Sudman on Facebook and visit her website to learn more about her work. Natalie offers psychic consultation over the phone or by email. More information about readings can be found on the Readings page of her blog: Trace of Elements.