GROWING UP IN THE CITY OF SPIRITS—NEW ORLEANS
I’M A CAREER INTUITIVE, a medium, and I see dream jobs. When I work with clients I see their gifts and potentials: what they came here to do, the careers they would love, and where they should live. This information comes to me as photographic images, auditory messages, and powerful sensory feelings that I transmit directly to my clients. Sometimes I see my clients’ departed loved ones, who come to the session to offer career guidance.
This joining of two seemingly disconnected worlds—the divine realms and the world of work—seems to be my particular talent. I was born in New Orleans to a French Cajun mother who came from a long line of women with "the gift." I inherited a double dose of telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition from her and her mother, and back through generations of her family—the Degas women (whether we’re related to the famous artist, we’re not sure).
These unusual gifts were nurtured by the mysterious city of my childhood. In the haunted alleys of the French Quarter, almost everybody gives respect to the "unseen" world in some form or other—whether it’s through voodoo, Catholicism, psychics, vampires, or Mardi Gras.
My early years were flavored with this spicy magic—from my grandpa’s stories of the swirling Mississippi River to the unforgettable images I absorbed in the dark recesses of Crescent City life. I thrived on the rhythms of my crazy Cajun ancestors.
Like them, I heard other people’s thoughts and had too- vivid dreams of events that would happen in the future. Sometimes this was helpful; mostly it just contributed to my "nerdy" childhood. In first grade, when the school bully had me cornered behind a building, I spoke his thoughts out loud, and he took off running as if he’d seen a ghost. In high school I dreamed the exact details of a car wreck and was able to prevent it from happening the next day.
For most of my childhood I was sensitive to these other realms—whether I wanted to be or not. And trust me, I didn’t want to be! Being psychic was not "cool" in the fifties; it was more "crazy" than cool, and didn’t want to be crazy. Gidget wasn’t crazy, and neither was Hayley Mills. In the days of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, pony-tails and sock hops, normal was in. That’s all I aspired to be.
Southern girls from middle- class Catholic families weren’t allowed the luxury of psychic powers. When I talked about things I had dreamed that came true, people left the room; they told me I had an overactive imagination. I lost friends. So I learned to keep it to myself.
But the dreams were relentless; I dreaded going to sleep because it meant entering an alternate reality of precognitive dreams and astral travel that was terrifying for a kid. Today I would be diagnosed with "night terrors" and given drugs to knock me out. But in the fifties I was on my own. So I taught myself to pray the Our Father incessantly—even during my sleep.
As a child I took great comfort in Catholicism’s rituals and saints. In that world my dreams were nearly acceptable. I prayed fervently to the Virgin Mary during mass—which attracted the admiration of my third- grade teacher, Sister Mary Leo. She took me aside and said I was well suited for the "religious life," meaning that I would be a good nun (or nerd—my interpretation).
The idea of convent life was strangely comforting—until seventh grade, when I saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. From then on my future was clear—I would marry Paul McCartney.
My mom’s Cajun family had a long tradition of intuitives. Yet these powerful strong- willed women kept pretty quiet about their dreams and their ability to know what was happening to faraway loved ones, until we got together for family gatherings. Then I heard the whispered stories of dreams that came true and of waking in the night knowing when someone had died—before the phone rang to bring the news.
Besides passing along the gift, my mother supplied me with a most essential tool: unflinching determination. Without her tremendous strength I would have gotten lost in the confusing world of telepathy and clairvoyance. Mom’s message was clear: Fit in, be strong, and have a conventional life. There were no options.
I kept the dreams and visions to myself. I knew that I had the power to see the other world, but I saw no good reason to do so. It would only cause trouble. And, hey, Gidget never saw spirits or had weird dreams. Neither did Paul McCartney. And, as my mother pointed out, talking about this stuff could get me a stint in the local mental hospital.
Meanwhile the dreams continued. We spent summers at our beach house in Long Beach, Mississippi, where I often woke the family with piercing screams about the wall of water washing over our house and sweeping away everything we owned. This vivid precognitive dream was repeated throughout most of my childhood. My brothers learned to throw a pillow at my head before the screams could wake our baby sister.
But the dreams made my grandfather uneasy. He had weathered numerous hurricanes in the house and was confident that our home was built like a fort. Yet as I got older, he would ask for more details of the dream, which I would relate as best I could.
One night, when we were sharing stories, he put his hand into the moonlight shining through our window. "You see that light, Sue Ellen. That’s perpetual light—that’s what God is. And God is always with us."
That simple conversation became the foundation for my lifelong understanding of God as ever- present divine light. This awareness helped calm the fears that my dreams inspired.
The summer I turned seventeen, in 1969, Hurricane Camille sent a thirty- foot wall of water over our Long Beach house and left nothing but the concrete foundation. We had evacuated, so no one was hurt. But the loss of Long Beach was a trauma from which our family never fully recovered. It marked a turning point in my life; I left for college that same summer and seldom came home again.
Another recurring dream was of seeing the city of New Orleans under water. In the dream I was in a car with my family on a city street, and suddenly we were submerged under five feet of water. Or we would be driving across the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway when the road would disappear into the water, and we would drive off the edge.
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city and the Lake Pon-chartrain Causeway exactly as I had seen it in my dreams for thirty years.
When I got pregnant at the age of forty- two, I dreamed of my unborn child—who told me her name was Sarah and that she really loved me. I saw her perfect face as clear as a photo, and it’s the exact face that I see today when I look at her.
My psychic gift is most powerful now that I use it to help others. The precognitive images that I see help me guide my clients to their true work. But it took me more than fifty years to embrace this ability to see the unseen world and learn what it had to teach—rather than being ashamed or afraid of it.
Excerpted from I See Your Dream Job by Sue Frederick.
Copyright © 2009 by Sue Frederick.
Published in September 2009 by St. Martin's Press.
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