Medium Rare -The Skeptic and the Psychic

Life is anything but boring. If we open our eyes to the possibilities, we might truly be amazed by what we see. The gurus call this awareness. I think it’s simply a matter of being open-minded.

A year ago, I entered a world I did not believe existed. I wanted to believe, but I guess I’m basically the scientific type, needing proof before I proceed. As a nonbeliever, I really was not in pursuit of enlightenment in the spiritual fashion. It was more my style to explore in a playful manner, without expectations but plenty of hopeful curiosity, a kind of “There’s got to be more to life than I’m seeing,” attitude. In spite of that, my cynical “I’m no fool” side always won the argument, and the signs that lay before me went unnoticed.

When I accidentally opened the door that divides earthly and spiritual existence – a mere ethereal separation – I set foot in a world beyond my imagination. If my own mother had first made this discovery, my skepticism would have prevented me from accepting her tale. Yet, here I am writing about it, as if expecting someone will read my words with credence.

The truth is that I have no attachment to your resulting opinion of my claims. To get them out of my head and onto paper is a purgative exercise in itself – more of a diary than a public report. Nevertheless, I am without doubt that others will seek and find this information. Whether as a compass toward their own door to enlightenment or as an affirmation to their own similar experiences, I know people will find comfort in learning from and connecting with my story.

It is now November of 2000. As I write, I marvel at how much my life has changed since January 1999. I feel like I have been on a ride at Disney World. The difference, however, is that this ride is not based in fantasy. While it may sound like fantasy to some people, this is a true story. Yet, admittedly, I still occasionally pinch myself to see if I wake up.

In January 1999, on Friday the 15th, my newly published book was released. I’ll admit, it was kind of exciting. However, a couple days after its release, I had a talk with my father. That was a great deal more exciting because my father had been dead for almost two years. And this is where my story begins.

The Skeptic

It was Sunday, January 17, 1999. My wife, Melissa, and I were at her parents’ summer home in Wells, Maine for a long weekend. The New England weather had been furious – biting cold with tankards of snow. Homeowners, business owners, and even the town highway departments could not contend with the persistent snowfall, so roads and driveways were dangerously spotted with icy-white glaciers where the snow had become petrified on the asphalt.

Because Melissa’s brother, Derek, and I were both donning large bruises on our derrieres due to the icy driveway, we thought it wise to spread some sand before someone really got hurt. Living so close to the ocean, the beach seemed the obvious place to obtain a bucket of sand. Later we learned there are laws against such an act. Thinking about it in hindsight, that makes sense. But at the time we were just two dumb cavemen finding a solution to our problem.

Derek had recently visited a nearby psychic. So during our trip to the ocean, he enthusiastically narrated the amazing details she revealed about his life, “information she could never have known,” he exclaimed. “Things you and Melissa don’t even know,” he added for emphasis. The story lasted until the driveway was covered with sand. In the end, I was both intrigued and frostbitten.

Over the weekend, Derek’s story weighed on my mind. I was strongly skeptical, but I thought it was fun going to psychics and fortunetellers. Derek and I, as well as other members of Melissa’s family had gone to these spiritual practitioners many times in the past. I was never impressed and thought every one of them to be a fraud. Nevertheless, I continued to try new ones just for the entertainment of it and always with a spec of hope that I might find one with a real gift (although I seriously doubted it would ever happen).

Because of my curiosity I finally phoned Derek’s psychic on the last day of our stay. Her name is Vicky. It was a Sunday so I really didn’t expect she would see me, but it was worth a try, because not knowing if she was real was driving me nuts. I was taken by surprise when she said I could come to her home at four o’clock in the afternoon. I booked the appointment and hung up the phone.

I immediately felt regretful that I had made the appointment. Melissa and I weren’t rolling in greenbacks at the time, so I suddenly had a sense that I was wasting the money it was going to cost for the one-hour reading. I really expected Vicky was just another fraud who was going to fire off generalizations that could pertain to nearly everyone who walked through her door. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe Derek’s story, but I saw him as a “believer.” And being a skeptic, myself, I sometimes wondered if Derek was a bit naïve when it came to such matters (a rather significant lesson for me now that I review the last couple years in hindsight). So I seriously considered calling Vicky back and canceling the appointment.

Melissa convinced me to not cancel, saying I originally wanted to go so it was important that I keep the appointment. She was a little confused by my sudden change of mind. I explained my skepticism and she replied by arousing my curiosity again: “What if she really is gifted? Derek said she was. You’ll always wonder unless you go.” I hesitated in thought. “Look,” she said, “You already made the appointment, it would be rude to cancel now.” She was right, of course. I made the decision to go.

The weather that day had a suspicious change of mood – warm and sunny with an air of rebirth in the breeze and melting ice. After a relaxing spring-like day by the ocean, Melissa and I made the trip to Vicky’s home. As we made the half-hour drive into the countryside -swerving to dodge the ice chunks that hated my Volvo – I made a vow not to divulge any hints about my personality, my work, my marriage, my family, my past or my future goals during conversation with Vicky. “If this woman is truly gifted, she is going to have to prove it,” I demanded. We even decided that Melissa would stay in the car so that Vicky couldn’t visually learn anything about Melissa or deduct any revealing signals about our relationship. I was putting this so-called psychic medium to the test and she was going to have to earn her money without any help from me.

The Psychic

As we drove up the long gravel driveway, Melissa and I were immediately blanketed with envy at the view of Vicky’s handsome old farmhouse with a large barn, horses roaming the fields, and children sledding in the snow a short distance away. I avoided the chickens and parked our car so nobody in the house could see Melissa. As I approached the doorway, I met with memories of my past as I heard the children’s playful voices echo across the snowy fields. I knocked and was immediately greeted by a woman I assumed to be Vicky.

I couldn’t really see her, as the sun was bright and the front porch entryway was shadowed. She invited me in and I followed her to an in-law apartment attached to the farmhouse. She said it was where her mother lived, but that her mother was away on vacation. It was spacious and clean with that new addition feel to it, and it was furnished with comfortable cozy chairs and a couch. I quickly sat on the first chair I approached as if to seek sanctuary from my fears and uncertainty, trying not to expose my jittery limbs. Finally, I got a look at Vicky.

I was expecting a slightly rotund forty-or-fifty-something-year-old woman wearing a gypsy outfit and sporting a rather large wart on her face. Instead, Vicky was a thin, small-framed thirty-something-year-old with unusually brilliant red hair, no wart, and wore white jeans and a feminine fleece with a white and powder-blue snowflake print. Except for the unusually deep red hair that fell past her shoulders and framed her entire face, giving her a witches-of-Salem kind of look, she appeared very normal.

My immediate impression was that she was way too young and much too pretty to be a “real” psychic. All I could think was, “I might as well just give her my money and leave. This is going to be a complete waste of time.” I figured Vicky must have read a couple books on developing your psychic abilities and decided it was a good way to make some extra cash while she stayed at home with the kids. Now that I saw her and sized her up, I could feel my body language change from hopefully anxious to skeptically aloof.

Since I quickly snapped up the chair, Vicky walked to my left and sat on the couch, rather comfortably I noticed, with her legs bent under her like she was about to watch a movie with the family. I half expected the microwave to ding signaling the popcorn was ready. Her casualness made me feel a tiny bit more at ease, but I knew even she sensed my guard was still up. She told me that she didn’t want me to tell her anything about myself, and only to answer her questions with a “yes,” “no” or “maybe.” She didn’t want me to add any details or fill-in with information that she was missing, because she would eventually put it all together as the reading progressed.

I had already vowed (to Melissa and myself) not to tell her anything, but I was now a little more relaxed knowing she wasn’t going to pry. My curiosity was now peaked. All I could think was, “What if she’s legit?” And then I quickly caught hold of myself, remembering all the phony psychics and fortunetellers I had visited in the past. I was determined not to let my guard down and get suckered in by her calm-mannered unassuming manipulation.

Reading the Book of My Life

Within minutes, she was rattling off details about my life that were hard to chalk up to a lucky guess. She told me that she communicates with people’s guides – “angels if you prefer to call them, but without the wings,” she said. These are spirits, souls, who are “in the light,” and are around each of us to help aid us through life. She said we all have many guides who help us with the many different facets of our existence. Some are people we know from this lifetime who have passed on and have made the transition back to the spirit world. Others are souls who did not exist in this lifetime but have been with us in other lifetimes, or at least have been with us in the spirit world in between our various lives.

Vicky talked like a poet. She had this calming peaceful tone to her voice where her words flowed from her lips like a violin playing Mozart. I thought to myself how she would be perfect for one of those hypnosis or meditation tapes. But it was more than the sound of her voice; it was also the words she chose – melodically lyric, bordering on angelic (if you’ll excuse the pun). Yet it didn’t sound phony like someone repeating a poem that they don’t really understand. Vicky’s words undoubtedly came from her heart. And slowly, they melted my icy apprehension. I couldn’t help but to stop fighting her tooth and nail and at least listen to what she was saying.

Vicky said that the spirit world is actually “home” to us. (I thought this was a very comforting notion.) This earthly existence is a temporary place of learning and growing.

“Much like college?” I jumped in.

“Sure. A little bit like going away to school,” she patiently replied. Vicky explained that, when we die, our souls leave this earthly life of fleshly confinement to go home where we feel free and liberated in the surrounding comfort of God’s light and love.

As nice as it sounded, a lot of this went right over my head like so much mumbo-jumbo. I was somewhat ignorant in this area. And while it was all amusingly interesting to me, I also didn’t know what to make of it. I was still very skeptical and was not going to be made a fool of. However, then she told me that two of my guides were in the room.


I took a deep breath. She identified them as my grandmother (whom she identified by name) and my father (whom she described with accuracy). It was lucky for Vicky that both had died, I thought. How embarrassing it would have been if they were still alive. But they weren’t. Okay, she got lucky, I decided. I waited for more proof before getting too excited.

Vicky said that my grandmother was telling her that I was a big skeptic, a “wanna-believer” who hoped there was an afterlife but needed a lot of proof. “Bingo” on the latter. She told Vicky that they needed to prove to me that my grandmother was really there. She proceeded to name a few of my cousins by their first names. Not bad considering the names she gave were all my grandmother’s grandchildren. She also congratulated me on my new business venture.

Vicky told me that my grandmother was placing white flowers all around me. With this, and the “energy-feeling” Vicky received along with the white flower visual, it was a symbol to Vicky of congratulations relating to something of a business nature, as opposed to a birth or a marriage which would likely be different colored flowers or a different energy-feeling that came with the flower symbol.

I suspected that the congratulations were related to the fact that my new book had been released a couple days prior, but there was no way I was going to give that information to Vicky. Without any hints from me, she eventually did figure out that not only was I having a book published, but also that I had originally self-published this book. Plus, she also knew that the book was about a very difficult time in my life that involved much suffering (the book is about my experience during a five-year chronic depression). Since Vicky can also sense the emotion the spirits are feeling, tears rolled down her face as my guides expressed their love and sorrow for me during that five-year illness. I must confess that I was quite taken by Vicky’s willingness to become so emotionally involved for my benefit.

Lifting the Veil

There are several ways that spirits communicate with Vicky. The first is by allowing her to observe them visually. The second is simply through verbal communication. The only problem with this is that not everything comes through with complete clarity. It’s like listening to an AM radio station with a lot of static. A third means of communication is through the use of symbolic messages where pictures or words are placed in Vicky’s mind telepathically. The fourth way that Vicky receives messages from the spirit world is through sensations in her body. For instance, if a spirit wants Vicky to know that they died from pneumonia but they can’t describe it verbally, Vicky might feel pressure in her lungs and a sensation of suffocation. If they want her to get the message of fear or love, they can cause her to feel either of those emotions or any emotion they need to convey.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. It’s hard not to, considering my one-hour reading lasted over three hours. Yes, that was interesting, because once the reading got rolling and I knew for sure that I was communicating with my deceased grandmother and father, I couldn’t just say, “Sorry Vicky, sorry Dad, sorry Gram, but I really can’t afford to talk anymore, so…see ya’ later.” Once the skepticism has been demolished with undeniable proof, money really doesn’t matter at a time like that. I had no choice. I had to keep going.

And keep going I did, as I mentioned, for three gut-wrenching hours. Vicky wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes that evening. I sobbed like a baby more than once. I cried when my father apologized through Vicky for what his alcoholism did to our family. I cried when my father told me that one of his proudest moments was watching me play a solo on my saxophone during the middle school band concert. I cried when my father told me to thank my mother for the lilacs she left on his grave (lilacs were his favorite flower). And I cried when my father described the scene at the hospital as he died from lung cancer.

The conversation transported me back to that vivid memory: my mother, my sister, Melissa and I surrounding my father’s hospital bed and holding him tightly as the doctor removed the breathing tube. For ten minutes, but more like an eternity, we watched as he slowly took his last few breaths. We listened as the monitors signaled his vital signs with an emotionless beeping that slowed in rhythm as his soul escaped the confines of his cancerous flesh. When my mother twice burst into a panicked wailing of tears and moaning at the realization that her life-long best friend and lover was leaving her forever, the monitor’s beeping escalated, as if to say, “I’m sorry honey, I will try to stay for you a little longer.” Upon realizing how difficult her crying was making it for him, my mother gained control of herself and the beeping slowed once again. After ten minutes of this, his face first lost all color and then turned a grayish blue. His chest, previously the only evidence of life and movement, became motionless. And when that hidden source of energy, that which we call life, had obviously left his worn-out body, Mom hugged Dad one last time like she was never going to let him go. At the age of fifty-nine, my mother had now become a lonely widow.

Hearing Vicky communicate my father’s words to me was a gift beyond monetary value. My face was drenched in tears of happiness and love. She relayed to me my very own thoughts, the exact words of my prayers that my father had heard and was now repeating back to me. He even suggested an occasional frustration with me for not acknowledging his presence when I surely knew he was with me. To not weep, to not become wholeheartedly enveloped within my memories of him, I would have had to be dead myself. The experience was so much more than poignant; it was truly a blessing.

All in the Family

After two emotional hours, and in a moment of realization, I remembered Melissa was still waiting in the car. Being that it was January in New England, the sun goes down by 4:30 p.m. and the frigid cold returns even on the sunniest of days. It was about 6:00 p.m. when I suddenly looked at my watch. Vicky must have been confused when, panic stricken, my eyes widened and I jumped from my seat.

“Oh my God, my wife is waiting in the car. Can I get her? Will this disrupt the reading? My father and grandmother won’t go away will they?”

Vicky assured me that there would be no disruption, and she was immediately concerned about Melissa. To my surprise, I ran out to the car but it was empty. Confused, I went back into the house. When I saw one of Vicky’s children, I asked if he had seen Melissa. Apparently, Vicky’s husband, Bret, had kindly invited Melissa out of the cold car to join him and their four children in the warm house. Bret and Melissa were having a nice visit when I abruptly interrupted to have her join the reading. Melissa had no idea what she was about to experience.

Vicky and I quickly gave Melissa the Reader’s Digest version of what had occurred so far in the reading. We told her who was present in the room and mentioned a few snippets of information that related specifically to her – for one, that my father had instructed me to thank her for the candles she lights every morning upon waking me up. He said he loved the “ambiance” of the candles. Then he joked, “Imagine me using a word like ‘ambiance?'” It was true; my father had the look of a ruggedly handsome movie star but the vernacular of a truck driver, his vocation of choice. For him to use a word like ambiance would have sounded funny. We all laughed at my father’s modesty. It was typical of his character to make fun of himself.

Secondly, my father wanted me to inform Melissa that he particularly likes the vanilla candles that she frequently burns. With that said, and within only moments of her arrival, Melissa had tears trickling down her cheeks and into the corners of her mouth. Either her protective wall of skepticism wasn’t as tall and solid as my own – thereby not requiring an hour of unmitigated proof to tear it down – or she trusted my assertion that Vicky’s gift was real when I hurriedly explained the situation to her while leading her from Bret’s company to the in-law apartment where Vicky waited. Regardless, Melissa was quick to understand that she was witnessing an event that would forever change both my life and her own. And she was understandably sentimental about our reunion with my father whom she had known since she was just twelve years old, when we first began dating.

After the third hour, which included additional messages from both Melissa’s guides and my own, Vicky’s energy was observably spent. Still, it was equally obvious that the reading was as gratifying for her as it was life-changing for us. No one wanted the night to end and we continued to talk for about an hour, mostly with Vicky enlightening us as we fired off the multitude of questions that had exploded in our thoughts during the reading. Eventually, it was time to go. It was eight o’clock on a Sunday night and Vicky’s children had not eaten, although Bret saved the day by arriving with steaming pizza as we said our good-byes.

The two-hour ride home was unusually quiet as Melissa and I pondered the dreamlike events of the last few hours. Melissa broke the silence by admitting she was “feeling a little creeped-out,” not sure she would ever feel comfortable again while getting undressed. “Who knows who might be watching?” she joked with a touch of concern in her voice. I assured her that any spirit guides around us would surely be polite enough not to look, and that issues of the flesh were not likely to have any effect on them in the spirit world anyway. I think my words comforted her, but now she had me thinking about it. As I continued to contemplate the reading, it was evident that this insightful milestone was triggering more questions than it had answered. And all the way home, and all during that long sleepless night, my mind kept returning to one assertive thought: “This is the beginning to an incredible book!”

Full Circle

While I immediately absorbed myself into a two-year investigation of mediums, psychics and near-death experiences in order to write such a book – and have as a result launched myself into an entirely new career – I must admit that I don’t know if the book will ever be completed or if it was just a catalyst to send me on a new journey. What I do know, due to my newfound insight, is that the journey is far more important than the destination itself.

With that said, I should emphasize that this article is not really about mediums; it is about opening our minds to the possibilities. Just the fact that we are in human form and not spirit form sets us up to be ignorant in our knowledge of how the universe works. I use the word “ignorant” to mean “having a lack of insight,” not with the negative connotation that so many people use it these days. And due to our inherent ignorance we must look beyond what is obvious to us – obvious when using our limited five senses – to understand alternative ways for achieving health, happiness and abundance during our lifetime.

For myself, it required a medium to teach me how narrow-minded I was and to guide me toward a path of greater enlightenment. I’m still ignorant in so many ways, but I’d like to believe I’m a little more enlightened just by the fact that I’m seeking my truth and not letting others dictate it for me. Understand, however, that a medium is just one vehicle. There are many others. For you, it could be astrology, numerology, yoga, dance, dowsing, meditation, astral projection, hypnotic regression, dreamwork, breathwork or religion. The possible vehicles are endless. The results are all very similar: they lead us on a journey toward increased enlightenment.

We do not all need a medium in our lives. And we certainly should not grow dependent on one. Yet, if my story intrigues you in the least, I recommend the experience, especially if you’re a skeptic. If there is one lesson I’ve learned in the last two years studying mediums, it is that people do not become “believers” from hearing another person’s story. Rather, we grow to become “knowers” from our own personal experiences.

Bob Olson is the founder of and In 2014, Bob authored the book, Answers about the Afterlife: A Private Investigator’s 15-Year Research Unlocks the Mysteries of Life after Death, and in 2017 he authored the book, The Magic Mala: A Story That Changes Lives. Bob has tested hundreds of psychics and mediums.