House Rules




On my first visit to the psychic she told me that my aura was pink.

I was there at her house on business, of a sort.  I was there to find out what sort of home she had made for her children and how best we could help them.

Following the cue of neighbors who had grown concerned, I sat in the family home and found it to be quite pleasant.  Different and wondrous were the words that came to my mind.  Not concerning. 

Her four children were at school on my first visit and she had me sit near the window.  Outside I could see a scruffy old grey horse grazing in a pasture.  On the table lie a pendulum, a deck of cards and a remote control for a television that I did not see.  There were books on a shelf and colored pencils in an empty can.  On the wall behind me was a black velvet panel with a pink orchid in its center.  On the wall across from me was a piece of paper taped to the wall.  On it, a list with the heading “House Rules.”

I did not follow the usual protocol.  I ignored the standard questions and started by asking how she had come to know she was psychic.

“I’ve known that is what I am since I was young.  But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I knew that this is what I was to do,”  she said.   “I just knew it.”

She told me that she often listened to a late night radio show where callers could phone in questions to a psychic.  One night she heard a woman asking the psychic a question about trying to find her estranged daughter.  She recognized her mother’s voice, a voice she had not heard for more than ten years, when the two had a nasty disagreement related to the man the mother was living with at the time.  She had moved far away then and had never been back.  When she heard her mother’s voice, she picked up the phone and called in.  Ultimately, they reconnected.

Until that time she had made her way with a lot of luck and happenstance and a certain amount of hard work.  The fathers of the children had come and gone.  She had cooked at a diner, cleaned houses, cashiered and done a little of this and that to pay the bills all the while.  She had bought the little house several years ago and scraped and painted and made it habitable and even inviting, in a funny way.  And now she was raising four children on her own after finding her calling as a psychic.

She asked if she could read cards for me and we moved to the kitchen table.  She was convincing and spot on in her assessment of me and she told me of things that seemed quite plausible, if not probable.  And when she finished telling me what she thought I should know, she asked, “Do you think I am a bad mother?”

I had not asked her the questions that were on the paper on my clipboard.  We had talked only a little about the children.  But what I had seen in her eyes when she did talk about them was a fierceness like the mother bear we know of who will do whatever is necessary to protect her own.  I knew she was afraid.   


I went back to the psychic’s house three other times.  I got through the questions on my clipboard as well as a lot of other questions that popped into my head.  Each time I was there, she asked if she could read the cards for me.  After that, we talked about her life and her children.  I learned that one was a cheerleader, another loved horses, one loved reading and the other one really wanted an X Box for Christmas.   Even though they did not celebrate Christmas.  I heard and could see how she was doing  her best to make sure that those kids would be ready to launch into the world and to do so knowing that they were loved.  And I felt she was doing a good job of it. 

The last time I was there I remembered to ask her about the list of house rules.  I wanted to know how they came up with those rules.  She told me they have a family meeting once a week and at one of those meetings her 13-year-old daughter was complaining about sharing the one bathroom in the house.  The bathroom was a constant annoyance for everybody.

“The fact is, there is nothing we can do about having one bathroom.  But we can do something about how we live with each other,” she said.

Each of the five who lived in the household contributed one rule and then they came up with the last rule together.

When it came time for me to report what I had found out about the family, I left off the details of the I Ching coins, the pendulum, the tarot cards and the smudge sticks.  I wrote that those children were safe and happy and even thriving.  I wrote that the family had very good communication and problem solving skills and that the mother was resourceful, strong and loving.   I wrote about their house rules.


I did not write that she told me that I had a pink aura or that I have read that a pink aura is indicative of a most sympathetic soul.   I said instead that when I arrived at the family home, I expected the worst, that I was afraid that this mother under scrutiny would not pass muster and that I felt sorry for her kids.  I  wrote that I had been ready to do what we adults should do when children are at risk but that I was pleasantly surprised to find more to admire than to sympathize with in that family.   I finished by saying that the neighbors who were concerned because they saw an “odd”  mother should not worry.   She was different from they, but she was a good mother to those children.    I knew it. 

Those kids graduated high school and went on to bigger places and different things.  They were successfully launched.  And mom is still a psychic back in their home town.  I occasionally look back at that list of very wise house rules.  Simple, but good, they were.  Like she. 

54 thoughts on “House Rules

  1. Love, love, love this post! Very insightful on your part and an honest look at a single mom doing the best she could to instill good values in her kids. We all need to think less critically about how things look and focus on results. How would the neighbors fair under the same scrutiny?
    Well done!

  2. What a wonderful story. I’m glad it was you, with your warm and open heart, that was sent to her. I love that she wanted to do your card readings. It’s these kind of interactions with people, however briefly, that touch something deep inside and stay with you forever.

  3. Pink, huh! I was once told that my aura was orange, but that was a long time ago.

    It seems that so often we pass judgment on others based on ‘our’ view of the world, unaccepting of what doesn’t fit our own preconceived notions of right and wrong. This woman was probably doing a better job than some of the wealthier people in her neighborhood…the ones’ I’ve seen who send the nanny to soccer games and drop their kids off for Sunday school while they go somewhere else.
    And, how wonderful for this woman that you are the one who came to her door. You gave her time and listened, watching and experienced. You got to what really mattered, which often cannot be captured when we follow the script. Great story. Great life lessons for all of us.

    • And what does orange imply? You are exactly right–it is very easy to judge others based on whatever we happen to think is right or wrong. Far better to be open to new possibilities, I think. Thanks Walker.

  4. I am so grateful you shared this. It says so much about the kind, decent, compassionate woman you are and so much about how we need those virtues to do our jobs – more and more each day. How amazing that you came into her life and helped her in this very meaningful way. And she touched you, too! I love this post. It’s memorable.

  5. It is interesting that there are places where neighbours could trigger a review of a mother’s ability to raise her family, and there are places where neighbours seem to be unaware that they live next door to a marijuana grow-op.We live in an odd world…

    • Odd indeed Margie. That’s a good point you’ve made. And there have been, unfortunately, many instances when children have been abused or neglected horribly and no one around them noticed. Very sad. Thanks.

  6. I think she was fortunate that you were the one to come to her house. You were able to put aside the traditional questions and focus on her…and truly recognize her uniqueness as an individual and mother. And, I think most of us need to incorporate some of those rules with our family and friends. We do at our house. Thanks for sharing!

    • Bette–Your kids are going to be well-prepared for life ahead because they are learning these things in your home. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment too 🙂

    • Thank you holessence. The simplicity of that list makes me think of how sometimes we work things so much that we end up defeating our original purpose. These rules sum up a lot of common sense knowledge important for life, don’t they?

  7. She was a lucky woman to have someone willing to look past her “strangeness” and be open to the good she did for her children. Lovely post in so many ways.

  8. These 6 “commandments” of close-quarter family living are priceless. Falling pretty much under the auspices of “Do unto others…..” they evoke a real sense of the responsibility she was subtlety trying to instill in them.

    And good for you for the open mind which allowed her grace to shine through.

  9. I love the concept that they could do nothing about having only one bathroom, but could control how they respected the space. Being from the south, we have a fair share of ‘gifted people’. My grandmother was one of them. She couldn’t really do it on the spot. Things would just come to her like visions and she would predict outcomes or danger. And she was always right. Spooky!

  10. “Keep your voice quiet, unless it is important”…I love it. Don’t you find it interesting how your own inner voice speaks soft and quietly at first, and then a little louder, and a little louder still? Sometimes we ignore a wisdom guiding us, until our knowing voice in an effort to be heard, speaks so loud until it cannot be ignored any longer. Great post.

  11. The abilities of some of these people is entirely explainable and astonishing. I have had episodes of precognition . I think we can all become semi psychic if we learn from errors by knowing exactly how things will turn out if we continue to make ill advised and poor choices when we do actually know better.

    • I know of some that are astonishing and some that are explainable as well. I imagine most of us could stand to become more intuitive than we are….sometimes that voice in the back of our head gets ignored. Thanks Carl.

  12. A long-time ago, in my gotta succeed days, I received a come uppance which made me realize I needed to stop and really look past the outside of people to the inside.
    Time passed. And I still try to succeed. Thanks for reminding me to go back to that simple rule. Look. Really Look.
    Here’s a hug.

  13. I really enjoyed several parts of this post and while I identified with the story about her mother, it was the rules and pink aura that stood out for me. My mother chose not to speak to me from age 14-24 and I used to think of all the things we would talk about if we ever saw each other again. My day dreams were better than the reality and after struggling to try to connect through the years between 24 and 35, she decided to disappear again from my life. I know where she lives, but she’s chosen to have no contact with me and one of my sisters. I’m okay with it now having had years of living without her, but I feel bad for my sister who has been shut out more recently and still misses her …. I think. Sometimes a bad mother feels better than no mother when that’s all you know. I’m glad I’ve come to know better.

    • Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your story with me and for reading my post. I think being a mother is one of the hardest things in the world but even so, it is extremely unfortunate when someone really messes it up. I am sorry for you and your sister. Must say your words make me grateful for my own mother, so thank you. Glad to connect–love your blog and its honesty.

  14. Some day people will learn tolerance and understand that different is not bad or wrong. It is just different. I’m glad you were the type of person that could see past the trappings to the loving home and mother that truly cared for her children. Bravo to you.

  15. Simple yet a wonderful post. I completely enjoyed my first read in your blog. The six points you mentioned were so true. For me the best one was “Be kind instead of mean” . Its a very simple line, having a very deep meaning in it.

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