Johnny Burke: Welcome to Closer To Venus I’m Johnny Burke. Today’s guest is Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro. She is a speaker, educator, and author of God Came To My Garage Sale. Today, we’ll be talking about how her life was changed forever after experiencing numerous spiritually transformative events. Marnie, welcome to the program.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Hi, Johnny. Thanks so much for having me.
Johnny Burke: God came to my garage sale. It’s a great title. what inspired that?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Well, it actually was inspired by an actual garage sale. I had had many in my number of years in the Midwest This particular garage sale was kind of a final one. I was leaving my American dream and, was trying to unload a lot of material possessions and there were some emotions attached to the situation. I started to experience one event after another that was just magical and mystical and make me really stop and take notice if something else was going on here besides just a garage sale.
Johnny Burke: The book also mentioned spiritual signs and synchronicities. can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: The book, it’s spiritual fiction. It’s not all, as far as the the events that the garage sale, it also includes numerous other spiritually transformative events that I’ve experienced afterwards or that other people have experienced. One major event that caught my attention, I walked out to the cul-de-sac, to kind of look at my home and say goodbye. And, I had a wonderful feeling of gratitude and all of a sudden, time just stood still. It was just like, there was no time. One dragonfly circled me and I didn’t think too much of it, but then within five minutes there were 10 dragonflies, then 50 dragonflies. And then more than that- too many to count and. Everything was in slow motion so that I could pay attention to the iridescent colors and the veins in the wings and there were different sizes of these dragon flies. I got the feeling that I was just surrounded in love and that there were generations of either ancestors or other community members that were kind of wishing me well and giving me the feeling that everything is going to be just fine. That was just the one first kind of unusual event connected with this garage sale.
After that, there were numerous things. There were many signs that are very common, like finding. feathers, that was not there before, but all of a sudden, there were feathers or pennies or red Cardinals. there was one woman that had bangles of Italian charms on her arms, and it really caught my attention because I had just organized all these small Italian charms that I had. I Experienced some things watching her, like, I actually saw her at the end of the driveway by the mailbox kind of levitating- she was above the ground, and I looked closely, and I didn’t see a Boulder. I didn’t see a crate. I didn’t see a box. But w again, it was all in slow motion, like I was in a dream or something. And then all of a sudden, I looked and there were 12 people, like disciples in a way, just surrounding her, looking up at her. And then somehow, it just all disappeared. She did come up to me. She wanted a bike that I had, but she didn’t have any money and she needed to go to an ATM.
I put the bike aside thinking, okay, she really wants this bike. She did return and she ended up, taking the bike and I don’t remember really exchanging money or anything like that, but it was just one of these feelings that was just, I am loved. I am surrounded. I am in a place of peace. And, I didn’t have a huge need to talk about it or share it with anyone. In my research about people that have had near-death experiences, sometimes it takes them five or 10 or 20 years to talk about it.
Johnny Burke: It’s an average of 10 years, I’ve heard the same thing.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Okay. Is that really what it is?
Johnny Burke: The IANDS people have told me that and it’s something I hear again and again, because usually there’s a fear of judgment and sometimes a fear of losing a relationship, the spouse, or the girlfriend or boyfriend or whoever, might think that this person’s off their rocker.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: I can understand that, but I’m someone who, usually has no problem sharing information or experiences. It just seemed like it was just erased from my thoughts or my consciousness to where I didn’t investigate it. I’m usually someone that wants evidence of things and wants to get to the bottom of what happened, and I didn’t.
Johnny Burke: With your background as an educator, I would think you would definitely be needing some kind of concrete, tangible evidence of anything.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: most definitely.
Johnny Burke: Especially something like this which involves the unseen or the invisible world. So, this experience at the garage sale; would this be the beginning of a spiritual awakening or a spiritual transformation, or did that come a little bit later?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: well, I think looking back, it probably was the beginning of it, but it’s not like that happened immediately. I was leaving a traumatic family situation and, you know, I also had connected with the IANDS community, and found that lots of times trauma does induce a spiritual awakening. Oftentimes it comes after a loss, after a severe car accident or a medical mishap or something like that.
This garage sale happened around the same time of this family trauma. So I really do believe it was the beginning of the spiritual awakening because after that I really started to question it, and then people came into my life, a significant friend, who is now my life partner had already been attending IANDS meetings and he invited me to come to these meetings and I would hear other people’s testimonials of what happened. And when I would hear them talking, it gave me not only the permission to talk about some of the things I experienced, but it also forced me to look back on my life, to possible other spiritual experiences that I kind of pushed away and didn’t really acknowledge, but that were definitely part of my memory.
Johnny Burke: Or didn’t recognize at the time, which pretty common. As an educator, you have coauthored quite a few anthology books, and one of them, you contributed a chapter entitled” my spiritual journey from devout atheist to unwavering believer.” the introduction to IAND ; was that a catalyst or was it something else that changed your path?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: I don’t think it was the catalyst I had always believed that there had to be something bigger in the universe. My parents were devout atheists, where we were not exposed my brothers and I were not exposed to organized religion. The person who I married was Catholic, so I went through the process of becoming Catholic and I really enjoyed it, but you know, just something felt missing there. And then as I investigated Catholicism or organized religion, I saw so much hypocrisy and I don’t know, it just didn’t seem like this was for me.
After this garage sale and when I started attending IANDS and hearing about people’s near-death experiences, especially hearing some scientists like Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon.
Johnny Burke: That was a very big case
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: That was big for me and Mary Neal and other doctors that really don’t have a religious or spiritual background. They’re very much scientific proof, evidence-based people.
Johnny Burke: They were both atheists, I believe.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: And that has changed for both of them. So that impacted me tremendously. So that’s kind of my journey.
Johnny Burke: When you got involved in IANDS and began to hear the accounts of near-death experiences, I believe they’ve documented, north of a million cases by now, and especially the ones that stand out like Eben Alexander, and Mary Neal, Rajiv Parti is another one, it really does make a strong case for the survival of consciousness. How does that change your view of going to church and getting involved in the community, which obviously does have some benefits?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: It just seemed like organized religion to me was very different than what I was experiencing or what some of these other people were experiencing. I would see everyday people that really had no ulterior motive when they were sharing their stories. Talking about their experiences was the last thing that they ever would want to do, but they were compelled to talk about the underlying message for so many people is just that of love. We are loved it is all about love and our souls do go on and that there are different planes of existence and that seems so real. I’d rather spend my time that way than going to a religious service at a church.
Johnny Burke: I agree. What are some of the accounts from the IANDS members that really stood out?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: There was one woman that was struck by lightning twice. Two very different times. This is at the Chicago IANDS, and she had a support person with her because she just had a fear of talking in public. She went on to write a book or two about her experiences. And her story about being struck by lightning twice was just so profound into how it changed her.
Barbara Bartolome is the founding director and president of the Santa Barbara, California IANDS. I really connected with her because both of us are domestic violence survivors and I remember her testimonial being significant. And it changes people’s lives when they’ve experienced this. Lots of times, they can’t stay in the same marriages or relationships or jobs or locations because it changes them so much that their path in life takes a turn in another direction.
It was great to have the support of the IANDS community because it helped provide validation to me that, I’m not crazy. I didn’t make this stuff up, this really happened to me. I had so many signs and synchronicities that I just couldn’t push it aside and make up an excuse for it.
Johnny Burke: So IANDS, they’re not limited to just near-death experiences
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Right, they will accept people who have had spiritually transformative encounters or events, which is what I had. I did not physically die from this earth and have an encounter, but it was so real what I experienced that they believed that those should be included as well.
Johnny Burke: What’s interesting about that is that there’s another organization, which you might’ve heard of, which is a Spiritual Awakenings International, which was started by the IANDS president and vice president, I believe.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Isn’t it Yvonne Kason?
Johnny Burke: Yes, Yvonne Kason and Robert Bare.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Yeah, I’m familiar with them.
Johnny Burke: Great people. And what they have done is taking, taken an approach that IANDS started, and broadened it to include lots of spiritual transformative events, or what they call S T Es. So, I don’t know if you call it a competition between the two, or more of collaboration or just spiritual awakenings just basically taking the baton and going a little bit farther. But I think what they’re doing is really important because a lot of people have these events. And either don’t recognize them right away, or they’re afraid to talk about them because people would think that they’re just crazy.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: I don’t think that there’s a competition between IANDS and the Spiritual Awakenings International. In fact, I think that there’s a collaboration.
Johnny Burke: That’s what I thought.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: I believe that they have worked together. They certainly all know each other. In fact, I met Yvonne at the Chicago IANDS meetings and so I think that they all support one another.
Johnny Burke: Good. And it needs to be like that because there’s the forum to allow people like you to come forth with a story. Whereas years before you thought, well, I don’t really know if I want to tell anyone that. Nowadays people will recognize that there are outlets for it, and they can think,” oh, that happened to me too. So I’m going to go visit this chapter, I’m going to go on this podcast, and I’m going to talk about it.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Yes, with my book, I’ve had book signings, and when I have these events, people come up to me and say, “I never told anyone this, but I had this too. Or when I was younger, I had this experience where I believe I died and got to see something, but I’ve never really even told my own family.” So, I’m thrilled that my book has been a vehicle for some people to be able to come forward, even though it’s spiritual fiction all fiction is grounded in parts of reality.
Johnny Burke: Indeed
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Definitely inspired by real events.
Johnny Burke: I think that spiritual fiction is appropriate and it’s probably easier for some people to process it or consume it.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Most definitely. One of my main endorsers of my book is James Redfield, the best-selling author of The Celestine Prophecy.He started out as a spiritual fiction writer, and it seems like he kind of teeters on fiction and reality as well. In some ways, having a spiritual fiction reaches an audience that might not ever look into near-death experiences, or they might not ever look into, having our consciousness survive a physical earthly death, but they could pick up a spiritual fiction that’s fairly easy to read. It might open the doors for others to realize, they might’ve even had some of these experiences themselves. In the book I go into a lot of detail of a variety of different things. ,
Johnny Burke: In addition to spiritual fiction, I’ve noticed people that had done past life regression as a practice, and actually have written fiction. I don’t know whether you call it past life fiction, but it’s actually fiction based on their past life experiences, which again, using the vehicle of the fiction genre, it’s going to reach a bigger audience. My hope is that spiritual fiction, metaphysical fiction, whatever you want to call it- a genre or a sub-genre , that might be key to reaching a wider audience because many people, if they look at it as nonfiction, some won’t even open the book.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Although there are some that only want nonfiction, they want someone’s real account. Like Trisha Barker , she’s actually become a friend , wrote the book Angels In The O R,
Johnny Burke: I like that one. I know exactly what that is.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Yes, she’s extremely articulate about. She encountered and was able to put it together in the book. She has combined her abuse experiences along with her spiritual experiences in a in a book of poetry. But Angels In The OR is really what happened. So I think that there is an audience for people that want to hear the real deal.
Johnny Burke: When we talk about spiritually transformative events or STEs, as many people know them, do you think that we need some kind of special ability or an inclination to actually have that type of experience?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: That is a really good question. I don’t believe so because after hearing hundreds and hundreds of accounts, many people say that we all have this ability with. I experienced a traumatic event and it really opened up my eyes. It forced me to pay attention to some signs and synchronicities. Whenever I’d had these experiences, I’d been in a state of deep reflection where I’ve quieted myself. I feel like I’m slowing down and then I’m more open to paying attention to the signs and synchronicities. And I think I had mentioned it before is things are in slow motion, like, there is no time.
Johnny Burke: Right. This was explained to me recently; in the heaven realm, if you want to call it that, a day is like a hundred thousand years, and time doesn’t exist in the different realms in a linear fashion the way it does here on earth.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Right. And people also say not only the time, but they’ll say the colors are so vivid and bright that we on earth don’t have the words to describe them.
Johnny Burke: I heard that too.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: And I’ve actually experienced that as well. It’s just not on the spectrum of colors here. it’s so hard to describe like deep and, and bright and multi-faceted we don’t have the words to describe it and I’ve experienced that as well.
Johnny Burke: Not yet, but as more and more people in organizations strive to give a voice and a forum to people that have had spiritual transformative events, eventually there’ll be a description. I noticed that for many of the near-death experiences nowadays, the requirements are that you don’t necessarily have to flatline because there are many meditative-like experiences where you can reach cosmic consciousness. So there’s probably shades of those experiences; many in between points.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Another thing I experienced, and I wrote about it in the book, it wasn’t the actual true account, but I’ve had two dream visitations from people; I know I was asleep, but they were so clear., these two experiences I had were so real where I could just reach out and touch the person
Johnny Burke: that someone who has passed,
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Yes, they both had passed. so one was my mother who had passed, and it was during a time that I don’t remember her looking like this. I don’t even remember seeing any photographs of her looking like this. But she was at the edge of my bed. And I just have to laugh because people do say that “they came to me at the edge of my bed.”
Johnny Burke: And they look younger.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: And she looked very much younger. Yeah. She wasn’t a kid. I mean, she was probably, about 30.
Yeah. That’s kind of strange. I never thought about that, but she was about 30.
Johnny Burke: That’s what I’ve heard many times. That also is common of many near-death experiences. When the participant, does come into contact with relatives who have passed, they’re usually in their prime. Which I think is pretty cool. It’s good to know that once we pass in this world, we go back to our prime, we don’t actually get older,
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: whatever that is,
Johnny Burke: It’s really cool. it’s probably going to put all the anti-aging cream manufacturers out of business! It’s something I’ve heard several times and you have too.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: So I think my mom was in her early thirties, like kind of like a graduate school time and I could reach out and touch her, but I didn’t have a need to do that, so I didn’t reach out and touch her and we didn’t even talk. She really just looked at me, but the look was with so much love and, just the feeling was something that I’ve never experienced and have since never experienced. The love was so deep and so strong, the feeling I got was she wanted to show me she was okay. And it was just wonderful. It was just such a cool experience. That was something I didn’t talk about for the longest time.
Johnny Burke: It’s an amazing experience- I’m sure that many of these experiences, they’re usually a little bit more common than many of us think. When you talk about meditation and quieting the mind to get to that space, is that a method of tuning into spirit, God, divine source? is that the same thing or is that something a little bit different?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: It took me so long, at least a couple of years where I would listen to guided meditations where you hear a very calming voice or some spa, like music in the background to try to just quiet your mind. And I mean I just really struggled with that because thoughts would come into my mind and then I’d find some guided meditations where they actually address that.
I really don’t have a goal in mind when I try to do this, I just want to get into a zone where I’m open for whatever would come my way. So that’s how I approach it. Now that I live in the Caribbean, I have found that floating in the ocean, just with my eyes closed and just with the waves kind of taking me, I can actually get into that zone-like state pretty fast. But I don’t have an agenda, like I want this to happen.
Johnny Burke: I think nowadays meditation seems to be more and more popular and Mediums are becoming more popular. I read a book recently called The Medium Explosion , and there seems to be a lot of talk about intuitives and empaths and so on. So I think people meditating will become an even more commonplace practice than it has been recently.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Another thing that to me is very interesting, where there are group meditations or group prayers where they’re even international, where they pick a date and a time, and they want everyone to stop what they’re doing and say a prayer for humanity or peace on earth or whatever it is.
I’ve heard some people call it the conscious collective, there are different terms for it, but I I’m curious as to whether there’s real truth to that- if prayer or meditation is done in numbers at the same time with similar intentions if it reaches source in a way that would be different with than just the individual trying to do that.
Johnny Burke: I think there has been experiments where it’s actually been measured that group prayer or meditation does have an impact.
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Right. I’ve heard a few things, but I haven’t really researched it a lot. That’s on my to-do list, where they will actually look at the number of arrests or crimes or Negative events that they are decreased during this time when there was a large number of people putting out positive intentions. That would be really cool to think that we could actually have an impact on present events by using our intentions.
Johnny Burke: What can people expect from your book, When God Came To My Garage Sale?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: You know, I think people will enjoy the read. It’s 13 vignettes they’re stories within themselves. They don’t have to rely on one chapter to the next, to the next to the next. So you can pick it up and just read it at your leisure. You can read any chapter, you know, that appeals to you. So I think that they will.
Not only enjoy themselves, but also be maybe exposed to different signs and synchronicities that I experienced, or this character is experiencing. And they might be able to relate it to their own life and things that they have gone.
Johnny Burke: Synchronicities. I liked that especially. Marni. Thanks so much for joining us today. How can our listeners find you online?
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: My website, which is the title of the spiritual fiction. www.godcametomygaragesale.com. my books are there. Under the happenings page, you can take a look at different podcasts and book signings and events that I’m involved.