LISA WILLIAMS: Interview with the Missionary
Lisa Williams is a British born, internationally acclaimed medium and clairvoyant who has touched the hearts and lives of millions with her ability to communicate with loved ones and friends who have passed over to the other side. She was also former host of Lifetime TVs ‘Life Among the Dead’ and author of a bestselling memoir of the same title. This week she took a few moments out of her frantic schedule to talk to me about her life in the US, her stage shows, her International Psychic School, her recent decision to become an ordained faith minister and her views about life, the universe and everything.
Couldn’t believe my luck when Lisa Williams agreed to speak to me on the phone. Here is someone who has truly set the gold standard for mediumship with her warm hearted and sincere stage and TV shows. If you aren’t familiar with her I urge you to visit her website www.lisawilliams.com and watch some of the amazing videos up there of her shows and her work. Even the most sceptical among us will agree that Lisa has got that psychic X factor. I was also delighted to speak to Lisa because she is female and, as I’ve said in my interviews so far,we urgently need more spiritual girl power. Last, but by no means least, she may live and work in the States but she is actually British and it has become a passion of mine in recent years to raise spiritual awareness in the UK – to encourage people here to talk more about what really matters in life.
Lisa was born in Birmingham and raised south of the city in Redditch. Her psychic abilities manifested early and she was able to communicate with the departed from the age of about 7 or 8. She did not accept her psychic talents though until her grandmother, who was a well-known psychic, died in 1996. Following her graduation Lisa began to travel the country doing readings until her talents were eventually discovered. She went on to host the hit TV show: Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead for two seasons on Lifetime TV. Appearances on Oprah, Good morning America, Larry King Live and Jimmy Kimmel Live followed propelling Lisa to international stardom.
In 2008 Lisa’s memoir, Life Among the Dead, was released and in that book, which I highly recommend, she tells the story of her childhood psychic adventures and how she gradually over time began to accept her gift. The book also contains numerous case studies. What makes the book memorable though is the down to earth way Lisa discusses what it is like to live a life surrounded by spirits every day and the happiness she feels when she is able to bring comfort and hope to people in the depth of grief and despair. She also gives fascinating insights about psychic abilities, ghosts, spiritual healing and the afterlife.
It was incredibly generous of Lisa to speak to me on the phone from her home in New York and here is the transcript of our discussion.
It is wonderful to speak to someone who has influenced the world on a spiritual level who is British. Was the reason you moved to the States because we tend to be more cynical here?
I actually moved to the States for personal reasons but I see what you are saying. There is more of an open mindedness to matters spiritual in the United States. However, the States is a much, much bigger country and in the UK there is that open mindedness but it is more concentrated and specific. I love the UK – my home country – and when I come the reception is always extremely warm. In fact, I’m excited to announce that I will be touring the UK in 2016 with my old friend and fellow psychic – Tony Stockwell.
Tony Stockwell. I know and have worked with him in the past…..
Yes, he’s a great guy and the two of us hope to do some really great work in the UK and bring some healing and comfort to those in need. That is the aim of every tour, show, reading or thing I do to bring healing and comfort.
There is something of the spiritual missionary about you. You clearly do bring great comfort and healing. I watched some of your videos recently and they make me laugh but also cry. You deal with a lot of people deep in the depths of grief and despair. How to manage to keep a distance from all that pain and heartache and not get overwhelmed?
This is going to sound a little harsh but I have a cut-off point. I guess you could say I have to operate a bit like a doctor or surgeon when I do a reading. If I get too emotional it would affect the quality of my work or readings so I must keep a distance not just for my emotional health but for the sake of the people I read for – to give them a reading with as much clarity as possible. Sometimes, though it can get a bit overwhelming and I need to go away and have a cry myself. I always do that in private as I believe it is my responsibility to always be strong and cheerful in my presentations. I want to give people hope, joy and comfort and for them to understand that this life does not end with death. If I sat there all the time crying they would think the afterlife is a really unhappy place but it isn’t at all. It is full of light, joy, love and laughter.
You do come across as a bundle of joy, optimism and energy. There must be times though when you don’t feel like that. What do you do when you need to vent?
I wallow. I wallow a lot. I get all my crying done and then I am ready to face the world again. I am human and it is impossible not to feel low or unhappy at times but one technique I have tried is to set a timer when I feel bad. I set the timer and say to myself, okay I’ve got the next 15 minutes to wallow and then when that fifteen minutes is up it is time to stop wallowing and start living with joy again. This may sound daft but it really works.
I am with you all the way there and it is so refreshing to hear you say something like that as often people recommend meditation or stilling the emotions or going to a place of peace inside. I love the fact that you say just wallow – let the feelings out and don’t try to deny them because they are human. Thank you for that.
You are welcome. Perhaps it is a female thing. I think all women need to have their wallow time. We are emotional creatures. Not saying men aren’t emotional – of course they are – but I think women in general tend to be more empathetic and to feel things very deeply and that’s why we all need time to ourselves to work out these feelings so they don’t get repressed and resurface in irrational or unpredictable behaviour later. So my message is to always pay attention to your emotions and if you feel sad or angry or fearful or just tearful don’t fight it go, acknowledge it and have a cry. It is so cathartic. You will feel better, I promise.
When was the first time you realised you were psychic?
I must have been about seven. I talk about it in my book. There was something that happened with my friend and I had no idea she could not see what I did. I was at a sleep over and she asked me if I had the gift like my grandmother did. I didn’t actually know what she meant by the gift but she got me to play a game where she grabbed a book and hid the title from me. I guessed correctly about eight or nine times. It was really exciting – freaky – but exciting. I think from then onwards I began to realise that psychic powers may run in the family as my grandmother and my aunt had the gift so I must have inherited it from them.
You have a teenage son. Has he inherited your gift?
He would say absolutely not but I would say yes I think so. He is in that teenage stage when what mum says or does has to be flawed and he says that what I do is all down to clever guess work but the other day he came back from school with a story that surprised even him. He knew something about a friend that he couldn’t possibility have known because nobody told him – he just knew. I told him, see you are psychic but he still won’t admit it to himself. I will give him time.
That’s funny, Lisa, as I have a teenage son too and he doesn’t believe in what I write about either but sometimes he will say something so profound I wonder if one day he will turn a corner. While on the subject of believing or not believing how do you deal with skeptics or people who criticise what you do?
I respect their opinion. I just wish they would respect mine. I don’t try to tell them they are wrong or ask them to prove to me that heaven does not exist so I don’t understand why they demand that from me. I am always polite and respectful. I try to be a positive representative or missionary for the world of spirit. If people are sceptical I always ask them to come to my shows and experience what I do.
Am picking up on that word missionary there, Lisa, and read online that you are about to be ordained as a priest in a spiritualist church. That is exciting. How did that come about?
It is all bound up with my desire to spread the life changing message that there is no death and to help as many people as I can find comfort and hope in that reality. I never thought I would end up becoming ordained and actually joined the church because of my partner but that is typical of many things in my life. I don’t really plan. I think heaven has a way of leading me in the direction I need to be heading in and right now it is to associate my work with a spiritualist church.
Is there a difference between religion and spirituality?
I think a lot of people who are religious are deeply spiritual but not all of them. I believe there is a difference between spirituality and religion. When I was a young girl I actually wanted to become a nun. I have always wanted to follow a spiritual path and as a child I thought religion and spirituality were one and the same but I have since learned different and that you don’t need religion to be spiritual. I am just going about my spiritual path in my own unique way.
Going back to your childhood did your parents and family help or hinder your psychic development?
Both I think. My mother and my grandmother had the gift so, of course, they were delighted when they saw I had inherited it. My father was very different though. To this day he remains skeptic. He doesn’t want to go there and doesn’t want to believe. If it can’t be proved or he can’t feel it or touch it then he doesn’t want to know. Having said that in recent years I have on occasion seen him tear up with pride when he watches my shows or the work I do.
How do your presentations and readings differ from other well-known mediums?
I am very different in my approach. I like my presentations to have a warm, relaxed and joyful feel. I want everyone in the audience to feel like they are sitting down with me to have a cup of tea and that I am hearing them. I admire famous mediums like James Van Praagh immensely but my approach is more mainstream and normal and compassionate. So I guess the real difference between me and other mediums is my personality – I have a big personality, larger than life. I don’t want my shows or readings to be boring. If I can inject humour or music into it I will. In some ways I am a little like a stand up comedienne. Sometimes I have to remind my laughing audience that we are trying to talk to dead people here.
My private readings are obviously private and far more personal. If humour is appropriate I will bring it in but I let it happen naturally, I don’t plan. Every reading is so unique and involves a roller coaster of emotions.
What is the most challenging or difficult part of the work you do?
When I can’t help people in the way I hope I can. This is especially the case in a live show with thousands attending. I obviously haven’t got time to get to everyone. I have found thought that the people who need my readings the most somehow get them. Some spirits just want to come and say hi, others have more detailed information. It is different every time but wonderfully different but back to the question, the part I hate most about my job is not being able to help those I am doing a reading for, because for some reason they don’t want help or are blocking me.
Who wants to speak more – the living or the dead?
The living definitely want to reach out to the other side far more than the other way round but having said that spirits do love and care about us down here and do want to communicate through me. It is a blessing.
I followed your career from rising star in the UK to established star in the US and one thing I noticed is that you haven’t really changed. You are still down to earth and warm and funny. Did you deliberately try to make sure being a big TV star in the States would not change you?
Not really. I’m just me. I’m the same person whether I am in Birmingham or New York or doing a private reading or a live TV show. I am just so grateful that coming to the States has given me the opportunity to reach many more people than I could have done in the UK. I’m reaching millions but it has not and never will change me as a person. Of course, my life style is better and I can provide for my family but really the most important thing is that I can bring comfort to those who have loved ones in spirit and that I can make talking to the dead acceptable and normal. It is the most natural thing in the world for me – to see the dead among the living.
We live in a conflicted and often cruel and unfair world. How does that affect you as a medium?
As a human being it affects me deeply. I can’t understand why bad things happen to good people and it makes me feel so sad but as a medium it affects me differently. I don’t know all the answers but I know things happen for a reason. Take the Boxing Day Tsunami, for example, which I actually predicted before it happened. Thousands died but it brought millions of people around the world together. Wars and other disasters have the same uniting effect but as a human being I think it is tragic.
I could extend this to the death of a person. It is deeply, deeply sad but it often brings people closer together. Death, you see, changes everything. You could argue that heaven should not take away a child from its parents but I have spoken to many parents who have come to understand that if their child hadn’t died they would not be on the life path they are now. It is deeply complicated and heart breaking and impossible for us to understand as human beings but spiritually I do think there is a reason – a grand design.
Apart from your family and friends what do you really love?
Music. It would have to be music. It inspires and heals and is cathartic and just lifts me up every time. I have started singing at the end of my shows whether the audience wants to hear me or not. That’s how much I love music.
I noticed you have started an international school of spiritual development online. How is that going?
This is where I would like to devote more of my time as the future is definitely online. I love the internet as it gives me an opportunity to reach far more people than I can in person. My courses are very much like my personality. I try to make them as fun as possible but there is serious learning involved too. I like to think that by the end everyone will have grown in spirit and seen significant improvements in their spiritual and psychic development. If you read the testimonials on my website you will see that I am achieving that and I could not be happier. I love helping people grow spiritually. That is what I was born to do.
Will you ever come back to live in the UK?
Not for the foreseeable future as my son has four more years of school out here but never say never. I don’t plan these things. They just happen. I can’t explain it. I just feel called. Right now my calling is here in the US but that may well change. Anyway, I am back in the UK for my shows next year and looking forward to some good old British rain.
If you were not a medium what would you be?
I can’t answer that as I am a medium and my mind won’t give me any other choice. It is who I am and even if I decided to do something else it would not go away. I would still see spirits. Being a medium is my calling. I guess I can now say that as well as being a medium I am a missionary but not in the religious sense in the spiritual sense – my mission is to comfort and help people believe that life after death exists and that those they have loved and lost are never far away. My mission is to bridge the gap from this world to the next and help everyone connect with spirit.
Sadly, the phone line between Lisa and myself starts to break up and it is time to end the interview. She sends me a heartfelt message of love for the UK and all her followers there. After speaking to her in person I understand why she is so loved both here and abroad and why so many people around the world have been comforted and inspired by her down to earth warmth and wisdom. Do check out her website and blog at www.lisawilliams.com, perhaps even sign up to her courses online and if you are thinking of going to see her show when she comes to the UK next year, I’ll see you there.
Shall end, for now, with a couple of quotes dedicated to Lisa Williams: a mighty medium and missionary with a very big heart:
‘Here I am. Send me.’ Isaiah
‘Carry your candle of light to every dark place.’ Lailah Akita
‘I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.’ Robert Fulghum