The breaking news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, just after Kate Spade’s, sparked a slew of work day email threads with my friends on the topic. It’s easy to look at what society, and the world around us, deems as “success,” and think that if we just reach it, we’ll have it made.

If I buy the home of what I think my dreams are, or retire to that lake house I always hoped would be my “end game,” or reach that dream job, then my life is set. But when we get there, we often ask, “Is this it?” or “Now what?”

Their sudden loss is a reminder – especially in a society consumed with looking at what we perceive as other people’s fulfilled, happy lives from well-manipulated photos – that even for someone in an enviable, exclusive Park Avenue pre-war co-op, and money to buy anything In the world, it doesn’t mean life doesn’t get them down too. They don’t escape what we all go through in this human experience.

We’re reminded that someone’s jet-setting, five-star hotel life, which hit the pinnacle of fame beyond rock star status, isn’t the tonic to one’s blues or life issues they may carry.

But it’s easy to think that though, especially when we see the trappings that surround someone in seemingly rarified air at the top of their game, in this society obsessed with status, wealth and fame. Even for me. Even though part of my work is in the spiritual realm. My first human reflexive thought was, “I would never leave a Park Avenue apartment.” But these passings have been a reminder of the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which we often do, especially now when people carefully manicure their “covers” for literally the world to see virtually. And on a daily basis. 

Conversely, back in another kinder, quieter, gentler era, we all had a break from one another most of our time here. We never had TMI about the daily minutiae of other people’s lives, as well as that of people we will never meet. Envy probably set in less, too. 

In this narcissistic era, fueled by companies charged with making money off of getting us addicted to examining other people’s lives every day, we waste so much time. Time that adds up. Time we can never get back in this precious, all too short of a ride called “life.” The OCD of seeing what others are doing, in that robotic fashion on devices, negates our own real life, and time.

It’s hard enough to get through life with our own problems and issues, but sprinkle in a daily dose of looking at other people’s supposed wonderful day or luxury life they want us to believe, and it can take a toll on our own well-being. It can chisel at us each time we look over at another person’s life path. And make us less content. And then we feel bad, or self-flagellate about how our lives aren’t up to snuff. 

When I’m not writing, I give readings – in private and on the radio – connecting loved ones who’ve crossed over, and relaying their wise messages from a place where they now see it all. I’ve connected loved ones who’ve crossed themselves over, who were murdered, as well as the more “natural” crossings to the Other Side, like old age, cancer, or whatever way they chose or agreed to go out on in their spiritual contract for their human life arc here. It’s a privilege to be the witness and relayer of these profoundly important and beautiful spiritual messages.

In all these readings over the years, no one has ever talked about their lovely home they left behind, or their property, Fortune 500 job, car collection, jet set vacation, or celebrity hob knobbing. In fact, when someone still here asks where an item is kept that they’re trying to find, or about the material possessions they left behind, the loved one’s reply is often that “it’s just stuff,” and they don’t care what happens to it now. They might refer to a car, house or a bracelet as a validation point, but they’re not wistful about material possessions or the status they reached when they were here.  

Instead, the topics and messages they want to cover with their loved ones left here, are about the ethereal things felt. The love, the soul connections, and sometimes life themes and lessons they chose to learn or impart while here. They also see the future possibilities of loved ones that are still here. As a guide, they often want to help their loved ones here who have their remaining life paths still to partake in, knowing what pitfalls might come and what positive potential chapters that are down the road. So, they’ll often give guidance of what can unfold, very much like a spiritual life coach. And they’ll give the “spiritual homework” that may help create the energy for that good new chapter to begin.  

In one of the work day email threads right after Spade’s passing, I shared how a reading I did had just inspired me, about how we’re here to use our gifts we bring with us. My friend replied, “Yes, using one’s gifts, such a great reminder. Making me think of Kate Spade – wish someone could have given her such inspiring words.”

In this reading, the spirit guide showed me a painting, and she acknowledged that, yes, they do oil paint, but it had been a long time. The message was, “When you cross over and sit at your Life Review, you’re not an office manager or graphic designer, it’s – you’re a painter – what did you do with your gifts you came here with that you should use to the hilt?” The spirit guide said those future paintings will be healing to those who buy them, people feeling alone, just like she feels right now. The guide showed a beautiful scene that could take place out four to five years, if she chooses to walk through that door and do the spiritual homework for that potential wonderful new chapter to open up fully.

Another friend emailed the day we lost Bourdain, that probably no one in her “circle needs to be reminded” that material possessions and others’ seemingly wonderful lives are not what it’s cracked up to be. 

But it’s human nature to compare. And in this tough ride of a life, everyone can always use a little reminder of being grounded in our own lives, to focus on what our own life paths here are about. Our raison d’etre. Why we came here in this lifetime. We can always use a reminder of what’s really important in life and what it is we will leave behind. And it’s not the lovely house in the right neighborhood, that farm we wanted to retire on to get away from it all, the dream car collection, that billion-dollar bank account, or fill-in-the-blank on whatever material goals we have or status we want to achieve.

Instead, it’s always about the love – and the gifts – we have to share with others. Isn’t that what life is really all about?


  • Kari is a writer and intuitive. The Go Beyond Here podcast is on iHeart Radio and in the U.K. on Podcast Radio, which also airs in London, Birmingham, Surrey, Manchester and Glasgow. She believes in using her gift to be of service, and is a frequent guest on radio stations including WBZ iHeart Radio, Boston, and KGO, San Francisco, giving free readings to listeners connecting loved ones and pets. She's also on stations around the country, Canada, and SiriusXM. Her readings are offered in the official GRAMMY gift bags to presenters and performers, and mentioned in Harper's Bazaar. She donates readings to charities that include William Shatner's Hollywood Charity Horse Show. Bylines incl.: PopSugar UK, Daily Telegraph (UK), Paste, KCET-TV, Kindred Spirit (UK). Guest blogs: Fastbikes (UK), Bike Rider (NZ), (AU).