Nicole Strickland

Nicole Strickland

“As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them” – Proverb

As perpetrated by a seemingly loving family man, the tragedy that struck the small town of Frederick, Colorado on August 13, 2018, remains one of the most heinous and unfathomable acts of domestic violence in United States history. Prior to this date, Chris Watts, the once loving husband to Shanann, and father to their two beautiful daughters, Bella and Celeste, and their unborn son, Nico, seemed like your typical everyday guy. He had it all: a commendable job, a loving family and a gorgeous home. Indeed, Chris had what many men only dream of having; only to strip it all away in a matter of minutes. 

I am not going to lay out the specifics of how Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico lost their innocent lives; that's known information documented in a variety of endless sources in the rare event you haven't heard about it. Afterall, this unspeakable incident gained worldwide notoriety as people across the globe attempted to comprehend how such acts could even occur.  It has left the indelible questions of how and why Chris committed what he did.  As a rubik’s cube in disguise, perhaps, we will never pinpoint an exact understanding of what led him to remove the lives of his wife and three children from the world. 

One of the reasons why this case remains in peoples' psyche even after two years is because of the yearning to understand it. Individuals, like myself, can't seem to get enough of researching and dissecting it bit by bit. Sheer evil bestowed itself at the Watts' residence at 2825 Saratoga Trail in an idyllic neighborhood, replete with attractive homes, friendly neighbors and community parks. Society’s consistent focus on the tragedy is maybe its own way of keeping the legacies and playful memories of Shanann and her children in our hearts.

Although done out of a need to comprehend and fathom what went on in Chris’s mind, the videos showcasing conspiracy theories and alleged paranormal activity in the Watts' home need to stop.  In this case, these videos keep alive the vicious betrayal and slaughtering of his immediate family and may pollute the actuality of the case further with erroneous information.  Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico have gone through more than enough brutality, so let them rest in their divine haven beyond the stars.  While we can’t deny that these unspeakable acts occurred, we should instead focus on the vibrant legacies and wonderful memories of Shanann, her girls and unborn son.  We should focus on the unconditional love people have for them and that which they have for others.  We should focus on the ways we can honor them in our individual lives.

What shatters the heart is the solid trust Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico had for Chris.  They had the ultimate faith in him as a husband and father only to be brutally betrayed.  It’s absolutely disgusting that a mother and her children died at the hands of someone they knew, loved and considered heroic.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t deny the fear, horror and confusion they experienced in the early morning hours of August 13, 2018.  What can precipitate healing is knowing that they landed in the eternally benevolent lap of God. I have to trust that the greater good that infuses our cosmos graciously took their hands and walked with them to their everlasting sanctuary of endless harmony, love and peace.

I am writing this written ensemble out of an incessant cathartic need to grieve and allow healing to take place; not only for myself, but for my fellow humans. Perhaps, it’s my own individual way of providing closure to an event that has permeated my consciousness for over two years.  Although I didn’t know Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico, I feel as though I have befriended them by watching the scores of adorable, happy and loving home videos.  A mother’s love for her offspring is one of the most beautiful aspects of being human and this radiates through all of Shanann’s videos and social media posts about Bella, Celeste and Nico.  They were the light of her life; in turn, she was the light of theirs.

Even though I was aware of the tragedy when it happened two years ago, my emotions and contemplations of it resurfaced about two weeks ago.  I am not sure why this is but there must be some reasoning for it; I will leave it at that without over-analyzing why.  With this said, I do want to share an interesting component to this editorial expose.  At around 12:30 am on January 10, 2021, I awakened with a powerful force to start writing.  I knew at some point that I was going to write about this, but I didn’t know exactly when.  Fast-forward to approximately 2:45 pm on the same day, I learned that today is Shanann’s heavenly 37th birthday.  I stopped and reflected on this discovery for a moment as I knew there was a message in this somehow. 

The voice of my heart is reminding me of what a birthday signifies: a dawn of a new life and an origin of something beautiful and pure.  Maybe that is Shanann’s and/or the universe’s message that she and her children have found a new beginning, one where the betrayal, pain and suffering are overshadowed by prosperity, vibrancy and limitless sunshine.  I am sharing this as a way to potentially help others heal, like myself, who’ve been emotionally affected by this tragedy. 

Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico were (and are) blessings to the world.  They each made their own contributions to society and offered their own individual teachings to humanity.  We must honor and remember them for that.  Although not physically with us any longer, their legacies are eternal.  Shanann – she gave us a new understanding of what it’s truly like to thrive and succeed.  Her shining personality, devotion to her work and family and concern for others have left a permanent mark on those who knew her and those who learned about her after she transitioned to the stars.  Bella – her kind heart and angelic-like giving to others, natural motherhood instincts and extreme sensitivity beyond her years have taught all of us so much about compassion and appreciating others.  Celeste – her gregarious, outgoing nature, smiles that would instantaneously dissolve a tear and humorous personality have reminded us to not take life so seriously and live in the moment. Nico – thriving in mommy’s tummy, soon to be ready to tackle on the world with innocence and purity.

Honorable mentions go to Nickole Atkinson, CSI agent Tammy Lee, Special Agent Graham Coder and Colorado law enforcement for their courage, care and professionalism.  A fellow LeVel “Thrive” colleague, Nickole was (and is, eternally) dear friends with Shanann. Her rapidly swift actions in notifying the police of her friend's disappearance and her meticulous observations made it that much easier for detectives to silence the lies and bring forward the truth.  Nicole exemplifies the duties of what it’s like to be a “best friend.” The first and second detective interviews with Chris, along with his polygraph test, should be displayed in every law enforcement training course.  The calculated handling of the interviews was absolutely stellar and demonstrated a psychological breakdown of the perpetrator’s motives.

Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico are alive in the universe, as well as within our hearts and memories.  For reasons we aren’t permitted to understand, they were all called home before their prime years on earth.  They are not suffering; it’s the loved ones left behind that still feel the grief, heartache and pain.  They each have divine roles now; you better believe that they are offering guidance and love from beyond the ethers.  Their love can be felt at any moment of the day or night; in fact, it’s always here as it’s entered the heart of humanity.

I do believe in an afterlife and have had some profound encounters and communications with spirit.  It’s quite naïve to think that our life in the mortal realm is the only one we experience.  We emanate to this world from previous lives and exit it while we journey on to the next.  It’s hard to understand what exactly it entails, but it’s another world that allows our souls to evolve and thrive.  Remember that with physical death, the body and only the body ceases to function.  An individual’s soul and unique energetic essence remains and finds its way into the cosmos.  When you think about that, know that Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico are only physically absent.  Their shining souls have infused within us and all around us – in the air we breathe, the sunlight we see, the moonlight that replaces darkness, the trees blowing in the wind, the sparkles on the sea and the love we feel, etc.  Remember, to live your days and shine light Shanann, be brave like Bella, be carefree like Celeste and be noble like Nico and hold each of them in your heart for eternity.

Nicole Strickland

“When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them but to live with the love they left behind.” Anonymous

I think every person understands the amazing feeling you get when dreams and goals are achieved.  For some, it may take years to finally achieve personal aspirations; for others, it can happen almost instantaneously.  I personally believe that our individual desires emanate from the nucleus of our soul.  The universe places wishes and wants on our path where they patiently await our arrival.  Beautiful things happen when we eventually meet up with them. 

I have been a paranormal investigator and researcher for twenty years.  Having an innate fascination with the unknown since childhood, it wasn’t until a profound experience with the spirit of my maternal grandmother that catapulted me out of the lab – so to speak – and into the trenches of active exploration of anomalous phenomena.  Over time, I have not only met some amazing, like-minded individuals, I have also discovered more about my own unique personal makeup, skills and interests.

Being a paranormal researcher has granted me opportunities I never thought I would accomplish.  When I was younger, I loved to read.  I still do as an adult.  Not in a million years did I ever think I would become a writer and publish books.  To date, I have authored various books, which were all joys to research and write.  As a child, I was always super nervous to step up in front of the class and give a presentation.  Yes, I had that proverbial stage fright complete with sweaty palms and a racing heart.  Yet, as I have grown into myself as an adult, I have learned to cherish public speaking.  It’s something I am quite confident in; I yearn and desire it just as a painter craves his or her next artistic creation. 

Over the years, I have been a guest on numerous supernatural-themed television, film, radio and print mediums.  Out of all the media outlets, there is just something uniquely special about radio and podcasts.  The stars aligned just right in 2009 when I met radio guru Todd Bates aboard the RMS Queen Mary for its then annual “Ghost Fest IV,” a yearly paranormal conference set aboard the glorious liner.  Prior to the convention, I knew of Todd Bates and his accomplishments in the field as an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) specialist.  He was even mentored by the late Sarah Estep, who was a forerunner in EVP research and founder of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena.  Like a little kid meeting her idol, I was electrified when I saw Todd in person and got to shake his hand.  As they say, the rest is history.  Since our very first meeting aboard the ocean’s most iconic ship, Todd and I have become dear friends.  

It was an honor when Todd asked me to be a guest on his veteran radio show, “Haunted Voices Radio,” one of the field’s longest running radio programs.  This started a chain of future guest appearances on the show, including annual “Queen Mary specials,” where he and I, along with other special guests, discussed various aspects of the legendary ship, including her rich historical tapestry and internationally known paranormal phenomena.  Although 2020 has brought its own inimitable set of challenges for all, it has granted me an opportunity to further flex my hankering for being on air in the radio field.  Back in May (2020), I became the executive producer of the exact show (Haunted Voices Radio) I revered back in 2009.  The show, as well as others, is broadcast via the WLTK-db or “The Let’s Talk” network.  This producer role has allowed me to join forces with other commendable investigators in the various branches of paranormal research. 

Over the years, I have contemplated having my own radio show.  For a long time, the desire for it was more or less the occasional fleeting thought of, “Maybe I should have my own show some day.”  Like bees attracted to honey, that notion never left.  I am a firm believer that the astral stars need to align just right for destiny to meet its fate.  It just so happened that Todd had some open radio show slots on the WLTK-db network.  So, I went for it and created my own program, which is an extension of my upcoming book, The Afterlife Chronicles: Exploring the Connection Between Life, Death and Beyond.  Aptly called “The Afterlife Chronicles and Beyond,” my show focuses on the undying connection between mortality and the spirit realm.  Various topics will be explored, including afterlife encounters, spirit guides, spirit communication, paranormal research methodology, metaphysics, psi experiences, near-death experiences (NDEs), grief and loss, and much more.

The show debuted on October 8, 2020 at 9pm EST with my mom, Norma Strickland, as my first guest.  She shared some of her unique encounters with the spirit domain as well as some of her experiences with the dying process as a registered nurse of 30 years.  Since then, I have interviewed Linda Myers, a paranormal researcher, reiki master and intuitive hailing from the Pacific Northwest as well as Tami Benjamin and Jason Cobb, accomplished paranormal investigators I teamed up with aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda, California.  I have a strong line-up of individuals for future shows. 

Todd once said, “I am warning you; radio is addicting.”  He’s absolutely right about that.  There is just something so filling about talking with folks on air.  It’s so engaging and a lot of fun.  I am indebted to Todd and his WLTK-db network for granting me this opportunity to flex my wings as a radio host.  I am enjoying every single bit of it!

“The Afterlife Chronicles and Beyond” radio show airs LIVE on Thursday nights from 9pm EST to 10pm EST at http://www.wltkdb.com or http://www.theletstalk.com  “Haunted Voices Radio” airs LIVE on Tuesday nights from 9pm EST to 11pm EST on the above websites. Check out the other amazing shows on the network! Archives of all the shows can be heard on the major audio listening platforms. 

Remember, “here at the ‘Afterlife Chronicles and Beyond,’ we’re bridging the gap between mortality and the afterlife one experience at a time.”

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would ignite bonfires and adorn themselves in costumes to forbid ghostly energies.  In America, Halloween wasn’t always celebrated.  By the mid 19th century, yearly revelries around autumn were typical but not everyone observed Halloween.  The large amounts of Irish immigrants in the latter part of the 19th century popularized the holiday on a national scale.   As the years progressed, the yearly celebration  has evolved to include carving jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, scary mazes and carnival rides and gorging on enough sugar for an elephant.  These are fun times that both adults and kids of all ages look forward to.  Of course, this depends on cultural affiliation as some don’t celebrate the day.

There’s just something about Halloween that brings a smile to my face.  It’s a time to celebrate mystery, magic and superstition.  Maybe it also has to do with my love for autumn and the soothing colors of orange, yellow and brown trees that come with the summertime going in slumber mode.  As October rears its head, I have always looked forward to the spooky decorations of pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, black cats and witches; decorating my house with purple and orange lights, fake headstones and fog machines.  Certainly, an honorable mention goes to the plethora of fun costumes to choose from; as Garfield would say, there’s the “…candy, candy, candy, candy, CANDY.”  Then, there’s the night sky coming earlier in the day, which gives the moon center stage at night.  All of these combine to produce Halloween’s enchanting setting. 

Paranormal Research Field Trends and Implications
 
   Just as with any other specialty, paranormal research is an ever-evolving field that goes through various changes and trends.  There are many aspects that affect the shifting developments in supernatural study, whether they include new theories, advanced equipment, fresh experimental methodologies, metaphysical approaches, etc.  As with any field, time yields these augmentations so as to prevent stagnation; in other words, it’s imperative that we maneuver through these inevitable trends so we can keep the door open to expanding our knowledge and understanding of what lies beyond the mortal realm.  This article will explore some of the commonly pervasive trends in today’s study of the supernatural and how they affect the field at large.
 
Technological Advances
 
    Indeed, the field of paranormal study has progressed technologically since the days of the field’s founding fathers.  In the early days, those studying the supernatural relied on non-technological ways of approaching field methodology.  Today, many modern researchers still employ many of these ingenious ways of approaching paranormal investigation in addition to using various constructed devices specifically for supernatural research.  While this article doesn’t focus on this aspect entirely, it will mention that each family of electronics (photography, videography, audio, surveillance and environmental monitoring, etc.) has seen drastic industrial advances and improvements, which obviously provide benefits, and even some drawbacks, to supernatural researchers. Again, this concept should be solely addressed in another article altogether.
 
   One common trend lies in the ability of engineering / technological specialists to augment a device so it functions better for paranormal research standards.  For example, AM/FM radio scanners / ITC devices can be altered to allow for less static noise, ultimately allowing the researcher to better hear any anomalous voices or sounds emanating through the device.  Another illustration is evident in the Xbox Kinect system, which can be plugged into a laptop computer and highlight with lines and dots, the exact positioning of an alleged apparition.  Various environmental monitoring devices have “three-in-one” utilizations.  For example, some of the versions of the “Mel Meter” have EMF, shadow detection and KII functions built into one device.  Of course, this provides for convenience; however, there may be drawbacks to lumping all of these uses together in one device. Please keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “ghost detector.”  There isn’t one piece of equipment that has proven the existence of ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities. 
 
   The utilization of technology in paranormal research may seem fool-proof; thus, it’s always beneficial to realize that even the most advanced, up-to-date apparatus comes with imperfection and flaws.  This is why it’s mandatory that all researches completely understand a gadget’s design, function and reasons for use.  I continuously ask myself this question, “Do all of these various improvements in technology help or hinder us in terms of paranormal research?”  In discussing this aspect with trusted colleagues, I have found pros and cons to modern-day leaps in technology.  As you shop around for more modern types of equipment, please be aware that your chances of capturing an anomaly may be increased with more gadgetry.  However, too many pieces of technology may create a distracting environment for the energies. Another drawback affects the investigator directly as he or she will have to spend more time monitoring excessive technological pieces when he or she could be entirely focused on the environment.  In my opinion, you don’t have to own every single technological gadget utilized in paranormal research.  That would be ridiculous.  Carefully study and choose which devices you want to own so you can create an equipment arsenal that includes those designed for photography, videography, audio and environmental monitoring, etc.
 
Metaphysical Instruments
 
    This leads me to the next popular trend occurring in today’s supernatural research field.  In addition to electronic gadgetry, the use of metaphysical instruments is becoming more mainstream for many researchers, including psychics and mediums.  Many intuitively inclined individuals use metaphysical tools in communicating with spiritual energy.  Those deeply based in scientific approaches may cringe at the thought of using items like gems and crystals; however, you have to realize that paranormal study is not an exact science.  Thus, all the more, should someone welcome a variety of approaches to the field’s ongoing study.
 
   Historically speaking, various gems and crystals are deemed to hold supernatural powers of their own.  Wearing them on your person may assist (almost like a liaison) in communing with spiritual energy and empowering your innate psychic powers.  Using them in conjunction with technology may assist the device in picking up spiritual energy. I believe that everyone has some intuitive ability; however, it’s similar to a sport in that the more you practice, the better you will get.  Various gemstones and crystals are utilized for promoting mental and psychic clarity (Amethyst), absorbing or deflecting negative energy (Amber, Black Tourmaline), removing stress and unwanted tension (Celestite), uniting the mind, body and soul (Celestite), etc. – all useful for anyone working in the paranormal research realm and beyond.
 
   In my opinion, blending intuition, technology and metaphysics allows for a more holistic approach to working with spiritual energy.  It is for this reason why the San Diego Paranormal Research Society often employs the use of divining rods, pendulums and certain crystals as they can serve as an adjunct to technology.  For example, let’s say we capture an EVP of “Yes” in response to the question, “Is anyone here with us?” in addition to our divining rods also crossing, which can indicate a “Yes” response.  That’s two pieces of corroborating evidence, ultimately authenticating the spirit reply all the more.  
 
Spirit Resolution vs. Paratainment
 
   Thankfully, many paranormal investigators and psychics are taking up more of an interest in providing spirit resolution to many ethereal beings that may need assistance.  This is the focus of the San Diego Paranormal Research Society whose projects are twofold: conducting an investigation as well as offering some spirit counseling.  If our research is suggesting that life does exist after the physical body ceases to function, then all the more should we offer to help provide peace and harmony to those in the spirit realm.
 
   Investigating and acquiring potential evidence of the paranormal is important for the ongoing study of the supernatural.  However, I am always left with the question, “Okay, what now?”  It seems that the cosmic universe is onboard with assisting us in the appropriate communing with the ethereal world.  Perhaps, the pervasive intrigue into the supernatural realm exists as a way to recruit those who will genuinely assist those who are in need of help.  There seems to be a shift in our collective outlook regarding mainstream media and “para-tainment” as far as the paranormal is concerned.  More and more people are realizing that the various sensational TV shows do little to authentically advance the field of paranormal research.  While these shows serve mainly to entertain the masses, they don’t accurately portray real-life supernatural research and investigation.  Furthermore, the sensationalism surrounding these shows does little to promote spirit resolution as it more or less exploits the dead via egotistical objectives.
 
   It seems as though the once feverish intrigue into the ghost hunting phenomenon is finally on its way out as more and more individuals are on a quest to delve deeply into what matters: not only discovering what lies beyond the mortal curtain but devising ways to genuinely connect with spirits and other ethereal beings.  Those who fervently engage themselves in down-to-earth paranormal research, including proper protocol, standard operating procedures and empathy, are becoming more comfortable calling out those amateur groups of people who act in manners that disrespect the departed and the field at large. All in all, I do see more and more genuine, grounded paranormal research teams expanding their repertoire by helping the ethereal energies they investigate and commune with.  In my opinion, this is vital in the rapport building between the living and departed – the ultimate, natural way to improve not only the research arena but how the public at large perceives it.
 
Getting Rid of “Ego”
 
  This brings me to my next point, which is to highlight how human ego and working with spiritual energy do not mix.  In a sense, they are like oil and water, having nothing in common.  Ghost hunting teams sprouted like grass after a long rain once the televised paranormal shows commenced their craze.  During this time, it was common to see teams sporting their t-shirts and other team promotional items, initializing a phase of competition between groups.  As the concept of ghost hunting wanes, we are seeing an influx of those who want to delve deeper beyond a superficial façade.  We are seeing certain groups of paranormal investigators coming together to not only assist each other but to improve paranormal research as a whole.  This is so vital and necessary for the eventual building of one, giant collective supernatural study unit – where all like-minded teams can unite for the purposes of not only advancing the field but helping those otherworldly beings in need of assistance.  I am hoping that one day, this will be accomplished in entirety; but for now, we need to all realize that “ego” needs to be removed from the equation when communicating, studying and working with the ethereal world.
 
Education
 
   More and more paranormal research specialists are jumping onboard to educate the public and each other about various aspects related to the supernatural.  Again, technological strides and improvements in social media directly assist in these educational concepts reaching the masses.  Individuals are volunteering their time to lecture at libraries, local events and national conferences all designed to bring together those who possess a budding interest in the paranormal.  The same goes for researchers who educate those at colleges, universities or via local avenues.  The online presence is even expanding with new radio shows, informative documentaries and television designed to teach those about haunted locations and history, paranormal research experimentation, etc.  Many teams are starting to blog more about their conducted investigations and findings or even offer live-viewings of actual investigations.  More and more books discussing diverse aspects related to the supernatural are being published.  Indeed, education is at the forefront as it allows people to come together and expand their minds; in doing so, the field of paranormal study will also continue to develop.
 
By,
Nicole Strickland
Paranormal Researcher, Author and Lecturer 

 

 

  • What propelled me to investigate the unknown

I have always had an innate fascination with the supernatural, especially the field of ghosts, spirits and hauntings.  I had some unique experiences growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It was the experience I had with my maternal grandmother’s spirit during undergraduate college that catapulted me into research and investigation of the unknown.  In my twenty years as a paranormal researcher, I have worked with some amazing individuals.  In 2009, I developed the San Diego Paranormal Research Society (SDPRS), which is one of San Diego’s well-respected groups. 

How I Write

 

***More writing and publishing resources in my blog.

 

Every writer has his or her own unique style.  There really isn’t any one magical way to approach the writing process.  It all depends on the individual and what he or she is actually writing – i.e., fiction, memoir, children’s books or nonfiction, etc.  Some people choose to write first thing in the morning; others, late at night.  Some prefer solitude and quiet when writing; others choose to have music or television on in the background.  Always select one or two places that will allow you to create your best work. 

 

I have often been told that my writing is very heartfelt and sincere.  Reflecting on that, I will say that I do “write from my heart.”  It’s hard to definitively explain what that means.  I guess I would define it as not writing through my ego.  Rather, I listen to my inner intuition and allow it to guide me through the process.  I focus on topics that I am extremely passionate about and those that I feel can make a positive difference in humanity. 

 

 

Writing my very first non-fiction book was one of the most exciting endeavors I have accomplished in my 39 years.  Ten years later, I am proud to say that I have published six non-fiction works with future ones in development. Each phase of the book writing process can seem daunting and tedious; however, once you develop a seamless system that works well, you will be on your way to smooth sailing. 

It’s important to stay true to who you are as a person and author and realize that you can create something entirely original for your audience.  After writing six manuscripts, I can now better recognize my own unique “voice.”  Once you recognize yours, you will find the entire research, development and writing process to be more fun and enjoyable.  Remember that you, the writer, are the best advocate for your book.