Psychic in Suburbia (New on Style Network) Blows My Mind.
It was meant to be a 20-minute standard-issue interview, but we stayed on the phone chatting like old friends for nearly an hour. Because that's how Maureen Hancock makes you feel, even from 3000 miles away.
Saturday night, Maureen's new show, Psychic in Suburbia, is going to premiere on Style Network at 9pm (EST & PST). She'd spent her day in New York, visiting CNN, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and the Associated Press before hopping a train home to Boston, or BAH-STAHN, as Maureen says it, before calling me up on my cell phone to let me grill her about what it's like to be a Psychic in Suburbia with your very own TV show, while mentoring your nieces into the family business. I know, right?
Courtesy of Style
That's where Mo and I really connected (I'm gonna go ahead and call her Mo from here on out, because that's how close I already feel to this woman.) She's works her butt off, and when I got a sneak peek of her show and caught a glimpse of her alone in the car talking to her husband I was struck by how REAL this woman is. This woman with this obvious, undeniable-when-you-see-it-in-action gift is still trying to find that elusive work/life balance that we're all always searching for.
Even the dead can't get your husband to chill when you've worked late three nights in a row and he misses his wife.
That's just the tip of the iceberg on the glimpse the show gives of Maureen, who I swear if you can't relate to in some way, you're dead inside (so you should probably go ahead and chat with her anyway) and then the next thing you know she's in action, but it's not all sunshine and corpses...
We get see her fumble (like when a reading she does inadvertently causes a marriage to be called off...) and come to the rescue. We see her alter lives, help people through their grief, and channel the other side in the way that only a South Boston girl can...with attitude. Don't worry -- we didn't just giggle like schoolgirls for an hour. I did get to ask her some juicy questions about living with the constant attention from the other side.
So, first and foremost, I had to get a grasp on her gift. Was there a constant din of undead following her into the shower? Or could she turn it on and off? Did she channel them a la Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost (which she did do a brief and EXCELLENT impersonation of for my enjoyment, but the answer is NO WAY, GHOSTIE), or was it more like a conversation?
Luckily Maureen was able to follow my excited ramblings, and here's what she had to say:
I can turn on and off -- but I didn't always have the switch. At first I hated it. It was like a rumble all the time. It was distracting.
Now I'm in control, I hold the on-demand button. But it's still extremely emotionally draining.
On what it feels like when a loved one shows up
In a lot of ways, it's about -- what was the personality like here on Earth? I think that's why everyone comes through so different.
On the living's fascination ... and the dead's
As soon as I do a reading -- you see even the non-believers, they start to line up. And I want to do it, I want to help people connect, because it's a unique family reunion. It's hard for me to say no, because I do want people to experience it.
At the same time, it's emotionally and physically exhausting. I'm a former standup comic, so I try to stay upbeat and use my sense of humor to keep people at bay....like, one of the Soccer Dad's at the park, an accountant, came up asking me if I could connect to his grandmother, and I said, "Sure -- can you balance my checkbook?"
On the other side] When the light is on, sometimes I start to get a lot of people trying to come through -- it's always the strongest personalities that make it through, but the experience is very similar to how their living loved ones respond -- they have a message they want to pass on, and they want a chance to be heard too.
I mean, how effing crazy is that? That's why I was so proud of my Grandma Sharon for letting me get the answers I needed from her in-laws rather than bursting through in her usual way, as much as I miss her and wanted to say hi.
But that's where my call with Maureen took a pretty amazing turn. I got to really see what she can do first hand, and I still have the chills.
I won't go into super detail out of respect for the family, and the fact that I haven't connected with my friend to pass the message along, but while my grandfather was busy trying to keep my grandmother from telling Maureen what kind of cancer she died of -- all her death certificate said (and all my mother, 10 at the time, ever knew) -- was "abdominal," which I did not tell Maureen. And yet, she was able to isolate the discomfort to her cervix and get me an answer I've spent YEARS on the phone with New York City records offices trying to track down.
Anyway, all of a sudden Maureen got a strong personality who needed to be heard. She doesn't let you talk much during a reading, because she doesn't want you to put ideas in her head, so it took me a minute to figure out whose death she was describing.
Sure enough, I realized that she was clearly describing the circumstances of a recent much-too-soon death in my life. I wasn't particularly close to the deceased, but I am desperately close to his family and just as Maureen had described to me, it was like the light was on -- he saw a connection and he made his way to the front of the line (he made it past my Rottweiler, Bruiser, who she described to a T bounding through, including his own early passing).
By the end of our phone call, Maureen was insistent that she meet the family of the spirit who came through. She wants to help people. This busy, TV-show-having, book-releasing, charity-starting Super-Medium is willing to drop everything for a day to make sure that my family friends get to say their goodbyes. That's one hell of a lady right there (or should I say heck? ...I don't need the wrath.)
There's so much more I could say about this incredible woman, but luckily Style Network already made a series about her, so here's what we'll do instead...
Mo's show, Psychic in Suburbia, brought to you by the folks who created The Ghost Whisperer, premieres tomorrow (Saturday) night at 9pm EST/PST. You can catch up with Maureen (@MaureenHancock, #PSYCHICINSUBURBIA) on Twitter during each airing to chat and get a chance to win a reading by Maureen live online. It's going to be a ball.
And I love Maureen's outlook. She says communicating with your loved ones is a celebration of life and love...not another wake. So if you win, be prepared to feel elated.
So what would you ask your loved ones if you had the chance?