Clairvoyage: Stories from a highly-sensitive life, by Stephanie Milanowski
Reviewed by Ciaran Farrell
Clairvoyage is very much a book of personal stories and anecdotes (edited by George Verongos and narrated by Daniella Dalli) that Stephanie Milanowski as the author wants to share with her readers.
These stories start from her early childhood and run up to the present day and encompass her life and work as a gifted and talented graphic designer and artist, and also, more importantly as a psychic sensitive. Her ‘gift’ relates to and is an extension of her artistic talents and abilities. The book begins with a poem and is illustrated throughout with little sketches of things that feature in the text.
Stephanie has taught graphic design at college level. One of her educational projects was to produce lunch bags for children featuring pictures of endangered species of animals which became well known and was taken up by zoos and gifts shops worldwide. She has also illustrated children’s books for a number of publishers as well as designing hundreds of book jackets. She even took on a special bookbinding project for Oprah Winfrey. Since 1997 she has worked as a contract graphic designer, illustrator and entrepreneur.
At the age of 43 Stephanie experienced a life changing moment when she picked up and decided to read Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer’s book Extraordinary Knowing. She saw herself reflected in what was set out in the pages of the book. This was because it was a book about someone who engages in a voyage of self-discovery of people’s psychic gifts. It features an aggrieved family who finally have to send for a diviner to help them recover a much loved harp that had mysteriously disappeared. This led those concerned to change their sceptical views about the psychic side of life.
After reading this book Stephanie decided that after decades of denial of all the weird things that had happened to her which led her into suppressing her own abilities as she did not know or understand the gifts she possessed, she was going to embrace those gifts. This in turn led Stephanie to look back at her life and all the strange and weird events that had befallen her and to re-evaluate matters with her new knowledge of her long denied gifts and abilities. Clairvoyage is the result of this process.
Stephanie has always had a very close, telepathic type, of relationship with her sister as they were very close and could communicate with each other non-verbally. This she then started to realise led on to a sense of knowing about other people and precognition of events as well as telepathic contact with other people she was close to. Then she found she was receiving messages about people for those around her. Sometimes these messages were accompanied by images in her mind of the people concerned even when she had never met them.
Her second husband, Joe, sought to test her abilities by thinking of someone from his workplace that Stephanie had never met or had any contact with. He then asked her to draw the person he was thinking about, and when he saw her sketch had to admit she had done well and so passed the test.
The book describes the many adventures great and small that Stephanie has had over the years. Some of them have been light and even humorous as well as some that are decidedly dark. These have involved haunted houses, a visit from a ‘black eyed’ mother and ‘black eyed’ children, poltergeists and even what appears to have been a demonically haunted safe. In addition to all this, Stephanie had premonitions of major catastrophic events which included a tsunami and a helicopter crash.
The book is written in a very open and confident yet cosy style as if the reader were sitting down with Stephanie in a café over a cup of coffee as one of her friends. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a double sided coin because although the text is easy to read, it is not always easy to comprehend. This is because the reader lacks the detailed background knowledge of Stephanie as an individual, and where she was is in her life story to fully appreciate the circumstances that surrounded her as she relates her experiences. In one sense, it is almost like peering into Stephanie’s private diary, but on another level this can be a little bit difficult and confusing.
Clairvoyage is written in short chapters and so it is an ideal book to dip into from time to time as the chapters do not build up a structural narrative from the beginning of the book to a natural conclusion. Therefore there is no real starting point or end point so the chapters can be taken as freestanding stories within the book as a whole.
The book is written from a personal perspective by Stephanie and it shows what an extraordinary life she has led both as an individual and as a psychically sensitive person. Therefore it is well worth reading from the point of view of finding out what it is like to live a psychically sensitive and rather full life.
The reader is left free to decide for themselves whether the psychic gifts and abilities that Stephanie describes are solid and genuine, since she was not formally tested, and whether or not these gifts and abilities are a blessing or a curse.
Stephanie’s book is a personal account of her own life and she speaks to the reader in direct and personal terms, so it is not a dry work of popular science or psychical research. Therefore it does not discuss issues in complex scientific or academic terms. What it does do is to set out very clearly what it is like to be a psychically sensitive person, and therefore the differences that occur in the perception of psychical events between a sensitive and non-sensitive people.
I would therefore recommend this book on the basis that it is a voyage of discovery for both the author and for the reader in terms of the nature of psychic sensitivity and what this means in the ordinary everyday life of a creative and artistic person.
Clairvoyage has a lot to say in personal everyday terms about the struggles people with psychic sensitivity have in their lives within themselves, and with those around them about the borders between the normal and psychic worlds.