In the Shadow Of A Badge (Book Review)

Book jacket for "In the Shadow Of A Badge" by  Lillie Leonardi

Book jacket for “In the Shadow Of A Badge” by Lillie Leonardi

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

It took an act of unspeakable tragedy to force Lillie Leonardi to stop living a double life. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and specifically the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 helped crack open Leonardi’s tough cop-turned-FBI agent exterior, exposing her raw and vulnerable spiritual center.

Standing amid the wreckage of that downed plane in Shanksville, PA, she experienced a religious awakening that caused her to rethink her entire life for the next decade. From that day forward, she would no longer be able to choose between being a law enforcement agent or a spiritual pilgrim; instead, the event forced her to address the two separate sides to her life and make them whole.

In her memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge, Leonardi describes seeing angels at the crash site in Shanksville. Her interpretation of this event was that the angels were helping transition the passengers and crew of the plane to heaven and that they were also watching over the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who had arrived to investigate the scene.

Having experienced other angel sightings throughout her life, Leonardi was comforted by the sight. Yet working in a male-dominated field for her adult life led her to hide her spiritual self with her coworkers and most of the world. Only her immediate family and friends understood her devotion to the Catholic faith and how she reveled in it during quiet moments.

To her coworkers and to the outside world, she was simply a “Robocop,” and acted on calculated, intellectual reasoning alone, leaving little room for spiritual or emotional reactions. That tough-guy exterior may have helped her deal with the 12 days she worked at the crash site as a liaison with United Airlines and government agencies but it also forced her to stuff her emotions deep within.

Energy always seeks expansion so when you try holding back extreme emotion for too long, it will eventually cause havoc with the personality. In Leonardi’s case, the stifling of emotions both as a cop and as a first responder on 9/11 finally caused her to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That diagnosis (and her final acceptance of it) started her on a journey of self-discovery and healing that could help her finally quantify the two very distinctive sides of her personality.

Leonardi details her struggles with therapies to help manage her PTSD as well as her spiritual “coming out,” where she finally decides to publically share her experience in Shanksville. As part of that process, she began to allow herself to feel and act upon her intuitive/feminine persona which she had carefully controlled during her law enforcement tenure.

Personal thoughts

I am not Catholic and usually shut down mentally when I’m presented with too much religious dogma. Still, I selected In the Shadow of a Badge because I was interested in Leonardi’s experiences on 9/11. Like many Americans, the wounds inflicted on our country that warm fall day still feel fresh and raw even a decade later. I’ve read other firsthand accounts of supernatural events by first responders and wanted to see how Leonardi’s compared.

I’m also not a big believer in angels–the concept seems too Christian to me. So after I read a few pages into the book, I reminded myself that there is always something to learn and kept going to see what I could glean from the manuscript. Rather than discard the author’s message altogether, I instead went into an introspective state to clarify my own beliefs about angels and the afterlife. I have a way to go on that discovery.

I did pick out several important themes which are applicable to anyone who reads the book, whether they come from a religious background or not.

First, as I write a lot about in my blog, our world is created through beliefs. This fact is not lost on Leonardi as she deconstructed her experience in Shanksville. Universally, she understands that her beliefs are the most important thing in her life, which to her includes her deep Catholic faith. She sums it up this way:

“Our beliefs matter the most. If we accept our own inner strength, we can take the right action on behalf of ourselves and others. Our beliefs teach us to trust, and this trust guides our path.”

Another important lesson Leonardi learns through her post-9/11 life is that of safety and trust. Trust is a spiritual imperative and is the basis for living safely. The author brings up several examples of her deep trust and how it helped keep her safe during 25 years of police service. Calling on that trust became more important as she battled her PTSD. Her stories of trust and the help she received from the spiritual realm are inspirational and help others learn to trust their basic being.

Spiritual views aside, readers should take particular note of the author’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder is a horrible residue of violent acts like 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and the recent shootings in Newtown. The general public needs to know about and understand the disorder which is beginning to affect larger numbers of people each year. I’m pleased the author shared so much of her journey with PTSD as it helps break down some of the stigma about the disorder.

Importantly, she shows that PTSD can sometimes be hard to recognize and slow to emerge as it can come about from stifling emotions for too long.  Leonardi also talks about some of the current treatments for PTSD and discloses what worked and didn’t work for her.

What strikes me most with this book, however, is how difficult it appears to be to live a life that includes public spirituality. Many people sometimes feel it’s inappropriate to talk about–let alone display–a spiritual self. It feels too risky to share with others. We worry what others will think of us if we talk about our own spiritual selves outside of a church or the privacy of our homes.

When we ignore that part of ourselves that is connected to the divine, the divine will make itself known eventually. The energy allotted to spirituality, if not given an outlet, will seek expression, even if the means seem questionable as it did with Leonardi’s PTSD. A quick read of the author’s synchronistic events as she accepted both her PTSD diagnosis and her true spiritual self is inspiring.

In the Shadow of a Badge may not be for everyone. There is heavy dose of Catholicism intertwined within the pages and the author takes readers through some very personal and sometimes trivial details of her recovery. Still, if you’ve ever tried to hide your religious or spiritual beliefs in public, this may be a good read and reminder of the amazing things that can happen when you integrate spirituality into your daily existence.

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

This book available through these booksellers:


Barnes & Noble

Hay House







You don’t have to know how

Butterfly and rocks

Go ahead: dream big. Big. Big. BIG. But don’t get wrapped up in the details of how, that’s for the universe to figure out. It’s not your job to know. When you identify those things in your life that you want, allow your spirit some breathing room. Trust that the universe is on your side and will help you meet your goals. Have faith that all you need to be successful will come to you. Once the request has been made, turn your concentration back to how good it’s going to feel when you meet your goals. Let go. Catch a tailwind. Enjoy the view and let your spirit soar.

Want to change the world? Start with a little trust

The world seems to be suffering from a lack of trust. You don’t need to look far to see this mistrust. It’s shows up in political commercials, acts of terrorism, entertainment and even religion. Mistrust disguises itself as the desire to change the world for the better. But to change the world for the better, we need to approach trust from another perspective: trust in our own selves first.

So how do you learn to trust in yourself let alone others? Do you start with trust and build upon it or is it something that must be earned incrementally? The easiest way is to start with where you are right now.

Affirming yourself

Trust and change come from self-affirmation. Affirming yourself is simply the acceptance of your entire self: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Affirmation takes into account that no one else in the universe is you. Your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses belong to no one else and realizing this, you can turn all of those attributes into the building blocks for a better world.

Self-affirmation doesn’t mean that you can’t actively wish to change some things about yourself. We all hold ideal versions of ourselves; it’s a part of our natural heritage. But self-acceptance acknowledges both the good and bad within and releases the resistance to not being there yet.

For example, I have a clear image of my ideal “professional writer” self. That self is successful, well received and well compensated. I’m certainly not there… yet. My writing needs work; my presentation skills need developing; my audience needs building. Still, I acknowledge those shortcomings and continue working toward my ideal self. In affirming myself where I am, I allow the creative universe to deliver new and exciting things to me, even if they don’t look exactly as I planned.

Start within and move out

I can hear the objections now: “That all sounds nice and pretty on paper, but I already trust myself, it’s others that I don’t!” you object. In conscious creation terms, it’s important to remember that the physical world is a reflection of your own beliefs, feelings and thoughts. Everything you experience first existed as a thought, an expectation of how reality should be. So when you experience something you don’t like or want, you must first look inward to discover the beliefs behind the experience.

As you begin to trust yourself, when you affirm yourself and your being, you automatically help others. Your energy is stabilized and clear. You don’t get in your own way by constantly second-guessing your decisions and your actions. Accepting “where you are” allows you to get to “where you want to be” with less baggage and less psychic weight.

Accepting yourself (and others) for what they are

When you hold no resistance between yourself and your ideal self, you can experience the same in others. It’s easier to understand this when you think of your mate or your pets. You may see the greatness in these individuals and creatures yet realize there are times when they don’t measure up to that greatness. However, your love transcends this gap and allows you to accept them as they are. Having that same loving regard for yourself opens you up to seeing the same in others whom you might normally mistrust.

Trust in yourself also means trusting those nudges your inner self gives you every day. Those impulses are messages from your inner (or higher) self, urging you to action that automatically benefits you and the rest of the world. Struggling against those natural urges creates more resistance and cuts you off from energy that can indeed change the world. Start with yourself, affirm your being and honor your spirit. The world will thank you.



Are you ready to bloom?

Are you ready to bloom?

At any time, your consciousness is ready to open up and show the world how spectacular you are. Affirm to yourself that you are loved and you are safe. When you trust in the universe and trust yourself, you allow your consciousness to unfold naturally and at the right speed. Each day brings you new experience and new admiration for the flower that is your life. Open up and let the world experience your magnificence.


The tree knows

The tree knows

Some would call it instinct; I would call it faith. The tree trusts nature and allows the universe to help it grow and thrive. The tree trusts that the universe will provide for it the right amount of moisture, sunlight and nutrients. The tree knows its own beauty and delights in the little pink flowers it produces each spring. The tree understands its exquisite smell vibrates into the universe, affecting all other life forms that happen to find their way through the fragrant air. The tree does not get sad that its blossoms only last a few days; it knows they’ll be back year after year after year. I could learn a lot from this tree.


Hurry up and wait: spiritual impatience as a sign of progress

I hate to wait. I don’t like waiting in lines; I’m not a big fan of waiting for company to arrive. As a child, the wait on Christmas morning was almost unbearable. How can I just sit here when there are tons of great presents sitting right in the living room, ready to be unwrapped? But as an adult, I find an even more difficult beast plagues me: spiritual impatience.

Spiritual impatience is the result of putting your foot on a spiritual path. It’s a sign that you’re beginning to understand the lessons that are important to you and that those lessons are starting to sink in. Impatience is a clear sign that you now see what is possible on the horizon…and that you’re not there yet.

You know that a better, more fulfilling life exists and that there are steps you can take to get there. You’ve read about them. You’ve seen examples of others who have arrived at a new plateau after years of struggle. You’ve been inspired by readings, by teachings and by endless examples. Your mind starts churning new concepts and sprinkles ideas upon your consciousness at various times throughout the day and in your dreams.

Up until this point, you’ve been working with inspiration. Inspiration usually follows a period of sadness, confusion or longing that prods you into the search for something better. Whatever it is that has caused you to ask for more: health issues, relationship problems, spiritual emptiness, has pushed you over the brink and set you on a journey filled with promise. Those first few days, months, or even years are an exciting part of your transformation. The learning fuels you. It’s like you’ve stepped on the accelerator and flown up the highway at top speed. But suddenly you look around and wonder where the hell you are.

Now, you start to compare your current experiences with your daydream experiences. You become acutely aware of the gaps. You’ve unknowingly adopted a new model for yourself, one that’s very solidified in your subconscious, yet barely recognizable in physical reality. That’s where anguish and longing come into play. Spiritual impatience has made itself known to you and it is a good sign.

Impatience is the handmaiden of the ego. As the part of your consciousness that interfaces with the physical world, the ego wants to be in control. Working with the intellect, the ego sees the goal ahead—the “new” you—and thinks its job is to get you there. It feels it must do this alone, or at least with some general feedback and information from the intellect. The ego’s purpose is noble; its methods are not. What it forgets is the fact that it doesn’t know everything. In fact, the ego knows very little. It’s not its fault; it has simply succumbed to the conditioning you’ve placed on it for years and years.

There’s a flip side to the ego’s valor: fear. In addition to wanting you to move ahead at warp speed, the ego also fears what will happen if you don’t get there. Now you’ve got two opposing mechanisms fighting for control of your whole identity. Your ego wants you to become this perfect, whole person and yet it fears more than anything that you won’t get there. It’s time to help out the ego.

There are two main tools to help fight spiritual impatience and put the ego at ease, allowing it to assist your whole identity in Honoring Your Sprit.

The first tool is presence. Developing presence is akin to eating an apple a day for your health. It’s one of the easiest ways to access your inner being and return you to a state of wholeness. Your intellect has a hard time focusing on two things at once, even though we’ve become a multi-tasking society.  Returning to the present moment shifts your perception to the immediacy of your self and the environment and automatically puts space around your ego.

To return to the present moment, stop and direct your focus. First, look around at your surroundings. What do you see? Notice small details, such as the leaves on a nearby tree or the way the light reflects off the blender on the counter. Next, employ your ears—what are you hearing? Can you detect the hum of the refrigerator? Can you hear the children playing down the street? Listen also for the sounds you don’t hear and you’ll sink into the present moment. Now, what do you feel physically? Can you feel the chair beneath you? What’s under your feet? Is there a breeze on your face? Can you feel sunshine on your eyes? Use all of your senses: what do you taste right now? What sensations are meeting your skin? Gently move back and forth between the senses to immerse you into the present moment.

When you get good at developing presence, even for just a few moments, you’ve begun to train your mind into “allowing.” When you get your mind away from your thoughts and when your ego isn’t swallowed up in progress reports, you begin to allow space to flow into your spirit. That space is important for your inner being to flex its spiritual muscles. Your intuition, telepathy and clairvoyance skills sharpen with the allowance of the present moment. That allowance is key to combating spiritual impatience.

The other important tool in combating impatience is trust, and that’s a biggie. Trust is a necessary part of any spiritual practice; you can’t proceed without it. The good news is that you already have trust if you’re experiencing spiritual impatience. Part of the impatience stems from knowing that something better exists “out there.” If you can’t see or believe in a better life, you can’t trust that it will manifest.

As I mentioned earlier, the ego always wants control and there’s no exception when it comes to trust. The ego wants to dictate how and when you move ahead and the pace you’ll need to get there. Trust doesn’t have any of that. Trust is also a practice of allowing: allowing the universe to deliver your dreams to you in the best way possible and on a timeline that works for everybody. It’s about allowing things to unfold without unnecessary resistance and it’s about allowing room for change.

Trust is a difficult trait to cultivate and it demands frequent check-ups by your conscious mind.  One of the most effective methods for developing trust is simply to remind yourself of trust through affirmations. “I trust that life will bring to me exactly what I need at the right time.” Or, “I trust my inner being to direct me in my life.” Find wording that feels comfortable and is memorable and repeat your affirmation many times throughout the day.

Let impatience be a good reminder that you’re moving in the right direction. You are developing spiritually and that’s precisely why you are feeling resistance. It’s there to serve you and while it may be a little annoying, take comfort in the fact that it’s signifying some great things to come. When you find yourself immersed in spiritual impatience, first get present and then gently remind yourself of your trust in the process.