Less than 10 minutes into my interview with Jodi Livon, as she was explaining what a medium is, she lost her train of thought.
"See, as I talk about it, this is what happens. It's a little bit embarrassing. There are spirits lining up, thinking I'm going to tell you about them," Livon said. "And I'm like, 'I'm doing an interview, don't interrupt me.'"
I resisted the urge to ask for more information about the dead people supposedly in the room.
As a kid who grew up in the '90s watching Sylvia Brown on The Montel Williams Show, I've always been fascinated by the possibility of a sixth sense, but I've never talked to a psychic or medium (Livon says she's both – I'll explain the difference later).
But I was in Livon's office to talk about her life, not the people I've lost in mine. And for the sake of journalism, I was trying to maintain some skepticism – that's hard to do when the emotions evoked from death and grief are involved. So instead, I asked Livon how she gets through the day if spirits are constantly trying to connect wherever she goes.
Livon, who grew up in Golden Valley, said she was tormented by spirits as a kid, especially the sinister ones. But over time, she learned to protect herself by setting boundaries.
She considers herself both a "psychic" (a broad term for people who have heightened senses, which Livon said for her means she can see things that were, are, and potentially could be) and a "medium" (a person who can connect with people on the "other side").
She said she only communicates with spirits who come from a place of love (that's why she's the "Happy Medium"), and on her terms. And she doesn't do readings or deliver messages from the dead, unless you ask her to.
"One of the most important things for anybody, with their intuition, is having boundaries," she said.
Intuition is a big part of Livon's work, which is why she also calls herself an "intuitive coach."
"You know that nudge you get when you're driving and you decide not to go a certain way because it doesn't feel right, and later you find out you avoided a traffic jam? That's your intuition," she said.
Livon claims that intuition (and even being psychic) is a language we all have, but not everybody understands how to tap into it.
"Just like if you can speak, you can sing – everybody is psychic. But some people are born with a stronger set of pipes, metaphorically speaking, and then they train. So I can really belt out a reading," she said.
Livon has been working as a psychic medium for 30 years, and was the first to coin the term "intuitive coach."
Her abilities draw in a variety of clients, from corporate heads who want to learn how to use their intuition to make smarter business decisions, to mothers coping with the loss of a child who are seeking closure.
Livon wasn't always happy about being able to connect with the dead.
From a young age, Livon said spirits would bully her to get her to pay attention to them.
"They'd pull my hair, turn lights on and off. It really scared me," she explained. "I tried talking about it with my parents – particularly my mom – and she didn't want anything to do with it. I'm sure it was scary. Back at that time, nobody was talking about it."
Livon, who grew up in a Jewish family, said she prayed a lot and learned to keep her mouth shut about the spirits.
And although she continued to develop her intuition as she got older, Livon stopped reading people (which she started doing as a teen) for awhile. Instead, she developed a successful career as a property and marketing analyst.
But before long, Livon said it became clear her strong business sense was linked to her profound intuition. So she made a decision to fully embrace it.
"What I realized is, I was really called to do this," Livon said. "It was taking me over and I needed to understand it better. Either my intuition would have me, or I would have it."
Once she got back into it, people just "came out of the woodwork," said Livon.
"People were coming to me," she said. "They would tell each other, I didn't advertise. And it was a lot of corporate people. People always think they would be the last ones that would use their intuition. No. Ask any successful person – they use their gut."
She attributes her success to listening to her intuition and doing things that feel good to her, no matter what other people think.
"It's just been going in the direction of my dreams," Livon said. "I know that's super corny."
Hold, up – are those dead people still in the room?
I finally had to ask.
Livon said those spirits weren't making her nose itch anymore (they tug on it when she ignores them). They had left the room.
But everyone has spirits who come around to say "Hi," she explained, adding that all of the people I knew who had died were aware I was seeing a medium that day. She described a male who she said had been around me a lot.
I never wanted to interview Livon in order to prove or disprove her abilities as a psychic medium – only to tell her story as an interesting person from Minnesota.
So I'll say this: Whether you believe in psychic powers or not, Livon's ability to give accurate details about my life, my personality, and even my dog, was pretty remarkable.
Can you predict the future? No, and if I could, I wouldn't. It is, I think, an insult to people, because you create your reality. So if I said, "You're going to have two kids" – what if you meet somebody who has two kids? And you want to have babies but the psychic told you you're supposed to have two kids. It can turn into a mind game with yourself.
Or somebody could tell you something negative, because psychics are interpreting things through the filter of their personality. So if they've had something that's hurt them, it could come out in the reading.
I don't predict the future, I don't see the future. I see signs that might indicate what might happen. It is also against the Torah to predict the future.
Are you very religious? I would say everything is relative. We observe the holidays, we love doing Shabbat every Friday night and Saturday. But what I really believe in is giving back to the world. The Torah is about being compassionate and seeing things from a wider perspective.
I think religions in general – as long as they're not telling you to kill people – are amazing. It's kind of an avenue to reach that higher space where you can feel God. But you definitely don't have to have a religion to feel a higher power in the universe.
When you say you can see spirits, do you see an actual person standing there? Let's say you're doing your dishes and there's a window in front of you, and it's dusk. So you can still see outside, but really you can see more of the reflection of the kitchen. That reflection of the kitchen is what those people look like to me. If I see them – I mostly feel them. They speak to me through my feelings.
What's one thing people can do to become more intuitive? What you see, what you focus on, what you say, what you think, is what you get in your life. So before you go to sleep, read something like affirmations or the bible – whatever makes you feel good. Then wake up in the morning and open up your eyes to something that makes you feel good. Concentrate for twenty minutes on just things that make you happy. That lifts your vibration, it makes you more intuitive, and it makes your day rock. It's easy. You just plan for it the night before.
Do you ever have that feeling that you're sort of floating a little bit, but you're grounded in your body and you just feel happy? That's a heightened sense of awareness. That's your happy, intuitive space. It's an amazing place to be. And that exercise, easy as it sounds, helps you get there.
What would you say to a skeptic? "Hi, I'm Jodi." I don't try to convince anybody of anything.