In this series of regular articles, our Melbourne-based correspondent meets the Positively Scottish Humans of Oz
From Whoopee Goldberg’s eccentric Oda Mae Brown in ‘Ghost’, to Patricia Arquette’s portrayal of crime-solving Allison DuBois on the TV show ‘Medium’, to that creepy kid who sees dead people in ‘The Sixth Sense’, pop culture is bewitched by those who can communicate with the dearly departed. However, our obsession with the afterlife isn’t a new thing. Humans have been fascinated with the idea of life after death for tens of thousand of years, with the earliest cave paintings depicting spirits and otherwordly beings. These days, as they say, a good medium is rare to find, but Ann-Marie Docherty, who emigrated to Australia from Clydebank, reckons sharing her life with spirits is just part and parcel of her work as a psychic medium and spiritual development coach.
I left school at 15 with nothing other than the fact I’d met the man of my dreams, who I married three years later, and have now been with for 48 years. My mother used to always say you get less time for murder!
After I had my children, I went to college to do a part-time course in shorthand and typing. From there, I went back to study full-time, completing my higher national certificate before going to uni as a mature student and getting my degree. I applied for a job in human resources, but I didn’t get it because I didn’t have any experience and I had two babies. I went into the construction industry for six months, but the boss told me he’d never promote a female, so I resigned. Then I tried for a job at a recruitment company that was setting up in Glasgow, but they said the same thing. Afterwards, I phoned them up and told them they’d missed out on hiring the best person possible for the job. They called me back to come in for an interview and I started work a couple of days later. I managed that business for 12 months and during that time I applied to emigrate to Australia. I arrived here in January 1989 and worked my little backside off.
I’ve been in corporate my whole life, working my way up to executive director. It was big money and I became a workaholic. Then, in 2007, I had a heart attack. That temporarily brought me to my senses, but I started up an executive coaching business and, before long, I was back to being a workaholic. Something had to change. I ended up giving my business away and just healed myself for 18 months. I had to learn to be content with not having the big career and just being at home.
My daughter invited me along to a class, which I thought was for meditation, but it turned out to be a spiritual development class. This revealed my mediumship skills—my ability to speak to the spirit world. I had always been very intuitive—that’s what had made me so successful at my job. I had the gift with people.
I very much believe in a universal spirit and think the heart attack was the spirits’ ways of saying it was time to slow down. I was at a stage where it was never going to be enough—you just keep upping your lifestyle. I feel the spirits have chosen me as one of their workers, so now I’m a psychic medium and a spiritual development coach.
I talk to spirits, those who have passed over, and people will come to me for a reading or for guidance. They might need career direction or help dealing with grief. Some people have just lost the ability to see that good things can come their way. I continue to motivate and inspire people the way I did when I was in business. It was always the part I loved the most, and now I’ve realised I can do it, but in an entirely different way. My whole focus used to be on building businesses, making them more productive. Now I’m the opposite. I take time out to smell the roses.
I have daily conversations with spirits. I welcome them as they come and join me. I know when I’m connected with spirits because I see and hear and sense them. It’s about moving your vibrations out of the earthly sphere. My mother died two-and-a-half years ago, but she’s still so strong in my life. There’s times I actually have to say, “You need to go away today, I’m not in the mood for you!”
People sometimes create an expectation of what the experience of connecting with a spirit might be, and because it doesn’t come in that shape and form, then as far as they are concerned, the connection doesn’t happen. But you have to be open to receiving. The signs are everywhere. It could the bird that lands in front of you, or the feather that happens to be lying on your doormat, or a song on the radio, or someone coming into your life that helps remedy an issue you’ve been having. You thought you’d not found a connection but, actually, the spirits have engineered those moments. There’s no such thing as coincidence. It’s all about synchronicity.
My life completely changed when I had that heart attack. My husband and I were working class people in Scotland, and we worked hard for everything we had. So for me to give away that status —the money, the company car—it was a wake-up call for me. I had tried my whole life to achieve financial security to prove that you can come from nothing and still achieve greatness. Now I recognise that life is so full of riches in so many ways—it’s not about material things.
It’s also important for me to remember that I can’t fix everybody. It’s not my job to fix them. My job is to help them understand some strategies as to how they can best get there themselves. It all starts with self-love.