Today is our dog Meeker’s birthday. I really didn’t want to get another dog after our Collie died in 2000. But right after our older daughter left for college, our younger one gave us the hard press…

Please…

No…

Please…

We are too busy and travel too much…

Please…

Who will take care of him?…

I will. Please…

No…

But then she found Zeb, a sweet little Maltese-Poodle mix named for Zebulon Pike, the brigadier general and explorer of the Western United States after whom Pikes Peak in Colorado was named. So what? Here’s the so what…

When my husband and I got engaged, we were living at the foot of Pike’s Peak. And he actually proposed to me one evening while we were walking our Collie in the mountain’s woods. And Zeb was born on our 25th wedding anniversary. With two powerful coincidences such as these, clearly this was to be our dog (even though we ended up renaming him Meeker for a different mountain that is significant to our family).

Taking personal responsibility is the primary driver of my life, as well as the very important concepts that every individual makes his/her own luck and that success is generally the result of the effort you put in. Related to this, I also strongly believe that there are no coincidences. Hard work and acting with integrity create opportunities. But I also believe there is magic in the universe…the otherworldly acts and signs that are just so coincidental they can’t be random. Meeker is an example of that.

Another example: During a phone call with a psychic, my friend was given three initials—one for a first name…one for a last name…and one for a location. No other information. But the spirit who was supposedly coming through for the psychic repeated these initials over and over during the call, “Insisting” that the psychic be sure my friend heard them loud and clear. My friend could not connect the initials to anyone she knew at the time, so it remained a mystery…until months later, when her son announced that he had a new girlfriend whose initials and hometown matched those three initials exactly…and the girlfriend had the same not-so-common middle name as my friend’s deceased mother. While you may be thinking that my friend had told her son about this reading right away or soon after he met the girl, you would be wrong. It was many months before anything was said—and long after everyone knew that this relationship was going to lead to marriage—that she told her son.

There are plenty of stories about people being late to work at the World Trade Center for one reason or another on that tragic day 9/11—late trains, long lines at the coffee shop, meetings cancelled at the last minute. Many more could have died that day but for these odd “coincidences.”

Have you experienced anything like this? Has someone called you out of the blue when you just happened to be thinking about him or her? Has the perfect apartment or home magically shown up just when you were giving up hope in the search?

As in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, in which an angel is sent to help George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) through a challenging time in his life, I believe there are spirits and angels who watch over us. Some may be deceased family members…and some we may not know…but they are out there.

How can someone as rational as I am believe in such “wacky” concepts, especially when there are so many horrible things that also happen? Two reasons…

I would much rather believe that our souls and spirits live separate from our bodies and that we have more “work” to do after our relatively brief time on earth, rather than that our bodies are just placed in a box and covered by dirt or cremated, never to exist again.

And I see the signs. They’re there, but you need to be open to them and look for them. A few examples…

My deceased father likes to play practical jokes and word games with me to let me know that he is still watching me—like the time a bracelet he had given me fell off my wrist when I was getting out of our car. I felt its tug and looked all over but couldn’t find it anywhere. I checked my clothes…the floor…the seat. Nowhere. But as I climbed back out of the car, I found it—perched perfectly in my bag that was on the floor, not anywhere near or in a direct line from where the bracelet had fallen off.

And it was no coincidence when I attended a friend’s mother’s funeral soon after my own father had died that the deceased woman’s husband was brought into the service in his wheelchair, holding his cane with his shoulders hunched—just as my dad had done after his stroke. Just as we were leaving the funeral, a car pulled in front of our car displaying a sticker from Maine prominently in the back window—the letters ME against a background of the American flag. My father’s initials were ME. He loved the declaration “I am ME”…and he loved the American flag. No more perfect image to demonstrate that he was there with us.

In these very challenging times, we need all the help that we can get. The confidence that comes from working hard and taking personal responsibility is vital at all levels. But it’s also comforting to believe that there is otherworldly support out there. The spirits won’t do it for us—but if you keep your eyes open, you can see and be comforted by the magic that surrounds us.

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.