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About The Book

For fans of TLC’s Long Island Medium and anyone interested in the big questions of life, death, and everything in between, New York Times bestselling author and medium Theresa Caputo shares the insights and lessons she’s learned through her exceptional gift of communicating with the dead.

In her first book, There’s More to Life Than This, Theresa shared how she discovered her gift and her many encounters with Spirit. Now, in You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, an instant New York Times bestseller, Theresa imparts the life-changing wisdom she’s received from Spirit and client readings.

Each chapter incorporates a powerful lesson that is made real by Theresa’s witty and wise insights. She shares moving client stories and fascinating behind-the-scenes tales from her life and hit reality show to help people find peace and closure and better understand the spiritual world. With lessons revolving around themes such as choice, faith, fear, gratitude, healing, surrender, relationships, compassion, and living each day to the fullest, the book also explores spiritual concepts like angels, heaven, signs, miracles, intuition, dreams, and God.

These compelling and healing messages will help guide you toward a happier life by focusing your attention on what really matters to the soul.


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up 1 Your Lessons Matter
Hey you, with the TV on in the background and the dog barking his freakin’ head off: Are you paying attention here? Seriously—turn down the noise, get comfortable, and make yourself something to eat. While you’re at it, make me a snack too. Sorry if I sound pushy, but I’m just excited to share the awesome lessons I’ve learned from Spirit that will help you embrace the life you’re meant to live, and I want to make sure you’re listening to what I’m about to say.

OK? You good now? Let’s do this.

I’m a medium, but my job is about so much more than talking to dead people. I deliver healing messages from Spirit that can be life- and soul-changing experiences. I talk a lot about how Spirit’s messages validate that they’re loving, supporting, and guiding you from the Other Side, which I believe is Heaven. But what I don’t always say is that these messages often contain essential lessons that can make your happiness grow and your soul thrive. Whether Spirit presents the messages in a direct, subtle, or hysterical way, their words usually double as teachable moments for the person who’s getting the reading, friends who hear about it later, and anyone else that’s watching or listening in.

Spirit’s told me that your soul chooses to live in the physical world many times to learn various lessons. These lessons help you to have a positive outlook and be of service to others. I also believe that you have an overarching lesson to learn in each lifetime, with smaller teachings folded into that journey. All your lessons tend to revolve around topics that make you a joyful and healthy person, including love, blame, faith, acceptance, sacrifice, forgiveness . . . that kind of thing. Given the powerful influence that these themes can have in your life here, it’s no wonder Spirit makes me circle them over and over. And since I’m the only one who goes to all my readings, hello, I feel it’s important to share Spirit’s most compelling lessons with you. This way you don’t miss out!

I think every person is searching for happiness, answers, and for things to make sense in life—basically, we’re trying to learn the lessons. We look for sources of laughter, guidance, and unconditional love. We wrestle with fear, blame, regret, and oh my gosh, the guilt. We struggle with faith and gratitude, especially when signs and miracles don’t seem to happen as often as we’d like. We look for a reason behind it all, and peace, no matter what we find, because these are the significant and revealing tasks we’re meant to complete.
Why Bother to Learn Lessons?
I’m all for enjoying life to the fullest, so I don’t want you to go through your day like you have one foot in the grave. But to understand why you should care about Spirit’s lessons, both now and in the afterlife, you do need to recognize the role they play when you die and go to the Other Side.

Spirit tells me that when you pass, your soul peacefully leaves your body, and you’re greeted by the souls of family and friends who died before you. You move toward a brilliant light I call God, but as I said earlier, if you want to call Him by another name like Higher Power, Yahweh, or Allah, go right ahead—God doesn’t mind. On earth, you are a piece of God’s energy, but in Heaven, your soul is one with His. You have a primary guide who’s helped you throughout your life (some feel this is the same as a guardian angel) and who is there to greet you on the Other Side. With this main guide, your soul then reviews and evaluates the journey you had here, and you get to see how your actions affected others. While in a soul state, you experience what you made them feel, physically and emotionally, and how it related to your purpose in that lifetime.

During this life review, you’re reminded that your soul chose its body, family, path, and purpose, and that learning lessons is why you went to the physical world in the first place. Basically, you learn lessons that enrich and mature your soul, with the ultimate goal of aligning with God’s ways. But you also go for others, since your choices have a ripple affect; your journey impacts their happiness too, and a lot of what happens to you is part of a lesson for them. Another way you learn lessons is through people and events that force you to use the traits you’re meant to acquire here. Marrying a sick spouse, for instance, might help you learn compassion, or choosing a handicapped body could teach you perseverance. Your lessons and purpose could also relate to advancing society somehow, like through humanitarian, artistic, scientific, or spiritual efforts. No matter what, we all come to the physical world to learn to be better people and souls.

On earth, you learn lessons faster than in Heaven, since life’s obstacles and setbacks help you grow faster and more fully. Before your most recent journey began, your primary guide reviewed certain details of what it would be like; the basic outline came from God. You knew what some of your tests and experiences would be and maybe even prepared for them. You also discussed your purpose with your guide. Sometimes Spirit will reveal, during a reading, what a soul’s purpose was if it will comfort the living. This might happen with an organ donor or an infant whose destiny was to pass from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (this is when a twin dies in utero, but its mom carries it to term so the living child can take in enough nutrients to survive). Once you’re here, though, most people learn about their purpose through soul-searching. Finally realizing your purpose feels like one heck of a prize too. It’ll make you happier than finding a plastic whistle in a Cracker Jack box!

Spirit’s shown me that when you enter Heaven, you do this at a certain level, or point of spiritual growth, and that your life assessment is based on this level’s criteria. A level is like a grade in school—the lower the level, the more lessons the soul has to learn. When your soul grows, it moves to new levels, and you have to finish one before moving higher or deeper into the next.

Levels are related to your soul’s energy frequency, since this rises as you grow. Among other purposes, your frequency, also called a vibration, influences how well your soul communicates with the living after you die. Higher-level souls are better able to send more regular and harder-to-execute signs, like moving objects and futzing with electricity. They can also communicate more clearly with a medium. As for Hell, I’m not sure there is one, but I’m told that the souls of people who have learned few lessons and/or did serious harm in the physical world—think murder, abuse, deliberate evil—enter the Other Side at very low levels. They can become negative forces. I don’t need to know where or how this energy source exists. I want nothing to do with negative energy of any kind.

When it’s time to learn new lessons, your soul can do it in Heaven or reincarnate in a new body, with new experiences, in another lifetime. In every go-round, you have free will to make choices related to your lessons; you can choose one path or another, but they will all have the same general purpose and destiny. Throughout it all, God, guides, angels, souls of faith, and loved ones protect, direct, send messages, and intervene. They put people and situations in your path that prompt you to make decisions affecting future growth. Eventually you die, and it starts all over again.

If you can’t be bothered to think about the afterlife while you’re still kickin’, it wouldn’t kill you to learn lessons anyway. They’re a huge part of what characterizes your soul, which is the core of who you are and aspire to be. No matter what your objective, making choices that satisfy your soul feels good.
Are You My Lesson?
Though some lessons might smack you in the face, be on the lookout for less obvious ones. I think most people assume that all lessons happen during major moments, like a heartbreaking death or beautiful soul mate reunion, because you feel their impact long after they happen. Certainly, losing a parent or gaining a best friend changes your life in an instant. But Spirit also tells me that we learn lessons in small, everyday interactions too. If you feel the urge to buy a stranger a cookie, say, or hold the door for a father lugging groceries, a diaper bag, and a car seat, everyone’s day and souls benefit from that kindness.

On a more frustrating and stupid note, you know that jerk who took your seat on the bus? He could be a lesson in patience. How about your money-mooching brother? Generosity. Or your husband’s friends who got pizza sauce on your couch during Sunday Night Football? Probably sacrifice. So the next time you’re at Thanksgiving dinner, and your sister-in-law leaves you out of family photos, don’t try to control, overanalyze, fight against it, or go cryin’ in the bathroom, “Why is this happening to me, of all people?” Look for the lesson instead. Let the situation unfold, and find the reason. It helps you deal, and here’s why: When the reason, and not the problem, becomes your focus, you don’t think about how sad, pissed-off, or doomed you are. You can accept the outcome, then concentrate on how to move past it. Your life is your responsibility—your soul chose it long ago. If you want a positive and fulfilling journey, don’t let people hold you back. And don’t forget, Spirit is ready to intervene when you ask.

When I accepted my gift, God told me in so many words that He wants our lives to be as rewarding and connected to each other as possible—but listen, this can’t happen if you don’t participate in your own happiness. Even when there’s a tragedy, you can’t let life happen to you when it’s time to pick up the pieces. God gave you a beautiful, complex world in which to become a better, stronger, and happier you. And while painful situations can feel forced upon you, how you cope and work through them is a choice and, yup, usually a lesson.

So you know that saying “Everything happens for a reason”? Spirit’s proven to me that it’s not just for motivational posters and crocheted pillows! It’s actually part of your soul’s lessons and path. During readings, your loved ones’ souls have told me that there’s an order to why things occur the way they do, like when one person survives a car accident but another passenger dies, or when a child sees her deceased sister’s spirit but other people can’t. The literal answer to why these freaky examples happen is related to destiny and intuition. But if I dig deeper with Spirit, it might turn out that an accident victim’s death inspired his family to work toward enacting tougher drunk driving laws, and the girl who saw Spirit comforted her grieving family with her stories. Talk about worthwhile reasons, not to mention great examples of how our souls learn and teach lessons to others!
I’m Like a Spirit CNN—All Lessons, All the Time
Spirit uses my abilities and platform in their lesson plans too, whether it’s to help you find closure, fill in the blanks about a death, or even save a life. During a live show in Montreal, I read a woman whose son’s best friend died in an off-roading accident. The son was carrying such heavy survivor’s guilt that the soul actually asked me to call his friend on the mom’s cell phone during the reading! So with three thousand eavesdroppers in the theater, we put the young man on speakerphone. The soul told me that his friend “can’t be with his soul right now”—which is what Spirit says when a person is considering suicide. A hush fell over the room, and no exaggeration, you could have heard a freakin’ pin drop as we waited for his response.

The boy on the phone told me that he understood what Spirit meant and that he wouldn’t take his life. Mom was beside herself with gratitude, and as I walked away, I couldn’t ignore the crowd’s murmurs. “Oh my God,” said one lady, “she saved that boy’s life.” But you have to understand, it wasn’t me who rescued anyone—it was Spirit. That soul used me as a messenger to remind this young man, who had his whole life ahead of him, that he needs to live the way God intended, according to the path that his soul chose. Suicide was not a solution to his grief. What struck me is that his lesson didn’t only affect this one family; I sensed that Spirit reached other audience members who felt similarly desperate.

When it comes to teaching you lessons, your loved ones are eager to help. If your mother made a big deal over you when she was alive, do you really think she stops caring when she dies? If you’ve got work to do, her soul will continue to meddle and help your soul graduate to the appropriate level. A major reason for this is because your mom’s soul is in what I call your “soul circle.” Spirit says people in your world relive most lives with you, as relatives and friends, though your relationships to them change based on your lessons and purposes. Every person has a different role in each life, and those lives together create your soul’s total experience on earth. You also don’t play the same part in every life—your fiancé may have been a friend once, or your nephew might have been your mom!

Since they’re in your soul circle, your loved ones feel invested in your growth, especially if they share your level. They root for you, since they know that the more you learn here, the less you need to do in Heaven. They have positive intentions, since they don’t experience negativity that can cloud them. Helping you out also helps their souls grow. But more than anything, they lend a hand because they never stop loving you. Your bond literally lasts forever.

I’ve noticed that whatever soul’s opinion matters the most to you, relative to what you’re being taught, that’s the soul that delivers your messages and lessons through me. A funny cousin might beat out a holy saint if you look up to Cousin Bob more! As long as you can place the messages in your life, that’s all I care about. When I was ordering a char dog at the Weiner’s Circle in Chicago, a famous hot-dog stand, a customer’s dead mom’s soul asked me to school her daughter about faith. I got the woman’s attention by using the soul’s you-listen-here voice, and though she didn’t know me from a can of paint, she sure took note. “If my mama says go back to church,” she said, “I’m goin’ back to church!” Just like that, this woman’s mama brought her closer to God. Lesson learned.

You know what I like to do when I get a rare moment to myself? Think about all the people in my life and what lessons we might be teaching each other. Try it sometime; it’s a fun exercise! Like my mom and dad have shown me selflessness, since they both do a lot of volunteer work in our community. I’ve also learned a ton from my husband, Larry, who’s made personal sacrifices so that I can use my gift to help people. I think he’s gotten smarter from my abilities as well, because when he watches a live show or reading, he asks a million questions after! I know for a fact that our lessons and souls are deeply intertwined. That poor guy is stuck with me for eternity!
A Lesson for You, a Lesson for Me
When I read big groups, Spirit might work together to give the same message to a lot of people, which I call “piggybacking.” When this happens, I ask that if you can relate to a message for someone else, accept it as also being from your loved ones. Souls that piggyback may not have been connected on earth, but they link up with “like-minded” souls when preparing for a group reading.

I mention this because Spirit has actually piggybacked during shows to teach me lessons too. For example, when my daughter, Victoria, got a tattoo, I didn’t like that it was on her forearm—it’s so visible! So when I saw it, I yelled at her and told her how disappointed I felt. I was pretty harsh, especially since Victoria got it when she was stressed out about living on her own, starting a new semester at college, and dealing with guys and nasty girls. Yet over the next few days, Spirit led me to channel an insane number of kids that couldn’t deal with their own pressures, which led to depression, which led to using substances that helped them relax, which led to death. Boom, just like that, I took this as a nudge from Spirit that Victoria’s getting a tattoo was a frigging gift. It was also a lesson about perspective and losing my temper—two recurring themes in my life, if you haven’t guessed.

I felt awful about coming down so hard on V, but I try to look at mistakes as lessons learned. Handling a situation poorly helps me make better choices next time. No bad experience is wasted, and you can’t change the past. I feel every aspect of life is necessary, especially when you screw up or fall apart, because you get smarter and become more aware. And if you repeat the same error a few times? Eh, I think of it like training for a fitness goal. Ten screw-ups are like doing ten burpees in the hard-core workout of Life—they whip you into shape. It also reminds me of when Larry and I raced up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. The incline was steep, I almost tripped, and my bunions hurt from wearing six-inch heels the night before. But the climb led to a worthwhile purpose—kicking Larry’s butt!

You rarely know the big or small lessons you’re learning when you’re in the middle of them; you usually see them after the fact. I say better late than never. Some people spend their entire lives miserable and never realize those feelings were necessary in order for them to grow. I know it was easy for me to lose sight of God’s purpose when I suffered from anxiety. Even after I realized that in a roundabout way, my scary condition could bring others peace—how’s that for irony?—it took me five stubborn years to embrace my gift. But once I accepted that it was part of a bigger plan, I let myself learn all I could. This made me feel empowered, which helped me see that my past wasn’t a waste. Instead of remembering this period as the twenty-five years that nearly ruined my life, I saw it as God’s long-term investment in redirecting my path.

I used to get upset wondering how much better off I’d be if anxiety didn’t “hold me back,” but my take on that period of time has changed. Listen, I might not have met Larry at work or had kids young if I’d had a career in Manhattan, or been surrounded by friends and family when I accepted my gift, if I’d felt safe and secure moving away from them. Things worked out as they were supposed to as soon as I looked for healing and guidance, found it, and then ran with it. I welcomed my path and stayed open to my lessons, and I’ve been blessed ever since. In a lot of ways, anxiety’s been one hell of a teacher.
Lessons + Purpose = A Chunky Scarf?
Life reminds me of one of those fancy knitting projects on Pinterest—your learned lessons and life events create intricate patterns, and the recurring stitch is your purpose. Whether you volunteer, make people laugh, or start political movements, you’re meant to make a difference in some way. I realize that it’s easy for me to say that Spirit wants us to live with intent, since they’re in my ear all day, talking about how much there is to know. But hey, I’m not letting their words go unnoticed. You’ve got me, and I’ve got a big mouth! These lips have a purpose!

A lot like your lessons, your purpose doesn’t have to be prestigious or put you in the spotlight. Who cares if you never become a celebrated novelist, brain surgeon, or the next Kardashian? Your purpose could mean a lot on a smaller scale. It might be about prioritizing family, improving your community, or caring for animals. There are a lot of cats out there that need foster homes!

So here’s a question about lessons and purposes that comes up a lot these days: If your soul knows its purpose in Heaven, and you die in a public catastrophe, was that “fated” too? A lot of mediums believe that in the case of life-changing tragedies like 9/11, a devastating tsunami, or even a mass shooting, the deceased souls chose this specific type of death before coming to earth as part of their purpose. But Spirit’s never told me this happens so expressly. I don’t feel souls volunteer to become part of specific events, since stuff like terrorism, war, and gun violence occur because of free will (you could argue that the 2004 Thailand tsunami did too, thanks to global warming). What Spirit does tell me happens is that with, say, 9/11’s first responders’ souls, they knew they’d pass doing a civic duty, or with soldiers, that they’d die serving their country—all during a block of time called their “destiny.” So when Spirit makes a cameo in well-known disasters, all their souls knew was that they’d (1) die within an allotted window while (2) pursuing lessons that impacted their soul growth and others on (3) their soul’s generally charted path from God.

When you learn lessons, you don’t suddenly get richer, become mayor, or turn into a Positive Polly. You gain something much harder to earn and more valuable—wisdom. Learning lessons isn’t about being perfect, it’s about recognizing that your time here unfolds the way it’s meant to, as you make choices that fulfill you. This reminds me of a woman I read in Atlantic City, whose son suddenly died and donated almost all of his organs. As a result, his wife had his body cremated and kept his ashes. Too bad the guy’s mom wanted to spread them in Aruba. Needless to say, Mom was still furious about this when I read her at my live show, so her son’s soul had me insist, “I need you to love my family and children more than the anger you have for not spreading my cremains.” Do you know, the lady still wouldn’t let go of her frustration? I can only hope that Spirit somehow revisits this topic with her so she can heal, since I sensed that it’s keeping her from feeling peace, finding happiness, and gaining useful wisdom. For now, it is what it is.

As you make your way through this book, consider the lessons Spirit’s shared with me and place them in your life in a way that makes sense to you. Will I leave lessons out? Of course! I’m not God, and I’m not you. You’re here to learn your own lessons, and not even a medium with very impressive nails can point you to what exactly your lessons are. You need to figure them out, but I’m happy to help where I can. Now pass me that snack already.

About The Author

Photograph © Sherwood-Triart Photography

Theresa Caputo was born and raised on Long Island and lives there with her husband and two children. She is the star of Long Island Medium, which airs on TLC. After suffering anxiety for most of her life, Theresa met with a spiritual adviser who helped her realize her ability to communicate with Spirit. Theresa has been a practicing medium for more than ten years and is a certified medium with the Forever Family Foundation. Her first two books, There’s More to Life Than This and You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, became instant New York Times bestsellers. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The View, The Dr. Oz Show, and Ellen and has helped countless people heal and find the closure to embrace life without their loved ones. For more, please visit

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (September 30, 2014)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476764450

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