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'Mom's a Medium' star Carmel Baird: 'I did not want to be a medium'

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"Mom's a Medium" star Carmel Baird, centre, and her big family including her six kids and grandkids, are pictured in this handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO-Corus Entertainment Inc.

TORONTO - Psychic medium Carmel Baird says she's really no different from any other working mom.

The Edmonton mother lives on a ranch full of kids and grandkids, a menagerie of dogs, horses and chickens, and her hunting enthusiast husband Dave. Oh, and she delivers messages from the spirit world.

"I think we're just a normal, average family, but I happen to talk to dead people. That seems really odd, but it's true," Baird says with a laugh.

Her unique connection to the afterlife is the focus of a new reality series, "Mom's a Medium." Premiering on CMT Canada on Friday, the show follows Baird as she communicates with the beyond and brings grieving families closure — all while juggling a busy family life of her own.

Baird says she has suffered from severe anxiety her entire life, which sometimes forced her to remain housebound for days. About five years ago, she realized that the cause of her panic was being inundated by voices of the dead.

"I did not want to be a medium. I did not sign up for this and say, 'I want to be a medium.' It was not ever what I thought I would be doing with my life," she says.

"But I was suffering with panic and anxiety, and if I give the messages to people, and I use this ability, my panic and anxiety is less. I don't have to medicate. I don't have to do any of those things. So I think there has to be a reason why I have this."

The messages she says she receives are not always voices, but can be thoughts or visions. For example, she describes one reading in which a little girl's spirit pointed to a frying pan and mimed making smiley-face pancakes — a weekend tradition in that family's home.

One episode of "Mom's a Medium" includes a private reading with country singer Chad Brownlee, who is overcome with emotion after he receives a message from a loved one. Baird says the moment, involving the spirit of a young boy, is one of her favourites in the series.

She says she knows skeptics will doubt her abilities or even her sanity — her own husband thought she was "nuts" at first. Asked whether she is simply exploiting people who are grieving and desperate to hear from their loved ones, Baird says no.

"Here's what I think exploiting is. If I were to walk up to someone who didn't ask me for a reading and just started dumping it on them, that's wrong. You would never, ever see me do it on the show," she says.

"But if someone's willing to come to me and say, 'Can you connect? Can you give me something?' Then I'm going to give you everything I can."

During the recent interview in Toronto, Baird delivered messages to a Canadian Press reporter from deceased family members that were at times eerily significant and, at other times, completely inexplicable. In all, about two-thirds of her suggestions hit the mark.

The psychic reading relied on a lot of give-and-take — for example, Baird would say that she was hearing a name that starts with an "M," or that she felt "distance" between two people, and it was up to the reporter to fill in the gaps. Still, she managed to piece together a significant family event.

Baird, who has expressive hazel eyes and a gentle voice, says she feels she brings closure to both spirits and to people in mourning. She adds she believes that everyone has the ability to speak to spirits but that our egos have suppressed that skill.

"I believe we all have this. I think we are all privileged to communicate with the other side," she says.

"I think we all have intuition. The same voice when you're driving the road that says, 'Go home, you left the stove on,' that's the same voice that tells me 'Uncle Harry's here.' I teach people that."

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