Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here on Monday and Tuesday. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair.

"ONLY ONE THING IS MORE FRIGHTENING THAN SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH, AND THAT IS NOT SPEAKING IT." Naomi Wolf

"We are called human beings, not human doings."
Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

"The way to do is to be."
Laotzu

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs..(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
Theodore Roosevelt


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A few days off

I'm off to folkdance camp. Will be gone through Sunday, August 2. Please stop by again on Monday, August 3. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Karen

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twitterdom

It's a mystery. When I left town on July 23, I had 178 followers on Twitter. Now it's 153. Could someone please explain how and why people find you on Twitter and choose to follow, and then for no discernable reason other than there were no tweets for a few days, they stop following. And I still don't really get how reading about what other people are doing during the course of a day can be a viable marketing tool. What am I missing? It must be something, because people I respect and trust say it works.
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 27, 2009

Telling the Truth

I guess no matter how old I get or how healed I become, there will always be a small part of me that feels like she doesn't belong anywhere. At least now, I don't stay stuck in that feeling. I recognize the feeling, acknowledge its existence, and tell myself that's not the reality. But sometimes there are valid reasons for the feelings, like at the Walker Family Reunion of 2009.

My husband was born in Plainview, in the Texas Panhandle. There were seven siblings on his father's side and 20 first cousins resulting from their marriages. 18 are left and 16 of them came to Wimberley, Texas for this reunion, along with their offspring and their offspring's offspring. In all, five generations of Walkers gathered at the Homestead Cabins, the oldest 94, the youngest, five years old.

I was born in the Bronx, New York. I'm culturally Jewish. One of my husband's cousins put together a videotape featuring their grandmother, whom everyone called Nanny. She lived to be 100 years old. The interviews occurred when she was 94. All 70 of us were gathered in the meeting room, listening to Nanny talk about her daddy. Seems he'd been taken prisoner in New York. At first I thought she was talking about WWII, but soon realized she meant the Civil War. I was the only Yankee in the room and my first thought was, Nanny would have hated me.
Being the only anything (Jew, Yankee, girl, gay person, Black person, whatever) is hard. It's what makes us feel like outsiders. But think about it, aren't we all outsiders for one reason or another? Even within family units, there are Republicans, Democrats, people who root for the White Sox or the Yankees, those who like the 103degree temperature in Austin, and those who can't breathe there.

It was a lovely event, but it is equally lovely to be home, back in my routine. At least for the next two days, until we leave for folkdance camp on Wednesday. Till tomorrow,
Blessings,
Karen

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

Hi everyone,
Just got home from the family reunion in Wimberley, Texas. It was wonderful and I will write about it tomorrow. Right now I am exhausted and need to unpack and get some laundry going to get ready for folkdance camp.

Just quick note. Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett interviewed me on Wednesday and will post the interview on their womensmemoirs website Monday, 7/27. It was great fun talking with them about the process I went through to write and publish "Following the Whispers." Hope you'll take a moment to check it out. More later,

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blog Time Out

Before leaving for vacation, I will be interviewed by Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler on their website: http://www.womensmemoirs.com. Please come on over and check it out. The interview will take place 5 pm EDT, 3 pm Mountain time and 2 pm Pacific. Thanks.

I will be on vacation from Wednesday, 7/22 to Sunday, 7/26, so there will be no blog posts during that time. I will miss visiting you, but please check back with me on Monday, 7/27.
Until then, be well.
Blessings,
Karen

Telling the Truth Tuesday

I think I screwed up. Remember the relationship with a teacher that had become toxic? I tried to take the high road when I communicated with her about resigning. But it has deteriorated into an email volley of blame, accusations and judgments that are just awful, and I am partly to blame. I hate it that at the ripe old age of 60, I still fall into traps that cause me to behave in ways I don't feel particularly good about. The good news is that the relationship is now definitely over and there will be no more contact, thus no more opportunity for verbal attacks. The bad news is that I can't undue the harsh things I said in response to being what I felt was attacked.

It no longer matters who was right or who was wrong. What matters is me being able to be the loving, kind person I think I am most of the time and trying to figure out what happened that made me behave in ways I'm not proud of.

Blessings,
Karen

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was about preparation for two upcoming events in our lives. Thursday, my hubby and I will take his 88-year-old mom to Wimberley, Texas, for a Walker family reunion. There will be four aunts, all 85+ years old, and one uncle, 90+. I think something like 15 first cousins will be there as well, and all the extended families of the above - a total of 60 family members. We're staying at Homestead Cabins, on Cypress Creek. Thankfully, they are air-conditioned, since Austin's temperatures have been over 100. A golf game, tubing down a river, a water park, and a visit to Fredricksberg, are some of the planned activities.

Three days after we return from the reunion, we leave for our annual folkdance camp in Socorro, New Mexico. Folkdancing is hundreds of years old. We do the cultural dances from around the world--Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Israeli, Swedish, etc. It is where Gary and I met. There are folkdance communities in most cities and ours is a very special one.

At the camp, we bring two teachers from different countries to teach. This year it will be Israeli and Romanian. There are two workshops in the morning, and two in the afternoon. Then a dance party from 8 to 11 pm. We stay in college dorms on the NM Tech campus and eat in the cafeteria. After the parties, some of us gather in the lounge, bring out the guitars, and sing till 1 or 2 in the morning. At home, I'm in bed by 10 pm, but at camp, I want to grab every minute of joy with my wonderful friends.

Blogger is not publishing pre-written posts correctly, so my posts may be sporadic during the next two weeks, but I'll try to keep up. I'm writing this on Sunday, but posting it for Monday.

Blessings, dear blog friends,
Karen

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing Progress

I love beginnings. With an idea, a preliminary outline, and my imagination and creativity, the whole universe is available to make it happen. I've started my book on aging and am so excited. Two interviews are completed and I can already sense that working on this project will be an honor and a privilege.

In a previous blog, I said I was beginning three new projects, but alas, I find I truly only have energy for one at a time. This worries me, because I am 60. I was such a late-comer to writing. But I want to do the best I can on each piece and to do that, each one must get my full attention. So there it is. My mother used to tell me my eyes were bigger than my stomach when I couldn't finish everything on my plate. Not sure why that came to mind, but it seems appropos.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My very first award

Helen Ginger was kind enough to honor me with a Humane Award--my first ever award. Here is what it means:

The Humane Award is to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a regular basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.

I am now passing the Human award to:
http://galenkindley.com/
http://myownvelvetroom.blogspot.com/
http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/


Blessings,

Karen

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hump Day

Hi all,
Please take a moment and check out my guest blog at Women's Memoirs. Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler are two dynamic women doing a tremendous amount to help women writers.
http://womensmemoirs.com/2009/07/following-the-whispers-memoirist-karen-walker-guest-blogs-on-womens-memoirs/
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday

Telling the Truth Tuesday is a new feature on this blog. We all tell little white lies, to ourselves as well as to others. Sometimes it is to avoid hurting other peoples' feelings. Sometimes it is to make others think better of us. Whatever the reasons, I now realize that I at least need to tell the truth to myself.

As many of you know, I have been struggling to find balance--balance between writing, marketing, being a wife, a friend, a daughter-in-law, one who exercises, does physical therapy for her arm, etc. etc. I finally found a routine that works--if I get up at 6:30 am, I can do everything except writing by 8 or 8:30 am. That is if my husband doesn't lock me out of the house. This morning, he joined me for a few minutes as I walked in the park behind our house. He had to get to work, so he took the dog in with him. When I finished my walk, I went into our backyard and found the door locked.

Now here's my truth for the day. I have two selves--a higher self and a human self. My higher self knew he didn't do it on purpose. It was just force of habit. My human self wanted to strangle him. Really. I lost a precious hour. I had to ask a handyman to borrow his cell phone so I could call the husband at work. He had ridden his bike, so it took awhile for him to get to work, ride back home and let me in. I tried telling myself there was nothing I could do about it, so just relax. Did that work? Nope.

The funny thing about this whole episode is that while I was walking, the sliding door leading to our back door flashed into my mind locked, but I didn't pay attention. Does this mean I'm psychic? Or psycho? Anyway, that's why this blog is later than usual.

Blessings,
Karen

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

I have decided to use Monday posts to do a weekend wrap-up. We'll see how it goes.
My weekend began with a Friday night dinner and Mah jong game. What I love about mah jong is that it stimulates and challenges my 60-year-old brain. Plus, we laugh a lot, which releases endorphins and serotonin. Not bad!

Saturday morning I hung out at the New Mexico Book Coop's booth at the Lavendar Festival. Won't do that again. Quite depressing to see folks pick up other books to purchase, but not mine. I have decided these kinds of venues are not appropriate for memoir (especially one that is written by an unknown). Felt better after dancing Saturday night, though. Loving friend always help.

Sunday we had lunch with my mother-in-law and our other 89-year-old friend. It is so interesting to see the differences between the two of them. They are the same age, but Mom is quite fragile and needs a lot of help and Mary Alice is still driving, cooking, shopping, cleaning, volunteering, and travelling. Is it genes? This is one of the things I'll explore in my new book on aging. The day ended with grocery shopping. Now I get to relax for the rest of Sunday. Going to curl up with a good novel.

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 10, 2009

Writing from the Heart

Today was a near perfect work day. Got up. Meditated. Went for a walk at 7:30 (before it gets too hot). As I walked on the gravel path that winds through the small park behind our house, a robin joined me. As I watched, he scampered across the path . Moments later, he strutted back across with a worm in his mouth. He seemed so proud of himself.

Back inside, I proceeded to do my physical therapy exercises to rehab my shoulder. Loathesome activity, but must be done. Ate breakfast, then got to work. For two hours I did the internet stuff. Broke for singing practice. Ate lunch. Then spent the next four glorious hours working on a presentation I'll be giving at a metaphysical bookstore in September.

The talk is on tuning in to intuition...a practical approach and I'm pulling information from the hundreds of books lining my bookshelves, as well as my own story. The thing I love most about writing is having an idea I want to express and manipulating the words so that the person hearing them receives the message in a good way.

The only reason I stopped working is because my brain was fried from pouring through books for juicy excerpts that reflect my subject matter. I'd just finished for the day when my son called with a dilemma he wanted to brainstorm about. I had wonderful ideas right at my fingertips from the work I'd just completed.

What is it you love about the work you do, whether it's writing or something else?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Emotions are the colors of the soul..."

"Emotions are the colors of the soul...they are neither good nor bad; they just exist. Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception--what you think about a given situation. If your perception is false, your emotional response will be false...Check your perceptions and beyond that, check the truthfulness of your paradigms--what you believe."

The above quote comes from a book I am reading called, "The Shack," by Wm. Paul Young. It really resonated with me. Isn't it funny how something you've thought about many times and heard expressed in different ways, can suddenly hit home like a lightning bolt. I had this kind of paradigm shift at my recent writing retreat. My emotions are signals that I need to pay attention. Once I zoom in on the situation, I need to examine my perceptions about it. Only then can I assess whether my beliefs are accurate. What I believe may be based on false assumptions, lies I'm telling myself or that I've been told, or denial.

Truth has an unmistakable feel to it. It is unclouded; the energy feels clean. One can only come to truth after clearing the cobwebs of emotion away. I am learning more every day that a decision I made to end a friendship was the right one, even though I am still grieving. I did not pay attention to the signals my body, mind and spirit were sending me and damage was done to my psyche as a result.

It is astounding to me that, despite writing a book about listening for the whispers, I still have times when I don't pay attention. Luckily, those times are getting shorter and shorter.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Internet Marketing Musings

I must say I had severe misgivings when I was told I needed to learn to market my book on the internet. It has taken me months to understand and learn the various social networking sites, take a book blog class, learn to search for compatible websites and create an effective blog. I am still working on all of these things.

Today, however, seeds planted several months ago bore some fruit. A website posted a guest blog I wrote: http://healmyptsd.com/2009/07/survivors-speak-the-importance-of-paying-attention.html. Then I received an email from the Catharsis Foundation in Calgary, asking permission to list "Following the Whispers" as a resource for their website visitors, who are survivors of childhood abuse.

Slowly but surely, I am getting the hang of all this new technology. It feels wonderful to know that the pain I endured growing up and the journey I took towards healing myself is somehow making a difference in peoples' lives today. Writing our life stories is so powerful.

Speaking of memoir, Alexis Grant is hosting a chat for writers on Twitter tomorrow night, July 8 at 8 pm EST, #memoirchat is the hashtag. Check it out.

Blessings,
Karen

Check out this guest post

Hi all,
Please check out this guest post. A perfect example of being patient. The first contact with this website must have been four months ago.
blessings,
karen

http://healmyptsd.com/2009/07/survivors-speak-the-importance-of-paying-attention.html

Monday, July 6, 2009

13-hour day

I worked a 13-hour day today and I'm retired! Well, not really. I'm a writer, but I tell myself I'm retired in order to feel okay about not making much money at writing. It kinda works for me.
I'm getting so good at juggling, bunching errands, organizing myself (well, I was always a whiz at organizing), managing projects and time. I just have to figure out how to have enough energy. I'm 60, not 20 something anymore. I get tired quicker.

But oh, how exhilirating it is to be creating a life that includes so many things I love: writing, singing, dancing, time with hubby, time with family, and time with friends. Plus travel. Am I lucky or what?

That's all for now.
Blessings,
Karen

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Settling into a groove

I think I have finally settled into a comfortable groove as a writer. For a long time after I completed my memoir and it was in production to be published, I simply couldn't find the energy or the focus to begin new projects. Even after the book launched in February, 2009, my energy went to learning how to market it.

I've missed writing so much. It is one of the major ways my soul gets fed. Since I've come back from the writing retreat, my intention has been to strike a balance between marketing "Following the Whispers," and new writing. It's finally happening.

Balancing is not easy when one has many priorities. I don't have a clue how those of you who are still raising children manage to do that and write. I have an aging parent, a husband, friends, a singing group, folkdancing, exercise, and physical therapy to fit into a week. Plus I don't work well when every minute of every day is scheduled. I'm learning that sometimes I have to give up something I really want to do in order to make room for something else that is taking priority in that particular moment. And that's okay. I'm also learning to say no. Did you know that "no" is a complete sentence?

Oh, I forgot blogging in the above list. And visiting other blogs, which I thoroughly enjoy. Maybe I have to start getting up earlier. We'll see.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My First Workshop

My marketing plan for "Following the Whispers" took a giant leap forward today. A metaphysical bookstore here in Albuquerque, Blue Eagle, agreed to have me do a two-hour workshop on 9/19. It will be on Intuition/Spirit Messages/Inner Wisdom: How to tune in and listen. I'm totally jazzed! Except when I think about the work to get ready: Write a blurb for the flyer; create a flyer; make copies and distribute; write and distribute a press release; make a poster for the store window; get postcards or bookmarks made for handouts; write the darn presentation; write article based on presentation; market the article--whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

But this feels organic to me--finding topics that are found within my book and talking about them. I also did my first interview for the book on aging that is my WIP. It will be such an honor to talk with older folks about lessons learned on the way to old age. I am overflowing with joy for how my life is going in this moment.

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keeping the retreat experience going

Re-entry after a retreat is discombobulating. While on retreat, the everyday world of television, radio, cell phones, and internet disappears, leaving room for nature and creativity, soul-searching, journalling, and connecting with deeper parts of myself.

When my husband is home, the television is always on. During the day, while he is at work, the house is quiet, but the phone is not. The internet beckons and there are many demands on my time. The energy which surged through me at Twin Rocks is still there, but it is quieter. I know all I need do is make the time and space available, and The Muse will once more whisper guidance.

Only I can control how I use my time. Maybe I am being overly ambitious. But I don't want to let go of any of the writing projects, putting two on hold while I work on one. It remains to be seen whether this goal is attainable.

Tomorrow I begin interviews for the aging book and talk with a spiritual bookstore about doing a workshop as a marketing venue for "Following the Whispers." That's balance of marketing and writing. Hope my energy holds up.

By the way, blogger is not publishing pre-prepared posts. Bummer!

Blessings,
Karen

Meeting the Muse Part II


Thanks to everyone who visited my blog while I was on retreat. Today is the first day since coming home that I am able to sit down, focus, and write. The retreat was a much-needed opportunity to re-group and re-energize.

After seeing old friends and getting acquainted with the new aspects of Portland, my sister of the heart, Clara, and I went to Twin Rocks, Oregon, a tiny beach community about 15 miles north of Tillamook. It is a less populated part of the Oregon coast than Lincoln City or Cannon Beach. Our beach rental was a small, two-bedroom cottage with fabulous views of the ocean and the aptly named twin rocks.

I had some emotional and psychological stuff that had accumulated during my recovery from shoulder surgery as well as the grieving process associated with letting go of a three-year teacher/student relationship which had been a huge part of my life, so the first few hours of the retreat were spent releasing that negative energy. Ritual and prayer are important parts of my spiritual life and, in the moment, I created a brief ritual to let go. I was unprepared for the whoosh of energy that surged through me as the negative energy left and I was flooded with a powerful feeling, similar to what I experienced at my book launch. There, it was as if I stepped into the person I was trying to become all these years. At the beach, that expanded even further.

From that elevated sense of Spirit within, I invited my Muse into my life. Some things must be kept private, but I will say it was a profoundly moving experience. I then worked with Mark David Gerson's book, "Voice of the Muse," doing the meditations and writing exercises. I highly recommend this writing guide--it is as if a very gentle, loving writing coach is whispering in your ear.

Over the coarse of the next few days, I noticed subtle changes in my way of being in the world. I'd reached a point where I could ask for what I want, but it had never been comfortable or easy for me to do so. That changed. Another example is when I saw two friends talking in a corner of the room, I no longer felt left out or jealous. Or if I did think a negative thought or feel "less than," I noticed it immediately and was able to shift the energy. For me, these are life-changing shifts.
As for the writing, I have three new projects I will begin working on this week: 1) a novel that has been in the back of my mind for 20 years; 2) a book on ceremony and ritual; and 3) the boomer aging book I've mentioned before.

I have a clear idea of how to move forward with each of these books now. Balancing this new writing with the continued marketing of the memoir, "Following the Whispers," will be my biggest challenge.

One major result of the retreat is a decision to change my morning routine. First prayer/meditation, then writing, then exercise, then internet work. My priorities were upside down.

Blessings,
Karen


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