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


Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 2 - Edinburgh

This morning we got a late start. We slept over 12 hours and didn't wake up till 9 am. Boy, we needed it. After breakfast, we walked down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Castle, home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Liked it much more than Edinburgh Castle, which was dark and dank, Elizabeth. Didn't encounter any nasty ghosts, Elspeth, but the history is fabulous.

We attempted to climb to Arthur's Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh (831 feet up), but these old legs didn't like that. We still got up pretty high, and the view was so worth it. The park is 640 miles and has been a park for over 4 centuries. There is a tribute to James Hutton, considered to be the father of geology.

After a lovely lunch at the Cafe at the Castle, we took the city bus tour, enabling us to see the various parts of the city. Along the Royal Mile, there is a Writer's Museum, with artifacts and ino on Robert Burns, Ropbert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott. A 200 foot monument to Scott soars above the city.

Stevensen said, "To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Love that quote. He also said, "When I suffer in mind, stories are my refuge. I take them like opium." He also said one who writes them is a doctor of the mind. Don't you just love those quotes?

Since this is going to post on :Telling the Truth Tuesday, I'll say this. I am very blessed. Sending you all the wonderful writing energy that I sensed here in this town.

Tomorrow our guide arrives and we are off to Stirling, Inverness (land of the Loch Ness monster) and the Isle of Skye.

Blessings,
Karen

Day One - Scotland

Edinburgh is one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined with gothic architecture and I'm in heaven. Our hotel is in the middle of what is called the Royal Mile. At one end is Edinburgh Castle, built on Castle Rock, a fortress. At the other end is Holyrood Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots, lived. Such history. We only had energy to go thru Edinburgh Castle today, since we didn't sleep on the plane much at all. It's so odd that the exhibit of the Crown Jewels ends in 1561, when England conquered Scotland.

There is a Writer's Museum, which we'll check out tomorrow, a Witchery, a network of underground streets and alleyways from when Edinburgh was devasted by the Plague, and Prince Street, the shopping district. Today we ate lunch at Deacon Brovie's Tavern. Deacon Brovie was said to be the figure who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.

I wanted to thank Gene for his thoughtful guest post yesterday. Hope you had a chance to take a look at it.

Blessings from Scotland,
Karen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Stories and Truth

Our Stories and Truth
By Gene Bodzin

We tried to get our telephone moved over to a new company on September 1, but the new company wouldn’t hook up our voice mail or let us dial long distance. We called them every day last week to see what the trouble was. This morning, after a holiday weekend, they finally called to tell us that our troubles were over.

I don’t think anybody at the phone company really believed that getting our phone hooked up was the end of our troubles. Nobody there would have thought they were exaggerating, and we didn’t treat their message as comfort from a cosmic voice, but they chose to translate “We claim to have repaired the problem you have had for the past week” as “Your troubles are over.”

Our lives are full of lies and half-truths, and we don’t think about most of them. Our lives are full of stories as well, about our family, our country, our religion. We go through life listening to stories and making up stories—and we don’t always think about how true they are.

The importance of a story cannot always be related to whether it is true or not. People who believe in the truth of the Bible are unlikely to lose their faith in revelation when they hear that the story of Noah’s flood was told in the Epic of Gilgamesh long before Sinai, and they will not stop believing in a God who created the earth when they see dinosaur fossils. I don’t know what would destroy people’s belief in miracles.

The stories of our families and communities can help us make sense of the past, but our hunger for truth may be no more than our way of trying to make sense of life. Even as individuals, when we try to recapture the past, we think our life stories are truth. But how easy is it to recapture the actual words we heard as children? We certainly cannot verify the words we think we remember.

Consider how hard it is to get at the truth. We know that details change in the retelling of a story until the original can hardly be recognized; we have heard of eyewitnesses falsely identifying criminals, sometimes with disastrous consequences; and our research has shown that our memories as individuals are altered to conform to our other beliefs about the past.

About a century ago, a philosopher named Hans Vaihinger wrote an influential work in which he observed that we accept fictions and falsehoods because they are often the only way that we can make sense of an irrational world. He called this the philosophy of as-if, and he gave dozens of practical examples. We conduct ourselves as if there were a God; we deal with other people as if we could be certain of our ethical principles; we carry out scientific inquiry as if invisible particles of matter exist.

Many stories continue to influence millions of people because they give life meaning. That quality sometimes trumps anybody’s quest for historical and verifiable truth.

I think a lot about the character on M.A.S.H. who was worried about being brainwashed until he realized that nobody could get the truth out of him because he didn't know what the truth was. Maybe we should let go as well.

Gene Bodzin
http://www.memoir-guide.com

Edinburgh

Hi all,
Arrived in Edinburgh safely. Tired but happy.More later,
Karen

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time for Reflection

All the chores are done. The housesitter is in place. Mom-in-law has enough groceries to last her a month, let alone two weeks. The newspaper is stopped. The antibiotic is kicking the sinus infection. My suitcase is packed. Everything is confirmed. And I have this one day left before leaving for Scotland and Ireland, land of the fairy folk.

When the busyness stops and the noise inside my head subsides, and the phone doesn't ring and the computer is off, only then, in complete silence, can Spirit speak. It is telling me to have no expectations of this journey. To simply "be." That is my big lesson, to be fully present. To expand my awareness of the five senses. To hear underneath the words. To see beyond the colors.

May our awareness awaken in new ways so our experience of life is enriched.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Acknowledgement

As I get ready for this upcoming trip to Scotland and Ireland and try to heal from the sinus infection that suddenly appeared this past Saturday, I had a little epiphany. Why is it that I get so much joy from singing at retirement communities and receiving emails from people who have discovered my memoir and either liked it or connected with it or were helped by it? What is it that drives me to do the things that I do? It is being acknowledged, which is quite different from being praised.

Acknowledgement is a recognition that someone saw who I really am. Someone got what I'm about, understood what it is I meant. So often, we don't really see one another, or hear one another. Maybe we're comparing ourselves to someone else, or we're waiting till we can jump into the conversation and say what we want to say. How often are we truly present with another person, honoring who they are and what they do and what they say? And how often do we receive that gift from someone else?

My writing and putting it out for the world to see is a way of saying, here I am. This is who I am. This is what I think and this is what I believe. And when someone responds, it is acknowledgement, even if there is disagreement. Perhaps this is why blogging is so popular. When people leave a comment on a blog, it is an acknowledgement that you were heard.

Since I felt invisible most of my life, being acknowledged is important to me. I'm still not real comfortable with praise, but getting more and more comfortable with being seen and heard.

I'll be posting as often as I can from the UK over the next two weeks, but probably won't have time to make comments on your blogs. But please know that I acknowledge each and every one of you and truly enjoy hearing what you have to say.

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blogosphere Award



Diane Wolfe was honored with the The Blogosphere Award by Crystal Clear Proofing . Diane is a wonderful writer and I don't think I could find a better way to say what she wrote so beautifully on her blog. Here is what she said about it:

It's purpose is simply to acknowledge what we all have in common, and spread some HAPPY! It's exciting to receive an award! You're being given a gift, you're being recognized, appreciated. You're being thought of. And it's FUN! Who doesn't like any of those things?The rules of this award are simply to acknowledge from whom you received it, and pass it on to people you think would like to have it, for whatever reason you want, or for no special reason at all! Don't NOT pass this, or any award for that matter, on to someone just because they already have one of that award. Receving more than one of any award is an incredible compliment and honor! Being thought of always makes a person feel good!We're all SHARING when we blog. So please spread this around! Share it with others, the way you share with everyone every time you post on your blog! Spread some HAPPY! Unite in what we all share and have in common...the Blogosphere! So this award goes to any reading this blog, as we are all part of this family!
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - When Self-Doubt Moves Out

In order to have self-esteem, once must have a self. Or at least a sense of oneself. My spirit was shattered when I was a small child, pieces of my heart and mind and soul scattered like shards of broken glass. It has taken more than 50 years for me to gather those parts inside to form a whole.

Writing my memoir was a huge part of that healing journey. It enabled me to synethize the events, and the thoughts and feelings associated with those events, so that they made sense to me. I could see where I came from, what impacted me and why, and what I needed to do to heal.

The journey did not end when the memoir was completed and published. When a soul is damaged, it is an ongoing process of recognizing and mending the wounds. The one I'm working on healing now is self-doubt, which creeps into the corners of my mind when I am least expecting it, masking itself as truth.

It sometimes takes a Sherlock Holmes mindset to discover the masquerade. But there is a feeling-tone, an energy, a sense of something askew that lets me know self-doubt has made an appearance. I don't feel comfortable inside my own skin. I am more irritable than usual. I question even the most mundane decisions. These sensations are quite different from the calm, quiet strength of inner-knowing. When, even if a decision turns out to be incorrect, you trust yourself and the process. That this is just one more step on the road.

Self-doubt is moving out of my being. It is not leaving easily. It tells me my writing isn't worth a damn. It tells me I don't matter to my friends. It questions the love of my hubby. It reminds me of all my pain rather than all my blessings. But each morning, during my prayer and meditation time, I say, "Self-doubt, move out" and ask wise woman energy to please come in. And each day, I am feeling that energy shift more and more.

When we become aware of something that has plagued us all of our lives, it is called awakening. My intent is that my consciousness continue to wake up to whatever keeps me from being the best I can be. Self-doubt, move out!!

What is it that keeps you from being the best you can be?

Blessings,
Karen

Guest Blogger coming soon

In case you don't remember, I'm going on vacation 9/26 through 10/10. I am planning to blog from Scotland and Ireland, but not sure how often - it will depend on internet connections.
Gene Bodzin, a memoir writer extraordinare, was following my "Letting Go" series and an essay spewed forth. He said he has no control over what comes out of his mind. I agreed to post it, with the caveat that readers understand that I don't necessarily agree with everything Gene says, but I will say he states his opinions beautifully. It is a thoughtful essay on stories and truth.
It will appear here on 9/27, a day I will be completely and utterly jet-lagged.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Wrap up


Good news to report. "Following the Whispers" is a finalist for the 2009 New Mexico Book Awards, a statewide competition in which 300+ entries were received in over two dozen categories. "Whispers" is in the First book published by author category. I've never been a finalist for anything in my life, so this is a huge honor and it absolutely doesn't matter to me whether I win or not. That would be amazing, but so is this. Winners will be announced at a banquet on 11/20.



I had two singing gigs Saturday, one at an assisted living facility, and one at a 55+ retirement community. They were having a barbecue and we were the entertainment. First, one of the headsets wouldn't work. New batteries fixed that problem. Then the equipment had feedback issues. We couldn't get it to work without static, no matter where we placed things or us. But when we started singing, the audience was amazing. I got a teensie glimpse into the rock-star world. They clapped and sang along with us and it was a total blast--a natural high! I could sure get addicted to that feeling. They even asked us if we had a CD? You have to understand, our trio is 55, 60, and 65 years old. We are singing in public for the first time in our lives. We are anything but professional. We just love to sing. Oh, and they gave us a $100 donation. We don't charge a fee.

Sunday we had dinner with 20+ friends to celebrate Fall, the Jewish New Year, and all the blessings life has to offer.

Here's wishing you blessings in your life in the coming season.
Karen

Sunday, September 20, 2009



Happy Sunday! Just found this award on Diane Wolf's blog: http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/. Thanks Diane. Gotta love dragons. I hereby pass this award on to anyone who comments on it!
Karen

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Mary Travers died yesterday. She was 72. For those of you who don't know who she is, she was part of a musical trio, Peter, Paul and Mary. They were folksingers during the 1960s, along with Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Kingston Trio, and more. I grew up listening to and singing their songs: Puff the Magic Dragon, The Cruel War, Blowin' in the Wind, and many, many others, including Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Folksingers were a huge part of the 1960's anti-war movement and their songs were anthems for that time period and spoke to how many of us felt.

I got to see Peter, Paul and Mary for the first time a few years ago when they came through Albuquerque on a tour. It was a profoundly moving experience as I stood in that audience, swaying in unison with others, singing the words I've been singing for so many years with those who created them. Mary's voice wasn't what it once was. But her spirit and passion were still there.

So many icons are leaving the planet. When we're young, we believe we are invincible. But after we turn 50, we know we are not and that someday, we, too, will be gone. It makes me realize how important it is to stay centered, focused and present right here. Right now. In this moment. And to make each moment count.

You will be missed, Mary Travers. Thank you for the music that fed my soul.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obligation, Burden, or Joy

One of my singing partners (I'm in a trio - we perform at retirement communities) told us she could only commit to one gig per month, and that was pushing it. Family obligations, work, and other responsibilities were competing with the time required to practice and perform.

Two of us want to do more than one gig per month. This presented a dilemma.

First, we needed to ascertain whether the one who is over-committed elsewhere was still committed to our group. She is. Check. Then we needed to solve the problem of doing more gigs when only two of us could do them. We found a singer who is willing to substitute when necessary. Check. Third, we need to get said substitute singer up to speed by scheduling time for her to learn the material. Check. Lastly, we needed to make sure everyone was okay with this solution. Check.

What I ended up saying to my over-committed partner is, "The whole reason we began this project is because we love to sing and we love bringing our joy to our elders. If it feels like a burden or an obligation, that doesn't really work."

Writing was beginning to feel like an obligation, rather than fill me with joy as it always has. If it doesn't flow out of me, if I'm having to struggle to get words down on paper, if I'm dreading the time in front of the blank page, that doesn't work for me. Just as it didn't work for my over-committed partner. We found a way for her to continue singing without feeling burdened or feeling like she was stifling our needs. I'm working on figuring out my solution to writing without feeling burdened by it. I'll keep you posted.

How much of your life is filled with obligation, responsibility and things that feel burdensome, rather than those things that give you joy?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Indian Time

Today is the only day this week in which I have no outside appointments. I love days like this, where I can allow things to evolve organically, not squeezing exercise in between doctor appointments or lunch dates or whatever.

In New Mexico, not wearing a watch is called being on "Indian" time. This is because Indians don't run their lives by the clock. They live life organically, following the seasons, the time of day. I forget how much I love living life on Indian time. Waking up naturally rather than to an alarm clock; eating when I'm hungry, not because it's lunch or dinner time, going to sleep when I'm tired, even if it's 9 pm and not 10, my normal bedtime.

Time ceases to have the power we give it when our to-do list is running things. Instead, my own rhythms gently indicate what direction I should shift my energy and attention to.

Aren't timeouts wonderful?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - time outs

Those of you who are regular visitors to this blog know that I wrote about not writing. How I thought maybe I was depressed. That maybe I should consider doing other things.

Thanks to all of you who wrote such thoughtful, kind, loving responses. I took something from each and every one of you. As soon as I gave myself permission to take a time out from writing, the negative feelings disappeared. Centered and calm once more, I could see that I hadn't given myself any kind of break after completing and self-publishing the memoir. I jumped right into online marketing and haven't stopped.

One friend said if we don't stop "doing" and just allow "being" then there can be no room for anything to either come in or go out in terms of creativity. The time out also is allowing me to focus on my upcoming trip and make sure I'm totally prepared for that exciting adventure (Scotland and Ireland).

Time outs have a negative connotation from giving our kids timeouts because of bad behavior. But the purpose of those timeouts was to give them a chance to reflect on what they did.

This time out is a period of reflection for me. The fourth step of the 12-steps from Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon is "take a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself."
I am taking a time out to do that, looking at where I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'll share more as this process evolves.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Wrap up - Magical Moments

Last Friday my senior chorus, The Choralaires, performed at The Cottages, an assisted living facility for alzheimer and dementia patients. These residents are, for the most part, pretty out of it. If you look into their eyes, they're vacant. No one home anymore. It breaks my heart. Kris Kristoffersen wrote a beautiful song called "Hello in There" that speaks of this.

Sitting in the front row, I was about three or four feet from a man with empty eyes. As we sang, he stared into space, his oxygen tank hissing, his right arm partially raised--why, I don't know.
We sang eight or nine songs, saving "Que Sera Sera" for last. When I glanced in his direction, I saw his lips mouthing the correct words to the song. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I sang for him. It was a magical moment. There is something about music that reaches those whose minds have gone somewhere else. Something that allows us to remember words to songs when we don't remember our own names or our familiy members names or where we lived or what we did.

My community service work is bringing music to those who can no longer get out to hear it. It doesn't matter if I forget the words, or don't sing completely on pitch for each and every note. That man mouthing along is what it's all about. Touching someone's heart, even if they can't let me know in the normal ways, that they've been touched. What a blessing and an honor it is to be able to do that. Here's to more magical moments in all our lives.

Karen

P.S. I was contacted by the following website and this is the result - Some of you will be surprised to find your names and books mentioned as well.

What is Karen Walker reading?
Writers Read: Karen Walker

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday musings

It's going on 2-3 weeks that I haven't been able to write anything new. I have three works in progress (WIPS): a novel which I began in the 1980s (one chapter is written); a book for boomers on aging; and a book of ceremonies for healing. I am (was) excited about all three books. But now I can't muster the energy to do anything with them.

It feels like depression, but I truly don't have any reason to be depressed. My body is healthier than it's been in like forever. Hubby and I are doing just fine. We're leaving for a wonderful trip to Ireland and Scotland in two weeks. My friendships are intact. Most times when I've been depressed, it was triggered by an event, like losing custody of my son or a divorce, or something else which causes an emotional upheaval. Now the only yucky thing going on is that Aetna is refusing to pay the $27,000 bill the surgery center charged for my shoulder surgery. Now,upsetting as that is, it is not something to get depressed about. Angry, yes. Depressed, no.

Maybe it's just a needed hiatus from all the writing, editing, publishing decisions, and marketing, the end of a 10-year journey. I've decided to ride the wave, go with the flow, whatever, until after I get back from vacation. If I'm still not writing, I'll need to figure out what's going on. But for now, I'm reading more than I've read in years.

Decided to support my new blogging buddies, so I bought and read and enjoyed:



"Pretty is as Pretty Dies" by Elizabeth Spann Craig
"The Ride" by Jane Sutton
"The Prairie Grass Murders" by Patricia Stoltey

Also purchased, but not read yet:

"Girl of my Dreams" and "Killer Career" by Morgan Mandel
"Hearts of the Morning Calm" by Galen Kindley
"I Romanced the Stone" by Marvin Wilson (actually hasn't arrived yet)

All I can say is, our blogging friends are darned good writers, and it pays for us to pay attention to what they have to say. They know from whence they speak. Hmm, maybe that's why I'm depressed. Comparison is an act of vengeance against oneself.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Agents and Publishing

I have a question for all your writers out there. Two of my writer/blogger friends have posted lately that they published without agents. I was under the impression that publishers will not look at manuscripts unless they are represented by an agent. Is this a myth? Please share your experiences with this. Thanks so much.
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Mother-in-Law

I adore my mother-in-law. She is sweet, kind, and gentle. We are close and it is such a blessing to me because I was never close with my own mom. She lives in an assisted living facility here in Albuquerque. It's been almost two years since we moved her from her hometown in Texas. I am her primary caregiver, since hubby works. There are four other siblings--one in Santa Fe, and the others out of state.

Mom fell Friday morning. Didn't break anything, thank goodness, but banged herself up pretty good. There went my day. Had to drop everything and go up there, take her to the doctor, get x-rays, rent a wheelchair, pack her up and bring her to our house, because she couldn't take care of herself. We had to take her with us wherever we went, because we couldn't leave her home alone. She finally got the hang of a walker, but we didn't trust her to use it if we weren't there and we couldn't risk her falling again, which was probable.

Fast-forward to Monday. We took her back to her place and spent a few hours making sure she could do everything she needed to do on her own. I didn't feel comfortable leaving her alone, but she wanted to give it a try. So we left her, after several lengthy talks about the need to use the walker for everything. That she was very unsteady on her feet and needed the walker for balance.

This morning, when I called her, as I do every morning, she told me she was doing fine. And that she was even managing to do some things without the walker. I had to get off the phone before I exploded. Everything she does or doesn't do impacts me. If she can't find the needle for her needle point, I have to figure out how to help her. If she falls again, it will be me taking her to the hospital or doctor. So how do I allow her the independence she so craves and deserves, and still try to prevent things from happening. I know I can't control her, much as I'd like to. But I'm living on pins and needles for the next phone call with the next problem or crisis that will once again disrupt my day and my life.

This sounds so selfish as I'm writing. Guess the only thing for me to do is work on myself and my attitude. I can try not to project into the future and stay in the moment. For right now, she is fine and I have this day for myself to use as I see fit. I'm off for my morning walk now.

Till next time,
Karen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Letting Go Part III

I love the comments this series on letting go has been getting. Nice to know I'm not alone in navigating the world of emotions/feelings. Marvin Wilson, our lovable old silly, offered wonderful advice for when it is okay to tell little white lies and when it is necessary to speak our truth. I concur.

To bring this discussion to some sort of closure, I want to focus on how to let go of emotions that aren't healthy like anger, resentment, jealousy, envy. I'm still discovering how to do this, so we're going to explore this together.

Growing up, I never felt anger. Or if I did, it was unconscious. Instead, I'd feel hurt, and if the hurt was deep enough, it would become depression. A therapist once said depression is anger turned inward. It is a good clue for me. If I start to feel depressed, I look back at events, conversations to see where I might have felt anger but repressed the emotion instead.

Resentment ususally comes when I'm not taking good enough care of myself. When I over-extend my energy, over-commit, or just plain don't do the things I need to do on a daily basis: walk, prayer/meditation, arm exercises, practice singing, and write/market. On a given day, I can miss one of these things and it will be okay, but if more than one gets left out, I start to feel off kilter and will resent anything I have to do for anyone else.

Jealousy is tougher. It takes self-examination and logical thinking to work through it. It is unrealistic for me to expect to have the body of a 20-year-old. But I can have a healthy 60-year-old body. If I'm jealous of another female and how she looks, I have to ask myself if I'm doing all that I can to feel good about myself in that area. For example, I hate wearing make-up, but if that's what it takes to feel better about myself, am I willing to do it. If the answer is no, as it usually is, than I have to accept my appearance as is and let go of the jealousy.

Being envious of writers who have succeeded in ways I haven't is even harder. I tried everything I knew to get an agent and be published traditionally. It didn't work. I have to accept that. I do believe things happen the way they are supposed to. This is my path. It is the way my book was meant to go out into the world. When and if I complete the next book, I will try again the traditional way. And work on letting go of the results.

Whether or not I divulge my true feelings to others must be decided on a moment to moment basis. Usually it is fear of rejection that keeps me from speaking my truth. But the older I get, the harder it is to keep my truth from spilling out of my mouth, and the less I want to keep it hidden. I just have to learn to choose my words more carefully. I can give myself a time-out before I speak, to make sure what and how I am communicating is conveying my intention.

This subject has deep roots that spread far and wide, like an ancient tree. I'm sure it will surface again, but for now, I'm going to let it be. Thank you all for sticking with me and sharing your thoughts and feelings. I learn much from each of you.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

Labor Day Weekend. End of summer. Holy you know what! Where did the summer go? I don't know about you, but time is fleeing much faster than it ever did. The weekend was fabulous. Saturday, a singing gig at a retirement community. It is such a blessing to bring music to those who no longer have the ability to get to a concert. Folkdancing as always on Saturday night. Then a pool party to close out the summer with 40 or so friends (we don't have a pool, but our friends do). Final steps of planning for our Ireland/Scotland trip at the end of the month.
I'm hoping to blog from there. I've purchased a 2.3 pound netbook. We'll see what the internet connections are like.

But by far the most important thing that occurred this weekend was the epiphany I had on the way home from dancing Saturday night. I haven't been writing lately. I'd blocked out 3 days last week and nada, nothing, not one new word on a page. I tried not to beat myself up about it, but seems I am harder on myself than any abuser could possibly be. I whispered to myself to put down the whips (no, I'm not into S & M). Then I danced for a few hours. While talking to hubby in the car driving home, I started blabbing about my feelings and voila la. The answer came.
I was feeling like a failure because I self-published my memoir and sales are not that great. I knew I'd never recoup the money I put into it, but that didn't matter. It was about sharing my story with others who might be helped by it. Still is. But what was churning inside me is why bother to write anything new. If I can't get published traditionally, I won't self-publish again - it's way too expensive so, what's the point of writing anything at all? Whew! At least now I know what's blocking me. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

And now for......more awards:

This is the Honest Scrap award. It is for those bloggers who write from the heart. I received it from Helen Ginger, one of my favorite bloggers. The rules are to pass it along to seven bloggers and then list 10 honest things about myself. Here five bloggers who are very deserving of this honor:





Bloggers who write from the heart and touch me because of it:

Jody Heglund

Debra Schubert

Marvin Wilson

L. Diane Wolfe

Elizabeth Spann Craig



10 Honest Things About Me:

  1. I am a jealous person. I am jealous of writer friends who got published traditionally. I am jealous of women who are thinner than me and look fabulous. I don't begrudge anyone what they have, just wish I had it too!
  2. Sometimes I wish I had absolutely no responsibilities - like cooking for hubby, feeding the dog, food shopping, you know, the everyday chores. I guess that's why vacations are nice.
  3. I hate shopping for clothes. Don't like spending the money on myself. But I have to say, since i've lost 45 pounds, it's a much more pleasant experience because things fit and look pretty darn okay for a 60-year-old body.
  4. I'm not a great singer, but singing makes me oh so happy. I sing with two other women at retirement communities, and, although I doubt my abilities, I know I'm doing a good thing when we're told we made their day!
  5. I am questioning my decision to write full time. This last week the writing just hasn't happened, even though I blocked out three full days with no other distractions.
  6. I worry about money. I don't know if it comes from growing up with parents who didn't have much and who grew up in the Depression, but even when there's no reason to worry, I worry, which is why I am now blogging about "letting go."
  7. I finally went to a printer yesterday and ordered bookmarks for "Following the Whispers." It's taken 7 months to take that giant step to have a giveaway at signings and other events.
  8. I want to be a grandmother so badly I can taste it. But my son is 36 and not seriously involved with anyone. Hope I'm able to enjoy a grandbaby when it finally does come along, if it does. Another opportunity to let go of expectations.
  9. I live in a place they call the land of enchantment. Thursday night at Girls Night Out, we ate dinner on my friend's patio. The Sandia mountains were visible in the East and as we ate and talked, the full moon rose behind the mountains. It doesn't get much better than that.
  10. I believe in Magic.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Letting Go - Part II - Emotions

Yesterday, I talked about non-attachment to results. That it is impossible not to care about outcomes, but that I should not be attached emotionally. So what emotions are okay?

If you ask my closest friends about me, they'll say I'm an emotional person. That means I say when I'm hurt, angry, upset, scared, sad, whatever. Most of my friends are not that forthcoming . Either they don't have the same kinds of reactions as I do or they choose to keep them private, or they are not aware of what they are feeling. That last one has gotten me in deep trouble in the past, because I am extremely intuitive/sensitive to other peoples' feelings, but if they're not aware of what they are feeling and I comment on it, the usual result is anger towards me.

There is no right or wrong about this. We each need to find our own way in the world of feelings. For me, I spent so many years shut down from my feelings, that it is detrimental to my well-being not to express them. Of course, I had to learn when and how to express my feelings in appropriate ways. I'm still working on this one.

Last night I had my monthly Girls' Night Out dinner with four wonderful friends. The five of us have been doing this for six years now. I've been slightly off-center the last few days. My hubby was out of town. I was alone all day long and evenings as well. Didn't talk much to anyone. Spent the time on the computer or reading. I found I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. Left the evening early, saying I was tired. Sometimes I worry that if I continually tell people how I am really feeling, they will get tired of it and me.

So when is it important to tell the truth and when is it okay to tell little white lies?

Hmm, this topic of letting go is more complex than I realized when I first started writing this blog. Guess I'll have to continue this series on Telling the Truth Tuesday.

Till then,
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, September 4, 2009

Letting Go

Buddhists practice non-attachment. The 12-step programs have slogans which preach a similar concept: Let Go and Let God, Take the Action and Let Go of the Result, Live and Let Live. All are saying the same thing. Do what you do but let go of the outcome.

I struggle with this on a daily basis in several areas of my life. In my writing, I send out query letters to editors, desperately wanting them to say yes. But I have no control over whether they do or not. With my weight, I eat as healthily as I can each day, trying to lose the last 5 pounds. But I have no control over what the scale will reveal or whether my body will maintain its weight, add a few pounds, or let go of some.

It’s been a difficult lesson for me to understand that the only thing I do have control over is my own actions, thoughts, and reactions to life. The struggle is how to have passion for something, but not care about the result. Non-attachment is not not caring, though. I think I’ve had them confused in my mind. I care about the outcome, but I need to not be attached. I care what happens to my weight, but I can’t attach emotions to the fluctuations. I care about whether my writing gets published, but I can’t attach emotions to whether it does or not.

So that begs the question, what emotions are okay. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Letting Go.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Superior Comments Award

You don't say? You do say. Bloggers say plenty. And those that follow those blogs have plenty to say as well. Seems there's an award for super comments and I have received this honor from the wonderfully talented and gifted Debra Schubert. Thank you so much, Debra.

I am learning that making comments on other blogs is just as important as what we write on our own blogs. It shows we are listening; that we are paying attention; that we care what our blogger friends are writing about. It's not easy. It's time consuming. It takes effort. But it's so worthwhile to make new, caring friends.



I hereby pass the Superior Comments Award on to the following blogger because she always has an insightful, thoughtful, honest comment. And she inspires me.

Tabitha Bird.


















Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Alone versus Lonely

Growing up an only child in what felt like a very unloving family, I was quite lonely. I longed for a brother or sister. Lacking that, I latched onto friends and spent as much time with their families as I could, wishing I belonged somewhere, anywhere.

I was a latchkey kid, so from second grade on, I came home to an empty house. Friends were always part of my life, but a great deal of time was spent alone. I became adept at amusing myself.

But it wasn't until I became an adult, that I understood the difference between loneliness and being alone. One can be alone and not feel lonely. It comes from being comfortable inside your own skin, happy with your own thoughts and feelings. But lonely--that's a whole other story. Lonely means not being fulfilled, not feeling connected, feeling empty inside and wanting something to fill that void. Lonely is the place I used to gorge myself with food from. Lonely is the longing I tried to fill with choosing friends and partners who didn't love me.

I rarely feel lonely anymore. And when I do, it is a spiritual connection I'm needing to make, not a human one. I cherish my alone time. My hubby is gone on a business trip till Thursday nite and yes, I miss him. But it's also nice not to have to cook or talk if I don't want to.

Lonely is a place I lived and breathed for most of my life, even when I was surrounded by people. Now I find balance between being alone and sharing my life with loved ones. If loneliness sears its way into my psyche, it is through being alone with Spirit that it gets released.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - How not to feel "Why me?"

Today was chorus rehearsal for the Choralaires, a group that has been singing together for 35 years at Palo Duro Senior Center in Albuquerque, NM. There are a few members who have been there from the start. Others who have been there a long, long time, and still others who are fairly new, like me.

Ages range from 54 (the youngest) to those in their upper 80s. There are no wheel-chair bound members, but many use walkers and canes. But oh, can some of these folks sing. Gives me chills to hear those male tenor voices sing out. Most of the women are sopranos, which makes it hard for alto me to reach some of those notes. There are about a dozen members who regularly do solos or duets. It is an inspiration to me that I might still be able to sing 25 years from now.

One member, I'll call her T., announced today that she will be taking September off. She's going to the hospital next week to have part of her kidney removed--there's a cancerous tumor on it. I think T. must be in her 70s - it's hard to tell because she is one of the most vibrant, happy, charmismatic spirits I have ever met. There was not one ounce of self-pity in her voice or in her being when she told us about her health today. Someone said, "You'll be fine," and she said, "I know I will."

I found myself wondering if she was just acting and deep down she's terrified. But I don't think anyone is that good an actress. To her, Faith is everything. And if you have Faith, there's no reason or room for self-pity. It was a powerful lesson for me. Years ago, I heard that it's all right to host a pity party, but you have to set a time limit to sit on the pity pot. Then you get up and get on with things.

But watching T. today, I was struck with how elegant, loving, and self-assured she was, despite a health crisis that is scary. I am learning so much from being with seniors who are quite a bit older than me about living life to the fullest the best way we can. If they feel sorry for themselves, it sure doesn't show when they come to sing.

So the phrase, "Why me?" is now officially removed from my vocabulary. I'm looking for new ways to shift that negative energy into a place of Faith. How do you handle adversity without self-pity?

Blessings,
Karen

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