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, May 31, 2010

Random Thoughts - Monday

Taking a break from everything is what a vacation is supposed to be. This is the first one I've taken where I'm not blogging, meaning I wrote and pre-posted blogs to appear while I'm gone. I'm also not visiting other blogs. I'll miss you guys, but hey, I'm in the Tetons...

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy trails to you...

Does anyone remember the song Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang at the end of their show. I'm going back to the 1950's folks, so many of you are too young. But it went:
Happy trails to you, until we meet again
Happy trails to you, keep smiling on till then
Happy trails to you, till we meet again.

Seems fitting, since we're leaving on our trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. I have scheduled random thought posts while we're away, but I won't be visiting other blogs for the next 10 days or so. I will miss you guys, but please don't forget me. I'll be back blogging on 6/7.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Traditionalist or Non-Conventionalist?

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be normal, to fit in, to be part of something wonderful. My family life growing up certainly didn't seem normal, although I didn't know that for a long time. I recently connected with an old friend from childhood who remembers my family quite well. She said she found it odd, the things my parents would say and do. I used to wish I was adopted or that I'd be adopted by another family. But the bottom-line emotion was wanting to be normal.

What I've learned over the years is that I am fairly conventional. I believe in marriage, although I'm okay with those who don't and are just living together. I go to traditional western doctors. But I also go to acupuncturists, massage therapists, and most recently, an herbalist, because I've decided to take myself off all western medications. The most challenging dilemma is acid reflux. I've been in two doses of prilosec for years. Now I'm sipping aloe vera juice and taking an herb called calamus. I was also giving some drops to put in water to help me sleep. All of the above seem to be working. This is in no way a suggestion that anyone else try these things, nor is it an endorsement to stop medications and do alternative healing.
I am just saying that is what I am doing, and so far, it seems to be working.

This seems fairly unconventional to me, and I have some degree of discomfort around that. What that tells me is that I still care way too much about what others think of what I am saying, thinking, feeling, doing. Oh well, progress, not perfection, right?

How about you?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A wee bit of hope

As those of you who are regular readers of this blog know, our dog, Buddy, is quite ill with diabetes and that we have been unable to get his blood sugar levels regulated. A dear friend suggested getting a second opinion, which we did. I am just a wee bit hopeful after speaking with this Vet. She said large dogs like Buddy can get larger doses of insulin and we should up the dose and re-test him. We are doing that and will test again on Friday, the day before we leave for Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Keep your fingers crossed for this precious doggie, okay?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - The Wizard of Oz

Went to see the Broadway touring company performance of "The Wizard of Oz" last night at UNM's Popejoy Hall. I've seen the movie countless times since I was a child, but I've never seen a live production. It was mesmerizing. The theater was filled with children, from infants to teens, and my first thought was, oh no, this is going to be a very unpleasant theater experience.

Not. The audience was very well behaved. I think everyone was as mesmerized as I was. From the elaborate, colorful costumes to the songs we all know and love, I was caught up in Dorothy's quest to find the Wizard and get home.

The story is timeless. It's universal themes still reach us with important lessons:
  • Take cover when a tornado is coming
  • Listen to your elders
  • Over the Rainbow may not be what it's cracked up to be
  • There's no place like home
  • You've always had the power within you
That last one is something I am just beginning to understand. I've always given my power away to others. I do it by asking for opinions, agreeing with things I'm not sure I agree with, keeping quiet when I really ought to speak up, being afraid of what others will think of me, wanting desperately to be liked/loved. Owning who I am, flaws and all, is challenging, but rewarding. And home doesn't just mean the place we live. For me, it also means inside my own skin. The degree of comfort I now feel inside my own skin helps me know I am on the right track. How about you?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Musings - Breaking Hearts

We got very sad news Friday. Buddy is insulin resistant. His blood sugar levels are extremely high and he is losing weight. But his spirits are wonderful. We are going to be giving him palliative care, which means higher dose of insulin to try to keep him from losing much more weight, and to keep him feeling as close to normal as possible. There are options to find out why he's insulin resistant, but it's most likely cancer and we wouldn't subject him to either chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. So we will keep him comfortable as long as we can.


Thank you all for your love and support. We are broken hearted. As of right now, we are still planning on taking our trip for 8 days, rather than 16. We can always come home if he really starts to deteriorate. Our housesitter adores Buddy and he just loves her, so it should be okay.

In the meantime, I can't look at him without my heart aching and the tears flowing. I am going to try to enjoy every moment we have with him, one day at a time. That's all any of us can do anyway. This really hammers home that message. Love love love the ones we're with.

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gratitude Day

I am hereby declaring today Gratitude Day. Here are 10 things I am grateful for.
  1. My physical, emotional and spiritual well being at the moment.
  2. The inner peace that has come as a result of all my hard work and the Grace of Spirit.
  3. All of you who visit this blog, even those of you who just lurk and don't leave comments.
  4. The love and support of my family and friends.
  5. My Sugartime singing group
  6. My folkdance community
  7. My amazing hubby for his emotional, financial, and spiritual support
  8. Books, books, books, books, books, books...
  9. Writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing...
  10. This incredible gift called LIFE.
How about you? Can you give me 10 things you are grateful for right this very moment.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Being Rather Than Doing

In order for me to do the work for this next book, I need to learn to just "be." You have no idea how hard it is for someone who loves lists. I am not a procrastinator. The mail comes in the door, I pay the bill immediately. The laundry gets done once a week. I keep extras of everything from toilet paper to ketchup, so I don't have to run to the store, except for fresh fruit and veggies and coffee mate (I can't do dairy).

Being means not doing anything. It is shutting down all the external noise, getting quiet within, and listening. When I manage to do this, the results have been extraordinary. The whisper in Ireland, "Tell my story," now has a voice and she is coming to me more and more frequently. But only when I stop "doing."

This doesn't feel like my definition of writing, so I'm having to shift that particular paradigm. This book is emerging from places I didn't know existed, unlike my memoir, which emerged from my life and from the journals I'd kept to record that life. Still, after several years working on the memoir, the story I thought I wanted to tell shifted to something else entirely. It went from being a story about losing custody to a story about learning to listen to the whispers of intuition.

Some days I cannot quiet my mind enough to just "be." Other days I'm too tired. But when the stars align in just the right way and I enter that zone, magic happens.

Enter my world of "being" for just a moment today and allow the magic.

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Group Dynamics

Do you participate in groups? I guess we all do, in a sense, if we're a family. I am fascinated by group dynamics. For many years, I was too shy and scared to participate in group discussions. Now, not so much. But any time you have a diverse bunch of people with differing personalities, opinions, ways of perceiving and doing things, you are going to have stuff to deal with.

I've spent years and years learning to manage my own "stuff." I rarely fly off the handle, unless I haven't been fed for many hours or I haven't slept in several days. Then all bets are off. But usually I maintain my center pretty well and can communicate clearly. However, even if communication is clear, issues can arise and they have to be addressed.

Yesterday was just such a day with my singing group. We'd had a business meeting last Friday to talk about our vision, as individuals and for the group. We also talked about song choices for the next program we will perform. After much discussion, we had a preliminary idea of what songs we'd consider and agreed to try them out over the next few weeks to see what works and what doesn't.

We perform at retirement communities and so our songs should be ones that folks in their late 70s, 80s and 90s will know and like. But there are also songs we've always wanted to sing that those folks may not know. Finding a balance between what we want to do and what our audience may like can be hard. Hmmm, same is true in writing, isn't it?

After this meeting, one group member had a concern about the song choices. I suggested she email the group. Another member had a negative reaction to that email. We almost lost her - she'd had a really bad day and her frustration got placed on this. This is a key member of our group. If we lost her, we couldn't do it without her. We'd have to find a replacement and that would not be easy, since we don't get paid for this and she is super talented.

What I realized is that no matter how hard you try to maintain control and please everyone and keep the peace, inevitably someone or something will happen to upset the balance. Juggling that upset is what life is all about. I am working on speaking my truth with love in every moment I am able. If I can do that, I will have overcome the major dysfunction resulting from my childhood. Remaining silent is no longer an option. What do you guys have to say about this?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Telling the truth Tuesday - Doing what you say you're going to do

In this amazingly busy, complex world , living life in balance becomes more and more difficult. I've always been a person who will do everything in her power to keep her promises. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it. If I can't do it, I will let you know and tell you why. If I agreed to do it, and something happens to prevent me from doing it, I will let you know. This is something I have always felt strongly about. One of my first published articles was an op ed piece about this issue. People are afraid to say "no." We're afraid to hurt people's feelings. We're afraid of what people will think of us. We believe we're super-people and can do everything. I have friends who constantly complain they don't have enough time to do anything, yet continue to take on additional projects.

It's so much better for us as well as for those asking us to do something if we tell the truth in the first place. So, I'm learning to ask myself some questions before saying "yes." Is this something I want to do? Do I have the time? If I don't have the time, am I willing to make the time? Is it worth it for me to make the time? Can this person find someone else who can do this just as well as me? Do I need to do it despite all of the above?
Once I go through this kind of thinking, the answer usually reveals itself.

The reason I'm writing about this today is that I asked someone to read my memoir quite a long time ago. This is someone in one of the forums I participate in. It is someone who reads and writes quite a bit about memoir. They agreed. After checking once to make sure this person received my memoir, I have heard nothing from them. Truly, I believe it is common courtesy to tell someone what is happening. Either, 1) I haven't gotten to it yet; 2) I got to it and didn't like it; 3) I am not going to read it because... whatever...just communicate.

If only we could learn to share clearly and honestly with one another, without rancor, without judgment, without blaming, we'd all be so much better off. Don't you think?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Musings

Buddy's culture came back negative, so he doesn't have an infection. WE're still waiting to hear what that means in terms of why he's insulin resistant. In the meantime, when hubby and I talked about our trip, he told me that if we don't go, he won't be able to take a vacation till November. He needs a break - his work has been rather intense for several months now.

So husband trumps doggie. But we decided to go for 8 days rather than 16. I'm just hoping Buddy will be well enough for us to do this. If he isn't, we will can't go. Oy vay.

In terms of my writing, I am in this amazing process of connecting with the character who whispered to me in the Magic Forest at Blarney Castle in Ireland. As I open up more and more to this experience, the richer it becomes. I am in awe of how Spirit can work, because I am clear this is a spiritual journey that will eventually become a book.

That's all for now.
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, May 14, 2010

Buddy

I need to talk about our dog, Buddy, because he is quite sick and we may lose him. Buddy is the first pet I've ever had. My father didn't believe in pets. He said you'd get too attached to them and then they'd die. I sort of understand that philosophy. If you don't ever love, then you won't ever feel the pain of losing that love. However, I would choose over and over and over again to love, because the joy that comes from the giving and receiving of it is what life is all about. Without that, it's meaningless.

I've lived with pets who belonged to others, but the connection was between the pet owner and the animal, not with me. It's different with Buddy. We are completely connected. And I love him. Totally.

A month or so ago, he had neck pain. When we took him to the vet, she wanted to put him on prednison, a harsh steroid. In order to do that safely, we needed blood work to check organ function. Lo and behold, we found out Buddy had diabetes. We debated over what to do and in the end, decided to treat the disease and see what happens.

In order for Buddy to live the best life he can, the diabetes needs to be regulated. This means determining how much insulin to give and how frequently. He's been spot-tested and his blood sugar was still sky high, so Tuesday, he went in for the day so they could more effectively evaluate his levels.

We were told that evening that he is insulin-resistant, meaning the insulin isn't working to control his blood sugar levels. There could be three reasons for this. One, he has a urinary tract infection, which would block the insulin from working. That would be the best case scenario, because it could be treated with antibiotics. Second is Cushing's disease, which isn't curable. The vet doesn't think that's it. Third is cancer. She also took an x-ray and discovered stones in his bladder. Depending on the kind of stones, they might be dissolved with food and meds. If not, it requires surgery.

Hubby and I have decided we won't go the route of surgery, no matter what the diagnosis. So we're praying it's urinary tract and the stones can be dissolved. In the meantime, my heart is broken. Either way, I don't think we'll be able to do our trip to Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks, because Buddy will either be in the process of dying, or in treatment for stones and infection. I don't want to leave him.

I guess we're never "ready" to lose those we love. It's hard. But I know for sure my Dad was dead wrong about never loving. I wouldn't trade the cuddly moments with Buddy for anything, despite the pain my heart is in right now.

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going natural


I don't know if I'm resurrecting the hippie days of the 60's or what, but I seem to be in a phase of going natural. Last year, I stopped dyeing my hair. It is white. One friend in particular, makes no bones about repeatedly telling me she thinks I'm nuts. She tells other friends about me, saying, "I have a cute friend, but she insists on keeping her hair white." Ouch. Does that mean I'm not attractive because of my white hair? Photo at the right was an in-between stage.

In our society, white haired ladies are considered old. I no longer want to buy into the culture that says only young, pretty, thin, rich, white, etc. counts. But still, it hurt when she said that. Because part of me still wants to be young and pretty. Well, that ain't happening. I'm 61 years old. I may be thinner than I've been for most of my adult life, but I still have old lady arms (skin that sags and wrinkles like elephant skin). My face is beginning to have lines and crags. And yesterday I found out that cataracts are beginning to form in my eyes.

So, if I dye my hair again to look younger, does that mean I should have plastic surgery to fix the skin on my arms and a face lift to remove wrinkles and crags. I don't think so. I opt for accepting this journey I'm on, wrinkles and all. My hubby thinks I'm beautiful no matter what. He fell in love with me when I was 183 pounds. What a gift that was--to know I was loved for who I am, not for what I look like.

I'm also taking myself off estrogen. It's about time I just allow whatever my body is going to go through, to naturally adjust. And I've stopped taking Tylenol PM to sleep. It's been two nights of waking up in the middle of the night, but I'm hoping that once my body adjusts, it will naturally sleep the way its supposed to.

So, as the old Ethel Merman song goes, "I'm doin' what comes naturally...."

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Consequences

Everything we do or don't do has consequences. So, too, what we say or don't say. I allow potential consequences to paralyze me sometimes. Last Sunday, two different friends said things to me that hurt my feelings. I chose not to say anything. The consequence? I am uncomfortable with myself and with them. Why don't I say something? I'm afraid of the consequence. What if they don't understand why I feel the way I do and get upset with me? What if they say they understand, but pull away emotionally?

I hardly ever think of the potential positive outcome - I say how I feel, they acknowledge it and we both move on. That is the most likely result. But I allow my fear of the consequences to keep me from speaking my truth. I'm reaching a point where that is no longer acceptable to me. I need to trust my own instincts, not worry about the reaction I might get, trust in my ability to say how I feel in a way that doesn't judge or harm someone else, and let go of the result. This is a key ingredient to having inner peace.

Do you allow fear of consequences to keep you from doing or saying what you need to?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Telling the truth Tuesday - Tired of feeling tired

Bronchitis lingers, I'm told. Grrrr. I no longer feel like there's an elephant sitting on my chest, but I still don't have my normal get up and go. It got up and went. My breathing is still shallow and I tire easily. I'm tired of feeling tired.

Being sick is like a time-out from life. Laundry languishes in the laundry basket. Groceries stay in the supermarket. Dust gathers on the furniture. Words build up inside my soul. Even though hubby takes care of the routine stuff, I begin to feel disconnected - from everything and everyone.

Maybe that's the purpose of being sick. It's like a battery going dead. It needs to recharge. Maybe my battery is taking a little longer to re-charge this time. System alert--pay attention here. Keep your eye on the charger - is it working properly or is it stuck at 80%?

If I look at this metaphysically, I can accept more easily accept what is happening. Slowing down can be a good thing. Today I am going to make a point of consciously reducing my speed. Long, slow, deep breaths, smaller steps, pausing to stop and think.

How about you?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Musings

I never liked Mother's Day. As a child, no matter what I did for my mother, she was never happy. Now I know that nothing any of us can do can make another person happy, but when you're a kid, you have certain expectations about parents: 1) They love you no matter what; 2) they're on your side no matter what; 3) no matter what you do (make a piece of art, buy a present) they'll let you know they appreciate you and what you've done for them; 4) they gently guide you when you're conflicted or stuck or whatever.

My childhood gave me none of these experiences. So I dreaded Mother's Day from a very young age.
Those of you who have read my memoir know what happened when I got married for the first time. It was a dreadful relationship. The one blessing which resulted from it was my son, but I lost custody when he was 4. Mother's Day became the worst day of the year for me.

My son is grown now and we have a wonderful, close relationship. But some wounds never heal--you just learn to live with them. When hubby's mom was alive, Mother's Day was a gift to her and no matter what we got her or where we took her, she appreciated it and let us know it. This was the first Mother's Day without her. To cope, I chose to ignore the day. It worked.

Even though it wasn't my fault that I lost custody. Even though I know I can't go back and change what happened. Even though I know I did the best I could at the time with the limited skills and knowledge I had. Even though my son is a happy, well-adjusted man, content with himself and his life. Even though I am at peace with who I am and content with my own life, Mother's Day is one big fat reminder of what I consider to be my biggest failure. And I am still making peace with that inside my soul, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

Is there something inside you that is hard? How do you live with it so it hurts less and less?

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, May 7, 2010

Random Thought - Friday2

Yesterday, in the midst of taking vacation moments, my internet access disappeared. So sorry I couldn't visit your blogs or comment on mine. Talk about serendipity. So I took myself shopping for new clothes, something I used to hate when I was very heavy. Now it's so much fun. I was a whole size smaller than I thought I was. Yippee!!

Today's random thought: Making Magic. What happens if I make magic in my everyday life. What happens if I turn my life into one gigantic ceremony. When I do ceremonies, I am creating sacred space. Sometimes it is to ask for healing. Sometimes it is to honor a particular day or time of the year. Sometimes it is to ask for help. What if I approach everything in my daily life as a ceremony. What would it look like? What would yours look like?

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Random Thought - Thursday

Take a vacation for a moment today. Let go of your to-do list. Let go of your responsibilities--just for a moment. Forget the laundry, the grocery store, dinner tonight. Just be. For a second. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Listen to the silence.

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Random Thought - Wednesday

I was supposed to be going to the beach today. Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. One of the magic places on the planet, in my humble opinion. When I go to the ocean, my spiritual life deepens. The energy speaks to me in ways nothing else does. Instead, I am home sick with bronchitis. Using ocean as metaphor, what does it say to you?

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - mom

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be done processing stuff from childhood. I'm not complaining, mind you. I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today without  having sorted out, worked through, dissected, and therapied myself to pieces. And yet there seems to be more.

Last week I had a setback after our birthday concert at my home. All these negative voices kept shouting in my ear. Here's the wisdom that came through as I looked at those voices:

There are pieces you are still missing from your childhood. Your mother said and did things that your former singing teacher embodied for you and gave voice to. Things like, "You don't belong, you never belonged, you can't do harmony. You have pitch problems. You're flat. Your own mother lied to you about you, about who you are, what you could do or not do, what life is about. She didn't know any better. She did what was done to her. And a teacher who says such damaging things to a student should be stopped.

You have to sort out the truth of the issue for yourself. Stop saying you don't have a good voice. That's not the issue. Figure out the real reason you are so compelled to sing in public and work from that. It's not about your voice and how good it is.

Why do you want to perform? As a child, you gloried in being the center of attention - until the Painter molested you when you were just 7 years old. That attention brought you trouble. Now the attention brings joy to elders. it can no longer bring you harm. Your mother is no longer alive to judge you and freeze you out. Your former singing teacher is no longer in the picture. The other Sugartimes adore you. So do your friends.

Singing is shouting to the world: I am here. Look at me. Listen to me. Pay attention. I have something to say. Something to give to you. A little piece of me. It's the same with writing. It's spiritual for you, Karen. It's not about performing. This is your ministry. The writing and Sugartime. You need to fully embrace who you really are.

I was silenced as a child. This is my time. These are my words.
What are yours?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Musings

I received a wonderful gift - the gift of discernment. I'd been bummed by my performance last Sunday. Here's the message: When will you learn, dear Karen, that if you ask for feedback, you may not hear what you want to hear? Were you flat? Does it matter? Some folks heard three-part harmony, others didn't. Does it matter? Who shall you trust? You. You. You. Let me tell you about nerves. Nerves belong in fear for life. No where else is there room for nerves because why should you be nervous about being You? If you're looking for unconditional love and praise from an audience, you won't find it. Performing is just that--an act. Some will like it, some won't. Same in the real world. Some will like/get you, some won't. Nerves make no difference. Learn to tame them. Not with alcohol. Or Xanax. With self-love. With your higher self. The you you are just beginning to know.

Blessings,
Karen

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