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


Reviews

Review by Sharon Lippincott for Story Circle Network 3/28/09

There is no such thing as an average memoir, but if there were, Karen Walker's story, "Following the Whispers," would not be among them...Walker...explains the psychological dynamics of her emotions and reactions, and shares the spiritual journey that ultimately led to happiness, joy and healing.

These elements are smoothly interwoven to form a cohesive tale that held my interest throughout. The story itself has all the elements of a classic good read: plot, well-developed characters, and plenty of tension created by obstacles that often seem overwhelming.

Because she explains her emotions and feelings of guilt, shame and similar things so directly, the reader is bound to learn something of personal value and gain useful insights.

To read the full review, click on the following link: http://www.followingthewhispers.com/praise.htm

Book Review by Reading New Mexico

Following the Whispers: Creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair
Bascom Hill, ISBN: 878-1935098157
14.95

This is the story of one woman’s life from degradation to rebirth. Karen Walker came from a dysfunctional family, suffered childhood sexual abuse, severe weight gain, the loss of her child in divorce, and zero self-esteem. Any one of those would have brought down a lesser person but Walker persevered and won.

“For as long as I can remember,” she states in chapter one, “a lead ball lived in my chest and a whirling dervish lived in my stomach…” Today, she recognizes the signs of anxiety but at the time, it was merely normal.

This book is sometimes a difficult read, not because of the writer’s ability with words but because of her ability to share unflinching accounts of her missteps along the way. It is a self-help book in that she tells her story without any varnish that might distract the reader. What happened to her happened. What the reader takes away is hope and the belief that they can maybe turn things around just as Walker has.

Following the Whispers is so well written, it’s hard to put down until the very end where the reader gives a sigh of relief that there is hope or a sigh of thankfulness that they have not had to travel Walker’s difficult path.

7/09 Reviewed by Sabra Brown Steinsiek, author of When That Time Comes

Book Review of Following the Whispers by Karen Walker
by Matilda Butler on August 19, 2009

Following the Whispers, Karen Walker’s memoir, reveals numerous turning points in her life. We sometimes begin work on a memoir by focusing on a single turning point that changed our lives. Karen, on the other hand, shows us that life has many turning points, many changes in our journey. This causes me to ask: Have you found a way to reveal the multiple personal influences and events in a way that each contributes to the illumination of you life?

Read Karen’s memoir to learn how to intentionally take the reader with you as you show how you changed and grew. Let me give a few examples:

p. 52 “The next day, Mark called. ‘Why do you stay with him, Karen? I don’t get it. You’re smart, attractive. What gives?’”

When reading this passage, I thought I had spotted the turning point in Karen’s life — a turning point that would enable her to get out of a bad marriage and move forward in her life.

p. 81 “I’d reached a milestone of sorts. I was trying to evaluate whether to continue working for someone else or go back into business with Mark. At the same time, I began to take responsibility for my own behavior, recognizing when I was responsible and when someone else was, rather than automatically blaming myself when things went wrong.”

“Aha,” I thought when reading this passage. “This is the real turning point for Karen.”

p. 93 [Seeing that the relationship with her business partner was destructive for her even though it had been important and helpful at an earlier point in her life journey, Karen writes:] “But the negative patterns I’d learned as a child were breaking, and I was beginning to find my own voice. I recognized old patterns as they occurred and could change my behavior accordingly.”

“OK,” I thought. This is even more important than the previous two points, so this must be the real turning point in the story.

p. 112 [Karen has once again moved to a new state, leaving her second husband, searching for a connection to her spiritual self. At this point in the story, she has been alone in a Kiva while reflecting on her life.] “This was a powerful moment–the culmination of my search for Self and finding comfort with aloneness and solitude. I’d finally come to terms with my fear of being alone and how that had kept me choosing inappropriate partners and staying with them long after I knew the relationship wouldn’t work.”

… Well, by now I understood that Karen had beautifully crafted a story that let me accompany her on this life path that never makes just a single turn in the road to lead us to enlightenment but that presents many forks in the road, each an opportunity for personal progress.

There are multiple levels to Karen’s memoir and in this brief review I have only mentioned one. Following the Whispers will give you the opportunity both to learn how you can take the reader along with you as your life has unfolded, but also will let you reflect on listening to your own whispers.

When Whispers Are Deadly, May 31, 2009

By JoAnn Melton "LifeLines & Legacies writer" (Midwest USA)

Following the Whispers is a most poignant account of life following an incident of molestation of a four year old girl in her own apartment building by that friendly, helpful stranger no one would suspect as he performs his handyman duties in a very public and seemingly safe setting.

Home was hardly the safe haven to provide solace as her parents were habitually in loud conflict with no blueprint for raising a child. The incident which stole perhaps an hour from her life, silently erased any potential for creating boundaries, an issue which continued to negatively impact her life well into adulthood.

The life experiences Karen Walker shares provide the template of a life forever changed by the impact of the encounter long after the predator moved on. What the abuser considers minor forever colors the world of the victim. This memoir reflects the damage it creates, the invisible scars that remain and the struggle to heal the wounds that occur. The silent epidemic of sexual molestation must come out of the shadows that perpetuate the shame and the victimization.

"Following the Whispers," is a powerful vehicle from the shameful darkness to the light of recovery.
I highly appreciate this bare bones story of a life spent collecting the fragmented pieces of childhood - the price of trauma too frequently inflicted on today's innocents. By speaking through her book, one more voice is added to the choir of those brave enough to surmount their own discomfort for the greater goal of stamping out child abuse. If silence is deadly, Karen Walker has provided more than a whisper in the silence that allows abuse to fester.

I also finished reading Following the Whispers, an impressive memoir by our blogger Karen Walker. She wrote an excellent book about a life that hasn't been easy to live. What she went through in her life to reach a peaceful plateau! I cheered her on through her struggles. I could relate to many of them: abuse, difficult husbands, low self-concept. She dug deep into painful places. "A happy childhood isn't worth bothering with." Or something like this is what Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) wrote. It takes courage to examine ourselves in a way that connects with others whose lives have been difficult also. Karen Walker has done this beautifully. I highly recommend her book. Go here to find an excellent review of it.
A.B.

This memoir was very easy to read, despite the tough subject matter of a lifetime spent recovering from childhood abuse. The author did an excellent job of telling her story while explaining the emotional damage each new incident caused. She also did an excellent job explaining how she transformed her life, found herself and spirituality without preaching or coming off like a self-help guru with all the answers for everyone. Her story is touching and hopeful. I look forward to reading more from her.

Review by Jessica Bell
Another self-published book that I am remarkably surprised with. This book was amazing, heartfelt, superbly written. The author has obviously taken every single necessary step to ensure the quality of this book. So impressed. Despite the somewhat depressing subject matter, I REALLY enjoyed reading it. I even went to bed early a couple of nights so that I could get through more than I usually do in one sitting. Wow. Yes, very, very impressed. I totally recommend it! And I think even if you are not into memoir, you'll still enjoy it.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Book Review: Following the Whispers

 Following the Whispers, a brutally honest memoir by Karen Walker, was a 2009 Finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards. Karen doesn’t hold back. She lays out her childhood and her adulthood for the reader, without glossing over anything. I think it may be the most sincere memoir I’ve read.

She starts the book in her childhood when she was three and refused to go to bed and the punishment she received from her mother. There are stories in the book that are difficult to read, but I kept reading because I know Karen online; therefore, I know she survived. I know that she becomes whole.

She takes readers along on that journey to become whole. We live through the bad times and the good times -- through her spiritual journey to the point where she is now. This is not to say that everything is perfect in her life. She tries many paths, religions and books until she learns to listen to the whispers of Spirit within herself.

That journey is a most interesting one, although until she begins to trust and believe in herself, it is often a sad and complicated journey. The story of her life affected three generations: her parents, herself, and her son.

This is from the first page of her story:
Childhood should be a sanctuary -- a refuge before the onslaught of life -- a cocoon in which one feels unconditionally loved….My childhood was no such thing.
Karen shows us how this affected her teenage years and her adulthood - as well as the life of her own son. How it still affects her today.

Following the Whispers by Karen Walker
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

I give Following the Whispers a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FTC Disclaimer: The author Karen Walker sent me Following the Whispers. That did not affect my review. Her memoir, a story of finding inner peace and self-acceptance despite all that happened to her, affected my review. Although, I would say to Karen, You need to put a warning on this book: Do Not Read in Public. I read Following the Whispers on a flight from Austin to El Paso. Then I had a four-hour wait until my husband arrived from Denver before we could head to Las Cruces, New Mexico. So I sat near the baggage area and read. And cried. And tried to hunker down when security kept eyeing me.


This week’s featured artist is an author and a good “e-friend” and bloggy buddy I met online several years ago and have kept in touch with. Karen Walker’s debut book, a memoir, Following the Whispers, is reviewed below. She also has a fine blog where she continues to share the remarkable life journey (she tells of in Whispers) with thought provoking posts of facing life challenges head-on and forging one’s own salvation and freedom to live a life of fulfilment.
Karen likes to dance and sing. She like to feel life, enjoy it, and she really reaches out to people–not only for the purpose of helping others by imparting the life epiphanies she’s had (and earned many of them the hard way), but also to obtain advice and help … she’s not afraid of, and always open to, other people’s honest and constructive opinions. Her blog is a great place to visit for interaction with her and her readers who are some thoughtful, caring and sharing people.
*****
So this reviw and feature post is looooooong overdue, and Karen, sweetie, I do apoligize for taking so long.
Okay. ‘Nuff buildup said, here’s my review.
~~~~~
I read a lot of memoirs. As a professional editor and an author who networks with lots of other aspiring authors, I probably read at least a half dozen of them every year. And to be honest, most memoirs written by relatively ‘unknown’ writers are mediocre reading at best. Memoirs are not the easiest kind of book to create intense interest with, unless the author is either A), a famous person, a household name type of celebrity (or scoundrel), or B) the author is an especially interesting person, who has a gripping, intense, and compelling story to tell about an unusual and/or incredible life journey, and—this one’s the kicker—also has the skill to writethe story well.
Karen Walker, with her book, Following the Whispers, falls into the latter category, with a bold check mark next to all the necessary qualifications. This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read yet. Walker writes with ferocious candor about her life; the childhood of which—in her dysfunctional, constantly arguing and in a state of upheaval family—was ‘dim-lighted’ by being verbally berated by her father, severely punished by her mother for relatively innocent and typical childlike wrongdoings and, at an age when kids should be happily playing hopscotch and swinging on monkey bars, sexually molested by a stranger.  Suffering from abysmally low self-esteem and feelings of being a worthless failure, she projects and attracts more of the same: two failed marriages to ‘wrong’ guys, remorse, regret and despair shadowing every step and move in her adult life. Eventually she finds and marries “Mister Right” and starts turning her life and attitude around for the better. She learns to listen, pay attention to, and follow … the whispers.
Whispers—the small voices of goodness, of worthiness, of meaning in life, of making life worth the living … guiding hushed tones that are pointers toward a holistic and healthy body, mind, and life. They had been silenced in her psyche, banished to some remote, dark corner deep inside her, unavailable to help for so long. As the story unfolds the reader is uplifted with hope and inspiration as Walker finds her spiritual path, her good senses about herself, and the way to peace, joy, and fulfilment. She does not claim to have all the answers to life or even all the explanations for her own often still wobbling, roller-coasting emotional and psychological state at the end of the book. But she has found, seen, and heard her center, and recognizes the wisdom within—the innate little murmur we are all endowed with that some people call the Voice of God.
Karen Walker is a deep thinker, and someone who feels deeply. She is also a very talented writer, and the reader will be prompted to think and feel deeply with her as she takes you on a journey that will cause you to experience the full gamut of human emotions—whether you like them or not. The prose is well crafted, the dialog rings real, the characters are developed and multi-dimensional, and the story—even though a memoir—reads much like a novel in that it has the distinct feeling of having a plot to it … I found that exceptional for this genre. Overall it’s a fine literary work and I highly recommend this book. Just have a strong stomach. It’s not an easy story to swallow at first, but Karen comes through in the end with a message of hope, advisement, and inspiration for everyone, including herself.

When a person shares their experiences, good or bad, we can learn19from them if we really listen.

I believe that is the case with FOLLOWING THE WHISPERS, a poignant memoir by author Karen Walker. One doesn’t have to have the same experiences or problems to relate. It’s a matter of understanding how the problems were overcome and then translating that into your own situation.

The author tells how she was sexually molested at a very young age. That molestation, coupled with a loveless home life, drastically effected her growth as a teenager and then as an adult. It also carried over into their ability to cope with sexual relationships, marriage, motherhood, and even jobs.

During her road to discovery, the author had two failed marriages and lost custody of her son. Learning to understand what had happened as a child wasn’t her fault or her responsibility, the author was finally able to develop a stable and loving marriage, as well as connect with her adult son bringing them closer as mother and child.

This book is a great reminder for those with children, as well as though around children, they adsorb much more than we realize. They are not mature enough to realize when a hateful phrase is said in jest. Also, they may not understand the meaning of some words, but they do understand the tone and the frequency of words.

Another thing this book reminded me of is that we often hurt those we love and care about without realizing it. Continues negative attitude can have a degrading effect. Remember to sprinkle some positive in with your comments.

While Karen’s book does deal with very painful and devastating issues, I also found it to be inspiring, uplifting, and insightful. Despite a difficult background, Karen has learned to listen to the whispers of hope, strength, love, inner peace, and self-acceptance.

FOLLOWING THE WHISPERS is a must read for anyone facing difficult issues in their 
life or know someone else who is.

This is a brave and intensely personal memoir of a woman who experienced the depths of despair to new beginnings over a 50-year period. Her journey took her across the country and back again. Very moving and yet heart-warming as the author shows us how she reclaimed her courage and self-confidence to be the person she wanted to be. 
Liz Fizchera


I've never read a memoir before, but Karen's story is really powerful. Her style of writing just sucks you right into the story and it was over before I knew it. Highly recommended!
Alex Cavanaugh


This memoir was very easy to read, despite the tough subject matter of a lifetime spent recovering from childhood abuse. The author did an excellent job of telling her story while explaining the emotional damage each new incident caused. She also did an excellent job explaining how she transformed her life, found herself and spirituality without preaching or coming off like a self-help guru with all the answers for everyone. Her story is touching and hopeful. I look forward to reading more from her.
Cyndi


When she was 28, Karen Walker’s marriage ended in divorce, and she was awarded custody of their preschool-age son. A few months later, however, she was served a restraining order and told a judge had believed her husband’s debauched lies. Without a hearing, she ceased being David’s primary caregiver.

Karen’s best friend, her former husband’s sister and a cancer survivor Karen had supported throughout that ordeal, ejected Karen from her life without a word.

David later told his mom he needed to break off communication with her. He never gave a reason.

Karen had grown up with parents who fought constantly and bitterly. She’d been sexually molested as a young child. But losing her son was when she decided to stop “living unconsciously,” pretending that everything would work out OK. It was the end of denying reality and the beginning of a journey toward inner peace, of learning when she was responsible and when someone else is.

In her debut memoir Karen shares how inner peace isn’t something we achieve then keep feeling forever. It comes in moments, once we learn to believe the voice that is inside each of us.

As Karen explains, we aren’t born hating ourselves. We’re taught. And if we once thought it was OK to have dark skin or sing out loud when we’re happy but are made to feel otherwise, we start to wonder if all the other things we think about ourselves are “wrong” as well. We not only stop listening to that inner guidance; we forget it’s even there.

“The negative messages inside me were what I listened to rather than the voice of wisdom, because I didn’t know how to distinguish them. But I wasn’t alone and never had been. Guidance had been there all along; I just hadn’t learned to listen.”

Following the Whispers skillfully weaves scenes from Karen’s life with the wisdom gained years later. More than a memoir, it’s a warm and wise journey about learning how to believe in yourself so you can work on the things you can change while accepting those you can’t.

Karen is clearsighted, and her words are empowering and liberating. Reading this book is like having a loving mother, sister, best friend, religious counselor and self-help therapist all in one. You’ll learn that, for now, you might not have the tools you need to handle a situation, but you can learn them later and do better the next time—but only if you give yourself permission to stop beating yourself up. We are a work in progress, and that inner voice is always there and always on our side.

Michelle Fayard


A wonderful insight into the life of the author. Her honesty about her background is shared exceptionally well. The storyline is well crafted, interesting and touches the heart.
Glynis


This is really powerful and so down to earth. If you don't cry at some point, you're not human!
Diane Wolfe

 Three weeks ago I finished reading Karen Walker's memoir, "Following the Whispers". The story came to my life at the right time when I was in turmoil and going through a dark period of self-doubts. Her first chapter hooked me right away as it shed light on some dark corners of her past.
   Karen walks us through her childhood with determination. She states that childhood should be a sanctuary, but hers was not one. She shows us, with striking details, experiences that conditioned the poor choices that she made later in her life: an episode of sexual abuse at age six, details about the relationship with her parents, her upbringing. She later has to endure the betrayal and indifference of  the people she loves, the loss of custody of her own son, the intense pain of feeling left out and lonely. This is a story that reached my heart.
   I admire the courage and honesty that Karen spilled on those pages. Despite her challlenging experiencies and the suffering she had to endure, she is finally able to shape a life that she cherishes. Her path to healing is a long winding road that reminds us that life is worth living despite all the pain that we may go through.
   The description of scenes and characters are so vivid and realistic that they stayed  in my mind. After reading her memoir  I felt stronger. I connected to the writer's inner strength, that special energy that grows from pain and healing. Thanks, Karen.
Julia Hones


I recently finished reading "Following The Whispers", by Karen Walker. This memoir is the amazing story of Karen's life, in which she rose above the damage from early childhood abuse. Her book so vividly describes just how pervasive early damage is...how the effects on self esteem trickles into every area of life. She so openly describes several decades of her life in which she went from one spirit breaking situation to the next...all the while working to heal herself. There were some very difficult decisions which she made in her quest for wholeness, some of them heartbreaking. This is a story of courage, strength, and tenacity which provides inspiration and hope for anyone who has spent a lifetime searching for inner peace and self acceptance.

There are many traits of Karen's which I admired while reading the book. The one which I admire the most is that she never gave up. Her story also provides hope for those who may start to believe that it's too late for them, because she proves that no matter what stage of life a person is in that it is possible for all of the pieces to begin falling into place. It shows that sometimes there may be a whole lot of trial and error, but the key is to do whatever it takes to finally reach that place in which you move beyond the negative messages...into knowing that you are worthy of having a fulfilling life.

While this book is not a self-help book, it is very empowering. If you are searching for hope in overcoming difficult situations in your own life, it's very likely that you will recognize at least a little bit of yourself in Karen's story. Needless to say...I highly recommend it.

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