Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. 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. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“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

“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

Friday, January 15, 2010


When I went back to school at age 53 to complete a Bachelor's degree, it was to learn how to "tell my story." An editor I'd hired to read my memoir manuscript told me, "You have story inside you, Karen, but it's not on these pages. You just need to tell your story."

I didn't know how. I'd written journalistically for years as a public relations professional. Structurally, you do the 5 w's, who, what, where, when and why. Typically, facts, only. No opinions. No lyricism. No flowery language. And no metaphors.

My mind doesn't think metaphorically. It thinks literally. This is a problem for a writer who writes Creative Nonfiction or Fiction. But I am beginning to understand metaphor because it is working in my life. Singing has become a metaphor for what my soul is craving--self expression.

My voice was silenced as a child. My spirit crushed by childhood sexual abuse and parents who didn't know how to love. Not themselves, not each other, and certainly not me. I know now they did love me; they just didn't know how to show it.

I couldn't understand why singing has become so important in my life. As I've said before, I'm not a great, nor even a good one. I'm okay. At first it was about overcoming stage fright. I've gone from needing to stand staring at my toes so I wouldn't see anyone looking at me, to making eye contact with folks in the audience and connecting with them as I'm singing.

Then it was about hitting all the right notes at the right time, connecting with movements, and having fun. Now, it's moved beyond that to just being ME. Staying centered inside my own self. No inner critic telling me I have no business doing this--I'm not good enough. I am doing something I've always wanted to do. And I'm making people smile.

It's about me expressing me. That's the metaphor. So is my writing. So is being with others and sharing who I am. Not being pulled this way and that, trying to please so and so, so she won't get mad. Worrying what thus and such will think. Just me is enough. So when I get up to sing, if I'm not feeling good about what I'm doing, I know I'm off center. Because when I'm on, I know it doesn't matter whether what I'm doing is good. Just doing it is enough.



Tabitha Bird said...

Oh, that is just wonderful Karen. I love that your life is showing you what metaphor is by being an example of it. Imagery and metaphor are so powerful because it lets others into your world. while not everyone will understand your feelings about singing, when you make it into a metaphor, many people can relate to the feelings of being shut down and not heard.

Enjoy living the metaphor :)

Tamika: said...

You have a lovely way of pulline me in with the passion of your writing. There is something living and breathing in you waited to spill over the pages.

God bless you Karen!

Marvin D Wilson said...

Your posts, including this one, always evoke an inspiration in me, the reflection of such bravery, courage and determination to overcome, grow and expand. Nicley written, Karen. I'm looking forward to getting and reading your memoir soon, too.

The Old Silly

Karen Walker said...

Tab, your writing is lush with metaphor and imagery. I can learn from you, dear one.
Tamika, Thank you so much for these lovely words.
Marvin, these words go straight to my soul. Thank you.

Jen Chandler said...

"Just doing it is enough."

I love this! It is so true. Too often I fear that I'm not doing something good enough or I won't even start for fear of messing up. But doing it is enough. Well then, looks like I got to get doin'. :)

Thank you for your inspiration, Karen.
Have a marvelous weekend,

Helen Ginger said...

I think we all tend to dismiss just doing it. You remind us how important doing it is - and that it is enough.

Straight From Hel

Cyndi said...

I love it! We all lose ourselves, if we ever knew ourselves at all...growing up learning to just get by.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Hey look at you - 89 followers! You'll be a centurian blogger before you know it!

The Old Silly

Sally said...

You are such an inspiration...

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great point, Karen! Squashing that inner critic is so tough, but so important.


Anonymous said...

So glad you found the freedom to be you. It's amazing how many walls we can put up around ourselves.