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
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Thank you all for reading these words. It means the world to me.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I had to find other ways to reward myself, other than food. Now I go clothes shopping or purchase songs on I-tunes, rather than eat. Whereas I used to hate shopping for clothes, now I love it, because things look good (even at 61!).
Learning to say no, not only to myself, but to others was hard. If I am invited to dinner, I choose what to eat and what not to eat, and sometimes people don't understand. My friends do - now. But at first they used to say things like, oh, it doesn't matter just this once. Oh, but yes it does. It is my body and I get to say what goes in and what doesn't. If we're invited out to dinner with friends, I plan accordingly so that I eat less calories during that day.
If the scale creeps up a pound or two, I immediately stop eating out and eat what I know will bring it back down. In the past, I didn't pay attention, and the 1 pound would become two would become four would become 10, etc.
Temptations are everywhere. Saturday at the State Fair was hard - I love those turkey legs, and curly fries and, and, and. But I brought my own lunch rather than eat the fair food. And the funny thing is, I didn't feel deprived. I don't feel like I am depriving myself of things I want - that was an old emotional issue. Rather, I am choosing to take exceptionally good care of myself by eating what I know makes my body feel healthy and strong and fit.
So there you have it. Some of the ways I am maintaining my weight loss. How about you? Do you struggle with food? If so, where are you with that particular issue? If you don't, you are one lucky person.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I revisited the journal I've kept over the last year since the "voice" came to me in Scotland and asked me to tell its story. It was a way of re-connecting, since I haven't written a word in weeks. The entire process, from the moment I heard that whisper, to now, has been transformational, spiritually, emotionally and even physically. One of the things that came through loud and clear is that I musn't abandon the writing. I must find a way to manage my energy so that I can write, sing, and live a full life with family and friends. As hard as it feels sometimes, it is the next step in my spiritual journey, so unless I am willing to ignore who I am and what is important to me, I must continue.
I visited the New Mexico State Fair on Saturday, meandering by myself while hubs ran his model railroad trains. Had the feeling I was an alien from another planet amongst all the men and women wearing cowboy hats, boots and jeans. Sometimes the New Yorker in me surfaces unexpectedly, even though I've been living in the Southwest for 16 years now. But put me in the midst of barns, barnyard animals, cowboys and country music, and I definitely feel a bit displaced. It's fun, though, to people watch.
Do you ever feel like you don't belong? If so, when and where?
Friday, September 24, 2010
Growing up in the household I did, where chaos, fighting, and anger reigned, I desperately wanted and needed to control my environment. So we assume responsibility for things that are not ours, like wanting to fix my parents' bad marriage, thinking it was my fault in the first place.
Learning what is my responsibility and what isn't has been a lifelong lesson. And taking on responsibility for others only leads to grief and heartache. We're responsible for our children's health, well-being and safety, but the ultimate goal is to teach them how to be responsible for themselves. Knowing when to let go is key. I am hereby letting go of assuming any responsibility for anyone's life but my own. I will put into practice being the most loving Karen I can be with friends and family. That's all any of us can do.
What are you holding on to? Is it time to let go?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Of the two pieces: a book on aging, and the novel about the wishing steps, is there one that is calling to me right now? Both seem to have equal “needing to be written” rights. The wishing steps is the one that is going to be the hardest in terms of spiritual journey into the unknown. The voice which came to me in Scotland asking me to tell its story hasn't made an appearance lately. And in order to write the aging book, I need to do interviews and research. I have no energy right now. All I seem to have energy for is walking and singing and minimal chores like shopping and cooking easy things. Since I can’t change that, how about accepting that due to all the various issues I'm dealing with right now, my own as well as others, I am exhausted, spiritually, emotionally and physically. It’s legitimate. This is where I am super hard on myself. Thinking that I shouldn’t feel what I’m feeling, especially when anyone who experiences what I do just might be tired also.
Why don’t I think about intention? I am setting intention to:
• Be good to myself on a moment to moment, daily basis
• Exercise every day, if possible
• Practice singing each day
• Write the books: 1) Intention for aging book: to offer a guide to aging boomers about aging and caring for aging parents; 2) Intention for The Wishing Steps: to follow inner guidance and let this story unfold
What might you set your intentions towards?
Monday, September 20, 2010
I'm going to work backwards from when I was a child to current time (that's 61 years, folks).
10. The Donna Reed Show (I know, I know, it's probably the root of all my problems).
9. The Mickey Mouse Club (I had a crush on Spin from Spin and Marty, so I had to watch every day)
8. American Bandstand - who can forget rating the songs based on the beat and how well you could dance to it.
7. The Ed Sullivan Show - Who remembers watching the Beatles - I was bouncing up and down on the edge of the bed in my parent's bedroom (the TV was there) and I remember Dad saying, "Oh, they'll never last."
6. Thirtysomething - I think this was on in the 80's when I was in my thirties. Their angst made me forget mine for awhile.
5. The West Wing - the writing was so incredibly sharp on this show, as was the acting.
4. Brothers and Sisters - Sally Field is awesome in this.
3. PBS music shows of the 50's and 60's. My singing group is called Sugartime, after the famous McGuire Sisters song. I got to see them sing the song a few weeks ago. Lovely.
2 American Idol - although not sure I'll watch it anymore now that 3 judges have left at the same time.
1. Glee - it's not my favorite show of all time, but I'm loving the singing on it. Such talent.
What are your favorite TV shows and why?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Have you ever heard messages inside yourself that sounded like:
“YOU’D BETTER NOT DO THAT”
“THIS ONE MIGHT BE TROUBLE”
“UH OH. WATCH OUT.”
“GIVE THAT ONE A CHANCE”
If you have heard these kinds of words inside your head, or phrases just like it, or images or feelings, guiding you to either do or not do something, then you are one step ahead of most people. We all get guidance, but oftentimes, we don’t recognize it, and if we do, we don’t listen.
In these tough times, it’s crucial to be aware of signs and signals that something is wrong or there may be an opportunity over there we need to focus on.
To help understand intuition and how it works, we’re going to explore:
• Different ways intuition, spirit and inner wisdom try to communicate with us
• Reasons why we may have shut down, blocking our ability to hear
• Ways to once again open ourselves to these messages
First let’s look at different ways we might be receiving messages:
o Physical – Body reactions such as tic, twitch, chills, goose bumps, stomach clutch, tears, tingly ears, clench jaw, dry mouth, throat hoarseness, tightness in chest, diarrhea, constipation, numbness. It can be difficult to distinguish between legitimate ailments and messages from Spirit. For example, I have a hoarse throat problem. It’s not there all the time, but it is crucial because I sing. I went to an ENT who said my vocal chords are red and he thinks it’s from my acid reflux. I was told to take more prilosec and cut out chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods and tomato products. When I do those things, the hoarseness is better, but not totally. My hunch is that it’s an emotional issue for me, having to do with being the center of attention.
o Emotional – There are four main emotions: mad, sad, glad, and scared. Again, there could be real reasons you are feeling emotional. You need to check in with yourself. If someone has died, someone has said or done something to hurt you, etc. it’s simply a valid emotional reaction. But if you feel sad in the midst of a comedy routine, or start laughing at a funeral, you might want to see if something else is going on. Or if you go numb and don’t feel anything, you might want to pay attention to who you are with and what was said. I tend to go numb when someone is hurtful or insults me or disrespects me in some way and don’t realize till later I’ve been slammed.
o Spiritual –When we open our hearts and minds to Spirit, messages come in many ways. Be aware and alert. You may have an impulse to do or not do something. You might receive messages from nature, meditation, prayer, talking with friend, church or synagogue, reading inspirational writing, or writing in journal. Consider keeping a small notepad with you to jot down thoughts when in this state.
o Martha Beck, in “Finding Your Own North Star,” describes it this way. You have two selves: a social self and an essential self. In most people, the social self dominates. When we stop listening to the essential self, it resorts to extreme measures in order to communicate. And the social self will do everything it can to prevent us from hearing. Some ways the essential self will get our attention:
Freudian slips – pay attention if your own words surprise you
You feel drained and exhausted on your way to job, class, medical appt, social functions. If you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. If you’ve eaten recently. If you’re hydrated, pay attention to the drained, tired feeling.
Forgetting – it will conveniently forget things that help you go in a direction it doesn’t like. Beck gives an example of someone who fell apart when he was assigned to a large corporate client. Every time he set out to meet with this client, he’d forget airplane tickets, passport, briefcase, the presentations he’d spent hours preparing. He finally resigned from the case, something he’d never done in 20 years. A few months later, that corporation became the target of an FBI investigation. A “sabotage” by the essential self turned into a smart move.
Your essential self will fight you by committing stupid blunders whenever you violate your own values.
Social suicide – When you are in circumstances that poison your core, all the subtle mechanisms that make for smooth social behavior get gummed up
Addiction – Your essential self feels a constant sense of yearning emptiness if you’re headed away from your North Star. Things that dull this feeling (food, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping) are the addictions your human self will adopt.
Mood control – If you suddenly break down in tears for no apparent reason, or laugh during a serious meeting, rage at a traffic jam, your social self and essential self are disconnected. Pay special attention. Your essential self is trying to tell you where to find your North Star.
Now, let’s look at reasons in your life you may have shut down:
o Childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Jane Middleton-Moz explains in her book, “Shame and Guilt” that debilitating shame and guilt are at the root of all dysfunctions in families. Adult children of depressed parents, abuse, religious fanaticism, war, cultural oppression and parental and sibling death (to name a few), have one thing in common, according to Middleton-Moz…they grew up in shaming environments where the grief of the past was not resolved in the past and parents in delayed grief could not healthily bond to children.
o Abusive relationships – If you are in a relationship in which you are shamed, put down, disrespected, controlled, physically assaulted, psychologically assaulted, or emotionally battered, you are in an abusive relationship. And if you are, there is no way you can be comfortable being yourself, open to life and its wisdom. Instead, you are encased in a protective covering that shuts out everything. But it really doesn’t. Each barbed comment, each ridicule, each humiliation, each slap or punch, each jab at your psyche and your soul, eats away a bit more of your life energy until you feel depleted and defeated, in despair and perhaps depressed.
o Poor self-esteem – One must have a sense of self in order to have self-esteem. Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Ingrained in that statement is that you must love yourself in order to love.
o We live life in fear, not love – Pema Chodron, author of “Start Where You Are,” says, “”We already have everything we need…All these trips we lay on ourselves, the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, jealousy, addictions, never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” And intuition cannot speak to us unless we are fully awake.
o Debbie Ford, in “Dark Side of the Light Chasers” says, “Dark doesn’t mean only negative, it refers to something that is out of the light of our consciousness. We resist looking long and hard for fear of discovering someone we can’t live with. We fear ourselves. We fear every thought and feeling we have ever repressed. Many are so disconnected from this fear we can only see it by reflection, by projecting it onto the world, our families and friends and strangers. Our fear is so deep, the only way we can deal with it is either hide it or deny it. We learn to suppress disturbing internal messages.”
o Marianne Williamson, in A Return to Love, says, “It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I found this to be so true for me. I was afraid of my own Light for so long. Others didn’t always react well when I was happy and powerful. A therapist once gave me this analogy: Imagine a bucket full of crabs. One crab begins to climb up out of the bucket, but the other crabs keep trying to pull it back down. This is an apt description of a dysfunctional family/relationship/world.
Finally, let’s look at ways to once again open ourselves up to intuition:
Caroline Myss, in “Anatomy of the Spirit,” says that intuitive or symbolic sight is not a gift but a skill based on self-esteem. Everything that is alive pulsates with energy and all of that energy contains information. The energy field surrounding your body is both an information center and a highly sensitive perceptual system. Here’s an example of how it works. If you had trouble with math in elementary school, knowing that 12 makes a dozen would not ordinarily carry an emotional charge that could alter the health of cell tissues. But if you were humiliated by the teacher because you didn’t know that fact, the experience would carry an emotional charge that would create cellular damage, especially if you dwelled on that memory thru adulthood or used it for determining how to deal with criticism, or authority figures, or failure or education. Positive images and the energy of positive experiences are also held in the energy field. Emotions are stored in the body.
Have a reflective state of mind. Be objective. Don’t judge the messages. A clear impression has no emotional energy connected to it. Learning the symbolic language of energy means learning to evaluate the dynamics of power in yourself and others. Energy information is always truthful. Someone may agree to something in public, his energy will state how he really feels and his real feelings will find their way into some symbolic statement. Our biological and spiritual systems always seek to express truth, and they will always find a way to do so. Become conscious of what gives you power. And what drains your power.
According to Myss, intuition is neither the ability to engage prophesy nor a means of avoiding financial loss or painful relationships. It is actually the ability to use energy data to make decisions in the immediate moment. Energy data are the emotional, psychological, and spiritual components of a given situation.
The information makes its presence known by making us feel uncomfortable, depressed and anxious, or drifty and detached as if we are cut off from all our own feelings. In dreams we may receive symbols of change or chaos.
Here are some ways to connect with inner wisdom
o Don’t compare yourself to others. Look inside not outside. One of my favorite slogans is: comparison is an act of vengeance against yourself
o Step into nature/silence
o Don’t confuse emotion with true intuition. Fear-based emotions versus intuition, which feels clear.
Intuition is a gift. And a skill we need to hone. Sometimes the message is crystal clear. Other times you’ll get an image or a thought or a feeling and won’t have a clue what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it. It’s an art, not a science. I am certainly not an expert. I’m still learning. Even the experts I quoted today are not infallible. Someone once said we are spiritual beings having a human experience. That’s key. We’re human. And as such, we’ll make mistakes. Lots of them. But learning how our intuition speaks to us will hopefully help us avoid some, handle some better, and make better choices and decisions as we move through Earth school.
Here are my 10 practical ways to tune in to intuition:
1. Be fully present in your body whenever possible. Make sure your five senses are functioning. That you are aware of yourself and your environment.
2. Pay attention to physical and emotional reactions to people, places and things.
3. Watch for inappropriate responses to people, places or things.
4. Listen to voices, feelings, nudges you get from inside yourself. Stay with them, even if they don’t make sense right away. Spirit seems to operate in its own time, not ours.
5. If something doesn’t feel right, stop, look and listen.
6. If you feel confused, talk to trusted friends and family members. Listen to other perspectives, then go deep within to find your perspective, once the issues are clarified.
7. Be aware that there are consequences, usually negative ones, if we don’t listen to our intuition. Be willing to accept those consequences.
8. Awareness. Acceptance. Action. First, become aware. Once you are fully cognizant of a situation, accept it. I love the serenity prayer for this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Only then can we determine right action.
9. Intuition is a skill we can learn to deepen and cultivate.
10. Trust yourself.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
When you carry those behaviors into adulthood, it makes for a very unhappy existence. One of my most favorite slogans from the 12-step programs is Let Go and Let God. When I first heard it, I didn't have a clue what it meant. It literally took years for me to understand what letting go means and even more years to be able to do it. Letting go means you are only responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What anyone else thinks, feels and does is none of your business and certainly not in your control. We can only change ourselves.
I've needed to remind myself of this crucial life principle. I can't change the health issues of those around me. I can't fix them. I can't change how they deal with these issues. I have to let go of those needs in me and accept that this is their journey and it will evolve as it needs to for them. I can only stand by in love and support and share my experience, wisdom and strength as needed. I may wish things to turn out a certain way, but I have no control over whether that happens. I can only take steps to make it so.
Today I am choosing to let go of my desire to control people and things around me. What might you let go of?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Talking Writing has launched a new literary magazine and is looking for submissions of new work (there are guidelines on the site). They will also start reviewing various literary and journalistic blogs in the magazine and would be very happy to hear from writers about their blogs--or suggestions from other writers about good blogs. Last but not least, they are looking for writers to do short opinion pieces for a column about mystery writing ("Talking Mystery").Here's the link: http://talkingwriting.com/
I am in a sink hole in terms of my writing. So much of my time and energy is devoted to family members and friends who have health issues that I haven't written a word (except these blog posts) in weeks. I am trusting that this is okay for now, since there seems to be no choice in the matter, although I know we always have choices in any given moment. But there is just so much energy one person has, and between the crises and my Sugartime commitments, and taking care of house and hubs, there's nothing left over. So, I am making sure I eat write, get back to exercising regularly, and trying to get a good a night's sleep as possible. And continually turn everyone over to Spirit. I'm not in charge, thank goodness.
What are you musing about today?
Friday, September 10, 2010
With my friend, MA, the changes have come on quite suddenly and neither one of us had time to to prepare. All of a sudden, this meticulous housekeeper has papers strewn all over her den, dust covers the furniture, dishes sit in the sink. When before MA retained pertinent details for not just days, but years, now she is confused about what day it is, what and when her appointments are.
This is the beginning of a descent. I have been here before - with my father, with my mother-in-law, and with my friend's mother. So, we begin the process together. First, I must ask her if she wants me to take on this role of caregiver? Does she trust me with helping her make decisions and changes? The answer is yes.
Next, we must gather information. How much money is there. Is there enough for her needs and for her disabled daughter's needs? If not, what do we do?
Can MA stay living independently? Is she safe? Is she taking proper care of herself, i.e. taking medications appropriately? If not, where will she go? Or will we get help coming in?
All of my friends have seen me in this role with the above-mentioned people. They all want me as their advocate when they get to this stage. It's a nice compliment. I can honestly say I am a gift when it comes to this particular issue.
My lesson in all of this. I am trying to use these experiences to help me understand what is going to happen to me--to all of us, actually--when we get to be elders. And I am hoping this experience will help me accept it more gracefully so that I don't resist the changes too darn much.
Thank you all for the kind wishes as I take on this additional role at this point in my life.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Those of you who read my memoir know that when I came to New Mexico, I was broken, spiritually and emotionally. I had very little money, knew no one here, and just didn't feel I had the energy or desire to continue. I had come to Albuquerque to housesit for my friend's mother's friend, a wonderful woman, whom I'll call M.A. When M.A. returned from her trip and asked me what my plans were and heard just how bereft I was,she offered to let me stay with her until I figured out what I wanted to do. It ended up being four months. She took no money, except for long distance phone calls. At the end of that time, I'd found a job, and shortly after that met my hubs. So if it weren't for M.A., I wouldn't have the wonderful life I am living right now.
She's in trouble. She's going to be 89 in November and she's had several falls. Saturday morning, she fell and couldn't get up. No one knew. Her housemate had gone off for the day. She lay, flat on her back the entire day and evening. We got a call at 10 pm that night when her housemate returned. He couldn't get her up by himself. She hadn't injured anything, but was incoherent (probably from dehydration).
She has no family. Her only daughter lives in Oregon and is handicapped. M.A.supports her. I'm it. There are no rules for this kind of situation. I am not family, but I love this woman with all my heart. I call her my guardian angel. So yesterday, hubs and I went over there to assess the situation. I'll be going with her to the doctor this week and talking to her financial person also.
So that's my difficult issue, along with the family member I've been talking about. We won't know exactly what we're dealing with there until mid-October. So, my truth for this Tuesday is that I'm exhausted. And I'm okay. I've learned just how strong I am over the years. And in the midst of all this, there have been some very happy moments as well. It's just what we call life. And it's difficult. And wonderful.
Monday, September 6, 2010
The visit with my son was wonderful. We spent Saturday hiking in the Pecos Wilderness, about two hours drive from Albuquerque. The weather was perfect, not too hot, and being outdoors was just what everyone needed.
I am dealing with some really difficult issues, so I am going to keep this rather short today. I hope everyone is enjoying this Labor Day holiday.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday weekend. We've got big doings. My son is arriving today for a quick visit. Tonight is dinner with good friends. Tomorrow a day trip somewhere in the Land of Enchantment. Sunday's an annual pool party at our friend's house and Monday, hubs and I collapse. Only kidding.
It's odd to be at this stage in my life. I've always been such a type-a, super-productive personality. So to not have that kind of energy going on with my writing feels weird, as if something is wrong. But it isn't. I know I am not supposed to think of writing as a career, because that sets me up for failure. If I think of it as just doing something I love, no matter what happens or doesn't happen, it will be all right with me.
The story is coming in dribs and drabs. It is so very hard to get myself into the quiet, meditative state that seems to be needed for this particular story to emerge. And even when I do manage to do that, sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes a blurb comes. I'm getting to be very okay with this. I simply turn my attention elsewhere.
My singing group is almost a full-time job. It's certainly a full-time commitment. Between choosing songs, trying them out, making practice cd's, working out choreography, then practicing them, it's a huge time and energy experience. But I love it. It's a dream come true. And so much fun! Just want to say it's never too late to pursue a dream.
Are there any dreams from your childhood you'd still love to make come true?