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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Musings

Back in School again - taking sessions at the Apple Store. I love my new Mac Pro, but simple things like copying and pasting are different on the Apple - like it's Command C and Command V as opposed to Control C and Control V on the PC. And forget about being able to do Garage Band or IMovie without training. For Sugartime, I need to be able to manipulate karaoke tracks by changing pitch or slowing it down or speeding it up. Garage Band can do it, but's tricky. My brain might be slower than it used to be, but it still works if I work it and challenging myself to learn new things will keep it working longer.

How do you know when to go to the doctor and when to let things take their natural course? My left knee has been hurting me now for over a month. I've had arthroscopy on that knee and was told I'd eventually need knee replacement surgery. Well, I don't want any more surgery, thank you very much. I've had tonsilectomy, caeasarian, RK surgery, gall bladder, hysterectomy, ankle, and shoulder surgery. That's enough, don't you think? But what about my poor knee? Should I just take pain meds forever. Sigh!

I have this same problem with colds versus allergy? How do you tell the difference? When do you self-medicate and when do you need drugs? I'm just saying...

Anyone else ready for Spring? Not sure it was a good idea going to the Caribbean at the start of winter, because I so want to be in warm weather again. And Albuquerque is pretty mild compared to what's happening in the Northeast.

What are you musing about today?
Blessings,
karen

Friday, January 28, 2011

New search engine for writers

Elizabeth Spann Craig, mystery writer extraordinaire and superb resource for writers, along with computer whiz Mike Fleming, has created a new search engine designed specifically for writers. It is here: http://hiveword.com/wkb/search. Elizabeth's blog always has great information for writers, but here, she has taken it even further. No wonder her blog was awarded one of the top 100 blogs for writers.

This week I finally added new words to my WIP. Yippee!! No daily word goals for this gal, I'm happy if it's just a paragraph here and there these days. I've also gone back to the nonfiction piece I began last year.
I realized that retired folks do community service work, work on their hobbies, and socialize. Well, Sugartime is my community service work, writing is my hobby, and the rest of my life is the socialization part. So I guess I'm right on track, exactly where I'm supposed to be.

It's the not feeling productive piece I still haven't gotten a handle on. Not having every second of every minute of every day filled with things to do. I'm learning to just "be" and it feels so very weird. Nice, but weird. And it's always such a nice bonus when I receive a gift of wisdom from something I'm drawn to watch or read.

So, do check out Elizabeth's new search engine. And keep on keepin' on. I'm singing today at a retirement community so I'l check in with y'all a bit later, okay?

Blessings
Karen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Talking Writing

I want to share a website with you if you don't already know about it: http://talkingwriting.com/
It is an online literary magazine with articles and essays that will inform and inspire you. I believe they are looking for writers to contribute, so I hope you will explore it. Yours truly will have a piece in the February issue. I'll post a link here when it appears.

And while we're on the subject of writing, I just finished Sue Monk Kidd's memoir (she co-wrote it with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor) "Traveling with Pomegranates." I loved it so much, I ordered all her other books from Amazon (except "The Secret Life of Bees," which I'd already read). This memoir is partially about her journey from being a nonfiction writer to a novelist. In it she writes, "the images of bees in the wall that wanted to become a story..." and her declaration during a trip to Greece at a sacred site that she wanted to be a novelist. Kidd had the courage to follow her heart and listen to her whispers during this long journey to complete the novel.

She had no outline. No plot idea. Just an image of bees in a wall. I am grappling with a similar situation. Just an image and a voice that came to me in Ireland asking me to tell its story. I got about 10 pages written and now it's stalled. Mostly because I allowed my life to stall due to circumstances and emotional pain.

I am declaring right here, right now, I want to write this novel.

How about you?
What is your truth today?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Musings: In step or out of step

Ever since I can remember, I've felt out of step with most of the world. If folks are raving about a movie, I usually don't get it. I don't get most jokes. In high school, all my friends were accepted into a sorority (I know, I know, my high school had fraternities and sororities -- it's ridiculous), but I was rejected. It left a scar on my psyche that probably still hasn't fully healed. On jobs, I never liked going along with the rules, although I was also a goody two shoes and absolutely did follow instructions. But I was much happier as an entrepreneur, making my own decisions and following my own intuition as to the best way to handle situations and clients.

It used to bother me that I felt like an outsider most of the time. Outside of my family of origin -- they were so dysfunctional I wished I had been adopted, outside of friendships, outside of my marriages (until this one, that is, but it took me till I was 46 to choose wisely).

Now, I have come to accept that I'm out of step. I never would have made it in the military. It's really interesting to me to realize how far I've come. Growing up, I was a chameleon who would say or do anything to fit in. Now I'm okay if I'm the only one who likes a movie everyone else hated or vice versa.

How about you? Are you in step or out of step and how does that work for you?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reflections

On turning 62
It’s funny how when I tune into things spiritual the right word or phrase or book or movie appears and I hear something that propels me forward from the stuck place. I picked up Sue Monk Kidd’s memoir, Traveling with Pomegrantes, a memoir she wrote with her daughter during a time when they were both trying to find themselves and their way back to each other. Monk is describing her journey from perimenopause to menopause and it is all about death and rebirth. Her daughter is trying to find what she is meant to do with her life.
I find I am in both places at once. I’ve gone thru menopause, although I’m still having hot flashes - perhaps I always will - my mom did. I am trying to find what gives my life meaning and what feeds my soul while grappling with the physical, emotional and psychological changes that are occurring as I move into this next phase of my life.
In a book on Kaballah, it says death comes when one can no longer grow spiritually. That tells me that our purpose here is spiritual growth. We are here for our souls to evolve to wherever it is they are supposed to evolve to. That is so freeing in some ways because it truly is out of my hands.
When I think about those on social security, I think about older people. But now I’m one of those older ones. I know people say 60 is the new 40, yada yada, but the truth is, in our society, 62 is getting up there. I no longer have parents and only have one aunt of my parents’ generation left alive. Once she’s gone, I am the eldest one in my family.
Since I met JR back in 1975, I had become someone who was on a quest to grow and change. I will forever be grateful to him for lighting the way to a path of healing. That growth continues. I still have much to learn. 
I have grown so much quieter inside myself that I no longer know the me I’ve known my whole life. The chatter inside my head, the nattering that doubts everything and questions whether people love me or what have I done to make so and so pull away -- that nattering has pretty much gone away. That leaves space, inside my mind, the space of time to fill, the space of blank pages, the space of energy that is stagnant right now. Aha! No wonder the two pounds are not shifting. It’s because my energy is stagnant. That is why it is important to move each day. 
Kidd, in her memoir, says the key is giving consent to the death of whatever. I knew that, but I’d forgotten. It’s hard because I’m dreading what comes with true old age. Like what will life be like when I can’t open a can by myself or drive any more or read and write. What if I can’t remember phone numbers and passwords on the computer. I don’t like to think about that, but some of those things are probably going to happen. But that is projection. That is not living in the moment. Right here, right now, in this moment, I am fully functioning, despite pain in my left knee. So what am I going to do with this space? To be continued....

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - under the weather

I've been sort of down for the count since last Friday. My legs feel like they weigh two tons and I have absolutely no energy. I'm headachy and go from chills to hot flashes in a nanosecond. But I am not sneezing or coughing or stuffed up. I've never had the flu, so not sure if this is it or not. I've always felt that when I get sick, it's my body's way of telling me to slow down and stop for awhile. But since I haven't been moving at light speed anyway, not sure about that any more. I think I just caught some sort of bug.

Have you ever been in a space where you question everything you ever believed in? It's not necessarily a bad thing, contrary to what I thought when I first realized that is what is happening with me. Questioning is a good thing because then we can assess whether we've simply absorbed what our parents, teachers and peers believed and it's really not what we believe or not.

Right now the only thing I'm sure I believe is that I am responsible for my own inner well being. What about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Musings

Planning a surprise birthday celebration for hubs. Had to tell him to take a certain day off, but he wasn't allowed to ask any questions. I will have to tell him golf will be involved, because I don't know where he keeps his golf clubs and they have to come along. Since he only plays once or twice a year, they live somewhere in the garage that isn't very handy.

I've applied to begin receiving social security benefits. I will turn 62 in April. Truly,I cannot believe I am old enough to collect social security. Inside, I feel hmmmm, 17? 24? 35? Certainly not a day over 40. To me, this truly means I am retired. In a way, it is quite freeing, because retired people don't work unless they want to. So whatever writing I get done, that's okay. And if it doesn't happen,which is the way it's been for awhile now, that's okay, too, because, after all, I'm retired. I don't have to be productive in the way I've always felt I had to be. Each day I am trying to be the best Karen I can be in any given moment, to take good care of myself, to be of service wherever possible, and try to figure out what it is I'm meant to do. If that's still writing, it will come. I have to trust that.

What are you musing about today?
BLessings,
Karen

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath

I'd never seen the classic John Ford film "The Grapes of Wrath" before Tuesday nite, when hubs and I cuddled up to watch it. Made in 1940, it is a snapshot of itinerant sharecroppers, forced off the land their families had farmed for years. Many headed for California, lured by flyers promising work for high pay. To me, the mark of a great film is if I feel like I am a fly on the wall in the lives of real people, not actors portraying people. I carried the images for days afterwards and am still haunted by the extreme poverty and harshness these folks endured.

It made me think long and hard about life. If you read history, you realize life has always been hard. We have always had to endure hardship, draughts, floods, fires, plagues. Technology has made daily living easier, life itself--it's still hard. M. Scott Peck tells us that in the first sentence of his seminal book, "The Road Less Traveled." He says life is difficult and if you accept that, it gets easier.

For this reason, I'm going back to a way of living I'd forgotten for awhile and that is to have no expectations, which is different from having negative expectations. It doesn't mean expect the best or expect the worst. It means don't have expectations. Period. Just do the best you can and let go. You can't control what happens anyway, so why concern yourself with it. 

Truth is, we can't know what is to come, unless we're clairvoyant, which I'm not. So it's back to living life one day at a time--sometimes one minutes at a time, without projecting about the outcome.

How about you? Do you live life full of expectations, either negative or positive?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - tell me your truth

Dear blogging friends,
I've told many truths here at Following the Whispers over the past year and a half. Most of the bloggers I've met write about writing, or they review books and movies. They do blogfests about favoite things. They create awards. Those blogs are much more fun. I created this blog as part of a marketing strategy to sell my memoir. Then it became something important to me - a forum for me to share my thoughts, feelings, insights, lessons learned.

Today I'd like to hear from you. What is your truth about this blog, about your blog, about your life, about blogging in general, other social media experiences. Here's your chance to say your truth. I'm listening...

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Musings

Several friends have commented recently that I seem subdued. I guess I am. Surrounded by folks dealing with various life crises and having a few of my own, it feels as if my Light has dimmed somewhat. And it's not the kind of thing you can just change a lightbulb and it's fixed. I guess I've always been somewhat of an optimist, believing that if I work hard enough, pray enough, be good enough, life will somehow turn out well. And in many ways, it has. But it's also hard. It's hard to maintain my high energy, productive, happy-go-lucky self. Sometimes I find myself sitting and staring into space. Hubs walked by the other morning and started questioning was I going to exercise, was I going to write, was I going to practice singing. And I said I didn't know. I'm not planning each moment, filling it with my to-do list.

This has been a year of needing new things: car, TV, computer. And now a furnace. My new mantra: it's only money. Can't worry about how much is flying out the window or if we'll have enough money to retire. Can only do what we can to ensure those things are taken care of and then have to let go.

Letting go seems to be my theme song. I never studied zen, but I know it's a primary tenet of that philosophy - to let go of attachment to people, places, things. I'm trying to figure out how to remain emotionally connected but not attached.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 7, 2011

Caribbean Cruise photos

For those of you who asked, here are some photos from the Caribbean cruise.





Me on the beach in San Juan Puerto Rico

View from Old Fort in San Juan

More of San Juan

There were hundreds of these fellows at the Old Fort


Couldn't get enough of the ocean


street in Old San Juan



The first of many Pina Coladas

The Celebrity Summit leaves port

Dancing the night away (not my hubs in the photo)

San Juan from the ship

It's funny how quickly the benefits of vacations disappear once you are back in the real world. You have the memories, though. 
I want to thank everyone for the response to Tuesday's post on what we'd do if we only had six months to live. This new year appears to be a contemplative one for me. All I know so far as that I am moving differently through my world and it feels so weird I keep thinking there is something wrong with me. But I know there isn't. It's just change.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Finding center

After being dealt a devastating blow near the end of 2010, I needed a break. I didn't know how badly I needed a break until I found myself on the cruise ship, no internet, no cell phone, just me, hubs, two friends, and 2300 strangers, floating on the Caribbean (or sometimes the Atlantic) and sometimes not floating, but rolling and pitching. Yes, I needed dramamine, but it worked!!

I feel as if I am at a crossroads in my life. I've accomplished so many of the things I've always wanted to do: Write and publish my memoir, sing and dance, be in a loving, healthy relationship, go to Europe, heal broken relationships, heal myself - just some of the major things on my list.

Each year around New Year's, I reflect on the past year and do an exercise by someone named Lakein. You take 3 minutes to write your lifetime goals as fast as you can, without thinking. Then you take 3 minutes to write 5 year goals. Then your goals if you knew you only had six months to live. It has never failed to help me get my priorities straight.

When I did the exercise this year, my six months to live answers surprised me. Here's what appeared: keep singing as long as possible, eat ice cream (I never eat it because I'm lactose intolerant), spent time with hubs and son, write my life lessons in a letter to my son to be read after I'm gone, see Greece and Turkey, and that there is nothing left to do but just BE.

I'm turning 62 in April and will begin collecting Social Security, since I'm not making any money as a writer. Jane Fonda calls this time her Third Act. My list tells me what's most important to me and what my priorities need to be. Now all I need do is BE.

What would your six months to live list look like?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Musings - I'm back!!

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all had wonderful holiday time with family and friends.

I spent Christmas on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with hubs and two dear friends from Portland, OR. We flew to San Juan Puerto Rico, spent two days, then got on the ship for 8 nights. Each day we woke up in a different port: St. Thomas, St. Marteen, St. Lucie, Antigua, Grenada and Barbados. I didn't think I'd like cruising much, but given the stress of the last few months of my life, it was just what the doctor ordered. After sightseeing all day, it was lovely to come back to the ship and have a great meal, then choose between a show, a movie, listening to one of 5 music choices (piano bar singer, classical guitarist, Latin trio, standards trio, and a fab dance band. I danced like I haven't danced in years (rock 'n roll). Came home refreshed and renewed.

I'm not sure what's in store re blogging this year. For now I will keep to my Monday, Tuesday, and Friday posting schedule. I don't have permission to talk about the thing closest to my heart, but I'm hoping I still have words inside that need to come out in this very public venue. And I hope those words have meaning for those of you reading this.

Please tell me what your holidays were like. I've missed hearing about your lives.
P.S. I'm typing this on a new Apple computer and have been unable to upload photos to the blog. As soon as I figure it out, I'll post some from the trip.

Blessings,
Karen