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, March 31, 2011

Aha Moment today - I am a writer!

I just had to share this experience. I was visiting a dear friend who is in the hospital recovering from surgery and now an irregular heart beat. She was talking to me about something or other, what she had for dinner last night or some such thing, but I was only listening with half an ear, because in the bed next to hers a woman had been brought into the hospital the night before. Her daughter had just arrived to see her for the first time and I was so curious about their circumstances and stories that I couldn't focus on my friend and her issues. Luckily, I was able to tell my friend what was happening and we giggled about it together...the bane of a being a writer!

Blessings
Karen

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - A-Z Challenge - here we come!

This is my last post before the A-Z challenge begins on Friday, 4/1. So here's my truth. We can't control who visits our blog and who doesn't. I learned that a long time ago. Blogfest or no blogfest, we can only do the best we can with our posts and be good bloggydom citizens by visiting other blogs and sharing there. That's it.

So, I am hereby taking the action of participating in the challenge, but letting go of the results. The universe will see fit to bring me to new bloggy friends and hopefully bring new bloggy friends to me. Or not.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Musings

I received the second of three injections in my knee. It is something called hyaluronic acid which restores the natural joint fluid (hyaluronan) that cushions, protects and lubricates your knee joint. I'm told it can provide up to six months of pain relief. Here's hoping...

My first piano lesson was so much fun. I learned how to hold my fingers correctly on the keyboard, and the difference between the treble clef and base clef on the music staff. I am practicing every day and enjoying myself immensely.

Saturday night, our folkdance community held its annual Scholarship Ball, a fundraising event to provide money for those who want to attend folkdance camp this summer and are financially unable to do so.
The theme was Arabian Nights, and I went. I did dance some. It was sort of my swan song to folkdancing. Bittersweet, yes. But truly all right. I am in full acceptance of the fact that my knee cannot handle folkdancing right now.

Hubs and me
What are you musing about today?
Blessings
Karen

Friday, March 25, 2011

A-Z Challenge: Z - I'm ready!!

I'm ready for the  A-Z challenge. As ready as I'll ever be, I guess. I've got the other bloggers listed on a separate tab so it will be easy to go down the list each day and hopefully, connect with others by commenting. I've got all my blog posts written and scheduled to post on the specific days. I won't say whether they're any good or not, but they're written.

It's hard to imagine that 600 or so people who blog are willing to participate in something like this. I know Arlee Bird http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/, whose brainchild this is, has seen great success on his blog through doing this the first time. Others have as well.

I'm not sure what constitutes success for me, however. I write about different things than most other bloggers. I write about my personal journey, which doesn't seem to draw as many followers and steady readers as other blogs.

But I'm okay with that. This will be fun and challenging, hence the name A-Z challenge.
Only two more posts before we begin on 4/1.
Till then,

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - acceptance

Now that I have made the difficult decision, I am working on accepting it. I am planning to go folkdancing one last time and do all my favorite, hard, fast dances, a sort of swan song to dancing. It doesn't mean I will never dance again, perhaps I can find some slow, easy, non impact ones I will enjoy. But the ones that make my soul happy - uh uh.

There is sadness, yes. But I am also thinking I've had a good run with dancing. From age 16 to 24. Then some dancing from 28 to 30. Then no dancing till 46. Now I'm turning 62 and have to stop. Not so bad, in the scheme of things.

As we get older, it is inevitable that we face limitations in our lives. Eyesight dims, hearing goes, our legs won't carry us quite so far. This is part of the process. I am working hard at accepting it gracefully.
We'll see...

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Musings - depression has lifted

So here's what I discovered - for me, depression comes when there is something I am going to have to do, face, decide about, that will be extremely difficult. I don't want to have to face whatever, so I suppress everything having to do with it. This is all out of conscious awareness, of course, so all I am aware of is the depression. How I know all this - the depression disappeared after making an extremely difficult decision.

Four years ago I had arthroscopic surgery on my left knee for a torn meniscus. I didn't pay attention when the surgeon told me I'd eventually need a total knee replacement. I've had so many surgeries, I wasn't willing to accept I needed another one. I remember him saying I had arthritis in the knee, but that didn't penetrate either.

Fast forward to now. My knee has been aching pretty steadily for the past few months. I ignored it until I couldn't ignore it anymore. I went to see the surgeon - he showed me my post-operative report from 2007 - Stage IV osteoarthritis - basically there is no cartilage left in that knee - it is bone on bone.
I am lucky I am not in more severe pain and that I can get up from the couch and walk without much pain. It just aches.

But here's the kicker. I am a folkdancer. Folk dancing involves high impact moves. I think I've known all along that I might have to give it up and I wasn't willing to face that because it is one of the true joys in my life. It is where hubby and I met - it is the main thing we do together.

If I continue dancing, I accelerate the pace of the degeneration and will need knee surgery much sooner. If I quit, and take good care of my knee with exercises, etc, I can perhaps prolong the surgery for years.
Another factor is my insurance will no longer cover my surgeon's practice after 4/1, so I wouldn't be able to go to him for the surgery, and he's one of the best in the state.

So, I've decided to let go of dancing. In three years, I'll be 65 and can go to my surgeon thru Medicare. I hope my knee lasts that long. In the meantime, to replace folkdancing, I've signed up to learn to play the piano - something I've wanted to do since I'm 8 years old.

Motto of the story, there is none. For me, it's to pay more attention to what I'm not wanting to face. Although the difficult decision has a major impact on my life, the depression is much worse.

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, March 18, 2011

Acting as if

I am battling a depression - it's not there all the time, but it's there enough of the time that it is impacting my life and my well being. A long time ago, I learned to "act as if." So, when I wake up, I ask myself what I'd be doing if I weren't depressed, then I do those things. It's working. It doesn't remove the depression, but it helps me not be paralyzed by it.

I promise I'm okay. I really do think what is going on is a life transition. Somehow, signing up to receive social security benefits next month when I turn 62 triggered a crisis. This, coupled with someone I love deeply battling a difficult disease diagnosis, has caused a crisis of Faith. I am "acting as if" there, too. I am praying, even if I'm not sure who or what I'm praying to. I am acting as if I believe everything is going to be all right, even if I don't. And I'm writing. I have 7,000 words on my novel. I won't tell you what I think about those words, but I do have them. That's something.

Somehow, by acting as if, I get shifted into being what I'm acting.
Have you ever had to pretend?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - puzzled

Okay, I've been avoiding writing about this because I don't want to be perceived as whiny or negative. And I don't want people to think I obsess about things that aren't worthy of obsession, i.e. important.
Many of you know I used to be 50 pounds overweight. I am 5' 3 1/2" and weighed 183 pounds in June of 2007. It took about 1 1/2 years to lose 40 pounds and the last 10 came off over the course of the next year. I've been cruising along at around 134 - till this past Christmas. I gained a few pounds, but unlike other times when I gained a few pounds, they didn't come off, even though I did all the same things I'd always done to get them off.

Now it's almost April, and I'm 4 pounds over my goal weight of 135. And I'm upset. Nothing I try is working. I was already doing as much exercise as possible for me, with all my various physical challenges. Except I wasn't. Yes, I was walking, but my heart rate wasn't increased much at all. So, this is the last resort. I am going to increase my walking pace and keep it up for 20 minutes, then bump it faster for two more minutes, then cool down for a few. If that doesn't work, I'll tear my hair out.

For those of you who have never had a weight issue, you probably won't understand this post. But two pounds can so easily become four pounds and four pounds can so easily become 10 pounds, and on and on. I am so unwilling to be overweight again. I just don't know what caused the change. If I'm eating the exact same way I was, has my metabolism slowed even more? Am I retaining more water? The doctors haven't helped - they just say it's a function of getting older. Yuck!

In the meantime, I'm watching my sodium intake - you'd be surprised at how much sodium is in packaged and processed foods and when you eat out. Even low sodium beef broth has 1/2 the amount of sodium I should eat in one day in one serving.

I do know that in the scheme of things, particularly with natural disasters like what happened in Japan and all the death and suffering that abounds, this is minor. But in my world, it's a big deal.

What things are puzzling you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Musings - the A-Z Challenge

I've been completely intimidated since agreeing to participate in the A-Z challenge. For those of you who don't know what that is, Arlee Bird and Alex Cavanaugh have teamed up with several others to challenge other bloggers to blog Monday through Saturday in April, starting 4/1 using each letter of the alphabet.
More than 300 bloggers have already signed up. There is no way one blogger can visit each other blogger and post their own blogs and respond to comments and have any semblance of a life.

So, on Friday, I came up with a theme for the challenge. I will blog about what I always blog about - this journey called my life. But each letter will be either a lesson learned or about something I'm dealing with. I  pre-scheduled titles and dates, so all I have to do is go back and write the blog for each one. That way I'm not stressing during the month about what to write about on a particular day.

Where I'm stumped is how to visit so many bloggers and develop connections.

Ideas, anyone?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, March 11, 2011

The power of memoir

Last Friday I saw a play called "And then they came to get me." It was put on by the University of New Mexico Theater Department. It tells the story of a young girl, Eva Schloss, born in 1929 in Austria. Her family fled to Amsterdam to escape the Nazi's. There they met a young girl, Anne Frank. Both families ended up hiding for several years, before being deported to Auschwitz, one of many concentration camps.

The play juxtaposed live actors portraying the characters, and video of Eva Schloss telling her story. Eva and her mother survived the camp - her father and brother did not. And neither did Anne Frank. But Otto Frank, Anne's father, did survive. And he married Eva's mother.

At the end of the play, Eva Schloss came out on stage to answer questions from the audience. She was asked when it was that she began speaking about her experiences. She remembered the moment in 1986 when she attended the opening of the Anne Frank exhibit in London, where she was living with her husband and daughters. When the speakers were finished, the host turned to Eva and didn't ask, but assumed Eva would want to say a few words. She has never stopped.

There is something about speaking your truth that transforms, both you, and those who are listening to you. It doesn't matter whether you are a holocaust survivor, a sexual abuse survivor, or someone who may not have had such dramatic episodes in your life, but wants to share who you are...memoir, if done well, is a powerful tool.

Don't you want people to know who you really are?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Sugartime

I took singing lessons with the same teacher for almost three years. I stayed with that teacher because, slowly but surely, I overcame my stage fright. But something else was going on that wasn't so healthy. I won't begin to speculate about the reasons, but I was told I had pitch issues, that I couldn't sing harmony, and other critical, negative things that kept me down. I was allowed to participate when we went to perform at retirement communities (which had been my idea), but at every performance, I was criticized for singing a wrong note. I began to be afraid to sing at all, for fear I would sing the wrong note.

This post would be way too long if I went into all the details of what went into my decision to leave the teacher, but suffice it to say, it wasn't an easy decision and the relationship didn't end well. But two other singers from that center and I got together one day and decided to form a group. After much deliberation, we named ourselves Sugartime, after a McGuire Sisters hit of the same name from the 1950s. It is a popular, well-known song and most of the seniors we sing for just love it.

Two of the original members of that trio remain. One left and we've replaced her with a phenomenal soprano singer who is just great at figuring out harmonies. I am so lucky. I am not a great singer, by any stretch of the imagination. It is just something that brings me joy. And with Sugartime, now that I am not being criticized every time I open my mouth, lo and behold, my pitch issues have disappeared. It was fear. Sometimes I sing the wrong note, but it's because I thought it was the right note. Once I'm shown the correct one, I have no problem hitting it. Also, with live performances, you are always going to have a glitch or two happen with your voice. We are not professionals who are practicing six or seven hours a day. We rehearse 2-3 times a week, two hours at a time.

Music has the power to heal. It moves people. It can bring, joy, laughter, sadness, depending on the notes and the lyrics. Sugartime tries to be upbeat. Folks in the places we visit don't get out much any more. They are locked into a boring routine. We cheer them up.

The blessing is, we cheer ourselves up at the same time.
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Musings - Life lessons

I had no idea when I signed up for singing lessons in 2006 just how much it would change my life. I'd always loved singing along to records, but singing in front of others - that's a whole other ball of wax. I was in a small group class - 10 of us. Mostly, we sang group songs and I was just fine. But then we were asked if we wanted to do solos. Before I knew it, my hand shot up. The first time I stood in front of my classmates and sang, all I could do was look down at my toes. If I looked up and saw people looking at me, I froze, warbling off key.

It went beyond stage fright. As I moved through the journey, I came to realize that I had unresolved issues from having been sexually abused at six years old. Issues that involved being terrified of being the center of attention, among other things. I worked with the singing teacher and my classmates over the course of two years, and at the end of that time, I could sing in front of others without freezing.

Because of the phenomenal changes that occurred inside of me during this journey, I now believe I needed the experience of singing lessons to take me to the next level of healing I just wish the universe would find an easier way to get my attention than having me fracture an ankle so I couldn't dance.

Tune in tomorrow for the final piece of my singing journey. Thanks, Joanne, http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/ for requesting this story. Hope others find it interesting as well.
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I Sing

My parents fought, pretty much all the time. Mostly, it was bickering back and forth. But often, it was out and out yelling. Studies show that parental conflict is detrimental to small children. My way of coping was to close the door to my room, sit on the floor, and play my 45's, singing along with Patsy Cline, The Everly Brothers, The Ronettes, The Crystals, and many, more. Singing not only blocked out the shouting, but it did something to my soul - something I didn't understand until recently.

Over the years, singing became a constant in my life. In my first marriage, one of the only good things that my husband and I shared, was singing along with The Beatles when we got together with other friends. We even had a name for ourselves - the Dippos.

I am never in my car without singing along to the radio. And now I'm in heaven with Sirrius Satellite radio - so many choices - there is almost always a good song to listen to. Plus, my Ford Fusion Hybrid allows me to download cd's right into the car's computer, so I have hundreds of my favorite tunes at my disposal.

In 2006, I fell off my bike and fractured my right ankle in seven places. The emergency room doctor, when I asked about the X-ray results, said, "If you were a horse, we'd put you down." I was down for the count for several months and it took over a year before I could walk without pain. Dancing was out of the question, and for those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you know I am a folkdancer.

One day, during the long recovery period, the course catalog for adult education courses came from University of New Mexico. There was a singing class offered and I signed up. It literally changed my life. To find out how, tune in to Monday Musings.

Is there something you've decided to do that had a huge impact on your life?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - Is there a reason to keep blogging?

I love to write. When I don't write, I am not happy. I have enjoyed having this blog. In the beginning, it was recommended as part of the marketing strategy for "Following theWhispers," but then it became more about me expressing myself in different ways. I struggle with this on a daily basis, whether to continue blogging or not. I have not mastered the other social media tools writers are using nowadays to create a platform and name for themselves. Nor do I think I will. So, the question is why blog?

I have made connections with many wonderful people through blogging--people I feel close to even though we haven't actually ever met. Which is quite odd, don't you think? But I know I could write many of you off line, or call, if I had your phone number, and we'd connect. Because we share one major thing in common--a love of reading and writing. That is what most bloggers I know write about. But I'm different. I blog about my journey, whether it's the writing journey, the spiritual journey, the relationship journey, I write about what I'm grappling with in any particular moment. Is that enough?

I guess the answer depends on what I'm expecting from the blog. Sure, I'd love to gain more followers. And I have to confess, it still hurts when someone decides to stop following me, because I can never know why. But that can't be the goal of this blog.

I guess my intention is to share my journey and hopefully connect and maybe help others on theirs. If my mistakes and lessons learned enlighten you in some way, then I feel as if this blog is successful. It's just not in the usual terms of success, i.e. a huge amount of followers, many of whom leave comments.

So, for the time being, I will continue to share my experience, strength and hope here on this blog and hope to keep touching on issues others connect with.

How about you? Why do you blog?
Blessings,
Karen