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 27, 2012

Family matters

Hi everyone,

I want to thank everyone who commented on my Monday Musings post about blogging. Your comments were thoughtful and loving and helped me realize how much I truly enjoy being part of this community, so I am not giving it up any time soon. I just have to find balance, as with everything else in life.

Wishing you all a very wonderful weekend. I have two singing gigs, one today and one tomorrow, and then I must get ready for a trip back East next week - family matters. I won't have access to internet and will need my energy and attention focused elsewhere, so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers and I will connect when I return on February 6. Till then...
Blessings,
karen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Telling the truth Tuesday - Introducing Celery Tree

Introducing Celery Tree


Karen Jones Gowen is brilliant. Not only a great writer, she's a creative entrepreneur as well. Here's why:

It began when she realized how much writers like to gather, meet (even virtually), read and review each others books, assisting in promotion and even buying their books.

She thought, What we need is a central location where we can gather, network, post reviews, and also sell our books. Somewhere that doesn't take a huge cut of the profits, that puts more money into the hands of those who actually create the books we love to read.

She was fortunate to find some talented people who got excited about the concept and donated their time and talents to designing, programming and making it a reality. 

The realization of that dream is Celerytree.com. 
  
The more writers who join the more they benefit, because Celerytree.com is designed to be a united front, a community. The more people posting and linking to it, the faster it will happen.

If you want to help, please post this button on your blog and link it to Celerytree.com. Below the button is a summary/list for copying and including in a blog post if you would like. Anything you can do to get the word out about this innovative online bookstore! 





WHO SHOULD JOIN CELERYTREE.COM?

1. Those with published books to sell (print and/or ebooks).

2. Those who believe in the pay-it-forward philosophy of authors supporting authors. 

3. Those who don't mind paying a small membership fee for the privilege of being part of a supportive, ad-free community. (Free memberships available for a limited time.)

4. Those who want a place to interact with others, post reviews, network, and to sell their books all in one location.

5. Those who believe in writers receiving fair pay for their work.

If this sounds like you, then go to Celerytree.com and click JOIN.  More information can be found on the Celery Tree blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page.


Karen Gowen will be available at karen@celerytree.com to answer your questions about Celerytree.comduring the Big Blog Tour. Feel free to email Karen about any questions you may have at this time on joining, registering, buying books, submitting books or any other issues. 


I am happy to be one of the original authors to agree to participate and am very excited about this new project. Please help in any way you can.
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Musings

I feel like I have no reason to blog anymore. My memoir is almost out of print. Still a few copies available on Amazon. You can still purchase as an ebook on Smashwords. But I'm doing nothing to promote it anymore. And I'm not sure I'll ever finish, let alone publish, the novel I'm working on. So why blog? Most writers blog to build a platform to sell their books. That's why I did it originally. But it soon became something else. It became a place for me to share my ongoing journey towards healing. And it became a place where others share their thoughts and feelings about my journey as well as their own. I love those connections. So I guess the answer is the reasons why I blog have changed. I guess now the question is, how important is it?

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Managing weight loss

That's me, front, left - 50 lbs ago in 2006
Many of you may not know that I struggled with being overweight for most of my adult life. I yo yo'd up and down from my high of 194 pounds in the 1980s, to my current low of 130. I am only 5' 3 1/2", so 194 was obese for me. I did every diet imaginable: Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, the grapefruit diet, Atkins. I lost weight on all (except Atkins), but always put it back. Since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, I decided to do it differently this last time. Instead of dieting, I hired a nutritionist to teach me how to eat. For me. With my particular food issues (i.e. I cannot do dairy of any kind, or soy). Each step of the way, she worked with me on how many complex carbs, proteins, veggies and fruit servings to have each day and taught me appropriate portion sizes. I went from 183 to my current weight and have remained there for 3 years now.
Me on Mykanos this past year

The reason I am writing about this today is that it is not easy. I have to manage my food. And sometimes that means telling friends I can't come for dinner because I've eaten out several times already that week. You see, I gain a couple of pounds every meal I eat that isn't in my control. Then it takes several weeks to take it off. If I don't manage it, it will be 2 pounds, then another 2 pounds, then another, and I'll be right back where I started.

At this point, I think my really close friends understand and actually admire me for what I've done. But it isn't easy saying no to dinner invitations, or going out to eat with friends and ordering a cup of tea. However, the way I feel about myself, which is better than I've ever felt in my life, makes it all worth while.

I guess it all boils down to a motto I came to understand a long long time ago: being willing to do whatever it takes. If something is really important to my growth and well being, that is the place I must come from in order to make it happen. Being willing to do whatever it takes.

Are you?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Telling the truth Tuesday - changing my mind

I've posted recently about the joy dancing brings me. I'd given it up for a long while because I have no cartilage left in my knee and I want to postpone knee replacement surgery as long as possible. But here's the thing. When I dance on a regular basis, my knee hurts constantly, even when I'm not dancing. It hurts every day and wakes me up at night, too. When I don't dance, and just walk everyday for exercise, no pain. I don't function as well when I'm in pain all the time.

So I'm back reconsidering my decision to keep dancing because truly, I don't want to be in pain every day and night. And my knee isn't bad enough, so the surgeon says, to replace it right now.

It's an interesting dilemma when something that brings one great joy also brings with it great pain. What's a gal to do?

Do you share such a dilemma? What do you do?
Blessings,
karen

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Musings - a Sugartime success story

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by here on Friday and left such beautiful comments. I'm glad so many of us are working on little things to make a difference in peoples' lives.

As part of my Monday musings, I need to direct you to the Arlee bird's website, where I am talking about Karen Gowen's astounding new concept, Celery tree, a new website where authors support other authors. Please take a moment to head over there (after reading this post, of course, LOL). http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

I want to tell you about my experience on Friday singing. One of the ways I try to make a difference is with my group, Sugartime. We don't charge a fee when we perform at retirement communities, senior centers, nursing homes, or even at private functions. We accept donations and tell people if there's a budget, that's fine. If there isn't, that's fine, too. We'll sing anyway. On Friday we were invited to sing at a grand re-opening of a Senior Center here in town. We said yes, not knowing that it was going to be a pretty major event. Two days before we were to sing, we found out the Mayor would be there and could we please change the time we were to sing and shorten our program. We said yes. When we arrived on Friday morning, one hour before show time to set up our equipment, we found out we had to sing earlier than we were told because the Mayor changed the time again. Okay. We sang our shortened program to a really nice crowd and then stayed while the Mayor re-dedicated the center. Then the organizer realized there was a 45 minute lag in entertainment, so we were asked to sing some more. We did.

Afterwards, the head of the Department of Senior Affairs came up to me and said, "Thank you so much. You were wonderful. You set the spirit of the entire event for us."

You cannot imagine how wonderful it is to hear that you did what you set out to do. Bring joy!
I will be getting together with her to talk about how Sugartime can perform at more of these kinds of events. We had an absolute blast!

Saying yes, even if it means extra hard work and a bit of chaos and having to "go with the flow" can be hard, but oh so rewarding.

Do you say yes, even if it means some sacrifice on your part?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 13, 2012

Little things

Years ago I realized I would probably never do or create anything magnificent. I was not a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King or a Joan of Arc. I wasn't really "great" at anything. But does that mean I'm insignificant? No. because it's the little things we do and say that make a large impact on those around us. When I realized I wouldn't ever be famous or "great," I made a decision to be the most loving Karen I could possibly be. That became a long, difficult journey to uncover the reasons I hated myself and and then finding ways to overcome that hatred and learn to love me. As I am able to do that, I am able to love others more as well.

So each day, I am working on the little things. Like not flashing "irritable" when something happens to annoy me. Or responding with kindness to rudeness (this one's hard, I must admit). Or smiling at a stranger even if I'm hurting inside.

Can you share some little things you do that make a difference?

Blessings,
Karen

P.S. I won't be able to respond to comments or visit you today as I am singing at a Senior Center today and then taking a friend out for her birthday. I'll check in some time over the weekend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Telling the truth Tuesday - Joy is joyous

I went dancing Saturday night. For those who are new here, I do folk dancing, which means we dance the cultural dances of countries from around the world: Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Israeili, Irish, etc. I have been folk dancing on and off since I'm 16 (and I'm turning 63 this year). Oy! I have no cartilage in my left knee and dancing makes it hurt. Walking does not. But I made a decision a month or so ago to start dancing again, even if it accelerates the journey towards knee replacement. I am so glad I did. Dancing for me is pure joy!

I want more joy-filled activities in my life. I'm lucky, I've got two that bring me the kind of heart-expanding, tingly all over and you can't keep from smiling feeling I'm talking about - dancing and singing.

What fills your heart with joy?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Musings - filled with energy

It is the most bizarre thing. I don't know if there is a correlation or not (I think there is), but as soon as I rid myself of something toxic in my life, I've been filled with more energy than I know what to do with. I mean, it used to be, I'd force myself to exercise, then I'd have to rest a while before forcing myself to do the next thing on my list. Now, I exercise, practice singing, practice piano, write, blog, and still have more energy left over. I feel alive. A young 17-year-old friend shared with me last night that she receives phone calls from a classmate and after the conversation, she feels "dead." It made me wonder how many people and things are in our daily lives that make us feel that way. I will be paying much closer attention to my energy levels around people and activities to help me understand this phenomenon. How about you? Blessings, Karen

Friday, January 6, 2012

I wrote I wrote I wrote - yippee!

I have no post today other than to say that Wednesday was the first day I gave myself 10 minutes to work on my novel and I wrote I wrote I wrote. It was only a page, but it was the first time in two months I added something new to the manuscript. I am beyond happy. Now I just have to do the same 10 minutes each day. Woo! Hoo!
What are you whooping about today?

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writers's Support Group - writing woes

What's a writer to do when she's not writing? Gee, that could be the title to a country western song, 'cept I don't listen to country western much. Although I did sing a country western song at our folk dance talent show. Go figure.

My insecurities really flare up when I'm not writing. I've been doing journal writing, and I am reassured that there is nothing major going on emotionally or spiritually that is preventing me from writing. I am going to set my intention to sit down every day and get quiet for 10 minutes minimum and see what happens.

Wish me luck.

This post is part of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/. We post the first Wednesday of every month.


Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Changes

Everything changes. Oh how I wish it didn't. But it does. I used to really hate change until I understood that nothing ever stays the same, so I learned to accept. My motto for the last few months has been adapt and let go, but I am not always able to do so. I had a very powerful lesson a few days ago. I was having difficulty communicating with someone. I felt I was being mis-heard, mis-interpreted, that words, thoughts and feelings were being put in my mouth that I didn't say, think, or feel. We tried several times to work through the issues, but to no avail. I made a decision to let go of this person, but before I told them that, I was a zombie. Lying on the couch, unable to read, watch TV, or focus on anything. I remained that way for hours, unwilling to hurt someone else in order to take care of me.

Early afternoon, I got up, turned on the computer and wrote two paragraphs, saying goodbye in as loving a way as possible, communicating my truth. I read it aloud to a trusted friend to make sure the tone wasn't hostile in any way, then pushed send.

Immediately, I was flooded with life energy. It taught me that energy is a barometer one can use to determine what needs to be done or in this case, undone. If I don't pay attention, I'm in deep doo doo.

What is your energy telling you?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Musings - it's a brand new year

Hello everyone,
Thanks for all who stopped by during my holiday break to leave good wishes. I really did manage to stay away from blogging during the holidays and so I didn't get to visit any of you. Hope your holidays were everything you hoped they'd be.

This year I was responsible for putting on our annual folk dance New Year's Eve party, which is a lot of work, so I am pretty exhausted. Lots happened over the holidays--some good, some not so good, but all in all I am doing well.

I have set my intention on several things for the new year. One, I am trying not to be so irritable when things don't go the way they are supposed to. Two, I am going to spend much more time in quiet thought and meditation and hope that brings new writing my way. Three, I am going to remember to count my blessings.

I am grateful for the connections I have made through blogging. I began in May, 2009 and it has been quite a journey. What are you grateful for today?

Blessings,
Karen