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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - the power of memoir

Most of you probably know that I wrote and published a memoir. I did it because it wouldn't leave me alone. I wanted others to know there is a way out of excruciating pain. I struggled with whether to publish because, after all, who would want to read the story of someone who isn't famous or isn't some kind of spiritual guru or doesn't have "credentials" yada yada yada.

I have always loved reading memoir and ironically, I enjoy memoirs of those I've never heard of more than those of famous people. But it wasn't until I recently finished Mark David Gerson's memoir, Acts of Surrender, that I finally got the power of memoir. I was unable to put it down. I want to thank Mark David from the depths of my soul for his willingness to share the depths of his soul and to be able to write so eloquently the journey his soul is on. I knew I loved memoir but it wasn't clear to me why until I read this one. By reading someone else's story, we don't feel alone in ours. I get that we are all connected because of our humanness. But it is only when someone is honest enough to share their humanness, that we can really see that. Mark David's book (and the human the words poured out from) is a gift to me at a time when I sorely needed to understand what truly surrendering to Spirit means. It helped me to read that I don't have to understand why I am receiving the messages or urges, but only to listen to them. 


Mark David also wrote my favorite book on writing, The Voice of the Muse. To find out more about him and his books, please visit http://markdavidmuse.blogspot.com

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Musings: the joy of live music

Practically everything these days is electronic. TV, computers, I pads, I pods, cell phones, digital music,  well, you get the idea. Sunday, we hosted a house concert for my singing group, Sugartime. We are not musicians, so we sing to music tracks. But this year we had a surprise for our family and friends. A few months ago, we sang at a house party and there were a group of musicians there, The Lost Howlin' Coyotes. They play bluegrass music, a genre we knew little about. They were fabulous. They loved us and we loved them, so we decided to collaborate. Hence, their appearance at our house concert.

What a joy it was to have a guitar, violin, banjo, mandolin and base fiddle, plus voices in beautiful harmony, singing in our home. The house was just filled with music and voices lifted up in song and I felt as if I were in heaven. I pluck away at my guitar and can play a few tunes on the piano, but this--this was a whole different level and I loved it.

I'm thinking of starting Sunday Soirees - not every Sunday, but once in awhile, just to fill the house with music again.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 27, 2012

Singing for the veterans

My father was a WWII Vet and during the last three years of his life, I regularly took him to the VA Hospital for his health care. He loved it there. And I loved the doctors and staff who took such good care of him.

Now, my singing group, Sugartime, goes to the VA on a regular basis to sing for the Vets. We set up in the lobby or outside in the courtyard, and sing for an hour. They are so appreciative and it fills our hearts with joy.

Today's our day with the veterans. I'll catch you all later.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Trust

I have written so much about trust. It's a huge issue for me. As a child, I trusted no one but myself. Then, when I began to make poor choices in my life, I stopped trusting me. Then I went through a period where I trusted everyone but myself, whether it was deserved or not. Now, I know not to give my trust until it is earned. And I do trust my own feelings and instincts, and most of the time, I even listen.

But I still don't trust Spirit completely. I am reading Mark David Gerson's new memoir, Acts of Surrender. Over and over again, Mark David surrenders to the guidance he receives. I am resisting this deep level of surrender to my writing. In the past, I've leapt into the darkness of the unknown, knowing I would be held up. Why the lack of trust now?

Perhaps I just need to make that leap once more. Yes, yes, and yes. That is what I need to do.
How about you?

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Musings: an insight

I was journalling the other day, trying to get an answer to why nothing is happening with my novel right now. The answer came swift and clear: keep letting go of attachments when singing, either negative or positive. When the fear is gone and you are fully present, you will soar. Once you can do this, the writing will begin to flow.

Hmmm.....

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 20, 2012

Big doings....

The good news is I've overcome my stage fright when performing - with a small caveat--if I don't know anyone in the audience. Put friends and family in front of me and terror strikes right in my solar plexus - exactly the place where one sings from.

It doesn't make sense. These are people who know me and love me - no matter what. These are people who hold me up when I need support mosts. These are the people I laugh with, drink with, dance with, play with. So why should their presence when I am going to sing make my heart palpitate like a hummingbird's wings?

I don't know. I have approximately one week to solve this mystery. Sugartime is having a house concert a week from Sunday. Any thoughts?

Blessings,
Karen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Construct a Couple - what a fun read!

In Construct a Couple, Talli Roland has written my kind of novel. You know the kind I mean. One where you forget your troubles and just enjoy the ride. Serenity Holland is a character you can relate to. You never know what she's going to do next. Wanting to find out and caring about her keeps you turning the pages. Light, funny, and just delightful. Thanks, Talli. To find Talli, go here: http://talliroland.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Finding healers

I have to admit I believe in Western Medicine. But I also think we sometimes need to look to alternative methods if the traditional ones haven't worked. I've had a chronic hoarseness for as long as I can remember. The Western docs can't tell me if it's acid reflux, post-nasal drip, sinusitis. I've had all the tests, endoscopies, allergies. I finally went alternative and I won't bore you with the details other than to say my chronic hoarseness is almost gone. I've also had hypoglycemia forever and my blood sugar issues have led to extreme irritability and acute anxiety if I don't get food when I need it.

Those symptoms are gone. I can now go as much as 4 hours without eating and I don't get anxious or irritable. I do get hungry. And my weight has dropped even further. For the first time in my adult life, I don't have to worry about losing--just maintaining. It has changed my life.

I think we're all different. We have different needs. Different ways of addressing those needs. I just want to say that I am grateful there are alternatives to traditional Western medicine because some of those methods have totally transformed the way I am living my life and how I am feeling about my life.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Musings: On becoming...

I've been with several people during the aging process and I've noticed something. They begin to revert to some childhood wants. At the end, both my father and mother-in-law only wanted to eat ice cream.

I frequently ponder big philosophical questions, trying to make sense out of the things that happen in my life. Most of you know I sing in a trio at retirement communities. What you may not know is that singing has become a way of healing for me, just as writing my memoir over a 10-year-period proved to be not only cathartic, but literally transformed my life.

Both of these things have helped me become more of who I believe I was meant to be--before my spirit was beaten down by childhood dysfunction, childhood sexual abuse, and the ramifications those things had on the choices I made in my life.

Maybe we do come full circle when we come to the end of our lives, back to the spirit we were before any bad stuff took hold. I do believe when we begin to lose our functioning, whether it's physical or mental, we must turn both inward and outward to Spirit for guidance.

Do you have any childhood desires you haven't fulfilled?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 13, 2012

Old Lady Arms

I wrote an essay once called Old Lady Arms. This was even before Nora Ephron wrote I Hate My Neck. Lots happens to our bodies and our minds as we age, things we must come to terms with and accept. I've had a most difficult time accepting the sagging skin that hangs from my upper arms when I hold my arms out.

I wear sleeveless tops, but don't feel good in them. Until now. I found a top from a catalogue that is perfect for me. It has cut out shoulders and material that goes on the upper arm from just below the shoulder to the elbow. With its scoop neck and bared shoulder, it is very sexy, yet it covers the part of my body I dislike the most. I feel like a million dollars in this top.

I guess it's just going to take some creativity as I move along this aging process to continue to feel as good as I can about myself. At least until I stop caring.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Comings and Goings

One family we are very close to just returned home from a year's sabbatical in Viet Nam. Another family we are very close to is leaving our community and starting a new adventure in another state. I used to be someone who really hated change, but I've come to realize change is constant. Almost nothing remains static. Which, when I really think about it, is a good thing. Because if I have a bad day, I know it's going to change. Maybe not that minute or that day or even that week. But it will change.
On the other hand, if I have a good day, I know that won't last either. So, that leads me to the understanding that all we have are moments. I am learning to treasure them, whether they're good or bad. Because it's all we have and the only way to hold on to anything is in our hearts and minds and memories.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Musings: Crazy busy singing week

I have been so lax with posts and visiting everyone that I feel guilty, so this week, despite three gigs and rehearsals on the days when we're not performing, I am going to try to keep up with my blogging.

Trying to grow a musical talent when you are in your 60s is no easy feat, let me tell you. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not preparing for Carnegie Hall. Our audience doesn't pay to see us and they are quite forgiving. And they seem to enjoy us.

But, I am someone who likes to put my best foot forward with anything I do, be it writing, singing, dancing, guitar, or being a wife or friend. I don't always measure up to my own standards.

Take singing. I started taking lessons in 2006--that's six years ago. And I still have pitch problems. I am beginning to suspect I always will. At first it was from fear. Or rather, terror. Now it's improper breathing. Like any craft, there are techniques to help one with these issues. I am practicing them, but I'm not where I want to be yet. I'm so afraid I'm going to run out of steam before I get to be who I want to be.

Anyone else worried?

Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 6, 2012

The sneaky hate spiral


A friend shared this the other day and I just had to pass it along. If you ever feel like there's a monster living inside you that takes over, take a few minutes and look at this.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/05/sneaky-hate-spiral.html

Blessings,
Karen

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

I am having fun these days doing girly things. I never did them in the past. I was overweight and had a very poor self-image, so I didn't pay much attention. Now, I'm buying lovely outfits and getting pedicures. I never thought I'd say this, but I am finally enjoying being female. And being me.

Did you ever wish you were someone else?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - July

This month I am determined to delve back into my novel in progress. I realized why I was resisting writing -- I am going to have to go to a deep, dark place in our history and I simply don't want to go there. Now that I have that awareness, I think I can move through the resistance.

Nonetheless, I am still very insecure about writing fiction, having been a nonfiction writer my entire adult life. I just don't believe I have a good enough imagination, good enough use of craft techniques like using metaphors and incorporating the five senses in descriptions, etc.

So, am I still insecure? Yup. Will I always be? Probably. Does it matter? Only if it keeps me from writing.

Trying to remember Nike's wonderful slogan: Just do it.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Musings: learning lessons

All my life I've been someone who takes responsibility for other people's feelings and tries to fix whatever the problem is. I always thought that made me kind and caring and loving. Now, I think, how rude is that to presume I have the right to intrude on someone's journey without their asking for my help.

I remember when I was in the 12-step program of Al-anon and they labeled this kind of behavior enabling. One of the slogans was Keep the Focus on Yourself. I've forgotten what I learned in those rooms. Rarely does someone appreciate it when you take it upon yourself to "help." Offering help is one thing. Stepping in and trying to do something about the problem is another.

I wonder if I will ever stop learning these important life lessons. Will I ever be "finished." I have visions of me on my deathbed reaching for my journal and pen for one last insight. Oy vay!

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Angel Sometimes

Isn't that a great title? From the title to the first line right up until the story ended, I was mesmerized by Helen Ginger's Angel Sometimes.

I knew Helen wrote technical books. I knew Helen has been writing a newsletter about writing for 10+ years. I knew Helen is a fabulous editor because she was kind enough to edit the first 50 pages of my work in progress. What I didn't know was that Helen is a great novelist.

Here's the way I judge a good book. Does it have a compelling main character--one I care what happens to? Does it have a storyline that makes me want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next? If I put it down in the midst of reading, do I forget about it, or do the characters stay with me; in other words, have they become real?

Angel Sometimes does all those things. Angel finds herself homeless at only 12, but we meet her in her early twenties. Helen's exquisite use of flashbacks to get Angel's backstory help us understand what makes Angel tick.

I know I've read a great book when, after I read the last line, I turn the page for more. Do yourselves a favor and get this book. Here's the link to Helen's blog: http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/.

Until tomorrow....
Blessings,
Karen