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, September 28, 2012

milestones

Our lives are marked by milestones. First, we celebrate walking and talking. Then when we finally reach double digits. High School Graduation. Driving. Our first car. College. Our first date/kiss. Our first job. Voting. Engagement. Marriage. Children. Retirement. Grandchildren.

Along the way, we celebrate others' milestones as well. Weddings, birthdays, and funerals. This week I will attend a friend's wedding, both in their 60s. And my 97-year-old aunt tells me her days are numbered. I tell her all our days are numbered. We just don't know how many numbers we have left. She laughed.

So today, I want to acknowledge milestones in our lives. My next one, I hope, will be a completed first draft of my first novel.

What's yours?
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blogging blues

Do any other bloggers get the blogging blues? You know, don't feel like you have anything to say. Don't really want to read what anyone else has to say. Get discouraged cause no one seems to be reading when you do find something to say. Thinking you've said something wise and brilliant and no one gets it. Old blogging friends stop visiting or stop commenting, which feels like the same thing. Losing followers for no apparent reason. I'm singing an old country song with Sugartime called Singing the Blues and it made me realize I've got the blogging blues?

How about you?
Karen

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Mormon Diaries




This post is to tell you about a fine memoir written by a blogging friend of ours, who, to protect her own and her family's privacy, is using a pen name. Here are the back cover blurbs:

“Sophia Stone has a fine eye and a searching heart. Her story of growing up in and reaching through her Mormonism for a deeper, more authentic spirituality reflects all the ways that religion can both keep us satisfied with easy answers and push us to more difficult and complicated realizations. We need a hundred more books like this one . . .” –Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl

“Sophia Stone captured my attention from the beginning. This collection of personal essays, about questioning the legitimacy of Mormonism after having faith in the religion for the first 30-something years of her life, is not just a controversial quake to a reader’s heart and soul. Stone’s voice is brave, bold and intriguing. And surprisingly relatable to someone who is not religious.”—Jessica Bell, author of String Bridge 

Sophia was kind enough to answer these questions since inquiring minds definitely want to know.


Why did you hide your faith struggles from those closest to you?

I was afraid my faithful Mormon family and friends would think me either prideful or influenced by Satan if I admitted to doubting The Church. There’s a common phrase faithful Latter-day Saints use to explain away uncomfortable issues: “The Church is true. The people are not.” Those who leave the church are often labeled as angry, easily offended, prideful, lazy, or deceived. There’s no good reason to doubt, no good reason to question, no good reason to stop believing. Faith yields loyalty and obedience.

How is your family coping with this? Do they support you?

Well, it depends on what part of my family you’re talking about. My kids have been great, but they’re pretty young. I’m continually amazed by the open mindedness and trust of small children. I really think Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said that unless we become as little children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

My husband, on the other hand, is having a really hard time. We’ve had to do some negotiating about the kid’s religious education. He wants them to believe in Mormonism and is very much attached to the outcome. The thought of his kids choosing to leave the LDS church is absolutely devastating to him. 

There are certain things that (for him) are non-negotiable. The kids WILL get baptized at age eight whether I want that for them or not. The kids will continue to go to the Mormon church each Sunday until they turn twelve. (He’d said eighteen originally, but has since softened). 10% of his income will continue to go to The Church whether or not I agree with that particular donation. We’re a single income family so that’s a pretty big deal, but he’s frightened, truly frightened that if he stops paying a full tithe, he’ll lose his job.

Although, in fairness, he say it has nothing to do with fear. Rather, he has faith in the principle of tithing. God will bless him for his financial sacrifice.

As for the rest of the family, my mother is struggling, the brother just younger than me acts as if he doesn’t know, my older brother has been accepting, and my sister is unpredictable. I’m not even sure how to characterize that relationship at this point. So overall it’s been a mixed bag where tolerance is concerned. As for support—no, I do not have family support. Nor is it something I can reasonably expect.

How do you get someone who thinks you’ve been influenced by Satan to 
        consider your point of view? 

Short answer: you don’t. 

Long answer: It’s odd to be on the other end of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” rhetoric. I always considered myself a fairly good, honest person. And I have to admit that I don’t feel like a different person just because I don’t believe in Mormonism like I used to. Certain things just don’t change, you know? I still like chocolate milk shakes. I still like people. I feel, in many ways, closer to God than I did a year ago. So it’s been kind of shocking to have people who always trusted me assume the worst.
   
How do you build relationships with people who think you are broken?

Oh, man, I wish I knew. Honestly, it depends on how important their Mormonism is to their identity. Those who are capable of accepting my brokenness without trying to fix it are much easier to have relationships with than those who work extra hard to fix me.

How has your change in beliefs affected your marriage and children?

I think it has benefited my children in a number of ways. First, by showing them that goodness isn’t based on legalistic rules, they are more accepting of themselves and others. Second, by helping them see that there isn’t one right way to be a decent human being, they are able to think the best of people. Third, by opening up to other ideas and spiritual philosophies, they are more open as well. 

As for my marriage, my change in beliefs has brought to light problems I’d been ignoring for years. Things having to do with power dynamics, issues with inflexibility, and some fundamental disagreements in parenting styles between my husband and I. My marriage has suffered and I worry about it often. But I also know that without the insights I have now, the relationship would continue to grow more unbalanced and necessary change would never occur.

I’m crossing my fingers and holding out hope in the marriage department. 

What are the best ways to support someone going through a faith crisis? 

The most important thing is to listen. Don’t distance yourself. Don’t shy away. Don’t give advice, and definitely don’t judge. Just be a friend. Period. Sometimes it really is that simple.

How did your falling away from Mormonism affect your view of the religion?

Hmm, well, when I believed in Mormonism with my whole heart, I rationalized away any issues I had by saying members were human and made mistakes. I believed The Church was as close to being a perfect institution as anyone was likely to find. God had made it. He had ordered it. Who was I to question what He had formed?

Now I see all kinds of problems with the institution. Not with the hearts of members or leaders (who I believe are honest people acting on faith) but rather with group think. It shuts down a lot of voices that threaten the status quo. There’s not much tolerance for free speech where church policy and doctrine are concerned. Speaking against the leadership is taboo, and there are lots of unwritten rules about not exposing the flaws of the organization to the outside world. It’s a lot like a dysfunctional family that way. Loyalty to the church trumps personal spirituality.    

Do you ever feel angry . . . if so, why?

On my bad days, I feel more disappointment than anger. Mostly because I believed with all my heart the promises found in Mormonism. I thought I was happier than other people, that I had greater access to spirituality, that I knew my most important and fulfilling role. I believed I had divine knowledge and purpose. Now I’ve found that many of these promises are smoke and mirrors. 

And I’m further disheartened when I see religion hurt families. You’d think a family centered church would shout from the rooftops not to shun family members who’ve fallen away. You’d think they’d allow non-believing parents to see their believing kids get married in the temple. You’d think they’d support all different kinds of families, not just those that meet one definition. But all too often an ideal is promoted that benefits the church over families that are struggling. “Traditional gender roles” and “conservative family values” are taught as religious principles.

Here's how to order the Mormon Diaries:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mormon-diaries-sophia-l-stone/1112764678?ean=9781477548059

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0096BFE5K/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RS2CC2KXK5GPC1A4X8V&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846

Sophia has also created a twitter account where she will take any questions about Mormonism and answer them minus the usual spin under the hashtag #mormonquestions.

The twitter account is sophia stone@ask_a_mormon  The underscores are kind of important because someone else has that address without the underscore marks. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Musings: back in the saddle

I've had my three hyuralaunic knee injections and will once again attempted to folk dance to see if tremendous pain followed. I did only 4 or 5 dances, took Alleve and iced my knee when I got home.  If I can folk dance without pain, I can stave off a total knee replacement. If I can't, I have to decide whether to wait as long as possible to have my knee replaced or get it over with and try to do something I love very much. It's a tough decision because my knee doesn't hurt too badly if I don't folk dance. But hubs and I love dancing together and we've both missed it so much. On Sunday, my knee felt no worse then it had before I danced on Saturday nite. Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

How about you? Have you had to give up anything because of physical issues?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, September 21, 2012

end of a whirlwind week

TGIF. Sugartime sang at the Fair Tuesday, at an annual convention for the New Mexico Hospital Association Thursday night and will sing at a retirement facility this afternoon. We're all exhilarated and exhausted and ecstatic. I am sorry I haven't been able to visit too many blogs this week, but I promise I'll be back in the swing next week. Things will slow down considerably in October for Sugartime.
Now I need to get back to my novel!!!
How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - singing at the fair

I know Alex's blogfest was yesterday and that is a very big deal, but I also had another big deal going on yesterday - Sugartime sang at the State Fair. What a blast! We don't often get an opportunity to be on a big stage and strut our stuff. Never in a million years could I ever have imagined doing this in my sixties. I've wanted to be in a girl group since I was a small child. Well, I also wanted to be Patsy Cline and Rosemary Clooney. But then I wanted to be the Lennon Sisters or the McGuire Sisters. Then it was the Ronettes and the Marvelettes and The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. Now it's Sugartime.

How about you? Are you living any of your childhood dreams?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 17, 2012

Alex blog fest


Genre Favorites Blogfest, September 17, 2012
One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
Movie
Music
Books
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!



Allrighty then, our fabulous Ninja Captain Alex, is once again hosting a blogfest. To find Alex, go here: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com. There you will find the linky thingy to discover all the other participants in this blogfest. Here are my genre favorites:

Movie: Romantic (Comedy or drama)
Music: Oldies (from the fifties and sixties)
Books: can't choose any one genre - I just love fiction of most any kind

My guilty pleasure from one of these categories: I've probably seen most romantic comedies (from classics up to the present time) five or six times each (or more in some cases). I know the dialogue for some of these movies, like An Affair to Remember or When Harry Met Sally. It is probably my most favorite "escape."

How about you?
Blessings
Karen

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is there ever a reason to be nasty?

Don't you love it when someone says something nasty and then defends it by saying they are just being honest? I heard Britney Spears say this when being interviewed about her new role as judge on The "X" Factor.

There are so many ways to be honest without being nasty. The tone of voice you use when speaking to someone makes a world of difference in how what you are saying will be received. Your intention when you speak, meaning the place you come from, also has a huge impact. If your intention is to be helpful, then why be hurtful? If, as Britney Spears said, she wanted to help someone avoid wasting 7 years of their life trying to succeed with not enough talent, then find a way to say that in a loving way. Jennifer Lopez did it on American Idol. She was honest, but loving.

I don't mean to pick on Britney Spears - I really know nothing about her, other than what I've read in the tabloids. But I don't like television programs that use hostility and downright meanness and hurt people. I've been hurt by comments teachers have made. Comments that have taken years to overcome. Comments I still live with, somewhere deep inside. I've learned not to let those feelings overtake me. I guess I don't want to see young people have to live with the consequences of hurtful comments when it totally isn't necessary.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - posse

I have a dear friend, MA, who is going to be 91 years young in November. She doesn't have any near relatives who are capable of helping her as aging issues begin to affect her life. Since she is someone I consider to be my guardian angel, I am one of several other women who are there for her when she needs it.

Several weeks ago we all met at her attorney's office to find out what each of us is responsible for legally as personal representatives or health care representatives. The lawyer said she considered us all MA's posse and that MA was the sheriff. It is a brilliant concept, because many of us tend to "take charge" of our elders, forgetting that even though they are slower and might not be able to do the same things they always did, they are still present and, if they have all their mental faculties, still capable of making decisions for themselves. It keeps us, her friends, in line and with a proper perspective.

I am beginning to think about who I would want on my posse when I get to that point.
How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Musings: plastic surgery and aging

Friday night I had dinner with two girlfriends. We are all in our sixties. Somehow the topic came around to plastic surgery and we all admitted we'd fantasized about doing it and looking younger. But each of us said that we'd also realized that if we did one thing - say a facelift - the rest of our body would still drip and sag, so would we then have to do another procedure and another. And what about when a procedure wears off, do you do it again. And when do you stop.

Finally, I said I guess we just have to stop chasing after beauty and accept aging gracefully. We all agreed that was the way to go, even if we go kicking and screaming the whole way.

Here's something to help us laugh about it.

Video:
Pultizer Prize-winning cartoonist Walt Handelsman begins a series of 'Toons about the vicissitudes of aging, and the need for keeping our sense of humor during the process. Laugh along with him, and share these with your friends.
http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid67524056001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAjHM3KE~,ue6IyhgccnQfCR9niUq7SpiGuvtClfZX&bclid=0&bctid=1799012627001


What do you think?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, September 7, 2012

word verification

Oy vay! Several people visited my blog during IWSG on Wednesday, but when I went to visit their blogs and tried to leave a comment, in one case I tried five times to do the word verification and it wouldn't accept it. Please please please turn word verification off. I don't want to get frustrated and not respond to your blog if you visit here. So for those of you who came and I didn't comment on your blog, you know why. And if I missed you somehow and you don't have word verification, please do let me know. I want to connect with all of you.

I'm off to sing today at a retirement community, so happy weekend, everyone.
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group - August

The Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Ninja Captain of bloggydom. Alex is the most prolific and supportive blogger I've come to know. To find other members of IWSG, go here: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/insecure-writers-support-group.html To find Alex, go here: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com

I'm not feeling particularly insecure this month. Perhaps that's because I've been writing daily for several weeks now and I'm always happiest when I'm writing. My insecurity comes if I allow myself to think about whether what I am writing is any good or not, so as soon as I catch myself thinking that way, I immediately shift gears and think about something else. And if I even have one tiny thought about what I will do about publishing when I'm done, I could throw myself off a bridge, so I won't go there.

All I need to do right now is keep writing. The rest will happen when it happens.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Tenacity

If I had to choose one characteristic of mine that I felt was a big asset, I'd have to say tenacity. I'm kind of like a dog with a bone - I really don't let go till I get what I want. It has served me well when I had my own public relations consulting firm, when starting my singing group, Sugartime, and while writing my memoir and getting it published. So, my truth for this Tuesday is, if you want something badly enough, be tenacious about getting it.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Musings: celebrating life

Labor Day is meant to honor all the work we do all year long (at least I think that's what it is. I didn't take the time to research - my bad!). But today I want to honor all we do in our lives. The things that make life worth living. Work is something we need to do to provide the things we need to live. If we're lucky, we love what we do as work. Many people don't. I'm one of the lucky ones. I loved what I did before I became a writer and now that I'm a retired person who writes, I love that, too.

This weekend I practiced with my singing trio. This month we have several pretty big gigs. Tonight we're singing at a retirement community for about 70 people. On the 17th we're singing at the State Fair. We'll be singing at an annual meeting of retired nurses on the 20th. Plus several smaller venues in between. Aren't I lucky?

We also spent time with friends at an annual Labor Day pool party. There is nothing richer than hanging out with good friends, talking, laughing, swimming, eating, drinking. Aren't I lucky?

Tell me how you celebrate life and the ways in which you are lucky.
Blessings,
Karen