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 28, 2013

Monday Musings - The Book by Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell's writing is exquisite. Whether it's poetry or women's fiction, like her stunning debut novel, String Bridge, her writing captivates and mesmerizes me. I can't wait to read her new book, called The Book. Here's what Jess says about it.

Ever wondered how a five-year-old girl perceives the world? Then you definitely need to get your hands on THE BOOK, a novella by Jessica Bell.

Check out these awesome reviews:
"Jessica Bell’s surprising risks with language capture a child’s clear vision in a world of adult heartbreak. Indelible. Courageous." ~Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger's Glasses and Enchantment

"THE BOOK is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's going to rip your blood pump out of your chest, kick it around like a football, and then shove it back inside you, leaving you with a potently reinvigorated faith in humanity. A curiously captivating read that somehow manages to encapsulate the length and breadth of love and family in one slim volume." ~Josh Donellan, author of Zeb and the Great Ruckus

Here's the blurb:
This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.

Intrigued?

Available at all major retailers in e-book and paperback, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.

I am sorry I will be unable to respond to comments today - We've had a death in the family and are driving to Texas. Be well everyone.
Karen




Friday, January 25, 2013

Final words on Sugartime

Well, the decision has been made. The one singer will be leaving Sugartime at the end of February. We will sing together three more times during that month and then this iteration of the group is over.
The other singer and I have decided to cobble together a program of songs to honor the commitments we have made for March and April. We will have to see how we sound together with just our two voices. Then we can see how it all feels and whether we think we can put on a good enough show with just two. After that, we can see if we want to continue or let it go or try to find a third person.

I am grateful this current form of the group will end in a way we can bless each other for the next stage of our individual journeys. It was looking for awhile like that wasn't going to happen.

Thank you all for your kind and supportive, and very wise comments.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday - new beginnings

I am processing the fact that my singing group, Sugartime, in its current iteration, will be coming to an end at the end of April. My heart hurts from sadness. But I also know that when something like this happens, even though it may feel devastating, there is always opportunity for something new to come in. I simply need to take some time to figure out what it is I am wanting and needing to do now regarding singing and performing. So a process and journey begins to allow whatever that may be to emerge...

What journey are you on?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Musings - what do you do when a dream dies

Most of you know I am in a singing trio, Sugartime, and that it is a huge, important part of my life. It has fed my soul in so many ways. Now it looks like the group might not continue. One of the singers has found another group that more meets her dream. So in order for her to fulfill her dream, my dream might die.

I could try to find someone to replace her. But I don't really think I have the energy to do that. And the remaining singer and I just aren't strong enough to do it just the two of us.

We have a few months before she actually leaves - she hasn't made that decision yet, but it's looking like that's the way it will go, so I am wondering what I will do to fill that huge hole in my life...

How about you? Have you had big dreams end?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

The other night hubby and I couldn't find anything to watch on TV, so we trolled through Netflix, looking for something we hadn't seen. We found Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Anyone hear of it? Me, neither. It stars Joan Plowright and screenplay by Dan Ireland. It is a beautifully written, beautifully acted film. If you're looking for lots of action and sudden plot twists, this is not the movie for you. It is most definitely a character-driven plot. I have not been able to stop thinking about these characters and how serendipitous meetings of two unlikely people can have an amazing impact on our lives.

I love finding little, unknown gems like this. Do you? What have you found lately?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday - 37000 words

Some days writing is like trying to draw blood from a stone. Other days words flow like a waterfall down a mountainside. But it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I get those words down on paper in what Annie Lamott, in Bird by Bird, refers to as a shitty first draft. Then the magic begins. Except it already has. As soon as I chose to listen to the voice which came me in the magic of Ireland and Scotland. Then comes the magic of revision. Then the magic of editing. Once I know the story, I can make it work. Right now I don't need to worry how good it is. It isn't. I don't need to worry about what's going to happen with it when I'm done. I haven't a clue. All I need to do is get down that shitty first draft.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Musings: magical thinking

I want to thank everyone who visited here last week and left such kind, loving comments about my health. I am feeling much better, although still coughing, but my energy has almost returned to normal, so I'm hopeful. I've almost forgotten what it feels like to feel good.

Joan Didion wrote a book called The Year of Magical Thinking in which she wrote about her journey during her husband's illness and eventual death. I was intrigued by the title because I spent most of my life living in a world of magical thinking. I thought I possessed magical powers that could make my parents stop fighting and love each other. I though my love could magically make my first husband a happy person and then, magically, he would love me. I seem to imbue others with magical powers as well. I see someone I admire. Someone who has a character trait or talent I would like to cultivate. And here's where magical thinking comes in. I think, first of all, that by having this person in my life, I can magically become like them. And secondly, I seem to ignore other traits that are perhaps not so wonderful.

This might go on for years, before my magical thinking begins to dissipate and I see things as they really are. Magical thinking is all right for awhile. But it only suspends the inevitable crash into reality. And the longer the magical thinking is allowed to continue, the longer and harder the eventual crash.

No one wants to be someone who sees everyone's faults. I certainly don't. But I want to see reality. I don't want denial to rear its ugly head so that I can pretend someone is other than who they really are, hoping that I will get whatever it is I think I need from them and not be hurt by those things I'm refusing to see. But you see, that never happens. I do end up hurt.

So I am working on my magical thinking. It's okay to live there while I am writing. Otherwise, not so much. How about you? Do you live in a world of magical thinking?

Blessings,
Karen


Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Musings: I got plenty of nothin'

I have spent most of the last two months sick. I've tried to keep up with posts and visit blogs when I had the energy, but I haven't done as well as I'd like. I am musing today about not having the energy to figure out what to write on a  blog posts because I need to put my energy and attention on my novel and Sugartime this week. I've got nothing else. I'll be back next week, hopefully stronger and with some new ideas.
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, January 4, 2013

Postscript to insecurity

It is a new year - 2013. My goodness. Time sure seems to be flying by rather quickly, doesn't it?
I have been gone over the holidays and away from bloggydom, but just before Christmas, my writing started flowing again on my novel, so I am not feeling particularly insecure right now. I know it ebbs and flows and in the times of ebbing, I am unconsciously still working, so I've learned to relax about it.

In the wake of the tragedies that occurred just before the end of the year, I have come to understand keeping things in perspective at a much deeper level than ever before. I am learning to ask myself, how important is it in the scheme of things, when I get upset about something. I don't mean our feelings aren't valid. They are. And we are human. We will and do have feelings. But for me, keeping things in perspective helps me manage them much better.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group - January

It's that time of month again. Time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you haven't already met Alex, where have you been? Please go say hi to him here: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com

It's just after the holidays and I was on holiday, so no writing. That's good in one sense because I have nothing to feel insecure about. On the other hand, it's kind of difficult to get back into the swing of things. Today is the first day of the year that isn't a holiday day. I wrote this post on Sunday, so I can't say whether I'll be able to work towards my goal of finishing my first draft this year. No, let me amend that. I will finish the first draft. And I'll do it way before the end of 2013.

I have been a deeply insecure person for most of my 63 years. That is changing. There is now a quiet confidence that has come with simply living life as long as I have. If I am listening to my soul and following my heart, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. It is when things interfere with that that I get into trouble. Where insecurity used to raise its ugly head, now I speak up and ask for what I need. I know I won't always get it, but if I am firm in my convictions, then I am sure I am doing the right thing.

Anyone see the movie Lincoln? It was so inspiring to me to see how Lincoln stood up for his convictions when he believed he was right and justice would be served. If we could only learn to resolve our differences without violence and bloodshed. Ah, but I digress and this is in no way a politically oriented blog.

Do you speak up for yourself when necessary? I am coming to believe it is at the heart of insecurity - not saying or doing what we need to do because of fears that we aren't good enough.

Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday -Compassion and Communication

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all had wonderful holiday times with family and friends. I did.

On this, the first day of 2013, I want to share a story. I was on a plane from Boston to Albuquerque, heading home from our Christmas holiday. My hubby had the window seat, I was in the middle, and the aisle seat was empty as we waited for passengers to board at our stopover in Chicago (it was Southwest Airlines).

A very tall elderly man asked if the seat was vacant and I said yes, a small voice inside going oh no. His hair was greasy, his clothing rumpled and disheveled and he simply looked grumpy. He proceeded to seat himself, his knees pushing into the seat in front of him. Clearly, he did not have enough leg room. I had two carry-ons under the seat in front of me, with about six inches to spare on the right side. I'm short, so leg room is not a problem for me, but my knees are an issue. If I keep them in one position too long, they really start to ache.

Shortly into the flight, this man's left foot made its way to the six inches of room I had in front of me to stretch my leg. I was extremely irritated, but didn't say anything. His elbows were also invading my seat space. I shoved a little. He grumbled an apology, and then five minutes later, the elbow was back in my space.

I stewed for awhile, working up a good mad. But something happened. Something I didn't do consciously. Suddenly I felt compassion well up inside. I turned to the man and said, "I realize you don't have enough room for your feet, but I need to stretch my leg out as well."

"He said, "What am I supposed to do?"

I said, "How about we shift positions every so often. You keep your feet there for awhile, and when I need to shift, I'll tell you."

We worked it out for the rest of the flight. Turns out he is a writer of children's books. One of his books has sold 34,000 copies. Need I tell you I was a bit envious. We talked writing and publishing for the next half hour or so. He even gave me a great suggestion for the novel I'm working on.

Compassion and communication. Now, he could have told me when he sat down that he needed some additional space and asked if it were all right to put his foot in my space. He didn't do that. And I, rightly so, some would say, could have been irritated and angry the rest of the trip, making us both miserable.

I am so grateful that a compassionate spark ignited in my soul in that moment and that negative energy shifted.

What a lovely way to begin a new year - I think compassion will be my New Year's resolution, along with finishing that darn first draft!

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen