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 30, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: folk dance camp

Tomorrow hubs and I are off to our annual folk dance camp. For those who don't know, folk dancing is the cultural dances from around the world, i.e. Romanian, Hungarian, Israeli, Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian, etc. They consist of line dances, circle dances and couple dances. The music is divine and the dancing is so much fun.

I haven't been able to dance much the last few years because of my knee (very little cartilage left), but I'm going to camp this year to hang out with friends and dance a little. Our camp takes place on a university campus where we stay in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria. After taking part in workshops all day long, we dance from 8 - 11 pm, then hang out in the lounge with guitars and other instruments and sing till 1 or 2 am.

Now that we're all getting older, not sure how the hanging out part after the dance party will go, but I'll let you know.

Till then....
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Musings: Giving up versus resignation versus acceptance

I've been working on healing my emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds since I'm 28 years old (that's 36 years, folks). I've healed so much that I didn't think possible. And I know I will be on this healing journey till the day I die.

But are there some wounds that aren't "healable?" Are there some things one must learn to live with and manage? I have a tendency to want to give up when the going gets tough. However, I also tend to work through those feelings and keep going. I've also resigned from friendships and situations and jobs that were toxic. I've also learned there are some things I just cannot fix or change and I must just accept.
Telling the difference between these three things can be very challenging.

I'm facing this challenge now with my health. In the scheme of things, it's not bad. Nothing is life threatening. However, it is impacting my quality of life somewhat. I am thinking I just need to start acting as if I'm perfectly healthy.

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: medical mysteries

I am in a process that is both frustrating and confusing. I was diagnosed with two issues at the same time: a-fib and under-active thyroid. I was put on meds for the thyroid and told to take aspirin for the a-fib. But I don't feel right. I am tired most of the time, very low energy. And my heart doesn't feel quite right. So, I am getting a heart monitor to see how frequently the a-fib is occurring. Since latest thyroid test came back normal, I am getting more blood work for cortisol levels. It is a hunt to find out why I have no energy. I am not the world' most patient person. Far from it. I want to feel good again. I want to not feel anxious. I am trying to trust the process and the docs I am on this journey with. Honestly, I don't know what to think at this point. But I guess that's the thing about solving mysteries. You think one thing, then another piece of evidence comes in and you think something else. I have to wait for all the evidence to be in. Oy!

How about you?
How's your summer so far?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Musings: nothing much to say

I don't know if it's the heat of summer, summer lethargy, writer's block, or just needing a very very long break, but I've got nothing to say. I've noticed that blogging has slowed down a lot, not just here on my blog, so I don't think I'm alone. Summer travels, kids at home (not in my case) and who knows what else. So, if I can't think of a "truth" for tomorrow, I'll catch you all later.
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Attitude Adjustment

Everyone probably has a remote control device that controls the functions of the TV, stereo, etc. You can make it louder/softer, turn it on and off, fast-forward or rewind. And you can hit the pause button to stop everything. Well, I've installed a pause button on myself. I tend towards depressive, negative thinking. It's how I was built. I've had to train myself to recognize those thoughts, bring those dark places out into the light, and try to turn them around. It's a daunting task, but I succeed more often than not. See, the thing is, the thoughts are habitual, so by installing the pause button, if I am lucky enough to capture the thought in the moment I am having it and hitting that pause button, it stops the old pattern. Then I make my attitude adjustment, and voila, I feel so much better.

Do you need a pause button?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musings: Health and how to not let fear run your life

I found out last week that my A-Fib (irregular heart rhythm) is not related to my thyroid issue. Darn. It means, and I asked the doctor specifically about this, that I have heart disease and am at higher risk for stroke and that next year, when I turn 65, I will have to go on blood thinner medication. It is age-related, my doc said. Coupled with my bad knee, which I am planning on getting replaced, hopefully the end of this year, I suddenly feel catapulted into old age.

I wasn't ready for this. I've been caregiver for my two parents, my mother-in-law, an elderly friend, and I've helped friends caretake their elderly parents, so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. I just didn't expect to deal with some of these issues until I was in my 70s or 80s.

The A-fib is not life-threatening unless it begins to happen more frequently and last longer. I just have to watch for stroke symptoms. Last Thursday nite I got what was probably the worst heartburn I've ever experienced. It felt like a giant metal claw had clamped onto my heart and was squeezing it tight. The pain was down my arm and I wondered if I might be having a heart attack and not just indigestion and heart burn. I toyed with the idea of calling 911 (hubby was asleep and didn't want to disturb him) but just decided to wait it out. Eventually, after two antacids, the pain subsided.

I have a choice. I can live my life in fear that my heart will go wonky or that I will have a massive stroke and either be a vegetable or die. Or I can live my life not identifying myself as someone with heart disease, but taking as good a care of myself as I can, and actually living my life. As fully and as deeply as I possibly can.

I'm working on wrapping my mind around the idea that I have heart disease. Once I accept that, my choice is clear. To wear myself out living my passions and not allow the fear to paralyze me. I've spent way too many years paralyzed by emotional and psychological issues to let this stop me now.

How about you? Does fear keep you from living your life the way you would like?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: When I Stop Trying to Control the World, it actually works better

Control and letting go. Two of my biggest issues. I know where the need to control stems from. As a child, I didn't feel safe. I didn't have a solid foundation of love and support in my family of origin. My parents fought a lot, so I developed a need to try to make it all okay in order to feel safe. As an adult, I still want to feel safe and if anxiety sets in, my control issues flare up big time and I try to fix everything around me.

The more awareness I have about this, the more I can stop and let go. And the more I do that, the better things work. I've taken to asking myself: Is this mine? my feeling? my responsibility? my issue? It helps a lot, rather than just take on everything occurring around me. It's a huge relief to know I am only responsible for my own behavior. I can't fix or change anyone else. Whew!

How about you? Are you controlling or are you able to let go?
blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Musings: starting to come together

I have been fairly one dimensional for most of my life. What I mean by that is I operated mostly on feelings. The five senses, I've been sort of shut down to them. So of course, when it comes to writing fiction, when you need to include sensory details, I'm kind of stuck. A couple of years ago a dear friend blogging friend, Suze, suggested I begin to pay attention to my senses when I'm out and about. That went the way of the Edsel. But last week, another dear blogging friend, Tracy, suggested the same thing. I've tried it and, lo and behold, while out hiking in great heat, I noticed how cool the rock felt when I held onto it for support. I noticed the breeze on my face when I found a bit of shade. The silence where we were hiking spoke volumes. A peregrine falcon cawed the whole time it was flying through a canyon.

Now I think I know what I need to do for my next draft. Thank you, Suze and Tracy.

How about you? Do you live your life using all of your  senses?
Blessings,
Karen

Friday, July 5, 2013

A big fat thank you

One of the commenters from the IWSG noticed they were my 600th followers. I hadn't realized I was close to that milestone. I am humbled and grateful to all of you who have chosen to follow my blog. I am especially grateful to those of you who keep coming back to hear what I have to say and who also share your thoughts about whatever. This community is so supportive. I have made several close friends, some of whom I've actually had the pleasure to meet in person and some whom I have telephone conversations with on a regular basis and with whom I have become quite close. It is extraordinary to me that I could feel so close to someone I've never met. But we do get to know each other through our blogs, to some degree. And when the connection goes beyond that, i.e. working together in someway, it is a real blessings.

So today I thank each and every one of you for the support and encouragement I always feel when one of you stops by and leaves a few words. I probably should have done a giveaway, but sigh, I didn't think of it in time. So, if I ever get to 1000, watch out!

Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group - July


It's time for the IWSG again, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh
www.alexjcavanaugh.com
Alex has provided a way for writers who blog to share their thoughts and feelings about where they are in their process and receive support in return. It's a real blessing. Here are my thoughts for this month.


I never intended to write fiction. I love reading it. Have since I was a child. But writing it? A whole other ball of wax, ballgame, can of worms, see what I mean, cliche after cliche. I am not a fiction writer. But somehow, I have been called upon to write the story the voice whispered to me in the Scottish Highlands and then again in Ireland, "Tell my story, tell my story."


Oy vay! My first draft is done. The bare bones of the story are down on paper. But it is flat. It lacks all the things that make a novel rich and engage the reader - lush descriptions, significant details, the infamous showing versus telling. I am busy reading writing books about all of these issues and honestly, folks, I get it. But getting it and writing that way are two very different things. It feels like I'd rather yank a tooth out of my head than try to come up with better ways to say what I'm saying.

In the past, my writing has flowed naturally out of me. With this, I have to stop and think about how to say what I'm trying to say. One of the craft books says to ask, "What's the evidence?" In other words, instead of saying "She's in pain" (telling), say, "it was like a knife in her gut and she doubled over" or something like that to "show" the pain.

But frankly, I look at my sentences and my eyes glaze over. And truthfully, I don't want to work this hard. There, I've whined my truth. I want it to be easy. Just like I wanted to be able to play guitar after learning three chords. Once I accepted that it would take hard work and practice, that things don't usually come easily, at least nothing worthwhile comes easily, it got better.

So, I need to accept that this does not come easily to me, that it will take hard work and practice to make the manuscript better. The craft book I read also said that Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to practice together with one of them saying a line "telling" it and the other coming up with ways of "showing" it. If they felt they needed that kind of practice, who am I to think I should just be able to do it, just like that (snapping my fingers here).

How about you?
Blessings
Karen

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Gratitude

My word for the day - gratitude - for whatever good health I have in this particular moment, the health of my family members and friends, including all of you guys. Gratitude for financial security, good friends, music, dance, art, our dog, Buddy, all the children (and teenagers) in my life, good movies, good books, the BBC series from 2000 called Monarch of the Glen (found on Netflix and totally entranced by it). I could go on, but I'll stop here.

What are you grateful for today?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, July 1, 2013

Washington DC Part II

We landed in DC on Father's Day and our first stop was the World War II memorial. It would have been a moving experience on any day, but on that particular day, my husband and I walked around honoring our two fathers, both World War II vets, as well as all the other brave soldiers who served our country in such a monumentally important war.


I grew up in the 50's and 60's. I was 14 in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated.
This is the eternal flame at his gravesite.


I don't think I ever fully realized the impact this event had on my life and my psyche. And I'm not sure that I ever really grieved his loss.
This is the Viet Nam Memorial


Another event that had an astronomical influence on me. I remember watching the nightly news on a  daily basis and seeing the fighting and killing. It is the first time I remember that kind of violence becoming almost routine.







This doesn't need  my words


Do you see the pigeon? He didn't get the memo!

Anyone else grow up with these guys driving around the neighborhood?








Recognize these? They are Dorothy's ruby slippers. Cool, huh?







This is the box where President Lincoln was sitting in the Ford Theater when he was assassinated.

This tower of books is all 15,000+ books written about Lincoln - more than any other person.

Arlington National Cemetery



The gravesite of Bobby Kennedy - another assassination which occurred in the 1960's, along with Martin Luther  King. Made me realize just how violent my teenage years were and what an upheaval the 1960's caused.






The airplane the Wright Brothers flew






The lunar module that landed on the moon. Talk about an event that had a major impact. 
Well, that's all folks. It was a walk down memory lane, helping me understand events that shaped my personality and my psyche. It was a moving tribute to everything our country stands for and many of the events that got us to where we are today. I may not agree with a lot of the politicians and the way things are done, but I came away from this trip feeling very proud to be a citizen of the United States and an immense amount of gratitude for the freedoms we fought so hard for, including our own Civil War.

Blessings,
Karen