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, October 29, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: mind/body connection

So I'm going to get down and dirty personal today. I haven't been feeling well for a long time now. My heart and thyroid went wonky back in February. I just now got on meds that have mostly regulated my heart - my thyroid still is wonky and I'm gaining weight. Those of you who know me  know how hard I worked to lose 70 pounds and keep it off, so to gain weight through no fault of my own is infuriating and scary. And the third issue is my voice. I sing, so it's important. I have a chronic tickle deep in my throat and it makes my voice wobbly and cut out. Okay, so I'm telling you this, not to complain or to get sympathy, but to share an insight.

It was around February that I finished the drafts of my book. Or so I thought. Really, I thought I'd done everything I needed to do on it. If you read my post yesterday you already know that I most certainly had not. February is when my health started to decline. While talking to a friend recently, I remembered that when I was a kid, I used to pretend to be sick if I didn't want to go to school. I got symptoms down so I could fool my mother. Then, as I grew up, I would get sick (for real) if I didn't want to do something. The aha moment came when I realized I'd gotten sick right around the time I finished my book because deep down inside, I knew I wasn't done. And I knew that what I had to do to make this book what it needs to be is damned hard. The subject matter is intense and I have to go deeper inside myself and allow myself inside these characters and I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS.

My editor said to me, "I know how deep you've already gone so if you don't want to do this, it's okay." And I said, "I've always known that this book is my spiritual journey and my spiritual journey is this book. I can't not do it."

So, I still don't feel well, and I probably won't feel better until I begin the extensive revisions that are needed on my manuscript. I just can't face it quite yet...

How about you?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Musings: editor's feedback

Those of you who are writers know how scary it can be after you've turned your baby over to your editor and await their feedback. I tried not to think about it until right before I met with him last Thursday. Then I got nervous.  My editor is a master communicator, meaning he gave me the positive feedback before he shared his thoughts and suggestions. This was not a line by line edit - no no no, I'm nowhere near up to that. It was an overall conceptual discussion. The good news - it is a profound and powerful story. The bad news - it's not nearly done. I didn't go deep enough. I don't have fully drawn characters. I haven't done enough description. It needs more scenes; more action.

On some level, I knew this. My beta readers had said they felt unfinished. Now I have very specific suggestions for how to "infuse life, vibrancy, and a sense of place." Say some prayers for this nonfiction writer attempting her first fiction work.

How are you coming along with your projects?
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: gratitude

As many of you know, I am dealing with some health issues that have proven to be challenging and difficult to manage. What is helping me not go completely off center is gratitude. When I get scared, I remind myself of all I have to be grateful for. When I feel sorry for myself, I look at all the blessings I have in my life. When I get angry at my body for what is doing to me, I thank it for carrying me so well for 64 years.

Oh, and yesterday I hired an editor for my novel. Yikes and Yippee!!!

How about you? Do you practice gratitude?
Blessings,
Karen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Musings: interludes

I'm in an interlude with my novel. I finished revisions and it is now in the hands of a few beta readers. I am beginning to think about what editor I will hire and whether to pursue traditional publishing or just bite the bullet and self-publish. Interludes are an interesting place to be because there is nothing you have to do. It's too soon for me to start on the next writing project--I'm still too invested emotionally and psychically with this one. I remember reading a book by a 14th century unknown mystic called The Cloud of Unknowing. I love that title. It's how interludes feel. You don't know what's coming next....

Blessings
Karen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: a touching story

Hello everyone,
Hope you enjoyed the pics and stories from South Africa. For those of you who are younger than me and don't believe you will ever be able to do anything like this, let me tell you, I didn't either. So don't give up hope.

On another note, Sugartime (my singing duo) performed at a retirement community here in Albuquerque on Friday. We've been there before and love it. The audience is much more with it than some of the other places we sing. One couple got up to dance a few times. Many others were singing along with us. We sing songs they know and love like Bye Bye Blackbird, Singing in the Rain, When You're Smiling. Most of you probably never heard of those songs. But the story I want to share is about one lady. She seemed elderly (probably in her 80s). Her head rested permanently on her chin. She used a walker. But while we sang, she danced with her walker, back and forth in a small space behind a row of chairs. One hand held onto the walker while the other waved and flowed in the air. I could tell she must have been a dancer, because the hand movements looked ballet like and were perfect. I noticed her while my partner was singing Over the Rainbow and tears welled up in my eyes. My partner than saw me teary and her voice began to catch in her throat while she was singing. She powered through, though.

It was so poignant to see someone still doing what they clearly love, even if they couldn't do it the way they once did. Wish I'd been able to capture photo.

Blessings,
Karen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Musings: South Africa, part III

The last leg of our trip we traveled to Zambia. There you will find Victoria Falls, sitting on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The historic Victoria Falls Bridge




While researching what to do on this trip I found two experiences I wanted to encounter. One was riding an African elephant, the other was walking with lions. After the safari experience, I had changed my mind about these things because seeing the animals in their natural habitat made me feel it was wrong to do touristy things with them. However, when we got there, we found that both of these organizations are about conservation, and the animals we rode and walked with would have died without these folks taking them in and caring for them. The lions will be released back into the wild when they reach a certain age.



The platform to get on the elephant


Me, hubby,  our guide, and our hungry escort







The elephants really are quite hungry



 We stayed at a lodge that is quite near the Falls. These are some views of the grounds. Giraffes, zebras, and baboons just wandered about at will.


A beautiful heron
Do you see the Zebras in the background - they are not statues!!



You certainly don't see this sign every day. It was about 10 feet from our room

And this is where the crocs live - again, about 10 feet from our room. We never saw them.

 Our next adventure was a walk with lions. I had wanted to do this before we left for the trip, but when we got there and orientation began, I changed my mind.They were telling us what to do, what not to do, what to do if the lions did such and such and I thought, oh my God, this animal could kill me. One of the guides saw what was happening and promised to take care of me and keep me safe. These lions are about eight months old.






my hat becomes an issue

One of the things they told us when we went to pet the animal is if it turns around to look at you, stop and back off. Well, of course, I was the only one the lion turned around to look at. After two attempts, the guide said to remove my hat. It was white and attracted the lion's attention.










The guide who kept me safe



 I was totally enraptured with African sunsets. I kept taking pics every few minutes because it changed so spectacularly. Here are only a few.







 Here we are on a cruise of the Zambezi River on the African Queen (not the one from the movie).


















You can see the spray from Victoria Falls in the distance

Our lodge was near the Royal Livingston Hotel, named for the famed explorer. This is their patio, overlooking the Zambezi. This was our last night in Africa and we chose to have dinner at this elegant hotel, which turned out to be less expensive than the buffet at our lodge.



This guy stole our peanuts right in front of us




Do you see the elephant swimming? We watched this from the patio





Lobby of Royal Livingston Hotel

Our last supper in Africa

Talk about room with a view - this was shot from our room




I'll leave you with this sunset, which is a perfect ending to my summary of a most magical trip.
Blessings,
Karen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Magic!!


Part II of my trip to South Africa:

Our safari experience took place in Sabi Sands private reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park. The difference between a private reserve and the park is that there are much fewer people and vehicles going to see the animals and our jeep was able to go off road to follow the tracks of an animal, giving us much more of a potential to see animals.

These first few pics show the view from our suite at the lodge we stayed at. There were impala, Nyala, wart hogs, and baboons right outside our door.


Here are some of the amazing sights during safari, which occurred at 5:30 am and 4:00 pm every day. Everyone talks about the Big Five: elephant, rhinoceros, lion, water buffalo and leopard. We were lucky enough to see all of them our first day, plus others that are kind of rare to see.






rhinos



Isn't he magnificent?



two out of three brothers




ah, there's the third


hippos

Can you find the baboons?



more rhinos

a female leopard



We followed the track of this female leopard into the bush. We were very lucky to see her just after she'd killed a recently born impala. We watched her eat dinner, bones and all.



Here she is taking an after dinner stroll

Guess who?


another rare sight - wild dog




We were lucky enough to see these two cheetah cubs,,,




And their protective mama



Here she is looking out for them













I love these gentle giants





Isn't he cute?



Hubs and I in our safari jeep


these guys sleep 20 hours a day




I'm in love with him!










lion cubs

Mama lion





Awww!!





They were quite hungry!

The whole pride



rest stop on the way home from safari


 When we got back to the lodge we were told that baboons had gotten into our room and we had to go see to the damage. When we arrived at our room, they had surprised us with this candelight dinner, a bubble bath had been drawn and we were served a delicious three course dinner.




 When this guy lifted his head and looked me straight in the eye, I have to admit I freaked a bit. We were 10 feet from him and I thought, Lunch?



Mama and baby


Wart Hog






Leopard cub, approximately one year old





my least favorite animal - the water Buffalo






Now there's a beauty!



I really don't have words to describe what this was like for me. To see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, not in a cage in a zoo. I appreciate zoos. It is the only way some of us will ever see these animals. But there is something about the raw power of nature that got to me in ways it never has before.

Tell next time...
Karen