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, May 27, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: unexpected events

I was busy getting ready for my trip to Romania which is coming up in one week, when I received an email telling me a long time folk dance friend had died. This is a man who lived in Boulder, Colorado, but has attended our annual folk dance camp each year since I've been going (1995).
Skip always had a huge smile on his face and joy emanated from his very being. He had frequent business in Africa and was on the plane returning from his latest trip when he apparently got a blood clot and it went to his lungs and he died. In flight.

I have been unable to come to grips with this. I don't think it will be real for me until camp this year, when Skip will not be there. I have posted about other friends with life-threatening health issues and, combined with this, it has forced me to face some tough realities. Anything can happen to anyone at any time.

Does this mean we should live our lives in fear? Absolutely not. Does this mean we should be super-cautious and perhaps not fly? We might as well not drive or walk or do anything at all, right?

What it means for me is that I am working my new motto even harder in my mind each day. When facing death, it is time to celebrate life. And since we're all facing death at some point, it's time to celebrate. Now. Hard to do sometimes when so many around us are facing challenges. But maybe that is precisely the time to celebrate. To show them the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

This spiritual journey is not easy. But it is so much easier than if I wasn't on it at all.
How about you?
How do you handle unexpected events?
Are you celebrating life?

P.S. And talk about unexpected events. A really positive one happened just yesterday. I was awarded a You Rock badge from our Ninja Captain Alex http://www.alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com. His kind words made me cry because they touched my heart. Here is the award. Isn't it cool? How I wish I could really rock out with a guitar....Thanks, Alex. You're a gem.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're welcome, Karen! I rock the guitar, you sing, all right?
Very sorry to hear about Skip. I know your camp will be a little sad this year without him.
You said it best about our spiritual journey - so much easier than if I wasn't on it at all. Yes, life is tough, but it's less tough with God.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Karen I am so sorry to hear about your friend Skip. he Sounds like he was an amazing man who will be missed by many. And you are right, we cannot live our lives in fear, for that's not living at all. As far as how I handle unexpected events. I always try to keep everything in perspective no matter the highs or lows.

Mason Canyon said...

Karen, so sorry to hear of the passing of your friend Skip. While camp may not be the same without him, remember how much he enjoyed it and maybe do something in his honor to highlight his love of the dance. Your post is very inspiring. While we all face death each day, I don't think we really consider that until we get older. When we're younger we're too busy enjoying things to worry about dying. Then as we age to seem to give up that joy. Your post is a good reminder that we need to hold on to that.

Karen Walker said...

Oh Alex, maybe someday we can "rock" the guitar and song together -wouldn't that be fun. And yes, with God it's a little less tough.
Keith, I am working on that very thing- keeping a good perspective no matter the highs or lows. Well said.
Mason, it's so true - we think we're immortal when we're young. Thank you.

Robin said...

Karen, I am sorry about the passing of your friend. Sounds like another reminder to embrace life, which is what you are doing.

This weekend I was out singing karaoke and there was an older fellow sitting close to me (not at my table, but within talking distance). We chatted off and on during the evening. He said something like, "All of my friends are dead." My first thought was to say something like, "I'm sorry." Instead I said, "Congratulations."

Whether it was living well or sheer luck, he was enjoying his grandchild. He made new (younger) friends and didn't lack for company. And he had some amazing stories to tell of a life lived boldly.

No, we can't stop traveling and doing. If we do, then we might as well be dead. So, enjoy your trip. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your singing. Enjoy your dancing. Know that you are blessed and each day is a gift.

Speaking of gifts... I saw that Alex bestowed you with the You Rock award. No one is more deserving. You do rock!

Karen Walker said...

Oh Robin, you are so sweet. What a lovely encounter that sounds like. I met a 94 year old man the other day at a singing gig. When I asked him his secret he set, I met my second wife 35 years ago and fell in love. And I'm still in love today.!!!

Tonja said...

Sorry about your friend.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. losing someone close is always a shock - and takes time to sink in ..

Romania though is something to look forward to .. from someone's blog during the A-Z .. she did a tour round .. and I loved the views ..

Alex's badge is such a generous and kind thought .. you can travel with that now!!

Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. it was Silvia who blogged about her homeland Romania ..

Here's the A post: http://silviatomasvillalobos.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/a-is-for-about-romania/

If you have a chance - enjoy them .. happy trip! Hilary

Karen Walker said...

Tonja, Thanks.
Hilary, I'll go check Silvia's blog right now. Thanks.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Oh, Karen,

SO sorry to hear about your friend. And yes, we must live without fear. God takes us when he wants us. This is a real part of life.

Romania... what a wonderful trip! I visited there years ago. It's a gorgeous country and the people are so sweet. The food and DESERTS are amazing too. LOL. Have a FANTASTIC TIME!

Congrats on the award! I received one a few years ago from Alex. I was so honored too.

I handle the unexpected the best I can. After my accident last year when a cyclist hit me head on, it made me realize just how precious life is and to enjoy each day with as much positivity as possible. Life is very challenging and NOT EASY, but it's what we make of it that counts.

Have a FANTASTIC trip!

Silvia Villalobos said...

So sorry to hear about your friend, Karen. Darn sad when that happens.

Well, as you know, I am from Romania, lived there the first twenty years of my life. So, if I can help guide in any way, let me know. I moved to California a couple of years after the '89 Revolution, and have last visited almost six years ago. So, places and things are, no doubt, very different, although the overall picture is most likely the same.

Jennifer Chandler said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Karen. It's always jarring to hear of a friend passing unexpectedly. But your tribute to him shows that he was and still IS a light to so many people.

Congratulations on the award! It is WELL deserved :D


Sarah Allen said...

So sorry to hear about your friend. Such a beautiful post!

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

LD Masterson said...

I'm sorry you've lost your friend. It's a hard thing. Stay safe on your trip.

And Alex is absolutely right.

Arlee Bird said...

Congratulations on the award.

What a shock about your friend. This is something I think about more and more. Now as my wife and I are planning our next summer trip these kinds of thoughts have crossed my mind. But you're right. We can't let worry stop us from living. When we do that our life is gone anyway.

Hope you have a great trip.

Tossing It Out

Philadelphia venues said...

In January, I learned that the venue I'd booked 8 months before was canceling on us due to some genuine reasons. I called in here the same day, and was able to secure a small hall.

PK Hrezo said...

Sorry to hear about your friend, Karen.
Congrats on your award! You do rock.