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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

Wishing all of you a very joyous holiday season and good wishes for a New Year! I'll be back after New Year's.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Assumptions

Making assumptions is never a good thing. I know this. But I forget, and then I'm in trouble. Or I miss out on something. That's what happened Saturday night. I was with friends that afternoon and we got around to talking about movies. I mentioned I wanted to see "Invictus." Well, they wanted to see it to. My understanding was that this one friend, B. would call me if they were going to go, then I'd call W. Then we'd all meet at the theater. Well, B didn't call, so I assumed she wasn't going. I stayed home, by myself (hubby went folkdancing). Nothing much on TV, played Spider Solitaire while watching "Twister." Boring, boring, boring. When hubby came home, I found out B had gone to the movies after all, with another friend, L.

My feelings were hurt. Then I caught myself in an old pattern--feeling left out and ignored. It lasted about 10 seconds, one for the record books, let me tell you. Immediately, I realized I'd assumed B wasn't going to the movies because she hadn't called like she said she would. Assumed is the key word here, folks.

Sunday morning, B called. "Where were you?" Hmmm. She'd assumed we were meeting at the theater. When I wasn't there, she'd assumed I was too tired to come.

In the scheme of things, this one is no big deal. I missed going to a movie with friends and had a boring Saturday night at home by myself. Blah. Blah. Blah.

But making assumptions is a big deal. I guess if there is chronic behavior, say someone always stops for a drink on their way home from work, it's safe to assume that's why they are late every night. Maybe.
Asking questions was always difficult for me. I don't like asking them and I don't like being asked questions. But I've learned how important it is to clarify things. If someone I love seems distant and uncommunicative, I used to assume I'd done something to cause it. If my parents were fighting, I used to assume it was my fault. If I ate right and exercised and still didn't lose a pound or so over a few week period, I'd assume I was doing something wrong.

But I'm going to make a big ole assumption here today. I bet I'm not the only one out here who gets in trouble because of her assumptions? Well, hmmm, how about it? Fess up. It's telling the truth Tuesday after all.

Many blessings to you and your families for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Wrap - up - Moseying

I did something totally radical on Friday. I put my Richard Simmons exercise tape in the machine, turned it on, listened for about 10 seconds, then said to myself, you don't really want to do this, do you? Well, I never really feel like doing it, but I do it anyway. Not Friday. Friday I turned it off, hopped in the shower, got dressed, and took myself for a day of moseying.

Now what do I mean by moseying? I mean there were no shoulds, no list of things to buy, nada. I gave myself a totally free day to mosey wherever I felt like moseying, stopping wherever and whenever I wanted.
I did have a slight mission in mind. I wanted a pretty white blouse to wear New Year's Eve when I perform in the talent show.

Do you have any idea how freeing it is to mosey? No timetable to keep up with. Eat when you get hungry. Stop when you get tired. It's like being on vacation, but there aren't a gazillion sights to run around and see so you feel like your money's been well spent.

Now, I'm not a shopping person. Nor am I a "girlie girl." But Friday I had a blast trying on clothing. Probably because now that I've lost 48 pounds, everything I put on fits. And it looks pretty good as well. Macy's was having a huge, blowout sale. I couldn't believe the prices on some of the items. I'd been wearing a winter coat that is 5 years old and 3 or 4 sizes too big. I got me a beautiful down coat in a lovely tiel for more than 50 percent off.

We can't always take a complete day off from chores, responsibilities, writing, whatever it is we all feel we need to be doing. But I highly recommend a day of moseying. Try it. Trust me. You won't be sorry.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Should I be flattered or angered?

Yesterday I got an email from a dear friend, asking if I knew about this - and this web link was attached.
When I clicked on it, one of my blog posts was there, with phrases embedded in it that I didn't write. There was no attribution listed. Other of my blog posts were listed on the bottom with nothing indicating it was me. There is no identifying information on this website as to who is writing it. All I could do was write a comment at the bottom. Is this the price of fame (lol)? Any ideas?

Yesterday was also my radio interview on Blogtalk radio. If you'd like to listen, here's the link:http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redriverwriterslive/2009/12/17/red-river-writers-live--the-muse-you
I'm told this is marketing, not bragging!

Short and sweet today. Wishing everyone a happy weekend. Only two posts scheduled next week: Monday and Tuesday. I'll be taking off the rest of the week for the holiday.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zones

December is a month of being out of my comfort zone in so many ways. First of all, Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler  asked me to write not one, but two book reviews. The first one appeared at the end of November and was for "Because I Remember Terror Father, I Remember You," by Sue William Silverman. The second review went live on their website yesterday. It's for "Love Sick," by the same author. I'd never written a book review before and frankly, it made me extremely anxious. You guys can let me know how I did.

Next, I gave my first presentation based on issues dealt with in my memoir, "Following the Whispers," at a local bookstore. Although I was comfortable during the presentation, it was definitely out of the comfort zone I usually live in.

Then Linda Joy Meyers, executive director of the National Association of Memoir Writers, told me I'd been selected as the featured member for the month of December. She had me answer questions in a print format as well as conducting an audio interview. It is such an honor.

Lastly, Mark David Gerson, author of "The Voice of the Muse," is having me as his guest today on "The Muse and You," an internet radio broadcast.

I am out of my comfort zone writing about all of this because it sure feels like bragging to me. I've talked before about bragging versus self-promotion, so I won't go into that again here. Suffice it to say that I need to get more comfortable accepting the good things that happen in my life.For so many years I'd become so used to being miserable, expecting the worst, and that's what usually happened. Now, not so much. I am so grateful to Kendra, Matilda, Linda Joy, and Mark David, for giving me the gift of recognition and the opportunities to share with others. Thank you all so much.

And for you, dear blogging friends, thanks for indulging me by reading this blog and for all the wonderful comments and advice and suggestions.

Are you stepping out of your comfort zone? If so, how?


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Taking Care of Ourselves

I was never very good at taking care of myself. Didn't know how. I ate whatever the heck I felt like eating, didn't exercise, never paid attention to my own rhythms, and did whatever anyone wanted me to do--no questions asked. Over the last few years, I've learned to do things differently. I eat healthily, exercise (most of the time) and listen to the whispers of my heart and mind and soul. During the hectic holiday season, I'm realizing it is more important than ever to take care of myself. If I don't, who will?

Fortunately, I am not invited to too many holiday gatherings. My mother-in-law goes to visit one of her other kids on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. That leaves hubby and me to fend for ourselves. This Christmas, we are driving to Carlsbad, NM, which sits on the Pecos River. Those who live on the river decorate their houses with lights, and the city runs boats along the river for viewing. I've always wanted to see this spectacle. This year we will. Carlsbad Caverns is one of the natural wonders of the world--a must-see as far as I'm concerned. I've been there before, but only on the typical tour. This time we will do a special tour down into another cavern. We'll need flashlights and good hiking boots. I can't wait.

It took us awhile to figure out what to do. With no immediate family here, it can be difficult. This won't be typical, but it will be delightful. And a time for hubby and I to get away, just the two of us. I will not bring the computer. Nor will I blog.

Taking care of myself involves going within to see what my needs really are. Do I want to be social? Am I needing alone time? Do hubby and I need some quality time? Do I have to do something just because I was asked to. Or just because Mom might enjoy something, does that mean I have to go out of my way to include her, if it adds stress to my day?

Each and every moment, I am learning to evaluate the situation and make appropriate choices. It's not always easy, but it sure is teaching me to take good care of me.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say

I've written lately about being "older" and some of the negative aspects of that particular scenario. I think it's time to talk about the benefits. Something began in my forties that I never thought would be possible: the ability to say what I think and not worry about how someone else will react. A total people pleaser, I hardly even knew what I thought and felt most of the time. It is truly liberating to not be afraid to speak what is in my heart and mind and soul. Some will agree; some will disagree. Some will like it; some won't. Some will get angry; some will jump for joy. It doesn't matter what the reaction, though, as long as I am true to me and speak my own truth.

Now, this doesn't mean I get to dump all over people. I have to be careful when and how I speak my truth. In the past, I'd blurt things out without considering the circumstances. This may not be the best way to accomplish what you want. If the person you're communicating with is stressed out, distracted, off center, busy focusing on something else, your words will not fall upon receptive ears. It might be better to wait.

That is something else growing older has given me -- the ability to discern when certain things are appropriate or not. In the heat of a moment, either during an argument, or when things turn amorous, is not the best time to tell your partner you want to do something drastic, like change careers or move.

So, today, I am celebrating 60 years of living. Years that have taught me more compassion, for myself and others; a bit more patience (although I'm convinced this is a character flaw I am destined to live with till the day I die; and the courage to say what I mean and mean what I say. And although I'm not a granny, in the words of the Beach Boys, "go granny go granny go granny go!"


P.S. My upcoming radio interview with Mark David Gerson is this Thursday at 11:00 am Mountain Time.
Here is the link : http://markdavidmuse.blogspot.com/2009/12/muse-you-6-radio-for-writers-and.html.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend wrap-up

The weekend was a whirlwind of activities, starting with a singing gig Saturday morning. It was at a rehabilitation facility (folks recovering from heart attacks, strokes, injuries, etc.). It went well, except for the woman who started sobbing when one of our trio sang "Lean on Me." I truly hope she isn't just so alone in the world that the song triggered something.

That afternoon, hubby and I ran around town with shopping errands. Five stores and five hours later, I crashed and burned at home. But energy was renewed after din-din and off to folkdancing we went. I hadn't been in a few weeks and it was wonderful seeing friends and dancing again. I forget sometimes how much I love it. But there's just so much energy one person has, and between the writing and the singing, I don't have much left over.

Sunday brought another singing gig in the afternoon, followed by tea with a friend, than a Chanukah party with potato latkes. For my non-Jewish friends, these are actually a German dish called potato pancakes, consisting of grated potatoes, onions, eggs and either matzah meal or flour, made into patties and fried. They are served with sour cream and/or apple sauce. Yummers!

Lastly, Sunday morning I stopped by a few of my favorite blogs and lo and behold, Elizabeth Spann Craig created her own writing award. Along with several other writers, I was lucky enough to receive it. Here it is. The best thing about it. It has no rules. So I am going to pass on bestowing it to others. If you read this blog, please feel free to take this award--you deserve it.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A journey

Somewhere I heard that life is a journey, not a destination. I need that reminder. I need lots of reminders to help me stay centered. Like yesterday, I had my first session with a writing coach, Mark David Gerson, author of "Voice of the Muse." The first thing he said is that it's about process, not product. I was worried that I am not willing to self-publish another book, that I won't find an agent, that it won't get published. And I don't have words on paper yet.

The session taught me lots of things, but most importantly, it made me realize that, although I was willing to undertake this new journey into fiction, I hadn't really committed myself to the process. It is a world of unknown, unlike the memoir, where I at least had journals to refer to. And it was my own story, so I knew it backwards and forwards. I just had to learn how to tell it.

This is not even in the same realm. Mark David said, "it would be nice if we could say yes for all time, but we don't. We say yes to this over here, and then something changes, and we have to say yes to something else all together. It's moment to moment."

So, yes, doubt will surface. This new process is about moving through my resistance to trust--over and over and over again.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


Before I launch into my post today on "Antique", I want to mention that I've written my first book review ever and it is up on http://www.womensmemoirs.com/. If you have a chance, please check it out. The book I reviewed, "Because I Remember Terror Father, I Remember You," is definitely worth your time.

In our society, antiques are considered valuable. An antique is an item that is 50 to 100 years old and is collected or desirable because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. If I were a "thing," I'd be an antique. Yet, because I'm human, and female, I'm considered to be way past my prime.

It urks me that our society is so darned youth and beauty oriented. Wine is better the more it has aged. Fossils are revered for what they can teach us. Why can't we see elders the same way?

Because I have been caregiving elders for almost 10 years, I am keenly aware of the aging process. And although I know some things are inevitable, it is difficult to imagine a time when I won't be able to find the words to formulate a thought to make into a sentence to convey a meaning.

My mother-in-law asked me why I am so darned busy these days. My response: I know I'm going to have to stop doing some things I love at some point so I want to make sure I keep doing those things for as long as I possibly can and enjoy them now, while I still can.

My rant of the day: Why can't we value elders the same way we value an antique?

Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Those of you who are moms and still have children at home live the life of caregiver 24/7. No matter where you are, what you are doing, how you are feeling, you are "on" for you kids.

In the past I've tended to have a "caregiver" personality. I like to help others, feel needed, and to be useful. That is, until I brought my Dad to live in New Mexico in 2001, where I proceeded to be his caregiver for three years. I've written an essay about that, which can be found on my website: http://www.followingthewhispers.com/, if you're interested. It's called "My Father's Keeper." Dad died in December of 2004.

Two years ago, we moved hubby's mom to Albuquerque from her hometown of Plainview, Texas, where she'd lived her whole life. There are profound differences in the relationship I have with her, as opposed to my father, the most important being that I feel loved by her, unconditionally--something I didn't feel from my father until the very end. She also has a much better attitude than my Dad, something hubby has inherited from her, and something I am aspiring to--she accepts the ebbs and flows and challenges life brings without complaint.

That being said, I am still struggling with feeling responsible for her needs. And that makes me feel awful. It doesn't matter that the feelings I am having are normal--all caregivers go through this. I expect myself to be able to manage my caregiver responsibilities seamlessly and without emotional reaction, to always be affable and smiling, never get irritated with her, and to willingly comply with whatever comes up.

Big lesson in life for me: watch out for expectations. I do much better with neutral expectations, but I tend to forget this. Although I have grown and changed many behaviors and attitudes over the years, I can most assuredly tell you I am never going to be the person described in the above paragraph--not in this lifetime, anyway. So how do I deal with this in a way that works for me?

One minute at a time. One thought, feeling, belief, action at a time. Each need, each request, each intrusion on my time and my life must be looked at individually. Is this really necessary? Must I stop everything and handle this now? Can it wait? Is it life threatening? Will it affect quality of life?

These questions ensure that I will not allow my emotional responses and reactions to interfere with making appropriate decisions regarding her care. So, when she tells me she wants me to come to the Family XMAS reception the retirement community hosts each year, I can, without guilty conscience, say, "No, mom, I can't. I need the time for me." Well, I can't truthfully say it's guilt-free, but at least I know I'm within my rights to feel and say and do this.

How do you deal with the conflicting needs of self versus life: spouse, kids, friends, family? How do you take care of you?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Bad Moods

I had a really really really off day Sunday. I don't know why. I woke up feeling pretty okay, just tired from the intensity of Saturday. But as the day wore on, I grew crankier and crankier. It's true, nothing seemed to go the way I planned, but that's no excuse to snap at my wonderful hubby, or slam the phone down because it wasn't working, or become irritable because he had to stay on the phone for a half hour with his mom to figure out why her TV wasn't working.

I used to be that way much more of the time. In those days I lived in the land of off-balance. But lately, I am pretty centered on most days most of the time. So what to do? I tried deep breathing. I tried getting quiet, hoping to figure out what triggered it. The only thing I could come up with is that I haven't been exercising. I usually walk outside for 20 minutes a day, but it's been cold and I've been busy.

While running errands, I also just told whatever was going on inside me to leave--that I didn't need that kind of negative energy, especially since things were going so well in my life. Hmm, maybe that's where this was coming from. Things were just too darn good. When I returned home, I went outside and walked.

Lo and behold, the energy shifted and I was my normal, loving, not so irritable self. Moral of the story?
Pay attention to your feelings, moods, thoughts, and reactions. If they are out of your normal mode of behavior, something else is going on. Luckily, I'm getting faster at figuring these things out.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

My interview and podcast for the National Association of Memoir Writers is up on their website as featured member for the month of December. If you'd like to know more about my journey to publishing the memoir, please visit http://www.namw.org/ and check it out.

I'm writing this on Sunday for posting Monday morning. Yesterday was an amazing day for me. I gave my talk at Blue Eagle Bookstore: Intuition...a practical approach. It was my first attempt at promoting my book through lectures. Only two people attended, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and hopefully, the two attendees came away with something meaningful and helpful. They said they did. No book sales, however, so I'm not sure of this as a marketing tool for book promotion. I am planning to turn the talk into an article, though.

Several hours later, my trio sang at the retirement center where my mother-in-law lives. I got to sing two songs I've known since childhood I've always wanted to do: "I Cain't Say No" from Oklahoma and "Cheek to Cheek," a song from one of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films. I told the audience I'd always wanted to be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, didn't care which one. This was the closest I'd come. It was a blast. We got asked to sing two encores numbers--a first for us!

In Friday's post, I mentioned my bucket list and that self-trust was being added to the list. I thought I'd share an exercise I mentioned in my talk yesterday that helps me get my priorities clear. It comes from someone named Lakein--unfortunately, I can't remember his first name or the name of the book it came from, but the exercise is to set a timer for 10 minutes and write your lifetime goals, no stopping to think, just keep writing for 10 minutes. When the timer dings, set it for another 10 minutes and write 5-year goals. Then, another 10 minutes to write what you'd do if you knew you only had six months to live. I do it annually around New Year's. It never fails to help me understand where I need to be placing my time, energy, and commitments.

The main things that have been on my bucket list were: reconciliation with my son (done); finding a loving partner (done) losing and maintaining weight (done); getting physically stronger (done); writing and publishing my memoir (done); extended trip to Europe (done). There were other things as well--all done.

Still on my bucket list: several writing projects and more travel. I have reached a point in my life where, if I were to leave this Earth sooner rather than later, I would not have regrets. That is one peaceful place to be, folks.


Friday, December 4, 2009


I used to believe that if I figured out how to be happy, then I'd live "happily ever after," just like the fairytales promised. Being older and, hopefully, a bit wiser, I know now that happiness comes in moments. It's not sustainable. Stuff happens that evoke a wide range of emotions, happy being just one. Our lives are much richer and fuller because of the vast array of possibilities, all of which cause different feelings.

My hubby is very emotionally stable. He's pretty much content 99% of the time. The only times I've seen him flustered have been work-related. I'm different. My emotions tend to be all over the place--one minute I'm flying high because I had a great idea, the next minute I'm bummed because nothing is happening with that idea. Since I used to battle pretty severe depression, I'm rather happy about the fact that I'm no longer in that state. I have times when I feel depressed, but unlike the past, where it enveloped me like a cocoon, it is more of a gentle nudge that something isn't right in my world and I need to take a look.

What I'm realizing is that what I need to sustain is not the happy moments, but the trust I'm coming to have in myself. The knowing that I am a good person on a spiritual journey, trying to be the best Karen I can be. That I am human and will make mistakes. That my writing is important to me and I just need to keep plugging away at it.

Trust is the next thing to be added to my bucket list. Trust myself.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Beginnings

I want to thank each and every one of you who commented on this week's "Telling the Truth Tuesday" blog. Your words meant a great deal to me. And Helen, you'll never get booed off my pulpit!

I watched the movie, Sex and the City last night. I'd seen it before, but I was totally in need of distraction--something light that would take my mind off everything else. In the film, Miranda (the lawyer) separates from her husband because he cheats on her (sex had pretty much disappeared from their marriage). Anyway, long story short, after six months or so, they try therapy. Then they are to take two weeks, during which time they don't speak to or see one another. A location is chosen where, at the end of two weeks, they either show up, or they don't. If both appear, their entire past is erased.

I love that concept. Of course, in real life, we must do a great deal of work to erase the effects of deep wounds inflicted by those we love and who love us. But the idea of new beginnings appeals to me. It always has. Fall is my favorite time of the year because it was when the new school year started and I got to buy new notebooks, pens, and clothes. Teachers were different. Classes were not the same. New students were added into the mix; others had moved away.

With the New Year just around the corner, I am shifting towards a new attitude. I am going to attempt to see each day as a new beginning. This means that even if the previous 10 days resulted in no new writing, that past will be erased each new day. So, dear readers, if I lapse into complaining about the writing path, could you please gently remind me of this declaration of new beginnings.

What new beginnings might the New Year have in store for you?


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Several of the online communities I belong to have special days where members can brag. It's nice to be given permission. In our society, being conceited or full of ourselves, blowing our own steam, we have so many ways of saying someone is a braggart, that I find it extremely difficult to share my successes. I had a mother who told me not to win when playing games because others would feel bad. What about how I feel?

I have two successes to share today. One is that I am going to be the featured member for the month of December on the National Association of Memoir Writers website. Linda Joy Meyers, founder of the organization, will interview me this coming Thursday and a written and audio version of the interview will appear on the site.

The second success is an upcoming interview with Mark David Gerson, author of "The Voice of the Muse." He hosts a radio show called "The Muse and You," and I will a guest on December 17.

I am also giving my first talk, based on issues dealt with in my memoir, this coming Saturday at Blue Eagle Bookshop. Excitement is overshadowing nerves at the moment. Right after the talk, I am performing with my trio at Las Colinas Retirement Community.

There, I've bragged. Now it's your turn. Tell us about your successes, big and small.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Am I Too Old or Just Lazy?

This is the time of year for reflection. I always look back at the year as a way to get clear about what I want for the coming one. 2009 saw the culmination of a life long dream for me--the publication of my memoir, "Following the Whispers." Since its launch in February, I have taken a Book Blog Tour class, met so many wonderful writers online, and began my own blog. And I turned 60.

The last couple of months I've become excited about two new writing projects: a book on aging for Baby Boomers and a fiction piece. But after the initial excitement and preliminary idea generation, nothing, nada, zip. My friends tell me I tend to go towards the dark side with my thoughts, like if someone says they need to talk to me, I immediately think "What's wrong, or what have I done?" But I am thinking, what if I'm too old for this game?

I read the blogs of younger writers than me, some of whom recently obtained agents and book contracts, others are already published and doing everything necessary to market their books. And truthfully, I get tired reading their blogs. I simply don't have that kind of energy any more. Which leads me to ponder whether I should keep going along this writing path if I don't have the energy to do what is necessary to be successful. I am doing some things, like blogging and giving a talk. But I need to do much more. So am I lazy?

Or am I just fooling myself. I write because I need to write. I write because I love it. I love figuring out just the right phrase and way to say what I want to say. I love when others' respond positively, which is what is happening with the memoir. So that begs the question, why am I questioning a path I love?

Because it is not okay with me to do what I love and not feel successful. And to feel successful, I want an agent and a traditional book deal. And that may not be a goal I can obtain.

As I write this, I realize this is more than just am I too old or just lazy? It goes deeper. When I get to the end of my time here in Earth School, what regrets will I have? If I quit writing now, I will regret not even trying. I will regret not taking chances with new genres and uncomfortable writing processes. I will regret not living my dream, even if it doesn't meet society's (and apparently my) definition of success.

Guess I answered my own question. What about you? Is there anything keeping you from living your dream?