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, June 29, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Is it time to stop marketing?

I read a post recently on one of the lists I belong to that said once your book has been out a year, it's time to move on to other things. Too late for a book blog tour, which I never did? No more book signings? I've only done a couple. Should I even consider converting the memoir to an ebook, or is it too late for that as well?

My energy has shifted completely to the new work. Between that and my singing group, life with hubby, and time with friends and family, I don't have much left over. Still, when I read other authors' blogs, hear how much effort and energy they are putting into promoting their books, I wonder if I did enough.

Since I was a marketing professional for 30+ years, I know the answer to that question is no. I didn't. But my intention with "Following the Whispers" was never about selling books. It was about turning all the pain, angst, and lessons learned into something positive--something that might benefit others.

Frankly, it worries me about this new writing--that I might not have any energy for promotion once I'm done. But I can't dwell there. That will stop the creative process right in its tracks. I can only do what I can do from one moment to the next, setting honorable intentions, putting one foot in front of the other, breathing in and out as deeply as possible, and letting go of results.

Thank goodness I'm not dependent on my book for income. It is only about self-esteem and feeling as if I have value on this Earth. Which, by the way, I now know I do.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Musings

People are saying that I look lighter. Funny thing is, I'm not losing more weight. It's energetic, I think. Because I feel lighter. Not carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders like I used to. That weight includes my own psychological and emotional issues, my hubby's work stress, my friends' stuff, Buddy's health issues, the oil spill in the Gulf, the wars in the Middle East, and on and on and on.

Used to be, I bore all of that, internally and externally. It is difficult to find a balance between being aware of what is going on, both in the world and in peoples' lives that I care about, but not getting so caught up in it that I am thrown helter skelter.

One way I am dealing with this is not watching or reading the news. Believe me, someone will let me know what is going on at some point. I won't remain out of the loop for long. But I find I can keep my emotional balance better without the media inciting me to a frenzy.

Another thing I've taken on is a living plant. In the past, I killed plants because I never knew when to water, not to water, how much to water. But I need to connect to Mother Earth on a daily basis, so I bought a small plant. I need to touch the soil daily to see if it's dry. Then I need to learn how much water she needs. And how much sunlight. This is a big step for me, and it's hard to put out on this blog, because I know many of you are into gardening and growing herbs. Wish I was more that way.

How do you keep you balance in the midst of world and personal chaos?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ups and Downs

I feel like I am on a roller coaster. As a child, I loved them, although I remember losing my voice for three days after riding the Cyclone at Coney Island. The last time I was on a roller coaster was maybe 10 years ago at Magic Mountain. They put me in the first car, hubby right behind me. I don't think I've ever been that frightened. You cannot see anything on Magic Mountain - pitch black. So you are hurtling toward the void at break-neck speeds. Hubby laughed his head off while I screamed mine off. Swore that was the last time I'd ever step foot on one of those blasted things.

But life is a roller coaster. Sometimes things creep slowly, like the cars inching slowly up that steep incline. There is time to catch your breath, perhaps think through some things, even imagine things to come. Then you reach the pinnacle, a moment of pure exhiliration, a deep breath, aaah, yes. Whoosh, you are off and running, helter skelter, out of control, fear of death, fear of crashing, maybe some good adrenalin mixed in with the fear, until you come screeching to a halt right back where you began.

I keep thinking I'm going to get someplace where the roller coaster will remain dormant. That I can coast without having to climb the incline or crash down the other side. I wonder if whoever invented the roller coaster knew it was such a great metaphor for how life really is.

Buddy's blood sugar levels are fluctuating madly, 82 one day, 380 the next. I'm trying not to let my emotions take that roller coaster ride - he's okay, he's going to die, he's okay, he's going to die. I remind myself to breathe. I do what I know I need to do to get and remain centered. There will always be ups and downs. The trick is to not be yanked either way. Go with the flow.

Are you up or down or somewhere in the middle?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Feeling Different

One of the major themes of my life while I was growing up was wanting to be normal, to fit in. For as long as I can remember, I felt like an alien, in my own family as well as in school and with friends. I was so different from both my parents in temperment, idiology, beliefs, that I was convinced I was either adopted or, as I said, from a different planet. With friends, my extreme sensitivity, whether it was regarding my own feelings, or something I sensed about theirs, always seemed to get me in trouble. Other people mostly don't like to hear they might be feeling something they may not even be aware of feeling.  The problem was, I'd sense someone was feeling something they weren't saying, but I'd make assumptions about what that feeling was. That's where we can get ourselves in trouble bit time -- making assumptions.

But getting back to the topic at hand--feeling different--it wasn't until very recently that I've come to the conclusion that being different isn't a negative. Truth is, we're all different, we just learn to conform. It's what humans do. Being okay with being different is part of accepting myself as I truly am and letting go of the chameleon aspect of my personality that adapted to everyone and everything around me in order to be liked and to fit in.

What kept me that way all these years was a fear of growing old and being alone. Now, it's in my solititude that I grow the most, so if I end up old and alone, perhaps it won't be so bad. But I don't think that's my destiny.

How do you feel about being different? Are you? If so, how?


Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Musings

Buddy update:
We have good news! Our doggy, Buddy, is doing much better. His blood sugar levels have come way down, which means he is no longer insulin resistant. So, he has diabetes, a thyroid condition, and arthritis, but he's back to being his sweet, loving, somewhat peppy self. Yippee!! Thanks for all your kind thoughts and well wishes.

I am in a major transformational period in my life and it feels as if I am walking on sand. The foundation underneath me is uneven, soft in places, hard in others. I never know from one moment to the next how I'm going to feel, think, see, or be. And neither do my friends and family. They are good changes, I think. But change is change, and everyone reacts to change differently.

A friend and I were talking the other day how, when you know people for a long time, other peoples' perceptions of you rarely shift. They don't update the files, no matter how much you change. So, because I was pretty much an emotional basketcase in 1994 when I moved to New Mexico, that is how my friends see me.

The truth is, I am an emotional person. I think feelings are important. If we ignore or deny our feelings, we end up more stressed, more irritable or angry or sad, or we get sick because we've repressed the emotions so much, our bodies have no outlet other than illness. But I am no longer a basket case. I have learned to manage my emotions.

Do you believe people have accurate perceptions of you? If not, do you try to change that?

Friday, June 18, 2010


Glynis Sym passed on The Meat and Potatoes Award to me. This is the link to her blog

http://www.glynissmy.com/. Thank you, Glynis, for thinking of me. I'm going to pass on passing this along for now, but reserve the right to do so at a later date. And now for the topic for today: Detachment.

There was a slogan in the 12-step programs that said Detach with love. It was meant for the co-dependent person who was enmeshed with an alcoholic. We were taught that because we didn't cause the disease, couldn't control it and couldn't cure it, we needed to detach from the alcoholic with love. This didn't mean to necessarily remove ourselves from the relationship altogether, although sometimes that is probably necessary. It means to disconnect from the behavior, the negative energy, the drama.

Although I learnt about this almost 40 years ago, I am really just beginning to get it. In every moment, we have choices about how we behave, respond, react. Like the other day, one of my closest friends, upon hearing that I thought she was annoyed when she heard my voice on the phone, said, "No, Karen, that's just you."

I could have just let it go. But I chose to say," No, it's not me. Your tone of voice sounded pissed off."
She then said she'd been expecting the call to be someone else. People have no idea how they come off sometimes. I am continually surprised when someone shares how they perceive what I've said or done.

In the past, I would have been incredibly attached to the above-mentioned conversation and its outcome. I would have worried that she was angry at me. I would have been concerned that if I shared how it made me feel, she'd get even more pissed. Now, however, it was more important for me and my growth to share my feelings with love and detach from the result.

Doing the kind of spiritual work I do, where I am continuously looking at myself, sharing my strengths, my weaknesses, my character flaws, I realize I am placing myself in a vulnerable position for all to see. And comment upon. So if I tell my friends my hormones are bonkers and I'm a bit irritable, that's the filter they than see me through, even though that behavior isn't all of me.

So, detaching from the opinions, thoughts and feelings of others about me and who I am is where I'm at. My work is to be the best Karen I can be in every moment. I succeed some of the time. Some, not so much.

How are you at detaching from the opinion of others?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - What a difference an attitude makes

As those of you know who follow this blog regularly, I sing at retirement communities. The singing is a major part of my healing journey--a journey where I am reclaiming the power of self-expression, which was shut down at a very young age due to childhood sexual abuse and dysfunctional parenting.

Until this past Saturday, each time we were to perform, my anxiety would overtake my knowledge that this was supposed to be fun. This anxiety would cause me to hit wrong notes, become irritable with my fellow singers and others. I wasn't able to enjoy the performance because I was too worried about how I'd do, how the audience would like us, etc. I've blogged about all of this before.

But Saturday, the paradigm shifted. I woke up that morning, and during my meditation and prayer, a calm energy came over me and I felt gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to be doing something I've always loved and wanted to do. We are performing Broadway songs and old standards and pop songs from the 50s and 60s. And I felt gratitude for being able to bring music to those who can no longer get out and hear it or do it themselves. So I just thanked Spirit for this amazing opportunity at this time of my life and decided I wouldn't let anything that happened - either equipment glitches, weather, wrong notes, whatever - affect my attitude. All of those things happened, but I didn't care.
At our first performance at 10 am, an 82-year-old gentlemen appeared in a cowboy hat and boots. Sat right down in the front row. Mouthed the words to the old McGuire Sisters hit, Sugartime, our signature song and the name of our group. After the set, he asked if we were going to come back there some time. We told him we were singing again at 1 pm that very day. Sure enough, at 1 pm, there he was, front and center, tapping his foot and swaying his head. When we finished, he asked for our picture. I was inspired to ask someone else to take a picture of us with him in the middle. He lit up like a Christmas tree.

This is a photo of Sugartime. That's me on the far left. If we only touch one person in our lives in this way and give them some joy, we are lucky, indeed. My attitude of gratitude enabled me to really let go and just be me up there. I have never had more fun singing or just being. When something is challenging, it's hard to remember the gratitude attitude. But on Saturday, it made all the difference in how I maneuvered in the world that day. And I believe it made a difference to those around me as well.

How's your gratitude attitude?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Musings - To blog or not to blog

While on vacation I began questioning whether to continue blogging or not. When I began this blog, it was with the intention of marketing my memoir, "Following the Whispers." I took a blog book tour class with Dani Greer, which helped me tremendously. But I never did a book blog tour and it's been a little over a year since my book came out. I had to ask myself why, which also led to asking myself whether continuing to blog is something beneficial, both to me and hopefully to others.

That led to the realization that blogging with the intent of marketing cannot be my goal. Marketing can be a side benefit, but for it to fulfill my soul requirements, the intent of blogging would have to be to help others. Most of the blogs I follow and have found in bloggydom, are written by writers who write about writing. I love those blogs and learn a great deal from them. I don't thing bloggydom needs another writer writing about her writing path.

What my blog has become, and it seemed to evolve naturally since I am a memoir writer and personal essayist, is a blog about life--its joys, it's struggles, its idiocyncrocies, its ups and downs, its nuances. I've tried to share my journey, which is a journey to find truth and deeper meaning in my own life. It is the purpose of my writing as well.

To that end, I have decided to continue that journey here on this blog. Only I am going to cut back from five days per week to three. I will post blogs on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, with the new intention of sharing my journey in hopes of helping others along their path. If I sell a few books here and there, that would be nice as well. I've been envious of other writers in bloggydom who have found agents and are well on their way to being traditionally published. But that doesn't seem to be my path. My journey seems to be touching people, one person at a time. And from the comments I have received from those who have read my memoir, I have, indeed, succeeded in doing that.

So, hopefully I'll see you back here tomorrow and Friday. Till then,


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sorry folks - no blog posts for next few days

I came home from vacation out of sorts and off balance. I'll be taking the next few days to get myself back on track. Hope to see you all Monday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Home sweet home

As wonderful as travel is, it is always so nice to come home. I am not feeling like myself. The trip was awesome, but I had an incident while climbing up and down 600 feet to the top of a waterfall in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. My heart started pounding and racing, I felt weak and nauseous. It was scary. Someone said perhaps it was altitude sickness, but I live in altitude in NM. I'm going to get it checked out. In the meantime, here are some photos from our trip. The wildlife and nature were mystical and magical.

Blessings, Karen

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Musings - Salt Lake City and Grand Tetons

It took us 12 hours to drive to Salt Lake City. By the time we checked in and had dinner, it was 8 pm. That is way too much time in a car, even a wonderful car like our new Hybrid. The music kept me entertained for about 7 hours, then I was bored and sore.

The next morning we went to see the Great Salt Lake, Then, while driving up a hill in the city itself, a warning came on the dashboard that said we must get to a dealer immediately. For about 1 hour, I had my first mini-breakdown as we realized it was Memorial day Weekend in Salt Lake City. Nothing would be open on Sunday. Probably nothing would be open till Tuesday. But then the warning disappeared, so we decided to continue with our trip.

Then the phone wouldn't sync with the bluetooth device. Poor hubby. I am really very high maintenance when things don't go well and I'm weaning off estrogen. I fretted over that most of the day. I hit my bottom when we ran into road construction and had to drive on a gravel road for several miles. Convinced "millie" would get dinged all over, I cried the whole way. Needless to say, no dings. My psyche, however, was quite dinged. Hubby, thank God, was unfazed - just worried about me. In fairnesss, I'd only gotten about 4.5 hours sleep. I knew  a good night's sleep would do wonders, and it did.

Woke up early Memorial Day and took off to spend the day in Grand Teton National Park. At our first stop two moose wondered about the parking lot, moseying up to folks. Not long after that, we spotted a coyote hunting for prey. Here's a photo of it catching the unfortunate critter.

Next we saw a yellow-bellied Marmot hanging on a pole. We hiked in Cascade Canyon and saw Hidden Falls. After a lovely picnic lunch by String Lake, we spotted pronged horned antelope, a herd of elk, and a mama bear and her two cubs. The lineup of people with cameras watching the bears was almost funnier than the bears themselves.
The adventure continues tomorrow...tune in.

P.S. I apologize for the poor layout of this blog post, but really struggled with it after driving 8 hours home. This was the best I could do.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Random Thoughts - Friday

Heading home...hope to have some awesome pics of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons to share when next we meet - hopefully on Monday. Till then....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random Thoughts - Thursday

Still on vacation...just letting go and letting God. Ahhhhhhh....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Random Thoughts - Buddy update

I wasn't planning to write any blog posts while on vacation, but just had to share this news. We spoke to Buddy's vet yesterday and it turns out Buddy's thyroid levels are quite a bit below normal, which could very well be the reason he's been insulin resistant. Our housesitter will fetch the thyroid meds and hopefully, by the time we return home, he'll be feeling much better. Thought you all should know.

In the meantime, we'll be leaving the Tetons Wednesday and heading for Yellowstone.
What happens when you tune out, rid yourself of distractions, take yourself out into nature? My whole body relaxes into the Earth. Breath flows deeper,without any blockages. Inner vision grows and out vision crystallizes. Communication comes easier. What about you?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - unplugged

Still on vacation - so I am pretty much unplugged. My truth for the day. I like being unplugged. It's very freeing.