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, August 31, 2010

Telling the truth tuesday - positive thinking, being realistic, and having faith

I've been on a spiritual journey 30+ years now. That's a long time to attend workshops, read a gazillion books, and live a life as prayerful, meditative and contemplative as possible. I've learned a lot, some of which I've managed to incorporate into my daily living.

Much of the metaphysical teachings say we need to think positively. Frankly, that didn't work for me because it sets my expectations way high. Then, when things don't go the way I expect them to, I can be devastated, or disappointed, or whatever. I go into things with no expectations. That's different than negative expectations. No expectations allows me to turn the whole thing over to the Universe or God or Spirit. Whatever outcome happens, it's what is.

Being realistic is another aspect I've struggled with. Being realistic as opposed to being in denial, i.e. that person just told me they hate my guts but I'm still making excuses for their behavior. Or being realistic as opposed to fantasy land, i.e. My weight is 132 pounds and I'm going to lose 15 pounds by next Sunday because I have an event to go to. Being realistic means knowing the facts, accepting the facts, and and moving on from there.

Faith means trusting in the unseen, the unknown, the mysteries of life and spirituality. It doesn't mean that if I turn everything over to Spirit it's all going to be all right. There may still be an outcome I hate. And that's the part of the spiritual journey most difficult to handle. My family member who has some disturbing symptoms might have a disease that will completely alter their life. We won't know for awhile. All I can do is continue not to have expectations, one way or the other, gather the facts, and trust the journey. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing the same is true for my writing - no expectations, write the words, and trust the journey. Hmmm.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Musings

My writing retreat was, well, ah, not a writing retreat, but a retreat. From everything. Seems I needed a break from Sugartime rehearsals, writing, worrying about a family member, you get the idea. Once I let go of the need to be productive, the week got much better.

I'm starting to have weird conversations with friends. Like one who is turning 55. He's realizing how different he is at that age from his parents. So am I. Different than my parents were at this age. I feel better than I have ever in my life, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I try not to dwell on thoughts about the time to come when I will begin to lose friends, lose physical and cognitive functioning. It is a reality that looms, but I know better than to worry about it. Acceptance is the key. With grace and dignity, if possible. Until then, however, I intend to live my life as fully and as passionately as possible, dancing and singing and writing as long as I possibly can.

Hubs has been MIA for several months now. A major project at work keeps him working 7 days a week, night and day. His body may be home, but he's somewhere else. I miss him. The end is now in sight, though. It will be nice to have him back. I don't do well in isolation.

To reward him for his hard work, and to give us some time together and will some dear friends, we're going to take a cruise on one of those big monstrosities. I have no desire to do this, but hubs does. We're going to the Southern Caribbean, with stops in Puerto Rico, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados, and a few other places.
I think it will be relaxing. Unfortunately, it's not until December.

I don't think I'll be posting a video of the skit from camp singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." It wasn't very good vocally, although it was hilarious as a performance. I'd rather post Sugartime singing one of our songs, as soon as we get a video made. Hope that's ok with everyone who wanted to see that particular thing.

What are you musing about today?

Friday, August 27, 2010

What to do when nothing happens

I gave myself a mini writing retreat this week. Day one was a disaster. I thought I'd get my blogging done first, then have the rest of the day to write away. Big mistake. Huge. I spent all morning visiting blogs and writing posts for this week. I also needed to practice singing (takes about an hour) and exercise (about 45 minutes). Plenty of time, right? Wrong.

By the time I finished blogging, it was lunch time. After lunch, I sat down with the computer on my lap and, nothing, nada, zero, zip, zilch. Five minutes. Ten minutes. 20 minutes. What's going on here. I cleared my schedule. I showed up, ready, willing and able. Sighing, I put the laptop on hibernate and got up to sing.
Croak. Cough. Tight throat. Warbling off key cause of hoarseness. Shut down equipment, I'll sing later. Yeah right.

It's 2 pm and I'm still in my jammies. It's 90+ degrees outside, too hot to walk. Do I do my Richard Simmons tape like I'm supposed to when I don't walk. Nope, by this time I'd gotten myself in a snit, feeling sorry for myself, questioning calling myself a writer. After all, writers write.

Now it's dinner time. Hubby comes home. I cry on his shoulder. I take a deep breath, tell myself everyone has days like this, and tomorrow is another day. But Tuesday was the one day in the week I'd scheduled appointments, so no writing was going to happen.

So what's the lesson here? Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a break. Put down those whips. Trust your process. Maybe I needed a day of nothing. I'm writing this on Tuesday for posting Friday, so I can't tell you how the writing went the rest of the time. I'll save that for another post.

So what to do when nothing happens. Nothing. Just breathe and move on.
What do you do when nothing happens?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - more folkdance fun

Hungarian dance Szegenes

Y'all seemed to enjoy the pics from folkdance camp so much, I thought I'd post some more. Enjoy! Formatting these was a nightmare, as you can see. Sorry about that, folks. Blessings, Karen


Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Musings

I was supposed to be in Portland, OR this week, visiting friends. A niggling voice whispered not to go and it's good I didn't. I need to be with a family member in October and transferred my flight for then. I have decided to use this week to re-engage with my writing, which has been derailed because of having to deal with other things. Since I didn't have any appointments on my calendar because I was supposed to be gone, it's a perfect time for a self-guided, mini writing retreat.

I will blog sporadically, as the focus will be on writing (not blog posts). So, be well, everyone, and I'll be back in touch soon.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Conflict resolution

Before I write about today's topic, conflict resolution, I want to let everyone who wrote so kindly about my niggling voice know that it has been resolved. There was definitely a reason I wasn't supposed to make that trip to Portland. I need to be somewhere else to be with someone who needs my help. I just didn't know when or how. So thanks for your wonderful comments. I guess what I wrote in my memoir, Following the Whispers, is really the truth. Nice to know...

Most of my life, I've been afraid of anger - either my own or others. My father was volatile. You never knew from one moment to the next whether he'd explode or why. My mother would become stony when angered, face frozen in a perpetual scowl. I simply shut down.

I've worked long and hard on myself, learning to recognize anger signs in others and in myself. Rather than turning anger into hurt or depression as I used to do, I allow myself to feel the feelings, calm down and then express myself.

These skills are being tested in one of my circle of friends. One person is trying to change the way things are done and the way things are being done doesn't need changing - it works. We've patiently explained each time the issue is raised why we do things the way we do, but this person keeps finding new ways to broach the subject again. It feels manipulative and controlling.

In the past, I would have simply complied in order to not have conflict. I can no longer do that, especially if I firmly believe in what I'm doing and why. So I am angry. The way I see it, I am left with two choices. I can continue to allow this person to disrupt the unity of the group, hoping they'll stop. Or, the next time it happens, I can say, "This isn't working for me and obviously this group isn't working for you."

Am I missing a choice here somewhere? How do you handle this kind of conflict?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Fear

People say writing memoir is courageous. People also said leaving everyone and everything behind and moving cross country was brave. I never saw it that way. The memoir was something that had to come out of me and changing locations simply felt like the right thing to do.

Someone I care deeply about is very frightened right now. They've got some physical symptoms that could potentially be quite serious. For six weeks, I have been trying to reassure them I don't believe it is the disease they think it is. Rather, it is a wake-up call to make some changes in their life.

But fear can be contagious. If you listen long enough to someone who is coming from fear, it is so easy to begin to buy into their belief system. And our belief systems dictate how we move through the world. The last thing this person needs is for me to begin to believe they have a dreaded disease and to become frightened about the possibilities of what that means for them.

All I can do is hold onto my faith that there are reasons this is happening; that the symptoms are treatable and it is possible to get some relief from them so they do not continue to impair functioning. The question is, how do you help someone get out of fear mentality and into action mode, since fear paralyzes us?

Any ideas?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Musings

My weekend was filled up with singing gigs, folkdancing, taking a young friend shopping for clothes and chilling out in between. Don't I have a great life? Yup.

My Monday morning musings are about gratitude. I am grateful to Tabitha Bird http://tabithabird.blogspot.com/ for hosting me on Friday. I wrote about the power of memoir and the discussion over there was quite interesting. If you haven't already, please visit Tabitha. She's a very gifted writer.

I'm getting ready to take a trip back to my beloved Portland, Oregon next week, but for some reason, I don't really feel like going and I'm not sure why. I miss the friends I am going to see very much and want to see them. I miss the ocean. I miss the energy of that city. Not sure if I should really pay attention to this feeling and not go. In the past, when I haven't listened, it's been a huge mistake. But there's nothing I can pinpoint that is logical. Although I know not everything has a logical explanation. As it gets closer, guess I'll have to make a decision.

How about you? Do you get these little niggles when you are faced with something to do, somewhere to go, etc.? Do you always listen? If not, what happens?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Awards Friday

Before we begin today's post, I want to let you know that I have a guest post on Tabitha Bird's blog
http://tabithabird.blogspot.com/. If you haven't already done so, you must check out her blog. She is one of the best writers I've come across in bloggydom. Tab was concerned about the "bad rap" memoir seems to have and asked me to write about the power of memoir. If you have a chance, please stop there today and say hello.

Ann Best, passed along the Circle of Friends award to me while I was away at folkdance camp. If you haven't done so already, please check out Ann's blog. She is a gifted writer and her blog is one of the blessings I've found in bloggydom: http://ann-jen.blogspot.com/

As is the custom, I must pass along this award to five other deserving bloggers. And let them know about it. Oh, it is so hard to choose just five, but here goes.

Glynnis Smy at http://www.glynissmy.com/
Mason Canyon at http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/
Jemi Fraser at http://jemifraser.blogspot.com/
Sharon Lippincott at http://losalamosgirlhood.wordpress.com/
Tabitha Bird at http://tabithabird.blogspot.com/

Please give yourselves a gift and check out these wonderful bloggers. Each one has something unique to share with us.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Unexpected gifts

Something happened at folkdance camp that hasn't happened in, oh, perhaps 35 years. One of the teachers, the gentlemen from Croatia, came up to me at one of the parties and said, "You are so beautiful." He said it in such a way that I knew he wasn't coming on to me. After I picked my jaw up from the ground, I said, "I don't feel that way." He looked at me and said, "I don't give compliments lightly and I never lie."

I haven't received attention from a male other than my husband in years. When women reach somewhere around 40, men stop looking. It used to bother me, but I attributed it to being extremely overweight. Then, after I lost weight and I still felt invisible, I simply came to terms with it. What does it matter anyone. My hubs thinks I'm beautiful - that's all that matters.

So it was a totally unexpected gift this man gave to me. And I am working on taking it in. In the scheme of things, it is a small thing. But in my life, with the majority of it spent having extremely low self-esteem, it was truly lovely to receive such a compliment at 61. And to know that this man expected nothing in return.

I will be thinking about the kinds of unexpected gifts I can pass along to others, since it felt so good to be on the receiving end of one. How about you?


Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Musings

We survived folkdance camp. Not sure how. I didn't get more than 5 hours of sleep any of the three nights we were there. But when you're having that much fun, who cares if you get enough sleep or not. I figured I'd catch up when I got home.

You asked for pictures, so here are a few. Enjoy! This is yours truly all gussied up for the Gems and Minerals party theme. The dress is copper-colored - it doesn't really show that in this photo.

This is "the Monroes" - that's me on the left. The three of us performed "Diamonds are a Girls' Best Friend" at the Gem and Mineral party. I will not be posting the video on Youtube.

Here are just a few of the 100 folkdancers who attended camp this year. I'm third from the left. The theme for this night's party was "All buttoned up."

this night's theme was Magical English Ball. Here I am, looking like Maid Marion, as someone so kindly put it. That's a magic mirror behind me.

More elegant dancers at the Magical Ball.

Hubs and me. Aren't we adorable?

So, my Monday morning muse question for all of you is, how often do we get to have this kind of fun as adults? And because I know the answer is not very frequently, my next question is why not? What can you do today to add a bit of fun into your life?


Friday, August 6, 2010

folk dance camp

I'm at folkdance camp today, so I won't be able to visit your blogs...but I'll catch you on Monday, for sure. Here's wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Folk dance camp

Hubs and I are off to our annual folkdance camp on Thursday. It is a yearly gathering of folkdancers, mostly from the southwest area (Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico). For those of you who don't know what folkdancing is, there are cultural dances done in most countries around the world - dances which have been done for hundreds of years. Dances done in circles, couple dances, such as the Hambo, from Sweden, and individual gypsy dances from places like Hungary and Romania.

I have folkdanced off and on since I'm 16 and it is definitely one of my passions, although bodily injuries like arthroscopic knee surgery, a fractured ankle, and rotator cuff surgery on my shoulder have certainly hampered it in the last few years. But if those things hadn't happened, I wouldn't have found my passion for singing, so go figure. Hopefully, my soul has learned to get life lessons without illness or injury.

At camp, we stay in dormitories at New Mexico State University in Socorro, NM. We eat in the cafeteria, dance all day and party at night. Then, when the dancing is done, the guitars come out and the singing begins. Exhilirating, intense, exhausting, and a total blast - that's August Camp.

So, I won't be visiting your blogs on Friday cause I'll be, well, all of the above...so, see ya next week, y'all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Musings

Last week I discovered a new blog.

I hope you will check it out.

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I think I've finally grown up. I know that sounds ridiculous, since I'm 61. But it's true. I feel "mature" for the first time in my life. Until recently, my emotional feelings and reactions ruled my world. If someone said something upsetting, I'd react internally and spill out words without thought. Now, I can hear their words, feel my feelings, respond appropriately, and move on. It's quite miraculous. For those of you who grew up in a healthy environment with parents who taught you things like this, it's probably an every day occurrence for you. But for those like me, not so much.

What are you musing about today?