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 31, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Caring about what others think - or not!

I have always been somewhat of a people-pleaser. I cared way too much about what others thought of me. In my younger years, I couldn't or wouldn't formulate an opinion about a movie or book because if my opinion differed from yours, I was afraid you wouldn't like me.

Now that I'm older, and hopefully wiser, I do share my opinion. And I have to say, I feel like an odd duck most of the time. I was with two girlfriends a few days ago and we got into a conversation about this. We discovered that we all feel that way - as if we don't fit, don't belong.

On American Idol, James (the young man with Asperger's and Turette's Syndrome, got voted off. When he was interviewed on Ellen Degeneres a few days later, he said something that really stuck with me: "Different is the new normal." I so love that, because I have always felt different.

Now that I've dyed my hair red, my friends are divided on how they feel about it. What this is teaching me is that I need to just focus in on how I feel about it. And how my husband feels about it, too. He thinks I'm beautiful no matter what color my hair is. Isn't that lovely? And he just wants me happy. So, I'm living with it for now and I have to tell you, there is a livelier step in my walk, I've gotten a few looks from strange men (that hasn't happened in decades) and I'm a bit freer when I'm singing. But I'm still a wee bit concerned that my friends will think I'm nuts. I guess, if they do, there's nothing I can do about that. And my real friends will understand what motivated me to do it and trust me to know what's best for me. Even if they don't agree.

So, my question to you, dear friends, is, do you care what others think? Or not?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Musings

Last Saturday I went a little beserk. I haven't shared about this because, well, frankly I'm embarrassed about how I feel. As you can see from my profile picture, I have white hair. It started going white when I was 28 and for a lot of years I colored it. But when I turned 60 two years ago, I decided I should just let nature be what it obviously intended and leave it white. I got lots of compliments - folks who have drab gray and would have loved it if their hair was white like mine. But when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was someone growing older and someone who looked very much like her mother. And for those of you who have read my memoir, you will understand when I say that didn't make me feel very good. Plus I'd been depressed about other things as well.

I guess those negative feelings had been building up inside, because last Saturday I looked in the mirror, ran to the phone, called my hairdresser and said, "Help. Fix me."

Until now, I had been unwilling to commit to coloring my hair every 4-6 weeks. Chemicals no good, the money, blah blah blah. Then a very good friend said that adorning ourselves is part of our nature. Well, since I'd been heavy most of my adult life, I never even considered adorning myself. Now, though, I wear clothing well and feel much better about myself, so, I thought, why not adorn myself?

The end of the story? I am now a red-head. It is vibrant and alive, whereas I'd been feeling drab and washed out-looking. I will post a pic, I promise. Just not quite ready yet. And my depression - gone in the blink of a dye bottle. Oh how I wish we weren't so hung up on outward appearances. Sigh!

Are you?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another review for Whispers

Today, Marvin Wilson (Old Silly) was kind enough to post a review of "Following the Whispers." Marvin and I swapped memoirs a while back and agreed to do this for each other. It's a nice way for writers to support one another. My review of his memoir is on Amazon and his for mine will now be there as well. If you have a chance, please head on over and check out what Old Silly had to say:  http://theoldsilly.com/
And if you haven't met the Old Silly before, you should check his blog out. He can be hilarious on hump day, serious in his pontifications, and a valuable resource for writers in his tutorials.

As for me, I am humbled by all the kindness I am experiencing from bloggydom. This is such a supportive, caring community we have created here. Talk about blessings....


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday: Energy Pie

Energy Pie
Ingredients: Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, Psychic Energy
Everything we think, feel, and do takes energy. Most of our day is taken up with things we are responsible for: our job, where if we don’t do what we’ve been hired to do, we will get fired; our children, where if we don’t feed and clothe and bathe and teach, they will turn into juvenile delinquents and worse; our spouses, where if we don’t love, care and nurture, we will end up divorced; our friends, where if we don’t love, nurture and spend time, we will end up friendless.
When any of the above-mentioned things are out of balance, our inner well being is affected. The question, it seems to me, is, how am I going to spend my energy in any given moment, given there isn’t an unlimited amount of it available. Let’s imagine a pie with 100% energy. We take a big slice of physical energy because we know we need to exercise in order to be healthy. Say it’s 15% of our pie. That leaves us 85%. Our best friend calls in crisis. We talk on the phone for an hour. That’s a 15% slice of emotional energy. Our youngest child is taking an exam today that will determine their eligibility for college. That’s a 10% slice of psychic energy. We’ve already used up 40% of our energy pie.
We know we have work to do. Work that will require physical, emotional and psychic energy. There goes 50% of our energy pie, leaving us 10%. And we’ve done nothing spiritual. We haven’t done our household chores like cooking,cleaning, shopping, making sure the kids do homework, etc. We definitely use up more than our remaining 10% doing all these chores.
Looking at this, I realize I need to change my energy pie recipe. Without the spiritual, I feel drained and depleted and don’t bring my full self to any of the other activities. I want to take a 20% slice of spirituality daily, leaving 80% to divvy up between work, household, hubby, kiddos an friends. Each day a different slice of energy will go to each of those things. Some days hubby will get 20% and kiddos 30. Some days that will be reversed. Some days kiddos will get 50% and hubs 0%. But what should remain unchanged is the 20% spirituality slice. 
How about you? How is your energy pie being distributed?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Musings - mini retreats

Last week I blogged about needing a retreat. As I wrote the blog, talking about planning when and where I would go and whether I would go alone or with a friend, I realized I didn't want to wait. I needed immediate results. I decided to take mini-retreats each day. It's so simple, really. All that's required is to shut down electronic devices, brew a cup of tea, sit and breathe.

When I did this last Tuesday, I immediately began working on my novel. When I did it Wednesday, I immediately felt better about the dark things in my life. When I did it Thursday, my throat opened up and I sang better. When I did it Friday, I had a great performance at an assisted living facility.

I'm convinced. Are you?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finding Light in the Midst of Darkness

There is something happening in my life that is dark. I have been asked not to write about it, which is very hard for me. But it eats away at my soul, if I allow it. I have been distracting myself with junk novels and playing mah jong solitaire and watching movies, which is why I am not writing.

That ended Tuesday, when I realized I needed a retreat. I didn't even need to actually get away for a retreat. All I needed was to accept I needed that special retreat time and that I could create that each day for myself by simply shutting down electronic devices, lighting a candle, making a cup of tea, grabbing my journal and just being present.

Without spirituality, my life is empty. I need something outside myself that I can connect with, turn to. Dealing with this life event has made me question everything I've ever believed in, but the truth is, spiritual truths are what make our lives work. Life is difficult. If we accept that, it gets a bit easier. Expecting it to be wonderful and joyous all the time is unrealistic.

So, I am finding candle light in the dark and it is comforting.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review of Following the Whispers

Hi everyone. I don't usually post today, but my good friend, Helen Ginger, http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/ kindly agreed to review Following the Whispers, my memoir, and it is up today. Please take a moment to check it out. And if you haven't found Helen's blog yet, you'll be glad you mosied on over there, because Helen is a great blogger and a fabulous friend to writers. I am sorry for the confusion from Tuesday's post with folks thinking the review was up that day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - I need a retreat

I'm exhausted. No matter how I sleep at night, I'm tired the next day. I just think that worrying about someone extremely close to me who is struggling right now, deliberating about whether to have total knee replacement surgery this year or try to wait a few years, agonizing when the writing doesn't come, and still acclimating to this "retired" state, have all taken a toll. It's time for a retreat.

I love retreats. Each time I've done one, I come back refreshed and renewed. Now I just have to figure out when and where. And whether I want to go alone, or with a treasured girlfriend. And when I don't have Sugartime gigls planned. But a retreat is definitely just the thing. In fact, I feel lighter just realizing that's what I need. Hmmm. Maybe I can make little mini-retreats a part of each day. Yes, that's the ticket. I will turn off the computer, not answer the phone, light a candle, make a cup of tea, take my special journal and pen, and just be. Ooooh, sounds so delicious, I'll see ya all later.

Oh, oh, oh, I almost forgot. Please take a few minutes to visit Helen Ginger's blog:http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/. She was kind enough to review my memoir, Following the Whispers and it should be on Straightfromhel Thursday, 5/19. If you haven't visited Helen before, you are missing a great blog and a fabulous blogger. Helen is a true gift to writers from any genre.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Musings - oops

Apparently, when Blogger was down, the post I had scheduled for today got lost somewhere. Sigh!
Well, my Monday Musings will be short and sweet.

This was a great weekend. Sugartime sang on Saturday and we were interviewed for a story that will appear at the end of June. It was a bit distracting having a photographer take pics while we sang - and there were quite a few glitches with equipment, but all went reasonably well.

Friday night a close group of friends got together to celebrate an engagement of one of our closest friends. It was pure joy, although the prep for the meal was labor intensive, it was also a labor of love.

Sunday night we got to see the touring production of Grease. I'd seen the movie a bunch of times, but had not seen it live. The plot and dialogue leave a lot to be desired, but the singing and dancing were a blast.

This week I plan to make my way back into my novel. I am finding it harder and harder to face that blank page and it's because I'm too distracted to let myself go deep inside to the place where the writing comes from. I think it's time to clear large blocks of time just to sit and be and allow it to emerge. Wish me luck.

What are you musing about today?

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Hi all, This was supposed to post yesterday, but with blogger problems, it didn't happen.

Last Monday we learned of the death of Jane Sutton Kennedy, a fellow blogger. We found out because her beloved husband cared enough to post the news and her obituary on her blog, so it appeared to those of us who had Jane on our blogroll or had asked to be alerted to updates.

Jane was a wonderful writer and a thoughtful, funny, kind commenter. She will be greatly missed. But it got me thinking about these internet connections. There are some people I am connected to here in the virtual world that I feel closer to than certain friends in my real world. I find that odd, don't you?

But really, why should I? Bloggers are people who share a need to communicate what they are thinking, feeling, learning. And they share that here for those of us who are seekers of knowledge and wisdom. No wonder strong connections are formed. In a way, these blogs are way more intimate than most conversations we have in our real world.

Indeed, you guys know more about me than my close friends on a daily basis, because everyone is busy and when we get together, there isn't a lot of time to share deeply.

I want to take a lesson from Jane's husband, who recognized that her blogging buddies would wonder what happened if she suddenly stopped connecting with us and took the time to let us know. I would hate it if one of you just disappeared, with no word and no explanation. I am going to make sure someone knows how to access my blog if something happens to me. I never would have thought of that if Jane's husband hadn't taken such an initiative.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful connections.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Liminal state

Liminal means of or relating to a transitional state of a process or occupying a position on both sides of a threshold. I do feel as if I am in a kind of limbo. When I quit working at a "real" job in 1999 to write full-time, I fully expected writing to be my new career. For the next 10 years, I wrote my memoir. That includes four years of going back to school to complete a bachelor's degree I'd begun in 1969. The memoir was published two years ago and I still do not feel writing is a career. Why? Because in my previous career, I felt successful, in society's terms of success. I made a difference and I made money.

My writing is making a difference in people's lives that read it. I know this because I receive feedback. But it has made very little money. To deal with this, I made a decision to begin  considering myself as one who is retired but writes. That was supposed to take the pressure off the need to make money.

So this month, I will begin to receive social security benefits. I will once again be bringing money into our household. But I still feel as if I am in a liminal state between being a vital part of society by participating in the work force, and being retired, which in my mind means I get to do whatever the heck I want. Most of my friends and my hubs still work full-time, so I am somewhat alone in this.

My son suggested I go back to work. But if I did that, I wouldn't have time or energy to write or do my Sugartime singing group or take piano lessons. 

Maybe it's an issue of questioning whether I deserve to let go of any expectations I have of myself at 62 and just be, whatever that turns out to be. For now, I remain in limbo, neither being part of the work force or comfortable being retired.
Stay tuned....


P.S. I'd already written and pre-scheduled this to post for today, but I want to take a moment to acknowledge a person who passed away last week and whom I am grieving, although we've never met. Jane Sutton Kennedy was one of the first bloggers I met after publishing my memoir and beginning this blogging journey. She was a wonderful writer and a great blogging buddy. Always had a thoughtful, kind comment, always an encouraging word. She was my age and now she's gone. She will be missed by those of us who had come to know her. 


Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Musings: Body Image

For most of my adult life, I hated to shop for clothes. Why? Because I'm 5' 3 1/2" tall and weighed 183 pounds. Nothing looked good, so I bought over-sized things to hide whatever I could. After I lost 50 pounds a few years ago, things began to change. I started to feel better about myself and began to enjoy clothes. All of a sudden, it wasn't just about something fitting my body. It became more about whether something flattered me or not. Or even whether I liked it.

I took myself shopping last Thursday for new jeans. Every pair I put on fit (size 10, I might add). But not all jeans fit everyone's body well. I never knew this. Because I couldn't or wouldn't wear jeans, unless they were those over-sized stretchie ones. And I don't need to find tops that come down to mid-thigh that are loose. I can wear tight-fitting tops; tops that even cinch in at the waist.

Sorry, guys, I know this must be boring, but after 40 years of not caring about clothes, to suddenly be interested in fashion at 62 is an awesome experience. Here's a photograph of me with my singing group, Sugartime, taken at our house concert this past Sunday. Those are pretty amazing purple dresses, aren't they?

P.S. Just because someone loses 50 pounds, though, doesn't mean their body issues disappear. I almost didn't post this photo because of the arms. Oy!

Off to write, now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I am afraid...a meditation

I am afraid to face the blank page everyday. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I am afraid to see how well others did on the challenge: comparison is an act of vengeance on yourself. Stop comparing yourself do others and be the best Karen you can be.
I am afraid I will get fat again. Never happen, Karen. Your hyper-vigilance to eating healthily won't allow it.
I am afraid of growing older. What's the alternative?
I am afraid people won't like me. You're right. Some won't. So what?
I am afraid I will get to the end of my life and won't have accomplished anything significant. Not all of us are Einstein's, or Nelson Mandela's, or Oprah Winfrey's, or Eli Weisel's, or Stephen King, or whomever you feel has accomplished great things. All each of us can do in our own small spheres is try our best to make a difference.
I am afraid of losing control. Ha! You don't have control anyway. Only of your own thoughts and actions.
I am afraid of losing friends. We are all getting older. The thought of losing those closest to me terrifies me. Then don't think about it. It is inevitable we will lose people we love as we age. Stay focused on the present.

And that, my friends, is the ultimate goal. Stay focused on this one moment in time.
Are you afraid?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

 Thank you so much, Julie, at: http://julieflanders.blogspot.com/ for honoring me with:

I am supposed to name seven things about myself and pass it along to a bunch of other bloggers. I am going to bend the rules a little and pass it along to five:

K.C. Woolf at http://thewomancondition.blogspot.com/
Joanne at http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/
Tabitha Bird at http://tabithabird.blogspot.com/
Odie at http://odielangley.blogspot.com/
Mason at http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

And now for seven things you may not know about me:
1. I don't like green peppers or chile peppers and I live in the land of peppers ( New Mexico).
2. I grew up in New York City, moved to Portland, Oregon in 1984, and New Mexico in 1994.
3. I hate to cook.
4. There isn't an ethnic food I dislike (except Mexican food, but only cause it's filled with cheese and I can't eat cheese).
5. I love romantic comedies. Probably my all-time favorite is An Affair to Remember.
6. I am not political although I care deeply about our country.
7. I don't read the newspaper or watch the news anymore because I can't handle the negativity.

Now I'm off to notify my selectees. Thanks again to Julie, whom I recently met on the a-z challenge. She's a delightful blogger and one you should definitely take the time to visit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Keeping my priorities straight

If I tell the absolute truth, I'm exhausted. And so grateful the a-z challenge is over. I had stopped blogging every day because it took too much out of me in terms of time and energy. So I am going back to three days per week and hope that doesn't diminish followers and comments on the blog. Because I absolutely love getting feedback on posts. Writing is such a lonely endeavor and the only way a writer knows someone is paying attention is through email or comments on blogs. So thank you thank you thank you for all those thoughtful, loving messages.

My singing group, Sugartime, had our annual house concert for family and friends yesterday. I have become fearless when I sing at retirement communities and hospitals, but when it's for people I know - the heart palpitates fiercely and doesn't stop till the dang concert is over. At least this year I sang okay - only a few bloopers. But I was so into connecting with the audience, I didn't care.

I guess what I've learned is if you are doing something you are passionate about, it really shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks of it or you. You have to be content with who you are and what you do. As long as we're not hurting anyone else.

Well, I'm off to rest now...I will try to catch up with the rest of you later today and tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday/Monday Musings - Back to normal

Thank you Elizabeth Mueller
Elizabeth Mueller at: http://elizabethmueller.blogspot.com/
created this award for all the a-z participants.
Isn't it lovely?

The a-z challenge is over. For those of you who may not know what this was, it was a challenge to blog 26 days out of the 30 in April using each letter of the alphabet. Lee, whose brainchild this was, has asked the participants to summarize their thoughts and feelings about it. That fits in with my getting back to normal post today, so here goes.

I had reached a point where I didn't want to blog every day - it was too time consuming and took way too much energy away from other things, like writing my novel. But I felt my blog had reached a kind of plateau. I was right. I had become complacent.

To be a successful blogger, you must continually reach out to new bloggers. That means clicking on blogs you find listed on blogs you regularly visit and things like that.

The a-z challenge made it easier to do that, because they were all listed in the linky tool provided. I simply had to go down the list. Unfortunately, there were 1200+ participants, which meant lengthy times at the computer to get to all of them before the challenge was over. That was the downside. Also, there were many links that weren't viable and many people who signed up, but didn't participate.

However, the upside far outweighs the downside. My blog went from 189 followers to 358, just about doubling. Comments increased exponentially as well. I don't think that could have happened without participation in this challenge. So, I am very grateful.

Would I do it again? Depends on what's going on in my life at the time. I enjoyed it. Do I want to keep blogging every day? Probably not. Unless I pre-write and pre-post, which is what I did for the challenge and it is the only way I could have managed it.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to visit and leave comments. I have met so many wonderful new bloggers. I only hope we all find a way to stay connected. I have added a bunch of new blogs to my blogroll. How to keep up? That is the question.

So, for today, I am grateful things are back to normal and I can blog any ole time I want.