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, January 28, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Accepting what is

In my spiritual journey, I've come to believe that whatever happens in my life is meant to be, no matter how hard or how joyful. That if it's challenging or painful, there are lessons for me to learn. For the most part I have been able to accept what has happened, even though there are still things impacting me from my past that I must work through and manage.

Acceptance goes hand in hand with surrender. If you let go of control, you must accept whatever outcome and therein lies the rub. All of my life I have believed I have control over outcome. If I work hard enough at something, I'll get what I want. If I diet and exercise, my weight will get where I want it to be. If I love someone hard enough, they'll love me back. Even though I learned a long time ago to take the action and let go of the results, I still try to control them.

What if my current health challenges are part of the journey? What if there are lessons I must learn from experiencing them? What if they don't get better? Can I accept that my twilight years, years I had a very specific vision for, one that included a healthy me, might be more challenging than I had hoped much sooner than I expected.

The answer, unfortunately, is that I have no choice but to accept. Because it is what it is. I can keep trying to make myself the healthiest I can possibly be, but once again, I can't control that outcome.
With acceptance comes a certain measure of peace, even if I'm not happy about it, I am more at peace.

Spirituality is a practice. You don't reach nirvana and stay there. It is a moment by moment struggle. My thoughts are my biggest enemy and I am learning to catch them mid-flight and turn my energy and attention to the Spirit of Love, which is whatever you choose to call God. This is not an easy path by any means.

How do you all handle acceptance?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Musings: the scale

Good morning everyone,

I need answers, people. I had a scale - a really good scale. Last month it started going wonky. I'd get on it and it would read one number. I'd get on it 5 seconds later and it would read another number. I'd
move it slightly on the floor and it would say something else. I changed the batteries. I shook it. I kicked it a few times, I must admit. Then I decided it had seen better days and went and bought a new scale.

I've had it for about a week. It's been working just fine. Sunday morning I got on it and it read one number. I got on it again and it said something else. I moved it. Yet another number.

Here's where I need help?
Can your weight fluctuate from one second to the next?
OR is the universe trying to tell me something?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: living in the world of surrender

Last week I talked about the difference between giving up and surrendering to a power greater than yourself, whether you call that power God, Goddess, Buddha, Spirit, Great Spirit, and so on. It is one of the hardest things I've ever done and it's a moment by moment process. It's not something you do once and then, wham, you're surrendered. I find myself taking back the control, then I notice that I did that, and let go once again. I have come up with a sentence that really works for me to shift that energy back into the surrender. It is "I surrender myself to the love and energy of Goddess. I release my fears and open to Love."

If you're like me and had a childhood that was difficult, you probably learned to be hyper-vigilant about a myriad of things: your own feelings, the mood of your family members, tension, anger, anxiety (yours as well as others). The ways you came up with back then probably worked fairly well, but I've learned that they don't serve me so well now.  Learning to recognize and change these patterns is challenging, but oh so rewarding.

Here's to surrendering more and more each day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Musings: Am I a hermit?

Am I a hermit? I prefer being home by myself writing, reading, singing, playing games. I can only handle crowds for a short amount of time and then I want to run home. I make plans to get together with friends and when the time comes to go, I'd rather stay home. It's odd, because once I get where I'm going, I usually have a good time. But the impulse is to stay away. Even by myself, I will make plans to take myself shopping and to a movie. Well, by the time I spend an hour shopping, I just want to go home. Even if I really really really want to see the movie.

So, I ask you, am I a hermit or just an introverted writer?


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Attitude

My attitude towards life and events and people is everything. So is yours, for that matter, but I can't do anything about your attitude can I? I can only work on my own. Marianne Williamson in her best-selling book Return to Love, says there are only two emotions: fear and love. And everything that isn't love is an illusion. I also remember a slogan from Al-Anon: FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.

I have been examining my thoughts and feelings the last few months and realize I am fearful most of the time. My stomach is almost always clenched, I am anxious about this or that, I worry about results of things I have no control over. This is stuff I've known for a long time, but somehow, because of the health challenges I've faced, it's all been intensified.

They say that alcoholics and drug addicts only go for help when they reach the bottom. They have exhausted their own resources and know they need help. My huge issue with trust has kept me from fully turning my life over to the care of God as I understand God (third of the 12 steps). Instead, I have been hyper-vigilant about trying to control everyone and everything around me.

Well, this past week, I surrendered. Not gave up, which is what I always want to do when the going gets tough. But surrender. Release. Let go. Trust the universe to support and guide me. The more I am able to do this during the day and before I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning, the more my stomach unclenches, my heart stays calm, I feel lighter and I laugh more.

The slogans from the twelve step programs might seem simplistic, but they sure work. Let Go and Let God.

How about you?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musings: Good news

Yippee!! For the first time in a year my thyroid #'s are moving in the right direction. I was really beginning to despair. I really feel like I am in good hands with this new MD who is holistic in his approach. The #'s are not where they need to be, but at least they are going in the right direction. And I have energy like a "normal" person for the first time in months. Big sigh here. Thanks for all your loving thoughts and prayers during this challenging time.

I am making good progress with my novel. I really want to share how I'm approaching this next phase, but I can't because I'm afraid everyone will think I'm out of my mind (if you don't already think that). My writer friends would understand, but others who read this blog, well...I just don't know. Is that too much of a tease? I'm sorry, but these are my musings and this is what's on my mind today.

How about you? What are you musing about today?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group - January 2014

This is the first entry for the new year and I'd like to begin by once again thanking Alex J. Cavanaugh www.alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com for creating this wonderful group. It has grown into a loving, caring and supportive community of writers who are willing to help one another through what, I think, is one of the most difficult journeys one can undertake - writing a book.

Did this year go by really really fast for anyone else? It seems, the older I get, the faster time goes. Here's wishing that 2014 is the year I finish my very first novel. The whisper came to me in 2009 that began this odyssey. As with every other difficult journey in my life, I went through this one kicking and screaming all the way. Why me? I can't do this. I quit, yada yada yada. But I am nothing if not tenacious. And I persevere, whether or not I should is another story.

I'm not sure how long this next phase of my writing will take, but my plan is to work on it as much as I can each day. Does anyone else get emotionally drained from writing? Or maybe it's just the physical challenges I have going on causing that particular result. Whatever it may be, I am going to trust that once I set the intention, which I am doing with this post, to summon the energy, focus, attention, and love that is required to complete this manuscript this year, that it will come to be.

What are your intentions for this coming year?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Overcoming Depression

It's been no secret that I've been depressed the last few months. I had done everything I could think of to shift myself out of it, but nothing was working. Then, on the day of New Year's Eve, I went to get my hair done. As I was sitting with the dye on my hair, I wrote in my journal -- something I haven't done in a long long time. I write, but not the personal journal writing that had been my main self-help tool for many years.

I wrote something like this: it's the last day of the year. It's been a difficult one. I've been diagnosed with A-fib, premature atrial contractions, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism. I'm extremely irritable, I'm gaining weight, yada yada yada. Oy! No wonder I'm depressed. It's okay, Karen. Anyone would be depressed when faced with all of these health issues. Well, as soon as I gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling, it shifted.

What I realized is the more I fight what I'm feeling, telling myself I shouldn't feel that way, trying to fix it, make it better, make it go away, the more stuck I stay. Accepting whatever it is, with grace and love, is what it takes to move it out.

Once again, journal writing helped me make sense out of what was going on inside me. So my intention is to write in it twice a day. Once in the morning, to sort things through, and once at night to list all the things I'm grateful for that day. This should keep me more focused on the positives than the negatives.

It's so wonderful to have both my mental and physical energy back. Without good health, it's so much harder to do the things we love.

How about you? What tool do you use to feel healthy?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Musings: movies

I hadn't been to the movies in several months. Not sure why. Part of it was health challenges - simply had no energy. Part of it was depression. Didn't feel like doing much. Part of it is that it's hard for me to find a movie I can handle - one that doesn't have violence or torture. But over the holiday I saw three films that I absolutely loved.

First, I saw Savings Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. It's the story of how Walt Disney pursued the author of the Mary Poppins books (her name escapes me at the moment) for 20 years to get the rights to make the movie, Mary Poppins. At the same time, the movie juxtaposes the real time between Disney and the author with the author's childhood, so we get to see what makes her into the curmudgeon she's become and how and why she might have created the characters in Mary Poppins.

The writer in me so loved seeing what possibly shaped another writer's journey to write a particular story. The movie goer in me loved the writing and acting in this film.

The second movie was Philomena with Judi Dench. I could watch and listen to Judi Dench read the Yellow Pages and be mesmerized. She's phenomenal. This film tore at my heart because of my own story with my child. But it also sheds light on how a particular convent in Ireland treated unwed mothers and their children. The Judi Dench character gave birth at 14 and was put in this convent. Her child is adopted and for 50 years she pined for this baby, then decides to search for it. It is powerful, painful and poignant. Just bring a box of tissues.

Lastly, I saw The Book Thief with Geoffrey Rush and Emma Watson. I can't remember the actress who played the young girl. Now this was harder for me to watch, because it takes place in Nazi Germany during WWII, but I'm glad I did because it was beautifully written and acted and I am still haunted by the images and story that evolved.

The thing I love about movies, and good novels, is that they take me out of myself and into another world. What other worlds have you entered lately?