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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Musings - BFF's

I am an only child so when I was growing up, having a best friend was what I wanted most. I had one best friend from first to third grade. Another best friend from fourth to sixth. I didn't have a best friend in junior high that I can recall. I had the same best friend all throughout high school. It doesn't matter how many best friends I had through the years. What matters is that I lost all of them.

A lot of pain is associated with these losses, particularly the ones from when I was already an adult. What I have learned is that having a best friend isn't what is important. What is important is having people in your life who really and truly get you. You don't have to explain yourself. You don't have to make excuses or apologize. You can just say whatever you need to say and know you are still loved and it will be all right.

I am blessed to have several people in my life who fit this description. One of them is visiting this week.

How about you? Do you have a best friend or friends? Have you kept childhood friendships?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Learning curves

I am one of the most impatient people I know. Especially when I'm trying to learn new things. When I wanted to learn to play the guitar, I expected myself to know how to play songs as soon as I knew one chord. This past weekend I was in a Rueda workshop (a Cuban salsa dance). I'd never done the dance before and got so frustrated when I couldn't get a particular step. Until I went to lunch with other workshop participants who were having the same problem. Where did we all get the idea we should be able to do things perfectly immediately. It's ridiculous. Let's all cut ourselves some slack, yes?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Musings: More than one aspect to a goal

As many of you know, I have been working on my first ever novel for about five years now. I finished the first draft during Fall last year. The manuscript was only about 35,000 words but I thought I was done. My editor, the brilliant, wise, wonderful writing coach extraordinaire, Mark David Gerson, said nah, it wasn't. And he was right.

So now, some six months later, I have revised it several times and hit 50,034 words last Thursday. It is now the minimum number of words to be considered a novel. Yahoo!

So, I accomplished my goal of writing a novel. But is my goal complete? It could be, if I decide not to try to publish. But I can hardly imagine making that decision unless drastic, unforeseen circumstances occur in my life.

If it never gets published, am I happy? On one level, yes I am, because I stuck with something that seemed so far out of the realm of possibility and was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I am happy with the resulting story. But whether anyone else will be remains to be seen.

My job was to allow the story to emerge. Now I must put the finishing touches on it. Make it magical.Then figure out the whole publishing issue.

How about you? How do you perceive accomplishing goals?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's a novel!!!

I don't normally post other than on Mondays and Tuesdays but I just had to share that I just hit 50,001 words in my manuscript and now I finally feel that it's a novel. At least it's the minimum word count a novel should be. Yahoo!! I don't even care whether the words are any good, I just can't believe I've written a novel. Ever since I read Little Women, I wanted to be Jo, ensconced in an attic, scribbling away. I am still not done with this revision - have about 20 pages to go - but I was so excited I had to talk about it. And who better to understand how I feel than all of you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: can't think of a thing to write here

I've told so many truths on this blog since 2009, but today, I can't think of one to share with you that has any meaning. The only thing I wonder is, how many of you live a life of contemplation -- meaning do you look at your attitude, your beliefs, your behaviors, and do you analyze them when something happens in your life that impacts you negatively? Or do you simply deal with it and move on? Inquiring minds what to know.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Musings: intuition

I spent ten years writing my memoir, Following the Whispers, which is about learning to listen to the whispers of intuition and the consequences when we don't. I am now writing a novel that touches on this theme. You'd think I'd get it by now, right? I guess that's why someone once said we teach what we need to learn.

When I was on vacation in Banff, Canada, at Lake Louise several years ago, hubby and I were hiking along the perimeter towards the glacier. He wanted to hike up the glacier. I didn't, so I stopped. I was standing on the path when something told me to go sit on the bench about 3 feet away. I did. Not one minute later, a huge boulder came tumbling down the embankment landing right where I had been standing. I'm pretty sure I'd be dead or severely injured if I hadn't moved to the bench.  So why do I still question that voice sometimes.

A very intuitive healer told me that it's human nature. The voice whispers and our rational mind says, "that doesn't make sense," or, "I don't understand," and so we don't listen. She said the thing to do is train ourselves to listen and hear, even if we don't act on what we're hearing.

Two things happened this past week that I needed to pay attention to. When I didn't, I was majorly stressed. Once I listened, the stress eased considerably. Think I got it now? We'll see....

How about you? Do you always hear and listen to your intuition?

P.S. Here's a photo of Spring making its presence known in Albuquerque Bio Park.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: second revision done

Woo hoo! I have finished my second revision, incorporating more character development, setting, and description. Now I am going through it one more time on the computer before I give myself a bit of time and then print it out and read through it again. Once that is accomplished, it is time to give it to my editor (the one who told me I only had the skeleton and needed to add the flesh). He was so right.
I have no idea whether this is a story anyone will want to read and that is freaking me out a bit, but I can't control that right now. I can only make it the best I can make it and then begin the journey towards publishing.

I'm going to need you guys more than ever when that day comes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Musings - voices from the past

Most of you know I am on a spiritual journey towards healing and have been for most of my adult life. It is astounding to me that I am still having major shifts and insights. Tectonic shifts, actually. This time, I am not going to share specifics about those shifts, but rather tell you about a technique I've created that seems to really be quite powerful.

If you've read my memoir, you know I had parents that didn't really know how to parent and so they behaved in ways that were inappropriate and very damaging to a child. The technique I am using to undo some of that damage is this. I wrote out all the things I wanted and needed to hear from them. Then I went into Garage Band and recorded those messages as if it were them speaking. For example,  Karen, this is Mom...or Dad. Then I went on to have them say the things I needed to hear.

There's been a lot of tears, which to me is a sign of letting go. It's a fairly intense grieving process as I let go of the loss of all the years I didn't know the thing I needed to know. But all I have is now. And now is getting better every day. I am opening up in ways I didn't dream possible, particularly with my writing.

Do you have any helpful hints for dealing with painful voices from the past?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group - March

It's time once again to gather together to share our woes, our wins, our angst, our joy about writing. Thanks so much to Alex J. Cavanaugh www.alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com for creating the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I am enjoying revising my manuscript. I guess I'm been at this writing thing long enough (since 1999) that I've learned to turn away from those negative voices inside my head. Or I talk back to them, whereas before they would simply take me over. I'm sure you know the voices I'm talking about: "Who are you to think you can do this?" Or, "That's just crap." Or, "Oh come on now, really?" Or, "You'll never be good enough so you might as well give up."

Here are some ways I deal with these voices:

  • I imagine them facing away from me so the voice and message is not directed at me
  • I tell them how they feel might have value but I can't listen now
  • I yell at them to shut up and leave me alone
  • I allow the message and the resulting negative feeling to stop me from writing. But this feels terrible when it happens, so I am learning to not give in to the negativity.
  • I tell them what they are saying maybe true but I'm going to keep writing anyway.
  • I politely ask them to leave.
I'm turning 65 in April. I no longer feel I have time to allow my insecurities to keep me from doing the things I am passionate about. And this novel is one of the strongest urges I have ever encountered. The voice of the book came to me in 2009 while I was vacationing in Ireland and Scotland and hasn't left me since. It is the voice that said, "Tell my story." Thank goodness, its voice is louder than these others I am talking about.

How about you? How do you deal with the voices inside your head?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: my wedding video

February 24 was my 18th wedding anniversary. Hubby and I have a ritual - each year we go to dinner someplace special, come home, light the unity candle that was on the altar at our wedding ceremony and Thank God for the blessings in our marriage. Then we watch our wedding video. It is getting harder and harder for me to watch because so many people are no longer with us. And because I was 183 pounds. I'm only 5'3" so you can imagine how big I was. The positive is that it is a reminder that my husband loves me totally for who I am, not what I look like. That is a huge gift. Actually, both hubby and I look better now, 18 years later. Funny, huh?

So what am I trying to say? If my life were a movie, the main character is doing what a good character does--growing and changing. I just had an aha moment as I'm writing this. As writers, we are told we must have conflict in our story. The protagonist must have flaws and must overcome adversity. There is an arc to the story and there must be resolution at the end. What is that lovely latin term for that? Oh brain, please kick in. Sigh! Anyway, art really does imitate life. That is, hopefully, what a good life is--one where we overcome our flaws, experience conflict and overcome it, and grow into good human beings. Maybe if I begin to think of my life as a movie I can detach a bit more from the outcome.

Don't know if this makes any sense to anyone, this crazy train of thought. But that's the beauty of having a blog, isn't it?


Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Musings: Perspective

I don't know about you, but my perspective varies depending on a number of things: whether I got enough sleep, what time of the day it is, whether I've eaten or not, whether I'm centered or off balance. If I've only gotten 4 hours sleep, my attitude about how many items I need to accomplish on my to-do list will be very different than if I've gotten a 7 or 8 hours sleep.

Since I'm a fairly emotional person, meaning I feel things intensely and can have strong reactions to what I feel, my perspective can shift pretty frequently. It's been a lifelong learning experience to tune into what I'm feeling to ensure that my perspective is accurate.

Here's an example. My health has challenged me this year and I have had very little energy until fairly recently. As soon as I started feeling more normal, I wanted to do more things. I already folk dance, write, sing (which involves practicing 3 times a week), read, play guitar, etc. A friend mentioned she was going to a tap dance class and the best part was that it's free. Well, I tap danced as a child and quit way too early. Have always wanted to do that again. But last Wednesday I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before and didn't go. The next week, on Tuesday I had a really "off" day. Couldn't focus on anything, and I'd been excited about having a clear calendar so I could write for more than a 1/2 hour or so. On Wednesday, I started thinking and journalling. I realized that although I was feeling much better and had more energy, I still only have just so much before I become overwhelmed. My priorities right now are my novel and Sugartime (aside from hubby and family and friends, I mean). And the writing is very challenging for me because I am having to use craft techniques that don't come easily and I feel quite insecure about it. To add something else on my plate that would be challenging, even if it would be fun, just didn't feel right. So I decided not to take the class.

Perspective. It is so important. I feel very proud of myself that, rather than beat myself up for not being able to go do something I obviously wanted to do, I got clear that it simply wasn't a good time for me to do it.

How do you keep your perspective?