My Birthday; ‘Incroyable’!

Incroyable! (that’s the Canadian in me creeping out, although my background is German, not French…ha!)

It means ‘incredible’ and is really all I can think to describe my birthday present last night.

Cirque du Soleil has the Big Top set up beside the Santa Monica Pier. So it was 30 minutes from me! After a lovely dinner, we wandered around the tent for half an hour looking at the fabulous merchandise. You could really go broke if you weren’t careful. I didn’t buy anything, I am not really much of a shopper, but I love to look.

The show that was playing is called Kooza which really feels like a return to the travelling Circus unlike the extravagant Vegas-style Cirque shows. (which I still hope to attend sometime) This show was a raw display of physical and comedic talent. While the set was stunning (you forget how vibrant color really is) and the costumes ridiculously beautiful, my focus was on how many people there were eager to inspire the audience. In fact (without blowing the storyline) I felt that the main character was lonely and depressed and he was visited by the spirit of inspiration. For anyone who has gone through a bad depression, this show is for you. For me personally, I walked away thinking that the group I saw somehow had decided that they were going to live their lives fully without boundaries.

The music is live and the musicianship made me think all radio is garbage. These are people who have specialized in their field, have given everything to their craft and completely love what they do. They make me feel like our standards have dropped too much.

I had a cute little chuckle with a girl beside me. I felt really proud telling her I was Canadian and we talked about the origins of Cirque being from Quebec. They initially had some brutal financial issues in the 80s but through our Government Arts Grants, they were stabilized and went on to be what it’s become now.

During one performance, there were a group of girls who could bend their bodies any which way and I leaned over to her and whispered, "Every woman here all of a sudden feels inferior." Then a little later in the show, we watched the ultimate acrobat on a high hamster-style wheel (video below) do the craziest stuff I have ever seen. She leaned over and said, "Now the men feel inferior."

But I thought, you know, they weren’t here to make us feel inferior, they were living to inspire others. I don’t believe their lives are easy. They work enormously hard and they deserve the applause. We should be very proud of them and steal the energy they are sending out because I am sure they would love nothing more than to hear someone say their performance inspired someone. :)

Thank you all for the birthday wishes from yesterday. I am certainly feeling the love you are sending!

Here’s your inspiration! You don’t have to do this (HA!), but try to put equal passion into the thing in your life you love the most! The crowd went nuts for them…so exciting! This is a clip of my favorite act of the night; (from YouTube)

Now, go grab LIFE!

Karen :)

"I believe that the circus is a place where people can forget about the headaches and heartaches of life. And all the other countries getting along together is part of the magic that is the circus." ~Bello Nock


Do our Screw-ups Define Us?

"Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds." ~Democritus

I saw that quote and I thought, "Yes, I do have people who will always remember me for something I screwed up." I mean, obviously it depends on how bad that thing was. Some people get fired for something and of course their boss will remember what they did wrong. If you go to jail for something you did, you will most likely be known for that. A champion boxer will be remembered for spousal abuse over the several titles he held. I understand all of that. I don’t mean to cite such extreme cases…this is me speaking more generally.

But I am reminded of what James Hetfield had said when he was performing to the inmates at San Quentin. It was something about being born with the same size souls and being born good. I think James did a great job at that prison of showing respect. He wasn’t there to rub anything in anyone’s face. He didn’t have them all released into society, but he did show respect.

If Democritus’ quote rings true, then I would think it would stand to reason that a person who is capable of performing good deeds does have a good soul. Now if the person is just absolutely rotten to the core, then maybe the good deeds are part of a bigger scam…but then, they wouldn’t care if they were remembered at all, right? Of course some people start off pretty good and then fall off the turnip truck along the way…I doubt they care how they are viewed either.

For those of us who would rather have the good part of us define our character, I think it’s a good starting place to look at what we remember or acknowledge in others. Is there someone in our life who has had the bad parts overshadow the good? For instance, in a marriage; could we look past the smaller idiosyncrasies and quirky behavior to see the person we fell in love with? Are we storing these faults in the fronts of our minds instead of the back and if the faults don’t further jeopardize our future, could we shove them out of heads altogether?

It’s painful when someone defines us by our screw-ups but if we hate it so much, could we start by looking past theirs? I don’t think this means we have to stay married to someone abusive or keep an employee who steals money, but I think we can begin to detach the human from their actions.
In my own experience, when I have reminded someone about the good they have done and ultimately the good person they are, the encouragement in many cases have caused them to be more like the person they want to be or know they are.

I think the goal is to strive be the person we want to be and the person we know we can be based on our own personality with the hope of getting farther away from what we screwed up. Nobody is perfect and I think it’s more crucial now than ever to encourage everyone towards their right to happiness.

Much love on ya!
Karen :)

(quote is at the top of the blog) ;)


Nov. 16th, 1940- Dec.24th, 2001 (when my angel roamed the earth)

Dear Mom,

First of all, Happy Birthday! I bet birthdays in heaven ROCK! Do you still play the big pipe organ you were hoping to find? And what about the guitar, are you still playing? I bet you started back up again. I bet your fingers aren’t sore anymore. You know what? That sucked so bad when the chemo destroyed your fingertips. That crap is pure poison, isn’t it?

What is Odie doing, is she sitting beside you? Is her ear all bent still? Does my Filthy Cat like to sit on your lap? Thanks for asking God to send him, he did a really good job at the perfect time in my life. Someday I will have to ask him how he managed to get in this building all those years when he wasn’t allowed to. It’s probably not as hard as I think it is. On that note, is God as funny as you described him? He shows his silliness to me a lot. I’ve been having a Phoebe bird visit me lately. I didn’t even know what they were until I heard this loud call one morning. I know you taught me about all the birds in Ontario, but I don’t know the birds very well here. I search online a lot now.

How’s Daddy doing? Still flying his plane around? I bet he hangs out with all the animals. That is where I will hang out when I see you both.

I am doing better. I’m not as angry as I was. I am remembering to breathe. I am writing an awful lot. My writing has changed, but you may laugh at that and say it’s reverted back. You can either look over my shoulder or wait until I have it all done. Your choice! (like I could stop an angel from doing what she wanted to anyways….hahaha) It would seem that all I am doing is picking up where I left off almost two decades ago when things were going well. It’s like I need to buy an easel and begin painting with my fingers again. Is that what was meant by ‘coming as a little child’? Why are we taught all these complicated things that don’t even work? I love the intricacies of life and I like the complex make-up of it all, but Mom you were so right when you said there is nothing greater than love and to keep it simple. I’ve been trying to show it more even when it’s hard to do. What made it seem so easy for you? Keeping it simple has always seemed boring to me, but now I am starting to understand what you meant. You meant that some things really don’t matter…that love is the starting point that grows in a circle, not a straight line…that everything ends there too. I like the idea of the focus being there and then my crazy life can happen on the way. Can I still be crazy? It must have been hard for you marrying into all the craziness and then have to deal with the silly offspring. heehee

Do you still cry when you see all the hurt in the world? Did you ever think of compassion as a heavy anchor? I don’t want to lose it, but I am trying to find some sense of separation between the bad things going on and taking full advantage of this amazing planet. I don’t feel the need to save everyone like I did. I understand my job isn’t to control it anymore. But so many people are hurting these days, Mom. Do you remember crying on the edge of your bed just weeks before you died because you were so sad? The whole fall of 2001 was bad for everyone. I still can’t believe the Mommy instinct you felt in leaving us. Remember when I asked why you were crying? "I’m just sad to leave you all behind, because you are going to have such a big mess to deal with." I think it hurt you more that you felt like you couldn’t be around to protect us from it all.

But you know what Mom? I’m still here and despite it seeming like the world just continuously drops downhill, the last 4 years have been very good and going up! It’s been a ridiculous amount of work, but I don’t mind hard work. The big work has been in rebuilding my character again. I let some things slide that you taught me. I didn’t mean to, I was just overwhelmed by it all. I will try and apply all the things you said, but in all fairness, my memory is just coming back recently after the fog has lifted…so you’ll have to cut me some slack. ;)

I think we are all facing some enormous challenges, but when you were dying was when I saw you rise up higher than I ever witnessed from you! How did you do that? How did you show 1000 times more love to people around you when your organs were failing? How were you able to comfort us when your pain was so high? And can you show me how?

You are and forever will remain the greatest overcomer I have ever met. I long to see you every day. I doubt I will ever be perfectly ok with you being gone but I am seeing past all of that and understand that our lives are not all supposed to be the same length, but we all have the potential to achieve the same sense of purpose no matter how long we are here.

I love you, Mom! I want to be more like you!
Love you forever, Karen :)

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children." ~William Makepeace Thackeray


People need to keep their hands OFF of each other!

Ah, Friday night. I’m sure many of you can relate when you live in a big city, you just hear "stuff". You can’t track down exactly where it’s coming from especially if you live in apartment corridors.

There are always random screams, kids crying, dogs barking and general craziness going on. It’s frustrating to listen to when you can’t exactly walk into someone’s home and ask what their problem is. I understand police officers can’t do much unless there is a definitive situation.

I’ve had so many friends over the years talk about domestic violence and I am also a victim of it from years back. So, even if a child is crying because they don’t want to go to bed, my past makes me think they are in trouble automatically.

The violence that I have personally experienced (I have family who have a lot of history as well) seems to have started what some may consider, "innocently". I don’t mean to lump play-fighting or wrestling in with this, but when you hit another person even if you think it’s playful, you run the risk of breaking down a protective wall of respect. Some people have a wonderfully unique relationship where they can play fight and it never turns violent. I get that. But you may be on the safer side if you are starting off in a new relationship to just avoid it if you can. I’ve seen it so many times be a playful part of a relationship, then some backyard BBQ with beer happens, someone gets pissed off and it turns violent because the wall has already been knocked down. For example, you are used to punching each other in the arm, stomach, chest etc, then during an argument, it’s easy to turn that into a real punch because you’ve already hit them there playfully. The wall has already come down.

So, the title of my blog is not for the playful, loving relationships.That title is specifically for those who think they are justified in striking another person. Someone had asked me recently if a man was allowed to slap a woman back if she slapped him first. My response is that she is no more justified striking him than he is her. Many women live under the protective blanket of, "I’m a woman, he can’t hit me" and they use that as a free license to hit him. I’ve witnessed it firsthand where I have personally thrown myself between two people so he wouldn’t hit her back, but she was WAY out of line. We see it in movies all the time where women slap men. It’s easy to be all brave when you think there are no consequences. Most men won’t press charges because the police side with the women, but he should at least consider finding a nicer person or counseling.

My advice having been through domestic violence is that if someone strikes you, get out. It rarely gets better. Charge them, do what you have to…but hitting, punching, kicking etc is a violation of another human’s personal space and it is wrong. Few people can erase it from their arsenal and it can be pulled out again and again later on.

If you feel the need to strike at someone first, may I humbly advise you to take some courses in communication because it would seem you are unable to resolve a problem with your words.

Karen :)

"Do all things with love." ~ Og Mandino


Depression; The Real Enemy

I was thinking about how important sticking together is and how easy it is to turn on each other inside our own relationships. We can lose sight of why we are together and what we are fighting for because our own depression, anger and frustration of everyday life can get to us.

Today I not only plan on reflecting on past and present warriors, but I am going to use the day to see how I can be of help in repairing a few broken relationships that are going on around me. I am involved in several business relationships as well where I am seeing people turn on each other. We can easily forget the common goal!

I think most of us are well past the need to be right in an argument. I think most people would feel satisfied in just being heard! I think the key to fixing these broken relationships is not making big statements about who is right or wrong, but just allowing the other person to speak and be heard. Our partners and families are not the enemy. Our partner or spouse should be like a soldier on the same team. When did it get to the point where the person we marry or are living with became the enemy?

Part of today’s reflection for me is taking a good hard look in the mirror. Am I doing everything I can to listen to people around me? Am I reserving judgment and striving to be a better listener? Are the people I claim to love and have committed to on my team or am I treating them like the enemy?

I am trying to be conscious of who or what the enemy is. This is not to say real enemies aren’t out there. It’s like we can’t win the battle within ourselves and we can’t win the battle inside our family. But the truth is, we shouldn’t be battling our own forces. Within the home, there should be no enemies. There are problems, yes…but a spouse is not supposed to be an enemy.

But my biggest demon I have had to fight off is Depression. I feel like I have beaten it for the most part now, but Depression above all else can make us dream up enemies that don’t even exist. Depression like a bad acid trip can put demonic faces on those closest to us when we look at them. Depression can change our focus from seeking out life’s most fulfilling avenues to causing us to wish people dead. Depression can make us turn on one another. Depression can lead to hating others but most of all hating ourselves. We can finally view our own reflection as the enemy.

And then, crazy as it seems; Depression can cause a sad person to think anger is an accomplishment in a day.

It takes some time to identify the enemy. I think once we realize it is our own depression, anger and frustration, we can come up with a better game plan.

Much love and hugs on all of you!
Karen :)

"The trick to problem solving is to go to the root, i.e. to find the actual cause." ~Brahma Kumaris


Pouring More Gas on the Inferno

It’s not a topic I would usually touch on because it can get too heated. I don’t mean for it to become that, I am striving for more peace in my day.

The shootings at Fort Hood were beyond horrific. I don’t even know if there is a word for it. I am praying for the families and people who were involved, but I am also mindful of how something like this can affect the hearts and minds of the rest of us in other states and other countries. It can cause much bitterness and anger. If you are angry, you are allowed to be, I am not about taking a person’s emotions from them. Everyone grieves how they grieve. If someone is angry, they emote. I do understand that and all of my sympathy is there.

When you hear about the role of women in uniform (both military and the police force) there is a tendency to have a few opinions and many are divisive. There are the dinosaur ones that believe there is no place for women there and then there is the extreme side where people can build a wall and become defensive in an excessive way to defend the role of women. I’m not in between those, I am actually neither.

I am a believer that each person should do the job they are good at and they should be allowed to choose, yet prove that position. I don’t see gender, sexual orientation or religion (although obstacles for many) as a reason why someone should or shouldn’t hold a position.

What I am trying to remind myself in this Fort Hood situation is to be careful of judgment based on those three areas. The woman who stopped the rampage by putting 4 holes in the shooter did her job. She did something heroic. Is she the best police officer on her force? I don’t know, but she did the best job she could in her position. The situation came up, she was in a unique place with a courageous mindset and skill to be able to put an end to it. I refuse to submit to the theory that because she was a woman, she outsmarted, outwitted or outranked people around her. I don’t like using stories like this to bash men. That would be a slap in the face to everyone else who was trained and skilled also, but not in a unique position to be able to end it. This doesn’t mean what she did can’t benefit the Woman’s Movement, I just don’t want it to end in generalizations and male-bashing.

My attention with her is more about praying for her heart to heal from this as all reports suggest she is very upset by the losses (bless her heart). So are many others, both genders, orientations and color/religions. Her broken heart is a reminder to the rest of us that while she did do something heroic, she doesn’t enjoy it, it’s upsetting but it’s her job.

On the flipside; it is my strong opinion that even if this shooter was politically-motivated, it’s very important not to conclude this is a Muslim trait. I have so many wonderful Muslim friends who are very upset by his actions and are frightened of the repercussions on their communities. It’s so super convenient to think because this man was Muslim, that all Muslims are like this or that it’s a Muslim thing to do.

Clearly, there is a story…but I feel the story should be focused on the actions of ‘INDIVIDUALS’ not communities or genders. The country needs to run on law, not prejudice. I believe we should react with love for those who need it not join the hate groups to seek out vigilante justice.

Even though I fundamentally understand what that means, I know we are all capable of allowing our own baggage and prejudices to enter into stories like this. I am trying not to indulge in that. While we think it’s a harmless story around the water cooler, there are families around us who have to add locks to their doors so Supremacist groups don’t come looking for them because this shooter has a Muslim name. There are police officers, army personnel and their families who are mourning the loss of their friends.

I just don’t think we have time to do anything that adds to the negativity and I don’t think it’s even appropriate to make large generalizations.

I am very open to suggestions from both the Military families and the Muslim community on what I can do here to help in a practical sense. This isn’t because it’s a passion of mine, but partially because I worry about more hate spreading. If you can help in those communities, even if it means sending notes of love and prayers somewhere, I would hope you would also.

Much love on all of you!
Karen :)

"Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding." ~Gandhi