Fixing the Crack in the Dam

I don’t know much about how statistics work and even if I did, I think there are still too many factors which make them inaccurate. One major contributing factor is that some people don’t volunteer the proper information needed to collect data. If you were raped as a child and never reported it, chances are you also haven’t confided in a counselor. If your husband beat you and you still live with him, the statistics won’t show it.

This week, I posted a question about what charity you would donate to. There were many good ones like Animal Shelters, Cancer Research and Hospitals. But I couldn’t help but notice how many responses both in the stream and to my email and comments suggested Women’s Abuse Shelters.

There must be thousands upon thousands of charities out there. We all seem to have a definitive answer as to why we give to them. They may have already proved to us that they are worthy of our money. We may have witnessed first-hand how successful and honest they are. We may just have a natural tendency within our character that draws us to things that match our spirit. That would pretty cool because if we were only pulled by that, everyone would get help because our different personalities would move us in the right direction to see that everyone got the help they needed.

But the scarier potential answer is that the reasons for why you would give to charity are a direct correlation of something you are going through. This is seemingly normal in the case of Cancer where you lose a parent, child or loved one. You go on a passion-filled race to make sure everyone sees their photo, reads their words and your burning passion can raise a lot of awareness. This is good! If you happen to reach the right audience of people who have suffered the same thing, you’ve created a movement…no problem there. My spirit is more concerned with the other reason why people suggest a charity.

In the case of Women’s Abuse Shelters, I won’t be too bold to suggest everyone who said that has a secret they haven’t shared, but I am concerned. My gut instinct tells me some of the reasons behind the suggestion is there are problems directly from the person who gave that charity as a suggestion. More frankly put; is this woman living with abuse? This makes me curious. Is this sometimes our way of trying to fix something we can't fix in our own home?
Passion is the main driving force behind charity. We’ve seen this time and time again. Your family is devastated by cancer, you go on a cancer drive. It’s a tool with few flaws. But can our own passion coupled with each other’s make a difference?

I’ve heard many great stories and seen the bottom lines on charities that work. I’m glad they do. But the one thing I see really constant in most charities is the word , "short-handed". They don’t have enough supplies, enough people answering phones, doing paperwork and enough money. I really don’t think the people involved lack the passion, you simply hear about people lacking the resources. In some charity cases, I’ve heard about countries and charities who have a pile of food and don’t have a way to distribute it. Most charities are just overworked and short-handed.

I am a great believer in getting to the source of a problem. We do need the people who do the clean up, who feed the people, who pass new laws. We can place blame on every person, agency and government on the planet, but our passion-driven charity is still coming up short-handed. I continuously see people who do GREAT WORK. I see people WORKING HARD. But I also see the people who simply shrug it off and say "If the government doesn’t fix it, it won’t get fixed." I think it takes an effort by everyone to make the whole chain not have a kink. It isn’t just at the top. But I do believe there is a ‘beginning’.

Seeing as I asked you the question, let me ‘sorta’ give an answer as well.
I run a risk of answering the charity question because my audience has been growing and any answer could seem like I am representing them. The truth is I do have ones I support because we are called to help when it drives us to, but listing them seems too much like I am a poster-child.
But what I can tell you is I have something more global that is my focus and that is the healing of people.

When I grab a pen and paper and jot down all the charities people list, there is one consolidating similarity that shows up in all them; the breakdown of family.

You aren’t going to see me campaigning about this in the normal circles where people challenge what constitutes a family because I don’t see a family as necessarily Mom, Dad and kids. I see family as a collection of individuals who love each other, help each other, encourage one another and drive each member onto being the happiest person they can be. That doesn’t matter if there are two moms doing it, two dads doing it or in the case of an older sibling raising little ones sisters or brothers doing it.

My larger point is that most of the charities outside of sicknesses we can’t help feel like they started at home. Our jails are full because most criminal activity is linked to abuse or neglect in the home. Lack of education and a good upbringing go on to overload our charities with giant holes in the Dam.

We can continue to give money to those who need it and I encourage this! Don’t mistake my writing for picking one over the other. But I feel very strongly that until we can get back to the source problem, you aren’t going to see any of these charities shutting their doors for lack of abused children to help.

I know that seems overwhelming in itself. Where do you start to heal the millions and millions of dysfunctional homes? May I humbly suggest doing something that isn’t necessarily easy but won’t cost you anything? Either work on healing your own home or if your home isn’t broken, strengthen it!! Get it good and strong! If you are in the currently one-digit percentile of people with amazingly happy, exciting, enthusiastic homes, you should be actively sharing why you are happy with others and offer some good solid advice for them. I consider you the lights of the world. If you are sitting on a wealth of knowledge and happiness, you definitely should be sharing your gold.

Broken homes or even dysfunctional settings are inhibiting all of us from growing and thriving. It’s not simply our leaders, our system or lack of support, food and charity. If you have been through divorce, death or financial bankruptcy you will understand how not just the event itself has made your world hell, but lacking the knowledge and energy afterwards to get out of this hell has added an unnecessary amount of alcohol to a gaping wound.

Something simple I think more people should be doing is swallowing their pride and asking for emotional help. Telling me in an email that your favorite charity is the Woman’s Abuse shelter is fine if you aren’t secretly currently going through it. If you have managed to get through your hell and are able to start new, have you emotionally healed from it? If you haven’t, there is a chance that the memory of your hell is now inhibiting you from growing. I look back on all my hellish moments and I would say the battle scars were worse than the blows I took because they shut down a few decades of my life.

If we can get back to focusing on emotionally healing, I believe we can all begin to make a real difference. I just feel concerned that it is our overwhelming sadness which is the biggest foundation which requires charity.

In your home, how much effort is put towards helping others vs healing yourselves? I will admit, helping others feels good when you are drowning. But can you imagine if you were functioning at 100% how big of a difference you could make to others? Then, you couple that 100% functionality with your current passion? Could be beautifully explosive, couldn’t it?

If you know someone really happy, I would go pick their brain and REALLY listen, not just nod in agreement. If you are one of the happy people, then you have a big job to do, now don’t you? ;)

ROCK ON my friends!
Karen :)

"A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I'm sure that's true, but they aren't willing to make healing a high priority. They aren't willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it." ~Lindsay Wagner


How Well is your Home Built?

Do you live in or have you lived in a house or apartment that is built like a complete piece of crap?

I’ve lived in both well built and sketchy. I grew up in a farmhouse that was close to a few hundred years old. It felt quite solid the whole time we lived there which you soon find out living in Canada when winds, storms or tornados pass through. When the house was demolished, the beams were exposed and they seemed originally hand-chiseled by what I think was an axe. They had all these magnificent grooves in them and the ends were Roman numerals to number them all. But even this old beauty had its faults. The twenty rooms of the giant sat on support beams that were dangerously close to collapsing from powder beetles taking over. The cost of fixing it would have been too much for any rural family. (that wasn’t why it was demolished though, a car plant took over eventually)

I’ve had my share of apartment living where everything breaks constantly and you have to fight with a landlord to get just one percentage of it fixed.

I have also lived in subdivision housing. The builders smack up as many houses as they can in order to turn a quick profit, but man, are they constructed like garbage. A small wind becomes terrifying and you are driven to the basement for fear you are going to be flattened.

I think of how much money I spent on putty and filler for cracks. I bet everyone who lives in newer housing can look at the top of one of their doorways and see cracks from "the foundation settling". It’s mostly because there is no time to let anything settle and even then, the materials simply can’t handle gravity. ;)

After all of my experiences, I am determined to find a home someday where at least the foundation is solid. We spend more money on paint, drywall and the ‘fixings’ when really all that is happening is ESTHETIC MANIPULATION.

We as individuals do this too. We put cheap crappy food in our body and spend too much on hair-coloring, make-up and tanning sessions. Drinking water, exercising, eating well and getting ample sleep are really a far superior way to have the glow you are looking for.

But all esthetics aside, the biggest thing most of us forget to concentrate on is the building of our character. Character is something you can’t see as a physical form, so it goes unattended and unfortunately gets ignored. It’s easy for the powder beetles to eat away at our spirit but if nobody else sees it, why fix it, right?

I have to remind myself DAILY to work on my insides in the hopes I will feel better all over.

Investing in your own character costs very little (sometimes nothing but time) and is perhaps the best investment one could ever make. I think most people would agree, we just need these reminders. ;)

Spend some time with you doing something you love!
Karen :)

"Decorate yourself from the inside out." ~Terri Guillemets


What would you know about Hardship?

"The very greatest things - great thoughts, discoveries, inventions - have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty." ~Samuel Smiles

Well with a last name like that, I bet a lot of pressure was on him to smile for most of his life. Maybe he started off as having the last name "Smile" and then learned to smile when it seemed like people were telling him what to do when they’d say his name, "Samuel, Smile!" The extra s maybe came as a result of him finally learning to do it, like "Oh look everyone! Samuel Smiles! My name was plural all through high school according to most students, "Hey Stevers, what’s going on?" I’d look around me to see if my brother was with me.

But with such an enlightened quote as that, I imagine Samuel really did experience hardship, sorrow and difficulty. Those three words are pretty brutal. A person wouldn’t go to them unless they understood their context. There is such a tremendous amount of hope in that quote, "great thoughts, discoveries, inventions…" Aren’t those the very things we strive for and dream about? If it’s through ‘hardship, sorrow and difficulty’ that we can achieve those, why do we see those three words as the end of our state? Should they not simply be part of the method to get there?

The word that I love the most in the sentence though is "nurtured". When he says, "nurtured in hardship" I can’t help but become revived! Phrasing it like that dilutes the word hardship to its rightful place on the paint palette. It simply becomes a tool in the art studio. I think what we have done is given the hardship word a capital H when it really should only have a small h. I feel we should apply the capital to the word Nurtured because that is the more important thing that is taking place! It’s growth! Cool, isn’t it?

You could apply the same theory to the phrase "pondered over in sorrow". We forget that while we are experiencing sorrow, we are quite often Pondering (we’ll give that a capital P for fun) or thinking on a much higher level! That is very exciting! It means we are alive and the brain wants to figure it out!

Of course, your eyes may have already started looking for the next possibility (a word I just love) in the sentence which is interesting to me because it means we are all starting to view the negatives in a more appropriate way! When my eyes scanned the sentence again looking for more possibilities, I found; "established with difficulty". Established! (with a big E) Isn’t that an excellent word? Feeling like you have Established something takes you out of a state of ‘limbo’-the place most of us absolutely loathe being!

I feel like with this new outlook, I can begin to look for areas in my life that deserve a small letter and award the words in my life the capital they are worthy of. There are areas in my world that need to be highlighted (while not omitting the small letter words because they are part of my palette) and put in their place. The hardships, sorrows and difficulties I am facing are part of the puzzle, but they are not the finished art. They have their place like Nurturing, Pondering and Establishing but like anything you zoom in too close on, they can become distorted.

Quotes are not just words to live by for me, they are sometimes phrases (like in Samuel Smiles case) constructed by an artist. If I can read them and give them a direct application to something that is going on with me or others in a very real way, they take on a whole new dimension. Quotes are bite-sized thoughts that I can sink my teeth into without feeling overwhelmed. In the case of Samuel who lived in the 1800s, I am extra enthusiastic about what he said because it is standing the test of time and it’s why very old quotes always sit best with me.

Are you experiencing these hardships, sorrows and difficulties? Have you been able to or are you in the process of identifying the accompanying words that go with them? I sat here for probably twenty minutes thinking about all the incidents in my life where I could attach the capital letter words onto my grief-stricken depressive times. Looking back, it’s easier to do than the current things we face. But I don’t believe the theory is any different. It just needs to be looked at in the present day the same way as we can view lessons we’ve already taken in.

Nurturing, Pondering and Establishing seem to be "in the process of" words.
It’s good to know it’s an ongoing journey. Once I can wrap my head solidly around the fact that life is a journey and not a destination like we’ve heard so many times (and didn’t bother applying) I think it will all be ok… ;)

Hugs! (((((((((((((community hug))))))))))))))))
Karen :)

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~Plato


I think I am OK today

Of course, the day has barely begun. I’ll give it some time. :)

Mom died Dec.24, 2001. I have not enjoyed Christmas that much, her birthdays are usually terrible and Mother’s Day has started to become as distant as Father’s Day having also lost him when I was 5. Every other day in between, I have felt her with me throughout the day. I have cried maybe 100,000 tears over her death as she was truly my best friend.
This morning I am teary thinking of her, but it’s more like when I am just touched by lovely thoughts. After all these years, I am feeling a shift. I say it’s a shift because I don’t know that it’s a final place for me to settle, I may break down tomorrow, who knows. The shift is from exhaling. When I breathe deeply and ask to be used for a greater purpose, I feel a wind come up underneath me and carry me somewhere. When I try to grab onto something nailed down, I stay there and cry.


(Mom and my Neice)

I am starting to view my Mother differently. I look back at her life and she most certainly fulfilled a great purpose. I am beginning to try and view her as her own unique spirit outside of being my Mother. There is a great sense of ownership and pride when you call someone your Mother, but when you minus that title and begin to search for who they were on a bigger scale, the admiration shifts. I am thinking about everything she accomplished and why she was doing it all.

Mom was a big advocate of forgiveness and love. She desperately wanted people to heal from their hurt. Mom was very spiritual but never imposed her beliefs, she simply lived them. Anyone who knew her wanted to be near her. Even though she was a pretty lady, she was one of the most popular people at social functions because she was a positive magnet pulling in so many people because people loved her, felt safe around her, looked to her for advice and encouragement and all of us knew you would never find one ounce of judgment or anger from her.

Mom didn’t take glory very well, she gave it all to God. She kept a prayer jar which had hundreds of names in it. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, this woman was motivated by something bigger than her and there is a big lesson I am taking from it. The lesson is that it simply is not all about me.

So while her death sits very fresh in my mind, she had her time here and she invested in many people with an unwavering love and devotion that would be in my mind, absolutely criminal to ignore. The best tribute I can pay to her is to not let the lessons she instilled in me go to waste. She would not want me angry at anyone. She would not want me to be part of some revolt or uprising. She would hope that I would spend my time here the way she spent her time; being a good steward, showing people love and trying to be open to where the earth needs me. I have struggled with this, but if she could speak to me, I am very certain she would tell me to find my purpose as an individual but keep my eyes open to where I need to be. Crying over her is natural, but feeling sorry for myself could potentially be a slap in her face to everything she worked so hard to do! It would be like your parents planting a bunch of trees that took 30 years to grow and fill up their yard and after they die, you walk in and clear the whole lot.

Perhaps you have lost your Mother, Grandmother, Father or Grandfather. Did they live with a greater purpose than any one of those titles? Did you ever know them outside of being that to you? What would they want you to be concentrating on now? Are you able to do this?

I find it difficult, no doubt. My attempts are futile sometimes. But there is a great big world that needs the love, compassion and her lessons. I am no teacher, but I can be a good friend. I can move through this life being extremely cautious of the negative groups and movements that tempt me into attending more anger-related activities or I can keep my eye on my greater purpose and perhaps leave the world the way she did knowing I did everything I could to promote healing.

Of course, it is still morning. I could fall to pieces by midnight tonight and turn back into a pumpkin again for Monday morning. ;)

Happy Sunday my friends!
Karen :)

"No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself." ~Denis Waitley


The Motive Behind My Madness

Growing up, I experienced my share of sibling rivalry. Competition between children kind of comes naturally and it’s up to the parents to teach a fine balance. We are taught by society to "fend for ourselves" and when you look at thousands of years of nature, you will see that competition is how many species have survived.

But if we zoom out far enough, you may notice that nature as a large whole, isn’t really that competitive like we see in a quick National Geographic show about one species, rather nature is a well-oiled machine that is harmonious. Everything you can think of relies on something else whether that is the food chain, the weather, plant life, you name it.

I believe in slotting myself into nature and how it works. I have probably had one third of my life in a very self-centered state where I had the attitude, "I am looking out for Number One…screw everyone else." I think in looking back, I had to do a bit of that in order to progress just because I was a doormat for too many people at one time. But now, it would be nice to see everyone happy. (insert the "you can’t please everyone all the time" quote if you must)

Of course, I want to succeed at certain things in my life, I think we all have our goals, dreams and ambitions, but we are being overfed on this mentality to the point where we all have conflicting goals, dreams and ambitions that do not work harmoniously with others around us.
I’ll let you in on a secret about me that I haven’t really shared before (not because it’s earth-shattering though….lol)

I have had a very difficult time in my career/relationships being myself because anytime I have done well, someone around me is threatened. This happened when I was the boss, this happened when I was working with co-workers, this happened on tours, this happened in the studio, this happened working with or producing other artists. This happened at BBQs, family functions…just everywhere. I have always had to downplay what I am doing because someone with an insecurity who feels crappy about what is going on in their life didn’t want to hear about something good going on with me. I blame my crappy grades in elementary school from not wanting to do too well on a test or you’d get picked on. A friend recently shared with me how he would turn his paper over if it had a high grade so insecure students wouldn’t feel badly about themselves. But you know the weirdest part of insecurity? You don’t want to hear about people doing well around you, but you ASK THEM ANYWAYS! It’s the most bizarre thing in the world.

Now, my nature is ALWAYS to be interested in others, because I simply adore people. But my reaction to someone else’s insecurity is generally to just downplay what I am doing. I have unfortunately stopped making music at some points in my life because someone near me feels better when I am at their level (misery loves company quote….)

The secret is that the real reason I started an online community was to try and combat this ‘Me Society’ that has been ruining us for quite a few generations now. I was so sick of artists just saying "Look at me" and I was sick of people being threatened by them to the point of their inadequacy forcing a depression. Some of my own depression came from having to dumb down everything I knew I was good at.

What I have always been hoping from with a community like ours is to have a deep core of the word "encouragement" where we could get everyone back on the same level again. Please don’t mistake this for me suggesting you have to dumb things down. I don’t mean this in your personal growth, I mean this as human beings. It saddened me that in the past, I haven’t been able to personally be the artist I wanted to be, I hate that I couldn’t share the art with people so they wouldn’t feel threatened (sorry if that in ANY way comes off condescending but…) but more so, on the flip side, I HATE that there are literally millions of people out there who in feeling so sad and inadequate don’t want others around them to do well. By the way, I also have a secret motive to get rid of the phrase, "check out MY______" (insert whatever song title is currently in your comments section) ;) It’s not that I don’t want to see what you are doing, but shameless self-promotion just comes off rough… I challenge you to ditch it from your vocabulary. :) Overall, I am sad when we can’t function like nature. I am sad when we can’t realize we ARE part of nature!

We ALL have a gift. (love him or hate him, Mr. Rogers was correct; we ARE all special…I don’t believe that is earned, it’s just encouraged!) If you think being special is something you have to earn, I believe that is why we are failing as a society. If all we are meant to do is earn the "special" title, we are simply surviving and not really living. A Job is something we work at. A Career is something we earn. But being special IS a gift that simply needs to be recognized and explored as a good starting point! Your fingerprint is unlike anyone else. Your DNA is yours! Pretty cool, huh? I don’t think that should bring on a lazy attitude like you don’t have to work, it’s just good to know that there is nobody else like you! It’s why I love meeting people! What we do with our unique brand and how we can contribute to the bigger purpose of the world’s existence is up to us individually. (yup, we have to share the world, crazy thought, huh?) It’s up to us to slot ourselves into the well-oiled machine nature originally intended.

It’s not always American Idol or I Can Dream (oh, don’t get me started there) but we all have gifts and talents. We should not only be able to express them openly, but feel safe in a COMMUNITY, not ME SOCIETY where we can grow as human beings! This is why I started this thing 4 years ago. It’s the same mentality that goes into the two Musician sites I am involved in. We CAN grow together as the human race. Someone else doing well doesn’t have to mean you don’t do well!

Nature reminds me that if we give and take equally, the cycle functions. But what doesn’t seem to work is selfishness or insecurity.

I think those two could be the opposite of each other, but for the most part may go hand in hand. I’ve been both.

Is it that hard to want what is best for each other? Or have we been way too burned to even raise a finger to care? Please understand, I have been really burned and my middle name was bitterness for again approx one third of my existence so don’t think I don’t get it, I really feel your pain!

And if you currently don’t want what is best for people around you, I guess my question is, how can we get you turned around? ;) Because you know, this world desperately needs you in the cycle!

Community; one of the craziest concepts, right? Lol

Love you tons and tons!
Karen :)

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." ~John Lubbock


International Ass-Kicking Weekend!

Our friend Larry and I were talking about starting a petition to make this a National Holiday (we’ll start there, then attempt to make it International) :)
We were discussing how hard we can be on ourselves. It’s kinda crazy how we beat ourselves up emotionally and kick our asses from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed and it even affects our dream sequences.

This isn’t the kind of ass-kicking where you go to the gym, go running or get yourself motivated. This is the kind where you begin tearing down your body and soul. Most people know it as Depression and we tend to do it very gradually over a period of time. My Doctor described Depression as water emptying from a bath tub. You notice it going down over time, you don’t worry too much because there is still some water, but at the end, it drains really quickly and you can’t get the plug in fast enough.

Larry expressed it as "ruthless self-analysis" which if you are generally happy and functional is ok to do to better oneself, but when it makes you feel like you were beat up in an alley, there’s a large problem. So, we decided it might be good just to designate a weekend to this ruthless self-analysis. It might be good to all go away just for the weekend with the intent of kicking our ass good and hard, feel perfectly sorry for ourselves, cry if we need to, flail around a lot, mope if needed and then leave it there.

Now obviously, what I got from this was a good little laugh. Depression is not to be taken lightly I know, but laugh we must, ‘cause geeze…life is funny, really…

Basically you take all the basic steps (like you see in the grieving process) and just do it as efficiently as you can and hyper speed the healing. ;) I think any of us who have been through Depression are very familiar with what we're going through, it's just trying to get a hold of it!
Hope you are having a good laugh…put on a good comedy if you need to!

Much love on yas!!!
Karen :)

"A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles." ~Mignon McLaughlin