Are you waiting for others to change?

Have you ever sat in therapy or with a counselor…even in a friend’s living room and they dispensed some really great advice or just said something remarkable and you found yourself saying, “Yeah, well tell that to__________” (insert boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, child, teacher or politician’s name)?

I had a really good habit of doing it most of my life. I’m still not completely over it, but my realization of what is wrong with that is assisting me in moving forward in strides now as opposed to the baby steps or even backward movement I was experiencing before.

In my assessment, my blame was probably put in the right place. The people who abused me WERE in the wrong. You won’t hear me stick up for them. The assaults against me WERE wrong. You won’t hear me defend those who did it. However, the sentence has rendered itself completely useless in my vocabulary. I can’t ever remember a friend responding by saying, “Yes let’s call them up and tell them.” It’s just banter that happens between friends or in therapy.

I believe the point of the sentence is to alleviate our own grief or guilt whether warranted or not. We’re basically saying, “I’m not the problem, they are.” Once again, let me establish they very well may be the problem indeed! The issue I see is that the sentence puts all potential progress at a standstill where it can either rot or fester. The deterioration of our character is sure to follow, at least for me it did.

The sentence stopped me from zooming out. When I think of the word perspective, I always think of my Father who built his own airplanes. He used to say, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll never see it from thousands of feet.” I believe he said it in relation to the blemishes on our lives. We quite often are so zoomed in on something, we don’t know how to back off a bit. I remember the first hair salon I worked in, my boss called me over during a haircut and pointed back at my client. The bottom line of the hair was slightly crooked. She said, “When you make a cut, take a few steps back and do a quick assessment.” She taught me perspective.

When I zoom out on the people who I believe own the blame, I realize that the farther you zoom out, the clearer the picture. You start to see the inherited or environmental problems people have. You start to see where their baggage came from. You begin to see that their actions are a direct result of something much bigger. When someone snaps at you it may be because they are still dealing with childhood abuse or damage. So, saying something like, “Yeah, well tell that to__________” is not going to change them or their actions. If they were TOLD to do stuff their whole life and were never TAUGHT to make decisions and choices, you telling them isn’t going to work either. The foundation we established from childhood tends to be the determining factor in how long the building stays up. How well we were raised can have absolutely nothing to do with our poor adult choices or it can have everything to do with them. The point is, we simply DON’T KNOW.

My next instinct after getting over this hurdle was to say, “Well, screw them, I can’t change them.” What generally and sadly…and truthfully happens to those people is they get thrown into a bin of people who cannot be changed. We use phrases like, “yeah well the world is a tough place” or “too bad, they aren’t my problem” or “life’s a bitch, that’s the reality”.

There are cases where we cannot change people. It can be argued that nobody can change anybody. But this fact has been overused about as much as pop music has been overplayed. How do we graduate to a higher level of humanity and move onto something greater than ourselves? For me, it’s been the word forgiveness. You’ll hear me say, “I don’t have to date them, marry them, hang out with them, go for drinks with them” a lot. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean you are relieving them or rewarding them but it does mean you have graduated to a higher level of being the bigger person and have learned what taking the high road makes you capable of accomplishing. It means you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. It means you can come to at least the consensus that they are very, very messed up and therefore their mean spirit was cooked up in a lab somewhere or they seriously just don’t know what they are doing or have done to you. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and where we were dropped on the earth gave a bad start.

I’ve also been learning that there are synonyms you won’t find in a book. Depression can come out as anger. Jealousy can be disguised as hate. Abuse can be lack of control. I know it’s so hard to zoom out on these people we wish could change, but I feel so very triumphant when the love I show can turn someone around. We don’t have to view love as mushy and weak. Love outside of the current media portrayal is a prevailing force stronger than anything. It flies in under the radar sometimes while other times it smacks you directly and humbles you to an apple high. It should at the very least be our first line of defense and attack…and at the very most; it should be overwhelming our arsenal to assist in the healing our families and friends need so desperately.

Oh by the way, my initial question, “Are you waiting for others to change?” I don’t think anyone will admit that is what they are doing when they are doing it. I sincerely don’t expect a “yes” from anyone.

Rest assured though, I believe if we aren’t willing to change ourselves or our situation…it’s EXACTLY what we are doing. ;)

MUCH love on ya!!!
Karen :)

“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


I can’t find THE ONE!!!

If you’ve been around our community long enough, you may have recalled me saying in Grade 6 (we say it that way in Canada) I had my first real crush. In the previous year, I had the popular boy in school crushing on me. His name was Josh and he kicked my ass in the playground when I told him he was gross. But then somewhere along the way, I decided that Todd looked pretty good to me. Todd was in Grade 7 which at our school was a big difference from 6. Grade 7 & 8 were the senior kids, so they really didn’t want anything to do with the rest of us. Well long story made short, Todd dated this girl Dana and I was dog meat.

All my crushes from then on (no matter who it was) stopped me from getting work done. My grades suffered because of the daydreaming, my social life was all about if the person I liked was going to be there. I styled my hair and wore the clothes the girls around me did if I thought they were having better luck than me. I turned down certain jobs if I thought I’d be seen and it could ruin my chance with someone. My thoughts of finding love (even in a shallow form) took over.

Fast forward to my adult years where relationship troubles were at the forefront of all my days and all my thoughts... I have always worked really hard and have accelerated my career despite this but I can’t help but think about how life could be if I had set my priorities straight early on. Of course, I have no real desire to change my past now. I like who I am and all that and I don’t dwell on these things too often except when someone says to me, “I can’t find THE ONE!”

(we’ll save the blog on ‘the one that got away’ for another time perhaps) ;)

It’s a funny phrase you know. I immediately understand it when I hear it, but I am bothered by a few things. The phrase itself feels emphatically anxious as though a single moment of time cannot pass until this person (albeit imaginary) is found! It reminds me of when someone loses a contact lens and is down on hands and knees patting the floor in a blind stupor. I don’t mean for this to come off as insulting because like I said it’s a funny phrase, not a bad one.

It’s funny not in a haha way, but more peculiar. It’s bizarre that we should devote the energy, it’s crazy that we should place it so high on the priority list and it feels so extreme that we should feel exhausted by such a hunt and yet, we do it anyways.

There are so many reasons why I think we do this. Loneliness could be one, envy of relationships around us could be another, but there is something so lovely about being around someone who makes us feel rapture and I believe this may be the larger point to its origin.

But anyone who has ever felt this ecstasy in its celestial form will most likely tell you they didn’t go looking for it. (which if you want 'magical', it's probably the only way you're gonna have it)

While I adore the film, Serendipity and feel all cozy about its concept, I feel like this rapturous love affair is a speck on the surface of a bigger, much deeper plan.
It’s pretty amazing that we have this unique ability to be in love, to feel love, to fall in love and it could be argued that is what life is all about because it is so wonderful. But what if there’s more? What if each of us has a bigger job, higher calling, greater purpose than we could ever know? What if all these years of staring out a window dreaming of love while ignoring the teacher has become a wicked distraction working against the true calling?

Let me bring down the drama for a second….lol! What if you had the ability to gather up all the moments in your life where you were obsessing over finding THE ONE? Let’s say you put them in a jar (mine is more like a glass dome….) and you could convert those moments into an energy that contributed towards you making a real difference in someone’s life or even more practically speaking, simply furthering your character and journey towards your greater purpose here. I did that when I quit smoking years ago. I put my smoke money in a jar…very eye-opening especially in Ontario during a time when tobacco tax was at an all-time high! So how do we do it with our own thoughts?

Then there is the bitter pill that some of us are not interested in swallowing; What if you are supposed to be by yourself for this time because some task/job/purpose is waiting for you? Or maybe simply, you are supposed to be alone for some other reason?
Being alone has a terrible connotation in today’s society. We feel pressure from friends and family to get married, have children…but what if that simply is not what is meant for us? What if we shoved this food down our throats when our stomach was rejecting it?

The one thing about people who are alone is that if they are not depressed or anxious in any way, they can get a ton of stuff done! You can be quite available if you are alert and ready for the tasks in front of you!

For many years, I had a large knot in my neck. You know the kind like when you slept on it wrong? The knot was not real though. It was a knot where if you turn your head from any other position than what you are used to, you feel a stab. So, if you are bummed out, depressed, anxious or lonely and you are used to looking out a window, your neck conforms to the direction. As soon as something good for us comes into our peripheral vision, it acts like whiplash because we have no idea how to add something unique into our perspective.

Many of us do that who are used to looking out the window, longing for something or someone. Many of us who have been shut away inside long enough need darker sun glasses to go outside so the sun doesn’t burn.

But, like any habit worth breaking…if we begin to exercise the neck and tell it to change direction, we can loosen this knot. It feels stiff and sore at first, but the new direction is breath-taking. There is something out there for each and every one of us if we would only just pay attention…and GIVE it our attention.

I never thought there was a world outside my own head…pretty crazy to think my new direction didn’t actually break my neck. Why was I so scared back then?

Keep your eyes open and your heart free!
Karen :)

I have posted this before and think it’s worth posting again;

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.
So when you’re riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind.
Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.
Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.
Wake Up and Live!”
~Bob Marley


Are you being too nice?

Do you ever feel like;
“Whenever I am nice, I get burned.”?
I've been trying this;
Be nice, run away quickly & don’t look back to see what just happened.

Or is this you?;
“I show love, they don’t give it back.”
Show love, run away quickly & don’t look back to see what just happened.

Or how about;
“I try to tell someone something, but they won’t listen.”
Do what you can, run away quickly… and...you get the point.

The reason for my response is because for me, I have been trying to figure out why I need their response to be different. In some of my cases, I was trying to control. In some cases, I was hurt by them.

Sometimes I was exhausted that my energy had been dispersed but in other times, I felt betrayed.

I am by nature a justice-seeker, so I had the tendency to be mad when something wasn’t reciprocated.

Is there such a thing as being too nice? Hmmm, I do know there is too mean…but not too nice.

Mom used to say planting niceness and showing love was like a mustard seed. They are known for lying dormant for years and then just decide to grow one day. The idea is you may plant a nice hello or show love and that could grow in minutes, days, hours or even years. Most things with me have taken years to marinate on account of having my judgment clouded at the time, was too physically exhausted to hear kindness or just didn’t notice because of depression or stress. What I am trying to do now is realize that there is ALWAYS a reason why someone won’t take my kindness and it’s usually due to something extraordinarily sad in their life. Therefore, it’s best not to compromise my character and since when is it my job to teach anyone a lesson? Plus, I am seeing a real need these days to start cutting each other a bit more slack.

I feel very fulfilled when I can look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything within the true nature of my character to interact with others in a loving way. Is it hard? YES! Sometimes you wanna smack someone. But I wage that most of the people who have needed a good smack in my life, were smacked very early on and their numbness won’t take the lesson anyways.

I would also bet most people haven’t the foggiest idea how to receive love. Knowing that, I can take their negative reaction and chalk it up to confusion instead. ‘Oh, they must not know what kindness is, that’s cool, I will try again tomorrow.’

The people in my life who have had the most significant impact on me were the ones who didn’t give up on me EVEN when I treated them so terribly. I am humbled by those people. I almost can’t look at them in the eyes when I see them and there are a few who I wouldn’t know where to begin. I would just say thank you and hope to improve my character into someone who can impact someone else the same way.

The reason I say, “Show love, run away quickly & don’t look back to see what just happened.” is because it focuses what I do on my motivation and not on the response I may or may not get. It keeps my mind focused on giving love unconditionally where I used to have a laundry list of conditions on love.

My experience of truth is, if love doesn’t have the word unconditional in front of it, it’s not love. It’s a different word.

Love used to be puppy love, high school sweethearts, crushes, dinner and movies…
I realize now love is meant to be given as a free gift. You don’t even have to stay in the room…you can grab your bag quickly and go enjoy the sport’s game on TV or work on music.

I am trying to not allow my disappointment in others ruin a good night of screaming guitars and string arrangements. If I stew over whether or not I was burned, if I got something back or didn’t get the ear of someone out there, I missed both my creative time and even bigger, missed the point of what it means to give.

And if you feel like you have nothing left to give, maybe it’s time to fill up your spirit again. But that also means running away quickly and finding someone good who you can use to fill your tank. :)

Much love on you!
Karen :)

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” ~Saint Basil


Are you just being Paranoid?

In our formative years, I wished they taught ONE class on basic life skills too; how to write a check, how to construct a letter, how to open your bank account, how to change a tire…

A class on problem-solving (not just math) would be worthwhile.

I wish one class was dedicated to relationships; love, courtesy, forgiveness, compassion, communication, good manners, good listening and how to allow others to save face.

There is a skill set in moving on. I wished they taught that too. There should have been a class in school; the Art of Moving On. :) It's like we all seem to survive our hell and then we can't deal with the life afterwards. I however don’t think survival is taught, we just react like animals and run for cover. The only difference is an animal will escape something, go for cover, wait for safety and then reemerge like it didn’t happen. We on the other hand, carry this baggage around with us and get emotional about it.

Knowing what to do after being burned should be systematic and not so emotional, but it isn’t. We seem to enter a paranoia phase where our mind starts making up potential scenarios of what could happen and skews its own reality.

Something I learned to combat this was to count my blessings and do a reality check. We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s always somebody worse off than you.” Even though it’s the last thing you want to hear when you are in pain, it’s simply true. I don’t bring it up to deplete anyone’s pain, because my hope is for everyone to be happy. But if you are living in a crappy apartment, there is someone living under a bridge. If you hate your assembly line work, there is someone unemployed. If you are in a loveless marriage, there is someone who was kidnapped and forced into slavery. If you hate taking the bus, someone is walking to school in bad weather.

But it wasn’t enough to do this reality check; I also had to look at what was good around me. Friends, family, pets, hiking, and of course tea were there.

The simple things in life have become overshadowed by worldly items to the point where if we don’t have them, our entire world is bad! But how can we ever get back to thinking the simple things are important again? We keep wondering how to move on from our hell when perhaps it’s in moving back!

For me, I moved back to childhood where my happiness was tried, tested and true. I returned to my silliness, my art, my creativity, my writing. (outside of blogging, I have stacks and stacks and stacks of poetry, song-writing, stories and garble which I simply do for the fun of it) Even though I believe children’s childhoods are currently being stolen from them (and children are being completely deceived by thinking things equate to happiness) my own childhood rocked…and funny enough was about rocks. :) There was long grass and fields, rocks and trees, flowers and ditches, ponds and cricks, animals and clouds…and those haven’t gone away. Even if you live in the city, you can travel a small distance to find them even for a visit. If you are an artist, you can create it even in your own home!

But then, the paranoia seeps in and the negativity rules supreme. It should be simple; you survived hell, now build your heaven. You are blessed, you are special and unique…you do have the capability to move on by returning to yourself again.

While I am sure many people are sad by not having the affection of others, I am more certain that when we lose touch with our inner child, our true suffering, paranoia and inability to move on becomes stagnate.

The one thing I have learned from animals is they just know what they are. Sure, they suffer abuse, their personalities become compromised because of it and require rehab just like us, but they move on better than we do. Children are more resilient than we are too! (and fearless) Think of all the dangerous exploring you did as a child (because you didn’t know better maybe) yes it is good to have some fear to protect ourselves, but being delusional and paranoid isn’t at all helpful.

I have found it’s best to just stare reality in the face and then go through the appropriate steps. Making up potential scenarios that cause inaction are not good for our journey. How can you walk when your feet are frozen, right?

But once we are truly ready to move on and the danger has passed, how is paranoia going to help? It just doesn’t. Caution? Yes. But I would hope we could be cautious about something real and not just made-up in our own mind.

I have been diligently trying to keep my imagination for art, music and writing. That is the child-like state. :)

Hope you do something today consistent with your inner child and channel your paranoia into action!

ROCK ON my friends!
Karen :)

To me, one of the most beautiful quotes I have seen;

“You cannot catch a child's spirit by running after it; you must stand still and for love it will soon itself return.” ~Arthur Miller


I am afraid I am not a very good leader

Oh it’s one of those entries where someone’s going to think I’m being pompous, I shall go clear out the comments and emails and get their dinner ready for them. :)

Today, someone thanked me for being a good leader. I’ve had many refer to me this way. Well seriously, what is a person supposed to say in response to that? If you are indeed a good leader, I suppose you just thank them and move along. If you are a bad leader (and you just so happen to know it) you may apologize for being crappy, although your humility and apologies may suggest you are a good leader. While I understand that leadership doesn’t require a degree or even a spotlight role, but an ability to lead and yadda yadda yadda, I quite genuinely do not view myself as one. I suppose we all possess a certain amount of leadership skill. Moms & Dads need to lead children, teachers need to teach etc. I also understand that having been through a bit more crap in one’s life could potentially assist in qualifying as a good leader someday.

I think I don’t view myself as one because of a few things. I’m not scared of the responsibility of what that could mean, I might just be too lazy for the title. Ha! My life to date has been terribly dysfunctional. I wouldn’t suggest taking my lead on any of my choices to date. I write ugly dark music, I wear weird clothes on occasion and I have the worst potty mouth you’ve ever heard. If you were to do a background check, you’d never suggest me for a political position and I’m probably not the best person to speak at some inspirational conference. And yet, true friends and lovely souls don’t care about one’s past. Friends are lovely and merciful.

For the very reason that friends are so forgiving of me, so accepting of my flaws and embrace me into a larger circle, I can’t possibly think of myself as a leader. I’ve also mentioned hating the word “fan” as I find it insulting and sort of demeaning to a listener. I would hope that everyone here is everyone’s friend. That doesn’t mean we’ll exchange phone numbers or go for drinks on Sat night, but it does mean we have all individually slotted ourselves into a bigger picture and I prefer art that way…inclusive, loving, tolerant and forgiving.

I enjoy sharing my honest thoughts with everyone here in the hopes I can help out a bit and continue to learn from all of you as well. It’s absolutely terrifying to me to hear someone call me a rock star or “some Hollywood chick”. (Considering I am Canadian and have shoveled snow for 5 lifetimes)I have worked very hard and have continued to say no to management, labels, agencies and scouts because I am simply a girl who likes to make music and art. It wasn’t me who set up the industry how it’s been depicted these days, but all of us can quit deifying artists and calling them rock stars and just start talking to each other like normal human beings again…because anything outside of that just makes me queasy.

Have you ever looked at a band you are a fan of? Let me take Deep Purple for instance. For most of my life I considered myself a fan of them. Then one day I saw an interview with them where they seemed a bit more vulnerable. I remember thinking, “Hmmmm, Ian’s really just some guy making his way in the world,” and I cut the apron string. I continue to love Deep Purple, but it’s just a respect for their music. I am ever so thankful they gave me noise to crank really loudly, but I am no more thankful of their art than I am of someone who brings me cookies. (well, I could be a bigger fan of chocolate than Deep Purple, it’s pretty close) If I ever met Ian, even though I consider him in my list of top male vocalists, I’d like to think I could just have the same dynamic of meeting a waitress at a restaurant… I certainly wouldn’t swoon and beg for a photo.

The truth is that while some rock stars are driven by ego, many I have met in Hollywood are pretty normal and aren’t very comfortable with someone acting outside of the norm while around them especially since many of them had fame dropped on them, so few worked for it. So imagine you accidentally wrote a top 40 song and then look at how you go from 0 to 100 and you don’t know who your friends are and can’t find anyone to just sip tea with who doesn’t want something from you.

My point in my blithering here is that I have spent a great deal of my life extraordinarily lonely without any skills to lead anyone else far less myself. I bet you will find 20 other people or more in these blog responses who could give you better advice than me and who are emotionally more stable than I have been and yet, they may just have a generic picture and a few friends on their profile.

I am comfortable with myself, not depressed anymore and am enjoying life a lot, but a good leader is a title better left for those people who won’t disappoint you with their infrequent responses or shoddy advice. ;) If you have been through a severe depression, you will know all too well how much you simply strive for peace of mind. If your life has been beyond hell, you will probably just absorb through osmosis what I am trying to say.

Those of us who have faced tragedy understand the need to just chill out with tea. My life has become pretty plain and it’s wonderful. I save my insanity for art and music. lol
If you have been striving for a peaceful mindset, you’ll get it when I say, it’s really all I want. I do love my friends here.

Much love on ya!
Karen :)

“I don't have people following me around, like bodyguards. I don't know how people live like that. Maybe the young movie stars have to live like that, I don't know. But it seems a little crazy to me. I don't think you need all that stuff.” ~Anthony Hopkins