Who is your Superhero?

Some of the blog and article below are in my Video Blog;

Loved this article;

Award to Artist Who Gives Slums a Human Face

It’s not common for important philanthropic prizes to go to people whose work involves criminal trespass and who make statements like the following: “You never know who’s part of the police and who’s not.”

But the TED conference, the California lecture series named for its roots in technology, entertainment and design, said on Tuesday that it planned to give its annual $100,000 prize for 2011 — awarded in the past to figures like Bill Clinton, Bono and the biologist E. O. Wilson — to the Parisian street artist known as J R, a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself by plastering colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods around the world. The images usually extol local residents, to whom he has become a Robin Hood-like hero.

For most recipients, the value of the six-year-old award has less to do with the money than with the opportunity it grants the winner to make a “wish”: to devote the funds to a humanitarian project that will almost inevitably draw donations and other help from the organization’s corporate partners and influential supporters. The chef Jamie Oliver, the 2010 prize winner, recently proposed setting up an international effort to further his campaign against obesity; Mr. Clinton’s wish has channeled significant resources toward the creation of a rural health system in Rwanda.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday morning on a bus in Shanghai, where he was headed to work on a largely unauthorized photo-pasting project to draw attention to the city’s demolition of historic neighborhoods, J R said that he had learned of the prize only two weeks ago and that he had not yet had time to think of a wish.

But he said that it would undoubtedly involve his kind of guerrilla art, which he has been creating with the help of volunteers in slums in Brazil, Cambodia and Kenya — where the outsize photographs, printed on waterproof vinyl, doubled as new roofs for ramshackle houses. “I’m kind of stunned,” he said of the prize. “I’ve never applied for an award in my life and didn’t know that somebody had nominated me for this.”

At a time when street art is being embraced not only by the art world but also by branding interests, J R, who dislikes being called a street artist, preferring the term “photograffeur” (graffeur is French for graffiti artist) has become known for rejecting corporate sponsorship offers and other outside help. He said that he reinvested most of the money he makes by selling his art in galleries and at auction — one piece went for more than $35,000 at Sotheby’s in 2009 — into creating more ambitious projects, and that he would use the TED prize money for the same purpose.

“If there’s one thing I’ve always taken care of with my work, it’s that it’s never an advertisement for anything other than the work itself and for the people it’s about — no ‘Coca-Cola presents,’ ” he said, speaking in English. “I think the TED people knew that that was one of my main concerns, and I feel pretty sure that we can come up with a project that works that way.”

Amy Novogratz, the director of the prize, said that picking an artist like JR — he is 27 and fiercely protective of his anonymity, identifying himself only by his initials — was an unusual choice but that the prize committee felt that his work could “catalyze the whole TED community” to support an art-centered philanthropic project, which will be announced at the organization’s next conference in March.

“One of my concerns at first was that he wasn’t going to be accessible or available, which could be off-putting when you’re trying to get partners to get excited about a project,” she added. And, in fact, the first time prize officials had a Skype conversation with the artist, he appeared in sunglasses with a hat pulled low over his forehead.
“But then he said, ‘You know, I trust you guys,’ and he took them off,” Ms. Novogratz said, “and we just had a regular old conversation.”

During the interview on Wednesday morning, J R said that he had not been nearly as trusting of Chinese officials, as he and a crew of helpers erect towering pictures of elderly Shanghai residents on the walls of a neighborhood that is now more than three-quarters demolished.

“I keep thinking we are going to get into trouble,” he said, adding that anyone he talks to might be an undercover police officer. But then he described an illegal act: pasting a 20-foot-tall wrinkled face around the facade of an old water tower he spotted from the highway.

“We went into the building next door, and it was empty, and we went up to the tower, and nobody stopped us, so we just started working,” he said. “It’s crazy. This city is so huge and overgrown, the more you’re in the middle of things, the more you feel transparent.”

How can our talents best serve our communities? Do we require the recognition? Do we know how to be fulfilled by just knowing we did some good or do we need everyone to know we did it? What about the people who have mentored us as individuals? Is there someone you can mentor?

Can you be a modern day superhero? The kind which doesn’t require the spotlight…

Painting moustaches on Hollywood billboards…mostly because I am a BRAT!
Karen :)

“We rely upon artists to articulate what most of us can only feel in joy and sorrow. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They will give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resilience to push on.” ~Helen Hayes


What Mask Do You Wear?

This video has some of the blog plus me just going on and on and on.... ;)

Today is Devil’s Night or Hell’s Night. It is attributed mostly to Detroit in the 70s through the 90s where there was an escalation of arson and crime, but it goes back to the 30s. Isn’t it crazy to celebrate crime? It was pretty cool how Detroit got together in a neighborhood watch and cut the crime in half. Apparently up in Saginaw though, there has been an increase. One year 42 houses were set ablaze.

I will probably curl up with the Crow tonight. There’s someone who cut down the crime rate. (of course, lots of casualties along the way…lol) It has the best Devil’s Night scene in it. If you guys are going to watch the Crow, may I suggest watching the 4 part James O’Barr interview before hand? Knowing the author’s background gives a brand new dimension to an already classic film. I’ve heard people say it’s a violent film which induces violence, but to me it’s a love story. If you simply think it’s about being a vigilante who is hell-bent on revenge, it’s so much more than that and I am sure the O’Barr interview will give the insight.

I am not going anywhere this weekend. Los Angeles as I have mentioned has a very high rate of drunk drivers on the road. Because the city is so spread out, it takes people a long time to get somewhere. They either can’t get a cab or they can’t afford the cab fare. Well, then, plan to drink at home if you must, or crash a spare bedroom at a party…whatever you gotta do. It’s just so important you don’t get behind the wheel of a car tonight. YOU ARE WAY MORE INTOXICATED THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE! I PROMISE YOU!
I do love Halloween though. I love that people can dress up and become someone else for the weekend. I do like dressing up, although I don’t have kids come to my apartment, so I don’t see the point this year.

What I do love though, this is a weekend where nobody has me doing work for them and phones don’t ring. YAY! I like when Los Angeles just shuts down over Christmas too. It means we all have an excuse to not work!

Halloween tends to add some color to a colorless world. Everyone works very hard and so it’s cool to play dress-up. We did it as kids too. If you are a child just playing or an adult having fun, it’s all good.

The phrase, ‘What mask do you wear?’ popped in my mind today. I was thinking about the people we pretend to be on a daily basis. The character we choose who gets us through the grind. Sometimes the mask is a subservient wife, a silent child or a robot husband.

I think being a zombie is a popular costume. Being a zombie is the state of numb. You simply move ahead in life finding food, working, driving… I see zombies every single day. (That’s not like ‘I see dead people’, but close perhaps)

Behind the mask of the wife, child and husband are usually more masks. The subservient wife has another mask which is the zombie. She goes from the washer to the dryer to the kitchen to the bedroom to the store, back home showing little or no emotion. The silent child has a zombie’s mask on too underneath. He stays in his bedroom, listens to music and watches movies saying nothing to nobody. The robot husband jumps in the shower, goes to work, comes home and cracks a beer and has no clue what happened in his day.

These masks are covering up bigger monsters. Some monsters lurk underneath for many years, lying dormant, gaining strength and waiting to explode. Something may set them off and they go into massive destructive mode flattening everything around them. Nobody sees them coming because they are hidden well or they hide it well.

I had to peel off the layers one at a time. I had so much anger and frustration building and didn’t want to show anyone. Had I just ripped them all off at once, it would have exposed one ugly, sleeping giant.

Halloween should be the only time we pretend to be someone else (unless we are just playing or acting) yet, every day we are pretending to be something that doesn’t make for a fun costume. These masks are hiding our true spirit, not enhancing it.

How many masks do you wear and do you plan on removing them? Are you concerned it’s going to be too ugly underneath? What is silencing you? What has stolen your spirit?
How can we get it back?

For me, I had to deal with one layer on each mask at any one time. I also had to give myself permission to do that. I would celebrate the baby steps of digging down to the roots.

Setting fire to my own masks… not the neighborhood,
Karen :)

“Is that gasoline I smell?’ ~Eric Draven from The Crow


Do you Lack Motivation?

This Video Blog contains some of what is written below plus some typical Karen blithering... ;)

An email I received;
“I kinda hoped you might be able to help me, There are so many things I would like to do, but I always feel I lack the motivation. I'm not very independent, I tend to rely on others a lot, and I hate doing anything alone, I always feel as though I have millions of eyes on me at all times, and it makes me uncomfortable. I've always tried to fade into the background my whole life, and hate any kind of attention, I’m not very confident around people that I don't know, I even get uncomfortable being left in a room alone with my fiancé’s dad! lol I never know what to say! lol. I met my fiancé online, so I found it easy to speak openly as we weren't face to face, and by the time we actually met I already knew so much about him so there weren't any reasons to be awkward around him... although I was really scared to kiss him, I think he visited me twice before I actually kissed him, and then when it happened I wasn't expecting it, I didn't have time to back out! lol I really want to get out of this frame of mind and find the determination to follow my dreams..... I don't really know where to start though...”

I wouldn’t consider myself a Dear Abby. I have no psychology background unless you count having to deal with psychotic stalkers its own degree. Lol

I felt like she was emailing me as a friend, …but I won’t act like I have all the answers. I’m not qualified to be a therapist. I’ll just try and answer from experience and if any of you out there want to chime in, I would welcome responses and thoughts too. ;)
I wish there was an answer for this. How do you make someone motivated that isn’t?
I tried to look back at times in my life where I wasn’t motivated and looked at what was stopping me. For the most part, I determined that I didn’t actually lack motivation, rather something or someone was putting up a barrier. Forever and a day I thought I was missing something. I started looking into what was inhibiting me.

The question, ‘Why Bother’ is something I have covered extensively in many past blogs, but it’s worth bringing up here again. ‘Why Bother?’ is the question we ask ourselves in trying to determine if something is worth it to us. So when our friend here says, ‘There are so many things I would like to do, but I always feel I lack the motivation.’ I tend to think ‘Why Bother’ is lurking in the background somewhere if we feel like there is no point in doing something or nothing good can come from our actions. If we actually felt there was a point or that something good could come from it, we’d be at least somewhat motivated to do it. It begs the question again, “Do you think your life is worthless?’ like the last blog.

Her next sentence; “I'm not very independent, I tend to rely on others a lot, and I hate doing anything alone, I always feel as though I have millions of eyes on me at all times, and it makes me uncomfortable.” While that seems like an oxymoron, I totally understand where she is coming from. It’s the struggle between not wanting to be isolated and not wanting anyone watching you either. It’s a state of being dependent on others. I went through this for a very long time. Only people who have been through it will understand what she is getting at. Basically, you count on others to take care of you, but you become so dependent on them that you stay in the world they want you in which is convenient for them. A person who truly loves you will encourage your independence. If they don’t, they like keeping you close. It’s a form of control. This is also why when they are watching you, you are uncomfortable. Now discomfort can come from lack of self esteem, but I tend to think she’s not being encouraged by anyone to seek out her independence. I could be way off base, but it sounds very familiar to me.

“I’m not very confident around people I don’t know.” I think there might be a handful of people out there who actually feel comfortable or perfectly fine around strangers. For the most part, our own instincts keep us protected when we meet someone new. We’d rather say nothing than screw up. We’ve maybe been bullied and made fun of in the past so we just clam up. I think when she cited her fiancé’s Father, I’m thinking part of the discomfort is a good thing because it means she doesn’t want to screw it up…that she values the situation and wants it to go well.

Overall, I think computers are great and they are awesome for people to come out of their shells but we really don’t integrate with humans anymore. It’s like a new skill we have to acquire again. As I mentioned in a recent blog, I tend to ask more questions like I am interviewing someone until I find some common ground. ‘Have you always lived in Los Angeles or did you move here from somewhere else?’ Usually works well. Pretty much everyone is from somewhere else and you can find some common ground as the conversation proceeds. When I used to try and start talking about myself to get a conversation going, it would put too much pressure on me to carry the whole thing. So asking questions is a good thing. It shows you are interested in someone and takes the pressure off of you to ‘perform’. ;)

I noticed the two things she put in her email though were, ‘There are so many things I would like to do’ and ‘I really want to get out of this frame of mind and find the determination to follow my dreams..... I don't really know where to start though’.

I could do an entire blog on following dreams. I think the phrase which has been ground in our head has done more harm than good. I don’t mean ‘follow your dreams’ has done nothing but it’s just loaded with complications. I would rather people find the things they love to do instead of chasing something. Instead of being determined to follow dreams, I think a better frame of mind might be to simply immerse ourselves in the things we love to do much like James O’Barr in the interview I talked about (in the ‘Do you feel like the Black Sheep’ blog).

Life doesn’t have to take an elbow-jointed turn in order for us to enjoy every moment. If you love to sing, sing. If you love to paint, paint. If you like to work on cars, go work on cars. I think these things are hard to do while we are still worried who is watching us. We should do the things we love as if nobody is watching.

Pushing pebbles in my sandbox,
Karen :)

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”~Jim Rohn


Do you think your Life is Worthless?

The following video contains the story from below plus my rants and blithering... :)

The Burrito Man (from the Washington Post)

For almost 20 years, he was there, a little guy in a metal cart, selling rice-and-bean burritos at 17th and K streets NW on Farragut Square. He was there in all weather, during uptimes and downturns, a dependable rock in the rapids of life in downtown Washington.

Until suddenly, this week, he wasn't, and a busy neighborhood paused to realize that it was a pretty big man who had been doing that little job.

Tuesday, when the hungry emerged from their marble lobbies, in place of Guardado's cart they found a hand-drawn sign posted by his brother-in-law announcing that the burrito man had suffered a heart attack and died a few days earlier. He was 48.

A man in a tailored suit read the words, touched his open mouth and lowered his head into his hand. Two women hugged, one crying openly. They came to the cart at least once a week, the other said, usually together.

"No! Oh my God," cried Pat Pasqual as she stopped in her tracks. She had bought countless cups of coffee from the cart that was no longer there.
"I'd like to talk about him, but I don't think I can right now," said Robert Tigner, a lawyer for a professional association across the street, his voice breaking as he read the notice.

All day, they came, lawyers and interns, lobbyists and vagrants, working folks who had made Guardado a part of their routine, suddenly realizing that the burrito guy had found his way into their hearts.

"I guess we became friends. We did become friends," Tigner said later by phone. The lawyer marveled that he'd spoken with Guardado almost every workday for 10 years. "Sometime for a few minutes, sometimes for much longer. We talked about kids and soccer, his two loves - in that order."

Judy Sheahan worked a few blocks away at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' offices. As soon as a friend called to tell her about the poster, she went to "Carlos's Corner," as many called it, and joined in the spontaneous street-side mourning.

"I was hugging people that I didn't even know, faces I recognized from Carlos's cart," she said. "We cried together. This tore a real hole in our office."

Tigner and Sheahan were two of almost a hundred people who attended a visitation for Guardado Tuesday night in Gaithersburg. Many were downtown office workers, connected by nothing other than their acquaintance with a cheerful vendor.

Sheahan, who started nearly every morning with a stop at the cart for coffee and a chat that would sometimes last 20 minutes, made a study of Guardado's wide appeal. He kept people coming back by recalling not only their food preferences, but also the names of their children and standings of their sports teams. Workers who had been transferred away would come find him on their visits back. He once got a postcard from a customer traveling in Africa. It was addressed "Carlos's Burrito Cart, Corner of 17th and K."

"When he told you he hoped you would have a good day, he really meant it," said Sheahan. "I don't think he had any idea the impact he had on people."
Actually, Guardado often did speak of the impact his customers had on him, according to his wife, Carmen Diaz, a secretary at Montgomery County Public Schools headquarters. His own routine was brutal - up at 4 a.m., a drive from Germantown to pick up his cart at a downtown warehouse by 6, set up on the corner with his massive coolers deployed and the beans simmering by 7.

But he came home filled with stories he plucked from the endless parade of humanity that marched by his window.

"Every day, he came home and tell me, 'Carmen, they love me,' " Diaz said Wednesday as she and their children, Allison, 19, and Mathew, 14, made their own final pilgrimage to the corner where Guardado lived so much of his life. "The people in the city, they were his family, too. We shared him with them."

Guardado came, illegally, to the United States in 1981, as the war in El Salvador made life dangerous for a 17-year-old boy. He told Sheahan how he'd had one cousin die in his arms and discovered the body of an uncle.

For years, Guardado worked as a painter, eventually gaining legal residency. In 1990, paying in installments, he bought a hot dog cart licensed for Farragut Square. Soon, he changed his menu to burritos, which put him years ahead of the food-cart boom the city is now enjoying. He put out a basket for people to pay by the honor system - so he wouldn't have to handle money in his "kitchen" - and found himself a career.

If he looked lonely, an isolated figure in a steamy cart, customers soon learned that his life was full. The soccer prowess of his children, along with their academic achievements, were known to hundreds of diners. When he brought Allison to Take Your Daughter to Work Day a few years ago, word spread as if a celebrity had been sighted.

"It was really cool seeing them together," recalled Ava Page, a regular from Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a nearby advocacy group. "He was just beaming."
Guardado meant the cart to be a stop on the way to a proper restaurant. But years turned to decades, and the income was enough to buy a house and, later, send Allison to the University of Maryland, where she is now a sophomore.

His talk of opening a restaurant faded in recent years.

"I think he was content," said Sheahan. "He always talked about the cart being a wonderful window on the world and that he learned more on that corner than most people do in a lifetime. He was one of the smartest people I've ever met in Washington."


How are you measuring your worth?
Friends, co-workers, money?

What if the thing you are really good at isn’t glamorous? Can you find your happiness in there?

We don’t know when our life will end. The Burrito Man’s life ended at 48. Should he have waited for contentment any longer?

Making a burrito in his honor,
Karen :)

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” ~Buddha


Thanks for Hitting Me

Some of what is in the video is written below; (for those who prefer reading!) :)



I read an article about this man Duane Innes who was driving along highway 167 and he saw a pick-up truck drifting across lanes of traffic, sideswiping a concrete barrier and continuing forward at about 40 mph.

Duane who is a manager of Boeing’s F22 fighter-jet program dodged the truck, looked back and saw the driver slumped over his wheel. The article said ‘without consulting passengers in his minivan’ as he said there was “no time to take a vote” he kicked into engineer mode.

"Basic physics: If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together," Innes explained.

"We realized he wasn't slowing down, and if he hit someone at full speed, it would've been a very bad scene," Innes said. The intersection with Southwest Grady Way was a few hundred yards away. "He could've very easily unknowingly taken out a whole row of traffic."

So he pulled in front of the pickup, allowed it to rear-end his minivan and brought both vehicles safely to a stop in the pull-off lane.

It turned out the driver was an 80 year old man named Bill who didn’t know he had a minor heart attack two days before passed out on his wheel from poor circulation. His foot was resting on the accelerator.

The cool part was how Duane viewed it. He felt like this man was deserving of a few extra lives seeing as he spends his life doing volunteer work for the Special Olympics and Food Drives. It was pretty cool that the insurance company sent a nice letter to Duane commending him and they covered the costs.

So of course, it’s a great story but I loved that the two men and their wives went out for dinner after. Duane is 48, Bill is 80. Their wives are probably close to the same age.
I can imagine the stories they must have shared outside of the event as they got to know one another.

Now, I have been out to dinner with grandparents. Many of you take your parents out to dinner. But when in life do you get a chance to get to know the unlikely, potential friends out there?

Of course we like to meet up with people who are like us, people our age or from our town. I have learned that most of my tolerance comes from hanging around people who are actually nothing like me. Growing up, I felt uncomfortable around people who didn’t speak English. I have never been racist, but I simply didn’t know what to say, do or how to act around them. It was foreign territory. If I saw a homeless person, I would look the other way not out of lack of compassion but because I didn’t know what to do with the information. Elderly people at church freaked me out, heck Santa Claus freaked me out.

The problem was I lived on a 33 acre farm in a rural area. My school was up the road, my church was half a mile past that, I hung out with the girl behind our property. The few moves I did make across Southern Ontario were still small town with populations under 10,000. It wasn’t until I started acting and had to go into Toronto all the time that I learned to integrate with people who were not like me. A person’s color never freaked me out. I was more uncomfortable around a 45 year old couple sitting on stools. I never had to deal with that. My world was my family, my friends, my teachers. The people in my church who were in their 40s and 50s were the stern ones who disciplined kids and gave you dirty looks if you didn’t behave. The Elderly people would at least give candy but they still unnerved me.

I was at some little restaurant on Queen Street in Toronto and I was waiting for an audition. There were no seats and this couple in their 40s gave me one of the chairs from their table. At the same time, some creepy guy tried to give me a bar stool beside him. I looked desperately at the couple and the woman said, “she’s sitting with us, thanks for offering”. Well, it was awkward, but I was forced to sit with them as it was the better choice. She seemed very concerned I was walking around Toronto alone and the two of them asked some none-personal questions, just being friendly.

We ended up having such a great time that I nearly missed my audition. It was a game-changing moment for me having food and drinks with complete strangers.
After taking the Greyhound bus into Toronto a few times a week, I went from reading books to chatting with people beside me. I now have no problem talking to people at airports, airplanes or subways. An airplane ride usually forces you to get to know someone you normally wouldn’t choose to have in your life.

I see people do this online. They will reach out to people who are like them all the time. If you are looking to date or for a partner, it makes sense you would do that. If you are looking for a friend, you tend to find the same sex, same age group. We hang out with musicians who like our type of music and I talk a lot about like-minded spirits coming together in a community.

But what if we made it a goal to get to know someone who is nothing like us? What if we set out to have a conversation with a stranger who has nothing in common? How would you interact? For me, I tend to do is listen more than talk. You just never know who you will meet and what you will find out. I also think it makes us more tolerant and certainly travel will do that too. Many of us stay in our small towns thinking the whole world is supposed to be like that because it’s what we live.

It shouldn’t take a car crash or a disaster to open up our dining experience. I guess it all depends on our own agenda.

Staying off the 101 at rush hour anyways,

Karen :)

“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.


The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined...People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn't keep me warm
I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

~Don Henley and Mike Campbell

This is a song I remember my Mother singing around the house. Mom loved it because of the forgiveness part of it. My Mother’s entire core was forgiveness. She could forgive anyone and I watched it work for her about a thousand times in a row. She kept doing it because it kept working but she really kept doing it because she felt it was indicative of love and compassion. I have heard people call her a spineless jellyfish who would get walked on but I guarantee you I have never met a soul on earth to date who had the solid character she had and when all is said and done and we buried her, her character is what has lived on…not anger and a sense of injustice.

Forgiveness is one of those topics that when you bring it up you want to hide behind a shield or even a suit of armor to avoid the mega spears thrown at you. It’s not because people are unwilling to forgive, I believe people are good overall and would love to be able to forgive…I think it’s because the idea behind forgiveness conjures up all the hurts and pain from whatever happened. THIS is valid.

Feeling hurt or terrorized by someone will absolutely bring on all the associated feelings. A person should not be made to feel guilty about being angry at being harmed. I just feel like when a person has hurt me, they gave me more than one little ‘gift’. They not only set down a very large basket on my front porch full of anger, sadness and sleepless nights, but they keep sending me presents every day of the year in the form of bitterness.

I really believe that the act of forgiveness has been massively misinterpreted by society. Somewhere along the line we equate forgiveness to hanging out on Saturday nights with the person who did us wrong. I look at forgiveness as a free gift, not a free pass. When I say it’s free, I don’t feel it is earned. If you believe forgiveness has to be earned, you may be confusing the actual meaning of the word with ‘trust’. Trust has to go through it’s stages. She would say, ‘Let’s start again’ and she wouldn’t necessarily put the ‘and forget’ part onto the end of forgive. How can you forget something that someone did to you? That would be asking your brain to perform its own lobotomy. It’s seldom physically possible to do. When someone gives trust or says something is forgotten, I believe that is grace. Admirable, but tough.

When Don Henley sang, ‘because the flesh will get weak and the ashes will scatter so I’m thinking about forgiveness even if you don’t love me anymore’ I believe he wanted to set things right before it was too late to do so. I have heard hundreds of stories from people who were tormented by having no closure when someone they know dies. That never leaves and rarely fixes itself. I am happy to say, I have no regrets with my Mother, our relationship was next to perfect. It’s because she would forgive me (and of course keep a close eye on me) ;)

I bring up my Mother a lot as my biggest mentor because I long to be like her. Her grace and compassion was given to those who didn’t deserve it and I would see them come to her hospital bed when she was dying and beg for forgiveness. She had already forgiven them and told them where she too was wrong in the situation. The look on someone’s face leaving the room after experiencing that looked like they were seconds away from collapse. They simply couldn’t put into words how exceptional she was. Why wouldn’t I strive to capture that as a personal character goal to work towards? I would stand in the hospital staring back at them as they left, not surprised by how Mom would handle them, but because the power of her forgiveness would silence everyone.

Powerful is not a word we usually associate with it. I have blogged before about how love seems to be a sign of weakness and what a prevailing force it is.

I know forgiveness is really hard. I know it hurts so so so badly. We need love and compassion to heal our wounds after someone has hurt us but I believe we need to show love and compassion to those who have hurt us so the world won’t lose forgiveness altogether. How will we ever know what it is if we haven’t been forgiven? How will we know what to do if we haven’t experienced it first-hand?

The only thing that allows me to forgive someone is because I have been forgiven by someone even though I didn’t ask to be forgiven. I felt so undeserving of their forgiveness and they showed it anyways.

Now, for those of us who have hurt someone, we can speed up the process by at least asking for it. But isn’t it overwhelmingly magical when it’s just given? I believe it’s our responsibility to pay that forward too.

I have spent hours lying on my bed staring at the ceiling amazed by forgiveness, amazed by compassion and humbled by the love I have been shown. It set me on a thought process where I started to see that more anger won’t fix anything. Action is needed, sure but love historically has prevailed and I believe it is about to make the biggest comeback….if for no other reason than we are running out of options. ;) Why are we so reluctant to go there? Is it to avoid future hurt? I don’t think forgiving someone protects us from future problems nor does it induce future hurt. It seems to be its own thing.

Maybe love never left…and the comeback is just in my life.

Making shapes out of the clouds,
Karen :)

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.” ~Bernard Meltzer


Extreme Loneliness

The following video contains some of the writing below;

“Being the boss anywhere is lonely. Being a female boss in a world of mostly men is especially so.” ~Robert Frost

Isn’t it amusing that the author of that quote is a man. Now before you slam me, I am not into Women’s Liberation. I am into something called Spiritual Liberation or Spiritual Awakening. I don’t mean this in the way you would think of it like some bizarre religion or obscure cult. I mean the spirit who awakes and flattens fences; our inner child. Now whatever religion you want to attribute that to is up to you.

What is great about the quote is that it came from a man and I loved that he recognized something about women. But I would be equally as impressed if a person said something profound about an animal or if a woman had insight into a man’s world.
I’ve always hated that men and woman should ever suggest only men understand men issues and women understand women’s. Lots of people out there are very aware of things which have nothing to do with them. I had a great conversation with a man who has never been married and he had more insight and knowledge about how a relationship works than people who have been married for 40 years. You don’t have to have your own children to know good parenting from bad. You don’t have to be a teacher to instill positive things in many young people.

These types of people are Observers of Life. They are not trying to control it and they are not looking for anything in return. They have slotted themselves in to the bigger picture and are very sensitive towards others.

This Observer of Life will be the first to stop and offer kindness to somebody who appears lonely. They might offer some assistance or they may just offer an ear. They might not even approach the person who is lonely, but that person will be on their mind for a long time.

I have had so many of these people in my life when I was extremely lonely. Have you ever been to a BBQ or family function where there is a young teenager who is sitting alone and looking detached? Feeling lonely doesn’t necessarily come from being physically alone. I love when someone beats me to approaching them and strikes up a conversation. I’ve seen lonely people barely tolerate the conversation because they simply don’t feel connected to the person. The Aunt or Uncle might say something that isn’t very helpful like, “Cheer up!” or the one I hate; “Turn that frown upside down.” Come on, like that is a game changer! But then a cousin around the same age will show up and say something like, “Whatcha playing?” and then they talk about the game controller or whatever is in front of them. I’ve heard so many adults walk by them and say, “Put the game down and talk to people!” Well, you aren’t saying anything remotely interesting so why should they?

People don’t tend to feel lonely because they ARE alone. They tend to feel lonely because they FEEL alone. This feeling of detachment generally comes from not connecting to anyone around you. You wish you had a partner who was like you, you wish you could hold a conversation with someone who had something in common.
Observers of Life seem to have the gift of compassion. They generally are not lonely. I believe there is a difference between them and people who stare out the windows or watch things around them to kill time. An Observer tends to enjoy people-watching. It reminds me of when I go to Comi-con in San Diego. There are so many people to look at!

If you look at the numbers in Depression rising, it’s mind-boggling. A lonely person isn’t necessarily depressed although they often go hand in hand. But what the numbers don’t show is how many people have escaped it, have moved on to bond with their inner child and learned to enjoy life again.

If you are also an Observer of Life, if you love life, if your compassion for people is high, the demand for you will probably surpass the number of Doctors needed in the world. If you have some way in your life to take some time from your day to reach out to someone who is lonely or depressed, I encourage you to do this because you are so needed!

I’ve mentioned it before that I feel like I should be paying forward all the love and compassion I have been shown. I have been trying to be an Observer of Life instead of trying to control everything.

We don’t have to be interested in the same things to connect to each other, but we can continue to be interested in one another. That tiny bit of compassion could save someone from their extreme loneliness.

I know this because someone’s compassion saved me.

It’s lonely at the top between Bieber and Obama,
Karen :)

“I believe that you control your destiny, that you can be what you want to be. You can also stop and say, No, I won't do it, I won't behave this way anymore. I'm lonely and I need people around me, maybe I have to change my methods of behaving and then you do it.” ~Leo Buscaglia

“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.” ~Leo Buscaglia

Happiness Roadblocks

The following video has some of the text below plus some of my blithering. :)

I read a great article from Stephanie Jacob who gave some thoughts on ‘Happiness Roadblocks’. She said;
The first step is to know what may be standing in your way and then learn how to reroute yourself. Here, some of the most common roadblocks to happiness and a guide for getting around them according to author MJ Ryan;

1. Expecting the worst all the time;

Does the phrase "if I expect the worst, then I won't be let down" cross your mind on a regular basis? All you're doing by worrying or anticipating something that isn't happening (and may never happen) "is keeping the stress response turned on way high and not enjoying whatever you could enjoy in that moment," says Ryan.

2. Passing the buck

If you feel you deserve to be happy and your [insert kid, parent, spouse, job, car or new pair of shoes here] is supposed to make you happy, keep reading. "There's absolutely positive proof that that's just not true," says Ryan. "For a moment something else can actually boost us up, but it's only a matter of time before we're looking for the next thing." It's an insatiable cycle that won't result in long-term happiness.
Rather, your happiness is your own responsibility. Try turning your focus within: What are the gifts that I have, who am I and what do I have uniquely to offer, and when I go and offer that, I feel better and happier. "That's essentially what Aristotle meant by fulfillment," says Ryan. "It has nothing to do with anyone else or anything."

3. Thinking life should be perfect and yours isn’t

For starters, the world isn't perfect. So you're fighting a losing battle if you think yours can be. "Ask yourself three questions at the end of the day," says Ryan. "What am I thankful for today? What did I enjoy today? And what am I satisfied about today? And you can't say 'nothing.' You have to come up with something."

4. Not thinking of others. Ever.

It turns out being generous can make you happier. You don't have to have a million dollars to donate to the charity of your choice to reap the benefits, either. People who simply do five small random acts of kindness -- putting a quarter in someone else's parking meter or opening the door for someone -- have been found to be happier than those who don't, says Ryan. "In doing these things, we activate the part of our brains that give us a little endorphin boost so we feel better."

5. Expecting life to be fair

Life isn't fair. And fretting about the lack of fairness that exists essentially leads to comparing yourself, your life or your situation to someone else's and then feeling worse about yourself, your life or your situation. The trick isn't to stop comparing.
The bottom line.

The trick with all of these is to catch yourself on the negative-thinking road and make a choice to think about it differently instead. "You want to build the positive habits like a road that exists alongside the negative ones," Ryan says. "It's there -- your stress, worry, anger -- whatever it is, but you're building another way of looking at life, approaching life, dealing with people. It's substituting those thoughts for more wholesome thoughts."
While I agree with most of it, I still go back to my same thought process which is ‘Am I purpose-driven or am I goal-oriented?’ For me personally, since I have come to a greater understanding of my existence, I am way happier. When I am chasing gigantic goals, I don’t find happiness. This happens to very rich people who don’t know what else to chase and then they aren’t happy. But when I pay attention to where I am needed on a daily basis in the bigger picture and worry less about myself, I am way happier. I feel more like a warrior or soldier who has a job to do. I don’t question why the universe has me on this particular continent, on this soil, with these people…I am constantly looking at what is in front of me and how I can make that situation better.

Understanding that there is work to be done keeps me fulfilled. Keeping my eyes on where I am needed keeps me content. Whenever I become selfish about my needs, I become less happy.

I also find being part of a community where we all move in a wave makes me way happier than when I was the lone soldier. If you are part of a team and you are injured, your team still has a hope of doing well. But if you head to the Olympics and break an ankle at the airport, you are out of the game completely. We are better as a part of a bigger plan than alone.

Are you able to ask for help? Do you feel safe reaching out to others? Do you know where and how to slot yourself into a bigger picture or are you still trying to do things your way?

If your answer to “Are you Happy?” is yes, I guess you are doing everything right. But if you feel like you are fighting the brick wall with little or no results, I hope you will take comfort knowing you aren’t alone and you can be part of a team who will embrace you and love you.

Yes happiness does come from inside. It is our mindset that matters. But it’s a big, heavily populated world with lots of like-minded spirits and there are so many of us who feel your pain.

In pursuit of the ultimate chocolate ice cream,
Karen :)

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi


Time Stealers & Bad Habits

The following video contains the blog written below for those who prefer it in Video Blog Format. :)

It was TomS on thepublicrecord.com who sparked this. He had watched my Video Blog; ‘Something Has to Give’ and commented below. I want to share what he wrote;
“I had dinner at the Princeton University restaurant that Einstein would frequent. I sat next to his table which was preserved as he would have it. Even a genius has his habits. LOL.
It is the hardest thing to do -- break a cycle of behavior. I think about that a lot with my son. What habit am I putting into him that I really don't want him to have? What habit can I break that I keep repeating? (not talking about the little habits... I mean the big ones that change your life every four years or so ... as if we were still in school and needing to graduate from something). It takes a bird’s eye view to see those and how rare is it for an ordinary man to see that without the help of someone who knows better?

I really like Maya Angelou.... "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." —Now that I know better, I do better." — Maya Angelou ... Love that woman!”
(*Addendum; not the word believe)

If you happen to catch my building Manager in between her soap operas, you’ll see her doing the exact same thing she did yesterday. She will be watering the front gardens, vacuuming the halls or taking her small cart and walking it to the grocery store. Her daily rituals worked for me because I knew exactly when I could let the stray cat in or out.

If the power is out when she needs to watch her soaps, it’s a tragedy. I have a full understanding of what soap operas can do to a person. My Grandmother lived with us on the farm and watched the whole afternoon line-up. Starting at 1 pm she’s watch Days of Our Lives, All My Children, Another World and the Young & the Restless. I think General Hospital might have even been on another channel that she’d flip back and forth to.

Now if watching soap operas for one third of your waking hours is something you truly love and you are totally ok with it, that’s cool. But I suspect this sort of daily marathon is to combat boredom or loneliness. After all, the story line behind a Soap is designed to induce gossip and intimacy. Every cliff-hanging moment keeps you on the edge and wanting more the next day. I think living through others can either spice up our own life or keep our mind off of something really bad.

This habit my Grandmother had seeped into our lives too. Would Ashley and Victor ever get together or would Nikki have a stranglehold on him for life? Would Katherine and Jill finally kill each other?

I just had to know! Every single day, I had to know!

What started happening, is life got in the way of TV. Summertime would get you hooked and then dang it if school didn’t interfere! I was faced with my choice; my education or the life of Jill Abbott!

Ok so very dramatic, but you get what I am saying. Soaps can be an anchor around your feet. For me, they were a bad habit that my Grandmother ingrained in us.

There were other bad habits growing up like smoking, alcohol and drugs. Those tend to be the habits we think about. There are support programs for those, but there wasn’t a support program for the following bad habit that I developed and I am not sure there is one. I had to ditch it myself.

The bad habit is “negativity”. Most people engage in it in some fashion. It’s either gossip, hate, racism, political wars, religious discussions. The bad habit of negativity seeps into every corner like poison through a building’s ventilation system. We don’t understand what is making us sick and it might not even be enough to kill us. But I am seeing spots of this sickness everywhere. Pessimism is also a bad habit.

When I say that these things are habits, it’s different than those who are actually negative or pessimistic with just cause. Doesn’t that even seem ridiculous?

I call them habits because we have developed a lingo in society where we go for the bad reaction based on it coming out of our mouth that way. We give our own leaders negative titles because everyone else does. We will spew out sentences that didn’t come from our own thoughts, but because the news, magazines and radio keep saying it over and over and over. It’s like we have become programmed to say them. Yesterday at 6 pm, you maybe watched the news and they blurted out something to make you say you hate someone or something. What we don’t see is that our daily habit or ritual of watching the news told us exactly what to feel at that time of day. You may even leave the broadcast, jump on Google and find more related stories to keep THEIR ritual going.

The reason I stopped watching soaps and the news is because I didn’t want my life or their opinions dictating how I think, how I feel or how I live. Their news is not the only news. WE make our own news. WE create our own story. We say where we will be at 6 pm. NOT them.

Breaking a bad habit or ritual takes a massive amount of courage. I believe it’s the biggest enemy on our person. We can break this if we can actually identify it. Nobody can make you join their religion, their group, their political party or Monday Night basket-weaving session. WE get to say how we spend our time.

What I did was took a look at my day and had to really identify what discussions were stealing my soul. I had to do some Math and see where my time was wasted. I decided I wouldn’t be guilted into joining anything that did not enrich my life and those around me.

I put my TV by the curb and I changed my home page from the news channel it was always landing on. Time spent playing an instrument or painting my dolls beats the hell out of the negative broadcast.

If you get joy from that, you are the only person I know who delights in it.

Snapping the face off of my cello,

Karen :)

“Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go.” ~Henry Austin Dobson


'Something Has to Give'

The Video contains much of the written content below for those who have requested it in video format. :)

It’s a phrase I am hearing a lot. I’ll hear it in conjunction with unemployment, abuse, sleep deprivation, career…

I think it’s something that is said when someone has been through hell and can’t seem to get out of hell. I feel like it’s almost like sitting at your bedroom window and making a wish on the stars.

If you have ever tried to build a house of cards, you know at some point (depending on how strong your base is) something is going to bring the whole mess down. That is the negative part of the saying indicating something is simply unable to support it. Something gives and crumbles.

But we use the sentence like it’s a form of hope. In other words, you have either applied so much pressure to change something or someone that you now feel entitled to it or them giving in. Maybe, so much has been applied to your situation and you simply can’t imagine anything else piling on top so you say, ‘something has to give’. That phrase also signifies that we are entitled to change. Basically, if we get angry enough, incite enough riots, stay busy, work work work, change will happen because enough pressure was applied.

‘When my ship comes in’ isn’t too far from the tree here either. It is also a phrase of hope which kills time and keeps us at bay. Unfortunately, it does just that; keeps us at bay. Like the castaways on Gilligan’s Island or Lost, we stare at a horizon line for long periods of time waiting for the ship to come and save the day. Hope can be a lovely thing, but I believe the problem happens when we consider our hope an investment.

I was really sad to watch one of the Planet Earth series where a baby elephant was separated from its Mother. What joy I felt when I found out it has picked up on her scent again! Then the camera zoomed out, way out to divulge the little baby was on her scent but heading in the direction of where she had already been, the wrong direction. Talk about an investment of time! The narrator said unfortunately, the baby would eventually die. I was outraged because of the time invested. I was cheering this little elephant on and I was hopeful! Why don’t they step in and save him? Well apparently they are not supposed to step in, only document and observe. (May I add that they saved a baby penguin in another segment of the show that was in a hole, but don’t get me started…)

What I realized in watching this all go down is that time invested does not equate to a happy ending. In fact, sometimes the more time we spend going in the wrong direction puts us at greater risk for being completely lost.

Why are we so stuck on doing the same thing over and over even though it’s not working? Have you ever made pie dough? Mom used to say, “If you can’t get that thing rolled flat in the first 5 minutes, it’s junk.” The thing about making it, is unlike bread dough, it doesn’t like to be overworked. It simply just has to be done properly. That’s it.
But I invested a half a cup of shortening and lots of flour! I can’t throw it out! Mom would say, “You’ll be piecing that thing into the pie plate in one inch sections then.”
That actually does work. You can make a whole pie shell from one inch pieces. But an hour later, you could have made 2 dozen cookies, some brownies, a black forest cake and some pulling taffy.

I have the stubborn Stever streak from my Father. I was all about proving a point. This wasn’t because my method was very good, but because I was embarrassed about my failure and like a dead horse, I beat the pie dough into submission. It’d be an ok pie, but I’d look over at Mom and she’d be at a loss for where to put her enormous piles of treats.

I realized that the 80’s lyrical reference “foolish pride” was pretty prevalent. My own pride was actually stopping me from recognizing hidden talents. I totally know how to make all those sweets now. Why didn’t I just listen to her then?

I try now to look at my day and spot where my skipping record is. If I am doing something that ‘should’ take 10 minutes and hours have passed, am I looking at it from the same angle? Am I just complaining a lot and doing nothing? But the bigger lesson is, there is probably a lesson to be learned first.

Why we mimic what everyone around us is doing while they flail is beyond me. ‘Something has to give’ is now discarded from my vocabulary because actually, something does not HAVE to give. It can give if it wants to or it can never give.
Perhaps the better phrase is something has to change…but I would argue, some ONE has to change. That is the person in the mirror.

I know life seems difficult, but working hard does not always mean working smart. Working smart requires education before action. Had I watched Mom a bit longer and educated myself on all the things that would make my pie-dough making more efficient, I could have saved myself a ton of time and had more treats piling up.
Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think he recognized life was trial and error. We recognize it is too, but man…we just love to see that error pop up over and over again. It’s like staring at the empty place on the grocery shelf where your favorite snack usually is. At a certain point, if the grocery manager says they are out of stock, you sort of have to move on!

Being stubborn has served me well in many areas of my life. Being driven is a good thing but driving ahead means you are moving. When we are sitting still wishing for movement or change, it goes against the laws of the Universe.

The answers are out there. Sometimes we have to go back to Mom and ask for some assistance while other times we simply have to try again. Trying again should be accompanied by a healthy dose of education. It’s just tough to give up the invested time…and of course we age and become tired. Whatever we went through was exhausting.

I hope you can muster up the energy to sit back and develop an overview of your scenario and start fresh. I personally had to gain perspective first. I realized that just because the gun goes off, it doesn’t mean I am ready to run. I may have training to do first.

Hoping we’ve seen the end of foolish pride used in a song,
Karen :)

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” ~Albert Einstein



This was originally posted at thepublicrecord.com/Stever in the Video Blog area there.
Part of the blog is in text below for those of you who prefer that. ;)

I saw an old ad online for Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion Perfume. It seemed like a migraine in a bottle to me. Most perfumes do that. I have learned to appreciate the smell of a breeze, well not in the city of course, but if you go to the ocean, the breeze entices us. It almost bullies us into submission.

I grew up around lakes and streams though, where the breeze was just faint enough to lure you into investigation. To me, that is what a scent should do. It should make you want more and should make you want to explore. I also like scents that are appropriate and indicative of the surroundings. I would prefer something be delicately represented rather than overwhelm a room in an attempt to control. Too many planted scents on us and around us force a reaction instead of encouraging exploration.

Suffice to say, I think tacking the word ‘Passion’ on at the front of Perfume is ridiculous. Are you trying to sell us on the idea that your perfume will make someone passionate? It’s overkill to misuse such a fantastic word.

Passion is way too dimensional to just insinuate the one meaning. Could it be part of the culmination of feelings? Absolutely! But ‘boy meets girl, boy smells girl, boy wakes up next to girl’ isn’t what ignited and then sustained the night of passion. If they truly did experience this once in a lifetime event as the ad would have you believe, there’s a good chance there were some underlying factors.

By definition, the word has several meanings. I recognize this! Passion can mean lust and desire or strong love, but can also mean strong hate. It can mean having an outburst of emotion.

My favorite meaning is; ‘a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for anything.’ They gave the example; a passion for music. Well, of course, that is my favorite meaning.

Do you know why it’s the perfect example and why I think people will use it to explain their desire to make music or even listen to music? Because I believe the multi-tiered meaning of passion is right on par with the perpetual journey of music. It’s no wonder that sparks will fly exponentially between artists and musicians because now you’ve ignited a passion in two souls whose multidimensional journeys have met at the intersecting point on the graph. Now add extra elements onto your graph so its 3rd and 4th dimensions come in and your passion is explosive.

What dimensions can we add to heighten the passion? Well of course there are stimulants like alcohol and drugs, but what if you are going for the sustainable high? Why does our passion come and go like the seasons? I believe it’s because it’s generally based on something as thin as paper and inspired by a perfume ad.

We tend to hate music without depth. I hear it a lot from people. If they hate the music on the radio, it’s generally because it’s produced for the masses with monetary intentions. So what is it about the music we love that inspires us so much? Most people will say, “I love it because it has depth.”

What are the third and fourth dimensions? We want to know there was a story behind it. More than that, we want to know there is a person behind it. Go list your top 10 favorite artists of all time and I bet you know something about them. There is a background that they either shared with everyone, the news shared with everyone or even better, their lyrics shared with you.

If lyrics have the ability to translate an individual’s passion, it’s pretty indisputable. There are certain visual artists and musicians in the world who undeniably rank as the passionate ones. You know them, not because you’ve dissected them but because you have lived vicariously through them. Their passion is like the breeze. They don’t get in your face and force you to love them, you love them because their breeze was faint enough to entice you into investigation. When we feel drawn to someone, it’s generally because of our intrigue, that initial scent. But the depth of water which meets us around the corner could be a muddy puddle or it could be the high tide which washes over us and we ride the wave of their power.

Passion does have several tiers, but the one I want to be part of is the culmination of all of them. I don’t want a single dimension which leaves me depressed and disappointed.

I think many of us feel this way. Our passion for something we love comes and goes. I think the only way we can sustain it is by throwing our complete self into it; our vulnerable side, our anger, our love, our courage. If there is something you love, you should do it even if nobody sees you. If you are frustrated that nobody sees you, is it possible that too many things are distracting you in your peripheral vision? Caring what someone on the outside thinks takes you out of the headspace needed to fulfill your art and creativity! Why? It’s because your story becomes tainted, not told.

I think if we become distracted, there is the potential for our passion to fade…and consequently die. If we create because the passion burns under our skin to do so, how can it go anywhere? If you think your muse is dead or you have become uninspired, is it possible you are looking for it outside of your own honesty? By that I mean being honest with yourself? When you sit down to write, draw, paint or make music, are you questioning if your own work is worthwhile or are you doing it because you carry a wild enthusiasm for it.

Too often we chase a society-promoted passion like perfume when there is something in our own spirit waiting to have a relationship with us.

If you have harnessed that, then you are ready to share! But if you are sharing with the hopes that someone will love you or your art and only then will you have adequate passion, may I humble suggest you are doing it in the wrong order.

What is amazing to me is that it’s been raining outside and I’m unaffected like when I was depressed. I think it’s because the things I love to do are not dependent upon sunshine and my imagination is so on fire lately that I don’t have to look for inspiration.

Ok arguably, I was inspired today by a perfume ad to write. Whatever. ;)

Walking barefoot in the creek,
Karen :)
“It is the passion that is in a kiss that gives to it its sweetness; it is the affection in a kiss that sanctifies it.” ~Christian Nestell Bovee

Do we have the element of affection? And is this what makes it sustainable?

“You can’t please everyone”

The video has some of the same info but done in VLOG format;

My journey in music has been pretty unbelievable. I am one of those girls who had contracts in front of my face and I said no. I will continue to say no to rape. I like to think I can share a pretty unique perspective because I have been in every corner of the industry so far. I have been the girl on stage with back-up dancers and been in bands. I have had creepy managers and agents trying to sleep with me. I have written well over a thousand songs, I can play many instruments, I have coached vocalists, written for artists and produced bands. I have done editing on high profile records where I can’t tell anyone whose crappy vocals I fixed. I have even been a ghost-writer where I was sworn to secrecy and had to hide the fact that I wrote the Award-winning song. Gross, huh?

Why am I saying all of this? Lately, I have been challenged on my credentials. You are likely to be challenged you know, when you don’t talk about them, flaunt them or use them as a name-dropping device to see your career move forward.

I don’t care if someone disagrees with something I have said or done; free country. But what I don’t dig is the presumptuous comments that are said without the knowledge of who I am and what I am about. Basically, I am the type of person who floats through life pretty well and have become even-keeled over time without the need for recognition or applause. But what I don’t dig (and I am bringing this up because tons of people feel this way—YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I hope this blog will make you feel less alone) is when statements are made about me or my choices out of ignorance with nothing factual to back it up. Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do, defend yourself and then you are accused of bragging? It feels like that. If I am not cornered, my claws stay in check and you’d never know I am a cat. ;)

Back to the bigger animal. Let me boldly address the elephant in the room (because my mood is feeling ever so bold today);

I have a sharp tongue. I have historically had a temper. But there are a few things I am not. One; I am not a liar. Two; I am not mean-spirited. Three; I am not ill-motivated.

Let me do one those blog entries which feel like a true diary entry. I will write to get some things off my chest . I hope you are not disappointed with me, but some things need to be said.

The largest elephant in the room I have seen getting bigger over the years of this community is the rock star status, or shall I say lack of one. People continuously say things to me like, “You Hollywood types.” And even worse, exclude me from being one of them (suggesting they are at the bottom of the Totem Pole)

Let me be as bold as I feel like being today. I grew up dirt poor…one parent, went through abuse and money issues my whole life. When everyone else was out at the bars, I was in my home writing music. I worked a 12 hour job and then worked in studios at night. It is the biggest slap in my face you could ever give to tell me I am some “Hollywood type”. I didn’t sleep with anyone to get to where I am and I work like a dog. I continuously educate myself to further my learning and I absolutely hate the gap between anyone musical or creative. If you are trying to put me on the top of the silver spoon group and yourself among the people who “work hard” or call yourself “the working man”, I need to correct you… I work VERY hard.

But see, what has happened is I am never so bold to say these things. People are confused by my lack of self-promotion. I will get accused of not talking about music enough or not blogging enough about regular topics. This is the elephant in the room that I never deal with, so today I am dealing with it.

I don’t get in people’s faces and talk about my music all day long because I am not so arrogant to think people want to know about that. I don’t believe music is about me, I believe it’s about healing the world and I believe it’s about going on a journey. I spend a lot of time with the community because I love people. I have been through enough garbage that I hope music can help heal. There is a whole spirit of music which moves outside of this crappy industry.

‘Music is a higher revelation than philosophy’. ~Beethoven (my top mentor) That is about it with me! It’s sad that decades of industry chatter has stolen our inner child. It’s disgusting to me.

“You can’t please everyone” isn’t the statement I am giving to you guys, it’s the statement people are saying to me. But the thing is, I don’t want to please anybody. I am not in control. This world is massive. My place is a speck on it. The Public Playground Project and Stever Community is my way of uniting people. Of course I make a living doing music, but please know my motivation is pure. I am not perfect. I don’t want to be on some Hollywood pedestal. I am living in Los Angeles and longing for my home in the country. Not everyone who does well here parties at the VIP Clubs. I like playing with you guys on the Playground.

I do want to encourage those of you who question my motivation; I hope you will find your place in the bigger picture. You are NOT at the bottom of a pole. I am NOT at the top. I don’t want to Record Deal, I don’t want the arrogant lingo. I don’t want the parties and I don’t care how big or small your name is. I love people, I love meeting people and I want music to find its rightful place soaring high above all of us.

This is life; it’s glorious and lovely, yet complicated and ugly.

I embrace ALL of it.

I love you guys tons. In the future, if you want to know something, asking is always better than assuming.

Love, Karen :)

“Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world.” ~Sai Baba

“You must be a lotus, unfolding its petals when the sun rises in the sky, unaffected by the slush where it is born or even the water which sustains it!” ~Sai Baba


Do you have to be forced to take a break?

Last night the power went off in my neighborhood for hours. I can’t even begin to tell you how much work I had to do. :)
I smile because without this power failure, I would not have taken a break. No power means no studio gear, no stereo and no internet. It was too dark to work on crafts or dolls and reading without light strains my eyes so I sat in the dark for a good long while and rested. The really beautiful thing about no electricity in the city is you are reminded how dark darkness is and how quiet silence can be. Lovely…

I shone a flashlight on the ceiling and made animal shadows from my hands. That was fun and then I settled into bed early and watched several episodes of Fringe from a portable DVD player until I fell asleep. It felt like a mini vacation. My vacations usually have a ton of people around because I would fly back to Canada to hang out.

Life is set up to rest at the end of it. I don’t even mean death, I mean retirement. You are supposed to continuously look forward to it. But what if we don’t survive that long? How can we stop ourselves from looking forward and start looking at right now? If we keep waiting for life to slow down, we will be perpetually waiting.

Last night, if someone told me to stop working there is absolutely no way I could have. But since it was forced and I feel so refreshed this morning, I’ve decided that I am going to force breaks from now on. I will call it Imaginary Power Outages and make it spontaneous. Know why? It felt so unbelievably good!

Maybe we should each hire someone to spontaneously shut off the main breaker. We wouldn’t see it coming, they wouldn’t tell us when it’s coming. Who cares if it’s inconvenient?

Are you only going to stop your craziness if the power goes down or can you force your own breaks?

Enjoy your day!
Karen :)

“Sometimes the best lighting of all is a power failure.” ~Doug Coupland


What is the worst thing you've ever lost?

I received my fifth message this week from someone who lost data. I heard about a girl who lost 6 dozen songs from her mini recorder, someone who lost a hard drive of art work, another musician lost all his tracks from his record, a friend’s laptop was ruined and just now another friend lost all the work on her camera.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why don’t these people have back-ups? The answer is simple. It happens to almost every one of us at some point. It’s inevitable. I had all my music backed-up and how was I supposed to know that someone (who was supposed to have loved me) would single-handedly destroy them all in a rage? So yes, of course we should back things up…but life just has its circumstantial moments.

Having been in the recording industry for as long as I have been, I hear about these catastrophes periodically, but I have never seen such a domino effect around me all in the same week. While I have no plausible evidence to support my ridiculous theory, I am going to go ahead and put it out there anyways. “Maybe the Universe is sending a bigger message.”

Ok, had someone said that to me upon learning of my data loss way back when, they would have had a door slammed in their face. Knowing that, I hope to be sensitive to those who feel exasperated this week.

The reason I say it could be a bigger message is to not be all mystical and supernatural about the logical answer that ‘it’s technology we are dealing with so of course things mess up’ but to perhaps put some perspective on it. Let me share what I learned.
When my songs were maliciously destroyed, I seriously considered packing in my music career because I just simply couldn’t imagine ever starting over again.

Now of course this vindictive act against me could not compare to what happened to the woman up the highway from me around the same time. She and her husband took her children to her Mother’s for dinner and came home to their house being engulfed in flames. She looked up into the top windows to the flames ripping out of her children’s bedrooms, took a gasp and said, “OMG, the boys could have been sleeping there.” It was faulty electrical work in a very old house….another advanced thing we had in society that eventually broke down.

Since that happened, I have learned that she lost a job, was separated and has since been paralyzed by a snowmobile accident. She now lives in a wheelchair. That is certainly a good look at perspective.

But please understand, I tend not to diminish someone’s pain by suggesting they aren’t starving, but this situation did allow me to consider a life-altering look at the Universe and how our world works.

Have you ever had people say, “God works in mysterious ways” then they walk away and you are still left staring at the broken technology in front of you? Some statements simply aren’t helpful. Encouragement can be empty without help. We smile and appreciate it of course, but sometimes the thirsty person just wants a drink. I just wanted my songs back! When this woman lost her home, I went and lied down on the living room floor in my perfectly fine house and cried for her but I also felt a bit ashamed. I realized that the world wasn’t out to get me. Some things fall under Physics. To say God works in mysterious ways (or insert Nature or whatever word you are more comfortable with) isn’t very accurate. Looking back, my entire experience and revelation wasn’t enveloped in the mysterious, it was well-balanced in logic. Nature didn’t cause my relationship to fail or for my partner to trash my work. Nature didn’t ensure the faulty wiring in this woman’s home would fail. Putting wiring in a home to begin with puts you at risk. Putting work on a hard drive is almost asking for it to be destroyed. Why? Because technology doesn’t work with nature. It’s an extension of our own imagination…it isn’t an extension of Nature.

Do I embrace technology? Absolutely! But I do not place any emotion in it now. If I went out shopping and came home to my place in flames, I would certainly be sad and mourn the situation, bummed that I would have to rebuild…but Nature, God and the Universe will not get the blame anymore.

I believe when we invest too many of our emotions in technology, it is pretty much the same as being in a relationship with someone who has a temper. They may be fine every single day for years, but some malfunction or hiccup may make them break down. If you knew this going into it, you would know the risks. Yes, you’d be upset when it happens, but with realistic expectations, we can minimize our disappointment.
“Maybe the Universe is sending a bigger message.”

The statement is actually ridiculous. The Universe seems to have the same message which like a 24 hour news channel, we just tune into when we want. The big message is always there.

For me, the message was, “There are bigger things ahead of you, quit looking backwards. You have a big job to do.”

I understand your pain everyone! It’s usually very painful for musicians and artists because we feel like our heart was inside the physical thing we made. But really, the true artistry lies inside our spirit. These ashes can serve as amazing gardens for future flowers to grow.

Staring at the ruins too long takes our focus off our bigger purpose.

I think the worst loss of all is the death of our inner child…that’s why I am focusing on getting it back. The rest is whatever to me. ;)

Karen :)

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” ~Leonardo da Vinci