Do You Feel Guilty for Missing Their Pain?

Do you ever feel that "tug of war" of focusing so much on one person in the community, a friend, whatever, that you may be missing something?

Sometimes I feel like I am divided between making a small difference in a lot of people’s lives, and making a big difference in one person’s life, at the moment. Does that make sense?

I will feel good about what I am doing for others, and then suddenly I come across someone that I can see feels that I have totally missed their pain. I admit that sometimes I do, or maybe I make a "judgment call" on who needs me the most at the time? I don't know. I'm just feeling a little confused, and maybe a bit overwhelmed, lol. I know that you can relate too! ;)


That question is a classic case of a heart that has grown three sizes in one day. ;) People who are heartless or have no compassion would never bring something like this up. So, you should feel very good about how loving you are!

I used to feel a tug of war like this but yes, I miss things all the time! This person had to tell me one of our friends was having her baby, I missed that too! Congrats, Deborah!

I used to make an effort to focus on one person because my Mother used to tell me that sometimes going after the one who is hurting is better than trying to affect the masses. Our friend mentioned, “I feel like I am divided between making a small difference in a lot of people’s lives, and making a big difference in one person’s life, at the moment.”

What I have done is I gave myself permission to be human. I also make sure everyone knows I am not perfect and that I don’t dig nor deserve being on a pedestal. When I decided that my job or resume didn’t cover Super-Human abilities, I could breathe again knowing that I can only do what I can do. What I do try to do is go directly to where I am called and what makes sense to me at that time rather than joining a group or becoming a spokesperson for some charity or cause, I keep myself very pliable. I don’t feel the same sense of division between what motivates me because instead of asking myself if I should be making a small difference in a lot of people’s lives or making a big difference in one person’s life, I simply do what makes sense at that moment in time. I basically go where I am spiritually led rather than doing the ‘rounds’ like what many friendship circles insist. I’m like the happy wanderer that way. :)

She said, “I will feel good about what I am doing for others, and then suddenly I come across someone that I can see feels that I have totally missed their pain.” I guess I would call this the Superhuman pressure we sometimes feel. I miss SO much stuff! I am often the last person to find out good news and bad. I think that friends will understand we don’t HAVE to be there for them. My very favorite people have completely alleviated me from being there for them even though I really like to do that when I can and when I am called. When she said, “I admit that sometimes I do, or maybe I make a "judgment call" on who needs me the most at the time?” I think it’s funny that she felt like she had to write ‘admit’. A truly good heart might feel guilty for missing someone’s pain and I love her heart for thinking this way, but clearly, it’s not our job to fix someone, we can only do what is in front of us at the time and there should be no guilt or shame for it.

I think what is happening to make good people feel overwhelmed is that they both feel extraordinarily needed in a hurting world and they recognize they are the last of a dying breed. Good people will fight a whole army with one sword even though they are clearly unequipped to do so. Yes, I believe one person can make a difference, but not if they are wounded. If we feel overwhelmed, it’s really important to relieve ourselves of the guilt so we can function at a high capacity again.

I also think the truly hurting people don’t know they are pulling people in a tug of war. If someone makes us feel guilty for not showing them enough love at the appropriate time according to what their needs are or the timing of their needs, they don’t always mean to do this. They are just hurting. Usually they won’t hate us for missing it, though. If they do, that is way too much to ask of a friendship.

I really try not to make helping people my responsibility; rather I view it as simply the right thing to do. Most situations that arise come to us in a timely way. It’s good to check in on friends, but it’s not our job.

I really would like to see everyone control everyone else a bit less. It’s kind of back to that, “Let’s cut each other some slack” phrase again.

If you are someone who is feeling ignored or you are hurting, may I suggest going into action mode instead of receiving mode? I have found giving to be a tremendous pain-reliever. We all have so much in common; I think we can truly help one another. I just don’t think we have to give more than what we are able to and we certainly don’t have to make others feel guilty when they have very little energy to give as well.

Trying not to fall in the mud,

Karen :)

Suffering makes a people greater, and we have suffered much. We had a message to give the world, but we were overwhelmed, and the message was cut off in the middle. In time there will be millions of us - becoming stronger and stronger - and we will complete the message.” ~D. Ben-Gurion


“If someone does ALOT for you do you OWE them?”

Question: If someone does ALOT for you do you OWE them? And if you want to return the favor, but what they want is just not something you want to or are willing to do does that make you bad, ungrateful, unappreciative, etc? Is that a personal boundary thing or a being selfish thing...the saying no, even though they have done a lot for you? Your thoughts...

I told her that I don’t have answers, but I always have opinions. :)

I guess I look at doing things for others a little differently. If someone does A LOT for me like the question asked, I’d like to return the gesture because it makes me feel good to do so. I don’t however believe that it is owed. People should just do nice things for each other with good intention. I would have to question someone who does something for me with the intent to have the favor returned. That isn’t the spirit of true giving to me. I’ve often said, I like to do good things and then run away and not look for a reaction, far less the favor returned.

I guess I would also have to question if someone would ever ask you to do something you’d be potentially unwilling to do. What does that say about them and their inability to read you? What does that say about their reasons for doing so much for you to begin with? Overall, I believe people should do good things with the correct motivation which I believe is supposed to be from a pure heart. I also don’t think a returned favor is indicative of being grateful or appreciative. If someone is in need, they are simply in need.

I’m not sure I dig the word favor anyways. When you say to someone, “Hey can you do me a favor?” you are asking them to do something despite them not wanting to. “Sorry to bother you” kind of falls in that category too. The favor bank is something people accumulate in the business Rolodex but I’m not sure it should apply to just helping people in their time of need.

You might be right to say they are testing your boundaries. I would say it has nothing to do with being selfish although I still don’t think they should do things for you based on a potential good gesture coming back to them.

I would say though, I would need to ask myself if this person who has helped me truly needs my help and are they suffering to the point where I really should bend my rules to help. Say their house has flooded and they need a place to keep their pets temporarily; are you going to say no because you simply don’t like animals? I think we all need to be pliable enough in certain scenarios. The question here though is sounding more like the ‘favor’ mindset is at the heart of it.

I believe Society’s answer to moving ahead is pay it forward, not pay it back (unless it’s money owing). If we were all busy looking ahead or at least paying attention to who needs us, we wouldn’t be busy making friends feel guilty. I would have no problem telling someone I am unwilling to do something that was outside of my character. I’ve had some men in my life who hooked me up with a contact, then asked me to go on a date and when I would say no, I’d have it thrown back in my face. It’s a trap that nobody should have to feel bad about saying no to. That is how codependent relationships happen; a person keeps a running total of the good things they do for you, then when the time is right, they want to ‘cash it in’. They might even prop you up to the point where you can’t escape. I think it’s really important to recognize that sort of ill-intent from them early on and cut it off even if it means you don’t move up the ladder sooner. That is the story of my career in the music business. It’s happened with managers, agents, labels etc…people who do good things for me and make sure I am constantly reminded they are doing good things for me. I think the only time a person should use it as ammunition is when they are attacked for no reason. Even then, I think the classier thing to do is just walk away with your character in check. It is the most precious thing we have.

If they choose to be angry with you for saying no, I would strongly suggest questioning their intent. It sounds sketchy to me. In the meanwhile, if you feel strongly about doing something nice for someone, I would do it and not ask them to pick the returned favor. Sometimes when we say, “I’d like to do something nice back for you…what would you like?” the answer might not be what you want to hear.

Giving hugs and then running away…

Karen :)

One can never pay in gratitude: one can only pay 'in kind' somewhere else in life.” ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Are Your Scribbles Ugly?

I saw an article about a woman from Mexico whose 4 year old Granddaughter gave her some pearls of wisdom while she was painting. She kept track of the advice while she would paint or draw and wrote it down so it was easy to comprehend.

. Take some paint, some colors, and with your paintbrush, put one color on your paper and take another color on top. Mix it and you'll find a new color is comin' up.

Mixing colors is a new thing for me. Music has always been very serious for me, but my friendships are very silly while most of my writing remains philosophical. I just realized that the new material I am working on is starting to blend all these areas of my life. I never thought you could blend them all, but really if we couldn’t, Tim Burton movies wouldn’t be so popular!

. When I don't have anything to do and get bored, I start painting and then I just can't stop and it makes me feel good.

Does it get any easier than that?

. Take any piece of string. It doesn't matter what kind. Cut it if it's anything like yarn. Put chalk or paint all over it. Put your finger on the very top and grab the other end of the little thing that's stickin' out and pull. Press it on the paper. Then you have the beautiful marking of paint or chalk on the paper.

Trying new things is so scary for us. We think we have to wait until we have money or more material to work with. Just like small craft pieces around our house, we have things within our own character that we can pull from to create something new and beautiful.

. Please take your paintbrush and some paint. Paint whatever you want. Scribbles can be very pretty.

This is such a great pearl. Even our scribbles can be pretty.

. Take markers, some friends and a big piece of paper. Take turns drawing on the paper. Don't fight on whatever somebody draws.

Including friends and being open to what they have to contribute can surprise us!

. Go outside and pick some flowers. Press the flower or leaves while dragging them across your piece of paper. A surprise will come out of the flower.

It’s interesting to me that she saw a use for a flower besides simply being pretty. We should begin to look at people this way!

. Get some wash-off markers and draw a tattoo on your arm, your legs, your chest or even on your forehead. Don't wash it off.

This is the classic case of throwing caution to the wind. We are taught to make sure we simply stay clean at all times!

. With a pencil you can draw a mountain, a dog, a fish, a stream, children going for an Easter egg hunt or you could draw anything with a pencil. When you're done, put it wherever you want to put it.

…and all you need is a pencil… ;)

. Take paint and paintbrush and water and then take your wet paintbrush and put it in any color and just make little twirly lines with your paintbrush. Put your paintbrush into the water and then into another color, and then back into the water. Now your water has color. Now just shake it over your paper and make little dots and it won't be water anymore. It will be paint. If you like the color of your water, just draw with it. Sometimes it looks like a different color on your paper, but it's still pretty.

It’s another analogy like the flower where she saw another use for the water. It shows ingenuity and attentiveness.

. Find a stick and take it home and take a piece of paper and a bottle of grown-up ink. Put your stick into the ink bottle and on your paper. Just make funny lines and the ink will come off the stick on the paper. It's pretty hard to make one, but you can make a face, a heart or a person drawing with ink. I'm just giving an example, but you can make a watermelon or anything else you want to make with ink. And you can always scribble.

I love that she gave some ideas, but also gave permission to just scribble!


It’s funny how we don’t really return to this simple thinking until we grow old. When I look at her advice and apply it to my life, it seems to be pretty solid! Why don’t we go to them more often instead of paying that $200/hr?

Instead of waiting for life to drop off all the materials we think we need, why don’t we realize that life HAS given us the materials we need already?

We are equipped…
Karen :)

There is a Japanese proverb that literally goes 'Raise the sail with your stronger hand,' meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do.” ~Soichiro Honda

(Soichiro was the founder the Honda Motor Company, but he and his wife were both pilots. He also liked to ski, hang-glide & go ballooning at the age of 77 and was an accomplished artist.)


One Day without a Mirror

Have you ever gone on vacation and packed way too much stuff? I was talking to a friend who was heading to an island for a tropical holiday and she was saying how she had double the stuff her husband did. She giggled and said, “They don’t understand how much we require.”

Well, I really question the use of the word ‘require’ in this case. She needed a certain amount of clothes, but then several pairs of shoes, blow dryers, straightening irons, curling irons, rollers, make-up, jewelry, beachwear, many pairs of sunglasses and the list goes on & on.

I have gone away and come home to look in my suitcase which still had the clothes folded the initial way, unused. The idea was that I was going to look magazine front-cover fantastic not just every day, but for each meal and outing of the day. When we take on this mentality on vacation, it’s easy to spend more time in front of the hotel room mirror than experiencing the place we’re visiting!

Women especially use all those items every single day for work, so it seems pretty normal to lug all that along on vacation. Then, how can it be considered a vacation if we are doing the same thing as we just did at home? It’s actually more work, because you have to drag that stuff around airports and on planes, into hotels and be mindful of your passport and travel plans at the same time. It’s no wonder most people need a vacation from their vacation by the time they get home!

I have really looked at the word ‘vacation’ in recent years. I would view a vacation as unplugging completely although working on music isn’t work to me. When I see people texting their friends back home on holidays, it’s a lovely thought, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to get rid of everything that was equated to work and being at home?

Personally, I would rather be at home than be on an island. I am not big on travelling. What I love more than anything in the world is to ponytail my hair and hang out with animals. I like day trips more than week-to-10 day trips. When I went horseback riding in the hills, that was a good getaway. Anytime we have to entertain someone else, it’s hard to call it a vacation.

Everyone’s life and job is different, but what we all have in common is the need to have a breather. Sometimes we need a break from family and sometimes it’s from work.

Have you ever gone shopping all day, especially at Christmas…and you feel physically ill by the time you are done? Some of it happens before we reach the mall (which I am proud to say I didn’t step foot into this season…YAY!)

If you are planning a day to go shopping, you may shower and get dolled up before even leaving the house. That can take 45-1 hour. We have to check ourselves in the car mirrors throughout the day and then at the mall, you have to go to the bathroom to freshen up. The mirror seems to keep reminding us throughout the day to keep up with it. Then of course, every store seems to have full-length mirrors reminding us that our own wardrobe is getting tired.

I only know a handful of people who have recognized that all those mirror moments add up to devour our very precious moments in life. If we actually felt better by checking our arms, stomach, butt and thighs every morning or when putting a new outfit on, I would say; go for it, do it all day long! Unfortunately, the mirror has become an enemy which we seem to enjoy having a codependent relationship with.

Now, I do like the mirror in the case of checking for food stuck in my teeth, but other than that, hair brushing and make-up I keep very practical. When I get dressed, I might check in once every 10 times or so. I came from a family whose matriarch liked to make sure everyone left the house looking like ladies. Mom put curlers in our hair and dressed us up. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing yourself this way, but I am seeing way too many people who are not happy-go-lucky like their attire would have you believe.

If you didn’t have to look in the mirror today, what would you do with yourself? If your nails were cut short, would you pick up an instrument and learn to play? If you didn’t have to do your hair and make-up, could you throw a snowsuit on and go tobogganing with your kids? If you didn’t have to put on heels, could you throw on some hiking boots and grab the dog and go walking? If you didn’t have to wear a skirt, could you jump on a bicycle or motorcycle?

Wouldn’t it be better to have a vacation from the mirrors? I don’t think we have to go back-packing in the wilderness to achieve it.

Hope your Holidays ROCK!

Karen :)

Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.” ~Samuel Butler


Where is Your Adventurous Side?

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost

I feel especially connected to this quote by Robert Frost because most of the choices I have made have been the one less travelled. I was the little girl who would eat green strawberries while everyone else waiting for them to turn color. Some of my choices caused me great stomach pain both literally and figuratively, but I boldly made the choice to take option B more times than not.

Seeing what is behind Door number 2 will either give us something greater or make us regret ever going there, but the thing about me is I have never been comfortable with not looking. Wondering what else is available to me and losing sleep over it was always more painful than the disappointment of the gamble.

I was also the girl who would pluck a green pepper from the garden and go on a walk with it pretending it was my magical fruit with hidden powers. Other kids went straight for the fruit trees. Maybe by simply loving the color green, the good and bad outcomes would be evenly balanced. I was the girl who chased the arts while others found safe good-paying jobs. I like to think that by choosing the road less travelled I haven’t become richer like gambling on the slower horse, but I am quite certain my choice made life at least more interesting.

My experiences have provided a very colorful backdrop to my current place and state in the world. I now have a palette of colors to paint with that I wouldn’t have, had I taken the same path as everyone else.

Playing it safe seems to be a constant reminder whenever we gamble a bit in life. I have found the best way to gamble is not about choosing how much you invest, but by changing my mindset to be acclimated to being sure I will be totally ok with the outcome. I don’t look at life’s gambles as how much can I get back, I look at them as trying something new. I make sure my mind is prepared for whatever the result is. How will I react to the bad endings? I make sure I understand the goal is to gain perspective not to gain monetary items.

Some people view the Robert Frost quote as being adventurous. When I made the move from Canada to Los Angeles, I could hear the very loud whispers in the circles around me from people who were very sure I was mad. I didn’t have it all figured out when I came here. I packed a suitcase and a smaller bag and I knew that was close to stupid at the time. But looking back, it wasn’t at all. What was the worst that could happen? That’s the thing; I didn’t look at the worst case scenario because I felt like I was already living the worst case scenario in Canada. How can a green strawberry make you sick when you already have the flu? I didn’t feel threatened by any potential effect.

‘Trial by fire’ is another phrase I feel very associated with. There were so many choices I had made that were forced. Some of us need a fire lit underneath us in order to go running while others won’t budge from the chair unless the whole house is on fire. Some people are so sad, they welcome their home burning so they don’t have to face another day. I have taunted the fire around me to take me with it.

This morning I saw the two feral kitties on the roof. I hate that they bite at their fleas all the time. I got to thinking that the fleas keep them calm and occupied because they never do too much of anything else. I wondered what kinds of things they would do if they didn’t have a flea distracting them. I see them spot one another and swing the tails in anticipation of some play, but then they will both be stopped by their own fleas. The one kitty this morning went into a rolling frenzy as though he was saying, “Fleas, fleas, fleas, yeah I got them, whatever…life’s a riot!”

We all have something holding us back from being adventurous. The hard part is to figure out how to find ourselves in it all when our skin is crawling. We become so fixated on our skin that we simply can’t find the person we are on the inside.

I guess we can be an indoor kitty without fleas; safe and clean or we can endure the bites and go hunting. Maybe the best of both worlds is to tackle those fleas once and for all so we can’t be bitten on the journey. Running away from problems isn’t part of an adventure, adventure should make us feel free!

Staying off the beaten path,

Karen :)

“Freedom lies in being BOLD.” ~Robert Frost


The Wisdom of Dr. Love

I mentioned how much Beethoven changes the mood in my house. (his music, not him…he’s not around…lol) I also get a lot from Leo Buscaglia who was a Professor and lecturer and was known as Dr. Love.

I don’t know if I am just getting older and mushier, but I find myself drenched in things that make me feel good. I try not to be in circles that promote hate, revenge, anger or violence although I like to write on those topics sometimes in my extracurricular writings and ramblings on occasion. I wished I would have stumbled upon this guy in my youth. He has a fantastic array of videos on youtube which even though some are closing in on 40 years ago, still hold up today. It’s part of why I tend to read and watch messages from people who lived well before me. They have marinated in a good way; time, tested and true.

Leo Buscaglia was not only promoting love as the most powerful force on the earth, but his energy was infectious and his lectures were contagious. I always walk away feeling excited about the mysteries not yet discovered and he gives a child-like perspective on adult issues. I like that his messages while very deep and layered, maintain a sense of simplicity.

Some of my favorite quotes come from him. You’ve probably heard some of them before, but today I felt the need to revisit them even though I know them.

One of my favorites;

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things... I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.

In a society where we are taught to strive for the big things, I am finding more and more I love the little things. What I find interesting about the quote is that the leaves and wind are actually NOT little things! That is part of an enormous magnificent weather system. I think we feel as though they are insignificant because we are simply used to them and we starve for new things. How fun it is to stay connected to this force and how good it is for our soul! I think nature is becoming a retro movement again, but how can we have a relationship with it that keeps us connected rather than a passing trend? I view the rain as part of my life now rather than something to bring me down…we should be in awe of it!

Another fantastic quote by him which I try to live by;

Don't smother each other. No one can grow in the shade.

Until I realized that I needed to ditch the idea of controlling anyone around me, I think I was contributing to their stunted state. We tend to complain that we hate how someone is acting, how little their thoughts are, how much they annoy us, but we speak down to them and keep them stifled. True growth needs room to grow and may have to go through some awkward, gangly stages before reaching their glow.

Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.

This was something many of us were taught as child. Don’t be a ‘wuss’, ‘tree-hugger’ or some other cat-like phrases. Lol I am still knee-deep in the lesson of gentleness actually being a strong trait and attribute. That one has taken me a very long time to digest. Generally, people who are cruel are in self-defense mode and may have reached a point where their decisions are based on desperation. If you hang out with enough gentle people, you soon realize that the cruel ones are only hurting themselves and are not triumphing over the weak, they are the weak.

This quote is really wise;

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.

I have spent most of my life worrying. Worry doesn’t spawn action, you have to actually convert it before it works. I am learning to distance myself from things which rob my happiness, that is, if I can’t convert it.

And I’ll end with this quote from him;

Don't brood. Get on with living and loving. You don't have forever.

Something I find interesting is that living and loving are things I can do while the world is going crazy. I don’t have to wait for things to get better and I don’t have to push other problems aside in order to practice living and loving. If I realize it can be inserted into everything I do quite effortlessly, I can stand back and allow my new mindset to take over the bad stuff. I don’t have to put so much responsibility on myself to fix it all, just by living and loving, the attitude shift can make my conversion to a healthier lifestyle seamless.

It can seem redundant to revisit the simple messages we were taught, but when our lives become increasingly cluttered and crazy, we sometimes have to go back to the beginning and return to the simple message which has proven to work; love. Love started it all, has proven itself and I try to stay aware of the things which distract me from it; the news, the bickering, the gossip, the arguments, new techniques, new science. They are all parts of our life meant to be experienced to some degree for our own growth and wisdom, but returning to love is what keeps me grounded in a very fulfilling way and strips the cobwebs, not to mention fires up new life.

Off to jump in a puddle,

Karen :)

Quote quota used up. ;)


Christmas Ideas for People Who Are Alone

Baking and cooking, then taking it to neighbors. You can spend a few minutes at each place, it doesn’t have to be long visits. (Have your favorite music blaring while you bake and in your vehicle on the way to and from your neighbors)This person says, ‘Skip the pity invites’ I’m not sure people are pitying you, but her point was that someone else’s family drama might make you miss your friends or family more.

Pampering Day; run a tub, wrap your hair in a towel and give yourself a facial, manicure or pedicure (Have your favorite music blaring in the back)

Go ice skating at the local rink. (Make sure your blast music on the way to and from the rink, you get to endure whatever music is on at the rink, but it’s usually part of the experience no matter how corny)

Find photos to send to friends online and wish them a Merry Christmas. (Keep music blaring in your house)

Go hiking in the woods with your dog (You could even put a walkman on)

Do something you have always wanted to do; paint, write, make music, pick up a guitar, find an online lesson on youtube and learn a few chords

Get out and do some charity work. You can call your local animal shelters, churches and homeless centers

Change the lighting in your home. Buy candles, a new lamp for the living room, something to make you feel like the mood has changed.

Explore a new genre of music. if you are used to Rock, why not try Classical, Piano music, soundtrack or acoustic guitar instrumental?

See if your local church is holding a service. Even if you aren’t a believer, there is usually some good people gathering and some good music or food. Someone online said she was asking friends for coats and collecting them to take to her shelter.

Rent a movie that is not Christmas related. Someone recommended ‘Die Hard’. Hahaha!

See if anyone is planning an online chat or Skype group.

Sleep in and don’t feel guilty. Get up early and go walking and go back to bed if you want. Give yourself permission to enjoy the day or waste the day.

Dress up your pets in Christmas garments or tinsel, take photos of them and send them to your friends.

Plan a dinner for friends that doesn’t happen until after Christmas, but spend Christmas preparing for it. Make them scrap books with pictures or make presents that are really connected to their individual interests. Christmas doesn’t have to happen on Christmas Day.

Create an extended family by recognizing who you want to be with, not who was forced on you. Start calling your friends Sis, Brother, Ma, Pa etc.

Someone mentioned medicating himself for the few days around Christmas to avoid it altogether. I think it’s good to look at the Holidays as days on the calendar and are just as important in your life. Just because someone decided to make traditions, doesn’t mean you have to follow them.

This one person on a forum said,

Folks who feel bad about being solo this holiday, I can tell you there are more than afew families living true drama and not having fun this holiday. Please just think of some fun or relaxing activities for today! Remember, being alone is an art! If we can learn to enjoy our own company, take on new hobbies/skills and just deal with a day or two without NOISE, I find that art will become life form. Have a wonderful day and don't wish it away, learn from it.

I hope whatever you decide to do, please keep in mind that the most important thing is these days are YOUR days just like the rest of the year. We are blessed to have every single moment we are given.

Much love on you!

Karen :)

My mother was a professional sick person; she took a lot of pain pills. There are many people like that. It's just how they are used to getting attention. I always remember she's the daughter of alcoholics who'd leave her alone at Christmas time.” ~Jim Carrey


'A Slice of Life'

Thought I'd share a Christmas story;

'A Slice of Life' ; by Carol McAdoo Rehme

Jean heaved another world-weary sigh. Tucking a strand of shiny black hair behind her ear, she frowned at the teetering tower of Christmas cards waiting to be signed. What was the point? How could she sign only one name? A "couple" required two people, and she was just one.

The legal separation from Don had left her feeling vacant and incomplete. Maybe she would skip the cards this year. And the holiday decorating. Truthfully, even a tree felt like more than she could manage. She had canceled out of the caroling party and the church nativity pageant. Christmas was to be shared, and she had no one to share it with.

The doorbell's insistent ring startled her. Padding to the door in her thick socks, Jean cracked it open against the frigid December night. She peered into the empty darkness of the porch. Instead of a friendly face -- something she could use about now -- she found only a jaunty green gift bag perched on the railing. From whom? she wondered. And why?

Under the bright kitchen light, she pulled out handfuls of shredded gold tinsel, feeling for a gift. Instead, her fingers plucked an envelope from the bottom. Tucked inside was a typed letter. It was a...story?

The little boy was new to the Denmark orphanage, and Christmas was drawing near, Jean read. Already caught up in the tale, she settled into a kitchen chair.

From the other children, he heard tales of a wondrous tree that would appear in the hall on Christmas Eve and of the scores of candles that would light its branches. He heard stories of the mysterious benefactor who made it possible each year.

The little boy's eyes opened wide at the mere thought of all that splendor. The only Christmas tree he had ever seen was through the fogged windows of other people's homes. There was even more, the children insisted. More? Oh, yes! Instead of the orphanage's regular fare of gruel, they would be served fragrant stew and crusty, hot bread that special night.

Last, and best of all, the little boy learned, each of them would receive a holiday treat. He would join the line of children to get his very own....

Jean turned the page. Instead of a continuation, she was startled to read: "Everyone needs to celebrate Christmas, wouldn't you agree? Watch for Part II." She refolded the paper while a faint smile teased the corner of her mouth.

The next day was so busy that Jean forgot all about the story. That evening, she rushed home from work. If she hurried, she'd probably have enough time to decorate the mantle. She pulled out the box of garland, only to drop it when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, she found herself looking at a red gift bag. She reached for it eagerly and pulled out the piece of paper.

...to get his very own orange, Jean read. An orange? That's a treat? she thought incredulously.

An orange! Of his very own? Yes, the others assured him. There would be one apiece. The boy closed his eyes against the wonder of it all. A tree. Candles. A filling meal. And an orange of his very own.

He knew the smell, tangy sweet, but only the smell. He had sniffed oranges at the merchant's stall in the marketplace. Once he had even dared to rub a single finger over the brilliant, pocked skin. He fancied for days that his hand still smelled of orange. But to taste one, to eat one? Heaven.

The story ended abruptly, but Jean didn't mind. She knew more would follow.

The next evening, Jean waited anxiously for the sound of the doorbell. She wasn't disappointed. This time, though, the embossed gold bag was heavier than the others had been. She tore into the envelope resting on top of the tissue paper.

Christmas Eve was all the children had been promised. The piney scent of fir competed with the aroma of lamb stew and homey yeast bread. Scores of candles diffused the room with golden halos. The boy watched in amazement as each child in turn eagerly claimed an orange and politely said "thank you."

The line moved quickly, and he found himself in front of the towering tree and the equally imposing headmaster.

"Too bad, young man, too bad. But the count was in before you arrived. It seems there are no more oranges. Next year. Yes, next year you will receive an orange."

Brokenhearted, the orphan raced up the stairs empty-handed to bury both his face and his tears beneath his pillow.

Wait! This wasn't how she wanted the story to go. Jean felt the boy's pain, his aloneness.

The boy felt a gentle tap on his back. He tried to still his sobs. The tap became more insistent until, at last, he pulled his head from under the pillow.

He smelled it before he saw it. A cloth napkin rested on the mattress. Tucked inside was a peeled orange, tangy sweet. It was made of segments saved from the others. A slice donated from each child. Together they added up to make one whole, complete fruit.

An orange of his very own.

Jean swiped at the tears trickling down her cheeks. From the bottom of the gift bag she pulled out an orange -- a foil-covered chocolate orange--already separated into segments. And for the first time in weeks, she smiled. Really smiled.

She set about making copies of the story, wrapping individual slices of the chocolate orange. There was Mrs. Potter across the street, spending her first Christmas alone in 58 years. There was Melanie down the block, facing her second round of radiation. Her running partner, Jan, single-parenting a difficult teen. Lonely Mr. Bradford losing his eyesight, and Sue, sole care-giver to an aging mother....

A piece from her might help make one whole.


What Do You Consider a Deal Breaker?

‘What About Bob?’ is another movie I quote often. There is a scene where Bob tells his psychiatrist, “There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.” Dr. Marvin responds with, “I see. So, what you're saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multi-phobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you, you left her because she... liked Neil Diamond?”

I only quote about 4-5 films you know. Anchorman, Dumb & Dumber…anything funny, really.

I hear so many reasons for why someone needs to get the boot. For me, I can’t have animal haters around. TOTAL deal breaker. :) It’s one thing if someone is truly allergic, but if you just hate them, that’s it for me! But even then, it’s not liking or hating animals, I just find people who hate animals aren’t going to gel with my personality and they’ll be sick of me soon enough, so best to save everyone future aggravation. I think someone who liked the opposite music as me would have to be a deal breaker, I couldn’t survive that. I don’t think Bob’s analogy in the movie was too far off IF that was what the problem was.

I had another friend who didn’t like that his current girlfriend had dated someone he knew. He felt it was something he just couldn’t get past but the clincher was that she told him she wanted to be a swinger and he didn’t…so, deal breaker.

Some people consider pack-rat-it is (a made up word for hoarding) or being a slob a deal breaker. Sometimes smoking, drugs or alcohol will be a deal-breaker. Cheating might be the biggest deal breaker.

I had someone block and delete me for not responding to him or clicking like on his FB posts saying he saw me respond to other people. I guess that was a deal breaker for him.

I received an email from a friend this morning who was concerned about taking his relationship with his girlfriend to a more serious level even though she was completely upfront with him about her past. I won’t go into details because I am learning more and more all the time that people are watching these videos. LOL! But, I will say he wondered if it was a deal breaker.

My thought is this; first and foremost, in my experience it’s the ones who are NOT honest about themselves who cause the problems. There are people who seem like the perfect suitor and then side-swipe you later without letting you in on it earlier. Two years into your marriage you find out they have a whole other family somewhere. If you love someone you are in a new relationship with, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. It’s really best to put out all your cards on the table in the beginning to signify that it isn’t a competition. If someone has the decency to tell you something about their past and you say you are okay with it, you’ve been warned and you better not bring it up again. If someone tells you they love to smoke and you say, that’s ok and then spend the next 20 years nagging them to quit, you sort of brought that on yourself.

When someone tells you something about their past, I really see that as a sign of trust….that is, if they aren’t just saying it because you are bound to find out, I mean if they tell you because they love you enough to confide in you. Really, there is no law saying you have to tell a current partner everything about you.

Now I would think if the thing they told you seems like something that could cause current problems, you’d have to assess to see what is healthy for you. My experience in relationships has always been about people blind-siding me with new information well into the relationship. If someone seemed gentle and then became abusive a year into the relationship, I’d call it off…and I have.

Honestly, if we are waiting for ‘perfect’ in someone, look around…nobody is. But are they perfect for you?

It’s a fine line between asking someone to put up with too much and being tolerant of our flaws. Real friendship and real love doesn’t put all these rules and regulations on relationships, but then again…it’s a whole other ball-game when you live with someone.

If someone is super honest with you, that is pretty admirable and I really think that person deserves a medal in a society full of liars. If you think your relationship can handle some past problems and you are all about honesty and starting new, I don’t see why it would have to be a deal breaker.

If we all look in the mirror, we could probably see some faults that would make us unworthy of being in a relationship. If we are all honest and open with each other, we can choose who we hang with.

If someone calls it quits because you do something they don’t like, they were probably unwilling to look past anything that could potentially come up. In the case where I was blocked, if that was the worst fault he found with me, that I didn’t click ‘like’, I guess I still consider myself an ok person. My true friends cut me more slack than that!

Wondering if I should stop clicking like and stop responding to everyone just to see who will still like me in the end… I think I will have less than 10 friends left.

Karen :)

“No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.” ~Mignon McLaughlin


How Does the Word, ‘Blank’ Make You Feel?

It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” ~Paul Cezanne

Blank can be painful. Having everything stripped away is not something we are used to. After all, the world is anything but blank. Everywhere we look is clutter and chatter and lines have blurred together.
Blank is the reminder that something was taken away from us, someone was taken from us. It is the synonym of the words, ‘empty’ and ‘void’ and that makes us want to give up.

Blank can be scary. It seems like an unknown which we are also not used to. After all, the world continuously threatens us with terrifying nightmares. Everywhere we look are monsters and demons and someone is coming to get us. Blank is the reminder that someone can see us out in the open and has an easy shot to take us down. It is the synonym of the word, ‘vacant’ and that feels like a scene for a horror movie.

Blank can be exciting. Starting over can seem like a new beginning. After all, the sun rises and sets, the rain comes to purify, we get rest time in between it all and each moment in our life is an opportunity to begin again. Everywhere we look are seeds turning into flowers, caterpillars turning into butterflies and new life being born every second in many species. Blank is the reminder that we are given each moment as a gift and the chance to try again. It is the synonym of the words, ‘clear’ and ‘clean’ and that feels fresh.

The idea is to change my perspective on something I see or in this case, something I don’t see. By simply taking the word, ‘blank’ and breaking it down into, ‘painful’, ‘scary’ and ‘exciting’ I am able to embrace the opportunity in the word while not dismissing its origin. I also acknowledge the things that could threaten my new beginning. Essentially, I keep myself ‘aware’.

This is why I break everything down. It’s not just my love for philosophy or words but it’s like panning for gold and searching for solutions. The phrase, ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade’ comes from this thought process even though it’s become so popular now that we dismiss it as a solution. It’s either too intimidating to start fresh or we feel too guilty for doing so.

For many years I would beat myself up at the notion of starting over. You may feel guilty for going out and having some fun if you left an unhealthy situation or if you were left alone. Sometimes we are made to feel as though we should wallow in our unhappiness just a bit longer because society believes healing time takes a certain amount of time.

I was thinking about the story my Mother told me when she sat in her Pastor’s office. He was watching her twist her wedding and engagement rings in circles around her fingers. She said after many years of mourning my Father’s death, she didn’t know when she should remove them. He asked her if she even wanted to. He told her there was no law saying she couldn’t keep them on forever if she wanted to. She just looked at them. He said, “unless you are thinking you would like to take them off.” She actually did want to take them off but said she felt guilty about it. She said it had been decades since she’s seen that finger bare. He told her she was allowed to put any ring she wanted on it. She decided to take them off that day and she put another ring on.

I think she felt like everyone would be watching her if she removed my Dad’s rings. She wondered if people would think she was single and on the prowl or something. She realized there were actually three options, not two. Keep the rings on, take the rings off or put another one in its place. Taking them off seemed scary, replacing them felt painful and nothing felt exciting. Keeping them on at least felt familiar. When she replaced them with another one, I believe she saw that as transitional. It was a ring that meant something to her but not from a suitor.

Sometimes we either fill up the blank canvas because it feels like the safe choice. It’s not painful, scary or exciting.

But what if we just embraced the opportunity to choose and went with something that feels like the right choice?

The lesson that I got from Mom’s experience in that office was she was able to make a choice that was bothering her and came up with a solution that came from her soul. The ring she picked to put on it was simply a special ring she had and she felt connected to it.

I think many of us try to fill our void and blank canvas with something equally as detrimental to our spirit as what was initially cluttering up the space in the first place. It’s probably better to choose something to put on our canvas that is really and truly a part of us, something we are passionate about or will make us feel truly content. Otherwise, going to the store and racking up the credit card just puts us in debt, a one-night stand leaves us feeling cold and drugs or alcohol makes us feel ashamed.

This is why my blank canvas is full of music. Music actually has the capability of knocking things out of the way and is powerful enough to clean the canvas for me! We all have something we are passionate about.

So, let me ask; Is blank painful, scary or exciting for you?

Karen :)

“An empty canvas is a living wonder... far lovelier than certain pictures.” ~Wassily Kandinsky


Are You Too Sensitive?

I have covered this topic before a bit in ‘waiting for others to change’ and ‘are you too invested’, but it’s worth looking at again.

One of the questions I was asked, ‘Is there any satisfaction in knowing you’re too-compassionate, and always believe the best in people?’ It was regarding someone who was supporting a friend’s music and this guy had snapped at him a few times in what he felt was a condescending way. He had posted up some video with info in a language he didn’t understand and got snapped at for requesting an English version suggesting it was only for fans from that country. There were other incidences where he was really short with people around him too. He also said he drove a lot and spent a lot of money supporting him. He felt really hurt by that seeing as he was always supporting him.

There are two mini topics I want to talk about; the word ‘Supporting’ and the word ‘Expectations’.

Supporting; This is a topic I have been meaning to cover anyways seeing as I am also an artist in the public eye. For anybody who has been around long enough, you may remember my joke about the underwire bra. When I hear the word ‘support’, forgive me but that is what I think of. I am personally really happy to hear when someone says, ‘I will support you Karen’ but the reason I am not a big fan of the saying is because when artists have the support of a fan base or friends, there is a danger that a codependent relationship can transpire. I personally released the music from being a part of that. I make my living working and you’ll never hear me thank anyone for their support. I don’t regurgitate phrases like, “I couldn’t do this without you.” That phrase isn’t true. I have made music for years without anyone. I make music and I share it with anyone who wants to listen happily, but I am sorry to say I am not one of those artists who will thank the fans for their support. I have supported myself for years. What this does is frees me from becoming indebted to people, frees the people who buy the music from having to purchase everything I put out and most importantly frees the music from having to make money and turning into some marketable bubblegum crap. I make music and then I share it for those who want to hear it. I feel like the music has something to offer too, so it’s not a case of me being in debt to someone who buys it.

I do believe friends offer love and support to one another, but true love and support shouldn’t come with the expectations.

Expectations; Do you remember me saying that ‘when we have expectations of other people we will be disappointed?’ That was a phrase I learned (and really one of the only good things I learned) from a therapist.

I encounter this almost daily and I guess I have just learned to allow them to have their journey and let go of any responsibility or control in the matter. Everyone has problems, complications and a history. Most of those we don’t see based on one or two sentences from them. In the music industry there is a danger of ego taking over and so artists will also recite music industry phrases that make them seem a bit more ‘rockstar’. “Check out my music”, “Thanks for Your Support” or anything to do with Itunes, myspace, facebook, youtube and reverb nation are some of the things they think they should say. Many artists have a sense of entitlement because they think they have worked harder than anyone out there so it makes them eligible to unload and unleash snobby phrases on their listeners. As a music listener, I really want the people I love to be really cool. I don’t want to know that Ian Gillan is a jerk if he is because I love Deep Purple. It would be disappointing to me. There can be an expectation that Ian should be cool because his music is cool. The truth is Ian is a person and I shouldn’t worry about how cool he is or if he appreciates me and my ‘support’ or not. He didn’t ask me for it. He recorded some songs because he wanted to. If I get something from his music, does it matter if he’s a jerk?

The one other thing I want to bring up is this particular person asked me if he was being too sensitive. There is something simply outstanding about being sensitive in a desensitized society. It’s not a bad trait. But I don’t suspect that is the problem here. I think maybe it’s more a case that he truly felt like he was supporting this artist, felt invested in him as an artist and friend and therefore had some expectations that he would be treated better. Our reaction to all of it is where we feel too sensitive, but I believe the feeling of being too sensitive is just the reaction. We shouldn’t be questioning our own heart, we should be questioning our motivation and our own expectations. I’ve said many times that it’s best for me to do something nice for someone and then run away like it never happened. That way, you go onto do the next thing in life and don’t look back to see if you got anything back. It does hurt though when you immediately get something negative back. We also shouldn’t be questioning our hearts then, we should be questioning our expectations and evaluate what it truly means to show love without anything in return. The truth is the people who are truly mean, may be the very ones who need our love!

Making music like nobody is listening…spreading love like a Chef sprinkles icing sugar on pancakes,
(He just does it and no patrons come to thank him)

Karen :)

All sensitive people agree that there is a peculiar emotion provoked by works of art.”
~Clive Bell


‘Are You Lying to Someone?’

“Lying to someone you love to keep them happy is like a doctor giving out cigarettes to his lung cancer patients to keep them coming.” I saw that on someone’s status update.

Some people will tell you little white lies are ok. You know the kind, ‘I’m washing my hair tonight, sorry I can’t make it’ or ‘I have a headache, I can’t make it to your show’. You’ve heard me say before that my standard answer is, ‘I don’t want to.’ I say that because it’s true. :)

Then there are the medium lies we tell that involve fantasy-based characters being the mascots for the Holidays.

The lies which sting are when you say you can’t come to a party and then the host of that party sees you down at the Liquor Store dressed to the nines because you are going somewhere else. Ouch.

How about the lies we tell to cover up bits of our past that are either embarrassing or could be harmful to the current relationship? Maybe it isn’t a full-on lie, maybe it’s a cover-up.

Maybe we aren’t lying but instead just not defending the truth.

A lie isn’t what tends to hurt us, it’s the consequence of the lie. However we will tell our partners we can handle anything so long as it’s the truth. We will say we don’t appreciate being lied to.

If someone cheats on us, we’ll rant and rave about how it was the lie that got us. “Yeah, he cheated and then lied about it.” Well the truth is the cheating is what hurts us. The consequence is that they can’t be trusted. If the lie bugged us so much, we’d be mad about Santa and the Easter Bunny too…but we still get presents, so who cares, right?

The part that we are ashamed us usually isn’t the lie, it’s the act. Then, people are generally only sorry when they get caught in the act or caught lying.

It’s almost impossible to heal anything with an ongoing lie, but if you are ready to fess up to something, you better be ready to face the consequence that goes with it. Like giving yourself up to the police, you may get a lesser sentence, but you are still going to do the time.

What I am finding with many people is nobody seems to think telling the truth is very convenient. This is especially true when there is cheating or even just a ‘loss of love’ like admitting you simply don’t love someone. If you rely on your spouse for money or financial support, it’s imperative to keep the lie going so you don’t end up homeless.

In looking back at the original, “Lying to someone you love to keep them happy is like a doctor giving out cigarettes to his lung cancer patients to keep them coming.” I think the problem is that when we are stuck in a lie like that, we may think we are keeping them happy, but we never seem to consider our own happiness. I don’t mean the kind of happiness that keeps you going to a hotel room every other night or affords you the time to hang at a bar with the boys, but the happiness knowing your character is in check.

What if we took them out of the equation altogether, can we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel ok about whatever we are lying about? Can this also enter as a factor in ditching the lie? What does it say about us when we have to lie?

Another thing to consider is what does it say about our situation is we have to lie? Are we in something really unhealthy for our spirit? Are we trapped by not just the lie, but by people or surroundings? Is the lie maybe just an indication of a much bigger problem? How do we free ourselves of the lie and the all the circumstances which helped to cultivate the lie?

Everyone feels justified for lying otherwise, nobody would do it. But if you really feel like you have a good solid reason for lying and for argument sake, we’ll say you are justified, what are you covering up, protecting or just really knee-deep in that is so important that your spirit is being compromised?

I’ve had many years of adjusting in my life and the best thing I have ever done was switched into spirit-protection mode. It’s where I have assessed what is good for my spirit and what isn’t. It’s where I hire armed guards to watch out for me while I sleep. This protection is meant to always keep my character in alignment. I figure if I make every decision based on what is best for my spirit, my problems and issues won’t bleed into the lives of others. It’s what stops a person from cheating on someone just because they cheated on you. It stops us from seeking revenge or doing harm to others. I find it quite self-regulating.

So yes, lying to someone to keep them happy is pretty ridiculous no matter the reason. I’ve even said children are more resilient than we give them credit for. I know a boy right now who has seen more from his parents than maybe what he should, but he has a very clear idea of what is going on and he can talk quite openly about their situation. Is it dysfunctional? Maybe. But he’s not being lied to and therefore he gets to assess it based on the truth and because the truth of his parents really awful relationship is out in the open, other people can talk openly to the boy and he knows it’s not his fault. This is a good thing.

I’m more concerned that people are lying to themselves and therefore are chipping away at their own character which is of greater concern. The fear is that once we have hurt our spirit, we can’t get it back. But we too are resilient and we get to have new beginnings. We are equipped and we can start fresh with a new protective liner on our spirit. We just have to make it our priority and get rid of the lies to start. Just like demolishing a house to build a new one, it’s pretty ugly for a while.

Maybe next time someone asks me to do something, I’ll change my ‘I don’t want to’ to ‘No thank you.’ It sounds a bit nicer, doesn’t it? ;)

Karen :)

“I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.” ~Michael de Montaigne