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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

We all have our insecurities. For some it’s their crooked smile, for others it’s their weight, for me it’s my speech. Sure, there are a lot of things about myself and my body that I would love to change but none bothers me more than my inability to speak.

I know. You’re sitting, staring at your computer thinking I’m over exaggerating. I am a creative type, we are prone to the dramatics. But the truth of the matter is I have a speech impediment which gives me a slight stammer and a language disorder called cluttering, both manifest themselves when I’m nervous or extremely excited. I don’t like to say that I have a stutter because most of the time my stutter comes from the cluttering. Stick with me, here.

Everyone has their moments where their minds work faster than their mouths, unfortunately for those like me, it happens way too often. I’m left grabbing for any word to use causing me to start and stop several words before one finally makes it way out.

Thankfully, as I got older I’ve learned to control them but every now and then one of them, usually the cluttering, pop up at the most annoying, and often, embarrassing of times.

Yesterday I was on the phone with a dear friend and it happened. He has been a close friend of mine for a year now and is well aware of all my little quirks. Due to life, our friendship has had it’s ups and downs and we’re still trying to find that ease of friendship we used to enjoy. We check in with each other nearly everyday and once and awhile by phone. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when my phone rang and it was his name on the display. (more…)

A Worthy Pain in the Ass

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business when I got a notification on my phone that someone mentioned me on Facebook. Giddy at the thought of someone thinking of me, I hopped on my computer and brought up the message thread. It was between one of the instructor’s from my gym and a friend who goes there, they were trying to get a tag team together for the spin-a-thon.

I’ve seen posters for the spin-a-thon around the gym and half heard the instructors mention it before my weight-lifting class, but I left it at that. Spin classes scare me, I was never afraid to admit that. And this was one a monster of a class at THREE HOURS long. It was for a worthy cause to be sure, pediatric cancer research, but I just didn’t think my butt could handle it.

Come on, Karen. Do the spin-a-thon, it's only for an hour! :)

My friend didn’t think she could commit to the full three hours so the instructor suggested getting two others to join her in her efforts and divide the time into hour increments. And aren’t I lucky that my friend thought of me? :)

I wanted to say “no,” to politely make up a lie and tell them I will be coming down with the flu that weekend, but I didn’t. Instead, I agreed. It was just an hour, right? And it would be for a good cause.

After committing to the hour I thought it would be a good idea to take a class or two before embarking on the one for charity. So I did and I FREAKING loved it!

It was the hardest hour of my life, well besides childbirth (those freaking kids brought luggage out with them).  I’ve been working out for a couple of years now, but because of knee troubles I’ve been banned from running for about two months so I’ve been slacking on the cardio. After my first spin class my butt hurt from the seat, my chest was tight from breathing heavily and my eyes burned from the sweat dripping into them. I had a freaking blast! So much so that when the instructor approached me and said that there were bikes available for the full three hours of the charity event I agreed. (more…)

Favorite Valentine Memory

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Many of you know I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. I have my reasons and no I’m not sharing them with you. However, just because the holiday isn’t my favorite (not even in the top 5, it even falls after Administrative Assistant Day) that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a favorite memory from the “holiday.”

Actually, in all of my twenty-nine years, my favorite memory for Valentine’s Day happened just yesterday. (See? My favorite Valentine’s memory doesn’t even fall on the day!)

I’m a part of my community chorus called, We Sing. We’re a lovely bunch of people who get together to rehearse once a month and sing at various community functions. Yesterday we were invited to sing at a local senior assisted living center, Country Meadows.

I love singing at retirement homes, the generation living there appreciate music and even though they may forget how to button their pants, they remember word for word of their favorite songs.

After nearly missing two little old ladies and their walkers on the way in (this is why they say don’t talk on cell phones while driving, especially in a retirement home parking lot) I walk into the center with just enough time to take off my jacket and take my spot with the group. I didn’t even get a chance to take in the atmosphere before the piano started.

The first song we sang was “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! It’s a nice little, light song, one that is easy to sway along with. So, there I am, in the front swaying and singing along with the group and my eyes fall onto a gentleman in the front row.

His posture is relaxed, his eyes are closed and I notice his mouth starts to move. At first I thought he was just mumbling to himself, he really wasn’t keeping up with the music but as the song continued his head started to bob and before I knew it his one voice was carrying over ours.

My eyes left him and I took in the rest of the crowd. The ones who were watching were smiling and for a few a tear brought a sparkle to their eyes. However, many had their eyes closed. Lost in the music many swayed, others tapped the beat out with a finger, and most sang.

Many would turn to their neighbors and give them a little a giggle when we sang, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and I just wanted to sit at their feet and have them tell me stories.

Every song we sang, they sang along. From “When You Wish Upon a Star” and ”You are My Sunshine” to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” they were right there with us, never missing a beat. But it was that man in the front that held my attention for most of our set.

He sat with a woman, him in a chair with his cane and her in her wheel chair. I don’t know their relationship, they could very well have been placed their by the workers of the facility, but whenever we started a new song they would turn to each other and give a knowing smile almost to say, “OH! I remember this song!”

I said before that I love singing for this generation, they truly are the “Golden Generation.” I have the utmost respect for what they lived through and I never miss an opportunity to speak with them. Their memories, their laughs, their lives should be cherished and shared. I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of them yesterday, and although a word wasn’t shared between us, the connection I felt with them during the set was amazing.

We sang their songs, we brought smiles to their faces and for 30 minutes we gave them their memories. It was a truly beautiful feeling, one I hope I never forget.

So friends, although I hate the holiday, I love singing the mushy songs that go along with it. I hope you all have a wonderful day full of love and friendship and all that happy horse shit that goes along with the day. ;)

Until next time!

Slainte!

WAIT! Before you go I want to share this song with you! Like I said above, I may hate the holiday, but I love the songs and one of my favorite songs associated with the day is, “My Funny Valentine.” It’s a beautiful song that I always found odd because it basically says, “you’re kinda funny looking but I love you anyway.”

Love shouldn’t be perfect. It should be chaotic, overpowering, challenging yet at the same time safe, warm, inviting, and accepting. So, here ya go friends, a song I love to sing, sung by a man who can melt my heart with the first note.

Sing it, Frankie.

It’s All Downhill From Here

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I like to be a little bit reckless sometimes. See, I was raised pretty sheltered. I’m the youngest of four children and the only girl. Now granted if you read my last post with random facts about me, you know that I can handle myself in a sticky situation and I don’t take kindly to people stealing my friend’s money or my soccer ball. However, self-defense and bully bashing aside, I was the good girl growing up.

I did what I was told when I was told to do it. I hated being a disappointment and I always colored within the lines. The only dangerous situations I put myself in were kept to the soccer field and dealing with a bully here or there. Oh, and there was that knife fight outside of… you know what? Never mind. Let’s just say that I played by the rules.

When my husband introduced me to snowboarding ten years ago I was totally against it. I walk into walls on a daily basis and he wanted to strap me on a board and have me hurl down a mountain, trees and other skiers be damned. The first couple of times I hated it. Partly because I hate sucking at things and partly because I was just too damn scared. Scared of hurting myself. Scared of being laughed at. Just plain scared. And snowboarders? Aren’t they a bit dangerous and careless? I felt a little spark at that that thought, but like the good girl I was, I ignored it.

Then half-way through that first season something happened. I stopped riding my back edge down the trail and I discovered I could go fast, really, really fast. The light bulb went off and the little devil on my right shoulder drop kicked the angel off my left and away I went.

I always liked the “thought” of going fast but I just could never let go. I could never trust my instincts. The more I practiced, and the more confident I got in my abilities, the more I realized just how much I not only enjoyed going fast, but how much I needed it. It isn’t until you’re flying down that mountain under your own control, trusting your own instincts that the freedom truly captures your spirit and you’re free.

Something happens to me when I go fast. When that adrenaline rushes in I feel like no one can touch me. Don’t like my stories? That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, which sucks by the way, but you’re still entitled to it. You don’t want me as a friend, a sister, a confidant? Who needs you? I’m my own person. I can do this. I can do anything!

I can, and most likely, will run into that tree. Just kidding. Maybe. ;)

OK, let’s face it, becoming a totally awesome snowboarder will not turn me into an independent snob who doesn’t need anybody. The truth is I need people a lot more than your average Jane. But knowing that I can handle speed and trust my instincts to work the bumps and divets along the way is very empowering to the sheltered, scared little girl hiding within me.

We went snowboarding last night for the first time in five years and once again I heard that whiny voice creep into my thoughts. Wouldn’t you know it’s the same voice I hear when I write? That damn bitch was telling me that I couldn’t do it.

You’re going to fall and bust up your knee again.

You’re going to make a fool out of yourself when you get off the lift and take out thirty people including a ski patrol guy and be kicked off the mountain.

You should just go home. 

But as usual I kept her voice in my head and put on a happy face. That’s what I do. I smile through the fear, through the pain, because that was another life lesson I learned growing up. I learned no one needs to know your doubts, they’re yours, just deal with them. But I’ll save that train of thought for my therapist. :)

Anyway, back to last night… I laughed and joked with the people riding the lift with us, telling them stories about some of my worst falls.  As we neared the top of the mountain I braced myself for that first major wipeout off of the lift; my heart started to pump, my hands started to sweat and a nervous giggle escaped me. When it came time to push off the chair I took a deep breath, held it and glided about 4 feet before stopping. I didn’t fall.

Just got off the first lift of the night and I didn't fall!

I wanted to kiss someone but no one was around me so I just did a little dance and strapped myself back into my board. As the night wore on, my body remembered the flow of the mountain and I found my rhythm. I remembered that feeling I had five years ago, I remembered the freedom that boarding gave me and I felt that craving to have more of it.

Then the voice got quiet.

It was replaced with real, genuine confidence. I didn’t go as fast as I would have liked, but I had fun, I trusted my instincts on certain trails and I kept going. Sure, I wiped out getting off the lift twice, but the other times were smooth dismounts.

I’m tired of doubting myself, friends. I’m tired of thinking everyone is better than me. I’m ready to take on a bigger mountain, to shut that damn voice up once and for all.

I’m ready to write what I want to write, in my own time, no one else’s.

So shove that in your half pipe and smoke it. ;)

 

And for everyone who requested it… here is a little video I put together of me on the mountain. It gets a little choppy in the middle; I played with the speed of the clip because we were on a “mosey” part of the mountain. Enjoy!

Crescent Moons, Soccer, Gypsies, and Me

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I love winning awards for being me, it’s about the only time I win anything. When I received notifications from the lovely Lorca Damon and the awesome Gareth Young about passing the “Versatile Blogger Award” to me I got super excited.

It took me back to last Spring when I received my first blogger award. I was still new to blogging and I had no idea what it was and at first, I’m not ashamed to admit this, I thought it was somewhat of an actual award. I was a little deflated when I realized it was just a glorified chain letter but I had fun coming up with seven random facts about myself.

The only problem is I’m an open book. With me it’s ask and you shall receive… within reason, of course. ;)

Now I have to list another seven random facts about myself and I’m at a loss. I’m trying to think up stories that I haven’t shared with others but I fear I’m not as mysterious as I should be. I’m kinda boring that way. I should be more mysterious.

That’s it, starting right after this post I’m going to be more mysterious. I have no idea how the hell I’m supposed to do that, but I see a lot of long skirts and scarves in my future. I guess I equate being mysterious with being a gypsy. Oh! And tarot cards, gypsies and tarot cards. Huh, that actually sounds like a lot of fun.

I wonder if I have to dye my hair black in order to be a gypsy?

Anyway, let’s get back to the award. (more…)

2011 Most Popular Post – BUY ME! READ ME! REVIEW ME!… Talk to me.

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Hey friends! For the first half of last year I ran a blog site with my good friend, Susi Nonnemacher. Sharing a blog with her made crossing the line from obscurity into a public platform to share thoughts and ideas a little less daunting. Thanks to WordPress and their “Year in Blogging” stats I learned that my post from last May was our most popular post.

At the time I was “online” for five months I was noticing way too many spammy advertising tweets and not enough conversational tweets. There was one person in particular, a person I considered a friend, who all of a sudden went the way of a book pimp. Every tweet, every conversation revolved around his/her book and I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I did what any self respecting writer would do, I took it to my blog. :)  

I’m reposting this because with the new year here, new goals have been set and I’m positive that most of those goals revolve around book sales. This is my friendly reminder to keep it real and don’t forget to be a human about it. ;)  

So, here it is. I didn’t edit my original post, so its in its rambling glory. Enjoy!

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F U 2012, I’m Not Changing!

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Well friends, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012. Out with the old, in with the new. Goodbye. Sayonara. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Mama’s got a new year coming and she needs to make room, because this is the year its gonna happen. What’s going to happen, I haven’t the slightest of clues, but if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in 2012, right?

After all, isn’t that what all the celebrating is about? Saying goodbye to the old and ringing in the new year with a bang? You know what it is also time for? Resolutions. But this isn’t going to be your everyday “New Year’s resolution” post because of this one question,

What if 2011 wasn’t all that bad?

2011 was the start of self-discovery for me and it was largely due to social networking. glares at Twitter (I say “start” because I have a lot of things to figure out still.) And although these new discoveries lead to some tough times, I feel that they also put me on the path to a happier Karen. So, instead of listing things I’m going to change in the new year, I’m going to list three things that I’m not changing… ever! So there.

I couldn’t say it better myself, Calvin. Let’s get started, shall we? ahem (more…)

My Christmas Card to You!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Happy holidays, everyone!

Christmas is this weekend and I wanted to do something a little different for my blog. So, with the help of my family I put together this little 3 minute video to share with all my new friends!

I’ve met a lot of inspiring and talented people this year who have picked me up when I’ve been down so this video is for you!

Enjoy!

PS: Yes, I’m aware I said “Hot chocolate spiked peppermint schnapps,” that’s how I drink it, schnapps with a dash of hot chocolate. Yummy. ;)

From my family to yours, happy holidays and best wishes

for a happy, healthy and blessed new year!

 

(more…)

12 Blogs of Christmas: Favorite Holiday Movies

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I love Christmas. You should just know that before you get further into this post. If it’s about Christmas, I am there… with bells on. When the 12 Blogs of Christmas idea popped up I just knew I had to be a part of it and showcasing the movies of the holiday was an obvious choice for me. If there’s a holiday movie out there, either about the holidays or taking place during, chances are I’ve seen it ad nausuem.

But when it comes to picking my favorite I can’t pick just one! Thankfully my tribe mates picked some of the best movies out there and thanks to Marie Patchen and her 12 Cartoon Classics post, there is even more holiday movie goodness for us to feast on.

Before I get into our 12 recommendations I need to give a shout out to three very special Christmas movies that didn’t make the list but are must-sees for my Christmas holiday to be complete. (more…)

Challenge to Myself: An Unedited Scene

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

During NaNo I noticed a lot of people posting snippets of their writing and thought, “Hey! I should do that!” But then again, I also thought, “Hey! I should probably be working on my NaNo novel instead of talking on Twitter, or watching TV, or doing the dishes, or breathing.”

Needless to say I did not finish NaNo this year, something that irks me to no end. (It’s not so much that I didn’t finish a project, it’s that I couldn’t complete the challenge. There is a difference in my mind.)

However, there is one thing I can do to placate my need to meet challenges I enforce on myself. I can post a completely unedited scene from my work. Eep! After not looking at it for a couple of weeks I cringe at some of the parts but you know what… who cares? I did it and I’m challenging myself to show you guys something that is rough, a bit rambly, and well, not polished; far from it, in fact.

What some of you may not understand is that very few people see an unpolished version of myself. Even if I post weird or crazy pictures of myself or tell embarrassing and funny stories I scrutinize over them. I try and guess how they will be perceived and interpreted. So enjoy this rare look at my work. I’m feeling oddly free and careless today. It doesn’t happen often. :)

 

 

Flower Shop Scene…

Betty’s Flower Shop was located on the corner of Turner and MacIntosh and just a block away from Tony’s office, which meant that Lena frequented the establishment often. Even though the thought of buying flowers for Tony’s mistresses made her squirm, especially since he rarely ordered any for his wife, Lena loved going into the shop. (more…)