Moving Day and Other Big News

17 Nov

Today is a big day in my little world. Today I am launching a new blog called Where Karen Goes. I am also launching a new book called Happiest Holidays. it isn’t live yet, but I’ll be posting on Where Karen Goes as soon as it is. It’s a lot to take in, and I’ve been overwhelmed more than once, but sometimes when the only thing that keeps you from drowning is swimming, you swim. It feels different this time, though, for both the blog and the book. When I launched my first blog I was terrified because I had no idea if anyone would care to read what I wrote or would like it. Fortunately some people did. The same holds true for the books. The first two felt like a piece of my soul was put on display, and I was petrified that people would hate it, but they didn’t. This time while based on my experience and learning over the past 25 years it is much less personal. I have loved writing all three books and sharing on the blog, but someone else bought the domain name for this blog, so if I am going to be the professional I aspire to be, it’s time to move on, and today’s the day. This will be my last post on this site. All new material will be on the new site that you can follow by clicking here. The site is still under construction, but it’s live and I can post there, so here we go.  It has been my pleasure to share with you, and I hope you’ll move with me. If not, I’ve enjoyed the ride, wish you well and hope we cross paths again sometime. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Day After Election Day

3 Nov

Voting ClipartNext Tuesday is Election Day in the United States. Like many Americans, I am both relieved and worried. Living in Ohio, we are inundated by both candidates, and our phone is ringing hourly to tell me how horrible the candidates are. Every television break has at least one political ad and our mailbox is filled with flyer after flyer. Does anyone think that these efforts really change anything? It doesn’t for me, except to make me dislike the person who is wasting my time and flooding my home with their rhetoric. I know where to go to find out the candidates’ platform. I know who to talk to if I want the liberal or the conservative perspective. I have never been swayed by a piece of paper or phone call, but I have by a friend or family member who is more politically savvy than I am.

In the US, we have the option to vote early or absentee, and for the first time since college I would have opted for that, but I also have a first time voter in my family who wants to come home from his own college experience to vote in person at our polling place; so my husband, son and I will all go vote together. It is a right and a privilege we all take very seriously. Since I have been eligible to vote, I have only missed one day of voting because my husband was out of town, and we always vote together. I didn’t even realize it until I talked to him that night and he asked me how I voted. Unfortunately, the polls were already closed. It was mostly issues that time, but it still felt bad to have missed.

Nearly every Presidential Election year we’ve been told that it is the most important election ever, and maybe they’re right, but maybe that’s just the rhetoric we choose to believe. After all, the President doesn’t make the laws, Congress does. Does the President have influence? Absolutely, but the lawmakers of the land are the Senators and Representatives. Yes, we could debate how horrible each of the candidates is, but that isn’t the point of this post. The point of the post is that someone is going to win Tuesday night and the US will have a new commander in chief in January. Some people will be happy. Some people will be shocked, and some people will be sad and perhaps angry.
The other point is that whoever wins, that person is our president; the president of every American. You may not have voted for or even like him or her, but what if, instead of criticizing and condemning, you chose to pray for them to be wise and decent and to fulfill the office of President of the United States with dignity and grace? What if you prayed for them to surround themselves with wise and decent advisers? Not a person of faith? Send positive energy to that person instead. Send positive vibes to everyone who will support that new President. Not in this country? Pray for us to make the best choice not only for our nation, but for the entire world. Truthfully, many Americans feel we have little to no choice in this election. Many want to ask each party why they couldn’t come up with someone better, but someone who follows politics more closely than I do questioned why any decent person would want to run for President of the United States. The media will attack every word and deed and  spin bad situations in your past to make them look much worse and some outlets that call themselves news will publish rumors as if they are truth. What kind of people would want to subject themselves to that type of onslaught? In addition, you subject your family to that scrutiny as well, so unless they are also squeaky clean and have incredibly thick skins, they are targets for the media trolls too, and that’s not even including social media and the hate that can spew there. We’re one of the most G-rated family I know, and I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to deal with that.

Instead, I hope that whoever becomes President will work to heal the ugliness that has run rampant during this election. I hope that neighbors, friends and families can forgive one another. I hope that as the robo-political calls subside, we can all move forward in a kinder way. If I could, I would vote for that. Since I can’t, I will instead remind you that the book will be published very soon, and the new blog will launch sooner than that. I have no idea where it all will lead, but I plan to have lots of fun along the way. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Thirty Days of Thanks

1 Nov

30-days-of-thanksI was looking over my past year’s blog posts and realized I have never talked specifically about my thankful habit of November. I know there are many people who post about what they are grateful for, but I’ve long since stopped sharing about my husband, children, home and all of the standard things. My goal each November is to stretch myself and find things to be grateful for that we might take for granted or might not think about every day. I’ll keep this short because I’ll have another blog post coming on Thursday like I do most weeks, but I do want to invite you to think about gratitude, and I hope you’ll join me on either or both the Better Living Daily and the Happiest Holidays pages to share your own gratitude experience. Also since I’m posting on the blog, I’ll share my first day’s gratitude here.

On this first day of November, I am grateful for people like those at Standing Rock who are willing to stand up with dignity and grace for what they believe is right, not just for them, but for us all. I am humbled by your strength, courage and commitment. Each day will be another moment of gratitude, and again, I hope you will join me with your own list. Do this for 30 days and it just might change your life. It certainly did change mine. Welcome to November all!

My First Product Review

29 Oct

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So, one of the things I was told to do to as a blogger was to look into giving product reviews.  It took me a while to decide to do it and even longer to get approved, and the product I was supposed to review was not one I was excited about.  It’s a garden hose nozzle folks; soooo not sexy, but there’s an upside to this.  Hose nozzles and this family generally do not mix well.  I have destroyed several of them by running over them, thanks to people leaving them in the driveway.  We’ve just never found one that we like very much, so the idea of that being my first product review is a hoot.  I also had to learn how to create a video on my ipad and upload it to my blog.  To say there was a learning curve for this is quite an understatement, but I did it.  Who would have thought that reviewing a hose nozzle I received for free would not only have helped me find one we actually like, but helped me learn a new blogging skill too!

So, a quick rundown on the hose nozzle.  In addition to what I talk about in the video, we realized the soaker option would be great for animals who were skittish around water.  The force could be adjusted to help wet the dog down without the trauma of a forceful splash.  It was fun playing with all the different settings, and best of all, the nozzle didn’t leak at the attachment point on the hose.  Will this nozzle change your life?  Probably not, but we like it and are looking forward to using it more in the spring. Will I be doing more product reviews?  I actually hope so, because it was fun. If you’d like your very own Luxyhome Garden Hose Nozzle, click here. Until then, remember to turn your clocks back tonight and enjoy the extra hour of sleep!  Thanks for being you and have a great day!

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I Wish Someone Would Pay Me

27 Oct

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Recently one of my favorite bloggers, Shalagh Hogan, wrote a piece about what she wished people would pay her for and I found it fun and fascinating. I replied with the following:

I wish people would pay me to travel.
I wish people would pay me to write books that help people live happier lives.
I wish people would pay me to tell them they are special and wonderful and important in this world.
I wish people would pay me to make them soup or cookies or cupcakes or anything that soothes their soul.
I wish people would pay me to read blogs and books and poetry and look at the art my friends create.
This could go on for a very long while. Thanks for sharing.

Right after reading this post, I also read a passage in Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup that talked about the sweet spot in your life where your talents and abilities meet your passion. I talk about the sweet spot of your home being that place that, once you get it under control, the rest of the house seems to follow. For those who haven’t found it yet, let me assure you it’s there, and when you do find it, it’s like magic.

The thing is I love doing everything I put on that list and that is wonderful. Even more wonderful is that I’m finding ways to get paid to do the things I love and will be unveiling some new, fun things in the very near future. The thing about a fantastic life is getting paid to do the things you would do for free anyway. I’ve written for free for years, so getting paid to write books is a joyful bonus. I’ve finished and uploaded the Happiest Holidays book, so I’m just waiting for the editor to look it over who also happens to be the graphic artist that will be designing the cover. I’m excited and nervous as I’ve been with each of the other books, but I have let go of the negative voice in my head that worries that it’s crap and no one will read it because even if that happens, life will go on.

I was so excited about my first book that I bought dozens of copies to give away, and very few of the spines were even cracked. The second book I spent lots of money to have help getting it to market and the promotion that was supposed to happen on its release date got messed up. I was supposed to have a google hangout that never happened, and I felt like I had failed miserably because the person I worked with is well known for helping her clients become best-selling authors. She believes I was one of those people, but no one thought to get a screen shot of that. So, I could call myself a failure if I choose to, and others have, but none of them have done what I did. The ones who criticize are not the ones who have written books and put themselves out there. They do not understand the work that goes into even a 100 page e-book. They haven’t been through the editing and layout process, not to mention the marketing. That seems to be where it all happens. If you market well, you can sell anything, even a crap book. If you market poorly, you can’t sell a masterpiece. It’s daunting and scary, and the process can bring you to your knees emotionally.

People you think are your supporters laugh behind your back, sometimes loud enough for you to hear. People write things about you that hurt. As if a writer doesn’t ask themselves 1,000 times, “who am I to think I can write a book?” Others seem to delight in asking that very same question, but here’s my take on the whole thing. With the first book, I was sure they were right. I thought I was nuts to write a book about parenting. Who was I to do such a thing when my own children weren’t completely grown? With my second book someone wrote something nasty comparing me with another author who is a wonderful, bestselling author who has well researched topics and degrees behind their name. It hurt, but it made me think about why I write the books I do because you see, I’ve found my sweet spot. I am a storyteller, but not necessarily of the fictional world. I’ve loved biographies since I was a child and read every single one of the ones in my elementary library. When I realized that, I also remembered some family members who had told me that when I was much younger that I could tell a great story. At the time, I thought they might have been teasing me, but I know now that I do tell a good story. Not only do I love telling them, but I also love to share them through the books I write and the blogs that I post. Often they’re my own story because that’s what I know best, and I hope all the things I learn will lighten someone else’s load, but that’s who I am and what I am, and I am liking that person more and more.

So, what do you wish someone would pay you to do? Are you doing it for free? Maybe you love cameras and wish you could get paid to take photos. Maybe you are creative and wish people would pay you for what you create. Maybe you can cook and wish people would pay you for your culinary skills. Guess what? They will if you figure out a way to make it happen. Have I been paid to write, cook and create? Yes, I have. Is it enough to make a living? Not yet, but as I’m learning about the creative industry, I’m finding more and more people who are. It’s exciting and fun and who knows where it will lead. Right now it’s leading me to create a new blog page that will bring several things I love to do under one umbrella. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I’m hoping to share it with you by this time next week. Until then, enjoy what’s left of October, and if you celebrate the day I wish you a Happy Halloween, and even though it’s already sneaking in, prepare yourself for the holiday onslaught to follow. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Yes No and Maybe

20 Oct

10403387_10153084432873366_5861144938281823701_nEvery day we ask ourselves questions, and we give answers too. Some days you ask why in Heaven’s name did I do that? You answer, “Because you’re an idiot.” Some days you ask yourself if you’re stupid and you answer yes. Some days you ask if you can do anything right and you answer no. You can beat yourself up daily with the questions that you ask, and I was incredibly proficient at that when I was younger. Truth be told, I can still go down that road on occasion, especially when I’m stressed and under-slept and over-committed. Last week was definitely one of those weeks. I was feeling stressed because the book wasn’t finished. We were getting to bed late and because we were tired, we had a difficult time dragging ourselves off the couch. We had medical appointments, volunteer meetings and a little matter of making sure the family was eating every day. It seemed overwhelming and the creativity was sluggish at best. This week is different, all because of a few things we’re doing differently. This week we are more aware and making better conscious decisions.

Last week we were getting to bed late. We watched too much TV, and most of it was stuff we didn’t even like that much. We were on the screen too much avoiding the things that would make our life better because it didn’t seem like fun. I could go on, but you get the picture. This week we changed just a few things and the results have been amazing. We have turned the TV off by 9pm every night, which means we have been to bed earlier. Let me tell you something; this girl functions much better on 7 hours of sleep per night than six or six and a half.

This weekend I volunteered ten hours on Saturday and nine hours on Sunday at something called Wordcamp. It was exhausting and thrilling and scary because although I’ve been blogging for a long time, I have recently decided that blogging and writing are what I would like to do for my profession, and I have so much to learn. I can be certain that I won’t be a developer who helps people set up websites and blogs, but there is still so much technology out there to help people who write for a living and the ones who are the most successful have found programs that help them every step of the way. It was overwhelming at times, but if you are thinking about blogging or want to set up a website, I highly recommend that you attend a Wordcamp weekend. They are only $20 per day and range from one to three days. The networking alone is worth more than that.

The biggest revelation for me came on the Monday morning after Wordcamp ended. It was an exhausting weekend. The house was not in the greatest of shape. My youngest had no school and had someone coming over late morning. In days past, I would have slept poorly, probably after staying late fretting and fussing about the house and at my family, and I would have awakened stressed because of all I thought I needed to do to prepare for the day, the week and the guest. Happily, I went to bed before 10pm because I was tired and my husband was even more tired from having to work all weekend as well. I slept like a baby, slept much longer than I normally do and actually began writing this post because I thought it was important information to share.

I’m calm. I’m ready to face the day and the week. I have goals I want to accomplish, including finishing the current holiday book and beginning to transcribe an interview for another book. Years past would have brought me to my knees for days from exhaustion, which would have been amplified by complaining that I was the only one who did anything around my house and feeling like a complete martyr. This time, I’ve caught up on my sleep and made a plan to eat healthy this week to recover from eating foods this weekend that aren’t the best for me. I may or may not accomplish all I hope to accomplish, but whatever I do accomplish will be because I choose to and not only do I choose to, I want to, and that was a huge revelation to me too. In the past, I’ve done the laundry because I felt like it had to be done. I’ve cleaned the floors and picked up around the house for the same reason. It’s also probably why I’ve struggled so much with making time to write and create. It didn’t have to be done. It was extra-curricular and since I wasn’t finishing the curricular parts of my life, how could I justify doing the extra? It was an unhealthy cycle to say the least.

Now I see things differently. I want to do the laundry, clean up the house and clear the decks because I can think clearer without those tasks hanging over my head. It removes the excuses to creating and makes me feel great in the process. Does it help that I could sleep in for an hour because my son didn’t have school? Yes it did, but knowing that with a little effort and focus, I can have the house and laundry whipped into shape enough to have a guest in the clean but far from perfect house and be able to write for a few hours is priceless to me. Someone asked me what kind of blog I have this weekend, and I struggled to describe what I share. Many people assume I’m a mom blogger because I learn from being a mom, but this weekend I think I’ve figured out that my blog is very much like my life. It’s eclectic and different. It’s a mix of lifestyle and spirituality with a little adhd thrown in because that is my life. It’s about learning to become a better version of myself and forgiving myself when I fall short of my own expectations. It’s about a woman who is traveling through life and hopes to travel more through the world as she shares the journey and its wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful revelations. I attempt to be honest and fairly transparent because that is who I am as a person. I have some private struggles I choose to keep private for my sake and the sake of those involved, but in general, I’m pretty much of an open book because I don’t know any other way to be. That has gotten me into some big trouble in my life, but is it enough that I want to change that about myself? No, it isn’t. I love my life, most days, and I love the people in it, even when I occasionally don’t like them, and I hope they feel the same way about me. Is it perfect? No, it isn’t. Is it ok for it to be imperfect? Yes and because I can accept my own imperfection I can celebrate that in other too. I’m forgiving and learning that others are too. I’m doing my best and know that others are too, and I am honored to share the journey with all who read my blog, and maybe that is the best part of it all for me; that we get to do this crazy thing called life together. By the way, the book should be finished this weekend.  Stay tuned for the updated publication date and possible book signings.  As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Good Enough

6 Oct
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A more than good enough place to write a blog post

If you’ve ever taken a class or read anything about becoming more efficient or effective in your life, you’ve probably read about time management techniques, but the most profound thing I ever heard about time management is that you cannot manage time. Everyone has the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds in each day, and although we each spend a different number of those days on the planet, in each given day, we all have 24 hours. The key, then, is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves during that time, and there are so many factors that can affect our ability to do that well. As I always do, I want to make it clear that I understand that people who have mitigating factors such as illnesses, physical challenges or who have other legitimate challenges may be an exception to what I’m about to share, but I think the information is quite relevant for the rest of us.

Have you ever heard the expression that if you want to change some things in your life you have to change some things in your life? I love that expression for its simplicity and truth, but sometimes we don’t know the things we have to change to achieve the results we desire, and that can be quite a problem. For years I struggled with cleaning and being organized. Truth be told, organizing still doesn’t come naturally to me (more on that at a later date). I tried being like my mom, my mother in law and a few other people I know that were really good at keeping house, and I failed miserably. I was nearly ready to give up when I found a system that worked for me. Why did everything else fail while that worked? For me, this system seemed to understand how I thought and helped me be successful being me, not trying to be like someone else. You see, the people I had tried to emulate before were good at cleaning. They are very task oriented people and the task of keeping up with the house came easy to them. I learned how to keep house from someone like me who found that more challenging. I had to learn how to manage a part of me I’d never managed before, and it was very difficult at first, but not only have I mastered the basics of that, I’ve actually learned to be happy while I’m working because I know it will only take a little bit of time to accomplish what I’ve set out to accomplish, and that may be the biggest accomplishment of all. You see, I used to hate cleaning because I was convinced I wasn’t good enough at it. I’ve never seen the point of scrubbing a floor with a toothbrush or having a perfect dust ruffle. I know people that take great pride in having homes like that, and I applaud them for that but it’s just not that important to me. Yes, my bed is made every day. No, you cannot bounce a quarter off of it. Yes, my home is mostly company ready on most days. No, the counters aren’t clear and yes, there are a few small piles of paperwork. I’m happy with my home and I’ve learned the concept of good enough.

For a good part of my life I never felt good enough. I was a good student, but because I didn’t get straight A’s all the time, that wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t thin enough, despite the fact that I had a 22 inch waist and 35 inch hips. Even when I cleaned up my room or the bathroom, I usually had more to do because it wasn’t good enough. It became a never ending cycle that I bought into and piled onto, and it made for some very tense times in my life when I was trying to be good enough knowing at the same time I could and would not be. It’s amazing when we believe this about ourselves how we attract the very things that confirm our beliefs. I dated men who didn’t always treat me well. I had jobs that paid me less than I was worth. I struggled to keep my home in shape, and I put on weight, lots of it over time. It wasn’t until I heard the expression about changing some things in my life that I began to truly change some things in my life, and as I changed the outside, I began to feel changes on the inside. As I learned ways to clean, I began to realize that I could keep a house; it might not be the way anyone else did it, but I could do it and I could feel good about it. I actually began to feel I was good enough at doing something, even if that thing seemed like a small thing in the grand scheme of life, and the real success wasn’t from learning or accomplishing anything. The real success was from the shift in thinking of myself as a failure to thinking of myself as capable and good enough.

It took me several years to get to that point, but since then, we have shifted our energy in so many ways. We used those same principles to pay off $30,000+ of credit card debt in three years and to send our children to college without debt so far. I used that thought process to write and publish two books, and let me tell you, there were some real battles there. While writing the books I found out so many areas I still had thoughts of doubt. I wondered if they would be any good or if anyone would want to read them let alone buy them. I even doubted whether I could handle my life if the book actually became successful as well, but I did it, and I survived it, and with the current book, I’ve been able to take it a step further. With this book, I liken it to a flower blooming. It takes a lot of energy and effort for a flower to bloom, but the flower blooms anyway, without pain or anguish and no matter what it looks like, some will judge it to be beautiful and some will judge it to be less than that. It doesn’t change anything about the flower whether it is a dandelion or a rose. I am aware that this book and the two that have come before it will never win a Nobel Prize or even a National Book Award. I write because I believe I was born to do it, and I love doing it, and hopefully it helps a person or two along the way. I don’t need the awards or even to sell a million books to validate anything about my writing anymore. Would it be nice? Of course it would, but that isn’t the point anymore.

So what do I get from this energy shift to good enough? I get peace and fulfillment. I am living my dream of being a writer by writing every day. It may not support me financially today or ever, but it does support me mentally, emotionally and even physically because of the way I’ve grown as a writer. It is ultimately important to me and not important at all to the world. To realize that you are merely a blip in the world of writing is incredibly empowering because it allows you to write your truth knowing the vast majority of humanity may never read it, and because of that, all you have to do is write or paint or do whatever it is you dream of doing.

Last year, a friendship I treasured came to an end. At the time, I was broken hearted and wanted so badly to find a way to make things better. I felt that if I could mend that relationship, all would be well in my world again. I was talking on the phone to my husband about it, trying desperately to figure out what to do when I literally got hit in the rear end by another car. I hung up with my husband and jumped out of the car to check the damage. The young man who had hit me was a young man of color, and we were in a part of town where the police were not known to be gentle to anyone of any color. There was a dent in the back of my minivan, but the door still worked and the boy looked scared. Truth be told, I was scared for him. He was the same age as one of my sons, and I couldn’t call the cops. I told the young man that I felt like I was supposed to ask him to turn down his music and pay better attention to the road, but that I was supposed to forgive him, give him a hug and send him on his way, so I did, and when I got back in the car I burst into tears. I called my husband back and hoped he wouldn’t be mad at me for letting the young man off the hook. Instead, he laughed and told me the Divine had figuratively kicked me in the behind to show me who I really was as a person. How could he be angry about that? It was then that I started to realize it wasn’t only that young man who I needed to forgive. I needed to forgive my friend for whatever I perceived she had done, and I had to forgive myself for whatever she perceived I had done. It took a while and much reminding of that accident to get there, but I did, and when I did, everything changed. My second book came together in just a couple of months, and my life has been amazing since. I hope it has been the same for my friend because I believe she was part of that lesson for me. I hope we get the chance to be friends again someday, but even if we don’t, I will cherish the friendship we had and the lessons and gifts it gave to me. For now that will just have to be good enough. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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