The Gift of Personal Renewal …


I knew it was time.  I love, love, love my work, but could feel that my usual level of enthusiasm was waning in the mornings.  2016 was a particularly challenging year for me … both in terms of managing other people’s needs/crises/calls for care and also in some deeply personal ways that I may speak about in another blog … some other day.  All in all, by the beginning of September 2016, I was feeling hard pressed to do what I normally do with my usual sense of passion and pleasure.  I can generally force myself to push through feelings of fatigue in order to get things done … so that I can cross all the shoulds/musts/oughts off my ‘to-do’ list … but this malaise felt very different. I sensed with certainty that I could not keep soldiering on without generating some dire consequences. I had to concede that I was wilted and withered and pretty much depleted in terms of my own emotional reserves.


As a counsellor, I am prone to invite folks to be more compassionate with themselves … to make more time for self-care … to be a little kinder to themselves and give their own needs highest priority for a change.  And so, as my enthusiasm increasingly waned, I knew it was imperative for me to attend my own lecture and amp up my ongoing efforts towards personal renewal. I knew that my clients would be short-changed if I did not pay special attention to the emptiness of my own bucket.  They deserve the best ‘me’ that I can offer them.  And, the very best me is one who is well rested and adequately nourished (emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually) so that I can be fully present when I am seated before them. And so, I was inspired to take care of me so I could continue to take care of my clients.  It has always been especially important to me that “my being communicates the energy, enthusiasm, respect, love and joy” that my clients deserve “because it will give a hundred-fold power to every act and word” we exchange during their sessions with me.

Some wise soul once said that ‘we can only teach what we have to learn’ and I have to admit that I am far more comfortable giving to others than tending to myself.  In fact, although I am a bit embarrassed to own it publicly … I can very easily gravitate towards martyrdom. Yes. I can be an A+ martyr. But then, one chilly morning as I was driving to work, I heard that still small voice within me say “You need to take a sabbatical.”  

What??  My understanding of a sabbatical is that people take an extensive period of time away from their regular duties in order to study and/or learn something new.  It initially sounded like utter nonsense to me … but by the time I pulled into the parking lot at my office, it had occurred to me that perhaps I needed time away from the ‘giving’ that is my usual way of showing up in the world (both personally and professionally) and, instead, carve out some space to nourish my own soul through ‘receiving.’ Maybe my sabbatical would be about learning to focus a little less on others and listen more compassionately to the whispers of my own soul.  With that insight, I could feel the faintest but most unequivocal squeal of delight escape from somewhere deep in my heart … and … I noticed the corners of my lips involuntarily turned upward.


So, I walked into my office, switched on my computer and immediately booked my ‘sabbatical.’ I knew I had better act immediately upon my intuitive wisdom … before my head talked martyr me right out of it. Slow but sure, I rescheduled all my commitments for the entire month of December 2016 … except for a mammogram.  I had already rescheduled three times … and … I reckoned that was a form of self-care that I should not delay once again. And when my mother-in-law passed, I stepped up and offered my assistance with a full and open heart … but other than those times, my preference was to start each day without an agenda.  Even before my sabbatical officially commenced, I consciously committed to ‘doing’ less for others and simply ‘being’ more present, aware and attentive to my own needs, wants and desires. I suspected it would be a bit of a challenge to sit in the discomfort these changes would generate and reckoned I needed as much practice as I could get.

One of my first steps leading up to my ‘self-care’ sabbatical emerged when I got brave enough to publicly share a blog I wrote exploring my life long pattern of suffering in silence.  I gave myself permission to speak up on my own behalf about how I had been neglecting my own inner pain. It was deeply cathartic to give myself voice, but at the same time, I felt so incredibly exposed that I experienced quite the vulnerability hangover after I published it.  I had been quite courageous in calling a spade a spade and I expected some people might judge me harshly.  Perhaps some did … but much to my surprise,  I ended up feeling so profoundly touched and generously supported in the ways people kindly and compassionately reached out to me (both privately and publicly).  Yes, sharing my truth so transparently had led to some very meaningful connections.

And speaking of connections, somewhere around the same time, I listened to Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Love Warrior” on Audible. This extra-ordinary memoir fortified my intention to drop the “representative” (the person I feel safe sending out in the world to appropriately ‘represent’ me – the one who typically silences me) and step into more truth-telling, transparency and authenticity (honoring the scared, and vulnerable soul hidden behind the representative).  The book has since been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club … and … as people resonated with the juicy joys of this conversation I received inquiries/suggestions from many hoping I would offer a book study.  I didn’t have it in me at that time to run a group, but I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to keep this type of discussion alive in my world.  So, I gifted myself with a chance to meet very informally with just a select few strangers who had specifically reached out to me when I posted my blog.  I didn’t really know them, but I sensed that they might be ‘my people‘  and wanted to get to know them better.  It has been entirely refreshing … and … very nourishing for my spirit!  It’s funny how you can feel so at home with people you don’t even know. I thank myself for being bold enough to ask them to come over and chat a couple of times as I was gearing up for my sabbatical.

Given that my sabbatical officially commenced in December, my husband agreed to shoulder all the responsibilities of Christmas for the first time in our 40 years together.  I can’t even explain how much it delighted me to think that someone else was going to fuss and bother in order to make the season merry and bright for me. And, in the spirit of truth-telling, I have to acknowledge that it didn’t really turn out the way I had imagined … but … it was a very rich experience in countless other ways that I never expected.  I share more about the joys, challenges and learning that came with surrendering this responsibility in another blog entitled “A Slow Burn and the 2016 Christmas Chronicles”.

In order to best honor my self-care intentions during my sabbatical, I resisted any and all urges to attend to any and all things that could be handled by others.  I attended a couple of meetings at work, but only because I really wanted to connect with my colleagues.  They are amazing souls and being with them nourishes me.  I especially enjoyed sipping my coffee in the dark, quiet of the early mornings … savoring the solitude and stillness. It’s always been my favorite part of the day. I also started a 40 day practice inspired by the teaching of A Course in Miracles and compiled into a book called May Cause Miracles: A 40 Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness.

One if the assignments is to schedule specific mantras called “miracle moments’ into your smart phone that will regularly alert and remind you to shift away from our habitually negative mindsets (judging, worrying, fearing) into a more love-based perspective (compassion, generosity of spirit, acceptance). More often than not, we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering because we spend so much energy judging things that have already happened … things that we have no power to change.  The ‘miracle’ lies in learning how to be more accepting of the flow of the Universe … even if/when we don’t agree with what is happening. This is not a passive stance … but rather, a significant shift in how we choose to respond to the situations, events, circumstances and people occurring in our lives.


Yes,  we always have the power to choose how we are going to respond.  Like … for instance, with my mammogram.  It was scheduled for December 9th in Calgary (3 hours from here).  In order to turn that undesirable  experience into something more fitting of my intentions for personal renewal, my bestie agreed to accompany me. We had planned to give each other the gift of time for our birthdays (and maybe a hike in the mountains in June or July) but life had gotten too busy for us to actually do it.  So, we opted to leave for the big city a day early and spend three days and two nights away where we could celebrate our birthdays and generously feed our hearts, minds and bodies! And that we did!!


A nice little selfie … taken in the lobby of our hotel!

There were so many marvelous moments:

  • If you ever have a chance to go to the Stillwater Spa in Calgary Alberta Canada … DO IT!  I received an absolutely phenomenal 90 minute relaxation massage.  The facility is spectacularly nurturing and calming … and … my insurance covered the entire cost!!  And, while en route to Calgary, we discovered the Trip Advisor‘s #1 rated  Vietnamese Restaurant in Okotoks, Alberta.  It’s called Pho Hoai !  If you ever get there … be sure to have the Chicken Sate!!  It’s not on the menu but they kindly made it for me anyway! Deeelish!!
  • And, one evening, after taste-testing the reduced price ‘happy hour house wine’ at supper … we opted not to settle.  We realized that we tend to ‘make due’ more often than not. We treated ourselves to something that delighted our palates instead.  It cost more, but we determined that we were worthy of the extra investment. It was a simple but meaningful opportunity to be more kind and loving to ourselves.  And, as we savored our sips, we high-fived each other for indulging our own preferences in that moment.
  • And … because we always love to take long walks/hikes together, we capitalized upon something called the ‘Plus 15′ connecting all the buildings in the downtown core of Calgary, Alberta.  We would normally have walked outdoors, but the temperatures (with the wind chill) were dreadfully cold.  The Plus 15 or +15 Skyway  network in  Calgary, Alberta, Canada is reported to be the world’s most extensive pedestrian skywalk system … with a total length of 18 kilometers (11 miles) and 62 bridges. The system is apparently so named because the skywalks are approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) above street level.  We put a lot of miles on during those few days!!

  • On our last day in the city, we wandered into the fragrance department in Holt Renfrew.  I had never before experienced the kind of ‘high-end’ energy we experienced as when Viktor offered to assist me in finding a new fragrance to replace my old favorite (it’s not available anymore!).  We came home with a bag full of samples and gifts that he kindly packaged up for us! And, guess what?  We were very good receivers. 🙂
  • Oh my … and we howled with laughter every time we heard the ‘miracle moment’ reminder that we had cheekily recorded onto my smart phone.  Imagine the looks on all our faces as the sales clerks and fellow shoppers heard (on each and every hour): “We are playful, spontaneous bad asses out on the town.”  And, if you knew how far removed those adjectives are from our conscientious, responsible, reliable, well-behaved, social worker personas, you’d have a deeper sense of the hilarity of it all.
  • And, at the suggestion of a very sweet soul and colleague, we finished off the weekend by each having a Tarot Card reading by ‘Carl’ at The Divine Mine This new-age store front offers a plethora of divinely inspired services.  I’d never had my cards read before and am happy to report that it was a very rich experience. It was also very affirming. It was uncanny how accurately the reading reflected things that were going on in my life.  I look forward to taking another road trip with my three daughters and re-experiencing the mystery and magic of it again with them!

During my sabbatical, I also had the opportunity to catch some morning television .  Ever watched The Marilyn Denis Show?  It’s a Canadian talk show and it’s entirely entertaining! I thoroughly enjoyed the various segments on home decor/design, fashion musts/mistakes/makeovers, food, drink and fun and frolic!! I really think I would like to be Marilyn’s friend.  I mean it.

And speaking of friends … I knew it would be nourishing for my soul to book some time together with two of my favorite friends.  Our opportunities to connect have diminished over the years, but on this day, we sipped some Malbec, chuckled, snacked on some nice appys, chuckled, and then had a tasty supper together and chuckled some more. We might have shared a tear or two as well. Yes. We shared some smiles, opened our hearts and even posed for a few selfies!!  I so deeply appreciate these glowing souls.  If you would like,to get to know them better, you can read more about them in a blog I wrote a few years back which pays tribute to them.


Deb, Robin and Karen … and … Karen, Robin and Deb

Speaking of refreshing … despite the sub-arctic  temps, my bestie and I bundled up and hit the walking trail several times over the course of my sabbatical.  On one particularly frigid -25 degree Celsius day, we even made some snow angels in the undisturbed blanket of fresh fallen snow.  When was the last time you made snow angels?  As I reflect upon the moment, it strikes me that this experience makes a great metaphor for humanity:

Beneath all the layers we hide behind to protect ourselves … we are just angels in the making … aren’t we?


I also used my sabbatical to tap into my creative spirit and created some fabulous photo collage blankets for my daughters.  There was a Cyber Monday sale (heard about it on one of those daytime talk shows!) that got me inspired to do this!! What fun it was to lose myself into the years and years of pictures of my eight cherished grandchildren. Deep, deep, deep delight. I was going to give them to my girls for Mother’s Day but they are made of Sherpa Polar Fleece … a little to heavy for May … even in Alberta.  I stuffed them into their Christmas stockings instead.💚


Neil and Jack

Olivia, Luka and Lyla


Hailey, Trad and Talaya

And since my mother-in-law just passed away in October, it was to be our first Christmas without her … and … her birthday was Christmas eve.  Her absence would be deeply felt because my daughters were so very close to her.  And so … in order to honor her importance in their lives, I created a heart-shaped picture ornament of her for each of them … so she might adorn their Christmas trees forevermore.


Nell Lanser … December 24, 1928 – October 9, 2016.

I also decided to gift myself with a picture ornament of her.  And … in the spirit of honoring my own losses, I created one of my mom and my dad (who have long since passed as well). They remain forever in our hearts  and it sparked so much gratitude in my spirit to see each of them lovingly gracing our tree in the antique looking gold paper and pearl beaded picture holders.  I look forward to seeing them again next year … and … all the years after that.


Muriel Pauline Star Johnson (Edlund) … April 13, 1925 – December 25-27, 1989                        William Norman Bland Johnson … December 7, 1928 – July 12, 2009

I also enjoyed a juicy and emotionally nourishing FOUR HOUR long distance telephone conversation with my grade school friend Sari.  We’ve been friends for over 50 years but we don’t get to connect very often because we live hundreds of miles apart so it’s not uncommon for us to have lengthy chats, but I think this set the record for a phone call. It takes a special relationship to survive thrive despite the lack of attention ours gets. I’ve also written about what makes Sari so endearing and special to me.  

I rarely go to the theater anymore, but while I was on sabbatical, my hubby and I went to a matinée of Collateral Beauty. I highly recommend you see it.  We sat in a unique place near the front where we could rest our feet on the railing behind the seating area for the disabled.  We finished off the gargantuan popcorn (mostly)with gusto and without apology … even before the show began.  The story line was so compelling … and honestly … so very consistent with where I have been residing in my own emotional self-development.  I shall carry its meaningful message with me as I move through the minutes, days, weeks and years that are yet to come.  In fact, some of the ‘collateral beauty’ I noticed in making the blankets and creating the Christmas ornaments was all the memories that were stirred as I turned the pages on ALL our photo albums.  As reflected in the photos, there has been such extraordinary beauty tucked into my life. Really. Even in the hard times. And, I remain grateful. And, I am inspired to keep shifting into the next best expression of who I can be in the world.

Yes.  Enough martyrdom.  More joy.


I spent the last two days of my sabbatical in my pajamas.  Never got out of them once.  It was such a comfy, cozy and caring way to conclude my time tending to me …and … to reflect upon the whole process. And, as I made my way back to work I was sensitive to all the . invitations to resume all my ‘regular’ responsibilities I found myself wondering what parts of my ‘sabbatical’ journey I could ensure I took that I could take with me. I must concede that I really enjoyed the slower and less scheduled pace.  I was really antsy at first, but I got to a place where I could feel a softness in my spirit that disappears when I’m running myself ragged with the shoulds, coulds and oughts. I learned that some of the balls I’ve been juggling can fall.  And, I might not need to pick them up again. I’ve learned to hold some stronger boundaries.  I really enjoyed sensing the smile sparked in my own soul by answering its call more frequently.  I really need more time for me in my agenda. I really need to treat myself with more love and kindness and compassion.  I’ve learned that not only my clients deserve the best me I can be … but … so do I.


What if …?  What if I ensured that the loving and caring and nurturing I gave to others was not at expense to myself (as it does for most martyrs) but rather, was offered from the overflow? What if I made filling my own heart a priority … so full that it might overflow onto every other soul along my path.  What if I shared myself more transparently so others were aware of what I am going through?  What if I gave myself more space in my conversations?  What if I dared to ask for what I needed more often?  What if I quit soldiering on when I am tired? What if …?

Perhaps the most important thing I have taken away from this experience is this: I don’t really want the energetic resonance I enjoyed in my sabbatical to end.  And, maybe it doesn’t have to end.  Maybe there are ways I can continue to savor this vibrational frequency for always!

And before you know it … and before I have even published this blog … we are nearly all the way through 2017!  I am happy to report that I have been more conscious of the way I fill my day-timer though.  I wanted this to be the year where my own personal renewal was not reduced to a yearly event penciled in as a ‘sabbatical’ … but rather … become a daily, weekly and monthly investment in nurturing my own tender, precious spirit. It didn’t always turn out that way.  We experienced 3 deaths in our family over a period of 10 month … so … there were times when self-care took the back burner again.  But … I have learned that our investment in our personal renewal is an essential gift we must give to ourselves.

And, I must perpetually endeavor to remember that “This must not be a footnote, but the main body of my life and my work”  …  Karen

























Deeply. Truly. Sincerely.


May we LEARN from these people.

May we LOVE these people.

May we BE these people

Deeply, truly and sincerely,  Karen







Boundaries are Sooooo Tricky …


In this very short but compelling  video clip, Brené Brown discusses the notion of living a B.I.G. Life.  Her research has revealed that the most compassionate people are the most “boundaried” people. She begs the question of what Boundaries we would need to erect in order to live in Integrity and be the most Generous in our assumptions of others (i.e. believing that everyone is doing the very best they can in each and every situation). Makes perfect sense … intellectually. And, I’d venture to say we’d inhabit a world filled with expressions of compassion/empathy/good will if it were easier to actually do this in our day to day existence!

But, boundaries are so darn tricky to execute.  It is so much easier to erect a boundary once you are PISSED OFF.  There is NO second-guessing about putting up a boundary once you’ve been hurt.  We may not even think twice at that point … and then … we erect it angrily and often self-righteously.  But the problem with putting up boundaries in ANGER is that the meatiest part of our message gets lost in the perception of ATTACK.  When you put up a boundary with someone because you are feeling violated … they feel your anger … and may not be able to hear your justification for erecting the boundary.

In fact, many people who have been chronically wounded in their prior lived experience struggle terribly in their attempt to set boundaries … because – they often approach the boundary WITHOUT the assumption that people are doing the best they can.  Their perceptions that people in the present and future will be out to get them just like the ones in their past shift the energy and intent behind the boundaries.  And when we are coming from that defended space, our boundaries are like fences erected out of barbed wire … rather than compassionate reminders of how we need and want to be treated.

And so, we must learn to set the boundaries before we could shoot daggers out of our eyes …to  set them proactively … not … reactively.  We must learn how to set them kindly and firmly.  And then … lovingly hold them in place for the benefit of all of those concerned.

And to do so, we might have to sit in the discomfort of guilt rather than the self-righteousness of resentment.  This is the trickiest part to navigate.  Many of us are more comfortable living with the resentment directed at others than inhabiting the guilt we might feel in our own hearts if/when we have our own backs …before we get mad at another. BIG lives do not just happen … they are consciously and courageously created.

May we all commit to living BIG … Karen



[GUEST POST]: Call Them While You Can (Grief and The Stuff We Need to Say)

I am not sure why this touched me so deeply. This concept is not new to me. I make every effort to live in this way … and yet … for some reason I have crocodile size tears streaming down my face in unstoppable torrents. Thank you John for your gift of speaking straight to our souls … about things that are richly needed to be acknowledged. With deepest appreciation, Karen

john pavlovitz


Yesterday my daughter did something really funny during dinner—like spit take funny. (This is rather commonplace in our home these days).

Not long after finishing the dishes I grabbed for the phone to tell my dad about it. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he died two and a half years ago. Suddenly as I started to dial, my brain kind of snapped to its senses and I put the phone down, feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut.

Grief is a strange animal in this way, as anyone who has lost someone they love can testify. Whether it was ten days or ten years ago, you never quite fully adjust enough that you always remember that they’re dead. Yes, you understand on a cerebral level that they’re gone. Intellectually you know the finality of what’s happened, but somehow your heart’s muscle memory…

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The Magic of the Moment is in the Stories We Tell …

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

The magic in our lives is manifest by the stories we tell about the memories we have experienced, the people we have met, and the places that have stolen a piece of our hearts.  One of the best ways I know to create lasting memories is to savor the specifics with enthusiasm and curiosity … and … to dedicate some special space to honor the stories tucked into our souls.

And so, when our youngest daughter returned home after spending a few months in Australia, I created a list of questions to ask her on the long car ride home from the airport.  I hoped we might get a deeper felt sense of the magic tucked into all her experiences.  Her responses inspired lots of smiles and some rich conversation!

And now, where ever our journeys take us … I like to use a liberal smattering of these questions to help us enrich our experience by sparking the marvelous stories in our recollections!  It’s really interesting to notice where our reflections and perceptions are similar and/or different!

What was …

1. Your most inspiring moment?
2. Your most hours awake in a row?
3. Your best buy?
4. Your most overpriced purchase?
5. Your best accommodation?
6. Your worst accommodation?
7. Your favorite entertainment?
8. Your most breathtaking view?
9.  Your scariest moment?
10.  Your best taste experience?
11.  Your worst taste experience?
12.  Your best moment in general?
13. Your worst moment in general?
14. Something that exceeded expectations?
15. Your biggest laugh?
16. Your worst sleep?
17. Something you would do again in a heartbeat?
18. Something that was most over-rated?
19. Your favorite time of day?
20. The nicest person you met?
21. The nastiest person you encountered?
22. Your laziest moment?
23. Your biggest regret for doing?
24. Your biggest regret for not doing?
25. Your best choice?
26. Your worst choice?
27. Your greatest hardship?
28. Your favorite place?
29. Your most relaxing moment?
30. Your most stressful memory?
31. Your biggest disappointment?
32. Your grumpiest day?
33. Your best weather?
34. Your worst weather?
35. The most beautiful wildlife?
36. The best sunset?
37. The best sunrise?
38. The most tear worthy moment?
39. The most heart stretching moment?
40. The place you most hated to leave?
41. The place that is worth another trip?
42. Your biggest aggravation?
43. Your biggest “duh” moment?
44. Your biggest “aha” moment?
45. Your greatest Lesson?
46. Your bravest moment?
47. Your best surprise?
48. The moment/experience that will stay in your heart forever?
49. The moment/experience that you wish you could have shared?
50. Something that really nourished your internal flame?

May your journeys take you to miraculous places … in both your life and your heart!!

With deepest reverence for all the stories stirring within us, Karen

“A Blessing for Your Future” by Debbie Ford

A blessing for your future - 2

My mentor, Debbie Ford, created some of the most beautiful prayers!  I would like to share this exquisite and exceptional blessing with you, as we prepare to embark upon a whole New Year.

In 2016, may we become more consciously present to the gifts that we can offer to those around us …  as well as  … being open and receptive to all the gifts that are available to us!

With a warm welcome to the blessings of 2016, Karen

Well, I Had a Dream …

Source Unknown

Somewhere, very early on in my life, I decided that inspirational quotes like this one were the answer.  I have been collecting them for as long as I can remember. I have viewed them as the exquisite blueprints for creating the life of my dreams and, not surprisingly, I have deeply internalized the notion that I should be pursuing a big, juicy, delicious life.  And I really have been … BUT …

As inspiring as it sounds and although many of my dreams have actually become realities … I have learned something that those inspirational quotes don’t tell you.  Pursuing any one of those dreams can be exhilarating … pursuing all those dreams can be exhausting.  Unless you are not a dreamer. But, the problem for me, is that I have so darn many Dreams, Desires and Delights on my 3D List as my bestie Marie renamed the infamous ‘bucket list’.  (If you would like to view my 3D List, please request the password.)

And yes, I am eager to live out my days in high-def ‘3D’ but here is the thing: I often feel like my mouth is completely stuffed …  so jam packed with delicious, delectable morsels that it’s difficult to sufficiently savor of any one of them in particular.  And, because I am so passionate about it all, I can’t fathom the idea of spitting anything out.  So I keep chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing.  And, although I am nourished in some very wonderful ways … there is also a part of me that longs to simply stop all the jets, come screeching to a halt, and just settle into a more mediocre but manageable ‘one bite at a time’ existence.  These competing desires have created a conundrum for me … as well as some health issues.  Argh.

BUT …  I had a dream.  Not to be confused with Martin Luther King, who also had a dream.  My dream was not a dream of that magnitude, but rather … it was the kind of dream you have in your sleep.  I could have chalked it up to some silly nocturnal nonsense, but upon deeper reflection, I’m thinking that this dream might be the dream that I most need to follow in order to actually create my biggest, juiciest and most delicious life EVER!   Let me explain …

In my dream, my husband and I were teamed up in a foot race around the world (kind of like The Amazing Race). We started off in some remote location in the woods with a winding dirt path that led up to a rustic old log cabin that was to be our first pit stop of the race.  As we started racing up the road, I fell into a faster than usual pace for the ‘runner’ within me only to be advised by my husband to “run slower”.

I shot him the ‘what the hell would you know’ glance that unequivocally questioned how he (the non-runner) could presume to know the right pace for me?  Without accepting my invitation to spat about it, he reasoned that it would be downright impossible to sustain that pace for the whole distance.  He humbly suggested that we could maximize our time and optimize our physical resources by slowing down.  Hmmm … maybe he was right. I hate it when he’s right, but I knew I had no time for self-righteous bantering.  I reluctantly conceded that maybe this was one of those Tortoise and the Hare times when slow and steady wins the race …

And, we were “The first team to arrive!”at the quaint, old-fashioned store constructed out of ginormous logs … that sold all kinds of hand-made eats, crafts and memorabilia specific to that area of the world. Now, in my wide-awake life, whenever we travel anywhere, I always buy a Christmas tree ornament because nothing pleases me more than fondly reminiscing about my 3D experiences while dressing the tree each year.  So there I was … in my ‘racy’ dream (sorry – couldn’t resist the pun) torn between finding a meaningful memento to mark this memory or dashing out the door to maintain our first place lead (not that I am competitive).  🙂

I headed out the door, but as soon as the gravel crunched beneath my first foot step,  I could vaguely hear that small inner voice pleading with my sensibilities: “Just how much are you willing to lose in order to win?”

Huh?? That provocative question sparked me to pause in mid stride. As I considered going back for my ornament … I gazed back over my right shoulder and caught a glimpse of the most idyllic purple, orange and pink sunset. It’s spectacular splendor stopped me right then and there. I instinctively gasped as I paused to inhale the magic in that miraculous moment.  Just then … the awareness struck me … if I had just kept on running in order to ‘win’ the race, I would have ‘lost’ that precious but unexpected prize.

Absorbed in awe of the colors, I found myself questioning how many other unpredicted, un-pursued but munificent moments like this I had missed as I sped through my days doggedly determined to claim my biggest dreams, desires and delights.  It became exceptionally clear that if I wanted to win something big, juicy and truly magnanimous by participating in this race …  I would need to do three things:

1. Run … more slowly.

2. Pause … embrace moments and collect memories.

3. Notice …  the unexpected magic along the way.

I’m sensing that my dream was a humbling metaphor for my very full, busy ‘follow your dreams’ life.  It strikes me that it is far too easy to confuse a ‘big, juicy and delicious life’ with a ‘busy, demanding and overwhelming life’In order for something to stir the soul … one needs time and space.  And when I get real with myself, I can see many places in my life where I have unwittingly traded depth for breadth.  And, when I get really real, I can see that I am weary.  I have been racing through my life at a ridiculous pace … claiming many dreams at the expense of missing other blessings that weren’t/aren’t on my radar.

And with this awareness, I have been seriously flirting with scaling back to a “one bite at a time” paceI remain entirely befuddled about how to actually operationalize that desire.  I have no clue how to prioritize my bites … and the fears of not being able to ‘do it all’ makes me edgy and uneasy in the most prickly ways.  My anxious mind warns me that, at my age, I am over the hill and on the home stretch.  If I don’t keep moving quickly, I am going to run out of time and miss out on the miracles. 

But … I am also open to the possibility that many ‘unexpected’ dreams, desires and delights will be surreptitiously tucked into a more slow and steady presence.  And, I want to leave enough space to savor them.  I really do.

Wish me luck and sweet dreams to all of you … Karen


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Source Unknown

Oh my … every once in a while you get stopped in your tracks.  Stopped right in the middle of your ordinary day … with an opportunity to switch it all up.  To launch out of the usual  drone of our day to day existence and to really step into a reality that will nourish the hungry hearts that abide all over this planet … including your own.

It happened to me … just yesterday … as  I was paying bills and doing laundry and tackling my ‘to-do’ list for the day.  I wasn’t even aware that The Meredith Viera Show was on … but as I walked mindlessly past the TV, her answer to Meredith’s question sparked something tangible in my spirit.  Like the way our heart softens when we hear a baby laugh.  It was like that.  My heart heard something that stopped my body – right in it’s tracks.  There was something especially significant about this timid and humble girl named Hannah Brencher.  I learned that she has inspired a global movement intent on adding more light and love to the world … one letter at a time. And she is doing it!!  My heart was so tickled by the whole notion, I googled her website … and then I understood my reaction.  Here is a little bit about how it all started for her – in her own words:

So there’s a crazy backstory to all of this.

I moved to New York City after graduating from college. I thought I was going to walk straight into my dream life. I practically thought a red carpet would be rolled out for me. That didn’t happen though. In fact, it was basically the opposite. I found myself grappling with depression, unable to tell my family and friends because I was so ashamed. Depression is a scary thing. Depression, when you make yourself journey through it alone, is terrifying.

So I started to get really honest in the pages of my notebook. And eventually those thoughts morphed into letters and I found myself myself ripping the letters out and leaving them all over New York City for people to find. I left them everywhere: Coffee shops. Libraries. Coat pockets in department stores. I liked to imagine who might find those letters. 

Somehow that idea took on a life of its own after I blogged about it. My inbox was filled with the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever encountered after I published a simple question on my blog: Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask. 

That one question changed my life forever as I spent the next year writing hundreds of love letters to strangers in all parts of the world. More than just the letters– that question is the reason you and I are here in this space right now. I started More Love Letters three years ago and we’ve become the only global organization out there that blesses individuals–young and old– with bundles of love letters during a time in need. We basically want to create the most miraculous experience for people when they need it most: hundreds of letters of support and encouragement showing up at someone’s door all because someone in their own life loved them enough to just ask for those love letters. 

We really want you here.

In fact, we need you here to help us make this whole “life” thing better for others. Life is hard. And yes, it breaks your heart. But you don’t have to go it alone. We’re right with you. It matters that you’re here. 

It’s my hope that you’ll get involved in the writing & the mailing. I mean, we’re already counting on you. And we’d really like it if you decided to stay. 

hannah b. & MLL

And so … I decided to check out the Letter Requests.  And, although I had planned on preparing my taxes this morning, I’ve decided to share this instead … it seemed like a much more meaningful investment of my energy for this Saturday morning.  And, I’m going to put a few lines of encouragement and support into a couple of notes. I’ve already picked out the two recipients for my messages from the ones whose stories are currently highlighted on the website.  And I am committed to sending more. This altruistic notion has fueled me beyond description.  And I wanted to share it with you because I expect that it will stir something within you too.  There is a small space in each of our souls that craves to dwell in the pure essence of love …

Yes, the world needs more love. And definitely … THE WORLD NEEDS MORE LOVE LETTERS.  Because … there will always be trials and tribulations along our paths.  And maybe … just maybe, as you are reading this, you are thinking of someone you know whose heart could be swelled into that divine and sacred sense of being seen and soothed with a bundle of love letters.  I already have someone in mind. You can  nominate someone here.  And you can nominate as many people as your heart desires.  We can work together to ensure that people don’t feel alone in their darkest moments.

I sincerely hope you will check out this amazing initiative … and … if/when you do, just pause for a wee moment and notice how you feel as you flirt with the possibilities of being a catalyst for love between the bed-making and trips to the office and the carpools.  You + Me = WE … and we can co-conspire with others in raising the energy and awareness of this sublime movement.  We (you and me) can help bring immeasurable light into the dark spaces that many people are struggling to see their way through …with just a few written words.

Gotta go … I want to write some love letters, Karen ❤

P.S. I also want to take this opportunity to honor and applaud Hannah Brencher for blessing our humanity with her bold and brilliant and beautiful heart!!! You might also add a little more kindling to your internal flame by picking up her book If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers. It’s just such a remarkable story. Or, if you prefer, you can sample her captivating writing style first by checking out her blog.





[Guest Post]: i loved this. and then it got even better.

This extraordinary post stirred up a huge smile in my heart!  With deep thanks to KSBeth for this lovely invitation to savor our moments by seeing them through a new set of eyes!   For some reason, though, the clipping is blurry in my re-post.  So, be sure to click onto the original post at “I didn’t have my glasses on…”  in order to read the newspaper clip! And … while you are there, take a little time to enjoy some of the other beautiful posts KSBeth has shared there!  ❤

Simply magical … Karen

I didn't have my glasses on....


this was sent to me


my sister


i could



every word

for it’s



to life

that i share

with the small boy

in the words above


and then

there was

the orange sticky note


she attached

to it

and i












it shows


she truly


who i am.

View original post

A Little Inspiration …

Thinking Out Loud / I’m Not The Only One MASHUP
Sam Tsui & Casey Breves singing Ed Sheeran And Sam Smith At The Same Time.  

From where I am looking, exceptional music is one of life’s little miracles …

May this extraordinary and highly creative collaboration delight your senses and stir your soul … Karen




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