Birds of a Feather…Really?

First of all, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful support you gave me in my reentrance into the Blogosphere. My last post had the largest participation of any post that’s appeared on my blog, ever.
 

Why did that happen?
 

I prefer to think of it as the old Birds of a Feather adage.

birds_in-_flight

(Image Credit: AlicePopkorn/Flickr.com)

You know. We flock together.
 

No, I’m not talking about the Pelican, although we’ll get to him in a moment.
 

See, I think this goes far beyond people who are drawn to others who have similar interests.
 

If you’ve ever watched a flock of birds in the sky, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed they usually fly in some kind of formation. Rare is the bird that flies alone.
 

It’s interesting that flocks of birds may differ in size, occur in different species and seasons, yet it is customary that flocks have special names such as a raft of ducks, a charm of finches or a horde of ravens.
 

It seems that birds flock together for many reasons. They congregate to forage, to protect, for camaraderie, to produce and raise a family, for warmth and aerodynamics.
 

Wouldn’t you say that as writers, we can relate to all of the above?
 

We forage together for craft and publishing information. We protect and look out for one another. We form a close alliance with other writers. We nurture our creativity when we produce our books. And we would never consider leaving one of our fellow writers out in the cold.
 

Yet, we are also aerodynamic. We assemble in groups and organizations that allow us to sense a change in wind patterns that enable us to make changes in our life or in the publishing world. We flock together, thus we gain the support to weather any change within current conditions.
 

When we gather together, we use our energy in a more efficient way. It becomes an act of survival, thus none of us are left flailing, floating aimlessly alone. Perhaps if we adopt the custom of naming our own specie of flock, we could call ourselves a gaggle of wanas!
 

I kind of like that, don’t you?
 

So again, thank you for all your support. Y’all gave me a huge lift and an immense feeling that I am not flying solo. I’m truly a member soaring in formation along with the flock.
 

Because Birds of a Feather. You know. We flock together!
 

Really.
 

Now about the Pelican.
 

Jennette Marie Powell related the short version of a rhyme that her grandfather used to say that I thought was apropos. “A strange old bird is the pelican. His beak can hold more than his bellycan.”
 

Well, I sure received a belly full of suggestions. Some were rather inventive. Who knew a Pelican could be so popular. Although, I have to say there were a few of you that were leery of him. While some thought it would be a good idea to wear a hat, others found him to be professorial. And that of course had an influence on your recommendation for his name.
 

Yet, in taking into consideration everyone’s suggestions, be it here on my blog or on Facebook, the name that was submitted most was, believe it or not, “Murphy.”
 

It looks like I now have an Irish Pelican named Murphy!
 

And you know what? I think it’s a good fit. I like it!
 

Oh, by the way. Let me reassure you that Murphy and I had a chat. And he has promised to be on his best behavior and has agreed to act like a perfect gentleman. Since he and I just met, I have no choice but to take his word on this. But if you should notice him getting out of line, please let me know. What can I say? I now share this blog with a bird! Who would’ve thought?
 

So what do you think? Has your life, like my blog, gone to the birds? Do you prefer to fly alone or would you rather soar with the flock? If you were to compare yourself to a bird, what kind of bird would you most likely be? What is your latest project that you are trying to gain liftoff?
 

I want you to know, you guys really Rock!
 

Cheers everyone! Thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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Boot Scootin’ Re-Launch Party!

Howdy!

Welcome to the party everyone!
 
Y’all might want to grab a glass of the bubbly before we take a look around.


(I only bring this picture out on special occations!)

Yes, I thought we were due for a blog party around here. It’s been six long months since a post on this site has hit the Blogosphere. And we’ve got a lot to celebrate!
 
Well, what do you think? Do you like what you see? It’s a big change, isn’t it?
 
As you know, change doesn’t always come easy. In my case, or should I say in the case of my old theme, it was dying a slow death. Plugins refused to play nice with widgets who refused to play nice with the theme. It would send your comments to spam, yet spammers were allowed to leave a comment. You have no idea how many times I’ve saved all of you from the trash.

Time for a fresh start and a new beginning!

So I called the illustrious Wana Web Techie Guru, Laird Sapir.

But I had to wait. Yes, it seems Laird is a pretty popular web techie gal. Yet, just in time for spring, she became available. And as I found out, if you’re willing to wait, you may even be serenaded by her three year old daughter. “I love you, you love me.” Yep, she’s that precious!
It always pays to be patient. And as you can see, Laird was so worth the wait!

Let’s scoot to the top of the page shall we and take a look at the new header. You may have noticed that my tagline “Life Happens” went missing. I wasn’t quite sure where to put it. So it is my hope that these pictures will say more than words. They are the backdrop of my life and the stomping ground for the main characters of my future books.

Yes, life will still be happening around here! :)

You’ll notice as you scroll down the left sidebar, there’s the usual About and Contact page. And right below is my picture. Now we, as in Amber West and Lynn Kelley, graciously tried to play with a new picture in Photoshop. Thank you Amber and Lynn! Well…my picture looked quite frankly…Photoshoped. Lol! So I opted to leave the old picture in place because it’s the same little ol’ me. Besides, a new picture gives us all something to look forward to in the future.

Now directly underneath is my “Follow” information. If you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you are more than welcome to join us at any time. As you can see, I am not a blog maniac. I do not blog five thousand times a week.

Then of course, you may also Follow Me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkIn. How cool is that?

Scootin’ right along, next you’ll find my Facebook Author “Like” and Twitter feeds, archived posts and then if you scroll down just a little bit further, you’ll notice something kind of special at the end of the sidebar. Do you see it?

Yep, it’s the Pelican. He’s a pretty handsome dude, don’t you think? I thought he’d make a great mascot. But there’s only one problem. He has no name. I had thought of naming him Alfred. Don’t ask me why. There is no rhyme or reason to my madness. But hubby hated it. “No, don’t name that poor bird Alfred!” I know, he needs to get his own blog. Lol. Then I thought, why not ask all of you what you think might be a good name for him. He can’t just not have a name. After all, he deserves some recognition since he plans on staying for a while.

So what do you think? How do you like my new Digs? Please do that poor bird handsome Pelican a favor and suggest a name for him in the comments section before you Boot Scoot your way out of here. And of course, you know I’d love to hear how y’all are doing!

Cheers everyone! It’s great to be back. Thank you as always for all your support and wonderful comments! See you next week!
Karen

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Sing O Bla Di Bla Da!

(Picture courtesy of Kristin Nador)

I know, I know, I love to use song titles.

You caught me.

What can I say? Life goes on…

A couple of weeks ago, 400 students were piled into an auditorium at Frank Sinatra High School for the performing arts in New York City and got the biggest surprise of their life. The kids had no idea why they were gathered until Paul McCartney walked out on stage.
 

Can you image?
 

The whole auditorium went crazy. There was a 50 year gap in age, yet the students screamed just like they did when the Beatles first appeared on stage at Shea Stadium and the Ed Sullivan Show. And they knew all the words. Paul still rocked it and brought down the house.
 

Maybe I’m amazed.
 

What is it about Paul McCartney that makes him so special? What makes it possible for him to appeal to generations of people from all over the world?
 

Okay, he’s a Beatle. I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. I get that. But really, what, besides being a “Beatle” causes gazillions of people to flock to his concerts? Think about it. When Paul McCartney first became popular in the 1960s, those students in attendance weren’t even born.
 

While watching this event, hubby and I remembered when we too had the privilege of attending a Paul McCartney concert. We sat behind a young couple who had brought their three month old baby. Yes, a three month old baby. Who does that? *shakes head* At least they had the good sense to bring earplugs for that little sweetie. And then to our right, sat an older woman in a wheelchair. The vast spectrum of age, the fact that everyone knew the words and sang along, left us awestruck.
 

Now I ask you, who else has the ability to evoke such excitement and participation?
 

During the concert, some of the students were allowed to ask questions. One student asked why McCartney continues to make music. He said that when people ask him if he’ll retire, he responds with, “Thank you very much. No.”
 

He also said, “You have to follow your own instincts. It’s very easy to get caught up in this idea that you must please everyone. You have to remind yourself that you’ve got to love it – then there’s a chance they will love it as well.”
 

Way to go Paul!
 

And isn’t that what creating art is all about? It’s subjective and once released into the world, we hope our work will appeal to others and perhaps bring some pleasure into their world. Granted, none of us can be Paul McCartney. He’s one of a kind. But aren’t we? I say, let’s use Paul’s example for a little inspiration. Let’s follow our own instincts. And when we reach the point of doubt and frustration in our creative work, let’s to continue to remind ourselves that honey, honey, life goes on.
 

And so does Paul McCartney.
 

Sing O Bla Di Bla Da!
 

I feel better already!
 

So what do you think? Were you able to watch Paul McCartney on the Yahoo broadcast? Have you ever had the opportunity to see the Beatles, or one of the Beatles perform? What’s the last concert you attended? Do you find that music inspires you?

Thanks everyone for stopping by and for all your encouraging comments!
Karen

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Safe and Sound


 

What makes you feel safe?
 

How important is it for you to feel secure?
 

What lengths will you go to make sure you and your family stay out of harm’s way?
 

For one reason or another, all of us harbor some form of fear and insecurity. And, for the most part, our environment plays a huge part of who we are and what we are affected by, both emotionally and physically.
 

Like the picture above, our lives may sail along with perfect skies above. Then there are the other times when we want to hit the restart button. Darkness looms and all we can see are the lights that shine brightly amongst the shadowy night sky.
 


 

Last week, hubby and I took off for San Diego. The community we live in decided it was time to slurry all the pavement in our 41 acre complex. For some, this would just boil down to a minor inconvenience. But for us, this situation turned into a major problem.
 

At first, we didn’t know what to do. We debated back and forth the pros and cons of the situation. Should we stay and bunker down the hatch? Or should we flee to safer waters? In either the case, we knew that the decision we made, would affect our safety.
 

Why? Because our family has a physical condition that would make it difficult for us to stay or to travel. In fact, this is the reason why we haven’t traveled anywhere for several years. We have what researchers call MCSD, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorder.
 

What is MCSD?
 

MCSD, or EI (Environmental Illness), is a result from having adverse reactions to things in your environment, such as certain chemicals, foods, perfumes, cleaners, solvents, air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, mold pollen, dust, dander, (or slurry) and the list goes on.
 

Basically, it can be likened to an allergic reaction with harsh reactions that can affect multiple organ systems, such as respiratory, nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, skin, etc. and therefore can cause numerous symptoms that include asthma, headaches, joint pain, rashes, irritable bowel, mood swings, brain fog and many more.
 

Are we having fun yet?
 

Anyway, triggers and symptoms can vary depending on the individual. As an example, someone may eat dairy and later on develop a headache. Or, as in the case with our family, we are affected by perfumes/fragrance, pesticides and petroleum products and our allergic reaction varies from high blood pressure, seizures, heart palpitations, alopecia, depression, nausea, or flu-like symptoms.
 

And over a period of time, like most allergies, these triggers can grow ever the more sensitive, so that they become very debilitating for those of us that suffer from this condition.
 

If you suffer from any of the aforementioned, don’t be misled or discouraged. There are two camps on this issue: those who believe that these symptoms are psychosomatic and those who feel that this is real and caused by over-exposure to chemicals in our environment.
 

I for one am with the second camp because I am living it, along with countless veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and First Responders and others exposed to the World Trade Center toxins. And we are not alone. There are literally thousands around the world who suffer from MCSD.
 

In our head? I think not.
 

So what did hubby and I do to keep out of harm’s way?
 

I had to call ahead and request that the hotel remove all fragrance from the room, including soaps, shampoos and linens and to clean with nothing but hot water and vinegar. Yep, Grandma’s old cleaning recipe really works as a great cleaner and disinfectant. And the Hotel was all over it. They assured us that this was not a problem and would have our room ready upon our arrival.
 

But…they had forgotten one request. They had forgotten one step that would make or break our stay. What was it? Ozone. They forgot to ozone our room. For those of you that don’t know, ozone is a safe way to neutralize chemicals, odors, molds, etc. from any surface or space. And they forgot. I wanted to cry, but never fear, the manager was near. He gave his word that while we dined, at their expense by the way, they would ozone our room. (Mmm, I can still taste that filet mignon.)
 

What’s the moral of this story?
 

It wasn’t perfect. And how could we expect it to be? Our world is far from perfect. But we survived. Perhaps a little sick, but it could’ve been worse. I spent the entire trip sleeping on the floor of the bathroom on a make-shift bed that hubby put together made of several pillows, topped with a comforter and pillow. It was a little like camping out in an RV. An expensive RV, but we survived. And we made it home safe and sound.
 
 

So what do you think? Have you ever heard of MCSD? Do you or do you know someone who suffers from any of the symptoms listed above? For the longest time, hubby and I did not make the connection until our doctor diagnosed it. It was truly an “Aha” moment. Perhaps you may suffer from another malady. What are some of the things that you find helps your family keep out of harm’s way and stay safe and sound? Please feel free to share any thoughts or suggestions!
 
 

For more information on MCSD, please visit http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org/index.html.
 
 

Thanks everyone for stopping by and for all your encouraging comments!
Karen

 

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If You’re Missed and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!


(Do you know who those hands belong to? Is it a plea for help? Is someone missing? If so, could it be you or me? Thank you Lynn Kelley for volunteering this picture via WANA Commons.)
 

In any event, everyone Clap Your Hands!
 

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t blog over the summer. It wasn’t planned. It just happened. I succumbed to burn-out, an aftershock from all the turmoil that happened over the last couple of years. I couldn’t move. Days would go by and I literally could not move.
 

Was I depressed? No, not really. More like exhausted. Beyond exhausted.
 

When you are deluged by difficulties that are out of your control, when necessary, you will rise to the occasion, then afterwards you collapse. I think it has something to do with that old adage, what goes up must come down. And I crashed. It’s just that simple.
 

At first I thought I’d take a month off. That sounded reasonable. With so many of you at home with your children or gone away on vacation, I would go unnoticed. Then another month went by and then another. It got easier not to blog. I mean, who would really miss me?
 

But I was wrong.
 

I tried to connect on Facebook because it’s a great way to stay in touch. Then, in mid-August, I saw a post on my feed that mentioned a WANA classmate who was recovering from major surgery. Don’t ya just love that about Facebook? It gives us an opportunity to support and root for our family and friends. The WANAite was none other than Anthony Tuscano. And he apparently had a serious issue that required major surgery.
 

Ding, ding, ding, off went my radar. I, of all people, know about the recovery process from major surgery. So I left a cheerful “Get Well” message amongst many others. Well, don’t you know, dear Anthony leaves me this reply, “Karen, I’ve missed reading your blog; and I miss you!”
 

Moi?…Really?
 

I was taken aback by Anthony’s kind words knowing HE was the injured party. It was HE who no doubt suffered from major surgery. And he thought of me?
 

I clapped my hands.
 

At the beginning of September, I heard from another WANA classmate, Pat O’Dea Rosen. Do you see a trend here? Pat, it seems, has an art for direction. She, in her own gracious, complimentary manner, gave me a nudge. Why, this writer remembered the very first post I ever wrote. She, in a nutshell, told me that I had “set high standards and put too much pressure on myself.” Her comment actually mirrored something Jenny Hansen had said to me over a year ago.
 

Call me thick headed, but don’t you hate it when people are right? Did they nail me, or what? I have come to realize there is no hiding behind what you write. It’s there for all to see in black and white. But this was Pat’s way of telling me that I was missed.
 

I clapped my hands.
 

Then I thought about others who are struggling. Or those of you, who out of the kindness of your heart, come by and leave a comment on my blog. Do you know how much you’re missed? Yet, it is possible that many of us may feel like we are blogging out to the Universe and are never missed. Now, how sad would that be?
 

There’s been a lot going on over the past few months. Fires, tornadoes, floods, illness, yes, most of us are dealing with quite a number of challenging issues. Yet, we keep pressing on. Why not take a look around you. See who might be MIA and send them a message. You’d be surprised how little it takes to encourage another.
 

I leave you with this thought that came across my Facebook feed the other day…

“If you find someone who makes you smile, who checks on you often to see if you’re okay, who watches out for you and wants the very best for you, don’t let them go. Keep them close and don’t take them for granted. People like that are hard to find.” (Author unknown.)
 

So if you’re missed and you know it, Clap Your Hands!
 

Thank you so much for the encouragement Jenny, Pat and Anthony! Well all of you actually! :)

And we hope you have a speedy recovery Anthony!
 
 
So what do you think?

How did you enjoy your summer? Were you able to re-arrange your schedule and get some rest? Did you and your family get away on a much needed vacation? Were you affected by one of the crazy climatic disasters that have struck our globe? If so, I hope that you and your family are safe!
 

Thanks everyone for stopping by and for all your upbuilding comments!
Karen
 
 

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