Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fear or Faith?

Fear.  According to an on-line dictionary, fear is described as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  Note the word ‘belief.’  It is only a belief that something bad is going to happen.  Not a fact. 

Will Smith said, “Fear is not real.  The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.  It is a product of our imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.  Do not misunderstand me.  Danger is very real.  But fear is a choice.”

At the current time, there is a lot of fear being propagated by the media, some religions, and the medical and pharmaceutical industries when it comes to Ebola.  I would like to help us put things in perspective.  It’s not an epidemic in our country.  Yes, a few people have been diagnosed mainly from bringing it back from West Africa and my heart goes out to them.  But the key word is ‘few.’  Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would be "extraordinarily unlikely that it will be an outbreak at all because of the way we take care of people, how we have the capability of isolating them, how we understand what one needs to do to protect the health care providers, and the kinds of health care facilities we have."  According to disease experts, Ebola is spread via close and personal contact with bodily fluids from an infected person during the late stages of infection or after death.  It is also not airborne.  We also have to remember that these other countries do not have the sanitation, medical facilities, or medical personnel that we have here.

Julia Shaklee Sammons, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the Children's Hospital states, “Ebola is not easy to get, and that measles, one of the most infectious diseases in the world, is far easier to catch than Ebola.”  And according to the Baseline of Health Foundation, “You should be far more concerned about dying from lightning strikes (about 73 a year in the US), traffic accidents (about 33,000 fatalities a year), gun shots (30,000), and alcohol abuse (100,000). To put that in perspective: the number of people who have died from Ebola contracted outside of Africa in the entire history of mankind is zero. To date, no case of Ebola in humans has ever been contracted in the United States.”

Also consider this…  In 2011, lethal infections from hospitals affected an estimated 722,000 patients in the U.S. with about 75,000 of them dying from those infections.  According to the CDC, these infections affect one in 25 patients.  Compare this to the few with Ebola in our country and you will see how we should keep this in perspective. 

So, who gains from all this fear mongering?  The media gains because they know you will keep your eyes glued to their stations and will buy their papers and magazines.  The medical and pharmaceutical communities will gain because they know you will be buying the drugs and vaccines.  Always follow the money.  Let me be clear.  I am NOT saying that we should ignore the threat of Ebola and not do anything about it.  Let’s just be smart about it and keep it all in perspective.

Where does faith come in all of this?  The point I am trying to make is let’s not give our power to others in the name of fear to the point that we lose faith in Source/God/Spirit.  Let’s not let fear thoughts take over our minds and beliefs to the point where we are going to literally attract that which we fear, and let’s not let others scare us to death!  Literally!  We still need to keep our focus on love, good health, peace, harmony, and the belief that we have what it takes to handle this issue in our country, as well as in other countries.

Some of us in Unity believe that fear is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’  Fear does not have any meaning except for the meaning that you give to it.  Therefore, are we going to let fear rule our hearts, minds, and souls?  Or are we going to have faith in God (or the God of your understand)?  As Khalil Gibran said, “Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.”  Personally, I refuse to let fear rule my life and am going to continue to focus on love.

Are you ready to let fear go?  Are you ready to be at peace?  Then believe it and it is so! 

Addendum:  To clarify, not all pharmaceuticals/drugs/medications were developed just so someone could gain financially, but many of them are.  Many times, these corporations will use fear just to get people to buy their drugs so that they can make millions/billions of dollars when there are many other safer alternatives than using drugs. or the threat is not a threat, but they make it sound like an epidemic so that people will go out and buy the drugs.  Please do your research before taking any medication and be informed.   

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen October 10, 2014.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Inner Voice of Spirit

Life sure is an adventure!  From the time we are born when we take our first breath, we are shot out of the starting gate and we keep going until we reach that finish line and take our last breath.  Everything in between is a journey to discovering who we really are and why we are here.  For many of us, those lessons come easily.  For others, we may leave this earth plane never knowing.  It is only when we become aware of who we really are that we learn that life is the question and we are the answer!  Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within, and when we go silently within, into our minds, our hearts, and our souls, we can hear that still, quiet voice of Spirit talking to us and it will never steer us wrong. 

Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to that inner voice of Spirit (or the God of your understanding), and when I listen, it gives me words of love, guidance, encouragement, comfort, and wisdom.  That inner voice has even kept me safe from harm so many times.  It’s given me words to say to others in their time of need.  And when I speak and/or write, it guides me to say and write whatever needs to be said at the time. 

Besides speaking to you, Spirit can and does give you signs.  After I moved here, I joined the wonderful organization called Toastmasters so that I could learn to speak in front of a crowd.  My first few times speaking at Toastmasters, and in the first couple of contests I entered, I was so nervous that I had to grip my hands together so that people wouldn’t see them shaking.  Before my first big contest, I was a nervous wreck.  While driving on the way to the contest, I was freaking out and asked Spirit for some kind of sign that everything was going to be okay.  At that very second, I happened to look up in the sky, and I saw a cloud in the shape of a beautiful angel!  It only lasted a few seconds, so if I had not have looked up when I did, I would have missed her.  I also heard the words within, “Just do the best you can and have fun!  Leave the rest up to me!”  It was then that I knew everything was going to be okay no matter the outcome.  I went on to the contest and won!  Remembering the angel’s message, I also went on to several other contests and made it to the District level winning third place.

It is said that the number one fear people have is the fear of public speaking.  My theory is that people don’t fear speaking so much as they fear what people will think of them while they’re speaking.  If someone knew their talk would be wonderful, they wouldn’t worry so much.  Besides, Terry Cole Whittaker said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”  In the beginning, I would use notes and tended to rely on those notes.  Then many years ago, I went to hear Wayne Dyer speak and he said he used notes in the beginning, too.  But then he said something that taught me a great lesson.  We need to trust that what’s meant to be said will be said, and what isn’t meant to be said will be left out.  We need to trust that Spirit will speak through us and people will hear what they are meant to hear.  What a great concept and one I use to this day!  That doesn’t mean that I still don’t beat myself up sometimes wishing I had said or not said something (and this includes my writings), but when I do, Spirit will give me a loving spiritual smack on the back of my head and gently say, “Stop it!  It’s over!  Let it go!” 

There are many people who don’t believe that Spirit/God (or whoever you believe that voice to be) doesn’t speak to us directly, and that’s okay.  For those of us who do, it’s so reassuring to believe that something greater, which is also within us, is in charge.  We can connect to Spirit’s voice by praying, meditating, communing with nature, listening, and so much more.

We are so much greater than we believe we are!  As Neale Donald Walsh stated, “You think of yourselves as humans searching for a spiritual awakening, when in fact you are spiritual beings attempting to cope with a human awakening. Seeing yourselves from the perspective of the Spirit within will help you to remember why you came here and what you came here to do.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper October 3, 2014.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Life of a Free Spirit

I admit it.  I’m a free spirit.  Have been most of my adult life.  Once in awhile in conversations with someone and telling them some of the things I’ve done in my life, they’ll comment, “Boy!  You sure have done a lot in your life!”  That statement would always catch me off guard and cause me to think, “Have I really done so much?”  Then I would wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

Mainstream society would label it as a bad thing.  They would say that those who have done so much don’t know what they want out of life and are basically goofballs.  They expect everyone to get married, settle down, have children, and stay at the same job for years.  I don’t know how many times it has been suggested to me to get married and settle down.  Settle down to what?  Settle down to a life that isn’t or wasn’t meant for me?  Crush my spirit and force me to conform to society’s standards?  I’m definitely not putting down marriage or holding a long term job so please don’t misunderstand!  Those are perfectly fine!  Sometimes I think I would love to be married and share the rest of my life with someone.  Right now, I’m okay being single.  I have married friends who envy my being single!  As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the septic tank! 

What are some of the things I’ve done and/or accomplished?  I lived on an Indian Reservation in British Columbia.  Went to both a Bible college and a horse management college.  Worked for Wayne Newton on one of his horse ranches outside of Las Vegas.  Was a nurse’s aide in a hospital.  Lived in Hollywood, California, and Nashville, TN, pursuing my dream of an acting and dancing career; was in movies, TV shows, commercials, and music videos.  Studied martial arts and was awarded a black belt.  Achieved an Associates’ degree in Natural Health and Nutrition.  Went on two cruises to the Caribbean with health guru Richard Simmons.  Belonged to Toastmasters (speaking club).  Write for the Religion Section of the Herald Citizen, Putnam County Visions Magazine, and other magazines.  Was secretary and later president on the board of my church, and am currently a Chaplain.  Volunteered as a Chaplain at the hospital.  Became a substitute teacher.  Achieved my Bachelors and Masters as a minister, and then a Doctorate as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry.  During these times I had a few full time jobs (good and bad) and many temporary jobs with temp agencies.  But I always paid my own way and paid my own bills.  Oh, yes, and came close to getting married a couple of times. 

Can we say, “Whew?”  Now some people may look at all of my experiences and wonder what the heck was wrong with me that I couldn’t stay at one particular thing.  My answer to that question is, “Why?”  Looking back on my experiences, they have all been blessings.  No, not all of them were totally fun-filled adventures, as I’ve also faced my share of challenges.  I’ve had many experiences along the way with some not-so-nice people who treated me horribly, and I had a breakdown that completely took me off the grid causing me to give up my dreams of a career in the entertainment business.  But in hindsight, I wouldn’t change any of these experiences because they have all taught me so much. 

Living on the Indian Reservation introduced me to an extraordinary culture and some really amazing people.  I also gained some treasured friendships that I still have to this day.  They became my family and I theirs.

The Bible College was very stringent and I couldn’t do a lot of the things I enjoyed because of their beliefs, so I quit.  I learned on my own that I could have my beliefs without being so strict and judgmental towards others.  I could still dance, go to movies, and enjoy life without a religion using guilt and fear to try to control me. 

Working at a hospital taught me to count my blessings because I saw so many who were so much worse off than me.  I learned how to treat people with compassion and kindness.

Living in Hollywood and Nashville pursuing a career in the entertainment business was a fabulous adventure as I met and got to know some really famous and not so famous people.  Before I moved to Hollywood, I was told by several, including my minister at the time, that if I moved out there and became an actress, I would go straight to hell because all Hollywood people were evil.  But I met some of the most wonderful, loving, and caring people!  I learned that those in the entertainment business were just like any of us, but doing a different kind of job.  I also learned that you find what you’re looking for and I found so much good!

I loved working for Wayne Newton!  He was always kind to me, though I can’t say that for everyone who worked on his ranch.  I learned some insights into what it is to be a famous entertainer.  

Studying the martial arts gave me more confidence and I learned to defend myself if I needed to.

Achieving my degrees in nutrition, as a minister, and as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry has been a wonderful journey in learning.  The wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained will last me a lifetime.

Everything I have experienced in my life has made me a better and stronger person and has made me who I am today.  I like who I am, though I may not always like who I’m not.  There is still so much more that I want to do and accomplish.  I want to travel the world!  Write a book!  Become a successful speaker!  Do what I can to help make the world a better place!

The reason I write this article is not to boast, “Hey!  Look at all I’ve done!”  The point is that there may be many of you, or even your children, who are also free spirits.  You may be frustrated because you feel that you have to conform to your family’s or society’s demands to be who or what they think you should be.  Or maybe you’re doing this to your children; trying to force them to live your unfulfilled dreams for you.  Trying to make them be, do, or have everything according to your wishes for them.  I know that most parents only want what’s best for their children, but we really should want what they think is best for them as long as they harm no one, including themselves.  Let them make their own decisions as to what they want to do with their future.  Let them learn from their own mistakes.  They, and only they, are the ones who have to live and answer for their lives, and that’s also true for us. 

How many of us grow up looking back and regretting not so much the things we did, but the things we didn’t do just because someone else said no, or our dreams were belittled or made fun of, so we gave up?  Whatever we’re doing now, maybe we’re happy or maybe we’re not.  If we’re not, we stay anyway because we think that’s what’s expected of us.  So we learn to be happy being miserable.  Many turn to addictions to try to numb the pain and fill that void of not being able to fulfill our life’s purpose.

My motto is you never know unless you try.  There are countless people who had others try to quash their dreams, but they persevered and became very successful in spite of whatever obstacles were put in their way.  Maybe they won’t fulfill that particular dream, but that dream lead into something else more fantastic and exciting!  My dream of an entertainment career got side-tracked into a speaking career.  I say that I’m still entertaining, but now I’m entertaining with a message!

Even though you may still have dreams you’d like to pursue, it’s not too late.  The important thing is to not regret the past.  Everything we’ve experienced has brought us to where we are today.  But we don’t have to be defined by our past!  We can change our future!  Everything we’ve experienced, on a soul level, was meant to be experienced.  Wherever we are right now is okay.  A beloved minister and friend of mine used to always say “You’re in the right place, at the right time, right now.” 

We have choices even if we think we don’t have a choice (even that is a choice).  We can choose to be a victim of our past, or a hero of our future.  Never give up on your dreams!  They may need to be adapted, though, because you have a family or other life obligations.  When it comes to your children, they may not want to do or be what you want them to do or be, but let them try to find their own way.  Give them a chance to live their dreams.  Remember how it felt not to be able to live your own?  Encourage them, support them, and help them if you can.  It’s their experiences, and they have to live their own lives.  Please don’t contribute to their looking back and regretting things they haven’t done just because you told them no.  But know, too, that’s it perfectly okay to expect them to pay their own way.

Our biggest dream in life should be to be happy!  Do and be what makes you happy!  Follow your bliss and everything else will fall into place!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Walt Disney stated, “All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Harriet Tubman exclaimed, “ Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  And Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. 

Do you have a dream?  Do your children have their dreams?  It’s okay to be a free spirit!  Just remember….  You’ll never know unless you try! 

Published in the Putnam County Visions Magazine, October 2014 issue.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Be the Love

Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I say, “Be the LOVE you wish to see in the world!”

Those who know me, have read my articles, or have heard me speak, know that I am very passionate about love…unconditional love for all beings regardless of color, race, religion, politics, culture, or sexual preference.  My favorite verses from Jesus that has become one of my mantras is, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  I quote this verse often, especially in my articles, because so many people still aren’t getting it.  Love, unconditional love for all, is really what it’s all about.  It’s what all the great Spiritual Masters from Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and countless others throughout history and today teach.  LOVE ONE ANOTHER!  No exceptions are mentioned!

Granted, this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with someone else’s beliefs or condone their behavior.  People still need to be held accountable for their actions, especially when they hurt others either through those actions or with their words.  Rather than judge, I try to see that innocent child they were when they were born.  I try to see that Divine Spark that is within every single being on earth.  The Bible says that we were all made in God’s image; not just some of us. Somewhere along the way, people were taught to hate and hate is a learned behavior; it is NOT who we are!   When people attack others and speak words of hate or commit acts of hatred, then I know that they are coming from a place of fear.  Hate is only a by-product of fear.  Marianne Williamson said, “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.” 

John Lennon also stated, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

When I see people in fear, I can feel compassion for them because I know they dislike or even hate themselves so much, or are in so much emotional or spiritual pain, that the only way they can make themselves feel better is by putting other people down.  This is one reason people bully or gossip...to find fault with others so they don’t have to look at the faults within themselves.  Again, Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”   I don’t know about you, but I have enough stuff of my own to work on than to spend time criticizing or finding fault with others.  Besides, acting ugly just takes up way too much energy and there are too many more important things to focus on, as well as too many people to help in this life. 

Sometimes people wonder how I can be so ‘happy’ and smiling all the time.  Truth is, I’m not.  I struggle just like everyone else.  I have days where I don’t even want to face the world.  Yet, I also believe in raising people up rather than tearing them down.  Mother Teresa stated, “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”   I don’t ever want to be responsible for bringing someone down.  That doesn’t mean I don’t unknowingly hurt someone’s feelings or upset them or that I won’t stand up for myself when needed.  But I always try to let love be my guide…that pure, unconditional, perfect love of Spirit.  When you know that love, when you feel that love, then you can’t help but love yourself, the world, and everyone in it!

We’re awakening!  There’s a ‘Lovelution’ happening and more and more people are learning that love really is the answer!  Namaste!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 26, 2014.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Aging With Grace

Recently, my high school celebrated their class reunion in Ohio.  I was unable to attend, but I have been seeing pictures posted on Facebook.  It’s astonishing that I only recognize a couple of people!  Everyone has gotten so much older and many don’t look like they did when we were in school.  Then it dawned on me.  If they’re looking older, then that means I’M looking older!  Where has time gone!?!  It seems like it was just yesterday that I was a majorette, marching in the band, and hanging with my friends.  I noticed that just about all of us have gained a little weight, lost a little hair, and have a few more wrinkles on our faces. 

Getting older isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure.  Our minds tend to remain young, but for some reason, our bodies continue to age.  We think we can still do all the things we did when we were younger, but our bodies tell us otherwise.  But try we do!  And then there’s the memory, or what there is of it.  I now tend to forget things a little easier.  In fact, I call them memoroids and I have more of them as time goes on. 

I’ve pretty much come to peace with getting older.  Peace with wrinkles, an extra flab here and there, fewer hairs, and not having the energy I had when I was younger.  There are times when I dread getting any older, but I also want to be one of those who ages with grace.  One who embraces the changes in my body and mind.  But I also know that I don’t have to accept the labels that society tends to put on older people.  I don’t have to expect age related illnesses just because someone says I should be getting them at a certain age.  I don’t have to conform to others who say I should act my age.  Personally, I don’t believe in age.  If Einstein proved that there’s no such thing as time, then there’s no such thing as age.  Besides, I refuse to be identified by a number whether it’s my age or my weight!

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve developed a pretty healthy self-esteem by now…most of the time.  I still have my moments of feeling insecure, inferior, and feeling unworthy, but usually I feel pretty good about myself.  I like the person I’ve become; I just don’t always like the person I’m not.  And sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that woman?!?”  Some days I think I look pretty good for my age, and then other days I think I look like an ugly hag. 

Healthy self-esteem sure is needed when hearing the honesty of young children.  I’ve been told I’m old several times.  One little one asked me how old I was and I teasingly said I was six.  She replied, “You can’t be six!  Six year olds don’t have squiggles on their face and you have squiggles!  My grandma has squiggles!”  So, now I have squiggles.

As I look back over my life since my days in school, I see how I have grown.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had my share of challenges.  Some I didn’t think I’d make it through, but for whatever reasons, I persevered and in hindsight, I see that those challenges made me a stronger and better person.

Certain segments of society tells us that we’re not good enough unless we look a certain way, act a certain way, or that we need to conform to what everyone else is doing.  We were made to be unique!  There is no one else like us in the world!  I wish we could all learn early just how wonderful, magnificent, and miraculous we really are!  We could live with our heads held high knowing that we are the best there is and it has nothing to do with anyone else!  With age comes wisdom, knowledge, and a knowing that age really is a state of mind.  The Bible also states that we were made in God’s image, which makes us glorious and splendid beings living a human experience!

Donna Lynn Hope said, “Youth.  I don’t seek it through another because I have it within; it’s a state of mind, a spirit that is free, and a mind that is playful.  The shell of my being is altered by the effects of time, but nothing will tarnish a soul that will never forget what it’s like to experience creation with endless wonder and appreciation.”

Embrace life!  Embrace your age!  Let’s all learn to age gracefully and be proud of our squiggles!  We’ve earned them!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 19, 2014.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Holistic Health

Finally!  After a lot of research, reading, writing, and hard work, I finally achieved my Doctorate as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry!  My official title now is Rev.Dr. (though I still prefer to be called Karen).  Writing my dissertation has been an adventure, that’s for sure.  But what a wonderful learning experience!

Holistic Ministry has to do with Mind, Body, and Spirit.  You hear the terms bandied about individually and separately, but it takes a balance of the three to be a healthy whole.  This is termed ‘holistic health.’  An imbalance in one affects an imbalance in another.  Even though it seems these are three separate entities, they actually work together as one.

The mind is a very fragile and yet strong entity.  It can get people through the most horrendous circumstances, and yet it can snap in an instant.  The jury is still out as to where the mind is actually located.  Normal thinking says that the mind is in the brain itself.  Yet new scientific findings say it is quite possible that the mind and memory are in our cells throughout our whole body.  This may be why some organ donor recipients may have memories from the donor. The mind is also associated with our thinking processes, feelings, emotions, and memories.

The body is another amazing entity.  It, too, has the strength to survive the greatest traumas and has the power for self-healing, and yet it can be consumed with the most debilitating of illnesses and diseases. 

The Spirit is an entity that is really indescribable as no one really knows exactly what the Spirit is or what form it takes.  We all have our beliefs as to what the Spirit is or isn’t, but if you ask a hundred people, you may get a hundred different answers.  Some will use the name God, Universe, Spirit, Allah, Nature, and thousands of other labels.  Like the mind, there is no proof of it; you can’t see it, and you can’t put it under a microscope.  We only have our beliefs based upon our experiences of it to describe it.  Even then, we humans are limited in our terminology when it comes to describing Spirit/God. 

The science of holistic well-being is constantly changing.  I think it is wonderful that whole ministries are being developed around it.  Most people in ministries will specialize in one area or the other, but it is only when we concentrate on gaining knowledge and wisdom in all three areas equally that we are really able to see the bigger picture.  Like puzzle pieces, they need to fit into each other to make a whole.  The wisdom and knowledge in these fields is unlimited and we are now only really beginning to understand the magnitude of this fascinating realm. 

To become totally and holistically healthy in mind, body, and Spirit, we need to open our hearts and minds to learning all things new.  What worked in the past may not necessarily be what works for today.  We need to be open to constantly tweaking our lives in order to move forward into being the greatest expressions of who we were meant to be.  When we have our health, we have more hope for our lives and our futures.  We can accomplish more.  We can feel more love for ourselves.  We enjoy life, are happier, more joyful, and can have a positive outlook.  When we work on mind, body, and Spirit together, they all weave into each other to make a beautiful tapestry of these magnificent and miraculous Spiritual and sacred beings that we are. 

How do we become healthy?  What are the thoughts that we are thinking?  Positive or negative?  What are we putting into our bodies?  Pure foods from the earth or cheap junk foods full of fake foods, chemicals, and preservatives?   Are we consuming drugs (illegal or too many legal), alcohol, tobacco smoke, sugar, and other artificial substances?   What addictions do we have?  Do we have a spiritual practice whether it is religious or nature related?  How are we feeding our souls?  All these feed into our total health.

Hippocrates said, “A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.”  And it should be because it is the temple for our souls.  Michelle Longo O’Donnell said, “The Spirit of Life is that portion of the Being of God that formed all things, and causes all things to exist in harmony, balance, and perpetual order throughout all eternity.” 

If we really knew how glorious and magnificent we really were, we would take better care of ourselves to be the best and healthiest that we could be.  We are a light onto the world and we deserve to be healthy, happy, and whole!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 5, 2014.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Humorous Life

When I started writing this article, I thought I would begin by looking up the definition of the word ‘life.’ There were twenty definitions, too many to list here, so let’s just say for this article that life is the absence of being dead.  Then I looked up the word ‘humor.’  After I got through the body fluid definitions (to be honest, I never heard body fluids used with the word humor), I read it to mean, “that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous; the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous; and something that is or is designated to be comical or amusing.” 

I love humor!  I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh!  I just love the sound of laughter…period!  I can go to a comedy movie at the theatre and I’ll get a bigger kick out of listening to people’s laughter than I do at what’s on the screen.

Laughter is so contagious.  There are numerous YouTube videos where someone will start laughing hysterically, and soon enough, everyone around them has joined in.  Once in awhile, I will watch these and I will get to laughing so hard that my mouth starts to quiver and I get two-pack abs because my tummy muscles get a tremendous work-out.     

There is even such a thing called ‘Laughter Yoga’ which was started by Madan Kataria, a doctor from India, who is also known as the ‘Guru of Giggling.’  He started a club with just five people in Mumbai and there are now more than 6,000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 72 countries.  People get together and…well…they laugh!

Humor and laughter are also very healing. When you laugh, or even smile, the feel good chemicals are released in the brain and throughout the body.  Norman Cousins, known as the modern father of laughter therapy, was diagnosed with a debilitating illness and was given little chance of recovery.  Traditional medicine failed to relieve his pain; therefore, he checked himself into a hotel, consumed megadoses of Vitamin C, and watched countless comedies on TV.  He found that just ten minutes of belly laughter would allow him to have two hours of pain-free sleep.  He soon recovered and wrote books on humor and healing.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can find humor in just about anything and I am always looking for the humor in my life situations.  They make for many great stories in my speaking and writing career.  I call them ‘only Karen moments.’  I would like to share several of them with you now.

One day I was at work and decided to brush my teeth after lunch.  I grabbed the tube of paste and my toothbrush and headed to the restroom.  After putting a dab of paste on my toothbrush, I began brushing.  I’m brushing and I’m brushing, and I’m starting to think, “Hmmmm, this toothpaste really doesn’t taste very good.”  I brush some more and it starts to occur to me that the toothpaste really doesn’t taste very good so I look at the tube and see that it was one of those inexpensive products from a dollar store, so I continue brushing.  Now I’m thinking that the toothpaste tastes extremely horrible so I take another look at the tube, and to my horror, I discovered that I was brushing my teeth with anti-itching cream!  Now, there’s bad news and good news that came from this.  The bad news is that I had a horrible taste in my mouth for the rest of the day.  The good news is that my teeth haven’t itched since!

Another story I like to tell is when I was on the way to work when I stopped to get a box turtle out of the middle of the road so it wouldn’t get hit.  There wasn’t a safe place to put him as there was a wall of stone on one side and a cliff on the other.  So in my infinite turtle wisdom, I decided to drive with the turtle down the mountain where I could release him safely.  As I was driving, I held the turtle upside down in one hand while driving with the other.  Apparently, the little guy had never ridden in a car upside down before and it scared the piddle out of him.  Literally!  All of a sudden, a fountain of pee came pouring out of him, all over my steering wheel, my lap, and my chest.  I had to keep going so I just let him pee.  At the bottom of the mountain, I released him into the woods, and then continued on to work, turtle pee and all.  Fortunately, turtle pee doesn’t smell so no one was the wiser.  Okay, yes they were because I just had to tell everyone at work of my turtle pee adventure.

My last story here is when I went for one of my long walks down a country road enjoying the scenery and being in my own little blissful world.  A little ways up, I hear what sounds like an elder person screaming at the top of their lungs “HELPPPPPP!”  I’m thinking, “Okay, now what am I getting myself into?”  As I get closer to the sound and hearing it again, I see that it’s a little goat off to the side of the road.  I kept walking thinking if it’s still yelling on my way back, I would check on it.  On my return, I’m again hearing “HELPPPPP!” and I look up to see that the goat is caught in the barbed wire fence.  I’m a huge animal lover so I thought I’d go see if I could help the little critter.  This goat was NOT a happy camper and wasn’t too interested in helping me help him.  Plus, there was a little dog that wasn’t happy about me being near his friend, so he bit me on the ankle, fortunately, not breaking the skin…much. 

So, here I am wrestling with this goat, trying to untangle him from the barbed wire, and shaking my one leg in the air trying to keep the little dog from biting me again.  As I’m doing this, the little goat is butting me, pushing and shoving, and covering my now very sweaty body in goat hair.  At one point, he butted me and I flew backwards landing on a pile of twigs.  Fortunately, no twig twigged me and I didn’t appear to be hurt, so with a bruised ego, I got back up to finish the task.  On top of that, before I began my close encounter of the goat kind, I had put my water bottle and phone on the ground, and this little goat kept trying to steal my water bottle and my phone in between butting me.   Therefore, I'm not only wrestling with the goat to get him free from the wire, I'm having to keep him from getting my bottle and phone, while at the same time, trying to keep the little dog from biting me!  After sweating up a storm, I finally get the little guy untangled while he’s still butting me, leaving me to think that he was one very ungrateful little ball of goat hair.  Feeling a sense of triumph, I started my trek back home, taking with me enough goat hair on my sweaty body to knit a sweater.

As you can see, I can get myself into some very unusual predicaments.  I have also been known to be struck with random acts of outrageousness…anything to get a laugh.  Most of my friends never know what I’m going to say or do next.  To be honest, I never know what I’m going to say or do next.  People who know me know to be prepared for the unexpected silly attacks. 

We can all find humor in our lives if we just keep ourselves in a humorous state of mind and don’t take ourselves or life so seriously.  Life was meant to be enjoyed and we came to this earth plane to have fun.  It’s only we humans who make it so serious.  So, lighten up, laugh, and find the humorous in everyday life!

Published in the Putnam County Visions Magazine, September 2014 issue.