About Me

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“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” e.e. Cummings

Hi, I’m Karen. Welcome to my Not So Empty Nest.

Okay…So I’m the girl, who when asked to stand up before a group of strangers and tell everyone “a little about yourself,” in 30 seconds or less, absoposilutely dreads it. Yikes! I always find myself sitting rather uncomfortably on the arbitrary fence between appearing overconfident and utterly ridiculous. Ridiculous always shows up!

I’m Irish, sarcastic, intuitive and philosophical, and while I had to “grow into” my writing, to feel and touch various life experiences, I fervently believe the writing gene was imprinted into my being at birth.

Basically, I’ve been writing in some form or the other since the birth of our firstborn in 1983. Does that make me old? (As she gazes at neck in mirror). Our first child, born with many challenges, led me to a life of special education/inclusion advocacy. My early writings were in the form of speeches before various boards of education, parent and teacher groups, and later at conferences on inclusive education.

I feel as if my life has been an ‘exploration in learning,’ preparing me for this point in time. To realize. To feel with all my senses. And to acknowledge and embrace this partially opened gift.

Fueled by my new life experiences which opened an unclosable window into my soul…I began writing poems and short stories. Then life got too crazy, as life does, and I scribbled musings and observations in my “life notebook” for future reference. As my writing voice grew louder and louder, begging not to be ignored: I re-opened that which had been closed…and here I am today with a renewed reverence for this process called writing.

I’m happily and gratefully living the second chapter – the one that has graciously given me a second chance to do all the things I was too busy or afraid to do the first go around. I am reinventing myself one (not so empty) day at a time.

Finally, I can say I’ve embraced my lifelong passion for writing, thanks to the unconditional love and support of my awesome husband and sweet daughter – hence this blog. As the saying goes…I’m striving to be more “me” than I’ve ever been: by embracing my passion and sowing the seeds of my craft. Helping them to enrich my life by nourishing the source from which they grow. My soul.

My husband, Sam, and I had two amazingly different and beautiful children, together. Our firstborn, a son, changed our world in the most unconventional of ways. Born with hydrocephalus, (which resulted in a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy) we were stretched and twisted and enlightened beyond our wildest imagination. “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” And such was our life with our son. He helped us to see the world through a different set of eyes. His life and love was miraculous.

Our daughter, born four years later, healthy and happy, was the yin to his yang. Through her exquisite typicalness, she showed us a world of lightness and laughter. She has always been my “resting place” when the world is too much. Beautiful, easy and brilliant. Her love is pure and true. And I couldn’t love her more.

Our journey into the empty nest began in an incomprehensible manner. One that no parent should ever have to experience.

We had to start over in the truest, most basic sense of the word.

After sending our daughter off to college, and losing our brilliantly disabled son, within three months of each other: as the universe violently shook us, reminding us we’re not the captains of this ship we call our world…we began again. As we struggled to come to grips with our loss, I found that which was hidden within the confines of my newly mended heart.

A courage like I’ve never known, allowing me to gain a vibrant new insight.

I’m currently working on my first book, both joyfully afraid and fiercely determined. Finally coming face to face with what’s been tossing about my brain for the last fifteen years.

About Me (in 30 seconds)
* I love all things Chanel and pearlish
* Working in the flower garden is my breathing space
* I consider sarcasm an emotion
* Humor should be a required course (along with philosophy)
* I can’t live without bacon
* Dark chocolate is a necessary food group
* Red wine is considered medicinal
* A morning cappuccino is as important as breathing
* Joie De Vivre is my mantra when menopause doesn’t have me in a funk
* And I consider Imagination crucial to my existence. Whew!

I’m a wanna-be interior decorator who loves refinishing and rearranging furniture, topped off with the never-ending hunt for that perfect accent piece. (Stay tuned for the upcoming, OUR NEST: THE HOUSE section.)

If left to my own device, I would and do spend hours reading, writing, observing, and taking photos of life in and around our Not So Empty Nest.

This blog is composed of my musings on love and life and the inspiration I cull from the totality of our experiences while on this awesome adventure.

It is with great passion, love and consideration that I put a pen to paper.

In the profoundness that has been my life so far, I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And I can think of no greater privilege than to touch someone else’s heart through my writing.

I thank you abundantly and wholeheartedly for visiting. Now don’t be a stranger y’all! (I feel obliged to add Y’ALL, being a freshly implanted southern girl!)

Please be neighborly and leave a note so I can thank you for stopping by and pay you a visit, too.

Be well. Be kind. Always.

38 Responses to About Me

  1. amforte66 says:

    Welcome to the South! Hope folks are being hospitable. I live in Virginia which is hardly the south, but close enough! I love your bio; you sound like an amazing mama and a delightful person. Group intros make me nervous too. Also, I love the word that you made up… absoposilutely…one of my favorite hobbies! I look forward to reading more! 🙂

    • Well thank you for the hospitality! And much thanks for your kind words. We moved from Frederick, MD and now live in Richmond, Va. And have been surprised at how ‘south’ it can sometimes be.
      Here’s to more made up words! Be well. ~Karen~

      • amforte66 says:

        Ooohhh…Richmond is VERY southern. I taught there for a year and have friends there. It’s a beautiful city. Maymont is a great place to take pictures.

  2. John Coleman says:

    Hi, Karen. Cool blog you’ve got going here. And I second your motion about wine–probably a little too often. Thanks for checking out my blog. Peace and best, John

  3. Merryn says:

    Glad to find your blog- so sorry to read about the loss of your special son. Writing is so cathartic isn’t it- what a wonderful way to capture the highs and lows of your journey and to process it all. I used to write more often when I was younger and had more time to dream/ be by myself. Your blog is an encouragement to me to stick at it and not worry about whether it becomes a published work

    • Hi Merryn! And welcome! I look forward to getting to know you and your blog. Yes, writing is very cathartic. Most writing starts out that way as we try to figure out or document one of life’s moments. Then it morphs into an involuntary flow of consciousness.
      Keep writing, my friend. I seriously cannot believe how fast the words are flowing into my head, since I gave myself over to the “shadow.” (The most imperfect part of us.)
      Don’t worry about being published – worry dampens down our thoughts. I’m not quite to the middle of my book and I won’t even think about how, when or where or if I’ll be published. Remember you have the right to write! Be well. ~Karen~

  4. Kate says:

    I came here through another blog you commented on and I’m so glad to read your story. I’m a full nester still, and sometimes overwhelmed by the challenge of managing to work, manage illness and be fully present to my girls. Writing falls into the laundry pile too often. You’ve inspired me. And I’m truly sorry for your family’s loss.

    • Aww…you’ve made my day! As I sit here catching up on answering comments the.single.most.important.thing. is to be told that I inspired someone else through my storytelling. So thank YOU for inspiring me to keep going my friend! Have you read the book The Right to Write/Julia Cameron – it’s a must read! And thanks for your condolences, they are most appreciated. I’ll be over to visit soon! 🙂 ~Karen~

  5. kcg1974 says:

    Brilliant and beautiful…just as expected. Thank you for this.

  6. I also love Chanel, chocolate, humour, sarcasm, red wine and coffee! Alas, I love and admire flower gardens ( and the people who make them bloom) but have a brown thumb.

    I’m glad that Jen from Ramblings from a Mum lead me to your lovely blog! 🙂

  7. Sherri says:

    Oh Karen, I want to hang out with you and drink red wine and eat dark chocolate and share our stories. And then I want to give you a huge hug. For so many reasons. I surely do hope that our paths cross frequently here. What a pleasure to meet you – Sherri 🙂

    • Aww- A huge thanks, Sherri! Well let’s go then…I never pass up an offer to drink red wine and eat dark chocolate! I receive your kind hug and send one back to you, my friend. Now I ‘m intrigued as to what else we have in common and will be hopping over to your bio. I look forward to getting to know you Sherri and wish YOU all the best! ❤ ~Karen~

      • Sherri says:

        Dear Karen, I’m back to say that I have nominated you for the Butterfly Light Award. I hope you will accept, but no obligation. I know we’ve just met but I do feel you are already a friend and I love your blog and your writing. I just know that if we met we would be firm friends and would talk for hours…so we can do the next best thing here and share our stories and our journey, along with the red wine and dark chocolate!!!
        This award shimmers with beauty and light as does your spirit and heart…many congratulations to you – Love & Hugs Sherri ❤
        http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2014/07/15/the-butterfly-light-award/

      • My dear Sherri, thank you oh so much! This is special coming from YOU! And I humbly accept! Sorry for the delay (I’ve been laying walnut flooring) can you say – oh my aching back!!! 🙂 I feel the same way too! Our life’s layers are eerily similar. I look forward to unearthing them all. You’ve truly touched my heart with your words. ❤ ~Karen~

  8. lorriebowden says:

    I am so happy you saw my scenes from the shore…for you brought me here! I can feel your beautiful energy 🙂

  9. Karen, I’m just 45 minutes outside of Richmond and consider it “my” city. I hope we can meet someday possibly with our Westies for a play date?

    • Well hello neighbor! What town do you live in? We’re in the final phase of building our house (6-8 weeks). So after that I’ll be able to breathe a bit and would love to meet. All the best. ~Karen~

      • I’m in Amelia County, just west of Chesterfield. Takes me 45 minutes to get to the heart of the city. Good luck on your new house construction.

      • Thanks – it’s the 3rd house we’ve built and the one wit the most problems, unfortunately. Oh my goodness! I’ve been through there many times antiquing. We live in Chesterfield – we’re building a house at Chesdin Landing. All the best. ~Karen~

  10. Great intro & great blog. Looking forward to reading more from you 🙂

  11. I love your about page and I feel like I know you already. I’m a speech pathologist….been one for years…was a coordinator of special education for a school district for 3 years and then went back to doing what I love. I’m trying to get to the place where I can say I’m in menopause. Haven’t hit the magic one year mark yet…the process has been long and eventful for me. I love sarcasm and I’ve been told that I can be too direct. I love to laugh and make others laugh. Back to you. You write beautifully. I’m interested to know where you are in the whole book writing process? Wishing you much success and I look forward to reading your future posts. ~Becky

    • Thank you so much, Becky! YAY for speech pathologists! I served on a state technology board as a parent consultant and was always in awe at the creativity of the SP’s I worked with. I read the book, The wisdom of Menopause, and I’m sorry to say I have yet to find the wisdom! LOL But good luck anyway, she says with great sarcasm. Well I’d rather have someone be ‘direct’ (aka honest) with me than to use false words or sentiment. Sarcasm rocks! I seriously doubt that I would’ve gotten through all the muck without it.
      I need to write a little ditty (page) on my blog as a lot of people have asked me about the book. I’m currently 1/4 of the way through. I wrestle with the blog and book all the time…I know what I need to do eventually (soon) in regards to this ridiculous juggling act I’m not performing so well right now. Check back as I will write page in a week or so with more detail. Feel free to email me anytime with questions. I truly look forward to getting to know you and reading your posts, Becky! Sending you All The Best! ~Karen~

  12. Thanks for stopping in at summercrowphotos.com! I will enjoy following your interesting blog!

  13. Thanks for finally writing about >About Me |
    NESTpirations ~from our not so empty nest <Loved it!

  14. Hi Karen – glad you stopped by Beauty Along the Road today, so I could follow you here and read a bit of your amazing life journey. It seems like you have experienced the highs and the lows, both, very strongly. I also moved from the DC area to Virginia, although quite a bit west of where you are, Highland County. And, like you, I am trying to make sense of this midlife transition! So glad to have found you. I already met Barbara (SIlver in the Barn) who lives near you and it was great to make face-to-face contact. Maybe one of these days, we’ll get a chance to do the same…Annette

  15. Thank you for stopping by my blog. We have several blogger friends in common! I miss the VA bloggers–having moved to DE. Love your bullet points on About Me.

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