About Me

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My journey as a writer began as a child. I wrote poems and short stories which were my way of dealing with various life changing events. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club. Follow me on Twitter @KIngallsAuthor www.facebook.com/KarenIngalls, and you can find my books at www.amazon.com. My first book is Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir which received two awards. All proceeds are donated to gynecologic cancer research. My second book is a novel Novy's Son, about one man's attempt to find love and acceptance from his father. This is an all too common problem in our society. My third book, Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is about the love affair between this great American sculptor and his model. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2017.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

THE SLEDGE HAMMER IMPACT

I am happy to introduce Dr. Logan, my guest blogger this week. Her story is powerful and well written.  I know she would appreciate reading comments from each of you. (Karen Ingalls)



The Sledge Hammer Impact:
The Tragic Experience That Revealed My True Purpose in Life.

By Dr. M. J. Logan Family Nurse Practitioner

     Life? Is that what we call it?  I guess that’s the correct word in the English vernacular. There isn’t a day in “life” I have awoken since my youngest son was diagnosed with brain cancer and not wondered about the mysteries of this life I’m living. I often ask why we experience the things we experience, and what is God or the Universe (if that’s what you believe in- God’s my choice) trying to teach us?  My youngest son was diagnosed with Cancer at eleven. Darkness invaded our lives, soaring in reaping havoc and punishing us for some unknown bad deed, some misunderstood or misguided decision, and now my child was suffering for it.  Of course I asked why. Do I still ask why? Yes, every day. I am fortunately, God fearing and try living as a Christian to the best of my abilities.  As I sit here in my cold garage drinking overly sweetened coffee, I ponder a question one of my friends asked as she faced her own challenges.  “What is God trying to teach me?” Unfortunately, I had no answers, because I had the same questions, but wasn’t brave enough to ask aloud.

     You see, her story is like my story. The truth is my story is like many of yours. I learned I am not unique!  All of our stories have different characters, events, and the good and the bad may be different, however, the theme is synonymous.  We ask ourselves why we face challenges, if we treat others kindly, avoid the “isms” of the world, practice good works, strong faith, and give God all the praise!  I am grateful, yet I wonder why innocent children develop cancer or anyone for that matter. What was I supposed to learn from him suffering through brain surgery?  What were 32 radiation treatments to his entire brain and spine exhaustion, hair loss, weight, memory blurs, and grief supposed to teach me.  What was the lesson when the demonic chemotherapy entered his veins and I had to watch, and allow physicians to almost kill my baby to save him! I had to wake up daily with the uncertainty I was putting him through this for no good reason. Yes, I loved my God and my faith was strong, but I was still uncertain.  I knew God was not a respecter of persons, as many parents lost their children, and the guilt of knowing with all the suffering my child was enduring, he was actually thriving compared to some children. So I asked God “what is my purpose in life?” 

     My family and the families we bonded with depended on me for answers.   However, after a series of miraculous events in my life, my purpose was revealed! God Spoke to me and said, “You are here to teach, and your son is healed.”  So first, I had to learn to let go and let God, and began writing a children’s fantasy to escape and let God do his work.  I helped and encouraged families and they would respond “Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration”.   My students chose me as favorite teacher and wrote papers naming me as the one person who most inspired their nursing career. I received over 100 excerpts and someone said “That’s your purpose in life.”

     A sledge-hammer had pummeled our lives, and unfortunately, some had no idea how something of this magnitude takes over changing you forever.  That summer my novel was published, then book II was released, and my purpose revealed.  Previously I believed my purpose in life was to be some great historical/famous person. However, after months of feeling the impact of the sledge-hammer, my purpose was revealed.  It came to me in a dream where I met a little man on the sidewalk. When he spoke, he knew my story and I remember saying to him “Thank You. You have inspired and encouraged me!”  He responded, “Well, isn’t that what you do for others.”  Suddenly, I was walking up and down hills and valleys. I was tired, crying, and breathless. At the end of the hills was Oprah Winfrey (I realized I was dreaming lol). I remember saying the same as before “Thank You. You have inspired and encouraged me!”  She responded, “Well, isn’t that what you do for others.” 

     I woke up and rummaged through files sobbing, and out poured hundreds of remnants from my life (God only knows why I kept). They all carried the theme that I had encouraged and inspired someone. THAT WAS IT!  My purpose in life was simple “to encourage and inspire others!” Now I can do it as small as the little man sitting on the street, or I can do it as big as Oprah. However I do it, is up to me and my determination, but that doesn’t change my purpose and it must be done through God. Suddenly everything made sense; I’d written a fantasy novel about a terrible disease, with God’s word intricately woven throughout it!  I’d been doing what God wanted me to do- serving my purpose! I now knew my purpose as the sledge-hammer impact slowly lifted.  

     I told my friend her challenges were ultimately leading to her true purpose, because we all have one. Some of us may be disappointed that it isn’t to become a famous author, a billionaire, a professional athlete, or movie star. Truthfully, your purpose is what it is. How big or small, depends on the fight and determination within you! How much sacrifice, rejection, sadness, and failure can you endure? More so, how much integrity will you keep, and how many people do you refuse to step on to make it!  Oprah’s a perfect example of carrying out your purpose majestically; I believe she did it with determination, integrity, without hurting others intentionally or knowingly, and by the grace of God! That’s how I want to do it, and if it doesn’t happen for me before the day I close my eyes, I will know two things… 1. I will get to meet Jesus when I open my eyes again, and 2. I have served my purpose on this Earth.

Dr. M.J. Logan is a Family Nurse Practioner and the author of the “Maurpikios Fiddler” Series.  I thank you for sharing this poignant and touching story from which we all can learn.

For more by this Author please feel free to visit the following sites:
mjlogan.net
https://www.facebook.com/mjlogan8149
https://twitter.com/MJLogan8149

Friday, April 24, 2015

THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

        A few weeks ago a group of gynecologic cancer survivors met for their monthly lunch. It is always a special time of sharing, learning, and support. One particular Tuesday we talked about the book/movie Wizard of Oz, its various characters, and how this can be compared to our own journeys with cancer. To help tell us our stories we made collages.

     At first many of us were hesitant to participate saying such things as "I'm not artistic", "I do not know how to do this", or "this is something for my grandchildren to do." Gradually we each began to create our own work of art as we reached for photos, pieces of fur or straw, sparkling letters, magic markers, and glue. I became more introspective as I thought about what I have learned, gone through, and accepted since my diagnosis in 2008.


     The scarecrow character struggles with the feeling of     inadequacy.  His strengths are intuitiveness and sensitivity to people. He is fun-loving and at times to the point of being ridiculous. A scarecrow is used to protect the crops by scaring the birds away; just as the character in our story tries to dance, sing, and laugh away the sadness in his life. He believed the crow that said he was nothing but a mindless fool so he wants a brain.




     The tin man wants a heart. He is dependent on others to oil his joints so he can keep going. His dependency is the same as victimization. Do you ever feel like you are being manipulated by others? Do you use your own sense of trust and strength to not be dependent? He is also the most sensitive and emotional character. He has a soul and a spirit unlike the other mechanical characters. He remembers his humanness and therefore desires to have a heart again.



     The lion roars loudly to show he has no fear and is more powerful than anyone else in Oz. However, he is fearful and incorrectly believes he needs to have the loudest and most ferocious roar. What he needs to learn that his innate ability to support and defend is through Love, not the sound of his roar. He was distracted by his love for Dorothy, the scarecrow, and the tin man, which helped him to let the over powering sense of Love, not a roar, help him to overcome fear.


     Our path in life is represented by the yellow brick road. To walk any path we must first take a step, another, and then  another. With each step there may be twists and turns along the way. Sometimes we are met with unexpected and frightening events. Do we use our heart, our brain, or our courage to face and overcome our perceived inabilities, troubles, or fears? Like Dorothy we sometimes feel lost and just want to get back home; we all are suddenly faced with challenges and "need to grow up" or "find ourselves." When we return home, we have had new experiences and opportunities to grow and be stronger. Dorothy learns from each character and experience including the Wizard, just as are to learn from the people and events in our lives.

     My collage shows (Dorothy) me in my home with a beautiful garden...things and places I love. Then the monkeys and black birds appear (cancer) flying over and around me. The letters G.O.D. separate the past from my new beginning or life as a survivor. I am surrounded by words and pictures of flowers, sun rises, peace, harmony, a butterfly, and the word "outshine." The collage represents my yellow brick road for the past 8 years.

     What would your collage look like? Which character do you relate to the most? Are there any flying monkeys surrounding you? Is there a "witch" who is trying to keep you "from going home?"

     Collages are a fun and magical way for us to let the child in us come out; to face issues that we have tried to avoid; to find answers and hope for our future. I encourage you to get the magazines, markers, and paste out and make your own collage.

My thanks to Eileen and Latanya from Waterman Hospital by bringing this fun and thought provoking activity to me.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A PERSONAL LOOK AT FRIENDSHIPS

I received several personal messages and comments in response to my previous blog about friendships. Here are some excerpts from them:

 As a single mother for so many years raising my 3 sons, I did not develop near the female friendships I would like to have.


How sad it is that she doesn't enjoy the benefits of her close friendships 


I think often about you, and I send you my best positive emotions.


I have lost friends because of my cancer, but I have also gained so many new ones.


Loved the piece on Friendship. Creative friendship is a discipline with multiple rewards. At every juncture of my life the path has been decorated with beautiful human beings. Some tips to cultivate lasting friendships;
Treasure the "old gold" friends. Routinely I connect with "kids" I met in first grade high school college....
Keep in touch with groups of friends from every life experience. We remain connected to our exchange student Alice from Estonia, college friends, England India Dutch and Scottish friends, work friends and life is enhanced each time we connect. Many of my former patients and their families remain dear friends.
Make new friends of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Best friends range in age from 6-96 and come in a wide range of colorful packages.
Take time to make memories and schedule the next friendship date before you depart. Currently we are scheduling a date with a Malaysian couple we met on a cruise in February. We will stay with them in D.C. in September. 
Friendship is one of life's greatest gifts. Very happy that we met you through Ted and Cindy and look forward to our next friendship connection.


The treasures I receive from, and hopefully give to my friends:

       LISTENING AND ADVICE
           HUGS, HUGS, AND MORE HUGS
                  LAUGHTER,
                        SHARED TEARS
                              PRAYERS
                                     FUN & GAMES
                                            HELP IN ANY FORM


                    Let your friends know what they mean to you. 




Friday, April 10, 2015

CANCER & FRIENDSHIPS

     When a person is facing cancer, sometimes a friendship is difficult to continue. Cancer creates fear in others: will I get it? I am not sure I am strong enough to see him or her in such a state. It is not just cancer, but any challenge is when we each need the help and support from a friend.


What do you look for in a friendship? 
                 Trust?
                 Honesty?
                 Good listener?
                 Good advisor?
                 Available?
                 Laughter and tears?

     

     Trust is one of the most important traits I look for in a person. I know that I can tell this person anything and it will stay strictly between us. Honesty and availability are natural parts of trust. I must feel trust from others just as I trust that God is always is here for me. 


     If your friend is not honest with you, then it is not a relationship you can trust. When I went through my cancer both times, I quickly found out who was being honest and genuinely caring with me, and who was not. Sometimes the truth does hurt, but for a friendship to be true and healthy then honesty must be there. One friend said to me,"You may not like what I am going to say, but...." Friendship was and still is alive and well between us. She took a risk, but I trusted her and knew she was being completely honest with me.


 It was during the initial cancer diagnosis that I needed people the most, who were both good listeners and good advisors. During a crisis time the mind is more scattered and less able to make good decisions. Certain friends always helped me to think more clearly. They looked me in the eye; not distracted by their surroundings or own inner thoughts; often put a hand on me conveying love, empathy and attention.


     How available is the friend? For the most part a friend will put aside other activities and make time to be there for us. Certainly that does not mean they can be physically with you 24/7, but it does mean that they will be there for you in any communication style possible. 


    

 My husband is my closest friend and I love him for having every one of those traits I have listed above. I am blessed to have several friends who also fit this criteria. And, the friendship goes both ways. 



     When you have a friendship there is the gifts of laughter and tears. At the right time humor is a very healthy quality. Laughter increases the endorphins, reduces stress, and it just plain feels good. When we cry we release pain, sadness, and fears.  It is particularly effective when we can shed our tears with a friend. Sometimes we cry so hard we begin to laugh; and when we sometimes laugh so hard, we cry. Friendship helps to make both situations because you are doing it with someone you trust and love. Probably they will be laughing or crying right along with you. What a beautiful moment!


     

    We each will face at least one challenge in our lives; some more serious than others. No matter what occurs, we all need friendship to face these challenges in a healthy way. As the song goes, "That's what friends are for...." You are never alone when you have a friend no matter the physical distance between you.

     

Reach out to others and allow the friendship to build and grown. There is nothing more beautiful between two humans than the beauty of this magical gift called friendship.





I am a retired RN with a Master's Degree in Human Development, who worked with clients in my private practice as a nurse therapist. The subject of friendship was often discussed and I tried to help each one to understand what friendship is or is not. www.outshineovariancancer.com

Friday, April 3, 2015

WELLNESS: TIPS FOR EVERYONE

What is WELLNESS?
             
               **Good health, physically & emotionally
               **Complete mental, physical, & social well-being
               **Making choices towards a more successful existence
               **A balance between mind, body, and spirit.


What can I do to achieve and maintain wellness?
  • Be optimistic
  • Turn your frown into a smile; find humor and laughter 
  • Eat nutritionally well balanced meals and snacks
  • Exercise
  • Relax
  • Meditation or deep prayer
To adopt all these behaviors into your life might seem overwhelming, so take one step at a time. Start with the one that seems like it might be easier and then when it becomes a natural part of you, move onto another one. 

ALL THESE STEPS MUST WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE WELLNESS:

     Optimism is confidence and trust. A friend recently shared that this year she is going to focus on trust. Trust in people, events, and most importantly, GOD. Have you ever had someone break your trust? I am sure most of you will say yes. I know I have. When that happens, pray for that person, do not take responsibility for their action, and move on with your head looking up.

                         "You will never find a rainbow if you are looking down."

    

Smiling reduces stress and increases positive emotions. Children smile about 400 times per day; adults smile only about 20 times per day. No wonder watching children creates happiness: we long to bring out the child of playfulness, happiness, and joy back to us.
Click on this link and allow the joys of being a child again put a smile on your face.
        https://www.youtube.com/embed/pfxB5ut-KTs?rel=0

Dr. Bernie Siegel wrote Laughter is the Best Medicine where he outlines the many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits from smiling to laughter. All I have to do is start recalling some Laurel & Hardy, Carol Burnett, Red Skeleton, and The Marx Brothers antics and every muscle relaxes, my blood pressure and pulse increases sending more oxygen around my body. Some experts say it has the same benefit as a good workout.

                                Wife: I look fat. Can you give me a compliment?
                                Husband: Your eyesight is perfect.


Nutrition in my opinion is one of well balanced meals of protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I encourage you to seek out professional guidance from a dietician to find the most healthy and balanced diet for your body. When we eat the food that is right for us, every part of our being is healthier. If you are overweight, join Weight Watchers or seek help from a dietician.


Exercise and relaxation are both equally important. A professional in exercise programs will be able to design a regimen that is right for you. Relaxation is the time to do something that you enjoy quietly. For me reading, knitting, writing, and playing word games are fun and quiet activities that slow my pulse rate, lower my blood pressure, and release tension. What are your exercise and relaxing activities?

                    Walking, jogging, weight lifting, swimming, water aerobics, playing 
                                       racquetball, tennis, or soccer, and yes even yoga. 




Taking 15-30 minutes a day to deeply pray or meditate brings benefit to you physically, mentally, and spiritually. There are many ways to do this and I find the best for me is to lie down, listen to soothing music or a meditation tape, and quiet my mind. Those last 3 words are the hardest, but when you achieve that state it is when you "hear God."



The body you are born with is the only one you will have. You cannot trade it in for a new model as we do with cars, homes, appliances, etc. How we treat our body from our teens and all through our early years, has an affect on how our health is in later years:

                   Diabetes...result of poor diet, obesity, and familial predisposition
                   COPD...smoking, exposure to certain chemicals
                   Obesity...poor diet, lack of exercise, familial predisposition
                   
If we stop smoking NOW, eat a well balanced diet NOW, and started an exercise program NOW, we will enjoy more WELLNESS NOW.

                             ADD LOVE, KINDNESS, FAITH, AND FORGIVENESS!