Author Archives: Karen

About Karen

I am an RN, Author, Coach, and Speaker. I write novels about relationships to help people find insight into their own. I guide people to create comfort, clarity, and connection in their lives. By combining metaphysical tools with over twenty-five years of nursing experience, I infuse the 'art of nursing' into my practice by providing partnership and resources help people compassionately honor their health.

The Black and White FB Challenge

Recently, I’ve been watching people put up posts on Facebook with the title:

Seven days. B&W picture challenge. No People. No explanation. Day # (whatever)

As part of the challenge, the person would tag another person who would then have to participate and do it as well.

I held my breath each time I saw this, hoping no one would tag me.

I mean, OMG, I had enough to do! I sure didn’t need one more thing to think about, worry about, have to do every day! I liked looking at the photos people were posting, though, and many of them were very interesting. Anyway, as the days went by and I remained untagged, I started to let out my breath a little.

And then it happened.

Someone tagged me! I thought, of course, it’s not mandatory! I don’t HAVE to do it! But somehow I didn’t decline. I decided to just start and see what happened.

What happened was this: I discovered that I was enjoying it. I was looking forward to it. Even though my dance card was so full it felt like a straight-jacket some days, this did not.
So, thank you to the brave person who tagged me to do this challenge!

It turned out to be a gift.

Because “When you change the things you look at, the things you look at change.”–Wayne Dyer

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



My novel is the pick for this month’s GET ARTSY BOOK CLUB!

I am excited to announce that my novel One Brave Thing has been chosen as the next book for the ‘Get Artsy Book Club’

I have been a member of this book club as a reader for a few months now. I was drawn to the ‘Get Artsy Book Club’ because, well, I love books! More than that, the name of Allyson’s business, Determined to Shine, also resonated with me. I have been telling myself to ‘shine’ a lot recently, so the word caught my eye right away. I took it as a sign that this was something that would benefit me, and I am so glad that I did! I love the books we have read so far.

Reading the books and doing the projects as part of the ‘Get Artsy Book Club‘ have helped me gain new insight and inspiration in my own life.

I also have discovered a new art form – artist trading cards – and they are so much fun to make! Allyson gives clear, step by step video directions that make it easy to create these unique and fun art forms.

So again, I am very excited that my book, One Brave Thing, was chosen as the next book for the ‘Get Artsy Book Club‘ to read! If you have already read (or want to read!) my novel and would like to participate in this unique book club this month, click here to sign up. You can sign up for one month for $15, or multiple months for a discounted price. NOTE: This is Allyson’s book club and all the information about the club and pricing is on her website.

Included in the book club are questions for reflection based on the book, art projects (easy! you can do them!), and a live book chat together online.

So I hope you’ll sign up for the club this month and join me in reading the book, making some art and some new friends, and discussing the themes of One Brave Thing together!

Need to get the book? Click on the title to order your copy of One Brave Thing!

Thank you! Please share this post with anyone you think would be interested! I look forward to discussing the book and creating with you!


The BRAVE Interview #16 November 2017: Debra Lockwood Spencer

This month’s interview is with Debra Lockwood Spencer.

My name is Debra Lockwood Spencer (pictured above, left).  

My brave thing happened when I was 17 years old, while spending nine weeks in South America as an exchange student.  

It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was fortunate to be living with a wonderful family in a prosperous suburb of Lima, Peru.  During that time, I got to know a number of American exchange students, along with members of their host families.  We went on cultural and social outings together and met at dinners and parties.  Other than Marisol and Ceci Raffo, my “host sisters”, my two best friends were Maya Puyo and Paula Hawkins.  Maya had attended my high school as an exchange student during the previous year, and Paula was the American student the Puyo family was hosting.

Although Maya and Paula attended school in the Lima area, the Puyo family owned a ranch in the Andes near a town called Huancayo.  A long train ride on one of the highest railroads in the world brought several of us to their ranch for a holiday.  

I remember suffering from altitude sickness, experiencing nausea and headaches as the switchback rail car climbed higher and higher.  

We arrived after nightfall and despite my illness, I was overwhelmed by the midnight splendor of the thick carpet of stars.  The thin atmosphere and lack of light pollution allowed me to appreciate the heavens with new awe and wonder.  During that week, Paula and I became particularly close, as we rode horses, watched condors, and even experienced a slight earthquake there near the top of the world.

Several weeks later, almost 100 of us flew from Lima to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire.

 Another short train ride took us to Machu Picchu, the famous “lost city of the Incas”. 

Back in 1970, this World Heritage site was still off the beaten track.  We climbed the terraces and explored the ruins of the city, marveling at the engineering and astrological knowledge that had transformed huge stone structures into a sacred calendar to chart the movement of the sun across the sky.

When our large group arrived at the airport for the return trip to Lima, we were dismayed to discover that the flight had been oversold.  Some of us were actually expected to stand in the aisle, and there was no room in the baggage compartment for the large woven rugs and pottery pieces that many of us had bought at the native markets.  One chaperone and several students had a quick discussion, deciding we would stay an extra night and travel more comfortably.  I was among those several students.

I remember the five of us were having coffee at the airport when we watched the small aircraft speed down the runway.  

As it rose into the air, I had time to regret that Maya and Paula had boarded before us, and would not be spending that extra night in Cuzco.  Suddenly, the plane seemed to hesitate, lurch, and then make a sickening drop.  Before our unbelieving eyes, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain and exploded.  Suddenly, the air was filled with a thick acrid smoke, erasing our view and clogging our throats.  One of the girls beside me began to suffer from an asthma attack.  I really have no memory of how we got back to the hotel, or whom I may have talked to using my imperfect high school Spanish.  Dramatic though it seems, I remember standing in a crowded street several hours later, and having a smeared page of newsprint thrust into my hands.

On that sheet was printed the list of passengers believed aboard the aircraft, and my own name was among them.

There were no survivors of that Lanza Airlines flight, my friends Maya and Paula among the mostly adolescent victims.  Almost 100 people died, and it took hours to connect with my Peruvian family back in Lima to advise them that I had not been aboard.  In those days, there were no cell phones or laptops and Peru was participating in the World Cup, which even limited radio news.  Only that situation can explain the fact that back in the United States, my family spend 24 hours believing I had died.  My mother had found my last letter, confirming the dates of our Cuzco trip and describing our travel plans.  As a joke, I had apparently doodled a cartoon plane, spiralling out of the sky.  I can’t explain that, or why Paula had confided to me that before she left New York, she had dreamed of perishing in a plane crash.  She had told me this in Huancayo, while she strummed her guitar and sang the lyrics to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Our little group did indeed fly out of Cuzco the next day.  I saw the wreckage from the window, and realized that I was not afraid to fly, nor would I ever experience those fears.  

Had God wanted me to die in a plane crash, He had His perfect opportunity and He had spared me for reasons of His own.  

I actually believe that He spoke to me and that He wanted me to become a Spanish teacher.  During the days to come, friends and relatives of the victims poured into Lima.  I had been mentioned as an acquaintance in letters sent by certain students, and parents wanted to know, “Where might my daughter have developed her last roll of film?  Was my son happy during the days and weeks before?  Is there any chance my child could still be alive, wounded and wandering among the wreckage?”  I talked to host families and school teachers, acting as a very imperfect translator expressing concepts that had never been covered in a classroom textbook.

Although I had never heard the terms, I do believe I suffered from a type of survivor’s guilt, or PTSD, due to my survival in the face of so many wonderful young lives lost.  When I returned to my home in Parma, Ohio, the joys of my Peru trip were overshadowed by grief and depression.  I communicated for years with many of the affected families, until my mother quietly suggested to the bereaved parents that the burden of being a “substitute daughter” was too heavy for me to bear.  I am not sure whether my story fits the criteria of a “Brave” moment….but it defined my life and certainly the direction of my career (I am a retired World Languages teacher).

However, I know without a doubt that there is still something I am meant to accomplish during this lifetime, because Peru was only the first of the five occasions on which I almost died.  

I appreciate the chance to share my story.  Maybe that is my remaining purpose.  Who knows?

Debbie was BRAVE and opened her wonderful Etsy Shop this year!

Visit it here: Altered Art Treasures

Follow Altered Art Treasures on Facebook!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here:

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your own life, email me at!


Be an overcomer

We all have things happen to us in life. Some are wonderful. Some aren’t. It’s how we respond to adversity that makes all the difference.

 We can succumb…or we can overcome.

Most of what happens in our daily life is probably fairly benign.  It’s when the big things, the unexpected, the often unwanted things happen that test us and help us remember that we can respond or react. The choice is ours. Often, a fair amount of grace is required to help us not succumb, to support us to overcome the adversity and carry on hopefully stronger and even better than before. Even if at first we don’t realize it.

I think Mandisa captures the essence of this magnificently in her song and her video, Overcomer.

Maybe you’ve heard her song before, but if you’ve never watched the video that accompanies it, then you’re missing out. I am posting it right here below.

And here is my challenge to you:

Listen to the song and watch the video. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to do this so you can see what I mean. It’s something you will feel in your body as the music and images play out. Please watch it to the end, and then post your thoughts in the comment section below.


A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan MD is an important book. There is no other way to say it. If you are taking medication for depression/anxiety

this book could quite possibly change your life!

Even if you decide not to follow the protocol she outlines. How? Because after you read this book, you will know.

And once you know, you can’t NOT know.

This book is very readable. Even though it’s written by a doctor, most of it feels more like you having coffee (whoops–I mean roasted dandelion root. Or, you know, water) with a friend. A very caring friend who believes in you and your ability to support your wondrous body in healing itself. And who, with any luck at all, will convince you of this.

Full disclosure: the protocol itself recommended by the author kind of terrifies me.

I’m wondering if I treat it like menu suggestions rather than maxims, if I can get the same benefit. (Probably not).  There are recipes included in the book, some of which sound good to me.  The author is Italian, after all, so there’s a good sporting chance that they’ll be good. Finally, I am a big fan of coffee, but am not excited about the idea of inserting a tube into my rectum to introduce it to my system. I love me some spicy eggnog coffee ‘Nuf said.


You need to read A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan MD


Be kind

I recently had the pleasure of travelling to meet hundreds of like-minded individuals and as part of this adventure, we all went out for dinner together (I know) at a restaurant that (I daresay) is not used to receiving parties of this size routinely.

We blew them away.

The kitchen went under in about thirty seconds. We learned that the staff that was desperately trying to prepare our food was all brand new.

Talk about trial by fire!

As a former restaurant manager and former graduate nurse, I was no stranger to this sink or swim indoctrination into a new job. It’s no fun, but one silver lining for both employer and employee is this: it often works. You know pretty quick who is cut out for the job and who is not.

Anyway, I was so proud of my group! We could see how hard they were all working to serve us, to keep their heads above water. How hard they were trying to get us what we needed as quick as they could under what was probably the most adverse conditions most of them had ever encountered on the  job.

They didn’t think about themselves. They thought about us.

A friend, Chris, pointed out that this reminded him of a quote:

All of us were kind, patient, and used one of our secret weapons, humor, to keep this evening fun and productive. (Spoiler alert: We didn’t starve!) They kept at it until everyone was taken care of. They did their best, and isn’t that something we all aspire to? By them giving us this gift, we all received another gift.

The gift of community.

As we in the ‘audience’ observed and discussed ‘the performance’, we all learned more about each other (not to mention about ourselves).

Today’s actionable: “Give everyone the benefit of the doubt today…” ~Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges

Also, I have to say that I had one of the best bowls of soup I have ever had in my life at that restaurant!

Here are some other photos from the dinner:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kary Oberbrunner, Exposed! Behind the scenes at the Igniting Souls Conference 2017

Ever wonder about this Kary Oberbrunner guy?

I first met him online in a chatroom…No–wait! Kidding! I first met him online at one of the free webinars he hosted:

How to Turn a Book into a 6-Figure Business

My expectations were low.  Full disclosure: I watch a lot of free webinars. I am never motivated to buy anything at the end of them.  Anyway, the information that I got was so interesting and so in alignment with what I already knew and was currently doing (or trying to do), that I had to find out more about what this guy was teaching.  Also, I had to find out more about this guy in general.

So I did what women everywhere have been doing since the beginning of time when they needed to find out more about a guy:

I googled him.

Not one bad thing. Not one. On the entire internet.

This led to me becoming part of the Igniting Souls Tribe, which led to me going to the Igniting Souls Conference this year.

This was a much bigger deal for me.

I was taking big risks to go to this conference! 

  • I hadn’t flown alone since 1990 and had never changed planes before to get anywhere. If changing planes was required, it was a deal-breaker.
  • I would be leaving my daughter alone for a few days, and she didn’t want that.
  • Who would feed the chickens while I was away?
  • How would I get to the hotel from the airport?
  • What if I got stranded there? (I did, actually)

Yep; I was feeling the fear (nod to Susan Jeffers)

In the end, though, I did the thing I thought I could not do! (Nod to Eleanor Roosevelt)

I packed up all my fears and I went to Ohio. Alone. On the plane–two planes. No, four, counting the fights home!

In the morning before the first session of the conference started, I heard a song playing over the speakers. I could feel it inside me. This wasn’t just any song.

This was one of my favorite songs in the world:

Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli.

Translation: Time to Say Goodbye. And I realized that I had done exactly that. By making this trip, I said ‘Goodbye’ to my fears and ‘Hello’ to my faith and confidence in myself. When I heard this song playing, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to do.

So, who is this Kary guy? He’s the guy who you can’t find anyone to say anything bad about. And at the Igniting Souls Conference, there were hundreds of people saying only good things. About him. About each other. It was one of the best gatherings that I have ever been part of. Ever.
Thank you, Kary, and thank you to all the amazing members of this tribe, in which I am blessed to be included.

I am leaving you with this, my favorite version of Con Te Partiro, which Andrea Bocelli sings with Sarah Brightman. I hope you feel it, too.

Here is a slideshow of some moments from my trip and #IgnitingSoulsConference17

This slideshow requires JavaScript.