Political Thoughts

I am quiet. I observe. I gather data before pursuing a direction. I’m not a Democrat, Republican, Conservative, or Liberal. I am a human being. . .simply a person.

I believe in win-win solutions. It’s not a game of us against them. If you think that, please grow up. We are not in elementary school.

With all the distractions, it make me wonder when the main event is going to happen? What does this television show producer / actor have for his grand finale? When Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage”. . .

Unfortunately, this show that is being produced for all of us to view and experience, seeming to be designed to tear us apart or cause fear. We exercise our rights for free speech, and “alternative facts” spring from the game-master as he continues to weave his story. Lights. . .Camera. . .Action. . .

Have we all become the characters in his grand illusion? Is the real end to this crafted show the fall of democracy? Is the ultimate goal to bring this country to its knees, and claimed to be rule by dictator?

I wonder if he is enjoying all the attention? He’s brought certain segments of our country together by taking “things” away. I wonder if he will dangle them as a carrot for us to fall into line, and worship him as the “savior” of the country.

Personally, I think we are in a very dangerous situation. If he can break the law upon being inaugurated, he can and will attempt to make changes to give himself more power. I’m saddened that the House and Senate has not taken action against his blatant disregard for the laws of this country. This is what makes me wonder when the main event is going to unfold. . .

Let’s not let our Democracy fall. . .

Blessings to All!

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A New Year. . .

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copyright Karen UlvestadI’ve been quiet. I’ve been very quiet lately. I’ve been focused on each day, and making the best of it. It’s how I process information, and I’ve received a lot of it the past 3 years. These are my thoughts for healing the past, and moving on into the new year.

It started the Christmas of 2011. I suddenly realized that a person in my life was not going to be around the next Christmas. If they were, they might not recognize any of us, and we definitely would not be at the tree farm with them.

copyright Karen UlvestadSo, I picked-up my camera, and started to document the final year of my father-in-law’s life. He slowly succumbed to Parkinson’s. The dementia took his mind, and the disease destroyed his body.

The death march started New Year’s Eve in 2012. My cousin suddenly died. Definitely didn’t see this coming! I hadn’t seen her in years, but she was several years younger than myself. Then, my husband’s aunt died. Again, it was unexpected. Before the end of the day on January 3rd, my father-in-law passed away.

Within 72 hours, three family member passed away. . .

It’s an interesting place to be at the beginning of a new year. All the wakes and funerals were the same weekend, and spread between 2 states. We made the most important one, my father-in-father’s funeral.

The year was one of contemplation, as I helped my son come to terms with the loss of his favorite grandfather. I supported my husband in his grief for the loss of his father and aunt (second mom). It was a time of change.

The year passed, and 2014 came. It promised to be my best year ever with my business. I traveled to bird festivals speaking about bird photography, and lead groups into the field. It helped bring me out of the sadness of the previous year. As a family, we laughed again, and there were more smiles.

Suddenly, my dad died. He suffered a massive heart-attack, collapsed, and died.

I had spent the day teaching at a bird festival, came home, and within an hour there was a call from my sister telling me dad died. It was mid-May, and I was just beginning my busiest time of the year. I felt numb!

So, I focused on each day, and what I needed to accomplish. I stopped writing my photography blog. I struggled through writing stories for CBS Local, Examiner.com, and AXS.com. I am still struggling.

copyright Karen UlvestadI spent the summer going to and from the Oregon coast teaching bird photography workshops, and doing personal photography work. I took a chance, and broke even monetarily. It was hard in many ways, yet it helped me through the feelings regarding all the death in the past couple years.

So, I became very quiet.

My photographic vision felt the impact of these sudden changes. I began trying new ideas or techniques. I focused on capturing the beauty in all things. I explored new places.

I believe that the death of another person gives us the opportunity to live life more fully. It is the time that we can spiral downwards into deep depression, or decide to honor ourselves (and the person) by living life more fully.

May Everyone enjoy an incredible 2015, filled with great joy and prosperity. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad

 

 

A Tribute to My Dad

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copyright Karen UlvestadI was estranged from my father for the past few years. Recently, he died.

I suppose I could bash him as a person, but that’s not what I wish to write. We were estranged because we had an irreconcilable difference of opinion on everything, and we were polar opposites. Yet, we had a couple of strong similarities. We were both un-giving when we stood-up for something we believed, and we were both strong-willed. I couldn’t see this until he died. We were too embroiled in our own “trenches” to see the other side’s view-point.

The other realization I have come to is simply I was born at an inconvenient time for my parents. It’s not that they didn’t love me, just that I forced a change in their lives they may not have been ready to make.

With that said, I want to thank my dad for the lessons he taught me about myself and life.

Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself. Without this, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. By the constant barrage of negative comments, I learned to rise above it, and fight back. I became a survivor, and it’s been a handy tool to use through the years. It’s helped me pick myself up from being homeless to where I am now. It challenged me to finish college, and earn my Bachlor’s degree. It taught me to “buck” the system, and be my own person.

You taught me about rage and violence. I learned that it is very important to break the cycle. I harnessed my rage to use the energy in a positive way to help myself and others. Your example of violence showed me that I never want to inflict that upon another person, especially one that is smaller than myself. Occasionally the rage sneaks out, but I’ve learned to take responsibility for my words and actions. In truth, I’d rather hit my head on the wall, than inflict violence on another person either by word, emotion, or physical action.

Thank you for the couple years of truly being dad-like to me. I’ll never forget the help you offered, and the 3 simple words you spoke to me on occasion during this period. . .”I love you.” It meant a lot, and helped heal some of the old wounds. I wish it could have lasted longer, but you had your path to follow and I had mine. It ended when we came up to the irreconcilable difference of opinion thing. I grieved for the loss of you when we went our separate ways. I grieved for the loss of my siblings. It was a hard and sad time.

Looking back, I see that you were struggling with your own “demons” from your past. It wasn’t us causing the problem. We just triggered the reactions.

I hope you have finally found peace. . .

I Love You. . .Karen

 

Finding Myself. . .

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copyright Karen UlvestadIt didn’t take long for the soul-searching to begin. The voice of the artist quietly whispering inside, trying express itself through my daily life. Life is constant motion. . .constant change. . .

This is the year for change. There is a strong need for new adventures, and exploration of the world. Stories are waiting to be photographed and written. Workshops are set for the year, and I’m looking towards 2014 already.

The stage is set for great happenings and changes. The critic within each of us is the hardest person to please with our artistic endeavors, whether it’s photography, painting, sculpture or writing. We stop ourselves from Greatness!

This year is about achieving goals and moving forward. It’s about re-connecting with family and friends. It’s about pursuing photography assignments, writing opportunities, teaching workshops, shooting weddings, and expanding my vision.

Simply put. . .it’s about Living Life to the Fullest and Loving it. . .

The greatest part about all of this is my family. We have an opportunity to heal, become closer, and find true joy in life. Each of us is gifted photographers, videographers, writers and artists. We are explorers, visionaries, and Earth caretakers.

The biggest goal of 2013 is to find joy, happiness and unconditional love. . .

Love & Light to All. . .Karen

Expressing Grief & Other Emotions

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copyright Karen UlvestadEmotions are not easy to talk about. They are the essence of who we are, and show the world what we are made of. Human words often fall short of describing or explaining how or what we are feeling.

We live in a society where feelings/emotions may or may not be accepted. Often times, we are told to feel differently or that our emotion is not appropriate for the situation. I think this damages us as individuals, a family or as a society.

It is human to feel. It is normal to cry. These are basic human needs. We are feeling beings, and often we have to pretend that we are feeling “nothing.” We deny our basic needs, and we create an imbalance in our lives.

Communication comes in many forms, and speech is only one form. We have the ability to create art, write stories, act parts in drama (plays, movies, TV programs, etc.), dance, build things and more. It is sad when individuals choose to “build” physical things/actions that harm others.

Grief is a complex group of emotions, that takes time to work through. Adults and children process these events differently. An adult can analyze the event, correlate it with other past events, and work through it using the past and present.

Children usually do not have past events to refer to. We are helping them build healthy ways of working through grief or other emotions. As adults, we are responsible for helping a child through a traumatic event in a healthy way.

I think the hardest part for an adult is to be patient enough with the child, especially if we are trying to navigate our own emotions to the same event. It is a time where we have to see/admit our own short-comings and be honest with ourselves and the child involved.

In many ways, children are more resilient than adults. They will take their “ques” on how to respond from the adults in their lives. If we act like it’s an outrage, they will learn that behavior, and act the same. If we choose to talk about our emotions and feelings, they will take that habit to heart. Children learn by example. Everything in their lives are an example of how they should grow-up and live their own life.

Being a parent or an adult in a child’s life is a great responsibility. The adult does not have to be perfect. Making mistakes is important. It teaches a child that making mistakes is part of life.

When adults make their mistakes, we need to talk to our children about the mistakes, and share the importance of recognizing errors, correcting the mistake and being honest about it. Children are very smart, and will “get” it.

So, how do we discuss grief with a child?

We just had 3 deaths in the family within a 72 hour period. One death was a wonderful grandfather, dad and father-in-law. He had suffered from Parkinson’s, so his death was not completely unexpected.

We chose to talk to our son (12 years old) about death, and how his grandfather was going to die from Parkinson’s. We listened to his concerns, answered his questions, and visited often. We created an open dialogue with him, and he understands his emotions.

We talked about the grief process, and how he may have changing emotions or react to little things that bother him. He’s able to say “I’m feeling grumpy,” and know that it is ok. I think it’s really important to create an open atmosphere for a child going through grief.

We are open about our feelings. It’s not always easy to share, but it’s an important part of the process and being a parent. Each of us has the option to ask for “quiet time” to figure out or work through our feelings. It’s ok for an adult to need quiet time. We all need to think through our thoughts, instead of reacting to our environment.

We consistently work on creating a safe place/space for all members of the family to share. For a child, everything is important, and it is. It is the time they are learning how to operate in a family, with other people, and in the world. As adults, we need to honor children with our attention. It’s important!

It’s healthy to talk about the person who died or the event. We need to guide ourselves and children away from obsessing about it. It could be simply a walk outside, playing at the park, or going to visit friends. If that doesn’t work, it is good to talk to a councilor or other trained professional to learn new skills for coping with the situation in a better way.

Personally, I deal with these issues through writing, art, or photography. It helps me understand myself, express my feelings/emotions in a safe way, and share it with others. We are teaching this to our son. When words fail, there are other healthy avenues to express grief, feelings and emotions.

Love & Light to All. . .Karen

The Artist Deep Within. . .

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copyright Karen UlvestadSo death came by three. Actually, they all passed within 72 hours of each other. One was expected,the other two were a bit of a surprise.

They say death comes in threes, but I’ve never experienced anything this pronounced. I get the message. . .

It’s time to live in the here and now. . .

I think it is easy to get caught-up in everyday life, and forget to live our lives. It’s easy to forget that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. We become attached to physical things and people, overlooking the astounding beauty that surrounds us every moment of every day.

Death is merely a transition to our true self. It can come at any moment.

I believe that we are here to fulfill our dreams, and help humanity evolve to a higher level. It comes through the arts, whether it’s painting, photography, writing or another art form. Each of us has something incredible to share with the rest of us.

It’s a shift in social norms. The health of the arts in a society is an indicator of the health of the nation. Death reminds us that we all need to embrace our inner dreams before it’s our time to go. We need to find the courage to embrace the artist deep within ourselves.

It’s time to Awaken. . .to become who we truly are inside and share it with the world.

Love & Light to All. . .Karen

The Deep Breathe before the Storm. . .

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copyright Karen UlvestadThis might be the last moment of peace before the emotional storm breaks loose. Death has come twice in the past 2 days, and now becomes the time for the grieving, the emotions and remembering to live life.

It’s amazingly silent on the email airwaves today. There are no angry words, defensive posturing or accusations. Everyone involved is silent. . .for now. . .

It’s still new.

I think that the death of a loved-one brings out all our core issues so fast and hard, it becomes near impossible to hide them from others. Our wounds show through our words, actions, and emotions during these times of change.

It’s easy to cover-up guilty feelings with anger, harsh words and greedy demands.  It’s hard to face the guilty feelings of being to busy to visit, not calling enough or other short-comings. It’s easier to take it out on others, instead of dealing with one’s inner-self.

I’m the quiet one, that knows what it means to be broken inside. I know that all the physical things in the world cannot eleviate feelings of guilt, failure or unhappiness. That’s just a trick of the mind, that is used to avoid the inner turmoil that is causing the physical/verbal/emotional violence towards others.

My prayers are for ALL the people involved in these 2 transitions to find inner-peace, and a civil manner to relate to each other during this emotionally trying time.

Much Peace, Love & Light to All. . .Karen

 

A Year of Change. . .

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I’m sitting here, trying to complete tasks for an art show I’m in on Thursday evening. I have so much to complete, yet I am unable to even begin. . .so I’m here writing. . .

copyright Karen UlvestadI saw my in-laws this weekend, and the experience is haunting. It had been four weeks since our last visit, and my father-in-law is almost non-responsive to the outside world. It was hard to see.

The Parkinson’s is affecting his chest muscles, and he is having difficulty breathing. He gasps for air, and keeps his eyes closed most of the time. I think time must be running out for him, but he hangs on. . .and for what?

copyright Karen UlvestadWe visited a year ago, and he was still with us. He could walk, hold a conversation (though with difficulty), travel short distances in the car, and recognize people.

He went with us to pick-out a Christmas tree, and was able to walk on his own. This is a photo of him during our tree hunt.

I remember that I almost didn’t bring my camera, but at the last moment realized it might be the last Christmas with him. He is still with us, but he isn’t responding to things outside his inner-world.

So, even I want to cry. . .

My entire family is emotionally drained, and only wants the best for him. It’s hard to focus, when the need to cry is just under the surface. For me, this is coupled with the fact my mom died on December 20th, and I think all the emotions are getting tangled-up inside.

Dealing with death and dying is never easy. We carry our memories (both good and bad), and they color our experiences during these times. It becomes a time to look at ourselves to heal old wounds, and reach beyond them to assist the person in transition.

Belief and faith become the corner-stones for daily functioning, and helps navigate the whirl-wind of feelings. Writing or art is the best way to clarify feelings, and keep us from slipping into anger or depression.

The journey of dying is not our path, but the pathway of the individual dying. We only need to remember that, and assist in helping the individual go in the manner which they choose.

More Later. . .Love & Light to All. . .Karen

Facing Fears to Heal Self. . .

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copyright Karen UlvestadI find myself in a quandary as of late. As a child, it was easy for me to draw and paint. Writing was more difficult, but relatively easy too. As an adult, I struggle to do these things. Even this blog is almost impossible to write at times, hence my time between posts.

So, here is the hard part for me. I am teaching my son how to draw. He is an incredible photographer, model and actor. Like me, he is afraid to draw. He stopped drawing after a series of traumatic events occurred in his life. I could never fully embrace my artistic skills, because I was raised to believe it was a worthless pursuit.

My son and I made a pact. He will be open to learning how to draw, and I will embrace myself as an artist with many mediums (especially drawing/painting). We are going to spend about an hour a day drawing. Needless to say, I am scared!

I’ve carried this fear my entire life, and have always discounted anything that was easy to accomplish. The motto of my family was “if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing.” In truth, the opposite is true.

Life is not a struggle. Life is an adventure to be lived, learned from and shared with others. Happiness comes from within, and we share it with others. I remember the years of looking for it in other people.

It’s time for the paradigm shift that will allow me to live my life in a “normal” way, and keep from passing the fear on to the next generation (my son).

There are other reasons why fears should be faced, and healthier beliefs found to replace them. Our fears generate “dis-ease” in our physical bodies, such as cancer, diabetes, frequent illness, etc. These diseases allow us to distract ourselves from the core issues in our lives. Guilt is another big contributor to “dis-ease”, and is a result of our individual belief systems.

I think there comes a time where we each choose to continue on a life path filled with fear and pain, or face it, change it and move on to something better. I’ve decided to face it, change it and evolve it into something healthier for me and my family.

I would encourage everyone to look at their own lives, and decide if there is anything they wish to change. If so, I hope they have the courage to follow the path of change and personal growth.

Love & Light to All. . .Karen