Lament of the Empty Nest COVID-19

Today, hunkering down in my apartment in my paradise of Veracruz, Mexico during my 90-day retreat that– due to the coronavirus– has turned into a 5-month retreat; I’m not sure why, but I’m feeling unusually sad. Maybe because it’s Sunday and church of course is still canceled. No church, no family all under one roof to draw close and be one during these uncertain, scary days.

The kids are grown with their own homes; they are one with their own families. I’m on the outside looking in and it’s not anything like the same. It used to be them, one by one, gradually growing up and separating themselves from the family unit. Now it’s me separating myself, trying to decide where to live independently and be happy.

As much as I love my children and grandchildren and wish them well and pray over them and rejoice in their successes and happiness and growth as individuals and families, I can’t keep on living in their homes. I think it’s time to get out on my own.

But I have enjoyed staying with Nathan’s family, who made such a loving and welcoming place for me.

This morning I kind of wish I were back with them.

But what I really wish for I can’t have– that would be going back in time, to when everything was beautiful and perfect for a moment.


Christmas in Illinois, 1989: Left to right Donny, Joseph, Liesel, Alice Jane, Billy, Jay, Baby Nathan. Mom and Dad in the center.


Writing a Self-help Memoir to Help Oneself

SlimWithin_CVR_MEDA year ago I was deep into writing about my life-long diet addiction. How I got into it, how it affected my life, how I managed to pull free and lose weight in the process.

I started this project as a way to get re-focused and balanced with healthy meals after we moved to Guatemala. Everything felt weird and upside down, including the way I was eating.

Originally, I wasn’t thinking about it for publication. For one thing, I didn’t want to write a “diet” book, because it wasn’t about dieting. Unless you count all the harm I did to myself through years of dieting.

I didn’t want to write about anything beyond my own story. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to people.

Finally, it began to take shape into three parts: the Memoir, the Plan, and the Program. Once the format was clear, it came together quickly. The writing was the easy part, I think. The hardest was revisiting my past diet addictions, realizing how bad it had been for so long.

Still, I’m glad I followed through on this project. Readers have told me how grateful they are for my willingness to be open with my story, how reading about my experience has helped them. This makes it worth anything I went through to write the words and finish the book.

(More information about Slim Within the book can be found here. The Facebook page Slim Within Workshops can be found here.)


(The following is an excerpt from the book I’m writing about our Guatemala experience.)

I didn’t realize how much stress I was feeling in the first house we had in Guatemala until we’d finally left it. The lack of natural light throughout the house, the termite problem, the sounds of animal life on the roof with things dropping down from the ceiling.

I didn’t much care for Lucas, the guardian, either. When we’d moved in, he said he’d be there twice a week and would take the trash down the lane and out to the street. He never once did that. He didn’t come twice a week, sometimes only twice a month. I wouldn’t have cared except I knew Morris was paying him to do the gardening twice a week, and to take care of the place. Continue reading

“Creating Something Wonderful”

Steve Jobs said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”

He made this statement in 1999, well before his cancer diagnosis. At the time of his death he was worth $10 billion. His estate is now worth $30 billion. He could have been much richer but he sold shares of Apple when they ousted him. He used the money to create something else wonderful: Pixar Studios. Continue reading

Merry Christmas from the Land of Nada

I was layering on the decorations on the Christmas tree at the hotel in San Pedro where we live now. Adding more lights, more shiny balls, beads, red and gold wrappy things. One of the workers came by and complimented my work.

I said, “Is it too much?” He said, “No, it is pretty. It’s good that you are doing that.” I said, “In the U.S., Christmas is a time of excess. It’s all about too much. Too many decorations, too much food, too many sweets, too many presents, too much everything.”

I asked him if it was like that in Guatemala, although I already knew the answer. He smiled and said, “Nada.” (nothing) Continue reading

Interview with Angela Jackson-Brown about my Writing and Publishing

Angela Jackson-BrownThe following is an interview I did with author Angela Jackson-Brown, whose debut novel Drinking from a Bitter Cup was release by WiDo Publishing in January, 2014. Angela was curious about WiDo, about my own writing and had a lot of questions about both.  You can learn more about Angela and her upcoming novel at her website,

I did this interview some time ago, back when I first released my cookbook. The book I was working on at the time, “Waking Up,” came out in November, 2014, as Afraid of Everything. And the book I mentioned as next in line, #3 in my Diamond series, I’m now fully into. Currently the title is “California Diamonds,” but who knows, it could change!

The complete interview with comments is on Angela’s blog here.

Angela: What motivated you to get into the publishing industry?

Karen: I had absolutely no idea of getting into the publishing industry, but I always wanted to be a writer. The story behind how all this came about is in a post called “The Truth about Farm Girl” on my blog. We like to say that while some publishing companies launch a book, in WiDo’s case it was a book that launched a publishing company.

That book was Farm Girl, a folklore history I wrote to honor my mother on her 90th birthday. I had no idea it would lead to the creation of a traditional book publishing company that has released 40 (now over 65) books­­­­­­. Continue reading

Our First Christmas in Guatemala

Bruce and I had no clue what this special time of year would be like away from family and everything familiar.

One of the big differences and something we both really missed was the lack of Christmas music. Even at church, there was no special program filled with hymns and scriptures about the birth of Christ. Another bi10881427_10203149636763671_1015032410_ng difference we noticed was the lack of decor and lights everywhere. Continue reading