Rough Week?

My act of kindness this week was not killing anyone. The difference between me and people who actually do kill people is I never actually think about snuffing out a life. This week I just wanted to defend myself, in an angry tone, with a strongly worded text, and I didn’t. I listened and realized the attack wasn’t about me, it was about them, and in that moment of clarity, I calmed down.

A couple of difficult people passed through my life this week and made me question the future of humanity. I’m a theater teacher and I direct musicals for younger kids during the summer. Shockingly, there are stage parents who believe their child is the most talented kid in any room! This was my first time dealing with such vehement aggression on this topic. Not everyone was born to play Annie…if you are 14, 5’10”, or a male with your voice changing who can’t be heard 5 feet away, I probably will not cast you as the tiny orphan Annie. Especially if there is an 11-year-old with a Broadway belt available. Sigh. It’s over now and I am proud to say, in this particular instance, that I was patient. Not so much on the drive home, so by the time I got home it was time to retreat from reality.

One of my fave comfort movies is You’ve Got Mail. I rented it and retreated to the couch, applied a dog and a cat on feet and tummy and disappeared until this scene virtually jumped out at me. Pretty sure this captures both sides of most difficult encounters.

Are you Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan when confronted by someone who belittles your existence? Do you become tongue-tied or do you say the thing you most want to say only to be filled with remorse the second after you’ve said it? I am both and I’d love to hear from you how you handle challenging individuals. Seriously.

It seems there’s always someone, or something, trying to steal my joy. I’m a flawed human being. I’m reckless and clumsy so I’m almost always in pain which depresses me and makes being open and friendly just that much more challenging. But,I am determined to change the world one smile at a time, even if it kills me, which it almost has a couple of times.I can’t be the only person who struggles with trying to be a light in my corner of the world, all the while being a flawed human surrounded by other flawed humans.

I honestly do love to meet new people, to smile and sincerely ask store clerks how they’re doing, to find the humor in every situation, to look into a student’s eyes to see what’s really going on under the surface, but I feel it needs to be said, that sometimes, I fail.

Here’s how I manage to leave my house, my tormented brain and body, and attempt to be a bright spot to those around me:

♥   I choose to believe everyone is doing their best, including me, knowing it isn’t always the case. We all get tired and frustrated and want to lash out.

We all seem to have an element of fear lurking just under the surface now in our country, and well, the world, which makes us careful and suspicious and is exhausting.

♥   It is vitally important to stop to play every day. I learned this from father and it has sincerely saved my life more than once. 

♥   Ideas for playing:

A quick game on your phone.  Candy Crush and Tetris work for me. It turns out there is scientific proof games that include dropping columns help release anxiety and PTSD. Tetris and Trauma

A funny cat video: in fact, start your day with a funny cat video and everything else immediately becomes a lighter burden, maybe even burden-less. Sail Cat (no cats were harmed during this filming. WATCH THE EARS!) I laugh every single time I watch this.

Call and speak out loud to a friend you love.

Thank God for giving us a sense of what’s funny and the ability to laugh at our predicaments.

I believe laughter is a sacred sound to God. It let’s Him know we are enjoying being His creation.” Tim Hansell

DANCE BREAK! Ask Alexa to play your favorite song and bust a move. This is my favorite personal coping mechanism and it works like magic.

That’s it for now. Hope this helps diffuse even one icky interaction.


Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place

Black Rock Coffee Bar

We have this great place in my hood to meet for coffee, or to get a little work done with a cup of coffee out among other human beings. The first time I walked into this new place to meet a friend, Kathy (she’s very nice, you should try to meet her there for coffee too), I immediately noticed that I suddenly was in a better frame of mind. I almost never notice things like that, but goodness is obvious here the moment you walk in.

Coffee brings us together, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a treat. It provides a socially acceptable meeting location for our stimulant fixes.

It’s possible that the late, great, NBC sitcom Friends and Central Perk may have given us this gift of a great way to hang together. Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross and Rachel became a family at Central Perk.

We meet friends or get a pick me up to brighten our days at coffee houses. If you’re ever in my area, I strongly urge you to go to Black Rock Coffee Bar! This is who they are:


We strive for excellence in everything we do in life. Our crafted drinks are a way we show respect for our customers and ourselves. They are the beginning of a relationship built on trust and care that through time grows to see our stories unfold in our city.

As part of local communities, each Black Rock Coffee Bar team finds ways to serve their neighborhoods. And by doing so we help raise the bar for relationship and compassion.

As relationship grows, so does accountability. We hold each other to higher standards for the good of all. Whether it be care for nature, care for those in need, or just a sincere desire to see others do well, we learn to expect a lot from each other and a lot for our customers.

Our priority at Black Rock is not for others to know who we are and what we do… but for others to allow us to know them, to add fuel to their story, and to share in the journey.

No person is an island. No matter how many friends we collect on our devices, there will always be a longing to truly know others and be known. At Black Rock, our aim is to fuel that fire by being more than a place for coffee… we are a place for connection. Whether she’s a barista, an owner, or he’s a customer, supplier or neighbor: we’re all crafting our story one day at a time, one connection at a time.

When I grow up, I want to be just like the peeps that began Black Rock Coffee Bar. My local one is in Chandler, AZ, but they exist in several cities. Check out their website to see if there’s one near you and then stay there to read every single word about who they are. I was inspired to become a better person just by reading their website. Truly.

Are you busy this Sunday at 1:00 PM? Cause I’m gonna be at the Chandler location working on my laptop and enjoying some form of espresso. Come on by and say hi! We can chat. Maybe we’ll become Friends. You’ll find my picture on the home page and my laptop has the initials KB in gold glitter on the cover. Even if no one shows up, I will be happier just because I got to spend time among kind people. I hope you’ll stop by though! I’ll see if Kathy can come…you’ll like her.

hope you’ll at least drive through for a delicious cup of coffee one day when you need a little goodness. Smile at your barista and tell them Karen sent you!


Baristas from Left to Right: Dakota, Lindsee, Maddy. I hope I spelled your names correctly. You are all fantastic!


The Neighborhood Table

Kindness tip for the week:

He's the Man!

It’s okay to ask for help.

Allowing help gives a chance to shorten the distance between loneliness and a life shared.

A few Christmases ago I asked for a new kitchen table, the current “table” was about to disband into dust. The Husband, Keith, found a very cute table and chairs at Wal-Mart online. It was delivered with “some assembly required” about a week before Christmas to our neighbor Jeff’s house.

We have the family Christmas Eve dinner at our house. The four ‘fancy’ plates we got for our wedding come out to play for this night because there is never a worthy occasion to use them. Since we only have the four, it takes awhile to make the table look like it was arranged with a plan in mind. I spend about an hour, choosing the tablecloth and napkins, setting the table, arranging the seating and centerpiece until we can all fit, if we keep our elbows in, and I’m reasonably happy it looks magical. After baking and cooking all morning/month I thankfully disappear to finish wrapping presents behind closed doors while something cooks slowly in the oven. Egg Nog may, or may not, be invited in. Every year this is my schedule. Every. Single. Year.

This particular Christmas Eve, as soon as I closed our bedroom door to tackle speed wrapping, a silent mayhem began in the kitchen. The Youngest,Talia, having memorized exactly how the table was set, took everything off as quickly and quietly as she could, The Husband and The Oldest, Hannah, immediately sent four texts to neighbors who were on stand by to help assemble the table and chairs, run them to our house, silently set them up in our kitchen, dispose of the old table and chairs while The Youngest perfectly reset the new table to look exactly like the old one as fast as was safe.

I heard nothing.

The crew all excitedly waited in the kitchen for me to come out. Two hours later, I did. By that time, the neighbors had left and everyone else was annoyed with me. I didn’t notice the new table for way too long, even with all the beaming faces glaring at me. Since everything looked exactly like how I left it…no need to comment.

Finally, The Youngest sarcastically bellowed, “NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN THE KITCHEN??” I looked quickly around from my perch in front of the sink, “Ohhhhh! New chairs!” This was met with a simultaneous group sigh. If I just hadn’t gone with a tablecloth that year, I would have seen the new table and we would hardly remember this even happened.

The whole Christmas Eve shenanigan uprising is priceless to me; the new table that wasn’t crumbling down, the group effort with their commitment to sneakery (should be a word), The Husband who had the thought and generosity to pull this off, the family that is sheltered at this table. Buying anything large at that point in time was a huge committment, even though we needed it, we still were anxious about the choice. It was a screamin’ deal though.  My husband propped up a poem he found in the middle of the table. I still can’t read it without tearing up. (You can read it below.) The words in this beautiful piece, gave our lives purpose and comfort that a table is a worthy investment.

This gift was way more than a new table from Wal-Mart. It was a step back to barn-raising’s and a step forward to neighbors taking care of their own in times of flooding and fires and shootings and innocent Christmas magic.

We can never get rid of this table.

Try to love your time with your family this week and with all of those who have landed near you. In my experience, time together as a family went faster than I could fathom. Well, on most days, some days time actually went slower than originally fathomed.

Do you have a story? Please share it! Everywhere! A positive story can change the course of any day.

The poem that was placed on my magical Christmas table:

Perhaps the World Ends Here


The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.


The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.


We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.


It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.


At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.


Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.


This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.


Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.


We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.


At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.


Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Where we learn to be human. And the fancy plate is the first one on the right. 🙂
“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.