All That We Are

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”
~ Buddha

As I get older, I realize how much perspective matters. As we move through life and accumulate cellulite experiences, we are shaped by what we’ve lived through, whom we meet, where we work and with whom, our friends and neighbors, and with whom we choose to have relationships. This is obvious, but when we think of things that might not have happened and how differently our lives would be now, it gives me pause. Had I not gone to Brazil as a 17 year old, I’d never have met the people I now call family in Sao Paulo. Had I not met my friend Terry as college freshmen, my son would never have had the opportunity to visit him in Thailand this month. Had I not been blessed (?) with “bucked teeth,” I’d never have become a dental hygienist. Photos will not be shown. You’re welcome.

It drives home the point that we are the product of what we’ve seen and experienced, and how that inevitably shapes thought.

We all aren’t either right or wrong, and it isn’t about being one or the other; we simply see things differently based on life experience. This year in particular, especially with a new administration, if we are to find common ground, we must find a way to “see the other side.” We don’t have to agree, but it seems crucial more now than ever to try to understand opposing views. (Having said that, this post is not about the new administration; political or nasty comments will not be approved).

We all understand the idea of perspective. But, it’s worth taking a second to look at a few visuals to bring the idea home. For each picture below, tell me what you see:











July 2015_Karen at Manzanita beach_1981


Here’s what I see.

Photo #1

I see our seven-month-old kitten, now happy, healthy and thriving. Others may see a spoiled cat (on a human’s bed, no less!). He was born under our house. When we caught Otis in August, he was underweight, his body temp was too low, his left eye was nearly swollen shut, and he was starving. It’s likely that had we not caught him, he wouldn’t have made it through our winter.

Photo #2

Melted candles in a box, you say? Technically, you’d be right. This was a gift to me from my son and his wife on Christmas morning, left over candles from their 09′ wedding. Stored in our upper attic (hence the melt), it is a gift we’ve passed back and forth. They lived in Virginia until late ’14–when their stuff was cleared out–and I had forgotten until Christmas. Imagine my delight (and plan for the future)!

Photo #3

Some may see a snow scene or maybe winter itself. Some may see wisteria vines, wrapped and twisted around the swing set supports. Others may see snow-laden leaves on the rhodie in back. I see three empty chairs. The bottoms of those for whom this was built no longer sit or play here. I refuse to tear it down in hopes that one day their children will find the same joy their parents did when swinging high to the sky.

Photo #4

Some may see water spots, a person, a purple phone, or maybe a woman playing in the snow and rain, trying to capture a unique shot. I see a woman with gray hair. Because that’s a sign of aging, and because it’s my hair, I feel sad. Outside it is far more pronounced than inside; our bathroom has no windows. I scare myself when I see the “real” me, a reminder that our time is limited.

Photo #5

Some may see a simple box, or a green covered box. That would be correct. It’s also the toy box our grandfather made for my sister and me when we were very young. Red corduroy was the original top cover, later someone changed it to green. For years it sat in my daughter’s closet. Instead of adding to the burn pile, I decided to make use of it. It now sits under the cutting table in my sewing room/office, filled with batting. Grandpa would smile if he knew.

Photo #6

Beach? Girl? Dog? Old photo? Yes. Well. This would be me many years ago at Manzanita Beach with our family dog. I was 20 or 21. I didn’t always have cellulite.

Perhaps the best image I’ve seen to bring home the relevance and importance of “perspective” is the following:


May we all consider perspectives other than our own as we navigate our way into 2017. May we all be open to dialog, even uncomfortable dialog, and speak with informed, intelligent conversation in hopes we learn from one another. May you never succeed in talking me into posting photos of my pre-orthodontically corrected teeth…

  25 comments for “All That We Are

  1. January 11, 2017 at 1:30 am

    I love this post Karen… and yep – go for it.. release the ‘negative energy’ of those ‘bucked teeth’ for the world to see.. haha!! Just don’t aske me to share any of my ‘school photo’s!’… YIKES… As for the ‘grey hair’.. there’s always another ‘perspective’… you’re ‘of an age’ where you can share wisdom with those around you and be proud of who you are… or …. buy some ‘shocking pink’ hair dye and then share that photo instead of the ‘bucked teeth’ … can’t wait! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hey, Lady. How did you know? Just as I’m about to embark on a brand new adventure–I begin a volunteer activity soon–your words are much appreciated. ❤ Old photos of that nature are best kept buried. 😉 As for the shocking pink hair…I'll keep that in mind…. Have a great day! 🙂


      • January 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm

        That’s brilliant Karen.. well done you and I can’t wait to hear about it very soon! You’re probably right with those old photo’s but I’m sure you’d look great with the pink hair… better than a ‘purple rinse’ anyway! Hope you’re having a brilliant day too! x

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 12, 2017 at 8:57 am

          Thanks so much! Once this begins, I’ll share the experience. I had to sit on my news for a while until the ball got rolling, but roll it has and now it won’t be long. I’m very excited about this new venture. I think I’ll hold off on the colored hair, although I think I could pull off purple better than pink. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • January 12, 2017 at 12:12 pm

            Haha – I look forward to hearing all about it and a pic of purple hair then! Good luck with your new and by the sound of it exciting new venture.. x

            Liked by 1 person

  2. January 10, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    What s great post Karen and you’re so right, everything in life is about perspective. Loved your photos and yes I guess I saw the obvious but clearly each picture holds a lot more significance and importance than we can see. That’s life isn’t it. Only we know what’s really important and the true story behind any situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Exactly. My hope is to live in a United nation once again rather than a Divided one; I feel that can only happen with open, informed dialog…and a willingness to stretch ourselves and be open to change. Really tough stuff. Thank you for the comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. January 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Wonderful post, and I especially like the last meme! You’re right, how we see things is unique to each of us, and largely based on our life experience. And now more than ever, it is absolutely imperative to be able to understand (or at least try to understand and tolerate) those who see things differently. If we don’t, we are all just going to drown in a sea of angry words and hate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

      My sentiments exactly, Ann. It’s extremely difficult I must admit when I see snarky comments rather than inquisitive or thoughtful, informed comments. People blurt out just about anything without checking the facts and that more than anything seems so at odds with success, especially now. Critical thinking doesn’t appear to be part of many dialogs I’ve seen. BUT, I’M RESOLVED TO TRY FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING. OK, I’m done ranting. 😉 Thanks for your kind thoughts once again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy
    January 9, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Great post, Karen! As for what I saw—a very relaxed and beautiful cat, melted votive candles, snow, a box, a woman playing with her dog on the beach!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Yes, that was Otis in relaxed mode. Many other times he’s a wild man on a mission to tear through this house as fast as he can. That’s when he’s not busy harrassing our older rescue cat, Gandalf. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        January 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        That’s the cat trusting position. He obviously loves you if he will lie in that vulnerable position!

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

          He’s only seven months old but I was amazed over Christmas when he fled from our guests and hid under our bed most of the day. When I went in later and got on my knees and called his name, he was out and next to me and purring faster than I expected. He knows his name, my voice, and the trust is definitely there. He’s only ever been around us and I had forgotten how he may react to strangers. He’s a keeper. ❤


  5. Lynne Olson
    January 9, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Yes, the old toy box…. I recovered it for my children, used to be a dark green – appears faded over the years.. 🙂 Happy memories of that old toy box.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      It’s still green but it’s hard to tell from the photo. It fits perfectly under my cutting table. Who knew?!!?


  6. January 8, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I LOVE this!!! You are so on target. I happen to love my white hair. As a former hairdresser and color consultant it would have been expected for me to color my hair. I’ve talked so many people including my own mother of letting the gray show. It softens our look as we age and aging is inevitable. The alternative isn’t good. When I’m having a problem with someone I’ve learned to write a list of their positive aspects. Everyone has them. The more you can list, the easier the relationship with that person. It diffuses the negative feelings and I do that with everyone, even people not directly related to my life. It’s about the perspective. I can’t tell you how much it helps. Love your kitty. She looks content and no need to apologize for her pure trust and relaxation. You did a wonderful job of showing perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Thank you so much, Marlene. It made my day to read your thoughts. We so often get caught up in our own world/thoughts/perspective and we forget there are others, worthy others, although we may not agree. I would rather disagree and stay in communication than halt talking altogether as some do. The latter solves nothing but the former offers possibilities. I’m not completely on board with my gray, but I do have to say that while it makes me think of being “old,” it feels heavenly as opposed to when it was processed on a regular basis. Not processing has been a wonderful improvement. Otis has completely adopted us as his forever family and was relaxing on my daughter’s bed. As usual. 😉 Thank you for the kind words. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. January 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    You can melt those candles down on the stove and pour them into empty toilet paper rolls to make new ones, all you need is some wick. To get the wax off the pan, cool it, then stick it in the freezer. The wax chips right off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 21, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Hi, and thank you for the idea. My apologies that your post went to my trash file (without my permission!) and I just discovered this today. I am trying to rectify this by going back to answer all the kind people who wrote. Yes, I could melt them again–I like the toilet paper roll idea–but I think it will have a bigger impact when opened as a bulk candle. I could NOT figure out what this was until I opened it and the laughs were worth their effort. I have a feeling this will be passed back and forth for many years to come. 🙂


      • March 21, 2018 at 7:44 pm

        Thank you for taking care to respond after all this time. It’s a rare kindness in today’s society.


        • March 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm

          You are most welcome…but guess where your new comment showed up? Yep, in my trash. I have no idea why. Regardless, I am glad you stopped by again and I thank you for your kind words. Have a great weekend! 🙂


          • March 22, 2018 at 12:10 pm

            No worries. For some reason, my new posts don’t show up in the feeds I’ve tagged them for, either. WordPress has some ‘splaining to do!


            • March 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm

              Yes, I may need to approach someone. Your last message went to my trash file. The nerve! 😉


            • March 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm

              (sigh) It could be worse. It could be Facebook.


            • March 23, 2018 at 11:55 am

              This, too, went to trash. I will ask them today what is the deal. And yes, FB….worse. 😉


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