Tuesday, September 30, 2003


def: The condition or quality of keeping still or silent.

There are so many interpretations. It could be soothing...to reintroduce yourself to the world in all its splendor, even if it’s only to hear the sound of a gentle breeze. There’s silence that’s imposed where you’re shut out and ignored by lack of word or acknowledgment. That silence can be very hurtful...even more than words spoken in anger. Silence can lead one to feel insignificant.

And then there’s the silence that brings comfort and centeredness....when we choose to find a place of quiet even if it’s within ourselves.....time to reflect, be, imagine, dream, fantasize, create....or do nothing at all. It’s the perfect place to "listen" to life and take it all in.

Take a moment of quiet. What do you hear?


Donna Karlin

Monday, September 29, 2003

Hidden Treasures

One of the programs I do with my clients is the ‘Clean Sweep Program’ where you clean out all aspects of your life.....physical space at home, at work, car, closets, experiences that are toxic and people who drain you of energy (OK so I’m sure there’s a more tactful way of putting it....though this is the unvarnished truth and that again is another blog to come...).

As I was working with a client last week, tossing out years of outdated paperwork I joked with him that maybe it was time I started with my office. (It was worth the shock factor : )

And even though my office is in order, the rest could use a bit of work. Cleaning out drawers and closets to most people is not a thrill, but for me, it unearthed all kinds of treasures.

The Treasures:

My report cards from Kindergarten and Grade 5, along with a Grade 5 class picture which brought back memories of old school friends and teachers I loved and those I didn’t like as much.....a note from my son from when he first started to write, in huge letters saying "You are sleeping. Please come and get me when you wake up" .......remembering that he gently lay it on my shoulder (which of course woke me at the time). Hand written minutes from a meeting. Not just any meeting but from our family club which we had when I was a kid. All hundreds of my relatives (or so it seemed) getting together monthly sharing family stories, milestones, victories and tragedies, skits and poems and celebrations. We couldn’t wait for those nights! Pictures from mock weddings, my first dog, Columbo, and so many other priceless treasures. All to be stored carefully to be passed on one day.

Just imagine what could be waiting for you among all the rubbish. Your own personal treasure hunt!

A still reminiscing,

Donna Karlin

Sunday, September 28, 2003


There have been too many coincidences about this topic to not write a blog about it.
Friday at work, I had a conversation about some staff being perfectionists and what problems arise because of that.

That'll be another blog : )

So when my friend Deb told me she went out to get a favourite book of mine, 'Romancing the Ordinary' by Sarah Breathnach, and opened it to a section on perfectionism, I had to write!

And no, Deb, I will NOT equate being perfect with a cake not coming out of the oven as in a Martha Stewart magazine (no........ we won't go there). And to quote the book, I agree with the line (changing the name for a moment) "Deb, I'm simply not going to support that kind of crazy thinking". Besides which, if you WERE perfect, I wouldn't have had such a great time listening to your voice mail where you described the end cake results in such minute detail.

And for all you perfectionists out there....I also agree with the quote from 'The Artists Way' (another favourite book) which says "Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves,, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough -- that we should try again. No we should not."

I believe in learning from mistakes but not beating ourselves up about them.

Wishing you the best...

(a far from perfect) Donna Karlin

Saturday, September 27, 2003

"Don't go through life, GROW through life." - Eric Butterworth

A quote I must have read 100 times and each time, depending on where I'm at in my life, I see something new. I go through this exercise at the end of each day where I revisit the day and ask myself what it is I learned that I didn't know before....how did I grow as an individual? In my work I meet the most wonderful people. Oh many would say they're ordinary every day people trying to get through life like the rest of us....that there's nothing extraordinary about them. Not so. I learn from each and every one. I find hidden humour, strength of character, courage, a soft heart in a rough exterior....I find caring, warm individuals all wanting to be themselves, yet many worrying about putting on a facade of who they think they're expected to be. A HUGE waste of energy when they can just be themselves.

And as I learn from them even as I teach, I grow and am able to look at life from different perspectives, not always my own, but at least from a point of understanding. And in that, I can teach more, and help them grow as individuals.

Every day we learn something new. It's whether or not we've paid enough attention to realise it.

A few days ago, my cousin asked me if I was as organized in my life as I was in my work. Many have asked me that. Just yesterday someone at work told me she doesn't know how I do what I do...always running, staying focused and still finding the time to answer the hundreds of emails that come through in a day. Well if I didn't do it, I couldn't teach it.

But I digress.

My answer to my cousin was immediate. If I didn't live what I taught I would never have had a life. My life experiences have taught me that if I'm not organized, I wouldn't have had time to live. Taking care of my son post-operatively I had a strict schedule I had to follow. And we did it. We always found time to read and watch a movie and get out (when we could).....we had 'get him rebandaged, machines on and dressed and get downstairs time', computer time (for Michael), meal times, 'get outside when no one is around time' and school work time. If I didn't follow that to a 'T', there would be no time.

And in what I call my 'first life' if you weren't on time for orchestra rehearsal you were toast. No excuses. The conductor wasn't interested in any excuses. He had his agenda and you followed it or you wouldn't be there for long.

So (I know...a long winded answer) I practice what I preach.

The second thing I'm often asked is how do I have time to see friends, 'play time' in otherwards. That too is easier for me now. In pruning my life of toxic relationships, I now choose who I spend my free time with. In these hectic days I refuse to throw any free time away by spending it against my will. So the people I DO spend my time with are those I can't wait to see....who energize me in just being there. And no matter how exhausted I might be at the end of a day, just knowing I'll be with them is all I need to give me that extra blip of energy. It's not only about managing time...it's managing energy and how I spend it. The older I get the more important that is.

But all of this has to be self imposed. We don't make changes for anyone other than ourselves if life isn't working, then it's up to you to change it, reorganize yourself so it does work. Every day choose something you can't wait to do or someone you can't wait to see or speak to. The anticipation will give you an edge through the day...that extra spark. And before long you'll see yourself growing in leaps and bounds and not letting life pass you by.

All the best...

Donna Karlin

Friday, September 19, 2003

A Short but Sweet Blog

I read a quote today that's really got me thinking....so I figured I should share it with you because why should I be the only one to ponder this?

"If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile, the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand." - author unknown

There are a very select few that come to mind when I read this. You know who you are. My question to you is, how many people can say that about you? Now THAT is the question to ponder.

All the best for the upcoming weekend....

Donna Karlin

The Norwich Tree

I'm just back from Norwich, Norfolk, UK helping my son get settled in school. A new school, city and country for him. He's approaching this phase of his life as he does everything else...with enthusiasm and energy. The first morning there, we wandered from the Bed and Breakfast where we were staying to the Law School so Michael could see where he would be spending most of the next 12 months in post-graduate study. It was right out of a 15th century novel. A manor house once owned by an upper crust nobleman is now the School of Law, surrounded by parkland and water, and the most majestic trees I have ever seen. Some of the trees seemed to reach to the sky... trunks wider than my outstretched arms.

But there was one tree that stood out among all the rest...

There's a history of trees and my son.

When he started his undergraduate course here in Ottawa, he found a tree he loved at the side of the river that bordered the school. It was older and definitely had character and I would often find him sitting on the grass leaning back against it.

Somehow I think he'll be doing the same in Norwich.

This is no ordinary tree...it has a past and presence in it's size. It's strong and sturdy and in the centre of a place of incredible natural beauty. We watched many with their dogs walking through the fields, enjoying the surroundings. There's a bench at the foot of the tree and remnants of a wooden swing which once hung from a sturdy branch. It doesn't matter where he is...he'll always find his place of peace and quiet where he'll be able to focus, or not and just let the world in. We should all have a place like this....where we can just be and let the beauty of the surroundings permeate our beings.

I wonder how many before him have done the same thing? I could close my eyes and almost see the past merge with the present. A perfect place for him to try his wings and fly. I can't wait to sit back and watch.

Donna Karlin

Friday, September 05, 2003

A Wonderful World

I love Louis Armstrong. The simplest song has such meaning when he sings it. It seems to come from his soul. Since my last blog, I've been thinking of how blessed I am in my life and how wonderful this world really is. It's more than the people, experiences and things I'm blessed with. It's the subtleties...the things that are there all the time .....ones I have to remember to take notice of.

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..

And as I sit here listening to these lyrics put to music, I'm reminded of one of those special things...music. A huge part of my life for most of it....from learning and soon after competing at the piano at the age of 4 to spreading my wings and exploring the world of percussion....to using music to touch lost souls in my work. People who've hidden away from the world for a long time, who come to life when words of a song touch them to the core....faster than any words alone could.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

This really is an incredible world....filled with wonder if you open your eyes and see it. From the trees, to the sky, sun or cloud-filled...it doesn't matter. Each is beautiful on its own. To rainbows that always seem to appear when you least expect them, both real ones and as a metaphor.

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

And as my son is getting ready to leave home....going overseas to learn and explore the world....create his new world....I'm reminded not to take anything for granted, whether a moment of his time, or my friends' or a moment to myself, just to be and let this special world of ours in....waiting for who knows what to happen next..

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

.................(Lyrics by George Weiss / Bob Thiele)

Oh yeah : )

Donna Karlin