Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 8 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

This week’s Time Magazine cover story, as well as the discussion topic on various TV talk & news programs, has been the updated “childless” statistics.  It seems that, since the 1970’s, the number of American women and couples making a conscious decision to remain childless, or not being able to have biological children due to health problems, financial concerns, or other social/circumstantial issues has increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 5.

Public conversation around this issue has run the gamut: From couples who don’t miss the “parenthood experience” and have no desire to change the dynamics of their fulfilling, productive lives; to women who don’t believe the hype that everyone can, indeed, “have it all:” immersion in a meaningful career as well as successful parenting, and feel a deep commitment to spending their time, talents, and energy outside the home in fields such as education, social service, law, medicine, the arts, science and the many other necessary and important jobs that serve society as a whole–including its children; to those who simply can’t afford to raise  children as they want to or who are drawn to nurturing humans who have grown-up already.

To me, this hesitation to procreate just because you can, with no forethought to what life will be like for all concerned after a baby arrives, demonstrates a much higher level of consciousness, morality, and enlightenment than simply viewing “parenthood” as a biological imperative; a rite of passage through which women justify their existence and men prove their virility/fertility.

I mean, when you think about it, serpents and lunatics “give birth.”  There are thousands upon thousands of  children in foster care and adoption networks who were born through someone, but are still parentless. The mental health system is replete with children and adults who are raised by unstable, narcissistic, incompetent ” mothers and fathers.”  Social Services are overflowing with child-clients who have been physically abused, neglected, or virtually abandoned by a “parent” whose own lack of education and financial resources placed them in a bad neighborhood and forced them to work in several low-paying jobs just to meet their children’s material needs for food, clothing, and shelter.  The only “parenting” these kids receive is from social workers and teachers– if they’re lucky; street gang leaders who act as surrogate parents and role models if they’re not.

Perhaps the next Time Magazine cover story should be entitled:  ” Parenting.  What Does It Mean and Who Should Do It?”  Now this would be a discussion worth having.





Posted by Karen Hadalski at 24 July 2013

Category: Uncategorized

Including all the world news of the week, the birth of Will and Kate’s new son still tops the lists of many. Even of those of us living “across the pond” who claim to have no interest in the U.K. Monarchy and customs.

Never mind that many viewed Prince William’s mom, Diana, as a fairy tale life run amuck and followed her sons’ lives with compassionate interest since her death–a baby’s birth always evokes special interest, hope, and happiness.

Religions mark a birth in special ways:  By baptism, christening, circumcision, and customs not so familiar to Westerners.  For example, in Islam the new arrival is welcomed by his or her father who whispers a special message in the infant’s right ear, calls his child to prayer, and awakens its sense of taste by placing a bit of something sweet on his or her tongue.

On the 7th day, the baby’s head is shaved, weighed, and an equivalent amount of silver is donated to charity.  Hindu’s also shave the baby’s head but, in India, the hair is sprinkled into the Ganges River.

In all cultures, gifts are presented to the infant, birth announcements are sent out, and great care is given to the choice of a fitting name.  The Chinese wrap baby gifts in red–to portend happiness–and spend a lot of time choosing just the right name.  They place so much emphasis on naming because they believe this–along with the number of letters/characters in the name’s spelling–plays a significant role in determining a child’s  fate and direction in life.

I think that, to a greater or lesser degree, we all believe this.  At this writing, the Royal’s are still poring over the new Prince’s name and very many of us check-out the traditional meaning of a name we like before ascribing it to our baby’s birth certificate.

As far as determining our future goes, perhaps once we learn the meaning of our names it plays at least a subconscious role in determining our self-image.  I’ve known some people who absolutely hated their names–even to the extent of legally changing them. Some dislike being given a family, rather than a uniquely individual, name while others find inspiration in being named for a relative or famous person who achieved great things. And some do, indeed, live up (or down) to the names bestowed upon them.

In my case, “Karen” is the Norwegian form of “Katherine,” which means “pure.” However, it is my middle name–“Patricia”–which holds greater significance as I have always identified with the Irish side of my heritage and was born on St. Patrick’s Day. If you don’t know the traditional meaning of your name, look it up! You might be surprised at what you find.

Finally, those who receive the sacrament of confirmation in their church are given an opportunity to choose a third name for themselves.  Some, like my husband, stick with their middle names.  His is “Michael” and what could top an archangel’s energies?  I, being an animal and nature lover, was thrilled to be given the opportunity to choose and add “Francis” to Karen Patricia.

Even if your faith expression doesn’t celebrate such a rite of passage, you can always go the secular route and legally change or add-on to your given name.  A friend, one of those named for and by a relative she didn’t especially admire, changed her first name along with her last on her wedding day.  Another–a “VI” in a long line of “Roberts”–legally added “Erhard” to his name.  This means “honorable and brave” and gave him something higher to aim for than simply producing a “Robert VII.”

As I finish this, I just received a news flash that the new Prince of Cambridge has been named “George.” Obviously his parents took their time in choosing a name that befits both his status and the kind of person they wish him to become.  William was raised to be among and was socialized with “commoners.” Kate, herself, comes from a “regular” middle-class family. And, the infant Prince is, of course, third in line for the throne. “George” means “farmer, earth-worker ;” additionally, St. George the Dragon Slayer is Patron Saint of England as well as the name of five former British Kings.  Right on! What’s in a name?  Quite a lot, I think.






Posted by Karen Hadalski at 5 January 2013

Category: Uncategorized

Even if you have already seen the play: “Les Miserables,” the film is well worth the price of a ticket and 2 1/2 hours of your time.

In some ways it is even better than the Broadway play/opera (There is no spoken dialogue):  Close-ups allow for a more intense conveyance of emotion and the change in scenery and cinematography keeps the story-line clear.

Victor Hugo is a master at portraying “The Human Condition” and this is what sets him apart when it comes to historical novels.  To my mind, only a handful of writers have ever been able to paint an accurate portrait of a particular time or event in history and also of universal human character/weaknesses/strengths/and struggles: Dickens, James, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy being a few of these.

Let us know what you think!


Posted by Karen Hadalski at 15 December 2012

Category: Uncategorized

What a strange Christmas season this has been: Doomsday- Sayers trying to convince us to prepare for the last day of the Mayan Calendar (Dec. 21st) and the last day of life on Earth; culture wars over whether or not towns should be allowed to display nativity scenes and Christmas trees and what the trees should be called: “Holiday Trees,” perhaps; retailers and parents determined to keep the traditional lightheartedness and expectation of Santa’s return, gifts, and holiday feasts; churches of varied denominations offering varied messages regarding where we are:  a new beginning, the “end times,” a New Age of enlightenment; and now, the horror of the slaughter of 20 young children and 8 adults–including the killer: a crazed 20 year old–yesterday.

Around the world wars and financial woes proliferate; and, at home, we hold our breath and pray that the people we’ve elected to make decisions on our behalf will make the right ones to keep us safe and solvent through one more year.

Add to all of this the personal pessimism of many due to job, home,  and investment losses; pension reductions; the ever-increasing high cost of living and–well–its just not the “Jolly Holly” Christmas season of years gone by.  It isn’t even the White Christmas many of us loved and could count on during our childhoods due to Climate Change!

So, what can we do to give ourselves hope, security, and inner peace and joy?

To me, there are only a few things of real value:  Our health and that of those we love; a vital spiritual life; contributing something of value to others through our work, our talents, our relationships; and being good and trustworthy custodians of that which is entrusted to us: our children, our pets, our land, our resources, our future.

By focusing on these truly valuable blessings, I’m sure we can all find something to be thankful for and hopeful about.  And, there is no better way to experience inner joy than by giving. Whether its visiting a nursing home or shut-in, singing in a choir, adopting an abandoned pet, volunteering at a soup kitchen, planting a tree, or making one child’s world a little brighter, I guarantee that (unless you are a self-centered, greedy, materialist) giving will do much to “make your spirits bright.”

My gift to self this year is sponsoring a little girl through Save the Children.  We’ve just “met” and her sweet, smiling face and hopeful plans for the future truly lift me up. “It is only through giving that we receive.”  What gift will you give your self this year?

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 8 December 2012

Category: Uncategorized

If you’ve never been a fan of classical music, I beg you to give it a chance.  And, there is no better season than now; nor a better introduction to the experience of beauty, harmony, and peace that orchestral music imparts, than Handel’s Messiah.

For decades, we have been fortunate to have lived in or near cities possessing first-class orchestras and choral groups by which we could , during the Season (September to April), enjoy magnificent music several times each month: Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia, and now, Virginia Beach–one of the cities in the Commonwealth where the Virginia Symphony Orchestra performs, in a state-of-the- art concert hall completed just before we moved to the area.

Last night we treated ourselves to the yearly delight of hearing Messiah, this time performed by the VSO, its Chorus, and four extraordinary soloists. When we recounted how many magnificent performances of Handel’s masterpiece we have enjoyed throughout the years, we marveled at the fact that we have never left a concert hall in anything but a state of bliss.  Each year it feels brand new.  Each year the experience transports.

JoAnn Falletta, Music Director and Conductor of the VSO (as well as the Buffalo Philharmonic and Ulster {Ireland} Orchestras) wrote the Foreword to my book, Ten Difficult Women.  In this, she shares how, from age eleven, when sitting in Carnegie Hall listening to a performance of Beethoven, she became fascinated with the symphony orchestra “as a microcosm of excellence, beauty, and wonder” and, from that age foreword, could not imagine herself  “not being at the center of that magical ensemble” as a conductor.

Even if you’ve never played a musical instrument, sung in a choir, or attended a symphony orchestra concert, I guarantee you will be enthralled–maybe even converted–if you buy a ticket to a professional performance of this sacred oratorio during the Christmas season.  (It is also performed by some orchestras during the Easter season). An amateur ensemble, or a local choir leading the audience in a Hallelujah Chorus sing-along, just can’t impart the same exquisite grandeur or do this brilliant composition justice.

Really, treat yourself!

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 17 November 2012

Category: Uncategorized

I like this time of year.  It  prompts me to think about what I am grateful for rather than focusing on things I don’t have and am dissatisfied with; or, even worse, take for granted.

Thanksgiving Day has always been my favorite holiday.  It is a quiet, peaceful, relaxing time focused on nothing more than gratitude and breaking bread with family and friends.  Other holidays are loud, frantic, crass and focused on things like buying and getting stuff, strutting around in new outfits, eating too much candy, loud fireworks, and parties where people are not themselves and drink too much–by comparison.

A close second for me is Valentines Day.  Again, a time of gratitude, expressions of love, and sharing a quiet dinner and intimate time with someone close.

One of the things that impresses me most about each of the subjects in Ten Difficult Women is their ability to enjoy and be grateful for life’s quiet, subtle, beautiful elements and moments:  Nature, the life of the mind, composing a perfect journal entry, leading musicians through an exquisite performance, throwing a perfect “knuckle-ball,” casting a first vote, children, conducting former slaves to freedom, producing a film or giving a speech or writing a law that leads to positive change, creating a beautiful dress, appreciating glistening raindrops and the sound of a Lark from an attic window, or playing and cuddling with a beloved pet.

These are things that are truly memorable and worth celebrating.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted by Karen Hadalski at 9 November 2012

Category: Uncategorized

Well, it is all over.  And, after months and months of being bombarded with vicious attack ads, too much junk mail, and incessant robo-calls; after months and months of spending millions of dollars and wasting millions of hours on campaigning instead of working to dig America out of the fiscal, social, and foreign affairs hole we find ourselves in, where have we ended up?  “RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM”–same president, same divided congress, same ever-worsening problems.

A few other well-known sayings spring to mind:  “A DEMOCRACY ALWAYS ENDS UP WITH THE LEADER IT DESERVES.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. (Except, in this case, only half of America gets what it deserves–for better or for worse.)


“A LEOPARD CAN’T CHANGE ITS SPOTS.”  An obvious observation.

All we can do now is try to figure out how and why we are where we are; learn from the past; and pray for the morality, sanity, wisdom, and competency of the officials 50% of our citizenry elected to lead us through the next four years.

One last saying:  “GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE.”  Tiny Tim, A Christmas Carol.

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 2 November 2012

Category: Uncategorized

I’m an Independent who has voted for Democrats, Republicans and third party candidates throughout the years.  I try to keep my blog posts non-political.  But—I Believe in Destiny.  I also believe that never in the history of America–since our Founding Fathers–has there been a man so profoundly destined to restore the principles and vision of those founders; lift us out of the fiscal, social, and foreign affairs abyss of the present; and lead us into a sane and solvent future than Mitt Romney.

He was born for this moment in history to a mother who was told she could have no more children; nurtured by the uniquely American religion of Mormonism; raised by two socially and politically involved parents; motivated by a morality of service and stewardship; and educated in both Business Administration and Law at Harvard University.

Though jealously denigrated for being “too rich”–primarily by those who have not been able to achieve the American Dream themselves or have come into their wealth in mysterious, dubious ways–Romney is, in fact, one of the finest examples of what “being American” is all about.

Yes, he was gifted with a stable, secure upbringing and a good education.  However, he attained his simultaneous degrees through self-discipline, focus, and hard work.  Yes, he has amassed millions–every dollar of which was earned, not inherited–and which has been invested and managed with sound judgement and prudence.

And, what has he done with these millions?  He has raised and prepared five outstanding sons to contribute to society in five uniquely individual fields of endeavor, is a devoted husband, and loving grandfather to eighteen grandchildren. He has served his Church as a Missionary, a Pastor, and tithes (gives 10% of his income to the church) religiously.  He also contributes approximately thirty percent of his wealth to a variety of charitable causes on a regular basis.

He has put his financial and business management skills to good use on behalf of many during his tenure with Bain Capital and by rescuing the 2002 Olympics from impending collapse.

He learned what it takes to govern in a cooperative, bi-partisan way through being elected Governor of one of the bluest of blue states in America and working across the aisle to eliminate Massachusetts’ billion-plus deficit and create both a surplus and a balanced budget for four consecutive years.  He created a state centered health care program which insures virtually every Massachusetts resident. He established a program to fully fund every high school senior in the top 25% of his or her graduating class to any state college or university of their choice.  He recruited 1,000 skilled math and science teachers; instituted a bonus program to reward top-performing educators; and established new interventions –including full-day Kindergarten classes–for failing schools and at risk children.  At the end of his term Massachusetts schools were ranked #1 in the nation, AND #10 world-wide in Math and English.

By the end of his single term as Governor (he didn’t run for a second term, opting to explore a run for the Presidency, instead) Massachusetts had risen 22 places:  from dead last to 28th in job growth.

Romney was also the first Governor in his state’s history to appoint a Secretary of Veteran Affairs to his Cabinet, and he increased benefits to National Guard members as well as to disabled veterans and families of missing and fallen soldiers.

Altogether, he is a candidate in possession of the personal qualities, experience, preparedness, maturity, clarity or vision, and integrity of purpose America so desperately needs–RIGHT NOW.

Romney isn’t running because he needs the money, is hungry for personal adulation and the spotlight, or is seeking to “fill in the blanks” where personal identity and self-esteem are concerned.  He is, already, a successful, complete, stable, self-fulfilled human being.  He is running for President because he knows he possesses a unique combination of experience, knowledge, and skills that can be usefully employed in the service of the country he loves.  Period.

Mitt Romney is the right person, for the right job, at the right time in America’s history.  It is both his destiny and ours that he becomes our 45th President.

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 18 October 2012

Category: Uncategorized

For most Americans it’s hard to think about anything but politics these days!  During every commercial break on television we are bombarded with ads extolling the virtues of– or, more commonly– demonizing one candidate over another. But,  I don’t think these tactics are working. In our case, we began to “mute” the chatter of candidates we will not be voting for this November quite a while ago and even turn our phone off to get a break from all the robo calls. We’ve heard more than enough, already.

Tensions and tempers are running high this year.  To a greater extent than during any other election cycle I can remember, our citizenry is split right down the middle, with each side as adamant and passionate about its choices as the other is about theirs.

I’ve been in Western Europe during election cycles and things are about the same there.  A relative just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe and they, too, are passionate about politics–even our upcoming election!

Wouldn’t it be refreshing (and healthy) to decide upon the direction we want to take, and the policies and leadership we need to take us there, through rational discussion, mutual respect, bi-partisan cooperation and unimpassioned discernment?

The only culture I’m familiar with that chose its leaders in this way was the Native American tribal system. This is how their “election process” went:

#1:  As a group, they took as long as was necessary to come up with and clearly articulate their felt needs and goals. These were decided and agreed upon by a majority through “pow-wows:” thoughtful, quiet, mutually respectful periods of rational discussion and discernment.

#2: Once goals were agreed upon, they simply surveyed/studied their population to discover who among them had already demonstrated the competency and successes necessary to assume a leadership position.  One or more people were then “invited” to take leadership responsibility in the area of their particular mastery. The “chosen” were afforded as much time as they needed to go off by themselves, reflect, pray, and decide whether or not they  perceived themselves as possessing the inner- strength and resolve necessary to successfully carry-out community expectations. There was no stigma associated with declining a leadership role.

#3:  Once the leadership position was assumed, the chief (or chiefs) had no contract, term of office, or additional criteria attached to his role.  So long as he exhibited competency, made progress in meeting the goals agreed upon, and retained strength and good health, he remained in his position.

If the one ( or several) chosen failed to move the community forward toward attaining agreed upon goals, he either self-relinquished his leadership role or acquiesced to his people’s request to step aside.  If his pride took over and he refused to step down, he was ostracised by the community and went off to form his own, new band of followers and establish another “tribe” in another “nation.”

To my mind, this “primitive” model is a far more sane and sensible model for choosing leaders than the one we currently suffer through every four years.





Posted by Karen Hadalski at 29 September 2012

Category: Uncategorized

Why are religion and war so interconnected?  It has been that way forever–remember Christianity’s “Holy Wars?”  This latest bout of  hysteria, chaos, murders, and destruction just rips the scab off this festering sore spot in human history yet again.

What is religion, anyway?  In simple terms it is a way of life, or belief system, based upon mankind’s ultimate relation to the universe and God.  It is a communal faith and the community of believers binds itself to a particular pattern as its “rule of life.”

Though diverse, all formal Religions are comprised of a CREED: Faith in a revealed pattern and in the Divine intelligence that gives this to man.  A CODE:  A Divinely sanctioned and authorized system of laws and morals comprising the active participation in a particular community.  And a CULT:  the ritual of worship or symbolic acts through which a particular community brings its collective mind into accord with the mind of God.

By definition, then, institutionalized religion is ex-clusive and promotes a “them and us” mentality–each believing itself to be the “right way, “the only way,” and their members to be the “chosen ones” of God. How could such an exclusive world view ever hope to bring mankind into a peaceful, harmonious, mutually respectful and beneficial state of co-existence?

As anyone who has read KARMA knows, I have been preoccupied with this question for decades and have, after much thought and exploration, come to believe two things:  1:  Personal spirituality is far more valuable than affiliation with any organized religion.  And, 2: Hinduism and Buddhism have it right (not really “organized religions” in the Western sense of the term):

In Hinduism, Liberation is valued, not membership.  The world can be separated into independent things only in thought.  In Reality, the world is a non-duality and there is no “them and us.”  Buddhist teachings urge morality and compassion NOT as a command, but as a voluntary action to which the free man commits himself without hope of reward or fear of punishment.

“By their fruits you shall know them.”  What quality of “fruit” has organized religion produced throughout history?  What can be done to reverse this tide?  Two questions worth pondering…


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