Writer’s Cramp September 5th, 2013

Spotlight celebrating your WRITTEN WORD.

Whether it’s a poem, short story, tongue twister or rant we welcome your submission. Mountain FM launched the first show of “Writer’s cramp” on the 24th of January during Rob Murray’s morning show.

(Banff Elementary, Grade 3 pictured left)

September 5 features a powerful personal piece on “Bullying”, Ashley Landreau, College student

You can listen to the episodes anytime on Mountain FM’s website: www.mountainfm.ca. Did I mention the show features a fun tongue twister tie off between Rob Murray and co host, Karen Barker, plus a word of the week?

The show airs every Thursday at 7:50 am on Rob Murray’s morning show. Dave Whitfield, editor of the The Rocky Mountain Outlook, publishes the featured pieces once a month. I invite you all to join us for some laughter in celebration of the written word.  You will have FUN and a great experience.

Submissions are to be made to writerscrampcanmore@live.com. Please include contact info.

“At 7 years of age in the mid ’60’s; when it was holiday time I remember the ride in the blue Valiant across the prairies, writing poetry, stuffed up against the window behind Dad in the back seat with 4 siblings. If this opportunity was available to me I would have been in heaven”.  –  Karen Barker

Thank you for your participation in making this opportunity a success for the students of the Bow Valley.

Keeping it light,

Karen and Rob

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/writers-cramp-september-5th-2013/

Divine Soup and Wine Series #12,”Celebrate Life”

A Barbeque Vegan Meal

A Barbecue Vegan Meal

A Great Barbecue Meal

It features :

Tofu cooked in a Green Jalapeno sauce.

Eggplant sliced in 1/2″ strips and doused with sesame and extra virgin olive oil.  Augmented in sea salt is yummy.

Portebello mushroom is cooked in a basil pesto sauce.

Broccoli is covered in a Bragg’s or soya sauce.  I would have preferred Bragg’s but this temporary home I am in from the Canmore Flood and they did not have this item.

What you see on the small plate is a fresh fig with blue cheese.

A glass of Reventos i Blanc de Nuit,  2009,  Cava, product of Spain has a splash of hibiscus syrup.

It would have been my mothers 77th birthday.  The first birthday since her passing so I honor her with this meal…

Her passion was to Celebrate Life everyday…..

In reflection: Do you honor yourself and celebrate the brilliance that is within you?

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/divine-soup-and-wine-series-12/

Divine Soup and Wine Series #11

A 5 Leafed Clover

A 5 Leaf Clover


Wow-ser Vegetarian Chili

 Bake at 350 F about 25 minutes: 3 Green Jalapeno peppers

Saute in large pot:  ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, the 3 sliced jalapenos, ¾ white sweet onion then add spices of crushed red chili pepper, Chili powder, cumin and salt

It is at this time that the spices can integrate creating the essential flavors of this dish.

Over top of mixture add broccoli, layered next with an organic can of washed garbanzo and kidney beans, Organic mushroom and garlic pasta sauce,  then end with a layering of fresh Kale.  Do not mix until ready to serve……Allow it to cook in this stacking method.

Turn it down low and allow it a few hours to simmer.  Patience…..

I allow the mixture to sit on the stove overnight to flavor itself.

When I serve it I may add some freshly grated Parmesan for extra protein or organic smoked Tofu cubes.

A nice Red Wine would complement this bowl of delight.

I will follow up with a palatable wine selection soon. stay tuned…..

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/divine-soup-and-wine-series-11/

A Therapist/Survivor Perspective on:What do I say to a displaced evacuee?

Picking Up the Pieces

Picking Up the Pieces

A Therapist/Survivor Perspective on:  What do I say to a displaced evacuee?

I have as a therapist read a lot in the last weeks around the topic of post traumatic stress.  This is what I have come up with as a survivor.

Many people have asked me what do I say, to an evacuee or displaced person.   There is no reference for such an experience in our lives.

I have come to know that “each person is Unique”, that is what makes life so colorful.  There is no formula but guidelines.

Life is a series of “fortunate” or” unfortunate” events: experiences.  Pending where you are in life, this event or disaster may have put you over the top or you may be able to cope and participate in the clean-up, efforts to re-build is easier for you.

Be mindful that, the “How are you?” question maybe confusing.  In asking, what you are trying to convey is that you are thinking of them, that you care and you will be there for them.

1)      I am thinking of you….I want you to know I am here for you…because they may feel alone…I am checking in with you because I care and if there is anything you need.  Know that I am here for you.

2)      This is not your fault….Punishment or I am being punished is a thought we all have…It is not personal….

3)      Validate their feelings… I see you are sad, give them permission to tell their story.  If you are afraid please do not ask… The event has created a visceral fear response. i.e. losing home, threat of life.

4)      We never consented to this happening. There may be feelings of violation or anger. Thoughts of what have I done to deserve this.  Re affirm you are worthy… of self care: be it counselling, a yoga class, food, love, if that is where you are with that person.


In a nutshell

I am thinking of you.

I am sorry this has happened to you. It is not your fault.  It is not personal.

I am here to help

What do you need?

I love you.


The human condition is a frail one.  It challenges us to be in our hearts and respond in a way that may stretch us.  Embrace the new learning curve for it is new one for evacuees and displaced persons as well.

Remember each personal life is unique and it may not make sense to you but it is re.  Practice non judgement.

Acceptance without understanding is a key.

I accept what has happened to me but do not understand it.  I accept you as you are and I will be there unconditionally in my heart for you.  Do not try to fix it or dismiss it or compare it to others devastation or plight.  I have learned we are all unique.

Life is a dance and an improvisation that challenges us to be present and in the moment in the most beautiful sense of the word.

In Reflection: I thought it was a linear journey but in the intrinsic action of waves we emotionally undulate.

Radio Interview 106.5 Mountain FM July 4, 2013


Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/a-therapistsurvivor-perspective-onwhat-do-i-say-to-a-displaced-evacuee/

Transformations: Scars Graced By Art


Line drawing, Left Hip Scar

Transforming Adversity into Opportunity is Liberating.  This is the magic of the human spirit. In this forum we can come together globally and share our journey providing inspiration and support.

Don Petersen,artist and owner of www.newworldsamurai.com  encompasses qualities of brilliance and a compassionate heart.

Dr. James Powell, from the Alberta Hip and Knee Clinic in Calgary, AB is my biggest fan of this project.  The jaw dropping beauty of Don’s work graced many eyes in the O.R.

Richard Brown, www.richardbrownphoto.ca in Canmore AB had the insight and talent in creating the perfect look inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s, Red Velvet Calender, 1949.

I invite you to submit your before/after photos in the comments with  a brief word of inspiration.

Celebrating Life!!!

Line drawing Poster, Left HipKaren

* The images you upload must be reduced to a maximum width of 600px to fit within the Comments section !




Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/transformations-scars-graced-by-art/

Journey into a Healthy Lifestyle from Sedentary Surgery

Saying “YES” to Life.

My Journey of cultivating a new body by releasing the surgical sedentary habits from the last 4 years

It demands compassion, patience, and daily diligence, willpower, challenging old habits by planting new seeds, watering them, and celebrating the growth.

It can feel all encompassing breaking old comfortable habits.  I correct myself by clarifying  not comfortable habits but necessary ones I had to accept in the lack of movement and all the trimmings that come with recovery.  Choosing to slow my psyche down enough so I can accept staring out the window for 6 -8 weeks, resolved to the slow moving at the pace of a turtle and the inevitable gaining what I call “surgical fat”.  Not unlike a pregnant woman who knows it may take 2 years to rebound from the experience of creating a new life.  The outcome is worth it, it is perfect.

Where did I begin?

Choosing different is the first step.  Acknowledging that the slow way served me and now I am on the path of recovery and ready to cultivate the new rhythmns in me.

Breaking those thought patterns that were necessary in the slow mode of healing and recovery were a challenge.  To rise above an old way and experience the new exhilaration of my heart rapidly beating out of my chest, enjoying the” rain-on” sweat of the workout and sauna.  In this town, everyone takes their dog to the Dog Park.  I take my heart for a run at the gym.  This is something I tell myself.

Deadly Honest:  I asked myself how I envisioned this new process unfolding as I wanted it to be graceful and successful.  I knew if I went to fast I may scare myself away. So I started at an easy pace, always checking in to see if what I was doing was giving me the “Yes feeling”.  I started with buying a monthly membership at LifeWorks Gym in Canmore to use the infared sauna on a daily basis.  Checking in, that was a “Yes” Feeling.  According to my reading, I knew I my heart rate was up therefore increasing circulation, promoting tissue healing and great for a detox from the anesthetic and drugs.  I flushed my system with ample amounts of great water and silent Qi Gong. I made it a point to go everyday or 5 times a week.  Honestly, what else was I to do?

When I was felt stronger I climbed upstairs to where the familiarity of the weight machines beckoned me.  I integrated some repetitions of the pec deck, lat pull down and transverse press.  I felt right about doing 3 sets of 10 and then off to the hot sauna.  There was a period in my life where I spent hours in the gym “pumping up” before my daughter was born.  That  was over 20 years ago. My new perception: I was connecting with some old friends in a new way.

Every day, I walked by the elliptical machines to get to the change room.  When it moved me, I finally inquired how to use one.  I kept checking in daily and I knew the day would come where I would step onto one.  With low impact I felt like I was flying through space, effortlessly. My arms were engaged and I knew if my legs were tired that my trusty strong arms could take over the remaining time that was set at 15 minutes.  I would gently walk and increase my speed, if it felt right.  I knew 15 minutes would go by quickly and it did.

As weeks went by, I started to see results in strength and tone.  I increased the elliptical by 5 minutes and started doing some interval training where I walked for 30 seconds then went as fast as what left comfortable for 90 seconds. I definitely could feel the sweat roll down my back and face.  I was beginning to accept that this was a great feeling.  The panting of my breath was making me feel alive.

Some days were difficult to complete the allotted time.  I would tell myself it was only temporary that it would be over soon.  I started to meditate and do visualizations which added a new level to the workout.  I would process and balance frustrations or negative thought patterns that were haunting me.

Time passed and presently, I am up to 25 minutes which Dr. Mercola says is a optimum time to work out in this interval way.  Free weights for 20 minutes then off to the sauna.  I am devoted as a daily practice to show up 5 days a week.  This is a commitment I have made to myself for my physical and mental health.  It is a conscious decision.  The results are: I feel like I can fit back into my clothing, I am stronger physically so my energy is also reflective of that. I sleep the best ever and I am joyful.

When times are challenging, I am off for “Me Time” at the gym or a walk.  When I engage in physical activity it moves the energy of congestion, stagnation or frustration. Physically, if we get the flow happening then trust that on an emotional, mental level it will occur as well.  As a colleague of mine states, “We are a bag of hormones” and he is right.

I do practice the intermittent fasting Dr. Mercola refers to, fasting for 12-16 hours then eating between a 6-7 hour period.  Ideally, I work out in the a.m. preferably then eat by noon to 7 and challenge myself to stay away from the “carb pig out” at night.  A glass of water by the bed helps as many nights I reach out in hunger.  This is an old eating habit and if I fall off the wagon… oh, well tomorrow is another day…to get it right. My adopted philosophy; “Tomorrow is another day”.  Self forgiveness and self love, is the practice of compassion for the “oops” I choose to make in my life. That gives me permission to move forward.  Rather than the unhealthy decision to get into some self flogging and spin my proverbial self judging dialogue.   The “should a, would a, could a”, spin in my head.

Here is where I sit now…In reflection: Cultivating a new body is like tending a garden: planting the seeds with a vision, nurturing them with self love, compassion, patience, gentleness, trusting that one’s daily practice with will power will create a beautiful harvest.  There will be thunderstorms and drought but with forward positive movement it will give you the “Yes Feeling”.  Lovin’ the good stuff!

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/journey-into-healthy-lifestyle-from-sedentary-surgery/

Gems for Healthy Living: Updated Jan.2017

As time goes by, new research comes forward where we, as humble practitioners, have to open our minds and embrace new findings.  This is lovely for it allows us to explore new concepts.  I see my body/life as a research station allowing me to explore what works and what doesn’t.   I set the intention to be the best I can in reaching my full potential so why would I ever settle with complacency.

Clients of mine keep asking me,”What do I do to be so vibrant and positive. Can you write it down for us”. This is how I began sharing it with them. “Gems for Healthy Living” an ebooklet free off my website.

Here’s the new stuff:

Please keep drinking great water which less than 100 ppm.  Get your heart rate bouncing 20 minutes a day or at least 4-5 times a week, and cultivate a positive perspective everyday of your life.

Vitamin B-12 and D sprays from www.mercola.com are very effective.  They work together to make Melatonin in our bodies that help induce sleep.  When we become 45 years plus it becomes a valuable commodity let alone blissful, when we can sleep through the night.  I used the spray for 3 months then got my blood palate done.  It reflected that I was at a maximum for Vita. D and my vita.B 12 count was normal. This has been something I have struggled with for years.  B 12 shots can help with energy and vitality.

Coconut oil is still proving the wonder of all.  As a medium fat chain getting digested in the stomach provides and ease in our digestion.  Supports flexibility in the skin, tissues and helps counteract inflammation. I buy mine at  www.alphahealth.ca. A Vancouver company who has great integrity. Their MCT/Coconut oil formula has globally been recognized with its effects on Alzheimer and the brain.  Oil Pulling with DME coconut Oil from Alpha Health.

Fermented Food is a great way to replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system.  Kimchi, Sauerkraut, salsa are a few.  

Squatty Potty.com is a site providing us with the science why squatting is still the best position to be  in when having a bowel movement.  You still are seated on the potty but you place feet on a step stool which brings the knees up to your chest. Watch the 4 minute video and you may have an “AHA” moment.

Intermittent Fasting and Interval Training is some new concepts to explore for rebooting your system to burn fat. Research articles at www.mercola.com

Earthing endorses  the positive aspect to our deep need to walk barefoot, bobbing in the ocean.  It reconnects out magnetics helping reduce inflammation which is the culprit to many diseases. Research articles can be found on Mercola’s site as well.

The concept of Healing Water is defined as Liquid Crystal by Dr. Carla Nubay and myself.  Structured Water and Phase 4 Water are other names for it. Dr. Pollack, Dr. Patrick Flanigan and Water Liberty.com.  It supports Dr. Emoto’s work that water is a consciousness that is responsive on many levels.  Please research.       

Oral health is a new horizon for me.  www.youngliving.com has an oral health program with essential oils that is effective.  The magic of swishing with Magnesium oil is worth it for me. I had some teeth root pain and within 24 hours it was gone.  Harvested from deep within the Earth it targets calming the nerves.  Great for muscles that jump in the night. Spray it on or swish it. Baking soda rinse at night will restore a healthy alkaline PH balance in the night when mouths acidity can have adverse effects on teeth health. Coconut Oil pulling for 10-15 minutes has its benefits.

“Gut” Health is vital.  Research shows that our immunity depends on a healthy digestive system supporting serotonin production.  Findings are linking some psychological disorders as well as physical to poor digestive health. I take a Complete Probiotic in the am.

Please do your own research on the www.mercola.com site.  What I admire about Dr. Mercola is that he has devoted his life to what works and is open to evolve.  Our bodies are changing like the stressors/enviroment we live in.  He gathers and hosts ground breaking individuals from around the world and shares their information.  You may want to entertain his articles on intermittent fasting.  His team have discovered that 20 mins. a day with interval intensity training is all one needs with a light weight workout 3 times a week.

Regarding food, I have been doing the intermittent fasting, have become vegan, and limit my grains intake.  Reaching for a  protein source will curb the sweet cravings with some yummy sauteed veggies in coconut oil atop of some fresh organic greens. Fermented veggies as sauerkraut, salsas, chutneys, Miso, pickles, etc. are great for digestion. “Hungry for Change” a movie available on Netflix is a great education.  Validating the harmful effects of processed food: white sugar, white flour,fat free syndrome and the obesity/disease issues our population is facing.

“When in doubt drink water”, is still a mantra of mine. It supports hydration  detoxing, and I feel lighter within myself.

In Reflection: How much time do you spend goggling the “good” stuff?  Spend a few minutes a day and you may realize your choices change.  Gift yourself! 

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/gems-for-healthy-living-updates/

Divine Soup and Wine Series: #10 Roasted Jalapeno, Butternut Squash and Yam in coconut milk

Roasted Jalapeno, Butternut squash and Yam Soup with Coconut milk

Inspiring Dinner

Roast the Butternut Squash face down in a pan of water, Poke the Yam with a fork a few times and 2 Jalapeno Green peppers at 350 degrees F for one hour.  Check and extend time if squash and yams are still hard.

Sauté in a tall soup pan 3 T. coconut oil with 1 white onion

Add roasted veggies and heat with a low temperature for 30 minutes. This allows the heat and flavors to come together. Cool and blend in a blender returning to the soup pot.  Add salt, pepper and one can of coconut milk.

If is a bit too spicy I treat it as a concentrate and add water when I want to reheat it for dinner.

I am excited to share that a dollop of green Mexican salsa or a few Falafel balls make it sublime.  Sour cream would also cut some of the heat.

Enjoy paired with a lovely South African, Chenin Blanc, 2010 the den, from Painted Wolf.   The Painted Wolf, also known as the African Wild Dog is one of the most social animals. The Den forms the heart of the pack. Often to be found in the dappled shade of the African bush.  The den is a place to feel secure, relax and bond with friends and family.  It is vibrant zesty and full bodied.

The expansive fruit cuts some of the heat.


Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/divine-soup-and-wine-series-10-roasted-jalapeno-butternut-squash-and-yam-in-coconut-milk/

New Year Blessings for Brilliance and Joy

The natural spiral of Love

As this year comes to an end my mother passed peacefully in her sleep December 30.2012.   She battled with Parkinson’s for several years.

Many conversations were about embracing the transition of death.  As those transitioned around her it opened a doorway to discuss her fears around this natural process.  I knew that the birth process was possibly the most difficult and that in death there was a ease and grace.

When I was birthing my daughter, I had the experience of rising out of my body and feeling the intense love and enveloping of peace…I was thrown back into my body to greet the pain and contractions of labor.  Received as a blessing I knew it was not time to exit this world.

The early hours of the morning when my mother passed I had intense throbbing pain in my heart.  I did what I knew and breathed into my heart in hope to relax it.  As I expanded the breath in my heart it expanded to what I felt went on forever.  The vastness was something I had never experienced before.  My body, as I checked in, did not feel like my own.  Thin and tiny is what I felt.  As I continued to breath, with that focus of expansion, I felt a cool wind at my side and a touch of a hand on my forearm.  It surprised me.  In reflection, I wish I could have stopped and talked with her. The experience was enough.  I gently fell back into sleep at 4:45 am until I was awoken by a phone call from my father that My mother, Helen had passed in her sleep. It all made sense to me.

I made my way to my parents home, where my mother was still lying in bed until all the siblings arrived.  The physical was no representation to who she was in my life.  As she was removed from her home, by the funeral home, a circle of love was made by joining hands and saying a gentle prayer.  It was very moving.

The following night a slight ache in my heart arose me at 3 am.  I acknowledged it and asked her to fill me with support.  I have continually talked with her and do feel her energy in communion with me. The energy that fills me is almost intoxicating.  A new journey with her has begun.  As she birthed me,  it feels I have helped birth her in some way. Magic is afoot and I am open and ready to embrace it. So may this New Year grace you with continued brilliance and joy.

Love you Mom.


In Reflection:  How often does fear stop the beauty and magic of life from filling our lives.     

Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/new-year-blessings-for-brilliance-and-joy/

Stepping out to make “Dreams Come True”


Transformations:scars Graced with Art

Transformations:Scars graced with Art

A letter to Leonord Nimoy via his art gallery manager….

I am a single mother,therapist,writer,actress…but I write to you in celebration, as a woman, whose 52 year journey of being an orthopedic patient has come to a close.

I was born with congenital hip deformities.  At the age of 5, I had my first operation.  Severe osteo-arthritis at the age of 14 then its affects were accelerated after the birth of my one and only child Alycia. I was cripple within 2 years, using 2 canes to get me down the block.

The upswing to this story is that I found a brilliant compassionate orthopedic surgeon who gifted me with 2 new hips in the year 1996 at the age of 36, three years after Aly was born.  I rejoiced in the celebration of movement and the freedom of discovering what it felt like to walk effortlessly.

Since then I have had another 6 operations that revised the old hardware after mishaps of falling and breaking bones.

At the age of 52, I am 1 year out of my last operation and feel like a new woman.  I know now that the journey of 52 years as an orthopedic patient has come to an end and I celebrate every day.

As a therapist/artist I put together with Don Petersen, owner of One World Samurai Tattoo, a presentation in artsPeak 2011,  “Transformations:Scars graced with Art”, with the intention of holding a light for others in the journey of adversity.   It includes photos of breakage in a light box of X-rays, the scars, and then the beauty of artwork, tattoos, gracing the physical site.  After interviewing each person in the exhibit, I shared their insights into life in a short poem format.   Our models were a 24 year old man who had open heart surgery, hip replacements, extreme mountain biker/artist who severed his creative arm and a cutter.  We created a 20 page I Mac Booklet as well.

This project, I truly feel is moving and joyful.  It has the potential to reach out globally.  In sharing my idea, Leonard Nimoy’s name came up a few times.  I finally went onto his website and all that rang true in my heart was “Yes”we have a synergy and similar purpose.

I want to co create this piece, “Transformations, Scars graced with Art” with Leonard.  I feel bold in saying this, but it would be a dream come true for me.

In Reflection: This letter was written in a inspired moment.  It is about worthiness.  Embrace your guidance with trust and know that we are all human beings who suffer and that our compassionate true nature drives us to make our dreams come true.  I hope that my stepping forward allows you to do so in your life.         

Many thanks to Richard Alan Brown Photographer: www.richardbrownphoto.ca


Permanent link to this article: https://karenbarker.ca/stepping-out-to-make-dreams-come-true/