Albert Schweitzer had a profound influence on me after I read about him and his remarkable work. His philosophy of Reverence for Life filled me as a teenager with fervor to also have great respect, love, and kindness to all beings, human and animal. Like him, I then decided to someday be a doctor and help those in need in Africa. His work was beneficial, nurturing, humane, and tried to beautify the lives he touched.
I did not become a doctor nor have I traveled to Africa, yet I have served people as a nurse, therapist, and volunteer. To have reverence for life means to enjoy and be grateful for every human, animal, flower, tree, or any other gift from God, and to show love, kindness, and respect to every human life. Life is a sacred gift that should not be taken for granted, abused or wasted.
We do not have to be just in Africa to serve the needs of people. Those who would benefit from our unconditional service are often “just next door.” Give someone a smile, a greeting, or an offer to help. These are meaningful and simple ways to share help and kindness to others.
I grew up in a house of all kinds of abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual.
My parents were not able to give me any praise. I was accused of tracing my artwork, which I had not done; of having feet too big for a girl; and of being “skinny Annie.” They ridiculed me for wanting to become a doctor saying, “You are not smart enough.” Somewhere in their lives they did not learn to have a reverence for life, to forgive those who had hurt them, and how to step out of their cocoons. It is interesting that it was my grandparents, their parents, who praised and encouraged me always supporting my dreams.
Sexual abuse by my step-father began when I was in my early teens, which reinforced that I was not worthy. I believed that I was at fault. I carried guilt, shame, and worthlessness until I was in my twenties. I had never told anyone about the abuse. My then college boyfriend asked the Episcopal priest to talk to me. “Casey (my nickname) is a good person but I think some awful things have happened to her.” Bravely I told Father Pat about the different abuses and over time he helped me to see that I was a worthy, beautiful, and giving person. Father Pat promised he would protect me; that God loved me; and that I needed to forgive others and myself. He wrapped his arms around me and led me towards the path of forgiveness.
I shared with him about Albert Schweitzer and his book, Reverence for Life. I remember he smiled and said I was wise and full of love “and someday your parents will see the real you.”
One’s life is about learning lessons. I believe that the hardest lesson for many of us to learn is that of forgiveness. I never want to forget the events of my life, especially the most unhappy or hurtful ones. I want to continue to use them as lessons to be shared with others in hopes of helping those in pain or suffering. Forgiveness means releasing the anger, hurt, and pain; to free oneself from the power of the person or event; and to send out love.
I received a degree in human services after getting my registered nurse license. I then went on an earned a master’s degree in human development with a minor in psychology. I became a licensed therapeutic massage therapist, trained in biofeedback, certified in acupressure, and certified counselor. I developed my own nursing service called Kare ‘N Touch and helped clients with a variety of issues. These clients had a history of abuse, issues of anger and bitterness, low self-esteem, or marital unhappiness. Most of them were able to forgive, learn, and grow after a period of time. They had left their cocoon and become butterflies.
For most of my young life I felt like the caterpillar that thought her life was over. Thanks to Father Pat, my grandparents, and others I became a butterfly. A Biblical verse that helped me become a butterfly was John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him while it is light, for the night cometh when no man can work.” Then in what seemed like a brief moment of time, the full realization of the gift of life and God’s love for me came alive in the very depths of my being.
We can each be like butterflies deepening our lives and those of each person with whom we become in touch. “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” (Albert Schweitzer)
Please note: Karen is a passionate advocate for women’s health and will provide a copy of her book, Outshine, An Ovarian Cancer Memoir to anyone who would like to contact her or leave their email in the comments.
Or you could buy a copy… as all proceeds from the book go to gynecologic cancer research.
Outshine was the winner of the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards in the the category of women’s health and was placed in the top three for the Independent Publisher Book Award of 2012.
About Karen Ingalls
I might be a retired RN, but I am an active and enthusiastic writer of non-fiction and fiction. It took a few years before I was willing to show that deeper part of myself. I love to get lost in the world of my novels and let the creative juices flow. I have written several articles for medical and nursing journals. I enjoy researching and discovering new information.
I enjoy writing for my two blogs (www.outshineovariancancer.blogspot.com and http://www.kareningalls.blogspot.com). The first one is about health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer. My second blog is for authors and avid readers who wish to be interviewed, do a guest blog, and be promoted. I have “met” so many interesting and enchanting people, who have done guest posts for me; or those around the world who follow my blogs and leave comments.
I was thrilled and honored to be recognized as a runner-up at the Midwest Book Awards and then receiving first place in the category of “women’s health” at the National Indie Excellence Awards.
The greatest reward is when a reader shares how my book(s) inspired them, taught them something, or brought a deeper awareness about life.
My first novel, Novy’s Son is about one man’s search for his father’s love and acceptance. It is based on my father and those men I counseled when I was a nurse therapist.
Davida is my second novel which is a fictionalized biography about the love affair between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his model. He was the premier sculptor from 1880 through the early 1900’s. These two people just happen to be my great-grandparents.
(All photographs by Karen Ingalls)
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Books by Karen Ingalls
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When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage IIC ovarian cancer, she realized ho little she knew about what is called “the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, she redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality. In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that “the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radian. It is a story of survival and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.
“Very well written. Karen Ingalls is amazing.” Extract of Amazon review
From his early childhood, Murray Clark sought love and acceptance from his father, who was raised as the bastard child of a famous artist. Murray struggled with jealousy toward his younger brothers, and he questioned the morals and values of people around him.
As an adult, Matthew lived life his way, with years of lying, womanizing, and heavy drinking. Though married four times, did he ever find unconditional love? Would Murray’s high intelligence, his love for his two daughters, and his unique philosophy of life help him rise above his demons?
“Ingalls kept this reader turning pages eager to discover whether and/or how a self-absorbed, egomaniac who blames every unfortunate event in his life on everyone else—especially God—might turn his life around and become happier person because of it.” Extract of a review by Bette A. Stevens
This is the story of the love affair between Davida Johnson Clark and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. She was his model for such works as Diana, Amor Caritas and other sculptures. From the 1880’s to the early 1900’s he was America’s premier and most famous sculptor. They had one son. Though they never married they shared unconditional love for one another for more than twenty years. Little is known about Davida so the author has fictionalized her biographical information except the works for which she posed.
“Part of the beauty in the writing is the feelings the story invoked in me. Only the most talented writers can do that.” Extract of Amazon review by Erika.