Diana Bletter: Today I welcome Karen Casey, author of Each Day a New Beginning, A Woman’s Spirit, Let Go Now, and more than a dozen books on spirituality. I have cherished my dog-eared, torn, ripped, scribbled-on copy of Each Day a New Beginning which my sister gave me in 1983. Karen, you wrote that book anonymously and I never thought I’d get to find out who you were. In it, you wrote, “Please accept each day’s meditation as an offering of my hand to you.” Over the years, I have felt your guiding presence and I thank you now. You have passed on to me so much strength. Had you written anything before you wrote that first book?
Karen Casey: I had loved writing as a child. And I had written a 300 page dissertation for my Ph.D. But no other books. I did discover in graduate school, before getting sober, that writing was a transformative experience for me. I loved writing every paper I was assigned to write. I never fretted over them. Words seemed to flow. It’s hard to explain.
Diana Bletter: One of the tools you write about is detachment. This is such a challenging concept for some people because we’re raised to believe that being selfish was a bad thing. You write that detachment “allows us to live our own journey and respect the journey of others too, embracing the knowledge that our greatest gift to one another is to let one another ‘go’ to learn what they are here to learn without out our interference.” It seems like a habit we have to unlearn. What are some tools people can use to practice detaching?
Karen Casey: In regards to detachment, it’s a mindset that must be developed. When one comes to believe that letting others go is an act of love, it becomes easy. I always tell people I work with to practice “stepping aside,” both literally and figuratively. Adjusting to the gift of powerlessness, which is another way of thinking about detachment, makes it a sought-after quality. It truly is the mindset I most favor.
Diana Bletter: Your book, Cultivating Hope, explores how, “amidst personal tragedy and the turmoil of world events, many of us struggle to sustain a sense of hope…” Can you give us an example of one principle that helps people develop a positive outlook?
Karen Casey: My own spirituality developed over time, of course. I listened to others. I read what worked for others and I grew in my belief that every event was intentional and God inspired. I chose to believe this. Believing in God and the perfect journey is far easier than not believing it. My desire for a peaceful life makes my choices pretty easy. I won’t lie and say I live in a state of constant peace, but I always know that when I’m in a state of dis-ease, it’s because I’m in someone else’s business. As one of my Al-Anon buddies says, “there’s two kinds of business: my business and none of my business.” The spiritual state of my life is directly the result of my silliness to let others live THEIR JOURNEY.
Diana Bletter: I love how you write that you will “never be done writing or speaking or connecting with each one of you in whatever way I can. So even though we may never meet in person, connecting here is a way we can both feel the presence of God.” This is such a powerful concept. I know you helped me when you wrote the following: “Our higher power will help us do whatever task lies before us. And no task will be ours except those for which we’ve been readied. Our job is simply to go forth, taking God as our partner, and set about completing the task.” I can’t tell you how many times I repeated these sentences to myself before I had to do something scary – including riding my motorcycle to Alaska. Those words became my prayer. Can you explore your concept of spirituality?
Karen Casey: A positive outlook is first and foremost a decision, I think. Personally, I have believed for many years that everything that happens is designed for our ultimate well-being. I also believe that all experiences are the follow-through of the “sacred contracts” we made with other souls before being born into these lives we are living. I want to be clear that before recovery I didn’t believe this. In fact, prior to recovery I lived in a perpetual state of poor me. Hope is a guarantee if we choose to believe that nothing is simply coincidence. And that there is no such thing as bad luck. There are just lessons that move us forward.
Diana Bletter: Finally, this blog explores how we live and write our best chapter. I remind myself that I need to take care of myself in the Big Four each day: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. What are some of the ways you take care of yourself each day?
Karen Casey: I’m committed to exercise. I’m committed to eating healthy. But first and foremost, I’m committed to my spiritual life. I am part of a conference call every morning with a group of women. We share a spiritual reading and discuss what it means to us. I also read a spiritual text with my husband every morning. We discuss what it means to us too. Having a spiritual direction every morning is key to my positive state of mind. And most days I do some writing on a book, my blog or plans for a future activity. I need structure and my spiritual activities offer that structure. Thank you!
Check out Karen Casey’s books and the posts on her blog. She has so many sentences that seem effortless and yet are so plump with meaning. Here’s one I came across the other day that I’ll end with:
How we were never kept us from becoming who we wanted to be. This truth continues to reign in our lives.
Excellent post, Diana.
Karen, your perspective on detachment is superb! Thank you.
Thanks for your comment, Marylin. I note a typo I made in my response to the “cultivating hope question.” I must have said “silliness” in the last line when I meant WILLINNGNESS. Quite a difference. Made me laugh.