Author Archives: karenrsanderson

Our favorite things… best friends, perfect gifts

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Elizabeth’s Journal, covers

Elizabeth’s “Favorite Things” Journal

Elizabeth and I met years ago, via LinkedIn. We exchanged greetings, shared some feelings, shared our love of family, writing and blogging, nature. And the friendship grew.

For years, we corresponded via emails and Facebook, we partnered on a little blog sharing, etc. We enjoyed numerous phone calls. And the friendship grew.

We encouraged each other, nagged each other occasionally, counseled each other. We celebrated our accomplishments, lamented our troubles.

Years and years of correspondence, about a thousand emails, dozens of telephone conversations…

Sharkies Conference in Delaware

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Sharkies Conference

We progressed to the point that in 2016, we met for a writers’ conference at my brother and sis-in-law’s house in Newark, Delaware. This was the first time Elizabeth and I met each other face to face, and we were immediately comfortable.

When I decided to create my poetry collection, Elizabeth worked with me to make this collection beautiful and ready for publication. Without her, my No Boundaries poetry collection would not have made it to fruition.


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Porch at Shrine Mont

Shrine Mont

Later, Elizabeth invited me to her writers’ conference at Shrine Mont in Virginia. And I knew I HAD to go.

This conference was a re-affirming of our friendship, and it touched me deeply. A culminating event was walking the labyrinth at Shrine Mont with Elizabeth and other new friends, met at the conference.

A special gift

I met Alyssa and Dan Sharbono (Couple of Artists) at an event at Minot State University in North Dakota. They make custom, recycled-material journals, and I knew that this is what I needed to get for Elizabeth. She’s a journal-writing junkie, and I could customize a journal with the help of Alyssa and Dan. What a perfect partnership!

While talking to Alyssa about what this journal meant to me and what it would mean to Elizabeth, I teared up a few times. Alyssa understood how special this gift would be. I selected several of my own personal photos and screen shots, and with Alyssa’s help, created a most beautiful journal for my special friend.

In the journal, I included…

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Labyrinth at Shrine Mont

  • A pic of a few of us at the Sharkies conference in Delaware (with my goofy brother photo-bombing)
  • The Shrine Mont labyrinth from our retreat weekend
  • A vintage photo of a country doctor (a nod to Elizabeth’s country-doctor husband John)
  • A photo of me at a covered bridge that Elizabeth took on the way home from Shrine Mont
  • Elizabeth’s Heartspoken blog banner (shamelessly copied from her site)
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Me at the covered bridge


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Elizabeth’s Heartspoken banner

The front cover of our custom journal is a photo of Elizabeth and John’s house – I had to ask Elizabeth for that photo with instructions to “just send it, it’s for a special surprise.”

The back cover is a vintage map of Elizabeth’s beloved Shenandoah Valley.

When I sent the journal, I enclosed a few thoughts…

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Please take a moment to read Elizabeth’s companion piece

about this special journal at

Do you need an awesome diary or journal?

Do you need a special journal for a special someone? Click on these links for Couple of Artists –

Facebook page for their gallery/studio space, 62 Doors Gallery and Studios –

Quoted from Elizabeth’s partner blog –

Share your favorite gift or favorite things 

A gift can be special for a million different reasons, and your list of favorite things is likely to be entirely different from mine. But I’d love to hear about any memorable gifts you’ve received and why they’ve touched your heart. And I’d also love to hear about your favorite things on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Just use the hashtag #FavoriteThings and #Heartspoken.

See this link also – Gretchen Rubin Happier Podcast

***** ***** *****

What’s the most special, most memorable gift you ever received?


Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles

Are you a diet saboteur?

with Karen Magill

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I try to maintain a certain weight (145-150) and any time I see myself inching over 150, I tighten my belt…pun intended.

After having lost about 25 pounds many years ago, I don’t want to have to put myself through that again. I figure it’s easier to lose a few pounds than try to lose 25…or more.

Marching band diet

I take pride in the fact that my typical weight now is just 10 pounds over my high school weight. I was 135 in high school, but that was with drilling every dang day in marching band.Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.06.29 PM.png

Currently, some of my friends and acquaintances are trying to undermine my resolve. I’m nearly at the point where I’m considering avoiding certain social situations just so I don’t have to face these saboteurs.

Karen Magill has heard these comments –

  • Its what’s on the inside that counts
  • You aren’t that heavy
  • Enjoy life, eat that ____________
  • You’re over fifty, you are supposed to be heavier
  • You can’t look like you did when you were in your twenties
  • I worked so hard to make….
  • You only live once

These are all sabotages (whether you realize it or not) to whatever us dieters are turning down at the time. If a person hears this a few times a day, the resolve starts to crack.

My advice

  • If a friend tells you she is dieting, don’t wave a plate of brownies under her nose.
  • If a friend tells you she is cutting back, don’t say “oh, just one won’t hurt you” or other dismissals.
  • If a friend tells you she is trying to lose a few, don’t suggest the everything-fried buffet for lunch.
  • And for the love of all that is holy, can somebody please bring a fruit tray to work once in a while?

Support the dieting friend. Offer alternatives, like the nice place with the salad bar. Don’t wave cake, brownies, cookies, or donuts under her nose. Have a healthy recipe exchange. Offer to take a walk at break time. Don’t taunt or tease your dieting friend!

I live alone, so this problem I don’t have – if someone in your live-in family says he/she is cutting back, support them. Agree to keep the junk food out of the house. Support him or her in their choices and try new, healthier foods. And hey, you might lose a few yourself.

Here are some links I found helpful about saboteurs.

From WebMD

From Spark People

From U. S. News

From Prevention


Have YOU been a saboteur?


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Transgender interview with a young friend – Charlie

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 5.21.52 PMNote – Charlie is 12 y.o. I have conducted the entirety of these interviews through and with the approval of his grandmother, his guardian, through her email.


Interview with Charlie

You were called a ____Girl______ (girl/boy) at birth. 

When did you decide your assigned gender was not correct?

Honestly, kind of my whole life, but I really knew when I was about 7 or 8. 

What did you do? How did you act? Give me a little background about the “processing” of your thoughts and feelings.

I sort of always knew I was male. Calling me a girl is like calling a wolf a cat. 

Parents typically assign toys, clothes, and such for the gender they think you are. How has that changed? What hasn’t changed?

It’s not really a change, they usually got me girly toys but I never played with them. I always stole my uncle’s toys (we grew up together) and played with those instead. 

What do you enjoy, and what do you do for fun?

Writing, playing guitar, listening to music, jogging, reading manga and watching anime (I’m an otaku). (Editor’s note – a style of Japanese film and television animation)

Did you change your style of dress? Your habits?

I never really dressed like a girl except for the times my dad or mom made me. And my habits were never that of a girl’s. 

Did you talk to your parents, relatives, friends?

Yeah, I talked to my mom and my grandma first. I always tried to tell my dad that I wanted to be a boy, but he just said I didn’t know what I wanted. 

Was that a hard thing to do, talk to people about it?

Not really, my mom and grandma always saw me dress like a boy and act like one, so weren’t too shocked when I told them. 

How did people react to your decision? Give me a couple of examples.

Like I said, my mom and grandma weren’t too shocked but they were still surprised. And I don’t blame them. My dad never listened to me and said that I didn’t know what I wanted. 

Have you decided to change your gender … in dress alone? All the way, with surgery?

Absolutely, I want nothing more than to get on testosterone and get the surgery as soon as I can. 

How far along are you in your transition?

I’m (hopefully) getting on testosterone next week and I’m super excited so I wouldn’t say I’m extremely far along but I’m at least almost halfway there. (Editor’s note – Charlie has started testosterone)

How do you deal with the derisions and jokes, teasing and bullying?

I usually don’t let it get to me. Those people are just trying to get me to stoop down to their level because they’re too bored with their own lives. But if it gets too bad, I’ll sic my grandma on them. 

What is the best thing that ever happened to you – regarding your transition – with a word of support from a family member or friend?

Probably my grandma doing all of the things she’s doing just to get me on testosterone. I’m extremely lucky to have her. 

What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you – regarding your transition – bad words spoken to you by horrible people or stuff people said to you, those who just don’t understand or refuse to accept you?

Nothing too bad yet except for all of times my dad didn’t listen to me and made me constantly wear dresses. 

What advice would you give to others who think they might need to transition?

I’d say “Go for it, be yourself. If that’s what you really want then you do it, and don’t let the stupid bigots of the world bring you down.” 

I have interviewed a few other trans people. One said something like, it’s not what the haters say but what your friends and family say that hurt the most. What do you have to say about that?

It’s probably true, I’ve never had it that bad except for all the times my dad argued with me over it. 

As a straight woman, I want to know, what can we do to advocate for transgender without looking or acting like butt-heads?

Get some LGBT people on your team, and as long as you are not insulting people of the LGBT community, the smart people should take no offense. 

You are very young, Charlie. How can you be sure this is what you want?

I’ve known pretty much my whole life, I’ve had 12 whole years to change my mind and nothing’s changed. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my whole life.

_______________________________ ***

Resources provided by the Darcy Jeda Corbett Foundation.

US Resources, by state:

US State and Territory Resources


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Interview with a transgender friend – Darcy

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You were called a boy (girl/boy) at birth.

When did you decide your assigned gender was not correct?

I don’t know if there was a specific moment of decision. More an awareness from a very early age that something was not right. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I began to question the veracity of the identity foisted upon me at birth and throughout the first two decades of my life.

Parents typically assign toys, clothes, and such for the gender they think you are. Were you conflicted as a child?

I did feel conflicted. I was exclusively a girl in my inner thoughts and self-play. I would pretend others saw me as a girl.

Give me a little background about the “processing” of your thoughts and feelings that something was not quite right.

Honestly, I repressed my feeling of dissonance regarding my gender. This repression led me to binge eat from middle childhood onward. Later, in middle school and high school, I repressed even my inner life as a girl. This ld to intense depression and thoughts of suicide.

When you started to realize something was not quite right, did you talk to your parents, relatives, friends?

No. I never spoke to my family or friends about this as a child. When I was an adult, I did talk to supportive friends and eventually came out to my family.

Was that a hard thing to do, talk to people about it?

At first it was hard. The more you come out the easier it becomes to do it.

How did people react to your decision?

Reactions varied. Most of my friends were like “yeah, I know.” My supervisor at work wasn’t surprised, “I’m a Clinical Psychologist, Darcy,” she said, “I’ve known for a while.” My dad was furious. He told me I was ridiculous and would never be a woman.

How did you/do you deal with the derisions and jokes, teasing and bullying?

I cried myself to sleep a lot. Still do. I started binge-eating again pretty heavily. I would stand in the kitchen and literally inhale food to deal with the stress. I gained 200 lbs post coming out. After four years of therapy, I’ve learned to self-sooth in healthy ways. I take long walks. I actually started my nonprofit as a coping mechanism. Writing support articles for other transgender people made me feel as if the suffering was worth it. It’s still hard. Honestly, I am sad most of the time even though I come across as really cheerful and happy. If you see me working myself to death chances are I am miserable and trying to cope.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you – regarding your transition – with a word of support from a family member or friend?

I rediscovered the things I love about myself. I have a very healthy relationship with myself, and getting to know her every day is a major blessing.

What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you – regarding your transition – bad words spoken to you by horrible people or stuff people said to you, those who just don’t understand or refuse to accept you?

A lot of bad things happened to me. I was homeless for a few months. I’ve had to do things I didn’t want to do to survive. I think the worst part is the loneliness. It eats away at me like a cancer. Friendships can be touch and go sometimes. Family relationships are awkward, and I often have to sacrifice my needs to maintain them. Romantic relationships are out of the question. Can you imagine having to disclose the state of your genitalia to potential partners prior to the first date? I do because I don’t want to end up dead in a dumpster after a date gone wrong. It’s humiliating. I’ve had several men interested in me who either run after they find out I’m trans, want just an emotional relationship, or play out some sick fantasy with me and use me like an object. Honestly, this is the worst part of my life post-coming out. I’m a 25-year-old woman, and I’ve barely had a relationship. What I have had has been terrible, soul-crushing, and frankly abusive.

What advice would you give to others who think they might need to transition?

Surround yourself with social support. Find a good therapist. Visit my website

I have interviewed several other trans people. One said something like, it’s not what the haters say but what your friends and family say that hurt the most. What do you have to say about that?

When you truly love yourself, it hurts when anybody rejects you or says bad things about you. It’s like if someone said something awful about your partner or sibling…you’d hurt. It is especially hard when family rejects you.

What can we do to advocate for transgender without looking or acting like butt-heads? Any advice for allies who might elect to stand up for a transgender person?

Listen and continue to educate yourself. My website has an entire section devoted to educating allies (

I heard once in an LGBT forum that LG&B don’t treat T with respect on occasions. Have you experienced this?

All the time. There is rampant transphobia and misogyny in the LGBTQ+ community. I have cis gay men challenge me all the time in regards to gender identity. We are consistently ignored and silenced. I’ve endured countless vigils for victims of anti-LGBTQ+ violence where there were no transgender people asked to speak (we experience the most violence) or where there were subtle jokes about transgender people. It’s disgusting.

What about 45s latest announcement that he doesn’t want to allow Transgender in the military?

The President needs to learn to think before he Tweets and to seek wise counsel. His views are not based on empirical data or a sound understanding of the law.

When did you start your foundation? Tell us a little bit about why you started your foundation, and how, and where, etc.

I’ve been doing advocacy work since 2012/13. When I moved to ND, I started doing it more fervently and strategically. I spent the better part of two years writing support articles for my personal website, and a friend encouraged me to develop it into a nonprofit. We launched in January 2017. My foundation is taking the money I’ve earned speaking and consulting (and money we receive from donors) and using it to maintain the site and provide grants to assist transgender people with transition expenses. We are also able to provide administrative support to other transgender, nonbinary, gender queer, gender fluid, gender nonconforming people who want to have their own outreach project but don’t want to go through the hassle of managing their own organization. I’ve been very lucky to get to where I am. I am really successful for a transgender person, and I have gotten to where I am really quickly. My successes, my ability to support myself means nothing to me if I cannot use that privilege to pull other people out of the hell I lived in for such a long time.


Resources provided by the Darcy Jeda Corbett Foundation.

North Dakota Resources:

US Resources, by state:



Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Interview with a transgender friend – Kadan

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 5.21.52 PMTo better understand each other, we just need to talk to each other.

I started transgender interviews with the idea that I could better understand transgender, just for myself. But I think sharing these interviews might help more people understand better. This is one interview in a series.

The following is in response to interview questions I sent to Kadan Kaej (pronounced Kay-den Cage). Kadan is a North Dakota native and a former student of Minot State University. He will be furthering his education at North Dakota University in Grand Forks this fall with Majors in History and Accounting.


From Kadan…

I’m glad to answer any and all questions you may have! I believe that keeping people informed on LGBTQ+ topics is vital for communities to allow better relations between topics, issues, and people.

I am a transman, and I was:

Born a girl – though in the trans community many state AFAB (assigned female at birth) or AMAB (assigned male at birth).

I never really ‘decided’ my gender wasn’t correct. It wasn’t a “one moment I’m a girl/the next moment I’m a boy.” It was more of a general understanding that I didn’t fit into the standard gendered norms. It was not so much a decision, but, instead, I was just trying to be myself and show my own personality.

As for what I did, this too plays into the idea of just being myself. Meaning, I acted like those around me. If kids around me were playing rough, I’d play rough too; if they were playing some made-up fantasy game, I was ready to play some adventuring hero or evil villain. It wasn’t so much that I’d only stick to “boys only/girls only” games but to wherever I felt I fit in and was most comfortable.

As for dress, I definitely limited my style to keep away from overly feminine clothing. The older I got the more picky I became because I realized how important what you wear defines you as a person to others. Wanting to stay away from looking like a girl I chose to wear baggier clothing to hide my chest (and dresses and skirts were the absolute worst). Now, I recognize that clothing can be a part of anybody’s style regardless of their gender. So shout out to anybody who can rock a dress and a nice pair of heels!

I have never talked with my parents about these issues or any other LGBTQ+ issues that I have faced. Friends were and still are my go-to people for support and discussion. My family isn’t very accepting of LGBTQ+ so topics like this are never brought up in our conversations.

I am currently in the beginning stages of taking HRT, with me being at around four months in, and I am soon going to look into official name changes/gender identifiers on legal documents, plus I will look into both Top and Bottom surgery.

Dealing with bigoted, rude people – You don’t know who are making jokes, in my opinion, is a lot easier than dealing with people you do know. You can always try and avoid strangers and ignore/block their comments, but you can’t necessarily do that with those close to you. I feel it’s also a bigger toll when you hear something hurtful from someone you thought you could trust and talk with. Hearing them say something may put the thought into your head – “Should I keep trusting this person when they use it against me? If this is what they say to my face, what are they saying behind my back?” In general, if I hear crude comments or jokes from people close to me, I feel uneasy around them and take more caution in what I say around them.

The best thing happening to me in regards to transition, I’d say it would be the support I have received from friends and others in the community. Both have made me feel like I can work toward the goals I have for myself and the motivation to help others in the same situation as me.


Advice from Kadan – If you make a mistake in pronouns with a transgender person, just correct yourself and move on. Do not make a big show of the mistake or correction.


Resources provided by the Darcy Jeda Corbett Foundation.

North Dakota Resources:

US Resources, by state:


Filed under Personal Articles

When someone dies…a billion stops



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I sometimes wonder…And I wondered a lot when my Mom died…

Why didn’t the world stop?

But it did.

I was reminded of this just recently when my Uncle Jerry died. I hadn’t seen him much in 17 years (he lived in Delaware, I lived in New Mexico and now North Dakota and didn’t get “home” much), but I did see him two years ago.

And now, when he died, I thought, “Why don’t people stop?”

Why don’t people acknowledge his life?

But people did stop.

His wife stopped. His kids stopped. His grandchildren stopped. His twin brother stopped. His nieces, nephews, cousins, stopped. His in-laws stopped.

Everybody who read his obituary stopped. Everyone who had any cognitive recognition of him…stopped.

I posted his passing on my FB page, and friends who never met him stopped.

If even for just a moment, even for a blink of an eye, Uncle Jerry meant something to millions of people.

So, when you see a loved one’s passing. Stop. Take a moment. Imagine the loss. Imagine the love. Imagine the hole left from that person’s passing.

Just stop.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Lost Arts – Introductions

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Shawn MacKenzie: This whole idea has me thinking – I wonder, aside from the generational or regional differences, if the modern cyber world in which we live doesn’t foster distance. We use e-monikers, avatars, and digital personae, which may or may not be based in truth. To actually meet someone face-to-face takes one into a whole new – very real – world. You can no longer hide behind aliases and cyberian anonymity.

*   *   *

I remember…years and years ago…how, when people walked into the same room, or happened upon each other on a city street, or bumped into each other at the drug store, introductions ensued.

“Oh, hi, John. May I introduce my mother, Lois Sanderson? Mom, this is John Smith, my friend at school.” They shake hands. Chit chat a bit. Ask and answer a few questions.

Many times in the last few years, I’ve been the stranger in the room. I walk in. No introductions. Another person walks in, no introductions. A couple walks in, no introductions.

I have been in situations where I have to introduce myself. I’m not shy, so I say things like “Hi, I’m _________’s _______. Who are you?” Or “Hey, you must be ________, I’m ______.”

If you have an encounter (same room, city street, drug store) and you think, perhaps the person you are with and the person you ran into might not know each other, you should extend an introduction.

It’s not complicated. Though I do remember from Emily Post that you should “present” the older person first. Hence, I would present my mother to the younger pal o’ mine we ran into.

But even if you don’t follow Emily Post (and who does any more), you should at least say something that resembles an introduction.

A few comments about introductions, from friends…

Shawn MacKenzie: Hmmm. We are a curious species. I remember when I came to Vermont people greeted/introduced each other differently than in MN – always a handshake but often only first names. It would be sad if it’s another sign of declining civility.

Jessica Messinger: Perhaps making introductions is a lost art, or feels too formal for today’s society. I try to introduce people, but sometimes I forget names (even if I’ve known them since I was little!) and then it’s kind of awkward to make introductions,

Nancy Winden Gooch: Forgetting names is often my excuse. Embarrassing! I still think about those “rules” when I introduce people, although I don’t always get it right.

Esther Hastings Miller: This has bothered me, too. I remember practicing in grade school how to introduce people…older people first, women before men, etc. Maybe that’s overkill now, but I still appreciate being introduced when two people meet who know each other and I don’t know the third party. I usually try to do the same.

Ilil Arbel: It is one symptom of a strange decline in general manners, but I realize that perhaps that is how my parents felt as my generation grew up. Customs change. I don’t like the current manners, but I feel I must adjust.

*   *   *   

I don’t like adjusting to things that I feel are rude, or at least not very nice. You stand with a friend…another person walks up…how hard is it to say, “Hey, do you know so-n-so?” Not hard at all.



Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized