About Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen's stories have appeared in *Newsweek*, *The Christian Science Monitor*, and *Pack and Paddle Magazine* and she's the author of *Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad*, *The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad*, *The Brush of Angel Wings*, *The Madcap Christian Scientist* series, *A Poem Sits on my Windowsill*, *Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom*, and co-author of *The Humoristian Chronicles: A Most Unusual Fellowship*. Her photos are featured in the spring 2014 edition of the *Bellingham Review*, and the "Photos from the Field" page of the April/May 2017, December/January 2018-2019, April/May 2019, and June/July 2020 issues of of *Mother Earth News*. Her photos can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60803140@N06/ Her books can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Molenaar-Terrell/e/B0044P90RQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1312060042&sr=8-

And It’s Okay to Feel That Way

I’m feeling sad tonight. Discouraged and sad.
And it’s okay to feel that way.
It’s okay to feel bad.
Sometimes I just have to sit in it, you know?
Just let myself feel what I feel
and learn what I need to learn, and grow.
There’s no battle I need to win here,
nothing to overcome,
no other place I need to go,
but right where I am.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Tell Me Again Why You Need an Assault Rifle?

Another rampage. Another rapid fire assault rifle used (an AR-15). Ten more people dead. Tell me, again, why you need an assault rifle?

When the second amendment was added to the Constitution, rapid fire weapons did not exist. (The guns available then were muzzle-loaders.) The first rapid fire, mechanical-loading gun – the Gatling – didn’t appear until 1862. It was created for the Civil War – to kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time. That is the purpose of rapid fire rifles. So, tell me again why YOU need one?
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Below is a photo of my favorite gun in my gun collection. Circa 1977. Quickly tossed to me by a guy named Brad (or maybe Phil?) so I could defend myself during an epic squirt gun battle at Washington State University. It didn’t hold much ammo, but it was quick and light and the water could actually go pretty far. It was a state-of-the-art weapon for that time and highly dependable – it did what I needed it to do for me – it got a lot of people wet.

It’s HER! SHE’s the One with the White Privilege!

Self-censoring myself, stowing word-sabers –
sarcasm and snappy satire – in the scabbard,
and becoming the saint of scrubbed and sanitized
sacchariney sweetness
so as not to seem sensitive, insecure, vulnerable
so as to seem safe, secure, strong, unsusceptible,
so as to seem above the spikes and spurs
because we all know the scapegoat should
never sound off – her job is to be stoic
and suffer in silence for your sins
when the song stops and there’s no seat for her
– she’s the one still standing for all the other
people of privilege to paste the sign on
and establish that THEY are not racists,
maskless, vaccineless stooges
(strangely, establishing their biases
in their efforts to seem bias-less)
but – suffering succotash – it stings!
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Karen Meme: As If We Don’t Already Have Enough to Deal With

Dear Huffington Post:

You’d think a writer named “Ron Dicker” would be one of the last ones to use the “Karen” meme in his story.

Until now you’ve been one of my go-to places to get information – progressive, smart, witty and wise. But that just changed, for me. It turns out your writers, too, are bigoted, unkind, bullying, and mean-spirited. As if the inhabitants of our world don’t already have enough crap to deal with right now – dying friends, dying family, dying planet – let’s perpetuate that whole “Karen” thing, right?

Note: The maskless woman was named “Terry” – not “Karen.”

Words, people. Words matter. I expected more from your writers than old labels, unoriginal thought, stereotypes, sexism, ageism, and bigotry. What good were you adding to the world by using the Karen meme? How is that going to make our world a better place?

I am sorely disappointed.
Karen

I Have Been a Lot of People in My Life

I Have Been a Lot of People in My Life

I have been a lot of people in my life –
I’ve been the daughter, the sister, the wife,
mother, grey-haired lady, and young lass.
I was once the littlest girl in my class –
thought too skinny by some
who couldn’t see that playing was more fun
than eating. I won the blue ribbon
for the broad jump and the dash in fourth grade.
I was the queen of multiplication tables
in the fifth grade, and in sixth grade
my teacher said I “ran like a deer.”

I was the new girl in school that year
and someone wrote “brainbucket sits here”
on my desk. Then I was the nerdy girl
in black frame glasses who weighed
more than 100 pounds and thought she was fat
and my eighth grade PE teacher said,
“We finally found something you’re good at”
when I was always the last one standing
in the volleyball elimination games –
she didn’t see that I ran like a deer.

I was shy in high school, but some people
thought I was a snob –
I saw myself as an unmemorable blob.
I was Karen when Karen Valentine
was everyone’s favorite ingénue
and I was Karen when it meant something else, too.

I’ve been chubby, pretty, plain, dazzling,
athletic, awkward, confident, insecure,
dull, creative, boring, funny, judgmental,
self-centered, open-minded, and generous.
And I guess “I” am still all of those things –
depending on who’s looking at me.

But the I who’s not in quotation marks
is what God, Love, sees
when She looks at me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

It’s Here! It’s Here!

Mother Earth News is using another one of my photos on its “Photos from the Field” page! This one will be in the April-May edition. I got my copies in the mail today. Check it out – my photo is of the heron at sunset…

Pushing Me Into the Now

The winds blew across the bay –
creating stretch marks on its surface –
and great cleansing gusts blew through me, too –
rowdy and playful – forcing me from thoughts
of the thens and fears of the tomorrows
and pushing me instantly into the now
of doing what I could to not blow away.
Putting everything in perspective for me again.

There is no problem too big it can’t be solved.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Photo of Bellingham Bay Boardwalk by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist

Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist:

Years ago an old boyfriend said to me, “I can’t see that Christian Science has made you any better than anyone else.”

“I know!” I said, nodding my head in complete and happy agreement, “But can you imagine what I’d be like without it?!”

He raised his eyebrows and laughed. What could he say? He was looking at a self-centered, moralistic, stubborn idealist who saw everything in terms of black and white. But I could have been worse. I believe without Christian Science I would have been worse.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I am not the best example of a Christian Scientist. I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I have fears and worries and doubts. I’m a little neurotic. I am the Lucy Ricardo of Christian Scientists.

I should probably put in a disclaimer here, too—the views expressed in these pages are not necessarily the views shared by other Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists are really a pretty diverse group of people—there are Democrat Christian Scientists and Republican Christian Scientists, “Green,” and “Red,” and “Blue” Christian Scientists, and Christian Scientists with no political affiliations at all. Frankly, I like that about us. We keep each other on our toes.

I should also tell you that this book is not an authorized piece of Christian Science literature. If you want to actually study Christian Science you should probably read the textbook for this way of life, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

My purpose for writing this epistle is really two-fold (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “two-fold” in my life, and using it now is making me feel sort of professorial. I like the feeling.):

First-foldly, to introduce you to one Christian Scientist so that if you ever hear someone talking fearfully and ignorantly (feargnorantly?) about Christian Scientists you’ll be in a position to say, “I have a friend who’s a Christian Scientist, and, although it’s true she’s a bit of a nut, she’s also…” and you can go on and talk about how your friend has used her study of Christian Science to try to make the world a happier place.

Second-foldly, I feel the need to acknowledge God’s blessings in my life. I don’t want to be like those nine lepers in the Bible who couldn’t take the time to thank Jesus for healing them. I want to be like that one leper who “fell down on his face at his feet” before Jesus and gave him thanks (Luke 17). Through my study of Christian Science I’ve witnessed some incredible proofs of our Father-Mother God’s love for Her creation in my life. God has filled my life with infinite blessings and it’s time for me to acknowledge these blessings to others.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Of Alpine Hats and an Emotional Support Dog

A kind of odd and sweet thing happened last night:

I’d been sitting in the recliner by the fire – getting toasty and comfortable and kind of nostalgic – and I’d impulsively grabbed Dad’s old alpine hat from the mantel and put it on my head. And his hat is so full of HIM, you know? It’s like an extension of him, really – a part of him. And my thoughts were suddenly flooded with memories of Dad. It was weird – because I was feeling Dad with me, but not as an aged father – I was feeling him with me as a man in his prime – and as a dear friend and hiking partner – as my contemporary, rather than as my dad.

I sat there quietly crying to myself, remembering our hikes and climbs together – and our times of laughter. Mom was with us then, too – standing with Dad, and smiling. The tears gathered and spilled and I made no effort to stop them. but I didn’t make any sounds – I thought I was being unobtrusive – my son, Xander, was sitting near me in another chair by the fire, working away on his laptop on some project, and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I’d thought I’d made my own private quiet space for myself there.

But I hadn’t taken into account Sam the Wonder Dog. Suddenly Sam lifted her head from where she was curled up in another chair and brought her eyes to mine and she just stared at me – intently and unblinking – for maybe two or three minutes – it was… I’ve never seen her doing anything like that before. And then she uncurled herself from the chair and walked over to me and stared at me again – watching and alert and just BEING there, you know? I wondered if maybe the hat was confusing her, making her think Dad was in the room or something – so I reached out and petted the nobby top of her head, and her ears, and her snout and asked her if she remembered Grampa Dee – and after a bit she went back to her chair and curled up again.

Xander left the room for a while then and came back ten or 15 minutes later. And he made an observation that surprised me, but made perfect sense, too. Apparently he HAD been aware of what was going on with me. And he said, “I think Sam came up to you – not because she thought you were Grampa, but because she’d suddenly realized you were crying and she wanted to comfort you.” Sam is very sensitive to our feelings, he said.

Whoah. I looked at Sam – curled up in the chair now – and I looked at her with new eyes. I went up to her and petted the top of her head again. And thanked her.

It appears I have my own emotional support animal.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Scrapbook for a Year and a Day

Dear fellow 2020 survivors:

On January 19, 2020, my 101 year-old father (Dee Molenaar, a well-known mountaineer) died. Two days later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States – in a town 40 minutes to the south of my home. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered the next month, and George Floyd was killed a few months later. We watched as our friends went insane with QAnon conspiracies; our president ordered peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold a Bible in front of a church; and white supremacists marched in our streets waving Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Then – because 2020 wasn’t done with us, yet – murder hornets were found in the United States – this time in a place 40 minutes to the north of my home. And on January 6th our country was turned upside down and our democracy almost shaken out of its bag.

In an effort to process Dad’s passing, and the year that followed, I began combing through news stories, Facebook posts, and my own blog. I found moments that made me laugh out loud, and others that were gut-wrenching for me. I found moments that had me shaking my head – wondering what the hell had happened to my country – and other moments that inspired me and made me proud to be an American. At some point during this process, I realized I was creating a book.The book, A Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020.

I divided the book up by months – starting with January 2020 and ending with January 2021. At the end of the chapter for January 2020, I brought in comments by some of my friends about the passing of my father. This is my introduction to some of the characters the readers will be seeing throughout the book. One of the characters is my life-long friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines later in the year when he cast his electoral vote for Biden-Harris after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Another character is a friend (whom I refer to as “Letitia W.”) who became deeply involved in QAnon conspiracies and ended up in D.C. on January 6th. A third friend is Paul Swortz, who the readers later see as one of the veterans protecting the BLM protesters in Portland.

I’m editing now – trying to comb out all the the little typos and misspellings and duplicate words and omitted words – my fellow writers will all be able to relate to that. But I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to here.

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 bring us!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s some photos from 2020…