Category: Family

Hummingbird by Karen Craven
Family Journey Men Prompt

Macaroni, truths, and denial

I also found a hummingbird this weekend at a family gathering, that I was lucky enough to capture on film. The discovery of which prompted a family member to tell me that the tiny bird’s presence represents my Grandma Burns, which I loved hearing. Both the conversation on the train and the hummingbird are reminders that when we look and listen for life’s gifts they are aplenty.  

The Exterior Facade around Michigan Avenue entrance to Railway Exchange Building, by Karen Craven
Family Journey Men

The Other Woman

First I noticed the color where there should not have been any. I picked it up and the evidence was littered inside its belly. Flecks of dark red. Sulfites. They landed at its bottom. It was placed inside the box, hidden from my view, yet frozen in time. 

Tribune June 11, 2000
Family Journey

Will Life Trump Guns?

We are a people of dreamers, innovators, crusaders, and more. Our principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness embedded with equality are absent when those who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting their fellow citizens and the vulnerable and youngest of our citizens who pledge their allegiance to this country every school day are shot down and killed. 

Equality Family Journey Motherhood

Two Marches, One Daughter, One Blue Haired Young Lady, and Not One Shrinking Violet

I told her I don’t want her to live in a world where her vagina is a liability. How can a person who is essential to bringing life into the world be treated so poorly? This is a country where her gender means she makes 28-cents less than her male equivalent. A country where “equality” is a hollow word filled with adjectives like homophobic, racist, misogynistic, supremacist, narcissistic, ugly, evil, and wrong.

Bridget atop the Chicago Tribune Tower
Family Favorite things Journey Motherhood

Keep looking ahead

On this last day of the year, I could focus on the worst parts of 2017, but that’s foolhardy. Who wants to look at life half empty, when it is so full of promise? Not I. For that reason, I’m going to say goodbye to this year with love and admiration for the friends and family who brought me so much joy, so that I could return it. As I look ahead to 2018, I know in my heart and mind there is nowhere to go but up. 

Karen in Calligraphy, Karen Craven Studio Art 1989
Family Favorite things Journey

KB, KC, and the Karens of the world

My Aunt Karen called me last night. And did we have a gab! I am named after her, a point of pride for me, and at some point in the conversation, we talked about our shared name. I love my name! I love how both Karen and Craven are two syllables and how each start and end with the same consonant sound. Before I even came to appreciate those things, I first loved that I was named after my mom’s younger sister. 

Craven Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Equality Faith Family Forgiveness Journey

If we only understood

We are always told to “Put yourself in their shoes” or “Walk a mile in their shoes” or some other iteration. And I have tried over the years to do just that. I recall sitting in court at 26th and California, listening to the public defender plea with the judge or jury as a death penalty was considered and begging for forgiveness. Those moments almost always made me think about how we choose our paths, and ultimately how our environments contribute to our behavior.

Mom's Christmas note to Karen
Career Family Favorite things Motherhood

Dance cards, Pentagon papers, and history keepers

I’ve always wondered without journalism where we would be? What if no one photographed Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, or September 11, no one documented the Civil Rights Movement or Women’s March, nothing to intricately connect our shared experiences like fine Irish lace? Outside of our those shared experiences, each family needs its own history keeper. Each family should know its own truths. Who knew that when my mother gave me a Christmas ornament 24-years ago that its meaning was not so much about the trajectory of my career, but more about my role in this family, its history keeper?

Family Friendships Journey

No pity parties on Christmas

Yesterday morning I spoke with my sister and shared my blues about being alone Christmas Day. Bridget will be with her father today, and I am not making Christmas dinner, which we’ve always shared with my parents. I was dreading being alone. In spite of my little pep talk, about subtracting “no” and “can’t” from my vocabulary, I was falling right into the trap I desperately wanted to avoid: Self-pity.

Palmer House Hilton Chicago
Family Least Favorite Things Motherhood

Trash can or regift: A short Christmas tale

I picked out a nicely wrapped gift. Once unwrapped my eyes welled up with tears as I discovered the contents. The gift made no sense to me. Just like Bridget and the cream cheese, I didn’t understand why someone would give a second grader an ADULT nail clipper set. Really? A nail clipper set? It’s been nearly four decades and I’m still befuddled and bewildered at the thought of that gift. 

Joy, by Karen Craven
Family Improv Mortality

Choosing laughter over guns

I’ve never heard a crime scene technician being called to a cleanup evidence of too much laughter.  Instead, quite the opposite, real laughter can’t be contained in a steel shell, it’s explosive all right but it’s hardly selfish. Laughter is contagious and when shared eventually becomes joy. And that my friends, is the beauty of laughter. A laugh can generate a smile, that generates the feeling of happiness, that whether consciously or unconsciously is shared and enjoyed by others.

Snowy day, Karen Craven at Hidden Lake DuPage County Forest Preserve
Faith Family Friendships Journey Men

Truth or lie

Sin was a big deal when I grew up. There were cardinal sins and venial sins. Committing a cardinal sin would land you in hell. My father had little tolerance for liars. He was adamant that liars are the worst sinners of all. If you are not truthful, you can’t be trusted. And if you aren’t trustworthy, well your life will be very lonely.