Meet Karen Walrond, On A Quest To Discover The Beauty Of Different!INTERVIEWS | Nirasha Jaganath | November 20, 2010 at 9:46 pm
I have been in awe of Karen (also known as Chookooloonks) for a long time. I finally managed to get up close and chat to her while at Evo Conference. Somebody was whispering that Karen is the one person to take your picture as she captures the essence perfectly. I spied her taking someone’s pictures and I tried to take her picture and the next thing I knew I was plunked down in front of her as she started taking pictures of me. I really dislike my pictures – I do. Somehow Karen has this ability to make you feel being you is not only ok, it is fabulous. In fact the words she used to describe me felt like she had peeked into my soul. More about that book later! Karen has a project of capturing 1000 faces to depict the Beauty of Different, and in fact has just published her book The Beauty Of Different
How did you come up with the idea of beauty of difference?
The Beauty of Different was originally an idea I came up with when asked to do a keynote speech for a conference. The person who asked me to speak told me that she found my work “nontraditional” — and I realized that I had been told this all my life; that I never seemed to fit in to what people expected the way someone who looked like me or sounded like me or was educated like I was supposed to behave like. As I thought more about it, I realized that even though it had annoyed me in the past when someone stated that I’m not “really” the way I was supposed to behave, the fact was that this unexpectedness … this “Different” … had often served me well. And I further understood that this was true for everyone — that by embracing our “Differents,” rather than trying to hide them, or play them off or minimize them, we actually are more likely to succeed, since we were being true to ourselves.
My book, I hope, inspires people to view and reframe their “Differents” in a new way — and realize that as long as they use their Differents for good, and not evil, their Different might in fact be their superpowers.
Do you find it exhausting to constantly “look on the bright side”?
No, in fact, I find it exhausting to do the opposite! I learned a long time ago that it was imperative for me to cultivate a practice of gratitude — that as long as I was able to think of one thing every day that I was thankful for, then life was worth waking up for another day. In fact, I make sure to say a prayer of thanks every night before I fall asleep, and have done so for at least 15 years — and in those 15 years, I’ve never once failed to come up with something (even if sometimes the only thing I could come up with was that I enjoyed my hard boiled egg that morning!). In many ways, this practice saved my life.
What was the the most challenging thing you experienced?
Probably studying and taking the bar exam. I remember saying to everyone who would listen that if I failed the bar, there was no way in hell I was going to take it again, because studying for it was excruciating. I meant it, too. The fact that I’m a licensed attorney is proof that I passed it the first time, because I would’ve likely returned to engineering had I not!
How do handle travel and being away from home?
Not well, actually. I used to love traveling, and traveled all over the world when I was single. But now that I’m married and a mom, I find it very difficult to be away from my husband and daughter. I try to really balance the amount of time I’m away, and once I return from a trip, I need some time to hole up with my family before I can head out again.
What is your one indulgence?
Handbags, camera bags, backpacks — they’re my weakness. My husband rolls his eyes every time a UPS truck pulls in front of our house.
What face captured you the most – other than mine of course
I know this sounds cheesy to say, but there’s no way I can pick one. I love faces, all faces, and every time I photograph one, I find myself captivated in the moment, looking for expressions, and flickers of light and spirit in the eyes. I find taking photographs of faces really intoxicating.
If I emptied your bag, what would I find?
It varies, but generally, these items are almost always in my bag:
- my journal
- A Papermate Flair pen
- Staedtler coloured pens
- a smaller journal for my daughter (in case we find ourselves somewhere where we have to wait)
- a Flip & Tumble shopping bag
- my iPhone
- a small makeup bag
- my wallet
- my camera
Why a book?
Because I love books. I love hearing the binding crack when you open a new one, I love the smell of books. And I love to write, and I love to photograph. It seemed like a natural progression.