Reflections of My Heart: Berries

Photo of ladybugs on a leaf

I wrote this poem during my college years, while taking a walk with a man who tutored me. It was like a brother/sister relationship. Little by little, I trusted him more and more. He was brilliant and somehow knew exactly how to teach me. He was totally dedicated to teaching me. Somehow, between 1980 and 1985, he not only taught me how to study with classical music playing, or music without lyrics, but how to reduce the time I needed to complete my tests from forty-two hours down to two hours. I learned to remember school material, and to enjoy reading and taking books out of the library. He taught me not just how to write, but grammar, punctuation, and alliteration.

He made learning easy, without pressure. It was fun. I would meet him on campus, take my classes, and spend eight hours afterwards, studying with him.

He gave me projects to think or write about, like writing in haiku. On the day I wrote this poem, we were walking, when I spotted a group of ladybugs. It brought such a smile to my face, full of delight and whimsy, a childlike playfulness, and fancy. I want to share it with you now.


Picking small berries.
They are not berries at all,
But red ladybugs!  

You can order my poetry collection, including this poem, here: Reflections of My Heart.

Original text ©2024 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved. Image by Chiring chandan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reflections of My Heart: Barren Branches

Photo of pink fuchsia blossom

I wrote this poem sometime between 1983 and 1985. I had taken a walk on a cloudy afternoon. It was one of those liminal days when the moon hangs in the sky like a reminder of the mysteries of life. In the front yard of a home in Santa Monica, there stood a barren tree. A single fuchsia dangled brightly from a branch. It caught my eye and my heart as I walked alone, despite all I had accomplished.


Tree beneath the moon
And on its barren branches
One lonely fuchsia!

You can order my poetry collection, including this poem, here: Reflections of My Heart.

Original text ©2024 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved. Image by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reflections of My Heart: Asylum

Image of ghost-like scuffs on a sidewalk

[Image credit: Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Years ago, I met a man. We were perfect, or so I thought, but then he ghosted on me. Disappeared from my life. What went wrong? Was it because of my disabilities? I will never know. Has this happened to you?





Oh, vicious world, so cruel and cold,

Come, take me from

My darkest woe!


Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

If I Can Do It, So Can You: Hear Me Speak

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy. The recording is live on YouTube. Please let me know what you think, and if my journey of advocacy resonates with you.

News Flash: Hear Me Speak on the Post-Polio Syndrome Advocacy Group TOMORROW!

The poster has a brownish-golden background. To the right top is a picture of the speaker, and to the bottom left are the words PPS Advocacy Group and a purple circle with the words: I am A Post-Polio Syndrome Advocate. At the bottom right is the logo of The Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy and the words Cosponsored by the Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy. Ken Masson, the founder of the Post-Polio Advocacy Group in Rotary International, asked me to interview about my life story. Issues such as growing up with disabilities and then being labeled as borderline mentally retarded as an adult, and making my way through it all, loomed large.

In this interview, Ken asks me about my mother’s attitude, how dance changed my life, how my advocacy work improved my life, and how I made this life wonderful. I have a wonderful husband, a loving family. I now have it all.

And I have written a memoir that expresses not only my feelings, but the realities of my life.

Listen to how I made it all work out.

Join the Zoom Meeting
Thursday, December 14, 2023
10 AM Eastern US Time/7 AM Pacific US Time
Meeting ID: 861 1675 1407
Passcode: PPS2023
Karen Lynn Chlup
“If I Can Do It, So Can You”

Advocating For Disability Rights, Award-Winning disability Support Coach, and Special Needs Advocate and Author

Image Description: The image has a brownish-golden background. To the right top is a picture of the speaker, and to the bottom left are the words PPS Advocacy Group and a purple circle with the words: I am A Post-Polio Syndrome Advocate. At the bottom right is the logo of The Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy and the words Cosponsored by the Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy. 

Reflections of My Heart: Preface and a Poem

Image of Reflections of My Heart cover

I am proud to announce that my poetry collection, Reflections of My Heart, has been published on Amazon. You can get it here. 


These poems are a collection of my thoughts and feelings. In them, I share some ideas that have bolstered my strength, courage, and determination. I share them with you, hoping they can help you on your journey through life.

I actually started writing this collection in 1983 and have continued adding poems through the years. It has been interesting to me to reflect on how things have changed over the years. As a person with cerebral palsy and dyslexia, I struggled to read and write effectively. However, as I have reviewed and reflected, I have realized that writing and sharing with others has become easier, and I have come to understand the impact that going through this process has had on me. This process has opened new doors and made me the person I want to be more than ever before.

I want to encourage those who want to write but struggle with difficulties to not give up. Instead, find someone to help you, and believe in yourself. If I can do it, so can you! 

My best to you, and here is the first poem:


A word can
Describe many meanings
If only I could
Understand them!

Thanksgiving and the Passage of Time Where Family and Community Meet

photo of cornucopia filled with food

In this blog post, I will take you on a vivid journey to a time past. It’s about one of our most important holidays where everyone gathers together to celebrate. It’s about the warmth of family and community.

This story lives deep within my veins. At one time, people valued one another more than now. We had a sense of belonging. There was less depression. More happiness, less tribalism, and more world acceptance and unity. It’s very important for me to share this with you, because everything has changed. These changes have had a strong and far-reaching effect on everyone’s lives and the world we live in today.

As a person with cerebral palsy and dyslexia, family and friends meant more to me than to a lot of people. We valued them and their diversity. During this season, and having few friends, this meant opening our innermost selves to others. We looked forward to having people over to our house. There was an anticipation in the air. Getting dressed up, visiting with our loved ones, playing and talking with my cousins, and helping make family recipes with my Mama Katie. It was wonderful, and I still remember smelling the warm scent of her cooking.

I would breathe in the delicious aromas of her kugel, roasted chicken with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and salt. Her delectable sweet potatoes with cinnamon and cloves and melted butter drizzled throughout. And Mama’s homemade cranberry sauce, and a wonderful salad to feast on, along with warm feelings and memories.

This gaiety was emotionally satisfying. I felt a belonging. A warm uplifting, which meant even more to me, especially being a shy, young girl, with a full length metal leg brace and a paralyzed left arm, trying hard to fit in. My life was hard at that age. I had a lot of challenges and I wanted to make myself the best person I could become.

Slowly, though, over the past seven decades, the richness of our distinct heritages as a collective world has diminished. We have a powerful pull toward our own. We stay to ourselves more. And we don’t value the gifts we possess that make us unique. We are afraid to make meaningful friendships. Thus, there is an underlying unspoken loyalty.

We give thanks, yet we don’t. We find unattractive features in a person’s character, rather than their goodness. It is saddening that we collectively have lost our ability to sincerely give thanks for one another; losing our way and our heritage of family and loved ones. We have forgotten how to be kind and caring. That’s what this time of year is all about.

We seem to have lost our skills and the means to celebrate our diversity. We see these things differently than generations past. We have lost our methods to broaden and expand our outlook, to make larger our points of view see something in a different frame of mind, or someone in a whole new light. It is very difficult to bring someone who is different into our life, or to welcome others into our circle and incorporate the good things about them. We have forgotten how to take in the goodness others possess. We have forgotten the experiences of our past and how to change for the better, and how to open our minds and hearts. Sadly, we have forgotten how to welcome and embrace others into our lives and share joyfully.

In the past, people valued their connections more. They took solace in having other people around. They wanted that connection. They thrived on it. They wanted that human bond. It sustained them. Now, it doesn’t mean as much, or anything at all. It means nothing. It hardly exists.

In closing, what can every one of us do to bring kindness, compassion, joy, acceptance, and a readiness to consider something without prejudice, and so to change our lives and others? It only takes a smile or one kind word. Can we find it within our best selves to make that effort? If we can open our hearts just a little, think of the good that will happen because of our actions and deeds? Think of how its effects can snowball in positive ways. This process will change your life for the good forever. All you have to do is just one thing. One thing to work towards a positive change in this world. Think about how you can find it within. Think of how you will feel. Your heart will find peace. Balance and comfort will fill your life. It’s so simple… And beneficial. It will bring the state of unity and join us as a whole. Will you give it some thought?

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse: Acknowledgements

UK road sign showing road is open to everyone

Today, the roads through life are much more open than when I grew up. But that does not mean living with disabilities is easy. Barriers remain. Prejudices remain. Please stand with me and stay with me. I promise you a new blog post every week. Every week, a new word of inspiration so you can make your life better. I am with you all the way. And let me hear from you. Please reply.

[Image by Rgry, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]


To all those Pegasi who took me under their wings and guided me to become the person I am today. Without you, this journey would never have happened.

I want to pay homage to the following people:

To Chris. My husband has given me security and love in so many ways. His love and support allowed me to finish this book, to travel and see the world like I never could before, and—the ability to keep giving to others.

To my mother, Katie. I couldn’t ask for a better mother, teacher, and advocate. She taught me to be who I am today. I was blessed with a mother who went to ANY lengths to make me the person I am today. My heart swells with everything she gave and taught me. Cheers Mama!

To Al Gilbert, my loving dance teacher, who gave from his heart unconditionally, never asking for anything in return but my smile.

To Robert Baker, for his mentorship during my college years, and for taking me under his wing, giving me the knowledge for which I desperately thirsted.

To Sean P. Dineen, for his brilliance, his devotion, and especially for his belief in me.

To Ms. Leslie Fanelli, who shared many hours of her time improving my writing to realize my vision of this story!

To Peyton Stafford, who came into my life as an answer to my prayer. His unreserved friendship has taken me to new heights, enabling me to soar beyond the celestial stars. His unconditional benevolence and kind-heartedness have made my voice heard, changing the landscape of society and how people with cerebral palsy are viewed. I will never forget this. He has made my dream of over 30 years take shape. He has changed my life. I will forever be grateful to him for his unwavering support, regard, and truthfulness. I will forever be thankful for his staunch grace and guidance. And I will forever be thankful for his comradeship and commitment to my project. His expertise and proficiency made it happen. His unselfish acts of loving kindness have made my book a reality.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse: Afterword

Image of Pegasus atop the Poznań Opera House

This is a short letter to you, dear reader. I hope it inspires you to pursue your dreams and make them come true. Stay tuned for next week, when I thank some of the real life people who played the part of Pegasus in my life.

[Image by user:Radomil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]


Dear Reader,

I hope you have enjoyed reading The Healing Horse as much as I have enjoyed creating it. Although the work looks at the life of a young girl, the theme is universal.

People with disabilities still go through and continue to overcome the challenges Karen faces in this work. This book is a heartfelt story and essentially true.

The guidance and mentoring shown by Pegasus really took form in the shape of many extraordinary human beings who crossed my path.

I hope this message benefits all who read this book.

This book has been a lifelong journey and has taken over thirty years to come to pass.

If you have questions, comments, or would like to discuss this work in your book club, please contact me at: or contact me through this website

In hope of a better future,


Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 42: Concluding Reflections

Photo of a monarch butterfly

In these concluding reflections, my younger self recalls the generous, skillful mentors who nourished her as she grew from a little girl with a brace on one leg and a learning disability into a young woman who not only danced but taught dance. Throughout my life, I have lived with a sense of gratitude and generosity. These words show some of that. 

[Image of monarch butterfly © Derek Ramsey / used with permission]

Concluding Reflections

As an intelligent young adult, Karen reviewed her life.

Most of the so-called experts, who were supposed to fix my life, did not look beyond the surface of who I was or who I could be, but four superlative human beings understood what I needed to thrive and to become a productive person in society. They were not detached. They were not inhumane, and they had empathic souls. To them, I was a person and not an experimental subject to be carved up into pieces, like an offering on an altar to medical profitability and pseudo-science.

Karen admired her mentors and trusted them. She treasured and adored them. They treated her with respect. Holding them dear to her heart was easy. They knew how to best treat all their students, regardless of age or disability. They never talked down to anyone. Their captivating ways were evidenced by their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Like a wave in Santa Monica Bay, they could be firm or gentle. They loved people and taught their specialized techniques with generosity.

Karen also understood that the motives of her blessed three differed from establishment doctors, counselors, and bioethicists. This threesome was not interested in finding cures. Cures were a waste of time. Karen didn’t need to be fixed. She needed to be celebrated.

She needed patience, kindness, and people who believed in her and gave her opportunities not only to excel but also to navigate the rough spots.

As time passed, Kitten had become ever more disciplined, and she wanted to continue this legacy of teaching.

She understood life far better than the average eighteen-year-old. Her relationships with Mama, Joshua, Pegasus, Rocky, and Tammy had sharpened her awareness of the world. The dance techniques she learned from Gilberto had made her aware of the world’s poetic beauty. Teaching disability riding classes had raised her compassion. And learning math from Miss Natalie had shown her she could do anything she set her mind to, even the impossible things like math.

During her younger years, Karen was impressionable, but in a good way. She had an instinct for what was right and wrong, and she let it guide her. She drew inspiration from Miss Natalie, who not only taught her math but created new ways for her to learn it. From Joshua, she drew inspiration not only from how he had helped her onto Pegasus’ back at the Santa Monica Pier Hippodrome, but from how he opened his own disability riding ranch and how he taught her to teach. And from Gilberto, beautiful, sweet Gilberto, she drew inspiration from everything she did. He taught with beauty, love, and compassion.

The paralyzed part of Karen’s brain could not transmit its commands to her affected left side. She had to get another part of her brain to perform to make everything function together. Sometimes this was easy, but most of the time it took painstaking effort. It was toilsome to use a different part of her brain in order to execute the right technique. She tried to make her paralyzed muscles work just like her non-paralyzed muscles. Control and utter concentration were paramount. Whenever Karen tried to point or flex her foot, it took considerable effort. She did not “just think it,” and feel the movement performed as an able-bodied person would. To get her left leg to work like her right leg was all-encompassing and all-consuming. To get her left side to work took all her time and attention. She executed and engaged the proper momentum in the timing and rhythm of the dance music and the riding techniques. She applied the same determination to the fundamental math skills. Everything required a dauntless approach. She let nothing stop her or get in her way. Such endurance and stamina shaped her life. She was unwavering. In dance, riding and math, every accomplishment was a feat attained via grueling, sometimes painful efforts and abiding willpower; these were the touchstones of her promising future.

Each time any of her teachers had a cancellation from a private student, he or she would call Mama and Karen. When Karen was younger, Mama would drive her to and from the lesson, but now Karen could drive herself.

Gilberto had given her six long-playing records of his lessons with which to practice at home. This recorded music helped her perfect her sense of timing and rhythm. Joshua had given her exercises to keep her back straight while riding; In addition, he taught her to stand on a horse’s back! Natalie had given her books that broke down the arcane concepts of math into practical use.

The days and years passed, as Karen attended her dance lessons, her riding lessons, and her math tutorials several times each week. As she grew, she saw that if there were to be any change for the better in her life or in the world, then she had to exemplify that change.

She was now eighteen years old. There was not one session that this young woman missed. She made getting instruction all-important. With every ounce of her strength, she worked fearlessly, and as a direct result, her efforts paid off, particularly at her dance lessons. Some of the dance steps she mastered easily, while others were more difficult for her. She put forth her complete concentration on the difficult dance steps that required arduous repetition. Kitten had always possessed the patience to master any technique. She did whatever she needed to do. She watched herself as she became an accomplished dancer.

Every day after school, she not only did her homework and remedial studies but also her dance steps and her balancing routines. In dance class, Karen worked twice as hard as the other teens. She had to in order to keep up with them. She couldn’t be treated differently. Besides, she did not want that for herself. She wanted to carry out the steps accurately. How could she stay in class if she didn’t? She didn’t want special treatment, and she did not want to be looked down upon. That’s why she had to keep up with them. Her reasonable accommodation was dance time with Gilberto, one on one, and free of financial charge from this remarkable dance teacher.

In dance, she endeavored to master the techniques with every bit of her might. She decided she was going to move more gracefully and effortlessly than any able-bodied person she admired. One day, she foresaw, it would happen when she least expected it. It would take her by surprise. It might happen while listening to a summer symphony. It might happen during recreation. It might even happen while practicing or in a recital. She was not yet there, but the time would soon come. As a result, in all her endeavors, she did whatever her mentors suggested. Because they felt Karen’s unquenchable thirst, they gave her more of their time than the usual child got. This was not special treatment, in that their approach was markedly different. It was their honest response to her wholehearted striving.

She exhibited similar dedication in her riding and in math. These new arenas of learning were difficult for her, because of the brain damage that had occurred when she was an infant. She had to work harder and concentrate longer than most people to “get it,” in whatever area she was focusing. She knew these efforts were vital to her existence; therefore, she was a willing participant in this part of her young life; for she would get nowhere in life if she failed.

As an adult, she tutored youngsters with learning difficulties. She not only danced in recitals, but she also became a dance instructor for people with disabilities. She also continued teaching riding at Joshua’s Disability Riding Ranch, with Pegasus as her partner. For years to come, she, Pegasus and Joshua taught riding skills to hundreds of people—with and without disabilities.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.