Doogood Vancouver #4

"Wouldn't it be a shame to have a wonderful life and not notice?" - Michael Neill

After writing a memoir called Looking for Normal, I discovered through research and digging up the past, why I do what I do for a living.

You see, my mother struggled with mental health issues and both my parents had dysfunctional childhoods. When they met and decided to marry, they vowed to each other that they would raise their children differently than they were raised. Healthier and happier.

My father having been abandoned by his mother at the age of five and brought up by an alcoholic father in the depression era and my mother raised by a parent who had a personality disorder which was never recognized or treated, gave them both a compassionate outlook on life.

Looking for Normal is a heartbreaking, heartwarming and humorous account of a family, which could be anyone’s family.

But it was my family.

I have no regrets or horrible memories from my childhood. What I do have is tremendous empathy and understanding for those that do not fit into the mainstream box that some people strife for and others pretend to be in. Where in fact, we all have struggles and if we can take a moment to see each other’s heart, the world might become a little easier.

I teach a variety of exercise classes for seniors, special needs adults, marginalized people and every day folk like you and me. I also work in the school system, kindergarten to grade twelve as an EA (education assistant).

Since starting my career and now thirty-five years later the random acts of kindness that I have experienced have been numerous and remarkable……….

As a single mother I was mentored by a teacher who motivated me to go to college.

I was offered a job at a drug and alcohol treatment center which helped me to understand that people really do want to be well.

When I was invited to join a group of women cyclists and I did not own a bicycle, a kind soul gave me one.

At a time when I was penniless, I was driving from another province and needed to pay a toll on a roadway to get home with my young daughters, a stranger came along and paid the toll for me.

I was given an award for citizen of the year and later nominated for fitness instructor of the year by a person who truly believed in me.

When my grown daughter broke her legs in another country a friend bought me a plane ticket so I could travel to care for her.

1. What's your Superhero name and what powers do you have?

My Superhero name is, Superhero Karing Karen. My powers are spreading kindness with a warm smile, encouraging word and guidance for a lifetime of healthy living and fitness.

2. If you had $10,000 to give away, how would you use it for most impact?

Even though it would not be nearly enough money, I would like to donate $10,000 towards a housing project for the homeless. To have a roof over one’s head, a comfortable bed and sufficient food is a necessity we should all have.

3. What does Vancouver mean to you? What’s best about it?

To me Vancouver means, diversity and loving thy neighbor. What’s best about it are the breathtaking landscapes and beauty at the core where there is immense poverty and many working to combat it.

Like flowers growing up from the cracks in the sidewalk.

BONUS question
Who should be interviewed next, who has a story people should hear?

If I were to nominate someone else for the DOOGOOD, I would choose my husband Paul Harmon.

He went to college at the age of forty and now has a career with The Lookout Society managing a homeless shelter.

Karen Harmon is a writer, fitness instructor, EA and motivational speaker in North Vancouver B.C. Her book Looking for Normal recently won a book excellence award in the category of Women’s Health and can be found on Amazon, Indigo and Chapters websites.