Archive for piano compositions

I Love Our Piano

I remember sitting on my Mom’s lap while she played our piano.  The youngest I can remember is 9 months.  I was told she held me everyday she could play.  I sat in front of her until I was too big for her to play around me.   We took a few pictures but it usually happened when the only other person there was my sister Leah. She is a great piano player too.  I remember when I got older, about 3 years old I think, I could sometimes get my hands to reach for the keys.  I would drum them with my left hand just like I do to this day.  My Mom says it looks like I’m tickling the keys.  

4 years old

This memory came back to me this morning when I asked my Mom to play a song on the piano.  She doesn’t play often anymore like she used to.  She played a song I used to hear her play, “Love Can Build A Bridge…tween Your Heart and Mine.”  I love that title, because it’s what music has done for me.  It has given me a bridge.  Something that can cross over a huge barrier that was caused by Rett Syndrome.  I don’t have words, but I have some songs that have gone into the world through me.  I thank God for those songs.  They have given me a message to share with the world.  That message is: don’t assume that people who can’t speak, lack intelligence.  

I struggle daily to breathe, to feed myself, to do what others do without thinking about it.  I am fortunate because I can communicate, even with Rett Syndrome, but it is a hard life.  Today, I feel glad, because even though I’m struggling to breathe normal, I feel happy.  I am surrounded by flowers.  I have family and friends who believe in me.  I have hope that this world’s heart is changing towards girl’s with Rett Syndrome, because of those who believe and try to help us have a great life. 

I send my music into the world today.  I love this song.  I composed it and feel joy every time I hear it again.  My sister Leah is playing her viola for this song.

For Real Friends

In the studio. Gregory Thiesen played my songs and Leah played her viola. My music therapist, Karen Bohnert and Barbara McAfee have given me so much hope.

Love, Karly


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Easter Blessing

Easter Blessing

The hope in every heart is peace
giving freedom to dreams

Inspiration freely given to those who see
To those who have listening hearts

We are not alone here, living lives without purpose
in homes without contentment
living in quiet solitude

extend hope

We are not alone
We are part of the divine.


April 22, 2011

I want to share my song: When I Get To See You:    08 Track 08

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My Story in the April Women’s Press

The cover of the April issue.

I am so happy that my story is now in the Minnesota Women’s Press!  Here is the link.

I am on page 14.  I am so glad I have a voice that can be heard through my writing.

love, Karly

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Minnesota Women’s Press is Going to Publish my Story!!

I got an email yesterday from the editor at the “Minneosta Women’s Press” that they are accepting my story, In My Own Voice for their April publication.  I am so thrilled about that!!  It’s so exciting to me because to not have a voice is a painful thing, so when we discovered a way for me to write, it has given me my own voice.  I feel so thrilled that my voice is honored by others and that people are interested in what I have to say.  It gives me so much much peace.  My body is so excited I feel a little overwhelmed today, but I am happy.

I asked my Mom to put some information here about them.

Love, Karly

Address: 970 Raymond Ave., Suite 201
St. Paul, MN 55114
Telephone: 651-646-396
Minnesota Women’s Press, Inc.

Changing the Universe through Women’s Stories

Fabulous, feisty and in our 26th year, the Minnesota Women’s Press is an award-winning, women-owned and operated, independent publication with a tradition of excellence in publishing what Minnesota women are saying, doing and achieving. Circulation is 35,000 with a readership of 80,000. It is distributed free at over 500 metro locations and greater Minnesota locations every month.


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My Voice paper

My friend Ashley and I on our way to camp last summer. That's a fun memory for me.


It is snowing in Minnesota again! Last week it was beautiful and we lost a lot of snow because it melted.  But today we are suppose to get about 15 inches again.  It is not what we wanted, but we are lucky that we have a warm house.

I wrote something last week for the Minnesota Women’s Press.  My music producer, Barbara McAfee told me that the theme of the newspaper for April is Women and Voice.  I had 450 words that I could write, so this is what I sent in.  I don’t know if it will be chosen, but it was fun to put my story into that many words.  I love to write. It helps my body calm down to get my thoughts out.  I remember how hard it was before I could communciate, so I really feel the struggle in my heart for those who can’t communicate.

In My Own Voice

I have lived for 25 years.  Only my mother has heard me speak.  I was nine months old and I said “meow” when we were reading a book together. It was the first and last word I ever spoke.  I tried really hard to speak, but it has not been possible for me because of Rett Syndrome.  After years of therapy and questions, we got that diagnosis. Many things changed.  It was a burden to be a young girl with Rett Syndrome because little was expected of me by everyone but my mom.  She knew I was in here.  She believed when others talked about her behind her back.  I heard them.  My story is one of great joy and happiness because, in spite of all the things that have been taken away from me in my life, I have had many great gifts.

I began working with my music therapist when I was 14. She believed in me and gave me a voice by developing a way for me to compose.  I didn’t know if it would be possible for anyone to hear what I heard in my head.  But with much effort a song came out. It was heard by others for the first time.  I cannot use my hands to play piano. I cannot hum the song I hear in my head.  I cannot write it down, so each note is slowly and carefully chosen by me from cards that my teacher places in front of me.  Somedays it’s impossible for my hands to work. After many months of effort, my song comes to others’ ears.

It’s been many years since we finished my first song, but that song changed my life.  I was no longer just the young girl with the diagnosis of “profound mental retardation”.  Those who believed, heard my voice and saw me in a more loving way as someone who had lost so much because of a disorder she never chose.  I have finished nine songs. The best day of my life was when I sat with my family and producer in the recording studio, surrounded by people who felt my voice needed to be shared.  I heard my songs performed by a wonderful, professional pianist.  They brought my music into the world on a beautiful CD, that I titled, “In My Own Voice.” My sister’s viola added depth.  I hear more music yet to be composed and I feel content.

I hope when you meet someone who is unable to speak that you assume they are intelligent.  It may change their life to have just one person believe.

Karly Wahlin


I’m eager for Leah to come for a visit. This is her and Ludo at a lake near our house last summer.

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A Place in This World

At four I sat on my Mom's lap everyday while she played piano for me.


I have been thinking a lot about my life and what I hope will happen in this world while I am still alive.  I haven’t had as many events and activities as I did last year because of my CD.  It was overwhelming sometimes to have that much attention, but I felt so happy to have a voice that others valued hearing.  Since the Fall I have not been as busy.  I love hearing from others and how they are affected by my songs.  This is the day that my music therapist is coming and I am working on a new song.  I feel very happy about that.  This new song has been waiting for a long time to get out of me.  I am calm today so I hope it will go faster than it does when I am hyper.

My keyboard is the best way I have to communicate. I hope someday it's easier for me.


My Mom and I have been reading a book together this morning.  It is called, Disability is Natural.  I like what she is saying because it has been true in my life.  She said that if our world revolves around therapies, and services for people with disabilities that we get stuck in our lives and don’t have many freedoms that an ordinary person would have.  I know that if anyone could see what really happens in some of the day programs in this country they would be very upset.  People are not given lives that matter when they are grouped together with few opportunities to have a normal life.  It’s ridiculous to think that going out in a bus with others twice a month if they are lucky to some store or park makes us part of our community.

For people like me, who cannot make our hands operate things, we are given even fewer opportunities.  I have an intelligent mind but the programs near us underestimate most adults with disabilities who have needs they can’t take care of themselves.  It’s not appreciated that a person can have an intelligent mind and limited physical skills.  We are grouped together with elderly adults who are mentally impaired and have Alzheimer’s.  We are given the same meaningless objects to fiddle with.  Since I am intelligent  we are  going to have to find a way without a day program, to have a life without isolation.  We are exploring everything we can but it’s hard to find people who are open to having someone who doesn’t sit quietly in book discussions.  My writing group ended because my teacher felt not enough people were coming.  I loved going there.  I loved feeling like I could share my thoughts and be heard.  I have a women’s study group that I have been going to but since I haven’t felt well for a while I have missed many days.  I decided to write about this because I know there are many young girls with Rett Syndrome.  I hope you believe they are intelligent.  I was so happy to hear of the comments last week on The View when Anna’s family shared that she is intelligent and understands.  That it’s just her body is not working right, because that is new.  When I was in school and especially when I was young, people assumed girls’ with Rett Syndrome were severely mentally impaired.  Little is offered to girls with that diagnosis.  It seems like that is changing and I am so happy about that because there are so many great things to do if we are seen as intelligent.  For those who have young girls with Rett Syndrome, I hope your schools are believing in her and when she graduates that her life doesn’t end and that she is allowed to show in every way that she is intelligent and capable of doing more than sitting in a room with others who are very impacted by their own disability.

My friend Elizabeth has Rett Syndrome and does not go to a day program either. She is very intelligent and communicates with a keyboard too.


My dreams for my life are to live with my family with the right kind of help so I am free to communicate, create art, write, have friends, have great things to look forward to, have people around me who believe in me and help me on the days when I can’t stand to be living in my body.

I have many hopes that one day there will be relief for the many girls and some boys who live with this rare disorder, but in the meantime, we need your kindness and we need your belief that we deserve more than just sitting and waiting in buildings until we die.  My Mom said, after we decided that I would not stay in the adult day program I was in after I graduated from High School, that it was like going to kindergarten and never being able to graduate for your whole life.  I would say, it’s like going to pre-school before you can crawl and talk and never be able to graduate.  It’s painful for those of us who are capable of more.

I have never been able to play music that sounded right to my ears, but I have songs in my heart waiting to come out. Leah has always played beautiful music.


Until there's relief for girl's with Rett Syndrome we will live in difficult bodies. My friend Ingrid Harding gave me this magnet for my van. It's from Girlpower2cure. There is hope for us.


I believe there are fewer people with low intelligence than many believe.  I think there are many people without the freedom to communicate because no one offered them the dedication it takes to make it possible to share who they are.  If it weren’t for my Mom, some of my teachers and caregivers, I would be just like them and I would hope to die very young.

I shared this because I hope this world continues to change for the better.  We are all better if everyone is valued.  I am sending my Rett friends a big hug today.

Love, Karly

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Waiting for Summer!

It has been a long time since I have written.  I have been sick this month with bronchitis and I have not gotten healthy very fast.  I am frustrated because I love to be active and I am too tired and weak to go places.  I’m sick of Dr appointments being my only outing.  I feel better today, but I don’t have a lot of energy.

I love this garden fairy on our patio

Sunrise out my bedroom window


I wanted to let everyone know that I am listening to a lot of books.  I am in a book discussion group for the camp I speak at, online.  It is The Land Between.  I like it because it’s an honest book about how hard life is when we are just waiting for good things to happen.  I know there are many people who have much worse situations than I do, so I am glad for my life and my family.  But it is hard to have so little happening each day because of my health.

My Mom and I want to go someplace warm with Gregg each winter but it’s too hard to do that.  Maybe take a long road trip.  It isn’t easy for me ot travel without help so it’s a good dream, but I would love it if we had a motorhome with a lift for my chair.  We would leave today!!  It would be such a good thing to be by water and have sun on my face again.

Bloom from the vine on our patio-it helps me to remember


I am trying to listen to my heart and know that I will be able to get out soon.  I could use some encouragement today.  I have an appointment today with Karen, my music therapist.  I am working on another song.  It has taken a lot of effort to get it out, but I feel really excited about it.  I have been listening to my CD and trying to not forget my poems….I am More Than my Body.

Here is my song, Ever After with my poem I AM, read by my sister Leah. 10 Track 10

It was one year ago tomorrow that we went to the recording studio to begin recording my songs.

I hope you are well today.

Love, Karly

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