Posts Tagged ‘book’

The Post – I won the Battle of Photoshop!!

January 1, 2011

I was struggling with putting my images up on the Cafe Press site for my nature art products.  I wanted the image of my fiddler crab, Admiral Byrd, as the main pic for the site and for its own product line. Sounds good.

Loading the image went fine but even though I used 72 pt font to type in Hey Baby!  you could barely see it on the products or even the site’s picture. I tried everything – layers, putting the text in a canvas border (boy did that look stupid) , trying to downsize the picture (even though that’s an even stupider idea than putting text in the canvas border). How was I going to get big enough letters to show up on a high resolution image?????

FINALLY I decided to go back to my book, Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac.  I had spent a couple of hours going through the book earlier, with no help. But this was like God sending St. Peter back out to keep fishing after a whole night of no fish. You go back and try one more time and WOW! Talk about God sending a lightening bolt. Lo, THERE, on page 390, which my book just HAPPENED  to open to, was the answer: “How Resolution Affects Font Size”.  Did anybody here know you could get a bigger font size than what was in the drop-down menu????  I didn’t. As it turns out, you can just type in your own font size. And based on how tiny 72 was, I went for 150.

GUESS WHAT?  YES!  My words, Hey Baby!, not only showed up but they showed up as the right size!!!!  So I now have my site’s main picture, and a product line design picture, BOTH with the appropriately sized and looking text!!!!  YES!  One battle down, 3, 276.25 battles to go! 🙂

Soon to come….why Admiral Byrd as the icon of my Cafe Press shop and why, “Hey Baby!”  🙂

PS  Looking over posts unfinished from last year, suffice to say the ants died and that project ended quickly, at least for then. I’ll revisit at some point. As as for the Muses – they and Admiral Byrd are no longer with us. But Admiral Byrd is buried outside next to my statues of Buddha and Mary. He deserved to be honored and they will watch over him.

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The Post – Good Friday…Last Book Chapter

March 21, 2008

It is Good Friday. A day for some reason, I have always loved. That, Lent, and Holy Thursday. Easter itself, I hate. It always seemed like such a noisy unnecessary thing after the sanctity of the soul’s connection to God on Thursday and Friday.

I loved growing up in Catholic school and going to Mass every morning. Six days a week while in grammar school, I was in Mass. Six days a week for 8 years, I listened to the stories of Jesus’s life. They were as real to me as my family, truly meaningful, and enjoyed as much as Nancy Drew. The readings that cycled every year, dictated by the seasons of the liturgical calendar were as much a part of my life and soul as the leaves changing color, skies staying steely gray, and the crisp cold that smelled of snow dictated by the changing seasons of New England.

Every year there was a constancy, a rhythm, something you could count on to return to. No matter what else happened in life – those were my touchstones. Raking leaves into piles you could jump into, short days and long nights, cold Halloweens with orange full moons in costumes bought at the discount store, my grandfather bringing pails of sand/salt mix home from the Town Garage, the rhythm of those happenings matched the Advent wreath candles and the church readings as we marched toward Christmas.

The anticipation of Christ’s birth matched the anxiety of waiting for Santa Claus. Midnight Mass in a candle-lit church, boughs of pine branches decorating the walls and door arches, being with all those old Slovak immigrants I knew so well, who built that church, even the way they filled the pews inside – old men on one side in the back, old women on the other side in the back, the younger families (unsegregated) in the rows in front of them – all those images and happenings was as much loved and needed by me, as going home to open presents. In looking back, I think actually, that those moments in the church surrounded by those people, those images, those sights, sounds, and smells, are what I remember more than going home and opening presents.

While the church images are crisp, the presents are kind of a fog. A few stand out: a Jon Gnagy art set, a microscope with dissecting kit, a map-making set, my Dick Tracy machine gun with Marine Corps helmet, canteen, and pistol, and in ironic contrast – soft warm new flannel pajamas, and a plastic carrying case with new pretty underwear each one labeled for a day of the week. Perhaps the ones that stand out in my memory are there because they connected with those parts of who I really am. …as to the days-of-the-week underwear…maybe that’s why I love planners???? 🙂 But the bottom line is that if I were told today that my memory was going and I could only retain certain memories and lose the rest, it is those memories of early weekday mornings in church, and holidays spent there, that I would choose.

So it is that same connection that continues to influence me throughout the rest of the year’s happenings and the rest of the year’s liturgical seasons. While I hate Easter – always HATED having to go buy a new dress and coat, then stand around like a china doll with an itchy crinolin slip, shiny shoes, straw hat and purse, and gloves (gloves – why wear something you always have to keep track of, in a season where it’s no longer cold enough to need them????), unable to run around with the boys in the backyard and have fun – I LOVED Lent, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday.

Lent itself was about focus, commitment, ritual and stories. You focused on something – the coming trauma Jesus would go through. You gave something up – allowance money, candy, gum, whatever, for something bigger than yourself. (Though in our house, you were allowed to indulge on Sundays) You did the ritual of the Stations of the Cross around the Church, every Friday and listened to the gospel readings. For both of those, it was about “story.” Each station was a painted picture on the wall that told a part of the story of the crucifixion. The gospel gave the whole story.

Holy Thursday nights were processions in church, long litanies recited in Latin by visiting priests, the smell of the hyacinths we carried as we marched, the sense of being together again in that place where everyone I knew was going to be, and…the stories. The story of the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, Jesus being taken to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate, Peter denying he knew Jesus. I loved the stories. They were like old friends.

Good Friday was a time to hear the whole long, VERY long gospel, so long that halfway through, the priest would stop reading, turn and kneel silently for a minute or two, then stand and finish the rest. It was a day when my mom would make us turn off the radios and TV and keep things “quiet” so you could honor what that day meant. It was a time when the church was stripped bare to symbolically represent the loss of Jesus, and to contemplate what that meant. It was a day to think about a story’s march through rising problems, crisis, and climax, with the relief and resolution Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday would bring.

So here it is today, Good Friday again. I was standing in the bathroom this morning talking to my husband about what I was going to get done today. I said that originally I was going to go to the gym and swim but that I canned that idea. I wanted this last chapter revision of my book finished today, no matter what. I said that it just felt like it needed to be today. He made a joke about it being like our son’s birth- our son was two weeks late, wouldn’t leave even when I started eating Mexican food, had to be induced, and during the last stages of labor I literally remember telling him to “Get out!”

I said, no it wasn’t about labor, but something about the fact it was Good Friday. And I wasn’t sure why. Just felt for some reason, the “season” of my book, needed to match the liturgical season of the day. I said, “I don’t know why but it just feels like this book NEEDS to be finished today, like today is the right day. So the hell with the gym, I’m just going down in the garage (where I work) and finish this damned thing today. At the end of today, I just want to be able to say that this draft is finished.”

Now, I’ll still have “polishing and cutting work to do in the next draft but that will now be a whole different process, almost fun. This draft, like draft # one, was like giving birth, like creating and writing from scratch. Now, I can “play.” The agony of the creating and writing from scratch phase will “be finished.”

As soon as the word “finished” tumbled out of my mouth, the lines from the Gospel of John flashed in my brain:

“After this, Jesus knowing that all was now finished, said, to fulfill the scripture, ‘I thirst.’ A bowl of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

So today is Good Friday, a day I have always loved, though I cannot tell you why, other than to say that always on Good Friday, something in my soul has felt complete. So today, I will honor the silent moments of the liturgical season, with the silence of completing my book. If it takes until midnight, I will finish today, so that the two stories shall meet in the single line: “It is finished.”

The Gift

March 20, 2008

“Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?”

Pema Chodron, from her book, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

The Post – Life Advice on the Other End of the Spectrum

March 19, 2008

I did not ignore my posting today, just got caught up in revising two chapters of my novel, Under the Pier. I am one chapter’s revision away from being finished with the second draft. At least this time, it looks like a real book, instead of a pile of pages with 10000 “fix-it” cards flapping off the pages like lettuce. (Draft 1).

Given it’s late and I”m tired, and given that yesterday’s post was very serious with deep advice, I decided that the perfect balance to that is to seek “Life Advice on the Other End of the Spectrum,” ie “the ridiculous.” For that, one must seek out ….Nancy Drew.

I have this book, Clues for Real Life: The Classic Wit & Wisdom of Nancy Drew.” It’s compiled by Jennifer Fisher for Meredith Books. It’s a collection of humorous advice based on Nancy’s adventures in the original 56 yellow-spined books….the ones I grew up with…the only “true” Nancy Drew stories…though we won’t get into those 1930s original versions that are so politically incorrect it’s not only embarrassing but painful. I tend toward the 1950s/1960s versions of the stories. Most of the really offensive stuff was edited out.

Anyway, when you’ve really been pushed to your limits, I say, chuck the serious advice and go for the silly. I think even Eleanor Roosevelt and Pema Chodron might agree with me. So I leave you with a few bits of life wisdom, compliments of Nancy’s adventures and the anonymous author of this book.

“If someone’s trying to buy a house and it suddenly becomes haunted, it’s probably not a coincidence.” (The Hidden Staircase)

“A fashion-conscious sleuth always puts on her robe and slippers before she investigates things in the middle of the night.” (The Secret of the Golden Pavilion)

“When your special friend is coming over, you might get your housekeeper to serve cake and ice cream while wearing a pretty apron and cap.” (The Clue in the Diary)

“While waiting out an overheating car in the desert, it’s always refreshing to touch up your lipstick before your rescuers arrive.” (The Secret of Shadow Ranch)

and last but not least, advice on love:

“When your boyfriend is chloroformed and tied to a tree and he’s just disgusted with himself at being caught instead of you for getting him into this predicament, you know he likes you.” (The Ghost of Blackwood Hall)

Some other time I will have to give the tallies for how many times in these books, Nancy has been knocked unconscious, her car totaled, her house robbed, her father, housekeeper, best friends, boyfriend and her dog knocked unconscious. I figure by the time she is 40, the brain damage from getting hit over the head or chloroformed, will have set in and she probably can’t afford car insurance because of all the times she was run off the road by the villains.

Until then….

The Post – A Murderous Time

March 18, 2008

I am tired. I am tired of struggling and believing and hanging in there. I want to sell everything, and just take off and not have to be responsible anymore. I am tired of struggling and struggling and struggling in life, of reaching for dreams or challenges, trying to live my beliefs, stay open to others, all while life just keeps pounding you. Life, can be murderous. Someone said it’s not the big things that get you, but the accumulation of all those small aggravations, like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Now often those are the words of the tired 2-year-old, and we all have one. Usually when the 2-year-old speaks it, the 52-year-old understands, knows it’s just a rant, and keeps going. It’s those moments in life though, when the 2-year-old utters it, and the 52-year-old agrees, that I know I have to stop and attend to my heart. Those are the times I reach for wisdom others have culled from their lives and put into words.

So for today, I simply leave everyone with the wisdom from others who have been there and lived through it to see the other side:

___________________________
In a murderous time
the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking. It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn.
From “The Testing-Tree” by Stanley Kunitz
________________________________
“The only way out is through.”
Unknown
________________________________

“As a species, we should never underestimate our low tolerance for discomfort. …Never underestimate our inclination to bolt when we hurt. …Being compassionate enough to accommodate our own fears takes courage… We need to be told that fear and trembling accompany growing up and that letting go takes courage. Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of ego. So we ask ourselves, “What do I do when I feel I can’t handle what’s going on? Where do I look for strength and in what do I place my trust?”

The Buddha taught that flexibility and openness bring strength and that running from groundlessness weakens us and brings pain. But do we understand that becoming familiar with the running away is the key? Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well. Rather than going after those walls and barriers with a sledgehammer, we pay attention to them. With gentleness and honesty we move closer to those walls…get to know them well. We begin a process of acknowledging our aversions and our cravings. We become familiar with the strategies and beliefs we use to build the walls…Without calling what we see right or wrong, we simply look as objectively as we can.

….We can begin to pay attention to our methods of escape. …We can misuse any substance or activity to run away from insecurity. When we become addicted to the lord of form, we are creating the causes and conditions for suffering to escalate. We can’t get any lasting satisfaction no matter how hard we try. Instead the very feelings we’re trying to escape from get stronger….Transformation occurs only when we remember, breath by breath, year after year, to move toward our emotional distress without condemning, or justifying our experience.”

Pema Chodron from the book, The Places That Scare You

_____________________________

“Abandon any hope of fruition.”

Mind training slogan #28, of the 59 mind-training slogans or Lojong teachings of Atisha Dipankara, an eleventh century Buddhist teacher who brought these teachings from India to Tibet. These teachings show us how to transform difficult moments…what we most dislike about ourselves….the greatest obstacles in our lives – anger, resentment etc., into the means to awaken our open heart.

For a full teaching by Pema Chodron on this particular slogan, see her book: Start Where You Are : A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron, Copyright 1994, Shambhala Publications.

You can also click on the link at the bottom left of the “Tonglen and Mind Training” web page or click here

Two excerpts from her teaching:

“Our next slogan is “Abandon any hope of fruition.” You could also say, “Give up all hope” or “Give up” or just “Give.” The shorter the better.

One of the most powerful teachings of the Buddhist tradition is that as long as you are wishing for things to change, they never will. As long as you’re wanting yourself to get better, you won’t. As long as you have an orientation toward the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are.”

” In Boston there’s a stress-reduction clinic run on Buddhist principles. It was started by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Buddhist practitioner and author of Full Catastrophe Living. He says that the basic premise of his clinic-to which many people come with a lot of pain-is to give up any hope of fruition. Otherwise the treatment won’t work. If there’s some sense of wanting to change yourself, then it comes from a place of feeling that you’re not good enough. It comes from aggression toward yourself, dislike of your present mind, speech, or body; there’s something about yourself that you feel is not good enough. People come to the clinic with addictions, abuse issues, or stress from work-with all kinds of issues. Yet this simple ingredient of giving up hope is the most important ingredient for developing sanity and healing.”

For a complete list of the mind training slogans: click here

________________________

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”

Both, by Eleanor Roosevelt, who also instructed us to:

“Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You.”

So now, I will try to see if the 2-year-old, and 52-year old, can reach agreement in their hearts, to struggle on and “do the thing you think you cannot do.”

The Gift

March 18, 2008

The writer in me loves the voice of the book character below, and how well the author captures her essence in words. I just love this piece. Also, it is a description of old age that I embrace. I can see me being the same way.

From the book, On Agate Hill, by Lee Smith:

“Oh it was all so long ago. And yet here is that bad girl Molly stuck forever in this notebook, bursting from its pages. I thought I would not know her anymore, and yet I find that I am her, just as wild and full of spite and longing as ever, as I still am. For an old woman is like a child, but more than a child, for I know what I know yet I feel exactly the same in my heart. These young girls don’t know that, do they? It would surprise them. But that thing does not wear out. I could tell them. I could tell those girls a thing or two.

Oh I know what they say about me in town. I know I am old and sick. Yet inside I am just the same and I’ll swear it, still crazy with love and pain, still wanting who knows what. I am not sure what happened to that smart girl in between….It seems like only yesterday that she walked out the door and got lost someplace down that old Indian trail. But I would do it all over again, every bit of it.

Oh I know what they say about us in town, and I say, the hell with them! I tell you, I don’t give a damn. I have got to be an old woman in the twinkling of an eye, and it is sort of a relief, I can tell you. I do what I want to now. Last week I traded all our eggs for ice cream at Holden’s Grocery. Now that I have shrunk down little as a child, I figure I might as well act like one. I don’t care….We got to market in the car, Henry driving, me wearing Mitty’s old black hat, I know it scares the children, but you know what? I like to scare the children! And I believe they like it too.”

The Gift

March 12, 2008

“When our heart is full of love, then we are creating more love, peace, and joy in the world. When we send the energy of love and compassion to another person, it doesn’t matter if they know we are sending it. The important thing is that the energy is there and the heart of love is there and is being sent out into the world. When love and compassion are present in us, and we send them outward, then that is truly prayer.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice

The Gift

March 9, 2008

“Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted.”

Pema Chodron, from her book, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.

The Post – A Followup to Lee Woodruff and Caring for Our Injured Soldiers

March 9, 2008

A REVISION NOTE: THE URL FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE BELOW IN INCORRECT. CLICK HERE FOR THE CORRECT LINK FOUND IN MY MARCH 25 08 POST.

I received a comment on March 7th’s post about Lee Woodruff and her Book, In An Instant. Usually I respond directly on the comment for that post, but decided to respond with a post of it’s own. I do not have personal experience with this group and cannot vouch for them. If of interest, here is the information. There is a Washington Post article that is included in the comment that may be of interest.

First, the comment:

Richard Anderson | richard@wellspouse.org | wellspouse.org |

I have read Lee and Bob Woodruff’s book, In an Instant, and it rings true. The Woodruffs were actually very lucky, thanks to top-quality medical care, and possibly divine intervention as well! It is very much to their credit that they have now started their Family Fund for Iraq war veterans and others with TBI.

As President of the Well Spouse Association (http://wellspouse.org, 1-800-838-0879), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) grassroots organization offering peer support to husbands, wives or partners of people with chronic illness and/or disability, I should know.

About 10% of our members are caregivers to spouses or partners with TBI. In this and other chronic illness situations, it can be a life sentence. They need support to help them feel they are not alone in their caregiver journey. Lee Woodruff made that clear in her book in speaking out about her own experience.

Thank you for a perceptive post. For another perceptive look at the life of a spousal caregiver, read the Washington Post Magazine story, The Vow, p. W10, March 9, 2008, about a WSA member whose wife has Huntington’s Disease, here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/04/AR2008030402498.

Lee Woodruff noted that there are many small groups and large national groups, including some within the military, working to help the families of traumatic brain injury patients. I imagine there are resources out there for other illnesses as well, offering support to family members. To find a support group, or verify that a group is legitimate, asked your physician, VA, hospital social worker, ask at your military base, or veteran’s groups. Usually these places will have further information on a support group or a place you can contact to locate support.

The Post – Lee Woodruff – In An Instant and Helping Our Injured Soldiers

March 7, 2008

Taking a rest tomorrow, so posting Saturday’s Gift and Post tonight.

Tonight I had the honor of hearing Lee Woodruff speak at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, about her book In An Instant. It’s co-written by Lee and her husband Bob Woodruff, the ABC News anchor who sustained a traumatic brain injury from an IED while on assignment in Iraq . It’s the story of their family’s journey through pain to healing and then recovery.

I could say many things about her – she’s a great speaker, frank, honest, down-to-earth, warm. Passionate comes to mind – she speaks so passionately about our servicemen, what they go through and the struggles they have after sustaining such injuries. She very frankly noted that her family was lucky as they had the care of ABC, Disney, and many family and friends to sustain them. Our servicemen do not. She also frankly noted that it is the willingness of those young men and women to step up to the plate and volunteer that makes it possible for the rest of us, her 16-year-old son included, to have a choice as to what we will do with our lives.

She noted that their family has worked to turn the experience into good, lemons into lemonade, including setting up a charitable fund for servicemen with traumatic brain injuries, which I’ll explain in a moment. They have grown as a family. They have tried to help others. When asked though, given all the good that’s come out of what happened to her husband, and all the good things they’ve done and people they’ve helped, did she view what happened to him as a good thing? Her immediate answer was an unequivocal “NO.” She said if she could rewind the clock, she’d wish this never happened. However, it did. She has come to understand that life is suffering and you simply choose whether it can ennoble you or make you bitter. She noted very simply that she did not want to become a bitter old woman.

She has tremendous compassion for others and said she imagined everyone sitting there has experienced some kind of life-altering event. She feels for all. Often times people come up to her and say “this happened to me, but it wasn’t anything like what you went through.” She immediately put a halt to that thought. Her feeling is that life hands everyone suffering and pain is pain.

She spoke strongly about the struggles of our servicemen and their families when there is a traumatic brain injury. Too often these families are struggling and forgotten. She and Bob make it a point to visit VA hospitals when they travel. It is obvious this is a driving passion for both of them. She feels they were given a chance to have good care so now it’s their turn to bring attention to the servicemen. She shared a quote:

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

That came from George Washington. She felt we are not doing enough for our injured veterans now.

In gratitude for their good fortunes they’ve started the Bob Woodruff Family Fund to assist service members injured while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Special emphasis is for traumatic brain injury victims. They work to raise public awareness of the problem, excellence in research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment. support and resources for the injured as they try to reintegrate to daily life. They work with individuals and small organizations to do everything from provide money for cab fares to wives of injured servicemen going to and from hospitals, to funds for bills, treament and rehabilitation for a blinded veteran who lost his pension and whose wife had to quit work to nurse him back to health. The stories were too numerous.

Her deep commitment to these men and women showed in her words, her face, her eyes. It is said eyes are the windows to the soul. That is the truth. Her eyes showed her soul. It is a soul of love.

If anyone wants more information on how to donate to the fund and help our servicemen who have given so much, the website is:

www.BobWoodruffFamilyFund.org

And she noted they have only one paid employee – the wife of a Marine who is on his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq, and she works out of her bedroom so they don’t have to use any money to pay for an office.