Drum roll please…this week’s topic is…
What are your favorite five quotes? Share your inspiration by dropping them in the comment box and check back to see what lights up other’s imaginations too.
Thanks for making last Friday’s Favorite Five so much fun. Here’s this week’s topic:
Where are your favorite five places? It could be in far off lands, the chaise lounge in your backyard or simply somewhere in your imagination. Drop me a comment. I’d love to know what places inspire you most! Oh yeah, and please don’t strain your brain (it’s Friday, after all). Take five minutes or less and see what comes to mind first.
Each Friday I’m going to list a topic, My Favorite Five ____, and each Friday I hope you’ll join in the conversation by sharing your Favorite Five.
What are your favorite five verbs (at least this week)? If you’re like me, they probably change often. Don’t strain your brain too much. Just see what comes to mind in five minutes or less and drop them in the comment box. Your participation will be like a virtual high five for Favorite Five Friday, and it will inspire me to start thinking about next week’s topic.
If there were one word to best describe the blogging community, it would have to be “SUPPORTIVE.” In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been bowled over time and time again by the extreme kindness, generosity, and unwavering support of fellow bloggers.
And now I’ve been knocked over once again–this time with awards from several writers whom I enjoy and respect immensely. Each brings brightness and creativity to the web, and makes blogging not only uplifting, but infinitely fascinating.
Deborah Batterman at The Things She Thinks About has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Deborah is not only a talented blogger, but the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, entitled, Shoes, Hair, Nails. She is perhaps the most generous author/blogger/social media whiz I’ve met–continually creating exceptional content for her own site and also sharing relevant, entertaining and just plain cool stuff with us via Facebook, Twitter and SheWrites. I have no idea where she finds the time to do all this, but it’s definitely worth seeing what Deborah is up to. Click on the links above or follow her on Twitter: @DEBatterman.
Melissa at Play 101 has nominated me for the Candle Lighter Award.
“The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.
The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”
It is a tremendous honor to receive this from Melissa because she exemplifies this award. Melissa is an extraordinary writer (former journalist, news anchor, all around smarty pants—in the best sense). She writes about life and children, and always leaves you wanting more. Not only is her blog filled with thoughtful content, but the comments she leaves on other blogs makes you yearn to write (and think) as eloquently as she does.
Arindam at Being Arindam has nominated me for the HUG Award (Hope Unites Globally). Arindam is a blogger who lives in India and shares his universal views on love and life through his words and pictures. His posts are always heart-felt, adding a glimmer of insight and hope about the broader world. I’m honored to receive this award from him.
The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.
“People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” (see this link for all the information regarding this award: HUG).
The Kreativ Blogger Award asks that I share seven things about myself with you that you don’t already know. This link tells about as much as anybody could ever possibly want to know about me: A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful (click on it if you’re interested).
The best part of receiving these awards is nominating others and paying it forward–sending a virtual hug and a high-five to fellow bloggers. Please check out their blogs and see why I’m thrilled to be nominating each of them.
I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR CANDLE LIGHTER AWARD:
Tracey Baptiste at Knitting with Pencils
Brenda Moquez at Passionate Pursuits
Jessica Winters Mireles at Allegro non Tanto
I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD:
Amber Dusick at Crappy Pictures
Harper Faulkner at All Write
Cindy Brown at Everyday Underwear
I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE HUG AWARD:
Nancy MacMillan at Blog of a Vet’s Wife
Tina Barbour at Bringing Along OCD
With my fair skin and freckles, and a maiden name honoring the color of shamrocks and leprechaun duds, you can bet I’ll be celebrating all things Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.
Mostly I’ll be celebrating the luck of the Irish, which I’ve often felt I’ve been blessed with much of my life.
Don’t get me wrong or think I’m bragging when I say this because, believe me, I’ve had my share of heart-shattering moments just like everybody else–where I’ve practically had to duct tape my aorta and ventricles back together to keep functioning. Still I’ve always felt ridiculously lucky (all you have to do is read my posts about why I ended up in Aspen (part one and part two), or my post about how I met my husband to understand why).
Here’s another perfect example: several years ago I decided that I was finally going to write a novel that had been kicking around in my head for years. It was time to stop thinking about it, and just do it, as the famous Nike advertisement once espoused.
So I began.
Scene after scene poured out of me and onto my computer. The characters consumed me, the words swirled through me; I even began hearing the soundtrack for my book playing in my head as I wrote it. It was magic.
But then I re-read the pile of chapters I had quickly amassed and realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
After writing into the wee hours one night, on a whim, I decided to go online and take a look at an adult education course catalog for our local community college. The school listed several writing classes, but only one fit my schedule: it was called “Write from the Start,” taught by an instructor named Cork Millner. The catalog merely listed the course title, but no description. I wasn’t sure if this would help me with my novel, but I liked the sound of it, and thought the instructor’s name was charming and quirky (or at least impossible for him to be mean).
This is the lucky part: the class started the very next morning. It was like a sign sent from the Lucky Irish Heavens. Clearly, it was meant to be, so without another thought I jumped off my safe, cozy “do it later” cliff and pushed the SIGN UP button.
The next morning as I got ready for class, I was buzzing with the challenge of a new adventure, but also feeling like an awkward sixth grader on her first day of school. The reality of what I had signed up for suddenly hit me. Nerves made my coffee taste like dirt and my hands turn to ice. I hadn’t been in college in years…okay, make that two decades. I’d been busy running our photo agency.
Between the butterflies in my stomach and the rain dumping outside my window, I could barely force myself out the door. To top it off, when I arrived at school the parking lot was full, offering an easy excuse to bail on the whole absurd idea and go have coffee instead.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I tried to bolster myself as I circled the surrounding blocks multiple times looking for parking.
“The best things in life have always happened when you’ve taken a risk,” I continued until I finally found a spot. “Just do it,” I mentally blasted myself as I pushed the door open and stepped out into the pouring rain.
By the time I finally made it to class I was not only late, but drenched and worn out from the effort. The instructor looked at me with raised eyebrows, and a half smirk-smile as I slinked to the back of the room trying to find an empty seat.
Then he wrote his name, Cork Millner, on the chalkboard, followed by the word CREATIVE NONFICTION.
WHAT? Nonfiction? Crap. My Irish luck suddenly felt like anything but.
I guess this wasn’t meant to be after all, I moaned to myself. I want to learn how to write a novel, not magazine articles or memoirs.
I thought about creeping back out the door right then, but sat paralyzed in indecision and pride. I’d already made a pathetic entrance into the class. I couldn’t bring myself to make a humiliating exit too.
So I stayed. And I listened. And I looked around. In no time I realized that the witty and seasoned instructor standing at the front of the class, who also happened to be a former Navy fighter pilot and the author of numerous books and hundreds of magazine articles, could teach me a thing or two about the art of writing, no matter what type it was.
Thus began one of the luckiest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken. Not only did Cork Millner teach me the most important things I’ve learned about structure, imagery, and the business of being a writer, he also taught me dozens of things I didn’t even know I wanted, or needed to know: particularly that creative nonfiction is my passion.
Blogging, sharing Jeffrey’s photography adventures from around the world and creating an ecclectic mix of health, fitness, food and feature profiles has filled my creative cereal bowl with a pile of sweet, colorful Lucky Charms.
It was lucky that I discovered Cork’s class. It was lucky that I did not bail on it when it was easier to go have coffee, and it was lucky that I stayed open to possibility.
Because of that, an extraordinary mentor was dropped into my life–one who offered me the perfect amount of encouragement, criticism, and wisdom, all at the right time.
Not only that, but Cork’s class also offered a place to meet and learn from dozens of other writers far more talented than me–all kindred spirits who cannot not write, and who feel compelled to share their ideas with the world. Many of these people are doing extraordinary things in addition to writing—like helping people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to eliminate plastic bags in Africa, helping families grappling with cancer, or showing people with dyslexia that it’s possible to become a professional writer.
Cork and his class will always remind me that luck rarely comes without taking risks, and even more important, the harder I work, the luckier I become.
So here’s to celebrating the luck of the Irish, and a man named Cork for whom I will always be grateful for making a staggering difference in my life (and no, that’s not because I’ve been nipping on Irish whiskey).
Thank you Cork, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!
Drop me a comment! I’d love to know who or what in your life has made you feel lucky!
Jeffrey and I are excited to announce the launch of our ebook, Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs.
It is now available for Kindle devices at Amazon.com and will be available for the NOOK, Sony Reader and iPad soon.
We hope you will be one of the first to download Steve & i, and if you feel inspired by what you read, please leave a review on Amazon.
Of course, we’d be thrilled (and eternally grateful) if you would tell others about it too.
Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon now has a free app you can download for both your Mac and PC. Here are the links: Kindle for Mac. Kindle for PC. If you have an Amazon account you can purchase the book and read it on your computer. You can also download a free Kindle app for your iPhone. Just go to the app store and batta boom, batta bang, you’re all set.
Our book is priced at $2.99 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to several leading cancer research institutes because…well, as you know, cancer sucks, and it took Steve Jobs’ life far too soon.
Book description: When photographer Jeffrey Aaronson received a call from Newsweek in 1984 to photograph Steve Jobs, he had no idea who Steve Jobs was or what impact Jobs was about to have on his life or the world.
Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs tells the captivating story of a young photographer and a young entrepreneur, and the friendship they forge when they are both twenty-nine years old—just as Aaronson is beginning to offer the world a new view through his lens and Jobs is beginning his mission to change it by introducing the most user-friendly personal computer ever conceived.
This 38-page little powerhouse of a book is packed with personal anecdotes and rarely seen photographs, which not only chronicle the launch of the first Macintosh personal computer, but also capture the essence of Steve Jobs the man before he became the icon.
It’s a must read for those who want to experience and be inspired by a side of Steve Jobs that few people have glimpsed.
Early reviews of the book read…
“A critical moment of shared inspiration is captured in this short but sweet profile of an intimate friendship between two highly motivated young men, forged immediately in trust and professional integrity. A rare, honest glimpse into the ensuing creative sparks that fly in the early blossoming careers and bonding of two visionaries who decide to be inspired by others AND courageously follow their callings and dreams. Bravo!”
-Bill Black, Director of Photography, Reader’s Digest
“This is not just a story about how friendships evolve from humble or chance beginnings. Rather, it’s an object lesson about mutual respect, curiosity, and a passion for excellence as the ingredients that propel true visionaries. Bravo, Jeffrey Aaronson, for enlightening us with the quieter, gentler side of the genius Steve Jobs. ”
-Larry C. Price, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist
“This is a sweet little book about a hugely talented and creative photographer’s relationship with a hugely talented and creative entrepreneur. With warmth, insight, and keen appreciation, Jeffrey brings back to life a man who for all his reputed prickliness and short temper was capable of simple, deep friendship.”
-Bob Morton, Former Editor-in-Chief of Abrams and the Aperture Foundation
“Photographers and Apple fans alike won’t want to miss this moving portrait of a private but profoundly influential man.”
-Russell Hart, Former Executive Editor American Photo
Last month Nancy Mixon, an awesome mom at our daughter’s elementary school, organized a Family Night in which a woman named Petit Pinson was invited to speak to our children about her experiences climbing Mt. Everest.
Petit showered the kids with stories and images from her trip, and even let them try on her climbing gear—suit, boots and all.
But it wasn’t Petit’s Everest climb that impressed me most, or that fact that she had been on an extreme adventure reality TV show, or that she and her team had given up their opportunity to summit Everest, just one camp away from the top, because they were busy saving the lives of a Japanese climbing team that had gotten into trouble and run out of oxygen.
What impressed me most was what she taught our kids about attitude.
Her approach was so simple, yet so profound, it has popped into my head numerous times over the past month.
What did she say? She simply used a Sharpie marker and wrote two words on the palms of her hands, holding them up for the audience to read.
One hand said GET and the other hand said YET.
To paraphrase this portion of her talk (in the extreme), she suggested that instead of grumbling about all the things you “have to” do in life (homework, chores, exercise, etc.), think about how lucky you are that you GET to do these things. You may dread taking out the trash or doing the final edit on your manuscript, but if you think about it, you’re darn lucky to live in a place that has trash service, and you’re uber fortunate to have a manuscript that’s in its final phases.
By changing your wording, you change your mindset so you no longer feel like you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do. Instead, you feel like you’re being given an opportunity, which makes you feel lucky.
Her other point touches on perspective. When you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not good at something, remind yourself about the word YET. You may not be good at writing query letters or playing tennis YET, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be later—after you’ve practiced hard trying to master it.
Few people are great at things they try for the first time, whether it’s writing, painting, taking pictures, climbing, learning a language, or conquering a new computer program. We all stumble, and even fall multiple times before we become proficient.
It’s all about attitude and perseverance, and remembering the word YET.
The reason Petit Pinson has popped into my head numerous times over the past few weeks is because Jeffrey and I have been working hard trying to master the art of ebook publishing.
Nothing about it has been easy, especially since our book is filled with photographs and captions, and ebook publishing is still in its infancy. Navigating through all the inconsistencies in information and formatting feels a bit like climbing Mt. Everest.
Many times I’ve wanted to head back to Base Camp and call it a day with a cold Negra Modelo, but then I’ve thought of Petit Pinson, and reminded myself that I’m the one who chose this path. I’m the one who wanted to figure it out on our own instead of handing it over to a third party publisher.
Because I chose this more difficult route, I GET to learn how it’s all done, and I GET to publish a book exactly how I want it—in all its various formats—for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and iPad. I also GET to learn several cool new computer and design programs and master things my non-technical soul usually sucks at (for lack of a better term).
Right now, it’s a slow grind up the mountain, but I keep reminding myself about the word YET. We’re not there YET, but we will be. It’s not perfect YET, but it’s close. We will get from Camp IV to the summit because Jeffrey and I are nothing but determined. Best of all, once we finally master this new challenge we’ll GET to add these new tools of knowledge to our creative backpacks for our next publishing adventures.
So here’s a shout out to you, Petit Pinson, for not only inspiring our kids to reach to new heights, but for reminding me that attitude is everything in life (and ebook publishing).
This film was nominated for the 2012 Critics’ Choice Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature, and was also listed as one of the 50 Best Movies of 2011 by Paste Magazine.
The gist of the film? It’s essentially a fly-on-the-wall look at The New York Times and the people who put it together. Through four memorable journalists who work on the Media Desk, the film examines how this prestigious newspaper, and others like it, are struggling to survive in the age of digital information. With the Internet surpassing print as the main source of news, and newspapers going bankrupt all over the country, Page One chronicles this grande dame and the media industry in the midst of its greatest turmoil.
Page One delivers the perfect mix of journalism, politics, publishing and all the people who work with or depend on it. You might call this film a love letter to a dying art form, the American newspaper, and a celebration of the traditional values of journalism in a time when our need for free, immediate information is chiseling away at that honored discipline.
This film is worth seeing for David Carr alone. An irascible media columnist, single parent, former crack addict and welfare recipient, Carr pumps this film full of verve with his intelligence, wit and his “No BS” approach to reporting. I say move over Brad Pitt and George Clooney–it’s David Carr who really deserves an Oscar, even if he is just portraying himself.
The other unlikely star of the film is the imposing Times headquarters designed by Renzo Piano. Even though the newspaper sold the building in 2009 and leased part of it back because it was on shaky financial ground, it’s hard not to be impressed by this gleaming monument. In many ways the building represents all that is right and wrong with the industry in the midst of rising new media.
If I had any criticism of Page One, it would be that it’s a bit scattered, following many intriguing threads, yet never tying them all up into one cohesive bow. Still, news junkies, writers, photographers, and anybody who cares about the future of media will appreciate this smart film.
My other criticism is less a criticism and more a personal wish: I wish the movie had focused on other sections of the newspaper as well–partly because we’ve worked with so many of them over the years. I wish we could have glimpsed our colleagues in the Travel, Business, Week in Review, or Arts & Leisure sections, or even the Magazine, who have all hired Jeffrey over the years and licensed his photography and our agency’s photography. I would have loved to have heard their thoughts about the state of the industry and where they think it’s heading in the digital age.
My rating: 4 stars out of 5
Film details: Directed by Andrew Rossi, Written by Kate Novak and Andrew Rossi. Released by Magnolia Pictures. Running time 1 hour 28 minutes. Out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Get your hands on it via Netflix, iTunes or any of the usual video outlets. Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
If any of you have seen the movie, I’d love to hear what you think. If not, I’m curious to know what you think the future of media brings for newspapers. Is it possible for them to stay vital and solvent? Drop me a comment and share your two cents.
You would have been hard pressed to convince me of that this morning though, as I took my shiny new road bike on its maiden voyage. Yep, after twenty-four years of riding the same bike, I finally upgraded my Buick to a Maserati (okay, maybe a turbo Beetle).
Why did it take me so long to buy a new bike? Well, first of all they cost as much as a used car. Second, there are so many choices, it makes your head spin trying to figure out which one to buy. And third, even though my old bike was heavy and merely equipped with twelve gears, I knew it inside out and backward.
I knew exactly when I needed to shift gears, get out the saddle, or lean into a curve. And I knew every quirk about it. I may have moaned as I cranked up hills, but in reality, I was comfortable with this old beast of a friend, I called Betty. She had carried me through numerous recreational rides and races, several triathlons, and a mountain of leisurely spins.
But last weekend after I finished a long training ride with a fun group of women, I noticed when I loaded Betty up in my van to head home that she had a flat tire.
Somehow this spectacular day of traversing some of Santa Barbara’s most scenic and challenging roads seemed the perfect ending to Betty’s long, illustrious career.
It’s then I decided to retire her and say, “So long, dear friend…”
…and “HELLO LUCY!” Woohoo!
As I was flying along today, grinning from ear to ear on my new ride, I knew for sure Lucy was going to turn me into the next Lance-olita Armstrong.
Yeah, baby, look out Tour de France!
But then, after about twenty-five miles my legs started to feel heavy, and my back and triceps started to feel like…well, let’s just say…like they weren’t twenty years old anymore.
Wait a second! That’s not supposed to happen. Do you hear that, Lucy?
Okay, okay, I guess I have to admit what I already know: it really isn’t about the bike.
It’s about the person riding the bike. And it’s about the hard work that still needs to be done—the five bazillion squats, lunges and core exercises I still need to do to get into the shape I’d like to be in again. The hills. The hours in the saddle. The discipline. The focus.
It’s the same thing with writing. We may think we’ll be better writers once we have the perfect writing space or when we get the latest computer upgrade, or perhaps when our websites are all snazzed out (or just up and running), but when it comes down to it, it’s not about any of that.
It’s about our thoughts, our creativity, focus, and discipline. It’s about working our tails off to make it happen. It’s about hours in the proverbial saddle, cranking out words and thoughts, like pedals cranking out miles on the road. It’s about commitment, and most of all, it’s about not finding excuses.
My new bike isn’t going to magically turn me into the next Lance Armstrong (or anything remotely close), nor is anything else going to turn me into the next Harper Lee.
Nothing, that is, except for hard work.
It screams possibilities. It oozes with adventure. It sizzles with freshness as we renew priorities and set a course for the year.
I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to make goals. What’s the difference? Most likely just semantics. But to me goals feel weightier and more lasting than resolutions.
Goals allow me to focus on what’s important in my life. Without them I tend to wander through days and even weeks without paying much attention to what I’m doing.
Perhaps because I lost my dad at an early age, I learned quickly that life is short. With that niggling notion always kicking around in my mind, often pushing my motivation buttons, I have a hard time forgiving myself if I bump along in a stupor.
This year’s goals keep me focused on giving back, trying new things, and completing projects–all the while maintaining balance between family, fitness and fun. I won’t bore you with the details of how I plan to reach these goals, or even what they mean, but I will share with you one of my all-time favorite New Year’s goals.
It’s one I accomplished two or three years ago, and one that might surprise you in its simplicity. It involved little more than time and thought.
My brothers were at the top of my list, as were several dear friends and other family members, including my husband and daughter.
With a family that’s often in perpetual motion, the hardest part was carving out quiet time to think. Once I did though, I picked out pretty stationery, settled down with a colossal cup of coffee, and spilled my heart onto the pages.
Each letter took several hours as I thought about how the recipient had impacted my life. My heart sang as I wrote my words, recalling each person’s unique characteristics and how he or she made me feel. I often laughed out loud or welled up with tears remembering funny or warm memories and all the sweetness that person had added to my life.
While my goal was intended to be “other focused,” it ended up being one of the most deliciously selfish goals I ever made because it gratified me in ways I never imagined.
The mere act of consciously focusing on each person made me appreciate how obscenely lucky I was to have that individual in my life; and it allowed me to gush and celebrate what is beautiful and unique about each one—something I’ve never been good at doing in person.
It took me an entire year to write letters to each of the 15 people on my list, but it made me happy in the extreme.
To this day it still makes me smile, especially when I imagine each person going to the mailbox, opening the letter, then instantly being wrapped in a warm, deserving blanket of appreciation. And thinking back to the teary return phone calls and heartfelt emails, telling me how much my letter meant to them, is like an exquisite gift that sits on a permanent shelf in my memory.
Here’s the kicker. I’m glad I didn’t wait.
Two of the special people I wrote letters to have since passed away. While I miss them both, it eases the pain of their loss knowing that no words were left unsaid; they knew without a doubt when they left this world, they had made a difference in somebody’s life.
After all, what better goal is there in life than that?