writing


Does the summer heat tempt you to leave your desk light off? If so, you might risk straining your eyes. I just came across one of my posts published by Women On Writing back in 2011 and thought the information worth sharing again. Hope you find it helpful!

The things we do to ourselves… Last week I decided it was too hot to have the lights on in my office. I worked in a dim room all week and ended up with an annoying twitch in my right eye. So, I decided to do some research on eye strain and how to prevent it. Are you ready for the condensed version?

Office Ergonomics:

Your computer screen should be at arms length, with the middle of the screen setting approximately fifteen degrees below your sight line. Place the monitor at a right angle to any window or bright light source to reduce glare.

The lighting in the room should be no more than three times brighter than the screen. The best lighting is indirect; the aim is to avoid glare and shadow. Use task lighting for any paperwork.

Paperwork should be placed at the same level and angle as the monitor, or directly in front of the monitor, to reduce the strain of repeatedly changing focus.

Rest and Exercise:

Take a break at least every thirty minutes to relax your eye muscles, either rest with your eyes closed for a few seconds or choose one of these exercises.

The Stretch

You know this one. Look up, look down, look left, look right– you should be able to feel the stretch. Making “figure eights” will work just as well, or look around the room and trace the outline of objects with your eyes.

Zen Vision

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures where there are two possible images. For instance, one might see either a beautiful woman with a bared shoulder or an old hag with a wart on her nose. The trick to seeing both images is to look without focusing. This type of vision relaxes the focus muscles.

The Painter

Hold up your thumb, now look at your thumb then look at something distant. Go back and forth several times.

Finish by quickly rubbing your palms together and placing your hands over your eyes, the warmth and darkness will relax the muscles.

Lubricate:

Did you know that when we are relaxed we blink twenty-two times per minute, but when we are at a computer we only blink seven times per minute? Blinking replenishes the moisture shield across our eyes. This moisture shield protects our eyes from germs and also allows proper light refraction for accurate sight. If your vision is fuzzy, or if your eyes are red or feel gritty, you may have dry eyes.

Artificial tears are perfectly safe to use as often as you need. Choose a good quality tear replacement product; many are available in preservative free formulas.

Increase your intake of EFAs (essential fatty acids), they are essential in keeping the mucous membranes moist.

If eye strain continues to be a problem, ask your ophthalmologist about computer glasses.

I’m more aware now of the improper lighting and the discomfort it has been causing, and my eyes feel better after trying just a few of these exercises. These tips helped me; I hope you find them helpful as well.

Original article at Women On Writing

I’ve been busy over at Museiddity! The new site focuses on arts, crafts, and creativity. With the holiday season approaching, I wanted to make sure we had some momentum going.  Highlights from the first few months include an interview with Arizona glass bead artist Haley Smith, a burlap wreath tutorial, and The Bead Hoarders Blog Hop which was organized by Lori Anderson at Pretty Things.

Serengeti Necklace by rlcFor the hop I created this Serengeti Necklace; the pendant consists of an elephant bead wired to a piece of bark from the Paulownia tree, also known as the Empress Tree. I enjoy crafting with unusual and reusable objects; this is a theme we will be revisiting at Museiddity in the months to come.

With the other site up and running, I feel I can relax back into a routine and resume my postings here. Thank you for sticking around! As a treat, please enjoy this photo taken by Penkdix Palme.

frog-under-umbrella

I just came across this video and want to share it with you.

Why should you care about GMOs? Because studies have proven they are not safe, because other countries have banned them, and because your food labels may not disclose all the ingredients. Have you ever thought about the corn oil used in your condiments or packaged foods? What about the non-organic fruits and veggies you purchase? What about your pet’s food?

Not only are GMOs unhealthy for consumers, the crops are unhealthy for our pollinating friends (bees, butterflies. etc…) and unhealthy for our local farmer’s pocketbook– GMO crops don’t reseed very well which means repurchasing seeds each season.

Please purchase, garden, and vote wisely.

Pipe_Dreams_preview.1If you’re tired of a summer reading list filled with sappy romance novels then listen up, this book has “bite”!

The scenario:

Due to bio warfare we are now under military control. That alone is scary enough, but add some genetic engineering, an organized “underground”, spice it up with potential romance and stir with the manipulator of all manipulators and you have one heck of a meal.

My thoughts:

What I love about Pipe Dreams, and what frightens me the most, is the believable plot that could very well happen tomorrow (conspiracy theorists will eat this up). Although listed as “dystopian,” this novel is tame enough for any fiction lover to enjoy.

Allison keeps up the pace with plenty of plot twists and engaging dialog. She offers us a diverse cast of characters each with their own convictions and illustrates “how our individual pursuit of dreams affects our collective reality.”

Allison’s voice has been described as poetic or lyrical. Perhaps it is the artist in her that allows “heart” to shine through her writing. Her scenes are visually descriptive; her characters’ emotions tangible. Intelligent wordplay and structure blend her writing, in any genre, into something more literary. This is Destiny Allison’s first novel, but it is her second book. Shaping Destiny, her memoir, was published in March of 2012 (I reviewed it here).

Pipe Dreams will be released on June 3rd, but don’t let that delay you! You can get a sample of the book or pre-order a copy. Allison will be blog-touring in July; sign up on her mailing list to find out more about the tour. Also, you can follow on Twitter with the hashtag #pipedreams.

Note to all artists and writers: Destiny Allison is paying it forward! Twenty-five percent of her proceeds through June will be given to someone with a project or dream to fuel. Read more about that on her site.

Happy May Day!

Traditionally, May Day celebrates the Earth’s stirring from her winter slumber. In honor of this bridge between Earth Month and the coming summer I would like to share a couple of poems from Sublime Planet by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson. These poems are re-printed with their permission. You can find two more poems, plus an interview with the authors at Museiddity.com.

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The Man I Love and The Writing Spider

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

 

Proud Arachne weaving threads of silver

into words became a changeling

at the hand of Zeus. Charlotte knew

the power of words

could save even a pig. The Writing

Spider my imagination’s

mascot.

 

Forgetting my reverence for its writing

skills I begin to slide the patio door against

this micro werewolf in righteous

self-defense, his imagined face vicious,

hairy his legs, those tools under his belly

no longer idealized

wordspinners.

 

Just in time, my husband, child of Zen,

tenderly shanghais my attacker. A folded

tissue—a papery cocoon not unlike

the silky space this spider makes

for herself in window

corners—protects

his palm.

 

He shakes her loose

from her pristine hammock

gently

near the mound where ants

hang out to dine at will

on any fallen enemy

or comrade.

 

Saving one to kill or be killed.

Once, the savior of this story

 

rescued a bee, legs

and antennae

fruited with pollen,

only to have it plant its stinger

in his thumb and slowly die

anyway.

 

Neither bee nor spider

aware of how tender

and treacherous my hero’s

trap.

 

Smokewater

by Magdalena Ball

 

Slowly, if you will

tip toeing through the biomass

pores hot and open

body on alert

pick through chemical decomposition

charred landscape of desire.

 

The wood beneath your fingers

terra preta

veins visible against filtered light;

a promise

you may or may not keep.

 

Future

a concept too vague and amoral

to hold you.

 

The dirt below

becomes wilderness in your brain

the boggy soil in your gut

inspires forward motion.

 

Sublime Planet is the most recent book in The Celebration Series; I like the fact that all proceeds go to the World Wildlife Fund. If you like reading and sharing great poetry you’ll want to check out the rest of these titles. All are available as paperback and e-books.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up fast—these make fun tuck-in gifts!

 

She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood (http://budurl.com/MotherChapbook)

Cherished Pulse: Love Poetry for the Rational
(http://budurl.com/CherishedPulse)

Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions

(http://budurl.com/Imagining )

Deeper into the Pond: A Celebration of Femininity

(http://budurl.com/DeeperPond)

And Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
(http://budurl.com/BloomingRed)

And, of course, Sublime Planet in celebration of the Earth and Universe

(http://amzn.to/SublimePlanet)

 

Have a little May Day fun and share a short poem with us! In the comment section below, share a poem on the theme of May Day or Spring. Keep it short–under 200 character, like a Tweet.

 

Dual Composter

Some girls want diamonds, but not me. No, for years now I’ve been asking Santa, the Birthday Fairy and the Easter Bunny for a composting drum. The Birthday Fairy finally came through!

This dual unit is from Gardener’s Supply Company. The idea is that while one batch is “cooking” you can work on filling the next drum. It sounds simple enough…one part “green” (yard trimmings or kitchen scraps) to three parts “brown” (dried leaves, etc…). There is a “Super Hot” activator powder you can add if you choose to, then just check the moisture level (it should feel like a well-wrung sponge), close the door and give it a few spins.

Temperature inside the composter should reach 120 to 160 F. Spin the drum every few days to incorporate fresh oxygen and keep an eye on the moisture level. If all goes well you should have a batch of compost in about four to eight weeks. Well…we’ll see.

I’ve started my first batch and am gathering materials to fill the second drum. At this point my concern is having enough “brown”; the “green” is the easy part. I’ll let you know how it goes.

First Batch

Hysterectomy. At one time this surgery was thought to rid a woman of acting hysterically—which meant, basically, speaking her mind. Thankfully, those days are passed, but there are still times when a woman needs to consider having a hysterectomy. This can be a frightening and confusing time—a time when a mentor would be most welcomed.

Enter my friend Linda Parkinson-Hardman, founder of The Hysterectomy Association which provides information needed for women to make a fully informed choice. Linda’s newest project is an anthology of personal stories written by women experiencing hysterectomy. It is Linda’s hope that In Her Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy will offer those journeying this path comfort and camaraderie. When pain wakes you up at 3 AM or you find yourself crying for the children you will never have it’s crucial to have someone to turn to—someone who has been there.

If you, or someone you love, have an interest in this topic then I have good news—you have the opportunity to help create this book! Linda is using Kickstarter to promote her idea and rally funds. She could really benefit from some publicity and pledges right now—she only has until March 9th, 2013 to raise funds. Please visit her page at Kickstarter for more information on this project.

DancingAtTheShamePromYou know she’s there, lurking behind every happy moment and every big decision…Shame. There she is, wagging a finger and reminding us of what we did—saying we don’t deserve anything more in this life. Did you think you were her only victim? The truth is that each of us hosts Shame—and it’s time to kick her out!

Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter are on a mission to help us give Shame the boot! These talented ladies, together with twenty-five other writers, share their most shameful experiences in this new anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom. Their premise is simple; what you release no longer holds you.

In each of these twenty-seven chapters one writer shares her story, followed by her final thoughts on the matter and what she hopes readers glean from her tale. Like a loving sisterhood they tell us that everyone has at least one traumatic anchor—that isn’t shame, that’s life. Do the best you can along the way and then let it go. I’m willing to bet that no matter how bad your experience or choice was, you will find something more difficult in this collection—and if this writer worked through her shame so can you!

P.S. Bring a box of tissues.

Ready to dance? Dancing at the Shame Prom is on a virtual tour through January 10, 2013. Follow their tour, interact with the authors and enter to win copies—the information is all here at Women On Writing . You can also visit the authors at http://www.theshameprom.com. Please enjoy this book trailer featuring Hollye at the (shame) prom.

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Dancing at the Shame Prom

Edited by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter

Seal Press (September 11, 2012)

Destiny Allison was living an all-too-common existence as a wife and mother who had lost her sense of self, and yet, she felt a stirring underneath. One frustrating evening she took up a handful of hobby clay and molded a figure. In this figure she recognized the chasm between the lives we bear and the lives we desire.

What lies beneath the personae we don each day? How do we uncover our masked face? Where can we find a reflection of our true self and the courage to exchange living for existence? Destiny Allison found her answers at the intersection of art and life.

Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Art and Life isn’t just a book on transformation; it includes studies in form, structure, and vision. It isn’t just a book about art; in it the author candidly shares personal philosophies and life changes. This is a book with a holistic view of the mergence of art and life.

Destiny begins each chapter with an art lesson followed by her autobiographical narrative bringing us along as she discovers her passion for art, uncovers her abilities, and sculpts a new life. I found the author’s writing to be intelligent and candid; she drew me in immediately and kept my attention throughout the book.

If you are a creative or artistic person, if you enjoy memoirs, or if you are at a crossroads and need a bit of encouragement I highly recommend Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Art and Life by Destiny Allison. This book made my Top 5 list!

Charlie- A Love StoryThose of us lucky enough to have had childhood pets sometimes take the human-animal connection for granted. But Barbara, who could not have a puppy as a child, never has. Once able to fulfill her childhood longing, Barbara opened her home to both dogs and cats. Then, one very special someone came into her life—a Golden named Charlie.

Charlie: A Love Story is Barbara’s ode to her very best friend. Taken directly from her personal journal, the entries invite us into her innermost thoughts as she experiences the aging and eventual passing of her beloved Charlie.

Any who have lost a special friend will relate to how the colors of life merge from vivid to gray when a pet is ill—this is apparent in Barbara’s entries. When Charlie is healthy and happy the author delights us with detailed descriptions of her California garden; the new plantings, the blooms and scents. .. When Charlie is ill her focus is all on him.

Having lived in California I found the garden entries particularly soothing against the backdrop of Charlie’s illness. Familiar with the weather patterns, the various plants in Barbara’s garden, and all the cities mentioned I felt as if I was right there with her. Also familiar with the intense grief of loosing a special friend, the loss of Charlie stirred my own not-yet-healed emotions. Thankfully, this book ends not with the loss of Charlie but with Barbara’s coming to terms with it…her healing, which allowed me a bit more healing as well.

Charlie: A Love Story will touch your heart. If you love gardening, pets, and memoirs I recommend this love story. To read more about Barbara and Charlie go to charliealovestory.com. Barbara is having a virtual book tour this month and several stops are hosting giveaways.

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