Our world of many faiths

December 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Christmas, faith, family, Holidays, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, women | 7 Comments
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There is a tradition of faith and religion, the seeking of an understanding of the nature of God and our relationship to whoever or whatever God is going back at least 10,000 years on our planet. During those 10,000 years many faiths have emerged helping people find their way to a connection with God from many different viewpoints. Each has validity, each has value.

With so many different faiths the world over, the concept of any one being the one and only true faith is peculiar to me. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it. However, it does make sense that one faith is the one true faith for one particular person … at a time. Each individual person who wishes to understand the nature of God and what his or her relationship is to God needs a path to follow to get there. For George, it is religion A and that is the one true faith for George. For Natalie, it is religion C and that is the one true faith for Natalie. Michael, on the other hand, finds that religion H works for him, so that is the one true faith for Michael. George, Natalie, and Michael are all on the right path … each has found the one true path of faith that works for him or her.

They should all wave to each other and say, “Hey, way to go! Isn’t this amazing!”

Wouldn’t it make sense that if God exists and has anything to do with the affairs of mankind, that there would be some wisdom coming from that source to provide mankind with many different paths to follow in reaching the God connection.

I believe it would have to be so. We are so different, one to another. We have different cultures, different life experiences, differences in our spiritual nature, and so forth. There would have to be many different paths leading to God. The most fundamentally important thing is seeking God and gaining a closer connection to whoever or whatever God is for you, not which path you use to do so.

If God is love, it could not possibly make any sense at all that conflict, hatred, or war would lead any one of us, some of us, or all of us to a closer relationship with God. That part of the equation must come from somewhere else, and leads to erroneous illogical conclusions that don’t add up.

I’m right, you’re wrong, my God is the one true God, my faith is the one true faith. No — we are each right, our Gods are God, our faiths are faith, our love is love. We are all united in love and faith, regardless of the tradition of knowledge or ritual that gets us there.

I have a dream of a community church of all faiths where people from all over a community from any faith within that community could gather together for the purpose of sharing faith and love, learning more about what unites us in our religions, and celebrating together our gaining of a closer connection to God. You know, if we brought our faiths closer together in friendship and trust we would inevitably grow closer to God all of us together.

That makes sense to me.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is from quite a few years back in Los Angeles when my children were still fairly young. It was a particularly challenging Christmas for me as a single mother. My car was broken, I was out of work, and out of money for the most part. Determined to create Christmas magic, my children and I made Christmas gifts for family members using materials we had on hand for the most part.

I had some red velvet fabric I used to sew Santa outfits and Santa “bags” for a couple of little teddy bears. My son made two cube shaped boxes with lids out of a decorative paper and lined them with some gold-leaf we had on hand in our art supplies. The boxes looked very magical, and we put them inside the red velvet Santa bags that went with the teddy bears. We gave one of the Santa bears and bag with the magic box inside to my parents and the other to one of my older brothers and his family.

I painted watercolor portraits of several nieces and nephews for others in the family, and was up painting the last one on Christmas Eve. While I was painting I watched a televised Midnight Mass. I had never attended a Mass of any kind, and didn’t know what to expect. It was beautiful. Ministers from a wide variety of religions spoke for several minutes each. They all gave a holiday message based on their respective theologies but all had a common theme: love.

Sometimes I think the real reason behind all of the hardship I was experiencing at that time was so that I would be up late painting on Christmas Eve and therefore watching television to help myself stay awake and thereby see that particular show…it was an important part of my own spiritual path.

This holiday season I am thinking of you, whoever you may be and whatever your faith may be. I am sending to you my thoughts of love, my prayers of hope and peace. I am longing to feel a deeper connection with God by reaching out and touching your hand (in spirit) and expressing my gratitude to you for your part in the worldwide search for God along many different paths shining many, many different lights toward truth.

Love,
firefly

About wishing you a Merry Christmas

December 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Christmas, faith, family, Holidays, inspiration, Life, love, women | 14 Comments
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The other day I stopped in at our favorite local apple grower’s roadside store to buy a few pounds of apples and some fresh pressed apple cider. After paying, the lady at the counter said, “Have a nice Christmas,” and I could see a little look of doubt in her eyes as if she wondered if it was okay to say “Christmas” to me. I smiled and said, “Merry Christmas!” She relaxed, smiled and said, “Merry Christmas! It is so hard to tell what to do say these days.”

In response I said, “Let’s not have our communication stifled by such negative considerations. Wishing people a Merry Christmas is a kind, good-natured thing to do.”

That is how I feel about it.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, because wishing you a Merry Christmas is to wish you a season of love and kindness. That is how I mean it. I do not mean to wish Christianity on you, and in saying it I am not saying I am a Christian. The fact is, you don’t know what my faith is (unless you are my immediate family) I don’t discuss it because that is my personal business, not yours. Just as your faith is your personal business, not mine.

But whether I am Christian or not, I wish a Merry Christmas to all of the people of the world.

To attempt to stifle people from wishing one another a Merry Christmas is to stifle well wishing and thoughts of love. Why do that, when love is what the world needs.

Yes, Christmas is particular within the Christian religion is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

But people of any faith or no faith could enjoy a sense of the celebration of brotherly love for the good of mankind and acknowledge a heightened sense of love during this season was inspired by some guy named Jesus who lived back about 2,000 years ago — regardless what the significance of that guy is. Whether he was a prophet, the son of God, God himself, or just some guy … he said some cool stuff and the coolest thing he said was, “Hey guys, you really should stop all the hating and do some loving instead.”

And there was something very convincing about the way he said it, because his words impacted the way much of mankind has lived and regarded one another positively in a huge way and that impact has lasted for more than 2,000 years.

So, I say to you, Merry Christmas. I say this because I wish you well, I wish you love and a sense of peace. I wish these things for you and those you touch and those you love. I wish these things on you and yours today, and for this season, and I hope those feelings will last for as much of the coming year as you can possibly carry it on. I don’t know you personally, perhaps … but I wish you love.

That is all it is, and even if you take a stance of being offended by my wishes of a Merry Christmas to you and yours, I love you any way and wish you love and peace any way. I respect your beliefs, whatever they may be. And, I wish you love.

So, Merry Christmas!

Love,
firefly

Day dream believer

October 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Posted in art, blogging, faith, family, gifts, inspiration, Kindle, knitting, Life, love, photography, women | 2 Comments
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I often day-dream, and sometimes my day dreams take on a realistic, picture perfect you could even say, form. Some are ethereal thoughts that float by like a soft summer breeze, others race by my nose faster than light breaking the sound barrier on their way, still others begin as fleeting thoughts that quickly materialize into moving pictures. Very entertaining stuff, these day-dreams of mine.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the village to drop off some paperwork at the library and parked in front of a recently refurbished unoccupied building. The village has wonderfully old buildings along Main Street much like you see in movies featuring characters in small town America — fitting because this is small town America.

The building I parked in front of had very large pane glass windows facing the street, so it was easy to see inside. I noticed a sign out front stating space was available for rent or lease. Hmm. I wondered to myself what sort of business might settle in there, and whether or not it would make it.

After dropping off my paperwork, as I returned to my car the sign about the space being available caught my eye again and I looked into the building once more, trying to imagine a burgeoning business going on behind those big glass panes–thus the launch codes for my day-dreaming imagination were initiated. For some reason, the business I dreamed up in there was the bustling business of a successful periodical of some kind.

I don’t know it was a magazine or a newspaper, but it had everything going on:  writers and photographers, assignments, advertisers, headlines, etc. As my day dream evolved, a concept became clear: this was a purely digital periodical, with no printing at all. Every “printed” word was electronically printed and yet the business was hustling and bustling just as if it were a busy newspaper or magazine from back in the 40’s or 50’s–the two eras were intertwined.

I saw all of that activity, mind you, going on behind the big glass windows of the building as I walked (now slowly) back to my car. Then I saw the person running the operation: it was me. Oh, such happiness and productivity glowing out of every fiber of my being.  “Ha, interesting,” I said to myself as I got into my car and drove away.

It was a simple day-dream that breezed by in what was little more than a tiny little moment in time, but it got me to thinking. Mostly it got me to thinking about things I had already been thinking about over the past few months but with renewed clarity. Later that night I told my husband about the building, and about my day-dream.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) that I want to lease that building or play that game the way my day-dream had me playing it. The day-dream was just a flight of fancy, something I do and have done for as long as I can remember. Sometimes these day-dreams lead to something in real life, sometimes they are merely a form of momentary entertainment for my own enjoyment. Sometimes they are ideas that will become blogs or stories, paintings, knitting designs or … nothing.

This particular day-dream was productive though, because it got me thinking about what my blog is, and how I approach it, and what kind of evolution I am involved in here. It is an evolution that you, my reader, are involved in as well.

Of course, there are millions upon millions of blogs out there, and many are personal journals kept online as a means of staying in touch with family and friends, staying connected with others of similar interest, etc. Others are created and maintained with a business or professional purpose in mind.

What I realized when I was speaking with my husband about the day-dream is that my blog is essentially a periodical, an electronic periodical. I have endeavored from early on to publish it as professionally as I possibly can, given my resources and time. And, I have built up a certain number of loyal readers and that number has grown over time. I don’t have any advertisers, and I don’t have any staff other than myself but I do run this blog as if it were a periodical of some sort, although I had not looked at it that way until I sorted through my day-dream with my husband.

Of course, one of the key ingredients of a “periodical” per the definition of the word, is a publication that comes out at regularly scheduled intervals.

There is the rub.

In the early days of my blog, I posted three times a week on average. As time went on and I put more and more into my posts, I could not maintain that schedule and got down to twice a week. Then it went down to once a week, which I was not very happy about. I have constantly felt this drive inside of myself to get at least two posts written a week, but I have not been able to do that. In fact, sometimes I cannot even post once per week.

The problem with that is that readers get frustrated when they depend on a publication schedule and it is not met by the publisher.  They come back expecting something to be there and there is nothing and some get to where they hardly ever come back, or perhaps never coming back at all.

Fortunately for me, I have maintained a loyal base of readers and my list of email subscribers continues to grow. However, I do know this evolution I am going through as a publisher has frustrated some readers at times, and for that I humbly apologize. To those of you who have stuck with me through thick and through thin, I am deeply grateful.  Your comments and emails expressing gratitude and appreciation for my offerings has encouraged me right along and inspired my continuing drive to keep creating and see where this bend in the river me leads us all.

With no advertisers I therefore have no budget to pay my “staff”:  editor, copy editor, proofreader, photographers, assignments editor, style editor, art director, graphic artist, layout artist, typesetter, in-house knitting designer, food editor, in-house craft designer, receptionist, customer service rep, public relations, marketing, product development … well, you probably get the idea.  All of those hats are mine and if any one of them doesn’t show up to work, it slows down the entire process.

If you take a look at any magazine or other periodical and think up all the hats worn to pull off one of those publications, you will get a concept of what someone like me is dealing with in bringing this publication to you on any kind of regular basis. Sometimes the number of hats that need to be worn is completely overwhelming, and yet I feel driven to keep it going, keep creating this for you, and keep the number of readers growing.

Take none of this as a complaint, I just want to let you in on my day-dream and some things it helped me sort out and clarify in my own mind. I am sharing this with you because as my reader (especially if you are one of those who have stayed with me since the beginning) you are a part of the evolution of this periodical and you should be in on this part of the conversation.

Since I was a very little kid I knew I was a writer and I had a yearning to publish things. I used to dream of starting a neighborhood newspaper when I was a kid; when I was in junior high I served on the school’s newspaper as editor for two years.  I got to give out writing assignments, write headlines, oversee layout and printing, and wrote my own stories as well.

When my children were little I wrote quite a few short stories and a few children’s stories. For a while I submitted my stories to various publications and enjoyed every rejection slip I received in reply, knowing the way to become a published author (at that time) was to go through the process of being rejected repeatedly first.

I decided to self-publish one of the children’s stories with my sister as the illustrator. That was a fun although a bit disastrous. I spent $1,800 getting 600 hardback copies of our little book printed. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had what I thought was an innovative idea about the layout of the book, an idea in the real world made it difficult to sell. I also didn’t know that in order to get a book into book stores and libraries you need to have an ISBN assigned to it.

No regrets though, because this was all a part of a many learning experiences, part of my journey in life. That journey brought me here to you, my reader and I believe this is where I was headed all along.

Writing and my urge to publish allowed me to flow along with the streams, rivers, and oceans of technical advances in our society.  Along the way, many circumstances and opportunities resulted in my learning many skills, gaining knowledge and experience in realms that have enabled me to publish this blog and wear the many hats I must wear alone in order to do so.  Even though I cannot wear each and every hat every week and so sometimes my regularly scheduled intervals become irregular and not scheduled, I nonetheless have been able to continue publishing my new-age blog-based periodical for more than five years. I have also managed to grow my readership, and thus my business.

As you know, the blog has led to my publishing many things including knitting patterns, photography prints, art prints, and now Kindle books and eBooks. Really, my husband and I are publishing these things and we, as a family, are building up a publishing business slowly but steadily.

Then there is my son and his publishing business (Flying Junction). He designs and publishes his signs, prints, and posters — that is his business venture, but we work together and share what hats we can, and I find it very interesting that he and I have this thing of creating, artistry, and publishing in common.

Side Bar: Flying Junction collaborated with Five Four Clothing, which resulted in four great new Los Angeles inspired posters, representing four iconic neighborhoods in the LA area. Five Four store has giant renditions of these posters (3 feet by 5 feet) printed on canvas hanging in their Culver City store; Flying Junction sells them online. One of the posters was also turned into a t-shirt, sold online by Five Four.

In September I published a book of inspirational poetry (“I, The Wind”) written by my father and have published it as an eBook, a Kindle book, and in hardback. Here is what two readers had to say about this book:

It was absolutely mesmerizing. The poems are so meaningful … ones you can return to read again and again and never tire of them. The photos are prize winners. It would make a very special gift; the pictures are thoughtfully chosen to go with the poems. It’s truly a treasure…” ~ L.S., Washington

“This is a great book …. and the photos are excellent … what an inspiration … I read the entire book once I downloaded it.” R.T., Kentucky

Monday of this week I published his book, “Timini’s Secret Adventure” and I would like you to give it a try. Of course, I only want you to give it a try if it sounds interesting to you, and it is only $4.99.   It is available for reading on Kindle, but I also published an eBook of it so anyone with a computer can download and read it.  More than anything, I would like you to give it a try because it is a beautiful, tender story which I believe many people are going to enjoy. I published it not only because my father, who is also my dear friend, wrote it — but also because it is a wonderful story I believe will be interesting and entertaining for people–and, I believe it will be helpful and soothing to some.

Here is the product description at Amazon:

Timini has stumbled into a fantastic world of fantasy and delight and is trying to get his wits about him when he is joined by a magical spirit with an inherently playful name. “What is this place, why is that tree speaking to me, and what in the world am I supposed to do now that I am here?” are some of the many questions Timini attempts to find answers to.

If you have ever wondered what comes next, after life, or if you have ever lost someone close to you, you will want to read this book. You might have more questions than Timini, you will most certainly find entertainment, and along the way you just might find some of the same answers Timini is looking for.

Who am I, what will become of me, what has become of those I have loved and lost? Join Timini as he embarks on an inquisitive trek through the land of NODD.

Special fun for me with this book, is the cover I got to design. You may or may not remember but a couple of years back I shot some photos of one of our mulberry trees on a winter day, and when I was reviewing the photos I noticed what looked like eyes on the tree. It was cool and a little bit haunting, because it really looked like the tree was looking back at me from the photo.

There is a magical tree in my father’s story, and when I was reviewing the manuscript I remembered my photo of the tree with eyes and realized it would be perfect for a cover. What you see here is the “before” photo — straight from the camera before I tweaked it for the cover. I did a little bring the eyes out even more, but as you can see the original untouched photo clearly shows eyes on that dear old tree.

As I mentioned recently, I am also working on a new method of showing knitting directions and am in the early stages of preparing a book I will most likely self-publish also teaching that method.

I am so personally and profoundly grateful for all of the technological developments in the world that make it possible for me and many others like me to publish our blogs, periodicals, books, eBooks, Kindle books, patterns, plans, etc. We can publish, and we can publish economically enough that someone like me can start a publishing company by the seat of my pants, hang on for dear life and let the roller coaster take off.

Most of all though, I am grateful to you. You are patient with me, you are loyal, interested, and sometimes you take the time to express yourself so that I know I am doing something worthwhile for others.

Thank you, thank you so much my friend, my reader.

~firefly

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