Helping Veterans and Their Families One Book at a Time

It’s rare I post twice on my blog in one day, but on this Veteran’s Day I feel compelled to pause for a moment and say thanks to our service men and women for their hard work and dedication to our country. I’d also like to share a book with you, which might help someone dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Diary of a Vet’s Wife by Nancy MacMillan.

Cover Photo of Diary of a Vet's Wife by Nancy MacMillanNancy took sixteen years to write her book, Diary of a Vet’s Wife: Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – A Memoir. It’s the story of her life with a Vietnam Veteran, and the journey they take through PTSD. She shares her story with courage and honesty in hopes of helping others who are dealing with the same issues. Nancy wants others to know they are not alone, and even offers a list of resources available to find help.

Diary of a Vet’s Wife has received numerous 5-star reviews, and is even at the White House in Michelle Obama’s hands.

If that’s not enough to inspire you to pick up this book, this might: Nancy has teamed up with Pets for Vets by donating a portion of the proceeds from her book to help this organization pair shelter dogs with veterans returning from war. Their mission is to help in the healing process and to add another source of comfort and support for those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Diary of a Vet’s Wife is available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle. Spouses and family members of those afflicted with PTSD will find this especially helpful because it’s written from the perspective of somebody who has lived in their shoes. You can also find Nancy online at Blog of a Vet’s Wife.

Here is a hearty thank you to Nancy for sharing her journey to help others, and here’s to our military veterans who have not only battled in war, but who have faced numerous challenges while integrating back into their “old lives,” which of course, will never be the same after what they’ve experienced.

 

In the News…

Hats off to Dave Mason at Santa Barbara News-Press for his fine review of Steve & i in yesterday’s Sunday Books. It’s fun to share Jeffrey’s story with the Santa Barbara community and hear how others have connected with the book.

Photo of Steve & i review in the Santa Barbara News-Press

And yes, that’s a young Jeffrey Aaronson in the bottom right-hand corner–a photo taken by Steve Jobs at Apple Headquarters when they were both 29-years old. ❤

Why a Happiness Jar Works Tirelessly (and Effortlessly) to Remind Us to Be Grateful

Last January I placed an empty square glass vase on a side table in our living room. Next to it I stacked a small pile of colorful note cards and a pen. Then, after taking a deep breath and hoping not to sound too corny, I announced to my husband and daughter, “This is our happiness jar.”

Photo of our Happiness Jar, Containing our Gratitude

“Our what?” my daughter asked, head cocked.

“Our happiness jar,” I repeated as if everybody had one.

My husband and daughter looked at each other with raised eyebrows and said, “OoooKaaay,” as if trying to appease a mentally unstable person.

I laughed at their response, but continued with resolve, Continue reading

The Answer to Name That Photographer is…

ERNST HAAS
(1921-1986)

Ernst Haas was an Austrian-American photojournalist who was a pioneer in color photography. During his forty-year career he not only used the camera to tell a story, but to visually express his creativity through bold, abstract and impressionistic images.

Portrait of Ernst Haas

Haas was raised in the grand culture of Vienna before World War II. His parents placed a high value on education and the arts, and encouraged his creative pursuits from an early age.

His father, an avid amateur photographer, tried to inspire his son to pursue photography, but Haas had no interest in cameras until he was nearly twenty, when he started going through old family negatives after his father died. Haas was taken more by painting and drawing and studying things like poetry, philosophy, music, literature and science, which later informed his beliefs about the creative potential for photography.

Haas once said:

“I never really wanted to be a photographer. It slowly grew out of the compromise of a boy who desired to combine two goals—explorer or painter. I wanted to travel, see and experience. What better profession could there be than the one of a photographer, almost a painter in a hurry, overwhelmed by too many constantly changing impressions? But all my inspirational influences came much more from all the arts than from photo magazines.”

World War II complicated Haas’ education. He tried to go to medical school, but was only able to complete one year before laws changed and he was forced out due to his Jewish ancestry.

In 1946, at age 25, he obtained his first camera by trading a 20-pound block of margarine for a Rolleiflex on the Vienna black market. With that, he documented the war’s effects in Vienna, approaching the city as a reporter with a sharp, but empathetic eye. His photographs show the enduring human spirit in the face of a devastated urban environment.

Haas Prisoners Vienna

Haas hunchback Vienna

When Haas was thirty, he moved to the United States, which is where he started experimenting with color film. In 1953 Life published a groundbreaking 24-page color photo essay of his work on New York City, which was the first time such a large color photo feature was ever published in the magazine. Nine years later Haas became the first person to ever have a single-artist exhibition of color photography at the Museum of Modern Art.

Ernst Haas photo Traffic, New York 1963
Ernst Haas Photo New York City

Name That Photographer

See if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER from the following five clues:

Name That Photographer Graphic1) He was talented at painting and drawing, but had no interested in photography as a child, even though his father tried to encourage him.

2) He created one of the most successful photography books ever published.

3) He was famous for bridging the gap between photojournalism and the use of photography as a means of expression and creativity.

4) He was considered a pioneer in color photography.

5) He was the first person to have a single-artist exhibition of color photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Leave your guess in the comment box below and check back tomorrow to see if you are correct.

Sunday Sizzle: A Stunning Look at Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg

“Oh my god”…find out how cinematographer, Louie Schwartzberg, defines those three words in his stunning nine minute TED Talk video, Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. You’ll see why over two million people have been wow’ed by this project.

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today…It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.” ~Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast

Portrait of LouieSchwartzberg

 

Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer who captures breathtaking images that celebrate life — revealing connections, universal rhythms, patterns and beauty.

Favorite Five Friday: Habits that Stir My Imagination

It’s easy to be inspired, motivated, “on fire” when you first launch a project. When the glow of excitement fades though, you need to fall back on your habits to keep you moving in the direction of reaching your goal and completing your masterpiece. Here are a few habits I rely on to keep my imagination factory pumping and propelling me forward.

Favorite Five Friday Habits that Stir My Imagination

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going”–Jim Rohn

What habits do you rely on to stir your imagination? Please share! When I wrote #5 on my list, I was thinking of many of you who often inspire me by the way you view the world. 

Fear, Loathing and Photography: A Mad Journey into the Heart of the Hunter S. Thompson

Portrait of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson at his home in Woody Creek, CO ©Jeffrey Aaronson 1990

Behind the Scenes: It’s late January 1990 and Jeffrey Aaronson is photographing on assignment in Aspen, Colorado for Town & Country. The magazine is doing a major feature about the shakers and movers of this tiny mountain resort as well as the many bigwigs and socialites who flock there during the winter.

Editor, Anne Hearst, has flown in from New York to conduct interviews and coordinate several of the photo shoots. Her list includes everyone from billionaire David Koch to socialite Teran Davis to celebrities like Jill St. John and Robert Wagner.

“Gonzo journalist” Hunter S. Thompson is also on Anne’s list, which amuses Jeffrey since Thompson has always prided himself on being a counter culture icon–the complete opposite of everything the magazine represents. He’s skeptical Thompson will even agree to be photographed.

Midway into this grueling weeklong assignment, Jeffrey is beat. He’s been on the go since the crack of dawn once again—this time photographing models on snowmobiles in Aspen’s early morning light, in ten-degree weather, no less. Knowing he has another full day ahead of him, he turns in around 11:00 pm, only to be ripped out of his REM sleep an hour later. It’s Anne.

“Hunter Thompson just called and said we can do the shoot right now.”

Jeffrey groans, “You’re kidding, right? What time is it?”

“A little after midnight. Sorry…he said he’s just waking up.” Continue reading

Popping the Cork for Cork

Photo of Cork MillnerIn Memoriam
Cork Millner 1931-2013

Cork Millner, my writing mentor, whom many of you know I adored, passed away recently. I say “my” writing mentor because I felt a close connection to him, but clearly he was not just mine. His memorial service earlier this week was a testament to that.

Dozens of friends, family members, colleagues and former writing students all came to pay tribute to him.

Cork touched each of us in different ways, but it was clear we all shared one thing in common: gratitude for having had him in our lives.

The day of Cork’s memorial service couldn’t have been more spectacular. The sun arose with aplomb, casting a blaze of color across Santa Barbara’s morning sky, perfectly symbolizing the richness Cork added to our lives with his charm and colorful personality.

Sunrise over Santa Barbara on the day of Cork's Memorial

As we gathered for his service inside the cemetery’s intimate chapel, we were wrapped in Celtic harp music, then reminded by Reverend Miriam Lindbeck, Cork’s lovely, long-time friend and former writing student, of all the things we loved about Cork.

He was “old school stoic,” strong and private, yet sensitive and open. He loved fine wine, fine cars and fine writing. He was charming and dapper, and appreciative of humor–especially his own, which was wry and occasionally acerbic. He was confident, hard-working and fiercely proud of his family and his military service, which included 850 aircraft carrier landings.

Photos of Cork Millner's memorial

And then, of course, there was his name. Continue reading