Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Highlights for Liz & Terry & Photos

Dear Family and Friends,

Terry and I send our greetings to you in this season for celebrating love and light. We hope this note finds you warm and snug and enjoying the holiday.

We are fortunate to have had some very good times in 2010: a wonderful visit from our son Sam’s family at the very start of the year; one day in the spring when Terry and I drove out to the Texas Hill Country into the wildflowers, a summer of Grandma Camp and family vacation in Massachusetts and Vermont and some time all year to be creative, I with my writing and Terry’s with his web work. I am going to try to post some pictures here or you can find them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizyeats/.

just after swimming

on Vermont walks we found frogs in the stream most days

we picked a great many blueberries

Terry continues to work full time, thankfully for the same company as a computer consultant where he got some well earned recognition this year, but he is beginning to think longingly of retiring as soon as that is feasible, maybe three years from now. He continues to use his gifts and experience in web design in Quaker service for Friends Meeting of Austin and South Central Yearly Meeting. He just completed a new, really spiffy interface for the member’s portion of the FMA site. Sometimes he wishes he could disconnect from the world of technology and just sit in his chair reading philosophy, poetry, religion, and smarty pants thrillers, but then he realizes he likes writing computer software, just not all the things about working in the real world that surround it.

After years of trying to clear my commitments to spend more time writing, this year I began to spend some time most days spinning yarns on several different manuscripts. What will come of it all I don’t know, but it makes me happy. My service to FCNL and my monthly and yearly meeting continue. I enjoyed facilitating a second workshop on discernment at the FGC Gathering last summer. I got a new title for my volunteer position with Quakers Uniting in Publishing. I am now “administrative facilitator” which seems to fit what I do very well. I am still passionate about supporting written communication between Friends and hope to have energy to help promote Quaker publishing, print and electronic, for a long time to come.

Our older son, Arion, remains in Bangkok, Thailand, teaching kindergarten and traveling when he has a chance. We speak to him most Sunday mornings but we miss hugging him and wish we had the funds to bring him home for a visit.

Sam’s family grew this year with the addition of Stevie, a lively, friendly love bird who spends time out of his cage each day flying from one person to another, where he perches to groom himself and eat any paper he can find. Cassie (10) and Ari (7) are both great readers and with Brennon (5) they love creating stories, songs and plays. When I arrived this summer to help out with the children (while Pandora as she finished nursing school) all three children were collaborating on writing and videoing their own Star Wars saga, complete with creating characters by sewing orange worms with googly eyes and dressing them in paper costumes. At the end of the summer they performed their version of a Star Wars song that tells the whole story but they’re still in the midst of making the movie. The best news is that Pandora graduated nursing school and passed her boards. She will return to school to begin an MA this spring.

So many times this past year I found myself pondering how profoundly grateful I am for my life right now. My dream would be that everyone would feel the love and security of friends and family that I enjoy. I wish lots of you lived closer and I wish the world was not such an awful mess. I’ll continue to work for a more sustainable world with less violence for the rest of my life. More and more I realize that means breathing deeply and living life now while seeking to love and care for those that I touch.

We send you blessings for a wonderful 2011.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Busy

I just noticed this line at the bottom of a friend's email:

"The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy."

I remember working 9 to 5. In fact I remember working much longer hours but I was lucky to be employed at jobs where I could really use my gifts and skills. The times when I worked 9 to 5 or more were a challenge, though, as they left very little time for family and friends outside the workplace. My spiritual life had to be fit in as well and I was often out of touch with the spirit.

There is so much wrong with our culture/society but that we can be convinced that working more than 8 hours a day is a positive, life fullfilling goal contradicts everything I know as truth. It leaves no time for relationship, for caring for others and oneself, for just doing nothing.

The best work year I ever had was one where I worked as a pre-school teacher. Everyone in the center worked 6 hours a day, the administrator, the curriculum head (who also taught) and all the teachers. We worked hard giving our full attention to whatever we were doing. Six hours with young children can be exhausting but we worked cooperatively, making sure each of us was not overburdened. We all got paid the same hourly rate and had the same benefits.

I can remember many more moments of joy from that year with little children than I can any other work year. There was time to really attend to the relationships at work and after work. I had energy each morning and a different but still centered energy before and after work. Even though I was a single parent and I struggled to arrive at work on time, especially on Wednesday when seconds could mean getting stuck behind the garbage truck,I succeeded in keeping my cool most days. It was a blessed year.

Later some of my years doing full time work in an office gave me the same sense of balance. I was free to set my own hours and often worked a 60 or 70 hour week but I made that choice.

I have lived a life of privilege. Should I feel guilty that I would rather go without "certain financial security" and "great accompishment" in order to live a balanced life?

More than 9 to 5 it is what is expected and demanded in most full time jobs. Even earning a basic living demands long hours. What happened to the 8 hour day?

My parents worked hard to organize unions to fight for the 8 hour work day. Where are our priorities? How can we let "the bosses" convince us that "The New Busy" is a good thing?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Let Go, Let God

I'm busy inventing another self. I have been with my son's family in Massachusetts for a week now and for once I am totally enjoying my stay. The difference - they have a larger house where everyone has more options. Everyone is more relaxed. I still have to keep telling myself to relax. That's not easy for me. But as long as I let go and let God, I'm finding life within this family really fun.

I miss all my interactions in Austin but will be back for June. And I miss Terry but he will come later this week and we will go back together.

I just have to keep repeating "let go, let God", over and over. Why is that so hard? I guess I was raised to be productive but sometimes the skill of patience and quiet love work best. I'm learning, God. Maybe I will get it before I die. Or at least a balance between that and being driven by accomplishing lots everyday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not such a bad day after all!

I've had quite a day, so far. I was getting out of my car on returning home after a wonderful conversation and lunch with my friend Jane, feeling on top of the world, when I dropped my new little laptop, case and all, on the parking lot, screen side down. The screen shattered. $430 and some change spent on Sunday for a refurbished machine that promised to solve work problems with which I have been struggling for over a year, gone in one little slip.

So what did I do. I cried, then I cursed the fact that I really was finding that laptop very useful and wondered if I was just like all the other privileged folks I find myself judging who suffer from technology attachment disorder. Then I realized I was going to use that machine for good work. Then I cried and called my husband, Terry, who even after four calls did not call me back. So I called my son who said he was so sorry, and then I cried and stamped and felt awful about ruining the lovely present my husband had just bought me, even though he wasn't answering his phone.

Finally, I remembered what my good friend Jane had said at lunch, that all problems have solutions and there was no point in wallowing in misery. So I called the repair folks, told the nice guy my sad story and asked what it would cost to put in a new screen and how soon they could do it.

Immediately, I felt better. So what if it may cost almost as much to replace the screen as the original price of the laptop and they may not have it ready when I travel on Monday. Those obstacles can be surmounted. I have the privilege of being wealthy enough to have it fixed, for which I am very grateful, and if it isn't ready in time it can be sent Fedex. I realized I was more upset about letting the solution to a problem I had been brewing about for years slip through my fingers, especially one which Terry felt so relieved to have helped solve.

Off I went to the computer store with my injured machine, congratulating myself that I hadn't totaled the car, that no one was ill or dying, and that I had not spent days kicking myself before I moved to bring light to a solvable problem. And on the way back I picked up my new, much better to see with, glasses and discovered a neighborhood cafe that does a delicious decaf/skim cappuccino and has wi-fi. I've been looking for such a place to work for some time now! All in all not such a bad day after all.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mother's day surprise

Terry and I went to the computer store and got me a new, little laptoptoday. One with a much bigger screen, more memory and a nice keyboard. Much easier to travel with than my big machine and much more capable of doing all I need to do than my first little laptop.

Somehow machines have taken over my life. I want to think I'm more productive than I used to be but I spend too much time getting the machines to work.

So now I have a new machine. May it empower me to write more and worry about machine maintenance less.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Whence Quaker Publishing?

Since I entered the realm of Quaker publishing in 1987 there has been lots of change, some of it very positive, some of it constricting the ministry of the written word.

On the positive side, technological improvements have democratized publishing. When I began work in a Friendly Woman collective (an all volunteer Quaker woman’s journal that went from meeting to meeting for about 20 years) we were still getting text typeset and pasting up columns and graphics by hand. By the end of our two years editing the journal a friendly woman had procured a MAC and learned to use a desktop publishing program. As I remember it, she still printed columns of text that we then pasted up but it was so much more in our control.

By the time I took the publishers position at Friends General Conference in 1989, we were using computers to set up most curriculum and some books. It wasn’t long before we hired a desktop production person who also was a designer. That was before print on demand was introduced. That had come in by the time I left FGC in 1998.

At the same time, Quaker publishers were becoming aware of the need to distribute more broadly. They standardized the terms of discounts and looked into promotion and marketing methods. Several publishers were doing multiple books each season and the quality of covers, design and presentation was increasing. However, when budgets began to be sliced in Quaker organizations in the 2000s, publishing was often first to go. Many houses are presently doing only reprints and only a one or two books a year. The future of book publishing seems in grave doubt. Several of the journals have been laid down and others are publishing fewer issues a year.

One bright spot is a proposal at Friends General Conference for three tracks of publishing which includes digital publishing. More about that soon.

The good news is that Quaker blogs flourish and much material from traditional tracts to universalist and nontheist materials are posted on the internet. Some curriculum is available online as well.

At the recent Quakers Uniting in Publications conference, Brent Bill, Quaker author, exhorted us to “Go boldly” into the world of digital publishing while remembering that it’s our truth that counts, not the old or new media we use to deliver it. (see his power point presentation at http://brentbill.com/files/QUIP2010Truthtellers.pdf and his Quaker e-Book video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjrdJpjWXL0&NR=1.)

What do I think? I will miss the idea of Sessions of York, UK, the life work of Bill Sessions, founding member of QUIP, printing labels and books in the same plant. The most recent news from the Quaker publishing world says the label part of the business is “in administration”. But the Sessions Book Trust survives at Quacks Printing of York, in the capable hands of Bill Sessions’ son, Michael, who will keep up the family tradition of publishing Quaker books. I wish him well for the sake of his business and for the sake of Quaker publishing.

But I agree with Brent Bill. We have to look to the digital world and begin figuring out how best to deliver the ministry of the word while still funding our publishing efforts and maintaining our quality. Others may be way ahead of us but as we make this change we need to keep our testimonies in mind, remembering that not everyone has access to online content and that discernment and testing need to take place in the online world to maintain integrity and quality in our work. Perhaps we need to develop queries and advices for this new realm of communication to help us refrain from rushing ahead of our Guide.

We are the people of the Light, committed to spreading a message that there is some of the Divine in each of us. Print we will, whether on the page or on the screen, God willing, the ministry of the printed word will get out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cassie's birthday present a success

Terry (my husband/lover and tech support) and I worked hard on Cassie's website. We both had fun but wondered what she would think. We were rewarded with the big, long lasting smiles over the webcam as she made her first blog posts. She eventually had to go to dinner but returned after to continue her silly but creative posts. She learned to post pictures and get them in the right place as well. Her site is protected, as she is only 10. You have to get an account which has to be approved by her father, Sam. But she really loved it.
First she went to the blog area and said, "What should I write?" Then she was off on ten minutes of entering text. She really loves words and likes to make images from them. Her first blog included:
if leaning on yellow mushrooms, be sure to eat the toadstools first
treasure will be located seven miles north of the seventh rock from the east of the camels den
And it goes on with silliness from there. She is a true writer who writes lots of stories and books.
It's great to give a present that you make - thanks to Cheryl Gibbs who gave the journalism workshop at the QUIP conference last week in which she mentioned making and giving a website to her nephew. It's even better to make the gift with your sweetie. But the best is to see the smile on the face of a really pleased 10 year old. What a feeling. Wish I had a picture but we were all too busy interacting to take one.
No time to do all that I want to which includes just about everything I do these days. That's a wonderful state of affairs though there are dishes in the sink. And the weather is heavenly! Just beginning to get hot.

Cassie is 10 today

last summer

in Kate's garden in 2002

Cassie was born in Massachusetts on May 2, 2000 when I was riding the light rail through Portland, OR on my way to the airport to go home to Austin from the QUIP meetings. It's good to be home in Austin this May 2 making a website for Cassie as a birthday present.

Tonight I posted many photos of Cassie at different ages on her website. Some of my favorites are above. As my first grandchild she has a special place in my heart but there is still plenty of room for her sister Ari (7) and brother Brennon (5).

It's late and I have to record the minutes of the monthly meeting tomorrow. Better go to bed.

Friday, April 30, 2010

QUIP Quaker Writers' Conference Evening Plenary Programs

Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices Release Party
This is the editorial board celebrating.

Blogging is a way that Friends publish - here Sarah Hoggatt, Liz Oppenheimer and Martin Kelley, virtually from his home in New Jersey, discuss their expereince blogging. To find their blogs and other Friendly blogsites go to http://www.quakerquaker.org/.

Friends young and not so young listening to Tom Hamm.

For more about the conference go to the Quakers Uniting In Publications website at www.quakerquip.org or join the QUIP group on Facebook.

2010 QUIP Quaker Writers' Conference - my thoughts

The QUIP Annual Meeting this year was combined with a writers' conference. It was a great experiment that seems to have worked really well. Here is a picture of Tom Hamm speaking the first night about the history of Quaker publishing at the Earlham School of Religion Dining Room.

The QUIP meetings were wonderful for me. Several things felt rewarding on a personal basis. I was affirmed by all the young people and the wonderful book, Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices, that they created. It's lovely to have been a small part of this process. Can a committee write a book? You bet ya! I was affirmed by finding a better name for what I do for QUIP, administrative facilitator, which fits my role of helping volunteers carry out the many tasks it takes to run the organization. I was affirmed by friendships renewed and friendships made new. I was affirmed by looking at new ways that QUIP can facilitate the ministry of the written word for authors - my mind keeps thinking about that topic. I look foward to discussions with others in the future about it including the QUIP clerks, bloggers, others. And I was affirmed by the smiles that went around so often and one after another Friends found new insights and joys sharing their faith and their craft.

QUIP has meaning for me. Guess that's why I do all the work I do to keep it going. I need to find a way to convey that meaning to other Quakers involved in writing, publishing, book selling.
I'm new at this blogging and will post pictures in another post since they seem to only come in last first.