Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the Mood for Adventure - by Patty Mooney

Wounded Caribou, DeNali, AlaskaImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr

Once upon a time ago, back in 1986, an intrepid young couple (Mark and me) decided to sell or give away most of their earthly possessions, buy a Chinook (a small camper) and explore the USA and Canada. We did not know exactly where we were going, except "to Alaska" and we were not certain we would even come back. We chose to "be now" every day for nine months and 25,000 miles, and every moment seemed to hold a new and exciting adventure.

Along the way, we encountered caribou, mule deer, elk, moose, a witch, a lobster poacher, a dune buggy aficionado, and a prospector. We ran some rapids on a raft we bought at a K-Mart, we hiked up countless mountains, camped out next to Half Dome and were attacked by a grizzly in the Yukon.

From time to time we'd stop in RV parks for a shower (the Chinook's was inoperable) and we'd meet the old-timers who sat in their camp chairs with a beer. "You kids are doing it right," they'd say, gulping a swig of that beer, "Retire now, work later."

It's been a fun-filled week for me after my new slide scanner was delivered and I rediscovered some of the photographs we had taken on our journey. At the time, we used slide film because it was reportedly more long-lasting. When you shoot on slide film, that means that not every slide will be made into a print; it's just too cost-prohibitive. I've not laid eyes on many of these photos since 1986. I hope you enjoy them.

Butchart Gardens are not to be missed if you go to Victoria, which is a short boat ride from Vancouver, Canada.

We parked the camper at the outskirts of Yellowstone and then hiked in half a day to a place called Union Falls where there was NOBODY but us.

The waters are naturally warm at Union Falls, and we frolicked for a long time in this beautiful spot.

This is the Athabasca Glacier with waterfalls and river. Stupendous views. Certain people are quick to say we should drill for oil in spots like this, but having been here, it is very difficult to understand that kind of thinking (or non-thinking, as it were.)

If you are considering an adventure, do it now. Do not put it off another day. Pick a date, jot down your destination, and then do it. You can't count on tomorrow. If your dream has been brewing for a long time, make it happen. I don't want to hear your excuses!

"When you explore nature, you will find yourself." - James Hong

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Ansel Adams - What is Old is New, at Least to Us - by Patty Mooney

Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River (19...Image via Wikipedia

Ansel Adams: Lost and Found

Many of us are familiar with the work of photographer, Ansel Adams, who concentrated on large-format black and white photography. Two of his most famous pieces are "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941" and "Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1927." His stunning work has of course inspired many of today's photographers. And so the news that some of his work has recently been discovered is indeed cause for celebration.

As the story goes, "In the spring of 2000 while perusing items at a garage sale, Rick Norsigian came across a wooden box that held a stack of manila envelopes deteriorating from age. Inside were some interesting looking glass negatives wrapped in newspaper, dated 1942 and 1943. When he showed the delicate plates to friends and relatives, nearly everyone said the same thing: “These old glass negatives look like the work of Ansel Adams.”

Ten years later, with the help of prominent entertainment attorney Arnold Peter, Norsigian has assembled a wealth of varied evidence that all points to a single fact: These are the lost works of legendary photographer Ansel Adams. The results of this three-year investigation will culminate in a national press conference in May 2010."

This is big. This is like finding a box of old Beatles recordings in a barn in rural Liverpool (do they have barns there?) It just goes to show that there is so much out there to be discovered and/or rediscovered. So much for us to be joyful about.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

I Miss Ann Richards - by Patty Mooney

Ann Richards was the 45th Governor of Texas, right before George W took office (and I do mean "took.") I never felt the same about Texas after they traded Ann in for George, after all the great things she had done throughout her tenure. You knew there had to be big oil money and loads of corruption behind that debacle, as Ann had been a beloved champion of economic and prison reform in her state with outstanding results. She died in 2006 at the age of 73.

Ann was the sharp-witted woman who once observed, "The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you're not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I'm not perfect. I'm just like you. They don't ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense."

If only she were here to see the passage of Health Care Reform. I know it's not a perfect packet, but you've got to start somewhere. As a taxpayer, don't we all deserve to have some of our taxes going towards our own health maintenance? I'd rather have my tax dollars going towards "socialized" medical care than "socialized" war. Know what I mean?

Unfortunately, what Ann would also see would be the spiteful, raging people spitting racial and sexual slurs like big Baby Hueys who didn't get a lollipop the second they demanded one. Well, Ann would surely have something to say about that. Here is her treatise on "How to Be A Good Republican." It was penned during the Bill Clinton era but not much has changed:

"How to Be a Good Republican"

1.You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.

2.You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.

3.You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.

4.You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don't deserve theirs.

5.You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.

6.You have to believe...everything Rush Limbaugh says.

7.You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.

8.You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.

9.You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn't diminish your opportunities, but you still won't vote for Alan Keyes.

10.You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.

11.You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.

12.You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.

13.You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.

14.You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.

15.You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.

16.You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.

17.You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.

18.You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher.

Yep, Ann was a woman way ahead of her time, and one worth remembering. I miss you, Ann.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life at 50 - A Video by Batya Diamond

I recently turned 50, and to celebrate wrote a 'mature' song parody of Taylor Swift's song "Fifteen", called "50". I thought that your readers might enjoy it --you can see it here:

Thanks so much for watching,
Batya Diamond
Wilton, CT

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Monday, March 22, 2010

God Sleeps in Rwanda - Or Does He? - by Patty Mooney

Patty Mooney at San Diego Stand Down 2009Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr

The appellation of this film, as arise just above-mentioned to the credits, is based on a Rwandan adage that God may absorb His canicule anywhere abroad in the world, but He allotment to Rwanda to blow at night in this African paradise. After watching the interviews and circadian lives of 5 women who survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994 during which a actor Tutsis were murdered by Hutus, the adage comes as a complete irony. One wonders area God was if the genocide was in abounding blossom and these women watched as their absolute families were murdered in foreground of their eyes, their villages austere and neighbors tortured, and if they themselves were continuously raped, baffled and larboard for dead.

Complete gibberish, right? Imagine if you had written a reflection about a film called "God Sleeps in Rwanda" which moved you (my criterion for writing one) and posted it to Ezine Articles. And then one day, several months later, Google Alert informs you that someone has posted your piece to their blog. And so you follow the link on over there and discover this. It's as though your piece had been shoved into a meat grinder (a la Fargo), translated into a different language - say Swahili, and then it was regurgitated into English. How else would you explain this? And THEN you see your name affixed at the bottom. Isn't that the worst nightmare of every writer?

The logical brain kicks in. Why on Earth would anyone smoosh your words into a bowl of maggot-infested crap? (Do you think I am over-reacting?) The only reason I can think of would be to raise the Search Engine rankings of the perpetrator, called "admin," who seems to hide behind a cyber-fortress. There seems to be no actual human being aboard this ghost ship, a Wordpress site called "LoveRefuse." Catchy name, isn't it?

Does anyone else have a clue about this strangely disturbing phenomenon? Has it happened to you? What would you do about it?

I am all for sharing, and that's why I post my thoughts and stories to my blog and to other websites like Ezine Articles. And that's why I post other authors' work to my site. It's a give and take kind of thing. But this? I'm speechless!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dennis's Eulogy for Granny D, Dublin, New Hampshire, March 14, 2010

'CoverCover via Amazon

Thousands of news services, from Peterborough to Bangkok, from personal diaries to the New York Times, have reported these last few days on the life and death of Doris Haddock. In her life, she did not cure a disease or end a war. She did not write ten symphonies or do whatever normally occasions such notice. So what did she do? It is worth thinking about in this moment.
If people no longer spoke aloud, or if they no longer looked at things with their own eyes or through their own thoughts, if they let others do those things for them, then they would take it as unusual if one among them suddenly spoke up and dared see the world independently, describing without filter or permission the vivid colors and true conditions of the world.

It is difficult to understand why a lady from New Hampshire who did little more than take morning walks--though she sometimes did so without coming back for several years--should be so lionized in death, unless we also consider what has become of the world around her that made her exceptional by comparison. She is seen as exceptional perhaps because the rest of us have become a little too reticent, a little too slow-moving, in response to these times of high challenge.

A thousand people have told me that, when they reach her age, they want to be like Granny D. I have always agreed with them, but we have had it a little wrong. We must not wait until we are 90 or 100; we have to be, even today, a little more like Granny D. Our challenges will not wait for us to age.

Walking down long highways, I remember that sometimes she would want to look at the small things killed beside the road that others could not bear to look at. She was a great artist in fibers and colors, even in how she dressed. No one had a better sense of hat. She would see rich beauty in places where some would never dare look. She seems to have turned off her hearing aids for the lecture when the rest of us were told we must not look here or there, and told how some things must be presumed beautiful or ugly, true or false. She simply and always wanted to see for herself.

Too often we are told what to think, even about ourselves. We are encouraged to trivialize our lives; to participate in our own reduction to mere consumers of products, passive witnesses to history. She wanted to see for herself what she might become, what she might be capable of doing that was helpful to the people she loved, whom were honestly everyone. She could see no defects in others without measuring them against her own shortcomings. Her anger was real and righteous, but it was about things and actions--it never lodged in her heart for long against people, even those whose actions she most opposed.

Because she could see our present democracy clearly, and because she could remember in properly punctuated detail the conditions of this self-governing country in her youth, this young lady of Lake Winnipesauke, this product of New England’s town halls, this elder resident of the lanes where Thornton Wilder wrote “Our Town,” this friend of ours who will be more durable to history than any Old Man of the Mountain, was the truer granite measure of where we have been going as a people and where we must go, one step at a time, into the American future.

The important thing Doris Haddock would have you remember was that she was no more special than you, and that you have the identical power and the responsibility to make a difference in the community and the world.

She received tens of thousands of messages from people who told her they had decided that, if a woman her age of bent back, of emphysema and arthritis, could step forth to be a player on life's stage, to make a contribution, then so could they, and so would they. And so they did. Those people live all over the world. We can never know what good that legion of people has done and will continue to do. Have they cured diseases, ended wars, written symphonies? Remarkably yes, they do important work now all over the world, and they live their lives, by their own accounts, with more satisfaction and meaning because of what they learned by watching our Granny D. And politically, if you care to trace the origins of the present progressive movement, you will find at its root a bare handful of people, including Granny D.

Her youthful energy lives on through those she touched, just as the youthful energy of the people who raised her and taught her many years ago continued on through her. You could hear the voice of Jesse Eldridge Southwick of Emerson College of Oratory in Doris's every word, and see in Doris's constant energy the creative joy of her Laconia High School teacher, Grammy Swain. If Doris was partial to the poetry of Robert Frost, it was because she knew him. He was her husband's freshman English teacher at Amherst. If you ever heard her recite “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” as I did on a desert road, you may as well have been in Frost's presence. All of those people lived on past their own lifetimes through her.

She was an extension also of those much younger than her, who are with us today. She was an expression of Jim and Libby Haddock's supportive love and many sacrifices, enabling her to become what she became. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren were her inspiration to keep working for a better world for them. She was an extension of the love and learning of her study group, led by Bonnie Riley and a remarkable circle of friends. Beyond their warm living rooms, Doris traveled on a river of their love and energy. If there were ever a list in marble of the names of the people in her personal world who supported and propelled her, who, in turn, were inspired and loved by her, it would extend three thousand and two hundred miles across America, and then across the seas.

Doris was always a little confounded by her late-life fame. She deeply believed that she was merely fortunate enough to find herself in a good play with a good cast. The old drama student never wanted to be more than a very supportive player, so that the leaders of our democracy might better move us toward the honest, just and kindly democracy ever just ahead, a vision that she kept as close to her thoughts as that old feather in her hat.

She would have us remember that our country is Our Town, that we each have the power and the responsibility to make a difference while we are alive, knowing that what we set in motion today will make a difference long after we are gone. Far more important than the old bodies we find ourselves patching up and hitching along, we are each also an idea and a vision of the world. We give the rising gift or dark weight of that vision to each person we deeply know. And that idea, that vision, is like the manuscript that grows from an old typewriter that will soon rust away to earth, leaving but the living manuscript. The Idea of us is the real us. The Idea is the living thing that survives because it lives on in our friends, survives in their hearts to help them better interpret and shape the world.

So, at the next turn of history and of opportunity, will we not wonder what Granny D would have said, would have thought? It is a part of us now, a measuring tool, something new in us that thinks like her. That is Doris alive and still walking with us.

Finally, she would want us to remember to keep working at things and to take walks every day if possible. To send Thank You notes. To keep asking for and expecting honorable change. To stay strong. After the recent Supreme Court decision that did damage to the bill she walked for, she asked me if I thought she might walk across the country again. I told her that she might only be able to do five miles or less a day. She had last month been in Arizona working on a book and doing three miles a morning. She calculated how long it would take her to get to Washington at 3 to 5 miles per, and decided she needed a quicker way to fix the Supreme Court decision. Well, now it is up to us, of course, and we won’t let her or our country down.

Thank you Doris. You didn’t fear death very much--you told me so. You needn’t have feared it at all.


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the Road with the Young Dubliners - A Video Edited by Patty Mooney

Brewmaster Jim Koch with Mark Schulze & Patty ...Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr

This is a little travel-music-documentary video about traveling on tour with the Young Dubliners. They play a song called "Banshee." Shot by Mark Schulze and edited by Patty Mooney of our award-winning San Diego video production company, Crystal Pyramid Productions. HAPPY ST. PATTY'S DAY EVERYONE! Enjoy this taste of Ireland.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

The Planet's Funniest Animals

This is for all the animal lovers out there. My company, New & Unique Videos, is the largest (and only) stock footage library in San Diego. A few years back we sold several clips that were shown in the "Planet's Funniest Animals." Here is that clip, for your amusement.

Planet's Funniest Animals Features New & Unique Videos Clips from Patty Mooney on Vimeo.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Goodbye to Granny D

grannyd.JPGImage by dweinberger via Flickr

Doris "Granny D" Haddock died peacefully in her Dublin, New Hampshire family home at 7:18 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. She was 100 years old. Born in 1910 in Laconia, New Hampshire, she attended Emerson College and lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. She was an activist for her community and for her country, remaining active until the return of chronic respiratory problems four days ago.

She walked across the United States at the age of 90 in the year 2000, in a successful effort to promote the passage of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. In 2004, Granny D decided to challenge incumbent Senator Judd Gregg for his US Senate seat. She hoped to demonstrate that ordinary people can run for office and win with the support of small donations from individuals. Despite a shortened, grassroots campaign without the benefit of any advertising dollars, Granny D garnered an impressive 34% of the vote. During the past year five years, Granny D has traveled the country speaking about campaign finance reform and working on behalf of legislation for publicly-funded elections in New Hampshire.

In the 1960s, she and her husband, James Haddock, Sr., were instrumental in halting planned nuclear tests that would have destroyed a native fishing village and region in Alaska.

She raised two children, including the late Elizabeth Lawrenz of Washington D.C., and a son, Jim Haddock, who survives her and, with his wife, Libby, was at her side during many of her great adventures, including the final one today. She is also survived by eight grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

A public memorial service will be held this summer.


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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Julie and Julia" - A Film Reflection by Patty Mooney

Julie & JuliaImage via Wikipedia

After recently reading Frances Mayes's "Under the Tuscan Sun," my relationship with my kitchen improved vastly. I became more interested in fresh herbs and olive oils and bought a potpourri of them just to taste the differences. I even bought a crate of hand-pressed Tuscan olive oils from the Mayes's own press which should be arriving in the month of March. And I can't wait! Have I become a foodie?

Last night Mark and I stayed up late to watch "Julie and Julia," and I was in tears of laughter almost from the very beginning. Why? It is obvious to me that this movie is all about love and I saw the relationship between Mark and me reflected so many times in the relationships of both couples. I enjoyed how Julia and Paul, at the latter end of their "middle age," still ravaged each other passionately in the bedroom, and how the younger couple, probably half the age of Julia and Paul, were experiencing the tug-of-war that is common in the beginning of a marriage.

Director Nora Ephron deftly intertwines all these love affairs... The one between Julia and Paul Childs, the one between Julia and food, the one between Julie Powell and her husband, Chris, the one between Julie and the Julia in her head, the one between the two women and the concept of cooking and the one between Julie and her blog-readers. I saw myself in so much of this movie that it was almost an emotional rollercoaster for me.

The idea of making over 500 complicated French dishes in 365 days while journalizing it in a blog seems like pure genius to me. I read one woman's review of "Julie and Julia" that praised the parts containing Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci (as Julia and Paul Child) and condemning the parts with Amy Adams (as blogger Julie Powell). After watching the movie, Mark commented (without having read the woman's review) that two movies never could have stood alone on their own and he enjoyed the way the two stories were woven into one. This comes from a guy who has been a high-caliber Director of Photography since 1981, so take that, "Bitter, table for one!"

Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are two of my all-time favorite actors, so it was extraordinary to watch them play off of each other. Meryl was spot-on as Julia Child while Stanley played her loving companion. Their pillow talk scenes really spelled out how spouses who are truly into each other are completely there for each other. Julia is Paul's sounding board after his demoralizing interrogation by McCarthy-era G men. And Paul is always there for Julia as she treks up the complicated mountain of creating a cookbook based on the lessons of the Cordon Bleu.

Chris takes a brief departure from Julie after she experiences a melt down in the kitchen but they reunite. You can see how their relationship is not yet as steady and full-helmed as the one between Julia and Paul, but they are learning how to get there.

There's this old-fashioned adage, that "behind every successful man is a woman." This movie shows that it can go both ways. Paul tirelessly supported and encouraged Julia to keep going with her cookbook and her career. Chris bolstered Julie as she blogged into nothingness, wondering if anyone was out there. When a man loves a woman, he wants her to succeed, he wants her to be the best she can humanly be. And he is there to lend a shoulder when she needs one.

All couples should see this movie. It's a great recipe for love and togetherness.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

A Kiss in Space: Poems by Mary Jo Salter - A Book Review by Patty Mooney

'CoverCover of A Kiss in Space: Poems

This fourth collection of poetry from Mary Jo Salter is like a dragon's breath of hot air--filling a balloon then lifting it and its occupants (we, the readers) to sail far above the expanses of Salter's lucid imagination. Thus our ride begins.
We are there, raising our champagne glasses along with Salter, as hundreds of balloons rise over Chartres. We stay at her side--happily--as she touches down on her lifetime and those of historical and fictional figures: Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

We head into space for the kiss. We even come upon a gang of kangaroos "like flustered actors who don't know what to do with their hands... who look properly stunned when our typecast tour bus, bumptious as a cousin none of them invited, raises a ruckus of flung stones and dust and scrapes to a halt before them, face to face."

These encounters with nature, history, fiction, family, animals and the elusive self--is each a kiss in space-- and never a mere peck on the cheek.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chelsea King, You Will Be Missed

To me the most staggering arrogance is when someone takes another person's life. And it turns out to be a horribly lopsided trade-off. For instance, after the murder of John Lennon, the world traded an amazing person whose music affected the lives of millions for a forgettable guy named Mark David Chapman who sits withering away in a cell paid for by taxpayers.

It's been an emotionally grueling week here in San Diego for the family and friends of missing teenager, Chelsea King, who was last seen when she went on a run last Thursday night. She was a 17-year-old girl who, although just at the beginning of a bright life, touched many people with her beautiful soul.

What is incredible about this case is that just after she went missing, the entire San Diego community mobilized to find her. In the space of days, 76,000 people became fans on a Facebook search-related page. And due to the efforts of dozens of volunteers who hunted for her between rainstorms, a 30-year-old suspect named John Gardner was apprehended within a week of Chelsea's disappearance after his DNA was processed on a pair of Chelsea's panties found near the lake. He was arrested at a small restaurant located beside Lake Hodges ironically known as Hernando's Hideaway. His pants were caked in mud, which is telling enough, but he had also recently served five years in prison as a sex offender. His release from prison coincided with the disappearance of another young San Diego teen, Amber Dubois, who has been missing for more than a year.

Shortly after the arrest of Gardner near Lake Hodges, police and volunteers mobilized to scour the banks of the lake and this morning found the body of Chelsea King. Other young women have started to come forward relating stories of how Gardner had accosted them while jogging, but they were able to fend him off. I have a sinking feeling that Gardner was responsible for the murder of Amber Dubois, as well.

The arrest of this monster brings an end to what may be a serial murder spree but leaves San Diego in a wake of emotional devastation. It also raises questions about our legal system. Why are we still prioritizing victimless crimes and allowing killers like this to skip out of prison after five years? There's no telling how many women Gardner has terrorized, let alone killed.

It's chilling to think that Gardner committed his grisly deeds - rape and murder - near trails where my buddies and I have joyfully ridden our mountain bikes. I would like to understand why and how someone like Gardner, a true-life "criminal mind," could justify taking the life of a young girl who had so much to offer. Where does that kind of mindless hatred come from? How does a psychopath emerge from infancy? What drives a person like that to force himself on unwilling victims? I feel this somehow points to how that person was raised. It will be very interesting to see who this John Gardner is, as more information is presented by the media, while the family gets dragged through court proceedings and the bright lights of the media in the aftermath of their daughter's unthinkable death.

I think of my own youth. I understand the fierce independence of strong-minded young girls because I was one. I used to go jogging by myself along the edge of the ocean and across the trails of various parks. Sometimes I went at dusk because that was my only free time after work. I wonder now how many times I evaded the clutches of a dark heart.

They say that only the good die young and it certainly appears to be true in this case. Goodbye, sweet girl. You are loved and will be missed.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

A Gentle Path: A Guide to Peace, Passion and Power - A Book Review by Patty Mooney

Buddha InsideImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr

This has become one of my favorite books. Bernie Siegel, M.D. put it succinctly when he said "This book can be a great help to those ready for transformation." Well, I am always ready for transformation; who isn't?

The beauty of this book is that it is simply written and easy to understand. After having read it -- I gobbled it up voraciously in two days -- I now go back and re-read certain sections that help remind me of how to meander upon my own "gentle path."

It was an easy read, even while dealing with deep and emotional issues. Tina Thomas has a clear, no-nonsense, down-home style which goes right to the heart of the matter.

This is one of the best books I have read about improving one's attitude and eliminating all traces of the negative. It also makes a wonderful gift for friends and loved ones. After reading it, I obtained ten of them for my best buddies!

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