Snapshots From an Abundant Childhood

Her grandmother was seasick for an entire month. During the thirty-plus days it took for the ship she was on to dodge other ships making war, she never left her bunk down in steerage. It was a miserable trip for her, and if it hadn’t been for her family members at the other end of the journey – well, she was a strong spirit as it was, but that kept her going. She was not alone, but she might as well have been. When you’re seasick, all you want is to be left alone.

When she disembarked at Ellis Island, she was gaunt and weak and pale. It was such a relief to finally be off that boat, but it took days to get physical relief from the feeling that she was still rocking on a boat. They took her picture there at Ellis Island, and whenever her oldest granddaughter looked at it years later, she always remembered what she’d been told about that difficult passage. It told her so much about the possibilities for an abundant life her grandmother desired so strongly that she was willing to make that trip and leave everyone and everything familiar behind. And the gratitude and admiration welled up in her every single time.

This was the grandmother who shaped her life so powerfully. The one who made her feel for the rest of her life, “if she loved me, I must be good.” The deep spiritual connection was unique in her life and unforgettable. She had learned recently that in fact, she had been named for this grandmother, and her paternal grandmother as well, with Americanized versions of their names. It was a sweet shock to find this out when her mother handed her the baby books with entries from her birth, infancy, babyhood. And the fact of her naming stayed at the forefront of her mind for a very long time afterwards, and she wondered why she didn’t know this sooner.

Her maternal grandmother opened her to spiritual experiences, first with the shrine on the top of her dresser with the tall saint’s statue and votive candles burning, and the handmade palm cross stuck behind the crucifix on the wall. Since they lived in the same house, she could go into Grandma’s room any time and look up at the tall dresser with the shrine on top, and feel the stillness—and she liked the feeling. And Grandma took her along whenever she went to church. She loved the fragrance of incense, the cool darkness, the tall candles, the huge crucified, bleeding Christ, the statues in their niches. And the stained glass, the stillness of the sanctuary broken only by sibilant whispered prayers and the soft clicking of rosary beads sliding through fingers. When the Mass started, the voice of the priest, praying and chanting in Latin lulled and soothed her. She loved it, loved the way it filled all of her senses and her heart and soul, and she loves it still.

After Grandma died, when she was four and a half, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt which cloud Grandma was sitting on every single day, watching over her. And she had conversations with Grandma up on that cloud every day for a very long time. Her mother seemed different to her after Grandma died, like someone changed to her core, by life.

Her mother was only twenty-eight years old, and the death was shockingly unexpected. This larger-than-life Grandma was beloved by all who knew her. Many in the Sicilian immigrant community came to her as the folk healer who knew herbs and remedies, as well as a woman with a good head on her shoulders, and by all accounts, way ahead of her time. The Italian-American doctor even called on her to assist him in his ‘kitchen table’ surgeries. She was a soft, yet strong and powerful woman. And she left far too soon for those who loved her and remembered her and reminisced about her for decades to come.

It took her granddaughter years and years, and lot of tears, and countless counseling sessions to be able to speak of her without the tears welling up, finally able to claim the love and the connection and the powerful memories without the grief. Whenever she thought of her now, she recalled the laughter, the light around her, the broad smile, the joy, the happiness, the security–and the food!

Snails in tomato sauce, she’d drink the sauce from the snail shell, but refuse to eat the snail. Red cinnamon candies and chocolate nonpareils brought from the candy store in white paper bags and put in the pantry until it was time to enjoy them together as a family after dinner. Macaroni of all shapes and sizes, meatballs, sausage flavored with garlic and fennel, and spareribs in the sauce that simmered all day. She’d ask a grown-up to dip a crusty piece of bread into the sauce for her long before it was dinner time. That was a treat everyone in the house enjoyed on “sauce” days.

Then there were cannolis and creampuffs for special occasions. Warm sfingi with honey drizzled over them on St. Joseph’s Day. Cuccia made from cooked wheat berries on the feast of Santa Lucia. Lightly frosted cookies with a rich fig, date, raisin and nut filling at Christmas. Bread in the shape of a doll at Easter. Thick, chewy Sicilian pizza in a big rectangular pan, with tiny salty pieces of anchovy dimpling the dough. The bubbles in the glass of ginger ale in Zia Caluzza’s palsied hand dancing in the light from the kitchen window. The same kitchen window where the four-year old watched and waited for so long for Grandma to return after she died.

The soft yellow light glowed in the living room after dinner when she’d sit on Grandpa’s lap in the easy chair, and he’d make her smile and giggle with stories about the characters from their village in the Old Country. Stories about the man who’d go from house to house at dinnertime, pleading hunger, and how they’d all feed him, one family after the other, even though they knew he did this every night. And the silly man who was told to “tira la porta” — “pull the door”, and did. He pulled it and took it with him! The stories were funny to her every time she heard them. She listened to Grandpa’s voice telling her the stories as she heard in the background the muffled sounds of her mother and father and grandmother in the kitchen, talking and laughing.

And there were the visits. The extended family was large, made up of those who had come from the Old Country first, and saved and sent money for the others who wanted to come. Her paternal grandfather alone, had worked hard, saved money and brought over a lot of family members. And now there were the children and grandchildren of those brave souls who came here knowing they’d never see the ones they left behind again. The family was large and still growing.

There were always people dropping in, or she and her mother would go visiting, or she’d get to stay with Donna Lucia and play in her backyard with the tomatoes and flowers and sunshine while her mother went shopping. And Grandma took her everywhere with her—that’s what she remembered and that’s what everyone said. To the Italian grocery store several blocks away, where the shopkeeper would lift her up and let her dip her hand into the huge wooden barrel of olives to take a few fat green olives so she could taste the salty, slightly bitter, imported delicacy. Oh, and all the wonderful smells in that store! Then some days they’d go to visit with Grandma’s closest friends, the ones who had christened each others’ children, or stood up in each others’ weddings, and so, were family. And other days they would drop in on cousins, in-laws, or siblings and their families.

And on Sundays, well, Sundays were the best. Big dinners at their house, or her other Grandma’s house, where the big, long table was filled with food and family. And where the white ice box was crammed with glass dishes of wonderful foods, and the cellar smelled like the wine that Grandpa made with his wine press. Loud, talking, laughing, aunts, uncles, cousins filled the house…kids playing and running around, and babies being bounced up and down, and handed from one pair of arms to another.

And in the summer, sometimes they’d take the Sunday dinner to the park where they’d reserved a pavilion for shelter in case it rained. The women had made baked macaroni which they brought in large covered pans, wrapped in blankets to keep the food warm, and roasted chicken, salads, and wonderful sweet cakes and pies. And scattered along the table, there were clear glass bottles with the drawing of the dapper man in the top hat, full of ginger ale and orange pop and cream soda, alongside the green glass bottles of Grandpa’s homemade wine. And loaves of crusty bread spilling crumbs. Everyone laughed and talked, and the kids played and played until they dropped on the blankets laid out on the grass in the shade.

And they played practical jokes on one another. Like the way Grandma, during the holidays, always filled a walnut shell with pepper, or stuffed a creampuff with cotton instead of cream and make sure it was positioned on the table in front of the uncle who would love the joke more than anyone in the world—year after year after year. And they all laughed just as hard every time the joke was played, and Uncle acted as if this had never happened to him before. Then they would clear the dining room table and play cards for hours, laughing and arguing and having fun.

When she got tired of hovering around the card players, she would go into the living room, lay down on the couch and drift off to sleep to the sweetest sounds in the world…the sounds of them talking, laughing, just being there, filling the entire house with their presence. This was one of her greatest remembered pleasures when she herself was an adult, and understood what it meant that she had gotten to experience this in her childhood. Then later she’d get picked up by her father and carried to bed, or to the velvety back seat of their big blue car for the trip home to her own bed.

The feeling of connection, of family, was so strong and such a firm foundation. This was her reality, her life, and to her it felt like paradise. Loving and being loved by so many people. Such richness, such a sense of belonging and warmth and goodness and laughter. It was something gracefully taken for granted that defined her life. And it remained the same until Grandma died and they moved a short time later to a city ninety miles away. But, as her mother said, they could just as well have been on the moon for the changes that the move created. For a long time after they moved, no one dropped in and they visited no one and her mother was quiet and sad. She started Kindergarten and made new best friends and had fun and liked their new home with the lady next door who had a piano and granddaughters. And they’d drive the ninety miles on Sundays to visit the family, but it wasn’t the same, not really.

And although it was never the same again, those early experiences shaped her life and her beliefs powerfully and sweetly, so that she always expected to be connected, to belong, to be loved, to experience true closeness, to laugh with friends, to enjoy life. She always looked for, created, and found, the warmth and richness of those early days. It established for her a strong desire for that kind of family experience. And later on in her life, her friends hugged her and thanked her for including them in her own family gatherings that have the same flavor and sweetness as those early days.

We really do carry with us the vibrations of the past, and marvelously, we get to choose the ones we want to carry, continue to experience and share. What she experienced was not perfect, things sometimes happened that weren’t happy, as they do in any life, but she chooses to remember the things that made her then, and still make her, the happiest. And you can do the same.

Sift through your memories and choose thoughtfully, hold the thought, the vision, the vibration of your happiest moments and you will become a magnet that attracts more of the same.

Those happy moments usually exist in our memories as snapshots rather than videos, so search your memory bank for the snapshots that capture your richest experiences, your peak moments, and treasure them, revisit them, feel the feelings again. Then ask the Universe for more experiences just like them. And if you have actual snapshots of those moments, put them up where you can see them often.

And if, for some reason, you can’t find a really happy memory right now, don’t worry—make one up for yourself out of the wishes of what you’ve always longed for. To the subconscious mind, and to the Universe, it makes no difference at all whether the memory is real or imagined. It creates the very same brain chemistry that floods and saturates every cell in your body, and gives exactly the right message to the co-creating Universe just the same.

The Law of Attraction is always operating, bringing to you what you focus on the most, so allow it work for you to create a life that you really, really, really, really love!

Top 3 Webpage Snapshot Tools To Boost Your Productivity

For online professionals like freelance bloggers, marketing writers, graphic designers, project managers, and even for regular internet users, a webpage snapshot tool is good to have for all sorts of situations. Whether you are creating a PowerPoint presentation or a tutorial, a reliable snapshot tool always come in handy.

However, you might be wondering about the distinction between a screen capture tool and a webpage snapshot application. The difference is minor, but definitely not insignificant. A screen capture tool takes a picture of your current desktop view and its current size, while the latter takes a full-size image of a website page that you want to save, basically by entering its URL.

If you’ll perform a quick Google search to find the best webpage snapshot tools available, you will overwhelm yourself by the number of results and choices. This specific tool is so useful that many came up with their own versions. Because of that, it is now harder to tell which one is for keeps.

In this article, I’ve summed up 3 of what I think are the best screen capture tools that I’ve tried myself.

#1 Webpage Screen Tool

As the name implies, this webpage snapshot tool offers straightforward functionality. To capture a full page, all you need to do is copy and paste the webpage URL, hit the download button, and follow the wizard. It’s as simple as that.

Aside from its core function, it’s also packed with useful features such as editing, cloud storing and screenshot sharing. It’s recommended for people who want to get full-page screenshots fast.

Webpage Screen Tool allows you to save images in JPG format to your local drive. You make annotations and it only takes a few clicks to download. This application is free and does not require registration. Plus, there’s no download limit or usage time restriction.

#2 WebShots Pro

This is another webpage screen capture app that is equally reliable. WebShots Pro is very similar to Webpage Screen Tool, but what I love about this one is that it offers the user with different resolutions to choose from.

To give it a try, go to the WebShots Pro homepage and type in the URL of the webpage you want to capture in the link box. Always remember to type in ‘WWW’ for it to work.

Perhaps, WebShots Pro’s edge over WebPage Screen Tool is that it shows a short description of the webpage you will capture. It may look unnecessary, but it actually informs the user if the correct webpage is provided.

#3 Thumbalizr

Thumbalizr requires a minimal registration fee to get full-size webpage snapshots, but it is worth a mention. Unlike WebShots Pro and WebPage Screen Tool, it captures the current size of your browser and gives a full image shot as well. You only have to paste your target URL in the link box and hit enter.

What’s more interesting about this app is that registered users can see web snapshots created by others.

However, a free user can only download a thumbnail size, hence the name of the tool. You need to register to be able to download screen captures in various resolutions.

Relationships Matter – How to Stop Time With Personal Snapshots of Your Memories

Relationships matter. As a society have we become so caught up in ourselves and ‘me time’ that our relationships cease to matter anymore? The computer and cell phone has given us a way to interact with one another without spending any face time. It’s all done by the press of a key on a keyboard. However, the facts remains that with all the texting and email, you can’t stop time and create memories or snapshots with your family and friends. 

How do you stop time? How does one capture the very time, the very moment of an event in their life? You can’t capture a moment in your life if you fail to recognize it occurring before you. Sometimes our moments occur without our own personal knowledge, but may be captured by an onlooker or the other person involved. This snapshot of time standing still could have happened unexpectedly or was intentionally orchestrated. What are these captured snapshots and how can we assure ourselves of being able to create more?

Einstein talked about time being relative. Some may argue that you cannot stop time, but if we delve closer into this assertion there is an experiment where you stare at the second hand on a clock while you that time has stopped as the second hand appears to stall while in motion just for a moment. There are some that say it is an optical illusion drawn from the conscious mind. That may be true, but we all have had moments where we have sensed our second hand had momentarily stood still.

The passage of time is not about the second hand on a clock, but about our relationships with people especially those in your life that bring you the most joy. When time is captured, it stands still. It becomes defined as “in the moment” because time becomes suspended while the event is occurring. The experience, the memory, the moment created lingers like the feeling you get from the innocence of a child’s hug or the faint smell of lingering perfume or cologne from your lover as you release each other from a loving embrace.  So, instead of investing in materials to save your marriage or get your ex back, think of the moments when time stood still and the feeling your experienced with that person and that will guide you back to how to save your relationship.

Relationships do matter. When the moment is there, you absentmindedly reminiscence about it while you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for the elevator. It’s like good food or fine wine which lingers heavily as it encapsulates you as time stood still just for that instant, just for that moment.  And, if you’re lucky, you’ve created many of them to relive continuously throughout your life.  For some, time stood still at the birth of your children, your first kiss, your first intimate encounter and yes, the ache in your heart over the first argument with someone you love dearly.

Have you thought about it now? How do you capture the moment? How do you stop time? Besides the use of a voice recorder, photograph or video the only other way to capture the moment is through our memories which sometimes can’t be counted upon to be an accurate account.

How do you capture time? Why you live each day creating those special moments with the people you care about the most. Each time you look in your child’s face and see yourself in their eyes you create a moment where you capture the significance of their existence. When you hold your elderly parent or loved one in your arms as you twinge with empathy at their frailty recalling the times that you relied on them for their strength and invincibility. Now you have taken their place.

You capture time by creating memories with the people in your life that matter because you couldn’t imagine your life without them in it. They make you feel safe. Sometimes they make you angry. They make you laugh and sometimes even cry. After these emotional and mental snapshots comes a quiet remembrance when time stood still for a moment and you swear you could hear the ever so lightly whisper of “I love you” only heard in silent understanding by those present as the slight pause in time occurred.

There are some of us who may choose to freeze the moment longer than necessary. We create a snapshot where you bid an extended unspoken farewell out of anger or misunderstanding as you move them further away from you with an awkward distance that neither of you can truly comprehend. Time frozen in hostility sometimes can never be forgiven. It just hangs suspended like a lone icicle on a snow filled roof top basked in heavy stillness. A coldness where the path to tolerance has been shut down by pride and a steely unwillingness to just “let it go” and move forward.

We all have the choice of how we will stop time and create our snapshots with or without our loved ones in our lives. However, we all know that the most pleasurable stoppage of time is when we’re in the zone and our family and friends are the focal point, our clock, our second hand.

Go out and create moments where you can see, hear and feel when time stood still because of the moments and your life’s snapshots you’ve created. And, as one last piece of advice, while you’re present in the moment, promise yourself to welcome the stoppage of time, savor the experience with peaceful surrender, as you deliberately take in this moment, this time, this life, your life.