Review of Close-Up on War

My review of Close-Up on War: The Story of Pioneering Photojournalist Catherine Leroy is on Amazon and Goodreads. However, I wanted to delve deeper into this book’s impact on me.

First Impressions

Although I’ve never wanted to read a book about the Vietnam War, the cover photograph pulled me in. It amazed me that I’d never heard of Catherine Leroy. Multiple posts on social media about the impact of women during this month were the final push to influence my purchase.

After unwrapping my copy, I photographed it on the feminine purple tissue paper, lovingly surrounding the gritty contents.

The quality of the paper in the book was like nothing I’d ever seen. Flipping through, it was apparent why the pages were high quality. It is littered with award-winning photographs by Catherine Leroy, her contemporaries, and official agencies.

As I began reading, I felt disappointed. Early chapters review the history of Viet Nam and set up the reader’s knowledge of the area. This type of information has always felt dry to me. Furthermore, I was thirteen in 1967 and saw live news reports about the conflict in Vietnam.

It seemed unnecessary to me until I began to imagine the young women reading this book. Then my attitude softened, and Mary Cronk Farrell’s words permeated my entire being.

My Interest Began to Rise

First, I appreciated the setup of terms in Chapter One once I started reading about Catherine Leroy’s connection to Southeast Asia. Then each chapter became more and more enjoyable.

I couldn’t put it down by the morning of my third reading day. So I finished it before eating a late breakfast near noon, tears running down my cheeks.

In Conclusion

The rawness of Catherine’s experience is not for everyone, but her story is remarkable. I felt like I was there with Catherine Leroy as she began her career in photojournalism. As I continued to read how she broke the barriers of a woman photographing the horrors of war, my heart soared. This tiny woman stood tall among her male peers in courage, tenacity, humility, and compassion.

Mary Cronk Farrell has written a book that inspires all women to trust their instincts and follow their dreams. I gave my review of Close-Up on War five stars.

Some Stories Stay with You

Some stories stay with you. You don’t want them to end. Instead, you want to find the next novel and satisfy your need for a good book.

Some Stories Stay with You

This desire to read has been with me since I sat enthralled by the Dick and Jane primers in grade one. As a Florida girl, I longed to jump in a pile of autumn leaves and build a snowman. But, alas, Florida offered temperate weather without clearly defined seasons. More importantly, the illustrations and descriptions in books brought the desire for a different life as I became an adult.

The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason, is one of those stories. I invite you to read my review on Goodreads as a segway into a deeper discussion of Mr. Mason’s writing. Unfortunately, although I checked the spoiler box, I’m not convinced I revealed too much.

About Reading Styles

Do you find an author you like and then read their books until you finish all or get bored? What attracts you to that first book?

I saw Daniel Mason’s The Winter Soldier in the highlighted book display at my local library. The book jacket intrigued me as I picked it up and read the synopsis. Since I’m a lover of historical fiction, the time frame of World War I sold me along with the recommendation of Anthony Doerr.

Usually, I hunt for the next book from a favored author. However, this time the jacket called from the library stacks as I hunted for one of my mother’s favorite authors of Amish romance novels. Instantly, I recalled my desire to read The Piano Tuner and checked it out.

Borrow or Buy

As a writer, I usually buy books. Similarly, I support local garden centers over big-box stores whenever I can. But, conversely, I help my local public library too. It may seem like I’m hurting published authors, but by making books available to everyone, authors benefit too.

In Conclusion

Why do some stories stay with you? It’s simple. The author has created a world for escape. Additionally, they wove in one central, lovable character.

Today’s world seems overloaded with electronic storms of information. So I invite you to take a breather and visit your local public library or bookstore to find the story that stays with you.

Finding Joy When Life is Stressful

Finding joy when life is stressful seems impossible. Yet these are the times joy is most needed.

How I Found My Joy

Inspiration for joy came to me in many different ways. All these ideas have one thing in common – taking action.

  • Connection with positive friends
  • Looking for beauty in nature
  • Noticing synchronicity in everyday occasions
  • Asking for help

Connection with Positive Friends

Although I’m a caregiver to my husband and elderly mother, I also choose to surround myself with positive friends. This is the primary way I find joy when life is stressful.

One example is a nearby cousin, Tom, whom I’d only seen at sad occasions during the last year. His brother and parents passed just before and during the pandemic.

Look for L. Anderson, my grandfather

Tom called me to ask a favor of helping him deliver his car to a mechanic shop located between our respective homes. He enjoys eating out and offered to take me to lunch in gratitude. Our conversations centered around sharing past adventures and our mutual interest in the family genealogy. We made a pact to discover the location of our great-grandfather’s home in the late 1800’s.  We spent a Saturday afternoon at the local county historical library, pouring over platte maps.

Looking for Beauty in Nature

During 2020’s restrictions, I discovered nature in my yard. It was wonderful to visit the many plants, some that I had installed specifically to attract butterflies and birds. In contrast, the declining health of my husband and mother pulled me farther out into the world of nature.

Although I walk every Saturday morning with a gardening friend in the gardens of Bok Tower, this week I twice answered the call of a wilder place. Last Sunday I went to a local state park and took my dog, Sugar. The pain in my arthritic knees reminded me that I have walking poles hidden under my husband’s hunting camo in the garage.

When I decided to head to Bok Tower’s wilder side, Pine Ridge Preserve, I dug out the poles, cleaned off the cobwebs and brought them with me. As I used the poles to steady my stance and distribute the force away from my knees, I thought, “Why have I ignored these tools hanging in the garage four years!”

Noticing Synchronicity

There have been so many instances of synchronicity, it’s hard to know which to share. Mostly, I’ve been drawn to reach out to like-minded people through my online groups.

One such person is Miggy Rodriguez, of Infinite FlowInfinite Flow. I’ve known her over a year, liked her Facebook comments both on our private groups and in our personal pages. Finally, I reached out and we had long telephone conversation. She asked me where I lived in Florida. Although she lives in North Carolina, her father lives right here, in the same small town I live in. And her sister literally lives off the same street as me. That’s extreme synchronicity.

You might wonder why that brings me joy. It’s rather simple really. For me, synchronicity is proof of a higher power guiding and helping me.. helping you.

Asking For Help

This has shown up in myriad ways. Not only have I asked friends for help navigating the complex medical world of my husband’s cancer, I’ve learned how to ask for help in small ways too.

Now is the time of oak leaf drop in Florida. I asked my landscaping person to help me by blowing the leaves on our circular drive into piles. When I checked on his regular lawn care tasks, I found him raking the leaves into piles. We worked together to get them into a garbage can.

When you ask for help, joy is doubled. Both people benefit in this giving and receiving exchange.

Final Thoughts

This coming week, consider finding joy when life is stressful. It’s a combination of a choice in your thoughts and taking positive action.