Connectedness

I’m having fun at the moment.

Life is good. I’m shooting film, until I process I’m rather low on photos.

I’m talking to lots of people. In my 28 things about 28, I said that when you think you can love no more, there is more love to be had. Love is not finite, isn’t that amazing? So I add more people to my life and my heart DOES get bigger. I become a better person from learning about others. I have a small life in that I don’t “work”, “study” or “volunteer”. The thing is though, I do every single one of those things in my community of friends, family and acquaintances.  I bet you do, too.

I’m in the process of writing more in-depth about motivation + happiness and all that (aka, study), which is interesting and sensible and all of that. I work with my son, I am working on a new business (soon, k?) and I am working towards being a better person (by my standards, not the rest of the world’s). I volunteer by offering my ears and my loud laugh to many situations and friends. I laugh quite easily.

I had a rough week last week… I was on the fragile side of things. I’ve come through the other side, now. I feel stronger for having been weak as I know that I can come back from having tough days, now. There was a time in my life where having a spate of tough times would have had me on the shower floor sobbing for all I didn’t have. I still have rough days, but they don’t turn into rough months as easily. I know that things pass… when things are bad, they will get better.

I keep coming back to the fact, though, that I am supremely connected at the moment. To my feet (and the ground), my head (and the sky) and my arms (my heart). So much to be grateful for.

(Shot on the Nikon F5 using expired Kodak 400 film with a Holga lens)

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28 things I learned at 28

Tomorrow, I wake up 29. I don’t care about this number.
29 sounds glamorous, mysterious and magic.
In 2009, I did my 27 lessons I learned at 27.
They are still totally appropriate, but here are 28 more.
  1. That when you think your life is big, it gets bigger
  2. When you think you can love no more, that life finds a way to make your heart bigger
  3. Blending in is the devil
  4. There is no such thing as normal
  5. Letting go is hard
  6. Nothing happens without effort
  7. Wishing is giving control of your path to someone else
  8. Dust breeds dust bunnies
  9. Sometimes, the cat chooses you
  10. What has gone before, isn’t always the predictor for what comes next
  11. When things are hard, laugh. Enjoy the challenge.
  12. Running is a really, really, really good way for me to channel my anger
  13. I like exercise
  14. Roller Derby is a sport, not just spectacle
  15. Opting out is sometimes the opposite
  16. Courage comes in all shapes and sizes

  17. That being interested in everything is not a sign of failure
  18. I have a place in my family
  19. Friendships are not static
  20. People are not static
  21. There is a point in parenting where you see the future clearly (and it makes you teary to see it)
  22. Love does not come in one size
  23. Relationships are based on trust and communication
  24. Semantics are mildly important at times, deathly important at others and irrelevant at other times
  25. Time is precious
  26. Joy comes from within
  27. My favourite colour is not pink
  28. I am who I am, and I am truly okay with that.
Not as profound as last year, but some of these are very new. Embracing me, in all my crazy guises.

Truth, above all things.

If I were to edit a photo, this is how I would edit it. Black, white, desaturated, filters….

It’s emotive, maybe? It’s pretty, I like it.

But, those layers… they’re like onion skins. They conceal a lot. They show a version of the truth, sometimes a vision of what I see, rather than what is there… And sometimes it is protection. I don’t know what “style” of photography is “mine”…

At the moment, I am trying to strip back some of the layers in life and with the camera. I am actually quite happy at present – I made it up a level in derby, I have a happy and healthy son at school, things are well with the spouse, there have been many babies born this year and more to come (yay!) – the year is filled with promise. I still speak rashly, unwisely, insipidly and slip in the same banal topics that are floating in my head… Errors. Gosh. To not make so many rash errors in 2011 would be an ace goal.

So as I strip the layers, I acknowledge that I am doing my best, that I am not perfect, that I will try my best again the next day. I am growing stronger, I am building foundations, I am actively working on being comfortable in this (slightly) saggy skin of mine.  I agonise over being in this moment in this day and realise that I cannot be mindful every moment of the day. I will make errors.

And that’s the truth, above all things.

As they are.

A n d   I ‘ m   o k a y   w i t h   t h a t .

Is Here.

I want to ask you:

When was the last time you took a moment to compliment someone on something that they’re struggling with? I am constantly struggling with something or another (um, derby, school work, drama work, balancing the neediness of my son with the neediness of my self always wanting to do more) and when someone says something nice or even notices that I’m trying, it makes me feel great.

I always like to compliment people when I see them trying. I am so happy to see people try their best, it takes a lot of courage. Bravery isn’t always a big act, remember?

And the world always needs another hero.

And not those idiotic people who drive their car fast and cut you off, but the ones chasing a dream, hunting it down and telling the world to watch them while they do it. Or the mama bears that are coping with sleep deprivation, financial indecisions and doing their best in raising their offspring. Setting examples that with enough thought and action, anything is possible.

If you find yourself doing something hard this week, please know that there’s someone (on the other side of town, Australia, the world, the universe) quietly saying thank-you for stretching out of your comfort zone.

The world needs another hero and you’re absolutely perfect for the role.

Navel gazers Anonymous

I was editing some photos last night (Of my delicious godson!) and decided that I mucked them up.

One eye was super sharp, the other not so much.

There was motion.

Focus was off ever so slightly rendering the image soft.

Yet, you know, his mama bear loved them.

It made me think of a piece of advice that I was given on my fabulous weekend – one of the women was saying that she couldn’t bear to part with any images of her kids (I know this feeling all too well!) and our teacher interjected to point out that clients feel the same way. Just because they don’t meet our exacting standards, clients do love images of their children. They’re special. So I edited anyway, packed my lessons away and gave them to mama bear.

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. Learning to overcome the fact that my photographic work is not perfect and does not meet my standards is really, really, really frustrating! I can pick everything apart with the finest toothed comb and this does achieve some things, but often it makes me feel worse and not like picking up the camera. I’ve been holding my beautiful Olympus e-410 in my grubby paws for a mere two years and in that time I have improved sooooooooooooooo much! I have learned how to shoot manual, edit, about the rule of thirds – all sorts of things (And I got a 50mm lens. Yum). Why do I feel the need to turn this into a competition?

Tomato Boy

(My son’s eyes are actually green. An example of actions gone wild in my youth!)

I keep explaining to the boy that he isn’t going to be able to do everything the first time he tries, that some things take a lot of practice. In fact I read an article the other day that suggested you needed to do something for 10,000 hours in order to be an expert at it. My camera is up around the 10,ooo shutter actuation mark, now, and I am still learning, learning and learning. And that’s okay. We all do things differently, at our own pace… I just need to apply it!

The boy strikes again. 194/365

(From earlier in the year…. a more documentary approach to life)

So I am in the process of doing another course with Ms. Rosemeyer and am super excited to learn more. Ahhh bliss – admitting that I am not perfect, that I am still learning and the enjoyment is still present. Totally a load off my shoulders.

Creativity + self esteem = ?

There’s a link between creativity and self esteem, I’m not entirely sure what it is. I know a fair few creative entities and I have found that many “creative types” struggle with their self esteem. What an artist does is so filled with themselves, that if it is not popular or remains unsold then they frequently suffer pangs of low self worth. That’s one theory. Another theory is that for whatever reason those with low self esteem become artists and then don’t feel that they should charge what they are worth, that their work is terrible, yada, yada, yada. I know people in both camps.

There are no easy ways to change this thinking! I think, ultimately, that one needs to stop looking for external approval and be comfortable in one’s own skin. For example, a client books you for a session, you show them your proofs, they don’t buy any of them. I know people that would go “they didn’t like them. I thought they were my best work ever. I mustn’t be very good if they didn’t buy them” and things spiral out of control. A more healthy way to approach it would be “They didn’t buy them, I liked them – next client!” We don’t know why people do or don’t do things as we cannot read people’s minds (unless, of course, you are Sookie Stackhouse).

(This is my perspective of this moment. You don’t have to like it)

Not everyone will see things from our perspective – there is an emphasis on the word “OUR”. Sometimes we need to consider other people’s perspectives (you know, walk a mile in another person’s shoes and all that) and other times we just don’t. When creating art, cutting out that voice of “I wonder how many people will like this, if the client likes this, if it will make Flickr explore, if someone will buy this” is almost essential. Rather than listening to the moment, what is in front of you around you, you are focussing on something so far away and un real that you are going to stop thinking creatively. The way to cut out that voice is really simple, to be almost difficult:

You have to choose to stop thinking in that way.

Easy, yes?

Maybe?

No?

When these intrusive thoughts pop in, sharply close them. Focus on something in front of you. Focus on your viewfinder crosshairs. Take a deep breath, repeat your mantra (I can do this & I am good at this feature prominently in mine) and most importantly SMILE. When we smile, there is a thing called the “facial feedback hypothesis” and our brain thinks we like doing something. If we start saying positive things about ourselves in difficult circumstances and smiling, our habits are on the way to changing.

My favourite author for the past few years has been the incredible Paul Arden (the world lost an incredible creative the day he left us) and I’ll leave you with a little bit of a quote from his amazing book “Whatever you think, think the opposite“:

When you look back there will be things you regret.

You made the wrong decision.

Wrong. You made the right decision.

Life is about decisions…

Whatever decision you make is the only one you could make.

Otherwise you would make a different one. Everything we do we choose.

So what is there to regret?

You are the person you chose to be.

Choose greatness, Choose yourself.

Thoughtful Thursday

I’ve been wanting to do SO many things of late and I keep putting them off.

I know I’m not alone with this, so I have one question for you:

Why not do the things that you want to do? Do one thing that you’ve been putting off today.

(And say a big hello to my favourite Shoes. Hello Shoes!!!! They’re by Sachi and the colour is completely wrong, my camera simply cannot pick it up. I will try again)