18 February 2014

I dare you to reach out

En route to Corcovado National Park. Its a tough hike but I had incredible company and we got each other through.

Although I don't believe we should ever place our emotional happiness entirely in the hands of other people, I think its fair to say that having amazing people in your life can completely change it. I also believe that the people around us shape us and influence us in a myriad of ways - some of which we don't really notice or understand. There a million different articles out there telling us how to get rid of 'toxic friendships' or gently ease 'the negative friend' out of our lives, but I don't think I've ever seen anything that tells you how to hang on to the good ones.

Some of the best advice I've ever been given is that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or to stay (the wise words of my mother, of course).  Friendship, like so many things in our lives can be transient and fleeting. Sometimes this is okay, and sometimes its not. Sometimes the circumstances are beyond our control, but sometimes they're not. Friendship requires effort on both sides, and I think we can all be a little bit guilty of forgetting that sometimes.  I recently finished reading 'The Flinch' and there were a couple of sentences in there that really resonated with me.

"Go through old text messages to rekindle dormant friendships. It can be awkward, but that's the point. You will make an impact by choosing to do what makes others nervous"

So I did. I spent this evening texting and emailing people I haven't spoken to in a while, people that I never really wanted to lose touch with but kind of did anyway. It was awkward. Of course it was. When you haven't spoken to someone in 9 months it feels a bit odd to just email them and say hi - but what do you really have to lose? When you compare it to what you could gain its a bit of a no-brainer.

So I dare you. I dare you to go through your Facebook friends, your email addresses, your phone or your address book - say hi to an old friend and see where it goes. Reach out. Make the effort. Let someone know that they matter to you.

16 February 2014

a creative challenge

Winter has this tendency to send my photography into hibernation. Its not a conscious decision, but somewhere around Christmas I usually notice I haven't picked up my camera in a while. I then make an effort for Christmas and tail off again until the days start getting a little longer. I blame it on so many different things - lack of light, the absence of leaves (seriously, I just don't think trees look the same when they're naked), the non-compatibility of gloves and a camera - but in reality these are all just excuses. I find summer photography easy, it comes naturally. I'm a summer girl, I love warm weather and blue skies, 4am when the sun is streaming through the windows and 10pm when the light is finally starting to fade. Bare feet, bare legs and the way the woods look when they're full of sunshine.

Staying inspired when I'm not particularly inspired is a little bit more difficult, but its good for me. I think its good for us to push ourselves creatively, to explore out of our comfort zone and lose that fear of producing 'bad' work while we learn new things. Its easy to stick with what you know and what you're good at, but what good does that really do us? To be honest, it doesn't, not at all. It encourages us to be lazy and stick with whats always worked rather than trying out different ways of approaching things.

I don't want to be lazy. I want to learn, and grow, and change. As an artist, as a photographer and as a person - I think its important. I've always shied away from photography challenges before, using the excuse that you can't 'force' these things. To an extent I still feel that way, but I also believe there is a big difference between forcing yourself to do something and challenging yourself to do something. So I'm challenging myself, to a picture - every single day until the official start of the summer. (That's June 21st in case you were wondering...). I'm also challenging myself to share a picture, every day, until the start of the summer. Taking a picture will be the easy part, but sharing it? Not so much. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I'm not comfortable with sharing things that I'm not proud of.

But sharing publicly will keep me accountable, and I think I need that. So I'll be posting on Instagram and tagging things #wintermojo (original, right?), if you want to join in then I'd love that & I'll be stalking keeping an eye on the tag just to see whats going on. I'm pretty excited about this.

09 February 2014

thriving in January

Thriving in January was many things, but if I had to sum it up it was about making the effort to replace comfortable with good. It was setting an alarm for 6:20 on weekdays to work out before work. Sleeping in is comfortable, but fitting in half an hour of movement? That's good. It was putting Zak in the car and driving somewhere different just to take photo's. Chucking my wellies on and walking him in the woods behind the house is comfortable, but making the extra effort to spend a little bit of time behind the lens? That's good. It was pushing myself to change my nightly routine so that I'm reading before I go to sleep rather than mindlessly browsing Pinterest or getting frustrated by Candy Crush (I'm a little bit addicted). Lying in bed with an electronic device in my hand is comfortable, but getting lost in a good book? That's good. It was trying to get back into the habit of writing, and photography, starting to tackle some of the bigger projects on my list and checking off some of the things that have been on a 'to do' list for ages.

It wasn't at all about less. It was all about more. More of the things that make me feel alive, inspired, productive and happy. Living intentionally, not comfortably. 

27 January 2014

a hello to writing


Lately I've been thinking a lot about what it means for me to truly 'thrive'. What do I need? Or more importantly, what don't I need. What are the things that leave me feeling energised and inspired? When am I happiest? How can I shape my life so I that I am the best version of me that I can be? These seem like big questions to answer, and I suppose in many ways they are. But big questions don't necessarily need big answers, or complicated answers. Its often the little things, the simple things.

Like writing. It doesn't have to be complicated, or deep, or particularly meaningful - or even make any sense. Its just something I've always enjoyed.  I was a story writing child, a (mostly depressing) teenage poet, an embarrassingly bad songwriter. I'm a sporadic journal writer, an obsessive list maker,  and for most of my university life I was a semi-regular blogger. Lately I've found myself completely out of the habit, and its a little bit sad that life has got in the way of something that's always been an outlet for me.

But the wonderful thing about habits is the way you can get back into good ones, and break out of the bad ones. So I'm saying hello again to writing. And hello to any of you who have stuck around, I appreciate it, I really do.

13 January 2014

Down by the river

Skywards Sunset over the water XI Sunset over the water IX Sunset over the water VIII Sunset over the water VII Sunset over the water VI Sunset over the water V Untitled Sunset over the water IV Sunset over the water III Sunset over the water II Sunset over the water Last light in the woods II

Remember when I was crossing my fingers for a clear day this weekend? Clearly the weather gods were listening because Saturday evening was absolutely breathtaking. I checked the sunset time, packed my wellies and the dog in the back of the car and headed for the woods. We walked, and we walked, and we walked a bit more. Through the woods, and next to the fields and then back along the edge of the water. I took pictures and Zak danced around my feet trying to persuade me to throw stones. He dug holes (everywhere) while I tried to catch reflections in wet sand and when he got bored of that he decided that a mud bath was a Really Good Plan (he regretted this later when I gave him a bath...) We walked back through the woods just as the light started to finally disappear and by the time we got back to the car the sky was that deep kind of purple that only hangs around for a few minutes before the dark sets in.

If felt good to be out. To breathe cold air and to feel my fingers slowly freeze around my camera. To chase light through the trees and to capture those last fleeting moments of sunlight. To feel the high of knowing that there's magic stored in the memory card while you drive home.  The lack of light in this country in the winter makes me cranky, but evenings like that one kind of make it all worth it.

10 January 2014

Around here #1

Hot Chocolate

My first full week back at work felt long, but also kind of good. When I first started it really bothered me that I wasn't doing something that used my degree, but I enjoy it - and there's a lot to be said for not dreading going to work when you get up in the morning.  Not a huge fan of driving to and from work with my lights on, but I am a fan of watching the sun set from my desk so that's a bonus. On clearer days the sunsets have been pretty spectacular recently,  so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to get out with my camera this weekend.

A lot of hot chocolate has been drunk just recently, its just the right weather for it, you know? There's nothing quite like curling up in bed with a good book and a giant mug of hot chocolate. Its the simple things. I'm also loving Redbush tea at the minute, so much so that I can't even remember the last time I had a 'proper' cup of tea. Tragic really.

Plans for this weekend include picking my camera up, a couple of long walks with Zak and an attempt at making banana bread (anyone know a good recipe?).

I'm also listen to this song about a million times because I'm a tin bit obsessed and I think its hauntingly beautiful.

02 January 2014

One little word in 2014

Calm Green

I'm not really one for making New Years Resolutions, I believe that if you want to make a change or set a goal then you should do exactly that - waiting for a particular time of year just seems like another way of putting things off. That said, there is something about January that just feels shiny and new - and it feels appropriate to put something new into motion at this time of year. For the last couple of years I've jumped on the 'One Little Word' bandwagon - and its something that I really believe made a different to the way I approached life. Not all the time of course - like anything there were times when I was more conscious of them than others - but they were definitely there in the background. 2012 was about being 'fearless' - trying new things, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and generally trying not to let silly little things hold me back. 2012 was the year I booked a solo trip to Central America and California, so I think that worked pretty well... 2013 was about choice, I chose 'choose' both as a gentle reminder to myself that I have a choice in how I respond to everything and anything that happens, but also as a nod to fact that I knew a lot of decisions were coming up. 

 This year I felt like I needed something more organic, less about trying to force direction and more about acceptance and reflection. More about gratitude for what I have, and less about trying to change things. Change is good, but change for the sake of change isn't - and sometimes I'm aware that I get a little caught up in the mentality that standing still is a bad thing and that in order to be successful we need to be constantly moving. So this year isn't all about doing more, pushing harder, making choices or preparing for big decisions. 

This year is about thriving. Emotionally, physically, creatively, spiritually, nurturing relationships and building new ones, savouring the small things and living with greater intention. 

In 2014 I will thrive. And I'm excited about it. 

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