Portaiture

Sunday was day 1 of Photography Workshop with Kate Inglas / @sweetsalty

 

I have been following her photography and writing online for some time now. It’s really thrilling when you have an opportunity to learn from someone whose work you admire. Sunday I learned a few pointers and was reminded of a lot of technical stuff that I’d just stopped being fully aware of. It takes practise to make these things second nature and I have homework for the second half of this course. If anyone in my neighborhood is willing I’m looking for subjects! 😉

 

I’m really happy with the bit of progress I already made:

 

Memories of Mom (collage)

Memories of Mom

12in12 challenge / Month 2 / Day 1

Today was Day 1, Month 2 of the 12in12 challenge. February is make and share one photo-a-day. I just finished a month of walking daily, and so today’s photo is of my wet walking boots drying by the fire.

Life plan baby steps

I’m here – half standing, half sitting, perched on a bar stool at my counter height table – wishing more than anything I had a nice comfy lounge chair to be outside enjoying the unseasonable end-of-summer heat. I left work early due to back spasms that just aren’t letting up. Fortunately, I have a sweet spouse who offered to swap me massage appointments (we see the same RMT) so that I can get in tomorrow morning, rather than wait until Thursday. In the meantime, I’m trying to get by on ibuprofen, alternating ice and heat.

As usual I’m struggling staying focused on anything. I found some great sources of information to help me hone my desire to do something unique while satisfying my personal goals in life, but as I ran out of time on the day discovered I also lost my focus moving forward. Somehow I need to get back there and continue the momentum. I can see why people need to take week-long hiatuses to go through this process effectively. Unfortunately that’s just not in the cards for me right now. And so I flounder (again).

This back pain is a prime example of how the distractions in my life seem to just take over and interfere. I know that in many cases it’s simply because I have let it happen, in others I just haven’t found the answer yet.

When it comes to my fitness the latter applies. Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia three years ago was at first a bit of validation that I was dealing with something that was not all in my head. But it doesn’t give me any real answers. It hasn’t helped me to feel better. I have tried many strategies, and have managed to improve the situation in bite sizes, however the pain still interferes far too much with my daily life and my long-term goals. I want to be fit. I want to be able to just hop on my bike and do a day trip that involves a long ride there and back. I do not want to be hurting three weeks after every carefully planned attempt at restarting my fitness routine. I have tried so many things. I’m sick of this cycle of un-success. Today I did what feels like the last option (of course I thought that with my last course of action, not knowing about this one). I called a pain management centre I recently learned of. They work with chronic pain sufferers in a self-managed/referred program that will likely involved some pretty dedicated commitment. But if I can get back to daily exercise that is not at the expense of my ability to function, I want it.

Some people would say: if it hurts, then just don’t do it. Many would love a reason to just not bother. But, I know in the long run that if I can find a way to make this work I’ll be healthier for much longer. Sedentary lifestyles result in heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes, or other disease… The short term sacrifice is SO worth the long term gain. Besides, my current mental state will also improve significantly with regular successful physical activity. Whether it is wise or not, I am really banking on this next step making room for significant changes.

Then there are the many other aspects of my life in which I must focus and achieve greater momentum and accomplishments. I started the process of planning, but haven’t completed the nitty gritty yet. I do know that I want to focus on one of my hobbies, learning how to become a better photographer. I bought the camera, and I’ve been playing around with it, but I need a little help getting this ball in motion, so I signed up for a basic municipal recreation evening class in Digital SLR. I can’t wait to get to know my camera and its abilities better!

I also entered a deadline into my calendar for blogging. I need to hold myself accountable. I want to write more. I want to write SOMETHING everyday. I’ve decided that publishing some written work daily on my blog is not entirely realistic for me at this time (just as publishing a photo a day isn’t). So I am committing to two new written entries each week. However, I hope I will somehow make time to write everyday, and then some of that can be stored up for future publishing when I have unforeseen challenges arise (i.e. illness or family obligations). After I start my photography course I’ll commit to two new photo entries each week as well.

These are actions to be added to my life plan that got stalled a week or two ago. They are baby steps, but at least I can feel like I’m doing something.

Yes, there is still a plan / AKA Writing challenge: throw a topic at me!

I have not entirely completed my current (any) life plan. I haven’t clarified my goals, nor written out my plans: short term, long term and individual to each goal. I believe I must make time to do this, then begin following the plan(s).

Today I decided that any physical activity of some level of intensity of up to 30 mins, everyday would become a part of my fitness plan. There will be some more specific goals and challenging activities, but EVERYday, I will spend up to 30 mins working out. For the time being, this involves swimming during my children’s lessons at the lake each morning. Last week I swam daily and the level of intensity was entirely inconsistent. I took Saturday and Sunday off. Today I decided for this week it will involve swimming across the lake and back (approximately 900 meters).

I want to start working towards each of my goals this way, one small activity weekly or daily depending upon the relevance. Photography: a photo a day, everyday. Photo must be taken in manual mode and be something I am willing to share online. For today I chose to start with reading about getting out of the auto settings (I never use the actual “AUTO”, but the predefined semi-auto are my comfort zone), so I know this involves getting to know my camera better – tomorrow’s task: read the rest of the camera manual.

When it comes to my career related goals, I will need to take more time to eek any semblance of a plan out.

Writing: post at least one blog entry everyday. The toughest part of writing for me is getting started: deciding what to write about. So I decided to start a little experiment. I posted a Tweet/Buzz and Facebook Status asking for topics. I am challenging myself to write about every topic, no matter how strange, boring irrelevant to me. They do not necessarily need to be posted everyday – I may have other ideas that compel me to write as well 😉 , but I will have a running list to refer to and challenge myself with. Unless I start getting more topics thrown at me than I can ever keep up with, then I will need to set some clearer limits and expectations. I have received three suggestions so far. Two I have an idea of where to go with, the third I haven’t looked at yet (I was told not to if I a still on vacation– but realize now, I’ll at least need to add it to my list).

So here’s to moving forward, starting with little baby steps.

***If you have a suggestion for my writing topic challenge please add it to the comments on my blog!

Swimming with the Jellyfish!?

From Scenic

As it turned out, I didn’t do a whole lot of swimming, baby jellyfish or no, these suckers sting. I waded around keeping my eyes peeled, braved a short dip, asked for photographic evidence (see below), then got out. I’m still learning what my camera can do, and how to work a lot of the settings, but am quite pleased with these two shots!

From Scenic

Proof:

From Photblog

“Blog-storming” a life plan

“Blog-storming” a life plan

Forming a plan. Not as easy as it sounds. I had this fantastic idea last night, that I just need to sit down and truly plan what I want out of my life. Hell!? Where do I begin? Short term? Long term? What aspect of my life? This isn’t a new idea I had, I’ve talked about it many times before. What makes me think THIS TIME, I can come up with something that makes sense and is doable?

I really don’t think that, but I know I must believe it. I am so tired of floundering and considering my options and my million interests and my assets… and my limitations.

Getting started

So, where do I begin? The big vision? Here’s an attempt: One day I hope to see myself with security, with a good quality of life where I need not worry about the future. Having been a mom and a woman making sacrifices for my family and my ideologies, I have very little in the way of a nest egg. I haven’t socked away a big savings, nor established a promising investment for my retirement years, or my children’s future. I would like to see myself able to travel where I choose, when I choose and how I choose. I would like to see myself able to provide the kind of support my family might need, in whatever form that might take. I want to be confident I can take care of life’s surprises, including my (and my family’s) health as well as humanly possible. I want to know that I contribute to a better, more equitable society.

While I’ve always had a lot of ideas of ways I’d like to contribute to society through my career and benevolence, I know that deep down I’d like to find a way to do that while self-employed. Yet, I do not feel confident taking the full-blown plunge into self-sufficiency (i.e. leaving my job and opening a business). However, I have taken the first step towards making it possible, by securing a part-time job in my field that leaves me with time for my family and my other interests and endeavours. Now what is the next step? How/when do I know to take the plunge into a sea of possibilities and unknowns?

Prioritize

What are my dreams? Realistic options? My priorities? And in what order do I pursue them?

Here’s an in-exhaustive list:
Master’s degree
Social business: bookswap & fair trade coffee
Help to establish a Not-for-profit childcare facility (or lobby for public daycare)
Consulting/freelancing
Politics
Travel
Gardening
Sustainable home (eco-friendly & efficient)
Involved parenting
Significant role in a cause that I’m passionate about
Physical fitness
Entrepreneurship/self-employment
Advocacy/activism
Accomplishment of at least one of my hobbies/interests (photography; learning another language; musical instruments; etc.)
an orderly, yet comfortable home

What comes first?

What are the immediate priorities for me? I don’t see this as numbered in a sequential order, but more organic in nature. Parenting is at the top of the list to be certain – and with this means juggling the unique needs of a family that is non-traditional: 4.5 years separated/soon-to-be-divorced; and shared custody with their military dad who lives in a neighboring province. Self-employment is something I’d like to begin working towards, and think some of my other dreams fit in towards realizing this (i.e. consulting/freelancing). Advocacy/activism is inherent in my life, but I would like to make it a bigger part of what I do outside of my job – it’s time to assess where my greatest passions are. Physical fitness has to be one of the top priorities. Self care is of course a priority. Aside from my physical health, I acknowledge the need to make time for me. I will pick just one activity to pursue further, a little bit at a time – photography.

Down the road

Where does that leave some of the other dreams? The Master’s degree is something I’d like to pursue sooner, rather than later. I can table this consideration to a slightly later date – deadlines for Canadian Universities are somewhere around December or later for entry into the Fall 2011 start cohort. The social business, may or may not happen – something to keep in my back pocket for now. The childcare centre may fall into the advocacy work that I want to do, or may be something to consider becoming involved with down the road. Consulting/freelancing could easily be an avenue for some of my top priorities and should be a strong consideration for immediate future/present work. Politics is definitely a down-the-road consideration for personal participation, but again could fall in with some advocacy work in the near future. Travel is always something I do, if only in small ways (i.e. daytrips & short vacations). One day when I do not have two young children whose lives would be so greatly disrupted, this will move up on the list of priorities. Gardening can happen when we find the time/money to make some changes to our property. For now, I make small progress in the bits that currently exist. A sustainable home is something that we take baby steps toward everyday. We do the manageable pieces like recycling, changing light bulbs and turning off lights, flushing selectively, etc. One day I’d like to make a bigger investment into equipment that will allow us to reduce our footprint far more substantially. This too will have to wait until we have the financial resources to pursue it further. Playing a significant role in a cause that I’m passionate about, will happen as my advocacy work unfolds. At some point, I will know that I am really making a difference. First I need to find my focus. Accomplishment of at least one of my hobbies/interests is something I can make small steps towards, but I may need to table the really big work until a later stage in my life. Having an orderly, yet comfortable home is something I am continuously trying to achieve. I never feel like I’m “there”, but do feel like there have been big steps in the right direction. With so many other interests, I just have to accept this will never entirely be, without the financial means to hire someone else to maintain it for me. 🙂

So not exactly a plan, but the first step in forming one. After a short break, I will come back to this (today) to try to eek one out.

To recap, my main focuses will be (in no particular order): parenting; becoming self-employed; activism; physical fitness; and hobby: photography.

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