Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thank you...

Here we are, almost at the end of May, and we are FINALLY experiencing a titch of warm weather. Sadly, the warmth comes at the expense of any potential sunshine and, much to everyone's surprise (not), more rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Oh well, c'est la vie.

As one of my friends on Facebook pointed out, our lousy weather is primarily an inconvenience. For those in the US states hard hit by tornadoes, the weather is a life-altering event with devastating consequences.

With that in mind, I stumbled across this website for The Grateful Project What was a personal quest for one woman has become a documentary film project. The concept is that we should each take time on a daily basis to seek out, and be grateful for, those mundane things that bring us a moment of happiness on a daily basis. By focusing on those positive moments, we can and will change our lives, and those of others, for the better. This same concept was espoused by Oprah Winfrey during her Finale episode yesterday.

This is a concept I can both believe in and get behind. Since first reading about it a couple of days ago I began paying attention to those things that bring me joy - in small measures or large - for a brief time, or a long one. Here are a few examples from the literally hundreds I thought of in only one day... 

Two healthy grandchildren and my son (show age 3 below) who has grown up to be a loving and caring man, husband and father...



For a wonderfully supportive husband
For Hoover who teaches me to relax, daily.
And so very much more. I may take this on as my personal project as well - to photograph and document those things that often go unnoticed and yet bring us small measures of joy on a regular basis.

So, what are YOU grateful for today?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rain, rain, go away - don't rush back another day!

There is definitely something wrong with having the furnace blasting on the 16th of May. It has done nothing but rain for 3+ weeks and at least another 2 weeks are forecast with one "partially cloudy" day set for Thursday (oh joy).

This is a definite deterrent to exercise.

Fortunately (or not) I have a dog who insists on needing fairly lengthy walks at least once a day, preferably two or three. This forces me to don my ducky boots, slicker, gloves and rain coat and venture forth. It is nice, though, when we get home to open the door to warmth and comfort.

Hopefully this won't last too much longer.

I was part of the hosting committee last week-end for a writers' conference. As a member of the Writers Federation of NB I ended up playing multiple roles: official photographer for both WFNB AND the local organizing committee; conference attendee; etc. When the week-end came to its successful conclusion I realized that I will have to learn to control my exuberance for volunteering the next time. At 61, I'm TIRED. Duh.

Lee Thompson, Exec. Director and Rayanne Brennan, President of the Writers Federation of NB at the Annual Meeting portion of the week-end

Allan Lynch, internationally published and well known writer from NS led a session about 'making a living' (vs. eking out an existence) as a writer. His suggestions were equally applicable to any of the creative professions - photographer, artist, sculptor, etc.

Beth Powning, internationally published author of many books, most recently The Sea Captain's Wife. That novel enthralled me from beginning to end.

The downside is that we live in a small community with limited conference venues. Our group was competing with the Atlantic Premiers' Conference for meeting and dining space.

The upside is that we ended up with (wonderful) home-made buffet-style meals.

And a local group of school children entertained at lunch with a musical and comical tribute to our region's history. Well done!

I tried to control my urges, especially during the evening awards event accompanied by a dessert buffet (all home made, including my contribution - a carrot cake with cream cheese icing), by keeping the camera firmly in my hands. I use a heavy, professional camera, so it's a two-handed affair, keeping me well away from the dessert tables. Whew. I actually did well and did NOT indulge.

Winners of the writing competition from across the entire province of NB.

Half of the Sussex Choral Society entertaining during the awards event

And, the other half.

Intellectual stimulation really helps distract one from food. Honestly. Sob.

I'm sure that everyone left the conference inspired to return to their writing endeavours and to look forward to the next WFNB event.

Here's to a good week for everyone. Have to go and see what my neighbour is building; an ark perchance?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To borrow a phrase from the A&E channel, it's "time well spent".

I just read an article entitled "How to Set Smart Daily Goals" by Jocelyn K. Glei. It was recommended by Elaine Shannon, the self-styled 'Empress of Inspiration'. 

In it, the author offers a series of questions that, if you contemplate and answer them truthfully, will help you to focus your daily efforts in a more productive way. One that truly struck me was the need to set aside a specific period of time, up to 90 minutes a day, to focus on one important thing. 

The concept is to control your attention and avoid distractions. It's so hard. The phone rings. An email arrives. The dog barks. And poof- that focus is gone.

As a creative professional, focus is critically important to my success and the success of the projects I undertake. Whether I am writing or in a photo shoot - for myself or for a client - paying attention, particularly to the details, and getting into the 'creative zone' is the first thing I need to do.

Everyone has their own way of achieving that concentration. If I am trying to write something, I have to turn off my email, unplug the phone, turn off my cell phone, put the dog outside for a while, and turn on some baroque music. The steady rhythms that define that genre of music help me to concentrate and free my mind for greater creativity.

When I'm at a photo shoot for a client, I can't really 'zone out' because I need to interact with my subject(s). Instead, I will focus on some aspect of the intended photo. Perhaps a baby's facial expression...
or, the look of absolute adoration on the faces of a happy grammie and mother.

With horses, I'll sometimes allow myself to absorb the rhythm of their hooves hitting the ground as they trot by....

or even just the shape of the horse's body in motion.
Regardless of the techniques used, the author's message to 'focus' for an extended period of time on a daily basis in order to retain and further develop creativity resonated with me.

Try it sometime - you might surprise yourself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some people have spoken

I am not a political commentator, nor am I a satirist. In fact, I'm no longer particularly a political junkie.

But, that said, I'm glad that people turned out to vote. I think it is interesting to see how it all turned out. It's a pity that 40% of the voters selected a government for 100% of the people, with the votes of the remaining 60% split among the various alternatives. But, c'est la vie. That's democracy in action and I can accept that.

What I have difficulty accepting is the lackluster campaigning that happened here in our riding. It seemed like the incumbent felt he needed to do nothing to retain his seat (and apparently he was right), while those put forward by the other parties to challenge him were naught but sacrificial lambs on the altar of political expediency.

I truly feel sorry for them. It seemed like there was no money to spend on anything but a FEW signs here and there, no meaningful advertising and publicity, and limited personal effort to get out there and meet potential voters. At our home not a single piece of informative literature from ANY of the parties was received. Nor did any candidates or their representatives make the effort to visit our community or knock on any doors. It seemed like no one wanted OUR vote.

Nevertheless, we did vote and that act alone gives me the right to express my opinion as I see it.

The candidates proffered by all of the parties in our riding (other than the incumbent) were virtually unknown entities, and now that the election is over and the campaign period at an end, I know little more now than I did 6 weeks ago about any of them. Was it the same in other ridings in our province and across the nation? If so, it is no wonder that Mr. Harper was able to retain the seats he had and acquire enough others to attain majority status.

I had a strong and visceral reaction to the negative, mud-slinging, advertising that first the Conservatives and later the Liberals indulged in. I felt like I was watching 3-year-olds in a sandbox, lacking adult supervision, trying to bully each other into submission and terrify bystanders.

Perhaps lessons have been learned by all concerned that will be utilized in the next election - a full 4+ years away now that the current government finally garnered a majority position.