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What is your truth?

Is this a question you ask yourself? If we say that your truth is shorthand for living with authenticity: living in a way so that you are comfortable with your choices and actions, and that you also reflect upon and learn from those behaviours that you are not comfortable with. Are you living your truth?

Such a life choice requires great courage and vulnerability. It requires you to be honest with yourself, to accept that there may be things that you are avoiding, things that you are attached to being a certain way and things that you may be just plain confused about. If we are to consider our thoughts, habits and behaviours about these things, as part of our attempt to live our truth, then we require courage and vulnerability.

Courage and vulnerability seem to go hand in hand. For if we are to be courageous and address something that we find difficult this creates a vulnerable place for us. In facing our difficulties we are admitting that we have not got it all right, and our ego is not going to accept that easily.

Rather than distract ourselves with activity, or go inwards and attempt think our way through the challenge, or just pretend that nothing has changed and carry on. Sometimes we need to just stop. To give ourselves space for all the stuff swirling about to settle. I do not mean disengage from life. Perhaps it is more of a filtering. To continue those activities that support our ability to be with the change: the friends that understand us; the quietness that allows thoughts and feelings to emerge unbidden; the joy of a new experience. These things root us in ourselves. Allow us to be everything that we can be.

I feel the need to stop. To rest a little from the busy-ness. There is a lot changing in my life and I need a little time to allow it all to settle. I will continue the personal and supportive creative projects I am currently engaged with, but I am going to rest awhile from some other commitments.

My Photential newsletter is one of those commitments I am going to stop for a while. Much of my work around mindful photography has been developmental and shared through this new website. I am still keeping this going, but I am going to give myself a little more space for reflective practices. I am currently writing a book about Mindful Photography and my life experience of the last ten years; this is part of adjusting to that period and the place I find my self now. I am also following a seasonal year long photography project called 7 Days To Save Your Life, which is a visual exploration of this period of change and adjustment.

So there will be no newsletter for a while – I am thinking a couple of months at least. However, there will be the occasional blog post here. I am going away next month for 3 weeks, to visit family in Canada, so this feels the perfect time to be making these decisions.

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Teaching photography

I have had a few careers, but the skill perhaps that I am happiest sharing is teaching. Over the years I have taught many subjects, some I knew lots about, others I was a couple of weeks ahead of the students (teaching Word Perfect in 1986!) I am now fortunate enough to be teaching photography; through this website, at workshops and occasionally face to face.

Today I met up with Pallavi (pronounced to rhyme with c’est la vie) who is studying in Swansea and hails from the USA. Pallavi was bought a camera to capture scenes from her travels, but has little family history of using one, so she wanted a little guidance.

As the day was a little chilly we wandered up to the Botanical Gardens in Singleton Park, where I introduced her to the wonders of the creative opportunities presented by understanding how aperture choice influences the depth of field created in a photo. Of course being an advocate of mindful photography I also talked and explained a lot about seeing: particularly seeing without naming the objects, learning to see like a camera.

We finished up with a 20 minute activity where we both created 20 photos each and without looking at our photos headed off for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Here are my favourite photos of the activity; two of them just begged to be converted into B&W.

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A little bit of light relief

I have been very slack of late. Perhaps the unrelenting rain and general drabness has smothered my creativity. Oh no, that can’t be right as I have been posting daily Instagram photos from my phone. No, I have to face it I have just been otherwise occupied.

However, the wall to wall sunshine today got me out and about early this morning, with both my camera and dog. Ah, what a little bright light does for photographic opportunity. I was drawn to the colours, the shadows and the frost on my mindful photography practice.

Here are my favourite few photos

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Wet in Wales

Wales is well known for its rugby, singing, daffodils and sheep. Perhaps as today is the first weekend of the Six Nations 2016 I should be blogging about the chances of Wales winning the tournament (which are pretty good), but I have been overwhelmed this morning by the reason for all those sheep. After all you can’t have sheep without grass, and you can’t have grass without rain. And boy has it been raining this morning.

This morning, despite the deluge, I felt the need to be out walking. I pulled on all my waterproofs and equipped myself with a camera small enough to fit in my water tight pocket. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. My intention from there was just to pay attention to what was happening and create a few mindful photographs that captured the experience.

It was a fine intention and one that could be just about achieved by carefully sheltering the camera under my body or shop awning, but the rain still gets in. So these three photos tell some of the tale. The header photo is of the path through Brynmill Park, cleverly disguising itself as a river.

By the time I reached the Uplands, a ten minute walk, the torrent had found its way through the gaps in my waterproof apparel. This photo captures my mood, and the suggestion I should just take my medicine almost brought a smile to my face (not)

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Obviously, after completing my shopping chores, somewhere to dry out was required. I sheltered in a local cafe, once most appropriately named Steam, but now re-branded Squirrel. Perhaps it was apposite; I must have been nuts to venture out!

I sat there facing the scene you see below, watching the locals scurrying about, hooded and hunkered. I reflected that the rugby later in the day was likely to be attritional, but at least the sheep would be happy – it’s still warm enough for the grass to be growing!

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The captain of my soul

“I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul”

These are the last two lines from the poem ‘Invictus’ by the English poet William Ernest Henley. He was inspired to create the poem by his own life events.

In 1875 one of Henley’s legs required amputation due to complications arising from tuberculosis. Immediately after the amputation he was told that his other leg would require a similar procedure. He chose instead to enlist the services of the eminent surgeon Joseph Lister, who was able to save Henley’s remaining leg after multiple surgical interventions on the foot.

The phrase ‘Captain of my Soul’ and Henley’s inspiration for writing the poem have been on my mind since Thursday. That night, myself and a friend (Rob) visited the Peg Talks at a local cafe and the inspirational speakers there spurred a conversation about life events and choices. I think it was Rob who suggested the phrase’ ‘Captain of my soul’ to describe what I was trying to explain.

Two of the speakers at the Peg Talks had focused upon the life choices they had made that had then led to life opportunities and the realisation of their dreams. I was trying to explain to Rob how I felt that I was finally making choices that resonated with my true path in life. My particular choice that mirrored Henley’s experience is one I have made recently about my health.

A recent diagnosis of my breathing condition has presented two choices. One; follow the prescribed medical solution, a cocktail of serious drugs with side effects, likely further medical interventions and a possible successful reduction of inflammation. The drug regime would be for a year, would suppress my immune system which could also have other potential health repercussions.

Two; put choice one on hold and dedicate a year to making healthier choices, exploring alternate health solutions that are relevant for my now diagnosed condition and make other life choices that feel honest, authentic, and attentive.

Option two it is then.