Caswell – a mindful photography practice

A couple of weeks ago I spent an hour or so practicing being present at Caswell Beach on the gloomy Gower. Needless to say Taylor was in surfing at the time, so I thought I would cultivate a beginner’s mind, perusing a familiar place, noticing what was there and attuning to the visual as if I were a camera; as if I did not know the name of things. Then you see what is there; the shapes, forms, colours, patterns, textures…. After that all there is to do is choose where to place the frame and decide upon the depth of field.

If you are interested in how I actually set myself up for these practices, in ways that support the attention to the visual, whilst not being overwhelmed by the technical and compositional then I have a workshop coming up very soon!

The photos form an interesting set of those visual features. I turned those into B&W where that was what I had envisaged at the moment of creation. The exception is the selfie at the end, that just plain looked better in B&W!

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A Fearful Decision

For a man who regularly posts on the topic of fear and its challenging impact in our lives, I could not let the decision to leave the EU pass without comment.

I have been dispirited by both sides of the Referendum Campaign. Neither has sought to offer positivity, hope and potential. Each has wallowed in the negative posturing of the other’s promises and statistics. Our politicians and our media have failed us. Not in the way that the media are reporting, those media magnates have always wanted an EU exit, but in not representing the opportunities inherent in working together to the common good.

I know, I am naive to believe that this would be possible. But I choose to believe in the fundamental goodness of the human race. Together we are stronger. Together we can see how we are similar; how we both care about the same things, how we are all fearful of the same stuff. Politicians, and the media beast that serves the establishment, use fear as a weapon to manipulate and cajole us. Is this not apparent to everyone? Or are we all so wrapped up in our own worlds that we only care for our own views and opinions.

I will sit again today and breathe in the fear that riddles these isles. I will breathe out love. I invite you to join me. I leave you with the poignant words of John Donne, they seem apposite today

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

 

An Afternoon Tea Party

It is not often I get asked to create a visual record of an afternoon tea party. So I was delighted to be asked by Liz to attend her joint birthday celebration with her Mum recently. The weather was kind and I managed to survive all the formal photo requirements necessary on these occasions!

Actually, one of the photos of the large formal group is included here because of the tale it tells. It may not be technically perfect, but for a record of the moment when I said to the group, “Shout something inappropriate” and the youngest child took me literally, it is perfect. I bet that you can identify the Mum. Can you guess what he said though? It is the last photo of this small set.

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Transformation

I thought I would start this morning with a clear definition of today’s Daily prompt: transformation is – to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose. Also to change in condition, nature, or character; convert. That’s clear; we are talking about major change. There is a nice link here to my previous post on Change, one that I will develop upon.

Have you experienced a personal transformation? If so, what was the catalyst? I think it’s probably a fair guess that if you answered ‘Yes’ that the catalyst was probably some major life event. Something that involved fundamental loss of some kind which stripped you of some of the anchors and shape in your life. From events such as this transformation is inevitable. If much of what we knew or defined us is gone or changed, then there can only be transformation. And whilst at the time this is scary and deeply unsettling, it also is exciting. Though that emotion may well only surface after much heartache and processing of the major life change.

I feel that I am right in the middle of major transformation. Some days I feel like I am creating a new version of myself. It is not always a fully conscious process. There is much that is instinctive and some that is planned. But I am saying yes to new opportunities, making key changes to how I am working and how I am spending my time. Every little decision to do something new or different adds colour to the transformation and begets new opportunities. These in turn lead to other events and choices. It feels exciting and scary. I don’t know where exactly it is heading but I do see quite a different life for myself in the not too distant future.

 

 

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Embarrassing

OK here goes. In an attempt to get writing regularly again and enliven my posts I am gonna try responding to the Daily Prompts given by WordPress. As they are US based the prompt arrives at my desk around 1pm and I’m best writing in the morning, before the day’s busy-ness truly kicks in. So I’m gonna be one day adrift, every day, just to be awkward!

Today’s (yesterday’s) word is embarrassing. Of course it is just a prompt. I don’t have to respond directly, or even indirectly. It is just a verbal kick up the …… to get me going. My immediate thought was to blog about nearly getting cut off by the tide this morning, as Monty and I walked out onto the sand bar. Actually, we did have to paddle out. As I stopped to take the photo above the sand bar disappeared. I paddled out; old short legs bounced and swam. Getting cut off would have been embarrassing. ‘Local man (for 28 years!) misjudges tide’.

Instead I thought I would reflect briefly upon what embarrassment is. Well, it does give me an opportunity to return to one of my favourite themes. My instinct is that embarrassment is a fear based reaction. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being seen not as we would like to think we are. Fear of not behaving as we think others would have us behave. Fear of being judged.

As those of you who have read my other posts about fear will know, I see fear as an opportunity and a practice. The opportunity is to notice that we have experienced or reacted in a fear based way. This is usually most noticeable in a physical response: often in our belly, chest or throat. That is our cue to stay with the physical. To come out of our flight/fight reaction that our old brain is stimulating and be with the physical sensations. Then just breathe into those sensations. Breathe. And breathe some more. Feel our feet on the floor and our bum on its seat. The practice is to remember that fear is a constant and to pay attention to its machinations.

Embarrassment also has the potential for us to experience vulnerability, which in turn can stimulate compassion for ourselves and others. Rich ground. Now, who’s gonna embarrass me? I need the practice!