Two years later, I’m back! As usual in August, I have no paid work and can spend some time disconnecting from work and reconnecting with my creative side.

I’ve signed up for Susannah Conway’s August Break as a way of getting into regular blogging. I commit to adding a photo a day to my blog or the Flickr group from her list of prompts. I’ll be looking at life through my camera lens this month…

Why don’t you join me ?

I’ve always loved photography. Mainly admiring the photographs of other people. Early Victorian black and white, the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, Ansel Adams, Sebastao Selgado, Annie Liebowitz and many lesser known heroes. I have a large number of photography blogs in my Favourites list.

As my day passes I see several “that would make a great shot” possibilities from the corner of my eye – like the fleeting memory of a line from a half-forgotten poem; an image or shape catches my attention. If I’m distracted, it’s gone in an instant. If I focus, I think “that would make a great photo”. But I never had a camera with me. Sometimes I’d try to sketch the moment on a scrap of paper with a pen from the bottom of my bag, but it was never quite it. So many uncaptured moments like this over the years.

This last year I’ve been experimenting with taking photos as a kind of journal, or rather a journey – each shot a moment captured on my path to my future self.

Instead of just admiring wonderful photographers and communities like the Shutter Sisters from afar, I’ve started carrying my basic point and shoot camera around with me. In the past, I’ve been too afraid to consider the expense of a good SLR camera – my brain going numb at the mere mention of fstops and exposure times.

Earlier this year, I participated in Susannah Conway’s wonderful “Unravelling – ways of seeing myself” ecourse which combines photography and writing assignments. Now I’ve become bolder and have stopped censoring myself. I think only of what image I want to capture and don’t worry if it’s technically perfect or not. I experiment, take more and more photos, feel free to discard many…

I borrowed a good digital SLR from my niece and participated in a one day introduction to the technical basics. I survived. Even took a few good shots. I signed up to the 365 project and found that a commitment to documenting my life by taking one photograph per day for a year has given me a new way of looking at the world – and a lasting glimpse of my days. It provides me with a most unusual (and to me enthralling) journal in a public space, where complete strangers make kind remarks.

And today, I’ve started the 4 week “Simple Soulful Photography eworkshop” with the talented Irene Nam. I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds and enjoying the virtual company of other explorers…

I’ve been touched, moved, inspired by so many TED talks since I first discovered TED.com a few years ago. I’d rather watch TED talks all evening than watch TV.
“Better total immersion than to remain untouched” – Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund speaks so eloquently about plunging into a courageous life rather than avoiding risk and remaining fearful in this 18 minute TED talk….. Watch and be touched…

Because in the greyness of winter, sometimes you just need a bit of green as a reminder… and a little souvenir of the hills and drystone walls of Yorkshire, when in another landscape.

Above Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, England

I’ve been thinking about self-care and priorities…. Today I read Marianne Elliot’s wonderful post “Why I’m not going to South Africa !”  about saying “no” to the fabulous and saying “yes” to what you need right now. It takes courage and she demonstrates it in abundance. I see freedom in saying “no” to things that are right for me but the timing isn’t. I’ve been in such a hurry to say “yes” to everything and to squash in as much as possible in this lifetime; I’ve started to lose sight of what is most important for me. I’m taking some time now to reflect and let go…

In the past 10+ years I’ve been blessed with so many fabulous opportunities. I’ve kayaked in Alaska and Canada, mountain-biked in Hawaii, driven down the California coast on Highway 101, visited the palaces of Rajasthan and the capitals of  Europe… I’ve learnt so much and I’ve been very fortunate.

I’m a possibility-generator – I love creating new ideas with others, I can’t help myself from always coming up with another possibility…. More ideas than I could ever put into practice in one lifetime. So I choose the next one to commit to…and sometimes I over-commit and feel burnt-out and lose my way. These days I feel less inclined to accumulate experiences and things. My travelling is mostly business-related. My priorities are shifting.

Participating at the life-enhancing European Summit for Global Transformation  for the last few years has introduced me to inspiring social entrepreneurs and a whole new way of contributing to others. Selectively. With self-care as a priority. It’s difficult to make an effective contribution when you are running on empty.

I have some exciting projects in Uganda this year (more about these soon), I’m concentrating on being fully healthy and enjoying regular creative activities. And that is it….