I have to leave the house in 20 minutes to meet Meg in Starcrack as we are off to hear Sharon Olds read from her new book of poetry - this is the scintillating life i lead, folks, and i mention this because i have to address a comment i received on my last post. I can't let it slide.
"S" said: 'i dont know why but your blog is becoming really boring lately...it used to be amazing, and now the posts are just getting dull and boring! you need to bring back the appeal it once had!!!'
The thing about blogging is that, for the vast majority, it is unpaid and undertaken by regular people who want to share a few words and pictures on the internet. After a while some people find your blog, and if they can relate to you point of view, they might leave a comment. Connections are made. I've been blogging for nearly four years now, and just as my life has changed over this time so has this space here. I don't earn any money from this blog. I do earn my living via the internet in other ways, and i am so happy (and feel so privileged) to be doing that work, but the blog? It's just something i do. It's great to be able to connect with other people, and share the stuff that catches my eye. I do it because i really like it. I guess i'm a born communicator - which is why i was drawn to photography and journalism in the first place. I'm not, however, a) a performing monkey or b) the head of an editorial team with a big budget.
I got a lovely email from a blog-friend just now who made a very good point. She said: 'I would never come into someone's home and tell them that they were becoming boring - and commenting on a blog is the equivalent, it's someone's personal space.' My thoughts exactly. I mean, god, we've all read blogs that we've lost interest in, or didn't feel as connected to, but i would never dream of telling them to sort out the quality of their content! In all honesty that feels a bit rude to me.
Anyway, i just wanted to say thank you to "S" because it's always good to get a poke in the ribs once in a while, to help you keep an eye on what you're doing and make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. I'm happy in my little online space - if you like joining me here then that is brilliant and i'm thrilled to have you. But if i'm not to your taste then there are so many other wonderful blogs you could be reading - please go check them out.
Right.. off to go rock out to some poetry...
I stood before the window, admiring the artwork, camera in hand, sun behind my back. As i began to focus the shot i could see a man walk by me and then linger to my right. 'Is that a Polaroid camera?' he asked, and i sighed a little sigh inside my head and turned to face him.
'Yes it is,' I said, and we launched into a bit of small talk about the age of my camera and how difficult it was to find film for it.
'I'm a photographer,' he said, and as if to prove his words he reached into his bag, pulling out a hefty Nikon DSLR with a huge zoom lens attached.
'Gosh, that's a big one,' i said with a smile.
'Yes,' he said, the innuendo flying over his head and off along the Bath skyline. 'You're going to get your reflection in the shot.'
'That's the plan,' I said, returning to my focussing.
'I don't think i could avoid it even with this camera,' he continued, pointing his vast lens towards the window. I could hear the autofocus beeping. He took six or seven shots in quick succession and then peered into the screen on the back of his camera. 'Nope, it doesn't work.'
I pressed the shutter button once and turned to give him the international sign for please leave me alone now: a polite smile and raised eyebrows. As i stood with my Polaroid developing in my hands, he took the hint and carried on his way, big camera in hand.
I looked down at my photograph and saw exactly what i'd seen through the lens: not the best picture i'd ever taken, but the reflection was just as I'd wanted it. Sometimes you just have to slow down and look with fresh eyes.
Link: The Impossible Project on the BBC website (the video clip explains how Polaroid film works)
Monday is my one-year anniversary of living in Bath; i'll be in London on the actual day but i know i'll be looking forward to getting back to my little flat and cosying in with my metaphorical pipe 'n' slippers. This place really has become my home, both the city with its friendly taxi drivers and extraordinary refuse problem, and this flat with its tired carpet and insect flatmates (seriously - just call me Susannah Doolittle). I feel settled here, i feel held and supported. My dreams are beginning to flourish, and i know that it was my leap last year that has made it all possible. I hoped for more, for a bigger life, but i didn't expect of all this... I truly hope that this is just the beginning. I'm feeling more able to make space in my inner cupboards now, so there's room for a partner-in-crime in my world... i think it could be fun. I'm ready for some fun.
I am so happy to know i'm not the only one who has yogic ambivalence/ exercise guilt. It was getting to the point where I was so black & blue from all the beating-myself-up i'd been doing that i had to give myself a stern talking-to and ask: who really cares? It's so easy to go about your day imagining there's a jury of disapproving Victorian grandmothers witnessing your every move. I can hear their tuts as i eschew yoga in favour of DVDs and chocolate; i feel the icy chill from their raised eyebrows when I let emails flounder in my inbox for months, put off until a day that just never arrives. But the voice that tells me it's not good enough is my own; we can be our own bestfriends all we like, but once in a while the cruel nemesis will visit, and boy has she got a lot to say! So this week I'm trying an experiment: every time i want to be mean to myself (for whatever reason) i'm going to be kind instead. Even if it's just a supportive word or two in my journal. Or an extra-long soak in the bath after a day that might not have gone to plan (like today). Some daily gratitude lists might be in order too...
Do you need to be more kind to yourself too?
* the contents of this post may upset some of you; it contains admissions that may hurt your eyes. Don't say i didn't warn you.
At this very moment I should be in my yoga class, but instead I am sitting on my sofa typing these words. I am a failed yoga student. I paid for the beginner's course, invested in some super-comfy yoga pants and dusted off the yoga mat I bought when i last tried to learn yoga. It's a five-minute walk to the yoga studio but instead I am eyeing up a bar of chocolate and wondering whether it's time to down tools for the day and watch Californication.
This is my yoga shame: i don't really like it. Yoga, i mean. I don't like the accompanying guilt either.
I love the idea of it, i really do. I know that yoga is the exercise of choice among the belle monde, but it's got to the point where i have to acquiesce and accept that me & yoga just doesn't work. We don't gel. Yoga's not ringing my exercise bell.
It's not that my body is rebelling, either - I'm flexible enough to get into most of the poses - it's more of a mind issue. I can never remember the names of the asanas, I mess up the breathing and I just get a bit bored I'm not excited to attend the classes (which is no reflection on the teacher, she's lovely).
My usual bodily status is the equivalent of horizontal; inside my head i'm working at 90 mph, but outwardly I'm virtually catatonic, so it makes me wonder if perhaps i need something a little more energetic to get my pulse working. Last year's gym sessions worked a treat, so i'm thinking i need to try something similar.... like kick boxing.
I also want to jettison all my exercise-guilt. Do you get that too? The constant nagging in my head that i should be doing more exercise; even though i don't have a car so walk everywhere; even though i am working all hours so am always on the go. I'd love to be one of those people who zip off to the gym or tennis court every chance they get, whose idea of a great holiday is rock climbing and sweating, but that's just not me. I like sitting down - lying down is even better.
I live in hope that one day i may find a form of exercise that i actually enjoy.
I'm not sure I can squeeze more into my brain today; it feels like every single cell is full of thought and all it will take is a gentle knock for the whole lot to explode like wishes from a dandelion. I'm taking the afternoon off to go on a photo safari around Bath with my new pal Angie Lemon (whether we take photos is another matter, as I have a feeling we'll be too busy imbibing frappacinos). The sun is out and this girl desperately needs some fresh air.
The reason for the brain-jam is that I am busy creating fun things for Unravellers to do. The new course, Unravelling Further: Exploring the Senses, is shaping up into a course I really want to take myself, so that's always a good sign! I've been getting a lot of emails asking about dates and when i'll be launching the photography class, so i wanted to do a bit of housekeeping today:
Unravelling: Ways of Seeing My Self starts Monday September 28th... enrollments begin Tuesday September 1st.
Unravelling Further: Exploring the Senses starts Monday October 12th.... enrollments begin Monday September 7th.
If the registration days are anything like last time the places might go fast, so the best thing to do is be on the mailing list as i'll be sending out an email the minute the registration pages are live on my website.
The photography class I've mentioned here before is not just simmering on the back burner, it's positively boiling and trying to catch my attention! I have so many ideas for this class and can't wait to get started on it. As this autumn is already so full of trips abroad and a new course, I'm planning to run the photography class in the spring - most likely March-time, when the world wakes up again and there'll be plenty to photograph. I'll be sending out updates in the newsletter as they happen (i'd run this course tomorrow if i could - so many juicy plans brewing).
If you want to chat more about it, please do get in touch.
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In other news, this blog was featured in a recent Typepad webinar, entitled 5 Elements of Professional Looking Blog Design, presented by Niya Sisk and Andy Wibbels - you can fast-forward to 29:50 to see Ink on my fingers, but it's actually a really interesting and useful broadcast that's worth listening to all the way through. And, of course, props must go to my web designer Jo who took onboard everything i asked and created this page (which i am still loving so much!)