Celebrating Spring

Finally, spring has arrived in Vancouver – and it’s such a moments occasion that Environment Canada has issued a good weather alert for my neck of the woods:-) I find that quite amusing, but I’m looking forward to shooting cherry blossoms on the weekend. Photo walk, anyone?

In celebration, I thought I’d post some of my favourite flower photos. I love capturing depth of colour, form and the sheer beauty of nature. And I think I’m pretty awesome at it. For some people, that may be an #EyeOpener.

I imagine some of these images would look wonderful on a greeting card or wedding invitation. What do you think?

First, one of my all-time favourites, taken a few years ago at the Portland Rose Garden. It was raining, and I love how the water had fallen on this particular bloom.

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Next, a shot I’ve actually got framed here at home – a white poppy dancing in a gentle breeze. My friend’s garden in California has given me inspiration for many years.

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Then, one of my most treasured shots from Van Dusen Botanical Garden here in Vancouver. I adore yellow roses. They were my wedding flower.

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Another shot from Van Dusen – because I love the contrast and the delicacy of the flower.

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Again, from my friend’s garden – I love this blossom for its gorgeous colour and velvety texture. I can feel its softness just looking at it!

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Finally, a heartfelt Thank You. I’ve been so pleased with the reaction to my attempts to blog again and put myself out there for the first time in a very long time. I love how people have reacted to my photos, and to my #EyeOpener idea. It’s made me very happy to think that I have chosen a good path, and that I have a unique opportunity to showcase my talents and abilities as a disabled person.

 

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Sometimes, I Surprise Myself

For me, photography means more than getting that perfect shot – although I work as hard as anyone else at consciously perfecting that impeccable plate of food, or conveying the excitement of an event. I can do that. I HAVE done that. And I love the opportunity to do that.

This is one of my favourites. I love sushi. And no matter how many times I see this shot, I am instantly craving this meal again.

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But, as much as I want my strengths an abilities to open other people’s eyes, sometimes there are photos that pop up on my computer screen that surprise the heck out of me. And some take my breath away.

I get a thrill I can’t really describe when I discover an image, a moment in time, that I hadn’t set up, or spent time thinking about. They just HAPPENED – and they give me a glimpse of the world that I didn’t expect to see.  And those glimpses mean the world to me, because I never would have noticed.

That’s my #EyeOpener. I invite you to discover yours. It’s an awesome experience.

Here are a few serendipitous moments I am amazed and blessed to have.

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In my only-ever trip to Paris, I stumbled upon this pair and took this in mid-discussion. I took it so quickly, I wasn’t at all sure I had a clear shot. I was ecstatic to see that it indeed had turned out!

And in the pic below, I found these two soldiers observing a Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver. I didn’t have to see their faces to feel their dignity and respect.

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Then, of course, there was the bee…all I saw was a flash of yellow, so I held my breath and prayed. And then, I hit the shutter. I’m grateful I did.

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On Stopping and Starting

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I wasn’t prepared. But I did stop. For a whole year.

No writing except for Twitter and Facebook updates. And, frighteningly, when I look back, no photography except for spur-of-the-moment iPhone pics which caught fleeting glimpses of my life that I felt I could share.

Why?

A year ago today I left for Ottawa to be with my mother while she was in respite care, and to ease the caregiving burden that had weighed on both my sisters over the past few years. I figured I’d be there a month or so. It ended up being seven long, hard, sad months full of struggles, revelations, dramatic change and realities that continue to challenge our entire family.

The balance of the year also ended up bringing a lot of hardship, heartache and change for me back home in Vancouver, leaving me tired, listless, unmotivated and isolated, at least in my own head. Being away for so long left me with a pronounced ‘out of sight, out of mind’ feeling. A bad bug and an even worse fall had me laid up over most of Christmas and all of January. I also had to make the painful decision to leave my home of three and a half years at the end of February and move into a much smaller place that my limited finances could handle better. And then came March, with a bittersweet mix of the third anniversary of Dave’s death and my 60th birthday two days later. Quite the year, eh?

Good stuff did happen, of course. There was much laughter amid the tears and frustration. I re-connected with people I deeply care about back in Ottawa. My youngest sister and her oldest son both purchased their first homes. My youngest nephew announced his engagement. My nieces are beautiful, accomplished young women. My England family is thriving. And my friends, old and new, continued to be loving and supportive, no matter how defeated and bitchy I got.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that I’ve been stuck for a very long time. It’s time I unstuck myself. And the unsticking has begun, slowly but surely.

It started when I pulled out my camera again on a bright and sunny day two weeks ago and walked along the seawall and actually took pictures. Feel free to look at the full set, but this was a favourite from that day.

CAB_2038_2I can’t express how this short photo walk made me feel. The closest I can come to explaining it is to compare it to getting a blood transfusion. I was doing what I loved again. And it was only then that I realized how very much I missed – and needed – my photography.

And that, despite my own challenges as a legally blind person, I’m damn good. It’s time I reminded the world that this gal is talented.

I’m taking inspiration from my wonderful friend Marc Smith and his 30 Day Adventures blog he’s created and developed. He’s been dedicated, persistent, and committed to his vision, and I admire and respect that.

So, I’m taking some baby steps toward my new direction. Little by little, I’ll be where I want to be.

First, I’ll be taking the opportunity to show the world what I can do as a visually impaired photographer – and why my perspective matters. I’ll also shed light on my other talents as a communicator and advocate down the road, because everything I do is so closely entwined.

I’ve even come up with a new hashtag that I think captures what I want people to feel about the awesome things I do.

Introducing #EyeOpener. You’ll be seeing it a lot as I begin to tell my story, all over again.

I hope you enjoy the ride. I’m off to follow where my talents lead me.

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On Resolutions – and Resolve

Well, it’s that time of year again. You know, when we all jot down our New Year’s resolutions for the dawning year.  And abandon so many of them within days, or weeks.

It’s not that we don’t want to stick to them, mind you. I think our hearts are in the right place. But resolutions are hard to keep. I know. I’ve broken so many over the years. Life, time, distractions, fears, sadness and yes, disinterest all get in the way. That’s where I feel I’m at this year, after many ups and downs in 2012.

I have a list of resolutions for 2013, some of which I mentioned on my Facebook account a few days ago.

“I need to intensify my job search. I’ve been fortunate to have a bit of part time work, but I need more certainty and stability in my life so I can plan for trips and the like.

I need to improve my photography skills – and that means I need to shoot more. I’ve been a bit slack. And I know I’ve still got a talent there.

I want to resurrect my sewing machine and get proper lessons on how to sew. I actually have some designs in mind for myself and I would love to extend my inner vision to real clothes.

And I need to see more people one-on-one. I want to actually get to know more about the many people I talk to online all the time. And I think it’s time more people knew me a bit better too.”

There are other things – like watching less TV, writing more, getting more exercise – lots of the usual.

I believe in each and every one of these resolutions. I know they’d all do me the world of good, emotionally, physically and mentally. What I need now is what I think is the flip side, the unbuttered side of the bread, the yin to the resolution yang.

I need resolve.

I need the strength and determination to stick to my guns. To not be distracted, or dissuaded, or intimidated into thinking I can’t do what I said I want to do. I need the determination to make real, honest-to-God changes in my life. I need to stop being lazy, apathetic, fearful, anxious and rudderless. I need to get mad at myself more, and give myself the ass-kicking I deserve.

So, when it comes right down to it, resolutions are all very well and good. But first, I need to work on me. Or all the resolutions in the world mean squat.

Right? Right.

How much work do you need to do before resolutions mean something?

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It’s Time to Give Back

For the past several months I’ve been writing and consulting for an organization I admire greatly. Canadian Women in Technology, also known as CanWIT, is Canada’s premier national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting tech careers for women.

And it’s an organization facing a huge challenge – one that may surprise you a much as it did me.

  • Canadian women make up only 25% of the technology workforce, with only a small number hold management positions.
  • A staggering 52% of these highly trained and qualified women will leave their jobs after only 10 years. This doesn’t bode well for young women considering careers in technology.
  • 38% of women hold leadership roles in Canada, yet only 16% hold leadership roles in the corporate sector (compared with 59% in the education sector and 37% in government agencies);
  • 37% of Boards of Directors and 17% of Senior Management Teams have no female representation in the corporate sector.

CanWIT has risen to the challenge, and with the support of Status of Women Canada has developed an online eMentorship program to bring seasoned professionals together with young women to nurture, encourage and inspire. CanWIT believes that mentorship matters, and can help turn these stats around, by encouraging the participation and advancement of females in tech.

As a woman who’s been a tech PR professional for more than 30 (!) years, I can really appreciate the value of mentorship, I like the online aspect, and I’ve been honoured to help contribute to its ongoing success.

But, you know…I haven’t done enough. I haven’t mentored anyone.

I can fall back on excuses – no time, too caught up in my life, too many commitments, etc. – but I know better.

I’ve been afraid to commit. I’ve held back, questioned myself, hesitated. For too long.

Why? Early on in my career I’m afraid I wasn’t always a good role model. I was too judgmental, too quick to criticize, too impatient. I’m not sure I always listened the way I should. And it’s not as if I didn’t love my job, and working with younger people. I didn’t have the confidence. I didn’t have the skills. To be honest, I could have used more mentorship myself.

I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are too hard on ourselves. We forget that we’re human, we make mistakes, lots of mistakes. But life happens to stretch and shape us. it may be a painful process, but we do grow.

And now, at this stage of my life, at the time of the year when thoughts turn to giving, I am ready to give back. Do I feel I have something to offer now? You bet!

I’ve got a lifetime of experience that stretches back to the days of typewriters and liquid paper and includes the launch of voicemail, email and cell phones. It’s a life that has seen enormous advances in the technologies younger generations can’t imagine being without. It’s a life that has embraced all kinds of change and is still absorbing, adopting and learning. And hopefully, it’s a life that offers some inspiration as a seasoned PR gal who just happens to be legally blind.

So I’m going to become an eMentor – and I’d love to take you with me. I know without even having to think about it that I know hundreds of men and women who have talent to burn, time to spare and a passion for the technology they’ve loved over many years.

Please take a few minutes to learn more about CanWIT’s eMentorship program and sign up. Be the role model these women want and need to grow and advance in their careers. I can’t think of a better gift.

Share. Guide. Inspire. And have a hell of a good time doing it. I know I will!