On Stopping and Starting


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.


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.



Peeking Out from Behind the Mask

I’ve never been much of a Hallowe’en person. I rarely dress up, and I must confess that I make sure I’m not home during peak trick or treating hours. But all of the Hallowe’en posts and tweets today have set my mind on masks and disguises that we wear on other days.

I’m not a philosopher, by any stretch. I don’t spend hours mulling these kind of things over in my head. I never think I’m intellectual enough. But I know that I’ve been guilty of putting on a mask to face the world – in fact, I think I have several.

There’s the happy face, even when I’m down, the confident face when I’m unsure, the social face when I’m feeling like I want to be alone. I don’t think I’m unique. We all do it. It’s expected of us. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We want to fit in. And I think these faces, these masks we hide behind are necessary sometimes. In my case, they keep me going when life gets tough.

But I am learning to simply be more comfortable in being myself, even when the urge to grab one mask or another is tempting. After all, this is me, warts and all, and I and the rest of the world better get used to it:-) It’s giving the phrase “face value” a whole new meaning for me.

How about you? What mask do you want to grab today? And can you, will you, leave it hanging where it is?

Coconut Mask Collection

Coconut Mask Collection (Photo credit: cybertoad)

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Hot Baths and Cold Comforts

This week, I rediscovered a truth about myself. Not in a My-God-what-a-revelation kind of way, mind you. More like a quiet realization that there are  basic things that I need to feel happy and be me. Like hot water.

I was without for three days, and I definitely suffered. I was a miserable, surly, uncomfortable lump. Not just because I couldn’t do my dishes and wash myself without boiling water, but mostly because I couldn’t have a proper bath in my old tub that keeps the water hot for a blissfully long time.

I love baths. My whole family does. For me, it’s a healing place that soothes the arthritis in my back. It’s been a favourite place to read. it’s been the place where I’ve closed the door and bawled my eyes out when life got to be too much over the past two years. It’s my place where I can be alone, where I can relax, where I can think. Or not:-)

I plan to lose myself – and find myself too – in a hot bubble bath today. I can’t wait. The little things can be just as important, just as precious, as Big Stuff. Perhaps even more.

Did you make any discoveries this week? Did little things make a difference in your world? How did you feel? I’d love to know.

I’ll read your feedback later. After my bath.

Three rubber ducks in foam bath

Three rubber ducks in foam bath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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