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January Joys

My Winter Writing Sanctuary with Beth Kempton is now complete. I have wallowed in writing about undoing, retreating, aloneness, and also joy. I initially found writing about my joys hard to write about. And I wondered why.

The list of my joys is typical I guess for many people of my age. Being able to spend time with people, sharing life's ups and downs. But also spending time on my own, wallowing in a good book with a warm mug of tea. Walking by the sea and then enjoying a cup of coffee (and cake!) in a cosy café. A day of photography, following unexpected paths, and then finding lovely surprises when uploading the photos. Swimming. Being healthy enough to be able to do all these things.

And yet I realised that when I indulge in these solitary pleasures, I have to consciously push back on my internal critic. The voice that says: You are being selfish. You should be doing something more worthwhile with your time. You are being self-indulgent when there are so many urgent causes that need campaigners. It is in such moments I appreciate the work of #Mel Collie who reassuringly writes:

Next time you find yourself rushing around take a step back, relax, reflect, recharge.

Your future body and mind will thank you for it!

So I have been doing just that, with the help of Beth Kempton's course. I have spent time finishing projects that I started in 2022, such as my book on Teignmouth Pier. I have complied a photobook of my favourite creative creations from 2022, as well as a coffee table book of all the blogs of 2022. It feels very satisfying.

After looking back over the past year's photography, and, giving myself permission to appreciate what I have learned and created, I am now looking forward to new challenges. I have started a new project course with #CharlotteBellamy which will last for all of 2023. Not sure yet what the end product is going to be, hoping to gain more from the process. I have also enrolled in #FYV, the new offer from Valda Bailey and Doug Chinnery, whose work I have long admired. Their approach to multiple exposures and post processing opens up a whole new world for creativity that I am excited to try (when my camera is back from repair!). And I continue to learn from the mentors and contributors to the #ICM magazine, the RPS and the Guild of Photographers.

I have managed my monthly contribution to the U3A photo group. This month was roundabouts! Really tricky but here are my submissions:

I have also just completed a short course on Hybrid Photography from Domestika with Danny Bittencourt. Amazing what you can buy on impulse in the January sales, but it was provocative and thought-provoking. Taking me on another path, but one that could prove worthwhile. I have yet to produce anything worth sharing using this approach, but am enjoying experimenting and playing with ideas around representation of self and identities.

Even in the depths of one of the wettest Januarys on record, I have been focusing on my joys and making plans to have more time for them in the months ahead. But I have also not lost sight of the climate crisis. The sight of our roses blooming in December covered in snow was a sharp reminder of the mess we are in. And I plan to be more active in this arena in the year ahead.

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