Through the Lens 4-Kirkcudbright light

Where does the time go? Rhetorical question I know but it seems to go really fast sometimes and slows down at others. Have you noticed that? For instance, as I sit here writing this blog, time is going slowly as I wait for the delivery of kitchen appliances and a squad of men work on installing  new kitchen. I’m shut into the one room in the house  and the day drags on. I’m sure progress is being made but I’m almost afraid to see what is happening as the kitchen looks much worse on its way to its makeover (or so I hope).

Do I sound a bit despondent-yes, a little because my home feels invaded and although I knew this would happen, it doesn’t mean I embrace it fully!

Anyway, when have I had an experience of time whizzing by? Last weekend, I had a wonderful time in Dumfries and Galloway (South West Scotland for anyone who doesn’t know Scotland well). This is a part of Scotland that I often forget about and I think many people do. Heading south out of Scotland is the main transport artery -the M74- the south west is bypassed and we really only skirt the fringes and the temptation is to make for the border. But, if you were to turn off towards Dumfries which is the gateway to the south west you find wonderful rolling fields, pretty seaside villages, market towns humming with life and great local produce.

I was staying in Gatehouse of Fleet with a friend and her mother so that my friend and I could do a 1 day photography course with an experienced travel photographer, Philip Dunn. You may remember that last spring, I did a wildlife photography course at Loch Awe. Since then I’ve bought a bridge camera (somewhere between a wee digital and a DSLR), some filters and have been trying to improve through practice. This is the use of the wrong filter! Oops…but interesting

UNexpected outcomes

In reality, my photography has deteriorated but isn’t that just part of the learning cycle. Initially I didn’t know what I didn’t know so had no mental constraints. And then I learn a bit and realised how much I need to learn about light, colour, composition, shutter speeds, aperture………….and lots more. Too many combinations at first- a bit like learning to drive and not getting gear shifts, clutch control, steering working in harmony.

However, I really enjoyed the day with Philip and fellow photographic enthusiasts. We all had different cameras, different levels of experience and he offered something to everyone.

Here are a few of my photos that I like

 

The day passed really quickly as it always does when I’m learning and enjoying myself. I really recommend Philip as someone who is knowledgeable, skilled and, most important, passionate about what he does. What a fabulous world it would be if we were all able to do what we loved for at least some part of each day.

 

 

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Anticipation of a weekend in the country

I’m heading off this morning for a weekend of photography in Kirkcudbright with a friend. Kirkcudbright is a town on the south west coast of Scotland and not somewhere I have any knowledge of. I’m told its an artists town and the light is wonderful. So, my camera is packed along with a borrowed tripod. Wet weather gear is stowed away, wellingtons are on loan and I’m hoping for some sun.

Maybe by the end of the weekend I’ll have some good photos to share on the blog.

I’m not sure if I shared with you anything about my last photography course which was at Loch Awe last May and was focussing on wildlife. It was a fabulous day of learning and fun although mostly taking photos of my fellow photographers! It was rather more difficult to get excited about the caterpillar on the underside of a fern leaf which was my ‘subject’ for at least an hour. You get the picture from my intro image-need I say more.

Now as the morning wore on in my photographic extravaganza, I shifted to a hide to photograph birds and did manage 1 image of a chaffinch that I rather liked.

So, my hopes for this weekend. That I get some shots I’m proud of, get a better understanding of shutter speed, aperture and using different lens and get to know a new place…oh, and have fun. So, I’m feeling good and there’s even a bit of blue sky this morning so it bodes well. MAybe I’ll share some of the highlights when I get home-depends on the results.

Unexpected Conversations

I spent last week in the Cotswolds on an autumn break. It’s many years since I’ve visited that part of the world and I had good memories but last week surpassed my expectations and the place sparkled every day. It got hotter and hotter as the week progressed reaching temperatures of more than 26 degrees on Friday-hotter than Costa del Sol and parts of Greece.

I reckon we all need some sun to boost our immune systems and our spirits for the coming autumn.

So, what about unexpected conversations? The possibility of these happen often but you have to be receptive to them and just stay in the moment to really capture their essence. Holidays are good for this as time seems to just unfold rather than rush by……well, in my holidays anyway. Here are a few snippits of last weeks conversations that resonated with me.

As I sat in Broadway slurping an ice cream  and watching the world go by, I was joined by an older lady who arrived with a party of walkers. She told me she was holidaying at a Holiday Fellowship venue nearby and participated in organised walks everyday. The day we met she had done 8 miles  and was tired but happy. She said that she loved walking and this was a way for her to meet new people, have different conversations and just appreciate the beauty of the countryside. This has spurred me into action and I’m planning to do a walking holiday next Spring so an unexpected conversation leads me to new paths.

Another day, as I walked through the woodland walk near Anne Hathaways Cottage in Stratford, I came across a clearing in  a woodland area. I was especially drawn to it because it was bedecked with dreamcatchers and quotes about dreams from various Shakespeare plays. As my business is called Dreamcatchers it caused me to stay there awhile. I was joined in the clearing by an elderly man and a young Chinese student and we got talking. One minute we were sharing some memories of Shakespeare plays we remembered from school days and then the next I was delighted by a personal performance from the man of speech from one of Shakespeare beginning ‘All the worlds a stage……..’ Amazing-an unexpected personal performance and wonderful because of it. Do things like this happen to other people?

And then there was a deep conversation with a lady who was a stargazer. We met in a gallery in Chipping Campden and were admiring a painting of a sky at night and her interest in the night sky just emerged. She shared the delights there for all to see in the skies over the Cotswolds. That evening I found myself looking up and the sky was indeed filled with an amazing array of constellations and planets. Living in the city, we don’t often look up because light pollution is too great to see much at all. For a short period of that conversation in the gallery I was reminded me of how small we are in an ever expanding universe -and how beautiful it is.

What unexpected conversations have you had recently? 

And finally, here is a classic Cotswolds village scene to whet your appetite for a visit.

Choosing a Path

Not my best picture but it makes a point-we all come across forks or crossroads in our journeys through anywhere. And we make choices-sometimes consciously, sometimes not . It can be easier to take the well travelled route-the one travelled by many others  and yet what would have happened if we had made another choice.

Some years ago, a friend and I were guiding a metasaga in a country estate outside Perth in central Scotland. Before people arrived for their mini journey, I wandered through the estate and mapped out a possible start route. There was a clear route which many had walked before but there were a few deviations through denser shrubbery that drew me. And so I wandered off the path and through a darker part of the woodland. At one stage where I had almost decided to go back to the main path I turned a corner and in front of me was the most amazing bush-fire red.

I should have mentioned that it was March and there was little colour as it had been a long,hard winter. There were shades of brown and dull evergreens with the odd clump of snowdrops sparkling white with their deep green leaves. This bush was amazing and, in the moment I saw it, my heart sang and I decided that this was exactly the reason I had strayed off the path-to find this bush, on this day, on my own. The participants on the metasaga also appreciated the bush and what it represented.

And so it is with life. If we stick to the well tried and tested paths, they serve us well (maybe?) but think about how much unexpected discovery there is just out of our line of sight. I’m currently reading a book recommended by a friend called  ‘ A Weekend to Change your Life’ by Joan Anderson. By the way, you’ve guessed correctly, it is American and it would take longer than a weekend to change ingrained habits of a lifetime. But, she suggests that you can make a start on the journey.

If you were to step off the beaten track ,  what would you do or where would you go? What experience would you like to have? What would you like to discover about yourself?

Small or large, long or short-each day there are opportunities to do something you always wanted to do but never had the time or the courage to do.

Some small and large adventures, I’ve had as a starter for 10.

Fresh Perspectives

A friend sent me some photos from a hot air balloon flight she took last week. This was a response on what fitted under her heading of ‘Being Bold’ (topic of last post). In addition to the balloon flight, she had recently helped out at a music festival in Holland serving beer -not bold in itself (although it could be if you haven’t done it before) but she speaks no dutch! She had a ball, met new people,and was energised by the experiences.

On both occasions, she saw the world she is part of from different perspectives, had a heightened experience and different conversations.

The balloon is amazing-colour and sheer scale. I was amazed at how small people are compared to the balloon. Her preparation to be bold began at the stage she researched and booked the flight some weeks before.

And then the day arrives and the experience unfolds. We met to walk and talk earlier this week and our conversation came around to the topic of perspective as she shared a bit about her experience. From the balloon, she saw the land very differently. There was a clarity, a broad landscape, detail of farms and forests that, even although she has lived in this area for many years, she had no idea existed.

She was exhilarated by the flight. It’m made me think about how we see things and yet notice not a lot. This is especially true when we rush about our lives and work, often with our minds not in the moment we are in but in the next meeting, place we are heading to, the things we need to do…..and yet, all these amazing people, landscapes, businesses are there waiting for our attention.

How often making a small shift of my thinking can open up new avenues of possibilities. For instance, taking a boat down the Clyde with a client I was coaching and seeing the river from a new place allowed the person to consider different ways to address an issue she had been struggling with for some time. We explored metaphors that emerged from the short journey like the fact that the original industries of the Clyde like shipbuilding had come to an end very painfully but slowly something new emerged  like the media and creative industries. She spoke of the need to let some things go and allow the new to appear.

So, I’ve shifted from balloon flights to boat trips. Sometimes we can make a shift just by putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes or , at least, trying to do so. We can step back from being busy, slow down and just notice what is happening around us in the workplace, at home, with our friends, in our community.

What would you like to see from a fresh perspective and how can you create space for this to happen? 

I’d love to hear your stories or your thoughts on this topic.

 

 

Through the Lens 3-Riverside Museum, Glasgow

The new Riverside Museum opened in Glasgow in June of this year. It is a transport museum housing an eclectic collection of different forms of transport over the years. There are sections on shipbuilding, railways, horses and carts, cars, motorbikes, flying machines, bicycles and even future modes of transportation.

What it reminded me of is how powerful Glasgow was as a city -it was a global port connected to every part of the globe with whom we traded. The city was successful and many wealthy merchants poured money back into the city seen in buildings such as the City Chambers, churches, parks and cemetaries. But I wander off the track…..

Riverside Museum has a fabulous location on the banks of the Clyde on the site of an old shipyard. It has been designed by globally renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. I think the building is rather beautiful with its roof rising with concrete fingers outstretched to a grey sky, the wave like roof structure and it’s position at the point where the River Kelvin joins the River Clyde.

Inside the displays are busily clustered together almost on top of each other. There are displays on walls, at crazy angles, hanging from the ceiling and balconies. There are stories of industries and people, of shipwrecks, lives being lost and saved and advice to prevent motorbike and car accidents.

And then, there is colour……..

But moving back to the river, there were little flurries of river buses transporting people up and down the river and it struck me how wonderful it is to see the river being used again after years when the city turned its back on our own ‘superhighway’ that provided the life blood for the city for centuries. And the most unexpected sight was that of a seaplane landing and taxiing up the river to where it berths.

But the photos that I enjoyed taking the most were reflections of the river and the city from the mirrored glass windows around the outside of the museum. They are wacky and somehow show the developments by the river more intimately and chaotically combined.

And so how does my view of my city change again as I pay attention to it? It has such a rich history that I often overlook when faced with the challenges of the present day. It has a capacity for resilience even after longish periods of stagnation.

And, this metaphor has a strong resonance for people whom I coach or those seeking new ways to perceive themselves in a world that has so much opportunity even if we don’t always see that.

If you were going to create or share an image of your future life-one that allows you to use your strengths every day- what would the image be?

Being Bold

It was my birthday yesterday and a friend sent me a card  saying ‘Another year older, Another year bolder’. Well, guess the part I liked about the this-yup, ‘Another Year Bolder’.

I love the idea of being braver and pushing the boundaries of my experience-and I’ve decided to make a list of things I want to do that are outwith my usual ‘comfort zone’.  How to do this is the question.

And, of course, things happen or opportunities arise everyday that potentially allow us to push the boundaries in small or larger ways. Whether we choose to notice them is another issue. Here’s how I want to feel at every opportunity I have to grow-intellectually, socially, economically and spiritually.

 

So, what might be bold? One thing that I’ve committed to in the last week that has taken me by surprise is I’ve signed up to do a post graduate qualification in one aspect of my work. Although each year I take up some new learning like creative writing, travel writing, photography, even Greek and Roman mythology, I generally have not committed to the discipline of following a workplan and writing and handing in assignments. This time all of that will be involved as well as professional practice, online peer coaching and discussion and academic reading. So, this will be interesting and I’m excited by it. Will possibly write about how it unfolds in reality……….

A friend of mine told me that she was undertaking a short introduction to live comedy and then participating as a stand up comedian a few nights later in a comedy club in Glasgow. You know what they say about Glasgow audiences being amongst the toughest for comedians. The event was for charity so hopefully the audience was supportive but still that’s what I call bold. But not my kind of bold. I’m more likely to take an opportunity to work in a different place with different people or to volunteer for something that comes across my path. I’m going to pay attention more to what opportunities emerge and ask friends for suggestions to see what captures my imagination and energy.

For instance, a couple of years ago, a professional colleague and friend called me to ask if I wanted to go to Finland to do a Future Search programme. Future Search is a strategic Planning process for large groups involved in complex projects involving many stakeholders. I  thought about it for a while as I had never planned to do this programme nor go to Finland. But one day, walking along a river in the Borders of Scotland with sun sparkling on the water when I felt at peace with the world, I thought-why not? And had a fabulous adventure meeting new people, learning a new process (really effective at engaging many different groups with divergent views) and gaining some new insights into my facilitation practice. And connecting this back to birthdays, I had my birthday there and had the once in a lifetime experience of having Happy Birthday sung to me in 8 languages representing the diverse cultures on the programme. A memorable and very special evening.And they call this work?

And all this makes me think that the ‘being bold’ will be about learning in some form or other.

But enough about me-what about any of you reading this blog. What would being bolder mean to you? Love to have you share ideas with me.