Tag Archives: life

Life, wisdom, and photography

I feel really bad that I’ve been so delinquent in posting here! It’s just that I’ve had so much on the go! So many wonderful things, many of which I can’t wait to share with you. So it’s not that I’ve lost interest and am not posting here anymore. It’s just that there are only so many hours in a day and until a few things get ticked off the list, I don’t have as much time as I did. But it’s only temporary. 🙂

Recently, I had lunch with a new friend. She was a participant in one of my fine art flower photography workshops this spring.  She’s a wonderful photographer and  it was a treat to have her in my workshop. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I loved how she rose to the challenge I issued my students – to force themselves outside their photographic comfort zone and try new things like multiple exposure, panning, and image overlay. She produced some beautiful images during the workshop.

Purple Aster  copyright Shelley L. Ball

Purple Aster
copyright Shelley L. Ball

Last week we met for lunch to talk photography. It was wonderful. Any opportunity to talk photography with kindred spirit makes me happy. 🙂

As we got talking about all of the various projects we are each embarking on or considering, the topic of how to tackle the big ones – the ones that take several months or more to accomplish, the ones that seem daunting, – came up and we both shared how the intimidation of these big projects can be a barrier to even starting them. But during our conversation, I recalled some wonderful wisdom that was imparted to me on our arctic expedition this summer, advice on how to tackle the really big, intimidating things. I won’t give away the punchline. Instead, I encourage you to read about it on my friends blog, “Wynn Anne’s Meanderings“. I guarantee it’s great advice though, very practical. I’ve started using it in my own life, to tackle those monster projects that I’m afraid to start. And it works!

Wynn Anne is a great writer and her blog covers all kinds of topics from photography, to philosophy of life and everything under the sun. So I hope you’ll tune in and check out her blog. She also has a beautiful 2015 calendar of her images that is for sale so please hop on over to her blog to have a look. Her images are fabulous!

copyright Shelley L. Ball

copyright Shelley L. Ball

 

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Filed under Creative Photography, lessons learned, photography

Blooms and Bittersweet

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As we approach the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, two things come to mind. Two things I love. One is flowers. The other is my Mum. I love the month of May because, in this part of the world, it is a time of rebirth. The trees are nearly in full leaf after the speedy burst of their buds. Our local wildflowers such as Trilliums, Purple Violet,  Dutchman’s Breeches, and a whole host of others are sporting their showy blooms. Two of my favourite cultivated flowers – Lilacs and Lily of the Valley – are also on the cusp of showing their fragrant and delicate flowers. The vibrant greens, blue skies, and busyness of the squirrels, birds and other creatures are also part of this time of rebirth. So, May is my month – my favourite month of the  year.

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For me, May also brings with it, some mixed feelings. Mother’s Day is in May. My parent’s wedding anniversary is in May. And, my Mum was born in May. When I see the beautiful blooms, so abundant during this wonderful month, I can’t help but feel a little bittersweet about them. They remind me of my Mum. She passed away two and a half years ago. Not only was she my best friend, but she was my soul mate. We used to describe ourselves as ‘two peas in a pod’ because that’s exactly what we were. In recent years, as I became middle-aged, our relationship blossomed, like the flowers she loved so much.

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Although we were mother and daughter, we had become more like sisters. In fact, for the 15 months that my Mum was ill and in hospital, and I spent time with her nearly every day, we had several occasions where new nurses would comment on how wonderful it was that Mrs. Ball’s sister would come to visit her daily. The new nurses were quickly informed that it wasn’t her sister visiting, but her daughter. Mum and I laughed when we heard this. And I told Mum that maybe some daughters would be offended by this (given our age difference), but I told her to enjoy it (implying that she looked young for her age, which she did) and that for me, it was actually one of the biggest compliments I could receive. She and I looked a lot alike, had the same sense of humour (i.e. zany, wacky) and the same vibrancy and love of life. During that last 15 months of her life, we didn’t even have to speak to know what each other was feeling, we were so ‘in tune’ with each other. Many a day we shed tears together, coping with the lousy situation that life had dealt my Mum. But after a few tears and some hugs, our sense of humour would overtake all and inside of 15 minutes, we’d be laughing, joking and enjoying each others company. It didn’t matter how bad the day had been. After a few minutes together, we’d be smiling and having fun.

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I know that I am supremely and exceptionally lucky to have had such a wonderful mother. I always knew it, even from a young age. My Mum was my role model, my hero, my biggest cheerleader, and my best friend. And as we aged together, we became soul mates. The most difficult thing I have ever had to face in life is saying good-bye to her. Losing the other pea in the pod. My Mum and I, together, made the decision to end her treatment to hasten her passing as there was nothing more the doctors could do for her. It was the right thing to do, to bring her peace and end her suffering. It was what she wanted and I wholeheartedly supported it, despite it tearing out my heart. I held her hand for 52 hours, until she took her last breath – an act that was both the hardest thing I have ever done and the greatest gift I could ever receive.

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The blooms that surround me this time of year bring me happiness and sadness – bittersweet. I love the sight of them, they are  cheerful. They also make me happy because they remind me so much of my Mum.  She was an avid gardener and absolutely loved flowers. They were her thing. Two of her favourite flowers were Lilacs and Lily of the Valley. As a kid, when I went for walks up at our cottage, I would always stop and pick my Mum a handful of flowers – Daisies, Brown eyed Susans, Bladder Campion, Queen Anne’s Lace and Yarrow – which she put in a small, red vase that my brother made from clay during school art class. And so, being surrounded by these May blooms also brings me a little sadness – a reminder of her physical absence from my daily life. A reminder of a broken heart that will never truly heal. But these sad feelings are more than balanced by the incredible gratefulness I have for the time we had together and the abundance of wonderful memories I have of her.

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And so, as the blooms surround me, Mother’s Day comes and goes, and my Mum’s birthday comes and goes, I smile and think of her, but with tears not far behind, if even for only a moment. I celebrate the incredible times we had together and all of the wonderful, happy memories by growing flowers all around my yard. And every time I see a flower in bloom, I think of her and smile.

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Filed under Flowers, Nature, nature photography, photography, Wildflowers

Perils aside… let’s talk about passion

My last blog post, a few days ago, was about the perils of following your passion, whatever that may be. In the photography world, many of us would quit our ‘day jobs’ in a heartbeat, to become a full-time photographer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your day job. It just means that you have a greater calling. It just means that there is something you are really, really passionate about and that you wish you could spend all your waking moments doing it.

Like I said before, for me, photography (and the things associated with my photography such as writing, conservation, environmental preservation, and connecting with people) is oxygen. Sure, I find it hard that I can only ‘breathe’ part time. 🙂 But let me tell you, it’s better than not breathing at all!

"You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands" - Chris Widener

“You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands” – Chris Widener

To reiterate what I said in my last blog post, read Malcolm Munro’s article on the perils of following your passion. Then dial that message back one or two turns. I wholeheartedly agree with Malcolm. You NEED to be a realist. But at the same time, don’t give up on your passion. And don’t become disillusioned. Just be realistic about what you can do given your current circumstances.

The key is: find a way to make it work. Might not be the way you first envisioned it. But this is life. We don’t always get what we want, when we want, in the way that we want. So, instead, tweak your expectations. Trim your sail. Refine your course. You WILL get there. It’s just that the path you take may very well be different from what you first envisioned. But that’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less successful at achieving your dreams.

"Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem - even to you - I don't care: You have to let that out" - Eleni Gabre-Madhin

“Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem – even to you – I don’t care: You have to let that out” – Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Oh, and one more thought…. don’t give a rats fuzzy bottom what anybody else thinks about your passion for photography (or whatever else it may be that you want to do – as long as it’s legal and ethical). You’re following your passion for YOU. Not for them. For you. In doing so, however, just ensure that you meet your responsibilities to yourself and your family. You know, the important stuff like mortgages, food, vehicles, utilities. It’s hard to process images in Photoshop when your electricity has been turned off due to non-payment.

I’m only a part-timer, but I feel like I’ve been around long enough to be developing a pretty healthy view of what the photography world is really like and that, typically, it takes a massive boatload of hard work and long hours to make a living as a photographer, especially in the field of nature or wildlife photography. But don’t let that stop you. Be persistent. Be positive. Be determined.

Here are a few more great quotes – fodder to fuel your drive to fulfill your passion…

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't fine them, make them." - George Bernard Shaw

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

"The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that's bigger than they are - that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth." - Richard Leider

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are – that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” – Richard Leider

"For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.... It's only be going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions." - Ira Glass

“For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” – Ira Glass

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." - Neil Gaiman

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman

"Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Filed under Abstracts, conservation, Conservation & Environment, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Dreams, learning, lessons learned, Life's short...., Nature, nature photography, Opinion, Philosophy, photography, Reflections, small business, Vision

Photo of the Week – Lest We Forget

This week’s Photo of the Week is about Remembrance Day. A very important day – a day of remembrance, but ultimately a day of thanks. A day to remember, honour and thank those who gave their lives so that we can live a life so full of choices.

Sometimes, what seems like the smallest of gestures can have the greatest meaning behind it. This is what I experienced when I attend the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada a few years ago.  A tradition started spontaneously after the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built at the front of the memorial. One person’s gesture caught on and now, each year at the end of the ceremony, people gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to give their gesture of thanks.

Click on the thumbnail below to see 44th Parallel Photography’s Photo of the Week.

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Filed under Digital Photography, Photo of the Week, photography, respect