Sunday, 18 January 2015

New Year | 2015 | Recovery Project + RPI- leave my body

Late to the party, as always. I’m sorry this post is so late, I’ve got two excuses: one is that I prioritised myself and two) lack of access to a computer with internet. So sorry.

Around November time last year, I decided on a phrase called the “Recovery Project” but hadn’t really defined it. Just before then, my anxiety peaked, and I begged Neil to let me come back home from Lanzarote. It was more a lesson than an opportunity, but it made me really realise how ill I’d become. I knew my anxiety was out of control. Then things went kind of wrong and I ended up a little homeless, and developing depression… but I have housing now, and I’ve been getting some help. Since things have been falling apart a bit, and I’ve had a lot of help, support and resources, I’m trying to get better.

So for 2015… or at least indefinitely I am beginning the “Recovery Project.” I didn’t want to give myself too much pressure with deadlines or anything so there’s no real upload schedule. I will try and make it regular though since it is a progress thing and it’s important to me to create content, which I haven’t really been doing much. OKAY, okay, what is this “Recovery Project”?? It will be a written and visual journal of my (hopefully) recovery from anxiety and depression. It’s personal, so everything will be posted exclusively HERE, and a few photos will make it onto Flickr.
This leads on nicely to my first RP post:

RPI – Leave my body 

7th January.

(Okay so the photo in my head was beautiful, and what did I actually make? This surrealist monstrosity. I don’t know… I just played with masks and textures and ended up with this. I suppose I can’t help myself. I tried to make it look like a sort of screen cap? Did it work?)

The first week of 2015 was fairly positive, because I made it so. That’s right – I can take charge of how I see things. I got a few anxiety self-help apps on my phone, my friend introduced me to a facebook group for young people with chronic illnesses, and I found out my application for ESA was accepted. All good things. I’ve been trying to improve my self-esteem by making myself smile in a mirror every day for no reason; smiling has been psychologically proven to improve your mood even when you’re not in a good mood. I’ve started to eat what I want, and remove my unhealthy association with feeling bad and eating. Part of my recovery/resolutions is having a word for the year, and mine is “CARE.” – self-care, care about others, care about the world. While eating what I want probably isn’t the best way to self-care (it’s not healthy really, way too much macaroni cheese), I’m doing a bit of a Liz Gilbert and indulging myself before doing things healthily and right.

L x 
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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Favourites of 2014

Doing something a bit different for the New Year: a favourites post! I didn't want to dwell on the year as it wasn't the best and decided instead to think about the things I did enjoy. You'll get to know me better, anyway! I'll post more about 2015 later this week, so watch this space. 

Fave TV show:
Shall we start with one of the hardest questions? Sure. I have watched so much TV this year, but most of it are second seasons of shows (2014 was good for that too). 
I'm going to say that SUPERNATURAL is my favourite show of the year. Season 9 was so. good. I think it may have broken me with its emotional rollercoaster, and I felt it especially sharply as I have marathoned seasons 1-9 in just over a year, and was able to watch Season 10 (which started in October 2014) as it aired! (Waiting for episodes is horrible)
Honourable mentions: IN THE FLESH (Oh god Season 2 was a cinematic masterpiece and it definitely comes second), Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones. 

Fave Song:
It's not the best song that's come out this year but for me it's Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. It's got me through a lot of difficult moments, and it's so catchy? And I kind of like how Taylor Swift is making fun of herself/the media. 
Honorable mentions: Take Me To Church by Hozier (I know it didn't come out this year but it came out in the charts this year), Anaconda by Nicki Minaj

Fave Film:
Oh god this one is also really hard. I'm going to say The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies because I love the entire franchise. It's also really sad though and I spent a good half hour through the whole credits crying and being the second last person there while my boyfriend 'aww are you okay'ed at me. 
Honorable mentions: The Hunger Games Mockingjay part I, 22 Jump Street, Guardians of the Galaxy, How to Train your Dragon 2  

Fave book:
This is the first question where an answer came immediately: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Rarely have I enjoyed a book so thoroughly where there is not a lot of plot. And I ate it up. Wholeheartedly. 
Honorable mentions: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Gone by Michael Grant, 1984 by George Orwell, Clariel by Garth Nix (I'm sorry all I read was Dystopian novels, but they were so good)

Fave make-up product:
I only got a magazine sample of it, but I FELL IN LOVE: Benefit's They're Real: Push Up Gel Eyeliner. At £18.50 it's expensive but it so easy to apply (despite being confused and dubious at first. You squeeze the eyeliner out, so that just sounds dumb right? Wrong, it's magical). 

Fave face/body product:
Okay so I've only used this product like, twice? Because it's my friend's, and I borrowed some when I stayed over, but I WILL buy it since it's perfect: Soap and Glory's Peaches and Clean Cleanser. It smells of peaches, but not like, regular peach shower gel - more like you're rubbing a real, cut peach on your bare face. It is so fresh and a little weird but it's addictive. I am becoming a bit obsessed with peaches lately since another friend got me Body Shop's Peach Shower Gel for Christmas as a half-joke (my surname is Peach). 
Honorable mentions: Superdrug's Soothing Green Tin Lip Balm in Aloe Vera 

Let me know what you've enjoyed in 2014 and what you'd recommend! In the meantime, I'll write that next post. 

L x 
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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Cinder and Smoke

On the 5th November, Britain celebrates Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, for a man named Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament (He was pretty unhappy with the Monarchy and government) 400 years ago. He was caught however and executed for treason. Nowadays we mark this anniversary by having a fireworks display and burning things. A lot of the time I forget whether we celebrate because he failed or because he nearly succeeded! I’m clearly an anarchist, haha.

This year I went to a fireworks display in a huge park with hundreds of other people, and my friends Natalie, John and John’s friend Matt who stayed in Leeds for the night. It didn’t seem the same to me though, as I never seem to have my own perfect bonfire night. I miss the ones I went to when I was younger, where you’d sit on hay bales on a muddy farm, eating burgers or jacket potatoes in front of the fire. I do remember being very bored on those nights though, as I had no one to talk to and for some reason we stayed there for hours.

I very recently discovered my copy of Photoshop has RAW editing which is so exciting! I haven’t used RAW in years. If you don’t know what RAW is, it’s just an editing program/file type that allows you to do advanced editing without changing the original file at all, so you don’t lose it through editing. I love it, it’s so easy to use and enhances pictures further and quicker than just editing in Photoshop. 

L x 

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Tropical World, Leeds

Last month I went to Leeds for a few days to visit my friends Natalie and John for the first time since we finished university. We went to the Trinity shopping centre and I ate the most amazing spinach and lentil veggie burger at the Handmade Burger Co. (Natalie had the chicken), and even better, they had like 8 vegetarian burger options??? I usually completely flee burger places since they rarely cater for vegetarians, but I am definitely coming back here. We also went for a walk in Roundhay Park, went to a bar/club called Carpe Diem for drinks one night and a place called Tropical World. Tropical world holds butterflies, birds, exotic plants, meerkats, a reptile room, aquariums, bats, sugar gliders and so many more. Definitely go check it out if you're in the Leeds area, it's opening a cafe soon so you might be lucky and get lunch there too!

It's very hot and humid though and my lens kept fogging up :( Also photographing butterflies was so difficult as they were so fast and I couldn't get my camera settings right - I stuck to auto in the end.

It was so much fun, I love animals and really liked the opportunity to photograph them, even if they were in enclosures/behind glass. It was good practice for next time. I only brought the /1.4 so I have some very short-focus shots, like the fish, so I'll try the standard lens and see how that holds up. I'd like to mix artistic styles with nature photography though, so this was my first experience with that. 

L x. 
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Summer in Scarbs II

I moved away from Scarborough about a month ago now, and there are many things I didn't like about it. The seagulls, the weather, the neighbours, the lack of clothing shops. But now that I am not going back, I'm missing a lot, such as the sea and my old GP and living near my friends and being within walking distance to everything I needed. On the brighter side, I'll be able to live somewhere else near these things again some day. 

Bye, Scarbs thanks for the degree 

L x 

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Summer in Scarbs I

Some photos I don't know what to do with. All taken in Scarborough this spring/summer. I didn't feel like uploading them to flickr. Let me know if you think I should though or if you like them :) 

Sunrise in July.  The seagulls woke me up one morning and I decided to get up. I wasn't disappointed.

Hayley's chicken noodles.


L x.

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Monday, 25 August 2014

Summer's Ending

I graduated university in July, which was both fun and upsetting. I said goodbye to my friends, and to the town I called home for 3 years. My university experience wasn't really the crazy social life that most people have, I was one of those boring sensible types who had mental breakdowns in the uni library when I had 3 essays due in one week (seriously we all nearly died). Even though I didn't go to many parties I did make some really good friends, friends I miss a lot now we've all left the little seaside town we spent university in. I learnt how to do so many things, such as cook and use a washing machine, go to appointments on time and live on my own. I gained confidence and skills I might not have otherwise, and made so many mistakes I couldn't even count them! (Maybe I'll share some with you one time...)

I stayed in Scarborough for the rest of my flat tenancy and then moved back down south to my brother's house, as he's let me stay with him a few months. My parents house wasn't really an option.

Right now, it's been raining all day and I can see the drops splashing on the patio. The shrubs in the garden are so green, so lush, so obviously English. I'm moving abroad. In six weeks I'll be in Lanzarote, working as a photographer for a hotel. Me! In the Canary Islands! As a photographer!

Wish me luck!

L x
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Friday, 15 August 2014

Let's Talk About: Mental Health

I spend far too much time on tumblr so here are some tags/triggers so you can go on reading safely - contains: #suicide, #depression, #self-harm mention, #anxiety 

So, as you probably are already aware, Robin Williams passed away recently (suspected suicide) and it really shocked and upset myself and many of my friends, as it has Williams' family, friends, colleagues, and admirers. I, for one, was unaware of Robin Williams depression, as were many, and it really highlights how "invisible" an illness depression is. Robin Williams was a great part of my childhood, playing in Mrs Doubtfire, Hook, Flubber, Dead Poets Society and many other favourites. The perhaps fortunate thing to have come from the media coverage of this is that it's triggered a surge in conversation about mental health (yes, I am also aware of how the media has wondered whether covering suicide somehow glorifies it, but I'm not getting into that today). 

My friend Faith has written a very insightful article on the situation and depression in general, and puts many of my own thoughts more succinctly than I would have written them. To add to that, depression is often a chemical imbalance of the brain, meaning that outside circumstances have no effect whatsoever on that person's wellbeing or perspective. From the NHS health website: "Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They're wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together"."

This in particular, has made me consider my own mental health, as I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (Winter Depression), and anxiety. I have had SAD (What a beautiful acronym, right?) for about 5 years, but I've only had treatment for it in the last three. Depression is very very horrible, and since I suffer it most in the winter, I particularly dread the run-up to Autumn since I know it'll be coming. I have it to the point that even in the summer months, if the weather is bad, I'll find it hard to get out of bed. 
Before I was diagnosed with it, I heard a lot of nasty comments about my behaviour, from calling me lazy for not getting out of bed or doing anything; antisocial and moody for not interacting with people or activities, and I know I got people down by struggling to be positive or even smile. People would say, "you can't be depressed, you're laughing now" and I would question it myself. I would google seasonal affective disorder in my school breaks and be convinced I had it (self diagnosis does work sometimes!) yet nobody would take me seriously. When I did finally go to the doctors about it, I got turned away from several, muttering, "Well you do have the symptoms of depression, but we don't think you have it, because you don't seem to." 
Stigmatisation of depression extends to when you're on medication for it as well. I constantly get tutters and 'advice' such as "Anti-depressants are bad for you, you shouldn't be on them, take vitamins instead." If I were to get out of bed each morning, brush my hair and walk out my door without them, don't you think I would be doing that? Do you think I chose this?? Do you think Robin Williams chose this? 
Thankfully, thank God, I have never been anywhere near suicidal, or self-harmed, but I know people personally who have, or have attempted either, and it is heart-breaking. If you or someone you know feels like this, PLEASE TELL SOMEONE. Someone will always be able to help you, from a friend or family member or doctor/therapist/counselor or teacher. 

My photography archives, interestingly, don't go back past 2011 (What a shame. I had my pictures from 2009-2011 on my college harddrive and I forgot to take them off the system when I left so they were wiped :c), so here are some photos I've taken in the past which were about depression.  

2011: While I was doing my A-Levels, when my depression was particularly bad. I got an A* for this piece in my photography class, because it conveyed "so much emotion."

2012: When I got diagnosed with SAD. Wilted.

2012: The alternate edit is on my Flickr, named "Winter Kind of Washes Me Out."

2013: This autumn coincided with a break-up from a long term relationship. Everything suffered.

2013: I tried experimenting with a technique here (sort of failed oops). I couldn't think or speak that winter. 

2013: Probably my most visual expression? I drew and painted a personification for depression and scanned him into the photo. A lot of people were upset and exasperated with me, but I think after this photo they kind of understood without my having to say anything (I couldn't say anything.)

EXCLUSIVE! >>> Unpublished photo I did 2014. Named "rainy day". I tend to think of depressed days as "blue" or "rainy days". I like to use pixelation to convey wrongness or anxiety/sadness. I didn't upload it to flickr because people I previewed it to didn't like it.

L x.

[Sorry this is so rushed, I've been so so busy recently and I have to go out tonight, so apologies! This has been on my mind for a couple of days but I only just got time to sit down and write it! xxx]
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Monday, 21 July 2014

Art Imitates Life?

I've been thinking a lot about which direction to take my photography in... and to be honest, I'm still a little lost. I want to be one of those photographers who take beautiful, imaginary scenes that have been made through creativity and photoshop. Something from a dream, perhaps, or a fairytale. I get ideas of such photos, sometimes I even write it down, but I never go ahead and achieve it. It just stays in my notebook, just an idea. I'll marvel at people's art work, because no-one can deny that it is art, beautiful photographic fine art. For example, these beautiful pieces: 
Rachel Baran
Sarah Stewart
Gina Vasquez
But then, I don't create that kind of photo. My heart makes me take pictures of things around me, of places and people and little things. I take too many pictures of food and flowers and my duvet. Sometimes I'll take a picture purely because of the colours, or the aesthetic. I fall in love with film photography, even though it is getting more expensive and more difficult to print. I fall in love with bokeh, and clothes, and people's smiles. I like photos which make something seemingly ordinary look beautiful. Photos which show life as beautiful, because really, everything can be beautiful.  
However, life isn't really beautiful. I've been a hazard lately, so busy with everything, missing appointments and saying goodbye to friends and filling in government forms and crying late at night about how much a mess everything has been. I look at art every day but I haven't made much in weeks. I'm slowly coming round. I will make something out of nothing. 
I know this is probably stupid, but I worry that my photography isn't art? I mean, of course, I consider it such, but others might think I'm just taking pictures of things, that anyone could do. 
You know those Modern Art museums which most people (including myself sometimes, guiltily) think, "I could do that"? That red circle on a blank canvas? "I could do that". The sculpture of a bin full of rubbish? "That's not special, I could have done that." etc etc. Isn't that what everybody is afraid of? Doing something that someone else could replicate, or worse, have done before? Being cliche or unoriginal? Well, I worry about that a lot. I forget who, but somebody said, 
"You could have done that? Yeah, but did you? No." 
in response to Modern Art. I think it applies to any art really. It should be remembered. 
Even though I love imaginary pictures, I tend to leave my escapism for books and films and the internet! My photographs are more of a exaggerated diary, to show people how I feel and what I see and experience. Exaggerated because I only show what I want to, really. Pictures speak louder than words they say.  
. Sin Titulo  
Some recent photos of mine, since I haven't been able to put them up on my blog. What do you think? Do you prefer digital manipulation or simple pictures? Let me know in the comments. I love both, but I think I might be veering towards the simple pleasures.  
L x. 

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Featured Monday: Rona Keller

Featured Monday is back! #4

Rona Keller is twenty-three years of age and currently living in the South of Germany, where she is also originally from. She met fame in 2009/2010 with her "52 weeks" project on DeviantArt and Flickr, and has since done lots of projects, worked and travelled in France, England and Germany. Her work is varied, from self-portraiture to still life and nature. 

"After finishing school in 2010, I spent five months in France, worked a little and then took up my studies in Visual Communication. Memories of what I have done and felt during all that time have become extremely important to me, and taking photographs wherever I go allows me to remember all that means something to me — whether it ends up staying in that special place in my heart or not. The photos I take are my diary, full of experiences, people I love, places I went to and my everyday feelings."

Q .What inspires you? 
"My answer to this question is always quite simple: Life. As mentioned above, I really just take photos of whatever I find worth remembering and thus want to capture and express in a visual form."

(All images used with permission :)) 
Q. Who inspires you? 
"Lately I have been falling in love with lots of film photos that inspire me on a daily basis, here are a few people who took them: Danielle Hughson, Daniel Farò, Millie Clinton, Megan Corkill, Joe Curtin, Cassoday Harder (those last three are my long-time favourites)."

Q. What advice would you give beginners?
"Whatever it is that makes you happy about taking photographs (or any other art or form of living), go for it!"

Rona can be found on Flickr, Instagram, her blog, her website, and Deviant Art

L x. 
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