Happy Long Weekend! 

I’ve been back at work a week and ur already feels like much longer than that. It’s a strange feeling, but the benefit of a late Easter means it is now the May Day bank holiday weekend and an extra day off work. Even if the sun doesn’t sun it will be a wonderful weekend because I will ensure it is. 

I have some masters work to do and I intend on spending as much time outside as possible. 

Enjoy your three day weekend! 

Snooze button, not today! 

Pressing the snooze button this morning was so very tempting, but I was a very good Devon Sweet Pea and got straight out of bed.
I decided that this was going to be an excellent day, and although there were several serious student welfare issues I would overall rate it as a good day! Success, especially how I felt at the end of last term and last night when I was thinking of an illness I might catch overnight meaning I could not go to work. I did feel a little foolish, but when I was talking to other lectures this morning, they were doing exactly the same thing! 

It just proves we are all in the same boat and we must help and support each other. 

Tomorrow I am at university being a student and I will be in the letterpress workshop. I am very excited! 
Hope you’ve all had a lovely day, will post some pictures of my work tomorrow.

Last day of the holidays 

The nerves are starting to kick in, tomorrow I return to work after two weeks off for the Easter holidays. I have to be honest that it has not been long enough, the first week I was so exhausted I couldn’t wind down, the second has been full of tiredness and anxiety about being tired! 

It’s quite a conundrum. I have been very good during this holiday. I brought home no marking and have done no planning in preparation for the coming half term. Normally a good chunk on my personal time is spent on administration that I don’t have time to do when I am at work… Where I’m suppose to do it. 

This holiday, partly because I was so tired, I said no. I left work with the notion that this would be my holiday. That I would not spend time doing what I am not given enough time at work to do. I felt guilty, but then I started breaking things down into how much time it would take to complete. The answer was shocking – so again no, it was staying firmly on my desk. 

So on my last evening of the Easter holidays, I am going to go for a quiet walk and snuggle down on the sofa and watch a movie in the knowledge that although I love my job – it’s 5 weeks until half term! 

A train ride 

Today I was feeling a bit better and went to see my dad for a couple of hours. My dad and I have had a difficult few years after he left my mum after nearly 40 years of marriage with no warning at all. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what he did, but we are slowly rebuilding the wonderful relationship we once had. 

The train ride, is as always, stunning. The Train goes along the south Devon coast line and is one of the most beautiful rides in the UK, even the chief executive of Great Western Railway agrees! 

We had a nice cup of coffee and spent some time chatting about neutral things. It’s still best that way. If anyone else is struggling with a relationship with a parent just remember that they are getting older and you owe it to yourself to try. That is all: try. For me it is very painful, but I don’t want to live with regrets. 

A little lost

I am not expecting a response to this, and I am not writing it for self pity. I am lost. It is hard for me to admit this because even in tough times life always finds a way, I always find a way.

This is different, I am 31 (not that age has anything to do with this) and I will probably not have my teaching contract renewed next year. So the question is…what am I qualified to do? I did not attend university until I was 25 because of ill health. From 15 to 25 I was house bound for large chunks of time because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I did not get my first job until I was 29… so I have little experience in the workplace and I fear that employers won’t even look at my CV/application. I am sure that a lot of this is unnecessary anxiety I am putting on myself, but it does concern me so therefore is important.

We put these ideals on ourselves and I am very guilty of doing this to myself. I want to do well in my life. I would like a good job, which every July/August I am not wondering if my contract will be renewed, or having been told in April – probably we won’t want you back.  Supported in the workplace? I don’t think so – maybe it would be best if my contract wasn’t renewed.

I always try my best, even when I have no energy I always give my best.

So, I am lost. What will I do? I honestly don’t know, but I am going to enjoy finishing my Masters this September. Until then, I need to keep on going even if its baby steps until I find my path again.

Thank you for listening, I appreciate it.

Anxiety will not win

One of the worst parts about anxiety is how quickly it makes you feel worthless. 
I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life. I have fears some of which are rational others are totally irrational. To the outside world I am fine, because I am functioning and don’t complain about how I am feeling then everything must be ok. 

I woke up in the night feeling uneasy, I sometimes go through these fazes. I have been told by my line manager that due to numbers at the college where I work I probably won’t be needed in September. This has been quite a shock, especially the way in which I was told and the manner used. I am now worrying about what I will do next year for work. 
I have been looking for jobs in my field of teaching, but they are rare. I have email alerts to tell me when anything comes along.
To be pro active and to increase my chances of employment I have a meeting with regard to enrolling on an MA in Curatorial Practice. If I just sit down and let the worry overtake me it will take longer to recover. Even if I don’t enrol on the course at least I am trying. 
I still have pangs of intense worry throughout the day and yesterday had the first panic attack for a while, but no one can accuse me of letting anxiety rule my life. 

It’s been a while

10th November – that was the last time I wrote and visited my blog. It has been too long and there have been ups and downs along the way.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and for the majority of the time I am ok. Obviously I need to be careful, make that very careful but I can hold down a job. I teach Photography (part time) in further (tertiary) education, it is tough and some days I hate it and other days I love it…it is the nature of the beast, but that is for another time. However, as I am sure other’s who have CFS will agree when you can feel a dip coming it hits you hard. One day I was fine, a little tired but it was manageable, the next day I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t think straight and certainly couldn’t contemplate even making myself breakfast. When that happens I get scared, I feel like I have returned to square one and all my hard work over the past 16 years has gone. I live at home with my mum, who is my rock and she is the person who keeps me sane when times like this occur. She has been with me through everything and she is the reason that I am better, encouraging me when times are tough and supporting me when things are going well. She reminded me that it is only a blip and after a few days of rest I will be on the mend again. She was right, as she usually is!

I need to remind myself of all the things I have and am accomplishing. I am teaching in Further Education 3 days a week, I am in the final year of my part time Masters Degree in Photography and I have been to Greenland. Yes you read that correctly, I have been to Greenland since I last posted and I will write something about that in the next week or so as I gather my thoughts about what I saw.

I think I am worn out, it has been a long time since the Christmas holidays and it is only a few more weeks until the Easter holidays, which I am very much looking forward to. I will be able to have a proper rest and recuperate from the previous term, which has been long and very difficult at times.

Will post soon.

Devon Sweet Pea

‘Only look back to see how far you’ve come’

I read this quote a while ago and I cannot find where I found it, so I’m doing the one thing academics should not do: write a quote without knowing the source.

At the moment this is what I am trying to focus on. I know that we use the past to make us better individuals, but that is not specifically what I am talking about. I am talking about those moments where we over analyse absolutely everything. It is something that people with anxiety do a lot. So, I am attempting to ‘let go’ of these moments and concentrate on what lies ahead.

My project ‘Looking for Thule’, is one where I can do just that. I can think about the wider world and the moments of serenity, silence and calm that we all crave in our everyday lives. That is why I am thinking that this will culminate in a book work. Something that you can take with you wherever you go. When things become difficult or stressful it is something that you can dip into to feel a sense of calm…finding your own Thule.

This is something that as I progress with this project I am finding more and more about. It is that sense of inner peace that we all crave. Mindfulness is becoming more and more apparent within this work, something that I didn’t contemplate at the start. We all lead busy, chaotic lives and we need to find that moment, not of ‘me time’ because that is selfish, but time to be inspired by the beauty that is around us. To me that is what Thule is becoming.

I am looking forward to the next stage of my journey as I navigate the paths of the South West Coast Path.

My walk in the woods

I am back from my walk. I look with me my trusty Hasselblad and even though it was a struggle, I did manage to find pictures. It is hard to look when you don’t know what you’re feeling or even looking for. But that is the beauty of photography and this project. Even though I am searching for Thule, albeit closer to home than the ancient explores thought it to be, I am searching. There is no tangible outcome, the walk and experience is the outcome. That is what I need to hold on to, obviously I am studying for a degree in photography so the visual is important too! However I have this belief that when I feel I have found my Thule or Silence as is one interpretation of the word, then that will reflect through my images.

So I walked, photographed and collected. I collected damaged leaves. It is quite interesting because when I was a child I would only collect perfect leaves: with no dents, rips, discolourations or imperfections. Now I am fascinated by the qualities in the damaged leaves with rips and imperfections galore. The more fragile they are the better. I am contemplating what to do with them, if anything. Do I frame them as they are? Do I create photograms or lumen prints or cyanotypes? There is much that can be done with them, but what feels right? I like the idea of making a print and framing it with the leaf, or just framing the leaf. There is something beautiful about just having the leaf alone. It conjures up different memories for different people and isn’t that what art is all about?

I am reminded of Mark Dion’s work and his Cabinet of Curiosities. Maybe this is something that I could replicate in my own way with the leaves and other objects that I collect along my travels.

Hello again

I have not written for about a month and it seems much longer than that. I have been struggling. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have been more tired than usual these past few weeks, I have been working hard both with my MA Project and my teaching job. Usually I can function, but I have been struggling to compartmentalise my thoughts, which has led to an increase in anxiety and along with that problems sleeping at night. It is a catch-22, you are tired, so need to sleep and then you can’t so wake up more tired. This is a cycle that I am hoping to break now I have decided to make myself sit here and write something.

I have found myself with a writers block, which is a problem when you have to write for your masters degree. I usually enjoy writing, and find that it comes relatively easily but this is something new. I find I think of something to write about and the words just don’t come. I sit here and get frustrated. Normally my real thinking time is when I’m on the train – recently all I can here is noise. Noise from the train, the passengers and I just want to hide. I’m thinking a small hut with an amazing view somewhere in Iceland or in the Arctic would be nice! But no, reality is what I must face and I need through my photography and exploration through photography to get myself moving again.

My project is laden with ideas and I have so many avenues to explore. So this morning I am off with my camera to do just that: explore.

I will tell you how it goes!