inner hope

prayer of peace with talismans
Prayer of peace with Talismans

Hope is very important right now.

Hope gives meaning and is positive feeling that can help us overcome difficult times in our lives. With the Coronavirus outbreak on the news 24/7, it can hard sometimes to see a way through.

Nonetheless, as I begin my social distancing period to protect myself from contracting the virus, I am reminded of some beautiful jewellery and talismans that have helped give me hope in the past.

When I was in hospital a few years ago, I was reading a book by British author Clare Balding, called Walking Home. She walks to a place in Devon called Inner Hope and I thought that was a wonderful name.

I also realised that hope comes from within. We can feel glimpses of it from other people, but in order to truly benefit, we have to believe in that hope ourselves.

I bought this necklace as a reminder of my own inner hope that I always have access to. However, having worn it so much, it is beginning to look a bit worn itself. It’s easy to see that the inner hope inscription is fading.

It could be easy to say that hope can fade, when tested in difficult times, but it can also be found.

inner hope necklace
Inner Hope Necklace

Watching the hope fade on my necklace prompted me to keep the necklace safe and get a locket with the same inscription that won’t fade away when being worn.

inner hope locket
Inner Hope Locket

When I go through moments lacking in faith, I remind myself of my lockets and necklaces, either wearing them or holding the locket in my hand and inhaling as I feel the hope inside lift me up. It’s a great reminder that hope can be found again.

These lovely talismans and necklaces are made in America by Liz Lamoreux and are individually made and printed.

https://soulmantras.com

February Walk

High upon the Hills
High upon the Hills

With my mind on writing another post, I noticed I hadn’t written a post on a walk I went on in February with my mum. I love taking my camera on our walks and last month I was able to capture some lovely photographs that highlighted some of the subdued tones of nature in late winter, which I don’t normally do; I’m far more interested in brighter colours.

There was something so peaceful about these tones though, that I just couldn’t help but love. I find that in this lighting and time of year, black and white photography can look so striking. Below is a similar image I took a few moments later and the feel of the image so different.

Field Tracks
Field Tracks
Vast View
Vast View
Vast View in Monochrome
Vast View in Monochrome

The greys and blacks are richer, the lighter tones stand out. Interestingly, I have had more views on the black-and-white versions than I have on the colour.

Although these are digital images, I find the most beautiful range of tones comes from film photography that I wish to revisit.

Roadside Stream
Roadside Stream

Revealing who you Really Are

Each November I enter a series of my favourite photos I have taken over the year into my village Arts and Crafts’ exhibition. When the details for the 2019 event came through I was inspired by the theme of Masks.

Masks are very fascinating in many ways. A mask can be a physical object that protects or obscures the face; an emotional mask, where we hide our emotions and personality behind it; or we can use forms of dressing up, such as wearing make-up to conceal who we really are.

I have never been one for wearing much make-up but for a long time I wore an emotional mask and felt insecure about having two rare health conditions. I wasn’t happy enough in my own skin.

Through having personal counselling alongside my own counselling training, I came to terms with my situation and feel a lot more accepting of my beautifully imperfect self.

This photography project is visual chance to show how I don’t feel I have to wear any kind of mask anymore and it is so freeing. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable to begin with, but what are we really so afraid of, in that we have to hide behind a metaphorical or physical mask?

I think people who are brave enough to reveal their authentic selves are far more beautiful externally because they light themselves up from within. No amount of the latest fashionable clothes or layers of foundation and false eyelashes can ever buy.

Masks can be scary. They can be scary to look at or even be scary to hide from behind them. We want everyone to believe in the façade we put up in that our lives our perfect, but even in the best circumstances, no one’s life is perfect, no one’s beauty is flawless.

I therefore set out to illustrate how we can ‘dress up’ for the world, even in our everyday life, yet how natural and bare we can be without that pressure. I decided to show this with contrasting themes – Photo 1: dressed up with artifical lighthing and studio equipment vs. Photo 2 – natural window lighting, casual clothes and a make-up/mask free face.

[results of the arts and crafts event below —> ]

Peaceful Views in Autumn

An English Countryside View in Autumn

It is seeing views like this that makes me feel so grateful about living in the countryside. Sure, the bustle of the city is exciting and stimulating, but I can only tolerate it in small doses.

When living in London during university, I felt I was surrounded by varying shades of grey – from the leafless trees in the winter, to the grey skies, buildings and moterways. I know though that the city life isn’t all grey, but that’s just my personal view on time in my life when things did feel very grey.

It was around October in my second year of uni, that I came back to the countryside to go on a village walk. I felt so restored, rejuvinated and full of colour.

Orange, Rusty Leaves

Although I love all the seasons, there is something about Autumn I feel most spirtually connected with. I love the colouful leaves, the reflectivness of how the season slowly changes and how as person, we don’t have to change our lives in a day, we gradual changes can make good progress too.

This week the weather has been kind and allowed Autumn to shine at it its best.

Over the Fields in Autumn

Orange Hue
Little Country Village
Countryside Play Park

Growing like a Leaf – Learning

I took the first step and began my Autumn Leaf Garland for my window. I have a used a knitting pattern from the book 30 Minute Knits: 60 Quick and Easy Knitting Projects by Carol Meldrum, but I will add that it did take longer than thirty minutes to knit.

Out of the three choices of leaves to knit, I chose the one above. I had ordered my wool (see below) and was ready to start knitting the first green leaf as we transition from summer to autumn over the next month.

There was an issue though. There were some stitches I hadn’t done in a while and techniques I was unsure of. It was so tempting to just take the easy route and knit something else, but I really wanted to get project going. I realised I had some learning to be done.

I was wishing learning didn’t have to be so clunky and uncomfortable. I wanted to just pick up the wool and know what I was doing, but then the achievement factor at the end wouldn’t be so great, would it? Would I even enjoy the project if there wasn’t a challenge element to it?

I was dithering here and there, making mistakes, treading lightly over each step of the knitting pattern. It felt so unfamiliar and it was frustrating. However, as I perservered the project literally began to take shape and I could see a leaf forming. I was enjoying myself too!

Knitting patterns often have rows that are repeated, and the more I did them, the more confident I felt about my progress. I could visisualise my finished hanging leaves transitioning in colour from green, yellow, orange and brown. I felt encouraged.

Learning will always be a rough ride, but then that’s what makes it so important, the fact we can get through whatever learning curve we need by remaining curious and motivated about what we want to achieve. We only learn when we get out of our comfort zone.

Phone Photography

Shadow Hearts

I bought a new phone recently and I have probably taken more photos on it than I did on my old one. For me this is unusual, because I would always say to my family how a phone camera is never as a good as a DSLR camera.

I can see why though, that phone cameras can be useful; they are convenient after all and they are pocket sized. You can easily share pictures between people or upload them onto websites like Flickr, but coming from a photography background, no matter how good a phone camera is, it feels like a step away from actually doing Photography.

On a phone it just feels like taking a picture, but on a camera, I personally think more about the composition and what I will use the photos for.

I guess, as someone who mostly takes pictures of nature or inanimate objects, a camera seems more appropriate, or if you having professional portraits done. However, I can see how taking photos on your phone of friends and family has its benefits too.

How often do we look back on our phone photos though? I feel lucky enough to have been born towards the end of the 20th century when photos of my childhood were taken on film. There would be an excitement about getting your photographs developed and then you could choose a fun photo album to store them and look back on.

Even though photo albums aren’t used to much these days, I do like photobooks. I think it’s great to have a physical record of our memories, as well as a digital one as it gives you a chance to reflect on moments you may have forgotten.

My first choice for photography will always be a camera, but my respect for taking photos on a phone is growing too.

Beautiful Shadow
Polka Dot Mushroom
Big Daisy

Refreshing Watermelon

At the start of 2019, I began a knitting project to span the four seasons of the year. For Spring I knitted a garland of hearts to go in my window. https://zoescreativenook.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/knitted-heart-garland/

For my Summer window garland, I am knitting items that make me think of the warmer months. So far I have knitted:

  • A rainbow
  • Butterfly
  • Strawberry
  • Sailing boat
  • And now a Watermelon.

As with the Spring project I would like to knit about 10-12 items including:

  • a fluffy white cloud
  • a sunshine
  • a ladybird
  • a bee
  • And perhaps a kite, ice-cream or a beach hut

Although these things are Summer to me, I don’t want to rush the project and with Autumn around the corner and my changing leaves garland leaking on the horizon, I will be focusing on that project for the time being.

I plan continue my Summer project throughout the year when I don’t have other things to knit and to post a photo of it on my blog once it has been hung up in my window.

For the Watermelon, I knitted it using: pink, white and green balls of wool and some black wool for the seeds. The knitted pattern is found in the book 100 Little Knitted Projects by Sarah Keen, which most of the items for the project have come from.

Switching off – being vs doing

Footprints in the Sand

I was watching a programme yesterday about The National Trust and Winston Churchills home, Chartwell near Kent. Although the programme was interesting, what had stuck with me most was how Churchill spent his free time.

He was described as a busy man who was often involved working long hours to meet his career priorities in Politics, but he also took the time to have a daily nap in the middle of the day to restore himself. Not only this, he also developed an interest in painting, which his granddaughter shared was his way of switching off from problem-solving the country.

This reminded me how our own hobbies shouldn’t just be another item on our to-do lists, as something TO DO and rush through, but as activities that we can take the time to enjoy.

It is easy to just pick up your phone when you have a spare minute. You may be talking to one friend on WhatsApp, then an email, or message from Facebook comes in; your heart rate goes up because you have to answer both messages straight away and sip from your coffee cup that is in your other hand….

Call that a break?

I’m trying to use my breaks wisely. Although it is still a work in progress, I am focusing less on filling every moment of my time with some kind of stimulation and enjoying the world for it is, in a more mindful way.

Looking at Churchill’s artwork on the walls of his home, I was inspired how he just poured his energy into expressing how he felt about where he lived; the colour of paint he used for the surrounding wooded areas or the sky. There was no emphasis on rushing to get something done, it was a chance to just ‘be’ not and just ‘do’.

I think ‘being’ has a lot more meaning to it than ‘doing’. When you do something it involves an achievement factor; working towards something and seeing how well or how fast you can do it. Being, however, is more about the experience of an activity in a simple, stripped back way.

Think about how you could look out your window, your hands cradling your favourite mug with some tea in. Being relates to the present moment – being mindful, whereas ‘doing’ has a future aspect to it. The experience of ‘being’ is richer as it involves your senses. What can you see, feel, hear, smell or taste?

When I took the photo of the footprints and the sea on my holiday, I was just walking and taking a picture along a beach. But there was more to that: I could taste and smell the salty air around me; watch the brilliant blue sky from behind my brown tinted sunglasess, whilst hearing the whoosh of the sea and feeling the warm gritty heat from the sand under my feet.

On your to-do list it may say “Go for a walk” but the experience is so lifeless if you just do it and not experience it fully. The same can be said with a hobbies. I could have just taken a photo or or knitted somethig without much thought, but a lot of ‘being’ is to do with the process, not just the achievment.

I know for sure that the feeling of achievement is far more long-lasting if you have been mindful within the activity, rather than just relying the small high you get when you have ticked it off your list.

Holiday Highlights

Sunrise Silhouette, Spain

There is something magical about a sunrise. Its is often said that the hour before and after a sunrise/sunset, is a key time to take great photos. I was lucky to get many opportunities to watch the sun rise, coming into the ports-of-call I was visited on my Mediterranean cruise.

A Port Sunrise, Spain
Industrial Port Silhouette
Quiet Misty View

It was lovely to see the soft tones of the landscape or bold silhouettes of the buildings and birds around the ports. It was even more fascinating to watch how fast the sun comes up near the equator. When visiting Ceuta, part of Spanish Morocco on the African coast, the sun came up within fifteen minutes. I was grateful to be able to capture it on camera.

Sunrise, Ceuta, Spanish Morocco
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoebull/albums/72157710262335757/with/48519767006/