Monthly Archives: February 2014

Keeping Going and the difference a day makes

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Two days, same place

Faversham, 24 February 2014

Dear ____________

I hope this finds you well.

This morning’s walk was full of vim and vigour. Up with the sun, with a light step. Ideas buzzing, looking forward to the day. Vitality.

Yesterday, however, was fuelled by the words ‘Keep Going’ in metronomic time with my steps.

Keepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoing

I even just sat for a bit  when the metronome got monotonous.

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Sitting, listening, reframing for a spell

Grim. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I have often wondered about sharing this kind of experience – mostly in the interest of honesty. It’s part of the experience of my walking and my life. There is, for me, something suspect about the perpetual unending positivity of the things we (I) share on social media – I know for a fact that I don’t have endless days of joy and gratefulness, nor do my friends or many of the other people I talk to, and I’m a very chatty person! ;)

Yesterday, out in the real world of conversation, a friend asked me, simply – ‘How are you?’ So I told her. ‘I’ve had a really awful morning.’  We talked. What a joy this is! Rarely, when I answer this question in such a blunt fashion, the response is a blank look and I know to start chatting about the weather. But more often than not, I find empathy. I find that people are grateful for the chance to say how familiar what I feel is or might have been to them at one time. I find comfort, and sometimes, giving comfort in return is the remedy for my own discomfort.

Writing about having grim days is risky, however. I am not depressed, but I do have days in which vitality is distinctly lacking and that thankfully lift in a relatively short time. They are days in which getting out of bed is a chore and the light seems to have drained from everything. Days when I am sure that this me (lethargic, lazy, unlovable, angry) is the real me and that ‘nice’ Hope is a made up character in a story with my name on the cover.  As Andrew Solomon says in his brilliant TED talk You think that the veil has been taken away, and I am certain that this negative self-perception is reality while my vitality is a well maintained fiction. Maybe it’s hormones, or my age, or my disposition (one friend maintains it’s an ‘arty’ thing, hmm? Discuss!) – I don’t know.  I couldn’t decide if it was relevant to write about, or important enough, or whether it would be, frankly, a bit of a turn off.  I know that walking has helped me personally to manage these days, but I was wary of setting out on a ‘Walking will help with everything’ crusade. And mostly, I have good days, so why bother?

Reading the transcript of Andrew Solomon’s brilliant and positive TED talk on depression this morning moved me to write though, because  the description of depression is familiar to me, either because the feelings are familiar or I know someone who has felt them, or who are affected by a loved one, suffering. Having that short conversation yesterday, too, reminded me that comfort can be in the most unexpected places, and that keeping going is the best way to find a comfortable place. I think that’s worth sharing. That, and he mentioned drumming as a remedy for depression, and I can wholeheartedly endorse that! ;)

It occurred to me yesterday, when my feet, my heart, and my mind felt heavy, that sometimes it’s not me that is keeping the habit of walking going, but the habit of walking that is keeping me going.

Write when you can!

Hope

 

 

Pictures of Faversham

Faversham, 16 February 2014

Dear ____________

I hope this finds you well.  200% average rainfall and the wettest January since 1910 has made walking around Faversham invigorating over the past month or so. It’s been bracing, muddy, cold, peppered with sideways rain, gusts of wind, and cloudbursts of hail. Something I hadn’t expected about walking in the winter is that I don’t much mind going out in any weather these days, as long as I’m in the right clothes – or not, actually, as in these pre-Christmas pictures. :)  I’m sure Mr F. was pleased with himself when he saw these on the 22nd of December.

IMG_20131222_090917wet pathIMG_20131222_091042 wet legs

His genius Christmas gift of waterproof trousers (and warm socks) have been a consistent source of delight since!

Waterproof trousers for Christmas - Thanks Mr F!

Sometimes, I wonder why I bother trying to take pictures in such saturated conditions.  As I’m ducking under the relative dry of a dripping hedge, wiping the face of my phone with a spare sock drawn from a soggy pocket, and trying to input text with damp fingers, I think – why take pictures at all? Is this really necessary? I’m walking every day, which was my objective when I started out almost 8 months ago.  Why obsess with the picture taking?

Well, here’s how the walking thing grew into a walking and picture taking thing.

I decided to keep track of each day by making note of the time and length of my walk on my smartphone’s calendar. On one of the mornings of that first week, something caught my eye, and taking a picture seemed to be a good way to make note, too. After all, I am a visual person.   I use photography in my artwork as a tool, like I might use a brush or a pencil.  I use it in my work as a photographer to record the details of special moments and days.  Until I started walking and taking pictures of Faversham on my phone using Instagram everyday, all of my photography was for something else.

A few months before I started walking, I revisited and used slide photographs from travelling across America 25 years ago for a project called Medium Memory. Working on this reminded me of an engagement I had once had with photography that was more about looking and seeing – about being in a place, really noticing my surroundings, and trying to catch a memory with an image. Instagram allowed me to rediscover the immediacy of photography as a way of seeing. I love it, and I think of my walking photography as a kind of visual sketching exercise with Instagram as my sketchbook – keeping my eye in, making me really look at where I live like I am a visitor, seeing it for the first time. After living in Faversham for nearly 14 years, that’s pretty magical!

The magic is set to expand into Swale and Medway this summer, thanks to funding for a Small Experiment from Ideas Test. Looking forward to seeing even more of where we live!

Here’s to some drier days – write when you can!

Hope :)