Category Archives: photography

20 for 2020: week 32

Week of 3 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

20200803 Hinsby Beach 10

Why is that photographer coming back from the beach with a giant lens? Ohhhh! There’s a giant pink full moon out there! Why didn’t I bring my camera out?

We got the reading material for our final unit of the uni course (thing 8) on Monday. I spent a couple of hours organising the material and making a study plan so I know what I need to do over the next 11 weeks. I’m trying to be more organised with this unit so that I can get more out of it than I did the last one.

 

I have three weeks to work through the first three modules (there are six) before our face to face workshop. I thought that working through a topic in each module a day (most of them have five topics) would be a good pace. That would mean I’d need to set aside roughly an hour a day to work on it.

That sounded fine in theory, but finding that hour wasn’t as easy as I thought. I found myself drifting through my days without a plan and finishing the day without having done any of the work, so by Saturday morning, when I wanted to have completed the first module, I’d done exactly no readings.

It’s amazing how easy it is to not do the work when there is no real consequence of not doing it. I found with the assignment in the last unit, I could focus on that all day because I had to do it, there was a hard deadline, and there were major consequences of not doing it (i.e. failing the unit). Whereas with the course reading material, it’s all self-directed and you are responsible for doing it: there’s no one to check up on you, nothing to hand in and no mark at the end.

Clearly, if I want to get something out of this unit, this isn’t the way to do it, so I made it a priority on the weekend to complete the first module and to schedule regular time each day to work on the material. This fits in nicely with the work I am doing to better organise my workload at work and to try and prevent my role of being that annoying person in the branch who manages all the coordination requests (I mean, being my branch’s coordination superhero) leaking over into the rest of my day and affecting my ability to focus on the projects I’m supposed to be doing.

That’s a whole other story and perhaps I’ll write a post about it one day, once I get it worked out.

The other thing I need to do for uni is to decide on a workplace project and get started on planning that so I can hand in my draft project plan next week. This project will decide my final mark so there is a real consequence of not doing that. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since the start of the course back in September 2019 but now it’s time to take my thoughts and put them into something that I’m actually doing to do. I have ten weeks to plan it, do it and report on it. No pressure, then.

20200803 Cherry blossom 1

Spring started to spring . . .

I didn’t hear back from the sewing machine people (thing 2), so I’m not sure where that’s at.

I had a conversation with one of my workmates this week, which turned into a conversation about our art (she’s a proper artist who has actually had shows). I was telling her about my Photoshop work (thing 7) and a vague idea for a project I want to do but how I feel a bit overwhelmed about getting stuck into it because it’s all so new and there is so much to learn. She said the same thing to me as I’ve heard and read so many times that it should be ingrained into my mind and something that I just do. That is, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Make a commitment to do just one thing every day. She said for her it might be something as small as making a decision on the thickness of a hem. And she said that sometimes just doing one thing will lead you to do something else and something else and, before you know it, you might have completed a piece. Which is great. Or it might not, which is fine too because you’ll still be one step further than you were before you did it.

That’s the point of my 15 minutes a day creative habit. Just like my uni work, I need to schedule this and then actually do it. I know I can’t commit to doing huge chunks of the Photoshop course during the next ten weeks. I’ve already agreed with myself that I can’t possibly take on two huge study projects at the same time and that the Photoshop work is going to take a back seat for now. But 15 minutes a day, I can do that if for no other reason to reinforce to myself that I am creative and that I make art. Even if it’s bad art. To quote photographer David duChemin, everyone starts ugly. But without the ugly start, you’re never going to make anything beautiful.

I went back over my monthly review and picked up on the things I didn’t quite get through when I did it last week. In particular, I wanted to set some goals for August:

  • Complete all of the readings for Unit 4.
  • Decide on a workplace project and submit the proposal.
  • Commit to 15 minutes a day to creating something.
  • Finish two chapters of a book I’m working through.
20200804 Davey & Murray St 503pm-1

. . . and winter hit back

I also decided to ask myself three questions at the end of each week:

What did I do well or what did I achieve this week?
I can’t think of anything.

I need to pay attention to small wins and accomplishments to remind myself of the good things I did. And knowing I’m going to be writing about it each week is going to inspire me to think of at least one thing I did well . . . it’s going to look like I’m pretty down on myself if I only write about what didn’t go well!

Actually, now I think of it, I did do something well. I overcame my fear of speaking in meetings and contributed to a national meeting of about 40 people, most of whom I’ve never had anything do with, on a subject I am not very familiar with.

What didn’t go so well?
I’m still struggling with going to bed on time and getting up with the alarm instead of lying about in bed for half an hour or more. My Fitbit sleep scores are mid-80s. I want this to improve.

What do I want to do better next week?
Start packing up at 10.15. Set a reminder for this.

Schedule time to create something every day and actually do it.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (8, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (2, 7, 11, 13, 17)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 3
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 0
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: 6

20 for 2020: week 31

Week 31: Week of 27 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

I feel like this week went by incredibly quickly and I didn’t get a lot done.

20200728 The moon 3

I went out to take photos of birds. I came back with photos of the moon.

I got my mark for my uni assignment (thing 8) that I had struggled and tortured myself over and was overwhelmed by my result. In a good way. I really didn’t think I’d nailed it at all but the lecturer obviously did. Now I only have one more unit to complete and the course is finished.

20200728 Lost trolleys at Sandy Bay 2

This week’s contribution to #losttrolleysofhobart

I was at work on Thursday and the sewing machine people called me to organise a time to fix my machine at my place (thing 2). “How about this afternoon?” he asked. Even with my magical superpowers of workplace flexibility, that wasn’t quite enough notice, so it will have to wait until next week.

I didn’t do any work on my Photoshop course (thing 7) but I did catch up on the backlog of 2020 photos in my Hobart Street Corners project. It’s a project I started in 2018 to document the streets of Hobart as they were at one moment in time on my phone. It’s gone a bit quiet this year because I haven’t been out taking photos much since the March lockdown and even now I’m only in town one day a week. But I’m doing what I can. I guess if I run out of photos this year though, there is a backlog of 2018 and 2019 photos to work through. (And a potential thing for the 21 for 2021 list . . .)

I spent a bit of time refining some of my systems to try and be more organised, which is related to the Indistractable work (thing 13). A big part of this was going through my emails and getting them out of my inbox. An empty inbox is a beautiful thing. The challenge will be to keep it like that.

20200802 Collins & Campbell St 845 am 4

Something shiny and new to photograph

Sunday was the closest to the last Sunday of July so I went to the coffee shop to do my monthly Unravel Your Year review (thing 22). I got a bit stuck on a couple of the questions so I’ll have to think about them a bit more. Something for next week as I plan my study program.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (2, 13, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 8, 11, 17)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 6
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 1
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: 1

What do I want to do better next week?

  • Go to bed on time.

20 for 2020: week 11

Week of 9 March

My 20 for 2020 list.

Monday was a public holiday (yay) so I let myself sleep in a bit (which is code for lying in bed and thinking about how great it feels not to wake up slightly hungover because I am into week two of 30 days without alcohol (thing 5)) before I went for a walk and worked on my photo project (thing 1).

20200309 Mushrooms in the compost 03-Edit-Edit

I found some funghi in the compost heap

I actually finished three 15-minute photo editing blocks on Monday. I got this app called Forest, which is meant to stop you doing stuff on your phone when you’re supposed to be working. You plant a tree and set the timer for how long you want to work, and if you leave the app to do something else on your phone, the tree dies. Who wants to be responsible for killing a tree? Over time, you build a up a forest and the more work you do, the cooler trees you can unlock. Of course it doesn’t stop you doing other stuff on your computer than what you’re supposed to be working on, but it does discourage you from doing stuff on your phone, which can be a pretty big distraction. And who wants to kill a tree!

I think there’s another feature on there where you can join up with friends and you can set it so if you go onto your phone while you’re supposed to be working you kill your friends’ trees as well. How’s that for accountability?!

I’d heard of this app before but never tried it and decided to do it as I was flicking through chapter 18 of Indistractable (thing 13), which is “hack back your phone”. In this chapter, Nir encourages you to get rid of apps you don’t use that clutter up your screen, and to reconsider what you have on your phone that distracts you. Nir uses the examples of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in the book, which he says he took off his phone and now only accesses on his computer so he can still stay in touch with people and watch videos, but isn’t tempted to get out his phone and start scrolling when he gets bored. Nir shares a photo of his phone’s home screen, which has Forest on it, so I decided to give it a try. I’ve only killed one tree so far and that was because I left the app without thinking about it. Ooops.

20200311 Sad little plant edit

Sad little plant. Not the one I killed in Forest

As well as removing distracting apps, I’ve also heard of people who remove email from their phones and only look at it at fixed times on their computer to avoid the distraction. I actually like to have it on my phone because if I get a few spare moments, I can go in there and delete any emails I know I don’t want to read, so I have fewer to deal with when I do go on my computer.

Another part of this work is to move things off your front screen that distract you so that you only see apps that you actually need. The idea is if you put Instagram into a folder and put that three or four screens deep, it will take you more effort to get to it and you’ll be less likely to go on it because it isn’t right in front of you. At least it forces you to make a choice to get to it instead of having it right in front of you to tempt you. That’s the theory. I don’t find it makes much of a difference to me. I still find it! The only way I would really stay away from Instagram would be if I deleted it altogether and I’m not going to do that. If I want to stay off it I’ll plant a tree!

The final part of this chapter talks about turning off notifications that distract you, which is something I have been doing for a while, and I have very few notifications on my phone now. And if I really don’t want to be disturbed, the Do Not Disturb feature makes sure I don’t get any notifications at all.

If I’d had “get the gazillion tests that my optometrist keeps insisting I have” as one of my things, I would have ticked that off the list this week too.

20200312 Bored at the optometrist 5

Waiting for tests at the optometrist

I worked on my uni personal development plan (thing 8) early in the week as a way of avoiding doing work on my assignment, which is due in two weeks but then I spent several hours over the weekend working on it to makeup that time. It’s going okay at this stage. I have a lot more to do though.

20200314 Empress Towers 6

Saturday afternoon

I stuck some more of my 2019 photo collages into my journal (thing 4) and even stuck in the tab stickers to mark the months. I have 12 more collages to stick in and this will be done. For my wellbeing course (thing 3) I listened to this month’s bonus webinar about moods and moon phases, which I found really interesting.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 5 (6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 14)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (7, 11, 22)
  • Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: 7
  • Days I scheduled (and did) 50 or 25 minute blocks of time to work on my projects:  None
  • Days I read on the bus on the way to work (or another time for at least 15 minutes): 7

20 for 2020: week 9

My 20 for 2020 list.

Week of 24 February 

For my uni course (thing 8), I have five weeks to undertake a project to apply some of the things I’ve learned in the unit to my workplace. There was lots to think about from last week’s workshop and I’ve come up with an idea I want to try out but now I have to go and do the readings and figure out how they are relevant to what I’m going to trying do at work. My lecturer pointed me to some relevant theories that we’d considered and every time I read something that’s even remotely related to my workplace plan I’m jotting down copious notes to include in the assignment. I’m sure this is backwards and I should have put the theories together and come up with a project based on that, but I’ve had this idea germinating for a while and if I can identify some theoretical basis for doing it, then I’ll be happy.

I got my mark for my first assignment back, which was pretty reasonable, and I got some very supportive comments from the lecturer in response. I am also happy that I got away with not only referencing my instagram profile in a uni assignment, but also a not so subtle reference to “this one time . . .”. (You know what I’m talking about.)

20200224 Updating my tablet. edit

I didn’t actually use the tablet (thing 17) but I updated the software and firmware

I printed the rest of my 2019 photojournal collages (thing 4) and I stuck some more into the journal. I am on the home stretch with this one now! I just have to trim them and stick them in. There’s about 12 weeks to go now. I’m far less behind with 2019’s journal than I was with 2018’s journal this time last year, which has a lot to do with smart collections in Lightroom and making sure I’ve sorted the previous week’s photos by Wednesday evening so I can edit them in my 15-minute creativity slot on Thursday morning.

I also worked on my photo project (thing 1) in my 15 minutes of creative work in the morning on some days. Just enough to keep it moving along.

20200229 Flowering gum at Taroona High 2-Edit

Saturday morning walk

I’m calling the creative abundance class (thing 6) done. I’ve got the morning routine in place (sort of—there are a few bits that need tweaking), I am working on my project, even if I’m not actually scheduling time blocks to do it. I have another project lined up for when this one is finished. I know what I have to do to eliminate more distractions; I just have to do it. And the last thing for this work it to set up an accountability mechanism, which is going to be me recording how many days I did my “just 15 minutes” in the morning in these blog posts.

I started turning my wall into a vision board (thing 15). I pulled down some things I don’t want on there any more. Then I realised that I already had a pinboard that was already sort of a vision board and thought why didn’t I move it to the “vision wall”, where I’d actually look at it, and give it a bit of a refresh. I pulled off all the stuff that, well doesn’t so much not inspire me, but doesn’t inspire me in the way I want to be inspired right now. And I added in some new pieces—though I’m not sure that John Brack’s Collins St, 5pm is something I actually aspire to . . . more like the future I want to avoid! I left lots of space to add things I find over the coming weeks.

Nothing like procrastinating on uni work, but thing 15 is done.

I can’t read on the bus (thing 14) when I ride to work (thing 10) but I can do it the other days and it’s becoming more of a habit now. I need to track the habit though.

20200301 Sunrise Taroona Beach 06-Edit

Sunday morning walk

Sunday was the closest Sunday to the last day of the month, so that’s when I’ve committed to doing my monthly review of the Unravel Your Year workbook (thing 22). I went to my local coffee shop and settled for an hour. That was good, apart from the kid on the table next to me who found the noisy toy that played “Funkytown” over and over and over. And over. Just what you need when you’re sitting down to think!

I decided to write my March goals on my whiteboard (which is part of my vision wall now), as well as a few things I meant to do after last month’s review and then forgot about because I never looked at the review page again. Note to self: if you ever decide on an action item from something, make a note of it somewhere you will actually see it so it’s not stuck in a book and you forget about it until next time you look at the book.

Now what I need to do is clear and right where I can see it. Time to make progress.

Habit tracking

  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun (sort of. It took half an hour for Photoshop to open one photo on Sunday and I got the shits with it and went to do something else. I came back to do the work a bit later on.)
  • Days I scheduled (and did) 50 or 25 minute blocks of time to work on my projects: None. I had two or three times when I sat down and worked on my photo project but I didn’t actually schedule the time.
  • Days I read on the bus on the way to work: I forgot to track this. It’s a new thing.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 2 (6, 15)
  • Things completed to date: 5 (6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 5 (1, 4, 8, 14, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (3, 7, 11, 13)
  • Things not started: 8 (2, 5, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)

20 for 2020: week 3

Week of 13 January 2020

This was my last full week of work before school goes back so I am rather looking forward to some time off next week.

This week, I rang the hearing centre and booked a hearing test (thing 16). They didn’t have any appointment for the tests I need for three weeks but I’ve finally made the appointment, so this thing is now in progress after me putting it off for more than six months.

I read some more of my uni material (thing 8) and started work on some of the exercises. The unit officially starts on Monday and the first assignment is due three weeks later. So I think most of my effort is going to be directed at that for the next three weeks. I’m really excited for this unit because it focuses on self management and a lot of the material is stuff I’m already familiar with so I think I’ll enjoy this work.

I started putting my phone away when I’m travelling to work and have been reading on the bus instead (thing 14). In my quest to develop an evening routine (thing 3), I’ve started reading before I go to sleep most nights. So far this year, with these two new opportunities for reading, I’ve finished five books. Three of them, I started last year, but they are now out of the “reading” pile. You can find my reading list here.

Things went bit chaotic for a bit over the weekend and early in the week and I haven’t had a chance to listen to any more of the creative kickstart lessons (thing 3). I missed a few days of doing my “just 15 minutes” from that class where I sit down after my walk and work on my photo project (thing 1) but I got back on track later in the week.

20200113 Jaffa & T&G 3

Happy Monday!

I looked at my 196 hours that I figured out last week that I need to get everything I want to do done in a week from the Chapter 10 exercise of Indistractable (thing 13) and ran away screaming. Trying to work out what to let go of so I can do the things I really want to do.

Just about every productivity manual I’ve read says that if you want to get something done, you need to put it on your calendar and treat it like an appointment you might make with the doctor or a meeting you have to go to at work. This is great in theory, but I don’t work like that. I see “time block for photo editing” or “time block for meal planning and shopping list-ing” that I put in the calendar last week and if I don’t feel like doing it, I generally don’t. Same as setting an alarm to tell me it’s time to get ready for bed. I ignore it.

One of the suggestions in the creative kickstart class is that you identify the times you’re most creative and you put the time in the calendar to do creative things at those times. Which is also great in theory, but the times I find I feel I’m at my creative best, I’m either at work or I’m having to do something like cooking dinner that isn’t so easy to reschedule. As for other suggestions you need to schedule three to four hour blocks to sit down and do your work, believe me, there is nothing I would love to do more. But I work five days a week, I live in a house with other people who sometimes like to interact with me and for whom I sometimes have to do things like cook dinner. There isn’t a day during the week that I have three or four hours to devote to my work so this is never going to happen then. I’m sure I could structure my weekends better, but it hasn’t worked for me so far.

This whole scheduling time to do the things I love and that are important to me just isn’t working out for me.

By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling stuck and hopeless and ready to throw it all in. I walked out of the house, caught a bus to town and went to a location I love to photograph. 3pm Saturday is not a time I would ever “schedule” for creative work. The hours between 1pm and 4pm are my lowest hours of the day, I have no energy and am no good for anything. Yet there I was (after having a quick nap on the bus, which I’m sure the driver noticed and that’s why he stepped extra hard on the brakes at one of the stops), at my lowest time of the day, going out and doing what I love to do.

I have to rethink this one and remember that I only have to take from these programs the things that will work for me. I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have to do it perfectly. I have to do something and hopefully by taking small steps, I will start to see positive change.

The same goes for the wellbeing work (thing 3). The course rolls around every year and you can dip in and out, taking what you need at the time. Last year was the first time I listened to all of the classes (well actually I finished them in the first week of January this year). I didn’t do all of the activities but I did the ones I needed to at the time. Right now I am still trying to set up an evening routine, which is an activity for the middle of the year. I have a couple of journalling tasks left over from the end of last year that I want to do to close the circle on 2019’s work and, when I’ve done that, I will call this thing done. I’ll continue to listen to the lessons each week and pick up some of the work I didn’t do last year, but for the purpose of this thing, I specifically wanted to complete the last module and those exercises.

Finally, to scrape in progress in one more thing this week, I worked on a couple of photo collages from my 2019 photojournal (thing 4). I only have four more collages to actually make (and three from this year), then I have to print them and stick them in the book. I’m nowhere near as far behind with this as I was with my 2018 journal.

Summary for the week
• Things completed this week: 0
• Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
• Things I progressed: 8 (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14, 16)
• Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
• Things not started: 12 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020: week 1

Week of 30 December

Week one of 20 for 2020 was only five days, but I’ll count it as a week.

I haven’t made a page for the list yet, but here’s a link to the first post where I outlined the 20 (or 22) things I want to achieve in 2020.

Wellbeing course (thing 3): I went through the last module, watched the videos I hadn’t watched and wrote down all the things I needed to do. I have a master list of tasks on a Trello board that I want to relating to this course so I can see everything in one place. The only thing left from 2019 that I want to complete is to do some journalling activities, which in some way are connected to the work in the creative kickstart course (thing 6). From then on, I will dip back into the course over the year and take things I need from it at the time.

Creative kickstart course (thing 6): My intention for this is to complete it by the end of January. I think some of this work will connect with the work in Indistractable (thing 13). I rewatched the first three videos that I watched at the end of 2019 to reacquaint myself with the material and to remind myself where I got up to. The idea is to watch the videos and put the strategies into place right away, so that’s what I intend to do.

In the first video it asks why I want to do this work and I said:

My goal is to create more, enjoy creating more and get better at creating work that I love. I am sick of achieving nothing because I’m tired and get easily distracted. I’m wasting my time on meaningless activities while others are going out, learning and making progress. I want to be like that.

Uni course (thing 8): I printed off the unit handbook, had it spiral bound so I can carry it round and work on it more easily, and started the first reflection activity. The unit doesn’t officially start until 20 January so I am trying to get some of the early work done now so I’m not hit with too much work at once. I think this will be a really interesting unit because a lot of it is about knowing yourself and self-management, which are subjects very dear to my heart.

Ride my bike to work (thing 10): Instead of my Sunday morning walk, I rode to town to try and find the best route to work.

Indistractable (thing 13): I read Part 4 and 5 of the book on the bus on the way home from work.

20200101 Indistractable

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Reorganise my sock drawer (thing 18): I completed this on Sunday. It involved swapping the contents of two sets of drawers in two rooms, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages to make my socks (and the other things in the drawers) easier to access in the morning. It took less than an hour. I’m happy with that.

In other things, I’m counting progress I made in 2019 on my photo project (thing 1) as progress for this year because the project is really underway. I’m not counting what I did about making contact with the sewing machine repair people (thing 2) because it’s come to nothing and I really need to start again with that one. The 2019 photojournal (thing 4), although I kept mostly up to date in 2019, I have about 10 weeks worth of photos to sort, along with keeping up to date in 2020, so progress only counts on getting that backlog completed. So no progress on that one this week either.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (18)
  • Things completed to date: 1 (18)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (3, 8, 10, 13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (1)
  • Things not started: 16 (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

19 for 2019: a review

20191101 Sunrise Taroona Beach 6 editIt’s coming up to the end of the year so it’s a good time to reflect on my 19 for 2019 list: what went well and what I didn’t quite do. I haven’t posted for a while because there hasn’t been much to say now. Every week since week 32 would have been much the same: I listened to one of the wellbeing course classes (thing 6), I added some photos to my folio (thing 2) and the sewing machine (thing 10) people still haven’t contacted me. I don’t have the big beautiful photo I imagined I would have (thing 14) and I’ve been dabbling with the photo project (thing 16) but I’m not going to get it finished.

So, let’s review what went well. I finished 14 of the 19 things I set out to do. I have three more classes of the wellbeing course so I might get there before the end of the year and I will have a folio of my favourite images of 2019 but I won’t have edited them or done anything with them.

I’m happy with completing 14 things from the list. I did some things I had been putting off for years, like getting a skin check (thing 4) and I now have a nice skin doctor who wears cool socks and I have reminders to rebook every year.

20190716 After manicure 3

We got manicures

I finished the 31-day photo course (thing 1) in a little longer than 31 days but I did it and at the same time gained a pretty reasonable understanding of how to use Lightroom (thing 19). I had my first manicure (thing 17) and I walked on a track in kunanyi (thing 15). I actually did this twice if being parent help on Kramstable’s bushwalk counts! I walked to Moonah (thing 3) and I filled up my Bucket List journal (thing 18) with not 50 but 100 things, so I also did that thing twice.

20190713 Bucket List Journal

Bucket list journal

I also had a bonus list of things I wanted to do but that didn’t make it onto the final list, so my real 19 for 2019 list was actually 30 things. I completed five of those things and I made a lot of progress on another one, so if you add those five to the 14 from the real list I actually did do 19 for 2019. I just picked the wrong 19!

I did a few other things I had wanted to do for a while too. I had a month off coffee and as a result I am no longer a regular coffee drinker. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need to actually live for a month. I went alcohol-free for a month. And I almost completed the Bored and Brilliant challenge. I have one exercise to go. I should do it.

20190901 Tree on the Police Building 8-EditOn top of all that, I applied and was accepted into a university course through my work, which I had no intention of doing at the start of the year; it wasn’t even on my radar, but my manager encouraged me and I got seduced by the thought of graduation in a funky gown and a funny hat at the end of next year. So I’m now a uni student for the first time in more than 20 years and while the modules are running there’s little time for anything else. (Sorry, Weekend Wisdom posts.) I did way better in the first module than I ever dreamed possible and have three more modules to go. The last one is a workplace project, which I’m starting to gather some vague ideas about in my head and which might even end up here.

So that’s 19 for 2019 almost done and dusted. Out of all the things I wanted to do, there’s only one that I think was over-ambitious and that’s thing 14, make a photo I am proud of, frame it and hang it on the wall. I imagined that some of the other things, the photo course and learning Lightroom especially, would I have led me to be able to do this. I have a few photos from this year that I really like but none that stand out and say “this is the one”.

20190901 Boats at Derwent Sailing Squadron 14

I hadn’t given this too much thought until today when I was listening to David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. In this week’s episode, Learning to Drop, David talks about self-confidence and how if we mis-define the task we have to do, we set ourselves up to fail and, by failing, we fulfil the belief that we can’t do something. He compares it to juggling. If we think the task in learning to juggle is to juggle, we will fail and we will reinforce the belief that we can’t juggle. But the first task in learning to juggle isn’t to juggle, it’s to throw a ball and let it drop. We can do that task. Anyone can do that.

And so it is with creative work. If we identify the task as “I’m going to make a masterpiece” we are setting ourselves up to fail and to believe we can’t do it, because no one makes the masterpiece straight up. It takes a lot of throwing the ball and letting it drop before we can move onto the task of catching the ball. It takes a lot of “failures” and shitty first drafts, a lot of first lines, a lot of overexposed, underexposed, badly composed photographs that don’t go anywhere before we actually make any progress. David says

The creative life is one of failed first efforts. You’re meant to drop the ball so you can concentrate on what it feels like to throw it. Catching isn’t the point. Not yet.

So I think it was a mistake to want to make a masterpiece in a year. I should have focused on the process of creating and making and learning and experimenting and failing, not on the outcome I wanted. And, to some extent, I did that through the course and I want do to more of that in 2020. So there will be no “make a masterpiece” thing in my 20 for 2020.

Just like there will be no “read x books” in 2020 because focusing on the goal rather than the process this year meant that I basically gave up reading after I’d got to the magic number. Not what I wanted to happen when I wanted to develop a reading habit.

I’m going to use 2019 as a learning experience when I put together my 20 for 2020 list.

20191109 OHH-106 Construction House

How about you? Did you have a list of things you wanted to achieve in 2019? How did you go? Are you going to jump on the 20 for 2020 bandwagon with me next year? Let me know in the comments.

19 for 2019: week 30 update

Week of 22 July

I don’t have a lot to update from week 30. I finished the 31-day photo course (in eight months . . .) last week and I guess that felt like such a big achievement and now I’m feeling a bit lost.

Of the five uncompleted things left to do on my 19 for 2019 list, fixing my sewing machine (thing 10) is a fairly simple thing as long as I just make the call, which is always the hard part. Finishing the photo project (thing 16) will take more time but if I make regular time each week to sit down and do it, I’ll get there eventually. I did some work editing some more photos this week and I learned a couple more features of Photoshop.

Making a folio of my best work of 2019 (thing 2) is something that’s ongoing for the whole year. But I need to make a better way of reviewing my photos each week and putting any good ones in there so I don’t get behind and then have to go back through the whole year’s worth of photos to find my favourites. Something to think about and I have a couple of ideas.

Making photo I’m proud of enough to print it big and hang it on the wall (thing 14)  is something that will probably fall out of the folio, so I might not get around to doing that until the end of the year when I have a year’s worth of photos to choose from.

20190725 Clouds over 36 Davey St edit

Cool clouds. Probably not one for the folio, but who knows?

Finally, in the wellbeing work that I’m doing (thing 6), I’m still struggling with the whole evening routine and getting enough rest thing. I’m not sure what’s going on there but I suspect it’s my brain trying to make me feel good in the moment rather than listening to what is going to actually be good for me. I wrote about it a bit in my Weekend Wisdom post. This week I listened to the week 28 class (the material is a bit behind the actual weeks of the year because we started in mid-January) and I’ll have more to say about that in my week 31 post.

For No-buy July, which isn’t a thing but I’m still doing it, I didn’t buy anything from my off-limits list this week. No books, no online courses, no free resources that end up putting me on mailing lists that send me more tempting things to buy, no stationery (even though my favourite stationery store had a 15 per cent of everything deal), no clothes (even though my favourite clothing store has had several sales going on). I’ve been ruthless in deleting emails that are out to tempt me. There is a piece of equipment I’ve been considering buying for several months and it’s come to the point where I really need to have it or I risk wasting a lot of work. I’ve done some research and asked questions and I think this is going to be the best way to fix some problems I’ve been having. So I think I can justify that. It’s not on my off-limits list so it’s all good.

Status for week 30

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (6, 16)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (2)
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)

Weekend wisdom 6

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

This week, I found myself annoyed at someone about something they did, or rather, something they didn’t do. The thing about this was that the person would have had no idea that I expected them to do this thing and I had no authority that would require them to do it. Just an expectation that they should behave in a particular way.

As I worked through being irritated and annoyed at them, I realised I was blaming them for me feeling bad, when in reality, they’d done nothing wrong. I was being completely unreasonable, and I eventually figured out that dwelling on this was a waste of my mental space and that I should get on with doing my thing.

Like magic, I got an email covering exactly this topic from the Bold Self Love podcast, which I don’t listen to but I do flip through the transcript if it sounds interesting. The title of this week’s episode was “When Others Disappoint You”, which seemed to be about the feelings I had been processing. And, indeed, it was about exactly that.

The message was that when someone does something, it’s a neutral event but we choose to interpret it in a certain way and it’s our interpretation that causes our negative feelings. We then blame the person because we think their actions caused the feelings rather than recognising that it was our interpretation of their actions causing the feelings. If we’d had a different thought about the event, we could have ended up feeling completely differently about it.

The post goes on to say that we create instruction manuals for people, which are our expectations about how we think they should act and behave and then, when they don’t behave like we think they should, we get upset. The person has no idea we have these expectations and, even if they did know, we don’t get to write their instruction manual—they do. They get to choose how they behave and we get to choose how we behave and we get to choose the meaning we give to everything that happens. For example, hypothetically, my sister didn’t return my call as soon as she got my message. If my “sister manual” includes an expectation that she’ll call me back asap I’m always going to be disappointed if she takes three days to get back to me. If I release this expectation of her and accept she’ll get back to me in her own time, however, I’m not going to be annoyed if I don’t hear from her for a few days.

As I was reading this I realised it applied perfectly to the expectation that I’d had of the person whose behaviour had upset me and that it was up to me to change my thoughts about this, not up to them to change their behaviour. They’re allowed to do their thing, just as I’m allowed to do mine—indeed I can only do mine— so I need to get on with it and forget about what other people are (or aren’t) doing.

20190725 Cool cloud 2

A cool cloud I saw on Thursday

Along similar lines, an email from Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, had a nice take on how to deal with people who put you down.

It can be challenging to deal honorably with others when they come off as judgmental, offensive, or belligerent. So when you find those pesky defenses and negatively charged emotions rising up within you, I want you to remember one simple maneuver that may just keep you sane—reframe it.

When a photographer takes a picture, what he or she includes in the frame makes a big difference. A portrait focuses solely on the face of a particular individual. Similarly, when we find ourselves focused on the actions of one person, that’s all we see. So if they treat us poorly, it fills our view and consumes our attention.

However, if the photographer were to pull back and frame a bigger picture, the person originally photographed would not seem as important in light of the overall scene. When you learn to pull back and reframe a negative interaction, it can make all the difference. You may have a judgmental in-law, but your spouse loves you. Your marriage is good. Your kids are happy. There’s a bigger picture, and you are not enslaved to seeing only one person’s opinion on your life. Same goes for a bossy boss, a complaining coworker, or a negative naysayer on social media.

Reframing your perspective in the midst of conflict could very well help you stay cool, calm, and collected. Remember, keep the negativity of others in its proper place. If there’s truth in it, acknowledge and learn from it—but don’t react to it. The quickest way to do this is to simply reframe it in light of the bigger picture and know their opinion is not the only one that matters.

James Clear had a good piece on what to do when you’re struggling and feel like giving up. I love the concept of the mind as a “suggestion machine”. James says,

Consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order. Right now, my mind is suggesting that I feel tired. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take an easier path.

If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing this work once it is done. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this task, even when I don’t feel like it.

This reminded me of last week’s Bold Self Love podcast on self-care, which observed that our brains “like to avoid pain, they like to seek pleasure, and they like to conserve energy, so they’re kind of lazy” so they’re always telling jus to do things that make us feel better. But they want us to feel better right now, which is why our brains encourage us to not exercise, or to over-eat, or to drink too much alcohol, because it will make us feel better in the moment. And she says what we need to do is become aware of when our brain is telling us this and to “replace these thoughts with new thoughts that will lead to new results”.

Along similar lines, an article by Lisa Grace Byrne on integrating self-care into your life rather than it being a thing that you do.

I especially liked this line: “You eat all day, and every meal is an opportunity to support your body, mood and mind toward vitality and wellness” because it’s so obvious when you think about it. Every time you eat something you’re making a choice as to whether you will nourish your body (and mind) or potentially harming it. Every meal is an opportunity to care for yourself.

I love this!

Some other things that got my attention this week were

A piece that really spoke to me that a friend posted on Facebook about having been a smart kid and having been praised for this, but then growing up and not feeling so smart any more

This resonated with me this week as I was reflecting on my school subject choices, the expectations people had had of me at school, where that had led me to, and how my life might have been different if I had followed the dream I’d had in primary school rather than the path well-meaning adults set me on. (Coincidentally, I did an online career quiz recently and my top career result from this was the same thing I had wanted to be in primary school and early high school, before my “smart kid” got sent in another direction entirely.)

Which leads us neatly to James Clear’s five lessons on being wrong.

What is the likelihood that your 22-year-old self could optimally choose the career that is best for you at 40 years old? Or 30 years old? Or even 25 years old? Consider how much you have learned about yourself since that time. There is a lot of change and growth that happens during life. There is no reason to believe that your life’s work should be easily determined when you graduate.

James says:

Given that your first choice is likely to be wrong, the best thing you can do is get started. The faster you learn from being wrong, the sooner you can discover what is right. For complex situations like relationships or entrepreneurship, you literally have to start before you feel ready because it’s not possible for anyone to be truly ready. The best way to learn is to start practising.

So, with that in mind, here are 8 Micro habits that will completely change your photography in a year on the Digital Photography School blog.

And finally, Sean Tucker’s video on doing your own thing and ignoring social media attention.

19 for 2019: week 29

Week of 15 July (week 29)

I’ve had a lovely slow week this week. It’s school holidays and I had four days off work.  Wonderful! It meant I got to spend some time with Kramstable and to do some things for me as well, including finalising a post for my photoblog (I mentioned this in my Weekend Wisdom post) and taking myself to the movies.

One of my 19 for 2019 things was to get a manicure. I’d never had a manicure before this week and I’m not sure what made me want to have one. I never let my nails grow very long and I’m not a nail polish fan. But I do have a couple of friends who have really nice hands and I keep thinking it would be nice to have soft, well cared-for hands rather than chapped ones. So I put it on the list (thing 17).

Kramstable is fascinated by all things nail polish so I asked him if he wanted a manicure too. He did, so I figured it would be a good school holiday activity for us to do together this week. And we did.

I wasn’t sure what would be more difficult for the lovely nail ladies: my ancient hard-as-rock hands with years of cuticle growth, or Kramstable’s small fingers. Bethany, who was working on Kramstable’s hands, said his hands were easy and if I thought that would be hard, try doing a manicure on a three-year-old.

I mentioned to Jessica, who had the unfortunate job of working on my neglected hands, that I had never had a manicure and didn’t take very good care of my hands. She just smiled and said, that’s why you’re here. Indeed. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience and my hands felt and looked very soft afterwards. I mentioned that I had some really old cuticle oil at home and Bethany said get it out, put it by your toothbrush and use it when you brush your teeth.

Great idea! I’m going to do that as part of my evening routine (thing 6) so that next time I go back (because next time I’m going back for the ultimate hand pampering treatment) my manicure will be easier and my hands will look even better.

Quite coincidentally, I learned that that day was a strong “earth” energy day and good activities for earth energy days include “treats and luxuries” so it ended up being a perfectly appropriate day for it.

20190716 After manicure 3

I have been doing horribly on getting to bed on time and on staying hydrated, which are my main wellbeing goals (thing 6). I can’t, hand on heart, say I made any progress on that this week.

But!

I completed the last three assignments for the photo course I started back in December (thing 1). The course was meant to take 31 days. It took eight months!

20190719 Waterfront from Mac 2 03

Never mind, I got there and I learned a lot and certainly know a lot more about Lightroom (thing 19) than I did when I started. I’m also working my way through a book called The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby, which I bought for my Kindle before I started taking the course and had forgotten about. It’s nearly 500 pages long and covers file organisation, which was helpful when I started before I had any clue how any of it worked, as well as having a lot of material on workflow. It has a lot of instruction about dealing with your finished images (printing, publishing and so on), which doesn’t really interest me at the moment.

I’ve flicked through it and I don’t think there’s anything more in there that I need to know to edit 90 per cent of my photos. I think what I need to do now is practise and edit lots of photos. If there’s something I need to learn how to do, I can look it up either in the book or online. There’s no point in going through it now when I don’t need to use it because I won’t remember it and will have to look it up anyway. For the purpose of this being a thing I wanted to do in 2019, I’m happy to call it done. I will never know everything there is to know about Lightroom, but I know enough for what I need. Thing complete.

I edited some photos for my photo project (thing 16) and I added this week’s photos to my 2019 folio (thing 2). And with No-buy July (take 2), I’m up to day 11.

Status for week 29

  • Things completed this week: 3 (1, 17, 19)
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (2, 16)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (6)
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)