Posts Tagged With: writing therapy

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

I wasn’t keen on this week’s challenge. Firstly, because I don’t have internet anymore at my house and only have limited time at the library to log on. And secondly, because I have to rely on the pictures I have stored on my computer (which aren’t many since I lost everything from an external hard drive).

Most of my stuff is nature-focused, for no better reason than it’s easier to find and closer to home. But I do get a bit of a kick when I come across an example of nature reclaiming its territory. On this day, I noticed that somebody had spray painted a wall along a trail in the woods. They had pulled away (rather forcefully and dismissively) a lot of the ivy that had originally clung to the wall in order to create the space to paint, and piles of it were dumped on the ground alongside. The twist in this tale is that the plant world doesn’t go out like that, and in parts, little by little, and inch by inch, the ivy was beginning to creep back and reclaim the wall.

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

 

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Categories: Alice's world, pictures by Alice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Ansel Adams Series – Narcissus

I know.

I took my time.

And after all that effort I put into explaining my theory behind the Anti-Ansel Adams Series too! (If you missed it, you can find it here).

I expect, for the time being, I’ll stick with flowers. I took this picture while I was out in my back yard. The light was fading, and I could hardly see the image after I took it. But I clicked a button on Photoshop – I call it “season-all” –  you know that one … Image > Adjustments > Adjust All.

And Voila!

This was the result.

 

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ding Dong the Neighbour’s Gone!

 

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Never underestimate the impact bad neighbours have on the mood and psyche of a person living next door.

I live in what’s known in England as a “mid-terrace house.” It was built in the Victorian era, around the turn of the 20th century (1912 to be exact) and I bought it – as opposed to renting someone else’s house – twelve years ago, thinking it would give my son and me some stability. The thing with terraced houses is that they are literally joined to each other, sharing a single wall between each property.

I love my home. It has four floors, three bedrooms, a massive attic room where I store all my crafty bits, and nine foot ceilings in most of the rooms. OK, the bathroom is in the cellar, and makes nighttime needs a bit of a pain, requiring the descent of two flights of stairs from the bedrooms. But that’s what buckets/chamber pots were invented for, isn’t it?

The “garden” is tiny, but I managed even to make that a pleasant place to be. Some of you may remember my efforts to build a raised bed (here) and other bits and bobs (here) and add a few mosaics (here and here).  And all in all, it has been a peaceful domicile, my safe haven.

Then my next-door neighbours of eight years decided to move out and rent their home. The most recent couple that moved in happened to be related to my neighbours on the other side of me, so I hoped they would be as friendly and respectful as their family members. But I was to be proved wrong very quickly. Within a week, the male of the family (man, woman and toddler) decided to move several “pit bikes” (small motorbikes) that he was fixing up into his cellar only minutes after riding them, and my house was consumed by the smell of diesel – a migrainous odour that seeped in to every crevice of my house (and, I assume, theirs) for several days, even after the bikes were removed.

The couple’s communication seemed to be a long-range affair (shouting at each other from one room to another) and became quickly and progressively hostile. The language grew nastier, and despite my best efforts to keep myself calm in the whirlwind that has become my own life by listening to classical music, crocheting, reading, or writing this blog, my attempts to meditate became futile: drowned out by heavy basslines, screaming arguments, foul language, and the smashing of furniture. Add to this the continued barking of two pitbulls (brought in, no doubt, to ward off anyone tempted to thwart my neighbours’ new business venture of cultivating Cannabis plants in their loft) and you may imagine there was little chance of respite. On one particularly bad morning, hearing her screaming, the child screaming, and what sounded like him beating one or the other or both, I banged on their front door and attempted to intervene – only to be met with a tirade of verbal abuse, threats and warnings to “mind your own f—ing business, you dirty troll” … from her!

God knows I felt for the child. I know I should have called Children’s Services and reported what I heard – but the father was, at best, a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal and, quite possibly (from what I heard from my side of the wall) a misogynist arsehole who had no qualms about physically and verbally assaulting a woman. And I admit I was too scared to pick up the phone.  Yet it all seemed so unfair to listen to the cries of that baby, knowing that parents like that were able to keep their children, and I had lost mine for so much less.

The noise and hostility were relentless. No particular time of the day seemed to be off limits. Neither one of the couple worked nor seemed to have any reason to leave the house, so the tempers could fray in the morning, afternoon, evening, and, more often than not, after midnight. I have taken to spending most of my waking hours away from what used to be my home and refuge. I haven’t watched Jeremy Kyle on daytime television in weeks! Instead, I catch a bus into town and sit in the library, or join an activity at MIND, or sit and drink coffee at a local community centre. I have become something of a “bag lady” wandering the streets with my tote full of unfinished crochet projects, books, and a variety of hooks and yarns.

The day-in, day-out anger, aggression, and negativity that has been permeating my once-peaceful house would, I imagine, drain the lifeblood from even the most right-minded person. But topping that with my current state of mind: with my own depressive episodes, my own life trials, my own pinings for my son, and my own hollow emptiness, the daily drip, drip, dripping of hateful emotions from next door succeeded in destroying my soul.

Until yesterday.

I walked out of my front door yesterday morning to be greeted by next door’s landlord and original owner standing over several pieces of broken furniture dumped on the front doorstep. Apparently, the couple had not been paying their rent for the last few months, and they have been evicted. The landlord was not a happy man, in fact he was fuming, and I felt a little embarrassed for the smile that crossed my face when he told me they had gone. He asked me if I had seen the state of his house, and he showed me inside. I only saw the living room, but that was enough. The carpets had been pulled up, and the laminate flooring was so soaked through and stained it had to be destroyed. The house wreaked of urine and mould where the dogs (I assume?) had used the rooms as a toilet, and the internal wooden doors were shredded, glass frames broken, and shelves pulled from the walls.

I feel for the owners of the property. They are a young, quiet couple who chose to hold onto the property as a nest egg for their daughter when she grows up. They have only had two tenancies since they began to rent their house out, and both have been disastrous. The first couple flooded the upstairs bathroom twice, causing the kitchen ceiling to fall through, and the property had to be fumigated five times to completely destroy a massive flea infestation. Both sets of tenants have been violent, loud, reckless, inconsiderate, and just downright dirty, necessitating major repairs and full redecorations after they left.

I will be selling my own house in the next few months. I can’t afford the mortgage now that I’ve lost my job. More than that, it’s an awfully empty place without my son and too full of memories and unfulfilled dreams of a happy family life. I did consider renting it out myself, but having seen how next door’s tenants have brutalised the property, it would break my heart to think that anyone might treat my home that way – so I’m selling up and moving on.

Meanwhile, the landlord next door already has his next tenant lined up – ETA is two weeks time.

Can’t wait :-/

(Have a listen to this song. If only it had been about loud music and stupid laughter! But it put a smile on my face when I listened. Thanks, David)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVOhLwyxQAU

 

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

After The Storm

It’s so good to see how much the Broken Light Collective has grown since its inception in 2012. I posted a couple of times on it waaay at the beginning, and this photograph of mine has been featured today. As you will read, my life has changed drastically in that time too, and any channels that highlight the seriousness and pervasiveness of mental illness should be applauded.

 

I called this post “After the Storm”

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor “Alice,” a 49-year-old woman living in the north of England. She has suffered with severe depressive episodes since her late teens, but only two years ago was diagnosed with Cyclothymia, a milder form of Bipolar Disorder, followed recently by an additional diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Along with her own struggles with mental health, her son, then aged 12, began physically assaulting her and has now been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder. Alice began her blog Alice Through the Macro Lens in 2012 in an effort to try to understand her journey through the mental health process and has used this forum to display some of her photography, in which she finds solace. Recently, she began a sister blog, Like a Circle in a Spiral to document the struggles of raising a child with his own difficulties.

About this photo: It was with no small irony that I just looked back to a couple of contributions I…

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Categories: Alice's world, pictures by Alice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

I hate cities, but I visit one regularly because it is the choice of my son to have our fortnightly contact time there.

Occasionally, we visit a dubious, but very interesting part of this particular city, where very eager “salesmen” offer bargain prices for “designer goods” out of side-street operations.

This remnant of a building, perched round the back of this series of streets, always fascinates me. I have never had a camera with me when I am in the neighbourhood (for obvious reasons) but I tried to take a couple of pictures on my phone last time we went.

As it happened, the area is restricted by a tall steel fence, and it’s impossible to get very close. On the original photo, the picture was blanched by the surrounding sky, and the structure itself was just a silhouette. But I used Photoshop to claw back a bit of the detail, and the result is a bit “arty” (that’s Alice-talk for “I made a bunch of mistakes, but it was too much effort to keep going back to start again.”)

I have no idea why this part of the building has been left standing. I just think it’s a fascinating remnant.

I wonder what stories those doors could share?

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“Ah, what sights and sounds and pain lie beneath that mist. And we had thought that our hard climb out of that cruel valley led to some cool, green and peaceful, sunlit place---but it's all jungle here, a wild and savage wilderness that's overrun with ruins. But put on your crown, my Queen, and we will build a New City on these ruins.”  Eldridge Cleaver  "Soul on Ice"

“Ah, what sights and sounds and pain lie beneath that mist. And we had thought that our hard climb out of that cruel valley led to some cool, green and peaceful, sunlit place—but it’s all jungle here, a wild and savage wilderness that’s overrun with ruins. But put on your crown, my Queen, and we will build a New City on these ruins.”
Eldridge Cleaver “Soul on Ice”

 

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Pictures, pictures by Alice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move

I expect there’ll be all sorts of “moving” entries for this week’s photo challenge, but I thought I’d refer back to what I seem to know best … bugs 🙂

Only bits of this hoverfly were really on the move, I’ve read differing reports about how fast its wings actually beat (anything between 120 and 300 beats per second) but either way, it’s bloody fast. Even with the old “Anti-Ansel Adams” fast shutter speed going on, I still only managed a blur for the wings.

What a way to live!

(click on the photos for bigger and better viewing)

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Spoken like a true Dalek …

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After a fifth and final hearing at work last week, I was officially “terminated” from my job, due to ill-health.

It is now a week later. Does that mean I am now “ex-terminated”? 

 

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(And, yes, it was just an excuse to put pictures of daleks on my blog).

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My 200th post. The Hawthorn Tree

I know I posted this a couple of days ago, but I’m going to be sneaky and link this to the Weekly Photo Challenge for the topic of Spring! I think it fits quite nicely, and besides, we all need a bit of hope, so the more viewers the merrier 🙂

 

OK … 200 posts in in 26 months isn’t the most prolific blogging record, although considering the nightmare my life has been and the fact I did leave the scene for over a year, it’s not a bad achievement. So figured I’d better make it a decent post, as I may not make it to another hundred.

I wrote the following tale a couple of years ago, in a creative writing class, for our local MIND newsletter, and I’ve read it out loud a couple of times at our WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) group.

I noticed, when I was out on one of my little walks in the countryside, that the hedgerow branches in the shadows weren’t blooming as vigorously as the ones in the sunshine, and it got me thinking …

Feel free to share this with someone you feel may be losing hope in the cards life is dealing. I know I do on many occasions, and we all need to dig deep to find our own inner strength at times.

Peace.

THE HAWTHORN TREE – A Tale of Hope

 

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Near a pond, near a wood, stood a hawthorn tree. It was very tall and very grand, and it would have been considered a very Majestic hawthorn tree had there not been a small problem.

 

After winter was over and the ice had thawed, the tree began to grow shoots along its branches, and the shoots began to sprout leaves. As the days became warmer, the tree began to grow flower buds; hundreds and hundreds of clusters of little white flower buds tightly curled into balls. The buds waited patiently to open into pretty hawthorn blossoms. They needed plenty of sun to warm them and encourage them to open up and say hello to the world.

 

As the days grew longer and the winter clouds began to dissolve away, the hawthorn tree prepared itself to burst into blossom. The buds became plumper and their stalks grew longer, lifting them away from the leaves so that they could capture as much of the sun as they could when it passed by.

 

When the time came that the sun was warm and bright enough, the buds readied themselves to open up and blossom. They stretched their stems and followed the bright, golden orb as it made its way across the sky. But even though the day was long and the sun’s journey took it from one edge of the sky to the other, some of the buds could not see the sun. Some of the branches were facing the other way. The tree called out to the sun and asked it to send light and warmth to the other branches, but the sun said it was bound to travel along the same route every day and had no way to reach them. Even as it tried to send the warmest, brightest light to all parts of the tree, some of the branches would always remain in the shade, and the buds were never touched by the sun’s rays of life.

 

This continued for many years, and the tree continued to grow taller and wider and stronger. But it could never be a Majestic hawthorn tree, because there would always be a side of it that remained dark green; where the bees never visited and the insects and birds never made their homes. As spring brought warmer days, the sunny side of the hawthorn tree burst into glorious white blossoms, filling the air with heady perfumes and bringing the bees and the birds to its branches. But on the shady side of the tree, the buds remained tightly closed and were filled with sadness. They longed to be able to flourish and dance like the other blossoms, but they knew they were disadvantaged. They didn’t have the same opportunities as the blossoms on the sunny side, and they could not see how it was possible to grow when they never received any warmth or light from the sun. It had always been this way since the tree was a sapling, and they resigned themselves to believe it would always be this way in the future.

 

“We are doomed to stay closed,” one bud cried.

“Never to be pollinated,” wailed another.

“Never to be nested!” another called.

“Never to bloom,” sighed another.

“We may as well die,” whispered a fifth.

 

More buds joined the lament, until the shady side of the hawthorn tree was mourning with misery and defeat.

“Nonsense!”

A voice piped up from the middle of the shady side and stopped the wailing in its tracks.

“Our side of the tree may be dark, and it may be cold and gloomy … but we did not become buds just to give up now!”

A young bud stretched its stem as the others looked on. The bud continued:

“Will you wallow in your own misery forever? You think because we live in the shade we cannot find our own light.  We may not have such an easy, warm and bright life as those on the other side of the tree, but surely, that should make us stronger! I know we can still find a way to bloom. It will just need a little more effort. We have our nutrition and we have our health, and if we try a little harder and believe in ourselves, we can blossom too! The bees will visit us and the birds will nest. We are young and strong, and I, for one, am not ready to give up yet.”

With that, in spite of the darkness and in spite of the lack of warmth, the bud pushed and pushed and pushed until … pop!  It burst open to reveal the most beautiful blossom on the tree.

The other buds on the shady side cheered his success and, from him, gained a new determination to succeed, even in the shade. They pushed and pushed, and even when it all seemed too difficult, they willed each other on to push again. Soon the shady side of the hawthorn tree was full of blossoms, spreading their heady aroma across the pond and through the woods.

The hawthorn tree was very proud. It began fluffing up its leaves, shaking its blossoms, and stretching its branches higher for the world to see. Bees and birds and insects of all species came to visit from miles around to pollinate and make their homes there. The tree no longer had a patch of dark green where blossoms should have been. It was draped in the most marvellous cloak of white flowers on every branch and every side.

It truly was a Majestic hawthorn tree.

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

WPC: Letters and the Start of an Anti-Ansel Adams Series

Scroll down to the bottom if you’re looking for the Photo Challenge picture. (I call it “Lost Ball. It’s the only one I have with letters on at this time!)

For those who are new to the name Ansel Adams, he was an American photographer and an early version of a conservationist/environmentalist, who spent many years capturing the wild and wonderful landscapes of the Americas and particularly renowned for his photographs of Yosemite National Park.

His approach to photography was one of patience and enormity. He worked almost exclusively in black and white, and his noted contribution to photography (as we are often being reminded in photography classes) was the idea of “pure” or “straight” photography, using tiny apertures and very long shutter speeds. He founded “Group f64” with Edward Weston in 1932 and incorporating eleven well established photographers all using this approach to photography. This technique resulted in majestic landscapes with every part of the image, from foreground to the furthest subject (often a mountain peak) remaining in sharp focus. If you want to learn more, have a look here or here.

Anyway, back to me.

While I’m all for magnificent, powerful, vast, landscapy, black and white images, I have neither the patience, the time, the money, the transport, the knowledge, nor the tripod to reproduce one. So I have honed my own little niche, which I will christen the “Anti-Ansel Adams Series.” Not anti as in “against” or politically or personally opposed to.” In this case, I mean anti as in “kind of the opposite of.”

Basically, the photographs that I will induct into this exclusive domain will be produced using a cheap camera, with a cheap macro lens extended to its fullest extension, so that generally it will be no further than a couple of inches away from the subject it is pointed at. The shutter speed is set at “really, really fast”: minimally 1/500 sec and most likely between 1/1000th sec and 1/4000th sec. This is mainly because I do not possess a tripod, and when I’m thrusting my handheld camera into the face of an insect or a stinging nettle patch, it’s better to get things over with quickly.

Autofocus doesn’t work under those conditions, so I generally just edge the camera lens towards whatever takes my fancy until something looks “kind of interesting” on the LED screen (keeping in mind that the laser eye surgery I had ten years has now worn off with interest) and click the button with the index finger of the same hand that is dangling the camera.

The result is that, if I’m lucky, just one tiny bit of the picture will be in focus, and the rest will swirl around the rest of the frame in a very “painterly” style.

So, that’s my approach to photography.

Please feel free to join me next week, when I’ll describe my “Anti-Isambard Kingdom Brunel” approach to bridge-building (just kidding!)

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Click on the picture for more clarity – or not, as the case may be!

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

 

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

I’ve made a decision ….

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Some of you will be aware that I have recently started a sister-blog, called “Like a Circle in a Spiral.” It was intended that the other blog would be solely devoted to the story about the struggles I have had/am having with my beloved son, who has been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.

This blog, on the other hand, began as an outlet to discuss my own struggles with mental health. However, “Alice through the Macro Lens” quickly acquired a reputation for my arty side of photography (some of you may recall “Bug-a-Day/Wee Beasties?) and since I returned after a while away, I do still use photography as a fall-back when my head doesn’t want to write anything particularly pleasant.

Unfortunately, lately, trying to figure out what post involves my journey (for Alice blog) as opposed to my son’s journey (for Circles blog) is starting to get too confusing, and my brain is starting to ache.

The bottom line is that my son and I are so inextricably linked that it’s almost impossible to separate the two journeys.

So I’ve made a decision to devote all my serious writings, whether about me, or my son, or any other bits in between, to my other blog – and I will keep “Alice through the Macro Lens” for my photography and quirkier bits.

So the choice is yours – if you are interested in the deeper stuff that I write about, you’re very welcome to pop over to my other blog (here’s a link) and you’re similarly welcome to follow me over there too.

On the other hand, if you arrived at this blog because of the quirky pictures and the more upbeat stuff, then stick with Alice, and I will try to post more often now that the pressure is off.

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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