January's word: Focus

Let's start off by pointing out that quite a few of my words for the year were chosen around the fact that I have 3 papers, 1 semester, and a thesis dissertation to complete by September 8th this year. Basically, most of the year is going to be about me working like crazy in school and then celebrating. That's why I put them in the months I did. Since this is the first post of the year about my word-goals I'm just going to give a really brief overview of what I'm thinking each word means to me, now. This is very likely to change over the rest of the year, but I think it's good to get the initial reasons for choosing certain words down and why they're for certain months.

January - Focus 
I have no classes over the month of January, but I have three large papers to complete. This means I need to make sure that I'm keeping up on my work. More about this below...
February - Plan
I'm hoping to start working on a better schedule once my classes start up again. With regular exercise and assignments being completed before the hour before they're due. Also, I need to start figuring out my thesis topic so I can find an assemblage to work on. All of this requires a lot of planning, something I'm not always as good at following through with as I am at doing.
March - Commit
I hate making decisions but I'm going to have to make a decision on my thesis topic and this month I'm hoping to be able to commit myself to all the decisions I make and try to become more decisive in my everyday life.
April - Create
In my last post I talked about my desire to start taking photos again. I have other creative things I enjoy doing so this month I would like to focus on starting to incorporate these back into my everyday life (which will hopefully be a little more organized so that it isn't taking time away from the other things I have to get done)
May - Give
I want to show the people around me how much I appreciate and care for them on more of an everyday basis than I am doing right now. I also want to work on giving more to the rest of the world. Basically I want to focus more on others and less on myself this month.
June - Heal
For me the word heal is more looking at how I treat myself and others and working to make those things better, I'm hoping to build on the month of giving to help this happen. I want to focus on improving my mental, physical, and social health. I want to work on eating better both in the content and the source of my food.
July - Embrace
I can be a very judgemental person and I'm hoping to work on embracing all the things that aren't perfect in myself and others. I want to try and take anything negative that life gets thrown my way and approach it with a positive attitude.
August - Share
Opening up to others is not something I'm much good at in any part of my life. Sharing intimate stories and details of myself is difficult for me, so I'd like to work on doing that more with the people that I am closest to. I also want to be able to share all the positive moments and advantages that I have in my life with others, I want to be able to share the wealth of happiness and life that I experience.
September - Rejoice
As my dissertation is due on the 8th this month, I'm already going to be doing a lot of celebrating. So, why not embrace that and celebrate all the amazing things life has given me?
October - Love
I often forget to tell the people that matter to me how much they matter. This month is going to be all about loving life and the people in it. And letting everyone know what they mean to me. It's basically a continuation of my months of giving and sharing.
November - Learn
I'll have had a couple months off from being a student at this point and want to make sure that I keep learning more about life as well as academic pursuits, so I'm planning on finding a couple things I want to learn more about and working on learning as much as I can this month.
December - Reflect
Clearly, the end of the year is a time to look back. However, I'd like to take the entire month and see how I have done with each of these goals, what's changed, what's the same, and how I feel about that. I want to reflect on who is still involved in my life and whether or not I want them to stay and in what capacity that should be.

Well, that was longer than I planned on it being... here's a puppy to take a break! (Thank you, internet!)

Anyway, let's talk about January and how I have been trying to incorporate focus into my daily life, why I need to do such a thing, and how I'd like to do it better.

At the end of January I have three large projects due to finish up my autumn semester courses. They are all worth a large portion of my grade (the lowest is 50%) and have a lot of work behind them. I've been trying my best to focus myself and keep to a schedule (I'm woefully behind...) so that I'll be able to finish all of these with enough time to go over them and make sure they are the best that they can be. Staying focused on projects can sometimes be difficult for me, I'm a procrastinator so if I don't feel the pressure of time breathing down my neck, I don't always see the point in working on something. This is something I would desperately like to change about myself (even a little bit. like if I could do my reading in the weeks BEFORE essays are due. that would be great), I am the first to admit, however that bad habits that have been working for you for years are very difficult to change. That doesn't mean I can't try though. I'm hoping to be able to sit and focus on a project well before it's due by the time June rolls around and I'm starting in on my dissertation work. Because being that person that tries to do everything for their dissertation a couple weeks before it's due isn't really something I want to happen. So my first goal of the year is very academically driven.

But I would like to be able to apply some of what I'll get out of focusing in other parts of my life. I find that too often, I lose sight of my goals or the ways in which I want to get there. Or even just letting an application deadline pass for something that would help me get where I want to be in the future. It happens a lot. I want to try and let it happen less. I know I won't change myself entirely in just a few weeks, but really I want to work on focusing myself and my energies into good things for myself and those around me. That's why it's the first word of the year. So that I can use the focus I begin to develop now to continue throughout the year, to try and make sure that all the words I've set for the rest of the year continue to be relevant.

This Year

2013 brought a lot of changes to my life, most of them good. This year I am hoping to be able to change some of the things I have become dissatisfied with in my life. 

Here's what's happened over the last year (or so):

  • I chose a word for each month to inspire me to improve myself and kind of stuck to them.
  • I celebrated 2 years with my guy.
  • I took a photo class where I learned to use liquid emulsion and successfully printed photos onto wood, however I never posted any of them on the internet or took actual photos of them so other people could see them except in person. 
  • I applied to graduate school to try and get my master's degree. I only got into one school (but that's one more than in previous attempts!) so I decided to go there.
  • I competed in debate with some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself, my beliefs, and articulating those things to other people.
  • I got a promotion at work and was able to be an assistant manager at a pool for the summer. Lack of teamwork and communication (on everyone's part) meant that I was constantly stressed and over-worked 
  • so only about half the things planned for the summer happened.
  • I went on some awesome trips and got to see some of my favorite places.
  • I packed up my life into 4 (yes, I know that's excessive, I don't pretend to be a person of few possessions - plus they were all different sizes) suitcases and moved to England (to go to that school I got into).
  • I made new friends (something I wasn't sure was possible anymore) that I have become closer to than most of the ones I left behind.
  • I actually posted more than one blog post here (which seemed to be an achievement until I actually counted), in fact I posted 5 times this year... which is an all-time low.
  • I completed a semester's worth of lectures, seminars, and labs (just 7,000 words and I'll be done with the semester).
  • I fell in love with animal bone identification and study (ancient diet is my future professional weakness).
  • I got to spend Christmas with an amazingly friendly and generous family (but forgot to get them anything to 
  • show how much I appreciated it).
  • I got to see my guy after spending 3 months away.
  • I came to terms with the fact that I am an anxious person, that it isn't something that will just go away, and probably has something to do with the fact that I am probably ocd (and also realized I should talk to a doctor about all of this).

  • I have already had a great (and a little saddening) start to my year. My guy was here to celebrate and just left early this morning, it was a difficult parting.
  • I want to try and do the same thing as last year (with a word/goal/idea for each month to focus on) but I want to do better at staying focused on it throughout the month. 
  • I want to do better at taking care of myself and showing the people around me how much I appreciate them (because I don't think I do it enough). 
  • I want to try and be more organized for the entire year and work as hard as possible so I am less disappointed in the results. 
  • I want to take more pictures this year. 
  • I want to document my life more fully than I have ever before, including sharing it more openly and fully through different means (blogging more is a big part of this). 
  • I want to work on documenting/photographing the people around me, which I know will take some time for me and them.

So, the words for each month of 2014:
January - Focus
February - Plan
March - Commit
April - Create
May - Give
June - Heal
July - Embrace
August - Share
September - Rejoice
October - Love
November - Learn
December - Reflect

I'm hoping to make a post at the beginning and end of the month on this subject. The one at the beginning will be to share what it is that the word for that month means to me, what I hope to accomplish that month and how I think I will be able to incorporate the word into those goals. At the end of the month, I'll discuss how well I feel I've done at keeping my word in mind, how well I've done at accomplishing my goals for the month, and also if I've found myself using words from earlier in the year. The goal is to work on myself, to grow and to take the ideas these words represent forwards into the next year and many more past that. 

P.S. Ignore the weird banner that's going on right now, I'm going to fix it later this week. I know it looks like crap...

On Sleep

I give up. At one point in my life, I thought this blog would be strictly about photography and similarly related things. I no longer think anything will be posted if this is true. Because of this, I am going to give in and just post things about my life. Who cares? It's not like anyone else is reading this?

Which brings me to the reason I am sitting at my desk, typing a blog post, at 4:19 in the morning. My body has decided that sleeping on a normal schedule is no longer necessary. That the fact I have agreed to go running at 7am does not actually matter. Finally, that the test on teeth I'm supposed to take at 10 is not anything important (it actually is. kind of.). Clearly, my body is wrong. Logic tells us that, but it no longer wants to respond to logic, so here I am, typing a blog post at 4:21 in the morning (it's been 2 minutes, ok?).

For fuck's sake, there are BIRDS SINGING outside my window!! I will now attempt to go to sleep, knowing that my phone and a skype call will awake me far too early, but that a run (if my partner in running shows up) and shower will hopefully wake me up enough for that test (that I'm destined to fail). If not. Well, I have tea sitting in my thermos from this afternoon. That's not too long, right?

Living in Another Country

Just some stray observations of things that are different here: 

  1. They drive on the other side of the road. But don't have a set side that you walk past someone on the sidewalk (I'm sorry, pavement). This has led me to almost run into people multiple times.
  2. The word pants. I have messed that one up SO many times. 
  3. There are no black beans. They don't appear to exist outside of Chinese black bean sauce.
  4. I have to go to like 3 or 4 different stores to get my groceries. 
  5. The beer is different (this is sometimes a big deal for a PNW native).
  6. Laundry is super expensive.
  7. Spending time with friends basically means going to a pub. Which means spending money. (Though we've done a few things that aren't that, pretty much everything involves drinking...)
  8. People actually drink a lot of coffee. And some of them love it as much as we do.
  9. Social tier is a much bigger deal. I see it being discussed in much the same way Americans discuss race. 
  10. For 'proper tea' (for most people) you always put in milk.
  11. Most people my age are well-dressed. The big difference in this one is that the boys are too. Like they look way sharp compared to most American boys my age (and I've seen more barbers than unisex/female hairdressers).
That's all that comes to mind off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more things (in fact, I've had more things in my head before). We're going out tonight. I'm going to get plastered (I don't know if the Brits use that one... I haven't tried it in conversation). But since that's happening I'll end up slipping into my British accent, unintentionally. It sounds horrible and I actually really hate that I do it, but it happens. I need to start looking for a job and taking some photos again. I also need to work on this essay that I've done like nothing for. I'm a terrible person sometimes. I'm excited that I might be having visitors for New Year's!

Hello from England

Stone wall



Foggy Forest

Changing seasons


On the moor

Hello. It's been a while. More than a while. It's been months. But I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things. I have photo ideas planned out in my head (along with other creative endeavors that won't be discussed here, for now). I hadn't really taken photos in a while. Not really since I had to when I took that class at the beginning of the year (January-March). Yesterday (Saturday) though, I went for a hike with some friends through the peak district, it was, as I said to someone who didn't go, lovely. I don't know that it really needs elaboration. I finally found myself taking photos again and enjoying it (even if it was with my digital camera due to lack of film). I found myself out in nature, feeling at peace and content with my life. I found myself considering just that moment I was in, nothing more and nothing less. Those three hours of moments helped me to realize what my passions were, where I want to be, and that I need to consider much more than I am, how I want to get there. I've begun to edit the photos from the trip, so above are just a few. I think the bottom one is possibly my favorite photo from the past few years so far. I don't know what it is, somehow it captures how I was feeling and seeing that day. You can see a few more on my flickr. Even more will be coming in the next few days, once I've got some free time from my school-work.