Struggles; I’ve Had A Few.

Another mid-week blog, again for the purpose of processing my thoughts. I have been quite honest about chronicling my mental health in these recent posts. I chose to do this for the purpose of letting anyone else who may be going through similar feelings, know they are not alone.

I must admit I find it hard accepting help for my own struggles, its so much easier to try and help others than it is to unravel the mess in my head. This is not helped by the fact that at times I am “normal”, as in there are no extremes in emotions, I can hold conversations, do activities, maintain a balance in my mood, I’m able to move through my day at a regular pace.

These days make me feel like a fraud when I am hit with anxiety, why is it I can be OK one day and then the next day crash into a wall.

On the bad days I just want to hide, I distance myself from those who I care about, I cannot concentrate on the simplest tasks, my motivation is null and void, I want cry most of the time and at my very worst I usually succumb to a panic attack or two.

My insecurities bubble to the top and provides me with unhealthy thoughts to obsess over. I would not wish this state of mind to anyone.

I am a nightmare to live with, I feel guilty about being the way I am. My family/friends are unconditional with their care and support. If I didn’t have them around I would hate to think of where I would or would not be today.

I had hoped that my this post would of been be a positive one, so within this I will add something that I have started to try and be proactive in these uncertain times.

Myself and a friend were talking about how our photography had been neglected recently and how we were looking for a way to keep creative. We had the brainwave that over on my Facebook page (search: Rucoby) I would set weekly photography challenges.

This is open to absolutely anyone, regardless of where they are in their photography; from the absolute beginner to the seasoned pro. It isn’t just about how good a capture looks, but how well does the snap fit the brief. The challenges are just for a bit of fun, our main aim is to try and give people something to do while they are stuck at home and hopefully to get people thinking creatively.

I hope some of you get involved, as now more than ever we need to come together to make sense of the strangeness going on around the world at present.

The first theme that I announced on Monday was Time, as the challenges are hosted on my page I decided that with the announcements I would post my own interpretation of that weeks theme. This gives me a purpose to shoot, makes me think differently and it makes me be proactive.

As you can see I shot the classic flour bomb shot, to me this displays a brief moment in time, although I am sure others will surely demonstrate to me many other ways to interpret time.

The other photo I have provided is an attempt to shoot the super moon that rose on Tuesday. Unfortunately the clouds had other ideas for me getting a clear picture, however; they did add a moodiness to the shot.

I am trying to remain hopeful that the next post will be in more of a positive vain.

I would also like to urge anyone who is feeling low, anxious or lonely to reach out. Seek help, if you don’t have close friends or family talk to a charity helpline, it is so much better to let these feelings out than it is to hold them in for them to grow and become all consuming.

There are no magic fixes I will confess, but each day you reach the end of is a win. Small achievements mean so much when some days just getting out of bed is a challenge.

Getting help is not a weakness, it means you are ready to heal. I really hope that this helps someone, even in a small way.

Until next time, take care, Rucoby.

Motivation

What motivates you? I’ve asked myself this question numerous times this past week. What drives me to keep going, when the urge to sink into my anxiety/depression becomes stronger?

One of the biggest factors for my resilience so far is my family/friends. From the family I am currently cooped up with, to the family members and friends that check in with phone calls and text messages, all contribute greatly in helping to keep me positive.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t suffered times where my motivation has been lacking, where the pull of spending the day in bed was an enticing option as I couldn’t see the point of seeing the day through. Somehow, I have resisted the temptation.

There have been small actions that I’ve dedicated time to each day to keep me active and my keep my focus away from negativity. Feeding my sourdough starter (which has now been christened as RuRu), baking (the favourite recipe for the moment being chocolate crinkle cookies, found on the BBC Goodfood website) and listening to my favourite music playlists are just a few examples.

I’d love to hear from yourselves about what is helping you get through these strange days.

There is still a distinct lack of photography this week, with the bird feeder yet to fulfill my nature fix, I am still hopeful that I’ll get some visitors to the garden soon. There are always starlings, pigeons, blue tits, robins and even goldfinch that I’ve spotted flying past the house, they just need to find the feeder!

The one time I did manage to get my camera out was for the first quarter moon. This shot was achieved by stacking images together in Lightroom. I have never tried this editing tool before and although the image isn’t pin sharp I am pleased with the resulting picture.

The other shot I have provided is of another glorious sunset, taken with my phone camera. Isn’t it just the way, that the weather has been mild and bright while we have all been told to stay home.

I really hope you are all keeping well, take care until next time.

Perspective

This is unusual for me; I am aware. I don’t usually post more than once a week, but having recently being granted copious amounts of time I needed an outlet to process my thoughts.

This week I have hit the proverbial wall, my anxiety is at a high and I can feel the low ebb of depression creeping in. No amount of routine or activity can shift it.

I’ve reached out to others and am very supported emotionally, there is no issue there. Its the guilt of feeling so low when all I have been asked to do is to stay home.

I don’t live in a war torn country and regardless of the panic buying I am not without food, I have help if needed to get supplies or to bend an ear but I still cannot shake my low mood.

I know I am not alone in these low feelings to varying degrees. The feeling of being stuck for an uncertain amount of time is daunting. Not being able to see family or friends is heartbreaking.

I am persistently trying to keep perspective with the current situation, thinking of the bigger picture as to why we have all been asked to do this.

The problem with anxiety/depression is how insidious it is. For myself, I know I have it easy compared to others, to which I beat myself up for feeling so bad. Guilt overrides rational thoughts.

You should never compare your own mental health to others, I’ve said it numerous times to others, but when it comes to heeding my own advice it falls on deaf ears. I repeat to myself that I am not weak for being like this, and I hope one day I will believe it.

I continue to try to keep to a loose routine in the week and there have been a few fleeting positives that have kept my thoughts buoyant.

I’ve regained a passion for baking, from starting a sourdough starter to using leftover bread for bread pudding. It might be a small action but its something I find achievable when I cannot concentrate on reading or television shows.

I am desperately missing photography and as I have mentioned previously I am not close enough to any proper green space to recuperate.

I have installed a new bird feeder to the garden and in the coming days I really hope it attracts birds into the garden. Something which to others may seem mundane fills me with some hope of getting my nature fix.

I am really trying hard to stay afloat and keep my head, the thought of reaching new lows to be honest, scares me. I will continue to communicate my feelings as much as I am able to.

If you suffer with the same afflictions and you haven’t opened up to anyone, please do, knowing I am not alone does help ease some of the burden. If you feel like you cannot do that, phone a helpline e.g. the Samaritans, write your feelings down; don’t hold them in.

From experience having support to give you a leg up out of the depths of poor mental health can be a life saver. I don’t say that lightly, its not a magic fix but it can be the difference to having the weight of the world on your shoulders to sharing the load so its more manageable.

I apologise for the lack of photography with this post. I shall look to remedy this for the next post.

Take care. Rucoby.

Back to Nature

It’s such a great feeling to be getting back to the norm after all the festivities of Christmas and the new year. Getting back to routine and being able to blog again is brilliant, the laptop is fixed and with a brand new year; it brings new hopes and new possibilities.

The first few days of this new year I have gone back to one of my joys and to how this blog began, nature photography.

The hedgerow has been a hive of activity; with lots of birds coming to the feeder; laden with mixed seeds and nuts, which at this time of year serves as a lifeline to our resident species.

The visiting Robins have been constantly singing, their song ringing out around the garden, making even the dullest grey day bearable. These brave little birds are always close when I am out shooting, probably waiting to see if I will provide them more food. As they perch in the hedgerow it appears like they are posing for me, and who wouldn’t blame them, they are very striking with their red breast, making them stand out in the bare hedges.

A new visitor to the garden has been the Coal Tit. At first I mistook it for a Great Tit variant, but the more I observed the more I realised this was a new visitor. There has been a lot of fierce competition around the feeder especially when groups of tits (Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit and now the Coal Tit) and sparrows are around. The Coal Tits have had no trouble holding their own. I look forward to seeing them return to the garden in the coming year (fingers crossed).

Speaking of other Tit varieties, the Long Tailed Tit has been a regular visitor to the garden since last summer. They are very charismatic tiny birds, they come into the garden all of a sudden, in groups and as soon as they arrive, they leave. They tend to evade me when I have the camera out, until that is, this weekend where I managed to capture two photos with them about to fly.

I am so pleased with the outcome of those photos, going forward, with my nature photography in particular I would like to shoot more birds in flight.

The last picture for this week is the first quarter moon of the year. The sky was really clear and the moon was bright, it was not a hard decision to get the camera out to shoot.

It may be of interest to some to note, the first full moon of the year (wolf moon) will be the 10th January and is meant be a penumbral eclipse (meaning the moon doesn’t pass through the full shadow of the Earth which should hopefully give the moon a pinkish/red shade) so I am wishing the night sky will be just as clear then.

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Looking ahead, a few goals for my 2020 are; to hopefully to travel to new locations, to try new photography genres and to blog regularly. I am very excited to see where this year takes me. Has anyone else made any resolutions or goals?

Below are my first photos of the year, going back to where the blog began; nature photography, a fitting start for 2020.

Lichfield Cathedral

After the disappointment of last weeks shots, I was determined more than ever to stay positive and to keep trying my best in whatever/wherever I am shooting.

The pictures I have managed to produce this week I am more confident with and am happy with the results. I am defiantly learning from my mistakes!

This weeks offering is from (as the title suggests) Lichfield Cathedral. Apparently this Cathedral is the UK’s only medieval cathedral with three spires. I took a couple of shots to demonstrate this.

The sky was grey and with the slight mist around the West midlands at the weekend, everything was damp, this just added to the dominance that the Cathedral eludes to the surrounding area.

The Cathedral itself felt quite imposing. The architecture of this place (inside and out) is outstanding. I cannot even begin to fathom how this place was created, I was just in awe of it.

Mixing the modern with the traditional as you walk into the Cathedral, you cannot help but notice a huge light installation. This is an art exhibit for Advent (part of Cathedral illuminated) from artist in residence Peter Walker in collaboration with local schools and people from the Diocese.

It is hard not to be inspired by the Cathedral, the architecture, the grand ceilings, stained glass windows, ornate decorations and the light exhibit all offered shots to be had.

I must admit I was not previously aware of this magnificent location to shoot at, it was recommended to me. What an absolute gem of a place, I am very glad I listened.

Following on from Lichfield Cathedral, I am going to research and make a list of local locations to potentially shoot. I am hoping to find a few more surprises. .

Preparation, practice and improve.

https://www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/knapp-and-papermill

For those of you that have read my previous blog posts, it would come as no surprise for you to hear me “confess” that I am not a confident person. I worry constantly about what I publish; whether it is interesting enough, whether the quality of what I post is good enough, if people are interested in what I have to comment on.

That is not to say I will not give it my best efforts, I am very determined and always looking to improve. I have stated previously (on many posts, I feel) that the best way to improve is to practice. The more I shoot and write the better/more confident I should potentially get!

Which leads me onto this weeks excursion.

I went for a lovely walk around the Knapp and Papermill nature reserve, Worcestershire. (web page linked above)

The autumnal colours in the trees and grounds were spectacular. The colours were so rich and diverse, they were just stunning. I really wanted to demonstrate how I had seen them and to try to convey the mood from that day.

In all honesty, I left feeling deflated. I was quite dissapointed with the outcome of what I had shot.

Generally when I visit somewhere to shoot, I wing it. I dont have a clear vision on what I would like to capture beforehand, I just shoot as I please. It is becoming apparent now, as I push into new styles (for me) I cannot always use this approach.

I suppose I should be grateful to have had bad days, it gives me the opportunity to learn, I have needed to have days where I have felt dissapointed with my shots, to look inwardly into how to make them better, to see how I can get the best out of my time when out photographing at different locations.

You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Research is going to have to become a habit if I am serious about improving. I don’t just mean researching places, I need to research styles, look for inspiration and take advice. I don’t want to copy what others have done, I want to find my own way but need a starting point to go from.

Preparation can be key, just ensuring I have the right equipment, checking the weather, tracking the light, being aware of any vantage points, could help me gain confidence in a location, which should make a big difference to my resulting shots.

Below are the shots I am happy to share, although not the best quality they fit in how I saw the area and the colours that day.

I look forward to returning to the Knapp and Papermill to shoot again and hopefully see some improvement in my techniques and outcome.

Hi, I’m Rucoby.

Hi! I’m Rucoby a.k.a Donna, I’m a 33 year old photography enthusiast based in the West Midlands, UK.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a blog for some time ; as I’ve always enjoyed writing and finally I have summoned up some courage and have taken the plunge! So let the fun begin!

“So why now?” you may ask….the answer is simple. I found my passion. I’ve found something I want to share! Photography!

A bit of background information; I came to photography in my mid twenties, picking up my first DSLR in 2014. I attended a few evening photography courses back then and absolutely fell in love with the process.

Photography in all it forms has permanently become one of my biggest loves, I cannot express fully the joy I get with photography, as the blogging progresses I really hope I am able to demonstrate this.

It serves as my creative outlet, even if I don’t feel confident with what I am shooting, I am always willing to give it a good go! I primarily shoot nature shots but I do try to push myself outside of my boundaries every now and then.

I want to share my photography adventures, locations (which you may like to visit after), what I have learnt along the way and everything else in-between.

I am always looking to improve my skill set and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I will also add that I will be documenting my own mental health within this blog, as photography is very much a part of my therapy. It allows me to focus on more than myself and exhibit how I see the world.

I really hope you enjoy what is to follow! I look forward to talking to you in the comments.

(All photos used on my blogs are my own unless otherwise stated.)