What Have We Become?

On August 12, 2020, I took a tentative step back to reality.  I made some appointments, looked up the transit schedule and ventured into the big city as a commuter for the first time since March.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  Luckily, the need to see one of my medical doctors meant I could not postpone it any longer.  Luckily?  Since when is seeing a doctor lucky?

shutterstock_93355207Back in May, I wrote about quarantine fatigue and the trials we were all experiencing with lockdown.  I’m now admitting that the difficulties for me were more than I was willing to acknowledge before today.  Through May, June and July, my personal anxiety levels climbed dramatically, to the point of frequent panic attacks.  More than once, I had to stop an activity and find something calming to look at.  Sometimes that took an hour.  On many nights, I woke up in the middle of the night, convinced I could not breathe, convinced that lying down meant I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.  So I stayed up all night.

All of this was complicated by the terminal illness of a pet who ultimately lost her battle with cancer in early July.  And there was other horrible news as well about a family member of a friend, who is also now battling cancer.

My blood pressure skyrocketed, my interest in life in general plummeted.  I didn’t talk to anyone verbally for weeks, except for the grocery store clerks.  Family did check in regularly but I didn’t show much of anything on the surface.  I was really good at hiding what I was going through.  “How are you?” was met with “Fine, under the circumstances” and a verbal laugh or electronic emoji.  Nobody knew what those circumstances were.

The few commitments I did have were not handled well.  I would be more abrupt than usual and far less patient.  I would want to just get on with it.  I’m a pretty low key person, so going off the deep end was still a pretty subtle event.  But I knew I was there.

shutterstock_71443765Then I started hearing that other people were experiencing similar issues.  Mild depression, inability to sit still, inability to focus, no enjoyment in things previously enjoyed.  It wasn’t just me.  I looked into it further.  It was a real thing.  That broke the gates open.

Suffice it to say, I got some help.  The details are not important, only that I did get help.  Some jurisdictions are funding access to professional help for free and are encouraging people to call.  I did.  It has made a world of difference.

By the way, I read today that one calming influence for many people has been watching reruns of classic shows on TV.  Playback counts of shows from the 50’s-70’s have skyrocketed.  In my case, watching reruns of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson has helped give me my sanity back.  I like to laugh again.

So the trip into the city this week was an interesting one.  Had to make sure I packed extra masks and sanitizer.  Commuter parking lots normally packed to the brim were almost empty.  I got a nice parking spot in the shade right near the entrance.  I was immediately aware of anyone and everyone around me, which was thankfully not many.  The ride into the city was uneventful, and I waited for everyone else to leave before I left the train.

Navigating the streets was more challenging, although almost everyone was as cautious as me.  A few, dare I say it, young people and mostly young males, skipped the requirement for masks and paid no attention to who was around them.  I don’t understand why they didn’t care, except to say I was young and foolish once too.

I visited a family member who lives in the city and it felt so good talking to them in person.  It was hard to leave.

shutterstock_161830289On to my other appointments.  All required screening before entering and more hand sanitizer.  All required masks.  Even my doctor came fully outfitted and unrecognizable, except for her characteristic multi-coloured shoes.  We laughed about that and had a relaxed, much more fun visit than usual.  I guess we both needed it.

Coming home was more crowded, but everyone behaving.  I’ve decided to get tested just to make sure I’m ok.  Luckily (that word again), I live in a country where we get that for free.  Health is a human right, people.  We also have an app to alert us if we have had contact with anyone who tests positive.  Some have complained about privacy, but for the peace of mind it brings, the government can know from me whatever it wants.

shutterstock_121309360I’m so glad I am where I am now, so glad that life is opening up again, so glad that we did the right things in our province and country to allow that to happen.  While I still worry about the Fall, about kids in school, about the flu season, about being indoors all winter, I can now do it with the appropriate level of worry.

If you are struggling, talk to someone, call your local health agency, call your doctor.  Talk to family.  There’s no better feeling than finding out it’s ok, and it’s going to be ok.

Up and At ‘Em

I took my camera out of its bag a couple days ago.  Lovingly brushed it off and attached a favourite focal length lens – my 24-105 f/4.  I use this lens for much of my walking around shooting.  But as we all know, there hasn’t been much walking around to be had lately.

As I turned knobs and adjusted settings, more and more came back to me about why I love photography.  The choices available and decisions made around capturing a photograph give a sense of control and accomplishment to my day.  While they can also be a source of frustration, for the most part, they are positive.

Proceed with CautionThis week, our provincial authority once again allowed visits to local parks and recreation areas.  Day trips only, no camping, no lounging.  We can walk through, stop for a few minutes to see the sights, and move on, all the way staying wary of the need for social distancing and self-protection.  Retail and many service businesses are also opening with restrictions.

There have been such a wide variety of plans released by all levels of government to give us our lives back.  Frankly, some don’t make sense to me, but I give full credit to politicians for doing their best to navigate the complexity of sanity, economy and safety. Continue reading “Up and At ‘Em”

There But For…

April 16 2020.  No, that’s not the day of this post.  It’s the day I woke up with a sore, scratchy throat.  I was puzzled but unconcerned, since I had been in semi-self-imposed lockdown for more than three weeks.

IMG_0170I had ventured out for groceries, and to the drug store and pet store, and even made a stop or two at the home centre.  All within my municipality – heck, all within 10 km.  At no time did I wander – always in and out knowing exactly what I was there for.  So no chance of being exposed – or so I thought.

But over the two weeks since, I’ve lived a mild version of what many others have experienced.  It’s been the strangest illness ever, with no symptoms of some things and problematic symptoms otherwise.  Continue reading “There But For…”

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Almost everything I read or watch now starts with “because of the situation we are in” and proceeds to explain why things are being handled differently than usual.  In many ways, I admire the creativity of people generally and of our community of photographers especially.

Those who make an income from photography are developing ways to stay connected to their audiences and are still finding ways to earn income.  Others are creating unique experiences, either by showing an aspect of their talents that had not been seen before, or by offering more intimate, less structured connection time with fans and supporters.  I applaud them all.

The Good The Bad The Ugly

But hitting home most for me is what “this situation” is revealing about the society we live in, the life we take for granted, and the problems we have ignored for too long. Continue reading “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”

Working from Home

1700 square feet. My universe right now. A backyard too, and a weekly trip in the car to the grocery store. In and out in 30 minutes.

Home - Top ViewMost of us have similar stories. In fact, exactly the same stories.

Efforts to stay connected to friends and family, and to be productive at home, have been marginally successful.  At first it was kind of surreal:  figuring out how to do things remotely that normally are done face to face.  Strangely, part of the problem now seems to be that in our increasingly technology-driven world, using technology ALL the time gets monotonous and boring quite quickly.  I’m of a generation that never had technology until we became adults.  We still choose other ways to get things done.  Now we can’t. Continue reading “Working from Home”

We Are All Connected

There is no greater proof that we are all connected on this planet than the spread of and response to COVID-19, the novel corona virus.  It seems somehow petty to consider writing about camera gear, creative struggles, even our successes when the world is dealing with this situation.  So I won’t.  Continue reading “We Are All Connected”

Happy New Year and New Decade

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very happy New Year.  It’s hard to believe we are at the start of the third decade of the millennium.  I still remember where I was and the worries of throwing the switch on the year 2000, when it was expected that everything electronic would meet an untimely end.  It didn’t and our lives have improved (or worsened, depending on your point of view) for all that technology has brought us.

The first iPhones and tablets.  Digital cameras became mainstream for consumers like you and I.  Our homes became smarter and are still learning.  So are our cars.

But with that comes the responsibility of managing our growth for the good of all people, indeed all life, on this planet.  That we still need to work on.

May your year be full of promise and joy, and may it bring you everything you could possibly want.  I thank you for your support and encouragement, and look forward to sharing more conversations with you in the weeks and months to come.

Lessons Learned from Two Weeks Away

Newfoundland_mapI’ve just returned from a two week trip to Newfoundland.  If you have not been to the east coast of Canada, make a plan to go.  It is an amazing experience – socially, culturally, but also photographically.

It’s my longest trip ever (yes, I lead a sheltered life) and the first time I’ve seen the Atlantic ocean (see what I mean about sheltered?).  I saw and heard a lot, but also learned a lot.  I’ll deal with the latter in this post. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from Two Weeks Away”

My Busy Few Weeks

In the last three weeks, I’ve been the busiest I’ve ever been since taking up this interest in photography.  Has it made me a lot of money?  Sadly, no.  But I’m still happy with the outcome.  So what have I done?

Continue reading “My Busy Few Weeks”

Live and Learn

There’s a reason this post is late.  I usually try to post twice a month – 1st and 15th.  Fully intended to do that this time.  Then plans changed…

I’m told I should be applauded for trying new things.  I guess that’s a consolation.  But trying new things also means being ready for things to go wrong.  I wasn’t quite ready.

Here’s what happened… Continue reading “Live and Learn”