Keep calm…

… do yoga, follow a mindfulness class, meditate, relax, ….

As I have a year of blogging behind me, I want to go back to the basics, to that thing that pushed me towards blogging, my burnout.
I suffered from the symptoms long before my doctor ordered me to stay home, told me I was sick.
There were the crying parts, the shouting to anyone and no one in particular as long as they “caught” me in the wrong moment, there was the tiredness, the hyperventilation, the fears, the panic attacks, the “what am I doing” phenomenon, the mistakes, the angriness about these mistakes… you name it, I got it!

It was high time somebody called an end to that.
But it’s much easier said than done, as a matter of fact it’s huge, it’s difficult, it’s suffering, Burnout and mental problems are challenging their victim over and over again. Not in the least because the world around you doesn’t “see” there’s something “wrong” with you…  A mental health problem doesn’t show like, let’s say, a broken arm…  Especially also because people having such problems, most of the time put great effort in not showing…  It’s a vicious circle.

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I’m almost 2 years later now, and time has a healing power of its own.  The memories of the job I wasn’t up to anymore that had caused the melt down, have faded in the meantime. Burnout, meltdown… they go well together don’t you think?
I guess minds are made that way: what’s been horrible, they tend to push away or hang on to, or a mixture of both…
The hatred (I don’t use that word often or lightly) towards the people who did that to me  – for sure I wasn’t the sole responsible – faded too, a bit anyway.
But I will never be the same again.  Not only because I couldn’t anymore, but because I don’t want to go down that hectic, workaholic, manic road again.
When I look at myself back then, I’m looking at “somebody that I used to know”.

Does this mean I’m totally cured now? Not by far.
Things got better, other things came in its place.  The diagnosis Fibromyalgia for instance in November last year.
After a long and winding road, from one doctor to the next, there finally was a name for all my aches and pains.  Did it change much? No, not really because there isn’t a “one cure fits all”.  There isn’t a pill you can take that makes it magically go away.
It’s a learning process and I’m right in the middle of it.  Searching my new me, a new rhythm, peace and quiet.  Getting to terms with the fact that I can’t do anymore what I used to, that everything has to be done in small doses, and that sometimes – many times – there is a huge difference between what I planned and what I can accomplish.

I’ve never been the one who can keep her calm in every moment.  Gosh how I admire people who can.
But, I  have to learn to accept that I have my own temperament, my own dynamics.  I’m a terrible, terrible perfectionist (in case you wonder where the title of this blog comes from…), a control person, and hyper sensitive.
So, in order to cope with the fibro problem in combination with my personality, I have to learn… learn hard and work hard.
Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.  And when fears or worries hit me once again, they hit hard.

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It’s rather funny actually, as nowadays you can’t open a magazine, put on your tv or someone – preferably a psychiatrist – is telling you that mindfulness is the solution to all problems, that you have to create “me” time, that you have to “let go”, relax, go with the flow, meditate, do some yoga in order to be happy…
Did you notice too that we have to be happy like alllllll the time, that we have forgotten how to be sad, that we aren’t even allowed anymore to be sad….  That we get unhappier because we are not able to feel happy all the time…  All that happiness is making us crazy!

Well I think I’ve tried all those things, learned a lot, bought and read tons of books and picked something up here and there that lasted.  There’s the Morning Pages (Julia Cameron) I try to do as much as possible (except when life interferes), there’s the much slower pace for everything (from cleaning to driving), there’s the not trying to panic when work didn’t get done…
And then there’s yoga, that I picked up since December last year.  It helps.  It helps me in a way no other relaxation program did before.  All other stuff started with: you feel heavy, you feel relaxed, you feel your muscles let loose, think of nothing, don’t let thoughts interfere….
My gosh, I felt more insecure, incomplete and a total failure after every exercise.  I didn’t feel any of those things, not really anyway.  My thoughts didn’t just halt, they just kept coming, no matter how many boats I fantasized to float away with them on that river of tranquility…
And when the exercise was “done” and my therapist asked me “And? did you feel the warmth? Did you feel how your arms got heavy?…” I had to say “no, not really”…  Again, I failed….

But yoga made me realize that I don’t ‘have to’ feel anything, that my thoughts won’t stop and – what’s important – that thoughts are normal, they’re o.k., I’m o.k….
What a difference!  I finally feel normal again, people’s minds don’t come with a “thoughts on/off button”, I have thoughts and am allowed to have them, as long as I acknowledge it, and can refocus… even if it takes a hundred retakes, it’s still fine.  Isn’t that great?

Well, I guess I will never become the calmest person in the world.  To myself I picture this as a football career.  Apart from Cruyff, Ronaldo, Messi and a handful other super talented guys, born with football in their veins, there are players who learned to become great.  They learned techniques, they learned to deal with all kinds of stuff and they became world famous players, but they will never become Cruyff, Ronaldo or Messi no matter how hard they try, or learn, or work.

And that’s my lesson for this year and many to come: learn the techniques, practice yoga, meditate and accept that I’m not perfect, that I’m not born with a natural calm and ease, that my  “go with the flow” will get easily interrupted by other flows…  And when those moments of weakness do come, panic might get the better of me again, hyperventilation probably will strike again…  But I will also realize that I have not totally failed.  That it was just another moment and that this too will pass.
For me that will be pretty awesome goals to reach, especially the acceptance part.

Wow, this was a long one.  For those who are still with me here, thanks for so much attention.
But I guess I just had to write this, from my heart…

Thanks guys! Have a nice weekend!



Evolution by revolution

In the final year of my evening class photography, a large part was dedicated to food photography.  I still remember vividly the teacher explaining about angles to photograph food: shoot from the “fork’s viewpoint”, otherwise you loose perspective.
That must have been around November 2011.

We had to make food shots ourselves, and the perfectionist I am, I bought Helène Dujardin’s  ‘From plate to Pixel’ and loads of magazines, cookbooks etc.
I seldom cook, but it might well be that some chefs don’t have as many cookbooks as I do… And indeed, apart from some of Dujardin’s shots, there was rarely a shot taken from above.
The fork’s viewpoint, that was it!


Made for photography class

A few months later, I was introduced to i-Phoneography (mainly thanks to Kim Klassen) and Instagram.
The first thing that struck me was the enormous amount of “feet” shots. Feet with cups in front of them, naked feet, big feet, cute baby feet, feet “from where they stood” … I had never seen so many feet-modeling in my life!  And I thought: what the…? What is this? Have all those i-Phone owners turned into Feet fetishists? And what happened to those so called photography rules: “don’t put your subject in the middle” (Huh! All those feet were bang in the middle of the shot); “make sure you picture a ‘complete’ person”, by which was meant: he or she has 2 hands, 2 feet, a face etc…  Another “huh!”  It seemed like all I found were feet, just feet…

From where I stand.

From where I stand.

Same happened with pictures of food.  I found the very Helène Dujardin on IG, and guess what… yep! Almost all shots taken from above, smack on top of the precious food! And… I thought it looked/looks great!

Almost immediately, I gladly joined the “i-Feet”-club, and I also make food shots from above and pictures from “where I stand” and am loving it.  I even bought a special stool to stand on, in order to get “high enough” to get on top of the action.


And I wonder, would all this Feet-Photography and Shooting from Above have happened without the existence of the i-Phone (or smart phone in general)?
Did those first feet shots happen by coincidence?
Did someone “shoot” him/herself by mistake “in the foot” and kinda liked what he/she saw?

I guess we’ll never know, but I’m quite sure that the revolutionary invention of phones with super cams, has had a big hand in how the look of photography evolved, including a “feet”-hype…

How I arrived where I am now

I’m all into e-courses nowadays! After joining Beyond Layers, I signed up for a new class.  A “joint venture” between Kim Klassen and Xanthe Berkeley, called: Behind the Scenes/Reflection of You (see the link – pop by to find out some more! Those ladies rock but in so gentle a way!)

I went off on this course on a – well – rather difficult start.  My husband and I had decided to take a short holiday and left the week class started, for a small island in the Netherlands.  We were seeking calmth!  We found it alright, but the flip side was that there was hardly any stabile wifi connection.  My plan for easily following class start from our holiday ‘resort’ (quite a name for the small place) didn’t work out, so I have some major catching up to do.

As in all classes it started with introduction etc.  but then came the assignments.  2 of them were quite intense and I thought they could be joined into one. That makes catching up with the rest also faster…

2 “simple” questions: Why do you blog? What’s your timeline.

Easy, pfffft piece of cake, I thought there on that island (from time to time I could read the missions).
But man! Was I wrong.  The Why went rather smooth (you can read it in my next post), but the Timeline!!!  Or was it just me, not wanting to give in to “taking it easy” – again?? After all, I’ve got my perfectionist label, I don’t want to give it up just like that!
Here at home, in front of my brand new i-Mac, and my brand new CS6 (I’ve been on PC for all my life and come from CS4 – talking about biting off more than I can chew…), I saw all those fancy timelines of my class mates and I totally freaked out!!
Djee, they draw, they write, they blog, make pictures….  how? when?  I didn’t want just some “lines of text” – of course not!!  I wanted little drawings and illustrations and god knows what else.  I started scribbling on a piece of paper, and ended up with 4 A4’s (!!!!).  I had some serious scratching to do.  I restarted about 50 times I guess (stopped counting, it was too depressing) till I finally came up with this.

Chaotic? Yes – but isn’t that part of my blog title? ….  I hope you can follow my path on this chart (otherwise ask your Tomtom – or some other GPS device)