So here we are at the first of February and I find myself wondering: Is it too late for New Year’s Resolutions? Should I have done something more specific?. But then I realized that I have accomplished a lot in the last 31 days, even if those things may not seem significant to others. On Jan 2, I wrote a post regarding my goals for the year, which can be summarized by the following list:
– Write — finish that novel!
– Read — something other than blogs/internet
– Shoot — take at least 1 photograph daily.
– Walk — this is part of a training program; more on this later
– Take note: find something beautiful, wonderful, awesome, out of the ordinary or just makes you smile.
– Be Grateful. Every.Day.
– Be Kind. Every.Day.
How did I do?
PHOTOGRAPHY: I took over 4000 photographs when I was in Florida. I was astounded when I realized the number. But, there were many that I knew, as I was taking them, that they would not be “keepers”. Instead, they were experiments intending to help me learn. Sometimes I would take 4 or 5 shots, making slight variations in shutter speed, aperture, composition to better understand what would make a “good” shot. My intent was that I would choose the “best” and delete the rest. I still haven’t deleted many of them — reviewing all of them when I downloaded each evening was just not always possible. But, it is still my intent. Already, I have learned a great deal, including discovering the “sweet spot” on two of my lenses and also understanding some of the idiosyncrasies of my camera’s built-in light meter. Overall, as I moved from using the semi-automated settings (e.g, TV or AV) to full manual, I learned to better judge what was going to work. I found that my the end of the month, if I shot something that I thought was going to be the “best” settings, and then shot in AUTO, I could guess what my camera would use as the settings. Furthermore, I began to predict successfully when I wouldn’t LIKE those automatically chosen settings. This is one of the most valuable learning experiments I’ve done since I received my DSLR 2 years ago. FUTURE: I need to not only invest a quite a bit of time in backing up all of the shots I’ve taken, but I need to spend hours going through all of them, studying what worked, what didn’t work, and being judicious about what I keep — there is no point in keeping things that aren’t examples of good work.
READ: I finished 6 books, listened to 2 audio books (completed 1, abandoned the other), and started 3 other books that I should finish soon. Ah, the joys of a “flop & drop” vacation where you have plenty of time to read! Maybe that audio book count should be 3 — my husband read enough of the Steve Jobs biography that I feel that I listened to the abridged version. I may read it myself; parts of what I’ve heard of it was fascinating, parts infuriating.
WALKING: I — by the length of a toe, I think — walked 60 miles in January. Keeping a log has proven to be very helpful. Also, having a visual of what I’ve done helps motivate me to keep up with it. My specific goal for February is 75 miles.
NOTICING: You bet, I did! Making an effort to have my camera with me every day helped this. Even without the camera, though, I was always finding something interesting to look at on the beach, or when walking in the mangroves and swamp preserves. The real challenge, though, will be to keep this up now that I am back home. It is always easier to find interesting things when you are in a new environment; finding them in your everyday surroundings, where so much blends into a blur or a background noise, is much more challenging. Be sure to check back at the beginning of March to see how I did in February on this one.
GRATITUDE: I think that I did a good job on this. However, it is so easy to take things for granted, to not notice. By the end of the month, I was forgetting to make a specific observation of something that I was grateful for. Did I fail? Of course not! Can I do better? I’m grateful that I can try to be!
KINDNESS: Well, I sure hope that I was as kind as I good be. But, like gratitude, it is so easy to stay within our comfort zones that we don’t make an effort to do an act of kindness when we can. The opportunities, while not hidden, are just not seen by us. Again, something that I can work on! I won’t go into details here on some obvious deviations for this. Deviations? What am I saying? I should say “times when I obviously FAILED, choosing NOT to be kind”. Were there some? Hell, yes! I’m not trying to become perfect. But, I think being aware that you are striving for kindness makes one more aware when you have NOT been. Always good for a course correction!
WRITING: Well, yeah, that didn’t happen. Not.One.Word. And that’s ok for now.
So, what is ahead for this short month of February? More of the work of these major areas. I am also considering a month-long “experiment” of some sort. I have a few things in mind and will be writing about them in the next few days.
Golden Light, Cutting Through the Fog