Categories
Thoughts about Things

Hop, skip and a jump: looking back at 2019

I know it’s a whole new decade and everything, but I don’t really want to look back ten whole years… because, sad to say, I don’t feel I’ve done all that much for most of it. I’d been working at the same company since 2009; in 2013 I quit and tried my hand at freelancing, which didn’t work out, but I was lucky enough to be able to go back to my old job. Which, fair’s fair, I should feel grateful for, but looking back it really feels more like (a) failure and (b) settling at a job I didn’t especially care for. So… that didn’t do much for my self-esteem. On the other hand, just like Shangela, I was working my way and paying my dues, and all of this (even the less fun parts) was preparing me for what came next.

So no, we won’t go back that long. After last New Year I posted this on FB:

In 2017 I broke out of my holding pattern.
In 2018 I gained momentum.
In 2019 I’ll fly.

Because it’s true, 2017 is when things started happening, on a bunch of fronts:

  • I started my daily photo challenge on New Year’s Day; a few months later I started blogging regularly again
  • I travelled outside the country for the first time in decades
  • I started a new job, challenging and rewarding and with great people and a great work environment

I’m still at that job, still being challenged; the blogging comes and goes somewhat, but I’ve published 95 posts (not counting this one) in the last three years, plus taking and posting photos every single day since January 1, 2017; Brussels / Amsterdam in 2017 was followed up with Iceland in 2019, and Paris is coming up next May.

So I had to ask myself, what does it mean to fly? Does it mean to forge on ahead, do the thing and look back in surprise at how ready and unafraid you were? Does it mean consistency, little everyday flaps of your wings, that taken all together take you places? Does it mean putting down burdens, wrapping up long-unfinished business so as to face the future with a clean slate, clear eye and light heart?

All of the above, yeah? Yeah. And flight did happen in 2019.

I started the year out by taking my photography in a somewhat different direction, with all those morning shots of Sunset Beach from Burrard Bridge. It was just a fun little experiment at first, an exercise in Changing Things Up, but it turned into a nifty productivity tool as I pushed my wake-up and get-out-of-the-apartment times earlier, then held them there for months. My discipline lapsed after July when work moved, and I’ve been struggling to recapture it. I don’t want to do it exactly the same way, though, with a fixed time and viewpoint. I’d probably get tired of it after a while, and I want to keep both my motivation and my feed fresh.

Still, the experiment served its purpose. I’ve learned what I can do, and that includes the One Weird Trick™ of using one aspect of my life to help another. Good to know going forward!

More big events: presenting at WordCamp Vancouver, something I’d gradually been building up to in the last couple years. As awkward and nervous as I felt inside, the audience was receptive and engaged, laughed when I wanted them to laugh, asked plenty of questions and sent me lots of LinkedIn invites afterwards. So hey, thumbs up? Equally thumbs up was getting my AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification which will certainly a big boost for my career. For a while, I was juggling studying for that and preparing for WordCamp… but it’s all good.

More fun: volunteering for my NDP candidate Breen Ouellette during last fall’s federal election. I got quite a bit more involved than in the 2015 campaign, doing door-to-door canvassing and taking Election Day (or “E-Day”, as we say in the biz) off do help out more, which meant more canvassing in the pouring rain BY MYSELF, followed by inside scrutineering which is always a nerdy trip. Though Breen lost, the team is staying in touch to keep the momentum going for next time, whether that’s in six months or four years. Which is nice! It’s good to be part of something bigger, something I believe in.

So all in all, this has been a pretty interesting year. To be honest, a lot of it didn’t feel like flying. I get lazy or distracted, I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome every once in a while, along with assorted self-doubts (amplified by, and amplifying, the aforementioned laziness). That’s okay, though. I had moments. Enough to keep me moving forward. More moments than 2018. And less than 2020.

Categories
Days in Pictures

Selfie of the artist: days 1029 — 1095

So a funny thing happened on October 30 (day 1033): I snapped a couple of excellent photos in and then… figured I had enough and I could stop for the day. I was tired, and I could save any more potential shots for later, because they’d still be there.

And sure, they would. But was that enough reason to wait? No it was not. So I gave that grumpy ‘tude the elbow and set out to grab a few more shots—a nice one of downtown across the water and, for the first time, a video! I like it, though I’m not sure where to go from here. I tried to take another video a couple days later, of the SkyTrain from the Georgia Viaduct, as it swoops and banks out of Main Street Station, but I messed up and only recorded a couple seconds. Did better the next day, though.

At the time, I asked myself if this was something I wanted to keep doing. Was this “the next level” I’ve been going on about since hitting day 1,000, and which some of my friends even suggested? It was definitely new, but the fact that I haven’t done any more videos kind of answers that question.

It’s okay, though, because I think I learned my lesson: seize the day. There is an infinite number of photos for the taking, and I don’t need to ration them. And also, I don’t need to listen to the little voice (yes, I have one) inside wondering if people get turned off when I post too many photos. Whatever “too many” means. I do what I want and it’s stupid and it can’t tell me what to do. Of course, it’s okay to get tired and uninspired, but that negative self-talk doesn’t need reinforcing.

Speaking of voices: while on the Culture Crawl I got to chatting with one of the artists at 1000 Parker Street, and mentioned my IG. It felt like bragging, and like something I shouldn’t do with a real artist, and I had to fight the urge to use self-deprecating language like “Oh, I just do photography”.

Also—and probably related—I felt all awkward and babbly. Mind you, she probably appreciated the human interaction, babbly or not. But you know what she told me, that I think was the thing I needed to hear?

That she considered me an artist too.

So many times I’ve gone to the Crawl, honestly enjoying the art and creativity around me, but underneath it there were undercurrents of hunger for both inspiration and direction, and feelings of inadequacy. I wanted to create something like what I was seeing, yet didn’t know how or if that was possible. But 1,000 straight days of photography will change you; maybe what I really wanted now is validation. That the things I create, have worth. That they are special and interesting. And that they have a future.

Still haven’t figured out what that future is, though. But… I know it’s there.

Took a couple selfies too, in the month of December, which is still a semi-big deal for me. One while taking a sunset walk on Sunset Beach, and one volunteering for the VMC, as is my wont. Both were kind of planned. I’ve arlready done the selfie-in-church-in-nice-clothes thing last year, but this is the only time I ever wear a bowtie, so I should make the most of it. And for Sunset Beach, I just had a hankering, y’know? Can’t explain it, but I went with it. It’s nice to put my face out there… after like a dozen tries to get the angle and the smile just right, of course.

And as we close off the decade, I got a new phone after 2 years with my old Pixel! Night shots are sublime, macro zooms are excellent, I can do still lives and full moon shots better than ever. Colour balance on the OnePlus 7T sometimes needs manual correction, especially in twilight hours (morning or evening), which is annoying, but overall it really does take excellent photos. Like this lost bunny on Cambie Bridge, Sunset Beach with the half-finished new dock, Yaletown towers in the rising sun, False Creek at night and tiny wet berries.

BUT: partly because of these aforementioned flaws, and partly because I feel I’m growing as a photographer and smartphones aren’t cutting it anymore, I’m planning to get a real camera again. Got the make and model already figured out. I’ll be heading into 2020 with brand new tools to share my visions!