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Six word Saturday: enjoying this gift from a friend

23 May
Flowers from a friend; so nice to feel appreciated. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Flowers from a friend; so nice to feel appreciated. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Moving on from colour: form and texture in sculpture

21 May
Detail of Wolf Habichhorst's nikau garden light sculptures, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie. Edited with Snapseed.

Detail of Wolf Habichhorst’s nikau garden light sculptures, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

I think sculpture is a great medium to photograph in black and white. Without the distraction of colour, we can focus on forms and textures; like the folded wire mesh of Wolf Habichhorst’s garden lights, or the wood grain in Karen Walters’ carved seed pods.

Detail from Karen Walters, 'Tree of Golden Pods', NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, edited with Snapseed.

Detail from Karen Walters, Tree of Golden Pods, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

Cast and rendered works , like Frank Watson’s The Thoughtful Fish and Sam Harrison’s Gretchen, reveal textures that are a legacy of their production processes.

Frank Watson, 'The Thoughtful Fish', NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie. Edited with Snapseed.

Frank Watson, The Thoughtful Fish, NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie.

Sam Harrison, 'Gretchen.' NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

Sam Harrison, Gretchen. NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

All of these images are taken from the outdoor sculpture exhibition, NZ Sculpture OnShore. As well as being New Zealand’s largest such exhibition, is also a fund-raiser for Women’s Refuge — donating over $1.5m to the cause since its inception. The exhibition is held on a beautiful cliff-top location, overlooking the harbour. On a sunny day, the backdrop of sparkling water and blue sky can enhance visitors’ enjoyment of the huge range of work exhibited. But sometimes, we can better see the artist’s vision and intent by taking away the colours of sea and sky. I think it’s easier to focus on the play of light and shade in Rebecca Rose’s ‘In Flight Entertainment’ without gazing at the background blues and greens of trees and ocean.

Rebecca Rose, 'In Flight Entertainment.' NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

Rebecca Rose, In Flight Entertainment. NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. You can see Sally’s photos, and find out more here.

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Wordless Wednesday: ain’t love a surprise

19 May
Morning dew on impatiens bud. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Finding joy in small things. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

As part of my depression self-help programme I’m trying to consciously enjoy the fleeting and ephemeral instead of just fearing their loss. I’m also dancing like there’s no-one watching (albeit because I make sure there IS no-one watching). Here’s what I’m dancing to today.

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Six Word Saturday: catching the last of the rain

16 May
Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Six word Saturday is a blogging prompt from Cate at Show my Face.

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Exploring the colours of my mind

15 May
Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Agapanthus bloom. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Colour is a very powerful metaphor of emotion in everyday language. It’s not just that we use individual colours (“in the pink”, “got the blues”) to describe our feelings, but even the notion of colour itself (“that’ll put some colour in your cheeks”, “she’s a colourful character”) is often central to how we talk about ourselves, our lives, and our emotional states.

Post-natal (or post-partum) depression has often called “the baby blues”; a phrase that can simultaneously make it more understandable to others,  and at the same time diminish the seriousness of a condition that affects around 16 percent of new mothers (and some fathers too) (1). More generally, the term “black mood” is used to describe depression or feelings of great unhappiness.

Photo: Su Leslie, colour-edited with Aviary Photo Editor.

Agapanthus bloom. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Image colour-edited with Aviary Photo Editor.

Psychologists tell us that colours can our moods as well as acting as a short-hand for ideas and emotions.  Reds are associated with heat, passion (and ‘Stop’); white is traditionally used to denote purity, and purple can suggest wealth, royalty and wisdom (2).

It is not only the hue of a colour that affects us, but its intensity. I quite like the softness the photo below, but also find it sad.

Agapanthus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

Agapanthus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

Of the three images below of canna lilies; I’m drawn to the second. Although the colours are brighter, it doesn’t make me feel happier; it just makes me feel — well, more.

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Canna lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

Canna lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

Canna lilies. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

Canna lily. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

I’m interested in how others’ respond to these image. Please let me know what — if anything — they make you feel.

This post was written for Sally’s phoneography and non-SLR digital devices photo challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. You can see Sally’s beautiful tulip shots here; and explore the contributions of other bloggers in the challenge.

But now I’m going to leave you with an aural colour experience. At the end of last year, I went to the funeral of a friend who had lost his battle with cancer. As his coffin was carried into the crowded chapel, followed by his three daughters and other family members, this was the song that played. It was unexpected — maybe whacky — but set the tone for a funeral that truly did celebrate a good life, well lived. Here’s Donovan’s Mellow Yellow.

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(1) American Psychological Association – Postpartum depression

(2) About.com Colour Psychology

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Happy Mother’s Day

10 May
I can take the boy-child anywhere, though admittedly, the second time to apologise.

I can take the boy-child anywhere twice; albeit the second time to apologise. Phot0: The Big T, 2013.

It’s Mothers’ Day; but today I’m off-duty. My son is on his first solo out-of-town trip, visiting a friend in Wellington.

Last night his friend’s mother sent me an email thanking me for having a fantastic son who is a pleasure to have around and has become a good friend to her son.

That’s my Mothers’ Day present, and it’s probably the best I’ve ever had (sorry kiddo). It doesn’t take anything away from my son’s ability to manage his own actions and choices, but acknowledges that I have played a role in raising a child who can go out into the world and be a credit to himself and his family.

Photo: The Big T, 2011

Photo: The Big T, 2011

This is important to me for a whole bunch of reasons; not least because I’ve been a “stay at home” mother to my only child. I don’t regret that at all; in fact I believe that both the boy-child and I are better people because of our time together. But the choices that were made when he was little have come at a cost to our family. I suffer from depression and it impacts on us all.

I was diagnosed with post-natal depression 17 years ago, and although circumstances have changed, I don’t think I’ve never really recovered. I have weeks and months when things seem fine; I function as a fairly competent human being. Then the gloom descends and my world falls apart.

So much of his first year passed in a blur. Photo: The Big T, 1998.

So much of his first year passed in a blur. I look at photos and wonder if that was really me. Photo: The Big T, 1998.

I’ve talked to various GPs about this in the past, but only in a general “let’s wait and see” sort of way, mainly because of my reluctance to buy into any sort of pharmaceutical solution (I’m like this generally — about most ailments). But last weekend I hit a new low and sought help.

I’m not really sure what I expected, but my doctor has prescribed anti-depressants (and some other stuff that I’m still thinking about). I came home and did some research on the particular medication (I have a library degree, so I mean actual research – not Google); and I’ve decided not to fill the prescription. The thought of what the chemicals can do to my body actually makes me more depressed. But I think more importantly, it makes me feel that I’m relinquishing control over my situation and I’m not ready to do that. I know that antidepressants do a whole lot of good for many people and I’m not ruling them out forever. I just want to look for alternatives first.

Medication also treats the symptoms, and I really, really need to address the causes. I feel like my life is shit because – well, objectively, a lot of my life is shit. Taking drugs won’t fix that I’m overweight, unemployed, have a relationship in crisis and feel like my brain is turning to mush from under-use.

So I’ve decided to deal with this the way I tackle most things; by doing research, analysing the information I find, doing some more research, and making a plan that involves taking charge of things myself.

Feeling a bit more in kick-ass mode. Photo: The Big T, 2012.

Yes, I am a control freak; but actually that’s a part of me I can live with.

I’m also a writer; and have realised over the years that writing is how I make sense of the world. I’ve never been one of those people who plans something out and then writes it down. I start writing, then read what I’ve written and change it a bit, then I write some more, and repeat this process over and over again until I’ve created meaning out of all the thoughts and connections that whiz around my head like ingredients in the pantry, waiting to be turned into a cake or a casserole or whatever.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure that my blog is the right place for this process. But the fact is, part of dealing with depression is acknowledging that it exists. My blogging community is no less real than any other I belong to and it would feel disingenuous to continue posting with a phoney “happy face.”

I have no intention of turning ZimmerBitch into a chronicle of depression. One of the things I derive real pleasure from is photography, and the blog will still be principally a place for my images and the thoughts that go with them. But I guess I’d also like to use the structure and discipline of writing a blog to explore some of the stuff I need to think about.

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Taking photos is one of the things that gives me pleasure; knowing that might be part of the recovery. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

I will provide warnings on all DEPRESSION content, and if you start abandoning me in droves, I’ll see the error of my ways and find alternative forums for my angst!

In the meantime, I’m taking baby steps. So I’m off to get ready for a date with the Big T; dinner and An Evening with Noel Fielding.

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Six word Saturday: in praise of small-town junk shops

9 May
Perfect for indulgent afternoon teas. Found in a second-hand shop in Tuakau, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Perfect for indulgent afternoon teas. Found today in a second-hand shop in Tuakau, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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The Big T and I have been searching for a plain, old-fashioned gravy boat for several years now. This one is perfect; large, not too fussy and with a detachable saucer. Found in a second hand-shop in Tuakau, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Six word Saturday is a blogging prompt from Cate at Show my Face. You can see more here.

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