Just what the doctor ordered

There is quite a lot of evidence that engaging in creative activities improves health — mental and physical. Writing, drawing, painting, making crafts or music, even doodling and colouring in — they can all help to focus our thoughts, increase our happiness, boost our immune systems and even help treat dementia.

I’ve experienced periods of depression for most of my adult life. Of all the treatments I’ve tried, what seems to work best is making stuff; focusing my mind and hands and energy on some creative project, however small. At the moment, it’s Christmas cards.

I’m always a bit reluctant to recommend anything, especially for something as serious as mental health, but there is a significant body of research behind this — and it works for me.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | recommendation

The Changing Seasons, July 2017

Staying aloft. Single crimson daisy bloom -- no stem visible -- in focus against green background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Staying aloft. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It seems that July just hasn’t been a photographic month for me. Which I think is really a way of saying I haven’t felt inclined to lift my eyes and gaze upon the world.

It’s not that I’ve totally abandoned my camera. More that I’m disappointed in both the quantity and quality of the shots I’ve taken. Knee pain has kept me from the morning walks that provide both inspiration and some inner calm, while the struggles of those I love best have occupied my consciousness and spilled over into the darker recesses of my own psyche.

My July has not been a visual feast, but I’ve reached August knowing that I have enough. Enough strength and enough sunlight and enough support to stay aloft.

Like the flower, I am attached — though neither you nor I quite see how.

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

The Changing Seasons V1:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

The Changing Seasons V2:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Friday flip through the archives

"And I tell myself it's just a blue day. And it's hard to see it any other way ..." 'Blue Day', Colin Bayley & Murray Burns (1983). B&W shot of unmade bed. Image: Su Leslie, 2015.

“And I tell myself it’s just a blue day. And it’s hard to see it any other way …” Blue Day, Colin Bayley & Murray Burns (1983). Image: Su Leslie, 2015.

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It’s 1984 and I’m in a state of metamorphosis. The life I’ve fallen into since leaving my parents’ home has become as constraining and ill-fitting as that which I originally fled.

I cut my hair very short and bleach it very blonde. I acquire a wardrobe of vintage clothes; oversize men’s shirts, pencil skirts and beaded cardigans.

I catch glimpses of an unfamiliar woman in the mirror and wonder why she doesn’t look happy. Some days the world beyond my bed is a void I’m afraid that I will fall into and become lost forever.

I listen to a lot of music. Sometimes it makes me feel better.

 

Caught up in the wilderness …

Purple-tinged magnolia flower and bud on black, distressed background. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Magnolia; edited with Snapseed and Stackables. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Personal and political; Paul Weller’s thirty-year old hit ‘My Ever Changing Moods’ nicely captures how I’m feeling right now.

I wish we’d come to our senses and see there is no truth
In those who promote the confusion
For this ever changing mood, yeah

The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods

“Joy like great art should take you to the skies”

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Mt Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

The mountains and the sea. I’m neither climber nor great swimmer, but give me proximity to New Zealand’s snow-crusted volcanic cones, or to a stretch of its coastline, and light begins to filter through chinks in even the darkest despair.

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Te Arai, North Island, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is state of mind. The title comes from Stepping Down the Glory Road, by Scottish band Runrig.

Daily Post Photo Challenge: “… a good day ain’t got no rain”

I have probably said it before, but I am a “glass half empty” person. In truth I usually feel that my glass is three-quarters empty — but that doesn’t make much sense as a pithy observation.

I have a profound capacity to see and dwell upon anything negative in a situation, even whilst those around me experience great joy. The best I can say about this is that I’ve gradually learned to keep my mouth shut (usually), so I don’t spoil others’ pleasure.

The American musician and comic Oscar Levant said that happiness isn’t something you experience, but something you remember. While I subscribe wholeheartedly to that view, I often struggle to even remember happiness, such is my Eeyore-like nature.

So my personal challenge for this week’s Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge has been to bring together the things that make for a good day; those things that get me out of bed and willing to try on a happy face.

In choosing these images I am paying tribute to the scenes, moments, rituals, and above all people, whose presence contribute to a good day — if only I let myself see it.

The title for the post comes from Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away. I could be the woman, but am trying to choose not to be.

I know a woman
Became a wife
These are the very words she uses
To describe her life
She said a good day
Ain’t got no rain
She said a bad day’s when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been
Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away