Learning from Cancer by da-AL

Photo of daisy wearing glassesPhoto: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Years before I was diagnosed with cancer, an agency that facilitated emotional support groups for people with cancer hired me to produce a video for them.

The morning my partner and I gathered our camera equipment, I braced myself for an emotionally trying day. Listening to the stories of those battling to live, I did my best not to cry as I stood behind the lens.

By the end of the videotaping session, I felt uplifted by their strength — and mystified! How could many of them speak of cancer as a blessing?

In 2007, I too was diagnosed with cancer. At first, I was angry, sad, frustrated, and terrorized. It took time for cancer to reveal its lessons to me.

Photo of a group of mallard ducks walking Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Learning that happiness is worth fighting for has changed me profoundly. Early on, a sage cancer warrior recounted how a friend of hers dreaded when his cancer would kill him, yet he outlives many loved ones. The wise woman told me, “No one can predict how long they’ll live. We’re lucky for every day.”

Day and night, as I endured my illness being categorized, quantified, and treated, I obsessed over how I might have contracted it…how to get rid of it…how to never get it again…how it would hurt my loved ones…and on and on…

When I tried was hot yoga, the laser focus it demanded quieted my mind. The full length mirrors reflected how, if I dwell on what hurts and what I fear, then my yoga suffers. They showed me how, when I physically and mentally resonate words like ‘happy,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love,’ possibility becomes reachable.

Photo of bee at purple flowers Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

It’s a wonder that my worrying didn’t kill me. Often I wondered if someone as ordinary as me deserved to live. Eventually, I figured that I’ve got as much of a right to breath as do cockroaches and fleas. And that I’ve got something to say, which is how this blog started (as did the two novels I’m writing!)…

Life is always a gift, and that includes all of our experiences.

Has illness taught you any lessons?

Guest Blog Post: Reconnecting via Photography by Richard Keys

Puffin (Bempton)
Photo courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Fellow blogger Richard’s photos are stunning! Here he describes his process and how photography can heal…

Dandelion: Photos courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Introduction
Hey, I’m Richard, and my blog is photosociology.wordpress.com. To be honest, I’m surprised that my blog is followed by others, I’m just a guy with mental health problems, which photography helps me to cope with. Initially, it got me going outside when I was too scared to do so. Basically, I’m a middle-aged guy, trying to grow up and find a way to live in this confusing world.

Close up of a fly courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Reconnecting
Although I am a student photographer and use photography to explore social issues, such as inequality, mental health, and diversity (and more), I also thoroughly enjoy photography. Macro photography and photographing birds are my joy and my peace, especially when I am having a day of intense anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia.

When photographing birds, flowers, bees, and bugs, I have to slow down. I mean really slow down. I’m not here to take a quick photo and walk on. I want to make a great photo and that means searching. Seeking out the best angle, ensuring that the background doesn’t distract from the subject, checking the focus, and making sure the exposure is correct. When it comes to bugs, bees, and butterflies, I have to slow down even further, firstly to spot them and then to ensure great focus by getting close without scaring them off.

Having a mental illness brings challenges with living, over-thinking, analyzing, being busy because I’m scared of my feelings, and being suspicious and paranoid about people. At first, I was scared of slowing down because I thought these difficulties would overwhelm me, but the opposite is true.

Slowing down is vital for my mental health, it refreshes me, recharges me, helps me to stop running from my emotions and thoughts, and allows whatever is there to be allowed to be, as it is. The process of connecting with nature means that I reconnect with myself, and all is surprisingly well.

Richard Keys

Guest Blog Post: “When Fashion and Nature Collide,” in Roda’s exact words

photo of nature

Color everywhere! Blogger Roda shares her artful view of the world…

photo of Roda & donkey
Photos courtesy of GrowingSelf.blog

Guest Blog Post: “Bugging About and Global Warming,” in Mick E. Talbot’s exact words

Each of UK nature lover Mick E. Talbot’s three sites (first here, and then here, and lastly here) is a delight. Here’s a sample of his unique writing and photos that he’s kindly contributed to us here at da-AL’s blog …

A Little About Me

Sticking to the little bit, as anything larger would constitute an autobiography, and if my memory serves me well they cost. So going back to when digital cameras became available to me, (some time in 2006), which meant I could take my interest in photographing wildlife into the realms of the affordable. Back in the analog days spending £50+ for a few hours enjoyment, and then the worry as to how many shots made the grade had me limiting myself until, yes, digital. A couple shots out of the many 10’s of thousands digital cameras allow.

yellow fungiThe first is of ‘orange peel fungi’, the second, although a captive bred specimen, is found in the wild in Lake Malawi, East Africa. It is of a cichlid, namely, Melanochromis auratus, one of the many cichlid species found in the lake.

Moving on to 2007, this was quite an eventful year. Cutting a short “About Me” even shorter, I made my first big insect find during this year, which got me a mention in the British Entomological Journal. The bug, a tiny little leafhopper, was first discovered back in 2001 by a professor from the university of Sussex, my find, the second in the UK, wasn’t until the year I’m on now, (2007),  and some 200+ miles further north in my back yard, literally, in the City of Lincoln. Well pleased I was, oh, its name, Zyginella pulchra.

The third photo depicts the male Z. pulchra, showing the distinctive red v,  formed by the closed wings, the female is basically monotone from pale green to yellow.

A big jump to 2010, this was my biggest year in the field of entomology. I discovered a first for the UK and it was also the start of my disillusionment with the professionals involved with natural history. The species involved this time is Conostethus venustus, and as my claim was not accepted even to this day, (I hasten to add it was originally authenticated by the county recorder), has still not been resolved, so my disillusionment is to some extent on-going. I’ll end this one with an image, and a link to my page on flickr where Tim Ransom, himself a professional entomologist, gave me the link to another claim a year after mine, and as far as I am aware is the one that has been accepted as the first. The image below is that of Conostethus venustus.

Moving on to 2014, the year when I first signed up to WordPress. Never used it until 2016, and then it was on the rebound from disassociating myself from the professional naturalists fraternity. My first posts were still concerned with, and for nature. My Garden Biodiversity blog goes to show just how much I was still involved with the recording side. I still go out with my cameras, and should I find something I can’t find an ID for online, I will let the appropriate authority know.

Getting toward the end of 2016, I found I was being drawn to poetry. Now, I have always been into writing poems, for the lads to their girlfriends, whilst in the army, and being somewhat of a romantic, for my beloved. Micks Blog, is where I started to really let go and used it in a way I have never done before, as in trying to inspire folk to get more involved with caring for wildlife. More than that, I thought would be a bit OTT. However finding myself online more often than my normal 8 hours, I was becoming more and more aware that climate warming was for real. And the main cause was due to all manner of human pollutant’s, from *deforestation, the destruction of sensitive habitats, the use of fossil fuels, which in turn pollute the atmosphere and the oceans. You will find all my feelings on the topic of pollution, climate warming, along with my romantic side in my poetry on my blog, Mick E Talbots Poems.

Other folk’s blogs that inspire me, and there are many, to name some I must, yassy66, a genius of a poet, a definite must read. Whispering Whippets, Xenia a mistress of Japanese poetry, and her amazing photos of her two whippets Pearl and Eivor. Her photography is amazing and her haiku visionary. My hosts blog Happiness Between Tails, the truth, her video on Happy Persian New Year! a Toastmasters Speech, is as far as I have got, but I am working on it. If I haven’t named your blog, and I found inspiration in it, you know who you are, and I thank you, and long may you continue with your inspirational works.

*Deforestation, pollution of the oceans and the burning of fossil fuels are the main human contributing factors that are affecting the world’s climate. The production of CO2 by industries is now recognized as a major contribution, domestic production of the gas is also adding heavily to its depth, and therefore needs to be considered. Deforestation, unless totally forbidden, is hastening the end of the world as we know it. Forests remove CO2 and produce life-sustaining oxygen, as does all flora, the oceans are also a major producer of the gas we breathe. How long do governments think they can go on supporting businesses that are either in denial or have no understanding, or even no wish to help in the control of global warming? If the scientists are correct we have less than a thousand years to put nature back on its feet. A study has highlighted the risk posed by projected climate change on the world’s ability to grow enough food. A US team of researchers found that forecasted shifts in climate by 2070 would occur too quickly for species of grass to adapt to the new conditions. For governments to think that global warming is a conspiracy is scary, and to think one of those is that of the United States of America, is a nightmare.

© Mick E Talbot 2017/66