I’m not going to start this Blog by saying how I got in to both Gardening and Photography, I’ll save that for a rainy day. I’m not even going to start with why I’m writing this Blog – I hope that will become apparent.
I will though tell you a little bit about me and why photography and gardening are so important to me.
I’m Paul. I’m a man. Not a manly man, just a man. I happen to be gay, not like by chance, I’m gay, it’s a just a part of who I am, but it’s not who I am. I’m a father of an amazing teenage boy (who’d have thought that adjective would come before the word teenager!), I’m husband to a beautiful soul of a man. These two people more than anyone are my motivation in life.
Then there’s my friends. I’m surrounded by people I adore. Kind, considerate, strong-minded, funny, generous, caring people. They are my world, the world in which I am gratefully allowed to be a part of.
After all this there’s work, but I’ll leave that off of this Blog.
So finally, there’s the little things that I love to do that make me the kind of person I am. These are the things I do for my pleasure, to make my life better, to find a kind of inner peace or to educate myself.
There are several things, such as writing, listening to music, reading books, cooking etc. that I do a lot of. I enjoy them very much. However, there are two things that have been a part of my life for so long now and both have helped me on my journey to recovery.
Mental Illness is a big thing in the news right now, but it’s not a new thing as anyone who suffers knows. It’s great that it’s being talked about and changes are beginning to happen, but let’s not kid ourselves, this has been a long time coming.
My mental illness is my self-loathing. I’ve had an eating disorder since I was 17 – I’m now 45. You wouldn’t know to look at my portly figure these days, even portly is being polite, but even though I eat well and properly now, I struggle mentally with my perception of my physical appearance. It would be fair to say that I disgust myself when I look in a mirror. So I don’t look in mirrors, not full length ones anyhow.
And that’s how photography came to help me. I was pushed by another photographer friend who set me the challenge of using my skills to take selfies that captured me in a flattering way. And so I started to play about with lighting and angles and found that even I could take photos of myself where I thought – “You’re ok, you know!”. I never thought that would happen. But there you go – it turns out I’m not actually the hideous monster my brain tells me I am.
This has lead to me working with others and taking their portraits, so I get to chat to people and find out about them and produce something that I hope captures a little bit of who they are too. Another thing I love to do. As this blog progresses I will share some of this work too and some of the amazing people I have met so far.
So where does gardening come in?
Our garden is my haven. I’ve been pottering in the garden on and off since I was a child and I’m now in a place where I own my own piece of land and I can do what I want with it. So we set about a plan for turning our 45m x 10m lawn in to something that was more suited to us. And so for the last 16 months we’ve worked our balls off getting to a place that we are happy with as the foundation of what it will become as we progress.
The garden helps me enormously with my brain. I get to close off from the thoughts that pester me constantly and I get to focus completely on what I’m doing – whether it’s digging out a new flower bed, planting, pruning, weeding, dead-heading or just sitting back and taking it all in. When I’m in the garden I never stop thinking about what it might be like as it develops, or what’s next…? This has been another hobby which has almost been more of a therapy to me in the same way photography is, but it serves a different purpose to being behind the camera. Whilst photography helps me to see myself (most of the time) in a positive light, gardening helps me to turn my thoughts to something else. A complete distraction from the negative and channel my thoughts instead in to something that is positive and encourages beauty to grow.
So, that’s why this blog has started. I wanted to share my adventure in life, in photography and in gardening with people. I wanted to share the positives and the disasters, the learning’s I’ve made as I’ve messed things up and maybe some of the successes I’ve had with things I shouldn’t.
Some posts might be long, others not so much. I hope however, it’s of interest to someone out there who might share this journey with me.
Feel free to ask questions about anything. I’m an open person and happy to share my experiences, my limited knowledge and my thoughts.
Thanks for reading if you made it to this point.
Lots of love