Tag Archives: multiple sclerosis

YES!!!

This is my entry for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

I’m not the most exuberant person (and anyone who knows me will have no argument with that!) and indeed I lack self confidence in many ways that inhibits me from outwardly expressing myself fully and hiding behind my camera has become a godsend in some of these situations.  Other than ‘losing the rag’ at a bad umpiring decision whilst at the side of the hockey pitch or having tears running down my face when I witness first hand the suffering of some of the dogs arriving in at the shelter, I tend to feel more than I show. That being said, I do not feel nearly so much as I used to…

Since a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis about 10 years ago, I take various medications one of which helps to keep my stress levels down and depression (which I experienced in the first two years of my illness) at bay. The down side – although at times it is incredibly useful – is that I have become a rather unemotional person. Nevertheless, that is how I am now and because of the benefits, I have no desire to change. On an intellectual level I know that there are times when it would be helpful to others if I were more emotional and felt more, however, thanks to the meds – I don’t let it bother me too much! It seems to me that I have become a more selfish person, perhaps that is what is needed when living with a chronic illness and I think of it as a price worth paying. However, no matter how my behaviour is interpreted I also know that in many ways I am also a selfless person and I now, I live with the benefit of being able to chose whether to be selfish or selfless.

So, whilst it seems that I have digressed from the subject of this post is “Jubilant” what I am actually saying is that being jubilant or showing jubilation is not something that I often show outwardly. Nevertheless, as I said in my previous post, it really doesn’t take much to please me. They tend to be simple things such as finding a forever home for a dog, watching my boys have a good game (they play field hockey) or taking that photo that captures exactly what I want – whether it be a beautiful view or the character of a dog.

jubilant
For this photo challenge, however, I have selected this photo which not only pleased me but which also expresses jubilation.

Whilst most people would look at me and assume that there is nothing wrong with me, as anyone with a chronic illness knows, things are rarely as they seem. I used to really enjoy skiing, however, a couple of years after my diagnosis I hung up the ski boots for the last time and swapped them for a camera. Having 3 boys who were all keen skiers, I either joined them where I could on the slopes with my camera or stayed at home. This year, my middle boy Mark, has been studying at the University of Calgary so we joined him at half term break up in Whistler for a ski holiday. Have to say, compared to some of the European ski destinations access to many parts of the slopes are not easily accessible to non-skiers. In order to get to where I could take an action photo was a bit of a struggle. Trudging through snow especially up hill was a personal Everest for me to be honest and I had to think very carefully before going down hill as each step down equated to maybe ten steps up – and especially at high altitude this hurt. So, I had to compromise in my position. Yes I wanted to be below the action to have a clear sky background and increase the height perspective but thanks at least to having a decent lens I shuffled down into a safe place and sat in the cold snow, contented myself and did the best I could. I managed to photograph a number of boarders and skiers attempting and succeeding with various tricks and jumps which gave me that “yes!” feeling when I looked at them later. However, this boy who was simply wanting to “get air” celebrated mid air and was clearly happy with his efforts.

My own “yes” feeling from the few times I sat patiently trying to capture that moment came with these photos…

Ok so I would have preferred a blue sky background but for them but for me it was capturing them right at the top of their jump through thick heavy snow (for two of the shots at least) at a distance of maybe 50 yards, camera covered with a towel and me shaking with cold that pleased me. Usually I was putting my time in waiting to have lunch with the others between their ski runs. As I struggled back up to the meeting point zigzagging to reduce the incline and one step at a time I saw my husband looking over the balcony – he captured this of me, yes I’m smiling but oh boy my legs were complaining terribly!

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So, that is my entry for ‘jubilant’. Yet again after intending to enter only one photo, I have included a few more besides and extended into a bit more of my bio so you all know me that little bit better 😉

Thank you for reading. As ever, I really appreciate feedback and comments jx

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

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mmmm…what to say about ‘family’? This is only my second ever blog and I have a lot in my head about a number of subjects that I hope to get off my chest at some stage including animal welfare, photography, what my last 10 years has taught me and many more things, but I will ease myself in gradually me thinks. In the meantime, taking on this weekly photo challenge will help me to introduce a few of my special interests. This one is “Family’ and indeed I have much that I would like to share about them, again, for another day!

Of course my nuclear family is me, my long-suffering husband (I freely acknowledge I have not always been easy to live with!) and my three sons who are 15, 19 and 22. They will of course all be blogged about at some stage (!) hopefully in a way that they will find acceptable. Suffice it to say until then, all I will say is that I am very proud of each of them. However, there are two other little beings in my life and I consider them to be part of my family. I am not a crazy dog lady (although some would say I am!), I do not treat them like children (although some would say I do!) but they are most definitely part of my family. They are my two dogs, Pepper and Polo and they have changed my life.

Fifteen years ago I could not have imagined myself with a dog in my house, I didn’t like dogs, I thought it was unhygienic to have them in the home, I hated dog hair in people’s houses, barking dogs and worst of all I hated stepping in dog poo!! Now, I regularly find myself standing in the compound of a Spanish Shelter with 20 or 30 dogs around me many looking for hugs, wanting attention, paws prints up to chest height and dirt of all sorts covering me from head to foot! I myself cannot believe how much i have changed.

As with many things over the last 10 years, the trigger to this change was my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. Before and at the early stages of my illness I really was pretty poorly and spent a ridiculous amount of time in the house, not going out, not feeling like going out and often not able to go out. Much of the time I was, therefore, on my own. My boys were badgering me for a dog as children often do but my husband veto’d the whole idea for some time so for ages I could blame him! Then as I spent time adjusting to my changing health I began to think that perhaps having a dog would actually be a good thing – for me – not the kids. I set about researching what would be a good dog in my circumstances – key requirements: doesn’t shed hair (!), not too big, doesn’t require too much exercise – and we hit on the breed Miniature Schnauzer. My husband lifted the veto and before very long we had a gorgeous little pup in the house. SONY DSC/p>

This pup was a new interest for me at a time I really needed something. He was company for me 24/7, he was happy so long as he was with me. As I slept during the day he lay next to me. If I slept longer than usual, because I was having a bad day, he sniffed around me and nudged me with his nose. No, he did not want anything, I absolutely believe that he was checking on me. I never felt alone, we developed a bond I did not think possible (with an animal) and he became a reason for me to leave the house when I could. I realised what an amazing privilege it is to have a dog – how they do more for us than we could ever do for them, what an asset they can be to someone who is ill, lonely, elderly etc etc etc. Pepper introduced me to the love of dogs, I viewed them all in a new light no longer seeing them as a hairy, dirty thing to have around but a companion, a helper, a friend, a reason to go out even when I didn’t feel like it and for me a “godsend”. In fact I was so grateful to Pepper for what he had done for me that I decided I would like to get him a little friend. So along came Polo, the same breed but completely different personality. Pepper is wise, ‘all knowing’, mischievous, serious whilst Polo is the eternal puppy, innocent, naive, simple who spends his life wondering what is going on and whether he should get involved.

My love and enjoyment for them has led me to being involved in volunteering at a shelter, meeting people I would never otherwise have come into contact with, triggered my interest in photography which in turn has led to so many new unexpected experiences.SONY DSC
They are not children but they are LIKE children in the sense that they are totally vulnerable and dependent on us. Just as with children, if we choose to be bad to them they live a miserable, painful existence, if we see them as disposable or possessions then any excuse becomes acceptable to justify abandonment and neglect. As a result, many hundreds of thousands live as strays on the streets and thousand are euthanised daily. There is nothing they can do to protect themselves from us. So, I am doing what I can, I choose not to turn my back and look the other way, I choose to help when I can. I use my ‘talent’ to photograph dogs needing homes and my energy when it’s available to walk dogs and volunteer at the shelter. The satisfaction I get from knowing I have helped in some way to find a home for a shelter dog is immense and fills a gap created by the effects of my illness. In that sense I, again, get a lot more from these shelter dogs than I can ever give to them.
Franelo
To finish this post, indulge me please – I would like to include two short videos of two wonderful dogs who are looking for a family:

Thank you for listening!

Weekly photo challenge: Window

My first ever blog – what to write about??
I’m a photographer, hobby, plenty of gear, don’t know how to use it all but “have a good eye”! My life has changed so much over the last 10 years since my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis and I am doing things now that I could never have imagined myself doing. These are the things in my head I would like to blog about. Will anyone be interested in reading? I guess that’s what we all ask when we write our first blog. Who knows, who cares? I’m going to do it anyway.
Actually, I think I actually do care because the my strap line on the blog is “be the change you want to see”. Why I chose that strap line is too long a story for today and I hope I will ease myself into that one and perhaps encourage one or two others to be the change they want to be as well. In the meantime I sought inspiration for my first blog and came across the weekly photo challenge.
Appropriately this week’s theme is Window. Whilst I am very well at the minute, since my diagnosis I have spent quite a remarkable amount of time lying on my sofa, resting, looking out the window – it is a huge window, 8 feet high, right to the floor and runs the length and width of the room – its a ‘garden room’. Being “a photographer” I never like to miss an opportunity, so, through that huge window I have photographed birds feeding, pigeons mating (!), squirrels climbing the trees and munching apples, flowers and my two dogs.
Today that window afforded me the inspiration to write my first blog as part of this challenge as the people in the house behind are having their windows replaced. My challenge – to observe the men and avoid them seeing me pointing my rather large 500mm lens in their direction. As they stood on the scaffolding they could see me as clearly as I could see them – perhaps more so! However, this is what I got…Changing windows (1)

Changing windows

I selected both because I liked the image of the two guys one on either side of the open window, you can see the reflection of the lights on my own window from the kitchen behind me. The other, thankfully no “builders’ bum” but the boxer shorts waste band showing nicely!

When I’m ill this can be as exciting as a day gets for me, however, each day that I am well, I am grateful for it and I realise that this change in my health over the last 9/10 years has given me opportunities which I could either ignore, resent or embrace. I have chosen to embrace them, photography is just one of them. These things are what I would like to write about in my future blogs. I hope some of you will join me. Jennifer