The gloaming

In winter our planet moves around to the best possible angle for evening sun. Through my kitchen window, night after December night, the gloaming envelops everything with it's vibrance. And as 2014 is coming to an end, it's now time to hibernate, look back and look forward.

Every year around this time I choose a word to guide me through the following year. Last year it was Pilgrimage which allowed me to sail into my sixties with imagination. This year I am being drawn in another direction.

Here's how it works.

Around this time of the year I start to doodle in a journal. Spider mind maps, lists, words. I started one thread recently by thinking about the lake, then lake goddesses, then deep water, deep-end, out of my depth, deeper, and so on...... it's about exploring rather than planning, it's playing.

Later in the New Year of 2015  I will settle on a word which becomes like a loose web into which my life and work fall. Something like that anyway! In 2012 I chose EXPAND, in 2013 I chose LIGHT.

So maybe you would like to have a go this year? Susannah Conway has a Workbook which might help. Or you could design your own method? Just choose a word that will light you up and allow your mind to run amuck with delight! For some reason the vagueness and focus of choosing ONE word, works a kind of alchemy.... if you let it.

Have you ever experimented with choosing a word for your year? If so I'd love to hear about it. If not then I hope you will enjoy the hibernation of advent and these December skies


Photography as meditation

He is bursting with confidence.

I am probably standing too close to his territory so there is an air show going on from the top of a pile of rubble to the rose tree in the farm yard. At one point he lands on the post in front of my nose. His face says.....YIKES and he takes off instantly.

Robins are tiny but unstoppable.

Sometimes here in my neighbours farm yard I perch the camera on the white washed wall and wait. She has just emptied a bucket of orange and banana peels on top of the compost heap. This is one of the local birds' favourite lunch spots.

Standing there slows the ticking brain. Puts things in perspective. Opens the heart to priorities. It's a kind of meditation. Another voice takes over, calming, soothing, slowing.

It's coming to the end of the year. What are the important questions now? What are the next steps?

As the Robin comes closer and I stand beneath his soft breath, those old hat questions fade away into the cold morning air.....

See more winter morning images here in the gallery


Outside it's winter, but inside........

Outside it may be winter but if you are back here, reading this, you are helping to create an inner glow of warmth! From the wonderful book lovers who have been buying my book, to bloggers and on line friends who have shared, every positive word of encouragement has really been special. Thank you!

It is such a vulnerable thing to put a self published book out into the world. I had absolutely no idea until I did it myself and I still can't fathom the disturbance it created in my world. In many ways it has reminded me of when I first started to blog and share photography anonymously. But like everything else I've done in the last three years.....there are so many new lessons in it. 

Sure it's what the book is all about! Setting out again and again in spite of these feelings of wanting to hide, give up or literally fold up the tent. So today I want to mention where you can find some of these wonderful generous bloggers and broadcasters, and there's still time to have a copy delivered before the holidays. It's only available on line here or get the download here

First of all Nicky Cahill of Salt and Sparkle invited me to participate in her Q+A interview blogpost series, published today! Nicky is a Belfast based writer and broadcaster. We met on twitter where I suspect we were drawn to each other's sense of place and love of the soulful. 

Next up was Tony Riches from the The Writing Desk who invited me to guest post. Tony supports writers and creatives through his blog which has a huge following on line. He is also a published author and his latest novel The Secret Life of Eleanor Cobham is available on Amazon.

My friend and blogger Susan from Vibrant Ireland and Travel put together a selection of Irish gifts to buy on line and included the book! Susan is some one I have admired and followed since we first met up as newbie bloggers three or four years ago. She shares positive stories from Ireland and from her travels, and yes she is just as vibrant as her blog! She also offers blogging tours and other services through her partnership with Dee in Green and Vibrant.

Candi and the stories from her life on Looking for Blue Sky have always melted my heart. She is a single Mum of 3 who writes courageously about the fun and the challenges she finds in every day life and the joy in each of her kids. So thrilled that she included the book in her blog of 9 Christmas gifts available on line!

Then there's Pat Carroll from CRY FM in Youghal. Pat invited me to chat on his Drive Time radio show and asked me such intriguing questions about what I do and why. At one point he compared me to Leonard Cohen, which made me giggle, so he is right up there as a critic as far as I'm concerned!!

But especially to all of YOU for coming here every week, for your ongoing support, encouragement, emails and for buying the book.....THANK YOU!


November morning in Ireland

It's early and deadly still. The best part of the day. I can see my neighbour on the hill checking her sheep. It's the same lane, the same field but in the morning frost, this dawn creates another world. 

Later, the wind will whip up a little and the sun will fill up these shadows with light. For now the long dark tree trunks cast black lace onto the horizon. 

I startle the heron as she waits at the edge of the lake. The robin nestles in the crook of her hawthorn.

It doesn't last too long, this newness of the day. I breath it in, and although the feet are frosty the heart is light.

See more of of the Winter mornings Gallery here

And if you are gift shopping this weekend you can get my new book "Seek light, embrace shade, live colour" here


First frost and final freedom

It's been a great year. One of the best. After years of campaigning for women's rights, I turned 60 and realised I could finally LIVE liberation rather than just hoping for it. 

What took me so long? What changed? 

Growing up in Ireland during a different era, we girls were rewarded for CARING. I wasn't too bad at it then, although I always knew it wasn't my first calling. The sacrifices of good girls would be rewarded. Good girls would be liked and cherished. Good girls would succeed in the world. Our caring of the world would heal and save humanity. 

I never really stopped being good or caring or anything. I just got old with it and some how saw the light of other possibilities. It is still a daily struggle to balance how MUCH I care.....and I genuinely DO care, with how much I want to run wild in the fields utterly CAREFREE. (Apologies for the shouty capitals but they seem to be required here) 

These are not regrets, because I know when we care, others thrive. These are wake up call messages to the inner girl child. It's OK to experience singularity, to be self absorbed, to be selfish with your time, to want to dream a little or even a lot. We can be CAREFREE and CAREFUL in equal measure. Instead of arguing about what kind of feminists we are, we can LIVE liberation. 

Whenever I walk through morning frost I am over come by girlish memories and the flame of the women who set out ahead of me on this path. Calamity Jane (Doris Day) riding the Wells Fargo Coach from Illinois, Jane Goodall studying chimpanzee behaviour in the Gombe Forest, Joni Mitchell's Song for Sharon where she poured her heart out...... again.....

Careful and carefree women grasping their freedom to LIVE their liberation......


Sentinel ~ the first midweek image feature

I sometimes stand in the farmyard at the lake waiting for the Robin. Truth is she prefers a dung heap to a bird table so this is where I will always encounter her. Early in the morning, later in the evening it doesn't matter, she will always appear.  Chipping and ducking in that bolshy way, or maybe singing in the crook of a branch.

As long as I wait she comes. It's her space not mine. This she makes clear. 

In spite of each other, we are used to sharing it now....... 

(Welcome to this first mid-week image feature where I am going to highlight a favourite photo from the Archives every week, I hope you enjoy it)


You can't use up creativity the more you use, the more you have

It was Maya Angelou who said" You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." 

When I began on this path coming up to four years ago, it didn't seem so. Perhaps I would over share my precious resource? Maybe I would bore myself and everyone else with my excitement at the beauty I was finding the ordinariness of my surroundings?

Rest assured this is not what has happened and so it is unlikely ever to happen to you either. Instead of running out of creativity I have found that my energy and focus has increased over time. I sometimes have to look back at my first post to remind myself how far I have come. 

And yet there are a lot of challenges. I am now 60 and I sometimes look ahead and wonder how exactly I am going to find enough time to complete what I am setting out to do? How can I use the time I have most efficiently? How I can earn enough to support the plans I am hatching?

So I am here drawing mind maps and lists. Instead of shrinking my inner life I am growing it. Instead of winding down my effort I am revving up! My mind will blow right out of my head or something one of these days!! 

At the beginning of 2014 I chose the word Pilgrimage. I went on a bit of a wander, both internally and externally. I both travelled out there beyond my comfort zone and yet I have locked myself up in this room and worked. Now I know where I am going next.

I am beginning to hear a new word being spoken in my head and my heart and soul seem to be listening and perking right up.......

For more meanderings along the creative path check out my little book preview here 

If you love warm colours check out the Autumn Gallery Slideshow here


The photography book GIVE AWAY results

Before the sun sets I am going to pull a name from the bag and announce the winner of a signed copy of the book. It's another first for me, a first ever Give Away.  I have finally put my toe into the book selling world and I can honestly say that shop keeping is a humbling experience. Some people are very good at it and I take my hat off to them. I still struggle with the idea of selling at all, but am determined to keep going and find any number of ways to support my creativity. 

I spent the rest of today making a 5 print order for this image. I was thrilled with the result and now they on their way to a happy home in Kildare. It is the beginning of a new direction for me and next year I will develop more of these techniques layering photography with paint and texture. Busy but happy....

The Give Away process has been fun. I decided to do it the low tech way and wrote each name on a cut up piece of paper and put it in a bag. My son pulled out the winning name at 4.30. 

AND the winner is Margaret from County Tipperary. Margaret is also a blogger at A Year in Redwood and will receive a signed copy of Seek light, embrace shade, live colour" PLUS a selection of seasonal cards. Congratulations Margaret just send me on your address via the contact page.

We enjoyed so much pulling out the names from the hat that I decided to offer two runners up a free download of the book. So congratulations to the next two drawn, firstly a woman called Beth and then Amanda Peters who lives in Leeds in the UK. Again please contact me with your email address and I will forward you a link to the download of the book. 

Thank you all so much for taking part!


The Foxglove Lane shop is open!

There is an undeniable cosiness about to envelop us as we turn away from the sun, but the long evenings are a challenge at the best of times. It sometimes feels like we are going deeper into a dark wood with the glow of summer fading behind us. Slowly we will make our way along an overgrown path towards the light of a new year. 

And yet today this walk through the forest is beautiful. The November sun creates perfect shadows, filtering through the branches, spotlighting small details on leaves and grasses. Mysteriously these months, while a challenge to the soul, are ideal for photography. 

The seasonal feast which is the Irish Christmas will break up the winter nicely and here in the studio the elves are working overtime already! This year I have a number of special gift options in the shop and to avail of these on time for the holiday you need to order in November.

Yes folks, the Foxglove Lane Shop is now open and the dark evenings are a perfect time to browse!

The book

Do you have strategies to bring light and energy into your life and work? I write about finding inspiration in my first little picture book "Seek light, embrace shade and live colour" A perfect gift to introduce some one to Ireland and to following the creative path. You can buy the hardback book here for 30 euros or  download the book for 3.99 

Prints and cards 

Cards and prints are available here This year you can buy unlimited editions at a special price as the printing part is outsourced to a specialist firm of printers. All of the images on my site are available so pick out your own favourites and have them delivered anywhere in the world. 

Prints (8"x12") start at only 7 euros. 
Cards (5" x7") are 4.25 each or 10 for only 25 euros

Gift tokens

I also offer Gift Tokens they start at 25 Euros. Contact me directly to arrange. A good option if you want to avoid deadline panics! 

Also if you prefer, I can print and sign any image for you here in the studio. Mounted prints start from 25 euros +postage. Again just contact me.


Photography tricks and treats for Halloween

It started with images of autumn leaves floating in the murky waters of the lake. 

Already layered and textured, I added the photo of myself standing, half turned in the archway. Then the little lantern plants and the meditating rabbit. 

Happy Halloween my dear old pals. There are lots more photography tricks and treats you can make here on www.picmonkey.com 

PS And there is still time to add your name here to the book Give Away