Fun with Fruit

Today I’d like to show off a few pieces I photographed for Still Life week.

Creating still life setups was interesting. I’m not usually the kind of person who can slow down and just relax. When working with fruit for this activity, I had to spend a bit of time positioning, getting the lighting right, playing with settings on the camera, and capturing the image. Still life photography is not a quick process.

Reflecting upon my work, there are many flaws in these images and they are very basic. But I think they are a good representation of beginning skills. The more I look at them, the more I can pick out things that should have been done differently. And that is one way that I can affirm that I learned quite a bit from my photography class. These pictures were taken in the third week. I was still very new to the camera and arranging material for pictures. Now that I have completed the course, I am confident I could do a much better job.

I will continue to take pictures now because I want to, not because I have to. I may even look into some additional photography courses to really expand on the skills I have already learned.

Cathy

Playing with Flowers

In my photography course, one of the lessons was how to manipulate photos to create new images and to change the way we see things. For my project, I took some flowers I bought over Easter weekend and played around with arrangements, seperating individual flowers, destroying petals, and flattening the buds to find different views that I don’t normally see when they are sitting in a vase. Below I’m going to share a few of my favorites.

Just a Pink Flower
Just a Blue Flower
Deconstructed Pink Flower
Close up of Flowers
Flattened Blue Flower
Yellow and Green Flowers

This assignment forced me to look at things deeper than the surface. Together, the flowers are beautiful. I love brightly colored flowers, even though they are dyed that way. Bright colors make me feel happy. In a chaotic world where I don’t always understand my purpose, the little things make all the difference.

Individually, the flowers were beautiful but also flawed. As I deconstructed the setup, petals fell off, colors bled, and the white paper background became stained. When I began pulling the flowers apart and manipulating them, they resisted.

When you force something to become something that it isn’t by nature, it resists or relents. Through this experience and my current reflection of that experience, these flowers taught me a valuable lesson I often overlook in my overwhelming life. When you do what comes naturally, when you are what you were born to be, the struggle is so much easier to bear than when you try to be something you are not.

Many of my own struggles are because I try to be someone I am not. I want to please everyone while leaving myself to the back. I often lose myself in the day-to-day mundane tasks of life with children. Because I am a mother. I am a grandmother. I am a caregiver of an autistic toddler. But I am so much more than that.

I often forget the journey I have been on so far in life. I often forget that I have overcome some of the most difficult hurdles, I have survived things that I shouldn’t have, and I have always gotten back up. I am just a few months away from a double bachelors degree and I have held a 4.0 for four years of college. I was the first in my family to get a college degree in February 2020 when I got my Associate’s.

Lately, I’ve been feeling defeated. I’ve been in an existential spiral of doubt and doom with no end in sight. I wanted to tap out, to be done with everything. But a chance reconnection from my childhood helped me realize I can do this. I can handle this. If she can walk through the fires of Hell that she is enduring in life right now, and still take time to talk me down from the ledge, I can absolutely handle what life has given me.

I only hope she reads this and knows how much her time has meant to me and how much my heart breaks for her and her family.

Learning Digital Photography Skill

Little Girl in a pretty dress

Recently I took a class at SNHU on digital photography. I learned a lot about photography, including how to operate a camera and customize all of the controls. In my sixth week, I took a pleathera of black and white pictures, which I find striking and powerful. I wanted to share a couple of those here.

Happy
Happy Little Girl

I will add more in the future. I think I’m going to keep taking pictures. I have fallen in love with capturing true human emotions and moments that seem mundane.

My first FICTION publication is live!

It’s official! My first short story “Down the Country Road” has been published!

You can read it here: https://penmenreview.com/down-the-country-road/

I’ve been waiting for this for over a month now. I was informed it would be published in early March, and have been patiently (impatiently) waiting for the story to go live before sharing the news here, just in case they changed their minds.

I hope you all have a lovely day! Mine will be fantastic after this!

My First Nonfiction Publication is Live!

My first creative non-fiction collaboration has been published! My team won the W.R.I.T.E. Challenge this year!

You can read the article at: https://penmenreview.com/writing-resources/6-dos-and-donts-for-starting-a-new-writing-career/

I am super proud of my group for pulling this article off! Due to COVID-19 complications, my involvement was more limited than I intended, however I did pick out the author and conduct the interview portion. For the author interview, I chose Adrienne Kisner, whom I first encountered as an instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. If you want to learn more about her, you can access her website here http://www.adriennekisner.com/.

I’m so excited to finally have a publication under my belt. It’s twice as exciting since the Penmen Review will be publishing one of my short stories in a couple of days. I will write more on that on Thursday! I’ve known for a month, but waited to share until I got an official publication date!

Fading Away

I feel like I’m fading away

Life cannot make me stay

In my final hours

I’ve lost all my power

Its ten seconds to midnight

Something just doesn’t feel right.

My hands on an invisible trigger

Fear couldn’t get any bigger. 

I sense the end is near for me

The fate that awaits, I long to flee.

Terrified of what’s to come, 

I cannot be the only one. 

Am I alone in this delusion

Fueled by my seclusion?

Cathy Marie Bown

*Author’s note: COVID-19 recovery has taken a toll on my mental health. I don’t know how others have handled being sick and brain fogged. I can’t see myself finishing things I started before I got sick. It feels, to me, like this is the end of a long journey I didn’t ask to take. I desperately hope that the fog lifts eventually and I can resume my life as it was before. I weep at the idea the fog could be permanent.

Coronavirus

Well, it’s official. My husband and our 16-month-old granddaughter have tested positive for COVID-19. My test results haven’t come back yet.

We knew we were sick, but I honestly didn’t think it was “that sick” until my husband completely lost his sense of taste and smell.

The baby, who is autistic and non-verbal at this time, has been miserable for several days. She sleeps a lot or doesn’t sleep at all. She wants to snuggle constantly or doesn’t want to be touched at all. It can be very frustrating. And now, because of the illness, I can’t even send her to a relative for a brief respite.

As for my husband, he’s high risk and avoiding him getting sick is the reason we have been so careful all year. He’s been very sick for a few days, and seems to be getting better. I am hoping he doesn’t get worse, but the honest truth is we have to be worried.

I have been dizzy and nauseous. I thought it was side effects from medication changes, but now I’m not so sure. My doctor put me on new meds for depression and anxiety but it’s hard to tell if they are working.

Being sick makes it impossible to complete college assignments. I’m trying to focus but it’s nearly impossible.

I’ll write again to update our Coronavirus journey in a few days as a record for myself.

Cathy Bown

Weak

It isn’t weak to ask for help,

It isn’t weak to run away.

It isn’t weak to know you failed,

It isn’t weak to hate today.

It isn’t weak to relapse.

It isn’t weak to give in.

It isn’t weak to not say no,

It isn’t weak to sin.

It’s only weak to give up,

To never try again

To leave something that kills you,

Will never be the end.

Second Chance Progress Check-In

Good morning and Happy New Year!

It’s 2021 now, and things aren’t looking any better than last year. As such, I’ve decided to just focus on college, writing, and family. The world is chaos and I don’t like it. I lost my job, so I have some free time. Time to write. New medications are making my depression more tolerable, so I can see through the fog, for now.

“Second Chance” is doing well. I’ve just finished writing chapter seven. I am currently averaging between 500-1500 words a day, depending on the temperament of my children and granddaughter each day.

I’m eager to finish the story. I’m finding the hardest part of writing is putting my characters through difficult situations. This work features LGBTQ themes and violence, so it is difficult to write sometimes. There are echoes of my own life hidden in the stories of the characters, and that also makes it hard some days to make progress.

But, such is the life of a writer. I’m documenting it here, despite the small audience, mostly for my own records. I want my children to read this some day and understand that I struggled with this process, but I did not quit. I will finish this novel. My current goal is to finish my March 31st. I’m playing with several software platforms to find the best one for writing a novel.

The image for this post is a preliminary book cover design I created with Adobe. Creating it, I learned just how bad I am at cover design. I’m going to have to find someone to help me because I’m absolute rubbish at it!

Time to get back to the writing grind! Feel free to leave me comments, suggestions, or thoughts. I appreciate all the support I get from knowing a dozen or so people regularly read my posts and enjoy them. You keep me posting!

Cathy

P.S. I Love You – A Poem

Going through the pictures

Of what used to be,

I stumbled on the feelings

Of what I used to see.

I hid what I couldnt say,

Afraid of what I’d hear.

Now I’m filled with regrets

That I could have held you near.

I don’t think you’d remember

We almost had something there,

Long forgotten over time,

We’d have made quite a pair.

I wrote you a long letter,

Revealing all my deepest thoughts

But I couldn’t send it,

Fear of rejection leaving me frought.

The only thing I can say,

Though it’s nothing new,

I ended it by writing,

P.S. I love you.

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