The Latest Challenge!

Last week Len at The Daily Dose Photo Blog issued a challenge! This week I took him up on this challenge!

Go to an unfamiliar location, then have your companion blindfold you. Now take your pictures. Your friend should now move you around, so that you don’t know where you are and make sure you don’t hurt yourself.
It might be wise to use the automatic setting on your camera.

Well, no one was with me, but when I was out one day taking photos, I came to an open field and thought I would try Len’s suggestion. So I closed my eyes and turned around, then reversed my turning around until I had no idea which direction I was pointed in. I started shooting photographs, eyes still closed. I raised my camera over my head to shoot, and bent down low to do the same. I kept my eyes closed throughout the process.

Wow! Below are two of my photographs from that day, each with a before and after shot:

Before
After

The next photograph was taken with my camera pointed more downward:

Before
After

Each photo was easily tossable, good for the trash can. But with a little creative editing, I was able to get some interesting photos. Wow! What a concept. What did I learn from this challenge? That there is beauty in everything we see. We may have to tweek the view here and there, but beauty is everywhere we look.

Sort of like life, isn’t it. If we look only skin deep, we may fail to see the beauty of a person or an object or a scene. Dig a little deeper, and a beautiful work of art is revealed. This was a fun exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone, and the results are remarkable. As with every challenge thus far, this one is a paradigm for life.

I’m glad you stopped by. I am interested in what you think about this so please feel free to leave a comment. Have a great week and come back next Monday to see what NoCZ-2012 continues to teach me.

Freedom! NoCZ-2012

Freedom is the word that comes to mind when I think of what a week of No Comfort Zone 2012 has felt like. The first week of this challenge I have mainly pushed the limits with photography, experimenting with a photo editing program. Prior to this challenge I was afraid to experiment, but after only one week I’m playing with colors, composition, hues and tints and more. Rather than being concerned with presenting the “perfect” photo, I’ve allowed myself to mix it up, get bizarre, and most importantly, post it for others to see and comment on. I will continue to push myself with photography, to push the experimentation into more edgy areas. I’ve stepped over that boundary line with my photography and I feel good about that.

To some that may seem a trivial thing. But pushing the boundaries with photography is a paradigm for my life, too. For reasons I won’t go into here (I’ll save it for a therapist’s office) I have spent a lifetime working hard to appear “perfect” to the world. It takes an enormous amount of energy to always be “perfect,” and a great deal of angst when I fail to measure up (which invariably happens.) Stepping outside my comfort zone involves letting you see the authentic me, the imperfect, perfectly human me. What I had not expected was how freeing and exciting it is to shed the facade and just be real.

Stretching myself with my photography this week was a lot of fun. Surprisingly my photography got better the more I was willing to experiment and post less than perfect shots. Maybe life is that way too. The more we reveal ourselves, step out of our comfort zone, laugh and get excited about our efforts and foibles, the more real we become. For this coming week I will continue to experiment with photography, but for the challenge I will push another boundary in another area of my life. Check back on Mondays to see how it’s going and what new things I’m discovering through the No Comfort Zone 2012.

New Year Challenges: 2012 Here We Come!

You may have noticed the new badges I’ve added in the sidebar on my home page. For years I have taken on challenges that if attempted, afford personal growth and development. In other words, I want to become a better person so I accept challenges that will help me do that. This year is no exception. After searching and praying and mulling things over, I joined three challenges for 2012! At first glance, three challenges may seem like a lot, however if you know a little more about them, you will see that the challenges compliment each other in such a way that I feel this is very doable. One challenge is for the month of January only (but if it works out, I may continue on my own but in a modified way.) So, let me tell you about each challenge for this year, and if you like, you may choose to join me. 🙂

This challenge involves finding and writing “small stones.” In order to find “small stones,” one must keep his or her eyes, nose, mouth, fingers, ears and mind open. Pay attention to the world around us and notice. Write it down. That’s it.  You may write a sentence, a paragraph, a poem or haiku. You may take a photograph, or simply string words together that suggest a mood or a color. Whatever you notice, write it down (one thing each day, NOT everything everyday.) This challenge is for one month only, but by the end of the month, there will be a river of “stones” consisting of the things you (I) notice in our world each day. Click on the badge above to find out more about this challenge. This is a “no pressure” challenge. I look forward to seeing what my “river of stones” looks like by the end of January!

Next is the “No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge!” As implied, we are to step out of our boxes, out of our comfort zones this year. We are challenged to stretch, to grow, to face our fears, to do things that we dream of but never thought we could do. It may be something big (bungee jumping, hang gliding, skydiving, etc.) but more likely we will be challenged by the little things we do that stretch our imagination. For instance, getting up early one morning while it is still dark and driving the dozen miles or so to the lake shore to watch a sunrise is one of my challenges for the coming year! (Yes, if I do this, you will see photos! 🙂 ) It might be trying your hand at painting a landscape, or learning a new instrument, or asking the janitor’s name and then speaking to him or her by name every time your paths cross. It can be anything that is outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you will try something every day (rather daunting), or weekly (a little more reasonable) or even monthly (my comfort zone . . . hmmm . . . another No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge to consider) or less. This is another no pressure challenge; participants set their own agenda, choose their own challenging behavior, and then write about it. The “River of Stones Jan ’12” is the first challenge I will attempt to meet this, the No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge. (See what I mean about how these challenges work together! Awesome, huh. 🙂 )

The third challenge, and one that works well with the previous two challenges, is the “Creative Every Day 2012” challenge. (Click on the badge to find out more.) Participants are encouraged to think and act creatively every day, and that can mean anything. This involves thinking “outside the box” (see previous challenge), seeing and noticing (see first challenge) and writing about it, but not necessarily on a daily basis. Maybe I will attempt to make a winter coat for myself (I love to sew, but I’ve never attempted something this complicated, but it may be a daily creative endeavor every day for a week or more.) Or maybe I’ll write a poem about watching the squirrels play chase outside my window (see River of Stones Jan ’12 challenge), etc.

As you can see, any thing I do to meet one challenge, may also meet another or all of the above challenges. Each challenge takes a gentle approach so that there is no “guilt” if we do not do “it” perfectly, or daily. The idea is to further develop a creative, adventuresome, aware life! I think that is good.

I am looking forward to a great 2012. May we each create a year in which our potential bursts open in full bloom!