the story of the eggs

I was shooting a food demonstration this morning and these egg shells reminded me of a short story I had once read (and loved).

 

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The story was about a girl who was moaning away to her father that her life was harder than she had expected it would be. Her father, a chef, took her into his kitchen, filled three pots with water and placed each of them on the fire.

Once the water in the pots was boiling, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second and ground coffee beans in the third. He then let them boil, without saying a word to his daughter.

His daughter just sat and watched.

After 20 minutes her father removed the pots from the fire. The cooked potatoes were put in one bowl, the eggs in another and he ladled the coffee into a cup.

Turning to his daughter he asked, ‘What do you see?’

‘Potatoes, eggs and coffee,’ she answered, somewhat confused.

‘Look closer,’ he responded ‘and touch those potatoes. They are soft. Now take one of the eggs and try and break it.’

Finally her father asked her to sip the strong, rich coffee.

‘What does this mean, Father?’ she asked.

He explained that the potatoes, eggs and coffee beans had faced adversity in the boiling water and yet each one had reacted differently.

And that’s exactly what I remembered when I saw those egg shells this morning. We all know that life is full of adversity. Things happen to us and to those we love. What’s crucial is how we choose to react to it and in fact what we make of it. The egg shells – in one state – fragile and – in another – ready to adjust and re-form as something a little more impressive.

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a picture epidemic; but why?

I’ve always been people obsessed. Creeping down the stairs as a child in PJs trying to eavesdrop on fascinating dinner parties, loitering during His phone conversations with just about anybody and please don’t get me started my  spy-in-a-cafe habit… it’s a proper pastime.

Curious – yes – damn right nosey – probably – but I suppose with this people fascination, it’s no surprise that I’m a behind-the-lens sort of voyeur. My only rule is that the picture and the story it tells must be honest and  so any non-genuine posing or false-memory making is absolutely left on the cutting floor.

my Olympus Pen F with 12mm lens

my Olympus Pen F with 12mm lens

Basically, I hold up my hands to these traits (and more)  but do limit my flicking (twice daily / not hourly) through Instagram and – while doing so –  started to wonder where so many of us derive this intense joy of snapping, editing and posting. So (being nosey, obvs.) I asked my insta-feed for their thoughts – go and have a look….

Questioning my own snapping/posting habit, I’ve found that it’s my very real fear of time passing – unaccounted for and all too quickly – which feels most prevalent.   Moments are fleeting and a photograph (either online or in print) stops and preserves that moment… every single time. And, without sounding overly ‘mindful’ here, the image we take is often a reminder of what we need to be thankful of.  That sunny day.  Those dirty boots.  This hilarious child. It makes us stop and stare and feel.

It’s worth acknowledging too that the mundane is every bit as picture-worthy as the special occasion and by looking through the viewfinder , you are looking in a totally different way. Often running out of the door at speed, I grab my keys, my bag worn crossways and my treasured Olympus Pen F in hand. Simply because, while out and about, I don’t know what (or how much) I might want to look at differently.

Finally, images quite literally TRANSPORT me – and you – to a different time and place. To a mood and a moment. And I find we need that transportation more than we realise.

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needing a little Narnia

life of yablon

life of yablon

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life of yablon

Just for the record, I wasn’t running away from being ‘another year older’. No. And I certainly wasn’t having any sort of middle age breakdown. It’s not my style. In fact, I actually don’t mind getting a little older… in my head, it simply means the world is still turning and we are all moving one step forward.

life of yablon

But I knew I wasn’t in the mood to party.  And that I was looking for something – something different.  And I was absolutely need to get AWAY from ‘it all’.  So, I imagined finding an old house (with a green door), in a remote location. A B&B run by an eccentric woman.  On the hunt for some long walks, a cosy pub and a properly cooked breakfast… with my gang in tow (of course)… I was on a mission.

life of yablon

life of yablon

life of yablon

And I finally found it. Our very own Narnia.

life of yablon

(PS I can’t actually disclose the exact location, as it really won’t be Narnia anymore. But if you’re absolutely desperate to find out, contact me with a sizeable bribe.)

 

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What do I want to be (should I ever)… grow up?

Sometimes it feels like I might never know what to call My Career. Not my job title, my recent freelance project or a batch of photos I’m currently editing. My actual career. More than often I’m asked ‘what IS it that you do?’ And out tumble a mix of words describing what it is that I think I do. Obviously there are variables within the mix of these words, depending who has asked me the question but also depending on which way the wind is blowing. In short, I feel that my ever-evolving digital creative existence is an odd-shaped object hurtling towards any swing door in its path…

Bearing in mind that only 27% of us think we’ve might have made the right job choices, it seems that I’m not really alone in this ‘what shall I do when I grow up’ confusion. And of course there’s no surprise that it takes a couple of marketers to spot the gap in this ‘marketing’ market – in steps the creative life planning duo Bill Burnett and Dave Evans and who immediately brand it *design thinking*.

Yes these ultra clever (ex-Apple designer/engineers) people are behind a course called The Design Programme at Stanford University where they do their utmost to prevent students from graduating without the personal design tools they need to plan their next move, as well as the next few years ahead.

I couldn’t wait to meet Bill and allow him to help me work out what’s next. In fact, the room was packed, full of high level, already successful execs looking for that same shining light.

But before Bill’s interactive session took us anywhere close to answers, he needed us to grasp some proper theory – here are my top 5 take-outs for you all to contemplate:

  1. Did you know that you can never deal with more than 4 or 5 choices?  Do you know about the jam story? Oh and by the way don’t ever keep that choice open once you’ve made it… our brains will constantly re-evaluate it, given half the chance causing ABSOLUTE confusion…
  1. Don’t be trapped in your own story. Such an interesting idea that you can trap yourself whilst trying to untangle your life plan.
  1. Talking of planning. Just don’t do it too much. Our lives can’t really be planned much at all.
  1. If you really want to do something. Anything. TELL someone.   Anyone. The moment you do, your relationship with that something will change.
  1. Do you appreciate which parts of your week leave you feeling energised and those which totally drain you? We plotted our own week graph before it all became that bit clearer. From there, Bill advised us to surround or sequence our negatives with positives eg a little watercolouring after a particularly soul-destroying, slightly toxic weekly client call…

We also discussed Bill’s Good Time Journals and forced ourselves (because it’s just not that easy) to fill out varying Odyssey plans. Bill and Dave’s book is well worth a purchase – I’m working through it already. Cliché, I know… but the course, the book, these men… they GET IT. They really do come at this wood/trees confusion with some sound logic and strong navigation.

Lastly (before you rehash your entire life) I’d suggest you Google: Bill. There are a number of youtube video he has recorded which also make a lot of sense. He focuses on our fear of novelty and ultimately how, if we master any new skills we need to create meaningful work, we can readdress at our goals, our purpose and understand what essentially gives us a happier balance.

 

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