On finding my VOICE

Thursday, December 31, 2015


As I sit here with a slight breeze blowing in my office window, I hear the voices of 2 little boys playing next door and smile at their chatter and their relationship with their grandparents.

It occurred to me that this is my One Little Word VOICE in action. Communication and each with their own individuality.  Already, a day before the 2016 workshop begins, my word has pushed and pulled me. I sat down and tried to think out roughly why I chose this word and what my intentions are for the new year.

Originally I wanted to find my visual voice, in particular my photography. It's become such a passion that I contemplated studying photography in 2016, but in the end, I feel I'm making great progress on my own and in conjunction with other studies and research. I mean, honestly, 6 months ago I almost exclusively used my DSLR on an auto mode. I found it too overwhelming to select the correct functions fast and so took the easy way out. One day my son said "Mum, just put it on manual and never go back. You'll figure it out." And because I can't let my son get that over me, I did just that and I have figured a lot out. Trouble is, you realise, the more you figure out, the more you realise there is to learn!

When I wondered what sort of photographer I might be, should I be say, a professional... I was a little stumped. There are so, so many directions one could take. What excites me most? When it comes down to it, I'm most drawn to editorial photography. But within that what is my style? Well, I'm going to have fun exploring and experimenting.

It's not all about visual though. I realise that there's my written voice, my oral voice, and my inner voice; all of equal importance. It will be an interesting year figuring out what my style is and listening to my gut.

Once again I'm going with a 6x8 album for this workshop, but I've started a new album and I want to add in research and notes, as well as the monthly prompt work from Ali. It'll be very much a working manual.

Very much excited to commence this new year. As I say goodbye to 2015, I'm sad to end my year on the Becky Higgins Creative Team 2015, but pleased to have a new direction. I will of course, still be doing Project Life. I also have a plan for a project which involves photography and probably all I've learned on my OLW journey over the last 3 years:) I feel a sense of freedom and freshness entering 2016. Long may that feeling last!

If you're doing the One Little Word workshop, I'd love to hear your words. Today a potential word for 2017 popped up! (insert big eyed emoji). That's getting a bit ahead of myself.

Wherever you are have a very happy and safe New Year.

Donna xx




Project Life | Nov/Dec15

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


For the last few months my Project Life pages have been made up of photos which reflect things happening around the time, without fitting any set dates. The only way I've felt I could stay on top of this project was allowing myself some freedom from set weeks or months and to just create pages.

Sometimes I have very few photos which seem relevant to what's going on. That's life with teens! The photos of my son were the result of about a 2 minute time frame when he was willing (albeit in his dressing gown), and I struggled to get the settings right on my camera. They're far from perfect but I love them anyway. For me, this is what Project Life is about. Natural moments, imperfectly perfect.


I love the 9x12 size, although 6x4 photos are a challenge. I'm continuing this size through 2016 and plan to continue the same laid back approach.

Thank you to all who have stopped by my blog this year. I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR and hope all your dreams, plans, goals and intentions come to fruition in 2016.


Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Page F (trimmed)
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition  
Becky Higgins x Stampin Up Moments Like This in digital format 

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins. This year I'm part of her Creative Team. You can find out more about Project Life here.

Thanks for stopping by:)

Looking forward to One Little Word 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015


As 2015 draws to a close, I realise I've been looking forwards, more than backwards and that's a great sign for me. I don't wish to have my life speed by, but I also don't want to be always looking behind, wondering if I should have done this or that better. Maybe that's why I'm hopeless on 'catching up' with things like Project Life and other memory keeping. I always try to stay current, even if that means dropping weekly layouts in favour of documenting monthly only (which has happened the last 2 years).

Around September, as I was working on One Little Word, a new word popped up and sparked my interest. After some investigation, and finding some relevant quotes and other research, I knew it was THE ONE. It would be my 2016 word. I've had plenty of time to get comfortable with it and it fits so well with my direction for 2016.

When I told my daughter I got the strangest look. Maybe you won't 'get it' either, and that's okay. I like unusual words which push and challenge me. In the last 3 years, my chosen words have hardly been used by others either, but for me they were always perfect. They were simplicity, moment and perspective.

Next year I've chosen VOICE. And no, I don't mean the sound of my own voice. I'm interested in exploring my visual voice, particularly with photography. This year, my passion for photography has developed deeper and the more I learn, the more I realise I have to learn and that it'll be a life long journey. If I can narrow down my style, I'll feel I'm heading in the right direction. I'll also explore my written voice and I realise that my inner voice has a part to play as well. So ready for another exciting year.

I'm immensely grateful for the opportunities I had this year. Being part of the Becky Higgins Creative Team and writing a couple of classes for Big Picture Classes were not what I had in mind as December rolled around last year, It's funny how life takes you on little unexpected journeys. Those journeys are sometimes the things that move and shake you, and give you the courage to do other things. I have a big idea (if you've read Big Magic, you will know what I'm on about) and I'm going to need courage in bucket loads to do this but it's something I've had wrestling with my mind for a couple of years now. I couldn't quite get the idea sorted out but after reading the above mentioned book, I realise it's my calling and up to me to act on, or the idea may just leave me and find someone else! More on that down the track though.

Are you doing OLW next year? What's your word?

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by:)

Dec Self-Portrait Project | More Photos

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'm managing to keep up with getting self-portraits taken and making daily notes, but bringing the last album pages together will realistically probably only happen after Christmas. I do hope t have it completely finished by New Year.

Today I'm a guest blogger at Big Picture Classes talking about my TEN TIPS FOR TAKING MORE CREATIVE SELF-PORTRAITS THIS SEASON. Here's where you can read it. I always feel a bit funny writing about self-portraits. I'm no expert at either photography or self-portraits. However, I have become quite determined at getting myself in my photos and the story. Along the way I've learned a few things and it's sparked more interest in my photography in general, so my post at BPC is an extension of that.

Here are some compilations of the photos I've prepared for the next week of my mini album. You can see the first week here.





Thanks for stopping by.

Project Life | Christmas pages

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We decorated our tree early this year, thanks to my over-enthusiastic daughter! I did use it as a chance to play with both my camera and phone camera on timer to get myself in some shots. It was a little tricky getting the focus correct from the mantle piece, but the practice was worth it. The photos of the photos haven't come out the best. I'm so happy with the originals. I've been using my Canon a lot more lately. Quite obsessed with improving my skills...Goal for 2016...

I paired a selection of photos with the Everyday Edition gold foil cards which I've been hoarding. They're just perfect for Christmas pages.
Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Pages Y and  F (trimmed)
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition kit 
Digital 'wonderful' is PL x Stampin Up Everyday Adventure 

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins. This year I'm part of her Creative Team. You can find out more about Project Life here.

Thanks for stopping by:)

Dec Self-Portrait Project | Week 1 progress

Friday, December 11, 2015


Because I relaxed the rules (I'd set myself) and decided that I'd use any self-portraits taken from near the end of November, and not worry about which day they were taken, it made some pre-planning of this project possible and I was able to get a few days ahead of myself on the photo side. Win, because as soon as Dec 1 came around it seemed the world sped up!

My whole intention is to make this quick and simple... aka as do-able by the end of December! Once December is over, I'm ready for my summer holidays, which will have my mind on the next project as well as a new year of Project Life.

For each day of December, I'm adding in a few personal thoughts, or will use something digital to accompany each photo.

Here's progress so far.













I'll be back mid next week with a link for tips on taking more creative self-portraits as well as some more page progress. Thanks for stopping by:)

PRODUCTS USED:
6x8 Chipboard for covers covered in Kraft paper
White cardstock for journaling
Vellum for printed digitals
Digital products from Paislee Press
Digital Calendar (freebie) from Azzari Jarrett

Dec Self-Portrait Project | 3

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Making progress today! I knew that I couldn't concentrate on anything else until I worked through some foundations for this project.

In my last post, I said I was practicing some self-portraits. Well, along the way, I decided that I'd use some of them. There are no rules for memory keeping projects. I know that trying to take one decent selfie each day in December just won't happen. There are many times the only button I want to push is delete, and also many days when I just don't feel like taking photos of myself.  I'm sure you all have those blah days too? 

I'm just going to mix up the photos and use in the order I choose as this project progresses. My journaling will be the days thoughts though.

I'm using the Paislee Press kit I purchased last Christmas because this year I'll be using different bits from it. 

The calender is a freebie download from Azzari Jarrett. I printed it on vellum. 

My journaling will be on white cardstock. 

Tomorrow's mission is to buy some tape and photo glue. I think I'll use a combination of both adhering back to back, so hopefully the pages don't part company in a few years! (Have a problem with chipboard alphas and some other bits on my old scrapbook pages).

So, pretty excited to get on with December now. Bring on the magic!

Dec Self-Portrait Project | 2

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I'm so glad I had a moment when I decided on a whim to pursue a little December project - my own type of December Daily in the form of a self-portrait mini book. Pleased because as soon as I made that decision, I realised that these types of projects just don't come together without any fore-thought or planning. Pleased because I have a couple of weeks to get ready. I started by reading over my own Self-Portrait class lessons at Big Picture Classes. Yes, it's always good to read and refresh.

There are 2 aspects to it: the actual photos and the making of a mini book/album.

My intention is to use one (maybe more some days) photo and add journaling in the form of thoughts about the day.

What's so hard about that, you may ask? Well, without an overall plan, what sort of photos do I want to have?  I set up a Pinterest board and added photos of people which inspired me and which I thought I might just be able to use as a cue for my self-portraits. I'm aware that 9 times out of 10, I'll probably take photos without referring to this, BUT it's there if I feel uninspired and subconsciously, these images are already embedded in my memory, so hopefully a little bit of their magic may transpire in my work. If nothing else, they give me something to strive for.

To stay on top of this project, I also want to keep it simple and clean. I thought about using an album but then, inspired by Liz at Paislee Press, I decided to make my own covers from chipboard and will keep it together with rings. It's 6x8 - a size I love. I'll have the photos printed matte rather than the usual gloss I favour because I feel it will stand the handling better. I'll stick photos/cardstock back to back using tape or photo glue... probably a combo.

Yesterday, my 16 year old daughter, who has the best Christmas spirit, talked me into putting up the Christmas tree, at least a week earlier than usual. After all her studying and exams, it's the least I could do to make her happy! It was a good opportunity to practice self-portraits using both my iPhone and DSLR. I'm so pleased I had time to experiment. Getting settings and focus correct was a mission, especially as we were wedged in a corner and I had to sit the camera on the mantle piece. It was a grey day and the light was fading. There were plenty of misses, but some keepers. At the end of the day, if I only salvage one really good shot from each session, I'm happy. At first I wasn't thrilled with any of them. They are okay. But on reflection, I took my own advice, and looked a bit harder at the 'imperfect' and actually my fave of just me, is one where I'm out of focus slightly. I know just how I'm going to use that one.
SLR
And a comparison.
iPhone so lighting was easy.
SLR. Slightly dark but I can adjust in PSE. I do like the lighting on our faces though.
Practice, practice, practice.

Thanks for stopping by, Donna xx

A December Daily Self-Portrait Project

Monday, November 16, 2015

For a while I was sure I wasn't going to participate fully In Ali Edward's December Daily this year because last year I made a pretty comprehensive photo book. I don't want to find myself repeating the same things each year. For me Christmas has changed a little as my children have entered their late teens. I'll still add our family December stories to my Project Life album.

So for a while I decided that would be it... and then I started craving another project to plan out. Not that I don't already have enough underway! And don't ask me if I've finished Week in the Life yet! I gave a little thought to what I've worked on this year, and of course my Self-Portrait class for Big Picture classes came to mind. In that class I wrote that last Christmas Day I was only in one photo (and that was one I took on the timer). I was also only in a few the whole of December. The whole reason behind my class is to show you that it's not hard to make a habit of taking photos of yourself - beyond the handheld selfie so you have yourself in your own story.

I've set myself a challenge to take a photo each day in December until the 25th. Well, at least to choose one self-portrait from each day. I think I'll make a simple journal or album using these, with maybe some brief journaling of my thoughts each day. Not entirely sure yet how it will come together but I know that first I want to experiment with different photo techniques, locations, processing, etc. I want to get out of my normal thought pattern and push myself-ie!

If I enjoy the process, I might just carry this on as a 52 week project for 2016.

I'll share some of my tips and techniques here, but if you want to learn more and maybe get a head start, check out my class at Big Picture classes, where hopefully you'll get some inspiration. And feel free to join in with this project. I'll be posting here some days, but more often on Instagram. I'll use #DecSelfPortraits to keep them together.

The great thing is, December Daily can be whatever you want it to be. Whatever you do will be precious.

Project Life | Oct 3

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It seems ages since I shared any pages! There have been many in progress but waiting finishing bits, like journaling!  Here's a finished double page, celebrating all good things SPRING kicking in, as well as that the World Cup rugby was underway... which I'm proud to say... New Zealand won again! We love our All Blacks!

I've had to start a new album so made the decision to go with 9x12 inch pages, which was my intention for next year. Mostly I intend to cut down Design F but I have some other Designs in mind which I'll cover when I share.

I'm far more comfortable with this size. Why? Not sure exactly. If you followed me last year, you'll know I dabbled in 8.5x11 for a few months. I feel 6x8 is too small for my family album and just love filling 9x12. The only thing is there are less 6x4 slot options but I have a few ways around that.


Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Pages Design F (trimmed)
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition kit and Midnight Edition kit

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins. This year I'm part of her Creative Team. You can find out more about Project Life here.

Thanks for stopping by:)

And so, where to from here?

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I've been around on this planet long enough to know that the journey must be savoured because sometimes we get to the destination and realise it's not the euphoric ending we envisaged.

What I mean by that is if we allow ourselves to think about an end goal too much, we may shortcut our way to the end, or not enjoy the whole process (both the good and bad, the easy bits and hard bits). If we do this, we're in danger of feeling flat, possibly even let down by what we thought was going to be a cool outcome. It's like cheating on yourself and being the loser.

Nothing has backed up my feelings and got me so fired up as reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm in the final chapter and not wanting this book to end. I feel as if Elizabeth is talking to me, or that I'm having a conversation (or counselling session with her!). Added to that, she could equally be talking to my son... and if you've read this book, you may feel this connection too.

Reading this book has helped me get to grips with a few issues I've been having - the obvious creative problems regarding fear and courage. Reading this book has also allowed me the opportunity of talking to my son about his learning process and possible future. He is choosing his path for the future and it probably won't be a very easy one. But then again, who wants easy? And what path doesn't have difficult bits anyway? So very proud of him for what makes him, him.

So, as the year closes in on us, I spent a little time reflecting on the year for me to date. It's, at times, seemed hard, one foot in front of the other stuff. But so much has happened that I pinch myself about! The opportunity to be part of Becky Higgins Creative Team 2015 still blows my mind (and the call is out now for the 2016 team. Here are the details. I encourage you to go for it!).

I was also given the opportunity to write 2 classes for Big Picture Classes! I am writing a post about one of them - SELF-PORTRAITS, so check back here soon and I'll have some tips for getting you in your Christmas albums.

Meanwhile, if you've read Big Magic, you'll understand what I mean when I say an idea entered me. It was some time ago and I feel extremely lucky that it's stayed with me while I've been thinking it through. Now that I have read this book, I know I just need to get on with allowing this idea to manifest itself completely, work my a*se off and set it out into the universe!


Beach walk capture

Friday, October 23, 2015

It was one of those mornings I regretted not taking my camera on my walk. There were spits of rain as I left home and although I planned to walk over the hill to the next bay and back around the coastal walkway, I decided not to risk it in our fickle weather. Fortunately my phone takes good photos and I was able to capture some of the magic. Tide out + partly cloudy sky = beautiful.








A whole lot of the cliff has collapsed... the continuing erosion problem.



This is Murray's Bay to Mairangi Bay in Auckland. All photos taken with iPhone 5s.

Thanks for stopping by.

Project Life | Oct1

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

That moment when you realise you love October and it's disappearing before your eyes. In my world it's spring. For some of you it's fall/autumn. Whichever hemisphere you live in, I think it's a pretty nice time of year. Despite the terrible sinus problems from the pollen, my daily walks continue to fuel me with the magic of the season and these pages are pretty much a simple summary of that.
Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Pages Designs A and F (trimmed)
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition kit and 
Ali Edwards Digital stamp
Elise Joy digital stamp

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins. This year I'm part of her Creative Team. You can find out more about Project Life here.

Thanks for stopping by:)

Learn to enjoy the journey

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I think it's a common problem today; we get so caught up in striving to achieve, to find our purpose, to find ourselves, comparing ourselves to others along the way.  Let's face it, everyones lives look pretty darn good on social media and sometimes we get caught up in that and start feeling all the negative emotions when our lives don't always feel so 'wow'.

But hang on a minute, haven't you read this sort of thing many times before... from those people who look as if they have the perfect lives? Yes, of course. I've been on this planet long enough to understand that life comes in all forms from imperfect to perfect (sometimes all within one day) and that we don't know what lies ahead. We need to trust it will all work out and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

How often have you worked hard towards a goal, only to find that the euphoria you feel when you reach it, is short lived and you crave the next project? I'm guilty of this, for sure. I know I've always loved learning and working on assignments and briefs. That's where I've produced some of the work I'm most proud of. Of course, when I think this through, it's the planning and working on, that is so satisfying. The journey.

This isn't the case for everyone. I've had some in-depth conversations with my son about personality types. It's one of his interests. From this I've learned a lot about myself. I now understand I'm high in conscientiousness. Others of a different personality just wouldn't understand that whole planning thing - they function by winging it and if they can achieve that way and enjoy their journey that way, then great. It's all about finding what works for YOU. What is the part of your journey that you enjoy?

Obviously you need to do some research and learn about what makes your wheels spin. A good place to start is taking an online personality test and being honest. There's so much more to understanding how you are unique, but as I said, it's a good place to start.

And so heading into the next few months before Christmas and the new year begins, I want to intentionally step back and smell the roses. I have strong mixed feelings about the rush into Christmas, but yesterday on my walk, I smelled something as I walked past that jolted my memory to a lovely pre-Christmas time. It's those sorts of things I want to focus on. Finding the joy in the journey. Little steps. One day at a time stuff. It's time to go back to my mantra of finding the magic in my everyday. I hope you'll join me:

PS... I'm an ISFJ if you're wondering. I found this out years ago when I was working and I always felt inferior being an Introvert when Extroverts seemed to rule. Now, with my many discussions with my son, I feel very happy in my skin and my ISFJ type and realise there's a place for everyone. Knowing more about what makes you you can really help with your path forward.

Project Life | adding WITL to the album

Monday, October 12, 2015


I'm still working away on my Week in the Life book and getting there ever so slowly! I've never taken this long to complete a project like this and I'm sometimes a bit spooked that it won't get done, however rather than rush and be unhappy with the result, I'm trying to be patient and make it into something I'll treasure. I think this project deserves that!

I wanted to make reference to this week in my Project Life album. I loved how I did this in 2013 and used pretty much the same method here. Black and white photos, one for each day. Simple repetition. This is pretty much my favoured 'go to'.

I used the Everyday Edition and white cards. Simple and done!


Products Used:
Becky Higgins Project Life Pages Designs A 
Becky Higgins Everyday Edition kit and white journaling cards
Ali Edwards Digital stamps

Project Life is a system for memory keeping by Becky Higgins. This year I'm part of her Creative Team. You can find out more about Project Life here.

Thanks for stopping by:)
 
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