The Perfect Christmas Gift for the Person That DOESN’T Have Everything.

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Christmas is a time for giving, a time for loving, and a time for sharing, but it can also be very stressful with all of the holiday shopping crowds vying to find that ‘perfect’ gift for somebody. Books make great gifts because they just keep giving, especially if they are as packed full of useful information as MY FIRST GOAL-SETTING BOOK by development coach and mentor, Anthony James Donnelly.

my_first_goalsettin_cover_for_kindleMany people start to think about New Year’s Resolutions at this time of year, but the reason most people fail in their endeavors is they don’t have a workable plan of action.

“Just making a New Year’s Resolution won’t make it happen!”

In MY FIRST GOAL-SETTING BOOK – How To Effectively Set & Achieve Your Life Goals, Donnelly clearly lays out every step you need to take in order to prepare for RESULTS.

He uses clear, simple language with no ‘fluff’, just the information you need to succeed.

If you’ve never set goals before, or set them but not hit them, or are shopping for somebody you know that needs help setting goals to get their life back on track, this is the book for you. It’s available in three convenient formats: Kindle, Paperback, and Audio Book, narrated by the author.

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Supporting Tone Def Tony & His Song

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a striking resemblance between the famous Christmas song crooner, Tone Def Tony, and myself. A little like the similarity between Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus! This is purely coincidental. However, I would like to pledge my support for his contribution to seasonal song-man-ship, and help promote his latest fundraising efforts:

If you can support in any way, even if it’s just like I’m doing here and sharing his project, that would be great! Thank you for supporting starving artists!

KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN LINK

 

Rachel McAdams: Who Do You Love?

rachel-mcadams-gets-new-boyfriend (2)In such a PC world as this, do people still have ‘pin-up girls’? Can one even still use the word ‘pin-up girl’? I don’t know, and truthfully, I don’t care! I do, but I don’t. I think most people can relate to that, right?

I don’t actually know what a ‘pin-up girl’ really is! To me, a pin-up girl is someone that you admire, perhaps adore, look up to, aspire to be, or see something in them that you’d like to be like, have, or want.

We’ve been so confined, constricted, and constipated by being seen to ‘do and say the right thing’, but what is right and what is wrong?  Where are the true role models that can lead the way?

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is looking.”

John Wooden

My confession, if you hadn’t already guessed, my ‘pin-up girl’ is Rachel McAdams (did the photo give it away?) I don’t know that much about her, but from what I’ve seen, and what I feel, is that she’s a very grounded, normal, smart, attractive, and committed person. All traits I aspire to have! I think and dream of meeting her – and I’m certain I will – I don’t know how, but that’s not up to me! But I know when we meet it will be such a normal meeting, like old friends that knew each other years ago, but we mis-recognised each other!

For me, Rachel McAdams is the essence of who I feel I am meant to be with. I can’t make her love me, and I can’t love her without feeling her energy, but I’d like to. How on Earth are celebrities allowed to date? Isn’t our talent enough! We are not gods! Leave us alone! But we don’t want to be alone!!!

Golly! That was a big confession…

A-hem!

So, back on track… Who do YOU love? Have you started with loving yourself? Aren’t you good enough? You are. Give yourself a hug, or better still, give someone close to you a hug – now! Didn’t work? Perhaps your dream or ‘pin-up’ is as extreme as mine. Maybe you have to ask yourself, “What kind of a person do you have to become to attract them to you?”

Don’t Put People On Pedestals

There is only ONE person you should compare yourself to: The Person You Were Yesterday. The wonderful thing about this world is that everyone is equal: we were all born, we will all die, we all have choice… Ah! Here’s where the ‘rub’ comes…! In a year that SHOULD be celebrating equality, it should be celebrating WORLD PEACE.

IMAGINE if all the people in the world, just for one minute, (one second!) stopped thinking what they were thinking, stopped doing what they were doing, and actually contemplated WORLD PEACE, thought about happiness, thought about YOU being happy, thought about, “How do I want to feel LOVE?”

What would the world look like? Brandson knows… Elon knows… Warren knows… Gates knows… Facebook-bloke knows… Amazon-bloke knows…

Anthony and Rachel’s World

In OUR world, we live in abundance… and we share it!

I have enough, and you can have food…

I have more than enough, and you can have a proper education…

I have water, and you can have clean water…

I have love, and I am the world.

 

July 4th – International Forgiveness Day…?

NOTE: Many of my regular readers probably won’t like the questions posed or the turns this post will take, but stick with it, keep reading, trust me… You’ll agree with the outcome…

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JULY 4th – American Independence Day – is coming up soon… barely a month away…!

How many people are going to celebrate the day truly conscious of what it is in rememberance of? For most it will merely be a ‘day off’, a time to party and get drunk, a day to feel ‘patriotic’ (whatever that means these days?), a day to sleep in, a day to exercise their ‘freedoms’ (do we really have the same ones anymore? Try testing your Consitutional Rights some day, see how far you get…!) and quite possibly it’s a day for some to still stick two fingers up at the British… more than 2 centuries later.

But how were the ‘freedom fighters’ in Colonial English America back then any different to the ‘extremists’ of ISIS in the Middle East today? There were a few rebels and military personel – trained by the English… using English weapons… dispondent with having doctines imposed on them by outside bodies… non-military supporters joined in because they believed in the ’cause’… Sound familiar…?

International Forgiveness Day

Anyway, I digress… That was not the point of this post – merely an interesting aside – but it will hopefully have proven a point after you finish reading. No different to my puzzlement with non-caucasian friends that are so very pro-ethnic rights, but hate gays… and vice versa… my gay friends that don’t agree with the ‘race-imbalance’.

Which brings me neatly and nicely onto my ‘fun’ idea…

WHAT IF… what if… what if… just for one day – one day out of 365 in an average year – we, as a global nation, decided that we’d have an international day of forgiveness and understanding. Each and every one of us, for one day, forgiving one other person that we believe or perceive has wronged us. Imagine the ripple-out effect that could have…

We’ve all wronged someone at some time or another (whether we were aware of it or not) and we can all certainly remember all those instances where people have wronged us – in fact, many people are stewing over wrong-doings that date back years…! The problem is, they probably have no idea how much they wronged you.

Forgive And Learn From It

I meet so many people that are still harbouring grudges against people years, sometimes DECADES, after the fact. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t right, and it can easily change. Personally, I believe almost all of the wars and civil disputes that are still going on are a direct result of a lack of forgiveness: people and nations trying to settle ‘unfinished business’.

How difficult is it to say, “I forgive you.” and mean it…?

If you’ve ever done it, or been on the receiving end of an honest apology, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, this is your time to shine and grow! If you want to be forgiven, forgive… learn from it… feel how great it is to drop that baggage.

Forgive And Grow…

Think of all those resentments you have built up inside of you, festering away like a cancer – probably willing cancer to come and feed on your stress! Think of things in your childhood that still bug you… the teacher… the bully… the bus driver… the pervert… your parents… FORGIVE THEM…! They are harming you more NOW than they were then… FORGIVE THEM…!

You’ll feel a load lifted for doing it.

If you can’t do it face-to-face, close your eyes, imagine them in front of you, and… FORGIVE THEM…!

Imagine if THAT is what we did on Independence Day… “International Forgiveness Day”

Imagine forgiving and being forgiven…

ONE DAY to put the record straight…

The Big Picture

My blog is only followed by a handful of people, and most of them don’t really read my posts, so I doubt very much will come of this anyway, but imagine… imagine… WHAT IF…what if, a few people that read this decide this is a good idea, it’s good for them and good for others… WHAT IF… July 4th becomes an International Day of Forgiveness…WHAT IF… it doesn’t just stop with one day…?

WHAT IF people want to continue… Every day… Forgiving… Accepting… Loving… Learning… Teaching… Healing…

Ah…! I’m dreaming… We love war… and descrimination… and hatred… and sadness too much… It will never happen…

But…

WHAT IF…?

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

INTERVIEW: Vanessa Champion – Documentary Photographer

vanessa-champion-photographer-press-image-2b
Photographer, Vanessa Champion

A slight break with convention from my Writers’ Interviews here… But keeping with the same creative vein, a photographer: Vanessa Champion.

I was fortunate enough to meet Vanessa (‘Ness’) back in mid-February for a headshot shoot for my acting portfolio (more images here) and was immediately taken by her charm, her easy-to-work-with professionalism, and her aura. It was like I had met a long lost soul and was catching up on old news. It seemed obvious that I should do an interview. Ness is a fascinating lady, a talented lady – with oodles of modesty thrown in for good measure (which is why I haven’t edited ANYTHING out!) – and I’m honoured that she is now one of my close friends.

Without further ado… Vanessa Champion, in her own words…

Technology has changed over the years, do you have a preference over digital or ‘old school’, and why? 

I started life working with film cameras. My early sales were just with a little Olympus, and one could argue it’s the photographer not the camera which makes the image, but maybe I won’t bang on about that here (I can waffle and write for England!). I can’t stress enough the importance and value of having worked with a medium that MAKES you THINK before you press the shutter. With film, you have to think, frame, think, focus, think, expose, as every time you press the button, it costs money. When I started earning money as a “jobbing” photographer, I used to buy a 36 exposure film, shoot 24 for the client and keep the rest for me to shoot. I did a Roliflexdeal with my supplier and printer, so my client paid for 24 and wasn’t out of pocket I hasten to add (I didn’t shaft them!). I learnt in subsequent years, that Cartier-Bresson did just that, he would be commissioned by Life Magazine and shoot most of the rolls for them and keep some frames for himself to shoot. When I did make the move to digital, I still shot with that slow and considered way, and still do. I find myself firing off more during portrait sessions, but that’s more to put subject at ease than lack of framing. Am converting from slapper flapper Nikon (the loud “clack you hear when photographers press the shutter) to the silent Fuji mirrorless system, which is perfect for the theatre, opera and TV still work I do. Actually Fujifilm gave me a load of singleuse cameras (you know those throwaway ones you often get at weddings) to teach former street kids in Uganda how to document their lives. Was really interesting to see how they started thinking and framing, they REALLY understood the value of each photo. Am producing a book of their work to help raise money for much needed beds for the kids out there. Tough lives.

Vanessa ChampionYou have been described as a ‘documentary photographer’, can you expand on what this means to you?

I story-tell. When I shoot, I see stories. That might seem obvious when I’m shooting an opera or a theatrical piece, but I see the same when I’m shooting a corporate event, I watch interaction, reaction, timing, personality and try and capture the energy and rhythm of the moment. I shoot for NGOs in Africa and Asia, the same thing, I look and see the stories and time my capture with the heartbeat of the story unfolding infront of me. Sometimes I do feel like a sniper!

Do you have a ‘wish list’ of subjects you’d still like to shoot, and why?

Adam Ant, the former President of Uruguay…  – the reason? Character, I love character. Also a road trip up South America, to document the music, food, people, artisans, workers. I’m working on some personal projects, WWI Ulysses (an installation piece of a soldier in a WWI trench, with music and soundscape), plus a series of sportspeople and well, there’s quite a bit in the pipeline I’m building!

photoaidYou wear many hats, as you’re not just a photographer, you are editor of a newspaper, and do a lot of charity work. How did this all come about and how to you juggle so many things?

Not sure how it’s all happened. Have been very lucky, have put in some long hours (hate to think sometimes just how many!) and have been blessed with some terrific clients who have given me opportunities. Being an academic first, I think, makes you a solution finder, a researcher. I love solving problems and helping fix things. And really, that’s all business is about, having a “problem, product, idea” and needing a solution to “fix, sell, make happen”. I just utilise the years of research experience and deliver. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, am working on it though… Photography has always been there, it’s the creative thread that holds my world together.

If you were not able to do the things you do, what would do instead?

I love music, so I’d love to be Ray Charles with the voice of Aretha Franklin (fix it for me, Ant!).

MumbaiDo you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photograph, photograph, photograph. And then shoot some more. Find your genre, create your style and most importantly LOVE what you shoot.

I know you’ve recently returned from Mumbai, what else is on the horizon for the rest of 2015?

I was documenting the work of one of the NGOs I work with, “Born to be Beautiful” in Mumbai, which teaches impoverished women beauty skills they can then use to earn money and slowly gain value within their community and therefore try to stop the endless cycle of violence and fear.  I am founder of PhotoAid Global, and we are running a course in extreme PhotoJournalism this year (theory and practical), plus sponsoring a photojournalism award with the Art Gemini Prize, with an exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. To enter click here… Plus I’m writing three books, one of which is an entry level “how to photograph your crafts”, a book on British Heritage Artisans (coffee table photography book), plus a book on Cuthbert Orde who drew the pilots of Fighter Command in 1940. Am putting together another couple for the NGOs I work with, but that’s alongside the day job. Hoping to head into France, and maybe off to Ethiopia with the lovely NGO I work closely with, PENHA  (Pastoralist and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa), it’s the 25th Anniversary this year, so watch out for an exhibition of the images I shot with the pastoralist nomads in Uganda as part of their Silver anniversary (some of the images have already been in Venice as part of the Biennale).

Anything else you’d care to add…?

Some recent work on www.vanessachampion.co.uk love to hear from anyone who reads this. Much love and thanks, Ant.

Unfortunately this article isn’t long enough to give Ness the words to say ALL she’d really like to say, but she’s very approachable, and doesn’t bite (hard!) so check out more of her wonderful work: Vanessa Champion Website.

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.