It allowed to me to move forward in my life again & concentrate on the more important things, namely my recovery, bettering myself & making plans for the future. For now I'm not going to divulge my life plans but I took the big first step at the beginning of this year.
In January I enrolled in a Coursera Photography Specialisation run by two Professors based at Michigan State University. The Specialisation was split into 5 separate courses, the first 4 courses were each 4 weeks long & if you passed those, you qualified for the final fifth course, a Capstone Project course which was 8 weeks in length. In its entirety, the Specialisation ran from February to September.
That step was pretty scary, you see having M.E can complicate just about every single thing you do or want to do. However, the best thing about Coursera is that all the courses are online, the learning is done through videos with weekly assignments & small exams or quizzes. Although there are deadlines to keep you on track, you get a couple of months to complete each of the courses, with the option to defer to the following starting date if need be.
Another thing that worked in my favour is that although each of the courses lasted a month, you had access to the entire course materials & lessons, so you don't have to wait; if you complete a week, you could carry on to the next week. This means you could actually complete each course earlier than the deadlines & get a head if needed.
So I planned out each month before hand, worked in my studies & assignments with any appointments or other activities I needed to do. Then I paced out each week & on good days, I managed to get myself ahead. I would complete all the video learning & the little review exams for either one or two of the weeks & that meant I could get the needed rest required to take any assignment photographs & write ups. If I was having a bad health week or had other activities or appointments to also factor in, I would try to complete the assignments in the previous week or pick a photographic subject that fit brief that I could shoot at home or in my garden so it wouldn't take up too much energy.
Obviously when my health wasn't cooperating, I struggled. I sat & wondered what an earth I'd got myself into & if I'd made the right decision. That I was foolish to think that I could study & complete such a full on course when some days I couldn't even lift my head off the pillow or I have to sit down in the shower because that "simple" task was/is too exhausting!
Although having those doubts at times, I never gave up, deep down I believed that I could complete this Specialisation & it was a step towards my goals. So from February through July, I worked my way through & completed the first four courses! To say I was proud of myself was huge understatement! This meant I'd qualified for the final course, the Capstone Photography Project. This course was based around a personal photography project & how to put a project together successfully.
From the start of the Specialisation, I began think about & plan my project in the hopes that I'd qualify for that final part of the course. My hometown was my chosen subject and then as I began the Capstone course I narrowed this down to one area. Thanks to the planning I had already done, I managed to get the shots I needed with only in a couple of outings. I then chose my 10 required shots out of the ones I had & everything was submitted with a couple of weeks to spare.
The only issue with finishing earlier than the deadline was that the wait for my final grade was longer but when I did receive it, I passed with 100%! The pride & accomplishment I felt & still feel when look through my project are overwhelming! I don't want to hark back to my chronic condition but it has taken so much from me, that completing & passing the entire Photography Specialisation showed me that I can still achieve something & that I can still have some part in life & do things.
By opening this door & taking part in this Specialisation, more doors are beginning to open! My fabulous Professors are currently putting together an exhibition consisting of a photograph from each learners project. The exhibition will be held at the Kresge Art Centre at Michigan State University from the 21st November to the 9th December. The exhibition will next be shown at the Coursera Convention that my Professors will be attending next year. They're also hoping that they exhibition will then be able to be sent & put on display any where in the world. It's absolutely mind blowing to think that one of my photographs could be traveling the world & put on display for all to see!
|Stroll Down The Promenade Capstone Project - "Sea Through The Frame"|
This photograph will be on display at the Kresge Art Centre, MSU 21/11 - 09/12
So the moral of this little story? No matter how big or how scary that first step toward your goals might be, take it! Walk through that door because doing so may open even more doors for you & help you reach your goals despite of any hardships you may be facing or living with daily.
Take care my fellow M.E Warriors & remember if you believe you can, you will!
If you'd like to have a look at my Capstone Photography Project, "Stroll Down The Promenade" in full, then you can find on my portfolio here: Stroll Down The Promenade Project
Please feel free to have a nosy at the other Galleries I have set up on there; some need tweaking & updating but let me know what think. There may also be prints for sale of some them in the future.