hello friend

How has your week been? For me it’s been a bit rocky. More on that later. For now I’d just like to say how nice it is to have Star Trek back in my life. I am loving the new Picard series and I loved Disco too. That said, having recently re-watched TNG with my wife I do feel like there is an opening for Star Trek that explores. These new shows are great but there’s no discussion. What is life? If a transporter accidentally clones you who is the real you? Could you make your own personal army? If you are a hologram and you think are you alive or are you responding to programming?

J. Michael Straczynski once said about Babylon 5 that he didn’t have the answers. He used the show to pose questions to the audience and we should figure it out. I miss that in modern Star Trek. As a kid I was there for the space ships but as I got older I was there for the ideas. I’m even older now and I’m here again for the ideas. Star Trek has always been great at that. 🖖


The other week I was on a job that involved having a tour of Manchester. It was fascinating to be taken to areas I’ve never been before. I found a new coffee shop but there was no time for coffee so I have a reason to continue exploring.


mental health

It has been a rocky week for me. I’ve been working on my portfolio and in order to do so I’ve been looking at other photographers sites for ideas. Comparing yourself to others is an easy way to fall into depression. How can you ever fully understand what they are going through and what it took to get where they are now? You can’t. But you can happily compare yourself to their best bits and never measure up. So in my attempt to improve my website I started drowning in comparing myself to others.

I managed to claw my way back out of that mindset and get on with the week. However, it happened again. I started thinking about money. I need to make more. How do I make more? I get more clients. How do I get clients if I don’t know what kind of photos I want to do? But I do. Portraits and architecture. Oh but I need more focus than that. Photograph what you love. That’s the key. Photograph things you are passionate about to show others that energy and passion. If you love electronic music then photograph the culture surrounding that. Ok, well I like technology. How do I photograph that culture? I can’t take a camera into a game of Destiny and showing people sat at a computer is boring. So… I dunno. Guess I’m a failure. I can’t photograph what I love and so I can’t make money.

It’s catastrophising. If this then obviously that. There’s no real logic to this. It’s my brain tricking me. There is an element of truth to it all. It wouldn’t be able to get its hooks into me if there wasn’t. While there’s truth to it there are also holes in it and it is my job to find them.

I’ve been fighting this for over 10 years and I’m not sure it gets easier. I understand the triggers and rabbit holes to avoid. I understand how to get back out if I do fall in but when its a monthly, weekly, daily occurrence it is absolutely exhausting. Maybe this is just the life of a freelancer? It is so easy to be alone with negative thoughts and to fall.

So how am I today? I’m ok. Sort of. I think what helped was that I have a better understanding of my negative thought patterns. I know where those roads go. I’ve been down them before and I don’t want to go down them again. So I know to stop thinking about those issues, and they are pressing issues but ones I cannot solve by curling up into a ball and trying to think my way out. What I have to do is find something else to do. If I am mentally fit then those issues will hopefully work themselves out. Hopefully.

Things I have found to help include;

  • Cold shower – “OMG WHY! This is unbearable!” It is. It really is. For a minute or so. After 5 minutes it’s exhilarating. You get out feeling refreshed in a way that no espresso ever managed to achieve. I am apprehensive every time I turn the tap on but I am happy every time I’ve done it. I’ve overcome something I thought I couldn’t do. I’m better for it.
  • Exercise – I’ve been trying to become a daily runner for about a year now. It’s not possible due to work but when I can I get out there. No headphones. Just me, the prom, the waves and the birds. I go out in any condition and just do it. It’s only 30 minutes. If I feel the urge to give up and walk then its 60 minutes and I won’t stay warm. So I run. Is it a cure? No. I can’t out run my issues. They come with me or they stay at the start / finish line waiting for me to collect them. So how does it help? I think I’m just happy I’ve managed to do something I’ve been trying to do for years now and get out and run most mornings no matter the weather. It’s a little step in the right direction.
  • Community – This is the big one. The hardest one. In the past few months I’ve joined a running club and a swimming club, sort of. Every Saturday I go for a dip in a lake at 7:40am with a bunch of other people. We laugh and scream. It’s quite an experience. While running never gave me a high I’ve found that this does. The cold really really focuses you like nothing else I’ve done. You have to respect the water and listen to your body. Breathe. Take it slow. Enjoy it. Laugh. Scream if you need to. It’s all good. The best part of it all is the community though. I’ve not been doing this long but I feel like I’ve found a little something missing from my life. In this easily connected world where surely I could join any community specialising in any niche interest I’ve found that what works for me is laughing with others in a 5c lake at 7:40am.

These are actual real world physical things that I’ve found to have a positive affect on me on a daily / weekly basis. I doubt I’ll ever be cured of depression. It’s a constant fight. What I’m starting to find is that I need the Saturday morning dip to look forward to. I need the run or the swim to make me feel like I’m building a better me. I need the cold shower to remind me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I need to be out there in the world in shorts and a t-shirt running into 50 mph wind and torrential rain because I’m happier to defy expectation and what I believe I cannot do. I need that reminder.

“…shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

– Steve Jobs

Think different.



Francesca McColl documents the intrepid women who brave England’s wild waters

The Subversive Joy of Cold-Water Swimming | The New Yorker

Swimmers – Alice Zoo

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