It’s not often I write about personal things here on this blog, but sometimes the most personal stories are the ones worth telling. I apologise in advance if it’s a bit of a downer.
This one is about a beautiful girl named Xena. Unfortunately, for reasons I would prefer not to explain, Xena was put to sleep a few days ago. We adopted her after she was found wandering the streets, skinny and clearly neglected, and was taken to the SPCA here in Tauranga. Xena was the perfect fit for our big rottweiler Kaiser, and was very gentle and loveable, so bringing her home was an easy decision. She and Kaiser got along like a house on fire 99% of the time, but due to whatever had happened to her in the first 2-3 years of her life, she sometimes started something with him that she couldn’t finish. Most of the time they were besties.
The day Xena came home.
Who doesn’t love to spoon?
Unfortunately Xena and Kaiser didn’t have long together before Kaiser went to Doggie Heaven. It was a very sad day/week/month for all, including Xena, who had lost her BFF. We couldn’t stand to see her so depressed, and being a firm believer that dogs are pack animals and aren’t meant to be alone, we got her a new friend. Meet Milo!
Xena was finally the big spoon!
Xena and Milo very quickly became besties and she was great with the little pup. Milo is almost 2 years old now (and the size of a horse), and one of the friendliest dogs you will ever meet. Xena, on the other hand, was amazing with people and children, but a little unpredictable with other dogs due to a rough start in life and what was likely a lack of socialisation in her first couple of years. For the most part, though, she was a sweet, beautiful dog who everybody seemed to love. Her time was far too short, but I’m glad to have been able to give her a few happy years.
Goodbye beautiful friend. You will be loved and missed always. Say hello to Kaiser for me!
Xena with her precious!
A couple of weeks ago I flew home to New Zealand to be the best man for my mate Andy’s wedding. Andy and I have been friends for a long time, and he has become more of a brother than a friend. For this reason, I really wanted to do justice to my best man speech. I have spoken many times in public, and don’t find it too nerve-wracking. I actually enjoy it for the most part. I usually make a few notes before-hand and shoot from the hip once I’m speaking. This time, however, I chose to write the whole thing word-for-word before the big day. I wrote it over a couple of weeks before the wedding, and as I wrote it, I was struck by the similarities between writing a speech and writing a blog-post.
The most obvious similarity is that familiar feeling of having no idea where to start. You have your subject, and maybe a rough idea of what you want to include, but actually putting pen to paper I have always found to be the first hurdle. Once I get going, it’s hard to find the balance between too much and not enough. You want to get your point across as thoroughly as possible, but no one wants to listen to a 20 minute speech or read a 1000-word post.
I follow a lot of blogs, and I have listened to a lot of speeches in my time, and there is one thing that can make or break them: humour. I know some very funny speakers and writers, and they have learned how to use humour in their work very intentionally and very effectively. Most of us aren’t naturally funny. I’m definitely not. My idea of humour is to take the piss out of anything and everything (it’s a Kiwi thing), but that can go all kinds of bad for obvious reasons. There is nothing more awkward or embarrassing than a wedding speech that is trying to be funny, but just isn’t. It sucks for the bride and groom, is sucks for the guests, and guess what; it sucks big-time for the speaker. It’s especially hard to be funny in a blog-post because you don’t have the added interaction of body language, facial expression, or voice.
One obvious difference is this: consequences. I love to blog for a number of reasons. One of which is that I can say what I want about whatever I want without doing too much damage. Of course, some discretion is advised when your blog is read by past, present, or potential clients or colleagues. For the most part, if I make a big boo-boo on one of my blogs, I’ll likely be able to clean up the mess relatively easily. Not so if that boo-boo is made in front of 150 of the bride and groom’s family and friends. Again, I have seen this happen, and it’s painful to watch.
So, what have we learned? 1. If you can write a speech, you can blog, and vice versa. 2. Getting started is hard, but you just have to start writing and the rest will flow. 3. Don’t try to be a funny guy if you know you’re not. And if you think you are, ask someone who will tell you honestly. Like me! 4. Know your audience and think about the potential consequences of what you are saying. 5. Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.
I would love to hear any additions or examples of speeches or blog-posts in the comments. Thanks for reading.
If you have just read my “About” page, I apologise in advance, as this post is really just elaborating on what’s written there. I figured a first post would be a good place to introduce myself and my blog.
My name is Rowan Sims, and I’m a freelance photographer specialising in humanitarian, travel, and cultural photography. I am from New Zealand, although currently based in Melbourne, Australia, with my wife Gillian. I work internationally with NGOs (non-governmental organisations), charities, and non-profits to document their projects and the people and places involved in those projects.
I am passionate about the work that I do and the people that I serve, as I have found nothing to be more rewarding and fulfilling than to use my skills for good and not for evil! Knowing that the images that I create touch people and can lead them to give of themselves and make a difference in their world is what makes this job so incredible.
This blog exists for multiple purposes; the first and most important of which is to share. I love to share my work, my experiences, my thoughts and opinions, and my knowledge with anyone who is interested. I wouldn’t be where I am without others sharing so generously, and I love to do the same.
This blog also exists to educate. I’m passionate about teaching and passing on my knowledge, not only about the craft of photography, but also about the world of aid and development, and about how others can use their skills and gifts for good.
I find myself being inspired by others on a daily basis, and I love to pass it on. I often use this blog to connect readers with the work, projects, media, articles, or words that move me, so that, hopefully, others can be moved and inspired also.
Last, but not least, sometimes I just need to think out loud and have a little celebration or rant about something. I love to express my opinions, and this is a great place to do it. I also enjoy hearing others’ opinions and thoughts, so I’d love to hear from you in the comments, through my contact form, or Twitter. You can see more of my landscape and travel portfolio here.