Facebook pops up every few days with a ‘on this day’ reminder of what I was doing on that day however many years ago. This can be fun (or depressing, depending on if the same concerns keep coming up), but doesn’t always chronicle the things I want to remember.  So, here is my ad hoc series of memories – not necessarily on the exact day, but somewhere around it.  This has the benefit of making me go through the 100,000+ images I have to find something I want to enjoy again.

Christmas in Xi’an is beautiful in the snow. Students build snowmen, mums bring little ones out to play. And then there is a red umbrella – waiting for its owner to return.

Burma – New Year 2012/2013 was an amazing adventure. This timber worker spends all day cleaning up logs for construction of new buildings around the town.

Feb 2004 – Xi’an My first visit to the Terracotta Warriors after moving to live in Xi’an. Even then I was more interested in the ‘back story’ of people’s lives and how things were managed on a day to day process. 🙂


Posted by DeborahH in Cultural dimensions, Daily Life, Musings, Remembrancer, 0 comments


I have been reading Bill Jay’s interviews with David Hurn “On Being a Photographer” and am busily underlining many passages that I feel resonate. One interesting quote is that you are not a photographer because you are interested in photography, and he goes on to say that photography is only a tool for expressing a passion in something else.

That quote was certainly challenging, because it made me ask WHAT am I so passionate about that makes me want to express it through photographs? I cast my mind’s eye back over the photographs I have taken and they cover almost everything!! From family photos to macros of flowers; from antique ploughs to portraits of elderly Burmese ladies… My problem is what am I NOT interested in??

I had to think further about this – maybe I am just someone mucking around with a camera? The best I could come up with is I passionately believe that everything is connected, and I want to express those connections. Connected at an atomic, cellular level; connected an emotional, responsive level; connected at a human level. We are all part of it…

And to add to my thinking about connection, last weekend I went to the wedding of a couple of my debaters. Nothing says ‘connection’ more than a wedding. Clearly a strong symbol of connectedness. It was a lovely wedding, I caught up with other ‘old’ debaters who are now out in the world working and creating their own families and lives. But our connections were still there in the stories we told, the jokes we remembered and the fun we had.

Even when I leave China, we will still have those connections.




Posted by DeborahH in Growth and Development, Musings, Photography in China, 3 comments

Little things


I spent a week playing on an Koh YaoYai in Thailand.  This is a beautiful little island, not as well known as some of the others and so not crowded and not quite so touristy.  I was able to wander about, take trips on the long-tail boats to other islands and generally explore.  The scenery was magnificent, and I did take a couple of hundred photos of amazing islands leaping from the water, but in the end it is always the little things that fascinate me.

Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run… but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us.

Victor Cherbuliez

I spent ages wandering along the beach looking at the tiny shells, the small crabs and enjoying how they fit so well into the environment.

Snorkelling gave me the chance to look beneath the surface – and now an underwater housing for the camera on is my wish list. Beneath the surface so much life occurs, and we are so unaware of it.  However, I also explored the mangrove forest from the sea and found this energetic mangrove snail, hiding from predators and looking for food. These are perennial pursuits for all of us – safety and nourishment.

Mangrove snail

A walk around one of the islands hit by the tsunami revealed this beautiful little fossil shell, uncovered by the waves after millenia of hiding.

Fossil shell

And what is an island without a beach?  Again though, the small waves caught my attention, the force land and sea exert on each other to create a changed state.  Small, but persistent and finally creating a new beach, new sand, new motion.


Looking for the little things that make up our world keeps me balanced.  Not everything has to be bigger than Ben Hur to be wonderful.

Posted by DeborahH in Musings, Photography in China, 2 comments

Temple thoughts

Lotus Light

Temples bring out the contemplative, even if we have no clear or strong beliefs.  The years of meditation, saturation with prayers, blessings, pleas all linger and create a place where we can slow down and look inwards.


Again it seems no matter what our beliefs, we relate to symbols very strongly.  In the business world, we look at logos; in the physical realm we see symbolism in mountains or oceans or rivers; in our homes, the symbols of peace or love can be many – from Nanna’s favourite piece of crystal sitting on a shelf to a special mug we use for a warm drink.  Religious symbols connect us to a spiritual world and create meanings within ourselves, not always dependent on how the priests or religious leaders interpret them.

Prayer wheels and flags

We have many ways of sending our thoughts into the universe.  Through formal church or temple rituals, through personal meditations, through feeling the beauty of what is around us in our hearts and minds.  No matter the form, for me it is the connection to something deep within myself that relates to the universe that is important.  This connection should create peace, within ourselves and maybe across our relationships with all others.

Fire prayers

What I have found fascinating though, is that all spiritual experiences seem to deepen when there is fire present.  Candles, campfires, incense, fireplaces… wherever there is flame it seems as if a part of us meditates.

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.

Ferdinand Foch

Posted by DeborahH in Musings, Photography in China, 0 comments


There are days that no matter how strong and independent we are, we need a little protection, a little TLC to help us get through.  We can pride ourselves on our capability, on being ‘the strong one’, but just some days it is so nice to have someone to stand in front of the bitter cold or the rough winds and protect us.

Winter wrapping

When we look at protection, for ourselves or others, what is it we really need?  Trees, in their natural habitat need nothing more than their DNA and situation to survive the driest, coldest, wettest or worst conditions.  Out of the natural habitat, it is a different matter.


Protection from the elements can allow us to survive and perhaps to grow.

White warmth.

But when we look at the protection offered, does it really protect?  Or does it just look as if it protecting? Is it really necessary? Or effective?

 “I’ll be the one to protect you from your enemies and all your demons

I’ll be the one to protect you from a will to survive and a voice of reason

I’ll be the one to protect you from your enemies and your choices, son

They’re one in the same, I must isolate you

Isolate and save you from yourself”  ― A Perfect Circle


How much does this protection eventually warp us into something we are not, or were never meant to be?

“Nothing is true in self-discovery unless it is true in your own experience.

This is the only protection against the robot levels of the mind.”

Barry Long

Posted by DeborahH in Growth and Development, Musings, Photography in China, 0 comments