Following through

Last month I shared with you some of my thoughts in Reflections and Resolutions. I can honestly say that keeping to some of these resolutions has been more challenging than others. Family time has already improved as we’ve reinstated family date night, the improving weather is allowing us to be outside more and we’re already planning our summer road trip. I have been writing more than any other time I can recall  and I’m taking a more deliberate approach to my photography. In part by putting more of my photos on my Instagram and some on a photo website called ViewBug. I’ve also started a Facebook page where I’m sharing my photos and writing as well as some of the things that have inspired me.

While, I’ve always been reluctant to manipulating my photos when sharing them, I am warming up to the idea and have made some minor tweaks to some of those now posted. I’m even considering which photo editing software I should purchase rather than the free software I already have. So far the changes have been pretty minor and I hope that the need to manipulate decreases thanks to a couple of books my darling wife bought me for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Practice makes perfect, but sometimes you need to know what to practice.

But I’m also broadening how I think about photography and what my goals are with it. In the past I’ve tried to capture things only as they are and to a certain extent I don’t plan to deviate from that, but I’ve started thinking about how to do more with a photo. Photographs can be so much more than colors on paper or a screen. They can inspire new ideas, new causes or help us to reassess our own paradigm about almost anything.

The first few weeks of February have been fairly busy, lots of new things at work and then working on our tax return. Thankfully, that’s all done! So long as I end up with a refund, I get it done as early as possible. But the focus on getting our taxes done has hijacked time from my writing and keeping up with some of the other commitments I’ve made to myself.

One of the things I said I was going to start doing is giving more. I asked my readers to submit any worthy causes that they wanted to and that I would give them my sincere consideration. Sadly, there weren’t as many ideas submitted as I had hoped. But of those that were, I have done some research and am now in the planning phase of giving. I hope to work them into my budget for March and hopefully be able to donate on a regular basis.

One submission was DonorsChoose.org a site that hosts many different causes, all for supporting teachers and educational initiatives. Some are for funding to get new books, while some are for new technology and science related material as well as many others where educators are truly being creative. Many sound worthy and when you consider that there is likely a cause in your own school district, the impact to your community can be very real!

The other submission was for the Nature Conservancy, a group who’s mission ‘is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.’ There is a lot to be said about that mission. Regardless of your political leanings or opinion on things such as climate change or deforestation, the inarguable point is, we all depend on clean water and suitable nutrition to survive. Their core values and the areas in which they work make them an organization that I feel is deserving of support.

Neither of these groups are political or so far as I’ve been able to determine, even controversial in what they are doing. That is why these two groups will be among the first that I begin to support this year. Additionally, there have been some other worthy causes that I’ve found. Driven in part by the small number of submissions to my request, I ended up, of all places, on the App Store. If you ever feel compelled, just search for charity or donation and you may be surprised by what you find. Below are a few that I have downloaded, (sorry Android users, all the links are through iTunes, but I think many have Android apps available) and have been reviewing when I have spare time.

Charity Miles and Donate a Photo don’t even require you to donate money. Either through logging your steps or taking a picture you can help a cause of your choosing. And if you’re a trivia enthusiast, check out Pocket Rice, where you might learn something new and help feed those in need. ChariPick and One Today will each help you find new causes depending on your interests. ShareTheMeal is an app supported by the United Nations and the money raised goes to the United Nations World Food Programme to help fight hunger, especially for those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I like this one in particular because it has an alert in the app to remind me to donate regularly, and if I take my lunch to work even one day a week and donate the money instead to this program I could feed one person for nearly two weeks with that amount.

Hopefully at least one of these groups or causes that I’ve mentioned here will resonate with you and you will feel compelled to support their efforts. But, even if these causes aren’t for you, hopefully I’ve got you thinking about where you can give and what money or time you may give can do for others.

So… My resolutions are still a work in progress, but I think I’m moving in the right direction and I’m feeling better about it every day.

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