Thursday, August 21, 2014

Surviving Workplace Abuse: A Photo Blog of Memories on the Road to Recovery

If you haven't guessed by now, photography is my hobby, my passion.  It's almost as much a part of me as breathing air is.  A camera is as much a part of my accessories as is my purse.  As much a part of my wearing apparel as are my t-shirt, jeans and shoes.  It is my right-brain therapy and, as such, has been a crucial part of my journey towards recovery post workplace bullying.  Which is why it made so much sense and worked so well when hubby took me and my camera to Niagara Falls for a weekend away when the rubber met the road in my workplace situation and it looked like the rubber was going to win.

In previous blogs recently, I've shared the unorthodox method hubby used when I was in crisis from the workplace:  taking me away, putting my camera in my hand and giving me the freedom, the power, to do whatever I wanted to.

The camera I used in this trip, which is now my "second best" - was new to me at the time - a Canon powershot with a 35x optical zoom lens, so this trip afforded me the opportunity to play with it and see what it could do.

There's more to the story of how the workplace (mis)handled things during this period of time, but before I go there, I've decided to show you the rest of the story of that weekend away.  That is, the rest of the journey that weekend in (selected) pictures.

I think we all need a break from the heavy duty, nitty gritty work of recovery at this point.  What better way to do that then to take a look-see down what is now a part of my memory lane and visually see what I saw.  Experience what I experienced.

As I've indicated before, this trip was special for more than one reason.  As Niagara Falls is not super far from us, we often take day trips which means we wake up, drive there, find a parking place, roam around in the touristy area for a few hours, maybe grab a meal somewhere, walk up Clifton Hill (always a must) and then head home usually via Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario where there are all sorts of one-of-a-kind touristy shops.

This time was different as we left at night, arrived at night, stayed overnight and walked around at night (hence yesterday's pictures).

Then we had the full day the next day to walk around.  To do whatever I chose to do.  To go wherever I chose to go.  This time, we were in a different area of Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Still in the touristy, falls area, but further down from our normal.  Therefore, a different view, a different perspective.

 I'm looking down from "somewhere" guessing these shots are taken from the general area above the cliff  where Falls Incline Railway is located.  It was not only something we hadn't done for years, but afforded me a great vantage point for fun photography that day.

It was so neat to be up on top looking down.

Notice that although it was April, April in Ontario is still very close to winter.  No leaves or even leaf buds on the trees to obscure my view.  There were tourists, yes, the hardy type.  Definitely not as many as in the summer when you can't move for the crowd.

Ice.  Large blocks of ice at the bottom of the falls.  Something I had never seen before and which I could not get enough pictures of.

At the top as we wandered around, I saw someone taking pictures of a friend and asked if they would like me to take a picture of them both.  Then they surprised me by offering to take a picture of us!  Notice, the top/dress I am wearing is hand crocheted - by my hands.  Especially when I'm hurting, I need my comfort clothes which translates to those things I've made which make me feel good.

Spring was coming.  I took this picture to remind me that no matter how bad things are or appear to be in my life, spring always comes after winter.  Always.  Things will get better.

As I've mentioned because Hubby gave me power and control over our wanderings, we wandered all over the place.  Places we normally aren't.  This picture is still taken from the top of the cliff where a parking lot used to be and is now a beautiful promenade with hotels, restaurants, etc.

And then there's the Falls.  Always the Falls.  This time the Horseshoe or Canadian Falls as we had wandered all the way from one end to the other on top of the cliff rather than down below right alongside the Falls.  A different view.  A different perspective.  Notice the snow in the upper middle of the picture.  Spring may have been on its way, but it wasn't there ... yet.

Along with the single white crocus, this little guy was another symbol of spring arriving, winter ending.  Both physically in the real world and emotionally in my world.  No matter how bad things appeared to be at the time, no matter how painful, this was just a season in my life which would pass.  Hopefully.

At the incline railway looking down as we slowly descended from the cliff to base level.

A view of the cable car and tracks leading up the cliff.

The falls up close and personal displaying all their might, their power, their majesty.

The next few pictures show various views, angles and perspectives of the falls in late winter/early spring from the Canadian side.  My side.

They show views I've never gotten before or since.

Colours I've never captured on file - or rather SD card - before or since.

I could say that of all the Falls shots taken that morning that the one below is my favourite, but then I tend to look at each one separately and claim them all my favourite.  Why?  Perhaps because one picture along cannot capture the whole experience but several can highlight different aspects of the experience.

Just as in life, we tend to look at one incident whether incredibly good or incredibly bad such as my situation at that time in the workplace and look at it as isolated, alone.  We tend to look at that one incident as being the totality of our lives.  And it's not.

Here we see the barrenness of the landscape.  If we looked at this alone, by itself, we would fail to realize that in just a month or so the landscape would become alive with tourists, green with grass, plants, etc.  It would come alive almost overnight.  As if by magic.

Just like my life would eventually come back from its barrenness, starkness at that time.  It would take longer than a month, much longer, but it would come back.  With nurturing, with care.  And most of all ... with time and therapy.

All I had to do was take a 90 degree turn to the left, and there was a completely different view entirely.  No longer facing the Falls, I'm now facing the cliff and seeing the huge, Skywheel peeking up above the barren trees.  Life's like that, isn't it?  Things may look pretty bad from one viewpoint, but if we just turn 90 degrees or more or less, we see a whole different perspective.  Things definitely no longer look the same.

I don't think this picture needs any prose to accompany it.  It is what it is.  Just like life.

Through the barrenness of the winter foliage - or lack thereof - there were signs emerging that winter was definitely ending and that spring was coming.  Snowdrops are one of the earliest of all spring flowers to show their heads.  Delicate yet hardy as they peek their little heads up through the earth.

After we returned to our car to head back homeward to reality, the adventure was not yet over.  Hubby still handed over complete control of the route we would take home, of where and when we would stop so we decided to drive along the Niagara River Parkway.

Whenever I wanted to stop, the car just magically pulled over and found a parking place.

There were many places I had wanted to see closer but had never done so.  So I took full advantage of the opportunity.

Here is one such place I'd passed many times but never stopped at: the Whirpool Areo Car.

I saw the car on the other side of the river and thought that the attraction was still closed for the winter and that the car was docked on the New York side during the winter months.

So I started taking pictures just to see how close up and how clearly I could get pictures of it with my new camera.

It took a few pictures before I realized that the car was not stationary, that it was moving, ever closer to where I stood on the Ontario side of the gorge.  And there were people on the other side.

Life is like that in a way.  Life never stays stagnant.  Never stays in one place.  Always moving.  Sometimes forward, sometimes backward, but always moving.

And then I looked down and was just as fascinated by the rugged terrain I saw below me as I was by the sights in front of me.

And then I looked to my left and saw even more sights which fascinated me.  More fodder for my camera.  More memories to look back on and uplift my spirits.

The next two pictures go together as I stood at the top of the gorge overlooking the Whirlpool Aero Car.  Remember that earlier I wrote that I was trying out a new camera with more zoom capability than my previous one.  On the other side of the river, the New York side, I saw what at first looked like miniature people. But as I saw zoomed in more and more, they got closer and closer, more distinct.

Until they were fully exposed.  Just like life in a way.  Things that are indistinct at first view can become closer and more obvious as we research, analyze, recover.  I find it very ironic that the picture I took shows someone taking a picture of their friends.

Once back in the car, we passed Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric station heading away from Niagara Falls to Queenston, Ontario where we would end our roamings that day and head West and home.

As we continued down the river, we made one last picture-taking spot.  Again, we've never stopped there before or since.  I'm not even sure exactly where it is, but it was another piece of the puzzle which leads to healing.

We've reached the end of the line with the below picture of Brock's Monument in Queenston Heights Park.  Or at least our ramble along the Niagara River and all its scenic places on the Niagara River heading away from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Here, we turn left and start heading West towards home.

Enough for today.  I hope you enjoyed your journey in and around Niagara Falls Canada with me as your "scenic tour guide" both through the geographic area which is so familiar to me and the hazardous terrain of healing from workplace abuse.

Tomorrow?  We probably unpack our bags from this trip and work more on the journey of recovery post workplace abuse.

See you then.

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