A beautiful baby.
Outfits featuring bright prints.
A kaleidoscope of colour!
These are examples of the kinds of things you are likely to see if you take a peek at my Instagram account.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, Instagram is a mobile social media site for sharing photos and videos. You can apply a range of filters to these photos to change the way they look.
I’d signed up to Instagram last year, but never got round to using it. More time than might be considered healthy had already been spent on Facebook and Twitter, and to be honest I couldn’t really see a use or purpose to Instagram at that time.
That changed when it dawned on me that you can apply filters and upload photos you have already taken. Hundreds of photos of my son Hugo were taken on my phone during his life, and I treasure every one of them. As Hugo spent the duration of his life in hospital, all the photos were taken under the harsh brightness of hospital lighting.
So, the real clincher for me in adopting my new social media obsession was playing with photos of my son, enriching the colour. That’s not to mention the opportunity it gave me to share my beautiful son with even more people – I usually link the photos to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, too.
Some of the photos of Hugo I have shared on Instagram have been at a particularly low time. The comments I have received from friends about how gorgeous he is never fail to give me a warm glow at a time when I most need it.
Flowers have been a regular feature on my Instagram feed. For me, it’s about celebrating the beauty in the simple, every day things – even if I don’t know what many of them are called.
Many of the flowers in the photos are from my garden.
When I venture out, I find myself seeking out flowers – whether they are in public beds, table displays or hanging baskets outside someone’s house. Looking for pretty flowers to photograph provides a welcome distraction from the sense of panic I feel in general, and from the fear of seeing babies in particular.
When I go back and look at the photos of the flowers, the vibrancy of their colours helps me feel a little happier for a few moments. A simple strategy, yet effective.
Clothes have always been a passion for me, with a particular penchant for pretty dresses and skirts with brightly-coloured prints. I started doing an #ootd – or outfit of the day – as a bit of fun.
Selfies are often seen negatively as the narcissistic, self-centered side of social media. My motivation for these outfit of the day selfies is to remind myself who Leigh is, behind the grief. I love clothes, and I especially love clothes that make me feel good. These selfies are celebrating who I am.
Of course, I will never be quite the same Leigh as the woman before February this year, but there are some parts of me hiding in the shadows of the grief. It is good to bring these parts back in to the light.
Before Hugo’s death, I had been known (amongst other things) for my ready smile and infectious laugh. These haven’t been seen very often during the past few months, and my family and friends have enjoying seeing my smile in these photos.
Seeing through Twitter what friends were getting involved with on Instagram intrigued me. With my love of colour, the Capturing Colour project seemed particularly attractive. As I came late to the party I understand (please correct me if I am wrong) the project was started by My Two Mums and Capture by Lucy. I had fun taking photos of things that were pink and things that were rainbow coloured, as per the prompts.
#31 Days of Paper, a paper-related challenge throughout August devised by The Reading Residence was a particular favourite. Some of the photos I posted in response to the prompts were related to Hugo in some way, and some were not. That was ok. The posts that were not related to Hugo represented other things I am passionate about (books), my character, and my sense of humour. Again it was good to see those shine through.
During September, I am looking forward to the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge, and am thinking what I can photograph for each of the prompts.
The value, to me, of a free app that at first I dismissed as a bit of a silly gimmick cannot be measured. There is still a long way to go, of course, but it feels good to have little bits of happy returning to my life. It’s a tribute to Hugo, and how much he loved life.
The benefits of my new Instagram obsession have radiated further than me. My partner has been pleased to see me taking an interest in the world again. My family and friends have been pleased to see my smile again. A friend mentioned that my photos light up her Instagram feed.
I have enjoyed making the photo collages for this post; it was a useful distraction this morning. A bit of electronic crafting (now there is an oxymoron for you).
Instagram is helping me rediscover my happy because it encourages me to see the simple beauty that is prevalent throughout the world. This simple beauty is what makes our lives worth living.
Now, dear readers, I would like to set you all a challenge. You don’t all have to rush to download Instagram – this isn’t a promo post. You don’t even have to take a photo – this challenge is that easy.
All the challenge entails is to take a mental note of just one thing every day that makes you happy, and that makes you who you are. I promise it will make you feel a bit chirpier, even on a rubbish day (and it’s probably even more pertinent on a rubbish day).
I’d love to know how you get on.