Linda’s Black & White vs Color Photo Challenge

The amazing Dragon Queen, a.k.a Linda, over at started a fun black and white vs. color photo challenge! Grab your camera and join in on the fun!

Frodo & Roda


Many of you know that I have a passion for animals and photography.  Put the two together, and I have found pure bliss!  This photo represents my passion beautifully!  I owe all the credit to Wifey, who patiently stood out in the freezing cold for this shot.

I am a nut about black and white photography.  But, even I can’t decide between these two shots.  I enjoy the timeless feel of the black and white, but I also love the color tones!  I am going to break the rules and choose both!

Which one is your favorite!?

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…




Meet Darren!

On Tuesday, I announced the three beautiful individuals, that were selected by my family, to receive birthday gifts from Growing Self. Yesterday, I introduced you to Kelly!   Today, I would like to celebrate the kind, talented and botanical God, Darren.  Here is his story…♥

Meet Darren – a.k.a. “Super D”


So I am supposed to write about me? Well, like most bloggers, I often do that anyway as it is a subject I know quite a bit about – though my wife insists she knows more.

So who am I? Well here is a starter:

Full time lab rat. Part time artist, plantsman, gardener, naturalist, sci-fi geek, gym bunny, musician, comedian, blogger, photographer, caffeine addict, recovering depressive and wannabe gigolo.

I was born in 1966, back when the world was still in black and white, and am still thinking about growing up.

I live in NW England. It rains a lot and there are sheep.

What do you mean, ‘no, seriously’?

The above pretty much sums me up really. I suspect Roda wants something a little more in-depth..

What brings me joy? I have always loved nature. The perfection of a flower or and insect’s wing and how as you focus further in and see more detail they just become even more wondrous. I bought myself a microscope when I was 11 and am still exploring nature 40 years later, with even more enthusiasm. The way nature adapts and grows to fill every life possibility is a lesson to us all I think.

How have I grown over the past year? Well this is quite a story! A year ago I was in the depths of one of my worst depressive episodes in decades. I had a breakdown in mid summer and was prescribed Citalopram. This improved my mood enough to start taking steps, including reviving my long neglected blog. I started reaching out and connecting with other like-minded bloggers. Some of these people have become true real-life friends who bring me joy every single day with thoughtful messages, comments and gifts. My day always starts with checking my e-mail and WordPress for news from my friends.

The loneliness I had felt for years has gone. I have found a sense of family.

My new friends have encouraged me in my efforts to grow and fulfil my dreams. Feeling loved and supported has made me so much more brave and willing to push my limits. Most recently I started to learn to swim at 51. This week I swam my first length and it made me SO happy. My dream of scuba diving on a coral reef is now a step closer!

I am working toward selling my art and collaborating with friends on blogging projects too. I am busy but happy for the first time in so long.

How have I learned to love myself? By listening instead of dismissing compliments, often from the same friends above. I started to accept that maybe my self-perception had been skewed for a long time and maybe I am an OK guy after all.

What challenges have I overcome in my life? The biggest was the scars left by my childhood. I drafted a bog post about this once but it was so painful that I could not bear to publish it and have only shared the full story with one person. It culminated in a suicide attempt at 17 and a lifetime of self-esteem issues and depression which in turn led to loneliness. I have fought back on occasions before but in the last six months there has been what feels like a permanent shift back into the light, as I have already described.

Growing Self was one of the first blogs I followed when I returned to blogging and has inspired me in many ways; from Roda’s sublime photography, her lovely family and her critters. Her love of flowers and nature but most of all because of Roda’s loving and sunny heart. I know where to go if I need a smile or to feel some warmth. Thank you Roda for bringing sunshine to the lives of your loving friends over the last year and long may you continue. Darren

To learn more about this talented man, visit his blog…

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…



Meet Kelly!

Yesterday, I announced the three beautiful individuals, that were selected by my family, to receive birthday gifts from Growing Self.  For the next three days, I am excited to celebrate their stories!  Today, I would like you to meet Kelly…♥

Where to begin? I usually like to hear others’ stories before talking about myself. This past year of reading Growing Self has been very inspirational! I love the photos, the recipes, the adventures on Indigo Acres, and the positive thoughts shared each and every day.

The farm stories bring back so many wonderful memories for me. I grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan. We had a huge garden, goats, cows, chickens, geese, and more. We spent hours outside doing chores (not my favorite part), but also playing in the barn building hay forts and mazes with our friends. My goal some day is to get back to living on a small farm. You brought back a desire to grow fresh veggies in my garden again! After taking a break, I planted a garden last summer. Everything was growing beautifully until mid-July. We have 3 raised beds surrounded by fencing to keep out the deer. I came back to Michigan for the weekend and accidentally left the gate open. Big OOPS! The deer feasted on just about every single tomato, cucumber, and pepper plant I had planted They left behind 3 plants that managed to produce a handful of tomatoes that I turned into salsa and sauce or sliced/diced for a salad. I really wanted to do some canning and make fresh tomato sauce. This will happen in the summer of 2018!!! I am determined to try again and I will be successful!

You have also inspired me to start keeping a gratitude journal. I am generally a very positive, outgoing person, but some days are tougher than others. This journal makes me look at my day and pick three things that made me smile, laugh, feel good, etc. Sometimes, I choose to write a couple of pages of thoughts. Other times, I only write down the three things I’m grateful for. My father always taught us to enjoy the simple things. I’ve enjoyed writing them down the past two months and hope I can reach a year and beyond.

One more thing I’ve been meaning to share with you, since we’ve reconnected, is how you were an incredibly positive influence on me, way back in high school! We were both in marching band and I will never forget what you did in the spring of your senior year (I was a sophomore). You pulled me aside and told me that Mr. C thought I should try out for drum major. Say what! I had to be one the shyest kids in the band! I liked to just blend in and do my job. I loved being a part of the band, but didn’t see myself climbing up on that podium leading over 100 kids. You practiced with me and helped me prepare for the drum major auditions. The most important thing you did was believe in me. I was very nervous, but I survived the auditions AND was chosen to be one of the drum majors! The whole experience was a huge confidence booster for me that helped me conquer fears of being in front of others and took away a lot of my shyness. I’m so glad Mr. C put a bug in your ear to then put a bug in mine!

Every kid out there needs a teacher or peer to BELIEVE in him at some point and INSPIRE her to take a risk. I eventually became an elementary teacher and hopefully did just that for some of my former students.

Thank you, Roda, for being a true inspiration to others and sharing your thoughts with us.  Kelly

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…