In Search of Sunshine: Mapping New Horizons

Without warning, I’ve been thrust into a new chapter of my life.

Only four months have passed since my idyllic weekend on the Isle of Raasay, yet it feels like a lifetime ago. At the time of my last post, I was happily cruising along, unaware of any major obstacles on the horizon. They say that bad luck comes in threes and I was clobbered with a triple whammy when, in the five weeks leading up to my wedding in May, I was unexpectedly made redundant from my day job of nearly nine years; I suddenly lost my granny, the last of my beloved grandparents; and I was devastated when my dad was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour.

Me and my dad on my wedding day

“I’m reminded of Charles R. Swindoll’s quote, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’.”

With the passing of time, I’ve had space to reflect on what’s happened and set a new course for myself. In times like these, you can either sink or swim. In my mind, once you’ve plumbed the depths and come face-to-face with some of your deepest fears, the only way is upwards, towards the sunlight.

I’m reminded of Charles R. Swindoll’s quote, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.’ These events are outwith my control. Neither the future that I had mapped out in my mind nor the alternative future that I have come to fear have been written yet. Each day, as my dad’s body fights back and the tumour shrinks a little further in response to treatment, I too can feel myself growing stronger. The most important thing I can do is focus on the here and now in the most constructive way I can, and let life unfold day by day.

“Life is too short and fragile not to embrace my true passion and see where it takes me.”

My day job provided me with a routine, security, some great colleagues and a disposable income for many years. My lifestyle was very comfortable and I guess that’s why I wasn’t in a hurry to change it. Being laid off has given me the push I needed to steer my photography out of the sidelines and drive forwards with the business on a full-time basis. I’m genuinely excited about the road ahead. Life is too short and fragile not to embrace my true passion and see where it takes me.

It’s gotten off to a flying start with some exciting opportunities on the near horizon and a raft of ideas to develop over the coming months. I’ve launched my new wedding photography website at www.karenthorburnweddings.com and am delighted to be taking bookings.

I will also be announcing details of upcoming landscape photography workshop tours before the end of the summer at www.karenthorburn.com/workshops. These will be suited to beginners and more experienced photographers alike, whether you’re shooting with a mobile phone, compact camera or DSLR, and will include multi-day excursions on the North Coast 500 route and the Fife coast, in addition to single day outings on the Black Isle near Inverness.

“My plan is to walk the ~55 miles around the perimeter of the Black Isle.”

Before the upheaval in spring, I’d promised myself another long distance walk this year. As much as I enjoyed walking the Fife Coastal Path in 2014, I’ve decided to follow my own route instead of another of Scotland’s Great Trails this time around. My plan is to walk the ~55 miles around the perimeter of the Black Isle; the Highland peninsula which I’ve called home since 2013.

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My walk will take in hidden gems on the Black Isle coast, including Castle Craig

It will provide me with an opportunity to escape from my desk from time to time and engage in the outdoors; scope out some new locations for my Black Isle photography portfolio; and, most importantly, it will give me the chance to undertake some fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support – a very deserving cause which is close to my heart. My parents have always loved coastal walking and they will be in my thoughts every step of the way. All donations, large or small, will be gratefully received on my secure JustGiving page by clicking this link.

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My dad and I enjoying the great outdoors on the Black Isle in 2015

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9 thoughts

  1. Life’s journey can send us on many unplanned roads. I wish you every success with your new venture, and I hope your father’s health continues to improve.

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  2. What a challenging time you’ve had, but you obviously rise to challenges. As does you father – may that healing path continue. Losing your job seems to have liberated you into adventurous thinking: the photography tours particularly tickle my fancy. Congratulations on your marriage too – what a tumultuous time to be married in. You look stunning.

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  3. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had such a tough time, yet pleased that you have been able to find strength and grow from these experiences. Congratulations on your marriage, and on your new venture. And best wishes to your dad in his recovery.

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  4. Dear Karen,
    You have experienced far more in a short period of time than many people experience over the course of 10 years. The resolve in this post shimmers as do your lovely photographs. Your business will thrive, I predict.

    Your father looks like a strong man. I hope and pray that his health continues to improve, that he beats his cancer, that you all emerge from this trauma stronger and more resilient individuals. And so sorry about your granny…

    I am an oil painter and am tempted to try to paint your lovely picture of Castle Craig with the hay coils…

    We had a barn owl and mate finally inhabit our owl box in our olive orchard. What a thrill! I am an unsophisticated photographer and was able to only get one good photo!

    If I lived closer or near the UK, I would definitely come take your course.

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  5. Wishing you all the best in your new ventures and hoping for the best outcome for your father. Life is tough but you seem to be facing it head on. Macmillan is a great cause.

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  6. Hi Karen,
    I remember when I was going through a particularly tough time a few years ago, my mother’s words ‘you will get through this’ became almost like a mantra to me…and I did. I do so believe that you will be so much better off in your own business..sure it’s tough and can be lonely at times, but at least you are working for you and doing something which will ultimately feed your soul as well as (hopefully) your bank balance…Wishing you and your father all the best.

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  7. Wow, Karen, life has been coming it you fast and furious. As far as losing your job is concerned – when one door closes, another opens. So it seems that you are finding other opportunities. When you mentioned your planned walk around the island – after you do that, would you consider leading a small tour of people who want to do the same? I just joined a small group tour for a guided week on the Camino in Spain next year. I know a lot of people love the idea of walking and exploring – especially when someone else takes care of the logistics. Perhaps another income opportunity?

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