The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Sunday, 28 February 2010

Hassle in Amsterdam ...

As I sit here trying to write a blog entry, Wolf Junior is arsing about with his camera trying to get some shots of us together, as Mat has requested.  I don't thimk the flash on his camera's working.   I've asked him to set the flash but he doesn't know how to (dumbkopff!).  RTFM dude!

I had some space cake last night to get a break from the physical pain and it felt gooood!  Junior kept making me talk when all I wanted to do was just sit there and meditate ... and follow the energy trails of the stuff moving around my body.

We didn't get much photography done as it's rained a lot this weekend ... but it's been a nice chilled weekend and it makes a nice change to be able to hang with nice easy going people.

A lof of one digit communication took place within the pack .. all in fun though.

We just finished doing the photo of us together for Mat - we got a shot we're happy with and will send it on.

Time to pack up and head off back home via Cedrick and Melanie.



Thursday, 25 February 2010

A rollercoaster day ...

The books arrived today. 41 copies have been packed ready for dispatch in the morning. Another 4 have been ordered locally. Any more takers?! :o)

Of the first 200 copies, 12 are going to the USA, 28 to the UK, 1 to Calais and 1 to Holland.  An additional 4 copies have been ordered locally.  So they're moving.

It turned out to be a stressy day as the email system went down and I didn't realise until this afternoon. So it looks like none of the press releases etc went out.

That'll have to wait 5 days now as I'm in need of a break. So no sitting here and doing bits of promoting etc. Haven't even had time to sweep the floor with that awkwardly positioned broom.

Have a good weekend and, PLEASE, continue to put the word out and get your orders in for the book if you want one. The link for ordering a book is: http://www.wolf-photography.com/graphics/books/Words%20of%20a%20Wolf/slides/Words%20of%20a%20Wolf.html - so please join in and lend your support to the project?



Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Are you excited about the book release tomorrow?

I've been asked that question so many times today.

What's there to be excited about?  The subject matter isn't pleasant.  The exercise is to demonstrate how PTSD affects me in an effort to help people understand other veterans, as well as showing how poetry and photography help to cope with the condition. 

To push my pain forward in an effort to help others seek support or to help loved ones understand what's happening to their sons, daughters, mothers or fathers that may be afflicted with PTSD.  I take solace in the fact though that a good percentage of the poems are positive in theme ... exploring emtotions that seem to survive under the blanket of PTSD, the flame of my romantic soul survivng in the darkness, walking with the protective spirit of the Wolf.

I've been feeling more vulnerable and stressy as the days move toward release date, which is tomorrow.  If anything I'm plagued with doubt as to whether the book will achieve the goals that I have set and how it will be received by the public.

I want to feel the first book in my hand though, just to connect with it.  I'll probably sit with it for a while and just feel the energy of it ... then I'll lock it all down and get on with posting out the orders.

I always taught myself to do my best at whatever I turned my hand to.  I can honestly say that I've tried that with this book .. and I can't ask any more of myself.   Neither can anyone else.

It's been an interesting experience.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Press release from Combat Stress

This from combat Stress (Please circulate this as widely as possible to your press contacts):

PRESS RELEASE 22 February 2010

Words of a Wolf

Veteran Publishes Poetry Book to raise profile of Veterans’ Mental Health Issues

Armed Forces Veteran and photographer, Wolf Sunkmanitu, has produced a book of poetry and photography to highlight Veterans’ mental health issues and raise money for the UK’s leading charity in the field, Combat Stress. The book, entitled Words of a Wolf, is being released Wednesday 24 February and is available via www.combatstress.org.uk and http://www.wolf-photography.com/html/books.html­.

Of copies purchased via www.combatstress.org.uk, 25 % of the profits will be donated to the charity.

As well as acting as a fundraising exercise, the book also seeks to raise awareness of Veterans’ mental health issues and signpost those in need to organisations that can provide vital support.

Wolf served in Northern Ireland with the RAF Police in the 1980s and subsequently developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His desire to educate stems from his own experiences with mental ill health and finding ways to cope with the psychological scars of serving in Northern Ireland.

“The condition wasn’t diagnosed until 1995, following a serious road accident. I spent a lot of years wondering what was wrong with me when I left Northern Ireland. I was afraid to talk about my feelings in a world where mental health issues left people further ostracised.

Since that time I’ve been on a journey within to understand myself and the condition in order to try and cope with it in my everyday life.

My poetry allows me to hang on to parts of my persona that might otherwise have been swallowed up by the PTSD, leaving me completely at the mercy of a debilitating condition, while the photography sets me free for a while.”

Further funds raised from book sales will go toward financing a national photographic and poetry exhibition to raise awareness of PTSD in Veterans and to demonstrate the value of creative therapies as coping mechanisms for PTSD.

For further information on Wolf’s creative works and Words of a Wolf, please visit http://wolfphotograpy.blogspot.com/ or http://www.wolf-photography.com - alternatively you can email Wolf at the_wolf1964@hotmail.com, or telephone 07971 997 710.

For more information about the work of Combat Stress, please visit www.combatstress.org.uk, email pressoffice@combatstress.org.uk, or telephone 01372 841647.

Notes to Editors:

Combat Stress is currently providing support for approximately 4,200 ex-Service men and women, including 77 who served in Afghanistan and 346 who served in Iraq.

Approximately 60% of Veterans receiving support from Combat Stress suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Other and co-existing conditions include depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse, anxiety and phobic disorders.

At Combat Stress, Art Therapy is an intervention that helps Veterans with PTSD reflect on, and process what they have experienced, in a visual way, without reliance on the power of words alone. We offer it as both individual and group therapy. The group format is particularly helpful in the context of trauma: it can promote a sense of connectedness and reduce isolation; it can also increase insight into other people’s experiences and improve self-awareness.

With 1,257 new cases referred to Combat Stress last year alone, the charity is under constant pressure to meet an ever growing need its unique help.

Date of release 24 Feb 2010.


The english language is the hardest to learn ... says my neighbour, Edna

I asked Edna to explain why and she said it's because we have so many words with multiple meanings.   So, I was sat there dunking my choccy biccies in a cup of hot tea and  started thinking about words with double meanings and we started batting a few at eachother and seeing how many we could come up with.

We really know how to live it up!  We turned on the light and pulled out her dictionary and guess what?  One word that we found had 10 (yes TEN) multiple meanings.  So, for a change, here's a quiz:

What's the word that we found (the old-fashioned way only please!  No doing internet searches ya big geek!) with 10 meanings and can you top it with one you found? 

We also found words with 5. 6, 7, 8 and 9 meanings.  Feel free to give yourself an honourable mention if you scored 7 meanings or above?  Enter your replies in the comments and get others involved in this quiz?

Cheers :o)


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Chatting on MSN ...

I'm sat here chuckling while Wolf Junior and Laila take the piss out of me on MSN.  You've got to love the internet for crossing borders and bringing people of different cultures and countries together.  I wish Mat was on too right now that Derek still used MSN - it'd be a good laugh :o)

We've had about 3 or 4 inches of snow over night and it's beautiful here again.  Going to have to go and shovel it off Edna's drive though and her back steps just in case.

Happy Sunday to you all!


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Cranky day ...

I did something stupid the other day - press-ups without a warm up.  Every now and then I get this urge to do something that I used to be able to do without as much cost or effort to the body as it does now.  Sometimes it's my 50 press-ups, sometimes it's me going mad at the kick-bag.  Did I ignore the warm up on purpose?  Nope, it just didn't register.  This is one of the side effects of my PTSD:  I can forget the simple things.  Yet when I drive my car, everything's under control and I don't forget anything.  I might forget to put something in the car (like forgetting my camera batteries and memory cards on my trip to Calais in January!)  but I won't forget to check the oil level in the car engine, tyre pressure, washer-water levels etc or my driving methods.

If I have made a new acquaintance and I don't hear from them in a little while, I forget who they are.  If they've managed to get themselves into my long term memory and I don't hear from them, the same can happen.  Some people seem to be able to stay caught in the net of my memory.  It gets embarrasing though because people automatically seem to assume that you don't value them because you didn't remember them.  Being a caring sort of bloke I tell them about my disability and how it affects my short term memory but they think that you're telling them porkies and you see that empty smile and on their faces, maybe catch their eyes glazing over or rolling up into the back of their heads ... or the verbal response, 'Yeah, pull the other one.'

One of the reasons that I stopped attending any sort of dance class (salsa or bachata) was simply because when I got to a few moves down the routine I couldn't remember any more because I need more time than the average person to remember certain things and I need to be able to do it properly in my own mind and understand it ... feel it.  The situation isn't helped though when you have teachers that change the routine part way through .  Most of them make something up on the night.  I've not met one yet that hasn't changed something part way through teaching the routine.  They should go and talk to some professional teachers or trainers about training methods as it'll help them a lot.  It doesn't matter what you teach - the preparation needs to be done.  If I want to learn something now I watch it on you tube and practise by myself and then try to find someone at one of the parties to practise with me a little - or I'll just try it and keep improving it - with a little luck.

Dancing's fun though and it gets you to move your body.  Salsa parties aren't the same as night clubs.  Most people are there for the dance and there's a code.  If someone asks you to dance - you dance.  Not everyone follows that code though and you soon learn to avoid those people.  You generally don't get trouble at real salsa parties, providing the organisers are responsible.  I've been to the odd do where there have been a couple of drunken people messing around on the floor but those parties have been few and far between.  One of the problems of living with PTSD are the additional difficulties that can cause physical sypmtoms because of the isolation I live with.  I have quite a few injuries from a previously very active life style.  If I don't move my body through some decent exercise at least once a week I get that deep bone pain through inactivity.  Salsa and bachata are good coping mechanisms for this.  So's having a walking machine and doing a little on it everyday.  It still doesn't stop me walking like an old man sometimes at the end of the night when I walk from my car to my front door!  Pain is pain ... bit it's good to fight it.

Today's a little cranky because of the amount of physical pain in my body.  It impacts the PTSD and keeps me off-balance, so the best thing to do is to keep myself to myself at such times.  I have a tear at an old injury  site and recognise the pain and restricted movement as well as what I need to do to cope with it.  At times like this being near another person that doesn't know me well can be detrimental to my efforts at balancing out and dealing with the difficulties ... but it'll get more manageable soon ;o)

Hope you're having a lovely weekend,


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Words of a Wolf is live on Nielson's database ...

Another one of those hurdles has been leapt.  Words of a Wolf is now live on Nielson's database of book titles.  I'm hoping that bookstores get interested now.

The advanced orders have gone up to 38 copies now.  The first print run is only 200 copies and they should be here by 24th February 2010 with a little luck.  So I guess I'll have to wait and see what the initial reaction is to the book.

If you know of any local bookstores that might be interested in this title, please let me know?

I had a meeting with the Curator of the New Art Exchange in Nottingham today.  I've got some ideas off him with regard to the photography and poetry exhibition.  I need 10 venues as a 1st stage and they have to be in different zones around England.  So if you know of any venues that might want to hold the exhibition, please get them to email me at:  wolf (at) wolf-photography.com or:  the_wolf1964 (at) hotmail.com.

My thanks to those of you that have placed advance orders and thanks to the people that have been supporting this project.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Carnival at Dunkerque ...

I went out to get du pain, du fromage et du vin.  I got the first two but decided on a warming cherry liquer in the end.  It's very cold here, made worse by the humidity in the area, If your brass monkey looks like a eunch, you now know why.  I got back and promptly tucked into the bread and cheese with a cup of hot earl grey tea ... nice!

While I was ordering tea I got talking to a nice french guy called Emanuel.  He's an architect in France somewhere.  Any way, he was telling me about the carnival on at Dunkerque today and I asked if I could follow him up.

We got there befoe the start of the carnival but the mood in the whole area was one of joviality and community.  I asked a couple of the people that I photographed about the reason for the carnival and I gleaned the following (though I apologise if I have any of it wrong):  It's a time when men can let there feminine sides out.  Most of the men were wearing skirts and wigs, as they showed off their stockined legs.  Some even wore false breasts.  I gathered that there was also a human rights  element to the occassion but I'm not clear on that at all and wondered if gay rights were an issue that was also raised or celebrated at the event.

I didn't stay for the main event as I still avoid large crowds wherever possible but I hope I have some nice shots of the merriment.  Part of the ceremony of the day later will happen about 5pm.  The mayor of the town will throw out fish to the assembled crowd.  Apparently this was a custom amongst the fishing community many years ago.

I'm back in Calais now and have just finished off the bread and brie and am relaxing with some of the cherry liquer ... and remembering the trip when I brought Josh and Laila to France.  I walked by the restaurant where we all shared a lovely meal.  It was the first time that we'd all been out for a meal where they actually decided on what they wanted.  We talked, made fun of eachother and I listened to stories about their lives.  It was a pleasant evening.

It's Valentine's Day and I'm wondering whether the whole town will be a version of a couple's night only or whether I'll be able to get a nice meal somewhere without feeling a total plonker for being the only one on his own.

The french are a very tolerant people, providing you at least own up to your ignorance of their language and try to speak some of it.

Time for a nap.

Au revoir

Lupe :o)

A night in Calais ...

I'm in Calais and I'm getting to know my way around the place, a little.

Like any place that attracts tourists it has its mix of good and seedy areas and the accomodation varies quite a lot from place to place.

I stayed at the hotel Balladin the last time but made a mistake this time and ended up at the Balladin Bonsai, which isn't as good in terms of the actual room BUT, it's within walking distance of shops and restaurants.  It also has a bar that stays open til 2am, a pool table and accepts pizza deliveries.

Last night I went to a restaurant that I have used before.  It's a pleasant little place straight down the road into town  and just pass the square: 'Le Saint Malo', 18 Rue De La Mer - Tel 03 21 82 70 38.  The food is affordable, the rose vin - lovely AND they have a nice selection of single malt whiskey (one aged 14 years).

Time to find some breakfast


Friday, 12 February 2010

Did you know that politicians get a medal for visiting a war zone?

Judith Cooke Welling wrote,

'Can you all take time to read this and add your names please. I didn't know this but MPs get a medal for visiting a war zone. They don't have to do time in country like our service personnel and they don't have to wait months afterwards to get presented with the thing. Medals are all the recognition we as soldiers get for spending long months in staggeringly deprived locations getting shot at and blown up.

The most action and flak an MP sees is over their expenses. As we saw with the Wootton Basset petition thousands of signatures in a short space of time did make the government act. They cannot ignore the voters. Especially now with elections looming. Please take the time to sign this petition and please encourage all your family to also do so. Where it asks for your name also add on the same line former military if you were. You will see what others have done. I think this adds just a little more bite to the petition. Once again get everyone with an email address to sign, including neighbours.

Lets do our service personal this small service for all the danger they face and hard work they complete in the name of our country.'

The main  petition was started by Tracey Hobbin, who wrote:
'MP's do not deserve medals for just visiting Afghan or Iraq. If they want a medal they should do at least 6 months frontline service - just like all the brave soldiers out there. Start making medals for the families who have lost their loved ones, the people who have served their country and are no longer able to be in active service. These medals you are handing out are a disgrace and it makes a mockery of the boys & girls who still await their medals months after their tours.'
The petition can be signed at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/notompmedals/.
I hope that you feel you can support this petition and will sign it.

What happens when work becomes the main focus ...

Do you ever get so focussed on work that it takes over everything?  All I seem to have done over the last 2 months is focus on writing my autobiography (AB) or do what needs to be done around the production and marketing of my book.

I console myself with the thought that these goals are only temporary obstacles but necessary ones in order for me to continue being able to cope with my disability.

How does selling a book help with my disability?  Simple, it provides funds to what needs to be done:  1)Raise awareness of PTSD and signpost avenues of support for veterans, 2) Provide some funding towards the exhibition that I'm planning and 3) Hopefully, have some funds available towards more therapeutic photography and writing.

I check my blog most days to see if there's anything happening with the other blogs that I follow. Some are there for publicity exchange purposes but some are from friends. 

I've noticed something familiar in myself today though: the busier I get on here (even though it is managed very carefully), the more my emotions gets 'locked down'.  I go back to the old habits of work becoming the primary focus for living and sit here frustrated because the emotional release that this blog gives me is blocked ... and then things start leaking out ... horrrible things and it doesn't take much for the switch to be flipped. 

Yesterday an over-zealous postal worker knocked so hard on my door that the walls shook and it flicked the switch.  I went downstairs and opened the door to find my parcel sat on the floor outside my front door.  I could see a Royal Mail vehicle but I couldn't see the posty anywhere.  Any such noises trigger a reaction.  The fear is of opening the door and finding such a postman still there ... not knowing if I'd be able to stop myself attacking him because he has come to my safe place, my den and caused a disturbance that sent a shockwave to my core.  Thank you Royal Mail. 

So I'm addressing this by trying to find some balance between the two worlds for the sake of my health, because I remember this pattern from every job I've been in since the armed forces.  The stress growing, the work stopping me from carrying out my coping mechanisms by leeching all my available energy.

Coping with PTSD is hard work.  It's like having a full time job as a minder.  'Cept that you're minding yourself.  I avoid things that might trigger a reaction.  So I don't go out much.  I stay away from bars, unless I'm in company and even then it'll be a quiet pub somewhere.  I don't go to night clubs.  Both of these restrictions help me to stay away from drunken people that might want to pick a fight.  My fear is of hurting someone because when the switch is flicked, I go into 'do or die ' mode.  Every day is a regime of coping ... smudging with dried white sage, silent meditations to calm the centre and connecting with my native american flute - playing a tune on it gives me such a sense of stillness and connection with trees and mountains.

While helping other Veterans and doing my therapeutic work are crucial to my survival, so is maintaining that emotional openess that I've cultivated through many years of psycho-therapy.  The investment that I made in myself to be able to cope and try to find some value and enjoyment in life.

Writing the AB has unlocked things that have been buried so deeply from the years that I served in the RAF.  As I look on those events with the eyes of a man, I see what the boy of 19 went through and how he was used, as well as the risks he was put through because of the incompetence, and perhaps the clandestine priorities, of some of the senior officials.  How many times have you heard enlisted men and officers say that they were operating in Northern Ireland with one hand tied behind their backs?  The anger is fresh, red, ready to lash out ... but there are different chains in place now as well as an awareness and self monitoring regime that I never had during those particular years of service that started at the age of 19.

I sit and ponder my son's journey.  He's currently 15 and not sure what he wants to do with his life yet.  By the time I was 13 I was working towards my goals of becoming a policeman.  With hindsight I know that I was too young to do the jobs that I had been doing.  I started full time armed duties at the age of 17.  By the time that I got to Northern Ireland I was a man in a child's body ...  but not a complete man.  I lacked wisdom, awareness of the way the system uses people and the ruthlessness that some seem to possess in order to further their own ambitions.  I'm glad to say that I still lack that ruthlessness.  I was a man because I was carrying a weapon on duty with the authority to take a life if the situation warranted it ...  think about it?  There's nothing macho about it ... but there is a huge amount of responsibility that goes with that sanction.  I was a man because I could purchase alcohol legally.  I was a man because I could fornicate.

I sit here examing that man and know that he was naught but a boy doing a difficult job.  Cannon fodder of the 80s.

Hindsight's a bastard alright ... but if you've got the courage to look back and use it and apply the lessons to your current life, it just might help you to avoid some of those pitfalls and maybe help you over some of the new hurdles that life will place before you.

So to all you 19 year olds in a hurry to be called men ... slow down a little and don't be in a hurry to attain the impossible?  Live life a little and enjoy your care-free years.  Cultivate responsibility for things that matter and learn how to walk in this world as a good human with your eyes wide open ... but never stop playing.  Learn to walk as individuals and not as 'sheeple' (humans bred with sheep).  The new materialistic world is turning people into sheeple and then blinkering them.  Those of you that inherit this new world are at more risk of decline in human values and morals than any generation before you.  The implications and impacts of those changes in human society are easily traced and witnessed ... you just have to remove the blinkers, give the media a back seat and learn to read between the lines.  It's an essential skill for your growth and survival.

It's time I smudged  :o)


Friday, 5 February 2010

Printer's final proof ...

The last stage in the print production process is to check the example cover and contnent pages that the printing firm sends you.  This proof is more about checking the quality of the print job itself: paper, print quality etc.

I'd signed off the print cover 2 days ago.  It looked neat.

I received the actual content pages today and my hands started shaking as I opened the envelope.  I sat there looking at the content ... turning the pages, feeling the quality of the paper and recognising that a part of me now lived in this book.  An important part.  The part that the system couldn't completely grind into dust for walking my path and doing what I felt had to be done in my working life.

Having seen the final quality and size of the book and having compared it to other poetry books in Waterstones, I could have gotten away for selling it  for £12.99 and contributed more to Combat Stress by giving them a bigger cut on the books they will sell.  However, £6.99, which I have put out as the RRP, keeps the book affordable to those with little income that might like to own a copy.

For those of you that buy the book and have a little spare cash, I'd ask that you make a small donation - even if it's only a pound or two on the following link: http://www.combatstress.org.uk/donate.php and perhaps type 'Words of a Wolf' in the box asking for reason for donation?  If you live near one of the Combat Stress centres, please would you buy your copy direct from them?  This makes it easier for me to get some funds through the book sale direct to them without me incurring tax bills on income that I don't have.

Every little helps towards the targets below:

•A session in the Activities Centre – £20

•A session of Occupational Therapy - £20

•A session of Therapy (CBT, EMDR, Art etc) – £30

•A consultation with our Psychologist – £40

•A consultation with our Consultant Psychiatrist – £130

•A full day's care at one of our Treatment Centres – £293

•A home Welfare Visit – £213

•A week's clinical assessment – £2,050
If you have an idependent book store in your area, please would you ask them if they'd like to order some copies for sale?

If you would like to buy a copy of 'Words of a Wolf' off my website, please click here.  The first print run gets here for 25 Feb 2010.  So far I have received advanced orders for 35 copies.  My thanks to the people that have ordered and to you for keeping in touch with my blog.
Wishing you a good day,

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The birds are getting ready to mate ...

We're still in the clutches of winter but the winged ones are moving back to the garden finding the variety of food hanging in various ways for them.

A male and female blackbird have been chasing eachother through the garden.  I feel  that they're going through a courting ritual.  I have a feeling that they'll nest in the trees at the bottom of the garden.

Three robins have been coming in for food too, which is surprising as they're normally very terratorial.

I haven't seen the thrush since the last snowfall.  It used to come in for the fruit that I left on the feeders.

The blue tits and great tits make appearances now and then with the odd long tailed tit coming in and I've seen two sparrows return to the area.

I hope that we see more species this year.  You normally see chaffinches all over the place but I've never seen one in this garden.

My neighbour, Edna wanted a bird feeding station setup in her garden.  We found one going cheap today at Aldis and I put it up for her.  She's already sussed out her 'watching' spot in the kitchen and seems excited.

These have been nice distractions today as the biography is getting harder to write.  I'm hoping that the bits about Northern Ireland will finish soon.


Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
Wolf-Photography.com Stock Image Library